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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmases past

I'm not a real holiday kind of person.  I don't love the music.  I don't want a tree.  I don't like the stress.

I do like the baking.  I love giving presents that people like.  There are good parts to it.

I was thinking today about the Christmases I enjoyed growing up.  There were quite a few.

My grandma and grandpa used to come stay over night on Christmas eve.  I wasn't allowed to open any gifts early but my grandparents would bring a stocking and I was allowed to open that.  I don't remember a lot about it (other than I loved opening it early) but in every stocking was a hand held toy that you pushed, the tree spun and opened and revealed something on the inside.  Much like this:

Those were fun.

One year, my grandmother was sick and in the hospital over Christmas.  My mom and I bought a small tree (maybe 4 feet tall), decorated it and put it in a big trash bag.  I took it up to the hospital and left it in her room as a surprise for her.  But I forgot her gift.  I drove home (about an hour away), got the gift and went back to the hospital.  She was asleep but woke when I was trying to sneak the gift under the tree.  She cried when she opened package and saw the pin (pearl, marcasite and sterling silver).  I get teary eyed when I look at it in my jewelry box.

The early Christmases with my girls were fun.  They loved the boxes and the crinkling paper.  They didn't much care about the gifts.  They were so much easier to buy for back then.  I loved the pictures with Santa.  Some were more successful than others.  Luckily through the years, we never had a pee or puke on Santa event so I call them all a success.

The Mormon temple here has an amazing Festival of Lights. It's always one of my favorite places to go during the holidays.  I think the girls were about 3 years old when I took them to see the trees and nativities inside the visitor's center.  Inside the center is a large statue of Jesus.  He's wearing a robe and sandals.  One of my kids, M, I think, went up to him and started doing "this little piggy....".  Some of the old people there were not happy.  It amused me.


My favorite Christmas was when I was about 19 or so.  I had just started my first business - Discovery Records.  My brother still came home for the holiday at that time.  I don't remember much about it all except coming down the stairs and seeing him and my mom.  I guess we had started opening gifts when I noticed the card table set up in the corner.  On it was my first desk top computer.  I was so excited.  I can still see it all clearly in my head.  We spent hours going over everything - it was so exciting.  I'm pretty sure he has no idea that's my favorite Christmas memory.

It's harder to please my kids now that they're older.  And I date someone who is unbelievably tough to buy for.  Every now and then I get it right with him, though.  Hopefully everyone will have a good day this year.









Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Dreaded Holiday Music

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a music person.  I love everything about music.  There's a ton of stuff I don't like, sure.  But I like a (semi) wide variety of stuff - and some of that stuff surprises me.

But I hate holiday music.  Maybe it's because I worked in retail for 10 years and hearing it for 12 hours a day for well over a month killed it for me.  It's like maraschino cherries.  I loved those things.  Then when I was in elementary school, I ate an entire jar of them.  I haven't touched one since.  Overkill.

I date a music loving guy.  Sometimes this is awesome (he knew who Jah Wobble is which got this relationship started).  Sometimes it is not awesome (Mellowmas.  Don't know it?  Google it.  If you listen to it all, it's not my fault.).  It is musically never boring.

I don't like the stupid songs - Dominick the Donkey (http://youtu.be/hYlvfX3nwlc) , I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (http://youtu.be/7oOzszFIBcE) and things like that.  In fact, it's safe to say I hate them.

I have found a few songs I do like.  Take a listen and judge for yourself.


1.     Mary's Boy Child - Boney M. - http://youtu.be/hxm1FlLSfe4

2.     Band Aid (I'm an 80s girl so of course) - http://youtu.be/bjQzJAKxTrE

3.     Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses - http://youtu.be/ZZXqg4Gruls

4.     Oh Hannaukah (Glee version - don't judge me) - http://vimeo.com/55700514#

5.     Angels We Have Heard on High - The Piano Guys - http://youtu.be/n543eKIdbUI  (I actually like the Indigo Girls version better but there's no video to share)

6.     Snoopy vs. The Red Baron - The Royal Guardsmen -  http://youtu.be/wtJ1Gnh9wPU

7.     Holy Night (cuz it's Josh Groban.  Again, no judging.) - http://youtu.be/MIFH0TUWcBA

8.     Little Drummer Boy - Pentatonix - http://youtu.be/qJ_MGWio-vc

9.     Horchata - Vampire Weekend - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkUQ-OBazbc&feature=share&list=PL4dcraMV_ijOGulHJc4PHBWMgz4r1WX-N&index=5  (Not sure it’s a favorite but I like it)


10. Oi To The World – No Doubt - http://youtu.be/ZFLExwIQKto  (Again, I’m not sure it’s a real favorite but I’m having trouble coming up with 10).

I'm working on liking more.  Working on it.....I can listen to one or two songs on the Christmas-music-all-the-freaking-time channels.  Then the hives start breaking out and I change the station.  Baby steps...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A different kind of family celebration

I grew up in a small family.  It was just me, my mom and my brother.  My brother moved out when I was nine so then it was even smaller.  Yes, I have aunts, uncles and cousins, but not many and they weren't really a part of my life except on holidays.

Twenty years ago I moved to Maryland.  Since then I've found a new family.  My girls and I call these families our family of birth and our family of choice.  I love my family of birth.  I cherish my family of choice.

This is my first holiday without any of my family of birth.  I'll see my mom in the morning but dinner is provided where she lives and we all know there is a high likelihood of their food being better than what I can cook.  My kids are with their dad.  I'm not a member of my boyfriend's family.  It's a strange feeling.

Some members of my family of choice are in the same boat.  This is why I love them.  When one of us is in need, we support each other.  I had concerns about Thanksgiving.  I understand that I have to share my children and I do so without reservation.  But it makes for lonely holidays sometimes.  I will say that my ex and I do a good job of making sure neither is alone on a holiday.  He invited me to Thanksgiving dinner at his home - with his girlfriend and her children.  They are nice and we've made that work before but some holidays work better than others and Thanksgiving isn't one I want to make into a modern day Brady Bunch holiday.

This was a great Thanksgiving - dining out with two of my favorite people.  There were lots of laughs.  No family drama.  No forced conversation.  No being on my best behavior.  Just fun.  Exactly what I needed.

My girls come back to me tomorrow and we'll have a family dinner with my mom on Saturday.  That will be nice, too.  Today was just what I needed.  Not traditional but perfect.  I'm grateful for this family.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Worth The Price of Admission

There are few acts I'm willing to pay to see. Paul McCartney (of course!).  But luckily I was able to interpret for him instead of paying to see him.  Marillion.  Kate Bush (but she doesn't tour so that doesn't really count).  Matt Nathanson (I'm a stalker).  Indigo Girls.  Always.  Pink.  Wow.

