August 2010

I believe that for the most part, quality of life is a state of mind. Assuming you’re not impoverished, painfully diseased, you didn’t just lose a loved one, or get brutally beaten up by a drunk husband, etc., your average life can be great if you just allow yourself to see the silver lining. I did this exercise late this morning, for example:

Cindy is hungry. –> Fortunately, it’s 10 minutes till lunchtime. –> Unfortunately, she spends lunchtimes doing Insanity workouts. –> Fortunately, she has nothing to barf up mid-workout.

See what I did there?

I think Insanity is perking up my butt. Which is another perk to this insanity.

Happy 2 year birthday to our marriage! 5 years ago on this date, it was a long Labor Day Weekend. Mr. W took me on our first date kayaking around Balboa Island. He told me beforehand that I didn’t have to paddle, and I didn’t. He strained and worked behind me, and I sat in the front of the 2-man kayak watching people, boats and seals. We finally loaded up the kayak and hit up Balboa Island again a couple of weekends ago, and this time I pulled my weight. He was impressed that I appeared tireless. I’ve had lots of practice kayaking at our lake since we’d been married, that’s why. Ocean kayaking was slightly harder but not unmanageable.

And then 2 years ago, on this date, Mr. W and I threw a huge dinner party for our closest family and friends. It took a long time to plan, and it was pretty. Everyone, especially us, were dressed up. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of this party, we got married, too.

It took me this many attempts (5) to finally remember to wish him a happy annismurfsary on the morning of the day. I remembered on the way to work this morning.

Last night, we drove to Dana Point Harbor and met up with Maggie and Tom for dinner. They got married on the same day we did, and due to that (which Maggie and I were heartbroken to find out 2 years ago), neither could attend the other’s wedding. Of course we’d quickly gotten over it cuz there was wedding planning to do, and it makes for fun co-anniversary dinners now. The two of them were spending a few days re-honeymooning at the beach, which happened to be about 20 minutes from our house, so we selected a nice award-winning French restaurant with a compromise of surf (Maggie) and turf (Tom) within walking distance from their hotel. Gemmell’s was great! Hubby said his lemon almondine Dory fish was excellent, the escargot and shrimp scampi appetizers were unique and savory, Tom said his black peppercorn filet mignon was perfectly done, and my sea scallops were tastefully seared on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. And all the French sauces! The restaurant looked French-bistro-chic and quaint (although it wasn’t small), the ambiance romantic and cozy. The matronly French hostess/waitress was friendly and warm, and even surprised us afterwards with free anniversary dessert. Maggie and Tom got a blueberry tart, and we got a lemon tart. The photo above is Maggie and Tom’s tart because their photo came out better than mine. It was a very fun evening chatting, laughing, and fine-dining.

And just yesterday, hubby and I confirmed and paid for our upcoming European vacation. We fly into Venice for a weekend (staying at a converted castle in Venice), take a week-long cruise from Venice to the Greek Isles (hitting Bari, Italy; Olympia, Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes, Greece; then Dubrovnik, Croatia; finally returning to Venice), then we’re going to take the Eurostar train from Venice to Florence, stay there a night, visiting Pisa in the day, and then take the train to Rome for 4 nights, staying in a 4-star hotel within walking distance to the Colliseum, Spanish Steps, etc. After we come home, we’ll say hello to the baby-making process.


A friend shared this WebMD article about weight gains during pregnancy affecting the child’s health afterwards. This link (between mother’s pregnancy and child’s future health) is pretty predictable. What surprised me, is the guideline on weight gain found in the study.

So according to this article, a pregnant woman should not gain ANY weight in the first 14 weeks (3.5 months, for those of us like me who don’t think in terms of weeks). AND, after 14 weeks, the weight gain should only be 1.1 lbs per week (for a total max weight gain of 24.2 lbs through 9 months of pregnancy). The consequences of blowing this limit is that by age 9, the child may show signs of “having high body fat, low levels of good HDL cholesterol, a big waistline, high blood pressure, and other risk factors for heart disease.” Apparently the more weight the mom gains between weeks 14 and 36 (3.5 months to 9 months) of pregnancy, the higher the baby’s risk for all these things. BUT…if you gain weight AFTER week 36, no effect is shown on the child. You hear that, mothers-to-be? If you’re gonna put on weight, do so AFTER 9 months, when the baby’s already out of you. =P

The study also points out that women who start off pregnancy being overweight are more likely to have overweight or obese children. So THIS is something I could check right now. I checked my body mass index (BMI) (22.3), waist-to-height ratio (0.42), and weight range. Everything falls within “normal” and “healthy,” altho I’d like to be on the lower end of these calculations, just to be safe and give myself wiggle room. (Wanna check your stats? Use WebMD’s calculator, which is what I used, here.)

