Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Little Citizen

When I had the fall parent/teacher conference with GJ's teacher (who I really like now, by the way), she told me that they're learning about communities and cities and government--just the basic stuff. But how they're doing it is she had the class found their city by naming it and drawing up a city charter that they all signed. This city, named M&M City (how 'bout that product placement, Mars, Inc.?!), was founded to be a place that's "fun for kids with lots of playgrounds and free candy and swimming pools." Now, for the past week, the teacher has been explaining what the different positions in city government are and encouraging the kids to run for office if any of the positions interest them and if they think they've got what it takes to be the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, judge, etc. of M&M City. So The Geej decided she wanted to be on the City Council. She had to write a speech and then give her speech before the electorate, and she also had to make a campaign sign. Elections are today. I'll let you know how it goes.

Her campaign sign: It's in the shape of a t-shirt and mounted on a drinking straw:
The speech reads: I want to be a council member because I like to help kids and I like to solve problems if people need help. I really like working with people and that's what council members do. I hope you vote for me. Thank you very much.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Religious Period

My father was the youngest of 5 born into a very strict Pentecostal family. He once told me that, by the time he was 15, he'd attended enough church to last him the rest of his life, so he stopped going--much to the chagrin of his deacon father. My mother was raised in a Methodist household that attended church during major religious holidays, but not much during the rest of the year. Neither of them ever guided me in a religious direction as I grew up.

When I was about 13, I was invited by a friend of mine to attend church with her. She went to a big, impressive Southern Baptist church that had just opened a cool new family activity center that had a gym, an indoor running track, classrooms, etc. Other friends of ours attended this church, and so I thought nothing of it when I agreed to accompany her family to a few worship services. Since my family didn't "do" church, the only way I was going to go to church at all was going to be by tagging along with another family who did.

After a few visits to the church, I started accompanying her to other youth-focused events there, and eventually agreed to go to an over-night "Lock In" with her. For those of you unfamiliar with what goes on during a Lock In, allow me to break it down for you:

Your parents drop you off at the church's family activity center early on Friday evening. There are lots of other kids there your age, some from your school, some from other schools in the town. The chaperones are made up of youthful members of the congregation who you've maybe seen in Sunday school or in the pews and the church's Youth Minister--a (usually male) minister who is young enough to connect with the kids but old enough to command their respect. The evening starts with an orientation and low-down on the schedule and the rules, and then you're set loose to eat pizza, roller skate, play basketball, racquetball, watch movies, do arts and crafts, etc. At about 2 am, they gather you all in the gym and start to talk to you about the Lord. About how we're all sinners, and about how, if we die without accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior, we will go to Hell. The chaperones get up and tell emotional, dramatic stories about how they were "saved," and about how they don't want any of us to burn in Satan's inferno because we were unwilling to accept the gift that God gave us through his Son, Jesus Christ. It goes on and on. There are prayers and crying. There are readings from scripture and more praying and crying. And then they start asking who in that room wants to come to Heaven with them. Who wants to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Exhausted, over-sugared, puberty-addled kids start to stagger up from their pillows and sleeping bags and walk toward the Youth Minister, crying. He asks each of them if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and will agree to "witness" for the Lord and be baptised into the church. Yes! Yes!! We don't want to die and burn in Hell! Anything you want, Youth Minister! We're young, highly impressionable teens who are sleep deprived and wanting more than anything to fit in. And as we see peer after peer head toward you and agree to be saved and baptised, we get swept up in the moment and say we believe. Oh how we believe, Youth Minister!!

When my mom came to pick me up the following morning, I was a ball of electric energy. I couldn't stop talking about being saved and how I was going to get baptised and how I was going to go to Heaven because I'd accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and I hoped that she was saved so that she could go to Heaven too. She agreed to come and watch me get baptised, but she wasn't sure about the "church 3 times a week" request I made of her.

