Divine Calm: January 2006

1.31.2006

Flickin' French Fries


Inertia

in·er·tia (n.)

1. Physics. The tendency of a body to resist acceleration; the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in straight line motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force.
2. Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change: the inertia of an entrenched bureaucracy.


Once upon a time, I was a "go-getter." Basically, I would drive myself insane while comparing my own accomplishments to those of my peers. When we would receive our high school yearbooks, I would count how many activities my rivals were in compared to my own affiliations. I acted like I didn't care who graduated Valedictorian of my senior class, but I secretly paid very close attention to my classmates' talk of grades and guessing who would have the highest grade point average.

I justified my fixation on high school achievement due to needing scholarships for college. Without child support from my father, and although my mother taught high school and supplemented her income with tutoring, I knew I would need a lot of financial assistance if I wanted to go away to college. This drive for money propelled my unsuccessful auditioning for morning announcement speaker to successfully running for Honor Society President. My mother encouraged these endeavors in very direct ways such as editing scholarship entries with me late into the evening or indirect ways like fighting with me every morning, noon, and night. As a high school senior, I was convinced that my mom and I could not live with each other for another year or we would annihilate each other to smithereens.

As a teenager, fear of the unknown only furthered my trying new things and putting myself "out there" for potential failure. Also, my mom's presence was a safety net that bounced me back up onto the tightrope when I would wobble and fall due to annoying traits like procrastination and crying hysterically when faced with a new and seemingly impossible task such as completing financial aid applications.

With Mom's support reduced to phone calls and visits, I bounced around on a less direct route through college. Lack of money was more of a compass for my decision-making than Mom's wise guidance. I was able to graduate early from college, but I missed invaluable opportunities like writing a thesis and studying abroad. I started working right out of college, because I was sick of having to quell my financial wants. Dammit! I wanted a new purse. I wanted to eat out and have more than $50 in my bank account.

So instead of going to law or graduate school, I began my current career in state government and politics. Immediately, I was hooked on the supercharged pace and strategy of the legislative and political processes. The competitiveness and kooky cast of characters enthralled me and encouraged my inner drive to succeed as well. Every event was a competition that required both the mental juggling of minute details and buttery-smooth banter. Often I felt as if I was treading in waters full of slimy jellyfish, which had no backbones but could sting you in a second, but I was high from the adrenaline of constant battling sans stinger. This high allowed me to overlook many of the political world's negative aspects that were incompatible to my happiness.

After a couple years, I was given the opportunity for advancement and I took it while hoping it would feed my drive for success. Unfortunately, it was a lackluster opportunity full more of office politics instead of the pure politics I loved. Stagnant, I was miserable, but the job coupled with finding out that my father was homeless knocked me off a course that only would have, in hindsight, furthered my self-doubt while leaving me bereft of meaning.

Three years after being ripped from my "entrenched" state, I no longer march into the already heavily trodden path of my peers. Instead of following inertia and the approval of others, I fuel my own self-worth and remind myself that career advancement does not necessarily mean I am a worthy person. While I have lost a direct path to my future and tears of frustration sometimes blur my next step, I know I have not lost my way.

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1.30.2006

Spoiled Pups

My boyfriend visited this weekend and decided to bring gifts for my two pups, Winston and Murphy.My oh my, doesn't Winston look proud of himself in his new finery? (Please note that I have NEVER dressed my dogs in clothes before this. I mean, come on, how could I resist dressing Winston in a jersey with "Woof" on the back? Plus, would you be able to resist such a cute boyfriend who brings gifts for your dogs?)

Murphy also received a chew toy that was suppose to be good for a dog's teeth (it's hidden under Winston in the pic):Alas, Winston strikes again:Don't worry, Murphy received lots of lovin' instead:



P.S. Don't forget to visit my tenant's link on the right side underneath the "About Me" section.

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One of the best weekend moments

Saturday night's sleep came slowly for me due to my sleeping arrangements. I was sandwiched between my boyfriend and Winston the beagle mix, and we looked like this:

) ) )

While my boyfriend's arm was draped over me, my arm was draped over Winston. This coziness would normally induce an easy coma-like state for me. However, my boyfriend and Winston were competing for who was the "Loudest Snorer" contest. As I was trying to determine the winner, I drifted off to dreamland.



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1.29.2006

Under the bridge



Somehow I don't think this is what the Red Hot Chili Peppers had in mind...


Check out my first tenant!



I would like to welcome my first tenant, Mystickal Incense Blog, to Divine Calm. In addition to Stephanie's awesome website design, her willingness to lay her uncensored thoughts out there in the blog sphere is truly admirable. Additionally, I was completely blown away from reading her bio and "100 Random Facts." This girl has been through so much, but she's a fighter.

So please make me proud and click on the Mystical Incense Blog link located under the Divine Calm "About Me" section and make Stephanie feel welcome.


