Thursday, December 27, 2012

Getting Frisky

If you think I am going to tell you about my sexual exploits because of the title of the post, you are just a pervert. Go wash your brain.
More likely, if you are a friend of mine, you thought of Friskies cat food. #catladyconfessions!

But for reals, yo. Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0 tagged me in a blog "ass grab" wherein I am supposed to tell you 5 of my wishes and then tag 5 additional bloggers. For the sake of some of the people I want to pass this along to, we can call it a "hiney handful" a "butt grab" or just "tag, you're it".

So what are 5 things I wish for? Hmmmmm.....

1. World Peace. Just kidding. I'm not Sandra Bullock. But it's kind of wrong to take back wanting world peace because that would be a good thing, right? And I saw Red Dawn and that actually happening would be really scary so I would like to avoid that. But I guess I would be more sincere if I narrowed the scope a little bit and said family peace.
I mean that on a couple of levels, to be honest. The one I talk about more is that I work with families who have experienced domestic violence. And it's really yucky. It is at the root of so many bigger societal ills. So I wish I could stop it. But even if I can't get that far, I wish people would be more willing to be non-judgmental about it so it could be less taboo and shameful for victims.
But I also wish this for myself, within my own family of origin. I wish I could erase the bad experiences, hear the sincere apologies from the right people and have holidays be drama free.

2. I wish people got paid what they were really worth. America has it's priorities all messed up. That is one of the things I have loved the most about the places I have traveled; I have seen that we could do some things differently and it could be better. We don't get enough vacation time. We don't get enough family time like maternity leaves and such. And we pay people who work on computers a ton more than we pay people who work with people. That's not right.
I would extend this to say that if this happened, I might be able to stay home some day. Not only would I like the opportunity to stay home with my someday family, which will likely not happen due to finances, but I would also like to stay home now, pre-kids. I'd like to not have to work two jobs. In fact, I would much prefer to be able to stay in comfortable clothes with my hair up, not think about what I will eat for lunch at breakfast time, and not grocery shop as the store is closing. Reading my new Kindle and watching shows on my DVR would just be frosting on the cake. I can dream, right? These are wishes. As in a genie could grant them. So I can ask for whatever I want!

3. I wish that it didn't cost so much for vet bills. I know that animal insurance exists but I don't know enough about it to say if it's worth it or not. I just know that having a sick animal is the pits. (I'm totally bringing that phrase back, by the way). And it's crazy that sometimes people have to choose between paying a ton of money to find out what is wrong with their animal and putting a pet down.

4. I wish that all jobs had summer vacation like schools. And the week between Christmas and New Year's Day off.

5. I wish vegetables tasted as appetizing as fudge and that things that are not healthy for you tasted appalling.

So with that, I will pass this game along to 5 bloggers who I enjoy catching up on.
http://imeanreallyhappy.blogspot.com/
http://big-lass.blogspot.com/
http://www.thedollsweetjournal.com/
http://acshepfam.blogspot.com/
http://toddbishopfamily.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Boston Pride

I have been a little anti-blog lately. Not just not writing here but also not reading as many that others write. I have just had a little blog burnout.

I find that the more I blog, the less I journal and that's something I don't want to lose. I have been journaling since I was a pre-teen and I think it holds tremendous value for multiple reasons. Also, for me, I want blogging to be a hobby. Something I want to do. Accordingly, if I don't feel like blogging, I don't. I took down my blog's Facebook page because I didn't want to feel obligated to do something with it with any kind of regularity and I have considered taking down the blog altogether. But I will hold off on that.

That's all just a preface, though, for why you haven't heard much from me. And the reason I'm posting today isn't actually because I wrote anything great or had a funny idea. Nope. But I have a friend who did! My email soul mate is visiting the west coast right now and having travel epiphanies about her love for the east coast as a result. With no offense intended to my west coast friends, I just love her Boston thoughts. Here they are:

Why I love Boston....
 
Better sense of community. If you do something to mess with someone out here, they might stab you. In Boston, assholeness is expected and tolerated. It's a way if life.
 
We are the best worst drivers in the world. If people in LA drive too slowly for you, while also having 6 lanes, that's a problem.
 
We have the best white trash. Our white trash have amazing accents and entertain us (cite the guy from Drew's Rehab). Everywhere else is just sad and make you feel uncomfortable. Boston WT is a novelty that draws people to stare, not look away.
 
I will curse myself for saying this, but I miss my scarf. December is just not the same without 30 degree weather, a sense of misery, and a scarf and gloves.
 
We are nicer to our animals. We just are. In Boston, there is something seriously wring with you if you leave your dog outside all day. Here, it is normal to have an "outside dog." Dog houses have function, and are not just decorative. WTF is that?
 
 

Friday, November 30, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #12

Okay, I know it's totally weak that throughout the entire month of November, I only wrote about what I was thankful for 12 times. Still, it increased my thought and appreciation for things throughout each day and I am glad I accepted this challenge from http://hypnoticbard.blogspot.com/.

Today I a have to admit that I am thankful that this challenge is ending and I can write about other topics again.

But to close on a positive note, I am so thankful for the weekend and not being scheduled to work at all! It's clearly a sign of aging but I am really looking forward to a bikram yoga class after work followed by Papa Gino's bread sticks and watching Pet Cemetery with my husband tonight. It truly is the little things......

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #11

I think this is #11 but like I mentioned yesterday, I am a little over feeling thankful every day in my posts. And today I am feeling downright snarky. As a result and after reading a number of other people's blogs today, I am thankful that I can feel superior.

Let me explain.....
I'm not at all saying I am the best. But I am real. And in my book, that's so much better than anything else.
One blog I just read-a really popular one that I actually really adore and has multiple writers so I can't hate on it across the board-was just way too long. I'm reading you for distraction, funny blog. You are not a novella and since you are trying to make it funny, keep it a little shorter. Also, this blog did the thing I hate most about blogs: they used "y'all".
The word/term y'all is acceptable in verbal speech if and only if you are indigenous to a part of the US that frequently uses this. "Y'all come back now, ya hear?" is charming if you are from, say, Mississippi or something like that. Texas, sure. But I don't think it's okay to use it in a written form, especially just because it's trendy. Just be real. I am from Massachusetts. I can use the word wicked the way you might use the word very. It works for me. It can't work for Mississippi. That's why they have the word y'all. We are all special, unique flowers. Let's embrace our diversity, folks.

Another blog I read today, a travel blog (of which there are far too many, in my humble opinion), was trying so hard to suck in readers that it offered nothing of actual value. It was a bait and switch and I didn't even realize you could do that in a blog. Joke's on me! It went a little something like "I can tell you how much it will cost you to travel" and then answered that question with "it depends" and only went on to elaborate with other common sense answers such as "it costs more to sleep in a hotel than in a sleeping bag in the subway". Or something akin to that. You feel me.
The thing is, that blog definitely has a ton more readers than my blog does. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's good. And that's the weird thing about personal blogs, right? Travel blogs, in particular, don't even get me started. They are a dime a dozen and, admittedly, I am slightly envious that they have figured out how to get paid to go explore the world. But it takes something away from that if the product they are putting out there isn't very good.

So today I am thankful that I am true to myself. I am thankful to have a platform to give voice to my snarky opinions. I am thankful for freedom of speech, free blog sites, and the diversity of voices that are out there nowadays. I am thankful for the progress of social media outlets and the ways that they make me feel connected to old friends, new friends, people I can relate to and people I can learn from, even if I am sometimes daunted by the rapid growth in technology at the same time. I am thankful that you read all the way to the end of this, too. I hope you have a wicked awesome day, haha.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Friendsgiving:Pie edition


There are many things I am thankful for #10

Is is bad that I am sick of writing about what I am thankful for? I'm really impressed with anyone else involved in this challenge through The Insomniac's Dream who actually wrote every day. Some people chose to list one thing each day they were thankful for. Maybe that would be a better plan. Because each time I think about it, I come up with big, universal ideas. I can only tell you that I am thankful for my friends and family and lip gloss so many times. Have I mentioned that I am thankful for lip gloss? Because it's my world!