After the Lock In, I became insufferable. I would "witness" to my friends and family--preaching to them about what my faith meant to good salvation felt...and how, they too, could join me in Heaven if they'd just agree to accept Jesus as their Lord. I prayed obsessively. I tried, with all my heart, to be the model Christian I felt like Jesus and The Youth Minister wanted me to be.

I got baptised during a Sunday evening service a few weeks after the Lock In, and attended church all the time: Sunday school, Sunday morning service, Sunday evening service, Wednesday evening youth fellowship, and Wednesday evening service. My mother dutifully drove me to and from, but never joined me. I even worked as a junior counselor at Vacation Bible School that summer, earning $150 for an entire summer's worth of work. My Pentecostal relatives were relieved that I'd chosen a different path than my wayward father, even if it was with the Southern Baptists rather than their much more conservative (if you can even imagine) church.

My religious fervor continued for about a year-and-a-half and then? I got over it.

Many, many years later, I revisited this whole bizarre time in my life. It felt like someone else's memories had been downloaded into my brain. Was that really me? Was I really that zealous and blindly accepting? What the Hell did my mother think about the whole thing? What made me decrease my commitment to my church and my religion?

Now, when I see others with this kind of fundamental faith and belief in their religion, I find it equal parts scary and admirable. Maintaining that kind of faith and devotion requires a surrender to an intense myopia that I can't even imagine. It requires that you view the world in terms of absolutes: Black and white; Yes and no. There is no room for shades of gray or maybes in a mind filled with the idea that there is only one path to heaven.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Twelve. Seven. And One thousand one hundred fifty.


Today is my 12th anniversary working for you-know-who. Wow. When I started this job I was a lot younger, skinnier, and blonder. I was also a lot less bruised by life. I had more energy but less stress. I drove a Mitsubishi that was 1/2 way paid for. I'd just moved back to Austin after being gone for five years, and lived in a rented house with horrible carpet and a man I would marry and divorce. I had lots of free time and saw lots of movies and live music. Everyone was freaking about the Millennium and what it would mean to computer systems around the world. My boss was hoarding bottled water and food in his spare bedroom. I had straight hair and bangs. I had a 401k and a savings account. My parents still lived in Longview, which meant somewhat frequent trips to The Pine Curtain. America was not (technically) at war. I smoked a good deal of pot. I was not a mother to anything other than a Siberian husky and an old, grumpy cat. I'd never been to Wisconsin, Michigan, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oregon, or New Mexico. I didn't know what "genetically modified organisms" or "organic integrity" meant. My dad and stepfather were still alive. I had no tattoos.


Today is my 7th Bloggiversary. When I started this blog, I was quite a bit younger, skinnier, and had flaming red hair. I'd been pretty beaten up by life. The world had changed because of 9/11. I drove a VW wagon that was my first V-6. I lived alone in a house rented from a friend that had a great deck and a tiny kitchen. I was dating, but it was nothing serious. I had a 401(k), a savings account, and stock options. I still had all of my reproductive organs and thyroid in tact. I had lots of free time, saw lots of movies and went out a pretty fair amount. America was at war in the Middle East. My grandfather and father had died. My stepfather was in long-term care because of a surgery recovery that had gone awry. There was no Facebook or Twitter. I was about to purchase my first iPod. Everyone was freaking out about the upcoming presidential election. I smoked pot, but only occasionally. Katrina hadn't happened. I'd started the international adoption process, but hadn't yet been matched with a baby. I was a mother to an old, grumpy cat, and a young, orange butterball cat. That summer, I'd ridden to the hospital in an ambulance because I collapsed at work due to stress. I'd also attended my second (and last) ACL Fest. I had one tattoo, but no facial piercings.

One thousand one hundred and fifty.

