Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gone to Heaven

Wiley and I took a trip to Mostar yesterday for the day. We went with Prof and had a great time walking around the city. The weather was around 60 degrees, the air was clean, and the mountains surrounding us were beautiful. Unfortunately, a member of my family didn't survive the trip: my little point-and-shoot Canon Powershot A70. It took two pictures on the bus and then gave me this photo...pretty, yes, but not quite what I was going for. The nice thing about the Canon was the fact that it could fit in my purse without any problem. The dSLR is constantly slung around my neck, which not only makes me look like a tourist, but is also a bit heavy. We have to go back to Mostar because both batteries were out of juice, and I need a picture of the Stari Most (a beautiful bridge) lit up at night. And the sun setting on the mountains was so unusual - the sky was a light pink, and the white snow on top of the mountain just popped. It was like looking at strawberry ice cream with whipped cream on bottom. I'd swear it was Photoshopped if I didn't take it myself, but of course, taking it myself wasn't an option, so I need to go back! I will post pictures of Mostar as soon as they're uploaded to Wiley's computer. We had a lovely time, though I'm sad my little camera won't be making the trip home with me. So the hunt begins for another point-and-shoot. Jill at Up in Alaska was given an Olympus, and she's taken beautiful pictures with it, but I don't think I need something waterproof, shockproof or weatherproof (though now I'm wondering since I don't know why my camera died, other than it was over 7 years old). So I'm also thinking of another Canon Powershot. Small, as well as powerful, is what we're going for here. If anyone would like to recommend their camera, I'd love to hear (or see).

Friday, January 25, 2008

This Ain't Me.

NYT had an article about how bridezillas try to slim down before their big day. They use extreme techniques, like going on liquid diets and taking laxatives, and they buy dresses one to two sizes smaller than their normal dress size.

Nutters! That's what this is. I know I said I wanted to tone up and I could lose 5 or 10 pounds, but if it doesn't happen, I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'm at a healthy weight, and I'm ok with it. The article mentioned that most of the women want to lose 20 pounds. That doesn't seem like a lot, and if it can be done responsibly, like 1 or 2 pounds a week, then hooray. But yo-yoing just doesn't work, which is what will happen.

My question is, if you weren't already 20 pounds thinner, why do it? You'll forever have this picture of yourself at your thinnest and it will be a reminder for all your days that you're never going to be that thin again. You're just setting yourself up for a life of self-hatred. With all the low self-esteem issues people have today, why put yourself through that crap?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Letter to Landlords

Dear Landlords,

You don't know me, but you should. I am a model tenant. I am an extremely clean person; if I see a bug in my house, as you can read in other posts, I squash them and exterminate extras with spray or poison. I called my landlady the first time I saw a roach in my basement. The exterminator told me it was a wood roach and they were commonly found indoors after it gets cold - they weren't the same as the roach roach that will be around millions of years after we all die from war. I didn't buy it, and the guy came every four months to spray for creepy-crawlies.

I pay on time, if not early. Ask my former landlady; ask my storage unit who gets money from me every month. Ask the phone company, the cable company, my insurance company: I PAY MY BILLS.

But the one thing that disqualifies me from renting from you, and which no doubt gives you headaches because you can't find honest, drug-free people like me very often, is the fact that you say I can't have pets. Why is this a disqualification? I'm not about to leave my furballs to other rental parents for the rest of my life. And what I don't understand is that my cats are cleaner than any toddler on any given day: they do not eat a lollipop and then press their sticky little fingers to the wall; they do not write on the walls; they don't pee on the floors; they are completely house-trained and have been for the past 12 years that I've had the eldest. The one thing they do is shed, but so do people, and you know what? We have these appliances called vacuum cleaners, and they pick up cat hair pretty well.

And for those of you who are "pet-friendly", then tell me you want a $200 non-refundable deposit for "flea and odor extermination" and then a $20, $30, or $50 "pet rent" each month I occupy your home, I know you really aren't pet-friendly. You just make it seem like you are so when I'm in a pinch, I will pay your extortionist prices to keep my babies near me. Well, you can kiss my grits.

