Monday, February 28, 2011

India - Part 2: Delhi

Our first day of excitement started with us freezing our butts off. It was winter and we knew it would be cold, but it happened to be the coldest winter Delhi had ever had, ever. I was expecting 60, maybe 70 degrees, based on all my research. It was far colder and to top it off, no hotel rooms or cars had heat. Brrrr! We bundled up the best we could and headed out to see the sites. On our way to our first stop I saw my very first elephant making his way, with rider intact, down the prior mentioned crazy roads. Then I saw the camels. Then I saw the monkeys on the side of the street. In my first 15 minutes of daylight in the van I had seen all of this. Just another normal day in India.

The other things I saw were not as exciting, not as happy, so to speak. The poverty in India is astounding. There are 1 billion people leaving there and about 600 million of them are at the poverty level. Everywhere we went children would be playing in dirt and trash and people would be cleaning their little hut houses on the side of the roads, while right across the street there would be big, fancy hotels or even modern malls. It was like nothing I had seen. If you're familiar with AZ picture this: Scottsdale with all of it's fancy schmanciness and then right across the street from the mall and on both sides homeless people by the hundreds, straw houses, goats and giant piles of trash with small children playing in it. That's how everything looked. So odd and out of place but all in the exact same spot.

Photo Credit: Melia Metikos 2011
We went to old temple grounds first where we saw some of the most beautiful ruins I've seen yet. The one thing that made them stand out for me was the sanskrit writing. There is something beyond beautiful about that writing to me. Every word is like a breathtaking painting. After wandering around a bit there we went to The Lotus Temple. Essentially, a giant white building that looks like, you guessed it, a lotus flower. You have to take your shoes off (even in freezing winter) before you can go in to pray or meditate. We went inside, had a seat on the marble benches, and just sat in silence. I meditated for a little bit, something I deeply wish I did more, but admittedly don't make time for. It was a calm, very peaceful time.

We then went to the India Gate, a giant doorway type thing, that seemed to be incredibly popular for reasons I can't really remember, but I believe it had something to do with being a monument to a war. After that we got in the van and the group made a decision: Since we are such a small bunch, let's make our own schedule. We'll still see everything on the tour, but we can take as much or as little time as we want, stop for a coffee break every day, and make it our very own trip. Raj was cool with this so we went to get our first cup of coffee, or for me, tea. At this point we were all bonding nicely and had already started taking a bunch of pictures of each other to share later and show to our other friends back home. Just this week I got an email from Tony telling me I was famous back home at their hair salon as one of the group pictures of us was passed around daily. Friends to last a lifetime, I love it.

We had the afternoon free to ourselves until dinner, so we decided to go explore the neighborhood. This is a moment, again, where I'm glad I had a wonderful friend like Tony around. It's not entirely safe for a woman, a tourist even more, to go out exploring. Some places yes, some places not so much. Tony was our unofficial official body guard. On more than one occasion, even if Mary was taking a nap, he was ready and willing to go out exploring with Sunita and I and it was very appreciated.

We ended up only needing to go one block before we met a nice Indian gentleman who told us that the shopping center we were headed to was closed and that a four story mall was right around the corner. He even got us a little teeny tiny cab to take us all there. That was an experience all in itself. There we were, all four of us, sitting on a two person seat. It was warm at least, in the cold evening air. When the little cab got us to the mall we went in and discovered that this was no mall at all. It was a little four story building that a few men owned and operated and we were the new tourists that they had just tricked into getting there. The whole thing was a set up. It was safe, nothing scary about it, but a set up none the less. We did look around but then headed out to where our little scam cab guy was waiting. We later went to the originally planned outdoor shopping center only to re-confirm our scam, as the center was very, very open and tons of people were shopping.

We looked around for a couple of hours and did our best to not get scammed further. In other countries people will try and stop you to sell you things or to get money, but in India they are very persistent. Intensely persistent. They grab you, touch you, follow you for blocks, show you their babies to distract you, etc. At all times you have to make sure you and your belongings are safe and sound. Now, this is not to say that the people there aren't nice or that there aren't perfectly good, kind people there, because India is full of them as well. It's just imperative to watch out for those that aren't.