But in keeping with the spirit, I will tell you that I am thankful for Connect 4. I am ridiculously good at Connect 4. And that's okay to say because I don't have a lot of obvious talents so you have to kind of give me some space to gloat about a skill as measly as crushing opponents in a game targeted for 6 and above.

Last night we hosted our first ever Friendsgiving. Holiday gatherings seem to get more and more complicated as I get older and people marry off and then you have all sorts of in-law variations to contend with. I kind of wanted to run away from it all and just celebrate with my homies but I knew my mom would be upset about it so I stuck with tradition. The idea pleased me so much, though, that we decided to do an addition to our traditional Thanksgiving and have friends over on Sunday just for pie. We then appropriately named it Friendsgiving: Pie Edition. And when I say "we" I mean me because my husband made fun of me for it.

It was really intimate; I invited 4 people and my husband invited 3. One person from each side dropped out so it was quaint. Everyone invited was part of our wedding party five years ago, with one exception. These are the people we call when you are freaking out. Friends who know you without you having to give a backstory. For me, these are the people who keep me as sane and grounded as I ever get. When family gets crazy, when big life crises erupt, these are the people I know will support me, have fun with me, tell me I am right. And it just felt appropriate to celebrate the family that we have created in some way.

One of my friends was going to write speeches for everyone but got sidetracked. Then she decided she would orate her speeches but I only heard one (and it wasn't mine! :)) So I guess this post ended up being a taste of what my speeches would have been if I had come up with her brilliant idea. I would list the times I called on them and how they helped me. I might have talked about a couple of shared highlights from the year past. But that stuff is private and you probably don't want to hear about all of it anyway. Except maybe the time....wait, no. That's a secret.

So how did I get here from Connect 4? Good question. I almost forgot. We played Connect 4 at Friendsgiving: Pie Edition and I am the reigning champion. It only sweetened the night.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #9

It's so much easier to be thankful this week! Maybe it's the short work week? Or the fun things coming up? Or just gorgeous blue skies?

This week I am finding it much easier to be thankful for the little things as I notice them. Last night after seeing a friend, I reveled in how grateful I am to be able to spend time with good friends and that I have them. This morning, the parking lot I was in was next to a farm that had a llama as well as a number of horses and it was so nice to just sit and watch them for a few minutes. The combination of moments like that and hating to drive in the city make me so thankful for living in the suburbs. Also, twice this week I have seen people picking up trash or debris at a park or on the side of the road and have been thankful that they were willing to give of themselves in that way. Sometimes it just takes a little mindfulness to look around and appreciate what you see.

Part of my cheery disposition is that tomorrow is my favorite day of the year. No, I'm not forgetting a day on my calendar; my favorite day of the year is the day BEFORE Thanksgiving. Since I was in the first grade, so over 25 years ago (gasp!), my mother and I have gone to Plymouth-home of THE rock-on this day. More specifically, we go to Plimoth Plantation, a living museum where people represent colonists from the year 1627 and act and speak as if they were a specific resident in that year. Last year was extra awesome because I had just learned that my mother's family descends from a Mayflower passenger and we got to go into 'his home' in the colony and chat with him.

Not only do I love history and the strong roots that I have grown up with in the midst of New England, but I just adore traditions. This is the most salient tradition I have in my family, though there are many smaller examples. I am so thankful that my mother came up with this idea years ago and that she raised me to appreciate all that it teaches and represents. Through the years, different people have come along or dropped off but it has always been my special day with my mother. Even as an adult, I think it's great to have a mommy/daughter day each year!

For a long time, we followed this tradition to a tee. We would buy the same fudge afterward, visit the rock and then go to the same little restaurant. The last few years, we took it up a notch and have bought tickets to eat a Harvest Supper with the pilgrims after our visit to the village. They pray, they sing, they come joke with us at the tables, all in character. The food is all traditional to what they might have consumed in 1627....and they make a mean rice pudding!

So, I am really looking forward to all of that and a few days off. What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 16, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #8

I am soooooooo thankful that it's Friday, I can tell you right off the bat. This week made me really cranky and it was extra hard to find the positive things to focus on. However, I did find it was easy to remember how thankful I was for the basics-some of the things and people I have already written "thankful posts" about this month. It was reassuring to see that no matter how frustrating a week can get, there are some beacons of light that include good friends, a good spouse, and at least a couple loving family members:)

That sounded so cheesy, sorry. But it's really true. I was super sour yesterday but after some time with friends and family, it all turned around. So I am really thankful for this upcoming weekend because I have lots of time with people I like planned. I wish my house would magically clean itself , though.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #7

Before I start, don't forget to check out http://hypnoticbard.blogspot.com/ if you would like to link up or read what others are thankful for this month.

It never ceases to amaze me how much easier it is to note the things you are not thankful for. That's kind of where I am today. It's raining and grey out and I'm already sick of it being as dark as midnight at 5pm; it impacts my mood. I had to work on the holiday yesterday when most of my coworkers were off. And I even had a bad day at church. When my husband called me Sunday afternoon I said "I had a hard day at church" and then I thought, who even says that? Me.

But I guess that's why it's all the more important that I think of things to be thankful about today since the negativity seems to be oozing out of me. When  you focus on the positive, maybe you notice it more?

Today I am thankful for my mother. Unfortunately, a friend's parent passed away this week and my heart is kind of breaking for the family that is impacted. This is the third parent death among my friends in a short period of time. Sorry to be morose and I don't want to share anyone else's private pain but it really makes me feel somber. And even though I don't want to be depressing here, there's no other way to explain why I feel so thankful for my mom today.

For whatever reason, being nice doesn't come easy to my family. Except to my mom. The rest of us are crotchety as hell, to be honest. And we can't get out of our own way most of the time to give voice the nice feelings we have about each other. It makes me sad that it's hard for me, even a little embarrassing, to express how fully I love my mom. But I do and days like today make me even more aware of it. My mom is my world. When I say my prayers at night, before I list any of the other things, I always say how thankful I am for my husband and my mother (and my cats, in the spirit of full disclosure). Because while family, in general, is a challenging concept for me in light of some experiences I have had, I know that the core people I am connected to are the best possible people I could wish to have in my life.

Sometimes it takes some bad days to put things in perspective that this version of bad is so much better than other people's versions of bad, or even some of your own other versions of bad.

Friday, November 9, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #6

Today I am thankful for.....
  • Political ads on tv being done for a while
  • The sunny day that it is and a prediction of warm temps this weekend
  • The granular sugar on the top of Dunkin Donuts chocolate chip muffins
  • Days when I can wear my jeans to work
  • My yellow converse sneakers that I bought at a street fair in Paris. They just make me happy.
  • My kitchen being painted as we speak!
  • The cooking lesson from a friend last night
  • The hope of sleeping in tomorrow. Yawn.
  • Police officers 
What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #5: Please be nice about your political responses

Today is one of the days that validates why I created this blog and why it is aptly named to refer to finding a balance between seemingly contradictory things. Actually, today it is hard to feel thankful for the issues that are weighing most heavily on my mind.

I am both a Mormon and someone who leans toward the ideals of the Democrats. To me, this makes all the sense in the world as my main focus in doing so is to ensure that government can help to assist people who are in need. Actually, I have a really hard time understanding how any Christian can feel differently about such issues, if I am really being honest. But I am not here to debate the merits of those who won and lost, truly. I need to express my immense disappointment in the response of others to the results of the election.

I  understand that Romney supporters are feeling sad, worried and discouraged, among other things. But being in the position that I am, I get to see how a handful of those people are choosing to express those feelings and it's not pretty. In fact, I'm embarrassed and ashamed on their behalf.  I am speaking mostly to the Mormons I know who supported Romney, admittedly a huge chunk of the church affiliated folks who I know. I was behind them in their excitement for someone they can relate to being on such a precipice of power in this country, even if all of his plans for the country differed from what I would like to see. But the responses I have read last night and so far today are making a population that, as this election season and research has shown, many people are uninformed about and even prejudiced against, look as bad as people expect. It was hard for me, personally, not to want to defend Romney a lot of the time even if I actually wasn't rooting for him so I can only imagine how defensive it must have made people who identify with him and were, indeed, rooting for his victory. But the anger, vitriol, fear inspiring doomsday messages and unkind words that I am reading are just not right. Comments about "uneducated idiots", "ignorant" people, and the word evil being featured prominently do not look good on you, folks. That kind of aggression makes YOU look like the bad guy, and definitely not Christ like as you say that you aim to be. And the scripture quotes and doomsday messages that I can only assume are meant to shame others are inappropriate in their intentions.

