Thursday, July 30, 2009

Things I Learned by Attending My High School Reunion

  1. People don’t change a whole lot when it comes to personality in the 30 years after high school graduation. The rich bitches are still rich and still bitches. The intimidating tough guys are still intimidating and still acting tough. The shy wallflowers are still shy and still don’t mingle much. The cliques pick up right where they left off oh so long ago.

  2. Kevin Spacey is a total prick. This I was sad to learn from someone entrenched in the entertainment business (behind the scenes, not on camera) and has had to deal with Mr. Spacey and his attitude first hand. I was sad because I’ve always liked Spacey as an actor, and somehow I always hope that actors I like would be the kind of people I’d like to call friends. Pfft. . .

  3. In women’s fashions the black/white color combination seems big this year if my reunion is any indicator. It was indeed the night of the “zebra people” as the great majority of women seemed to be wearing some version of the black/white theme, including me. (And honestly? I am never the fashionista and generally end up looking totally out of place at these things. Imagine my delight to find that, quite unintentionally, I was actually in style on Saturday night. I guess it happens to all of us at one time or another.)

  4. One of the guys upon which I had a major crush in high school (and who barely even knew I existed and certainly didn’t care I existed) is serving time in prison now for attempted murder after shooting his wife.

  5. More than 4% of our class have died from a variety of causes – cancer, suicide, murder, heart attack to name a few.

  6. While a few people look almost exactly the same as 30 years ago, most of us look enough different that it takes a moment to recognize us if you haven’t seen us lately, and a few people, no matter how long I looked at them, bear absolutely no resemblance to their teen selves leaving me to wonder if someone has stepped in to sub for them.

  7. Never assume that a small town motel, even one that’s part of a chain, will be able to deal with reservations made on that there new-fangled internet thing.

  8. Even people you count as friends can say very hurtful things behind your back. I was at the Evil Empire store (not many other options in ST2 so it was kind of unavoidable) when I overheard someone I’d seen the night before at the first night of the reunion festivities talking on the phone. What brought my notice at all was hearing him ask the person on the other end if they remembered me. Hearing my name immediately caused me to prick my ears and listen full on only to hear said “friend” say to the person on the other end, “She must weigh at least 400 lbs!” (I don’t weigh that much, but I am very overweight.) I had the option of walking over and confronting my “friend” or saying nothing and walking in the opposite direction. I chose the latter.

  9. One of my former classmates continues to lead the charmed life. She is the only person in the world that somehow has me so bothered. I'm not sure what it is, but I sure don't like it in myself. She brings out a competitive streak in me that borders on psychotic just like she did way back when. Just imagine my over reaction when BJ mentioned how cute she is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sunday Stealing: The "Leave It to Meme" Meme

1. Who was your FIRST date? Not naming names on here, but his initials were TMH. Our first date consisted of us meeting at the movie theater to see a matinee (I have no idea what was showing) where he put his arm around me. He walked me home. It was the start of many weekend matinees to come.

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love? Occasionally. I was hoping he’d be at our high school reunion last weekend, but he wasn’t.

3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink? A sip of Cold Duck when I was in eighth grade and spent New Year’s Eve with a friend and her mom let each of us have a tiny sip at midnight.

4. What was your FIRST job? Babysitting for the single mom who lived two doors down from my house.

5. What was your FIRST car? 1968 Maroon Buick LeSabre with black vinyl interior and no A/C.

6. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane? To Miami for a job interview.

7. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk? Again no names but her initials were TR, and we were best friends when we were preschoolers. After my family moved after first grade we lost touch, and by the time I was old enough to try to track her down her family had moved so no, we don’t still talk.

8. Whose wedding did you attend the FIRST time? My dad’s secretary’s where I was the flower girl. I think I was four at the time. It was a traditional Catholic wedding so it was a very long time for a little girl to stay quiet and still. I remember one of the bridesmaids kept making me turn back around to face the front instead of looking at all the people out in the pews.

9. Tell us about your FIRST roommate. My first roommate’s name was Mary Sue, and it was our freshman year in college. To me her name sounded like such a nice down to earth name that I expected a nice down to earth girl. Instead I got a “rich bitch from hell” who wanted nothing to do with me because I abhorred sororities and fraternities, and she was the ultimate sorority bitch.

10. If you had one wish, what would it be (other than more wishes)? That N could learn the lessons one learns through hurtful experiences without having to actually have the hurtful experiences.

11. What is something you would learn if you had the chance? How to ride a motorcycle.

12. Did you marry the FIRST person you were in love with? No.

13. What were the first lessons you ever took and why? Piano lessons. . . when I was three. . . because my mom tired of listening to me pound on her precious piano so she decided to teach me how to play. Because of that I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t know how to read music or play the piano. It feels as though it is as natural as speaking English, the kind of thing you know you learned but don’t remember the process of learning it.

14. What is the first thing you do when you get home? Take off my shoes. I hate to wear shoes and even kick them off at work when I can, on planes, anytime I think I can get away with it. If I could, I would go barefoot all summer like I used to when I was a kid.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Adoption Part 1: Total Heartbreak

I posted this series (three posts total) a few years ago on my old blog so if it sounds familiar you probably read it there. I have done some minor wordsmithing (mostly to be consistent with how I refer to certain people on this blog) on it but it is otherwise the same. Also, you can thank Desmond Jones for me posting these. He asked, and I am happy to oblige.

We were selected by a 21-year-old college student in Michigan to parent her unborn child. Susan (no real names used in this story, just pseudonyms) had already had two other children, one whom she was raising and one she had put up for adoption. If memory serves correctly, all three children had different fathers. I definitely remember that the unborn child had a different father from the other two.

