Posts filed under ‘Journal Excerpt’

Surprise from a School Bus

Yesterday I got stuck in traffic behind a school bus. The back seats, historically the prized position of the most cutthroat of popular kids, were occupied by adolescent boys. As our vehicles inched forward, missing multiple stop light cycles, I could see the boys laughing with each other and looking my way. Meanwhile, I listened to music and thought about who I would call if my cell phone still had a charge. There was a bit of a commotion and suddenly a piece of notebook paper with a message scrawled on it was slapped against the back window.

Now, it’s been about two decades since I’ve been a student on a school bus, but I still haven’t forgotten the type of antics typical of this age group. Most certainly this sign would tell me that I sucked or would share some kind of negative insight about my mother.

“Pretend you don’t see it,” I thought and fiddled with the radio, “Don’t look it. Don’t look at it.”

But I did. And the sign didn’t berate me! Instead it simply said:

You[‘re] Pretty

And just like that, the corners of my lips curled upwards.

I smiled in a traffic jam.

April 16, 2010 at 8:39 am 7 comments

Hospitals, Aquariums and Pollination

This morning, Sean had surgery for his foot.  I looked back in my journals and it was a year ago to the day that he had back surgery at the same hospital. 

“I went 29 years without surgery,” Sean said, “And now I’ve had two in a year!”

He jokes he should go ahead and take next January 10th off now… in case the trend keeps up. 🙂

This year’s surgery was smoother than last year’s.  Last year, he had to wait 6 hours in a hospital gown before they wheeled him back.  That surgery was scheduled for 10:30 AM and they didn’t take him to anesthesiology until 4:20 PM.  This year, we were already home and settled by that time.  Last year, it took them four tries to get the IV in.  This year, the nurse got it in on the very first try.  Last year, Sean spent the evening suffering from nausea.  This year, he ate our supper of rosemary pork roast, steamed asparagus and mashed potatos with no issue. 

Both years, I was accompanied by my journals and while my husband was under the knife, I got to reflect on the likes of fish and pollination.

Journal Excerpt: 1/10/2006 (Back Surgery)

I was looking at some weird reflections in a fish tank.  The angle of the reflections was such that only half of the nearest fish was reflected — but it was reflected twice.  So you’d see a fish with two heads or two tails.

[Journal includes drawing of a fish with just two heads and a fish with just two tails]

4:20 PM

Right now, it is me and a family of four (3 generations waiting for a 15 year old — how sweet).  That family has spent quite a bit of time discussing the fish.

“Is that one younger?”

“It looks deformed!”

“I think that one is comatose?”

“I’m glad I’m not a fish.”

There is a TV on in the room — but the family is finding much more amusement in the fish tank.

You know what– I like that.  How cool is it that a TV goes ignored?

Journal Excerpt: 1/10/2007 (Foot Surgery)

We’ve waiting in stages – first at patient sign-in, then at the outpatient surgery waiting room, then in Sean’s assigned room, then in the holding room and now I’m back in the outpatient surgery waiting room.

I’ve been reading a lot of the complimentary magazines and as I migrate to the next step of the waiting lifecycle, I carry the most recent issue with me.  When I’m done with the magazine I leave it behind.

Because of me, a recipe magazine migrated from the main lobby to the outpatient waiting area.  Later I brought a gossip magazine from Sean’s private room to another waiting area.

Perhaps I’m just a small part of a bigger system.  All over the hospital, there are other visitors and other patients doing the same thing.  Together we are circulating magazines throughout the building. 

We are like insects and birds.  Those little critters hop from plant to plant, pollinating and spreading seeds across the land.

Here is the hospital, we have a mock ecosystem.  We mimick with glossy pages about life, parenthood, food and celebrities.

January 11, 2007 at 12:29 am 3 comments

Journal Excerpt: Misguided Tick

When I was looking for my FDR journal excerpt (I wrongly assumed I saw the speech draft in Caen or London, not New Orleans), I ran across this passage.  It amused me, so I’ll share. 

From my entry on June 6, 2004:

When I was home, before we left for Europe, I saw my first lightening bug of the season.  My parents’ yard was filled with them!  Still haven’t seen any down here in Blacksburg.

I have, however, seen more ticks.  I’ve always been told that ticks can sense heat– they like to bite down on the hot parts of the body.  Supposedly they wait up in trees and when they sense heat below, they let themselves fall.