My friend, C, and I went to the Pink show last night.  Wowza.  First, the seats were awesome!  That helped.  We made a few observations last night:

1.  Abs.  'Nuff said.

2.  How does she get insurance for that show?  Okay, that was my thought, not C's.  She's the sane one.

3.  The girl can ROCK.

4.  Probably the most interesting to me - we were the norm in the demographics for this show.  We both thought we'd be on the older side but we weren't.  There were a fair number of moms who brought their daughters.  I would totally do that - I think the message in most of the songs is stuff my kids need to hear, though this show was a little risque for them.  Pink has provided the soundtracks for both my and C's divorces.  Looking around the insanely large crowd, it was easy to see we weren't the only ones.  There's both comfort and sadness in that.




In my next life, I'm going to be like her.  Minus the rough childhood.  But definitely with all the ink.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holidays that aren't

During a conversation with some co-workers yesterday, I came to the realization that my world is a little different than others.  My girls and I celebrate Chinese New Year by going to the parade (fun!) and eating Chinese food.  We make latkes for Hanukkah (though we celebrate in no other ways).  We make cookies for Christmas. I grew up celebrating things that others didn't - but I had no idea.  Wikipedia knows about them (see definitions below).

For example, until someone asked the question on Facebook, I didn't know that Mischief Night wasn't celebrated all over the country.  I knew Detroit did it a little differently (read: scary!).  But until the question was asked, I hadn't thought of the fact that I've never seen a yard here covered in toilet paper.  Interesting.

The separation of Halloween tricks from treats seems to have only developed sporadically, often appearing in some areas but not at all in others nearby.[2] In Northern New Jersey's Bergen CountyEssex CountyHudson CountyMorris CountyPassaic CountySomerset CountyUnion County, and parts of Sussex County, it is called "Mischief Night". Also noted in Delaware. In some towns in Northern New Jersey, and parts of New York State, it is known as "Goosey Night". In South Jersey and the Philadelphia region (as well as Westchester County in New York andFairfield County in Connecticut), October 30 is referred to as "Mischief Night", where mischievous teens rub soap bars on car windows, throw eggs at houses, adorn trees with toilet paper, and run away after ringing doorbells. In some areas of Queens, New York, Cabbage Night involved throwing rotten fruit at various neighbors, cars, and buses. Pre-teens and teens would fill eggs with Neetand Nair and throw them at unsuspecting individuals. In the mid-1980s garbage was set on fire and cemeteries were set ablaze. In Camden, New Jersey, Mischief Night had escalated to the point where widespread arsons were committed in the 1990s. Over 130 arsons were committed in that city on the night of October 30, 1991.[3]

I also didn't know until I arrived here that Mardi Gras didn't mean the arrival of Santa to most people.  Growing up in Lansdale, I sat through many, many very cold Mardi Gras parades on Main Street, waiting for Santa.  I have very happy memories of sitting with my mom and my friends and a big thermos of hot chocolate under a blanket.  I miss those parades.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23rd  @ 1:00 PM
The 63rd annual Mardi Gras Parade will be held downtown Lansdale on Saturday, November 23rd.  Parade starts at Main Street and Mitchell Avenue at 1:00 PM and travels east on Main Street to Park Drive.

I also didn't know that the world didn't celebrate Fasnacht Day.  Mmmmm......donuts!  It's the beginning of Lent.  But apparently not nationally, though I did find fasnachts at the grocery store a few years ago here.  Actually, it wasn't fasncachts I found.  It was paczki.  They still count.

Fasnacht, Sometimes spelled Fastnacht, Faschnacht, Fosnot, Fosnaught, Fausnaught, is an English name for a fried doughnut served traditionally in the days of Carnival / Fastnacht or on (Shrove Tuesday), the day before Lent starts. Fasnachts were made as a way to empty the pantry of lardsugarfat, and butter, which were traditionally fasted from during Lent.[1][2][3]
The Pennsylvania Dutch in the area surrounding Lancaster, Pennsylvania celebrate Fastnacht as well. Most chain supermarkets in eastern Pennsylvania offer fasnachts, although WalMart offers Pączki instead. Pączki are traditionally eaten in Poland on the Thursday prior to Fasnacht Day, although in Polish communities of the US, the tradition is more commonly celebrated on Fasnacht Day. Commonly pączki are round, rather than having straight sides, and they are filled with jelly, or sometimes creme filling.[1][2][3]
In parts of Maryland, the treats are called Kinklings, and are only sold in bakeries on Shrove Tuesday. The German version is made from a yeast dough, deep fried, and coated or dusted in sugar or cinnamon sugar; they may be plain or filled with fruit jam. Pennsylvania Dutch fasnachts can often be potato doughnuts, and may be uncoated, dusted with table sugar, or powdered with confectioner's sugar.[1][2][3]
The term is synonymous with the Carnival season which is called Fasnacht in southern Germany, Switzerland, Alsace and Austria. Although usually written "Fastnacht", there are many local spoken varieties: Fasnacht, Fassenacht, Fasnet etc.[1][2][3]
The word Fastnacht originates from the German words "fast", which is the shortened version of the verb "fasten", which means "to fast", and "Nacht", meaning night, indicating the eve of the traditional Lenten fasting period observed by many Christian denominations. It is the equivalent celebration to Mardi Gras or Carnevale.

A friend told me that when she lived in Ohio, her friends celebrated Sweetest Day.  I've never heard of that.

Sweetest Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the Great Lakes region, and parts of the Northeast United States, on the third Saturday in October.[1] It is described by Retail Confectioners International as an "occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed."[2] Sweetest Day has also been referred to as a "concocted promotion" created by the candy industry solely to increase sales of sweets.[3] It is also a day to bestow romantic deeds or expressions.[citation needed]


I wonder what other holidays I'm missing.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hair Chronicles: Volume 1

I have issues with my hair.  First, let me say I don't have fabulous hair.  I have good hair but it has a mind of its own and often I don't feel like arguing with it.

When my world starts spinning out of control, I feel an urge, a need to cut my hair.  When I was young and stupid and didn't care, I would go to work with a razor blade.  It didn't really matter because my hair was spike and normally punked out so no one could really tell.

Last night, at 8:30 on a Saturday evening, I sent a text to my friend:   "I need to cut my hair.  Now."  Lucky for me, she gets it.  We met at Bubbles salon at the mall, but they wouldn't cut my hair.  So we took a chance and went to Master Cuts.  I don't usually go to places I don't know.  I've had the same stylist for years - until she went out on maternity leave.  This oh-so-nice woman in there recognized the "I need a hair cut right now" look.  No shampoo.  No blow dry.  But success:  several inches gone and I look different.  More importantly, I feel different.  That was exactly what I needed.

