Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Everything old is...."New Kids on the Block"....again?

So, this morning, while I was at the gym riding the stationary bike, listening to some chick music on my MP3 Player, I look up at one of the TV screens tuned to VH1 and who do I see? New Kids on the Block! All grown up. At first I recognized Jordan Knight and thought maybe it was just him doing some solo stuff, but when Joe McIntyre and Donnie Walberg, I knew it could be no one other than NKOTB!

As a teen in the late 80s and early 90s, I was a HUGE fan. I know they're cheesy, but in my defense, they were a boy band and I was in full blown puberty! I swooned for Joey McIntyre. My friend and I would argue about who loved them more. It was that bad.

So, with them as a piece of my long-gone adolescent angst, I'm not sure how I feel about them reappearing on the scene...literally. I haven't had a chance to listen to any of the music, but from the video I saw on VH1 full of scantily-clad women all pawing them and their nearing-middle-aged physiques, I'm not sure things bode well. My hope is that age might have brought more growth and maturity to them and their music. I'll give it a listen, but at this point, I'm skeptical.

On the other hand, if it gives all of us 30-something girls a chance to come out of the NKOTB closet, then I'm all for it!

Check them out for yourself if you want:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Book #10 Completed

Book # 10 was "Cane River" by Lalita Tademy. I actually read this book about 10 years ago, but any time I'm asked for a book suggestion for a book club, this one seems to come up. I remember finishing it very quickly and feeling like I couldn't put it down. When the book club at church decided to take it up as our reading selection, I was afraid that my memory would have failed me and that it wouldn't be as good as I remember. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I loved it just as much this time as I did 10 years ago. I could barely put it down again. I NEEDED to find out what happened to these people! I cheered for their triumphs and cried at their misfortunes.

It's a little over 400 pages, and COMPLETELY worth the time if you have a chance to read it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A 101 quandary

I am in a 101 quandary. I'm at a loss. I need your help.

What's the point of my 101 list? Is it simply something to keep me busy? Is it a way to stretch myself beyond my current boundaries? Is it a way to feel like I've accomplished something in a society that tells me that without fulfilling the roles of wife and mother I don't really count? Is it a way to suck the marrow out of life? It's probably a mixture of all of these at some level.

But here's where my quandary comes in. I have just 355 days left of my original 1001 and, without the intervention of a miracle from God or a rich uncle to wipe away my credit card debts, fill my 401(k) and buy me a new car, there are just certain things on my list that I am NOT going to be able to finish by July 15, 2009. Then there's the problem that I've created by creating my NEXT 101 list, which is to start July 16, 2009 (no rest for the wicked, you know). There are things on that list that I would like to do now. For instance, I would like to (#79 on the new list) buy an odometer for my bicycle so that I could know how far I bike in a week, etc. Troy suggested that I swap something from my current list to the new list, but that sort of feels like cheating. On the other hand, if these lists are sort of a way to live life to the fullest and to do those things that will challenge me, make me happy, give me a sense of fulfillment, should I really put it off simply because it's not the official starting date?

So, this is where you come in. I've added a poll to the blog and I would love to know what you think. Perhaps I'll even let majority rule! Let me know what you think, folks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Book # 9 Complete

I've finished book # 9 of 50: "Eat, Pray, Love". Amazing. I completely love this book and could relate to it in so many ways. I don't often reread a book, but this is one I think I may need to revisit about once a year.

I HIGHLY recommend it!

The voice of God is but a whisper

Recently I received an email letter (chain letter sort of thing) from a friend of mine. It talked about found pennies. You know those ones that you sometimes find lying on the ground as you stroll down the sidewalk. This email said that perhaps they are actually pennies from Heaven - sort of messages from God or the angels that watch over us. I thought this was a very cute sentiment.

As a recovering Lutheran (13 years of parochial school can have an affect on you - good and bad), I very often struggle with thinking of God on a personal level. To me, He is most often someone who must be appeased and from whom I beg forgiveness when I have done something wrong. It's hard to think of Him as a friend - someone who is on my side. I often find Him hard to hear on a daily basis in my life.

Perhaps I'm listening more or perhaps He's realized I'm not that bright and need some more help hearing, but lately I have thought about the penny thing and have found a LOT of pennies just laying around on the street, sidewalk, etc. I don't usually see that much change on the streets, so it's been interesting to see so much lately and to think that God is trying to say, "Howdy. Just thinking about you. Just letting you know I care."