After perusing for a while we headed back to meet Raj and drive out to dinner. On the way back we passed some men on the street with gigantic guns. I remember thinking how odd it was that I felt incredibly safe, even with that five feet away from me. If I had been alone, maybe not, but I was with friends. That or I was so cold all sense of security and reason had left me. When we got back to the hotel I changed into warmer clothes. I was already bundled but we had an hours drive to dinner and it was freezing out. I emerged from the hotel resembling the little brother from The Christmas Story.

I was excited for dinner. I love me some Indian food and I was about to get a real, authentic Indian dinner. Or so I thought.  Dinner wasn't bad, it just wasn't great either. They had purposely toned it down for us tourists because they were expecting us that night. We were all really bummed out because we're big fans of the food. Raj promised us from there on out we would get authentic food after the four of us ended dinner looking depressed. We went back to the hotel, turned on our little tiny room heater and went to bed. I slept hard and soundly and thus far, didn't even miss home yet.

More to come tomorrow as I now need to go to bed and get some zzz's.

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India - Part 1: The People You Meet

India - Part 1: The People You Meet

You never know who you're going to meet, where you'll meet them, or how much of an impact they'll have on your life. You can't plan out those moments where you know this is where you were meant to be and this is who you were meant to be with. Those things are unknown, and for that reason, that much more spectacular when they happen. This was what happened to me.

Last year I decided I was going to go to India as soon as possible. How or when did not matter, I just had to get there. Then four months ago I received my monthly Budget Travel magazine and saw an amazing deal for a trip to India. I knew I had to go. It was now or never. In my mind I had already booked it and was there. I was ready. In reality I was still thinking through my paranoia of going half way around the world, all by myself, on vacation for the first time all by myself, to a place where I could potentially get malaria and many other things that could kill me, in winter. Those thoughts didn't stop me. Once I make my mind up on something, no matter what the obstacle, I find a way. So, I booked it, freaked out for a good 24 hrs, and then came to peace with my decision, the decision I really had no other choice to make since it was exactly where I knew I was supposed to be.

When I booked the trip the travel agent, Laura, told me that usually 16 people were on it so I wouldn't be alone and would meet a lot of nice people. I also had the option of either getting my very own hotel room or booking with another single lady, if another single lady happened to be going. I told Laura to keep me posted as I was good either way. I was literally packing my bags for the trip when I got the email that someone had signed up and I now would be sharing a room. I was nervous, but decided if I could go to India alone then I could certainly make a new friend and share a bathroom with them for a few days.

To get to India it takes me a good, long 19 hours. The plane was oddly empty and I had a seat in-between myself and another passenger. We made small talk and I realized instantly that I liked this woman. She was kind to me the entire trip and even saved me from a killer headache half way through the ride. I secretly hoped she was my roommate. When we arrived in India I realized she was headed the other direction and said my goodbyes to her. I hopped off the plane and got my very first glimpse of India. It was...foggy. I mean very, serioulsy, cannot-see-a-thing foggy. I was thrilled none the less.

I made my way to the meet and greet section to find my trip advisor. I don't speak Hindi, aside from some yoga words that, if used, would only make him wonder why I was talking about cranes, triangles and trees, so I was a little nervous. It turns out, however, that he would do all the talking for me. He told me all about his life, where he worked (coincidentally we both worked for the same company at one point), all of the jobs he had previously had, and gave me his best American and British accents. I was not bored for one moment. While he was talking I was watching the evening obstacles of India and fog pass me by.

First of all, let it be known that there is no place in the world, with no drivers in the world, that drive the way they do in India. They have normal streets, mind you, with lane lines and all, but no one follows them. On any given two lane road there will be about 6 lanes of traffic, all going in whatever direction they see fit, with bikes, camels, and the occasional elephant. There is no rhyme or reason but it works for them amazingly well.