I can honestly say that I respect the different opinions and points of view that make people feel and vote in the different ways that they do. Frankly, I think some are uninformed and that if church members did more service outside of the church community they would benefit from being exposed to people who have had experiences you can't even fathom and who don't have a church welfare system to back them up, unfortunately. I really love the ideals that say we don't need government to help people because people should help each other but that's just not the way this country works at this point in time. I work for a non-profit agency. I see the overwhelming generosity of a small group of dedicated people but also the tremendous amount of energy it takes to cultivate donors. And I actually don't see a lot of church groups jumping in, I am sorry to report.

So while I can empathize with the frustrations felt by many today, I sincerely hope people can quell their emotional reactivity a bit and heed the words uttered by so many concession speeches, the official statement offered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and many well intentioned, peace seeking citizens. Do things that work for you to release your negative emotions and then do all you can to make the world the better place you would like to see it be by the sweat of your own brow. Pray for the elected leaders. And help create as much unity in this country as we can all muster. But, most importantly, don't lose your integrity by being a hostile person in the process of standing up for the things you think are important.

Be the change you want to see in the world. I am thankful for that quote offered, I believe, by Gandi. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #4

I'm going to lose track of these numbers, I  can just feel it. While I am at the task of remembering things, don't forget to check out The Insomniac's Dream if you would like to read what other people are thankful for or if you would like to link up in this challenge of stating what you are thankful for throughout November.

It won't come as any surprise that today I am thankful for voting. I almost wanted to write about one of the other many things I have already taken note of today like the beautiful swans in the pond near my parent's house or getting a good deal on gas this morning because I paid in cash or the great customer service at Boloco just so I could avoid being redundant and talking about the same thing that everyone else is talking about today. But when I got teary as I saw the line of cars waiting to pull into the local high school to vote, I knew I couldn't ignore the gratitude I felt for the democratic process.

I will not turn this into anything that even resembles a political message because I have found throughout this race that the spirit of conflict and tension rises (at least in me) as people put candidates down or make sweeping judgmental statements about this or that party. Frankly, I just don't like that. Honestly, I only had two political conversations this season that felt good, like we were all just sharing our points of view. But what I would like to say about the candidates is that I think it's an amazing testament to the growth of our country to even be considering the two candidates that we are.

Some might guffaw at the concept of Mitt Romney being in any way in the minority given his wealth and status but since I share a similar religious cultural background with him as well as a New England area address, I can say with a high degree of confidence that there have been times he has felt like the odd man out in a situation. Perhaps he has felt uncomfortable with those kinds of situations. For me, being a religious minority, even at times that I wasn't practicing my religion to it's fullest, is certainly something that has defined my world view. And I am proud of an America who, even though it was a heavily discussed topic and often the focus of ridicule, could put someone so "othered" in a position of potential power.

Clearly it goes without saying that Obama has faced very explicit ridicule and alienation as a result of his racial minority status. I am thankful that kind of messaging seemed to be less of a focus in this race than it was his first time around, or at least that was my experience of it where I am. When I think of all the people out there who still think in backwards ways or the even larger population of people who don't want to consider race at all and don't even understand the concept of white privelage, I am amazed at the country's ability to elect a president with black heritage. Amazed and proud because even in my generation growing up (not sooooo long ago!) and in one of the most liberal states in the union, I definitely got some messaging that being, in particular, biracial would (not just could) cause inner conflict to a point of detriment. I'm sure there's a smoother way to say that but that's essentially what I took away from it. As a part of an interracial relationship, it fills me with more hope than you can know that this generation and the next will get such different messaging and images of strength and power. My someday-children will know that they can rise as high as anyone else, as all children should be allowed to believe.


Monday, November 5, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #3

I was thankful for things yesterday; I just didn't want to type on my phone. Because I am on a computer so much during the week for work, sometimes just turning on my laptop at home is too much for me. So one thing I am thankful for (and I am sure I am not alone) is weekends!

This weekend I was thankful for a lot, actually. Saturday was a rare weekend day when I had nothing scheduled. I felt amazingly liberated and had plans with a good friend who is always down for an adventure so we kind of made up our minds as we went along. We made an outstanding, memorable day out of a road trip to Wegmans, a half hour in one direction, and a mall that is an hour away in the other direction-even though we passed two other malls en route. I am grateful for finding fun in the small things. I am also grateful to be in a financial situation that allows me to have enough gas in my car to make extraneous journeys like that. Of note, I was also pretty thankful for the free cider and pumpkin bread that I got to sample at Williams Sonoma. Yum!

Sundays are for church and spending time at home. I was thankful that my husband helped me with some tasks around the house that would have been insurmountable without his assistance. I was thankful for the fabulous shoes I wore with my church dress. And, most of all, I was thankful for having a faith community. I can honestly get why "religion" can turn some people off-I can see where they are coming from on some of their points. But, for me, there is such a great benefit to the group of people that comes with the religion. It's such a joy to me to see people each week who have known me my whole life; people I really enjoy knowing.

Finally, I was extremely thankful for last night's episode of The Walking Dead. Laugh if you must but watching tv is one of my favorite escapes and a good episode of a good show is kind of like getting a present when it's  not a holiday. That show rocked my socks off last night. I would go so far as to say it was the best episode of the show, period. I don't want to give any spoilers for people who haven't watched yet but WOW.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #2

This morning I'm feeling pretty psyched and grateful just to have an unscheduled day. I'm actually looking forward to running errands. But I'm extra aware of the gift of my morning routine when I don't have to jump out of bed to get someplace. Stella, my cat that was super sick last month-to the point that I thought losing her was imminent- comes and chills on my bed right by me. If I get up, she gets up. It's our quiet time. So this morning I am thankful for the companionship of pets.


Friday, November 2, 2012

There are many things I am thankful for #1

Well, let's start with the obvious: It's November. Thanksgiving is coming. It's time to be thankful.

Regarding my title......Do you remember that song from elementary song? "There are many things I am thankful for. Let me tell you what they are." If you don't, then you definitely didn't have the pleasure of sitting with Ms. Conway, a heavy chain smoking music teacher who was the best at holiday theme songs and traditions. And letting us play with tambourines. So let me start by saying I am thankful for having a teacher who did something right if I remember her and her songs two and a half decades later.

A lot of people use November as a time to update their Facebook status every day with things they are grateful for. I am not going that route so that the people who complain that some people glamorize their lives publicly won't have anything to say about my sunny disposition this month. If you read my blog, it's your own fault if you are exposed to some less cranky words coming from me.

So, following the inspiration of some fellow bloggers such as The Sleepy Bard and The Next Step, I am accepting the challenge to spend November blogging about the things for which I am grateful. Here are my caveats: I don't promise every day blog posts but I promise to think about and somehow acknowledge the things I am grateful for each day. Actually, even before this challenge, I did this verbally with my husband last night. And I don't promise long posts. Sometimes just a line or two. But I promise to be mindful of the things I am grateful for and to see how that makes a difference in my life.

There is research out there that shows that keeping a daily gratitude journal increases perceptions of happiness and lowers symptoms of depression. Those are good things, right? Plus, Oprah recommended it ans she is the greatest sage of my era.

So today I begin simply, leaving room for to grow the list for the rest of the month. I am thankful for good friends. I went to a  movie last night with a good friend to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower-it was really good-and was so content in the simple pleasure that it was to be together to eat some popcorn and watch a movie. The older I have gotten, the more I value the people in my life who are genuine and constant. Even if my social circle is still broad, there are only a handful of people that I know will care 100% about my good days as well as my bad and I am so blessed to have a full handful of those kinds of people in my life. So I am thankful for my friends everyday but giving them the shout out they deserve today.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Chatter

Remember THIS POST in which I confessed to having a crush on a fictional teenage boy character in Kristen Simmons' Article 5? Well today I am on a mission to enter as many giveaways for a free Advanced Reader Copy of book two, Breaking Point. If, somehow, you win and I don't, you should at least pass along your copy to me after!