Now, I know there are nice landlords out there, but I'm having a hard time finding you in Bloomington, Indiana. So if you are looking for an outstanding, responsible couple to occupy your home, here we are. To the rest of the blogging community, if you know someone who has a house or apartment for rent in Bloomington that allows pets, especially cats, please let me know.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I have to chuckle at myself. For all of the good things I've said to people about their lives to help them figure out a situation or to learn more about themselves, sometimes I am blind to myself. I have a friend I met through work, and though both of us left, we've kept in touch. Today, I was reading his Facebook page, and I was instantly brought back to the time when I met him. He was at the back of the classroom, sitting on the other side of an older woman, completely cut off from his younger cohorts. The very first thing he said to me was about his vision and how he could see better with his glasses, and he said it in such a way that I thought, This guy is a little odd. I wonder if he gets out much. Then, as time went on, I got to know him more through work and even outside of work at happy hours. I met his then-fiancee, and he met Wiley. This guy, who I really pegged to be a dork, is interested in politics and I even helped campaign for him. He has over 500 friends on Facebook, and I'm pretty sure he talks to them all. It strikes me as funny that as good as I think I am at pegging people and their personalities, I can definitely get it wrong. First impressions can be wrong, so don't be quick to judge.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I like to go around and read new blogs. I call it blog-dating - I'll read a blog for awhile and decide whether we get to go to the next stage, which is where a blog is listed on my blog. I'm almost hooked with this one, but as it's still the first day, I'm still a little shy. This comes from Pam at Escape from Cubicle Nation, and a little over a year ago, she posted about not forgetting some things, even in our busy busy world. Here is part of what she wrote (the entire post is here):

There are certain things you should never let slide such as:
  • The birthdays of your spouse and kids
  • The birthdays of your parents
  • The birthdays of your grandparents
  • The birthdays of your siblings
  • The birthday of your best friend
  • Your wedding anniversary (if married)
  • Uttering (with real feeling) the words "I love you" to your spouse and kids each day

I don't say this to guilt trip anyone, for guilt is highly overrated and generally leads to misery, not action. I say it so that you make sure to do the following things:

  1. Create your own list of "I must remember these dates." Don't make it too big -- no one cares if you don't send a Saint Patrick's day or Halloween card.
  2. Examine each item, and decide what action you want to take on each. For some, it may be just a phone call. For others, it is buying and shipping a gift or setting aside a whole day to spend time together.
  3. Place each item with the corresponding time required in your calendar. So if your brother lives across country and you want to send a gift as well as call, put one date for "ship present to bro" and another (on the birthday itself) for "call bro and wish happy b-day." If you are really into organizing, schedule time to shop for and buy the gift as well.
  4. Get a system of accountability in place to make sure you complete the task. Sometimes calendaring the item isn't enough. You may need to send a post-dated email to yourself to remind you. Or have your assistant (if you have one) put it in his/her tickler system for you. Or put a huge post-it note on your bathroom window. Whatever it takes for you personally to get it done.

Human relationships are fragile. I have learned this the hard way by being "too busy" and letting some precious friendships slip through my fingers.

I like this chick. She seems like good people.

Rumble Rumble

In one month, I will be back on US soil. I have mixed emotions about it. I get more miles. I get to see friends and family, get to take a tour of the Plains states seeing said friends and family, get to see one or two of my furballs, get to talk to some sales reps who can tell me more about their jobs to see if I can handle being one myself, get to try on some wedding dresses, see the reception site in the evening, talk to the photographer, even maybe get a massage and a haircut - just a trim, mind you, until I figure out what to do with it. I might even get some cheese curds and a Maid-Rite, and I have high hopes of being able to breathe normally through both nostrils again. But it's all at the expense of leaving Sarajevo, and Wiley, behind. Both are somewhat temporary, but four months is still a long between my arrival and Wiley's arrival, I will have moved from one state to the other and hopefully started a job or two. The roses will bloom in Sarajevo, making it smell wonderful, and Wiley will get to go on more hikes with my camera, and he will be the one to see the majestic mountaintops through the viewfinder, not me. (I guess now we'll see if it's the camera or the person that takes the great shot.) However, I've learned one very important detail about myself: without a goal to work toward, retirement in my old age is really going to bite. (So yes, I will have one.)

