Thursday, December 23, 2010

Things that bring me joy

About 10 years ago, my cousin Vanessa used to send out a list of "happy things" every few days by email.  These "happy things" served to call attention to the small things around us that bring us joy and remind us to stop and enjoy the small things.  So here is a list of things that make me happy:

1. A piping hot cafe au lait 
2. Warm sheets just out of the dryer
4. A raucous board game tournament
5. chocolate
6. Laughing until you cry
8. A long afternoon nap
9. Fresh blackberries and whipped cream
10. This video of Mom's dog, Annabelle
video
11. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
12. The adrenaline rush at the end of a long road race
14. Kneading bread dough
15. Gluten free beer
16. The sparkling diamonds of fresh snow on a chilly morning
17.  Flathead Lake
18. Rigorous intellectual discourse
19. Sarah Palin's public appearances and profound rhetoric
20. Thrift store shopping
21. Pulling carrots out of the garden
23. Doing crossword puzzles on a lazy Saturday morning
24. Thai food, in particular panang curry from Tommy's Thai
25. These gluten free sugar cookies.  Yum!
 








26. A ice cold gin and tonic on a hot day
27. Outdoor concerts
28. Thought provoking social commentary (Right now I am reading American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half Its Food)
30. Taking photos


Thursday, December 09, 2010

One thing I find particularly obnoxious...

For those of you who know me well, you know that nothing gets under my skin faster than hate and ignorance perpetuated in the name of Christianity.

Recently I picked up a book at the library called Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt.  I was actually kind of excited to read this book, thinking it would focus on how to live simply, be committed to helping others and act boldly in the face of the "American Dream", that is, materialism and an individualist attitude.

Instead, the book focuses on evangelism.  Evangelism in and of itself is not a bad thing, but when it is conducted in a patronizing way (go convert the Godless heathens in other lands because we know best), it does far more harm than good.

I draw your attention to a particular passage in this book (pg 76): "According to the most liberal estimates, approximately one-third of the world is Christian.  These estimates include all who identify themselves as Christian, whether religiously, socially, or politically.  Likely, not all of them are actually followers of Christ.  But if we assume they are, that still leaves 4.5 billion people who, if the gospel is true, at this moment are separated from God in their sin and (assuming nothing changes) will spend an eternity in hell."

Not sure if that is the best evangelistic sales pitch.  I was so irritated by this particular passage that I flung the book across the room, but eventually I did pick it up and finish reading it.  Mostly because I could not believe that it actually made it into print.  Some days I think just about anyone can write a book.

I would like to draw to your attention to several problems with this particular passage:
1. The writer assumes that there is one "right" way to practice Christianity
2. The writer assumes that someone (as in a fellow sinful human being) gets to pass judgment on what makes a "real" follower of Christ and the inherent superiority implied therein.
3. Christianity as the writer defines it is the only means of salvation
4. The arrogance in assuming that we have the power to save ourselves.  What about Grace?

I very clearly remember a conversation I had with someone in College about Decision Theology. She asked me if I had found Jesus.  My immediate response was, "I did not know I was supposed to be looking for him."  Not only is Decision theology arrogant when faced with the power of Grace, it also leads to inherent superiority between those who have "chosen" Jesus, and those who have not.  Additionally, this sort of evangelism invalidates the experience of those being evangelized.

Now, my strong feelings about Grace, Decision Theology and marginalization in the name of Christianity are undoubtedly influenced by my involvement with the ELCA and the Emergent Church.  Because I like to shake things up, I want to challenge us all to think about how prevailing assumptions surrounding faith and evangelism can cause more harm than good.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Holidays

As many of you know, shopping is among my least favorite activities.  On the day where many Americans bow to the altar of consumerism, otherwise known as Black Friday, I find myself reflecting on the meaning of the holiday season.  Regardless of the religious beliefs that you may or may not hold, there is more to the season than buying things for other people (or ourselves) who already have everything. 

Somewhere in the whirlwind of shopping lists, holiday parties, traffic jams, obligations, and stress, I fear we have lost the meaning of this season. 

Because this is my blog, you all get the privilege of my commentary on the season.  This upcoming Sunday begins the liturgical season of Advent.  The four weeks of Advent are a time of watchful waiting and preparation for Christmas.  Far too often Advent and Christmas are combined, and we lose the depth and meaning of the season of Advent.