In other book news, I am currently reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Many people had recommended it and now I see why. It's a little different fare; not dystopian so much. It has a feel of Renaissance but there are also special powers involved. And of course a love interest with some expected twists-separation, caring for others, etc. The author has two other books out that, if what I have read is correct, are not so much sequels as companions. They focus on different characters but pull old friends back into the mix. So you can read each separately but would be enriched by reading them all. So I will do that.

Also, Reached by Allie Conde comes out in less than two weeks. I didn't looooove Matched and Crossed but I liked them and am certainly invested in the storyline. She did all the right things to follow the typical dystopian love triangle thing and as much as that can be listed as a downfall, let's be real, it's also what works and I like it so I have to be fair. I am excited to see how the finale of the trilogy plays out with reunited lovers and twists I can't even guess at yet. I went so far as to pre-order it through Amazon so it will show up on my door on Tuesday November 13th, just in case I don't get to the bookstore.

And while it's not YA or dystopian, I have R.L.Stine's Red Rain on hold for me at the library. How fitting that I pick it up on Halloween? I credit R.L.Stine with getting me interested in reading as a pre-teen and I am excited for his cliff hanger writing style to be translated to a more adult version of horror writing. I hear there are creepy twins. I'm in!

So what are you reading?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts and part of the Appalachian Trail

I just received some pictures from my big hike last weekend (post to come soon). Then I started reading articles posted to Facebook and they were all so horrible and discouraging that I just needed to escape. I found these pictures of a hike last Spring I took to the summit of Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts and part of the illustrious Appalachian Trail. If I can't be outside enjoying the amazing fall foliage that cheered me throughout my commute to work today, I can at least savor these photos and the memories of a nice, moderate hike with some good friends. I recommend this hike to anyone in the New England area. You don't need to train to complete it; it's no Mt. Washington. It can easily be completed in a few hours and there's a lovely lodge at the top that serves amazing dinner and has dorm bunk style accommodations so you can  extend your visit.
Starting the ascent



I <3 transcendentalism




Sitting in the clouds

Everyone loves a waterfall



The Appalachian Trail is well known to hikers.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Goodbye to Theme Thursday...already (sigh)

Since for the last few weeks I have been hyping up Theme Thursdays, I feel I at least owe an explanation as to why I am not hyping it up this week. I quit. I really never quit things so I feel half guilty and half liberated saying that, calling it that.

My friend Jenn at Something Clever 2.0 came up with the fabulous idea of a bunch of bloggers all getting together to write their own versions on the same topic. I still love this idea, truly. Even when it was a topic that I felt out of place writing about like playgrounds, it was an interesting personal exercise to ask myself what I really thought about something that I might not ordinarily give a lot of thought to. I'd still like to jump in on some of their topics for the fun of it but probably won't out of respect for the process.

What brought me to the decision to jump ship was multi-fold. For starters, I couldn't give it the time and attention it required. Bloggers are verbal processors, clearly, and there was a lot of great energy backing this idea, which resulted in a lot of emails to filter through and increasingly tech savvy suggestions on how to better organize the whole shebang. I just don't always have (or want, for that matter) computer access or updates on my phone. I consider myself a bit of a tech minimalist; I have only had a smart phone for a year and a half and am still avoiding fancy things like iphones, skype, and "facetime" or whatever that is. And I am either on the computer at work for hours, resulting in not wanting to be on the computer more when I get home, or I am running around outside of the office all day and not available to respond to emails. Either way, I learned that lots of communication related to my blog overwhelms me. I need some email time to talk about last night's tv shows with my bestie.

Also, the promotion necessary to really get your blog out there is a lot of work! The bloggers I was teamed up with were amazing in with Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, Pinterest and the like. I made myself a Facebook page (and you should come "like" it!) but I am not sure I have something I want to post every day. I have a Twitter that I only partially understand. And Pinterest is sacred; it's for me and not to be shared with my blog. While I want my friends to know about my blog and welcome interested visitors that are not yet friends, I want to limit the amount of personal information that gets out so that it doesn't get into the wrong hands (see every other reference I have ever made to my work as an excuse). So I found that I was just not that good at or interested in making the effort to hype up my blog.

Even more insight I gained was that I don't strive to be blog famous! I guess a lot of bloggers write just as a means to tell stories to friends and family and I am not quite in that category. And then there are a ton of bloggers who write so that thousands of people will read what they say and they can make money through ads and stuff. I like to read a lot of those kinds of bloggers and am grateful that they have put the time into developing to the point that they were big enough for me to find out about them. For a while, I dreamed of writing about my travels and having companies reach out to sponsor me and help me create a life where I could essentially get paid to travel. That still sounds nice. But unless it happened instantly, I don't have a strong enough desire to MAKE it happen. So I kind of learned that I like blogging because I like doing it. Not for any other ultimate goal. Not to be read by thousands or acquire fans. Just because I have a lot to say. If you like to hear it, great. If 2 people read each post, that's actually fine, too. I had the privilege of putting it out there and creating it and that part is fun for me.

Finally, the straw that broke the camel's back is a bit more personal but I will go there. I was listening to a talk from a church leader on my ipod. In my church, there are 2 meetings a year known as General Conference where a bunch of church leaders talk about all sorts of things, including everyday life topics. One talk, and I honestly don't even know who it was by or what the rest of it was about, touched on priorities and focus. Basically, we can busy ourselves with the wrong things and that takes time and focus away from the really important things, such as the people we love or the things that restore us. For some people, all the work on the blog is like a job and it is a good focus, rejuvenating, and positive. For me, though, it was a distraction and when I heard that talk, I was able to identify that, for me, the emails and the promoting was taking time away from other things that would be better prioritized in my life.

To all my blogging peeps, I want to reiterate that this is just my experience. I am glad there are bloggers who can do all of this stuff because you all entertain me! I'm sure some of this has to do with the other jobs, hobbies and choices I make in my life and the amount of time I need just for myself and my tv watching for self-care. But, for now, I am going to blog because I like it. When I want to. And not when I don't. The rest of the time, I am going to use any free time I can eek out to develop myself into the kind of person I want to be in other areas. Maybe I just need more time to do that than others because I need more work:)

SOOOOooooo, I hope you all will continue to read the blogs I linked to in the other Theme Thursday posts and enjoy the different takes on topics. I will be cheering them all on from the sidelines.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

If your Cat were someone famous, who would they be?

My husband is infamous for coming up with random games. When we go to brunch, he makes me compete with the jelly containers to see how many times out of 5 I can get it to land right side up. He makes goalposts for straw wrappers. And he comes up with great 'what if' questions.

The other day he came upstairs and requested that I pause the Twilight movie I was watching in bed to ask me "if our cats were people, who would they be?". Before I tell you some of the celebs in the running, let me fill you in on the kits. (That's a kid/kitten combo that aptly describes my emotional attachment/cat lady tendencies).


This is Pants. He is about 2.5. He is both really crazy in terms of high energy, running around, chasing moths, and the other cat and also really cuddly as he routinely in the morning almost knocks you over trying to get his head pet and at night likes to curl up and watch tv with me.

And this is Stella. She turns 11 this month and is a sweet, gentle Himalayan Persian. She is like a loyal dog, following your every step just to be near you.

So what well known people could personify each of these guys?
For Pants, after toying with Usher, we settled on Busta Rhymes. Youngish (at least he was when we were younger, which is where my brain still lives), feisty-they both kind of get those crazy eyes occasionally and racially and gender appropriate.

Stella was tougher. I tossed out the late, beloved Jessica Tandy. My husband didn't like comparing her to someone who was in the iconic film, Cocoon, because it aged her. He proposed Sigourney Weaver. I almost lost my mind. Apparently, I have a thing against Sigourney Weaver that I have never acknowledged because I was outraged. He tried to calm me down by referencing her Jane Goodall role as opposed to her Ghostbusters alter-ego. I think we left undecided.

So I am both open to suggestions and curious who your pets would be. Go!