Well I saw one tick today whose senses let him down.  He was hovering on my laptop, trying to find a place to burrow.  The laptop, due to the poor fan placement, was hotter than anything in the room.

I felt a little sorry for this misguided tick, but not sorry enough to spare him.  I flicked him in the toilet and urinated on him before flushing him to his death.

What a way to go.

October 22, 2006 at 10:43 pm 4 comments

“A Powerful Agent is the Right Word”

I ran across this quote by Mark Twain.  It’s from an essay he wrote on William Dean Howells in 1906:

A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words in a book or a newspaper the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.

As soon as I read that an example sprang to mind – Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor speech.   Sean and I got to view the typed draft (with Roosevelt’s last minute changes) in the National D-Day Musuem in New Orleans.  We were surprised to see the original opening line.

From my journal entry dated January 8, 2005:

The most fascinating item in the musuem (in my opinion) was FDR’s first draft of the speech he gave after Pearl Harbor.  The speech is quite famous, especially the line:

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy…”

Well– in Roosevelt’s original draft he had the phrase “world history” in that sentence instead of “infamy”.  On the draft in the musuem, you can see where Roosevelt crossed out “world history” and scrawled “infamy” above it.


He sluffed off one syllable with his edit and yet the meaning of his sentence was more powerful, more true, more visceral.

True, the circumstances were serious and any speech on this matter would have had been powerful.  But, one would be hard pressed to improve upon the word choice of “infamy.”  The speech just would not have been the same.

With photographs, we’ve seen the impact of timing and angles.  And with speeches and publications, Twain was dead-on.  The right word can be a powerful agent.

October 22, 2006 at 9:53 pm 1 comment

Boston Recap – Arrival, Freedom Trail, VT vs. BC

Some highlights of our Boston trip with some journal excerpts and pictures thrown in. 

Flickr User: Some of this may be redundant.

P.R. Squared – Plane Ride and Project Runway
Usually on flights, I sleep a significant portion.  This trip we flew JetBlue which features DirecTV.  I was enamored with the fact that I had live Bravo on a Wednesday and that had its consequences.

Our plane threw a hitch into my usual flying routine.  We had DirecTV on each seat and instead of sleeping I found myself watching two reruns of Project Runway.  I kept text messaging Ann [ another Project Runway fan] before take-off.

“I’m watching Project Runway on a plane!!!” I declared.

In retrospect, I wish I slept instead.  I arrived in Boston with that typical blah feeling when you’ve glazed over your intelligence with too much TV and advertisements.

Airport Inaccuracy
Bill C generously picked us up at the airport and he drove us the dinner the first night as well as escorted me around Lowell on Saturday.  Alas, there were some moments were Bill was… slightly inaccurate.  The one I find most humourous was the first one.

When we arrived at the airport and got to the baggage claim, Sean messaged Bill to see where he was.  Sean’s phone quickly beeped with a reply.  It turns out Bill was just leaving his house.  Sean read the message outloud to me, Bret and Phifer.

“Leaving now.  Will be there in 45 minutes.  It will take you that long to get your luggage.”

As Sean was reading that message, we were watching our luggage come towards us on the carousel!  🙂

Freedom Trail – Granary Cemetary
The Granary Cemetary (where Paul Revere, John Hancock and Ben Franklin’s parents are all buried) spurred a lot of thoughts.  First off, I found the carvings on the tombstone very interesting:

Often there was no holds barred in regards to what the stone was marking– they’d carve a skull and sometimes crossbones right smack on top of the tombstone!  [It left no question what lied beneath.]

There was a sign that explained that the different carvers of the day had different […] techniques [that could be noticed in the carving].  I thought that was neat.  The tombstones not only tell you about the person who lies underneath– but they tell you a bit about the artist as well.

Next, it had me think a bit about my burial plans.

I tell people my primary contender for my post mortum plans is to have my ashes spread on Pearis Mountain.  I’m not certain of that route […]

But– after looking at this cemetary, Pearis Mountain looks more promising.  This cemetary is only 2 centuries old.  A lot of the stones are illegible.  Erosion is sneaking up on them– as more and more soil envelops the bottom halves of the stones.  One stone was partially encompassed in a tree which had grown around it.

It seems to me Pearis Mountain will outlast any cemetary.  It may not bear my name and the date of my birth and death– but will will embody my spirit.