This morning I woke happy with my hair.  Except for that glaring, glowing gray strand that I noticed the other night at dinner.  It needed to be colored.  Now.  This isn't too hard except I found a flaw in this plan: I need to remove my glasses to apply the color.  I don't want my glasses to become purple but I would like even color.  So this is kind of a crap shoot.  In about 10 minutes I'll know where I missed. I won't even go into my argument with the instructions: put on gloves first.  Try opening the application bottle with gloves on.  That was amusing.

Off to see what damage I did.....

Ah, the dilemmas of hair.

Breaking that screen addiction

I'm kind of a tv addict. Rarely do I veg out and just watch but it's usually on while I'm doing other things.  I like the sound.  I like the distraction.  I like not being able to hear the mouse in the wall.  I'm used to it.  And I'm not one for change.

Then one day recently, the cable sort of froze and the cable box showed all 8s.  Then it shut off.  After a few minutes, I could turn it on again but then the process would start again.  Eventually I realized I can't fix this.  Several calls to Comcast made me realize the rumors are true: their customer service sucks.  They're polite enough, sure.  But when they tell me I have no signal and I can't watch tv while I'm watching the cable tv, I realize this is not the company for me.

My kids like tv, though they're limited in what they can watch.  We like Palladia and HGTV and Good Morning America.  We're simple people.  They like Dr. Who.  I like the Real Housewives.  So we made a list of all the things we would miss if we had no tv.

Then I realized WE HAVE OPTIONS!!

Roku is cool.  There's all sorts of weird channels for free on that.  I like it but it's not the first thing I think of turning on when I need to be distracted.  I actually have to pay attention to those movies and strange shows.

While talking to my friend-in-the-know for geek things, Nicole, she mentioned getting a digital antenna.  Fabulous!  I get the local news and a bunch of other channels I've even heard of.  Family Affair was on this morning.  I had my coffee with Mr. French!!

There's all sorts of stuff on Netflix.  I share that account with my ex, thankfully.  And I just activated HuluPlus (for $8/mo).  I'm watching Luther as I write this.  Happy as a freaking clam.

Now, if I could figure out a way around the crazy cell phone bills.......


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Taking a time out

What a busy weekend.  I had one goal:  to accomplish ONE thing.  I'm the queen of starting stuff but then something shiny appears and my attention is drawn away from the thing I'm supposed to be doing.  So I wanted to FINISH something.

I did.

My kid weren't thrilled with the agenda - clean up the yard, clean out the shed and get rid of stuff.  Simple, right?  Not in this house.

We also learned a lesson: leaf blowers look much more fun than they really are.  It was fun for about 5 minutes.  By the third hour, it wasn't so fun.

But the result is we filled the compost pile with leaves (and other stuff), 90% of the left over leaves are in one pile (and damn those other leaves that fell after we were done), and the oregano is replanted (and the rotted flower box is gone - and we discovered plants we didn't even know were there).  The shed is now clean - for the first time in probably about 15 years.  Lots of stuff gone, thank you Freecycle.  And I apologize in advance to the trash collectors.

ONE THING DONE!  Actually, three things done.  Shed cleaned, check!  Flower box gone and oregano replanted, check!  Leaves piled and driveway cleared, check!  Finally!

Saturday was busy so Sunday was less so.  The reward for my girls was something they really wanted: going to see Enders Game.  I can't remember the last time the three of us went to the movies.  It was a fun Three Musketeers day.  I think I need more of those in my life.  I always love those girls but sometimes I need to be reminded how much I really like them.  We laugh a lot.

We ended the weekend sharing the joy with my mom.  I realized today how hard it is for her to be dependent on me and unable to do the things she really wants to do.  But something simple like bringing dinner over and laughing a lot with her makes up for some of it.

Sunday was a good time out.  I want more.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Getting dressed up

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, though I have no good reason for it.  My kids love it.  That's making me like it a lot more these days.

This year they were the twins from the movie The Shining.  They were super creepy, which made me kinda proud.  It was fun walking around at the Silver Spring Zombie Walk and then again trick or treating at Scary Perry.  More people were creeped out by them than anything else.  There were the few people who screamed and told them to go away.  Others just thought they were cute girls. It was fun.



I was thinking about Halloweens from the past today.  I loved their first outfit.  They did not.  I shoved them in peapod costumes.  They cried.  I beamed.  I seem to recall we ignored a few years but the one I really remember was when they were about 3 or 4.  They were Thing 1 and Thing 2.  They didn't care at all about candy.  When people opened their doors to give the girls a treat, the girls wanted to go in and play.  There were a lot of tears that year.  It still makes me laugh.


I have to give kudos to their dad.  He's the creative force behind most of the costumes.  They've been normal things for a few years- cats, acrobats, non scary things.  I loved Raggedy Ann and Andy.  These costumes were started by their grandmother and finished by their dad - at the 11th hour.  Talk about stress.


Our first venture into the world of weird costumes was a few years ago.  A was a roller coaster - that was fun.  M was Fred.  Fred was a monster that was holding a baby.  This made kids at the mall cry.  It was a our first experience with people who wanted to touch the girls and take pictures with them.  It was all very weird.

This is so different from my Halloween experiences growing up.  I think I was a gypsy almost every year.  I got to wear a lot of jewelry and make up - that's all I wanted.  I remember walking around the development where I lived with a friend, Bridgette.  She was a princess.  To have princess boobs, she wore her mom's bra.  I remember hitting the boobs, deflating them. I don't remember many other Halloweens.  I certainly don't remember people having scary costumes.  Or zombies.  Or the big elaborate event that it's become.  Maybe it was because neither I nor my mother was particularly creative.  

I do remember the hospital offering to x-ray candy before kids ate it.  I'm pretty sure they don't do that any more.  My boyfriend was commenting the other day that a lot of the stories of tampered candy is urban legend stuff.  Then I saw on the news tonight that someone found a needle in a snickers bar.  And there was the year my girls got anti-psychotic drugs with their candy.  

Why do we celebrate this?  I can't remember.  Oh, yeah.  The girls (and the grown ups) get to be zombies.....now I remember.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Frustration!!!!

My friend, Steve Phan, has been writing a daily haiku during the government shut down. It brings a smile to my face every day. Yesterday's post made me feel like I'm not the only one getting pissed with this silliness.