We arrived at my hotel room and they told me my roommate, Sunita, had already checked in. They then also told me the other two people in the group would be arriving late that night and that our tour guide would get us in the morning. Four people and a tour guide. I was shocked! Not once had it occurred to me that I could potentially be going on a tour alone or even with such a small group. Aside from having a roommate I was actually planning on being a loner on this trip. You know, quiet time with deep thoughts on life and several good books. I guess I would be buddying up with my little group instead. I got upstairs and tried to not wake up Sunita as it was very late in the evening already. She ended up stirring and we met. Instantly I knew I liked her. She had an amazing personality, was fun, and was also a wealth of knowledge on all things India related. We ended up staying up very late and talking about everything, from work to families to why we planned the trip. We worked out our wake up schedules, decided when we would go eat breakfast and even talked about movies we would maybe try and watch. The Big Man upstairs had done an excellent job picking her for me and I absolutely loved her!

In the morning we went down for breakfast, talked a little more and then met our traveling companions, Tony and Mary. From the moment I met Mary I knew I would love her. For one thing, I happen to love Asians more than the average person. I know that sounds odd but I have a "sister" who is Asian and I love her, her whole family, her culture, her cooking, everything. I even want to adopt a little Asian baby one day. I'm certain in some past life (that I'm not certain I actually had) that I was Asian. Anyway...Mary was a little ball of fire. She was so full of life and energy! Again I had that feeling that I had just met someone I could be friends with forever. Tony was equally as great, more quiet at first, until he got to talking about all of his exciting travel adventures. Even our tour guide, Raj, was pretty amazing. All in all our little group was more than what I could have asked for, better than I could have planned, and exactly what I needed for my little adventure in India.

The Happy Travellers

Thursday, February 17, 2011

All is Forlorn for I've Lost My Mind

My New Year started off with a thud in the form of a ridiculously strong sinus infection. I, being stubborn and having studied holistic health, refuse to take medication. I mean refuse. I will do absolutely everything else until the time comes when I have no choice, like this time, when I was about to leave the country for 9 days to go to India. I figured I should be as well as possible since I could very possibly get sick from something there. Go figure.

Time was running out so I decided to go for the meds. The first thing they gave me was a Z Pack which did nothing except irritate me for having just put all kinds of chemicals in my body with no actual benefit. Then they gave me something called Levaquin or Leviton. Whatever the real name is I highly suggest they rename it Levitate because that is what happened to me. 

Now, there is something you should know about me...I can't handle caffeine, anesthetic or most cold and flu meds.  Not because they don't work on me, but because they work too well, they turn me into a crazy fruitloop.

For example, when I had my wisdom teeth pulled out they put me under and when I woke up I was bawling. I mean my dog just died, boyfriend broke up with me, and my house burned down, kind of crying. They escorted me out the back door, yes, the back door, so as to not alarm the other patients. In the car my boyfriend asked me why I was crying and I stopped, briefly, to think about that. I responded with a hysterical "I don't know!?!?!" and then began to cry even more because I had not a clue as to why I was losing it.

For that same special occasion they gave me pain pills and later than night, after I had taken one, I decided to take a shower. Everything was fine until I tried to turn off the water and realized I had no idea how to do that. At all. Not the faintest idea how the faucet worked. I tried, repeatedly, but no amount of finger snapping, clapping, or trying various voice commands worked. I panicked as visions of my house flooding filled my mind. I eventually screamed and my boyfriend came in, laughed at me for several minutes as I explained my dilemma, and then showed me in a learn-to-tie-your-shoe kind of way how to work a faucet.