And speaking of biting, I really hate writing cover letters. I'd be good at many things. I have a steady job history (been with the last employer 8 years), I'm a fast typer, can use many computer programs, know how to use databases, and have even managed and trained a team of people - attorneys, no less. Think that's easy? Just take a look at Dan and you'll see the egos that are out there, and I've had to deal with that - CONSISTENTLY. It's not much fun to argue with someone and tell them that they're wrong, but I've done it, and I've done it tactfully. I can pour on the sugar like you. would. not. believe. But cover letters remind me of chewing mud (don't ask) or what I imagine struggling to down sawdust must feel like. You want someone. I want to work for you. Here are my qualifications. Like what you see? Then take a number to come talk to me. If I'm not working for you, then you can bet I'm working for your competition. So would you rather have me in-house making you money or taking money from you because I'm working against you? But no. I have to have a format. First paragraph: say where you heard about the job. Second paragraph: explain why you're right for the job. Third paragraph: close the sale. Tell them when you'll be calling to talk about an interview. Sign it however you wish, just make sure everything is in the full upright and locked position to make the landing a pleasant one.

The Nose, It Runs

This is a good thing, considering I have a deviated septum and am always fighting with it to make sure I don't get another sinus infection. I've found one secret to the nose running is to have Wiley cook more Indian food. He goes off a recipe slightly, then adds this and that, and before I know it, I've got some tasty vittles in my mouth going down to my tummy.

I will never go hungry - Wiley can cook.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lower Your Stress

by keeping in touch with your friends. I routinely glance at and was reading an article on 14 time-savers that really aren't. In our I-don't-have-time-for-that-most-focus-on-me world, have you ever noticed feeling a bit frayed at the ends, but when getting it off your chest, you feel better?

Everyone is busy. You're no different from anyone else - sorry, but it's true. Better that I let you in on that little secret now than you going through the rest of your life thinking otherwise. Perhaps to make yourself feel better, as well as make your friends feel better, call them just to say you're thinking of them. Return phone calls. Respond to emails you get. Someday, if you're not careful, you'll find that you have no one to call because you were too wrapped up in you.

From Prevention:

Don't Keep in Touch with Pals
You've gotten too busy to stay in regular touch with even your close friends.

"When someone is stressed-out, one of the first things to go is socializing," says Patricia A. Fennell, the CEO of Albany Health Management Associates in Albany, NY, and author of The Chronic Illness Workbook. But research shows that having close, supportive relationships has a tremendously positive impact on your health.

A large study at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that women who were at high risk significantly reduced their odds of developing heart disease if they had a strong support network in place. There was a significant link to a history of heart disease for those who ranked high on hostility and low on social support, even when other unhealthy behaviors were taken into account. An ongoing Harvard study showed much the same thing in men who don't have good relationships.

Next Time Start daily "check-ins" with the people you're closest to, suggests Fennell, who encourages clients to try a simple technique she uses herself. "I'll call my best friend and leave her a quick message--'I love you, I'm thinking about you'--and she does the same for me," says Fennell. "Check-ins hardly take any time, but they leave you feeling grounded and connected."

Give it a shot and see how it works for you.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Dirty, Dirty Oyster

Mind out of the gutter, Dear Reader! Being unemployed has had advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that I'm having a hard time "picking" what to do when I return to the US. The world is really my oyster. My old job is no longer an option since I'm relocating. My options are to pick something similar to what I was doing or try something completely new, like sales, to see how well I do. And if I crash and burn, Wendy's will take me until I find something else I want to do.

After the collapse of my marriage, I decided to take matters into my own hands and see a career counselor. He told me that being a teacher was a good option, but not of the little kids. "You need something that gives you something back," he said, because that's what recharges me. Apparently helping the little buggers isn't good enough for Yours Truly. He also said being a counselor of some sort would be good. When he mentioned this, a light bulb clicked on. DUH! People have been coming to me since I was a teen to try and figure this or that out, and I really enjoy it. So I applied to a school to get a master's in counseling psychology, and then Wiley asked me to go to Bosnia. Bad timing perhaps, but I also knew I wanted this relationship to flourish (and I realllly wanted to live overseas just to see what I could handle), so I put grad school on hold...I didn't really want to part with $20k just like that anyway.

