Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cautiously Optimistic

Yesterday was rough. I found out that a baby named Stellan had surgery on his little heart (you can read about the whole thing here), that the husband of one of my favorite knitting bloggers passed away, and I found out when I am leaving for Aunt Beach's funeral. I couldn't keep it together at work so I went home and spent time doing work around the house, baking and generally not thinking depressing thoughts.

This morning, however, I made a decision. I have decided that I will not get overwhelmed by all the bad juju that's floating around right now. I know that this too shall pass and that I am just going to have keep swimming until things start to look up again. And I'm not the only one it seems ... S over at a.little.bit.delirious feels the same way. Brooke knows what's up. And RS27 is always hilarious and never, ever depressing.

As I was getting my stuff together yesterday afternoon, I went and told some co-workers that I was leaving and one of them said, "This has been a rough year for you, hasn't it?". And it has been a rough year but also not such a rough year. I know that my year could have been much worse, I'm sure that I will have years that are worse in the future. But it made me think of all the things that are bad that are going to happen this year:
  1. Armini is going to China in T - 3.5 months
  2. My 102 year old grandfather is in the hospital with fluid in his lungs and it doesn't look like he will be coming home anytime soon (however, we have been doing the "this is the last [insert holiday here] that we will have with Papa" dance for only about 6 years now so ... there's always a chance he could make it to 103)
  3. I am going to have to move in August
  4. I have no idea where I am going to move to ... maybe home (weep)?
But there are also a lot of good things that are going to happen too:
  1. I'm officially registered for the half marathon in San Francisco
  2. My bib number for said marathon is one up from Hilda's (who is also running in the marathon)
  3. I am going to be in the best shape in my life come July 26th
  4. I am going to go on a bunch of trips this year (concerts with Armini, family reunions, San Francisco to visit Hilda, maybe Las Vegas this winter)
  5. I get to get a new car in January (which is technically next year but it happens to be something I am really looking forward too, so I am listing it here)
See? Just right off the top of my head my good things list is longer than my bad things list. AND the good things list has a whole bunch of other things on it that are just lumped into larger categories.

The point of all of this is to announce to [you, myself, the internet] that I have decided to be cautiously optimistic. I will be ready to accept the blows, the bad things, the sad things but I am not going to allow myself to be ruled by the fear that something bad is waiting to jump out from around a corner. And so, I promise you readers that there will be more happy things on this blog than sad. I am going to do my part to clear the air of some of that nasty juju.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Ebb and Flow

And just like that life comes full circle again.

This weekend my Aunt Beach (name changed for the privacy of my family) passed away. While I would love to tell you all the details, it's not really my story to tell and on the off chance that someone who knows my family finds this post, I don't want them to get all "why would you put that out on the internet for strangers to see??". So please forgive me for being uber-vague about the situation.

Aunt Beach and myself enjoying the open bar at my cousin's wedding last summer. Yes, I am wasted in this picture, thanks for asking.

She was a lovely and super creative lady. I am so very sorry that I didn't take the time to get to know her better or to send her a card or ask her to teach me how to be as awesome an artist as she was. Just the last time we were at her house I realized that we both really like to decorate our houses in a 1950's-esc style and we had roamed around her house admiring her flea market art finds and I gushed about how I loved everything.

It makes me sad that I now have to use the past tense when I talk about my Aunt Beach. She is the first family member that I have known well that I will have to bury. Well, I won't have to bury her, but I'm going to be there when it happens ... you know what I mean. For Pete's sakes, I still have all of my grandparents! It boggles the mind. And while I know that I will never be able to give my Aunt Beach another hug, or hang out with her at the reunions, I still can't wrap my mind around the whole thing. I have never had to deal with death so close and it is confusing and scary and sad that I have to learn with my Aunt who should have been around for a lot longer.

There is a lot of bad in the world these days. This economy and all the doom and gloom from Washington about how "it's going to get worse before it gets better" isn't helping. Not only should you be holding your children close, but now is the time to reach out to your family. Tell them that you love them and then start planning the reunion. Seriously. If there was ever a time to start spending time with the people that you love, now is that time. We need to spread a little love to make all the bad juju in the air not quite so bad.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sometimes I just have to stop and think about how awesome I am.