Advent is my favorite season in the church year because of its contemplative nature.  I often find myself swept away in the chaos of ordinary life, and time for contemplation does not happen nearly enough.  Advent is a time for reflection and drawing close with family and friends.  Each Advent season brings a flood a memories:
Advent candles reflected in the windows at Hope Lutheran, the glorious hymns of Augustana Vespers filling the downtown cathedral, Holden Evening prayer at Epiphany (including the time Pr. Mike and I sang the liturgy from memory when the music was misplaced!) and the many other occasions of friends and family gathered, dispelling the darkness of the long winter nights.   

As we enter into Advent, I wish you all a blessed season.  May you have time for contemplation, time with friends and family and the opportunity to experience peace and joy in the midst of the holiday madness.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another edition of things that are silly and currently in the news

It is time for another edition of my random commentary on things that are silly and in the news.  Just as in this post, the dubious honor of being the first item on my list goes to Sarah Palin. 

1. Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin and her family seem to have a pathological affinity for the spotlight.  I am not sure what they are hoping to accomplish, but if it is a run for the presidency, items such as their reality show, Dancing with the Stars, and this book (which is a collection of media reports about Sarah Palin, where she contradicts herself), are certainly not going to help the cause.   Maybe they do things differently up in Alaska, and not that I would ever want this crazy lady to be president, but if so, I would hope that a person with lofty political aspirations would be a little more professional.  It honestly seems like Sarah Palin is trying to sabotage herself. 

2. TSA screenings
As we enter into the busiest travel time of the year, what a better way to celebrate the holidays than with a "Merry Christmas" grope from your friendly neighborhood TSA agent.  I should give these people a little credit because I am sure that they don't want to be conducting "enhanced pat downs" any more than we want to receive them, but seriously federal government, get a grip (not literally, please)!  I see these latest regulations as nothing but an overzealous terrorist witch hunt and I hope SOMEONE comes to their senses soon because the proletariat have had it! 

3. The War on Christmas
Alright, here is something that gets under my skin like no other.  The War On Christmas refers to the manufactured struggle between the Right and the Left and the "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" debate.  The Christian Right views the War On Christmas as an attack by the Left on their religious and moral values and the Left views the debate as an imposition of someone else's morality/religion upon them.  As for me, I could care less.  The heated discourse usually takes place with regards to holiday decorations in public places (which I find tacky anyway) and holiday retail displays (I hate shopping). 

4. Black Friday
Because I dislike shopping with a passion, it should come as no surprise that I find Black Friday to be ridiculous.  However, in a faltering economy with decreased purchasing power, retailers are bound and determined to extract every last penny from their customers.  "Holiday" sales started the day after Halloween, "door buster" sales (traditionally only a part of Black Friday) have been occuring already this month and some stores are even opening on Thanksgiving Day so that people can begin spending their money early.  All I have to say is that I hope everyone enjoys freezing their you-know-whats off while I sleep in on Friday morning.  There is not a sale big enough in the world to make me get up that early and fight crowds of people.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bucket List

I got inspired by my cousin Kelsey's blog post earlier this month about her "Bucket List", or the list of things she hopes to accomplish in her life.  I decided to dig out a bucket list that I wrote back in 2002, and see what I have accomplished and if there is anything I wanted to add.  I have highlighted the items that I have accomplished

Life Goals-Circa 2002

1. Run a marathon
2. Read the Apocrypha
3. Visit Thailand
4. Read War and Peace
5. Get a tattoo
6. Backpack in Alaska
7. Learn to sail
8. Swim in all the major oceans
9. Run the Bridger Ridge Run
10. Learn to drive a stick shift
11. Learn to speak another language
12. Visit Paris
13. Buy a house
14. Adopt a dog
15. Visit South Africa
16. Sing the Hallelujah Chorus
17. Be on Jeopardy

And a few added over the last eight years:
18. Learn to cook Thai food
19. Learn to knit
20. Go on a solo vacation
21. Backpack in Patagonia
22. Learn how to compost
23. Run the Bolder Boulder
24. Have children of my own
25. Spend a weekend in silence
26. Make a quilt
27. Brew my own beer
28. Learn how to change the oil in my car
29. Write a book
30. Attend a World Cup game
31. Learn how to play poker
32. Take a ballet class
33. Take a karate class
34. Raise honey bees
35. Go to graduate school
36. Read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged
37. Scan all of my old photos into online archives
38. Climb a Fourteener
39. Take my parents on an international vacation
40. Study photography
41. Visit a Rose Garden
42. Climb to the top of a light house
43. Grow an herb garden
44. See Cirque du Soleil
45. Attend a taping of Saturday Night Live