She was about four months pregnant when she chose us. As part of the adoption, we paid for her living expenses throughout the rest of her pregnancy – rent, utilities, food, maternity clothing. Due to the baby being breech and the doctor being unable to turn it, a C-section was scheduled for a Monday. We made arrangements to fly in the Thursday before and take Susan to her doctor appointment on Friday and also to the hospital on Monday for the birth. We met Susan face to face for the first time on that Friday morning. She was a beautiful young woman, well mannered and bright. She had her 3-year-old son with her. He was cute as could be. We took her to her appointment and watched her son while she met with the doctor. Afterwards, we took Susan and her son out for lunch at Applebee’s or Chili’s or some such place. While taking her home we were slowed down in traffic due to a small accident ahead of us. As luck would have it, someone rear ended us as we came to a stop. The officer on the scene asked us to pull onto a side street and wait until he finished with the first accident so he could deal with ours. The damage to the rental car we were in was minimal, but the rental car company required a police report so we waited. We spent a good portion of the afternoon chatting with Susan and her son. All seemed well.

I don’t remember how we spent our time that weekend while waiting for the arrival of our child on Monday. The next memory I have is our going on Monday morning, very early, to pick Susan up to take her to the hospital for the scheduled C-section. Her son was staying with his father as had been prearranged. When she checked in at the hospital she put my name down to receive the second ID bracelet (she, of course, had the first) allowing me to go to the nursery and visit with and care for our child. We stayed with her up until they took her to the OR. The doctor came in and checked on her at one point while we were waiting with her. Susan introduced us as the adoptive parents of her child. The doctor asked her some pointed questions about being sure that she was going to give up this child, and how hurtful it would be to change her mind later. She insisted she was sure, and I had every confidence that she was answering honestly.

Finally, it was time for Susan to head to the OR. We would soon see our new baby. W and I sat in the waiting area trying to be patient as we waited for our baby. Finally, after what seemed an eternity a nurse emerged with the baby and headed for the nursery. We were told that we could follow them down there and soon see the baby and hold her. A girl! We had a baby girl! Susan had already told us that she had no name for her baby and would put whatever name we chose on the birth certificate so we knew that her name was Victoria. When all was settled in the nursery we took a look at our beautiful baby girl. She was the most beautiful little girl I’d ever seen. We couldn’t hold her just yet. She was just a bit jaundiced so they put her under a special light. I don’t remember if it was later that day or early the next that we first got to hold her, but I remember being terrified that anyone would let me hold such a delicate little thing. I was so afraid I would break her somehow. From then until she was discharged on Wednesday, W and I spent almost all our waking hours at the hospital most of that time with baby Victoria. We visited Susan in her room a few times over those three days. She seemed depressed, moody. She came to the nursery to see Victoria only once. On Wednesday afternoon, Victoria and Susan were both discharged from the hospital. As far as I know, Susan made no attempt to see Victoria that afternoon.

By the time we arrived back at our hotel, there was a message from the social worker handling the adoption. Susan had changed her mind and decided she wanted to parent Victoria. We would have to keep Victoria overnight, and the social worker would bring Susan to the hotel to pick her up the next morning. I was crushed, devastated. Although I had only known this little girl for three days she was without a doubt my daughter in my heart and in my mind. The thought of giving her back was unthinkable, but there was no alternative. The thought of keeping her overnight was almost unbearable. We took photos, many photos, that night of our beautiful little girl. I don’t think I slept that night at all. I remember lying in bed watching Victoria sleep. I remember getting up with her and feeding her and changing her diaper. I remember sitting and holding her and wishing there were any way in the world I could keep her. But I could not keep her. She was not my daughter. She was Susan’s daughter, and Susan wanted her.

On Thursday morning, the social worker came to our hotel room. She came in and spoke with us for a while. I don’t remember what she said. I do remember that she asked if we wanted to come down to the lobby and speak with Susan. I said no, because I knew that my emotions were too raw, that I was too likely to say things that were better left unsaid, particularly in so public a place as a hotel lobby. After some very tearful goodbyes, the social worker left with Victoria. The room seemed mighty empty after that. We packed our bags and left. We headed to the airport to change our tickets and fly home. I don’t remember why, but we couldn’t get out that day and had to stay in a motel by the airport that night. We had the rest of the day to do nothing. We watched TV. We talked. We cried.

On Friday, we flew home. We let everyone know what happened, the same people we had told in joyful anticipation about the upcoming adoption. We spent the weekend mourning our loss. I returned to work on Monday morning. It was much too soon.

Victoria is now almost 11 years old. I have not seen her since she was three days old. I still think of her often, wondering what she is doing, how she is doing. I often think of Susan also. I hold no ill will toward her. She is a mother. She is Victoria’s mother. I wish them both well.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Punctuation, Not the Body Part

You Are a Colon

You are very orderly and fact driven.

You aren't concerned much with theories or dreams... only what's true or untrue.

You are brilliant and incredibly learned. Anything you know is well researched.

You like to make lists and sort through things step by step. You aren't subject to whim or emotions.

Your friends see you as a constant source of knowledge and advice.

(But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)

You excel in: Leadership positions

You get along best with: The Semi-Colon

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yes, I’ve Probably Gone Round the Bend

I submit to you as evidence of the title’s claim the following:
  • I have requested an application to be a visiting student next semester at a local seminary and am seriously and prayerfully considering attending seminary to become an ordained minister depending in part on how this first class goes.

  • I am attending my high school reunion this weekend (class of ’79) and am terrified that I will still, 30 years later, be the loser nerd in the corner to whom nobody speaks.

  • I am letting N get his ear pierced and have agreed to get my ears pierced with a second set of holes at the same time. Just what I need, more holes in my head.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

“What Do I Know?”

