Monday, March 28, 2005

"You've G-G-Got Mail"

This is the shortest non-political blog ever. I have an AOL account. There's the AOL Guy who always says "You've Got Mail" when you log on (assuming there is mail in your box).

Recently my AOL Guy has developed a stutter. Seriously.

Instead of saying "You've Got Mail", he now says "You've G-G-Got Mail".

I have a number of questions, but the three most important ones are:

1) Is the AOL Guy a real person?

and if so,

2) Has he developed a stutter?

3) Is it wrong of me to make fun of him for it if he's not there to hear it?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Monday Thursday

My husband and I went to church last night. We recently joined a Lutheran church in town that we both really enjoy going to. Finding a church we could both enjoy was a bigger task than we thought it would be, as we like different styles of services -- Husband would like more music, and I enjoy the more "classic" style Lutheran service -- the kind I grew up in.

I was a minister's daughter. No, not that kind. But last night just before my husband and me decided to go to church, we both had a laugh about "Monday Thursday".

When we were growing up, we both thought that instead of "Maundy Thursday", the Thursday before Good Friday and Easter, that people were saying "Monday Thursday". Of course as small kids, this was very confusing to us, considering how much it took to memorize the days of the week and the order they came in.

In truth, Maundy Thursday is celebrated in our church as the night of that Last Supper between Jesus and his disciples, during which time Jesus took the role of servant and washed his disciples' feet.

Now stay with me, here. I'm not here to convert anybody.

The point of the service was to illustrate that the servant is as important as the master, and that the messenger is as important as the person sending the message. As Lutherans (and perhaps this is a human condition), it's very easy for us to "give" -- be the one to wash feet -- for example, but it's harder to LET someone wash our feet. We tend to get all uncomfortable with that kind of thing, you know.

At our church, there were foot-washers and several foot-washing stations put throughout the church, and we filed forward to have our feet washed. It was largely symbolic, as no one was getting out the loofahs and scrubbing anything, but my feet got wet and dried, and the story was told about how Jesus did this for his disciples on the night he was betrayed.

You don't have to be a Christian to appreciate this story, in fact I still struggle with my own faith. But stories like these always help me to bring home the fact that Christianity isn't about just "Go forth and subdue the earth". It's about taking care of each other, and also allowing someone else to take care of us.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What's your definition of a beautiful day?

It's cloudy and cool in Denver this morning. I love days like this. Especially when I don't have to work.

I'll take my dog to the lake and we'll walk freely because there will be few if any people out there. If it's snowing or raining, there will be no one out there but us.

You see, native Denverites are pretty fickle about the weather. This is Day #2 of cloudy weather with no real snow or rain falling, and if it continues by tomorrow they'll be asking "Where am I, Seattle?" I have actually heard these words come out of people here. Of course being from Seattle, I laugh.

The last winter I lived in Seattle in 1998-1999, it rained for 100 days straight. Yes, the entire month of December, January and February, it did nothing but stay cloudy all day and spit from the sky. Even the natives were complaining, and they don't usually comment on the rain because it's omnipresent.

When Denverites don't see the sun for 3 days, they get a little freaked out. Spoiled to the level of people who live in Phoenix or even Hawaii, they are used to beautiful cloudless days strung together virtually endlessly. In the summer when the thunderstorms move through in the afternoon they enjoy the fact that it cools everything off, but even then they may cancel plans because it "might rain".

In Seattle, if you cancel plans everytime it might rain, you'd never leave your house. This is the city that invented the nation's first indoor mall (Northgate Mall, which is still standing). They have a retractable roof on their baseball stadium which cost more than $500 million to build. Ironically, Coors Field has no roof here in Denver -- and last year when my husband and I went to an early game in April, we got snowed out, not rained out.

To be honest though, Denverites are hardy when it comes to freak spring storms that bring a bunch of snow, whereas Seattleites are hardy about the rain. Seattle people don't carry umbrellas usually. They're more of your Gore-Tex wearing types who pride themselves on the fact that they're not afraid of getting a little wet.
I'm sure as you go from the lowlands here where Denver is into the high country towns, that hardiness goes up 10-fold.

But today's cloudiness is actually beautiful to me. After 15 years in Seattle, this gives me a feeling that I'm back there, and I half expect to smell the salt sea air and see some seagulls flying around.