Monday, November 01, 2010

Middle of the Road

It is election season, and Colorado is witnessing one of the most hotly contested congressional races in the country.  Political attack banter rages 24-7 in every form of media imaginable.  What grates on my nerves like nothing else are the comments about "family values", "Christian people" and "tradition".  And by implication if you disagree with whatever doctrine is being propagated, you are a godless heathen going straight to you-know-where in a hand basket.  The present political climate is so polarized that there is absolutely no middle ground, and thrown most often into the fray is religion.

This sort of contentious Christianity has always deeply bothered me, but it only seems to get worse with every passing day.  In recent years, I have chosen not to "own up" to the fact that I actually am a person of faith.  I know so many Christians who are rude, judgmental, hateful and hurtful.  Essentially, the opposite of what a Christian should be.  As is true in life, whoever shouts the loudest is heard and this is as true as I have ever seen it with regards to James Dobson,  Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps, Joel Osteen and their ilk.  In fact, their tiresome rhetoric makes me sick. 

Fortunately I have had the opportunity to know many wonderful, progressive, activist Christians who are using their faith to spur action and the institution of the Church to effect real change in our pained world.  But these people who work so hard to advocate for social justice, peace and the disadvantaged are woefully overshadowed by Fred Phelps and his hateful signs and presence at military funerals, James Dobson and his political posturing, Joel Osteen and his prosperity gospel and Pat Robertson and his mega-empire of Christian programming. 

Isn't there a middle ground?  I sometimes catch myself preemptively judging this particular breed of Christian, before they can judge me.  In a sense, I am doing the exact same thing that irritates me about these "other" Christians. 

By either coincidence or providence, I spent my evening watching the thought-provoking documentary "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers."  (http://lordsaveusthemovie.com/)  There are a number of other films examining religion and sociology (Religulous, Jesus Camp, Saved), but "Lord, Save us from your followers" is the best film I have discovered for genuinely presenting both sides of the equation.  Instead of making fun of extremism, this film is a call for dialogue. 

There might be a middle path down this road, and dear Lord, I hope so.  If not, Christianity will only continue to self-combust, and further alienate everyone else.  So much evil has been propagated in the name of faith, and it needs to stop. 

There are a number of fantastic books out there, among them:

Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian
Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis
Nadia Bolz-Weber's Salvation on the Small Screen?
Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz

and anything by Anne Lamott

Most churches have a tendency to leave me annoyed, but I have been blessed to discover a unique Church in Denver (House for All) that gives me hope again.  This small and emergent church is working for social change in the city, and I am so thankful for its existence.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Amy and the big bad nemesis part II

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, I recently faced down one of my biggest fears: Real Estate

Just like every other person who watches the occasional HGTV episode of House Hunters, My First Place, or Property Virgins, I dream of my own home.  Of course I want to be able to paint and decorate and have my own space.  But more than that, I want equity, and I want a permanent place to live without the worry of my rent increasing exponentially every year. Furthermore, I always thought I would wait until I was married to buy a home.  Except that marriage is not even on the radar, and I really want my own place.  And the more research I do, the more I realize that I CAN do this by myself and do not need to be married to fulfill this particular dream. 

So, I did what every person does when they want to learn more about something.  Go online to do some research, and get my hot little hands on a copy of a "dummies" book.

To me, real estate seems to have its own language: Pre-qualification, pre-approval, appreciation, depreciation, closing, brokers, lenders, points, underwriting, FHA, APR, PMI, GFE, it goes on an on.  Yikes!

As a side note, I vividly remember one of my first years in High School as I was studying for the SAT.  For me, preparing to enter College was sort of the beginning of growing up.  I remember getting overwhelmed by the prospect of graduating college, finding a job, owning a car, saving for retirement, and buying a home.  Now, I have done or started all of those things with the exception of buying  a home. 

So, fortunately for me, Boulder county has a number of programs available for first time home buyers.  The biggest hurdle for most first time home buyers is having enough money for a good down payment and closing costs.  With this program, first time home buyers with certain income qualifications can apply for down payment assistance.  This program also makes applicants participate in real estate education classes and demonstrate financial literacy.  Not that this is a way that I relish spending my Saturday, but honestly a great idea for those of us that have little idea of what we are doing. 

