Friday, March 30, 2007

Donna Martin Sets the PTA Straight

"If you build a pool, and you know your kids are going to swim, you can build all the fences you want. But if you know they’re going to jump in the pool, don’t you think you should teach your kids how to swim?"

This Beverly Hills 90210 classic popped into my mind yesterday as I lunched with my friend Grace and her new friend Angela. Angela works for a non-profit that teaches students in an "abstinence only" program. And as many of you know, I'm all about abstinence. And with that being my personal choice primarily because of my faith (although I must note that obedience to God aside, there are other upsides), I am still uncomfortable with "sex education" that only discusses abstinence. In high school, our sex education teachers were coaches (sigh....mine would only call sex "it"), and they refused to discuss any form of birth control or sexual disease protection because they weren't 100% effective. Of course, it didn't take a genius to know that abstinence was not a route taken by many of my classmates since my high school had a nursery for students' children. Furthermore, it seemed patently ridiculous to me that these classes were called sex education when they should have been called "abstinence only."

Now I'm trying to figure out exactly how I think these issues would be handled in light of what all I know now--but coupling that with the fact that as a teenager abstinence wasn't even really something I considered. After all, with lame arguments like "it's the only method that is 100% effective against pregnancy and STDs" I didn't have much reason given to me to refrain from having sex. I knew that careful use of the pill was up to 99% effective and that method coupled with condoms (and a partner who wasn't sexually experienced) was a safe bet, so the coaches' words (as well as the "Just say no" approach) rang hollow. For now, my view is that abstinence should be presented as a definite option with a thorough explanation of all of the reasons it is a good idea (not just disease and pregnancy prevention) but that details on all of the other forms of birth control and STD prevention should be shared with students as well. After all, we know most of them are already having sex and pretending otherwise is irresponsible. However, from what I understand, our federal government has financially enticed states to prevent such education--in favor of the abstinence only approach.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Letter X: Gratitude

X-rays that show I have no cavities. I opt to do these every other year or so now since I don't have dental insurance and never have cavities, but it's always a relief when they come back showing none.

Xerox: It makes life a little more convenient.

Xacto Knife: They come in handy.

Hmm...not a very impressive list, but the best I can do with the letter X.

My favorite lunch spot, the Soup Kitchen, seems as if it may become my latest free dating service. Last week the owner Pete asked me if I'm dating anyone and how old I am, so we all know where he was going with that. He then proceeds to tell me about this guy ("Sal") he's met recently who is very conscientious and nice, and "if looks matter to you, let me tell you--he's a hunk." Note: this entire conversation took place right beside the table where Mr. Regular sat. Pete said that Sal might be stopping by later that day, so maybe I'd get to meet him before I finished my lunch. I am, of course, blushing throughout this and laughing. When you're as fair as me it doesn't take much to blush.

Despite my friend Grace's suggestion that we prolong our lunch to ensure my meeting of Sal, we did not witness the "hunk."

Fast forward to Friday when I'm dining at the Soup Kitchen (again) with my friend Beth. Owner Pete comes by our table and says he wants to introduce me to someone--Sal's sister who assures me that not only is her brother beautiful on the outside, he's even more beautiful on the inside. Beth hears the guy's name and tells me she thinks he is very cute too. Anyway, the sister hits me up for my number, so I give her my card.

Today Pete told me that one day I'm going to come in when Sal is there and that the place is going to blow up from the fireworks. You gotta love older people. They meet two younger single people that they think are attractive, and voila, there's an explosive match. Finally Pete's wife chimed in, noting that a bad match could result in them losing a very regular customer:) After all, I'm averaging lunch there about 3 or 4 times a week now. And thanks to my new e-trainer, I'm going to start averaging a three mile run and weights the same number of times a week (no more slacking with my 25 or less minute visits to the gym).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Getting Older...