The last time I looked at the sky on Day 5 of rain when I was home for the holidays, I actually heard myself say "Wow, it's still raining" and I heard my brother say "Yeah, it does that here."

It's amazing how it doesn't take long to get spoiled by the sun. Sure, I enjoy the weather today. But like a good transplant, I'll be glad when the sun comes back in a few days.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Right To Die

I've been watching with interest the Terri Schiavo case, and it has caused me to think a lot about a person's right to die, and whether or not they have such a right.

When my Grandma was ill last month, she had just filled out a Living Will in January, and I was very glad to see that she had made her wishes clear, and specifically that she had done it so recently.

In my Gram's case, she was 94 -- and asked that we not artificially feed her -- that means nothing through a tube or an IV.

When she had a stroke several years ago, it affected her ability to swallow, and over the past few years that swallowing ability had gone downhill, until she aspirated some liquid in her lungs and ultimately got aspiration pneumonia.

By the time the nursing home took her to the hospital, the doctors hooked her up to an IV with antibiotics, but did not feed her due to her wishes made clear in the Living Will. She bounced back for about 24 hours, and asked for food, and she ate very little before she took another turn for the worse. After almost a week into this ordeal, she passed away when all the hospital staff could do was to make her comfortable with morphine.

I have a distant cousin who had flown into town during that weekend before Gram died, and at one point she told my Grandma to "hang on". My sister, who was present for this, asked me later "What should she hang on for?"

Good question.

I know in the Schialvo case, the woman is much younger, and the parents are fighting to keep her alive while her guardian/husband is asking for her to be unhooked from food. The legal wranglings about this case make me pause to think -- what would I want?

I can tell you one thing: If I had told my husband that I didn't want to be kept on tubes, I would be proud of him for trying to see to it that my wishes were granted. As much as my Mom or someone else might try to see it differently, if I were in that woman's shoes, I can't say that living a life of brain death in a nursing home would be my idea of a life.

Clearly, if Terri Schiavo were in a position to say what she wanted right now, she would -- instead, she only has her husband to fight for her wishes.

It is so important that people make their needs known. But more importantly -- and a greater issue I think -- is that we need to hold our lawmakers accountable when they try to interject their beliefs into our lives. If I want everything done to save me, and the doctors think it's fruitless, is it the lawmaker's job to say "No, she should die because she's too much a burden on the system"? I think not. In the same way, I think a person should have a right to say they don't want to be force fed to be kept alive.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

It's My Birthday...and I'll Cry If I Want To!

It's my birthday today!

For some reason I woke up with that 1960s song in my head "It's My Party, I'll Cry If I Want To". I sing it in my head in a rather upbeat way, considering I'm still unemployed and the first few months of this year have been rather trying.

I'm well into my 30s, and I woke up as I always do on my birthday. After weeks of anticipating what it will be like to be a year older, I wake up realizing that I feel the same as I did yesterday.

This is not a bad thing.

I remember when I turned 30 -- it was a lucky year as my birthday fell on a Saturday. I woke up that day thinking I would feel older, but I didn't, and it was such a relief to me. My boyfriend at the time rented a limo, and a bunch of us went out and partied and had a great time. The next year was markedly different, however. When I turned 31 I poked my head up out of my cube and said "It's my birthday, does anyone want to go out for a beer?"

Since then, it's gotten to be a progressively mellower non-event. I get a few cards, I might get some people together to have a drink, but I don't care to celebrate my birthday the same way I used to. Now I'm beginning to understand why my Grandmother didn't want anything done for her when she turned 90.

This is the first birthday in a few years in which I don't really care that I've gotten a year older. My husband and I had tried to have a baby the past few years, with no success...and each birthday since I turned 35 had become a marker of how old I was getting, and how much closer I was getting to 40 without a child in my life. I could write a book about how horrible it is to be constantly reminded that at my age every other woman on the planet apparently has a kid, or at least wants one, and the ever-ticking clock that comes with being in your late 30s starts sounding like an alarm going off.

Since we gave up on it and decided to grow our family in a different way (through adoption or foster children) in the past few months, suddenly I realized that I really don't care if I get older. I know people who have died of cancer or other illnesses by the time they're in their late 30s, and I'm happy to be alive, healthy and relatively happy, despite my ups and downs of the past few years.