Government shutdown
Nothing resolved, still furloughed
Frustrated today



I've learned a bit about myself since the shutdown. First, let me say that the shut down effectively means no income for me. None. Nada. Zilch. I tend to eat out a lot. That has completely stopped. I've been cooking and shopping on a budget. I'm thinking about how I spend (and don't spend) money. Really, when life is normal, I am a conservative spender. I think about what I buy before I buy it and I don't shop often. Now all I want to do is buy things. I never buy cosmetics at the mall. Ever. I wanted that Clinique bonus set - so unlike me. I really want to get another aquarium. I don't really need it but I suddenly want it. Normally I don't think about money so much - I make enough to live on and it's just another part of my life. Without it, I obsess about it.

I heard my kids talking about what they want for Christmas the other day. Never did I think my 12 year olds would say "well, if the furlough ends, I will ask for (whatever it was). But if it doesn't, I'll ask for a book." My kids are very aware of how this is affecting us.

There's a small handful of friends who are like me - single moms with kids and little to no support from our exes - who are shitting bricks and figuring out what to do. I wonder if the folks on capitol hill have to do the same - figure out how to feed your kids and pay your bills when no money is coming in. Oh, by the way, we don't qualify for unemployment (at least not now and not in MD).

The politicians on both sides bear fault. Yes, I think one side is more guilty than the other but really, I DON'T CARE. I don't care which bully is wrong any more. I want to work. Though, in reality, the time off hasn't totally sucked. All my laundry is done. I have a bunch of stuff up on ebay and craigslist - getting rid of things is good. I've taken a few car loads of stuff to the donation place. My bathrooms have been cleaned regularly. As I said before, I am cooking. I am looking at recipes. I am envious of the extreme couponers. I have baked. The smell of banana bread does make my house smell yummy.

One of the things that has made my heart glow is the good side of people, especially those in my industry, that have come to light. Now, I know interpreters are generally good people but caring that has been shown lately is amazing. I saw a post from one interpreter who generally doesn't work in the federal arena offer interpreting hours to those of us who have been screwed by the shutdown. I've seen that happen a few times. Another group of interpreters started a fund to help those of us who aren't working (http://www.youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/help-feed-furloughed-freelance-interpreters/94612). How awesome is that!

It has to end at some point, doesn't it? Maybe this is the Universe's way of telling me I should get a job at World Market. But then there's that whole living wage argument. Maybe it's time for Plan B for the Judi's Life Plan.

Now, off to make a Plan B......




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I want the green grass

The grass is always greener on the other side.

I want the green grass.  I want to be on the right side.

This all started playing out in my head yesterday.  Well, that's a lie.  It's been mulling around in there for a while.  When I was a stay at home (SAH) mom, I wanted to be working.  I've been working full time for several years now and I want to be a SAH mom again.  Okay, not a full time SAH but I want to be home for my kids after school.  They need it now more than they did in elementary school.  I remember reading a blog post (can't remember from where) years ago that explained why middle school (girls especially) need a parent home after school.  Whoever wrote it was spot on.  My kids see/experience bullying, get teased by teachers, feel overwhelmed by the massive academic expectations, try to manage an age-appropriate social relations - all while coming home to an empty house.  Granted, it's often not empty for long.  But still.

My bf talked to me about how I manage my time and expectations.  It wasn't a sit-down, serious sort of talk.  It was a passing remark that went something like: "You know how when you're on a plane and when they review the emergency procedures, they tell you to put your mask on before you put one on your kids?  You might need to remember that."

Easy peasy, right?

No.  At least not for me.

I can't imagine putting the mask on my face before making sure my kids were okay.  This goes against my grain.

However, I'm very well aware of the fact that the advice is correct.  And smart.

There's got to be a way to balance the needs of my kids, my mom and me without any one person feeling slighted or losing out on something.

I think having an Alice (brady bunch), Mrs. Livingston (courtship of eddie's father) or Mr. French (family affair - and don't you dare call me old) would be awesome.  Someone who would take care of the mundane things so I could do the important things.  Oh, how amazing would it be if I put my dirty clothes in the hamper and the next day they were in my drawers, folded and clean!!  Or if all the plastic containers I don't wash in the dishwasher magically became clean before I needed them for lunches in the morning!  The excitement I would feel knowing my toilets were clean every day would be overwhelming.  That person would show my kids love - but not too much.  And dinner would be ready every single night.  Oh, the joy!

A girl can dream, no?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Adjusting my expectations

Maybe this should be titled "Honey, I was wrong".  But I can't do that.  I'll leave it at "I had to adjust my expectations".  That's as apologetic as I get.

Boyfriend and I went to Colorado for a wedding last week.  Yes, I did say Colorado.  The land of all the flooding and destruction.  The land where I have been several times before and enjoyed very little of it.  The land where there are mountains!!  I'm a beach girl who doesn't like breathing funny.  That Colorado.

We arrived in the middle of the rain.  The rental car guy didn't want us driving an itty bitty car into the mountains so we got a car so big, bf's regular Honda could fit inside of it.  Really big.  Our voices nearly echoed in it.

We made it to our destination (Silverthorne), went to a fun wedding (Dr. Who themed!) and I didn't die.  That was all successful.  Breathing was, um, fun but I didn't stop.  So that was also a success.  The advice I received - drink water! - was helpful.  Still, I was happy to be off the mountains several days later.



BF planned most of the trip.  That's a first - me letting go of control of everything.  Letting go is kind of fun.  Yes, we went to places I had NO interest in going.  But what a great surprise to find out I am sometimes wrong!  Leadville.  Yeah, Leadville - with the Mining Museum (http://www.mininghalloffame.org),  When asked "do you want to go to the Mining Museum?"  The answer in my head was "um, NO!"  But then I would have missed all the cool stuff inside!  That was cool!  I'm glad the voice in my head was squelched by my regular voice.



BF: I want to go the scenic way.

Me: (inside my head: shit!) (out loud): Um, okay.



Had I not agreed to that, I would have missed driving through a rainbow, seeing amazing scenery, goats - all sorts of stuff.  We met nice people, saw cool towns and had a great time.  I was wr.....um, my expectations needed adjusting.  Yeah, that's it.


We went from Leadville, through a bunch of towns, past Pike's Peak, past the floods and ending up at Colorado Springs.  First, it's big.  I had no idea.  It has bowling alleys!  That was a fun way to spend an evening.  It has friendly people.  And flooding.

We were at Focus on the Family (don't ask - my very-atheist-boyfriend had a need to see it and I have to say, it was surprising).  Thankfully it was Sunday and it was closed.  That limited the amount of trouble we could find.  But I found proof that the Universe does indeed have a sense of humor.  As we were wandering around the empty campus, a voice came out of nowhere!  It told us the water was rising and to seek higher ground.  That made me laugh.



