Saturday, April 30, 2005

... everybody comes as is.

Probably because of some combination of the facets of my personality, I love people. I love conversations and how they bond me to another. I love being there when people need me, knowing I want these same people there for me when a necessary time comes. I love that we, as people, change each other, hopefully mostly for the better.

I'm reading a book called "Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them." It's by John Ortberg, who wrote one of my other favorite books, "The Life You've Always Wanted." Anyhow, here are some quotes I thought I'd share with you, the people who apparently know me on some sort of level.

"When we enter relationships with the illusion that people are normal, we resist the truth that they are not. We enter an endless attempt to fix them, control them, or pretend they are what they're not. One of the great marks of maturity is to accept the fact that everybody comes as is. ... As frustrating as people can be, it's hard to find a good substitute."

"No matter how little money we have, no matter what rung we occupy on anybody's corporate ladder of success, in the end what everybody discovers is that what matters is other people. Human beings who give themselves to relational greatness -- who have friends they laugh with, cry with, learn with, fight with, dance with, live and love and grow old and die with -- these are the human beings who lead magnificent lives."


Then Ortberg quotes Jean Vanier:

"There is no ideal community. Community is made up of people with all their richness, but also with their weakness and proverty, of people who accept and forgive each other, who are vulnerable with each other. Humility and trust are more at the foundation of community that perfection."

It's amazing how perfectionism slips into relationships. But a perfectionist has a hard time keeping control and desires for perfection out of any area of life. Trust me, I know.

Orterg apparently loves relationships in general too:

We live in a world of networking, contracts, Rolodex files, quid pro quos. But when the relationship isn't strategic anymore, when the sales dry up, when the plane lands -- the relationship is over.

Sadly, there is a difference in being friends and being friendly. I imagine everyone has moments of misinterpreting the two. I'm sure there will be more to come as I read more of the book.

I think I'm making a new friend, thanks to the freedom of electronic communication. I'll start at the beginning:

I write a lot of stories about subjects that don't mean anything to me. I cover school board meetings, city council meetings, write up police reports, update court cases I've been following ... Trust me, for some twisted reason I like my job, but my favorite part is interacting with people and meeting different people, even if it is at some mundane meeting. Thankfully, sometimes I meet people who challenge me personally. A week ago Friday (April 22, which happened to be Greg's birthday...) I was finishing up some things at work, wondering how I was going to spend the last couple hours of my afternoon. I hadn't been back from lunch long (and I had taken a long lunch because Jaclyn had just found the day before she was pregnant and I went to buy her a present and eat lunch with her on her extended lunch break at school ...) when the receptionist brought me a book a lady from Murray had just published.

Now, I've written about local people publishing books before. That's nothing overly exciting. So I called her, Cathy, to ask if she'd come by to talk a little more about her book. Then I decide I should at least read a few pages to get a feeling for the tone. The first paragraph had me hooked to this woman's words. Now, I have to say, the subject was motherhood. Obviously, I don't know much about that. But the thing is, Cathy started her book talking about how she didn't either. The book is about her journey into motherhood -- and the relationships that are part of raising kids and loving the roots of family.

I skipped around in the book a little before she came back to the office. She had me laughing and saying to myself, "That sounds exactly like me." Granted, she's 10 years older than me and has three daughters and lives in Alabama. But somehow I felt connected to her. Then we talked for quite awhile, initally about her book and being a mom. But I realized I had heard of her town of Anniston, Ala. I was familiar with the incenerator dilemma with chemical weapons stored in a depot there from my knowledge of the similar situation in Richmond, Ky. Then I remembered another great writer, Rick Bragg, is from there. He talks about growing up in the South and his Alabama rooks in "All Over But the Shoutin'."

We managed to bring the conversation back to her book, but I really didn't feel like I was interviewing her. I felt like I was learning a little bit more about myself and seeing glimpses into the life of this woman. She said a trait of her personality is she likes to have "creative control." I knew what she meant, firsthand, and was glad she labeled the trait I often experience.

I skimmed her book more this week when I moments of slowness at work, although those didn't come often. I picked up a few things that made smile in the irony of connection:

In reference to her husband, she said he "cracked her up." I can't count the times I've said about someone I love. She talked about all the projects they've done to their old house, including installing a pocketbook-breaker air conditioning unit. Then she said they just needed windows. Well, we haven't installed the central heating and air yet, knowing it will but a nice dent in our finances. But one day. Then windows are probably the project I wish we could tackle now. But, man, those are expensive.

