Sunday, November 16, 2008

In need of a 12 step program....

If you have a Blackberry or even have a friend or spouse that has a Blackberry, you probably have heard it referred to as a crackberry. Well, it is true…it is a highly addictive device that causes a compulsion that can only be understood by another Blackberry addict.

Two years ago, I took my first vacation that was longer than a few days. I took my kids to NJ for my niece’s wedding. NJ is where I was born and raised so I wanted to spend time showing my kids all the memorable places of my youth. So the plan was to stay for two weeks.

The day before we left, my boss gave me a “present”. You guessed it; it was my first Blackberry. I spent the 3 hours on the plane reading through the manual. My friend, Elena, graciously hosted us in her wonderful house right on a lake in Rockaway. It was an incredible area with a beautiful backyard. But as my kids played or swam in the pool, Elena (a Blackberry veteran) gave me a tutorial on my new gadget. My boss supplied me with plenty of emails to “practice” responses. By time my vacation was over, my skill level had improved from beginner to intermediate. Within a month, I was certified Blackberry guru…and an obsessive, compulsive crackberry addict.

This thing is amazing. I have access to my four most utilized email accounts. Yes, I have even more than 4 but I limited it to my work email (an obvious requirement since my company paid for the Blackberry), my personal email (used by my friends and family), my you-ain’t-finding-out-my-last-name-until-I-know-for-sure-you-are-not-a-psycho dating email, and the ok-you-aren’t-a-psycho-but-I-don’t-know-how-long-I-want-you-in-my life email which also seconds as the you-haven’t-paid-this-bill-reminder email. I also have my two instant messenger services (one for the potential psychos and another for family/friends). Also included on this little gadget are a variety of games, internet access and, of course, my new favorite, my Facebook account.

Through out my life, I have come to realize that I have an addictive personality. Let me be clear: people don’t get addicted to my personality (though I can’t imagine why not since I’m such a wonderful person ; D ) but I get addicted to lots of things very easily. I’ve had my bout with substance abuse and could easily become an alcoholic, but my main addiction was food. Anybody who sees me can verify that I have suffered the consequences of just loving food (and hating exercise…a bad combination). However, that addiction has now been surpassed by my crackberry obsession.

Here are signs that perhaps you have a crackberry problem:

Do you go to bed with it on your nightstand?

Is the first thing you do after turning the alarm off is check for messages?

Do you read messages, send messages, send texts, surf the net, IM your friends, while driving 80 mph down I-10? (ok, there are not many times you can actually drive 80 mph on I-10…maybe it would more accurate to ask if you do this while weaving in and out of traffic on I-10).

Do you turn around and go back home even if you are 20 miles away from home (and only 2 miles from your destination) to retrieve your forgotten Blackberry?

Are you tempted to check messages while sitting in church (though it has been a struggle, I’ve overcome the temptation until the final amen)?

Do you sit in every meeting with your Blackberry on the table so you can easily keep up with your emails while you contribute to the meeting?

And finally, the event that truly did occur tonight which inspired this silly post…do you hyperventilate until you almost pass out when you see your Blackberry get nudged off the desk by your cat, fall onto the floor, and break apart into pieces??? OMG, how am I going to sleep tonight if I can’t get this darn thing to work again??

I think it is time for a 12 step program…..

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And why do I work here???

This will probably end up being nothing but a rambling regurgitation of anger that I have been attempting to process all day. So I apologize if it follows no logical order. Today I worked from home in order to vote during the non-busy part of the day. But before I could head to the polls I was requested to be on a conference call with the rest of the senior management of my organization. They were all together and I was the only one calling in...just note that as I progress with the story.

As background, I work for a non-profit that provides medical care. It started in the heart of the gay community as a STD clinic but has grown and now provides primary care to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

Now, I love my job. I love what we do and the quality of care that is given is top notch. As an accountant, it was difficult to find that right job that challenges my intellect and yet gives me a feeling of accomplishment that we are truly helping people of need. I'm very open minded and believe in living my life striving to be an example of a Godly woman. I don't preach but I don't hide my beliefs either. My last car had a "God Listens" sticker on it...the car I have now will have one on it, once I find one again. At a retreat, we were asked to list adjectives about ourselves and Christian was top of my list. This generate a health discussion regarding how my beliefs effect my work ethic. So it is no secret that I am a Christian.