I just chewed up my first two Tums ever. Well actually it's some generic version of the calcium rich, chalky tablets. And it feels like a sign that I'm getting older. While birthdays and my age generally do not lead to such feelings, ailments like my recent tummy ache that's likely the result of my poor diet or stress do. In another few years am I going to have to pass on grabbing lunch at the Varsity because my stomach just can't handle it? Lets hope not. Although admittedly my diet is ridiculous, I've already made some concessions as a result of my age and what has come along with the real world, namely a very sedentary job. Thanks to the poor quality of all Coca Cola products in Costa Rica, I made the switch to Diet Coke with relative ease (note: a shot of grenadine also helps in the transition) four summers ago. When I started my current desk job a few pounds crept on, and I replaced sweet tea with unsweet and gave up the weekly meat and three meals with the male attorneys here (i.e. fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits, etc.).

Metabolic changes aren't the only things I've noticed along the way though. I remember noticing the wrinkles around my eyes about seven years ago (at the ripe old age of 21) and briefly thinking I should do something about them. And then I realized I had some broken capillaries on my outer thighs and wondered if I'd be getting more of the unsightliness. And I'm sure there were other little things here and there that I obsessed about too.

But here's the beautiful part: I'm sure I have more wrinkles, broken capillaries, and whatever other cosmetic changes come along with aging now than I did seven years ago, but now I don't think about them. And even when there's reason to notice, it's not something that is given more than a second of thought. "It is what it is" as a wise man once said. So I guess that is a gift of aging--while our bodies often decline, our minds improve, realizing that those superficial details don't matter so much after all.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My Funeral....

I don't really know why, but I've been thinking about what I'd like my funeral to be like. I know that's a bit morbid, but I always feel bad for families who aren't left a clear plan for such and have to figure it out amongst grief and shock. The last funeral I attended was in June, and my great-aunt had left clear instructions. We knew who would speak at her funeral, where she wanted it to be, where she wanted to be buried, and all of that good stuff. And it was an excellent funeral and incredibly inspirational.

As for my funeral, I don't know who I'd like to do the service. I am not close to any practicing pastors as a result of having attended large churches since I became a Christian. I think stories are always good, so maybe some friends and family members could speak. Of course, I think that would be really hard to do, so perhaps that's an unreasonable request. I know I want to be cremated, so no casket purchase is necessary. Not sure where I want my ashes dumped though. I definitely don't want them kept in an urn somewhere. And I'd prefer if people didn't all wear black to the funeral; that's so...funeral. And I'd like a happy song or two, like the ones they sing at the churches I attend.

For sure, I would want an awesome meal afterwards. The meal after my Aunt Jean's funeral was ridiculously delicious. The First Baptist Church in Woodland totally out-did itself. And having all of that food at the church makes a lot more sense than my parents getting a zillion buckets of fried chicken at their house, although I am sure my dad wouldn't mind. And I definitely want petit fours and the frog cupcakes from the Donut Castle to be served after the funeral. A sugar high in the midst of grief can't hurt. Plus there's something celebratory about cupcakes, and as much as it could be (since I'm so much fun here on earth and all), I'd like it to be a celebration of God's grace in giving me eternal life. After all, what could be a bigger cause for celebration?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Things I'm grateful for that begin with the letter "V" is tough! Feel free to add yours since I've not done a very good job.

Voting, Venice, video games (I wonder how many hours I spent playing Mario Brothers and Zelda), veracity, vaccinations (yeah for the HPV vaccine now available), the Verve Pipe's song "The Freshman," Velvet Revolver, "Video Killed the Radio," and the word "vacillate."

Volunteering: I've learned so much through the various opportunities I've had to work with others.

Valencia, Spain: It's on the list of cities I'll visit on my trip.'s the spice of life.

On sort of the flip side of gratitude is pet peeves, and here's one of mine: People who insist on eating at one particular restaurant because they are on a diet and then proceed to order a salad covered in caesar dressing. I understand not wanting to go to a restaurant that only serves fried food or something similarly unhealthy but demanding one restaurant so you can consume a ridiculous amount of fat and calories on your "diet" makes no sense.

Equally annoying was the vegetarian I worked with one summer who vetoed almost every restaurant selection every day because "all that restaurant offers for vegetarians is salad and vegetables."

And on a much less annoying note, happy Friday!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Did I Speak Too Soon?