These are very good reasons why, above and beyond my school lessons, I am not a fan of things that are unnatural. I debated for an entire day on whether or not I was going to take this Levilor stuff. The side effects weren't too terrifying, so I eventually gave in. This is the account of what followed:

It's my day to work from home, so I'm preparing myself for conference calls, PowerPoints, and other work like things. I take the one recommended pill. Everything is fine and dandy. Then, I suddenly start to feel...awesome. Like Spiderman awesome, where I can detect things better than I could before. As I am pulling out Kleenex I realize how fascinating the sound of the Kleenex leaving the box is. It reminds me of a train going through a tunnel only on a much smaller, softer scale. I pull tissue after tissue out of the box, placing my ear close to it to try and fully absorb this awesomely awesome sound. Then...I discover my arms. I hold them up and just stare at them. This. Is. Fascinating. The way they're connected to me, but so free, able to move and do things...amazing. Reality kicks back in for a few minutes and I start to realize just how wacky I am. I also have a conference call coming up. Excellent.

I make it through the call successfully, only to start feeling the effects of the medicine again. I email my friend at work and tell her I'm losing it. She responds with a very supportive "I just laughed out loud and no one knows why, so now I look crazy!" I then pass out. One minute I'm trying to figure out why my computer screen is so shiny and beautiful and the next I'm waking up in a most uncomfortable position with my dog staring at me. Thank goodness it was my lunch break (seriously), but still, not the impression I'm going for. I don't recall the rest of the day which is a good thing, I'm sure.

Now to my point: I'm not opposed to Western medicine at all. If I were to break a leg right this second I would not call my very talented school friends up, have them burn some sage and chant over my leg, willing it to heal. No, I would head straight to the ER and get myself all fixed up, pronto.  I just happen to favor Eastern medicine and practices. No Chinese herbal meds or regular ol' foods have ever made me want to act like a puppy with a roll of toilet paper or above mentioned Kleenex box. I tend to believe that we over medicate. Life is hard, we're in a hurry and we don't have time to heal slowly. It's hard to find time to do what we do as it is, let alone to pay attention to the real reason we're feeling bad. When I used to get sore throats I'd take whatever over the counter stuff was recommended. Now I drink pure POM juice, eat some pears, cherries, and fresh pomegranates if they're available. I'm usually back to normal within a day.  It does require time. It is a little bit of work going at it the old fashioned way, but it comes easier and easier, the more you practice. One thing I know for sure, my body appreciates it the more I do it.

I find the medical commercials on TV odd and amusing. I mean think about how hard those companies work to try and make you want to go straight to your doctors office and ask for meds. First, it makes no sense to have medicine ads on TV. We are not doctors, we can't prescribe the drugs to ourselves, yet that's the goal of those ads. They want to make us think "Yes, I suffer from headaches, and yes, I have back pain, so maybe that med will work...I'll go ask my doctor." In all honestly, that really is their goal. Why do any commercials do what they do? To entice us. To make us want what they've got. The same goes for the medical ads. I say let the doctors do their jobs and let us just watch TV, plain and simple. Heck, even their own ads warn us about their products. The commercial starts with a loud, booming voice... "For severe headaches take the new and improved Thingawatchamadoodle"...then in a hushed, quiet voice..."May cause blindness, heart attacks, disembowelment, dizziness and insanity."  Excellent! I'll take five of those, thank you!

My thought is this: Do what you can, when you can, the most natural way you can. Try it out. Give it time. See how your body reacts. Treat your body like a good mystery book: get sucked into it, pay attention to each chapter and how it unwinds, and try and solve the puzzle. You might just surprise yourself. If you still need to watch the movie instead, go for it. You tried and that counts. Try again next time. Trying and not succeeding immediately is not failing, ever. It's giving yourself a chance as many times as you need. When all else fails, buy yourself a Kleenex box and have at it. I guarantee that will make you feel better.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Remember You

"Friends are the family you choose for yourself." - Sicilian Proverb

When I was 16 I got my first job as a Subway Sandwich Artist. Subway taught me more than just how to make an excellent sandwich. It taught me about life, learning to understand all different kinds of people, and how very important friendships are. There I made new friends, learned important life lessons, and met a boy named Ben.