Monday, October 15, 2012

This really happened. Otherwise known as "People are Odd Ducks"

So some of you might remember from a recent post that I am currently wearing a wrist brace. It's just for tendonitis and I'm really making out on the whole deal because every time I go in for my "certified hand therapy" I get a paraffin treatment to relax my muscles. Having never broken a bone, I had no idea how much attention braces/splints/casts get you.

In addition to my "real" job, I work a second job (the same one I worked when I was 16, thank you very much) and am a cashier/phone girl. Yes, he really calls the title Phone Girl and no, a man can't do it. I'm only there 1 or 2 nights a week, depending on the week and it's actually kind of relaxing because no one ever cries or puts their life in my hands; they just want their chicken parm. The other night I was ringing a guy up and when I handed him his change he asked about my wrist injury. It went a little something like this:

HIM: "So did you hurt your wrist cheerleading? Doing a handspring or something?"

ME: (a little caught off guard by the weirdness of this) "Ah, no".

HIM: "So did you hurt it playing softball?"

ME: (really perplexed by my options and what they imply) "Nope, not sure how I hurt it."

He eventually faded away and began to chew his food, leaving me stumped behind the register.
Is looking like a cheerleader a good thing? Is this a shout out to my youthful visage? Or should I feel bad that I am an adult doing a job that a high schooler could (and my high school version once did) do? And why is playing softball the default if I didn't get hurt at cheer practice? Is he questioning my sexual orientation? Is this his version of flirting? He was totally serious, by the way. It certainly didn't seem like flirting or joking or anything other than sincere guesses, even though they were the two most random guesses anyone so far has come up with.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Theme Thursday: My Dream Job

This week for Theme Thursday I had to think about what my dream job would be. Oddly enough, this isn't a topic I have given much thought to as I have been at my real life job for 7 years now. It's good work and though it's exhausting, I enjoy it. There's also a big part of me who wants to bounce this back to the stay at home moms (and a dad) who are blogging about this topic alongside me and tell them that their jobs are awesome because they don't have to wear bras if they don't want to and they don't have to pencil in trips to Target. Also, I assume they love their kids so that helps.

So when I started brainstorming my dream job, I really entered a land of fantasy in which prior training and experience are not at all considerations. You are judged solely on enthusiasm in the job interview, in which case I would ace my way into all of them.

First pick: Reality TV show casting director.
No humility here. I would be AMAZING at this. Having watched ever y episode of Flavor of Love, I love New York, Rock of Love, I love Money (need I go on....) and email critiqued them all afterwards with my bestie, I know who makes good tv. My psych experience will only help to inform the best combinations of people to create volatile and entertaining interactions. Not a dating competition show? No problem. I am also loyal to Survivor and catch The Amazing Race from time to time. I know how to tone it down if we are on a non-cable network, don't worry. And if the casting is already complete when I show up for my interview, I could always step in as an editor. I could help to omit just the right portion of the conversations to make the bad guy look worse and the good guy look better. And I would never miss a shot that would be totally humiliating to the average person, upping the shows odds of being featured on Tosh.O.
I would be VERY proud of this work.

Second Pick: If the world of reality tv crashes like the written word jobs of the characters in Gone Girl that lead them to their eventual demise (if you haven't read this book yet, run out and get it. You can refresh this page upon your return and keep reading), my backup plan will already be in place. Admittedly, it will have to be put on hold until my treatment for serious depression in response to said crash is completed. Assuming travel information shows don't count as reality tv, I want to replace Samantha Brown. She has the life! She gets to visit fun places, continent at a time, picking through the major cities. She sums each city up in a half hour segment including descriptions of the swank hotel she stayed at, the delicious food she ate, and the unique cultural experience she had. I can do that! In fact, I could one up Samantha. She is a little weak sauce for my taste most trips so I would throw in some scandalous interaction with a local like the time I went on a drug deal in Central America inadvertently or the time I decided it would be a good idea to have a Rastafarian pen pal or the time I crashed a prom and another time, a stag party. Does Samantha do that? Nope, that's the flavor I bring. If, somehow, travel shows are deemed part of the reality tv crash, I will be a travel blogger. I will write some brilliant post and hit it big instantly, with companies just throwing money and offers at me to promote them. The bottom line is that I am going to be traveling and making money doing it. 
(YouTube was on strike from me or I would have a nice, mundane clip of Samantha in her hotel room in Rome right here)

If all else fails: I am applying at Barnes and Noble and Bed, Bath and Beyond. On my hardest days, I have an image of myself folding towels in the corner of a linens department. And I like to read a lot and give my opinions so I could be put to use in the young adult section of the bookstore, reviewing trilogies and series with Armageddon scenarios and pictures of girls in ruffly dresses to the young minds of America.

So I guess the moral of the story is that I should never have invested in graduate school since all of my favorite things include watching tv, going where I want, reading and relaxing, and hopefully only putting on a bra or mascara when I feel like it. 

If you want to read what some other bloggers have to say about their dream jobs check out the following:
Something Clever 2.0http://www.somethingclever2point0.com/
Cloudy With a Chance of Winehttp://cloudywithachanceofwine.com/
I like beer and babies.http://www.ilikebeerandbabies.com/
A calibama state of mind http://calibamamom.wordpress.com/
Shit I Don't Tell Most Peoplehttp://shitidonttell.blogspot.com/
Mom With Her Running Shoes On http://momwithherrunningshoeson.blogspot.com/
The Insomniac's Dream http://hypnoticbard.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Worst

I realized that I could write a whole blog-not just a post- about the anecdotes that occur commuting to work. Not coincidentally, it's also the place I do some of my best thinking and lots of post ideas bud behind the wheel. That could have something to do with the often snarky tone I put forth here.

Lots of bloggers do weekly happy posts, about the highlights of that week or the things for which they are grateful. I feel like my least kind self when I am in my car, which is where I was yesterday when I started making a mental list of the things that are just the worst this week.

  • When a cop car pulls behind you and all of a sudden you feel like you are 16 and just got your permit again.
  • The new Bruno Mars song. (I think this is actually what launched a line of negative thinking)
  • When you fill up with gas and then find it for a cheaper price a mile down the road.
  • When you cry at non-celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
  • When you leave a Taylor Swift song on with the specific purpose of singing along. And you know the words well enough to do a flawless karaoke performance.
  • Rich ladies in SUVs. I know they are rich because of the town I am in and their patented fleece/scarf combo I can see as they pull behind me and honk when I am the one who is 3/4 of the way done backing out of my parking spot.
  • When you go someplace you used to love and realize you have outgrown it. Sorry, Dave Matthews concerts.
  • When you nobly bring a change of clothes for the gym only to realize you forgot an essential item like a sports bra.
So what has been the worst for YOU this week?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Travel Posts-Need Your Input!

Happy Columbus Day Kids! I spent the day working but it was blissfully quiet and I vacuumed my office, among other things. This is noteworthy if only for the fact that I have only done it a handful of other times in the past 7 years. And, no, a cleaning service doesn't come in and supplement my inactivity.

Anyway, I don't have any great blog inspirations today-all motivation of all kinds went into the organizing of a gazillion binders and folders. But I did think about how to catch up on all the travel posts I want to write. I didn't go to all sorts of fun places just to post pictures on Facebook, you know? So while I don't expect an outpouring of comments, I certainly would appreciate them!

Would it be better to post a bunch of pictures with little commentary?
Or do shorter posts on specific sites or experiences?
Cover all of one city at a time or jump around for fun?
Travel Tuesdays?

Ok, as a reward for all your hard thought about this, let me share a little secret (that was probably only a secret to me) that I just stumbled upon. Youtube videos of your favorite artists recording/performing your favorite songs. Michael Franti at Folsome Prison was the backdrop for my cleaning spree this afternoon but here's another of my faves.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Goodbye to Baked Goods

I'm publicly declaring that I am going on strike from baked goods for a week. I started yesterday and it was just for the day but when I realized how hard it felt, I recognized the need to extend my strike.