The title of this post is the title of my sermon from this past Sunday, my second appearance in the pulpit. The scriptures upon which I based the sermon are 2 Samuel 7:1-13 and Ephesians 2:11-22.

In case you missed church on Sunday, or you just want a little light reading to put you to sleep, behold the words I preached below:

The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. Nothing reminds me so much of how little I know as when my son N asks me how various things work. I don’t know how gravity works. I just know that it does. I don’t know my PC works, but I do know how to use it to create spreadsheets and look up bus schedules on the Internet among other things. I don’t know what God or heaven or hell looks like, but I know that God is with me at all times. So much I don’t know, even when it seems as if I’m learning new things all the time.

In this interim time between settled pastors, many have stood before you here in this role bringing a message to you that will, if all goes well, strengthen your spiritual life and your bond with God. I know that I, and I’m guessing a few others who’ve been in this position, have thought, “What am I doing??!?? What do I know?!?” And yet, through God’s grace and perhaps through a dose of human foolhardiness, we keep coming together. We keep entering and continuing a conversation about who God calls us to be and what God calls us to do.

I’ve been thinking about all this knowing and not knowing stuff as I read and prayed with this morning’s scripture passages, as I researched and wrote this sermon, and as I continue to read and pray about the violence, hate, and destruction that is in our world, particularly in so many areas in the Middle East. I know a little, but I don’t know a great deal.

In the context of the Middle East, there is much I do not know about what governmental, diplomatic, military, or humanitarian actions hold the greatest chance to build the foundation for a lasting peace. There is much I do not know about the roots of ferocious hate in the Middle East and the unwillingness even to acknowledge the humanity of the people who have become the “despised other.” There is much I do not know about how political leaders and demagogues distort the religious traditions and faiths of the Middle East – and of the United States – in their thirst for power and perverse glory.

But there are a few things that I do know. I know that many of us here this morning seek to be disciples or followers of Jesus, whether we understand him to be the Messiah – the Christ – or to be one of history’s great teachers of wisdom and compassion. And I know that what we have received from our spiritual ancestors, our grandmothers and grandfathers in faith, is that Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies. What we have received from those who have gone before us are the stories of Jesus repeatedly reaching across the 1st century equivalent of our national, ethnic, racial, and religious divides, reaching across them with the healing power of the love of God. What we have received is the story that on the night he was betrayed and arrested, Jesus told his disciples to put away their swords, and then he healed the high priest’s slave who had been wounded by one of Jesus’ own disciples. And we have also received the story that, after he had been betrayed, abandoned, ridiculed, and then tortured and left to die, Jesus asked God to forgive his tormentors.

These are some of the things I know that I hold close in my heart as I try to envision peace in the midst of the carnage of war.

I also know that we in this congregation have been blessed with living in a vibrant community filled with diversity. The university brings people together from a wide variety of races, cultures, religions, nationalities, skin colors, and ages, much more so than for many Midwestern communities our size. The relationship between our congregation and people living here in LNJ who we may think are so unlike us is a gift of grace, which God asks us to celebrate and nurture. It is a gift that we and the world need now more than ever. As national and international debate, public and private conversations, frequently and mistakenly equate the actions of governments or other powerful groups with the content and commitments of the people from that region/religion/culture, I urge all of us in this congregation to recognize how much we don’t know about those other regions of the world and the people who inhabit them. I urge us to recognize how much we don’t know about whether our Jewish brothers and sisters believe Israeli actions are consistent with the dictates of Jewish faith and tradition or whether our Muslim brothers and sisters believe Al Qaida’s actions are consistent with the dictates of Muslim faith and tradition. As a Christian, I do not believe that my own country’s actions are always consistent with Christianity so I urge us all not to presume about others. Instead, let us take advantage of this great diversity in our community and get to know people of other cultures and backgrounds with open hearts and minds, to have real discussions and form our opinions of people based on who they are rather than on stereotypes or preconceived notions.

I am mindful this morning of knowing and not knowing for reasons beyond current headlines. I’m also aware of knowing and not knowing because today’s reading from the Second Book of Samuel points us toward the centrality of King David and the Jerusalem temple in Jewish history and identity. The roles of David and the temple in Jewish scripture and self-understanding are complex and fascinating … and are largely outside our experience and understanding as 21st century Christians living in the United States.

In our encounters with David in the Bible, I see a lot of you and me in him. The David in this book is thoroughly human … at times a faithful and humble servant of God and at other times a willful, ego-driven human being. Most often, as in this morning’s reading, he is both, simultaneously. As the Second Book of Samuel describes this time in David’s life, David is faithful in celebrating and giving thanks to God for all his good fortune, his military and political successes. He worships and praises his God, but then he decides it’s his turn to be the giver and God’s turn to be the receiver. David decides that he needs to build God a house, a permanent temple in Jerusalem.

David has his own agenda, but it’s not God’s agenda. Instead of waiting to hear God’s voice, instead of seeking to discern God’s movement in his life and the life of the people of Israel, David wants to forge ahead and build God a house, a house that David may hope will contain and tame God. But God was and remains uncontainable and untamable. David never gets to build that house.

And yet, David’s son Solomon does build that house of God, the Jerusalem temple. It becomes a sacred space, a focus of religious life and worship. Over the subsequent centuries, the temple is destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again. At different times, it served as a holy place of truth and community, but the gospel stories also tell us that it became a profane place of exclusion and greed.

As we consider our own sacred spaces, let’s remember that the vulnerability of the Jerusalem temple to misuse and unfaithfulness is our vulnerability, too. Our house and other houses of God can be places of rest, beauty, inspiration, and community, but because of our own limitations and fears, they can also become places of exclusion and separation. They can become places where we lose sight that we are called to love and serve God through loving and serving God’s wider creation.