The first time I met him was when I was taking my friend, Jen, over to someone's house. When we arrived, there on the living room floor, passed out face down, was a guy in all black. I looked over at Jen and asked her who the scary guy on the floor was. In his defense, he was taking a nap, but I was kind of sheltered back then and had never met anyone while they were so very seriously passed out napping and also all clothed in black, so scary was my term.

The next day at work this familiar, somewhat goth looking guy walked in. He looked at me, smiled and said, "Hi, Scary Girl."  That was the moment our friendship started along with our new nicknames and over the next three years I got to know the real Ben.

The real Ben would wait for me to get off of work or come and spend the afternoon at the store so I would have some company. The real Ben would tell me jokes and make me laugh. The real Ben always had a smile that would light up the darkest moments. I came to know that the real Ben wasn't just some guy in black, but an amazing, brilliant, kind and loving guy who would leave an impact on me forever.

I remember being at Jen's house one night and seeing him dressed, unexpectedly, in white jeans and a plaid shirt. A first and last where I would see him not in his traditional black clothes. I also remember finding out that one of his favorite artists was Tim McGraw, another shocker since normally he would blast Korn out of my SUV while waiting for me to get off work.

There were the funny moments, like the times he would go jogging with me and Jen when I went through this "I love running" phase. There we would be - me, Jen with the baby in his stroller, and Ben in his black clothes and chains - jogging down the streets. Neither one of them loved running, but they did it for me and it's only now that I truly understand how kind and wonderful they were. Especially Ben. He was always up for anything I wanted to do. One time it was just him and I and some friend of his (also in non-jogging, black, chain hanging clothes) who went for a run and while on this run discovered a tarantula, with which the two of them chased me down the road. I laugh now. I screamed then. But those are great memories - precious memories. Regardless of the day or weather, whenever I wanted to go for a run I could always count on Ben to be there with me. I could count on Ben for a lot of things, actually.

There were the serious moments, like when he had just gotten a new car and we went for a drive to the park. We sat on a bench and he told me what he wanted to do with his life. How one day he wanted a house with a porch and a rocking chair, where he could look out at his grandkids playing in the yard. That same night he followed me home to make sure I made it there safe and sound and in doing so, he cut my mom off in traffic. This did not go over well until I fully explained his intentions to her. From then on she loved him. She still does.

There were also the sweet times, like when I was going to visit one of my best friends in Wisconsin and I was terrified since I had never flown before. The day before I left he brought me flowers and gave me one of his amazing pick-me-up-and-spin-me-around hugs, the likes of which to this day have not been topped.

Then there's the memory of our birthdays when we both turned 17. Mine was two weeks before his and he surprised me with several CD's of my favorite rapper, Eminem. Two weeks later I gave him his gift- a black (of course) Eminem shirt that simply said "Remember Me" on the back. I had debated and debated and debated over getting that shirt for him. I almost didn't, but at the last moment I decided he would love it. It's funny how that moment, so small and insignificant at the time, would later mean so much more.

There's also a memory I can't quite grasp, can't fully remember. I'm pretty sure I've just blocked it out, and that may be for the best, but it still haunts me that I can't remember everything about it. One night we got in a fight in a parking lot over something someone said and I laughed at, when I'm pretty sure I should have done anything but laugh at that moment. You see, when I get nervous I laugh. When I don't know what to say, I laugh. When I have no idea what's going on, I laugh. I am Anthony from Designing Women.

Maybe the fight is even worse than what I do remember, maybe it's not. I can't be certain. At some point we made up, but we were never as close as we had been before. Then again, it had only been a short amount of time that had passed. I guess I always thought we had more of that thing- time. Time to get over it. Time to sort it out. Time for us to get back to being Scary Guy and Scary Girl. Plenty of time for this small blip in our wonderful friendship to pass. Still, I have always felt bad about that moment and if I had the chance to go back in time and change it, I would. Or I would at least have apologized for it better. You see, on February 15th, 2002, Ben died.