1.26.2006

Elizabeth

I was intimidated by Elizabeth before I met her. She was the quintessential tough girl in my junior high school, but she could also meld into the popular and honor roll crowds. When first glancing at Elizabeth, you might think she was one of the druggies or smokers who missed ten minutes of first period for that last drag of "borrowed" cigarettes from home. Her crinkled bleached hair conveyed rust instead of blonde, and the caked layers of the peachy brown make-up stolen from the local drug store did little to hide her acne. But Elizabeth's doe eyes rimmed in smudged kohl eyeliner and petite size zero frame betrayed her fragility underneath the veneer of "I don't give a damn".

Elizabeth and I began our friendship as newbies in seventh grade choir. We had never encountered "choir geeks" before and were at a loss for how to fit in. (Little did we know that the love for singing was the only prerequisite. Like band, choir was a haven for misfits minus the financial resources for band instruments.) During choir practice, we would share music and I would uncomfortably giggle at her imitations of the dorkier choir members. I knew my mom would have never approved of my laughing at others' expense, but I was enamored by Elizabeth's musical ability and wit. While my soprano voice was strained and immature in seventh grade, Elizabeth's was a richly smooth alto. I wanted to fit into her world and, therefore, handled her delicately.

In ninth grade choir, Elizabeth and I were vocal equals (thanks to my voice maturing) and had participated in multiple vocal ensemble competitions together. Additionally, our duet of "Love Me Tender" was a success at the talent show, despite the song's old-fashioned vibe. Of course, Elizabeth's coolness brought legitimacy to any song. Before our performance, I remember being shocked by Elizabeth's mom while practicing for the talent show at her house. Her mom's sweetness combined with an extreme religious reverence was a far departure from Elizabeth's "f*** you" attitude.

Besides choir, Elizabeth and I had another thing in common. Tina. Tina and I had been best friends since kindergarten, and our mothers were best friends too. While I could fill several pages to describe the dynamics of my friendship with Tina, Elizabeth and Tina were in the honeymoon stage of their friendship in ninth grade. They were inseparable and soon were morphing into each other's brains. Finishing each other's sentences became common for them. (By the way, if it seems as if I am describing some sort of love affair, I'm not. Aren't all friendships between girls extreme in their highs and lows?)

To be completely honest, in ninth grade I wasn't threatened by Elizabeth's friendship with Tina at all. I had the naive belief all three of us would join forces like the heroines in some teen novel and be a powerful clique in which everyone would admire. I liked Elizabeth. Tina was my best friend. Why wouldn't this dynamic work out?

Instead of my friendship fantasy, three lines of friendship developed between the three of us. Elizabeth and Tina. Elizabeth and me. Me and Tina. No interwoven communication. No three amigos. However, when the three of us were elected to Student Council in tenth grade, I had hoped we would become closer over fumes of paint and markers while making homecoming ticket signs.

Instead, a void had developed between Tina's and my friendship over the summer before tenth grade. While I could ignore this fact while working during the summer, I was uncomfortable with what we had allowed to lapse after seeing Tina during our first student council meeting held in the fall. Elizabeth and Tina had become interchangeable in their appearance. They had always been very tiny and almost anorexic looking, but now Tina's eyes were rimmed with the same smudged kohl liner and her face held the same impassive stare as Elizabeth's.

When I decided to say hello to Elizabeth and Tina, they had separated themselves from the rest of the student council and sat on an old heater propped against a wall while smirking together. My nervousness must have been apparent, because the two girls went in for the attack. As we were talking, Elizabeth would continually mock me while Tina would "hee hee." I was horrified and began to blunder my words, and after a while I walked away.

Not long after this incident, I received a six-page letter from Tina detailing all of the wrongs I had committed throughout our friendship of ten years. Shocked by her memory for detail, I felt betrayed. Why hadn't she told me this earlier, and then we could have talked it out? I couldn't deny my faults, but I knew they were unintentional and I cared enough about our friendship to work on them. Now looking back, I find Tina's inability to let hurts go a bit disconcerting. However, I think she was afraid I would out-talk her had she verbally confronted me. I don't agree with how Tina handled the situation between us, but I do admit that we were both to blame for our problems. We were kids during most of our friendship, after all.

However, Elizabeth's role in the dissolution of Tina's and my friendship soon became apparent during lunch one day. As I was eating, a popular girl came up to me and started to berate me for talking about her behind her back. My face reddened and my bite of sandwich became lodged in my throat. I barely knew the girl and had no reason to talk badly about her. When I was finally able to speak, I sputtered out how I had never said anything about her. She didn't seem completely satisfied with my response, but as she walked away she said it better be the case or I would later regret it. Embarrassed by the scene this popular girl had created, I crouched a little lower in my seat and looked over to where the girl had sat back down. Elizabeth was staring defiantly at me and her baby browns were sparkling with smug amusement.

I no longer spoke to Elizabeth and Tina for the rest of high school, and while I made many new friends, the two Siamese twins did not mix with the rest of the student population. They even dated two guys who happened to be best friends and had dropped out of high school and worked at the local factory. My only means for learning about their lives was through my mom, since she remained in touch with Tina's mother.

