Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolution

After much time and thought, I've realized that my resolution for 2011 needs to be a realistic one.

So here it is:

Smile more.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feeling HOT! HOT! HOT!

Back to the blog...

Yes, I've been off the radar for a while. Summertime in the desert just sucks the life out of me. Extreme temperatures, kids out of school and underfoot, and the busiest time of year work-wise mean June to September are not happy months for me. Don't get me wrong, I do love time with my children. It's just a challenging confluence of circumstances, and it's stressful.

I now have two preteen daughters in Middle School and one very willful three year old boy. It's a hormonal mess in my house, and it's stressful.

The budget in our state continues to assault our school funding, which directly affects my job. Schools have little money to spend, and my job depends on them spending it with my company and not another vendor. It's stressful.

Can you tell I'm a little stressed?

It was suggested to me on several occasions that I might want to find an outlet for my stress. Since punching random passers-by was not an option, I thought I might get back to a physical activity I'd previously enjoyed over a decade ago - yoga. Only now, because I live in the bowels of Hell and apparently, on some deep inner level am sad to see triple digit temperatures in the rear view mirror, I decided to try HOT yoga.

May I just say one thing?


And one more thing... no, I am not anywhere in that photo up there. I hide from cameras when I'm fully clothed and not sweating like a patron of a Turkish bath house, so I'm not about to let anyone catch a shot of me in my hot yoga class. At least, not yet. But man, if my arms and abs start to look like the ones I see in my class anytime soon, I might rethink that.

Friday, July 9, 2010

In the Thick of It. Again.

Yep, it's that time of year again.

Time for me to settle into my serious "I HATE the Desert" funk. As opposed to my less serious "I Hate the Desert" funk, in which I wallow from November to April.

There is nothing redeeming about this place. After four years, I have yet to find beauty in the desert. There are parts of the Southwestern US that are quite pretty, and some that are truly stunning.

The major metropolitan area in which I live is definitely not one of them.

I've already managed one weekend getaway several weeks ago. I traded 110+ degree desert weather for 90+ degree, steamy, sticky Miami weather. I'm sure that climate gets on one's nerves over time, but for 3 1/2 days I soaked up some humidity and drank in the lush foliage that's everywhere in south Florida.

Even the weeds are prettier in Miami.

I'm realizing that I can't make peace with the idea of a long-term future living where we live right now. Something's gotta give.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Mothers' Day = Happy Spine

My newest baby:

My sweet husband and kidlets presented me with this dreamy office chair for Mothers' Day. After a McDonalds breakfast in bed, my daughters blindfolded me and marched me downstairs (talk about an act of trust), where Happy awaited.

Yes, I named the chair Happy.

I started working from home in July of 2008 and have spent most of the last 2 years working at a desk while sitting on a metal folding chair. Having this new high back executive throne makes my back and butt very, very happy.

I love my new perch, and I love the note my family attached to the chair:

Because you break your back every day with all you do for us, you shouldn't have to break your back at work. Happy Mothers' Day!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Little Things

Generic Q-Tips just don't cut it for me.

That is all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Miss This Guy

No, that's not my grandpa (although there is a very faint resemblance to my Pop-Pop). In fact, I only met this man once in my entire life.

His name is Tony Hillerman, and I had the privilege of meeting him in 1991, at the Mystery Writers of America Awards Dinner in New York City. I attended with my grandfather, (not the one who kind of looks like Mr. Hillerman, but a side-by-side comparison might have been interesting...). I even had the opportunity to get my favorite of his novels - A Thief of Time, if you're wondering - personally autographed.

Mr. Hillerman was funny, humble, and very down-to earth. He's been one of my favorite authors for decades, and it was an honor to meet him. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2008.

It's been over a year since my dad has presented me with a new Hillerman novel for my birthday, Christmas, or "just because." It hit me recently that, not only is this wonderful author no longer with us, but his characters are gone as well. Sure, I can revisit Detective Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee any time I wish by cracking my copies of the Hillerman novels that sit on my bookshelf, but it's not the same. Tony Hillerman made his characters so believable, they start to feel like acquaintances once you read a few of his books. I suppose this is what makes the loss if this writer even more sad...those old friends are gone too. I'll never know what happens to the characters.