She got married when she was 23, as did I. She steered clear of babysitting and liked her career. The idea of family was always there, but sometimes but on the backburner to other things. Again, I have to ask myself if she was some version of myself.

So I spent several moments thinking about her this week. Meanwhile, I actually worked on a story about her recently published book. (Remember, that is what started all of this.) I finished the story and gave it to my editor. He said he'd run it this weekend or early next week. There's some added pressure in writing about a writer.

Oh, about writing. I feel like she writes sort of like I do. I call it listy. But there's probably a more technical word for it. In an email, she called herself an essayist and observer. I like that. That's my style. I have moments of creativity, but more than anything I just want to capture my life and bits of other people's lives in words.

I wrote Cathy an email yesterday about this connection, as surface as it may be, that I discovered in her written words and conversation we had that Friday afternoon. She seemed grateful that I shared my feelings with her and told me it was nice to make a new friend.

I definitely second that.

Cathy referenced the most recent issue of Newsweek in an email yesterday, and while reading it (which I had gotten in the mail earlier in the week) at lunch yesterday I thought about how much I love magazines. I reminded myself writers need to be readers. There's so much to learn.

So, back to the basics: Friends are important to me. That also was evident in my week. Michael and his wife, Cassie, had their son, Parker, at 5:06 p.m. Tuesday. He weighed 6 pounds and 14 ounces and was 18 1/2 inches long. He's adorable.

I loved that I had time, or maybe it's more about making time, to drive to Paducah for a brief visit Wednesday afternoon. Then Greg and I took some dinner over to them last night, and I got to hold him again for awhile.

(The ironic part of my personality is as much as I love people, I love the feeling of being productive, too. Sometimes that contradicts my desire to be with people. I have been known to get too caught up in a task. Ah, the life of a perfect melancholy woman!)

Just to connect it all, I bought Cassie, the new mother, Cathy's book. I hope she finds some encouragement in it too. In this whole novel-like blog I've written, I still really haven't actually talked about her book, "Full Hands, Full Heart, Full Circle."

Meanwhile, Jaclyn started bleeding the day after she found out she was pregnant and spent the next week on the couch. She had a miscarriage. It's sad, but I'm glad she's found some peace in the situation. And I'm glad I have her friendship.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Will this be on the test? Absolutely

Bob Hill at The Courier-Journal is another columnist I often enjoy. He's good at tying ideas together.

The dirty little secret of my school years was that I was one of those kids whose achievement-test results generally eclipsed the class grades handed out by my teachers.

Thus the label "academic underachiever" hung over my head like a ceiling fan. I was perfectly content to get B's in subjects I didn't care about and A's in those that came more easily. There was the occasional C -- but those led to the parental woodshed; not a happy place. There also was football, basketball, baseball and track.
The test behind the test

As I took those various grade school and high school achievement tests, I always found myself trying to figure out what the test-makers were up to; I was at least as interested in the reason for the question -- at least those not involving math or physics -- as I was in any answer.

I believed -- perhaps falsely -- I had found a whole different challenge than the test-makers might have considered; the student testing the test while it was in progress. I always hoped my results would come back with an asterisk: *Bob's actual test scores were OK but his emotional intelligence and test-based acumen were out of sight.

This was obviously long before these scary days when every overprivileged child must consider himself or herself a failure unless getting into Brown, Harvard or MIT -- with Stanford and Vanderbilt on the waiting list.

Memo to those going to the University of Louisville, the University of Kentucky or Indiana University: Ten years from now it won't matter. Trust me.

Both of our children are at least as smart as I am -- and much better read. One was a better test-taker than the other. I've always loved them equally anyway. I've always believed that in taking tests, memory and instant recall are at least as important as basic intelligence. Or maybe the two are directly linked. I can't remember.

I worry about all our worry about tests. I really worry about school tests when politicians become so heavily involved. Abraham Lincoln learned to read by candlelight. George W. Bush and John Kerry went to Yale. What's left to say about that?
No skill required

Politicians are masters at testing other people -- especially students -- on skills they never consider themselves. They can't do math or economics; look at our budget deficits. They don't understand chemistry and physics: Hello! Global warming! History? Take a look around you; the nation is headed down a path we've taken 10 times before. Doesn't play well with others? Congress and the Indiana and Kentucky legislatures sure have been prime examples of that.