I’m more certain of the Pearis Mountain route after my visit to Lowell.  A number of my ancestors are buried in a cemetary in Lowell, but I did not visit it.  Instead, I visited the buildings they built and inhabited, looked at the river they would have seen every day and,  most importantly, I walked the streets they would have walked .  I felt close to my family then and perhaps in a few generations, my progeny will capture a similiar feeling as well– walking the trail on my favorite mountain.

U.S.S. Constitution
The U.S.S. Constitution had a lot of neat aspects.

Sean commented that it took a lot of rope to sustain a sailboat.  Boy was he right!  Lots and lots of ropes of all sizes donned the ship.

The U.S.S. Constitution also connected to a story Bill told us the day before.  He told us about Tom McHale who saved the Massachussetts Bay Transportation Authority an estimated $126,000 a year simply by putting hair caps on the air intake pipes for the T trains.  (It lets air in, but keeps the engine-damaging snow out).

The U.S.S. Constitution had the inverse with its cannons.  Where Tom McHale used netting to cover the opening of the intake pipe, the U.S.S. Constitution had the netting covering the area around the cannon opening. 

I’m not sure of the purpose– maybe it is just purely cosmetic.  Or maybe, the netting is serving a similiar function as its cousins on the T.  Perhaps it was intended to keep large outside debris out?

A few years ago, one of my co-workers went onsite at a mine and came back with the cutest calendar.  The miners’ children had drawn different pictures with safety messages like, “Break the Rock, Daddy, Not Your Head!”

[The Naval Yard had a faded billboard] touting similiar safety measures– in specific wearing steel-toed boots.  It depicted a sailor grabbing his foot and saying,

“Ouch!  Not even a dog deserves this!!!”

Note: Bill isn’t the only one with inaccuracies this trip— my journal recollection was wrong.  The sign actually reads, “OUCH! It shouldn’t happen to a dog!”

It’s amusing because there are some people who treat their dogs better than their neighbors.  And there is evidence of that all around the area.  We’ve past quite a number of dog specialty stores, gourmet treats, etc

Old Businesses
A couple of journal comments on old businesses:

Bell in Hand Tavern
We briefly passed by the oldest tavern in the U.S.  I believe it was established in the 1700s.  In Blacksburgs, some bars barely last a year! […]

There are a lot of businesses that are pretty old.  Near Quincy Square we passed by a restaurant whose sign read, “Established Before You Were Born.”

Virginia Tech vs. Boston College
We met Bill and his cousin, Matty, for a quick tailgate and then headed off to the game.

Tech lost the Boston College game miserably.  In fact the local paper used the verb “trounce” in describing the outcome.

Nonetheless I found something to cheer about.  BC’s kicker, affectionately called “Sid Vicious” (because his last name is long and hard to pronounce), is a walk-on to the team.  He was kicking field goals for fun when a coach saw him and invited him to join the team.  Their regular kicker got in a bar fight so now it was time for Sid Vicious to show his stuff.

The Virginia Tech game was his first game ever and this boy shined!  He kicked two field goals and two extra points– 8 points total.  Not bad for his first game!!!

“Boston is Not a College Football Town”
Early in the week, Bill told us that Boston is not a college football town.  In the two days after the game, we saw Bill’s statement was quite accurate.

The friendly inhabinants we met certainly proved that [statement].  Thursday night we lost the game.  All day Friday and Saturday, friendly passers-by would note our shirts and say stuff like, “Have fun at the game!”, “Hope you win!” or “When’s the game?”

They had no idea it already occurred or that the results were so decisive! 🙂

October 20, 2006 at 11:47 pm 1 comment

Fatigue and Fatigues

Shortly Sean and I will be living to catch a plane to Boston.  Knowing I did not have to get up this morning and work, I stayed up super late….doing work.   My sleep afterwards was intermittent as Henry was up to some unusual antics.  Combine that with getting up early to pack, I did not get much sleep last night.

In my Out of State Ian Fund Efforts post from Colorado, I talked about the practice of offering trials up.  There is another thing I find myself doing during trying times– I think about the men of D-Day. 

For example, when I used to be terrified of flying (and why was I so scared?  It had nothing to do with death– I was scared that I or someone was going to… throw up) and our flight hit turbulence, I would think about all the paratroopers and pathfinders flying in the wee morning hours and all the uncertainty and flak and erratic bumps they had to face. 