Colorado Springs has the Garden of the Gods - a super cool place from the looks of it.  Why only from the looks of it?  Because just as we were preparing to leave the visitor center to enter the park, the water gods decided to piss on our trip and start flooding.  Nice timing, dudes.  It was beautiful from the outside.  We'll have to wait until the next trip to see if it's as beautiful on the inside.  I don't doubt that it is.



We finished our trip in Denver.  Denver is much nicer than I expected (there are those nasty expectations again).  It has a beautiful downtown (with weird sounds that come from the subway grates, thank you Sound Walk {http://artsandvenuesdenver.com/public-art/denver-public-art-collection/sound-walk}).  Again, at bf's suggestion we visited something I didn't really want to do.  The Denver Museum of Nature and Science (http://www.dmns.org/).  I'm used to the various Smithsonian museums so I didn't expect much (there's that word again!).  I was wrong!  It was cool!


It was a fun trip.  I even survived the cootie-filled woman next to me on the plane.  Between her sneezing and wheezing, she gave me an US magazine.  I can forgive a lot for a good trashy magazine.  Escaping reality for a bit was nice.  Now I've tasted freedom.  I'm going to want to do this again.  Soon.



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's a different world now

I remember life before 9/11.  Clearly.  It was an easier life.  My kids were born 4 months before September 11, 2001.  Their life is so different than the one I imagined for them.  Living in the metro DC area, the changes are all around us.  Here's my take on things:

Pre 9/11
Post 9/11
There was little security at federal buildings.  This meant I could take my mom to NIH to walk around, go into any Smithsonian museum at any open hour and that the federal agencies were pretty much like any other building.

There are huge fences up around many federal agencies.  You can’t just walk around the open suburban ones any more.  You go through metal detectors at every Smithsonian museum – which often means waiting in line.
I didn’t need to arrive at jobs a half hour early.  15 mins was plenty of time to get to where I was going.

I must have an escort at most of the places I work in.  This is a massive hassle, though one that has become normal
There were no “report suspicious activity” signs on the metro, above the beltway or at large public events.
This makes me nuts, especially when I see it on the beltway.  It makes my blood pressure go up.  How can I drive and look at suspicious activity?  Everyone here drives nuts……

We weren’t at war.
We have been in one war or another for the entire time my kids have lived on this earth.

Hatred wasn’t a part of my daily experience.
My kids are growing up knowing that hatred between religious groups, ethnic groups, countries is prevalent.  I knew they’d learn it eventually but I was hoping they’d make it out of elementary school first.  They didn’t.

I never thought about emergency supplies or an escape plan.

We do now.
Terrorism wasn’t part of my daily life.
It is now.


I have been reminded that during my lifetime, we have always had terrorism.  Planes were hijacked.  Bombs happened.  But I don't remember those days as vividly as I do 9/11.  They just feel different.  But they aren't really.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A few of my favorite things - black raspberry ice cream

Every now and then there's something I want to write about because it has a special meaning to me.  I'm going to start a sporadic series called (now sing this with me) "a few of my favorite things".  I'm starting with Friendly's Black Raspberry ice cream.  It has to be Friendly's, no other.

I was in elementary school when my brother was in high school.  He had a part time job working at Friendly's.  I don't remember much about any of it - except one part.  I remember going there with my mom and ordering dinner (likely clam strips!).  When it came time for dessert, he brought me one of those metal ice cream dishes that Friendly's has filled with purple black raspberry ice cream. The ice cream was covered in black chocolate sprinkles.  I remember them.  I had never had so many sprinkles on one cup of ice cream.  Because it came from my brother, it was special.

We've had many ups and many downs in our life.  He and I are nothing alike (or so we like to think).  We butt heads and disagree on a record number of things.  Yet we always find some common ground on which we can mend our relationship.

Today I was still recovering from the loss of Bobcat (see previous post).  Although I have been busy and occupied all weekend, I still shed a record number of tears.  My brother, who has been through a similar experience, reached out to me, my ex and my girls.  It meant something to me.  So when I was walking through Giant after a (less than awesome) visit with my mother, I saw Friendly's Black Raspberry ice cream and I (who doesn't eat ice cream often and rarely keeps it in the house) felt it calling to me.


I just happened to have some chocolate sprinkles (called Jimmies in my world) in the back of the cabinet.  This bowl of purple and black made me smile and made my insides all happy.  This, my friends, is one of my favorite things.

(Now it's stuck in your head, isn't it?)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pets break hearts

I don't own pets (except my whore fish).  I had a few pets when I was young.  Shep was our dog when I was little but when we moved to a townhouse when I was 9, my mom took him to my grandmother in Maine where he would have more space.  He threw up in the car pretty much the whole way there.  My mom had to wait until a perfect weather day to sell the car.  It still smelled bad years later if the weather was hot and humid.

My mom got me a cat when I was 10.  That lasted a few months.  I couldn't breathe.  As in I Could. Not. Breathe. The house was scrubbed (professionally) several times after that.  Years later (like more than 10), the washing machine flooded and made the rug in the family room wet.  Whatever was left in the rug filled the air and I couldn't breathe again.

This is why I don't have pets.

But I know people who do.

My brother had a dog, a Bernese Mountain Dog - Chester - who didn't realize he was a dog. He thought he was a boy. That was the most spoiled and loved dog ever.  We had had several human deaths in our family around the time Chester lost his fight with cancer.  I handled the human deaths okay but the loss of Chester (who was not my dog) still brings tears to my eyes years later.

My boyfriend had two cats when I met him - Shiva and Freya.  Shiva is the mighty hunter who likes to attack my toes in the middle of the night.  Freya loved me.  And she didn't interrupt my breathing.  Her death still appears in my dreams sometimes.

Now I want to tell you a story about Bobcat.  He's not really a bobcat.  He's a cat that got his name because of my father -in-law, Bob  He became Bob's cat, hence the name Bobcat.  Bobcat is somewhere around 23 human years old.  And I love him.


My mother in law rescued him from a house where his former owners had abandoned him.  I joined the family a few years later.  Bobcat ruled that house.  I knew my place was well below him.

He stayed and comforted Bob through a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's Disease.  When the disease caused Bob to be aggressive and frustrated, Bobcat brought him comfort.

When my mother in law, Ruth, first battled breast cancer, Bobcat stayed by her side.

When her son and I split and my children had two homes to deal with, Bobcat made them feel loved and safe.

When Ruth developed breast cancer again, Bobcat scared the nasty nurse that we didn't want there.  That was fun.

At the end of Ruth's life, she said she wanted to go home to be with Bobcat. He brought her comfort, laying in her bed with her when that's all she could do.  He was Bobcat.  He was loved.