Here at our church, many church members are putting their money, time, energy, and creativity into maintaining and improving this particular physical house of God, as have so many people through the years. In addition, many have stepped up to fill the many gaps during this interim period between settled pastors. So many, both past and present, generously share their resources and talents in service to the church. This is something to be celebrated and for which we should give thanks. But through scripture, through God’s voice in our own hearts, and through God’s voice that comes from our sisters and brothers in our community and around the world, calling out in pain and in need, we encounter what Jesus’ first disciples encountered. We encounter God’s deep, powerful love for us and for our immediate community, but we also discover that God’s love includes an equally deep and powerful call to serve our sisters and brothers outside this church. The Holy Spirit seeks to bind up our wounds, fill us with hope, and bless us beyond our knowing. But we are given that healing, hope, and blessing, not solely so that we can gather with one another and celebrate those gifts. We are given that healing, hope, and blessing, so that we can share it beyond the literal and figurative walls of this house of God. I’m not saying that we don’t already share those gifts. I’m simply reminding all of us, myself included, that we need always to listen for and then respond to God’s call to share them.

I recently read about a Bill Moyers’ interview with writer Mary Gordon. In that interview, Gordon said that the most dangerous or damaging linguistic move we’ve ever made is to embrace “either/or” as the foundation of our understanding of the world and ourselves. I hadn’t thought much about it before, but I realized that I do often think in “either/or” terms. However, the faithful, loving life does not require that we choose between either caring and nurturing one another within our immediate community or caring and nurturing our sisters and brothers beyond it. The two are not in opposition; they are intimately intertwined. We are called to take what we learn and experience of God here and offer it in places and to people who are outside these walls. And we are called to bring what we learn and experience of God elsewhere and offer it to one another within these walls. “Both/and” not “either/or.” This combined ministry can be a beautiful dance of mutual interdependence. It can be a beautiful tapestry of healing and love.

And now, allow me to return to that opening theme of knowing and not knowing. There is much I do not know about what we will be called to do as a congregation, within and outside the walls of this house of God. Presently, I do not know, just as most of you do not know, anything about the next pastor we will call to this church, whoever that may be once the search process is concluded. Much of our future remains shrouded in mystery, unseen and as yet unknown. But I do know that one of the greatest joys of ministry – for we are all in ministry here – is to be participants in the unfolding of such a mystery. I also know that God calls us together and calls us to support, challenge, and love one another, within this particular house of God and within the whole house of God, within the whole of creation. May we have the courage, patience, and faith to answer God’s call.


Excerpts from “Houses of God” used by permission from
©Rev. Nancy Alma Taylor
First Congregational Church of Sonoma, UCC

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday Stealing: The Heretic Meme

I didn’t do the Sunday Stealing Meme last week. My reason? I just flat out didn’t like it. I started it. I decided to skip the first question and proceed with the second. I read the second, and third, and so on and just couldn’t get into it. Oh well, my blog, my rules, and my rules say we don’t participate when we don’t wanna. So there. This week, however, I like the meme so away we go.

1. Who was the last person of the opposite sex you lay in a bed with? I know you’re all thinking I’ll say BJ. Sorry to disappoint. It was N. He came into my bedroom and climbed into bed with me yesterday morning at 6:30 a.m. to snuggle and remind me that I needed to get up for church.

2. Where was the last place you went out to eat? Steak N Shake. Took N there after picking him up from camp.

3. What was the last alcoholic beverage you consumed? Jack & Coke, two Fridays ago at a birthday party.

4. Which do you prefer - eyes or lips? Eyes

5. Medicine, fine arts, or law? Law

6. Best kind of pizza? Papa Del’s pan with extra cheese, mushrooms, onions, peppers and black olives.

7. What is in store for your future? Well, in the near future watching N in a baseball tourney this week, then off to my 30th high school reunion this weekend.

8. Who was the last band you saw live? Hmm, had to think about this one for a minute. I do believe it was whatever the band was (sorry I can’t remember their name, but they were just that memorable) that was at the bar we went to the weekend in March when I was at Drama’s.

9. Do you take care of your friends while they are sick? I try.

10. How many songs are on your iPod? Sorry, I’m a technological flop. I have no iPod.

11. Where is the last place you drove to? Work

12. Where did your last kiss take place? On the sidewalk near BJ’s car after we had dinner last week at the stir fry place.

13. What were you doing at 11:59 PM on Monday night? Sleeping.

14. Are you a quitter? Yes.

15. Who was the last person you had in your house? W, he came over this morning to watch N while I’m at work like he does every weekday this summer.

15. What do you think about people who party a lot? (Umm, am I the only one that noticed this is the second question numbered 15? Clearly this was a meme written by one of those people about whom this question asks.) They obviously let their guard down more often than I do.

16. Does talking about sex make you uncomfortable? Not particularly. Sometimes not enough apparently as it gets me in trouble sometimes.

17. What was the last CD you purchased? Don’t remember for sure. It was some hiphop artist’s CD that N wanted.

18. What are two bands or singers that you will always love? Well, if you’ve read here long you’d know my number one is Dan Fogelberg. As to the second, hmm, harder choice here because there are so many, but let’s go with the Dixie Chicks.

19. Which of the seven deadly sins are you guilty of? Sloth would be number one, but greed would be in there too as well as probably some others.

20. How is your last ex doing? Not great. He just broke his arm last week.

BTW, tune in tomorrow when I print the sermon I gave yesterday at church.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Difficult Two Weeks

The last two weeks have been difficult for me. It all started over Independence Day weekend and will thankfully be over tomorrow. I have spent these two weeks alternating between calm and taking advantage of time to relax and being worried, anxious, lonely, and miserable.