I guess I ought to write an email to my mom thanking her for increasing her pre-pregnancy weight of 87 lbs to only 110 by 9 months, cuz I DO have low blood pressure, high HDL, and a healthy heart. Pregnancy is starting to look more challenging.

Here is a catch-up of some stuff we did for fun in the last few weeks.
One Saturday morning, the weather looked great so I suggested we go kayaking at Balboa Island. So up on the car roof went the two-man kayak that I hadn’t been in since our first date almost exactly 5 years ago, and we had a great time kayaking, watching a seal swim right by us, discovering a great seafood happy hour for lunch.

On another day, we decided to see “Eat, Pray, Love.” It was playing at our favorite very uncrowded theatre in a historic quaint small-town district. When we were in line, we heard two women in front of us complaining about their tickets to the showing that we wanted to catch, wanting refunds or exchanges to a different showing time and location. Turned out that the noon showing we were aiming for was playing in a special theatre. You pay like $16 a ticket instead of whatever movies cost nowadays, and it’s in an upstairs VIP theatre where the leather seats are farther apart, fully reclining, the armrests have swiveling table trays attached, and a pushbutton for service and a wait staff brings you real restaurant food and wine. I had a chardonnay with a Mediterranean curried chicken and cous cous salad. (YUM.) Mr. W had some sort of red wine with a kobe burger and garlic fries. We definitely want to go back to that theatre again, altho we’ll be sure to get in a little earlier next time so we don’t miss movie parts while we’re picking cous cous out of the bed of lettuce.

Earlier this week, our Disneyland annual passes kicked in again after a summer-long blackout period, so we decided to go to Disneyland after work to see the new show at California Adventure, “World of Color.” A friend who works there tipped us off that if we had dinner at one of two restaurants in California Adventure, we could participate in a program that gets us perfect spots for the show without having to line up when the park opens for a Speedpass ticket into the show. The restaurant we chose to go to was Wine Country Trattoria, and the deal is we eat before 6:30 p.m., ordering from a “Preferred Dining” 3-course prix fixe menu at $39 a person, and after eating, we get show tickets to the special section. The food was flippin’ amazing. It was easily $60/pp quality fine dining. Soon we were in our section, from which I had this great view across the water:

Unfortunately, since this was an impromptu trip and I was still in my work dress and high heels, and it’s standing-room only at this show, I had to stand for nearly 2 hours waiting for the show to start and then for the half hour show to end. My feet and back were killing me. Even more unfortunate, an older lady and her friends who were next to us started inching their way in front of me, severely encroaching upon the space of a family of 4 in front of us, so that one old lady was nearly in the father’s lap as he sat on the ground with his kids by him. So when the show started, this, instead, was my view. Story of my life.

On Wednesday, we decided to stop by The District, an outdoors shopping and and restaurant area, for dinner at vegetarian restaurant Native Foods Cafe. I met the most gorgeous, well-behaved Japanese akita there! The owners let me pet him. Turns out he was only 4, so I asked how they trained him so well. They said they’d only gotten him a year and a half ago as a RESCUE. They were unsuccessful in finding out why an owner would let such a gorgeous, mellow dog go, but he ended up at a city kill-pound. An akita dog rescue group saw him, took him, and contacted this family, who’d just happened to put their interest in for an akita the week before. They met the dog and fell in love. Both the akita and the family got lucky! This dog was not territorial, didn’t have problems socializing with other passing dogs and people, and was silent. The owners say that at home, he knows to be a guard dog, and would alert them if someone lingered by their front lawn too long, or a stranger came too close to the house. Petting this large gorgeous animal, I felt like I was playing with the giant wolves in “Twilight.” Mr. W and I hung out over coffee a bit more there, and he said, “I love not going home with you.”

YESTERDAY was WONDERFUL. A high school acquaintance extended an invitation to me for a tequila tasting event, hosted by Tequila Ocho, at Mexican restaurant Olamendi’s in Laguna Beach. We got to the restaurant about 45 minutes before the event, so we walked across the street and stared at this for awhile:

I had never heard of Tequila Ocho before. Apparently it’s a higher-class sipping tequila, made the old-fashioned way. You treat and drink it as you would wine, such as letting it breathe first to expand the flavors, and it definitely has a nose and a palate that sometimes differ from each other. The chef at Olamendi’s created an exclusive menu to pair to each tequila and it was delicious, paired more perfectly than any wine or other pairing I’ve never tried, and the food wasn’t bulky or greasy! The tequila was amazing, too. They take the bitter core of the agave out, so their tequilas are sweeter. We got these nice bottles of 2010 plata to take home as attendance gifts.