Now it's Bobcat's turn.  He's sick.  He's at least 23 - we don't know an exact age.  I laughed when I saw the vet's report - she couldn't hear his heart murmur over his purring.  That cat can purr.


This is why I can't have pets.  Saying goodbye is too hard.  Goodbye Bobcat.  You were very much loved.  I hope you knew that.  You leave broken hearts behind.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Feeling awkward

I am right handed.  This makes me part of the majority and makes my life easy.  I have a left handed kid and we often stumble upon things that make me realize my life is a little easier than hers.  Vending machines, metro turnstiles, handicap door access panels - all set for right handed people.  I'm used to it.  My daughter complains but realizes this is life.

So all is good, right?

Nope.

I have a repetitive stress injury that is affecting my right shoulder, back and neck.  I'm supposed to be in a sling and keep my right arm immobilized.  Easy peasy, right?  Hell no.

Aside from the fact that the words "do not work for 2-3 weeks and keep your arm in a sling" are words that set an interpreters heart stopping, life is not easy with just one arm.  Lucky for me, I'm finding amusement in this.  I'm learning things I never thought of before.  What, you ask?  Here's some things that are making me laugh:


  1. I can't mix pancake mix with my left hand.
  2. I also can't flip a pancake without my right hand.
  3. I can't put on a bra with just my left hand.
  4. I can't figure out how to use toilet paper with my left hand.  I'm sure the ladies in the nearby stalls were wondering why I was laughing.
  5. I can't open the sunroof in my car.
  6. I can't unlock a door.
  7. I can't text (but I can voice text).
  8. Typing is a challenge.
  9. Open the fridge/oven feels weird.
  10. I can't brush my teeth or my hair.
This is insane.  And it better be temporary.  I had a brief stint - a few months - as a left handed person when I was in elementary school with a broken right wrist.  I can write my name with my left hand as a result.  That's about all I can do.  

So I sit here, typing with both hands because nothing will get done otherwise.  And grumbling to myself.....grrrrh.




Friday, August 9, 2013

Brother Husbands

My daughter, M, had a great idea the other night.  She sees me struggle with things I don't know how to fix - the plumbing, car problems, electrical problems - the list is endless.

So, what is M's suggestion you ask?

Brother husbands.  You know, like Sister Wives, only handier.

She made a list of the kinds of husbands I should have:

1.  Computer (current boyfriend fits this one)
2.  Plumber
3.  Mechanic
4.  Landscaper
5.  AV Sales person (someone wants new audio equipment)
6.  Chef
7.  Doctor
8.  Orthodontist (that request comes from A, the one with braces)
9.  A (random) millionaire
10. Someone who works at Apple/Motorola/Samsung
11.  An interpreter so I can be a stay at home mom (A's request)

I like that they put so much thought into this.  I am surprised that they think I will have enough, um, stamina for 11 husbands.  Or interest.  Or patience.

I would like 11 friends who fit the list, though.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Someone else's Bucket List

A while ago, I joined a bunch of other bloggers in publishing our bucket lists.  It was hard for me to come up with my own bucket list.  I couldn't get my head around making a list of things to do before I die.  Yet, in reality, I've had to do it before - in real life.  When I was told I had a brain tumor and random people started hugging me just to prove it was serious, I started thinking of the things I needed to do before I died.  Then that diagnosis changed and I realized I'd be here for a while so the thought left.

My mom is 83 years old.  It is unlikely she will live for another 20 years.  She has Parkinson's Disease (PD).  Actually, she could live another 20 years - she's otherwise healthy.  But she won't be able to walk for much longer.  That fact affects the things that can go on the bucket list.

I struggled finding 10 things left that I wanted to do in my life.  It's even harder to find things left to do in the life of a woman who has already done so much.  She's had a fun life that spans lives in NYC, Boston, Philly and now here.  Now I'm dissecting that life trying to come up with things she'd enjoy doing on a farewell trip.  Boston?  Maybe - but it's a long drive and she needs to stand every hour.  NYC?  She declined that one.  A long weekend "down the shore"?  That's a definite! Going back to Lansdale to see her friends?  Also a definite.  A trip to LA to visit my brother?  I know she wants to but the logistics are a bit overwhelming.

So maybe I should break it down into smaller pieces.  She enjoyed a spontaneous trip to the DC zoo when my brother was in town.  In fact, that was her idea.  She loved going to Brookside Gardens.  Maybe the bucket list doesn't need to be filled with grandiose trips.  Maybe smaller fun trips would be acceptable.  Maybe the bucket list should focus on family time instead of saying goodbyes.  Maybe.....

I'm open to wheelchair accessible ideas.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

When Sleep Makes Me Laugh

Andrew and I went out to lunch with some of my favorite people yesterday, SB and AC.  We always talk about things that make me laugh.  I was pleasantly surprised when SB told me a story that has happened to me: when you wake up pissed off at your bed partner because they did something bad in a dream.  There were several times over the years I would wake so pissed at my ex that I couldn't look at him.  He had done something terrible in my dream and I would harbor that anger all day.  It wasn't really his fault and after the first few times he took it in stride, but it still makes me laugh.

So that got me to thinking about the other things that happen in my sleep that make me laugh.  My sleep woes are no secret.  I stopped sleeping through the night when my girls were born.  I got used to (as much as one can) waking up for those middle of the night feedings and never got back to a normal sleep schedule.  It makes me insane.  And makes me feel tired all the freaking time.

But there are times when I do sleep.  And there are times when that sleep makes me laugh.  My ex thought I was cheating on him once when I talked about Donald Hollinger in my sleep.  The morning conversation started with a very unhappy man:

"Who is Donald Hollinger!"

"That Girl's boyfriend.  Why?"

"What does that mean?"

"You know, that tv show from forever ago - with Marlo Thomas.  THAT GIRL.  He was her boyfriend.  Why?"

"Because you were saying his name in your sleep."

"Oh.  Well, I thought he was cute when I was growing up."

Now, why would I be calling out Donald Hollinger's name in my sleep?  I have no idea.  It still makes me laugh.

It also makes me laugh when I think about the person who shall remain nameless who farted so loudly the house woke up.  Seriously.

Falling out of the bed, which happens rarely, not only wakes me but cracks me up.

My kids often sleep together.  Yes, they do have their own beds.  They just can't giggle as much when they're separated.  It always makes me laugh when I hear one talk to the other in the middle of the night.  "Give me my blanket!  You stole it!" Or my favorite (because I feel this way when one of them sleeps with me: "Get off of me!

I miss the time when I could sleep.  But I love the times when I do and I wake up laughing.  Even if it is in the middle of the night.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Junkie!!