I still don't quite know the whole entire situation, whether it was ruled to be murder or not, but that's mostly my fault. I couldn't believe it. I still can't sometimes.Things like that shouldn't happen to people like Ben. People like Ben are meant to live long, wonderful, happy lives. I couldn't even go to the funeral back then. I have dealt with a lot of death in my life but losing someone so young was unbearable. Knowing on top of that, that everything happened only a few houses down from my grandparents, where I most likely was that night, also makes it hard.

If only I had known, if only I had helped somehow. If only, if only...those are always the thoughts that we, who are left behind, plague ourselves with. 

After the funeral Jen took me to his mom's house. She was having a horrible time, understandably. I had met his dad and picked Ben up from his house before, but never met his mom or been inside his home, so I was a little nervous. It was beautiful, as was his red-headed mom who laughed when she saw me and told me she had heard a lot of stories about me. She said Ben had particularly loved my red hair when I'd returned from Wisconsin with it's wild color. I guess maybe I looked a little like her for that small amount of time, and that's a nice thought.

His mom took us upstairs to see his room and on the way up I spotted something I was not expecting. There, framed and hanging on the wall, was his Eminem t-shirt. I gasped and went over to it. His mom came over to me and told me that when she was digging through his closet for funeral clothes she saw it and at that moment she knew what they would put on his tombstone. She didn't know I had given it to him and started crying when I told her about our birthday gift exchange years earlier. She hugged me and told me he loved that shirt, that it was his favorite, and that he wore it all the time.

That one moment killed me and healed me all at the same time. I've always felt bad that I never went to the funeral, never said my goodbyes. On the day of the funeral Jen came to my new job and tried to get me to go, but aside from not wanting to believe the truth, somehow I felt like I didn't deserve to be there. That three years wasn't enough time for a friendship that good, so I didn't go. I felt like maybe I had made it all up, all of it. Thank goodness Jen later made me go to see his mom and thank goodness to this day she's there to reminisce with me. Thank goodness for Jen.

While at his house his mom took us into his bedroom which was my last discovery of the real Ben: a greenish room with fishing wallpaper everywhere. No black, no anything like I imagined, which I really should have expected since he always did surprise me like that. Later, Jen and I went to his grave site and sure enough, on the tombstone was his name with the words "Remember Me".

Him not being here still gets to me. I recall specifically five years after he had died when I had this moment where I had decided he could not be dead. He just couldn't. What if he was just in the witness protection program? That was fine, but being permanently removed from my life forever was not an option. I had the scenario all worked out in my head...

I would somehow bump into him at an airport, unplanned, accidentally, and we would recognize each other. I would start to say his name and he would show me his hands to prove to me it really was him, since he had unique pinkies that were bent just slightly. This would be how I knew, how I knew he was OK. How I knew he was still here.That, of course, could never happen.

To this day when I go home I wave at his old house as I pass it by on the highway and when I can, I go visit him at the cemetery. It makes me feel better knowing he's buried there with my dad and grampa, like he has a little family with him, even if it's just mine.

Ben taught me many things over the three short years that I knew him, but most importantly he taught me two things that I will never let go of.

One day I had asked him why he wore black all the time. He told me it was so that people would make an effort to get to know the real him and not just judge him by what he wore, what he looked like. That was the first lesson. Thanks to Ben, to this day I make it a point to  get to know anyone who dresses or looks differently. As true as it was with him, no one proves to be what they appear.

The second lesson, really the most significant one,  was to always make sure your friends know how important they are to you. The saying, "You never know what you have until it's gone" is true. I had this amazing, wonderful, kind person who will never be replaced. There will never be another Scary Guy. There will never be another Ben.

So, to all of my friends, I want you to know this: You are important to me. I will never fully be able to explain just how important you are. Each and every one of you are wonderful, amazing, talented and unique. There is no one else like you and you cannot be replaced. I am better for knowing you and you have helped make me a better person. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for everything. I love you.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Sh*t My Dad Says and Stuff My Mom Does

One night while I was watching Chelsea Lately she had this young man, Justin Halpern, on her show talking about his crazy dad and this new book he had written, Sh*t My Dad Says. At first I thought there was no way what he was saying was true, but a few stories later and I knew instantly that I needed to purchase this book about his hilarious childhood with his father. First let me say, it's excellent. If you want something to read that is light, quick, hilarious and makes an awesome coffee table book (minus the curse word of course), buy this. Everyone including my bonus mom became addicted to the short, funny stories inside it's covers.