Another whisper from God came this morning as I was leaving to come to work. I've been thinking about the old man that lives across the street. I sometimes refer to him as the grumpiest old man in the world because, despite having lived in my house for 7 years, he has never once said hi to me. And I've said it to him quite a few times. He just seems to sit on his porch and simply watch the neighborhood go about its business. He's definitely an "early to bed, early to rise" kind of guy. (I've seen him out getting his paper when I leave for the gym at 4:45 AM). He also rarely has any lights on in his house in the evening. So, the other night (around 10:30), I noticed that his lights were on in his front room. This struck me as quite odd since it was so out of the ordinary. I also hadn't seen him sitting on his porch the past few days when I got home. I was pretty sure he didn't have much family and never saw anyone visit him, so, despite him never speaking to me, I was concerned about his well-being. Yesterday when I got home I nearly went over and knocked on his door to make sure he was all right. Unfortunately, I couldn't get up the nerve to do it.

With it still bothering me as I left this morning, I considered calling someone to have them check on him. I didn't want him to think I was just a nosey neighbor, you know. On my way to my garage, I saw my next-door neighbor, Jake, outside. We talked for a brief moment about how much I owed him for mowing my lawn, ended the conversation and I headed towards my garage. For no apparent reason, Jake stopped me and said, "Hey, you know that old man that lives across the street from you?" I was sure he was gonna tell me that he had died. That's just the way my mind works. Instead, he told me that his niece and nephew had come and moved him into a nursing home since his hips were failing him and he was forgetting things recently. I was relieved to hear that someone was looking after him.

Now, many of you may wonder what this has to do with God speaking to me. On the face of it, it just looks like two neighbors gossiping about the neighborhood. For me it was much more than that. The subject of the old man across the street is something that Jake and I have never talked about. There was no reason for him to share that information with me. For me, it was a whisper from God. He knew it was something that had been bothering me and he wanted to comfort my spirit.

Howdy. Just thinking about you. Just letting you know I care.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A few thoughts from "Eat, Pray, Love"

Today while I was reading "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert over my lunch, I came across a couple of passages that really touched me/made me think. The writer, at the time, was 34, as I am, and no longer married, which I have never been. The things she says seemed extraordinarily relevant to me and my life and I thought I would take this opportunity to share them with you. First one:
...To create a family with a spouse is one of the most fundamental ways a person can find a continuity and meaning in American (or any) society. I rediscover this truth every time I go to the big reunion of my mother's family in Minnesota and I see how everyone is held so reassuringly in their positions over the years. First you are a child, then you are a teenager, then you are a young married person, then you are a parent, then you are retired, then you are a grandparent - at every stage you know who you are, you know what your duty is and you know where to sit at the reunion. You sit with the other children, or teenagers, or young parents or retirees. Until at last you are sitting with the ninety-year-olds in the shade, watching over your progeny with satisfaction. Who are you? No problem - you're the person that created all this. The satisfaction of this knowledge is immediate, and moreover, it's universally recognized. How many people have I heard claim their children as the greatest accomplishment and comfort of their lives? It's the thing they can always lean on during a metaphysical crisis, or a moment of doubt about their relevancy - If I have done nothing else in this life, then at least I have raised my children well.

But what if, either by choice or by reluctant necessity, you end up not participating in this comforting cycle of family and continuity? What if you step out? Where do you sit at the reunion? How do you mark time's passage without the fear that you've just frittered away your time on earth without being relevant? You'll need to find another purpose, another measure by which to judge whether or not you have been a successful human being. I love children, but what if I don't have any? What kind of person does that make me?

Virginia Woolf wrote, 'Across the broad continent of a woman's life falls the shadow of a sword.' On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where 'all is correct.' But on the other side of that sword, if you're crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, 'all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course.' Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a far more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will also be more perilous."

In the second, she talks about how she has battled depression (melancholy) in her own life and how the melancholy of Venice affects her:

" Yet I don't get depressed here. I can cope with, and even somehow enjoy, the sinking melancholy of Venice, just for a few days. Somewhere in me I am able to recognize that this is not my melancholy; this is the city's own indigenous melancholy, and I am healthy enough these days to be able to feel the difference between me and it. This is a sign, I cannot help but think, of healing, of the coagulation of my self. There were a few years there, lost in borderless despair, when I used to experience all the world's sadness as my own. Everything sad leaked through me and left damp traces behind."