Last weekend while hiking in the Smokies with a heavy pack, I found myself rattling on to Mike about how the D-Day soldiers carried packs that were 60 pounds.  Not only did they carry a lot more weight that I, they were doing so through water and sand and had death-inducing machine gun fire to contend with.

Finally, the example that applies today!  On days where I am lacking sleep, I think about how in the months preceding the D-Day invasion, Dwight Eisenhower only got 2 hours a sleep a night.  If Eisenhower can plan the most complicated amphibious invasion in history with consistent fatigue, then I can certainly suck it up for one work day. 

There are times, though, where my Eisenhower thought does not work.  Here is a barely legible quote from my November 11, 2005 journal.  It was written when Mark and I foolishly took a flight that left Las Vegas at 1 AM and had to switch planes at both Minneapolis and Detroit before arriving in Roanoke.  As Bill C so aptly summed up, “If you are going to take a red-eye, make sure it is a direct flight!”

Minneapolis Airport
~6:20 AM CST

In the months preceeding the D-Day Invasion, Dwight Eisenhower got about 2 hours a sleep each night.  I’m trying to imagine planning and strategizing the way I feel now.

Dwight wins.  I’m exhausted!

Is it blasphemous of me to think about the D-Day soldiers instead of Jesus suffering on the crucifix?  I hope not.  I find the tales of these soldiers to set a slightly more obtainable precedent.  These are not feats the son of a diety performed.  These are feats of mere mortals.  Not just that, some of these mortal men were only 17, 18 and 19 years old.  These were the feats of “mortal kids”.

So I get to ask myself– if mortal kids can face what they faced, then what’s my excuse?  🙂 

October 11, 2006 at 7:36 am 5 comments

Journal Except: September 11th

With a number of the networks airing their original 9/11 coverage again tomorrow, I thought it would be a fitting year to share my 9/11 journals. 

Entry from Journal on 9/11/2001
Reactions and Church


Today is September 11th, 2001.  It’s the eight year anniversary of [a negative event in my life].  It’s been so long now.  It feels like a dream.  It feels like it doesn’t matter anymore.

Especially today.

Tonight I walk my dogs and for the first time in my life I can look up and see the sky my grandparents would have seen growing up.

A sky completely absent of aircraft.

Instead I saw two shooting stars.

The first one I made a wish as custom (or hope) encourages.

I wished, “Please help those people and their families.”

The news didn’t seem all that big to me.  When I came into work, I found Jaye Snidow was in.  Two evenings ago, he had to rush his wife to the emergency room.

Chris Mullins and Jaye have adjacent desks.  Chris was perusing a news web site.

I asked, “Jaye, how’s your wife?”

He said, “She’s doing much better now.  She’s home and might be returning to work this afternoon.”

“What happened?!?” I asked in regards to Jaye’s wife.

“A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.”  Chris Mullins answered.

I didn’t know what to say to his unsolicited answer.

“Oh…” I said and then redirected my question to Jaye, “What was wrong with your wife?!?”

It just didn’t seem like a big deal.  I guess I figured it was like the plane hitting the 14th Street bridge.  The bridge is still there and heck people survived that crash.

Then Chris Martz, Larry and I went into the conference room to see Martz’s first training session.  Mid-way through we had a technical difficulty.  We took a break and when we emerged from the room practically the rest of the company sat and stood in disbelief in front of a TV set in the lunch room.

Everyone was in shock.  Andy B’s sunburned face would occassionally turn from the TV with wide eyes– almost looking to others’ reactions for approval.  Jaye Snidow stood in silence and periodically shook his head.  It was as if he wasn’t allowed to express sorrow or fear so he settled for disgust.  Marvin sometimes lowered his head and his fingers would graze over his closed eyelids underneath his glasses.  Amy just sat, silent and dumbfounded.  At one point, Shane Kennedy grabbed a nearby newspaper ad and started writing.  Chris Martz’s usually medium complexion turned pale.  He’s supposed to fly out Thursday.

Larry Bowman disappeared for sometime, he even missed lunch.  When he returned I asked, “Hey what happened to you?”

“I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to go hug my daughter,” he said.

Stacy sent an email saying he was okay after the plane hit the Pentagon.  That affected me a bit.  I didn’t even consider he would be harmed.  But now that the notion crossed my mind as a possibility (even though Stacy already declared his well being) I wanted Stacy down here.  I wanted to see him and I wanted him to get out of that target for good.  I’m glad he is okay.