I have frequently bragged that I don't love pastries (chocolate croissants to indulge my Francophile moods aside) because I grew up in a house with a constant supply of them. That's why I am one of those people who believes that banning kids from eating certain foods is not the way to go. Don't "they" get that the more you withhold something the more it is desired? Why does that logic somehow not apply to children? Based on my previous bragging, I was really shocked to assess my intake of baked goods Sunday through Tuesday. It could be argued that pastries and baked goods are not specifically one and the same but they are, at the very least, very close cousins who like to have sleepovers and make fun of their grandparents together. So when I realized I had eaten multiple apple cider donuts, a cupcake, banana bread, a muffin and a bagel within such a short span of time, some major alarms started sounding in my head.

Now I can blame it on lots of things, sure. Excuse #1: I went to a big fair on Sunday and part of the tradition is to buy apple cider donuts; they are delicious and a native food in the land of New England apple picking. Excuse #2: I haven't grocery shopped in a week and half so I have to eat whatever food is made available to me at work. The first Monday of each month is staff breakfast at work and we are gifted with both free bagels and a free hour of work time to sit, socialize and eat. That happened this week and even though I was at a doctor's appointment, I don't look a free bagel gift horse in the mouth so I asked my friend to hide one for me for when I came in later. That's called planning ahead, folks. Excuse #3: As I wrote about here, Tuesdays can be nuts at work, often referred to as Trauma Tuesdays, so when some treats were there to soothe my raw emotions, it just made sense.

Work can be the worst/best as there are always baked goods. When I went to the kitchen recently there were three bags of cookies-chocolate chip, peanut butter chip, and brownie cookies. Next to those there was a bag of mystery flavored white cookies that appeared to be home made. A little ways down in another plastic bag were some brownies. And all the leftover bagels are in the freezer, calling my name since I didn't have time to pack food for my 12 hour work day today and wouldn't have had much to draw from anyway since I haven't shopped.

So even though there are still some cider donuts in a bag in my office, I am sadly going to watch them age without enjoying them. It feels sad to even write that. But I need to prove to myself that baked goods don't control me. What can't you resist??

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Theme Thursday: Playground Etiquette



Hooray for the first weekly edition of Theme Thursdays, in which I will be blogging about a selected topic as part of a larger blogging group. My good friend Jenn came up with this fun experiment that will consist of a number of bloggers writing about the same topic, each offering our personal take on it. It was going to be Topic Tuesday but we negotiated into Themed Thursdays so feel free to take all of your earlier excitement for Tuesdays and schedule it to resurface on Thursdays, thanks. Links are at the bottom of this post so you can keep on reading and hear many different voices about one concept. Hello sociology!

I think all of the other bloggers in the group at the moment are mothers. I'm not sure how many are stay at home moms but I know that all of them know their way around a playground. Our first topic, therefore, was selected as playgrounds or playground etiquette.

I would like to think I can offer a unique perspective on some parenting issues as someone who is not yet a parent but had a couple parents, works with parents and knows a lot of them. To be honest, though, writing about playgrounds and playground etiquette kind of had me stumped. Let me review my experience with playgrounds up to this point:
  • As a kid I played on them. It was always a big treat when my mom would stop at one of those wooden playgrounds (they must have been new and exciting in the 80s). Of note, my mom was a bit of a self proclaimed gypsy and really enjoyed road tripping for the day. We once drove to Canada just to say we did and often went to New Hampshire or Rhode Island-from Massachusetts-for lunch. So I have vivid memories of driving to Cape Cod for the day and my reward for tolerating hours in the car was to stop at a wooden playground in Wareham. 
  • I also had my first kiss at a playground. It was right by my parent's house and it was a glorious summer day. I still feel like that park and I share a secret camaraderie when I drive by the section where it took place.
  • As a young adult, playgrounds were places to go after all the kiddos went to bed. I am sure I don't have to elaborate on the kinds of activities that were on the table at that stage. And who am I kidding? I am still kind of in this stage. 
  • By day, currently, my office overlooks a playground. It's a little chilly but there are 4 adults, 4 kids and a dog out there at the moment I am writing this. My voyeurism is my greatest connection to playgrounds at this point and I think this is where I might have something to add to the conversation.... 
Goings on that I shouldn't see at the Playground when I look out my office window
  1. Puppies being tossed down slides. Yes, that happened one day for an extended period of time. The kids were having a blast, they actually did have parental supervision and the little dog was at their mercy. I don't know if the dog was as up in arms (paws?) as I was but I went around the office trying to get back up to go out and have a confrontation. 
  2. Men without kids. It's just creepy. Especially when they are shirtless. Exception: if they are playing basketball. Worst scenario: they are sitting on a bench just leering. I do always kind of enjoy the gender switch on Friday afternoons, though, when a lot of dads take their kids to the playground. In my mind, I know all of their stories. They are all on their weekend visitation with kids they don't see all week long and they don't really know what else to do with them. 
  3. The metal detector guy. This guy is not necessarily a creep but is definitely odd. What amazing treasure do you expect to find under a plastic swingset? Pokeman cards? (are those even a things, still? ). If a parent lost something like a ring, it's just wood chips-it could be easily relocated and not left behind for a metal detector. And I'm not looking out the window onto an amazingly wealthy neighborhood so I think if I were in search of goodies, I would find a different park.
  4. Kids assaulting one another. This is the most common sight and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I would miss it if it stopped. Before you judge that comment, let me preface that these are not teens brutally beating one another but rather preschool aged kids, usually, pushing each other. It's really interesting to see how it all shakes out. Most often, they have some kind of showdown and moments later run away with each other as if it's already resolved. No intervention. No long talks. Just simple instincts. How great would it be if you could be irritated by someone, act accordingly and then all is well between the two of you? My dream come true. Instead, we have to learn all these feelings words and how to delicately communicate (says the person with a license to practice therapy). 
  5. Children who appear to be lifeless. I know this is a weird one but the park I get to gaze out at has this plastic suspension type bridge. On more than one occasion,  I have seen children laying on this, seemingly injured. I stare at them the way you check if someone is still breathing, waiting for a sign of movement or life. Sometimes, I am amazed how long this kids can  play possum. Or this playing opossum like the car insurance commercial that I love? Either way, they all eventually move before I feel the need to call in first responders; it must just be a really relaxing spot.
  6.  
    So that's all the insight I can muster into playground etiquette since I haven't used a playground for something that I couldn't potentially be arrested for being caught doing in about 20 years. Want to hear some more first hand accounts? Check out the amazing ladies below and make sure to check back next Thursday for the next theme!
The other participants of Theme Thursday:
I like beer and babies
Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom
A Calibama State of Mind 
The Next Step 


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vote No on Politics on Facebook

This Thanksgiving when I sit with my family and we go around in a circle to list the things we are most grateful for this year, at the top of my list will be the fact that the election is over.

Fear not, I am not going to tell you who to vote for. Nor am I going to tell you who I plan to vote for. I would like to encourage you to vote because I think it's a privilege, because I think a lot of people who are affected by the legislation don't use their right to vote, because you really don't get to complain if you didn't do something to try to make a change, and because Michael Franti looks very handsome in the picture he posted online encouraging people to vote.





We are all entitled to our opinions, no matter how much they may vary. We all make our decisions based on the people and experiences to which we have been exposed. I am all for trying to cast a new light on certain issues and help people think about them in a more informed way, trust me. I think it's truly reckless how many people are outspoken about decisions that impact whole groups of people with whom the opinionated person has little experience with or exposure to. But I am super over the political conversations on Facebook.

I admit that I love Facebook. During my work day, I often need a little distraction to lighten my mood. Or sitting at an appointment, killing time waiting to be seen, it's easy to flip through. And I love people using their figurative voices. But there have to be other things you want to say other than who to vote for or who not to vote for, day in and day out. How many people do you think you are really convincing to change their minds? And the spirit of contention that it creates makes many people shy away from the conversation altogether. I think I have fallen into that group a lot this political season. It's been extra scary for me because of Romney's Mormon factor and feeling like people are sometimes misrepresenting ideologies I was raised on, independent of Romney's platform, which I am refraining from commenting on.