I know, the title of this post is the polar opposite of my post from last Monday. But such is the natural ebb and flow of life. In one week you may feel like your life is literally crumbling around your ears and end that same week feeling invincible. It doesn't mean that the bad things that happened are any less important, but just that life marches on and most times you will find a little sunshine mixed in with your doom and gloom (even when you try really, really hard not to).

I have been meaning to start posting a little more about my half marathon training (or the training that I am currently in to get in good enough shape to be ready for the actual half marathon training) and after my run last night, I am motivated to.

Armini is my trainer/workout maker since he did that whole cross country thing in high school, plus the soccer and the fact that he has run a WHOLE marathon. Plus, I don't have to pay him money (waggles eyebrows) so it works out for everyone. For the past three weeks I have been doing a combination of swimming, yoga and treadmill running (yes, I know that it's not the same as running outside but it's still cold here. I don't run outside in the cold) which started at 30 minutes a go and has now increased to at least one 45 minute run a week.

Last night I did my 45 minutes ... and I covered 4.3 miles. That is the longest I have ever run. EVER. PLUS, I warm up and cool down but I don't count it towards the 45 minutes. I'm not sure why exactly except that I feel like such a bad ass when Armini asks me how long I ran and I can say "45 minutes exactly dude, no walking" and then have him be impressed. It gives me a sense of pride. And yesterday I challenged myself to work on my endurance at a faster pace by running at a 5.0 treadmill speed for 25 minutes sandwiched between 10 minutes of running at 4.5 treadmill speed. I didn't die, I didn't walk until I was supposed to AND one time I went almost 10 minutes not staring at the clock waiting for the minutes to tick by (this is a big step for me). AND it was a good run overall and my favorite songs came on during my cool down so I got to dance a little while I was walking, which is AWESOME.

Although, while I was dancing I noticed a guy sitting on a bench outside the window where he could plainly see me flailing my arms on the treadmill. But that didn't stop me. I dance like nobody's watching! All the time! It's awesome!

But I am feeling quite proud of myself and thought I would share. Go Me!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Pity Party

Sometimes I wonder how any of us manage to maintain a pleasant demeanor in the world. How to make it from one day to the next without losing our minds? Or our faith? Or our humanity?

Not only have I been reading about the loss of some beautiful babies this week, but I just got a phone call from my co-blogger on Master of my Money and she is in a bad state. I won't go into details because it's not my story to tell. But let's just say that it was the straw the broke the camel's back in a string of crappy goings on.

Plus, Hilda is having troubles out on the west coast. It hurts me that my friends are all so sad and that I can't always be there to hug them, feed them chocolate ice cream, and share in their tears. It just doesn't seem fair.

None of it is any fair.

Tonight I am having a pity party with Ash. Hilda will be joining us on skype. There will be chocolate ice cream and tears and general wallowing in our misery. But we will be doing it together. And maybe tomorrow we can move on to something better. Something happier.

You know ... I think I might move forward with my Pity Party idea. Everyone deserves a moment to vent.

Me? Armini going to China. The panic that it creates in me deep, deep down. Not knowing what I am going to do without him around. The fear that if we stay together, it will destroy our relationship. The fear that if we break up, we will never get back together. And the fact that this is going to happen, whether I want it to or not, in about 3 months.

Now it's your turn ... what do you want to cry (or vent) about?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Like sping cleaning, only smellier

While I was in Florida, and Armini was taking care of the puppies, there was an incident. The last two days I was away Tim and Bing thought that it would be a really, awesomely good idea to excrete all over the floor of my room. There was a lot wee and a little poo. And when I got home on that Thursday, I almost threw up when I opened the door to my room. I have worked in a kennel before and I have NEVER smelled anything so foul as my bedroom on that night.

It smelled so bad that you could smell it even when the door was closed. SERIOUSLY. I had a little sit down with the dogs so that I could tell them about how totally not cool it was that they had made my room stink in such an unholy way. They wagged their tails and licked me. That's when I noticed that they smelled pretty bad themselves. They got baths that night. And Armini got a roommate for the next few days.

Last weekend I rented a steam cleaner and steamed the crap out of my carpets. This is what our living room looked like for about two days (because, you have to steam the carpets and then wait for them to dry. Which I'm sure you knew already. I really like to state the obvious):

Everything that was in my bedroom, all in the living room.

And the Rug Doctor Working hard. 1 and 1/2 gallons at a time.