Then there are art and music. The Courier-Journal had a frightening story yesterday that indicated that public elementary schools are going to escalate the trend of consolidating music, dance, art and drama into a single "arts and humanities" class led by a former art, music or "general elementary" teacher. The change will focus instruction on "state-tested" art terms and concepts, yet supposedly ensure dance and drama aren't neglected -- and save money.

Yeah, right. You could probably save money having one person coach football, basketball, baseball and track, but how soon do you expect that to happen?

Meanwhile, Kentucky lawmakers are making noises that the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System -- CATS -- needs to be better aligned with federal testing requirements. Obviously it's time to end all fun, creative and mind-stretching classes in schools and complete the end game; just test the kids eight hours a day every day. No instructions, no books, no curriculum -- just tests.

I can't wait until those graduates get to Congress.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

complex character on a slacker Saturday

I've successfully been a Saturday slacker. I slept late. After printing some pictures and eating a salad for lunch with Greg, I scrapbooked. St. Louis and shooting pages, to be specific. We shot on the pop-a-shot for a short time too. Since then, we've watched "The Final Cut" and back-to-back episdoes of "Law & Order."

(Notice the frequent use of S in that paragraph. I love alliteration.)

"The Final Cut" was thought provoking...

Basically, the movie is about these implanted chips that 1 in 20 people have. The chips record every moment of their lives. Robin Williams' character is a "cutter" -- he pieces to together "rememories" after people die. In essence, he picks moments to show others about this person's life.

My favorite line comes from the girl William's character falls in love with after seeing pieces of her life in her ex-boyfriend's chip-recorded life:

What are people's lives like? Do they even make sense? They seem so massive and random.

One broad idea in the movie: Would you live your life differently if you knew it was being recorded?

My first instinct is absolutely.

But then I started thinking of the spiritual side.

God sees beyond our actions and knows our thoughts, feelings, motives, attitudes, even if they are covered up by who everyone thinks we are. He's bigger than the chip implanted in this story. The chips only recorded audio and voice. They didn't interpret feeling or capture the reaction closest to one's heart.

That got me thinking about people's perceptions of us. If someone were to watch a video of my life, would that person see me as I see myself? Would that person's interpretation of me be kinder or harsher than my interpretation?

I once heard character is who you are when no one is looking. Would a recorded life expose character in the purest form? But a recorded life still lacks thoughts one chooses to keep bottled up.

So I get back to where I started.

We are created as complex beings. No technology is going to capture all we are. Only our creator can, and that only is hard to fathom, even as complex as we, as humans, are. To me, life really is a process of learning who people are and letting personal moments with these people make me a better person. Thank God for moments and conversations. I pray I can mentally record them for myself.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Reputation is always in gray shades

Further proof why I love Rochelle Riley and how she takes ideas and makes word pictures with them. Here she is today on Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, but more important here she is on reputation:

Reputation is a delicate thing. It can be as solid as a mountain, but still be battered to pieces by a single lie. It can be tarnished by neglect or perceptions, even those that are unfair. And, as Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick learned this week, it can be defined by a single series of decisions that can obliterate years of hard work. ...

Here's the thing about reputations: They are never absolute, never just black or white. One man's hero can be another man's punching bag. And that can change in a week.

And in a week when Time magazine named Mayor Kilpatrick one of the nation's three worst big-city mayors, Harvard University was honoring him as one of the nation's most innovative. Academics at the nation's oldest university praised Detroit's Strategic Management Center, which forged a partnership with Harvard Business School to change the city's economic landscape. ...

So there you have it, the problem with making quick judgments. Sometimes it's not so black or white. ...

birthdays as grownups aren't as fun

Greg's birthday is today. Mine is in 10 days.

Birthdays aren't the same in real world, grown-up world. Thing is I really like birthdays. Not just mine, but other people's too. But these things called jobs and tasks called commitments tend to get in the way of celebrating people on the day they were born.

Welcome to the real world, Kristin, I know. But sometimes I don't feel like I'm old enough to deal with grownup things and other days I'm thankful to be the age I am. It's quite the in-between feeling.

Greg and I are both working this morning, then he's playing in a golf tournament this afternoon. We'll have dinner and a few hours together before I have to come back to work tonight. Next week -- a week from today, actually -- Jaclyn and I are going to Florida until Monday. Then my birthday is Tuesday, the same night I'm supposed to meet with my girls Bible study and the same night Greg has a baseball game to coach.

So that's probably why we'll string out birthday "parties" out over a couple weeks, starting Sunday with a get together at Greg's parents for our birthdays and two of his cousins who have late April birthdays. We're going to Louisville the first weekend in May. Not for Derby, but because. And my mom will probably make a "birthday" dinner.