So when I go on Facebook, I want to see a picture of the cake that you just baked. I like hearing about the silly thing your kid said. I enjoy the way you define yourself online. But I don't want to feel defensive. And I don't want to like you less because of your political ideals. I want to look at your pictures, reminisce about shared good times and enjoy the person you have grown into, controversial topics aside.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Any Given Tuesday

As I have muddled through the first half of my Tuesday, a couple of noteworthy things have already happened. In addition to that, my Tuesdays are generally the most full in terms of the number of different environments I need to be in. My favorite email buddy knows that I am less available on Tuesdays and she frequently writes it off to me being in court with survivors so I thought it might be fun to walk through my day thus far to give a snapshot of any given Tuesday in my life. For this purpose, today I would define it as a day in the life of a cat owner/commuter/advocate/clinician.

Ok, so it starts out with my sick kitty. My older cat, who I love like I gave birth to her, was diagnosed with kidney failure last week. It was pretty tragic for me but I am doing all that I can to keep her life as normal and natural as possible and to ensure that she has good quality of life for as long as she can. One of the things this involves is a diet switch but food is no joking matter in our house. We have a 2 year old cat that is a heifer. And then this older one is like 5 lbs. So it's actually a really strategic process to split the food in half, mash it up, and put it on two sides of a plate and make sure each cat gets his or her designated side. The little one will only eat if she is on the left. Odd but true.

Then I get in my car to begin my commute that usually takes about 45 minutes but it's about 15 miles so that number can vary widely depending on the time of day, the road I take, etc. I prefer back roads over the highway, usually.  And back roads are especially scenic in New England at this time of year. So I was on a lovely road near a body of water and had just passed an elementary school when I saw a mother and three small children kneeling by the curb on my left. In front of them was an animal in the road the size of a medium dog with brown fur. At first my heart wrenched as I feared a family pet had just been injured. I worried about the trauma these children would remember for the rest of their lives. I drove a few more feet and realized it wasn't a dog but a giant beaver. Giant. And there was blood splatter abounding like it was a CSI episode. While it was still sad and certainly interesting, I became a little alarmed now that the mother was showing this off to her little ones. Being near the school and just after 9 am, I'm pretty sure they were running late for classes so they could get this life lesson. This wasn't just pointing it out; it was getting down to street level within a foot of a very bloody dead animal and these were really little kids. Again, I worried about the traumatic impact. I certainly would expect nightmares at that house tonight.

I'm making pretty good time and feeling pretty good about that because last Tuesday this same commute made me a little late for my work day because the road was under construction in about 46 places. I actually saw a woman I used to babysit for out on her morning run and was kind of racing her as I had to keep stopping at lights. As she passed me for the fourth time, something shifted in the traffic pattern. I was stopped and probably five solid minutes passed before I realized it wasn't just stop and go, slow and inching. It was put your car in park and do your makeup stopped. First a cop car came by. Then a fire truck. Then 2 more cop cars. Then an undercover cop car. Cars behind me started turning around but I was stuck between a Peter Pan bus and a tractor trailer. I got out of my car to see what was happening and I could see that it was right in front of me but the action shot was being blocked by the bus. I could see a photographer and some construction equipment in the middle of the road. Fifteen minutes had passed. Curious but impatient, I did a multi-point turn to unwedge myself and turned down a road I had never been on but somehow it delivered me to a main route and I was on my way again!

Twenty minutes late for a group I had all the supplies for that I was co-leading with my boss, I arrived at a residential facility for mothers in early substance abuse recovery. We had a discussion about a topic related to domestic violence, substance use and transactional sex and then moved on to craft time. We used Mod Podge to collage hat boxes as a means of "defining your own reality" and a good time was had by all.

After an hour, I left to head to the local trauma clinic where, each week, I sit on a team that talks about families they are working with who are experiencing domestic violence. Often, they are also families I am working with so we pow wow about how we can collaborate. I know it sounds wacky but it's actually really fun. It's nice to be in it with other like-minded people. I grabbed some baked goods off of the table before heading into my office for the first time today. Filled up from the goodies, I could take less time eating my actual lunch and could sneak in a quick blog post. Voila!

And that was only by 1 pm....I still have a few more hours to go and then head to my part time job tonight!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Some things you should know about me

As I look forward to connecting with some new bloggers in a weekly topic format, I guess it's a good time to re-introduce myself. In fact, when I started this blog, I was so passionate about the topic that got me writing that I don't know that I ever did introduce myself and since my links back to old posts are infrequent and my about section is weak, this is my chance to explain things.

I think the number one thing that guides my blog is confidentiality.
 Weird for a blog that is public, right? I work in the therapeutic/social worky field. Specifically, I focus on trauma survivors and domestic violence. While I have oodles of things I want you to know about that, I don't want my blog to be about work. Yet, because of the nature of the work and the way I have to use myself in my work, I feel it's important to limit certain information I share about myself such as lots of pictures, names, locations, specifics. I am wary of that kind of information getting into the wrong hands. However, I also find it an obstacle in connecting with readers who don't already know some of those things about me because of a personal relationship. Sorry about that. I do my best to work around that.

I am not a parent.
For a lot of blogs, that's not a big deal. For my age and a lot of my peers, it sometimes feels like it is. Culturally, having been raised Mormon and still practicing that in my own unique way, it feels like a very big deal. That cultural identity and my feelings of varying from it while wanting to stay connected to it was one of the driving forces behind my creating a blog. While I might not fit the norm for a lot of categories, I usually think that's a great thing and that I bring a lot of interesting thought frameworks to coalesce in one place, creating a unique voice. Often, I have thought that I would be an ideal candidate for the Amazing Race because of all of those combining forces: Mormon with a nose ring, victim advocate, interracial marriage, triathlete, rods in my spine...wouldn't you want to watch me race all over the globe? 
For a while I wanted my blog to focus more on traveling because I truly adore travel and I prioritize it but I just don't want to limit myself to one topic when there are so many things I want to say! And I don't specialize in it or live it every day like many travel bloggers. The meaning behind the title of my blog, Aspiring to the Middle, is that I have a lot of areas of interest but I may not be #1 in any of them. I was really good at going to school and getting great grades but that becomes less and less impressive as you get older (at least less brag worthy as SAT scores as a pickup line at 32-and married-no longer swing it). Since then, I have been lucky enough to be able to indulge in a variety of hobbies and passions and I usually fall somewhere in the middle of the pack for all of them. And that's ok-I'm just glad to be along for the ride and have so many awesome experiences! 
And to bring this rant full circle, I think it's noteworthy to not be a parent at the moment since a lot of my readers as well as the other folks I will be blogging with about these topics ARE parents. It's just another "other" category I fit into at this stage in life and I own that with pride.

Just because I love trashy reality tv it does not mean I am vapid.
Some people watch Law and Order SVU and learn things. I watch that and am reminded of things I have heard real people come to me for help about. Not that I avoid all of those kinds of shows but by the time I get home at the end of the day, it's like I want to perform reverse osmosis on my brain until it feels like it resembles cotton candy. Reality tv is great for that! And I can't help if some of my enthusiasm for the entertainment value of the shows I watch bubbles over here. Just like I can't help but tell you about the crushes I form on the love interests in the young adult novels I read. You can listen to your NPR and feel elitist but I will be having more fun than you.


So let's just do a little summary in the form of a list. 
LIKES
Cats, reality tv, sleeping, hiking, triathlons, therapy-speak and the DSM IV-R, books, journaling, home decorating, travel, road trips, the beach, the pool, summer, fall, my SodaStream machine, the colors green and yellow, Hollister jeans, lipgloss, demolition derbies, ice cream, hammocks, strong vocabulary skills, my back doctor, quotes, Halloween, Counting Crows, Micheal Franti and Spearhead, caprese salads and sandwiches, Target
DISLIKES
People who post about who to vote for all the time, seafood, every other driver on the road, most sports, when you can see or smell that someone doesn't floss, early mornings, overly air conditioned spaces, when a line forms behind me at a store checkout because I am buying so much, vets who lack empathy, whipped cream, country music, the concept of blu-ray discs, mice, moose crossing signs, the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon, the dad from Harry and the Hendersons
 
Ok, if you know me and I missed some defining quality, please chime in but be gentle. If you don't know me, hopefully now you know a little more about the person behind the keyboard and what might inform the posts I hope you will read.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Babies or Cats?