Calling all readers.....

Ok, Y'all, I've been wondering if anyone ever reads this things and I've had a few people email me recently about things that I'm posting, so SOMEONE must be reading this. If you are, please let me know. Leave a comment or drop me a line. If you have any suggestions for content or style changes, please let me know. I'm open to all of them.

Take care and I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?......

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Book #8 of 50 completed

I've finished book number 8 of the 50 the I need to read for this list. The 8th selection was "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortinson and David Oliver Relin. It's a true story about a man who is building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The schools are especially built in very poor areas of the country and with the goal in mind that girls should be educated. It's a great story and an even better cause.

Books #9 and #10 (currently being read): "Eat, Pray, Love" (341 pages) and "Cane River" (500+ pages).

I may need to switch to some Dr. Seuss books for their brevity!

Monday, July 14, 2008

I need a friend to go to a concert with me

So, my friend Patrick is a loser head (not really but it's funnier if I say he is) and he's decided that since the weather is so nice for the next few days, he's gonna go to Kentucky to jet ski instead of having our usual monthly dinner with me tomorrow evening. We were supposed to go to see Missy Higgins, who is an Australian female artists I randomly started listening to about 6 months ago. I never thought she'd come to Indianapolis, but I'm thrilled that she's gonna be at the Music Mill tomorrow.

Now I just need someone to go with me. If you're interested, take a listen at The tickets are $15 at the door, the show starts at 8:30 and doors open at 7:30. I think if you have dinner early at their little restaurant, they let you in early, so I'm probably gonna get there at 6:30. Drop me a line if you're interested and thanks for taking a listen to what I think is a great artists.

What's to be done?

Yesterday Troy and I took advantage of the amazing weather to get out and take a long ride on our bicycles. We packed up some water, a few granola bars and a frisbee, slathered on some sunscreen and hit to the trails. We left about 3:30 in the afternoon and traveled about 10 miles up the Monon Trail, which is a wonderful biking/walking/blading/running footpath through the city.

They've really done quite a bit of work to make the path beautiful. Some parts of it go through some questionable neighborhoods that are more industrial than residential. The city (or private groups) has taken it upon themselves to have local artists paint murals on the backs of some of those buildings that face the path. Some of them are just really well done and it was great to get to experience them as we rode by. At one point we even stopped at a little park to enjoy some water and a granola bar. We even tossed around the frisbee for a bit (so sorry about putting it on top of that port-a-potty, Troy).

We finally decided to head back around 5:15. We thought that since it was such a lovely day, we would just stop by the store and grab a few things for dinner. We'd had such a good time and just marveled that we are so lucky to be able to have bodies (and bikes) that carried us through the day so well and to have Troy's house in such close proximity to all of these activities.

It wasn't until we were nearing the store that all of this bliss was interrupted. As I rode along the rode, a white SUV with 4 20-something males in it decided to be (excuse my french) jackasses! One of them stuck his head out of the car and made one, loud, blood-curdling shout/bark/noise, which startled me. I assume that was his intent. Then, as he passed Troy, he did it again. Of course, by then, Troy had heard the first one and wasn't startled.

This kind of thing just pisses me off! What the hell would possess someone to do such a thing? Essentially, he was invading my (and Troy's) personal air space with the intent of causing mental anguish. This is the point when my blood starts to boil. Too many times in my life has this happened. For some reason, these people (those who think themselves funny by being dicks) decide that they can say/yell/gesture something at me without any recourse. I tend to disagree. I've had enough and I'm not taking it anymore. My solution? Confront them. Yes, I admit that I am a 30-something, overweight, white woman, but I will certainly do what I can to inflict my wrath upon them. I'm certain that at some point this will be the end of me. One of these pricks will pull out a gun or knife or something. Luckily, for now, I have the element of surprise on my side. They don't expect me to say anything, so when I do, in some ways, they are simply shocked.