I'm a fireworks junkie.  Some would use other words but let's go with junkie.  I love fireworks.  Meaning, I LOVE fireworks.  I will travel (within reason) to see them.  I've always loved them, despite growing up being told to fear them.  My mom was young - maybe around 10 or so - when she went to see them.  A burning ember fell from the sky and burned her jacket.  I grew up being aware of their danger but still loving them.  There's something special about this thing that shoots up into the sky and explodes in a burst of color, sound and glitter.



I have my favorites but really, there is no such thing as an unattractive firework.  They're special.  I love them over water in Sodus Point, NY.  At the Mall in DC.  Over the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philly. Over any and every ocean.  I'm really not picky.

Well, I am.  I don't really care for the fireworks set off in people's yards.  The expectation of missing limbs kind of kills the fun.  My former uncle-in-law used to do that.  He would set off brilliant fireworks over Lake Ontario.  I would pray he didn't lose any fingers.  He thought I was paranoid.  I thought he was crazy.

My kids go to Sodus Point every year with the dad for July 4.  They love it but they miss being with me.  M says I'm the most fun person to watch fireworks with - I love them that much.



Let's see......where have I seen fireworks?


  1. On the mall for the Smithsonian's birthday - fireworks over the castle building was fun.
  2. On the mall for July 4.  Just once.  I can't handle those crowds.
  3. On the mall for New Year's 2000.  That was cold but fun.
  4. In Baltimore for New Year's.  I forget the year.
  5. In Ocean City, NJ - more times than I can count.
  6. In Philly for July 4.  With the Beach Boys.
  7. In Lansdale, though I don't remember when.
  8. In Annapolis.  On a boat!!
  9. In Wheaton - I interpreted for the fireworks.  Fabulous job for many years.
  10. In Wheaton on a parking garage roof.  I could see fireworks all around for miles.
  11. In College Park - having my boyfriend realize just how much I love fireworks.
  12. In Lanham (last night) with my boyfriend who gets how much I love them.

UPDATE for 7/4/16

I've seen even MORE fireworks.

13. Laurel - these weren't the best but they were fireworks!
14. DC for Emancipation Day - these are good because they're set off in the street and you can see the reflections in the office buildings.
15.  Geneva Switzerland - the best by far.  I had no idea just how perfect fireworks could be before witnessing this show.  Amazing doesn't begin to describe it.
16.  Along 95 while driving home from NYC last night.  Not a ton, but still fun.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Hidden Crazies

I tease my friend, M, for attracting all the crazies. Crazy finds me is her motto - and it fits.  I love her and all her crazy-isms and the crazy it attracts.  I never thought *I* was one of those crazies because, well, I'm kind of boring.  Oops.

My realization today isn't crazy finds me.  It's more like the universe is bringing these very unusual people in my life for a reason.  I like this!

I have a group of awesome friends who supported me and my girls when we needed it most.  Over the years I've realized it's not entirely a one-way street.  We support them, as well.  I don't think they're as dependent on that group as I tend to be but I like feeling like I mean something to them as well.

My group of crazy is growing and it's growing in a way I hadn't expected.  I made an off-hand remark to someone on facebook basically saying she's got an awesome life.  Well, she does.  But she also has a crazy part (and keeps me laughing!) that I hadn't expected.  Thank you, Universe, for making her part of our family of choice.

I have someone who works for me in another state who seemed qualified and professional and just a little out of whack.  I had no idea how out of whack she is and how much awesome she brings to my world.  All these crazy folks do.

All of these folks are, in my kids' words, "awesome and unique."  And kinda crazy.  Not the kind of crazy that brings fear into my world - far from it.  It's the kind of crazy that makes me smile.  And be incredibly grateful.

So thank you, Universe.  My world is so much more colorful with all these crazy folks.  And we love them all.

Some of our colorful friends.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Superpowers

I want to have a super power. I don't need a cape or a special outfit (though fancy shoes and a tattoo would be awesome).  I don't want a visible power.  Just something I can use, when needed. Like the hulk - but I don't want to turn green (hate that color).  I don't want to inflict rage.  I just want to right the wrongs I see.

I used to think I could get Montgomery County out of its budget crisis if they would just let me ticket people who drive like douchebags.  So far, no one has take me up on that idea so here I sit, in a car, unable to right those wrongs.  The aggressive drivers, people who run lights and stop signs and those who for some unknown reason find it difficult to use turn signals will have to be stopped by someone other than me.  That's too bad.  I was looking forward to pulling them over in my minivan.

So what kind of super power do I want?  I want something that will shut people up.  Not all people - just the ones who need to shut up.  You know the mean girls at the middle schools?  Those girls need to shut up.  The boys who torture the girls needlessly?  Yep, they need to shut up.  The adults at work who decide who can and can't have interpreters/reasonable accommodations/whatever folks need to do their jobs.  They need to shut the fuck up.

Maybe something that shoots mouth closing staples out of my fingers.  Or I could shoot people the evil look and that would be sufficient.

Okay, maybe I do need a cape.

Or another super power.  Hmmmm.....I need another idea.  Thoughts?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Days for Mothers

Father's day for kids without dads is rough.

So are father/daughter dances at school and girl scouts.

So are lots of things.

The interesting part for me is how those feelings don't really go away even when a kid grows up.

I dated someone in high school whose friend asked me one day what I was going to do for my dad for Father's Day (he didn't know my dad had died, much like most of my friends).  I said I didn't even know when Father's Day was.  He made a bunch of nasty little remarks, many of which are engraved in my brain forever.

This year, my ex asked me if I celebrate Father's Day with my mom, who was both parents to me for nearly my whole life.  I remember doing something like a card and making her breakfast when I was young and getting mixed reviews from her.  I think most years I call my mom and say thank you but not much more.  She never seemed to want that.

I live between the worlds of being a single mom and having a family with two active parents.  While I'm no longer with with my kids' dad, he is in the picture regularly.  When I'm with my kids and one (or both!) has a full-on, tween, mega-size tantrum, I'm very aware of how alone I am.  I think of my mom often during those times.  I wasn't an easy kid.  It couldn't have been an easy time for her.

So this year for Father's Day, I will celebrate with my mom. Forty-four years of being both a mom and a dad deserves something special.

I'm trying to think of a word for moms who are also in the dad role.  MADS doesn't seem to work well.  I'm open to suggestions.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Taking a day off

Generally speaking, I like my life.  I've gotten used to the insanity that has become my normal.  I take care of my kids most of the time and my mom some of the time.  I work a lot and I try to remember that being in a relationship takes work, so I to prioritize that as well.  I love having wonderful friends and try to fit them in the schedule as I can.

It makes for a busy life.