I went to a church service today at St. Mary’s.

It’s funny.  I never considered myself as an especially patriotic person.  I mean, I love my country and all, but I don’t get all emotional seeing the flag, hearing our anthem, etc.

Today at church the opening hymn was America the Beautiful.  When they annonced that, I suddenly got choked up.

I never noticed before but the words to that song are excellent…and reasonable.

I’m mentally and physically and emotionally tired.  I think I will go to sleep.

Notes on a Piece of Paper I Wrote at Work on 9/11/2001
Resentment of Life Going On


I am in a meeting, watching Chris Martz debut his … training.  My heart beats and my lungs breath.

Meanwhile on the streets of Manhattan, hundreds perhaps thousands, a “horrific” amount says the mayor of New York, of corpses lie buried and crushed under steel and rubble and suffocating grey dust.  Under what used to be the World Trade Center.

Here life goes on and we worry about trivial things like password prompts and the loss of love.  We have that luxury in our workplace.  The people of the Pentagon no longer have that.  Instead they have destruction and flames and evacuation to contend with.

But here, life goes on.

Entry from Journal on 9/12/2001
Envy of Dogs and Reading the Passenger List


Tonight I sat on the floor of my bedroom and watched, dumbfounded still, the television reports.  Jimmie kept approaching me wanting attention and I kept denying his bid for affection.  But he was persistant.  Finally I lost my patience and I pushed him far away.  He laid down and looked sad.  I felt bad.  I started to pet him and scratch his chest as he rolled on his back and held up his legs.  I laid down next to him and kept petting him on the neck and ears.  He looked at me with beautiful brown eyes and I thought:

“How can you explain this to a dog?  How can I make him understand?”

Although I still think if they were on the streets of New York, both dogs would feel the same fear as their human counterparts, here, now in Blacksburg, they can’t comprehend the loss and the pain.  And for that, I envy them.

At 6 AM this morning, Stench woke me up.  This, unfortunately, is becoming a daily ritual.  As I stumbled up, I noted the television was silent.   I closed in on it — as I always do without vision aids and as I have been finding myself needing to do even with glasses and contacts.  The TV was scrolling the names and ages of the people who were on the planes.  The silence made it all the more eerie.  I found myself uttering, “Oh my gawd” outloud as I watched this list slowly migrate up the screen.  [My exclamation] woke Sean up.

Later at work, I read a list on CNN.COM.  One flight it looked like a family of three perished… including a 4 year old.  A lot of passengers were senior citizens.

How can you look into the eyes of a 4 year old or the precious folded skin of a 77 year old and continue with their demise?

I went to work today.  I arrived an hour late.  I just couldn’t wake up.  Reality deterred me.  I even turned off the alarm clock.

I expected the … parking lot to be sparsely populated, even at 10 o’clock– but it appeared I was one of the last to arrive.

On one hand, I think it’s good so many continued on with life.  Showing “them” that we are okay and we are going to presevere.  Much like what I tried to do eight years ago.  Show that we are survivors.

But today, I felt a bit detached.  This whole tragedy still doesn’t feel real.  I haven’t had time to let it sink in to penetrate me.  Every now and then I feel like I should cry, that it would feel better to do so.  But I never did.

Those planes crashing into the buildings, all the deaths.  It doesn’t feel real.  It feels like a dream.

Entry from Journal on 9/13/2001
Silent Lunch, Patriotism and a Free Cookie

Day 3 after the disaster.  It still doesn’t feel real.  I can close my eyes and see with crisp detail the many images of that second plane colliding into the tower.  But still… it feels fabricated.

Today was the 3rd day in a row we ate lunch in near silence.  Day 1 we ate in a mob around the small TV set up in [the] lunch room.  Yesterday, Larry Bowman, Chris Martz, Bill C and I joined Sean’s regular lunch crew (Sean, John Smith and Colin Wiseley) at Gobblertown.  Independently, Tony Airaghi and Lud and two female co-workers showed up there as well.  A number of tables were pushed together.  We had a very large lunch crowd.  So many people, but it was more quiet than a simple lunch of two.  We all gawked at the TV set even though the reports never fully satiated our need for information.