On the social networking site where I posted the above photo, this conversation ensued when I got home:
Claudio: I soooo could use a drink right now.
me: I am dizzy. D-I-Z-Z-I-E-E-E dizzae!@#$ I hope I’m not gonna have my first hangover ever tomorrow morning, cuz I still gotta work!
…duuuuude, my fingers feel weird. like I can’t really separate ’em to type.
Maggie: LMAO!!!!
Claudio: If you tequila tasting, you should have at least SOME kind of hangover. Wear it like a badge of honor.
me: they did better than “tasting.” they started with a mixed drink (plata in a mint pineapple margarita — tasted like a tequila mojito; we had TWO each), then did generous pours in wine glasses of a 2009 plata paired with a cheese appetizer folded in some sort of native leaf doused in a tomato-based sauce, then we went to a 2009 reposado with a spicy cream of bean tortilla soup, then a 2010 reposado with an amazing tender chicken breast with baby pearl potatoes in a chipotle mole sauce (hubby had beef and what looked to be some veggies in a dark sauce), and finally a 2010 anejo (not yet released on the market) with a light dessert of broiled mango and another native fruit that tasted like apple/pear over Monterey jack cheese on toasted bruschetta bread.
Claudio: Sounds amazing. Glad you guys had fun. 🙂

I texted Claudio at a little past 10pm, “dude. my mouth is numb. is this normal? the food was flippin amazing tho! omg.”
He responded 2 minutes later, but I’d already konked out. I woke up at 2am to see this from him: “Normal? No. The tequila is prob eating away at ur nervous system. Enjoy the food while u still have the ability to swallow.” Then 5 minutes after that, when I didn’t respond, “Did u go to sleep already????? Geez!” Well GOOD THING cuz he would’ve scared the crap out of me in my buzzy state! I got out of bed, went downstairs for water as Dodo followed me closely, and ran into Mr. W in the kitchen. He had fallen asleep in the cool weather outside and had also come to the kitchen for water. “What are YOU doing here?” he asked me.
“Taking Dodo for a walk.”
Today, no hangover. Nothing. I feel GREAT!

Okay, NOW I’m a little disgruntled.

I went to Verizon on Sunday just to make sure my phone really was dead. At home, plugged in, the most I could get out of the LG Ally Android phone is a couple of red blinks on the indicator light. It wouldn’t turn on. I was hoping it was just a battery issue, so that if I replaced that ($40ish, I estimated), the phone would work again. At Verizon, even with a new battery in place, the salesclerk couldn’t get beyond the couple of red blinks, either. So now what are my options?

I could get a new Android phone. But as I was only 3.5 months into my new contract, I’d have to pay full price for the phone. There are a few new Android models out that I would try, but I was unwilling to pay the $500 (average) price tag. (I already knew I wouldn’t re-buy the LG Ally. It was an okay phone and the initial battery short life had improved exponentially over the intial weeks of use, but the phone had other issues. It’d freeze up when a couple of applications were running at once. Random application would turn on and run on their own even tho I’d set them to not turn on automatically. The touch screen wasn’t very precise, or maybe it wasn’t very sensitive. The camera had an insane delay and didn’t take great photos. The detail was fine, but the colors were often off and the flash would go off too early so that the photo was dark again by the time the camera took it. Photos I was uploading to social network sites would seem to be uploading successfully, but never appear on the site. And the reception on the phone was significantly inferior to that of last phone, the LG enV2, also on the Verizon network. Of course there were good things about the Ally, too; it was pretty and I liked that I didn’t have to jailbreak it for a personalized look and free apps. The apps were cool, and full internet access was cool, altho that’s more to the credit of the apps and not to the phone itself. I also liked how the phone organized photos and videos.)

I could get a certified used Android phone. But the discount seemed minor compared to the price of their new counterparts, the selection was very limited, there really wasn’t a model I wanted so I’d be settling, AND none of these phones were in the store; they’d have to be ordered and delivered later. So, no.

I could start a new contract by adding a new line of service to my account, and with that, I’d get the new-customer price on phones. But I’d be paying monthly for TWO Android lines and only be able to use one, so that just seems dumb. And I’d have to terminate one line a couple of years later, anyway.

I could reactivate an old phone I had, and adjust my phone plans for the old phone. I happened to have my old beloved LG enV2 phone in the car still from when I upgraded the LG Ally Android phone 3.5 months ago, and this is the only free option, so I went with that. Since the enV2 is a feature phone and not a smart phone, I expected to save money monthly when I switched back to that. I’d keep my minutes/text plan the same, and I can now come off the Android system add-on plan. Turned out, the plans had changed since I left them 3.5 months ago. Now, to go back to the same plan I had mere months ago, it would cost exactly the same as what I was paying for the Android phone, without the Android benefits. This is because what used to be free and/or unlimited is no longer free or unlimited. In fact, if I decide to keep VZ Navigator, a GPS program I love and had used quite a bit, it’d cost an additional $10/month. Total bill: $90/month. For a REGULAR PHONE. Plus whatever usage and downloads may cost, because “unlimited” data ($29/mo) doesn’t mean unlimited data and unlimited features anymore. NOW I’m disgruntled.