Several years after high school, I heard a crazy story about the girls. Supposedly, after a lot of drinking at a strip bar, Elizabeth had become very jealous of her boyfriend's attentive conversation and glances at a nearby "server." Not to be outdone by this "server," Elizabeth hoisted herself onto the bar and began stripping. Eventually, Elizabeth's boyfriend dumped her due to her antics. Tina, in the meantime, had dumped the friend of Elizabeth's boyfriend, and comforted the heartbroken ex-boyfriend of Elizabeth. (I know, it's a confusing web of relationships.) Today, Tina and Elizabeth's ex-boyfriend are married. I don't believe that Tina and Elizabeth have remained friends.

I am somewhat heartened by the ending of Elizabeth and Tina's friendship. Elizabeth might have been a friend thief, but Tina nabbed her boyfriend. Occasionally, I still miss Tina, but I smile when I remember the power Elizabeth held over me when I first met her. Elizabeth's power and nonchalance toward life were illusory, but her own misery was real. Looking back, the only time I observed Elizabeth stripped of her jealousy was when she sang in choir. I can still hear her comforting alto lifting and dropping in perfect pitch with the music.

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1.24.2006

To Those Who Fail to See the Big Picture

I'm frequently amazed when grown adults throw a tantrum in order to get something they want. Today, I have encountered many of these babies. To these babies: getting snippy with me is not going to make me, or anyone for that matter, want to help you. You may temporarily get what you want, but at what cost? You have lost my respect for you.

Think about the math. If you throw a fit every time you "really need" something, you are going to lose the respect of many.

Think about that the next time you need volunteer campaign workers or, especially, a vote.

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The Hopeless Search for Equilibrium

How to Assuage the Horrid Effects of a Cold:

Example 1:

I have a cold. Check.

I take cold medicine. Check.

However, my nose still runs, but my eyes, lips, and face are drying out.

Example 2:

Tissues help stop runny nose from disgusting nearby co-workers. Check.

However, tissues further dry out sensitive facial skin.

Example 3:

Lotion replenishes dry skin. Check.

However, replenished skin suddenly rebels against extra emollients and creates pimples.

Example 4:

Eyedrops refresh dry eyes. Check.

However, refreshed eyes then become blurry from excess water.

Example 5:

Lips are cracking and peeling from said cold. Check.

Lipbaum cools lips. Check.

However, lipbaum smells like medicinal cabinet and causes stomach's queasiness.

Example 6:

My throat is scratchy and dry from cold medicine. Check.

I drink large amounts of water and my throat is temporarily calmed. Check.

However, I am running constantly to the bathroom all day.


I feel as if a cold is a metaphor for life. It's all about the trade-offs, baby.

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1.23.2006

Bizarre Find of the Week

I am completely entranced by "Dog the Bounty Hunter." Craziest show, ever. Dog and his entire family are one part trailer trash, one part "the Terminator," one part preacher, and one part freak show.

Now I ask you, if you saw this family trailing you, wouldn't you become slightly nervous?

Have any of you seen this show?

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1.22.2006

Get Well Flowers

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I’ve been slammed with a chest cold this week. After hours of snoozing and watching strange shows depicting various 500-pound people and even a woman who had been pregnant for forty-six years, I am relieved that I am starting to have a little more energy. Nothing like American television to make you feel better about your own situation. Cold? Congested chest? That’s nothing. I could have a mini watermelon-like tumor in my abdominal cavity. I could have skin stretched to its limit due to being over 1,000-pounds in weight and having bodily fluids pouring out of my skin. Nice images, eh?

Here's a better image for you:



1.19.2006

martini graffiti Posted by Picasa


1.18.2006

Snow Falling on Maples


1.17.2006

Dima: The One Woman Chicago Welcoming Committee


Yes, it's official. I love Chicago. Many have told me that I would become hooked on what this art deco city has to offer. Of course, the fact that my boyfriend lives in Chicago makes it a little easier to drive the six-hour trek or endure the five-gazillion-hour airport delays it takes for me to go to Chicago. (I swear that gazillion is a real number!) However, a certain blogger has shown me that Chicago is not only the windiest city, but one of the friendliest cities I have encountered.

Dima's blog is a good read, and I always look forward to her insightful comments on my site. (You must visit her site!) Last time I wrote about visiting Chicago, Dima e-mailed to tell me that the next time I visit, I should e-mail her and we could meet. After having been a Dima reader for a couple months, I was excited with the prospect of hanging out with such an articulate and sweet person.

You can read Dima's account of what we did here, but I must add my two cents to her entry. Contrary to what Dima might say, Dima is far from boring. She's genuine. She's someone you want to be friends with immediately after meeting her, because you know that "what you see is what you get." Also, Dima is the kind of friend who would stick up for you when a group of catty girls talk about you behind your back. You ask me how I know this after a four-hour outing? I just know. And to borrow from a "When Harry Met Sally" quote, "you know like you know a good melon." (Dima, I promise I am not implying anything by comparing you to a melon. hehe)

Dima is also very gracious after you commit a faux-pas. I have a knack for making odd statements intending to be compliments but instead are received like a tire blow out or an IRS tax bill. In other words, I feel like an ass, and the receiver looks pained. (You know, I was thinking that perhaps the above melon comment could fit into this category. Oh well, I try.)