So, yesterday I did just that. When they had to stop at a light, I rolled up next to their car (the windows were all down, of course). I overheard to the one who had made the noise say, "Ooh, he's so pissed." (He was referring to Troy who had flicked him off and was ahead of me at that point.) I pulled up to him, and simply said, "What are you doing?" He said, "What do you mean?" and barked/yelled right in my face again. (DICK!) I said, "What is wrong with you? What makes you think you can do that and get away with it?" At that point, he said, "I've got Tourette's, bitch" as they pulled away. My only comeback was, "Well, someone's a bitch." Lame, true, but I felt so angry and I'm REALLY not good at witty comebacks.

So, what's the solution? Seemingly there's no recourse for such horrendous behavior on the part of these punks. If I had reached in and punched/slapped him, I'm certain I'm the one that would have been in trouble. Would any of the occupants of the other cars around have come to my aid? What if I had just maced the whole car? What about carrying a device that would allow me to slit their tire and be on my way? I know that I am supposed to turn the other cheek and I feel like I confronted him calmly and respectfully, but to what avail? He's more than likely still going to act in such an abhorrent way. After all, his friends were chuckling right along with him.

Maybe you've found a solution. I would love to hear your thoughts/insights/suggestions.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My own personal PSA

Bad News/Good News:

Bad News
: So yesterday, I did a stupid thing and accidentally left my newest cell phone (which I just got at the beginning of May) on a flower bed bench that I was sitting on. It was there for maybe 15 minutes, max. When I went back to retrieve it, it was gone. When Troy tried to call it to see if maybe I had put it in my bag or it had fallen into the bushes, someone "answered", he heard gibberish and then they hung up. Despite my repeatedly trying to call it back, no one answered again. I don't get new phones very often and I try to keep very close tabs on mine, so it felt a bit like I'd been displayed naked in the town square and beaten. It was the new Envy2 with the great full keypad for texting and I liked it a LOT!

Good News
: Luckily Troy has Verizon as well and they have a neat feature where you can dial *611 from any Verizon phone and cancel service on a phone. So, I did that right away. Luckily I also have the insurance ($4.99 a month (ugh)), so I called them this morning and I should have a brand new replacement phone by tomorrow afternoon! Then I just have to go and have the service reconnected to the phone, I think.

Even Better News
: In the course of trying to find the customer service number for Verizon online today, I found they have a great new feature where you can back up your contact lists directly from your phone. That way if it is lost, stolen, damaged, etc and you aren't able to take it into a Verizon vendor and have them move the contacts from your old phone to a new one, they can download it to your new phone. This is a genius idea! How many people have had this exact situation happen to them? If they are anything like me, without their phone, they don't know how to contact anyone. I remember when I was a kid, I had everyone's number memorized. Now I can barely remember my own if I don't have my phone with me. Unfortunately this backup doesn't work for me right now since I didn't do it, but luckily I still have my old phone and will be able to transfer the numbers that way.

So, here's my own personal Public Service Announcement to all of my readers. If you have a Verizon Wireless phone and service, go online right now and back up your contact list!!! If this can help one person, then my job here is done.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Perhaps THIS wasn't the best time to try to get that 401k to grow.

I'm not sure if any of you check the items on the 101 list that are currently in progress. I put them at the top so they are easy for me to update. If you HAVE been watching, you've seen that the progress I've made towards having $XXX,XXX in my 401(K) has been going the WRONG direction. This isn't because I've foolishly been dipping into it to feed my wild lifestyle (HA!). It's simply because it has been losing money. I'm sure many of you are in the same boat.

At first, I wasn't terribly bothered by the dip in my balance. I kept reassuring myself that I was buying those stocks On SALE every time my contribution hit my account. In fact, I even upped my contribution %. I thought, "They're on sale! I should stock up!"

Let just say that my enthusiasm for this line of thought has wained considerably. Despite raising my contribution level, I have "lost" over 10% of my account value since the beginning of the year. That means that, despite having put about 15% of my pay into my account since the beginning of the year, my actual account balance is only VERY slightly above what it was on January 1, 2008.

Now many of you, myself included at times, will say that I haven't actually lost anything. I still own all of those stocks. I don't think that really counts when they aren't worth as much and the value keeps dropping every day.

All of this is to say that perhaps trying to get to a certain dollar amount by July 15, 2009 may be out of my grasp. When I made the goal, I had to earn a tiny .023% of my account balance each day or 8.7% annually. Because of my losses over the last 9 months or so, that amount has grown to 23%. Now come on, people! Is that really going to happen? After all, I don't think we're in the Clinton administration anymore, Toto.


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