But I’d forgotten how great this LG enV2 phone was until I restored it by putting my old microSD chip back into it, and all the old addresses, text messages, photos, videos, mobile email and other settings were still there. The bluetooth connection between it and my car was still there, because for some reason I’d been reluctant to delete or discard anything related to this phone when I’d “upgraded” to an Android phone.

I’m not sure what to do between now and when my contract expires in 17 months and I am again eligible for a new (subsidized or free) cell phone. I suppose if some irresistable piece of technology comes out, and it doesn’t cost too much, I’ll considering buying it at full price. Switching back to an Android system is free and the monthly plans cost the same anyway. Actually, less since I’d have the free Googlemaps app and won’t have to pay $10/mo for VZ Nav.

I’m comforting knowing that at least I didn’t pay a bundle for the LG Ally that I drowned. It ended up being free from my New Every 2 program, altho I did spend $50 on random accessories. Oh, well. The important thing is, the DSLR is safe.

(photos courtesy Tom’s cell phone camera)

Just got home from The Doors concert at our lake. I didn’t get the music; it was just noise to me except for the encore song, which was “Light My Fire,” #1 song on the charts in 1967. It was pretty cool that Robby Krieger (who mainly wrote the song) was performing it live in front of us. Maggie, her hubby Tom, and Mr. W had a great time. I’m glad, because I was mostly distracted and very violently annoyed by three morons standing up in the front nearly the entire time blocking people’s view with their gyrating, despite Lake rules that people stay seated and despite my and other people’s requests to them to sit down or move aside. I had never wanted a slingshot so badly in my entire life. Tom kindly told me after the concert that he’d considered throwing a fork at one of the guys. Judging by the way these idiots ignored angry tugging on the back of one of the guys’ shirt and the crowd’s shouting demands for “down in front” to sit down, they wouldn’t have felt the fork, but it was the thought that counts. According to the people in the know (apparently everyone except for me), the current lead singer sounds like Jim Morrison, looks like Jim Morrison, and has the exact mannerisms and movements as Jim Morrison. Mr. W said he felt like he was watching and living 60s history. At one point, someone even lit up and we smelled the skunky stink of pot. I think the sheriffs were on that pretty quickly because the smell was gone within a minute. But let me back up.

Before the concert, Dwaine came over and hung out, then Maggie and Tom arrived, and we all went to the lake early to get in some kayaking. Dwaine asked as we left the house whether we were gonna take pictures of our adventure. I thought it was a great idea, and asked Mr. W if he had his waterproof camera ready. He answered that it was too much trouble to put the camera in the waterproof casing, so I ran upstairs and got my (significantly more expensive) DSLR camera and met everyone outside. We got to the lake, I grabbed a towel and my camera and we headed to the watercraft rental station. Since we had to wait for Tom and Mr. W who were changing in the restroom, I decided to start a new folder in the camera for this trip. I turned it on, the battery indicator flashed, and the display shut off. That’s weird, I had enough juice in the battery the last time I used it, or I would’ve changed the battery already. But I walked back to the restrooms where Mr. W was walking out, handed him my camera, and asked him to put it with his stuff in the locker because it was out of battery. He looked at me like I was stupid and troublesome, which okay, I was at the moment. I ran back to my beach bag, retrieved my fairly new Android cell phone so that I could at least take photos with that, and returned to the kayak area. Soon we were on our kayaks in the water. I took some photos, and Tom pulled out his cell phone and took some photos, including this one of me:

This is the conversation that followed the photo.
Everyone: Be careful! Don’t fall!
Me: It’s fine, the kayak’s actually pretty steady. I can probably even do this on one foot. *lifting one leg*
Everyone: Be careful! Don’t fall!
Me: It’s fine! *lifting the other leg in another direction* *the kayak rocks toward the weight*
Everyone: *random gasps and yells*
Me: *lowering my foot quickly and restabilizing the kayak*
Everyone else: *sighs of relief*
Dwaine: Nice save! I thought it was gonna tip over!
Me: No, the kayak’s stable. I can actually get it to rock pretty far and it stays upright. *rocking left and right* See, I can rock it back and forth and it doesn’t –”