So who knows how long it will be before I have a home of my own, but right now I have the pre-approval and am in the process of applying for the first time home buyers program.  And in the meantime, I am deriving a certain enjoyment from learning something new.  Oh, and mentally decorating my first home. 

Amy conquers a big bad nemesis

As we enter into month 11 of 2010, I find myself reflecting back on the new year's resolutions I made for this year. 

Remember these resolutions?

I did teach myself how to knit, and since I made the resolution, I knitted three pairs of mittens, two hats and two pairs of felted slippers.  (I never do anything halfway!)

As for adhering to the gluten free diet, I am doing okay.  Not great, but better than I was a year ago.  I have found reasonable substitutes for most of my favorite foods and have adapted quite a few of my favorite recipes so I no longer feel slighted.  The day that my dear friend Becca showed up with gluten free beer was one of my favorites in recent memory.  I still get a little bummed out when I cannot find something good to eat at restaurants or everyone else gets to eat something fun, but most of the time I am okay.  I had a huge craving last week for bread, so I ate a piece of french bread, and regretted it later while curled up with excruciating stomach pain.  So further confirmation why I am doing this.  

But, what I am most excited about is my resolution to save money for some big purchases, namely a house.  The world of home buying and mortgages has always intimidated me, but much like many things in life, when you gather knowledge about them, they become less intimidating.  Which is why the title of this post is "Amy conquers a big bad nemesis."   In fact, I am so impressed by myself that I am going to write another post about what I learned!   

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

August in Montana

I was fortunate to spend a week in Montana at the beginning of August.  Click on the link below to see some pictures from my time on Flathead Lake. 


                                                             Flathead Lake 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The More You Know...

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the things we wish we knew when we were 18 years old, or what we would tell our own children some day.  So here goes, some funny, some serious, all truthful...

1. If you burn oatmeal really badly, it never EVER comes off the bottom of the pan. 

2. While you may think you know what you want to do with the rest of your life.  You don't really, and you might never, and that is okay.

3. You don't further your education to get a better job.  You further your education to become a better person.  Never lose sight of that.

4. When you don't want to clean the fridge, put the nasty plastic containers in the freezer.  By the time you remember them, they will be so covered in frost you won't be able to recognize them anyway.

5. Learn something new everyday. 

6. Buy toilet paper in bulk when it is on sale. 

7. Be patient with old people, you will be one someday. 

8. Find a volunteer job

9. Do not ever let anyone make you feel guilty about taking time for yourself. 

10. No matter how much you might like a certain television program, watching the first three seasons in one weekend will make you comatose. 

11. Take care of your car.  You will be mad if it breaks down and you could have done something about it. 

12. As soon as you move into a new place, make sure you purchase three things (if you don't have them, and need them, you will regret it!): a plunger, a fire extinguisher and a spare house key.

13. Someone who points out the faults of others is usually insecure themselves. 

14. If you wouldn't want your Grandma to know about it, don't do it.

15. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  And Compost.

16. Exercise.  Your stress level will thank you.

17. Do something entirely for yourself once a month that you do not have to justify to anyone else.

18. Develop a spiritual practice that suits you. 

19. Credit Cards are for building credit, earning Sky Miles and paying off in full every month. 

20. Be nice to store cashiers, flight attendants, dental hygienists and the people that dictate the price of your utilities. 

21. There is no shame in staying home on a friday night to go to bed early.

22.  Write real letters sometimes.

23. Make friends with someone who can do some or all of the following: fix your car, fix your computer, and has access to power tools.

24. Always see the good in other people first. 

25. Your parents  actually DO know what they are talking about.  

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Minnesota trip

I just recently returned from celebrating the wedding of my dear friend Sara to her wonderful husband Joe.  Click on the link below to see the album from my trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul.  


Minnesota 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer snapshot

Well, seeing that it is now halfway through the summer, I would like to pay homage to the fun little city that I call home.  Boulder has a ridiculously large number of fun things to do once it gets warm.  So says MSNBC.com in the following article: Summer in Boulder

But how about some things off the beaten path?

Outdoor concerts: This is my personal favorite summer pastime.  How can you not have fun dancing to live music and enjoying a margarita garden next to the railroad tracks? 