The cause of these two difficult weeks? N is away at camp. . . for two whole weeks! He and I have never been apart that long before, particularly not without having daily phone calls with each other.

Sunday before last my heart broke as I waved to him as I drove away from him, smiling and waving back at me from the bus that would take him into the deep dark wilds of the Ozarks. (okay, so it’s just YMCA camp, but still. . . ) I shed a few tears as I drove away, but soon I was buoyed by the freedom that comes from having no one for whom you must be responsible other than yourself. Woohoo! Freedom!

Instead of driving straight home I went to BJ’s, and we spent the rest of the day together. I had thoughts of us spending more time together during the week, but that didn’t really work out because he was required to man the booth his workplace had at the county fair every day that week. Bummer.

Somehow, I made do though. I had pizza for dinner most nights. Pizza is my favorite food in the whole world. I believe I could live on pizza alone. Pizza is good.

By last weekend, my appreciation of peace and quiet, and pizza, was starting to wane. How much better it would be to have a noisy boy in the house. How much better it would be to have the occasional mac & cheese dinner instead of pizza. How much better it would be to not be missing him acutely every time I looked online at the pictures posted on the camp’s website.

This week has been not much better, although I did vary my menu slightly. As a matter of fact, I haven’t had pizza all this week. I’ve had spaghetti, and stir fry, and mac & cheese (ok, maybe I was missing the boy a bit that night), and omelet for dinners this week. Well, and two of those nights I had dinner with BJ so that was nice. But I still eventually had to go home to an empty house. The dog and I would play a bit with his toys, but we both missed our boy. Eventually, I’d go to bed and think about how N might be handling the second week away from home and hoping he was doing better than I was.

So tomorrow morning I pick up N at the same location where I left him almost two weeks ago. He will be tired. He will be grumpy. He will be hungry. We will go to Chevy’s for lunch before making the three hour drive home. Hopefully, he will sleep much of that three hours. We will go see the new Harry Potter movie on Sunday.

And life will return to normal.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trueself Takes Seattle by Storm, Part III

Ha! You thought I’d never get around to continuing this didn’t you? Well, you thought wrong. I may be slow, but I get there eventually.

Sites of Seattle (cont.)
In Part II I talked about the things we did and saw using our City Passes and the things I did on my own while BJ conferenced. In today’s post I’ll cover the non-City Pass stuff BJ and I did together, including Saturday evening with Jeni and her boyfriend.

BJ and I had a whole day to be tourists after his conference was finished and we’d seen what we wanted to from the City Pass. We splurged (or I should say he splurged) by ordering breakfast from room service that morning. BJ showered while we waited for breakfast. I lolled in bed as I did every morning we were there.

Once we finally got out and about (yes, I finally got up, showered, and dressed after breakfast in bed) we walked down to the Pike Place Market. Wow! That place is huge! That place is fantastic! If I had lots of money I could have spent most of it there. I’m a sucker for handmade stuff, and they had a ton of vendors with handmade jewelry and clothing and purses and scarves and oh, just about anything you could imagine. While we were there we got to watch the guys who throw the fish around. We also, on our way in, got to see the very first Starbucks ever opened. No, we didn’t go in and have a mocha, but at least we can say we saw it. At Pike Place I bought N a bracelet with his name on it. He loves it. I wouldn’t let him take it to camp because I was afraid he’d lose it, but he wears it just about all the time when I let him. We had lunch at an awesome little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant. Everything we had there was to die for and very reasonably priced. I love little hole in the wall places for just that reason.

After we tired of walking around Pike Place we headed down to the ferries. We decided to take a ferry over to Bremerton and back, staying in Bremerton just long enough to have a light dinner. There is something very peaceful about riding on the water especially when the ferry is sparsely populated. So many things to see, so much peace, it was quite relaxing and beautiful. I suppose if one commuted that way every day one might become jaded and barely notice the beauty, but for a visitor it was just delightful.

Now I’ll go back to the Saturday evening towards the beginning of our trip. We (or I should say I) touched base with Jeni Angel several times prior to the trip. We exchanged cell phone numbers so that we could text/talk. My phone phobia caused me to struggle with making contact once we were in Seattle, but once I did and heard Jeni’s voice, bubbling with energy and enthusiasm, I knew everything was okay. We made plans to have dinner in the Asian part of Seattle. Jeni and her boyfriend were to pick us up at our hotel. They arrived early and went to the hotel bar for a drink while they waited for us. When we finished getting ready we went down and joined them. It is amazing that when you only know someone from blogging and don’t really know what they look like somehow you can spot them when you walk into the bar. Who knows? Maybe it’s that inquisitive look on the faces that say “Are you?” and “Maybe it’s?” that sends you over to greet one another with hugs and squeals of delight as though you’d known one another forever.

Dinner was fine, not spectacular, but good as far as the restaurant and food was concerned. The company, however, was wonderful. We learned a lot about each other, including our food peculiarities (well, Jeni’s and my food peculiarities; I don’t think BJ or Jeni’s BF had any, or at least any that were mentioned over dinner), and it was nice not to be the only one in the group with food peculiarities.

After dinner, Jeni and her BF took us on a driving tour of the Seattle area. I can’t begin to remember everything we saw or everything we discussed on the ride. It was nice though, having our own private tour of the area. We wound through the University of Washington campus where Jeni’s BF had gone to school. There two notables there for me.

First, I don’t believe there was any mention of the Huskies basketball team or Coach Romar. We drove past the football stadium with just a bit of football talk, but no basketball talk, no mention of where the basketball team plays. Hmm, could it be that Jeni and her BF aren’t basketball fans? {GASP} I know, it’s difficult to grasp that such could be the case, but they’re still good people I think.