When I came back up, my kayak was upside down. Which wasn’t a big deal in the very comfortable water temperature in the hot sun, until I understood what Mr. W was yelling. “Your cell phone! Your cell phone’s in there!” Oh, CRAP. My phone was in a zippered pouch attached to the back of my kayak seat. I pushed on the kayak. It just floated a little away from me.
“How do I flip this back over?”
“You have to get under it,” said Mr. W, paddling toward me. I took a breath and went under and pushed. Again, the kayak just moved away from me across the water. I had no leverage. Soon Mr. W got the kayak from one end and someone else, I think Tom, got it from the other end, and they pulled it up and flipped it. I pulled myself in and checked on the pouch right away. There was about 3 inches of water inside and my phone was submerged. Tom immediately took my phone and examined it, and took it apart to dry. *sigh* I wasn’t worried about it because what I was supposed to do? Besides, it’d gotten wet once before (rather mysteriously cuz I didn’t do it, I just found wetness and steam inside the display) and that time, after it dried and I recharged the phone, it stopped acting weird. So I wasn’t too concerned, altho it did suck that I was unable to entertain myself with it during the concert.

When we got home awhile ago and we walked to the front door, I mentioned to Mr. W that I need to remember to say a prayer of thanks to God (and really, to everyone helping me up there — spirit guides, angels, friends, etc.) for killing the battery of my DSLR camera. “Why?” Mr. W looked at me oddly.
“Because if that camera weren’t dead, it would’ve been in the kayak.” And I definitely would’ve been upset about THAT, because not only is it an expensive camera, it would’ve been resting on the bottom of the lake.
“Oooh,” he said, understanding.
A negative’s not always a negative, that’s why I’m not usually upset when little “disasters” strike, such as when I’m stuck hitting every red light on a drive. In that situation, I’m probably being deliberately delayed for a reason. In this case, it was weird that I didn’t check my DSLR battery before leaving the house, weird that the battery was so dead the camera wouldn’t even stay on which renders the camera completely useless, weird that my kayak was the only one with a seatback that had a zippered pouch cuz otherwise my cell would’ve been sitting in the open on the back of the kayak (where my stuff usually goes). Lastly, it was weird and unusual that Mr. W insisted, before we set out, that I remove everything (my tank top, flip flops, beach towel) from the back of the kayak where I usually keep things, and leave them instead on shore next to the launching area. All those things ended up being VERY lucky things.

Still, it was a stupid, careless move on my part. I should’ve just sat back down, but I wanted to demonstrate just how stable a kayak wasn’t, I guess.

Yesterday evening, Mr. W and I met up with a couple of my coworkers in Seal Beach for another coffeehouse visit with our clairvoyant Rebecca. (If you want to read more on Rebecca, type her name in my “search” box in the sidebar to the right.) First we had a fun, delicious dinner at Cafe Lafayette. Their food is amazing, we happened to hit happy hour so we my raspberry Lambic was nearly 1/3 off, and I now have a new love for string bean fries. Wow, that batter, dipped in their garlic aioli…just, wow. There was something else in the aioli, too. I can’t recall what it was, but it made it kind of green. Curry? Some herb? I guess I’ll have to go back to make sure.

After dinner, we walked down Main Street past the bustling shops, cafes, and restaurant-bars to our little hole in the wall coffee house. The tiny place was ridiculously crowded last night, and there was standing room only inside soon after the four of us sat down. There were already other coworkers there, waiting for our time to take a peek through the veil. Soon Rebecca arrived.

Mr. W asked the question of where she sees us traveling on our upcoming vacation. We’d felt like we were all over the place, first thinking of going on an adventure trip to Australia, but then realizing how difficult that was to plan in our strict 2-week time off window. Rebecca closed her eyes and received information for what seemed like a long time, so of course I got excited. It wasn’t going to be something easy and unexciting like “Vegas again.” She opened her eyes and said, “I keep seeing Greece. If not that, then Europe. The reason I say that is because the two of you like something with more culture, and you seem to like water, something like Aruba, but you don’t like vacations where you just sit somewhere on a beach the whole time, that’s boring for you, and Greece and Europe has more history, there’s more culture and substance there.” We then told her that just earlier that day, we had changed gears and started looking up cruises in the Greek Isles, a dream of mine. We found a cruise that left from Venice to spend a week exploring the waters and islands of Greece, then returned to Venice, and we would still have a week left to discover Italy. We had only that day put Europe on the possibility list. This cruise and itinerary had fit our schedule perfectly (unlike the Aussie cruises we looked into first), but we hadn’t worked out the budget yet to see if it was realistic. As I told Rebecca about our research today, a heard a bunch of “awww”s around me. People approve of Greek Isle cruises, apparently! haha. I think the reason she saw Aruba is because of our recent French Polynesia trip, and Mr. W said earlier yesterday that if we could find another trip with the same cruiseline for that time period for Fiji or something, he’d jump at it. Rebecca then cited us to the crowd as an example of how easy it could be for her to receive specific information if people are open to her and trust her, and she thanked us for our faith in her.