Boulder Farmer's market: for people-watching, the Boulder farmer's market tops it all.  Plus you can sample hundreds of foods, try your hand at spinning wool and see what the crazy hippies (otherwise known as the Trustafarians) are up to. 

Or if you are bored, you could try this Let's just call it eccentricity..

or this legendary Boulder institution

Of course very important work gets done in the summer as well:
Weirdness on parade in Boulder...

Some people have too much time on their hands...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

When to Stop...

Over the last few months I have learned the meaning of "overuse injury" and a lot about moderation.  Running has always been something that is a part of my life, and a very important method of stress relief.  I actually enjoy it, it does not feel arduous to me.  Back at the beginning of March, I started to feel some tightness in my ankle and calf while running.  Thinking it was merely a small problem, I got new running shoes and an ankle brace and dropped back my mileage.

As the weeks wore on, I increased my mileage to 30-40 miles a week on an indoor treadmill.  The pain would usually subside by mile two or so and return a few hours after exercise, unless I iced the muscles. 

All of this running was in preparation for the 2010 BolderBOULDER race on Memorial Day.  I was able to function in the midst of this dysfunction fairly well until about two weeks before the race.  Then it just started to hurt all the time.  I knew I had a problem, and wherein lies my greatest mistake...I did not know when to stop!  As in back in March.  Just because you can "run through" the pain, does not mean that you should. 

I had a fun race (albeit it with significant pain after mile 4) with my friend Becca.  The BolderBOULDER is one of the largest foot races in the country (me and 53,000 of my closest friends!), complete with free beer, musical entertainment along the course and finishes in the CU stadium to thunderous crowds.  I made an appointment to see an orthopedist the day after the race. 

Now...I am the proud owner of an orthopedic boot!  My friend Nicole has similar issues with knowing when to stop running and has a torn ligament and a boot of her own.  We celebrated our matching boots (and her husband's birthday) in Fort Collins this weekend. 

The prognosis on my ankle at this point is Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction.  Basically it means that the tendon that connects the muscles of my leg to my foot is damaged.  And I can pick out the exact point of injury because of the knot of scar tissue the size of a golf ball in my calf! This tendon is concerning because it holds up the arch of your foot.  This damage is a result of overuse (not a big surprise) and the fact that my right foot pronates inward, stretching this tendon. 

I still have a couple more weeks in The Boot, and then I am unsure what my immediate future holds.  No doubt some physical therapy and some orthotics so as not to be in this situation again. Right now my exercise is limited to hobbling to and from the mail box or riding a stationary bike with no resistance.  Which I am fine with because I need to know when to slow down and stop.  An important lesson not only for exercise, but for life.  Too bad it takes something like this to learn that.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Amy's commentary on things that are silly and currently in the media...

1. Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin is number one on my list of silly things.  I think she is silly because of the numerous faux pas, mistakes and the fact that she is a dead ringer for Tina Fey.  I find her inflammatory, accusatory and ignorant rhetoric less funny.  However, I do find the fact that this D-List celebrity has captured the hearts and minds of too many misguided individuals quite amusing.  Also, that she resigned in the middle of her term as governor and that her endorsement of GOP candidates means something to some people.  That silly Tea Party! 

Some recent fun Palin news:

"Sarah Palin electrifies NRA Convention" (direct quote..."Obama will 'gut' the Second Amendment") 
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/05/15/1437034/palin-rouses-nra-with-call-to.html

"Sarah Palin joins the Fox News Team" (direct quote..."It's so wonderful to be a part of a place that so values fair and balanced news")  If Fox News is fair and balanced, I am a magic fairy!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/11/palin-fox-news-contributo_n_418809.html

"Sarah Palin teams up with Discovery"  I cannot wait to see her reality show!  And she claims that other people exploit her family...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/25/sarah-palin-teams-up-with_n_513235.html

2. Lindsay Lohan
 Why is there such a fascination with skewering this poor misguided individual in the media?  I actually feel bad for her, despite the fact that the choices she made put her in this position.  Give it up Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight! 




3. Lost
Have you ever actually watched this show?  It is the most messed up, confusing and just plain ridiculous thing I ever wasted one hour of my life watching.  I wish I could have that hour back.  As far as the oft-touted series finale, good riddance! 




4. Strange Fashion

 I am pretty sure I will never understand (much less wear) harem pants, rompers, anything fishnet and visible underwear as a style statement.  Yikes! 