However, I've been reading more about personal coaches. Life coaches, if you will. I've known about coaches since I used to read Real Simple magazine, and there were articles written by a coach. But I never really thought about it seriously - I still picture Ava Moore from Nip/Tuck, who was a creepy life coach - until I read an article from US News about careers that were overrated, and clinical psychologist was one of them. Couple this with the fact that I'm turning 31 in a couple of months, and if I go to school for two years starting in fall 2009, then have a year of interning, I'll be starting my new career at 35. I'm not sure I like that. My therapist had a master's in social work, but when I think about it, she coached me - she gave me tips on how to cope with problems and showed me how to respond instead of react. Maybe there's more to this profession than I originally thought.

The Great Shape Game!

Auntie Em emailed today and said that some of the fam is going to focus on getting healthier in anticipation of our wedding and asked if I wanted to be included. I figured that would be great - while I'm mostly ok with how I look, I've fallen off the wagon and eat more carbs than I should (which goes straight to the belly). And no, I don't necessarily stick to a carb-free diet (I think Atkins works but at the sacrifice of too many nutrients, and I don't want to eat meat at every meal), but I do make healthy choices, like brown rice and whole wheat bread and vitamin-enriched pasta. But here, I admit, I go for taste more than anything, and the choices just aren't the same - after all, it's not like they have 95% fat-free beef (although I have to admit the produce and eggs and meat have an OUTSTANDING taste compared to our hormone-injected, grain-fed only meat and pesticide-sprayed produce). I thought about calling it The Great Shape Up, but we're all already a shape. Maybe some of us want to change our shape. So it's just the Great Shape Game (GSG for short).

I've read articles that advise against shaping up specifically for an event, but I say, screw 'em. In this crazy world, finding inspiration anywhere gets a thumbs-up in my book. The trick is to make exercise and healthy choices an everyday occurrence. At my previous job, we had a dietician meet with us for two months, and while some of it was fluff, what I took away is that a) that Blizzard at Dairy Queen is over half-fat - just imagine half of your DQ cup filled with Crisco and you'll think twice about eating it all in one sitting - what, you thought I'd say not to eat it at all? No way. Even I don't have that willpower. B) I learned that it takes approximately 21 days for a new action to become a habit. So I figure if I can continue doing something for 21 days, then after that, it's harder to say no. I've already made the time for it before, so I can continue doing so. Some days, that doesn't work, but I run more days now than I don't, and while it may not be a continuous 30 minutes, I don't beat myself up about it. said that 3 ten-minute bursts are just as good for you as one 30-minute run, and possibly even better, simply because you can fit in a 10-minute workout. Come on, you know you can!

To make it even more fun (and my aunts are great at being kids at heart, bless them), they're considering adding in prizes. But I think we need ideas on how to get this up and running (har har). Do we do it by pounds lost in x number of days and then email, or maybe set up a group? (Yes, we're all honest so I think we'll believe each other.) Or do we measure inches? If anyone has any ideas, other than to pass the potato chips please, feel free to comment.

Movable Feets

Tonight I found out one more thing about Wiley: he can't splay his toes. His toes can only move up and down, not side to side, whereas I can wave with my pinky. (I can see everybody now tearing off their socks to see what the toes can accomplish.)

Isn't it funny the things we learn? After Googling "splayed toes", I found that splayed toes are a well-documented characteristic of "primitive" indigenous people, as well as camels. (Courtesy

The phrase "camel toe" now has new meaning, and that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Who am I?

I apparently have a very common name. On, there were 9 of me. I was an 18 year-old from Arizona, a 29 year-old black woman from Texas, a landscape coordinator for a farm, a special education director, and I even saw pictures of a Melinda, complete with huge belt buckle and cowboy hat, riding a horse and winning an award. The Facebook profile that came up wasn't mine though, which makes me wonder: employers go to the Net to dig up info on an applicant. I wonder how many people get the wrong background when they check and have no idea that the person they're looking at isn't the same one who applied?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Starting to Think I'm Gullible

But it took awhile to answer these questions; I couldn't just NOT put it up. And really, some of these things I think are true.

You Are An INFJ

The Protector

You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity. (Creativity,, hmmm.)
Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is. (If I can figure that out, then perhaps this would be a yes.)
You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience. (I agree.)
You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them. (But I'd like to know whose feelings aren't complex and deep.)