Why did this happen?  Who really did it?  How many people died?  What were they like?  What were their dreams that will now be unfulfilled?  What kind of person did they want to be?

For the 2nd day in a row, I didn’t want to wake up.  I managed to force myself and got to work only 15 minutes late…I mean later than usual.  Yesterday I was an hour late.

I think part of the problem is we sleep with the news on.  Even when we’re sleeping, we are exposed to the terror and loss.  I don’t consciously notice anything and I don’t recall any negative dreams, but it can’t be a restful sleep.  Like Grandma’s morphine dampened misery the first week in the hospital.

People are displaying American flags everywhere.  We have one outside our cubicle wall.

Never since childhood have I coveted a flag so much.  I want to purchase one promptly.

All over the news you see the best of human nature evolve from the rubble.  Strangers helping strangers, people hugging and crying, everyone wishing each other the best.  Those gestures of generosity are so touching.

Tonight I saw a simple act of kindess, hours from the tragedy, right in my own town.

Sean and I went to Sycamore Deli for supper.  The owner greeted us promptly.

“How are you?” he said.

“The best you can be under the circumstances,” Sean said and the guy agreed.

A TV perched high up played the news of course.

I’m fond of the Sycamore Deli man.  Although he is too young to be mine, he reminds me of an uncle.  With his beard and vibrant demeanor, he reminds me of the Uncle Mark’s and the Uncle Timmy’s of my youth.  This man is always friendly and upbeat to us.  I’m glad we give him our business and I trust his food.

Tonight he rang us up and he said, “I accidently grabbed 3 cookies.  You two can split the third.”  He glanced up at the TV and noted, “We can all use an extra cookie this week.”

It was such a simple gesture, but its impact on me was astounding.  It was so nice of him.  Another time I got choked up.

In fact, I was so flustered with gratitude, I said “Thank you” and started to leave.

“Wait, we need our food.” Sean reminded me.

“If you want to pay $16 for a soda and a cookie, that’s fine with me!”  the Sycamore Deli man laughed.

He’s a very good man.  His business seems frequently empty.  I hope it never goes under.  I would hate to miss out on what has become a weekly encounter with this man and his great food.  Not to mention his awesome chocolate chip (& cinnamon?) cookies.

These cookies are delicious, but I bet this man could have offered us an extra stick of gum and the action would still be as meaningful.

Last night I woke up at 4:30 AM and watched the news for a while before falling back to sleep.

This morning I woke up and the news was still on.  I stood close to the TV and squinted to see the dusty cityscape without my glasses.  The whole morning and scene was just like yesterday.

I felt like I was in the movie “Groundhog Day.”

Well time for bed.

Entry from Journal on 9/14/2001
Thunderstorm Warnings and Camping


Another day and apparently no rescued survivors. 

It’s funny.  We now have an advanced weather monitoring system to warn the midwest of an approaching tornado.  We have flash flood warnings, hurricane warnings and tropical storm warnings.  Heck we even scroll messages during prime time and transmit messages on the Emergency Broadcast System for thunderstorm warnings.  Not actual thunderstorms, but the potential of one.

These are acts of nature, acts of God, acts beyond our control.  Yet we can give people advanced notice.

But we weren’t able to warn people about objects we built and man.

I’m going camping with Carolyn and Jay tomorrow night.  It’s a good weekend to get away from it all and absorb the week’s events.  It’s especially a good weekend to spend with family.  I look forward to the Sawyer siblings having another adventure… like skiing earlier this year.

Entry from Journal on 9/17/2001
Marquee Mottos and Memorial Service


Tomorrow it will be a week from the attack.  It’s amazing.  I look around at America.  What I see is remarkably similiar to my life eight years ago.

Everywhere fast food marquees declare inspirational messages:

“We Will Overcome”

“Always Remember”

“Never Forget”

These are the same messages I told myself.  How frightened I was of forgetting … That notion seened like the worst thing that could ever happen.

Not it seems like nothing.  “So what?” I think.  I even venture to feel it isn’t part of my life anymore.

Another frequent marquee sign:

“God Bless America”

America has grown close to religion again as I did this time eight years ago.

America’s me.

There are some gas stations or restaurants that don’t have messages of significance.  Just annoncing the specials.  Then there is the Western Sizzler by work.  It went for a combination:

“God Bless America.