One of the main objectives of our mission is to provide care in a "judgement free environment". But apparently, it is only judgement free if you are gay. Or it just isn't extended to those of us who are Christians. I spent 30 minutes on this call this morning listening to my beliefs being slammed as idiotic and ridiculous. I "learned" that us Christians only want to save Israel in order for the Jews to be slaughtered there when our savior returns to earth riding on a cloud. I sat there stunned as this continued for much of the call. I also "learned" that us Christians are responsible for everything bad in this world especially for all the mayhem that President Bush caused because of his idiotic beliefs. Now, I won't be a hypocrite and say I agree with everything Bush has done. But Bush is subject to free will we all are ...and I'd much rather have somebody who prays before he acts than the alternative. But that discussion is for another post.

SO what I just don't get is why do people who don't want to be judged spend so much time judging others?? I try so hard to not let my personal beliefs hamper my relationship with my coworkers. I stick to my ethics and don't compromise my values but also don't throw them in their faces. I don't know why God has me here. And maybe I'm at a crossroads with my career and need to re-evaluate where I should be. I ended the call by interrupting their slam-fest and asking if we were done with business so I could go vote. But all day I've been stewing over this and need to do some much soul searching and prayer to decide whether it is time to move on.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sometimes I miss her so much it hurts…

My Mom and I had a unique relationship. She was strict, according to my friends. I would say she was protective. She was at every event in my life. At every football game when I was a cheerleader. At every concert when I played the flute. At every competition when I was the drum major of our marching band. At every musical when I performed. She encouraged me to do my best at everything …even at things I didn’t want to do. She also taught me to speak my peace but also be diplomatic. When I was leaving college, she had a dream that I would either work for IBM as a sales rep or be a diplomat for the government. Don’t ask me why she saw me in these roles, but that is what she wanted me to achieve.

When I moved back home after college, she fell right back into that protective (strict) role. But as a butterfly that had spread her wings over the past 4 years during college, I was not willing to conform to her rules any more. In order to have the freedom I yearned, I packed up and moved from New Jersey to Texas. According to my father, I broke my Mom’s heart when I left. But she never let that be known to me. We went back to the same relationship we had when I was in college. Marathon Saturday phone calls. This was back before unlimited long distance and much of my budget was spent on my phone bill.

In 1988, my folks did what 90% of NJ retired folks do, they moved to Florida. Though I missed my childhood home, I made many treks to Florida for all major holidays. Then, in the early 1990’s, my Mom started to show signs of dementia. By time I got married in 1994, my Mom had full-blown Alzheimer’s. She asked me who was getting married and accused me of stealing her jewelry…the items she had picked out the day before for me to wear with my gown. It was heart breaking. I was not only losing my Mom, but was losing my best friend. I know that sounds cliché but it was the truth. She was the one person I could tell anything to…well, anything except sex stuff. That was still taboo. In June of 2001, she slipped away and joined her brother in heaven.

So fast forward to 2008, and here I am, a single mom with two children. And no one to be my mom. No one to tell me I’m not screwing up my kids’ lives. No one to tell me how to get my son to behave in school. That’s really what started this post. My son’s teacher sent another note home today asking for suggestions on how to get my son to complete his class assignments. Consistent with last year, one of his co-teachers has no problem with him, while the other co-teacher can’t get him to behave at all. And I’m clueless as to what to do. I’ve rewarded good behavior, punished bad. Taken away toy after toy, privilege after privilege…and to no avail. For the third year in a row, it is the same problem…one teacher can handle him, the other cannot. If it weren’t a pattern, I’d think it was the teacher. However, there has got to be more to it than that.

And all I want to do is pick up the phone and talk it over with my Mom…but she’s not there…after all these years, 16 in all (8 before she died when her mind was basically gone, and the 8 years since she passed), I still want to pick up the phone and ask her advice….and it hurts that I can’t.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

So what is the purpose of these little suckers???

Just a warning, when I write late at night, my editing skills become lax and some crudeness might be included in my lamenting. It's meant in jest so please don't take offense.....

One of the residues of Hurricane Ike is an enormous infestation of mosquitoes. Having been blessed with little damage and no standing water, I just don't get why I am unable to stand outside for more than a minute without being attacked by a swarm of killer insects that are intent of ridding me of all my excess blood and leaving me the remnants of their saliva to itch until the skin is raw. So, since my work has been postponed until the electric company can fix all the problems in Houston, I find myself with time to research such mundane questions. What is the purpose of these little suckers??