Don't get me wrong, playing golf, going to Florida, coaching baseball, visiting family and going to the Bible study are things Greg and I choose to do. And they are definitely things I love on many levels.

But you can't blame me for missing skating parties and trips to Chuck E. Cheese's. Real birthday parties.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

... winter just wasn't my season

Greg and I went to the first of four Cardinals-Cubs games in St. Louis last night. We had a good time, despite the 90-minute rain delay and the 3-1 loss to those pesky Cubs. Good thing it's just April.

We got there early enough for batting practice. It was beautiful and sunny, even a little on the hot side, then in a matter of like six minutes the temperature dropped four degrees and the sky got gray and cloudy. Then it rained for quite awhile.

Cubs-Cardinals game always have interesting fans, most of whom enjoy the rivalry and have fun with it. We did, however, see a fight just a couple of sections over. Those guys must of gotten a little carried away with hating each other.

I also heard a song on the way up there that is on my list of favorites after some googling today. It reminded me of Tori Amos when I heard it. There's irony in that because I learned later the girl singing, Anna Nalick, actually credits her inspiration to artists, including Tori Amos, and has one of Amos' producers working on her CD.

"Breath (2 a.m.)" by Anna Nalick:

2 a.m. and she calls me cause I'm still awake
Can you help me unravel my latest mistake
I don't love him and winter just wasn't my season.
Yea we walk through the doors so accusing their eyes
Like they have any right at all to criticize
Hypocrites you're all here for the very same reason.

Cause you can't jump the track
We're like cars on a cable and life's like an
hourglass glued to the table,
No one can find the rewind button girl
So just cradle your head in your hands.
And breathe, just breathe, whoa breathe just breathe

May he turned 21 on the base of Fort Bliss
Just today he sat down to the flask in his fist
Ain't been sober since maybe October of last year
Here in town you can tell he's been down for while
But my God it's so beautiful when the boy smiles
Wanna hold him but maybe I'll just sing about it

Cause you can't jump the track
We're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass glued to the table,
No one can find the rewind button boys so cradle your head in your hands
And breathe, just breathe, whoa breath just breathe
There's a light at the end of this tunnel you shout
cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
And these mistakes you've made
You'll just make them again if you'll only try turnin' around

2 a.m. and I'm still awake writing this song
If i get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me threaten' the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary screamin' out aloud
And I know that you'll use them however you want to.

But you can't jump the track
We're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass glued to the table,
No one can find the rewind button now
Sing it if you understand...yeah breath
Just breathe, ohho breathe

Monday, April 18, 2005

It feels like summer.

My arms are burnt to a crisp, and my knees are awfully red too. That's what happens when one sits out at the soccer field from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in mostly sunny, 80 degree weather without sunscreen. Brilliant, I know. I just didn't think about it until it was too late. My mom forgot sunscreen too. At least I had my trusty UK hat with me, so my scalp didn't get burned. That's the worse, especially once it starts peeling.

Maybe it was just prep for my trip to Florida in 11 days. I'll try using sunscreen then!

(It was however a good day to watch Cassie play in a soccer tournament. I did take a break from the sun when we went to Fazoli's for lunch. But other than that, there's not much shade around soccer fields.)

I'm also wearing a summery skirt.

If you've seen "Reality Bites," I can describe it to you. Much like his response to Lelaina's skirt when she's getting ready to go out with Michael, Troy says:

"You look like a doily."

He'd say that to me today, but I wouldn't care because I really like this skirt. And I really like it feeling like summer. (Although I would like a little spring. After all, it is only mid-April.)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

a lovely sunny day

I went to the firing range this morning with my Citizens Police Academy class. I never got comfortable. I shot several different guns (two different handguns, a revolver, a shotgun and a rifle...) at differnt types of targets. The handguns were definitely my favorite and the revolver was definitely my least favorite. While it's not something I think I would enjoy as a hobby, I am glad I did it.

It was a start to a lovely day.

Greg and I had lunch at Dumplin's, one of my favorite restaurants in town. Then he worked out in the yard (and I helped him a little) and I got some things done inside the house. Peggy and I went to Paducah to run a few errands later this afternoon. I found some things at Old Navy (surprise, surprise!) and bought some cute birthday presents for Greg's counsins. We're having a joint party next week for Greg, his cousins Camee and Zori and me -- their birthdays are next week and mine is less than two weeks later. Mostly, it was just nice to be around here and not worry about having anything particular to do.