11 ounce sirloin $6.95”

On Friday Bowman and I went to the conference room to observe the moment of silence with our co-workers.  We ended up watching a service at the National Cathedral for 45 minutes.

I stood the entire time.  I really don’t see why but my legs started quivering.  I can run 2 miles, but I can’t stand for 45 minutes?

I kept thinking about sitting down, but then I remembered some wisdom from a choir director or CCD teacher.  She was responding to one of my peer’s complaints that kneeling was uncomfortable.

“Jesus died on the cross for you and you can’t even kneel for a few minutes?  Do you think hanging on a cross is comfortable?”

I think about that a lot when religion and discomfort are together.

September 10, 2006 at 8:23 pm 6 comments

Fahrenheit 451 and TV Personalities

Note: It’s been ages since I’ve read Fahrenheit 451— so if I get any the details wrong, please don’t hesitate to dispute and/or correct my claims in the comments.

As I recall, in the book the main character’s wife, Mildred had this parlor in which three of the walls were big giant TVs.  I believe Mildred loved her TV shows.  She was obsessed with them and the characters felt very real to her.  I think she preferred her shows to the company of her own husband.  In fact– I think she wanted to invest in a fourth TV– so she would be surrounded and completely immersed in that fictional life.

This week with the passing of Steve Irwin, I commented to Sean, “It’s been a bad year for the TV personalities we like.”

It was then that I realized that my attachment to characters I see on TV may be one small step on the way to being… Mildred!

At least with Steve Irwin, I can rationalize that he was a real person, not a fictional character.  I can justify the lump I felt in my throat each time the homage commercial came on Animal Planet.  Each time I heard him say, “I’m the proudest father on the face of the earth” and each time he talked about sharing his love for wildlife.  And I know I’m not alone– at least three of my friends posted a note about his unfortunate death (Christina, Clint, Marty).

But there are a few other TV deaths that are a little harder to justify.  Two come to mind real quick:

John Spencer (West Wing)
Sean and I both watch West Wing regularly.  During the TV season, we watched the new episodes religiously (even during the less than stellar seasons).  One time I even lost my temper with then roommate, Ledman, because of West Wing.  He was mucking around with the TV and taking his time getting to NBC.  He was heading that way, but too slowly for my taste– especially considering the clock already read 9 PM.  Finally I stood up and shouted, “That’s it!  I’m going to watch it upstairs!”  I stomp all the way to my bedroom only to find out the clock downstairs was wrong!  We still had a good five minutes until show time.  So…I got to slink back downstairs and apologize.  🙂

Another testament to my affection West Wing.  In 2003, I gave up TV for Lent.  The biggest temptation I had was missing a brand new episode of West Wing (the one where Air Force One had landing gear problems).

In more recent times, Sean and I watch a lot of the reruns on Bravo.  It’s mostly on as background noise and it’s usually on during dinner.  Sean will be sitting at the computer desk and I’ll be sitting on the laundry chair (the chair Sean keeps his clean laundry on) and we eat our homecooked dinner and watch West Wing. 

We’re taking a little bit of a haitus right now, though.  When Sean was recovering from back surgery this past January, he watched a steady stream of West Wing reruns for 8 days.  There can be too much of a good thing.  Well, except for Sub Station II Meatball Subs– I don’t seem to ever tire of them.  🙂

Anyway, Leo McGarry (and subsequently John Spencer) were part of our lives for many years.  So it was sort of sad to hear of John Spencer’s heart attack.  But– that wasn’t the saddest fictional TV loss for me….

Jerry Orbach (Law and Order)
When Sean and I were first dating, he used to watch this show called “Law and Order” during the day.  He really liked the show and went as far as changing his Windows theme to emulate it.  When you opened a window on his desktop, it made the Law and Order “Da – Da!” sound.  I didn’t care for the show too much at first and didn’t really see the appeal.  I think the turning point was when I saw an episode with a young Claire Danes playing a prostitute.   

Well boy have times changed!  Law and Order and its derivatives are now my relaxation staple.  I’ll watch the first run episodes here and there, but it’s the reruns that have my heart.  If I have a tough or trying day, it is the perfect environment for a “Law and Order Night”.  Case in point: I had a hectic schedule this week and right now as I write this– I have an episode on!  🙂 I have a horrible track record for staying up to the end of the episode, but that may be the appeal!  I am gently lulled to sleep by Lenny Briscoe, Jack McCoy and Adam Schiff.