After reading that book I became inspired and temporarily thought about creating my own Facebook page about random things my mom calls me at work to tell me. You see, she's retired and has enormous amounts of time to discuss odd things with me while I am at work. After many life coaching sessions with her on this she has calmed down a bit in her calling efforts, but I still get the random call every now and then that makes me wonder where I went wrong with her. (I do love my mom very much, just so you know.) I'm still debating the idea of a page just for her but I really need more logged files of off the wall calls, so in the meantime here is some randomness from my mom.

A Tuesday at the office, the busiest day of my week...
Me: Hi mom.
Mom: Hi sweetie! I know you're busy but I have an important question for you.
Me: Yes and yes?
Mom: Do you want a 1985 Guinness Book of World Records?
Me: That's important?
Mom: Well yes, I have to ask you now before I leave and then forget to ask you.
Me: Ooooookay. I'll pass. I was only 2 then so I think I'm good. Thanks anyway.

A weekday, old job, when I worked between two different offices with two different numbers...
Mom: Hi! Where are you today?
Me: Where did you call me at?
Mom: Work.
Me: Excellent! That narrows it down. Now, what number did you call me at?
Mom: The EV office.
Me: Yes, good job! Now, where do you think I am?
Mom: Well I never know!
Me: You have to have some idea by your call log of where you are calling. Right?
Mom: You know I dont know how to use my cell phone.
Me: You're calling me from your cell phone.
Mom: *Silence*

A Monday, the second busiest day of my week...
Mom: Hi Melly, I know you're busy but gram and I just had lunch.
Me: Awesome.
Mom: It was! That's why I'm calling you. The sandwich we had was amazing!
Me: OK.
Mom: It's near your office, so next time we're in town I'm going to get you one, it's this...
Me: Thanks mom, but I'm kinda busy...
Mom: ...grilled cheese, with bacon and I think you'll really like it. I did and...
Me: Mom, thanks, really. I'm glad you're thinking of me, but I have a conference call and if you and gramma are not in danger, then I really need to go.
Mom: ...I don't know what they put on it, but I love it. Wait, are you eating bread? I know you're all healthy and stuff but...
Me: MOM, yo. I have to go. Conference call, remember?
Mom: Oh, OK. Well how about this... I'll call you about it later and we can figure it out then?!
Me: I think I'm busy.
Mom: Tomorrow?
Me: Tell you what, just buy me one next time and surprise me? I would looooove that. Bye mom...

Another random day at the office...
Mom: Hey, you have the internet right?
Me: Yes?
Mom: Good. I need you to enter me in a Home and Garden competition to win a new house.
Me: Now? Like, right now?
Mom: Yeah, I forgot to tell you the other day and it ends today!! *urgent tone to her voice*
Me: Mom, I'm at work. Can I do this when I get home?
Mom: It might be too late!
Me: *Big sigh*  OK. What's the site?... Mom, it's over. It ended yesterday.
Mom: Oh. Well, wait. I have a Home Depot receipt with a web thing on it where you can win $5000! Oh, and I have this other one...let me find it...hold on...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

All the little puzzle pieces

There are specific moments in everyone's life that they remember so clearly, and they knew so certainly, it's as if it just happened that day. I remember when my dad died and how I knew what had happened before anyone told me, and the time when I knew I would date my high school sweetheart before either of us had said a word to each other.

Then there are those less conspicuous moments when a small fragment of an almost nothing moment in time stands out, only to reappear in a significant way later. I remember one conversation with a friend that made me think "that will never happen to me" and then it did, or the time when I was 12 and my family drove past this random center and I thought it was such a horrible looking place to work at (location/parking lot nightmare wise) and then a decade and some change later I end up working there. Even the very first time I met Justin, such a small fraction of a moments encounter,  only to then meet him almost the exact same way two years later.