Another spot I’m more and more interested in, but had done no research in, is Ireland. I’ve always kind of felt like I hadn’t been Asian before in a past life (at least not recently), but I had been European. I get overwhelming feelings of nostalgia when I see pictures of certain locations in Europe (strongly in parts of France — so strong I bought a painting when I found I couldn’t walk away from it, parts of Italy), even though with the memories of this life I am unable to identify those places as I have never been to Europe, and for the most post, don’t know much about Europe short of what we learn in a historical context from school. I feel like I was in the US for its Golden Age in the 40s and 50s, and Europe after the Renaissance. So I thought I’d ask. “Why do I feel so drawn to Ireland?” The answer was better than I’d expected with my writer’s heart.

About 3 or 4 lifetimes ago, I was Scottish (hey, like my cat, I just realized!) and there was an Irish man I was involved with. But because of the time period, the strife between Ireland and Scotland made this union very difficult. (When she told me this, I had no idea about any problems between Ireland and Scotland, and Mr. W had told me in the car, “Are you kidding? They had MAJOR problems with each other! That’s what the movie Braveheart was all about!” Well, I couldn’t watch Braveheart cuz I’d kept falling asleep during it. I don’t like violent films.) My love soon left to return to Ireland, and it was expected and talked about that he would come back for me. I waited expectantly; he never returned. I was drawn toward Ireland then, wanting to search it for him, and I am still drawn to Ireland now, although with no clue of what I’m looking for there.
I asked Rebecca when this was, if it was 3-4 lifetimes ago. Hundreds of years, then. She said, 1600s.
I told her I’d always pictured myself there around that time period, but didn’t know if it was just imagination. Thinking back now, it was played out in my little girl’s let’s pretend scenarios (minus the man), and my childhood drawings were full of women drawn from that time, in that period clothing and hairstyle. I guess I’d just assumed it was fairy tale emulation. But I was always more drawn to fairy tales than other girls. Rebecca confirmed that I have vague memories of being there at that time because I WAS there at that time.
I then thought to ask her whether this Irish guy is around me, spiritually or maybe on this plane. Turns out, she says he is. She first asked if I had a brother. I said no. She said he’s a relative with whom I have a sisterly-brotherly relationship. A cousin. He’s 4-5 years younger than me, and it’s someone I’ve had a sense of familiarity with and am comfortable around. She sees a relationship where we playfully kid with each other. I only have 1 younger male cousin. He lives in eastern Canada and we’ve only seen each other in person 3 or 4 times. The second time I met him, I’m not sure how old he was but I was 13. After his family visited us and returned to Canada, I was surprised when I started finding letters in the mailbox from him to me. I still have them somewhere; he was too little to coordinate the pen to paper, so he’d type out his letters to me — long rambling punctuation-less “sentences” mostly listing out the titles of all the Nintendo video games he had, his prized possessions. The envelope was also typed, clearly from a typewriter, so that it was legible for the postman. I’m sure I wrote back, and we were pen pals for awhile. I’d even then thought it strange that my little geek cousin could work a computer word processing program before he could write well, and use that to write to me, and it was also strange that I seem to be closer to him with our big age difference, than I am to his older brother, only a year younger than I am. We “found” each other again once emails and IMs became a regularly available medium, and clicked instantly. We discovered we had a lot of things in common, such as our love for Bill Watterson’s “Calvin & Hobbes.” I’d really enjoyed reminding him of my memories of him and our interactions when he was very young, which he has no memory of and had found to be hilarious. I was always the one who remembered stories to pass on, anyway. Although the regularity of our contact waned or intensified as we both felt the need for, we never really lost touch again. I was pleasantly surprised when years ago, he’d declared me his favorite cousin despite growing up with other cousins closer in proximity to him. I’m definitely most in touch with him than I am with other cousins who live near me and whom I grew up with.
I told Rebecca I could tell my cousin Mark about this and really freak him out. “He’ll think it’s the grossest thing ever,” I laughed. She said to wait a bit before telling him.

I’d always wondered whether relationships feel strange when people incarnate together and go from husband-wife to mother-son, or sister-brother to husband-wife. Now I know. The old relationship doesn’t carry anything with it except for the sense of bond and trust; none of the romantic ties or emotions follow through. I’m sure that would be a relief to Mark, as well. Since he sometimes visits this blog, I’ll let the universe determine whether this is something he should find out about. If he reads this, he does; if he doesn’t, I won’t bring it up. Yet. *snicker*

But, I’ve gotta check on our age difference. My sense is that it’s greater than the 4-5 years Rebecca said. I’ll post the result here in an update.