In love, you truly see relationships as an opportunity to connect and grow. (Absotutely, fo' sho'.)
You enjoy relationships as long as they are improving and changing. You can't stand stagnation. (Wiley, take note.)

At work, you stay motivated and happy... as long as you are working toward a dream you support. (Amen.)
You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher. (Hello - photographer! And I've been a teacher!)

How you see yourself: Hardworking, ethical, and helpful (True dat.)

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Manipulative, weak, and unstable (That's kinda gross.)

This is Uncanny

I just started playing and thought I'd see what gemstone I was.

Your Gemstone is Aquamarine

Intuitive, tranquil, and trusting.
You inspire others to have faith in themselves.

Uncanny because that's my birth month gemstone. Kick az.

My Birthday is Less than 2 Months Away

I have to admit, I'm more of a follower than a leader in the blogosphere. Spyder had this on her blog, and I wanted to see mine and then share. I'll let you know where to send gifts.

Your Birthdate: March 15

You take life as it is, and you find happiness in a variety of things. (Mostly true.)
You tend to be close to family and friends. But it's hard to get into your inner circle. (Very true.)
Making the little things wonderful is important to you, and you probably have an inviting home. (Kinda true.)
You seek harmony with others, but occasionally you have a very stubborn streak. (VERY true.)

Your strength: Your intense optimism (really?)

Your weakness: You shy away from exploring your talents (I can agree to this)

Your power color: Jade

Your power symbol: Flower (funny, since I refused to wear patterns of flowers growing up)

Your power month: June (oops)

A Legitimate Question

On Career Journal, there's an article about how to investigate a company's office culture. One of the ways was reading into questions. This guy was asked to imagine himself blind and to describe blue to the interviewer.

How would you answer this question? And what does it say about the office culture?

Only 7?

Spyder tagged me to do this, although she called me Melissa.

a. list seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself
b. tag seven people to do the same
c. do not tag the person who tagged you or say that you tag "whoever wants to do it"

I also am not sure I know 7 people who are bloggers that she hasn't named. But I'll do a.

1. I love to travel. That was one of my favorite things about my old job - I got to travel on occasion, and twice, I got to travel a lot. Hello, Marriott points and NW miles!

2. I am getting married on October 4th of this year. I think the wedding industry is a big racket, so I'm trying hard not to buy into all the crap.

3. I have an insane fear of getting stung by a bee or a wasp. I've stopped wearing smelly fruity/flowery perfumes just so they'll leave me alone.

4. I had a photo of mine published in a book many moons ago.

5. I am a huge fan of mafia movies and series: Goofellas, Godfather, Sopranos.

6. I break into song throughout the day while making food or coffee, just to make Wiley laugh...
well, and to get a little attention.

7. I call my eye mask my eye patch.

Let's see...who reads this that might do it? Meesha? Logtar? Dan? Aunties Em and Tex, you can do it in the comments section...same for Sis and Lil B.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Big Meh

"Meh" is the sound I make when things are not going my way. When I'm not happy. And tonight, I've been full of them.

My computer doesn't like running IE. Which is why I don't use it. But tonight, on a whim, I opened it up, and like always, it froze my computer.

My insurance runs out when I return to the States. I have a 2 week grace period, but that's it. Part of me wants to rebel and throw my fingers up at the insurance companies of the world and not get any until I find a job. You're not running the way you're supposed to, companies. I'm healthy. I don't usually need to go to the doctor. But I didn't have insurance for a number of years before becoming a full-fledged adult, and I figure I was lucky then that I never had to go to the doctor. I don't really want to tempt fate twice by not having any insurance, so I found what I think is a good policy at When I actually apply for it, we'll see what happens.

Still no word on any jobs. I've rewritten the resume, and I taylor it to every job. I probably will just have to wait until I come home. But if anyone has any connections in the Indianapolis or Bloomington area, then I would love to bleed you for information. I am just barely above groveling. But we may get there yet.

And to top it all off, Mattel and Hasbro want my Scrabulous game taken off of Facebook.