I have a lot of fun things, mostly smaller trips and such, planned the next few months. I really love this time of the year, and am very thankful it's here. It just energizes me, and I always forget how much I love it.

Friday, April 15, 2005

deadlines

I hate when I think about something I should have put in one of my stories just minutes after it's too late. But with some stories there just comes a point I have to stop thinking about them.

Good...

We got our tax information back today. I wrote checks and dropped those in the mail. Good thing.

I found some motivation after a few days of struggling to get back in a routine at work. I think I mentally took a few days off after months of being so busy I didn't know what to do. I'm getting around to "normal" things again. I think that's a good thing.

Katy and I got pedicures yesterday and then had BBQ sandwiches at the park. Good springtime activities.

I enjoyed my two-minute Alison Krauss concert via cell phone from Boston last night. KatieKerns call me during "When You Say Nothing At All" and let me listen for a couple of minutes. Good music.

Recently I was talking on here about how part of God's nature is understanding human nature, even though as humans understanding God is unfathomable is completely out of our nature. It's interesting to me that I accept who God is and see him working in my life, even though I can't fully comprehend this greater hand than mine. I'm not saying I should stop trying to understand God, but I should apply some of that faith to the little things in life that get me so worked up much more often than they should.

Another very good thing is it's a sunny Friday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sugarland

My new musical addiction is Sugarland. My initial impression after listening to the CD at least four times in the last two days, and that doesn't count the number of times I've repeated a couple of my instant favorites, is it's going to be one of those CDs that I can listen to over and over, feeling perfect content among the words and music.

That pretty close to a run-on sentence. That's how excited I am about this music.

I've heard "Baby Girl" on the radio countless times. It's nice to know the rest of the CD is just as good.

It's almost April 15...

and the accountant's secretary told me she hoped our taxes would be done by Friday.

Friday is April 15.

I sure hope they'll be done too. That's why we pay this CPA guy to do our taxes.

But he doesn't have to worry. This WILL be the last year he does them. Last year it was OK. We had to wait a little too long in the reception area to talk with him for a short period of time. Well, we had to wait even longer this year. I think we waited 45 minutes to talk to him for 20 minutes.

We met with him March 3.

Our taxes aren't that complicated. The only reason we go to a professional is Greg is considered self-employed, so he pays tax estimates throughout the year. He made more money this year than last year because he was actually an attorney this whole year. Well, that means we owe the government some money. It sure would be nice to know how much that it.

I know CPAs are busy this time of the year. But that's their job. This is their season and they know they'll be busy. I don't know what the specific reasons are. And I don't really care because I'm paying to him to complete my taxes. It shouldn't take five weeks and make me question whether I'm going to get them back on time.

Are you a professional?

The following short quiz consists of four questions and will tell you whether you are qualified to be a professional. Scroll down for each answer. The questions are NOT that difficult. But don't scroll down UNTIL you have answered the question!

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?



The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.



2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?



Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator Wrong Answer.

Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.



3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend ... except one. Which animal does not attend?



Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory. Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.



4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?



Correct Answer: You jump into the river and swim across. Have you not been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the animal meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.



According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all questions wrong, but many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a 4-year-old.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

lunacy of language

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes; but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice; yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men, why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet, and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those, yet hat in the plural would never be hose, and the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother, we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him, but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.

Some other reasons to be grateful if you grew up speaking English:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
22) I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

Screwy pronunciations can mess up your mind! For example, if you have a rough cough, climbing can be tough when going through the bough on a tree!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly,
boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

If Dad is Pop, how's come Mom isn't Mop?

Monday, April 11, 2005

image of the pope

I've been pretty fascinated with the process of selecting a new pope, so I've been reading some things. My favorite thing about John Paul II himself that I read was in the April 11 issue of Newsweek. And here's my favorite part from an article by Jon Meacham:

"He was a mirror and a maker of modern times."

Saturday, April 9, 2005

"Fever Pitch"

Greg and I went to see "Fever Pitch" this afternoon. It is sort of silly to see a movie on a beautiful Saturday afternoon that calls for flip flops, capris and a tank top, but the matinee saved us a few bucks. Plus I wasn't in the mood to watch it last night.

So I liked the movie for several reasons. First, I really like Drew Barrymore and her character was very quotable. But I was fairly absorbed in her character and couldn't really latch onto the words. That just means I'll have to buy it and watch it some more when it's out of the theaters.