Second, I had to bite my tongue as we wound through Frat Row (or whatever they call it there) because just about the time I was going to make one of my patented anti-frat remarks Jeni’s BF mentioned he had been a fraternity man and went on to extol the virtues of the system. Ahem. I kept my mouth shut. He’s such a great guy I never would’ve guessed him for a frat rat. I guess they do occasionally let guys in who aren’t pompous asses after all. Go figure. So perhaps Trueself learned a thing or two about stereotypes and judgment that day.

After that we crossed a bridge to the Bellevue area. By that time I was kind of confused as to where we were exactly, but I know it was east of Seattle and not far from Seattle. It looked just as nice or better than Seattle from what I saw of it.

For us Central Time Zone folks it was feeling late by the time we made our way back to the hotel otherwise we probably would have gone out with them to a club or something for another drink or two.

All in all, the evening was great. It was hard to believe we could chat so easily with people we had just met that day. Also, I had to will myself to forget that Jeni may well know a whole lot of less than flattering things about me depending on how much of my blog she’s read. Obviously, how ever much she’s read didn’t convince her that I wasn’t worth meeting, and I’m glad of that. Jeni is a wonderful, beautiful woman, and I have a feeling if we didn’t live half a continent away we’d be close friends.

If you’re patient enough I just may get the final part of this trip tale posted where I take a look at how BJ and I did “living together” for a whole week.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Here I Go Again

I am so not good at this whole friendship thing. I know, I’ve said that before here. Old news.

I tried this week to get out of my protect-me-from-all-hurts shell by asking someone to lunch. I invited. She accepted. We worked out day, place, and time. We said “See you then!”

I arrived, about three minutes later than the time we specified. She wasn’t there. I asked for a table for two and sat facing the door so I could wave her over when she arrived. I waited 20 minutes before finally ordering my food, after deciding she wasn’t coming. I didn’t have her phone # stored in my cell so I called someone who I thought might have her number. They didn’t. My food came. I ate. I left and came back to work.

I cried as I sat in the car in the parking lot at work. I had myself a right good little pity party. Yes indeed I was all knotted up in a ball of hurt and confusion and anger. Yes, I was angry. Why did she do this to me? Why do I even try to make friends? WTF is wrong with me? All these thoughts rolled around in that empty shell I call a brain.

The saner, more rational part of my brain tried in vain to reason with me. Perhaps something happened to her that prevented her from making it. Perhaps I misunderstood the day or the place where we were to meet. Perhaps there was some reasonable explanation.

Eventually the rational side won. I went back to work and emailed my acquaintance (at that point I wasn’t feeling strong enough to call her) asking if perhaps I’d had the wrong date or the wrong place and telling her I hoped she and her family were okay. It seemed better than emailing “WTF is wrong with you?!? Why did you stand me up for lunch?” which is what the hurt and angry part of me suggested.

A little more than an hour later she replied via email. She said she had just woken up a few minutes earlier after being hit with a nasty intestinal bug last night and was terribly sorry she missed our lunch. She also suggested we try again when she gets back from a trip she’s making next week.

I know the right thing to do is put on my big girl panties and email back that I’m sorry she’s ill and sure we can reschedule. The hurt little girl in me is balking though, refusing to let go of the pain, not wanting to reschedule and leave me open to being hurt once again.

Eventually the sane, rational side will win out, but not just yet. For right now I’m letting the hurt little girl side have center stage, expressing my deepest and darkest thoughts here on the blog where they belong instead of in the light of day. After she’s finished, the sane, rational me will send the appropriate email and offer to reschedule.

Fighting the social anxiety is so draining sometimes.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"We Had Him"

by Maya Angelou

Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing, now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind.

Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace. Sing our songs among the stars and walk our dances across the face of the moon.

In the instant that Michael is gone, we know nothing. No clocks can tell time. No oceans can rush our tides with the abrupt absence of our treasure.

Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone, piercingly alone.

Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him.

He came to us from the creator, trailing creativity in abundance.

Despite the anguish, his life was sheathed in mother love, family love, and survived and did more than that.

He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style. We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his.

We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes.

His hat, aslant over his brow, and took a pose on his toes for all of us.

And we laughed and stomped our feet for him.

We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing. He gave us all he had been given.

Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana's Black Star Square.

In Johannesburg and Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama, and Birmingham, England

We are missing Michael.

But we do know we had him, and we are the world.

I post this for myself, to hold onto this to reread as I wish, to remember. Comments remain open. However, this post is not the place for debate on his life, his death, his greatness, nor his misdeeds, real or alleged. I will delete any comments that do not honor this.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sunday Stealing: The "I've Come to Realize" Meme

1. I’ve come to realize that my chest-size. . . is so much better when I’m fat than when I’m not.

2. I’ve come to realize that my job. . . is not the thing that defines who I am.

3. I’ve come to realize that when I’m driving. . . I feel on top of the world.

4. I’ve come to realize that I need. . . more help than I can probably get.

5. I’ve come that realize that I have lost. . . most of my mind.

6. I’ve come to realize that I hate it when. . . people don’t understand my sarcastic wit.

7. I’ve come to realize that if I’m drunk. . . I’m very entertaining in my own mind.

8. I’ve come to realize that money. . . is like sex. It isn’t nearly as important to you when you have enough of it as it is when you have none or very little.

9. I’ve come to realize that certain people. . . are idiots and have absolutely no clue that they are idiots.

10. I’ve come to realize that I’ll always. . . struggle to overcome self esteem issues.

11. I’ve come to realize that my sibling(s). . . is weird. (more on that in a future post BTW)

12. I’ve come to realize that my mom. . . is a whole lot like my grandmother and that in another 25 years she’ll probably act the way my grandmother acts now.