I demonstrated my talent for placing my foot in my mouth while Dima and I were sitting in a coffee house sipping sugary coffee lattes topped with whipped cream. Dima and I were oohing and ahhing at a nearby baby bundled up in the finest of stroller accroutement. After Dima asked the baby's age to the accompanying woman, I blurted out that the women looked great for having a baby only three months ago. The woman looked as if she was grasping at a response but instead chose to ignore my comment. Thankfully, Dima smoothed over the awkward moment by telling the women how cute the baby was.

Immediately, I cringed with my disregard of how this woman could have adopted the baby or perhaps was a nanny or aunt to the baby. What the heck was I thinking? While kicking myself a gazillion times (as I said before, gazillion is a number), I confessed to Dima my stupidity and how horrified I was. Dima laughed and said she had wondered why I said the comment but told me not to worry about it. Dima definitely has class.

Also, Dima and I discussed political topics like, gasp, Israel and the Middle East. I felt at ease during our discussion and was challenged by Dima's insights. I think we even discussed religion. I'm relieved Dima doesn't subscribe to the "avoid politics and religion at all costs during your first meeting with someone" theory. Four hours flew while chatting with Dima.

I'm so happy to have made my first Chicago friend. Also, the Chicago Visitors' Bureau should think about hiring Dima to represent their fine city. If Chicago is anything like Dima, it is classy, exciting, friendly, intellectual, and genuinely fun. I can't wait for my next visit. Dima, this time, the sushi's on me!

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New Orleans Mayor Says God Mad at U.S.

New Orleans Mayor Says God Mad at U.S.

Ummmm...okay.

I believe that the New Orleans mayor needs a little education on what causes hurricanes. Perhaps the mayor's outdated thinking is one of the reasons New Orleans was so ill-prepared for a hurricane in the first place.

Whoa...I better be careful of what I write or else God might smite me or even order swarms of locusts my way.

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My Boyfriend is Jealous of this Guy

'Dog Whisperer' calms pets of US rich and famous

I have to admit I have a huge crush on Cesar Millan. His techniques have really worked for my dogs. Honestly, what is more sexy than a man who understands dogs while training crazy celebrities?

By the way, he also has a blog. Check it out.

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1.16.2006

In Honor...

I will never really know how it feels to be an African American. I will never know how it feels to be treated like a criminal while shopping. I receive smiles on the street instead of women's purses being clutched tightly as I walk past.

There is so much more to be done in order to improve the lives of our fellow citizens, the African Americans.

Today, so few of us are willing to stand up for those too burdened to speak. It's easier to stay silent.

However, I am thankful Martin Luther King, Jr. and others like him so visibly risked everything to ease the burden of their fellow citizens.


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1.15.2006

Dear Anonymous,

My response to the following comment:

Anonymous said...
Hi there,I stumbled on your blog for the first time and I am a bit puzzled. Maybe I am missing a chunk of the story....but please tell me how come you are aware of your father being homeless and in need of health assistance and he is is not by your side? Why aren't you able to help?We have a homeless problem because families are too wrapped up in their own lives and are too inconvenieced to take care of their flesh and blood.I'll hold further comment until I learn more. This is one of the dearest causes to my heart. It is largely a fixable problem , especially for us in the most powerful prosporous nation on the face of earth, if only we'd take responsibilty at a personal level little by little.I recently opened a retail shop on a corner where a couple of homeless people 'live' hang around. One of them is a 70-80 year-old bearded old man. He tells me he was a handy man, fisherman, carpenter and roofer etc with about 8 children or more (don't remember) but most of them KNOW about his condition and whereabouts. Yet he is on the street. I just can't comprehend it. That's why I asked when I encoutered your 'plight.'One thing was mentioned here earlier that they refuse help and would rather have their independence and freedom. That is BS and a cop out. There is no such thing. They usually have a lot of pride and will always refuse help. It is only human nature. How we approach offering it is what makes a diff, ie discreet and affable hand out. There isn't a person on earth who would rather be out in the elements with bitter cold and rain and sleet instead of being in the warmth of family and room temperature with a meal and roof over a mattress.The guy I see near me refused initially to take money, saying he doesn't need any, he wouldn't open his hand out to take the money but I still got it to his hand and he took it while still finsishing the sentence: "I don't need ..blah blah!" He does it everytime and I still manage to give him a $10 or $20 bill for coffee and food. I made sure he is not a drunk and wouldn't waste it on booze. Never smelled any alcohol from him. I would love to be able to let him stay inside the store overnight but I haven't known him long enough and fear for my female employees. ( I never give to beggars: They're often cunning professional con-artists)I don't know his history and whether that explains why his family ignores him. I blame him for not raising them corretly and warmly enough. Maybe he abused them. Maybe he ignored them. Or even Heaven forbid , he may have molested someone then, probably among them. I don't know. But still, if he is out, not in jail, not in a shelter he fears for his safety in, I still think he needs a roof and minimal attention.We don't discard human beings. Especially if they are relatives. What is even more perplexing is the fact that one of his daughters was a bartender just a couple of blocks up and still shut him out of her mind. The way I was raised, you take care of your own. They brought you into this world, you owe them care and compassion and basic sustainance.We tend to not imagine if WE grow old and get rebuffed by our own children. Imagine YOU end up in your 60's and 70's in dire need on the street and your children want no part of you. How would YOU feel?401ks are far from a solution. They evaporated too quickly for too many people and too many don't even save enough.There are no easy answers and solutions. There are sad realties and limited ability to do much beyond our daily burdens. But you know what, welcome to our brute realites. Blood doesn't thin into water.Sincerely, N.