I had to let Delta know tonight if I'd accept the Atlanta to Newark to Amsterdam to Athens flight. When I called I asked the operator to double check again for May, and voila in five minutes, she had found me a flight to Geneva, Switzerland with only one stop (in Newark) with a return flight from Madrid. And the flight only "costs" 50,000 Skymiles and will be free to me (except for taxes). I am very excited! I'm still working out a lot of details insofar as exactly where all I'll be going, but it looks like my friend Sam will be joining me for about half of my trip. That should work out well.

On another note, I've been working on one of my resolutions--which is to host more often. It's easy for me to be a total introvert, but I have been attempting to fight that instinct since I think it's important to welcome people into my home and be a good host. Plus I am always glad when I do so. Growing up, my family never had people over. Ever. Unless you count our childhood friends. A few years ago I dated a guy with a large family and a super-mom, and almost every single Sunday their family had guests over for lunch after church. The result was interesting conversation each week, and their children meeting a wide variety of people.

So in the last few weeks I've had people over a lot and really enjoyed cooking and entertaining--and most importantly, some really good conversations. It's become sort of like any good thing--once you step out and try it, you realize how much fun/good it is, and the more you want to do it. It's just a matter of taking those first few steps.

And since everyone else is doing it...and Billy made me this weekend:

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Two Hour Phone Call

No, it wasn't with a cute boy. It was with Delta. In an attempt to redeem my 55,000 Skymiles and save some money, I spent over two hours on the phone. Long story short: There are no "Skysaver" seats (these are seats that require 50,000 skymiles for a round trip to Europe) to any city in Europe for the month of May. I offered to fly into any city on any date at any time with any connections. It took her over an hour to tell me no dice. Mind you, I'd already spent half an hour searching on before I called.

In the last few years, Delta has added "Skychoice" seats which require twice the normal number of miles. Generally, these seats have been all I've been able to find, and I finally broke down and used 50,000 miles to fly to L.A. a few years ago. Last year I looked at about a three month span for seats to Boston using "Skysaver" and had absolutely no luck--even though I was looking in the winter and after the holidays. Basically Delta doubled the requirement for miles under the guise of Skychoice.

Anyway, the best I ended up finding is in June--a flight from Atlanta to Newark to Amsterdam (4 hour layover) to Athens, Greece with a return flight from Madrid to Rome to JFK. I'm on a wait list for flights from JFK to Atlanta, but if I do not get that flight, I would have to buy a ticket from JFK to Atlanta. Anyway, I will be cancelling my American Express Skymiles card. I spent over two hours on the phone to be told that they basically have no reasonable flights unless I want to sacrifice a tremendous amount of time--and potentially still shell out over $200 for a flight to NYC. What stinks is that they have direct flights to many European cities, but it seems Delta wants to make it as inconvenient as possible to use Skysaver seats. Since May is a cheaper, cooler, and less touristy time of year to visit Europe, it may make more sense to just shell out the $600 or so to obtain a direct flight from Atlanta to whichever city I settle on.

On the upside, AirTran has the easiest rewards program ever. When I wanted to book my flight to NYC, I just called six weeks before and told them the flight I wanted and voila I was booked. If you have a rewards program credit card that you like, I'd love to hear about it since I'll be replacing my American Express soon.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Is There a NRA for Children?

So I left work today around 2:30 and managed to make it through Atlanta traffic before dark, allowing my nieces and me to take a walk before dinner. They were SO surprised by my arrival, and Alaina is thrilled that I'm reading to her class tomorrow and helping with writer's workshop. I'm pretty excited too. And I get a quick breakfast with my best friend sans children in the morning.

On the walk back to their home, I noticed two fake baby deer in front of someone's house. I pointed them out to the girls, and immediately Alaina raises her arms to mimic a gun and started saying "boom," "boom," "boom." I'll bet she fired off ten shots before I could even express my surprise. We walked past the house, and then she turned around to get a few more shots off, explaining that the deer would taste good (venison is good but...). Before it was said and done those deer would have had so many bullets in them, I doubt you could even have salvaged any meat. I'm not sure when her love for Bambi passed, and she took up this afinity for killing tiny little deer--but her dad (Billy Bob) says she gets it from him.