13. I’ve come to realize that my cell phone. . . is a blessing and a curse.

14. I’ve come to realize that when I woke up this morning. . . I should have stayed up instead of going back to sleep.

15. I’ve come to realize that last night before I went to sleep. . . would have been a good time to relocate from the family room recliner to my bed.

16. I’ve come to realize that right now I am thinking. . . that this meme is not as fun as some I’ve done.

17. I’ve come to realize that my dad. . . is not going to live forever, and maybe not even another year or two.

18. I’ve come to realize that when I get on Facebook. . . it would totally shock everyone, including me, since I never get on Facebook.

19. I’ve come to realize that today. . . is the first day of the rest of my life.

20. I’ve come to realize that tonight. . . is a good time to order pizza exactly like I like it since I’ll be eating alone.

21. I’ve come to realize that tomorrow. . . is another day.

22. I’ve come to realize that I really want to. . . do what I want to do without feeling self-conscious all the time.

23. I’ve come to realize that the person mostly likely to repost this is. . . someone who has as boring a life as mine.

24. I’ve come to realize that life. . . is not going to get better unless I make it better.

25. I’ve come to realize that this weekend. . . is too danged far away.

26. I’ve realized the best music to listen to when I am upset. . . is loud, really loud, with a strong beat.

27. I’ve come to realize that my friends. . . are few and far between but that every friend I have is precious to me.

28. I’ve come to realize that this year. . . is better than last year.

29. I’ve come to realize that my exes. . . live too close.

30. I’ve come to realize that maybe I should. . . make a decision and follow through.

31. I’ve come to realize that I love. . . solitude, but not too much solitude.

32. I’ve come to realize that I don’t understand. . . men.

33. I’ve come to realize my past. . . is behind me and only haunts me because I allow it to do so.

34. I’ve come to realize that parties. . . are fun!

35. I’ve come to realize that I’m totally terrified. . . of being a failure.

36. I’ve come to realize that my life. . . is in need of an Extreme Makeover: Life Edition.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Trueself Takes Seattle by Storm! Part II

Playing Tourist (or What I did and Saw on My Summer Vacation)

Seattle is a great city for tourists. I say this having been there, oh. . . well, just the one time, but still there was a lot to see and do within easy reach of our hotel. Plus I never once felt unsafe on the streets there (I’m sure there are neighborhoods where I would, but I didn’t have the fortune to frequent any of those neighborhoods) which is saying a lot for a city. (Don’t get me started on my experiences in New York, L.A., San Francisco, St. Louis, Dallas, etc., but I digress.)

One of the first things BJ and I did once we gathered ourselves together there was to buy a City Pass. It was about $55 and included five attractions: Space Needle, Woodland Park Zoo, Pacific Science Center (including IMAX film), Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, and in addition to those five it included the option of one of the Museum of Flight or Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. We did not use all of our City Passes, but we felt we got our money’s worth out of them.

The ones we used and what I thought (these are my opinions alone; BJ may have other opinions and I make no representations of his opinions here):

Space Needle – The tickets allowed us to go twice, once during the day and once at night. That was awesome. Seeing the view during the day is great because you can really see clearly and enjoy the boats on the water and details you would miss at night. Seeing the view at night (and we were there a bit before dusk right through nightfall) is gorgeous as only sunset and nighttime views can be. It was a beautiful sunset the day we were there, and to see the city lights from that vantage point was delicious. One word of caution, if you plan to go outside on the observation deck (you don’t have to do so as you can stay inside and look through the big windows) take something long-sleeved to wear. I don’t care what the weather is like, do it! The wind up there is something fierce (remember you’re close to the ocean there), and even a hot day in Seattle isn’t what we Midwesterners think of as hot.

Pacific Science Center – I went alone to this one while BJ was in one of his conference sessions. I primarily went for the IMAX film. I’m a sucker for IMAX, and I’m a sucker for nature films so I was in heaven watching a film (sorry, can’t remember the name) about an island (sorry, can’t remember the name) where sea lions and penguins come to breed. Although I don’t remember a lot about it (hey, I knew it wasn’t going to be on the mid-term, okay?) I really did enjoy the film while watching and for probably about three or four days thereafter (so I probably could have passed a pop quiz at the end of that week). As far as the rest of the center there were a couple of large groups of rugrats roaming the area, and I didn’t see any exhibits that knocked me off my feet as I walked around waiting for movie time. Not to say there weren’t great exhibits there because there may be. I just wasn’t there looking for them. I was there for the movie.

Seattle Aquarium – Okay, this was probably the only attraction I saw that disappointed me. Maybe I’m spoiled by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but this aquarium seemed smallish, and dingy, and just blah. I don’t know. Maybe it was just because I was tired when we went there towards the end of the afternoon after a long day of sightseeing, or maybe it really isn’t the greatest aquarium in the world. I’m not sure. Somehow, I expected more. If it weren’t part of the City Pass that was already sunk money anyhow I would have felt ripped off.

Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour – I only had one complaint here: one hour is not enough! I wanted more. I could cruise for hours out there in the harbor. It was beautiful. The boat seemed in good shape and clean, and the crew was pleasant and informative. Again, if you’re going to be out on deck it’s best to have long sleeves.

I thought about going to the zoo by myself one day while BJ was at his conference, but I didn’t. I got lazy instead and other than going out for lunch and to the drug store for a few things I spent most of that day lolling in the hotel room watching trashy daytime TV, reading, and napping.

Over all, I used four of six of my City Pass coupons and BJ used three of six.