Dear N,

Thank you for visiting my website. You definitely have a good point about families taking care of the mentally ill. I can see how without any knowledge of my personal story you would have questions. My story with my father is very sad, but please do not believe that I don't consider taking care of family as my responsibility. My mother, who has sacrificed everything for her daughters, now has Parkinson's disease. I can assure you that I would NEVER abandon her and plan on taking care of her in the future when she is no longer able. Because of my lack of a relationship with my father, I know how important family is and how it should not be taken for granted.

Alas, my father emotionally abused my mother and was about to physically abuse her when she left him when I was ten. The last time I have spoken to him was when I was 13-years old, but my mother had nothing to do with this event. Basically, my father dropped out of my life on his own terms. He still has not contacted me.

In other words, my father abandoned his daughters. Four years ago, I found out that my father was homeless after some internet sleuthing and a phone call. The woman I spoke to knew who he was and told me that he is frequently kicked out of shelters because he disturbs others with the talk that he can raise the dead. However, the homeless community in which he lives is very small, and he receives a dinner everyday at the local Catholic church.

After several years to digest this information, I view my father's life as a tragedy. Ten to twenty years ago, knowledge was scarce regarding mental illness. I don't believe my father was properly diagnosed when he tried to receive treatment for his anxiety. Eventually, frustrated with his mental health care, he turned away from any help offered for him to get better. My father was a talented man, a Vietnam vet, and a pilot, but I could never describe him as a good dad. Now that I am better educated about mental illness, I view my father's difficulties in parenting stem from his mental illness.

So after giving more background about my father, I hope you can see that too much water has passed under the bridge. My father's defining achievement in making me who I am today is that he abandoned me. Although I love and worry about him, I don't feel responsible for him.

He is a lost soul, and this fact breaks my heart. However, if his homeless community cannot handle him other than give him food, how can I handle him? While you may not be able to respect my decision, I feel like I have drawn a line that enables my own well-being. I think by already forgiving my father for abandoning me is the best gift I can give to him and myself.

Truly yours,

Divine Calm

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1.13.2006

Homelessness Links to Ponder

As some of you may already know, my father is homeless and mentally ill, so I have a personal interest in the subject of homelessness. However, I am finding my views on the topic to be evolving and am, by no means, an expert on how to improve the plight of the homeless.

Please visit the following links and feel free to tell me what you think about the issue.

Groups survey 20 ‘meanest’ cities for homeless - U.S. Life

“People for the first time are talking about ending homelessness and developing 10-year plans to do so," he said. "There’s no one city getting it right. There's no city sheltering all of its homeless, but there are cities that are making progress. Key West, for example, made our ranking a few years in a row but they’ve done some positive things in the last two years.”

But cities aren't getting any help from the federal government, Stoops said, citing legislation passed in December by the House and Senate that is meant to slash Medicaid funding by $4.8 billion and trim Supplemental Security Income assistance by more than $700 million over the next five years.

Virginia Gal's Blog said this today:

Saw on the news that some punks in Ft. Lauderdale beat up (with bats) three homeless people. I started to cry. How could anyone do that? Homeless people are the bottom of society, the most defenseless, many suffering severe mental health problems. Beating on them (one died) is like kicking a puppy, reprehensible. Where is our morality? What kind of society are we creating that these, looked like affluent white kids, would feel a need to do this, to physically harm another human being, for what gain? What do these poor people have in their lives already anyway? Why would you hurt them further? oh great, I'm starting to tear up again.

And, if you want to read an intelligent and insightful blog by someone who has been homeless, please read The Homeless Guy:

This entry:
"It's amazing how a reputation of being homeless taints people's perspective of you."
Or this entry:
As the song goes, "Nobody's right if everybody's wrong." So, as far as I see it, there's plenty of blame to go around where homelessness is concerned. The homeless, Churches, government, regular citizens, are all guilty of this blight on society.