Thanks to and Dr. Craig Freudenrich, Phd., I found out more about these annoying critters. Did you know there are more than 2700 species of mosquitoes?? They have chemical sensors, heat sensors and visual sensors. So our chances of controlling these pests are like putting a band aid on top of a volcano. They stick their little sword like mouths into us, suck out our blood and leave a residue of saliva that causes the itching. Supposedly, they've also been around for over 30 million do they have a family tree bigger than a cockroach?? The adult mosquito can live one to several weeks. However if it is a "mated female" (which I'm guessing is a prego squito), they can survive a winter, then lay their eggs and die. (Maybe that's the problem, they lay their eggs and them mom parental oversight...reminds me of some teenagers I know...but I digress).

So what do we do? We can spray ourselves with DEET and became the stink generation. But if that stuff will ward off an insect that has survived for 30 million years, what exactly does it do to the human body? Avon tauted its Skin So Soft which has now been proven to have an effective time of 20 minutes (according to the above mentioned author). The bug zapper...well that's just annoying to listen to and probably effective as long as you are sitting right next to it. Maybe someone should invent one of those baseball caps with a battery operated bug zapper that hangs off the sides....much like the ones seen at baseball games with beer cans attached (for the avid fan who is too busy cheering on his team to get himself another beer so he carries two per cap...ever wonder if he also has a catheter and is filling up pouches in those baggy jeans they wear so they don't have to take the time to potty?...but I digress again...).

So here's the solution: birth control for female mosquitoes!! Do you think we can make a patch small enough for their little arms?? Perhaps instead of pesticide, we crush birth control pills and scatter them in all areas with standing water. Better yet, let's help them with their own extinction. Let's play Olivia Newton John music and dress them all in drag...then they will all "turn" gay and reproduction will no longer be an issue. Now I bet there is some government agency that would be more than willing to shell out some research funds to look into this further.

After perusing the Internet, I have yet to read a positive purpose for the mosquito. All it does is cause pain to human and animal kind, spread disease, and overall just annoys the crap out of us. And the one fact that just shows that God does have a sense of humor when He created these things, it is the female that does the suck and spit.........sigh.........(and get your minds out of the gutter, I'm talking about female MOSQUITOES!).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

When did compassion start to fade...

It's September 20, 2008. Exactly a week ago, I was sitting in my house wondering how we made it through the last 24 hours. Hurricane Ike came to visit Texas and left disaster and chaos in its wake. The previous night was spent huddling with my children on a make shift bed in the middle of our living room. The wind whistled through the house and the windows shook with the fierceness that only a hurricane can produce. Kids being kids, they fell asleep before we felt the full force of the storm. Somewhere around 3:30 AM (and why is it ALWAYS in the middle of the night??), a huge branch blew free from the cottonwood tree out front and smacked into the roof with such momentum that it stuck right through the shingles. Fortunately, it landed primarily on the porch. Minutes later, the electricity was off and the storm took on a more eerie personality. Sleep was no longer even a thought....

As dawn approached, the winds slowly started to die down. Though the rain continued, as the night became day, neighbors started to come outside to investigate the remnants of Hurricane Ike. It became evident as we inspected our house that we were the lucky ones. There was a lot of debris but not much damage. A small hole in the roof, a fence down here and there, and it was hard to see grass on the lawn for it was covered by small branches and leaves. But nothing that couldn't be fixed or cleaned up. We were also lucky because we regained power in less than 24 hours.

As the days progressed, the TV was inundated with story after story, horror after horror, but also amazing feats of compassion. People were helping people. Neighbors were talking to each other for the first time in years, or maybe just the first time ever. My fence was fixed one day...I have no idea who did it...when I left home in the morning (on Sunday) it was down, and when I came back that afternoon, it was up. It was amazing.

But today, an email was forwarded to me that told the story of Ike in picture form. I think it was from the Boston Globe. After the 22 pictures of the effects of the storm from Haiti to Houston, people posted comments. There were many that shared their prayers for everyone effected by this natural disaster. But there was one that just stuck in my craw. This person commented that we got what we deserved because we chose to live on the Gulf Coast. I was stunned. And it made me sad. I wonder what kind of history did this person have that made him/her lose their compassion. When did their cynicism take over from their ability to comprehend a person's loss. I also wondered if this person ever spent a vacation at the beach...any beach. Did they ever wonder where those people lived who served him/her their margarita under the cabana while they enjoyed their fun in the sun?

My loss was nothing compared to those in Galveston and other coastal towns. Ike had 45 miles over land to buffer its winds before it hit my trees and my house. But those folks lost everything...and to that one commenter in the Boston Globe:....when did your compassion start to fade.....