I've learned a lot in my 30s. I've learned how to be a better friend, how to take less B.S. from people without having to burn bridges, and I've learned to cherish life more than ever. And most importantly, I've begun to understand that age is really just a number, and my attitude towards life is really what counts.

I've chosen to be a survivor, and not just that -- to thrive, despite whatever adversity life throws me. I know a few people who insist on being victims -- whenever something bad happens, it's always some sort of "ism" that did it -- sexism, racism, or other discrimination. Not me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a "PollyAnna" who thinks that everything in life is meant for good. I know there are bad people and bad things in this world. But every time life hands you lemons and you don't try to make pie or something else out of it, you're missing an opportunity to not only eat some good lemon pie, you're letting someone else dictate your day.

Well, It's my birthday -- I'll cry if I want to. But I don't want to. I want to enjoy this day off and go have some fun.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Do you think these things when you drive?

I am always amazed at people on the freeway. People who drive in Colorado are a little more like Texans -- no-nonsense and generally willing to move over particularly if the tail-gating car is bigger than them -- and a little less like Californians -- who seem to have a sense of entitlement to their driving. "Who me? Move over?"

I've lived most of my life in Washington State, Seattle specifically, and I found the drivers there to be of the worst kind I've experienced at least. In Seattle, the traffic is so bad that you can get stuck in a traffic jam at noon on a Tuesday, not just rush hour. As a result, no one feels compelled to move over on the freeway -- in fact I've sailed past people in the right lane, only because everyone's so pissed and in a hurry to go, they all park in the left lane, and don't see the right is open.

Don't tell anyone, but here in Colorado, there is such a thing as "Rush Hour". It starts earlier and lasts longer on Fridays, but other than that there's only a serious pulse of traffic moving into the city in the morning, and out in the afternoons. Before I got laid off from my job, freeing me up to blog away, I sat in 15 miles of I-70 every day, out to East Aurora and back again.

This afternoon, I got another taste of it as I drove home from my afternoon at the spa (yes, even unemployed people have to take a break and sit around in bathrobes that aren't theirs getting facials they can't really afford). But I've digressed.

On the way home, there was the usual 5 p.m. traffic. It was worse coming the other direction, until I came upon not 1, not 2, but 3! rear-ending accidents, all within a mile of each other.

If Coloradans have one bad habit, it's the "Looky-Loo" Syndrome. This is where if the wind is blowing really hard, they will slow down to observe it. If the guy behind you doesn't notice in time, he'll hit you. They also drive Mach 3 with their hair on fire in the snow, which is why I've been rear-ended twice in winter here.

As I drove home today I thought about all the craziness there is on the freeway. I saw a State Patrolman at one of the three accidents and wonder what kind of messes he gets to clean up all day.

But from my padded interior of my 10-year-old Subaru, I worry about less serious things. I often find myself wondering about the stickers people put on their cars. My University of Washington window decal is a subtle way of saying where I'm from, but I'm smart enough to slap a Denver Broncos sticker in the middle, just so everyone knows where I sit in the Church of The NFL.

When I see people in big cars with "W" bumper stickers, yakking on their cell phones, that sends me a message. It's the one where I hear "I don't care about you, the environment, or the world at large, because I'm entitled to drive this big-ass SUV."

When I see someone driving a Bug, I just thinkg "Awwwwwww". They're so cute. When I see a 1970s Ford Pinto, I feel like applauding. Really, who has the guts (or the spare parts) to keep one of those things going anymore? And most importantly, "WHY?"

I decided a while ago I was too "Type A" to commute for long periods of time. I used to get so stressed out. I've been known to give the one-fingered salute, but felt so bad afterwards that it really is an incredibly rare occasion.

But today I popped in an old tape of UB40, refusing to let the bottleneck of traffic get to me. I wonder sometimes if everyone just left their houses 10 minutes earlier and listened to a little raggae on the way to work and back every day, wouldn't the world be a better place?

I think so.

And W fans or not -- if you've got something plastered to your car from the last election -- do the world a favor and take it off.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Grass Is ALWAYS Greener.

I have a friend. Perhaps friend is a bit too much of a description.

I know someone. I used to be friends and work with him. For purposes of this blog let's call him Steve.

There has been something about Steve that has been bugging me for some time. Not just his alcoholism or the fact that he bad-mouths his wife in front of other people. I've been avoiding Steve and his wife now for some time for the above reasons and more.