I also really related to work being a safety neat. There she didn't have to worry about figuring things out. She knew how to be productive there. She knew what she had to do there. That's what baseball was to him. Fenway Park was his safety net.

Then this thing called life slips in.

Despite being a Cardinals fan, I liked the Red Sox story line too. And I love that they had to change the ending after Boston won the World Series last year. (Yes, better the Sox than the Yankees any day. Too bad it had to be over the Cardinals ultimately. Still ...) But the curse is broken and it's a new season.

"Fever Pitch" also made me miss Katie and wish I had a trip to Boston planned. At least she's moving to Nashville.

I was slightly worried that the movie was going to be dumb humor. But it wasn't. I really liked both characters -- Ben and Lindsey. I liked who were they were separable and how they were even better together. Greg said he had a problem with the fact Lindsey in the beginning wouldn't have stayed with Ben. I think he bases that on the conversation we've had several times.

KRISTIN: What would you do if I didn't like sports?
GREG: I don't think we would have dated as long as we did, much less gotten married.

So...

My biggest complaint is I don't like the movie title. I have a hard time naming things, though, so I don't have a better idea. You should have been with me the day I was trying to come up with name for one of my fantasy baseball teams. Yes, I said one of my teams, implying I have more than one. The first one sort of named itself for me. The second wasn't as easy. Greg was amazed one person could contemplate such a simple matter for so long. Must just be that words are important to me.

Middle America

I came across this poem I wrote in a creative writing class in college in 2001. The assignment was to take a quote from a song, poem, book ... anywhere .. and use it to build a poem on. I tweaked it a little. It's interesting to read it now, four years later, and see what ideas hold true and how my life has since changed. As life goes, there's always a little of both.

"Omaha, somewhere in middle America
Get right to the heart of the matters
It's the heart that matters more
-Counting Crows


You drove me in your International Scout
on country roads through small-town America,
honking and waving at strangers
who were familiar in their pickup trucks.
The radio became background noise
as the wind blew my hair and drowned out
James Taylor and ESPN news you swore you could hear.
You knew the curves in the road like the back of your hand,
always bringing us back to your house south of town.
For dinner you preferred frozen pizzas
followed by cookies-and-cream for dessert,
while I would choose peel-and-eat shrimp.
Despite the lack of gourmet,
the laughter and conversation
satisfied my appetite.

But why did I something have to jump
those white fences surrounding your heart?

I drove my trendy Geo Prizm from your house,
heading west toward the interstate.
I depended on the air conditioner to ease the humid summer air.
Toby Keith and Dave Matthews drowned out the silence.
As I merged just outside the city limits,
you interrupted my many thoughts
when you reached over the emergency break to hold my hand --
assurance and hesitance clashed in your grip.
The skyscrapers peaked in the distance,
reminding me of your willingness to enter suburbia with me.

Your simplicity calms my busyness
and we build our house
between your country and my city
on the Nebraska and Iowa border
and realize it is the most comfortable place.

Friday, April 8, 2005

1, 2, 3, 4, 5...

I am my toughest critic.
I cry easily when I'm tired.
I have standards much too high for myself and those around me.
I am a perfectionist.
I let things build up then emotionally break.

Those five qualities -- weak qualities, I admit -- are not a good combination anytime, but especially on a Friday morning when I just finished the fifth of six papers I am responsible for putting out this week while my editor is out of time. I warded of the breakdown yesterday, but it surfaced today after deadline.

Miss Jo (she's my grandmother's age and likes the office much, much warmer than I do...) realized I ran the obituaries from Thursday instead of the ones marked for Friday. I just was in a hurray this morning and didn't pay enough attention that there were two versions. Obits are important in a small town, but not as important as my reaction illustrated.

She and I snapped at each other then I walked outside to catch my breath and dry my eyes. Granted, the mishap with the obits wasn't as serious, but my mind was reacting to a build up of many things, mainly tiredness. I just felt crushed after I'd worked so hard this week and the messed up toward the end.

Apparently more drama ensued when I left. The fact I caused an unnecessary reaction from other people also disappoints me. Call is immature, unprofessional ... whatever.

There's a lot of lessons to be remind of here, for me:
Don't snap at your friends (Michael...) who are trying to help.

Remember the glorious thing about newspapers is you get to put out another one -- a new one -- the next day.

Walk away before the tensions get higher than they need to be. Physically walk away if necessary, but at least mentally step away. It's my job, and while I should take that seriously, I shouldn't let it absorb me the way it did this week.

And to think I thought I was doing better with my perfectionist tendencies...