Anyway, this was especially funny since I could rest assured that if (eharmony) Bachelor #2 ever met her that he'd pass the niece test.

p.s. Speaking of Bachelor #2: should I respond to his last e-mail, stating that I've enjoyed chatting but that I've decided to pursue something else (i.e. solitude:) or something like that? Or do I just not reply? Keep in mind that we've exchanged several e-mails but that is the extent of our communication.

Happy Friday!!!

Gratitude: The Letter U

Uniqueness: It's what makes life interesting.

Underoos: When I was little I liked to put on my Wonder Woman underoos and top and spin around and around in the yard--until I turned into WW myself. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time spinning.

Unhappiness: Obviously I do not like being unhappy, but I am grateful for how my years of relative unhappiness make me feel so incredibly grateful for the joy I feel now.

U2: I like the old stuff too, but the song "Beautiful Day" is on my current playlists.

Usher: The song "Yeah" has probably brought me entirely too much happiness; it always puts me in the right mood to go out. Oh, the song "Burn" had fun memories too--a drunk coworker sang that song in karaoke one night, and I've never seen him so emphatic and dramatic. It was hilarious.

Understanding: There's not much better than being understood (except being loved). I love the feeling that I have when I feel like someone really "gets" me, and I love trying to understand either people and really knowing them.

Unforgettable moments, the words "uber" and "Uruguay" (I just like the pronunciation)

On to other news, I'm taking tomorrow off and am looking forward to going to my niece Alaina's school (and suprising her with my arrival tonight--or this afternoon if I sneak out of here early)--and hopefully catching up with my best friend, who is a stay at home mom; in the last four years, I think I've seen her twice (for about an hour or two tops) without a child. And as much as I love children, I miss my best friend and being able to have an actual conversation. Her boys will both be in school in the morning, so I'm thinking we might be able to meet up.

In other news, I'm seriously thinking about taking a "big" trip in May. I'm exploring options and despite my enjoyment of my two days alone in NYC, I am a little wary of traveling for two weeks or more alone. I am so connected with so many people now on an almost daily basis that I wonder if I'll feel lonely. On the flip side, I met nice people to talk with each day in NYC. Anyway, I talked to my friend Sam last night, and we discussed the possibility of traveling together. I told him my reservation is that he's an extrovert and I'm not, which in our cases means I like doing things separately a good bit. His take is that we split things up, doing the things I want part of the time and his stuff the other part. My take is that we do the things we both want to do together and divide and conquer the rest, meeting up at night for dinner, since I need some time alone anyway. So we're both thinking about how that might work out and where we might like to go. Regardless the conversation we had made me glad that I finally understand myself and my limits and can express them.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Free Trials & Myspace

Background: Weeks ago when Aaron was creating his e-harmony profile, I joined him and began creating one too. The process of just creating the account and taking the personality test, however, wore me out, and I stopped there. Plus it's really expensive--like $50 or $60 for one month. As a result of creating an account, I've received a few e-mails and became aware of the fact that e-harmony offers a free seven day trial. And I am a sucker for free stuff. In fact, my only exposure to online dating has been from free three day trials with Match. Three days is long enough to remind me that online dating isn't for me.

Present day: So I finished my profile that include 29 magical points on which they would match me with...guys with photos on motorcycles, men as far aways as Knoxville, TN, and one or two men who mentioned their cats. There were also a lot of men with children. Long story short, I only "opened communication" with two of the provided matches. I have e-mailed and briefly talked to one of them, and he seems nice. Although when one of his first e-mails detailed his back pain, I wondered if perhaps 38 is too old.

So e-harmony bachelor #2 is 30, a pilot, from the same area of Georgia as me, and also shared the delight of having his father (my step-father) as high school principal and mother as his counselor. He was also raised Presbyterian (whatever that means....maybe not to smile during church or to believe in predestination?). So we've e-mailed some but a bit erratically given his job, and in the last e-mail, which I haven't responded to yet, he wrote something about being on myspace depite it being geeky as a way to keep up with friends. So, of course, I checked out his myspace page, and here's what I found:

(1) His primary photo features him in camouflage hunting clothing with his face painted. It's good camo because I can barely distinguish him from his surroundings.