This is my 1,150th post. I am older, fatter, and blonde-ish gray. My hair is curly, longish and layered. Life and I have agreed to a tense truce. The world is divided, bitter, dangerous and filled with selfish and stunning intolerance. I drive a VW convertible that isn't even 1/2 way paid for. I have over 17,000 songs in my iTunes and on my iPod. I live with my husband, daughter, two cats, a dog, a leopard gecko and, occasionally, my stepsons in a house I bought on my own that has a great deck and a tiny kitchen. I have a 401(k), savings account, Roth IRA account, 529 account and stock options. Everyone is freaking about the upcoming presidential election and the Occupy movement. I Facebook and am on Twitter...a lot. I have no free time and almost never see movies. I only go see live music of bands I really love and only if I am guaranteed good seats. America is still at war in the Middle East with no end in sight. My stepfather is dead. My mother is remarried and no longer lives in Longview, so I rarely go to the Pine Curtain any more. Last week, I got physically ill because of work stress. I have one tattoo and my nose is pierced.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Recent Discoveries*

*A post idea blatantly stolen from my girl, Kathy.

In my quest to eat somewhat healthier, I got adventurous and tried a new smoothie at Whole Foods. It sounds disgusting--kale, coconut water, ginger, mango, strawberries--and is the color of baby diarrhea, but it's actually good! And I fucking HATE kale.

Quaker mini rice cakes, salt and pepper flavor.

Although I don't drink coffee, I am most definitely addicted to caffeine. In the morning, if I don't drink a Guayaki Yerba Mate tea, headache. In the afternoon, if I don't take 2 Extra Strength Excedrin by about
2pm, headache.

Whereas I used to not mind it if I had to do a bit of work during off-work hours (at night, on the weekends, etc.), now it really, really pisses me off.

It is very difficult for me to help The Geej with her school work. She doesn't read directions and then gets PISSED when she has to do her work over. She also goes nuts when I try and help her. Then I get frustrated with her, and it just escalates. She's in 2nd grade. This pattern does not bode well for the future.

Paying a little extra to subscribe to HDTV channels is totally worth it.

I really like watching post-season baseball.

Google+. I'm not sure what purpose it serves yes, what with all my Facebooking and Tweeting and whatnot, but I still really like the interface and how it's not all cluttered and stupid like Facebook. Also, none of my family or my right-wing, super-Christian hometown FB "friends" are on Google+, so there's that.

Nick Offerman is not only funny as hell, he's super fucking sexy.

Water heaters that break and need to be replaced on the weekend cost an assload.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I got a new computer at work yesterday. Normally, this would be something I would be dancing a happy jig about this. But thus far, I am not very happy with the whole switching-over-to-the-new-system bullshiz. Yes, I know I'm old and shit. And I don't "get it" as quickly or as easily as most of The Kids these days. But OMG, I've been having to mess with this whole pile o' crap almost all day today--a day when I NEED to be working my tail off. The biggest pain in the arse of all was caused by my beloved iPhone, or as BH disdainfully calls it, my "peg board." Allow me to walk you through my trials and tribulations:

Because this is a WORK computer, they won't transfer over non-business items like Tweetdeck, iTunes, etc. This is understandable. So, one of the first things I did today was install iTunes. As you may have heard, a new operating system (or "OS" if you want to sound all techie-like) was released from Apple earlier this week. After I installed iTunes on ye olde hard drive, I plugged in my iPhone to sync it like I do every day and BLEEP BORP BLEEK, a little robot inside my computer said, "YOU MUST UPGRADE! NEW O.S. BEEP BEEP. COMPUTING!!" or something like that. I dutifully did as my Apple Computer Master instructed me, including turning on iCloud and backing my phone up to it at 11:37am (FORESHADOWING!), and it seemed as if all might be okay.

I should've known that the sense of peace I felt was simply due to my innocence about the fact that my iPhone world was about to come crashing down around me.

About 20 minutes after I'd gotten everything installed and set up, I picked up my phone to do something, and went to unlock it and it didn't recognize my security code. You know, the one I've been using since I got my phone in January? The one I'd JUST RE-PROGRAMMED into my phone when I set up the whole iCloud b.s.? So I tried it again. And again. Locked the fuck out.