What I believe should be the focus of all our attention in this matter is the current lack of Prevention and proper Response to homelessness. The "cause" of homelessness, which nobody seems to be able to get their minds around, would becomes a moot point if adequate prevention was in place. With the existence of Prevention, Response to those already homeless is all that's required. (I do believe that prevention can be created without a full understanding of the causes, though I'm sure it would help.)
By the way, I'm not satisfied with simply being thankful I have a comfy bed to sleep on at night. I want others to join me in becoming more educated on this issue. With education, awareness, and preventative outreach, we can better help those who are already or about to become homeless in our communities.

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1.12.2006

Puppies!

My kindergartner, Kyra, had to read the book, Dogs, to me today. I haven't seen her since before Christmas, and my heart melted a little when she sat close to me and watched my lips move as I talked in my singsong voice. (As a side note, according to my co-worker who also tutors her, Kyra claimed she didn't receive any Christmas gifts.)

As soon as Kyra saw the book, she yelled "PUPPIES!"while jumping up and down in her seat. I smiled at her and soooo could relate to her excitement. After all, I act the same way when I see dogs. But for some reason, Kyra couldn't say the world "dog," although we sounded out the word and repeated it several times. Instead, Kyra would yell out "Puppies!" until we turned the page to the black retriever.

"I HAB A PUPPY WHO WOOKS JUS LIKE THAT!!!!"

"You do? Well, that's really cool. But let's sit back in your chair, so you don't fall," I cautioned while secretly laughing inside due to her exuberance.

Later in the session, Kyra had to repeat word sequences after me.

"Ap-ple, ba-na-na."

"Apple, bana...ny."

"Let's try it again, apple, banana."

"Apple, ba ba banana."

"Very good, you are doing soooo well. Now, daisy, rose."

"Daisy...hey, THAT'S MY PUPPY'S NAME!!! DAISY ROSE!!!!!!!"

I could barely contain my laughter, because I thought that Kyra was going to fall off her chair again. This girl seriously loves dogs, I mean, puppies. I'm seriously falling in love with her.

By the way, one of my co-workers tutors a student who told him her mommy's birthday was this past weekend. The kindergartner had to bring the cake to jail where her mommy is staying.


1.11.2006

Fluff Posted by Picasa


1.10.2006

Seriousness


Silliness*


Aren't these cuties adorable? The curly-haired diva is my sister, and the little boys are part of my new extended family (through my stepfather's side).

Now they are doing the YMCA:
And now, what you have all been waiting for...my sister wearing the infamous bass hat:

*Sorry, but exhaustion has numbed my creativity, so pictures will have to do.


1.09.2006

Sushi Dreams

I have had some really bizarre dreams this weekend. I don't know if they were triggered by sushi or watching the movie, Proof, this past Saturday. However, I still can't shake the uneasiness they created.

Now I know y'all will want to hear the dreams' details, but they are too crazy to share. (Aren't I a dream-tease?) However, I'm all about group therapy, so here's your chance to share your haunting nightmares/dreams with the blog world and release them from controlling your mind. So I ask you, what's the dream you just can't shake?


1.06.2006

Robertson suggests God smote Sharon - Jan 5, 2006

CNN.com - Robertson suggests God smote Sharon - Jan 5, 2006

I have already suggested Robertson is the Devil Incarnate. However, now I know he is f*ing crazy.

Why does this man have such a following? I'm sorry, but he reminds me of Hitler. For everyone who lives outside of the U.S., please know that he does NOT speak for us. Most of us believe he should take a long walk off a short pier.

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Microsoft Shuts Down Chinese Blog

Microsoft Shuts Down Chinese Blog

This case, which involves freedom of speech, global enterprise, and the internet, is fascinating to me. I'm not sure what my position is regarding shutting down this blog. However, feel free to tell me what you think Microsoft should have done and try to sway my opinion.

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Brain Protein May Be Linked to Depression - Yahoo! News

Brain Protein May Be Linked to Depression

I'm so glad scientists are better understanding this dehabilitating and costly disease.

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A Big Shout Out to Ninja Poodles

I want to thank the awesome landlady to my blog, Ninja Poodles, for writing such a wonderful blurb about my site. I have rented her site for the week via BlogExplosion and have received mega web traffic because of it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

If you are a visitor from her site, I hope you enjoy your stay and come back again. Also, feel free to drop me a comment, so I can visit your little labor of love.

If you haven't checked out Ninja Poodles' website, please do. She's insightful and loves dogs and her cute family. Who could ask for more from a blog writer?


1.05.2006

Moon over Chicago Posted by Picasa


1.04.2006

Have Patience? Oh, I didn't hear you the first time.

My sister frequently reminds me on my down days that I have many redeeming qualities. (This is just one reason why she is the best sister in the world.) However, she would never ever accuse me of having patience. She still squirms in remembrance of the day I helped scan my shopping cart items through the Target check-out line when the idiot cashier didn't know how to scan. (I'm sorry, but I was a cashier throughout high school. Once a cashier, always a cashier.)