DID YOU KNOW THIS EXISTED???

If you didn't immediately click on my link, let me tell you what would have happened if you were to have done so. You would have been swept away to a site called Unbaby.me. The concept is that you can download something that will turn all the pictures of babies in your Facebook feed and elsewhere into pictures of things you prefer such as cats!! I'm not opposed to baby pics but I do REALLY love cats so they kind of drew me in there. (To be very explicit, though, I did not download this. I don't mind seeing pics of everyone's kids. But I am a tiny bit tempted to see what it would be like to have pictures of Persians pop up every time there was a kid pic. Just to see!)
Here is an article that expounds upon this idea and some reactions to it even further. What do YOU think? Is this wildly offensive? Mildly rude? Necessary or unneeded? How would you feel if someone downloaded something to avoid pics of your kids so they could instead choose to see something like bacon or a car or a certain breed of dog? If you downloaded this, would you let anyone know?
http://media.photobucket.com/image/cat/emodogess/animals/red10.jpg?o=2

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Might be a Psychic

Here are my thoughts for today...

1. I like using numbers in my posts. I kind of think in bullet points.

2. I also like playing with capitalization in post titles. Why I find that amusing, I don't know. When I type emails to my friends, I don't capitalize at all so maybe the the thrill is in seeing bigger letters than I am visually used to?

3. Here's the exciting part: I might be a psychic. But only related to fertility issues.

I had this gut feeling to get in touch with a dear friend who I don't communicate with frequently. Somehow, I had this tickle of a thought that I should ask if she was pregnant. It was almost a joke but not quite. In my return email from her she confirmed that yes, indeed, she is pregnant and just past the time cut off where they are announcing it! Weird? Yes. Want to know what's weirder? This is the second time out of three of her pregnancies that this happened! And, like I said, she isn't someone I talk to or even email with even every few months even though she is dear to my heart and she lives on the other side of the country from me so it's just super bizarre that I have premonitions about her lack of menses.

It gets better. I'm not only psychic about this one friend's womb, even though she is the greatest example of my gift. For a while a few years ago, during a period when it was age appropriate for all of my friends to be getting pregnant (to be fair to the chance that it was coincidental, even though it was NOT!), I had a remarkable track record of actually getting people pregnant. Um, what? Yup, you read that right. Not in the male-female/birds and the bees way, clearly, but if a friend was "trying" and then had a meal with me, shortly thereafter her efforts would be rewarded. (I don't actually think it's fair to word it that way because it's not about efforts or rewards as people who have "tried" without such ease often talk about). It would usually be at our next meal together that they would spill the good news. I have learned about pregnancies in my local diner, the Cheesecake Factory, Papa Gino's and I'm sure there are other food establishments I can't recall at the moment. And, for the record, it's way better to learn about a baby over food than it is over Facebook. But I guess Facebook announcements are for a lower tier of friends?

In the past, I thought about trying to market this skill because it honestly happened so many times that it was just uncanny. I felt like there had to be something working within me that I was not even aware of or really believed in because these kinds of scenarios just happened far to frequently to me. As time has passed and friends took some time off between babies, I have forgotten how good I am at this! But getting that email today awakened my baby-dar. How should I put this to good use?
Image via www.babyclipart.net which you can find here

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Topic Tuesdays Coming Soon

First off, I am typing with a wrist brace on my right hand so if there are huge errors, I blame the brace. I had some minor tendonitis issues come up over the last few months but it hasn't been wildly bothersome until I decided I needed to show the new Monday night Bodypump instructor that I was a force to be reckoned with. After the biceps track, I knew I had done some damage trying to show off. So now I'm wincing when the lady hands me my sandwich for lunch at the deli. Awesome.

The point of my post is not my wrist, though. It's to announce something that I am going to be taking part in that I am excited about: Topic Tuesdays! The name/day might change between this week and next but the concept is that a handful of bloggers have united to all write about the same topic once a week. While it's a little intimidating knowing how much better some of them will cover certain topics, I think it will be fun to hear the different "voices" and perspectives. Also, I may be the only non-Mom and the only one who works full time+ out of the home and doesn't plan my blog posts in advance. Or at all. I just kind of sit down and write and I'm sure it shows but that's how this works for me. So I'm looking forward to offering a outsiders take on some of the child related topics. It's an opportunity to write about things I normally wouldn't consider writing about, too.

So stay tuned for Topic Tuesday next week and all of the great bloggers I will be linking to so maybe you will find some fun new reading distractions!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall in New England

That's right, kids. It's that time of year again. The time when I talk less about travel, more about projects around the house, and that I realize that I actually talk about the weather A LOT.

Really, I can't help myself. It's just amazing outside. We aren't even at the most beautiful point, when the leaves are all sorts of reds and oranges but there are glimpses here and there of colors other than green in the trees. A big tree right outside of my office window always turns early and I can see some yellows and oranges blooming. But it's also that in between time when it gets warm enough during the day to wear shorts and a t-shirt but it's crisp at night. You can smell fresh mowed grass by day and fires in the chimneys by night. It's also apple picking time, although I'm waiting for October apples, the way Lucy from Charlie Brown waits for January snow:) And fall in New England is also time for some of the biggest fairs and I lllooooove me some fair food so I can't wait to get a day to do that.

In the meantime, though, I am training to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim next month so I have been begging my friends to get out in the woods with me. A couple of them indulged me this past weekend and it was glorious so I wanted to include a couple of pictures.



Monday, September 10, 2012

Blog Censorship

In my last post I mentioned feeling censored on my blog and I felt compelled to elaborate. Of course Blogger is not red flagging any of what I could or do put out there and the internet is a cesspool of raunchy ideas. So I guess it would be more appropriate for me to correct myself by clarifying that I censor MYSELF. Why?

1. I like having friends.
If I wrote candidly about my thoughts/reactions/judgments in a given day they obviously would have to come from people with whom I interact. That may be you. And if I publicly maligned your most recent Facebook status, you might not like it. Now what I say "you", know that I probably don't actually mean YOU. But I could. Get my drift? Every YOU out there in Youville would assume I was insulting them when, really, I have a select group of people I like to make fun of. But even that kind of makes me a bad person.
Recently, my BFF came up with the genius idea of video blogging her response to people's Facebook posts while she read through them. We were on vacation together and she had internet access while I didn't so to amuse me one night she started reading what people wrote, some of whom I knew and others I didn't but all were lame. We made a sport of mocking them and, honestly, it was FUN. Again, I know that kind of makes me a bad person but we all have personal interests. Of course we didn't actually record these sessions, which became a nightly routine. If we did, all the fun material would be yanked away because those people would revoke our "friend" access. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

2. I have a job.
I actually don't just have A job. I have a nice person's job. I am nice to people that other people are mean to and I like it. But I use up all my niceness at work. And if I started letting it all out, I would not only lose the faith of the people I am nice to, I might lose the faith of the people who assume I am nice enough that I deserve to have my paycheck issued a couple times a month.
Also, who doesn't complain about work? (Other than my mother who, it seems, can't make it through a conversation/grocery store/fast food drive through without telling someone how much she loves her job. I actually think it's great that she is so happy even if I sometimes think she doesn't have to share that detail.) Because I do work that is sensitive in nature and confidential, it would be frowned upon -using the lightest phrase possible here- to complain about work. I have to admit, I have some amazing stories from my work experiences and, sad for you, I am usually legally bound to keep them to myself. This also the reason I sometimes feel like I can't get more personal here-you never know what bad guy is lurking around. Isn't that a horrible thought? But it's a reality in my line of work.

3. I go to church.
Well, at least 50% of the time it's offered I try to go. Judging, swearing, and overall offending is not strongly encouraged. I don't think it would be smiled upon for me to be candid all the time knowing that I have an amazing talent for offending people without even knowing it.

I really love anonymous blogs that poke fun at certain groups or topics. But how do you get people to read your blog if you don't tell them it's your blog?? So here I am, keeping my work stories to myself, not video blogging about the wildly inappropriate pictures you posted on Facebook and with invitations to visit with friends. And here is where I hope to stay.