I finally stepped away at lunch today. I should have gone an hour earlier, but still... Thank God for Jaclyn and her green beans, hot dogs and chocolate chip cookies. We love having that meal together. I didn't realize spending time with a fellow perfectionist would help as much as it did. But, after all, she understands my emotions and reactions and loves me enough to remind me the ship really isn't sinking.

I should have counted to five more often and not put so much pressure on myself to do a good job. I probably would have done a better job that way.

It was all the epitome of the straw that broke the camel's back. It wasn't just this one mistake as much as it was the build up of frustration and tiredness. I mean, earlier in the week I thought it was pretty funny (ironically funny, that is...) that I had to rerun a correction because there was a mistake in the correction. Ha!

Thursday, April 7, 2005

... often thought about them

I can't believe I'm sitting down in front of the computer again, but I've been wanting to blog about a Bible study I'm doing with a group of girls. First of all, I've never done a Bible study written by a women, so it's a refreshing approach to learning about Jesus and some Bible stories. We're doing a study by Beth Moore called "Jesus the One and Only."

Our first week (although we're doing the sections over two weeks instead...) was about Elizabeth and Mary and their pregnancies.

Side note: I grew up in a Catholic Church. I'm used to seeing statutes of Mary and idol-like worship to Jesus' mother.

But I'm not used to looking at Mary as a 13-year-old who became pregnant even though she was a virgin. I love the connection between her and Elizabeth, who was really much too old to be pregnant but gave birth to John anyway.

While doing the study, I really saw Mary as girl and not a statute. She had a lot of emotions and thoughts to deal with as the coped with knowing people were not going to understand how she was pregnant -- much less with the son of God -- if she had never had sex.

My other thought: We can read about God's nature, especially as it is personified in Jesus's life on earth, but as humans it is really difficult to understand his nature. Still while we can't always comprehened his nature, essential to his nature is understanding our nature as humans.

The Bible characterizes Mary's response to Christ's birth -- and all the hoopla surrounding it -- this way: "but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and often thought about them." (Luke 2:19)

I love that!

Beth Moore goes on to talk about Greek word for ponder (which is the very used in some translations of Luke 2:19, whereas mine said "thought about"). "Sumballo" means to "throw or put together." In other words, itis the practice of casting many things together, combining them and considering them as one.

I love what Moore quotes from another book of hers called "Things Pondered":

A host of memories must have been dancing in her head: The angels appearance. His words. Her flight to the hill country of Judea. Elizabeth's greeting. Their late night conversations. The first time she noticed her tummy was rounding. Joseph's face when he saw her. The way she felt when he believed. The whispers of neighbors. The doubts of her parents.
The first time she felt that baby move inside of her. The dread of the long trip. The reality of being full term, bouncing on the back of a beast. The first pain. The fear of having no place to bear a child. The horror of the nursery. The way it looked. The way it smelled. The way He looked. God so frail. So tiny. So perfect. Love so abounding. Grace so amazing. Wise men bowed down. Shepherds made haste -- each memory like treasures in a box. She gathered the jewels, held them to her breast, and engraved them on her heart forver.

no intentional neglect of the blog ...

I've been playing editor this week. There are a few things I like about, but there are several things I don't. Mainly, I miss getting out and writing stories. Meanwhile, I have spent entirely too much time sitting here in this chair looking at this computer screen. Most of the editor's job consists of laying out pages -- and let me tell you, there have been many, many pages.

Friday, April 1, 2005

Terri Shiavo

A column I wrote for today's paper:

Terri Shiavo did for me what she did for many people. She prompted me to tell my husband I do not want to be kept alive by artificial means if something causes me to slip into a vegetative state.

I'm in the process of making my end-of-life desires known in a written directive. Honestly, I didn't think living wills mattered. I thought telling Greg my preference would be good enough.

Terri Shiavo taught me otherwise.

A few months ago, Terri Shiavo would have been only a stranger's name to me. And I would have wondered how to pronounce her last name. Now it's a household name, unfortunately. Her husband says she would have shared my sentiments. He says preserving her dignity would have been to let her die naturally. Her parents say otherwise.

Regardless, my heart tells me she wouldn't have wanted to see her husband and her parents wage a legal battle that reached the White House and Congress. Her loved ones fought in and out of courts for the latter half of the 15 years she spent connected to a feeding tube.

