Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Matter of Perception

I woke up this morning to the sound of our cat playing with a jingle bell somewhere in our house.

I know you probably read that sentence and think... "um.... wooo?" But I have a story to tell, my friends, so pull up a chair and let me explain why I would start off with that.

I was first annoyed because I am not a fan of our cat waking us up playing with her toys, which she does on very rare occasions. She usually likes to dive into something noisy at around 5am, a couple hours before we are ready to be woken. This sequence of events usually involves me climbing out of bed, tracking down the cat and her toy, taking the toy away, and stashing it somewhere high up, or in a drawer, and crawling back into bed to try to grab a few more hours of sleep. This was my plan when I heard the bell this morning. I rolled over, and looked at the clock, and saw that it was 7am, exactly when I needed to be getting out of bed, and I saw that my alarm clock hadn't gone off like it was supposed to. This brings me to my point...

We haven't bought our cat a jingle bell toy in over a year.
I thought I had thrown away all the bells in our house for this reason.
I can't find the bell now when I go looking for it.
She quit playing with it as soon as I got out of bed and started getting ready for work.
She didn't start playing with it until it was time to wake me up.

Now, let me start this by saying that I am a person guilty of scoffing at people for "over spiritualizing" things. I have a firm faith in God, I believe He works in our lives and that He watches out for us, but I don't believe that EVERYTHING is His doing. I believe that sometimes there are coincidences. Sometimes, we reap the benefit or consequence of someone else's decisions. Sometimes things really do just happen. I believe that if you get accepted to college, it is just as much the time and effort and work that you put into studying throughout school as it is some divine "luck" that you were accepted. I think our sweat and tears and labor means as much to the outcome of things as chance, or as the hand of God.

That being said, I could not help but feel that I was being taken care of this morning. I could not help but feel that someone was watching out for me. It was time for me to get up and get to work, the alarm was not going off, so the cat was put to work with the mysterious, missing jingle bell.

What about you? What is your perception of events when things like this happen to you? Are you one that sees God in everything, or are you more a believer in chance and circumstance?

I am really curious to know...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feeling Quiet...

I have been going through a normal phase of "feeling quiet" lately. That kind of quiet where Mike occasionally turns to me and says "are you ok? you are very quiet". The kind of quiet that often WOULD signify that something is wrong, but in this case it doesn't.

It is a peaceful kind of quiet. A quiet where I don't feel the need to vent, I don't feel the need to purge my soul. I don't feel the need to talk things to death, as I am sometimes prone to do. I don't feel the need to self-examine my self, my personality, my history, my life.

It's a calm content quiet.

I am sitting here now listening to the rain and just enjoying. I am watching the clock for when it will be time to go home for the day. I am anticipating the upcoming weekend away with my sweetheart (more on that tomorrow!).

But mostly, I am here...

I am content to be quiet.
I am content to be.
I am content.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In Memory of...

today would have been Jim Henson's 63rd birthday. I don't have words to tell you how much his work impacted my life as a child, so I won't try... I will just share this...

Migraines are teh debil!

I fought all day yesterday with a migraine, a constant back and forth battle that went from the verge of victory to admitted defeat. I took the pain pills, I stretched out on the bed when I could, I took it as easy as possible, I still managed a full day of work. I went to bed last night finally, with the feeling that the evil migraine from hell was almost gone, only to wake up at 1am with my head splitting so badly that I thought I was going to be sick. I slowly climbed out of bed, took some more meds, and lay back down until the pain went away enough for me to sleep again.

This morning? I am doing much better. The pain is gone now, and I am only left with that mind haze that a really bad migraine leaves behind. That feeling in the back of your skull that the pain is laughing and pointing a finger at you and chanting "neener, neener" and you know that it could come back, and yet it hasn't yet.

I hope today goes smoothly. I hope this low pressure weather system breaks and moves on so that my head can stop working like a barometer.

And I want my day back from yesterday. I feel cheated.

I am ready for this weekend, for sure. I need time with Mike, to unwind, to relax, to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Sense of Belonging

Making new friends has never been easy for me. As the child of an Army man, we moved all the time, and starting your circle of friends over was a fact of life, but that doesn't mean I ever got used to it. I always hated the feeling of walking into a new classroom, with the groups of kids that all seemed to know each other, all seemed to have their inside jokes and little giggly secrets that I wouldn't be a part of. The intellectual in me KNEW that these kids moved a lot too, and that these friendships weren't that steadfast, and that I would be included in one of those groups eventually.