As a side note, some people might mistake my talent for tuning sounds out as patience. For instance, I don't tolerate my dogs' incessant barking or rowdy OSU campus parties, instead I never register their existence.

Well, my lack of patience is really hitting me hard in dealing with my long-distance relationship with my boyfriend. Not being one to sit and allow life happen to me, I want so badly to hurry up our relationship so we could be together...all of the time.

Oh well. In the meantime, I'll head over to Target and see if shopping therapy will help ease my frustration over my lack of control. Maybe I'll scan a few items too. Sorry Sis, but I'm tuning your "tsk tsks" out.

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Beyond the wires Posted by Picasa


The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Today is my boss's birthday, so my co-worker and I decided to decorate his personal bathroom with streamers, balloons, and shaving cream. Hilarious, right? And totally not fire worthy, right?

My boss has a great sense of humor, so I still have my job. Nevertheless, the shaving cream's odor is giving me a major headache and asthma attack (my desk is near his office). I guess this serves me right for being a stinker. Excuse me as I go and take my inhaler.


Welcome to World in which I Work

Dec 20th 2005
From The Economist print edition




Ohio contains plenty of bad news for Republicans—but perhaps more worrying portents for Democrats

WILLIAM BLAKE talked of being able to see “a world in a grain of sand”. Students of American politics don't have as convenient a microcosm to help them understand a country of nearly 300m people. But they do have Ohio.

Ohio has always had two things going for it, psephology-wise. It is a classic bellwether state—“wrong” in only two presidential elections in the past 104 years. And this slice of the mid-west contains a bit of everything American—part north-eastern and part southern, part urban and part rural, part hardscrabble poverty and part booming suburb. But for political wonks, it now has an irresistible addition: a state Republican Party that mirrors first the success then the problems of the national one.

Republicans have done a remarkable job in Ohio of taking an evenly divided electorate—the state voted for George Bush by a mere 2% in 2004—and parlaying it into Republican hegemony. They run every branch of government from the governorship (which they have held since 1991) through both houses of the legislature to the state Supreme Court. They control both Senate seats. The Democrats can't boast a single statewide office-holder.

Yet as in Washington, the Republican machine is sputtering. The governor, Bob Taft, boasts one of the grandest names in politics. His great-grandfather, William, was the 27th president; his grandfather, Robert, was such a powerhouse that people used to joke that there were three branches of government—the executive, the legislature and Senator Taft. But his grandson's approval-rating is currently 15%—one of the lowest ever recorded.

Long a byword for lacklustre leadership, Mr Taft is now embroiled in a succession of corruption scandals. He pleaded no contest to failing to declare golfing trips with lobbyists and campaign contributors. But “Golfgate” was nothing compared with “Coingate”. The Republican leadership decided to invest some of the state's $15 billion workers'-compensation fund in rare coins. Alas, the plan's mastermind was not only tainted by self-interest (he is a rare-coin dealer who has made big donations to the party), but also contrived to lose some of the coins.

The combination of dismal leadership and dumb-as-it-comes sleaze has strained party unity. Activists are furious with the state party's betrayal of conservative principles—spending like drunken sailors during the good times in the 1990s and then jacking up the sales tax in 2003 to pay for their extravagance. Conservatives are cross that one of their senators, “weeping” George Voinovich, tried to scupper John Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the UN, and that the other, Mike DeWine, joined the gang of 14 that stopped the Republicans using the “nuclear option” against Democratic filibustering. Internecine squabbling almost lost the party a safe seat in the Cincinnati suburbs earlier this year. The Republicans are now involved in a bitter primary race for the governor's job: Ken Blackwell is leading the true believers, Jim Petro is championing business conservatives and Betty Montgomery is rallying the moderates.

This is hardly the end of the party's problems. Ohio continues to bleed manufacturing jobs (only last week Ford shut a factory). Earlier in 2005, 17 local soldiers were killed on a single day in Iraq. And the Democrats have finally come up with a first-rate candidate for governor. Ted Strickland, a Methodist minister with a top rating from the National Rifle Association, has already won two culturally conservative congressional districts.

Yet if Ohio is a bellwether, it is hardly a comforting one for Democrats. Sure, Mr Strickland may be able to pull-off an upset, but none of the locals expects a return to the glory days of the 1980s when the state's government was firmly Democratic.

Talk to young Republicans and they still exude self-confidence. They regard their party as a well-oiled machine: brilliant at developing “farm teams” of volunteers, a master of the art of getting out the vote in suburbia and exurbia (“We deliver”). They put their success down to a single all-important fact: they know what they believe in. Talk to young Democrats and it is all doom and gloom. The party is an old-boys' club that is better at covering its backside than thinking ahead. Young activists are joining single-issue pressure groups such as Campaign for a New Ohio rather than the Democratic dinosaur. They worry that the Democrats are too fissile—divided between blue-collar workers and middle-class professionals and fractured along all sorts of line of racial and sexual politics—to produce a clear message.