5. The trend of blaming Obama for everything
The economy...blame Obama.

The oil spill...why that's Obama too!

Unrest between Israel and Palestine...got to be Obama.

 North Korea and South Korea on the brink of destroying each other...Obama!


The collapse of Wall Street...you guessed it...Obama.

The housing crisis and health insurance crisis...I got it, Hillary Clinton!...Nope, Obama again!


As for me, my car broke down last week, I have a blister on my toe, my garbage disposal is not working, I have a headache and my neighbor's TV is too loud.  I guess I need to blame someone...maybe Sarah Palin?  




 

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Too Young?

Just out of curiosity...why is it rude to tell someone that they look old, but not that they look young?  Personally I feel that commenting or speculating on someone's age is ALWAYS rude. Telling someone how young they look is not a compliment, it is patronizing. 

To preface my present irritation, I got carded at the grocery store for buying cough medicine.  No, not carded, interrogated.  I have been fairly sick for four days (stupid spring colds!) and yesterday I drank the last of my NyQuil sometime between calling in sick for work and spending a restless night coughing and wheezing.  Tonight I managed to drag myself to the store to buy some cough medicine.  To give the store the benefit of the doubt, perhaps my pajamas, rheumy eyes, hoarse voice and wracking cough contributed to the overall appearance of someone up to no good.  OBVIOUSLY I must be an at-risk teenager purchasing NyQuil to fuel my dextromorphan addiction.

The extent of my conversation with the cashier:
Her: "What is your birthday?"
Me: "July 22, 1983"
Her: (looking at me critically over the top of her glasses) "Really?  Let me see your ID."
Me: (cough, hack, wheeze) "Are you kidding?"
Her: "No.  You need to be 18 for me to sell you this product."

I understand why I am carded at the bar or liquor store, although I will most likely be well into middle age before I have the appearance of a 21 year old.  But an obviously sick person with orange juice, Kleenex and NyQuil is not trying to pull one over the King Sooper's cashier!  Toxic waste flavored, poison-colored NyQuil is NOT something I look forward to ingesting and if I was going to be falsifying my age, it would be for something better than cough medicine.  Oh wait, now I don't actually have to prove my age for anything until I claim Medicare!

Tonight's adventure at the store is just another entry on the interesting list of incidences where I have been mistaken for someone much younger.  Among the better stories in the recent past...

1. Signing up for a gym membership: "Are you older than 18?  Otherwise, your parents need to sign the contract." 
2. On the plane from Paris to Washington, DC, while sitting between a middle aged couple: "Did you and your parents have fun in France?"
3. While getting a flu shot: "You have to be 18 to get a shot, otherwise you need your parent's permission."
4. While attending an adult ed class held at a junior high during their back-to-school night: "Did you pick up your schedule?  When you get it, you and your parents can go to the auditorium."

I might appreciate this some day, but right now I would just appreciate some respect.  Or at least cough medicine that tastes less like poison...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just Kidding...

It's not really springtime after all.  It is about 25 degrees with blowing snow.  What a change from yesterday!

 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Springtime

Yesterday marked the first sandal day of 2010.  It has been wonderfully warm this week, with temperatures in the 60s.  Probably as a function of living in cold climates my entire life (Montana and South Dakota), I have a tendency to push the envelope on the seasons.  I decided that it was time to pull out the sandals in Colorado, because my Montana friends have been wearing theirs for a week now. 

Growing up in Montana, my sister Katie and I loved to pass the days of summer while playing in the sprinkler or pool in the yard.  It didn't matter if it was scarcely above freezing, as soon as school ended at the beginning of June, we were begging Mom to let us play with water in the yard.  The rule was we could not play in the sprinkler until all the snow was melted from the Bridger mountains.  Which is somewhat misleading, because the snow never completely melts from the Bridgers.  But I guess it worked to distract us for a couple weeks, until it got marginally warmer.  As we got older, it was less about playing in the yard, but instead about wearing sandals and not wearing coats, hats and gloves.  Really, anytime it was above 45 degrees, me and most of my friends could be found wearing sandals. Even if there was snow on the ground.

In College, after a miserable and gray winter, the first breeze of spring found me and friends outside studying on the green.  Even if it was slightly too cold to be laying in the sun with our schoolbooks, after months of clouds, ice and snow, we were ready. 