I still never forget that first minute of walking into that classroom.

The first Sunday my family would visit the new church. All the families that looked so happy and settled, our walking down the aisle to always, ALWAYS sit in the second pew back (My dad's joking comment on this: "No matter what church we go to, I always sit in this pew so that God can find me"). The awkwardness, the insecurity, the feeling of isolation.

Moving here, to this town that Mike grew up in, had a lot of that for me. There were a few moments of insecurity for me. For the first time in my life, I not only was the new kid in town, but I was the new kid in a town of kids that had lived there their whole lives. I was truly an outsider, at least at first. I felt like I belonged with Mike, I felt like I belonged in his family, but at first, I didn't feel like I was part of this town.

A lot has changed since those first months here. Somewhere along the way, I developed ties to the town we live in. I find myself smiling at Vern walking down the street (another story). I find myself caring about the town, and its economy, and its people. I find myself becoming involved in a church. I find myself feeling at home.

While this makes me happy, there is a little part of me, deep inside that is scared by this feeling. Emotional ties were a dangerous thing in the life of an Army brat. I learned as a child to never really allow myself to become too attached to anything, because my whole world would change in a few years. This is a defense mechanism that I had to learn to let go. I had to learn that it's okay to put down roots, it is a good thing, there are many blessings, many benefits, from allowing yourself to belong.

I have always felt I belonged with Mike.
I have always felt I belonged in his family.
I now feel that I belong here, in this town, in this state.

I belong.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pictures from Roll #2

So here is the latest batch of pictures from roll #2... I was happier with more of these pictures, but there were still some real duds that I didn't post this time around...

This first one is another picture of the vine that is growing up the post in front of my house. I like this shot because it appears abstract and almost fake (the vine). The background is out of focus, and so all that exists is this vine that is struggling to make its way up the post.

Next couple are from the inside of the church that I work at. I really like the perspective on this first one. The color is a little washed out in the foreground due to flash, but that same flash picked up the golden cross on the altar and lit up the full aisle, so it gave a good sense of perspective. Overall, pretty happy with this one.

Here we have a close up shot of the cross that you saw in the last picture. I am actually very pleased with the flash effect in this one. The rest of the picture remained dark, with just the cross and the top of the Bible being illuminated.

These next two are some of my favorites on this roll I think. It is the same shot, one with a flash and one without. The one with the flash is pretty cool because of the brick detail that you can see. The one without the flash is a little dark for my liking, but at the same time, it is kind of cool because it almost looks like the window is floating in midair.

This next shot was taken on 9-11 at a local convenience store. The flag is probably as big as the store itself, and although I have seen it flying there before, the immense size of the flag, plus the fact that they had it at half-mast, really caught my eye. Overall, I really like the picture too, because although I didnt really notice the clouds at the time, I think they give an interesting backdrop to the picture.

This next one is a random flower that suddenly bloomed next to the door of my house. I didnt plant it, not sure where it came from, but I walked out my door one day and it was there. Pretty happy with the focus on this one. I think the bloom is highlighted, the colors vibrant, and the background in just the right amount of "out of focus"

This last one is from an overgrown area near our house. It's not the most colorful, its not the artsiest, but I like it... I actually really like it alot because out of all the pictures I took, I feel this one tells a story the best. The explosion of such a wide variety of plants, the vibrancy of their colors and contrasts, the broken and deserted planter... I don't know... I almost feel as though this is a scene of something that was left behind and forgotten being overtaken by new life.

Again, none of these have been photoshopped, all straight out of the camera...

So my friends, what do you think? Which do you like the most? And why? I would really like to hear about why you connect with certain pictures, and what you like or dislike about the shots...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick Update

I just got back my second roll of film, and there are several that I am very pleased with. I will try to get them uploaded and posted tonight.

I am excited!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I hate them.

I just wanted to let you know that.

I love so much about the fall in Southeast Texas. I love the changes in the weather, the cooler breezes. I love the changing colors (although living in the Piney Woods, there is always gonna be a lot of green). I love fall.

But I hate lovebugs.

They are not romantic, they are not cute. They are annoying

They are everywhere.

They stick together in this horrible death-fated embrace, and fly around, in swarms. They get in the car, they get all over the car, they stick in your hair, they stick to your clothes.

They are a nuisance.