On a happy note, we got out of the apartment today. We have had an UNBELIEVABLE streak of good weather. It's been not necessarily sunny the entire time, but the fog has left us. Today the sun was in full glory, so we walked to our favorite grocery store where we can buy Equal. When we got out, the wind was so gusty that it blew our sponges out of our bag. Plastic bags danced in the street. The sun played peekaboo with the clouds, and we walked to the market to get tomatoes, hurried along by huge gusts of wind. It felt good to get out and enjoy the city.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Big birthday wishes to my niece, Lil B! The last of the tween years. Then come the fun years. Lord help us all.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Various Ramblings

So I've revised my resume again, uploaded it to Monster and Careerbuilder, and am getting replies only from insurance companies. I'm not fond of this. Not that I have anything against insurance companies (except lots of times they sell you things that you don't necessarily need, but Target does the same thing so what's it matter?). I just don't want to work for one.

I need positive thoughts and career-dances. Get to it, Dear Reader.

In other news, I've rediscovered Will & Grace. I liked this show when it was in its first was snappy. But I won't miss it when I'm back in the States.

A Streak?

Day 3 of sun. Happy happy joy joy. Forecast online called for rain yesterday and today. But it didn't happen, woohoo! Wiley and I went out with a new friend and bummed around town and ate lunch at a pizzeria, and they had real honest to goodness salad (not cabbage). They had burgers that had lettuce on them. We're going back.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

'Splain, Lucy

We have a cop outside our apartment building. We have a cop living across from us. You have to have a key to get into the building. Yet somehow, someone clipped the chain and stole the cop's kid's bike that was on the landing in-between floors - 6 steps from our doors - last night after 9:30. Apparently, the cop outside didn't notice anything fishy, like a bike being wheeled out-of-doors in the middle of winter, late in the evening. So much for that feeling of security.


Do this:

Get a watch that counts seconds.

Make sure you have flat, close-toed shoes on, and stand up straight. Start the watch.

Cross your arms over your chest and close your eyes.

Lift one leg, bending it at 45 degrees behind you.

Try and stay balanced for as long as possible. When you teeter more than 45 degrees, uncross your arms, or put a foot down, stop the watch. Compare your results with those below:

20 to 49 years old: 24 to 28 seconds.

50 to 59 years: 21 seconds.

60 to 69 years: 10 seconds.

70 to 79 years: 4 seconds.

80 and older: most cannot do it at all.

You just tested your ability to maintain balance. I read this article in the NYT and tried it myself, and I was very disappointed by the results. My aunts have complained of vertigo, but I never thought I had a problem with it. But I notice every so often that when I close my eyes, my head swims. Maybe it's due to my nose problem and I'm retaining fluid in my ears. Who knows? Maybe I'm just aging quickly. But do the test and tell me your poor results - you can keep the good results to yourself - so I feel better.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Leaving Those Behind

Yesterday, I received news I wished I hadn't received, but had been expecting. A friend of mine was diagnosed with a brain tumor several months ago. The doctors removed most of it, but unfortunately were not able to remove it all, and it has come back. With it, myriad problems have ensued, such as a seizure that resulted in a spinal cord injury. Now my friend is in hospice.

He is in his mid-30s.

Cancer seems to be very prevalent these days. Is anyone else worried about this? Eight years ago, I knew one or two people who had cancer. My mother had coronary artery disease, but not cancer. Then my grandfather was diagnosed with colon cancer. My friend's mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer. A friend's father developed tumors. Someone I used to work with about four years ago had cancer. He's battled it successfully. We just received news that a friend of Wiley's died over the holidays of her cancer (ovarian or uterine, I'm not sure) after having battled it for years. I remember talking to friends once over lunch. The man (and I'm paraphrasing here) said that if a woman was diagnosed with breast cancer, then both of them should be lopped off as a preemptive measure. I turned and asked him if he'd have both his nuts taken off at once if one of them was cancerous. I surprised him, but I was serious. I hope I never have to face that decision, but I worry that cancer is becoming mainstream. There are obvious causes for some cancers, but not for all of them. And why is it affecting people so young? Sure, Dear Readers who are in their teens and early 20s, you might think it's affecting "old" people, but just wait until you age and watch your definitions crumble. Two of the people I've known with cancer were over 50. They should all be over 70, or even 80!