When a true artist - a gifted painter, writer, musician, engineer, architect, etc. - passes away, we not only lose the individual, we lose the potential their gift held as well. The private person (someone's mom, dad, child, sister, husband, friend) is mourned by his or her family and community. The "artist" - the aspect of that person that created amazing, beautiful, valuable, or significant things - leaves behind a gap of talent that the whole world mourns. We miss the unmade, the unfinished, the unrealized.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Can't Wait

So excited to have the opportunity to see these amazing musicians live this weekend. The documentary about their beginnings in the refugee camps of Guinea during the conflict in their native Sierra Leone is awesome. I'm looking forward to a fabulous show. If you have the chance, go see them in person. So inspiring!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Thoughts - I'm On Top! of the Google list, that is. Seriously.

My humble little blog that nobody reads is at the very top of the list in Google. Don't believe me? Go to Google and search for "dead cow road".

Voila! There's this post, right at the top of the search results.

Okay, so it's a search for Dead Cow Road, not deep-thinking political analysis or thoughtful posts on my charming kids (wink, wink) but in a tiny, twisted way, my blog is number one.

It cracks me up to see that about 80% of the new traffic to my blog is generated by Google searches for Dead Cow Road.

It's random, but it's something to smile about.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy Thoughts - Day One

My husband is on his way home from a whirlwind three days in D.C., meeting with members of Congress and VIPs (various important politicos).

My kids seem to be kicking their colds.

I'm almost finished with a big, potentially lucrative work project.

My car still runs.

My German Shepherd has not slaughtered the pair of ducks who've taken up residence in our backyard pond.

Sandra Bullock's new baby is adorable.

Today was a good day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Sunshine Experiment

I've hit a wall, and there are three things you can do when you hit a wall.

You can break through it.

You can go over or around it.

You can pack your shit and go home.

Choice number three is not an option for me, so I've decided to find a way to go through, over or around this personal wall.

I'll admit, I've always been a glass-half-empty kind of girl (...and while we're at it, what is that spot on the glass and who's responsible for failing to make sure the glass was clean in the first place?). My pessimistic attitude has a lot to do with many of the challenges I regularly face.

I need to do something about it.

So, for laughs, I'm going to try an experiment. I'm committing to one week of positivity.

Nothing but sunshine and rainbows.

No watching sad news stories.
No reading internet articles or websites that are anything but uplifting and cheerful.
No tolerating negative thoughts. They will be swiftly evicted and replaced with affirmations.
Daily blogging about things for which I am grateful or that have made me happy.

To be honest, the thought of this undertaking is a bit overwhelming. It's just not my nature to be...chipper. Jeez, I mean, dod you even notice how negative my to-do list is? Almost all nos.

I'm going to take it one day at a time. One hour at a time. One thought at a time. We'll see how it goes. Feel free to send your positive energy my way.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Cove

I watched this Academy Award winner on Sunday and it rocked my world. I can honestly say I don't think I will be able to ever set foot in Sea World again. Nor will I buy any Japanese products until this changes.

"You're either an activist or an inactivist."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

In the Aftermath

I wrote the post below in the weeks leading up to the 2008 Presidential election. In light of what has occurred in Haiti over the past several weeks, I thought it was worth revisiting. Agree or disagree, I hope it makes you think a little bit.

Friday, October 17, 2008 (Original post date)

Call me a Liberal, I Guess

Have you ever spent time in a Third World country? I'm not counting shopping excursions or runs for cheap prescription meds to Mexican border towns. I'm talking THIRD WORLD, as in unstable government, collapsing infrastructure, disease-riddled, population-exploding THIRD WORLD. Have you?

(And no, the Inland Empire doesn't count either.)