** Update: Okay, he’s almost exactly 7.5 yrs younger than me. That would make that first letter (the one listing all the video games) typed by a 5 yr old.

I’m not particularly a fan of political correctness. I’ve said more than a few times over the years that this PC movement is overboard and the popular thought in our country is overly feminist, overly minority-coddling, wussified to the point of reverse discrimination. Come on, we’re in a war, toughen up, people! Let the kids run and play tag in school! If they don’t put out enough effort, fail them! Stop being afraid of them and their “self-esteem.” People are not that delicate! Rub some dirt on it and walk it off! And public assistance should be for those disabled, down on their luck, etc., not a permanent crutch for lazy people and for shrewd social-conscience-less people to take advantage of. So there. I’ve said some unpopular stuff. Gasp gasp, she’s turning into a conservative. Whatever, I don’t disagree with that. I pay my taxes.

But it wasn’t until recently that I saw close-to-home pendulum swings in the other direction. Not just un-PC, but stuff that shocked me for how much it seems to set society back. Are we in the McCarthy era again? Are we gonna intern Americans with 1/16th Japanese blood? And we’re now gonna make laws against religious “sins”? What happened to the separation of church and state? What happened to the big strides toward equality and tolerance? Just today, I had to be a part of this online…

On a social networking site friend’s status message: “If you think that putting up a Mosque 600 ft. from Ground Zero is immoral, inhuman, shows a complete lack of respect for the memories of all that perished on that day and their survivors, that politicians are doing a grave injustice to the fallen heroes, their families and all the people of New York City, THEN PLEASE COPY AND PASTE THIS TO YOUR WALL…”
This friend’s friend: “I think it is highly inappropriate and disrespectful of the men and women, not to mention the families of the victims, who lost their lives on that day.”
Me: “Well, on the one hand, it’s not the religion that killed people; it’s those misguided extremist idiots who got brainwashed through generations of more idiocy. Islam, when practiced purely, is not a violent religion.”
Another friend, whose daughter practices Islam: “just ask my daughter…”
Friend who posted the status message: “Correct. But when the results are this we have to take a stand!!”
Me: “no, I totally agree. but a stand against the terrorists, not the entire religion.”
Me: “I think that’s one of the beauties of what we teach in this country: we tolerate different races, backgrounds, cultures, unlike the extremist groups who think of an entire religion or race as something they need to exterminate, without exception, without free thought. An American ideal is that we’ll accept everyone and let the individual characters speak for themselves. A little bit of this sentiment is on Lady Liberty’s inscription, and continues through the famous words of MLK, Jr.”

I’m as patriotic as the next person. But I want to be clear-headed about who our enemies actually are. There are plenty of Muslims who are American, who were horrified and ashamed of the terrorists’ actions, who know their religion does not sanction such criminal inhuman actions. Yeah, it sucks that when these suicide bombers strike, they take down their entire religion along with the innocent victims when they say something bullcrappish like “We do this for Allah!” I bet they’re in for a rude awakening when they realize they’ve died for their sick cause and what’s this? They’re NOT sitting in heaven surrounded by 80-some virgins? If we condemn an entire religion based on the activities of these [some appropriate cuss word]s, we’re doing what they’re doing: attacking an entire category of people they don’t know, don’t understand, but just “believe” without proper justification is wrong or evil. We all know we don’t understand the laws of God enough to judge others in His name. We should know better. (And I’m not even religious in the traditional sense.)

**Addendum on 8-19-10
I was talking to a friend about this and he sent me a video clip of a show saying President Obama was contradicting himself on the issue because he first said pretty much exactly what I said: “I understand the emotions that this issue engenders, and Ground Zero is indeed hallowed ground. But let me be clear, as a citizen and as president: I believe that muslims have a right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.” Then another clip of the president at another location and time, saying, “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of the decision to put a mosque there.” He was immediately mocked for his position being wavering and unclear.
My response: “I totally agree with Obama. I get him, because I had thought the same thing myself.
As a country, we shouldn’t disallow this mosque because of everything I had stated. However, the people who proposed the mosque at that location are likely either political pot-stirrers, or very unwise. They should expect this backlash reaction. I feel horrible that we give that backlash and I think we shouldn’t, but it’s hardly surprising. For the safety of the mosque’s expected attendees, this was a very unwise location.”
So there, some balance… I didn’t mean to say last night in this post that I don’t understand the position of the opposers. I’m saying it’s not “immoral” or “inhuman,” and it would be hypocritical to oppose the religion based on the actions of a few. If I think the hate just needs to be put out with a water hose of tolerance and love, instead of with a battle axe of revenge or getting even, does that make me a hippy? I mean, if we attack with attacks, doesn’t that just perpetuate the attacking? But if we quash, then we’re done faster, right?