At the end of the day, my back hurt, the apartment was a mess, and the dogs found some new homes for when they are home alone during the day (their kennels). And my stuff is still all over the apartment, just hidden away in nooks and crannies where people who haven't see our apartment before wouldn't really notice that [the thing] is out of place. But Armini knows.

But sometimes when I walk past my open bedroom door I catch a whiff of that smell. That urine stink that makes me want to gag (only now it's worse because I soaked the carpet with Febreze a few times and so now the stink is mixed with that "breath of fresh air" smell. Which is truly a lot worse than you can imagine). So I am turning to you, my reader(s?), to tell me what you think I should do. I have already crawled around on my hands and knees sniffing the legs of everything that was on the floor during "the incident", and really nothing smells. I don't understand where the smell could be coming from ... and the dogs have not marked since I steamed the carpets because they're either following me around like tiny shadows or they are put away in their kennels.

A real time picture: This is what is sitting in my lap right now. They are just SO snuggly!


GiST 12/365

1. The first lawn mower of the season making a racket outside my office window

2. SuperMama telling me that Bing is a wonderful dog and that I should let Armini take Tim with him to China (which is NOT going to happen)

3. Not putting off the cleaning

4. In my very immediate future there is a bed frame

5. Planning the perfect Easter dinner

Visit Grace in Small Things

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Longing, Wanting and a Pity Party

Sometimes I look around in the world/in my life/on the internet and I see all these people who are doing things that I would love to be doing. I feel this longing in my chest that makes me want to find a way to do these things that I dream about doing. I want to learn how to be so awesomely, awesome at everything. And when I start down the road to being awesome, sometimes I get really frustrated when I'm not awesome at [whatever] right off the bat.

(You might be reading this and thinking that you may have heard this before. Or maybe more than once? Well, this is what has been on my mind lately. Sorry for the broken record posts, I'm trying to write about other stuff too)

I am taking steps, and looking into new things, learning how to do other stuff. Fun stuff. Creative stuff. Practical stuff (which is usually lame, but in this case not so much. Or at least, that's what I think). I think I may have decided that I would like to try and be a blogger and make money off of it. Which is a laugh right now, because you need people that read your stuff regularly AND you need to write well AND you need to write about things that are interesting and different and not keep complaining about your life and how you're frustrated with the state that it's in at the moment (right?).

I would really like to be able to work at home, in my PJs if I wanted to (but I wouldn't really because that is SO unprofessional and I am the very embodiment of professionalism). (Pffffft, I almost managed to say that with a straight face).

And that's really all I wanted to say. I suppose that a blog that is comprised largely of posts where the author (yes, I DO think of myself as an author - so should you! It makes you feel pretty awesome) makes these sorts of "verbal" self proclamations isn't the worst sort of writing.

AND I had an idea for a group post, maybe, it's still evolving. But here is the basic idea of it, let me know what your thoughts on the matter are:
I want to have a pity party. I know a lot of people who have had/are going through some really tough/sad/suckey/frustrating/generally disappointing times right now and I think that we all deserve a moment to pout about it and have other people pat us on the back and say "You poor thing. Here, have another pint of Haagen Dazs". In my experience, an hour or two wallowing in self pity can help a lot in the process of moving on to bigger and better things.
Do you think you, or someone that you know, would be willing to participate? Would you want the post to be anonymous? Is this a super lame idea? Like I said, I would really like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Conditional Confession of the Mess Maker

Last night, while Armini was scolding me for being a messy roommate (according to him I had 80 thousand things that belonged to me laying around in the dinning room/living room) he compared me to his old roommate who shall remain nameless. However, this roommate was a total slob and really liked to leave his dishes out on the kitchen counter to collect ants during the summer time (which I do not do; I am a little totally OCD about keeping my kitchen clean).

And, ok, I will admit that I have been a little more messy as of late. But most of it is from the "spring cleaning" I did (post with pictures coming soon!) and the reason that it's going back into my bedroom so slowly is because it must have a home to go back too, otherwise it has been sitting in the same place waiting for a spot to open up. And maybe I have a problem with just dropping my stuff on the couch when I get home after work ...

But when he compared me to his old roommate (and, I might add, I was cleaning the kitchen when he said this) my head almost swiveled all the way around. I looked at him and told him that if he wanted me to start living like [roommate] then I would be more than happy to show him the difference. At least I clean the bathroom!