I ask this question because it seems that, in this politically-charged pre-election period, the concept of social programs has become a dirty word. Callers on radio talk shows dial up and rage at the thought of their hard-earned tax dollars going toward social services in this country. As a nation, we sneer at the thought of our citizens taking handouts.

I'll be honest...the stereotypical welfare recipient pisses me off too. I don't believe that anyone benefits when you get something for nothing. I believe in the value of hard work and self-sufficiency.

I also know that, when I found myself unexpectedly expecting (how's that for an oxymoron?) in my final semester of grad school and my husband was working construction with no benefits, there's no way we could have afforded that pregnancy without state aid.

I paid into "the system" every paycheck since I started flipping burgers at Carl's Jr. in the Westminster Mall at sixteen. And for a little over a year, while I carried my firstborn child, finished my Master's degree, and secured a full-time teaching job with medical benefits, I took from "the system." It's what I had to do, and I am grateful for it every day.

Now, back to my initial question regarding Third World countries...

I reflected tonight, as I sat at the dinner table with my family, on the fact that we are so blessed to live in a stable, democratic country. We live in a nation where, no matter our political differences, we still have the peaceful transfer of power every 4 or 8 years. There are so many places in this world that do not get to experience that.

I also realized that, like it or not, those very same social programs that so many Americans rail against ("I don't want to pay my hard-earned money to support some Welfare Mother!") enable us to live according to the principles we hold dear.

It's a lot easier to be "Pro-Life" when the government provides help if you're trying to finish school.

It's also a lot easier to have a peaceful, stable democracy when you don't have the kind of poverty found in Third World countries.

Don't believe me? Catch a flight from Miami to Haiti on American Airlines or Spirit Air. Seriously, it'll only take you a couple hours to plunk yourself right, smack-dab in the middle of the most dire poverty in the hemisphere. Spend fifteen minutes walking around downtown Port-au-Prince and then ask youself if you think some good, old-fashioned American-style social services might actually help that place turn the corner in the direction of stability and democracy. I bet you'd agree they might.

A population that is rioting at the cost of basic food staples poses a challenge for a democracy. A country with large numbers of unfed, unemployed, uneducated, unhoused, un-provided-for individuals is a country with large numbers of potential agitators, terrorists, and easily incited people. In Haiti, one can see how easily a bowl of beans and rice can buy the loyalty of a starving street kid. To whom would you rather that hungry teen be loyal? The government, or an exiled paramilitary leader trying to illegally overthrow the government?

The contrast between the haves and the have-nots in Haiti is extreme. The haves get education, medical care, homes, and food while the have-nots often get none of those things. Trust me...many of those haves did not get their advantages through hard work and perseverance. They were just lucky to be born to the "right" father or mother. They are as guilty of not lifting a finger as any welfare recipient in the U.S.

I guess this post is just my long-winded (and heavily hyphenated) way of saying this:

I believe the money we pay for social services in the United States is the price we pay for a stable democracy...that's a price I'm glad to pay.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Just Couldn't Do It

Last night, a massive telethon called "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief" aired on multiple networks all over the US. I wish I could have tuned in, but I couldn't find it in myself to do so.

Don't get me wrong, I am happy beyond measure that the biggest names in entertainment stood up and gave of their time to help raise much-needed funds to support a group of worthy charitable organizations. It warms my heart to know that people continue to keep their hearts open to the tragedy in Haiti and gave generously to help in some way.

But I just couldn't turn on that TV.

Maybe it's because I've spent most of the last two weeks absolutely wrecked by what happened in a place I love so much. Seriously - I have even begun to wonder if it's time for me to call in a counselor because I have found myself, on several occasions, sobbing uncontrollably and totally overwhelmed by the grim reality of the situation.

Or maybe it's because I am sick, SICK to my stomach that THIS is what it took for the world to wake up and see the poverty and desperation that already existed in Haiti, long before the earth shook. I am in total agreement with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who have frequently commented on the "stupid" and "unnecessary" death and suffering that's taking place in Haiti as a result of the lack of basic infrastructure and social services before the earthquake.