Medical, political and moral issues have been raised. The legal battle has been categorized as a right-to-die dispute. George W. Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have tried to step in on behalf of her parents. Courts at all levels have continued to rule on behalf of her husband after doctors ruled she was in a persistent vegetative state without real consciousness or much of a chance to recover.

Terri Shiavo's brain was damaged in 1990 after an eating disorder caused a chemical imbalance that made her heart stop. Early on, her parents and her husband joined forces to use experimental therapy and surgeries, hoping their beloved Terri would live. What to do with money from a settled malpractice lawsuit complicated the already complicated situation.

The complications led to a family's nightmare being national news. I ignored it for awhile, only skimming newspaper articles that talked about Terri Shiavo and some court�s latest decision and often flipping television channels when I noticed her story taking a news-breaking turn.

Then I couldn't ignore it anymore. It's pretty much made me mad.

I could tell you that I don't think her husband was murdering her by wanting the feeding tube removed. She died Thursday -- 13 days after the tube was removed for the third time in the last 15 years.

I could tell you that I wished her husband didn't have a girlfriend and two kids waiting for him at home. But I have to admit, I understand his desire to move on.

I could tell you I can't even imagine the agony of her parents. But I have to wonder if the agony was prolonged by fighting a seemingly senseless legal war.

But mostly I keep thinking about how politics and even religion have absolutely no place in this debate. It's not about conservatives vs. liberals or Democrats vs. Republicans. It's not about a right to life or who's right and who's wrong.

Terri Shiavo's life was interrupted by a health tragedy. Dealing with that tragedy in the private confines of a family is bound to be hard enough. I hate the national attention that turned her last days into a circus. I hate the way a family was divided.
But I take a deep breath and have to admit I'm glad it's over -- for Terri, for her husband, for her parents, and for her country. Now I turn my attention away from the one women who endured more than I'm sure she ever imagined and focus on the document that will prevent such a spectacle by my bedside in my last days, whenever that may be. I encourage you to do the same.

In my living will, Greg will be designated as my healthcare surrogate should I need him as that one day. And he'll have a notarized piece of paper directing him to withhold treatment and artificial nutrients should my recovery seem impossible. I want him -- not the government at any level -- to take care of me.

I'm certain should Terri Shiavo have known her family and country would have been fighting -- some in her name and others on political and religious convictions -- she would have documented her desires in a living will. God only knows what it would have said.

words, letters, moods and thoughts

OK, the blog has been neglected this week. There have been a couple of evenings this week I wanted to blog, but my computer at home is driving me crazy so I opted to wait until I got to work. Then you know how that goes as things come up at work, and now it's suddenly Friday. But thank God it's Friday.

But I've had some blogging moments stored in my head:

So, I continue to be obsessed with Jack Johnson's CD. I listen to it over and over, trying so hard to retain some of the great word combinations only to lose them later when I'm trying to remember. That's how his songs are for me. I just want to soak them up.

Are there wrong answers at the eye doctor's office? I went twice this week. First I went for an eye exam because I needed more contacts and had never been to the eye doctor in Murray. So he asked me all these questions as I stared at the chart at the other end of the room and when I answered he'd look at me like I said the wrong thing. But the thing is, if I said I couldn't tell that was an E or a Z, I really couldn't tell if it was an E or a Z. Why would I make that up? So he gave me these contacts to try and a couple of days later I went back for a "power check" so he could determine if they were appropriate for my vision, or lack there of. I got the same sense -- like he wasn't sure I was telling him the right answers. Well, buddy, they were right for me, like it or not.

The weather was beautiful. I ate lunch at the park twice. That's such a lovely break to my day. I think I wore flip flops or some sort of open-toed shoes every day this week. I love that too. And I even broke out a skirt one day. We got to keep our screen door open most afternoons and got to sleep with the ceiling fan on. I don't know what it is, maybe just the air circulation, but having the ceiling fan on makes me sleep better.

And I swear people are nicer when the sun is out and the temperatures are warm.

Survivor is weird this season. One team has yet to win an immunity challenge and is down to two players while the other team still has eight. And the most ironic part is the two left on the one tribe still seem to think they can win. Survivor is such an interesting show to me because it has this great competition element complicated by relationships, both good and bad ones.

I wrote a column about Terri Shiavo after spending several days forming my thoughts on the subject. The whole issue just made me mad, but out of that I came up with some opinions that I compiled in a rather timely column. I actually had the ideas going before she died yesterday. But then her death helped give my column a tone, mainly because I believe her death is for the best at this point.

Today is April 1. Usually I love new months. But this day always causes me to keep my guard up ...