(2) He has one of those quizzes on his page....and it has questions like "rifle or bow?" (his answer: both AND a pistol), "mossy oak or real tree?," and "Ford or Chevy?"

(3) His other photos include a deer hanging from the ceiling (obviously about to be gutted and accompanied by the line that "PETA could kiss his ass"), deer heads on the wall of a lodge, him holding a dead snake, him holding a fish, and well, you get the idea.

I don't have a problem with hunting, but his page reeked of immaturity and obsession with hunting. I need to write him back but don't really want to anymore. I am tempted to write "I saw your myspace page, and I now think we're not compatible. Good luck in your search. Remove the camo, and the One will have an easier time finding you." Again, I feel like I should keep an open mind, but....

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Since I've been working all weekend (at home) I've watched more television than normal. So I had the benefit of catching Senator Obama and Senator Clinton's speeches today at churches in Selma, Alabama at services commemorating the 42nd anniversary of "Bloody Sunday"--the voting rights march in Selma, Alabama where tear gas, cattle prods, and billy clubs were used to stop the march participants from reaching Montgomery in a bid for voting rights. It's called Bloody Sunday because there was so much blood from the brutal abuse the nonviolent participants endured at the hands of the police. A second march successfully occurred two weeks later courtesy of the protection of a federal court order and by the they reached Montgomery there were 25,000 participants. This march ultimately led to the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.

And as I was listening, I wished our generation had such a clear calling, meaning a social ill that is so obviously wrong that we were spurred to action. Obviously I don't actually wish for a horrible injustice to pop up (although arguably the people who are still suffering as a result of Katrina would be such an example), but I suppose I wished I felt impassioned enough about our existing social ills to do more than what I've done. Tutoring at an underprivileged school or in the projects for a few hours a week or doing Big Brothers Big Sisters just doesn't seem significant, especially when I think about what some of my family members have done to promote equality.

In middle school I was very much concerned by social issues, attempting to get my school to not use styrofoam containers and the like. But at some point, I sort of gave up. I didn't think I could change the world anymore, and it was sort of depressing to think about all of the things that needed to change. I guess I lost my idealism.

As I've thought about all of this today, I've realized that we do have significant social issues today that need to be addressed (especially when you think of us as being part of a global society). Those ills are simply out of sight and out of mind for me more days than not; my life is exceedingly easy. And there's a part of me that wonders what can I do about the lack of adequate health insurance for millions of Americans or the fact that our schools are so underfunded that elementary school counselors can't even get to all of the children who exhibit signs of abuse. When I read or hear about all of these injustices, I briefly feel enraged and then just defeated or saddened by it. And that's the part of me that just wants to push all of this out my mind with the excuse that I can't change it anyway and/or that I can't do more than I already do since I have a full time job. And yes, that's a lame excuse.

p.s. Who in the world buys Ann Coulter's books?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ex-boyfriend Texts

My evening of work while watching Law & Order SVU was interrupted by a random text from an ex who lives nearby.

Him: "You've seemed so tense/stressed the past couple of times we've talked. Would you like me to help work that out for you?"

Note: We've talked maybe three times in the last two months.

Me: "You're a real pal. Too bad I'm working tonight."

Note: I meant that totally sarcastically. A few months ago we had a lengthy e-mail exchange in which he expressed amorous desires; he then expressed his shock that I'm not interested in hooking up with him now that neither of us are dating anyone. I made my lack of interest very clear.

Him: "So if not for work, you'd be interested?"

Note: He's very persistent.

Me: "Afraid not. We could grab dinner sometime though."

Note: I shouldn't use expressions like "Afraid not." That's my attempt at not being harsh since he got offended when I expressed my disinterest the last time this subject came up.

Him: "My offer was of course strictly plutonic [sic]...there is nothing wrong with a little friendly back rub...."

Me: "How kind of you to worry about me but all is well here."

Yet another time that texting is less awkward than a phone call. Of course, I doubt he'd call up and set himself up for rejection (although he honestly cannot comprehend my disinterest). Texting is easier.

Happy (almost) Friday!! It's going to be an awesome weekend (even if I do have to work).