Of all the shiny famous people who stood up for Haiti last night, there are only a couple who ever publicly expressed an ounce of concern about her before January 12, 2010. So, for as much as I genuinely applaud their efforts in last night's telethon, I wish they had cared a little more, a little sooner.

Maybe, if more folks had cared sooner, fewer children would be orphaned today and fewer parents would be wondering what happened to their babies.

If you feel so moved, please feel free to donate to the cause:

I am in no way trying to take away from last night's effort. I just couldn't watch it. I hope it was a good show...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Levity (Or, Is There a Silent Epidemic of Premature Hair Loss in 2010?)

So I spent the better part of this week alternately being devastated by the events in Port-au-Prince and the rest of southern Haiti and being pissed off at ignorant fools who manage to get behind a microphone and in front of a television camera.

By Saturday afternoon I realized I needed to refocus my energy back on my family and give my daughters some girl time, so we spent a few hours at the mall, spending their "Grandma and Grumpy money". It was just what I needed.

It was also an interesting people-watching expedition. Specifically, an interesting teen-watching opportunity. I realize that old people strolling the mall and grousing about the idiotic get-ups in which the younger generation parade themselves is a long-standing American pastime. I'm no trailblazer in this department. But I do wonder if I am the first to notice what appears to be a crisis of epidemic proportions in today's shopping centers, movie theaters, and other popular teen haunts.

You see... the dreaded COMB OVER is no longer confined to stringy-haired balding men in deep denial. It is now the standard issue teen 'do.

What the hell?!?!

Don't believe me? Check this out:


And now...COMB-OVER 2.0 (AKA - "I'm 15 and trying to hide premature hair loss")

Maybe it's just me, but I think I see a pattern here... Or do they actually think it looks awesome?

Okay, now nobody better bust out those circa 1985 photos of me with my purple, crimped 'do.

Because that actually DID look awesome.
In my mind.
In 1985.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hypocrites, Take a Flying Leap (EXPLICIT)

For those of you who think that Pat Robertson or any of the other "Christian" idiots who spew venom about Haitian deals with the devil or other ignorant crap have a single fucking clue what they are talking about, consider the video below. Then consider the fact that the VAST majority of Haitians are IN FACT CHRISTIANS.

Also consider the fact that the whole supposed "Ceremony at Bois Caiman" in 1791 (the eve of the Haitian Revolution), in which an alleged pact with satan was made in order to gain independence from the French is disputed to have even taken place.

Consider that the idea of a bunch of African slaves throwing off their shackles and kicking Napoleon's ass scared the shit out of the slaveholding nations of the United States, France, and other European powers in the early 19th Century, and consider the blatant, brutal racism that existed at that time throughout the western world. Consider there just might have been a reason for this pack of lies to have been perpetuated by "Christian" plantation owners and slaveholders in the U.S. at that point in history, and later passed on to their children and grandchildren.

Consider that one of many reasons for the Dominican Republic's relative "success" compared to Haiti is the FACT that the U.S., France, and most of the rest of Europe effectively isolated Haiti for the first century of her independence through economic embargoes and a refusal to recognize Haiti's independence.

Consider educating yourself a little bit about the history and culture of Haiti before you swallow - hook, line and sinker - the absolute CRAP that too many "Christians" are spouting as truth.

Consider the FACT that Christianity teaches us about God's forgiveness and mercy, so that even if the ancestors of today's Haitians had attempted to win their right to liberty via a deal with the dark one, their descendants have - by and large - found Christ and accepted Him as their Savior.

And then, if you still think there's even a grain of truth in the words of Pat Robertson and his fellow dip shits, consider fucking off.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No! No! No!

God is reserving a very special place in Hell for this man, I'm certain.

I could turn this into an extremely livid rant about Pat Robertson and his kind, but I'll try to hold my tongue to the best of my ability.

At least for now.

At the moment I'm too busy trying to be productive at work while keeping an ear to the ground for word on friends and colleagues in Haiti to give myself permission to go off on an expletive-filled rant about this man's ignorance and cruelty.

At least for now...