Please make them go away?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Childhood Heroes

Patrick Swayze passed away yesterday. I am sure you all know that, but I felt the need to state that, to lay the foundation for the rest of the post, I suppose.

I am saddened by his passing, honestly. Not that he was a personal friend of mine, not that I had ever even seen him in person, but still... saddened.

I think it was more what he represents to me. He was so much of my growing up, so many movies that impacted my life, from Red Dawn to Roadhouse to yes, Dirty Dancing. But like I said, this is about more than Patrick Swayze himself... it is about the passing of my childhood.

This year has seen so much of my childhood pass away, from Farah to Michael to Ed McMahon to Patrick now. I am sure there are more that I am forgetting. With each passing, I feel like part of my past is gone. Something I grew up with, something I cherished, something I remember.

It brings the knowledge that I am getting older. Only older people have childhood icons that are die off. Only older people mourn the passing of those that helped form their view of society in childhood. Only older people, right?

How did I get to be one of the older people?

Patrick Swayze will be missed. He was a fine actor, and genuinely seemed to be a nice guy from what I could tell.

He will also be missed for what he represented... they will each be missed for what they represented... those pieces of my childhood memories, those influences they had on my life, on my culture, on my world.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Swayze


Friday, September 11, 2009

Living My Whole Life

Please don't spend your whole life waiting for your whole life...

The lyrics to this song are on a new CD that we got this week. I was listening to it yesterday, and the song struck me so much that I put the CD back to this song this morning. This song reminds me of today, of September 11.

I am sure you will read a lot of blogs and stories today remembering what happened that day. Those moments, those hours, those days... they will never be forgotten, even if time allows the vividness of them to fade. I would like to think that we learned something that day. Something as a nation, something as a people, something as an individual.

I remember that day, not as a full story, but as freeze-frame moments.
~Me in my car on the way to work calling my roommate because I heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. At this time, we still thought it a freak accident
~The first realization that this was an intentional attack
~The second plane
~The Pentagon
~Being at work, but nobody was doing any work, we were gathered around the radio listening for updates.
~The silence of the airport... I worked about 5 miles from the DFW airport in Dallas, and the lack of noise is something I will never forget.

I will never forget the people that lost their lives that day. The ones that were gone in an instant, and the ones that died trying to save others. But for me, remembering this day is about more than just remembering the ones that are gone. It is about a lesson I learned that day.

You see, more than any other memory I have of 9-11-01, the thing that sticks out is the fear. The complete and overwhelming fear. The knowledge that our country was not as invincible as I had always perceived. The knowledge that we were vulnerable. More than that, the knowledge that we could be next. Mixed in with every moment of mourning the people that died that day was the realization that it could have been me. It could have been us. It could BE us.

I was so scared that day. I didn't want it to be me. I didn't want our lives to change, although they already had. I wanted that sense of carelessness and recklessness that I used to have. That innate knowledge that nothing REALLY bad was going to happen. That life could be dealt with. That problems could be handled. I realized that I had so much life that I still wanted to live.

The lesson I learned that day was the lyrics of the song I started with... please don't spend your whole life waiting for your whole life. It was the knowledge that life is ever so precious, and it doesn't go on forever. It was the realization that we don't know how much time we have left, so enjoy life. LIVE life.

Mike and I make an effort to enjoy our lives. Sure, there are things we plan for, things we want in the future. We want to own our own home, we want to adopt a child, etc. But the key is... don't miss what is here now in an effort to plan for what is down the road. Don't spend your whole life waiting for your whole life, and thereby missing the life that you have each day.

Life is precious, my friends. Every moment, every day, every smile from your husband, every greeting from a friend.

There are many memorials for those that were lost on that day. There will be many speeches spoken, many essays written, many stories told in far more eloquent words that I can come up with. Those words are important, those memories are important. But I also think that the people that died that day would think it the greatest honor of all if we allowed their deaths to make our lives more precious. Don't forget them, but don't stay locked in a time warp where all we do is look back on that day and fear.

Honor their memory by not letting the bad guys win. Honor their memory by holding your loved ones close. Honor their memory by being constantly aware of how very precious life is. Honor their memory by living...

by living your WHOLE life.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures (for real)

Ok, finally got the pictures back from my first roll of film, so I thought I would share them with you... even the not so great ones.

These first shots are of our cat, Bessie (who only responds to the name "Gato"... long story). These are epic because in the years we have had her, these are the first good photos of her that I have taken. For some reason, she HATES the digital camera, and will not sit still, but for the 35mm, she just poses up pretty...