But SURELY there'd be some quick fix or advice on the Apple website, right?

Yeah, not so much.

So I called Apple and was on the phone with them for--no lie--nearly TWO HOURS. They had no idea what to do with me. So they "force" restored my computer taking it down to its factory settings and wiping it of all of my contacts, apps, photos, etc. But I wasn't too worried about it b/c my stuff was in a magical cloud somewhere, and I would be able to just pluck it out of the ether and restore it to my phone and go on living. Except that didn't happen. At all. And despite that my iTunes was TELLING me that my phone had backed up to iCloud, we couldn't get that backup to reappear. Fuckfuckfuckity fuck.

I finally got off the phone with them and went down to one of our IT dudes, Jim. Jim's awesome, and he was able to get some of my contacts back via reconnecting my phone with Outlook. But the vast majority of them are gone. Poof. And because I am old (see paragraph 1), I don't know anyone's phone numbers anymore. They're committed to my phone rather than to memory. I guess I'll spend the next year or so reaccumulating them...along with the addresses and whatnot that were also in my phone before The Big Wipe.

All of this moaning is just to say OMFG, y'all. I hate being this tethered to something that can so easily be compromised and obliterated. But man, am I ever tethered. It's kind of pitiful.

In unrelated-yet-still-technical news, I have fallen in love with our new HDTV. I bit the bullet and upgraded our cable package to get the HD channels (because, what's the point of having the TV if you can't get the channels, right?), and I watched the damn Rangers vs. Detroit game on that sucker last night, and it was amazeballs. The game, and the picture.

Alright. Thank you for letting me get all of that off my chest.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Feeling a little schizo because of travel and work and work and work. So much to say. Sneaking time now before the first of two all-day meetings to blog. It feels almost criminal.

Some glimpses from the past few weeks:

Walking toward my gate at BWI, I hear applause begin behind me. Then build. I turn around and see dozens of WWII and Korean War vets--most being wheeled in wheelchairs, some hobbling on their own--toward the gate of their departing flight. Everyone they pass by in the airport stopping to give these old men a spontaneous standing ovation.

The beginning bars of Elbow's "Great Expectations" as I stand a few feet from the stage. Staring up. Beaming. Transported.

I am eating lunch alone in a cafe in Santa Cruz. I am seated near the window, looking out on a busy street. Great people watching. A woman skateboards past me. More confidence and cool in her little finger than I will muster in my whole life.

BH and I talk about travel. Again. We rarely go anywhere together as a couple. We've never traveled as a family. He doesn't share my need or desire to have something on the calendar to look forward to. These talks always leave me frustrated and tense. And there's still nothing on the calendar.

Watching The Geej put on a "dance show" for me in her room. She is wearing a purple sequin tube top and a red taffeta skirt. It is all twirling and hair flipping and lots of throwing herself on the ground. She has absolutely no rhythym but is fully committed to the music.

At a cat show with The Geej and our friend Irene. Sundancer, aka "Sunny" is a very large, orange Maine Coon. He is stunningly beautiful. I watch him get judged, then his owner picks him up to carry him back to their carrier table. We chat. I pet the cat. Later, I pass by their table, and Sunny is outside of his carrier, sleepily lying on his back on the table. I want to steal him.

Having an inebreiated discussion about politics with BH. He is grilling me about my beliefs and positions. I feel defensive. We are a microcosm of the enormously contentious philosophical divisions in our country.  We agree to disagree on a lot of things.

I am spending money on things. Summer camp tuition for The Geej. A new HDTV and media cabinet. A blue topaz pendant necklace. A couple of Pricelined nights at fancy hotels. I feel worry and a vague sense of guilt with every purchase. I wonder if I'm being frivilous. My upbringing has taught me that even small financial indulgences are bad.

Bending down in the mail room at work. My jeans are too tight. I feel the crotch begin to split. It is time to do something about my fat ass.