Compared to Montana and South Dakota, Colorado weather is downright balmy.  It has been over 60 degrees every day this week.  However, for downright strangeness, Colorado beats Montana any day.  Tonight there is a winter storm warning, with a 90% chance of a blizzard with the potential of multiple feet of snow.  But right now, as I sit on my patio, the sun is out, the sky is blue and I cannot imagine a blizzard.  We will see what happens....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Living on the Edge...

of pure chaos!  Recently someone asked me what song would be the soundtrack of my life.  It would be hard to pick just one, although Storyhill accompanied me through most of College and in the last five years.  But that is another post.  Lately, the song that gets stuck in my head is "Livin' On the Edge" by Aerosmith. 

While the lyrics convey that living on the edge is something bad and out of control:

We're livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' on the edge
You can't stop yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge


I beg to differ, although I could see how this would be a response to chaos and uncertainty.  I prefer to think of living on the edge as an adventure.  But not just any old adventure, this adventure of mine is hilarious.

I know I have written plenty about my job, but since it is what I spend most of my waking hours doing, I will write more.  I really enjoy my job for many reasons, but primarily the fact that NO day is ever the same as well as the general attitude of positivity that is shared.  Someone who likes structure, predictability and peace and quiet would lose their minds here.  Someone who views challenges and frustration with anger or impatience would go crazy too.  My time here has taught me a lot about the most constructive way to solve problems and the best way to approach utter chaos.  Which at least for right now is patience combined with a heavy dose of humor.  Sometimes all you can do is laugh.  It sure beats being angry.

The misadventures of my workplace have become so crazy lately that I feel like we are operating on the edge of complete chaos most of the time.  But it will serve no one to get frustrated, so seeing the humor and moving forward in problem solving is essential. 

Last week I arrived on campus at 7:00 am to bear witness to a flood in one of the buildings.  Now, a "flood" might be a toilet that overflowed, a sink that was backed up or a leaking water heater.  No, this was a lake.  Visualize three inches of water covering the floors of two classrooms, two bathrooms and a hallway.  Floating trash cans, books and recycling bins.  This was not caused by a simple leak or clog, it was a catastrophic malfunction of the water heater.  I suppose you could get mad or sit down and cry.  Or you could stand in the middle of the lake, water sloshing over the top of your shoes, and laugh.  You could find someone to blame, or you could get started with fixing the problem. 

My colleagues are nothing if not resourceful.  Throughout the morning, the standing water was pushed out the doors with brooms and snow shovels.  When the water mitigation company arrived later that day, they still removed over 50 gallons of water from the carpet.  I spent two quality hours outside on the playground supervising some highly distracted 3rd and 4th graders as an army of parents moved the entire contents of both classrooms to our only remaining open spaces on campus.  Which means, I kid you not, if you want a quiet place to meet or make a phone call, you go outside or into the bathroom. 

It was an exhausting but funny day.

Pushing tidal waves of water out the door with snow shovels.  Priceless.  We have pictures. 
Oh, we have to replace the sub floor because it is waterlogged.  Expensive and complicated, but so ridiculous it is worth a laugh. 
The drywall needs to be replaced too?  Haha.  You don't do that everyday!

And to take the cake, watching semi trucks drop two halves of a modular classroom into our parking lot this afternoon.  It won't have plumbing and I have no idea where the electricity is coming from, but if one building is trashed, just order a new one!  I know the financial realities of our non-profit, so I am not trivializing the expense of fixing this major issue.  Merely a way of coping with a terrible situation. 

I could go on and on, but that is for another time.  I guess word to the wise, you'll sleep better and stress less if you can laugh at the absurdities and chaos around you. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Post-Op

I went into the Doctor this morning for my second post-op appointment.  This time the eye is healing quite well, and Dr. Andrews is encouraged. 

During the surgery, the epithelium from the center of the eye is removed.  The laser modifies the eye, then the healing process begins.  The skin heals from the center inwards, regenerating itself quickly.  My left eye is healing well, but it is going to be many more weeks of attentiveness to the steroids and antibiotics.  Also being conscious of how often I am on the computer. 