Other than the City Pass stuff, here’s what I did while BJ was busy:

I went to see the new Star Trek movie on Monday afternoon. It was much better than I expected. There were very few people in the theater (which I did expect), and most that were there were, like me, alone.

Before that, I shopped a bit at the mall where the theater is located. Bookstores are like magnets to me, and I got sucked into Barnes and Noble where I bought three books for the price of two. I’m still working on the first of the three books, The Canterbury Tales, by Chaucer. I’ve read it before, many years ago for a college lit class, but we had to read it in the original Middle English which made it quite the drag for me back then. The version I bought this time has the Middle English on the left and the modern English translation on the right. It is making it a much easier read, and this time I am quite enjoying reading it.

On Sunday morning I attended church across the street from the hotel where we stayed. It is a lovely church building, and the people I met were very friendly. They are, as a congregation, struggling as are many downtown city churches. I hope they survive.

Other than that, when on my own I was a lazy bum, sleeping late, taking my time getting ready once I did get up, and just relaxing, but then that’s what you’re supposed to do on vacation, right?

Okay, again I'm getting too long here so this calls for the end of this post and a continuation into Part III which will include the rest of the touristy stuff BJ and I did together and the evening we spent with Jeni and her boyfriend.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Losing My Mind?!?

Just a quickie post this morning to note a few interesting (well, they’re interesting to me, and it is my blog after all) items.

Item 1 (in which I wonder if I’ve lost my mind)
Yesterday after work I was at the grocery store picking up a few things as N and I were about to make homemade brownies (from scratch even, which BTW turned out absolutely fabulous and made a great dessert with icy cold glasses of milk to wash them down). When I got through the checkout line I went to pay with my debit card, as is my customary habit, and couldn’t find it. I checked not only where it should have been but other pockets too. Nothing. Fortunately, I had enough cash on me to pay for my purchase, and I walked out of the store wracking my brain trying to think where my lifeblood, err. . . debit card could be. After retracing, in my mind, the last place I remembered using it and seeing it I came to the conclusion that I must’ve left it at Steak ‘n’ Shake when I paid for dinner the night before. I had the receipt nicely folded and tucked away in the appropriate pocket of my purse but not the debit card. Had I left the debit card sitting on the little tray on the table? I could remember taking care to fold the receipt so carefully and sliding it into my purse. Could I remember putting the debit card there too? No, no I couldn’t. I could only remember seeing it sitting there, in front of me, on the tray on the table. Good grief! Could I be that stupid?!? Alas, the answer is not only that I could but that I am. When I returned last night to ask the manager if perhaps my card had been left there, he asked to see my drivers license, verified that I was the same person as the one who leaves her debit card behind for no good reason, and went and got it from somewhere in back, presumably where it was locked up safely until I arrived. I checked my balance and transactions online this morning and will continue to do so for a couple of days until I’m pretty sure it wasn’t used nefariously.

Item 2 (where I cackle with glee when someone else gets their just desserts)
About a year ago a piano bar opened nearby. It was trying to be an upscale place in a borderline derelict local area, trying to revitalize the area I suppose you could say. When they opened they tried to get a local character, a homeless guy who minds his own business and never begs but just hangs out in public places where he can stay warm in winter and cool in summer, banned from shopping center in which they were located. He refused to leave. People who know and care about him (myself included) came to his defense and tried to get the piano bar owner to back off of him. The local paper tried to interview him, but he wasn’t interested. He just wanted to be left alone, which is what he always wanted. I exchanged heated emails with the bar’s owner. It was clear we approached life from two completely different views. He came from the view that free enterprise and capitalism trumps all, that we must make everyone and everything look just so very nice so we don’t scare away potential customers. I came from the live and let live, as long as nobody is bothering anybody then all is fine, and I wouldn’t want customers who would let a little thing like a quiet, non-pushy homeless person scare them away. I informed the bar owner I would never set foot inside his establishment unless he backed off of the homeless guy and publicly apologized. I knew others who did the same. Yesterday the piano bar closed. Good riddance I say! Some may say that the homeless man who hangs out nearby scared customers away causing the piano bar to close. I say the homeless man was here first, is a beloved member of the community, and it is only appropriate that he is still here, and that the narrow-minded bar owner had to close his business when reasonable people like me refused to back down on our stance. I love piano bars. I would’ve loved to have gone to this one except for the fact that I couldn’t support a business with an owner so callous. It would be interesting to me to find out what factors led people to not frequent this piano bar. How many would say they never went because of being scared off by the homeless guy sitting quietly on a bench a short distance away? How many would say because they were supporting the homeless guy? And how many would give any variety of reasons (I’ve heard from more than one person that the service was terrible) that had nothing to do with the homeless guy?

Item 3 (where this “quickie” post must be recognized for being anything but quick, but I promise this is the last, and shortest, item)
N and I went to see the new Transformers movie recently. Is there a reason that a movie that is targeted towards kids and has a blatant tie in with kids toys has to be made in such way that it earns a PG-13 rating? Did they have to use so much offensive language? Did they have to make so many blatant sexual innuendos? N and I both go to see movies like this for the action, for the shootings and fights, for the cool transformations from vehicle to autobot and back, not to watch some little autobot hump Megan Fox’s leg. Do they really think those elements will draw in the teen/twenties demographic? Could they have put more effort into the good stuff (action scenes) and had fewer scenes of dogs humping each other (I suspect that’s the only reason Mojo has a new doggy pal in the new movie)? Could I get any more curmudgeonly (I had “more curmudgeonly” to start with only to have Spellcheck suggest “curmudgeonlier” only to then have it suggest “curmudgeonly” after I made the change so I’m back to my original wording) in my old age?!?