As things at work have changed and the stress levels have gone off the charts, my work hours have increased (while pay has not!).  The end of school has (finally!) arrived, along with all the stress and emotion that brings.  It's just been a time.

During the week (when the girls, mom or bf are with me), the rule is no electronics at the table.  The rest of the time, it's on.  It's on during the weekends.  It's on when I'm out and about.  It's always one.  IT being the computer or the phone or the whatever that keeps me connected to the world.  It's always on.

So today is a no electronics day.  BF and I are going to have a day of fun.  I might take some pictures and post them later but I'm not checking email.  I'm not talking to people.  I'm not doing scheduling or billing or anything else.

I'm taking a day off!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's my problem

I learned an important lesson from one of my daughters today.

"Sometimes my problems are MY problems."

The setting: we were walking with a group of about 140 students for about a mile for a field trip.  The group consisted of 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.  My kids are in 6th grade and are slightly small in comparison to some of these kids.

A and I were walking together when she pointed out a girl who had told her she would "beat you up and smash your head into a computer."  Nice.  I leaned over to my daughter and asked if this girl needed to be tripped.  "No, mom.  Sometimes my problems are MY problems."

I guess she told me.

It takes everything I have not to smack these kids who are mean to my kids and their friends simply because they're smaller, nerdier or because they like their teachers and like school.  I don't really want to hurt them.  But I do want the bullying to stop.  I want the nastiness to go away.

But I can't make it go away.  I can't wish away their sadness.  I can't yell at those kids and suddenly make them nice.

And I probably shouldn't trip them when they're walking down the hall.  Or say any of the things that float around my head.  Or do any of the things that come to mind......

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

If you can't say anything nice......

Be quiet.

That's not the first thing that came to my mind.  "Shut the fuck up" came to mind but "be quiet" sounds nicer.  This is going to be the new Judi mantra.

One of my facebook friends posted the quote from the Buddhist Boot Camp site.  It struck me because I hear myself telling my kids "listen to your tone", "say something nice", "words hurt" often.  It doesn't stop.  I hear the nastiness all too often.

I hear (and cause) too much nastiness in my life.  I yell at the dumbass drivers who feel the need to drive 40 mph on the beltway and the douchebags who seem to have forgotten how to use a turn signal.  I hear my kids yell at each other and talk snarkily about the mean girls at school.

Enough is enough.

So I will try to stop calling drivers dumbasses and douchebags (DAs and DBs in the code world of speaking in front of kids - which, for the record, doesn't work.  They figure out what you're saying.).  I will not call people who piss me off bad names.  My mother used to have a more Christian strategy.  When people are that stupid, they need a prayer.  When they piss you off, say a prayer for them.  I like that but we are of different religious beliefs.  However, when these people piss me off, I can send them a happy thought.

I called someone out on this recently.  This is someone who I care about - I wasn't willing to just say well, that person is being a dick so I'm done.  But I told him a comment he said to a business owner wasn't okay.  Rarely do I get full-on, red faced angry.  I was when I heard his comment.

BE QUIET!

I explained why I thought it was wrong and why I don't want the nastiness in my life any more.  My point was made.  He's entitled to his opinion - I'm fine with that.  But when you cross the line into nastiness, keep it to yourself.

And that includes me.  I'm working on keeping the nastiness in check.  If I can't be positive, I'll be quiet.

Now, if only that message could be heard in the tween world......

Friday, May 17, 2013

Congregating.....it's what we humans do

I've been to two large events recently.  Both affected me significantly, though in different ways.  The power of a large number of people is impressive.

The first event was the Avon Walk for Cancer.  I walked last year and volunteered to crew this year.  They were very different experiences and I'm glad I did both (and might even do them both again).  I was struck during closing ceremonies that nearly 25000 people were gathered by the Washington Monument because of one shared sad common event that happened to them all.  Either they themselves or a family member or a friend had experienced the devastation that breast cancer brings.  For some it wasn't all bad.  Others were still obviously coping with it all.  But overall it was a very positive event.  While I was cheering the walkers - several of whom were obviously still in treatment, others were survivors and others had different reasons for walking - the sadness was there but there were so many smiles, so many stories.  One man had a pair of sneakers attached to his back pack.  He used to walk with his wife when she was going through treatment.  Then she died.  He keeps her shoes with him.  One woman walked past, cane in hand, slightly stooped and walking slowly.  But she was WALKING.  It was pretty amazing.

The second event was seeing the Dalai Lama at the University of Maryland.  Nearly 15000 peaceful people were there to hear his words and his laugh.  It was this large arena full of love.  His words were calming yet clear. His demeanor was charming.  He's not threatening in any way - yet there were tons of security. Living in the DC area, security is nothing new.  But this was impressive.  State police everywhere.  Local county police.  Other kinds of police that I didn't readily recognize.  Big time security.  But so much love that when I went to the ladies room following the event, women were holding the stall doors open for each other.  So much love it extended to the restrooms.  There was SO MUCH LOVE that when I asked one of the people I was with if she would share her pictures with me (we point had small point and shoot cameras), the guy sitting behind us offered to share his professional pics with us.  And then he did it!

Now, if only I could get this love-will-change-the-world feeling to stay......


Thank you Cyrus Ameri!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Judgy Judi

I wrote something on facebook that I have felt bad about since I hit that post button.  This has taught me a few important lessons.  One, I need to recheck my internal censor button.  Two, I need to remember that the way something sounds in my head is not always the way a reader hears it.  Three, sometimes I need to shut up.

What did I do, you ask?  I made a comment about "Jesus freaks".

It was wrong to do for many reasons.  There are two parts that keep bugging me.  One, I offended some folks - something I would never intentionally do.  I like those people.  I respect their beliefs.  Yet based on what I wrote, they would never know that.  Two, I did exactly what I tell my kids not to do.  I judged folks based on looks (the crosses on their backs), not on knowing them.  I have been known to argue with my (atheist) boyfriend about his comments against those with religious beliefs but I just did the same thing!  So now I'm a hypocrite AND a mouthy ass.

This doesn't make me happy.  It certainly doesn't make me proud.

The lesson here?  Yeah, keep my mouth shut.  That's kind of obvious.  Think before I speak?  I should have learned that by third grade.  But apparently I didn't.  Remember that I don't appreciate being judged for what I do or don't believe/hair color/appearance/parenting style, etc, so maybe it would behoove me to not do that to others?  Yeah, I need to remember that one.

I think the Universe is trying to teach me something.  Why?  Because for three nights of the last week, there has been a chorus in my dreams singing (endlessly!!) The will know we are Christians by our love. Seriously.  Hopefully my lesson has been learned.