I have a dream…

🙂 I want to eat “bad” stuff once in awhile without worrying about the ramifications.
🙂 I want to eat on a whim without planning for it 2 weeks in advance and creating a 3000-calorie deficit first between now and then.
🙂 I want to be ready to go do anything athletic on a whim without having to train for it first so I don’t die out there.
🙂 I want to be able to hit the beach or a formal occasion on a whim without having to drop 10 lbs to look good in a swimsuit or a formal dress first.

The first two statements and the last two statements seem like they should be mutually exclusive. Either I eat what I want, when I want, and be happy with having a few extra pounds on me, OR I’m trim and athletic. But they’re not. I’m gonna force both categories to coexist. I restarted the Insanity program today. It’s been nearly impossible to do at home due to our very small house, but I did Day 1 at lunch today in an empty jury room, borrowing another courtroom’s carted TV/DVD. This was actually Mr. W’s idea, and it worked out well. I was able to do the 40-minute program AND make it to my 1pm meeting, with only some shaky legs to pay for the time spent. Okay, I admit it, I didn’t put in the solid 40 minutes; I took breaks when I needed it to not overexert since my first attempt at Insanity was such an epic fail. Even if I have to half-ass it through my first 60-day circuit, I’d be in better shape than NOT doing it, which will allow me to relax my strict dietary guidelines (because I know I would have either already burned off the calories, or that I will in the next day or so), and be able to just up and do a race or, say, the Marine Corps Boot Camp Challenge next month, without having to do a lifestyle overhaul in preparation. Yes, thorough preparation makes its own luck.

Not that I don’t like the kale salads and the chia seed beverages…

…but there’s a container of white chocolate turtles behind me at work that I don’t want to curse myself out for eating (I only eat 1 a day, and not every day), and I want to sleep rather than lay awake in self-loathing after I attend a Mexican food and tequila pairing event in Laguna Beach next week.

I feel good right now — and I know I should feel better because I’d neglected to take iron supplements the past 2 days (careless me). I’m looking forward to dropping below the next 10s in weight.

Mr. W and I got home about half an hour ago, and as we drove up to our house, Mr. W saw neighbor A. sitting in his front yard and the two waved at each other. I didn’t wave, not because I was being a disgruntled biatch, but because by the time I turned to see what he was waving at, we’d passed the neighbor. After coming home, Mr. W grabbed a UPS packaged we’d received earlier in the week addressed to some unknown but with our address, and said, “Ugh, I hate to have to do this, but I’m gonna go talk to him and see if he knows who this is.” Neighbor A. does know everybody, he’d lived in that house since it was built, as he’d told us several times.
I said, “And when he asks whether you’re coming to his BBQ, you tell him you invited your old boss to go to the concert with us. Leave me out of it when he calls you pussywhipped.”
Mr. W skulked off and came back 20 minutes later. “He apologizes for what he said that day,” Mr. W told me.
I was surprised, because altho I expected some conversation about the BBQ, I didn’t expect the conversation to be about what was said that day on our driveway. “Did you tell him something? Why was that brought up?”
Mr. W said that he’d brought up the BBQ by jokingly chiding, “What’s up with you having your BBQ on the day of The Doors concert? I had invited some friends to go to the concert. I’m going to the concert!” Neighbor A. had said that yeah, he hadn’t realized it, and a bunch of people were giving him a hard time about it saying they’d rather go to the concert so he’s considering canceling the BBQ since HE wants to see the concert, too. And then he said he wants to apologize for what he said the other day, and that he shouldn’t have said that in front of me. (I have an issue with that it was said at all, but anyway…) A. said that another neighbor, Darryl, was at the mailbox and had overheard some of what was said. (I remember seeing Darryl, an athletic looking Harley-riding tough guy, walking from his house to the mailbox, and I know Darryl was also a named person that was attending the sausagefest. I had wondered whether A. got Darryl to attend by playing the pussywhipped card, too.) So apparently, Darryl went over to A.’s house and “smacked him up the head,” and said he shouldn’t have said that, and what’s wrong with him, not only calling Mr. W pussywhipped, but to say it in front of his wife? Supposedly, Darryl reamed him good about it. A. said he was kind of drunk and it must’ve been his Navy side coming out, and he apologizes for it.

I suddenly *really* like Darryl. I wonder if it’s a race thing (he’s also black, like Dwaine) that he did exactly what Dwaine had thought to do, which was march over there and set A. straight. I do think different cultures have different behavioral “codes” for social situations. This could be an interesting sociology study. I think my race, the guy would just tell his wife to chill and ignore it, who cares what the guy says.

But thanks, Darryl! You’ll never read this blog, but I send my gratitude out there for you.

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