*sigh* - I will admit that I am a little bit slobby, but since half marathon training training (yes, I am so out of shape that I have to train for the actual training part) started, I see a mess and suddenly get the feeling that my head is going to explode. It's all about the time, as in, I am too busy training [myself - the dogs] to spend any significant amount of time cleaning.

I am torn between wanting to admit that it's my fault and that there is no excuse for the little messes around the apartment, but at the same time I feel like there are things beyond my control that are helping add to the mess. Which, overall, makes me feel bad for being the messy roommate. I mean, honestly, aren't the guys supposed to be the ones that make the messes?

Friday, April 3, 2009

GiST 11/365

1. A clean living room

2. A clean bedroom

3. The fact that I made sure that when I took stuff from the living to put it back into my room, I MADE myself put everything in its place before I brought in more stuff.

4. Self realizations

5. Mom's fabric stash built up over decades, and now ripe for the picking

Visit Grace in Small Things

The Gloves are Off

Alright FINE. FINE INTERNET. I get it. I'm wasting my life doing NOTHING. I GET IT ALREADY.

I am constantly online looking at the super-fab crafty accomplishments of the bloggers around me and with one pattern, one adorable Easter bunny pattern, Amy Karol over at Angry Chicken put me right. over. the. edge. AAAHHH!

So now the gloves are off. I am ready to tackle all the tiny projects that have been floating around in my brain. I AM SO READY. And so is my sewing machine. It's been ready since last Christmas (or the one before?) when I unwrapped it. Well - after the first time I took it into the Bernina store to figure out what the heck was going on with my thread tension. But now it is READY TO ROCK.

So readers you better prepare yourself for some pretty rocking finished object pictures. Some of them may be so cool they will melt your face off. Others will probably be pretty lame. But I don't care. You can't have FO (that's an abrev for finished objects, FYI) without a FO, which you won't have unless you JUST FREAKING DO IT. Which something that I have not been doing. But I can't take it anymore.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Tale of Two Puppies

A girl and her two dogs at power hour prom (my friends and I do costume/theme parties. Do not judge, because I know that secretly youwish you could have come too. And really, I wish youcould have. The more the merrier, am I right?).

I love my dogs dearly. Yes, sometimes they make my head feel like it's going to explode, but most of the time they make me feel loved and happy. So, when I saw that Ben from No Ordinary Rollercoaster and his other blog, Who's Your Dachshund, has set a goal to raise $5,000 for shelters in the US and Canada, I knew that I had to do my part.

Rather than just sit here and be all like "donate bitches", I'm going to do this in the style of one of those sponsor a poor kid from another country (something else you should think about doing, and you can contact me if you want to talk about it) and tell you some sad, sad puppy stories (stories about my own two puppies) to inspire you to help out other poor, sad, cold, lonely and scared puppies all over 2/3 of North America.

Since I have TWO dogs and TWO sad stories (and these stories are kind of long) I am going to split this into TWO posts to give you TWO more opportunities to forward posts to your friends, or maybe just to give you an incentive to come back again and read more of my stuff.

The Story of Tiny Timothy Jaws Reesing

My dog is so popular that he once beat out a human for
Power Hour Prom King. And no, I am not joking.

Tim and I met at the Lawrence Humane Society in the summer of 2006. I called to ask questions about the poodle (who happened to be a standard) on their Pet Finder page and the volunteer on the phone was more than happy to talk to me about him. We were having a nice chat when I asked her if they had noticed any signs of separation anxiety (we have a standard that will destroy everything in his path if he is left alone; lately he has started to eat books) even though I knew that really, in a situation where the animals are so stressed out, there is pretty much no way to tell.

"Oh," the volunteer lady said, "He seems content to walk on his own but I'm sure that he wouldn't mind be carried around everywhere if you wanted to."

"Wait a second," I said, slightly confused. "I'll calling about the standard poodle you have listed online."

"Him? Oh, he was adopted a few weeks ago." She told me.

"Ok then. Who are you talking about?" I asked her.

She then proceeded to tell me about a sad little pup who had been brought in a few weeks ago and had just been transferred into the part of the building where dogs get treated for any medical conditions before they go out onto the adoption floor. He was a small poodle who had been found running down a street on his own without a collar, spray painted completely blue (just even thinking about it makes me choke up a bit), and was still a little green from all the baths that he had been given.