A random flower on a tree outside our house... its ALMOST right, but just barely out of focus. I was working on manual focus on this roll (which the exception of the cat pictures lol), so that is an area I will continue to try to improve.

Another flower on another tree... again, almost in focus, but just barely missing the perfect mark...

This stack of firewood has been sitting on our front porch since last year, and it has begun to grow this brilliant yellow moss. The color was too fantastic to pass up...

A couple pictures of a vine that is growing up the post on our front porch. I am very happy with the focus on these two, but I would have reduced the flash just a little bit. The color is just a tad bit washed out for my liking...

Before I show you the last one, the one that I am MOST proud of, let me tell you that I don't even own Photoshop. These pictures are all straight out of the camera, because I figure I can learn best that way. Anyone can doctor up a picture to make it look nicer, but I am trying to take really good pictures to start with.

So with that being said, here is a picture of a random azalea bloom on a bush in our driveway. It is the only bloom on the bush, and is very out of season, so it caught my eye. The color is beautiful, the focus is sharp, and the camera is of high enough quality to capture the texture of the leaves...

I have roll #2 loaded and ready in the camera. Let me know what you think of these, and what you would change...


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I promise I am alive...

I am alive and back at work. This weekend was rough... it was a long weekend where both Mike and I were laid up most of the weekend with really bad summer colds. I am still sniffling and blowing my nose today. I am going to try to be back this afternoon with a real post.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stupid Sticker Make Hulk Mad!

On the way back to work from lunch, I pulled up at a light behind a woman in an SUV. From all appearances, the woman was in her late 30s, or maybe 40s. On the back window of her SUV was a bumper sticker (or is it a window sticker if you stick it on the window? hmmm) that said "Warning! I drive like a Cullen".

I would like to address today's entry to the woman driving that vehicle.

~I hate that you drive a car around with a stupid, STUPID, Twilight-referenced sticker on your window.
~I hate that you are that old and are still THAT obviously into Twilight
~I hate that Twilight is invading every aspect of my life, and that I can't even drive down the road without seeing it.
~I hate that I wasted my time when I got back to the office to google the term "drive like a Cullen" to educate myself
~I hate that I now know what that means
~I hate that I feel stupider for knowing what that means
~I hate that I AM stupider for knowing what that means

I have already established that I hate Twilight, so I won't delve into that again.

but so help me God if I have to start carrying around crosses and stakes to ward off all these vampire freaks, I will.

I swear to God I will.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Our Town

Last night, I hated our town. Specifically, I hated it at 2:30am, 4:30am, and 6:30am when the train came through town and felt the need to blast its horn for long periods of time, over and over and over.

I guess I should back up a bit and explain. The town we live in was built on the railroad. Actually the town was founded over 100 years ago, and was built on the lumber industry and our local lumber mill. But these things could not have been without the railroad that goes through town. That railroad allowed the town to prosper, and has done well by our city for many years. With the decline of the railroad though, its usefulness to our city has diminished, and is replaced by a nuisance. We seriously have a switching station that sits right smack in the middle of the city, and so when the train is changing out cars, it blocks the main road through town, sometimes for up to an hour.

Anyhow, this brings me to last night. The train doesn't USUALLY run during the middle of the night, or if it does, it is usually really quiet with little to no horn blasting, but on the rare occasion that it runs throughout the night (or maybe its the rare occasion that we have Cranky McCrankerston engineering the train), we get woken up several times by the horn of a train. Last night was just such a special occasion.

To make matters worse, Mike is pretty sick with a summer head and chest cold, and he was having enough trouble sleeping as it was. So when I would be woken up by the train, it would make me mad for not only myself, but also for "that damn train is waking up my sick husband".

So last night I hated our town.

Then this morning, I walked out my front door, full of bitterness towards our town and all that it involved, and I walked out into the perfect morning. The perfect morning that we don't get to enjoy very often in Southeast Texas. Crisp cool air in the 70's, the sun shining out of a brilliant blue sky with puffy white clouds, a gentle breeze blowing. It was the kind of morning that poets write about. The kind of morning that you think of when you hear "Colorado" (or at least I do).

Let me tell you, it took just one breathe of that perfect morning for me to not hate our town anymore. Yes, I am still tired from last night, yes, Mike is still sick, yes, I still hate the train in our town.

But the morning? This morning?