My friend, who is now in hospice, will leave a small child behind, not to mention countless family and friends. He loves going to concerts for the indie bands, including Sonic Youth when they were still small, down at the Uptown Theater. He's big into making independent films and we would sometimes talk about his projects when we bumped into each other. He moved to New Jersey and back again when he found out there was no place like home. He's a dedicated worker whose desk was always organized so he could find anything, but to everyone else, they were just piles, albeit neat piles. The walls of his cube are completely covered with pictures of his little girl, and he beams with pride when he speaks of her.

I still hold out hope. Perhaps it's stupid of me since he's in hospice, as a friend told me that's the end of the line, but it's too soon for his light to burn out. But I am a better person for having known him. I realize there are people who delight in their child throwing spaghetti all over the walls, and even take pictures to laugh about the mess later. That just because you do one thing doesn't mean you're defined by that one thing. I hope that as his daughter grows, his spirit will live in her and her family members will talk of him often so he's not a stranger to her. When it's your turn to go into the great sleep, what kind of legacy will you leave behind?

UPDATE 1/11: hope extinguished. My friend passed away this morning.

Various Ramblings

Again, today: wake up, glorious sun is shining, can see blue sky, and before you know it, the fog rolls in. I'd take a picture, but just scroll down and you'll see what I'm seeing again today. Wiley found an article and said that it won't be going away any time soon and the entire country is covered in this crap. This thrills me to no end. *note sarcasm*

Wiley also mentioned that a woman who was a nurse in the army in Germany was kicked out for having implants. Apparently, it was against the rules, and they said it was dangerous to be in dangerous situations with the unknown danger of silicon D cups. I wonder if people have shot implants in their backyards. I'm sure it's been done somewhere. If we find them, they can write about their experiences in some scientific journal. The army is reconsidering their action; perhaps too many people complained that their view was diminished after Nurse TaTas was let go.

We now have the Fashion channel on TV. Has anyone noticed that Valentino is quite short? Why would a designer who's so short continue the madness of modeling clothes on Amazonian women? And how many of these models have hip problems because of the way they walk down the runway? I tried it, and not only do I feel foolish, but the hip-swaying hurts after a spell.

Job-hunting really stinks. I liked my former job, but as I'll be moving to another city upon my return from Hazeland, I can't go back to it. So that means perusing the job sites, and company sites, to find a job that 1) pays well and 2) I enjoy - and possibly in that order. I've been told that if you follow what it is you love to do, the money will follow. But there are plenty of people have jobs they don't enjoy, but they do them because they pay lots of money. Plus, there's the slight irritation that the things I enjoy don't pay very well. Counseling. Photography. Playing violin. The most troublesome fact is that I enjoy lots of things, but now that I'm job hunting, how do I choose what to try professionally? I worked at Payless Shoes. It wasn't a bad gig. Does that mean I should try sales? Become a road warrior? I liked my job, so should I go back to being something like a paralegal? I don't need to make lots of money - but I need enough to pay bills and pay for a wedding and build up the emergency fund. Sometimes it's a bit exhausting to try and figure out the best option.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sunday, January 6, 2008


It's amazing that when you try to capture one thing, you capture something else. When I was looking at this, I thought, Boy, my camera lens is dirty. Upon further inspection (look to the left of the sun, and then just above it, and you'll see the dark spots), those particles you see in the picture are in the air. Dino/Sarajevan, what the heck am I ingesting here? No wonder I have sinus problems!

Other than that, I think it's an excellent photo (taken from our back balcony).

Baking Again

Melinda here. Internet screwy and ticking me off. Made these carrot cupcakes a week ago, and we're still enjoying them.

Nice Things

I don't know what it is lately, but today I got three very nice compliments. First, Wiley complimented me on my skin and told me my face and eyes looked even more beautiful than they normally do (aren't you jealous he's not yours, Dear Reader? Well, too bad, I ain't sharin'!). Earlier today, a friend told me I had quite the eye for photography, and just recently, I got an email from a friend I worked with who told me not to worry about finding a job when I return to the States. Instead, he said I should open up a little shop to display my photography.