I find it so strange to have memories of such small moments, only to have them lead to something so much bigger later on.

Today on my drive home I started to wonder...what if all these little moments in time are puzzle pieces to my life? What if I had paid closer attention to other moments, would I have figured something out about my life sooner? What if I had the ability to actually figure out my path in this world by paying closer attention to those specific things that stick, that never let my memory free them? What if I could have changed something? What if aliens actually rule the world and there's a Tron like blueprint for all of us?

As you can see, I am a very skilled what if-er.

I've always looked for a "sign" for everything. Just the other week I wanted a sign for something important happening in my life now and when I got nothing I debated with myself on whether or not the nothing was actually the sign I was looking for. Now I'm wondering if what I really should be looking for is pieces to my puzzle. Little fractions of a second, of a hour, that have never left me. What other moments from my past that would seem so small, so unimportant, could be possible clues to my future? Should I try figuring them out and if I do, will that make a difference in what I do? Or is it better to live a life of surprise, where moments happen and there's nothing more to them, nothing less? 

Thinking like this makes me think even more, which leads to a serious amount of over-thinking and possible brain trauma in the form of confusion. Even at this very moment now I've moved on to pondering the big things in my life that happened and if there was something I should have paid attention to, something small, to be better prepared for the outcome that followed. 

I could go on and on, and I probably will in the privacy of my own brain. The ultimate question is this: If you could put all your puzzles pieces together, would you want to know what your puzzle looks like, or would you want to live one moment at a time, piecing it all together?

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Ban This!

Maybe I'm selfish. Maybe I don't understand how things have to work. Or maybe I just see them in a different way. Regardless, I am sick and tired of one country fighting with another country over territory, power, money, religion, etc. They are messing up my travels! I know, I know, that's really not the most important thing to be worrying about. However, if these dummies that start it would maybe see the world the way I do they would appreciate it a little more, thus trying to destroy it less. They would see how beautiful, remarkable, and unique it is.

I used to hate travel of any kind. HATE it. I liked my house, my bed, my normal un-airport-delay inflicted life. Then again, all of my childhood travels consisted of driving half way across the good old US of A to visit a lot of old people I didn't know and some I didn't really like. I was five though, in my defense. Now, however, I couldn't imagine it any other way.

I believe in traveling as much as I believe in the need to breathe. Traveling opens your mind to new ideas. New ways of doing things, thinking, living, even eating. It creates new ideas of how to co-exist with other people that may seem so very different from you while simultaneoulsy showing us how similar we all are. Traveling is beautiful, the world is amazing, and the memories you create will stay with you forever. 

It's very possible that these dummies also realize this, in a more monetary kind of way. They see just how much potential there is so they have to own it, fight for it, and later destroy it. Here's a thought: Stop. You're never going to win, you're never going to satisfy your stupid need for power. You will always want what you don't have. The sooner you realize that, the quicker we can take these travel bans off, and more importantly, live peacefully.

Learn from the past. First, you will die. You will, and one day none of what you did will matter because most of what you did was wrong to begin with. You can't take your power and money with you. Learn from Mr. Enron. He made some very bad decisions with his company and they bit him in the behind. Then he decided to bite the dust. Not worth it. Any of it. Second, you will never, never be able to control the world. You think you can, but you're fooling yourself. Unless you happen to be Mother Nature disguised as a puny human and can whip up a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, or any other natural disaster, you are basically no one in the big scheme of world control. None of us match up to her. In fact, I highly suggest those ad campaign people change the "Save the World" ads to "Save the People" because we are going to get wiped out way before the whole world goes under at the rate we're going. 

All I'm really trying to say is this: Travel and let those of us who want to travel be able to, safely. You will go out as yourself and come back as a new person. You will appreciate things you took for granted. For the record, modern toilets rank high on my list of thinks I no longer take for granted.