I have numerous entries about my love for Law and Order in my journals.  Here’s one excerpt from June 6, 2004 when I returned home from France.  I was writing about the unexpected things I missed from home.  Along with sweet tea, free refills, Substation II Meatball Subs and the Appalachian Mountains, I mentioned Law and Order:

Nearly Unlimited Access to Law and Order Reruns
At home after a hard day at work or a strenous hike, I get such a feeling of peace by falling asleep to a Law and Order rerun.  Something about snoozing on the couch is fulfilling.  As luck would have it, TNT, TBS, USA and NBC all have a habit of showing Law and Order episodes.  An episode can be found almost every evening.  I didn’t see one place in Europe feature “Law and Order”.  But, I did find an even more fulfilling sleeping agent– long train rides!

There are a lot of character shifts in Law and Order, but the character of Lenny Briscoe was present for 12 years.  And since Lenny always had the opening wise crack at the beginning of the show, I got exposed to Jerry Orbach in almost every episode– even the ones I fell asleep during.  Law and Order is a comfort item for me and Lenny Briscoe is a huge part of it.  Lenny Briscoe welcomed me home after a long business trip.  Lenny Brisco was always there to smooth over a tough day.  Lenny Briscoe made me smile and put my mind and body at ease.

So when Jerry Orbach passed away, I was very sad.  I don’t think I cried, but I certainly felt a loss.  It was especially difficult to watch the Law and Order: Trial by Jury episodes that aired after his death.  You could see how sick he was.  I know he’ll live on in reruns, but it still remains a tough TV loss for me.

Now– luckily, I still enjoy the company of real people over Leo McGarry and Lenny Briscoe.  So maybe, I’m not quite Mildred Montag just yet!

September 8, 2006 at 11:11 pm 1 comment

Dad Story: Transfer of Blame

Another quick excerpt from February 2004:

Mom and Dad had a hilarious argument tonight.  Dad is working on selling this commerative postal cancellations in June.  He started to describe the final product and to better illustrate he got out the frame and cancelled envelope and started to assemble an example for me.

"Why don't you show her the sample you already made?" Mom asked.

"BECAUSE ANNE!" Dad snapped, "I gave that to my friend– I told you that!!!"

"You never told me that," Mom said, "When would have you told me that?"

Dad's response was swift.  He didn't even skip a beat, "I never told you!  But you should know still.  What do you think, I'm an idiot?  I'm going to spend all this time making one when I already have one done?!?  Is that what you think?!?"

Neither Mom or I could respond.  We were too busy cracking up.

I've never seen such a quick transition from admitting blame to accusation!  🙂

June 8, 2006 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

Journal Excerpt: Raw Catfish

Ran across this in my February 14, 2004 journal entry.

A funny thing happened over supper on Monday.  Sean made his awesome cajun catfish and I complimented it with our freshly steamed garlic brocolli. 

Now – here's some quick background info.  I'm always very skeptical of meat – I ask Sean to double check the meat I've cooked to make sure it is done.  At restaurants I slice chicken up and examine it before I ingest it.  Anyway – false alarms are not uncommon when it comes to me and done meat.

Back to the tale.

We sat down to enjoy our meal and I noticed my catfish was really tough.

"It's done!" Sean said, knowing immediately what my mind was thinking.

"Okay," I said and obediently I started eating.

"Wow," I said, "It's really chewy."

Suddenly I hear a clank of a fork and Sean slammed down his plate and snatched mine away.  He swiftly carried it into the kitchen.

"What are you doing?!?" I yelled.

"I'm going to cook it some more because you aren't going to eat it until I do," he said.

I started to yell and my statements did include obscenities.  I told him all I wanted to know if it was *@!?# okay.  If it was supposed to be chewy, so be it and I'll eat it.

After I finished my rant, there was complete silence.  That was odd, so I went into the kitchen to investigate.  There Sean was hovering over my fish, looking perplexed.

"Huh," he said, "It's not done."

Hehe.  Poor guy– he's been putting up with my "Is this cooked?", "Is it supposed to look like this?", and "Are you sure this is done?" interrogations for 8 years.  The one time he loses his temper about it is the one time the meat in question wasn't done!!!

Later as we laughed about the incident, Sean had a good analogy.

"You're the girl who cried raw," he said.

June 8, 2006 at 8:06 pm Leave a comment

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