I was displeased to wake up this morning with a cold.  So I am fighting it with everything I have, and am planning on returning to work for half days the rest of this week. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Update

It is four days after PRK surgery and this time around is much different.  Saturday was absolutely terrible, and found me on the futon for the entire day, hardly moving.  The only thing that seemed to relieve the pain was an ice pack and going in and out of sleep.  Ibuprofen was doing nothing to stop the pain at all, and my dear friend Nicole who is an EMT, told me to start taking Tylenol.  I was in no condition to go anywhere, so had to call a friend to pick some up from King Soopers.  He picked me up, brought me to his family's house and we watched the Olympics.  Saturday night went well, I was hardly in any pain at all. 

Sunday went well.  I was able to watch a movie, enjoy lunch with a coworker and spend some time talking with friends on the phone.  Today is back to being difficult.  I hadn't had any issues with light sensitivity up to this point, but right now I am wearing sunglasses and squinting at the screen with one eye open.  Also, the pain I was experiencing earlier was aching, right now it is stinging.  I hope it means it is healing.  When I go back to see Dr. Andrews tomorrow, he will take out the bandage contact lens and the epithelium will begin to heal on its own. 

I guess the Neurontin is helping to cut the pain, I cannot imagine what it would be like otherwise.  However, it makes me extremely lethargic and loopy.  I am having a hard time remembering what I have done and what I have said in my conversations.  Good thing I have plenty of friends around to check on me.   I cannot tolerate staring at the screen any longer and I think it is time for another nap. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Surgery, round two

My second PRK surgery was yesterday and it was just as horrible as I remembered.  In fact, it was actually worse because I knew exactly what they were doing.  I had to retreat back into my deep yoga breathing to avoid jumping off the operating table.  I also made the nurse hold my hand.  My eye is really swollen this time, because it is necessary for them to use an instrument to hold the eye open.  I think it is a cross between a suction cup and kitchen tongs.  My left eye was fighting as hard as possible to close and it strained the muscles around the eye.  I will spare you the rest of the details. 

At any rate, because I can see out of my right eye, I am using it much more than I should.  The eyes are sympathetic to one another, and the right eye is watering and irritated, much as the left is.  So in other words, I need to get off the computer!  I need to not strain the eye that is trying to heal.  In the meantime, I have the Neurontin to cut the pain, but cannot tolerate any pain medication.  This time around, Dr. A prescribed Valium, which while it is not a painkiller, at least it makes me relax and care less about the pain. 

Last night after the surgery, several of my friends came over with dinner and to chat.  It was great to have their support, although because of the sedatives, I do not really remember our conversation.  My dear friend Becca spent the entire day with me today, going to two different pharmacies and my post-op appointment with me.  She was attempting to read me a book, but I kept falling asleep as soon as I laid down.  So instead we shopped for airline tickets for our trip to the Oregon coast next fall. 

I think I need to go to sleep, my eyes just cannot stay open anymore.  Blessedly, I am not in a huge amount of pain, but if things go the course of last time, the next couple days will be worse. 

Friday, January 08, 2010

Eye Surgery, Round Two

I mentioned back in December that there was the possibility that I would need to have additional surgery on my left eye.  Well, that possibility has been realized, and the surgery is scheduled for February 11th.  But this time around, it is just the left eye and for better or worse, I know what is coming.  However, this time around, my dear friend Becca will be in town to help.  That alone is going to make this process much easier!

Dr. A says I am an interesting case because my right eye healed incredibly quickly.  Within just a month after surgery, vision in that eye was 20/20.  However, the left eye is still 20/60, and has remained that way since one month after the surgery.  Evidently it is rare to have one eye heal so quickly, and the other one lag so far behind.  I knew that the astigmatism was much worse in that eye, and this was a possibility.  Before healing begins, it is difficult to tell how the eye will react.  Because astigmatism is an abnormal curvature of the cornea, and PRK modifies the surface of the cornea, the laser can only correct so much in one session.  However, now that a portion of the cornea has already been modified (or abraded or cauterized, pick your verb), the remaining abnormalities can be corrected. 

On the upside, my eyes are not nearly as dry or irritated as they were even a month ago.  Believe it or not, I am still happy I did this.  Ask me that three days after the surgery and I may give you a different answer, but in the long term I am thankful.  I don't get headaches from taking glasses off and on, I can still see at the end of the day because I no longer have painfully dry contacts. 

Knitting



Well, I got exceptionally motivated and taught myself how to knit.  I found a pattern online and spent a few days clumsily making a pair of slippers.  Then I felted them by hand and have enjoyed having them at work to wear at my desk when it has been bitter cold this week.