I really enjoy taking landscape photos, and I think I do pretty well, but I think my skills pale in comparison to Eric's blog. For one thing, I don't shoot in RAW. I would like to, but right now, I just don't know enough about it (and I thought it took a long time to upload, which takes up Wiley's computer, but now he tells me that's not a good enough reason to not shoot in RAW, so that's that). Another thing is that I haven't figured out all of my camera's workings. I have a book, and I've sat down with said book, but what I'm reading isn't sticking in my head. A dummie I'm not, but retaining this info hasn't been easy, and it's hard to figure out what to do in the split second you may have to take a kick-ass picture. What should the ISO be? What about the shutter speed? So, while I have good pictures, and I think it'd be awesome to be able to sell them, I just don't think I'm at that stage. You're welcome to prove me wrong, however.

And if you haven't paid someone a compliment today, go do it, and watch them beam. And thank you to the ones who brought a smile to my face!

Tearing Up

I found a wonderful dahl soup recipe a long time ago and bookmarked it. Then the bookmark stopped working. I've been searching for another dahl soup that's just as easy and just as tasty, but I haven't found anything yet.

So tonight, I winged it. Threw in some lentils and water, an onion and carrots, ginger, sage, cumin, garam masala, saffron (which is WAY cheap over here and tastes better than what we have in the States), salt and pepper, and lo and behold, I kick ass. While not completely done just yet, I've taste-tested it, and I can declare it a masterpiece. It's funny when you don't measure anything and just throw things together and they turn out tasty. Wiley's pretty good at this, but being a baker, I know measuring spoons were made for a reason. It's nice to let loose every so often and still have everything turn out all right.

The Friendly Skies

Lately, I've gotten a kick out of Jet Lagged, a blog from the NY Times. The most recent post is about being jammed into a seat and all the fun things you might get to deal with.

I'm looking forward to flying home already.

This is the one time it is GREAT to be a short person.


This morning, I got up at 7:30, and when I looked outside, there wasn't fog. To the contrary, there were gray clouds, but they were high gray clouds, and there were glimpses of blue sky behind them. And then the sun came out. I could actually see the houses on the hill across from me. I thought, Woo hoo! It's going to be a nice day! I might be able to take pictures!

And then 8 am rolled around, and the fog rolled in, and the sun went away, and the clouds melted into one continuous wash of gray to hide the blue sky and sun that I know is there. Weather forecast - rain until Wednesday, when we might get to see a smidge of sun.

Grumble grumble grumble.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Now We're Getting Somewhere

I took a bit of a break from all the wedding hooplah, and today I'm back at it. Registering for gifts has been a bit of a chore...which stores do we choose? How do we know what we really need? We both have established households. Granted, mine is more extensive than Wiley's, but it should be - I haven't been in school most of my life. I don't want to register for things I know I won't use. Before we left, we tried to merge a few things. I got rid of a bed and a car. He got rid of some clothes. Fair trade. I decided that Kohl's, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Target would be good places to register. All of them have websites and their storefronts are fairly accessible. But I have a problem with each.

First, Kohl's doesn't believe me when I fill in the counties that are related to the zip code. I went over this again and again, and each time, it told me I was an idiot. Cursing, I exited out of that and went to my registry to add items. I clicked on the items I'd already added, and lo and behold, for no apparent reason, most of my items are no longer available. Maybe I'll go back in again and try to add other items, but I was so frustrated, I said forget it for now.

Bed, Bath and Beyond tells me I'm getting married in Missouri because that's where my permanent address is. I mean, nobody these days has destination weddings or decides to get married in their soon-to-be spouse's hometown, do they? Pshah. So for people who will be looking at our registry there, don't be fooled - we're not getting married in Missouri.

I've actually found Target to be pretty useful, except that it's difficult to register for the little things. Since we love Doritos, we'll no doubt need some chip clips. But when I tried to find little gizmoy things like that, they weren't listed. However, I am not deterred. I will mess around with Target again.

My friends from my former job sent me a package with a bridal mag called Bridal Guide in it, and I found this online registry where you can register for anything from any store. I have struck gold. I've found things that while perhaps a little unorthodox, will certainly help make life easier. For instance, I found an avocado peeler. Talk about slippery little suckers. Gourmet coffee for Wiley and tea for me. Wiley scoffs a bit - "seems strange for a wedding gift" - but we are supposed to register for things we want and things we need. If we don't really need anything, then what's left? The wants!