I was driving home from work at the time and told her that I wanted to come up right then to meet the dog but that I would probably get there a few minutes after they closed. Was there any way that someone would be able to stick around and let me in? She was more than happy to tell me that while the doors close, the whole staff has to stay to clean out kennels and feed the animals so I would be able to come meet him no problem.

I sped the whole way. I had just moved into my apartment where I was going to live by myself and I was really hoping for a little, furry roommate to help keep me company and scare away the monsters that live under my bed. I was so excited.

Walking into the "half-way room" I remember that Tim was the only dog that didn't bark. He stayed in his kennel in the back corner, trembling and looking generally like he wanted to die. The people at the shelter had named him Jaws, because he was so little and he had nipped at a few of male workers. The dude that was in there with me just thought the name was hilarious. He came out of his cage willingly (tail placed firmly against his butt) and we took him into the hallway so that I could spend a little bit of time with him.

When I set him down on the floor, he tried to slink away to the door to escape. But I scooped him up into my arms and I felt him shiver a little less. While I don't remember him licking me, odds are good because the dog licks everything that moves. Sometimes when he can't find anything to lick, he will just lick the air. No joke. Ok - moving on. So, we put him back in his kennel, I filled out an adoption application and promised that I would be back soon to see him.

The second time I went to see him I had my mom with me. We couldn't take him out of his kennel because he had been diagnosed with worms and we couldn't get him to move out of the back corner of his kennel. Mom thought that "his wiener was too big" (I'm not kidding, that's really what she said. Turns out that it was because he was about 3 pounds underweight). She told me that I shouldn't get him and start looking for a breeder in town. When I told Tim that I would be back he bared his teeth at me. Later I found out that Tim is a smiler and that he was smiling at me.

I went to visit him every week for about a month, trying to decide if he was really my dog (the year before I had adopted an Elk Hound mix and we ended up not liking each other much, so I wanted to make sure the next adopted dog I brought home stayed there). I also spent a lot of time on the phone with the director of the shelter talking about what sort of special needs Tim would have due to the fairly obvious mistreatment and abuse he had suffered. She also told me that I should think about getting another dog. I told her I was going to think about it some more.

The day that I KNEW that he was mine, we were outside in one of the runs the shelter has. We had been going outside when we could since he had gotten rid of his nasty worms. We would just sit, me cross legged with him in my lap, looking around. This particular day my phone rang and it scared him so he ran across the pen and stayed there looking at me while I talked on the phone for a minute. When I got done, I went over to pick him up ... AND HE WAGGED HIS TAIL. I hadn't seen this dog act happy at all, not even for a second, since the first time I had met him a month before. We went right in and told the nice ladies that he was coming home with me that day.

The thing I will never forget about bringing him home is the second that we were walking out to my car, and he realized that we weren't going to be going back into the shelter. I was carrying him and the shivering just stopped. I could feel all the tension drain out his butt in a little puddle that we left in front of the shelter door. (Oh maaan. Getting choked up again.)

I tried to keep his name Jaws, but it doesn't fit his personality, so I changed it to Tim but thought that Jaws was too cute to loose so we kept it as his middle name. Reesing was added a few months ago when Kansas beat Mizzou in the annual Border War football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Because really, Todd Reesing is awesome and I love him (Todd - if you're reading this, CALL ME) and he's awesome. And cute and strong and smart and ... ahem. Sorry about that.

The dog that you see in that picture up there is 100% different than the dog that I brought back to my apartment in on August 12, 2006. He barks now (he didn't make a single noise for the first two months of our co-habitation), he will walk up to strangers and let them pet him (most of the time, but we're working on it), he likes men now and loves one in particular (hello, Armini!) and, if you catch him on a really good day, he will let you pick him up.

I wouldn't trade Tim for anything in the world. But without the shelter in Lawrence, we never would have found each other and these places need money to pay for all the supplies they use on a daily basis. I know how much my dogs cost (see the links above) and if I ever had to deal with the bills that come into a shelter, I very well could go insane. Even a little bit will help ... so think about it. And while you're at it, you should probably also think about adopting your next pooch. They make the very most wonder and devoted dogs. Trust me on that one.

Don't forget to come back next week when you will get to read all about my other puppy, Bing and his adoption story!