I've been trying to figure out what bugs me about Steve. Is it the chummy way he always finds some way to get you to have a beer with him? Yeah, that's a pain. For those of you high school and college kids out there, there is life after beer, and if you want to avoid becoming an alcoholic, you'll discover that sooner rather than later.

No, this friend's other behavior is getting to me and the light finally went "on" one day. Steve is exactly how my ex-husband used to be in so many respects, it's eerie. On one hand, he wants to be free and single, going out to bars til all hours, having fun with the boys. But he also wants to have a wife waiting at home for him. And God forbid he should do any housework.

Fact is, Steve has actually made comments that his wife sits around watching TV and eating bon-bons while he's off at work (However, I'm sure since she's home with a 2-year-old she doesn't get much of a chance to catch up on "As The World Turns"). He makes comments about how other people are so "lucky" while he's stuck in a job he's not doing very well at. It's not that he can't do better, in fact I've seen him do very well, but part of that "Grass is Greener" problem lies in the fact that everyone has it so much better than him that there's always an excuse as to why he fails.

I know what that feels like to some extent. I envy people who have children, for example, because everybody I know is either pregnant or has kids, and all my husband and I have to show for 3 years of trying is 3 miscarriages and another bill from the fertility specialist.

I know, however, that despite how I look at parenthood (just as an example, since it's something I don't have or I'm not a part of) I also realize that there are people out there with 3 kids under the age of 5, and they just might be looking at me going "Man, I wish I was her".

But this person is not quite capable of truly appreciating anything that he has, and instead wants bigger, better and more.

This person is a great friend if that's all you are -- friends. I mean after all, if all you want is intelligent conversation over beers in a sports bar, this person is great to be around. Well, until closing time. When Steve's outdrunk me 2-to-1 or better, it does eventually catch up to him, and he doesn't know it enough to get a ride home. He's the kinda guy who's bound to get a DUI sooner or later. Then guess what? It'll probably be something the police officer did.

I know there are few if any reasons to remain friends with this person. I feel for his wife mostly, and wonder if Steve thinks she'll never leave him, and that's why he treats her so badly. My ex-husband thought that about me too. In one of our last counseling sessions before the big divorce, my ex had the gall to say, when the counselor asked him why he married me, that he did so because "she comes from a good family so she'll never leave me."

Wrong-o.

It's hard to know what to do or say. When does crossing that line into an area of intervention about their drinking? What business is it of mine how he talks to or about his wife? I guess as a human and as a woman who's been there, I want to tell him to straighten up -- because she could end up leaving him despite his assumption that she won't. Oh don't get me wrong, she's already mentioned it to me, but I do wonder if she has the backbone to do it.

To interfere or not interfere? That is the question.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Work, then shower. In that order.

I got up early this morning...having a nightmare about my Mom being dead (she's not), and I dreamed I found out while I was smoking cigarettes and I was waiting for the social worker to come to my house for a home study, which was a complete catastrophe (Man, I wonder what's on my mind lately...health, death, adoption?)

But I digress.

This morning I get up, I decide to do yoga first thing, before coffee, before logging on, etc. Well, I do the yoga. All good. I shower, then fax a resume over to a temp agency just so I can say I applied for a job today.

With my hair still wet from my shower, I decide to go outside and trim back the roses. After all, I didn't do it in the fall when I should have, and well, there's "No time like the present".

So out I go. I get the roses trimmed back, then think "hey, the flower bed in front of the house could use some cleaning up"...by then, things are starting to look good, so I decide to rake up the pine cones the big fir tree dropped over the past winter....then the piece of resistance (yes, I know there's some sort of french word, but I don't speak french).

I'm not sweaty yet, but there's this big pile of rocks and "fill" that we excavated to put the roses in. It's been an eyesore to the entire neighborhood for some time, and figure hey -- "let's move that".

We would have put it in the back part of the back yard last year, but the dog house was there, and it has since been removed and the area completely cleaned out.

So I move this pile of rocks and fill in about 2 hours of heavy shoveling and wheelbarrowing.It's now noon and I'm a sweaty dirty mess.

I need a nap too, and before I can lay down anywhere I must clean up again.

Ok, that was fun. Fudge brownies to anyone who got this far.

I must say though that my front yard looks better than it has in a year.

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