Why Karl Rove may still be right

The Republicans have shown themselves better than the Democrats at erecting a big tent. A party that was once dominated by white men (like Mr Taft) has embraced “white ethnics” (Mr Voinovich), blacks (Mr Blackwell) and moderate women (Ms Montgomery). The Democrats, by contrast, seem prisoners of an industrial economy that is visibly dying. Things do not seem to have changed since John Kerry won Ohio's cities by 57% to 43% but still lost the state. The Democrats are still not reaching out to the suburbs.

The Republicans know how to use culture to trump economics. Mr Bush triumphed in poverty-ridden Appalachia by sounding the clarion calls of “God, gays and guns”. A proposition banning gay marriage won with 62% of the vote. And the religious right is continuing to gain strength: groups such as the Ohio Restoration Project boast of registering 300,000 people.

Ohio has a particular place in Karl Rove's affections, not just because it tipped the 2004 election but also because it was home to his hero, Mark Hanna, another political mechanic who guided a Republican to the White House. William McKinley's presidency (1897-1901) laid the foundations for a period of Republican dominance. Today Mr Rove's dream of repeating Hannah's success may well be battered. But to judge from the mood in the Buckeye State, it is far from buried.



Copyright © 2006 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.


1.03.2006

Yes, this is what we did all weekend


1.02.2006

Divinely Different

As I was cuddling with my boyfriend on New Year's Eve and watching this of all things:
I started comparing last year's New Year's Eve celebration with this year's. Instead of lounging in my P.J.'s and snuggling with my puppies and boyfriend, I was dancing with a group of girlfriends, including my sister, last year. After an incredibly difficult Christmas in 2004 due to my mother's illness (pre-Parkinson's diagnosis), I so badly wanted to have a bit of release from all my worries.

The 2004 celebration started with a taxi ride into downtown with my girlfriend making the taxi driver cringe as she recounted in great detail her infatuation with her gay guy friend. The girls and I giggled as we each decided which topic we each weren't allowed to discuss for the evening or else we would have to buy the other's shots of alcohol. I remember I wasn't allowed to say any curse words, while my one girlfriend wasn't allowed to discuss her gay friend. My sister teased me with threats of getting me to break my promise. I knew it wouldn't be difficult although our pact was soon forgotten.

As we pulled up to the Downtown New Year's Eve celebration, we hopped out of the cab and after standing for two hours by outside heaters and trying to stay warm sipping beer, we ran to the nearby dance club. Twenty dollars later, we were dancing onstage near the DJ while creating an impenetrable circle where men dared not enter (unless they were really emboldened by shots).

I quickly lost myself to the pulsating music and was surprised when the DJ started counting down to midnight. "6-5-4-3-2-1...Happy New Year!" The girls gave hugs and kisses all around, but my sister's hug felt the most comforting. When special celebratory music started pounding from a speaker near my head, I felt the sudden need to leave the dance floor. I didn't feel like celebrating any longer and headed to the bathroom to call my mom and wish her a happy New Year. I was relieved when she answered the phone. We had a brief conversation since my mom could barely hear me over the club's music, but my anxiety calmed a little.

For the rest of the night, I was on autopilot as I danced and interacted with my girlfriends. Life instead of alcohol numbed my emotions. Even the ride home didn't stop the hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. We rode on a short bus "taxi" where a girl flashed the driver her meager chest for a free ride. Although the driver offered us bottles of beer clanking in a cardboard box behind his seat, he denied the unsteady blonde the free ride after she lifted up her shirt before he could answer. Stupid drunk girl, you can't give it away for free (not that I have any experience in this form of bartering)! My protective sister got into a verbal argument with the exhibitionist when she started smoking in the bus. To prove my sister's case that smoking in such cramped quarters was rude, I dramatically pulled my asthma inhaler out of my purse and took a drag. As my lungs released the misty vapor, I sent a silent prayer for the bus to deliver us safely home.

This New Year's Eve sharply contrasted from last year's night with the girls. This time I had a very relaxing night with the boys: my boyfriend and two dogs, Winston and Murphy. While I had woken up in a snitty mood, it dissipated after a flavorable meal at the local Turkish restaurant. The steaming Turkish tea calmed me more than the martinis and beer had accomplished the prior year. However, my boyfriend and I did slurp down mimosas later in the evening to celebrate the incoming new year.

Instead of giving my sister a hug, I gave my boyfriend a kiss and hugged my pups at midnight. I wasn't numb to my surroundings, and I mentally documented the night that created calm within my soul. Later when I called my mom, I was relieved to hear the cheerfulness in her voice.

This New Year's Eve wasn't wild and crazy. I didn't go out and party with drunken abandonment. I lazed around in purple pajamas with yellow moons and stars and allowed Winston to curl up and sleep between my legs. My mom is doing better, and I have a man who loves me for my "good heart." Reclining on the couch with my boyfriends' arms tightly wrapped around me, I whispered prayers of thankfulness after midnight instead of prayers for deliverance. Moments like these make me realize that growing up and having new priorities can be divine.