Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Am SO Addicted to These...

Age?Not that I mind being 33, it just always startles me to say it
Current location?Loveseat in family room
Place of birth?St. Joseph Hospital in Kirkwood, MO... soon to be but a memory
Favorite hobby?Writing, reading, watching flicks, eating out.
Play any musical instruments?Some piano, but not really
Can you sing?I would love to be able to sing, but, alas, I have no pitch.
Favorite band/music group/composer?INXS, NIN, Billy Joel, Tom Waits
Favorite type of music?Good ol' Rock 'n Roll
Favorite place to hangout?Bookstores
Do you like to travel?Really, who doesn't? It's just a matter of where people want to go. Me? I'm game for just about anywhere. Well, war zones are out.
What is the coolest place you have ever been to on vacation?New Orleans is amazing. So is Charleston, SC
Favorite movie?Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, American Beauty, Heathers
Favorite song?
Favorite TV show?Bones, House, Swingtown, Eureka, My Boys, Law and Order:SVU,
Views on the world (semi-serious questions)
What do you think of politics?That the most popular person is elected, not the most qualified.
What do you think of President Bush? Moron, or greatest President ever?I always think that our President should be smarter than I am.
What do you think of the war in Iraq? Brilliant effort by a great leader, or waste of life, time and tax dollars?I think that it's insane that we've wasted so much money and had so many of our children die for essentially nothing
If the draft was implemented, and you were summoned, what would you do?Run for the hills or play crazy.
What do you think is the worst problem the world is currently facing?Employment and prisons. Bring back the WPA and chain gangs.
Do you like answering these types of questions?I'm addicted to these "getting to know you" surveys.
What do you look for in the opposite sex?A sense of humor and a sign of intelligence.
What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?Eyes... followed by hands and forearms... then if they have a nice ass or not
Would you engage in a long-term, serious relationship with a total idiot because they were physically attractive?I've done that before and never wish to again.
Preferred hair color?Dark
Preferred eye color?Matters not
Preferred weight?Like some meat on the bones
Would you date someone heavier than yourself?Sure.
Preferred height?Whatever height is best for kissing
Would you date someone taller than yourself?Don't think I've dated shorter.
Are your parents still together?They were still married at the time my Mom passed away
Do you live with them?Uh no.
Any siblings?Nope.
Are you and your family close?We were super close. I hope to be the same way with my kids, if I'm lucky enough to have any.
Your family heritage is?
Do you have a best friend?Yes.
Many close friends?Just enough
Would you consider yourself popular?Yes
Has a friend ever betrayed you?Oh yes.
Have you ever betrayed a friend?Isn't that what middle school is all about?
Do you like any of your friends as "more than a friend", but too afraid to make your feelings known?Ah, but isn't that what high school's all about? Of course, I took it beyond college.
Do you think any of your friends have a crush on you?Possibly a harmless crush, but nothing more.
What kinds of things do you and your friends do together for fun?They're my friends because we have some of the same hobbies. See earlier.
This or that
Love or money?Love don't pay the bills, but money can't buy love. But do what you love and the money will come, or so they say.
Water or soda?I should say water, but that would be a lie.
Coffee or tea?Tea. Preferably iced and super sweet.
School or work?Would love to go back to school, but need to work to pay Da Man his taxes
Crime or law-abiding?I jaywalk. Oh yes, I thumb my nose at the law.
Fast or slow?I am so impatient sometimes, but
Cold or warm?I want to say cold because I hate summer, but heat doesn't hurt.
Beach or mountains?Both. Short of that, mountains... but within a relatively short drive of a beach
Snow ski or water ski?Neither. People whose toes turn out are just asking for trouble.
Skateboard or bike?Bike, although I used
Nerd or cool?I am so nerdy that I'm now cool.
Mozart or Beethoven?Tchaikovsky
Tattooed or clean-cut?8 tattoos, but I still think I clean up well.
Abercrombie and Fitch or Hot Topic?Target
Myspace or Facebook?Okay, maybe I need to reconsider my cool statement.
Job?Bleaching the life out of me
Ambition?To be a best-selling romance novelist
Marital status?Very much so
Manner of dress?Quirky casual
Hair style?Short and wavy
Fear?Burning to death, drowning, and the sudden impact of the fall
Love?My life and everyone in it
Hate?Intolerance and people who don't use turn signals
Regret?Not telling my parents I loved them more.
Wish?To fine a fume-free work environment until the writing gig takes off.
Thoughts?I try not to -- hurts me head. =)
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's A Ten

My dog, Lance, turned ten-years-old on July 14th – Bastille Day. I was somewhat in denial about the whole thing because the higher his age ticks up, the less time I have with him. Lance is, without a doubt, the best dog I’ll ever have. Knowing that all the dogs after him will be great, fabulous dogs is still somewhat hard to swallow because the bar has been set so high.

And I’m as equally devoted to Lance as he is to me.

Lance came into my life the way any younger man does… sad brown eyes and a sob story that tugged at the heartstrings. Let me tell you, am I a sucker for the underdog! And yes, pun intended, so stop groaning. But people who meet Lance now-a-days can still see shadows of who he might have once been, but really – who Lance is now and who Lance once was is night and day.

Lance, short for Lancelot… because Arthurian literature has the best names for pets, was a severely abused puppy when a Humane Officer from the Humane Society of Missouri picked him up. His life had been spent living in a backyard with no shelter and hardly any sustenance. In fact, it was his lack of food that caused a neighbor to put in a call for animal neglect.

The Humane Officer actually had to go by the house where the neighbors said the abused puppy lived several times. The little brown and black puppy had tucked himself into a hollow by the back porch steps and blended right into the dirt yard. But a bit of movement on the last visit caught her eye.

Knocking on the door, she told the family that she was taking the dog in, pending the results of the allegations of animal neglect. The family protested, to which they were told that if they willing gave up the dog, it would cost them $35.00, but if they fought and it turned out that there was neglect, it could cost them upwards of $250.00.

They gave up Lance willingly.

The cage card for Lance said Mohammed when I first met him. Such a strange name for a scrawny puppy, but the Humane Officer told me that it was either Mohammed… or Killer. And she said that there was no way she could put Killer down as his name.

Lance hadn’t been fed for four days when he was picked up. Four months old and only weighing 12 pounds, he was severely underweight and had a slight case of rickets.

He also had no soul left.

I won’t get into the existential argument of animals having souls, because I believe that being able to communicate and express emotion are the building blocks of what comprises a soul, but Lance didn’t car if he lived or died. I would pick him up and he would drape himself on me. Not drape as in clingy, but drape as in wilted.

He hid in the back of his cage, piling up the bedding in front of him to act as a barrier between himself and the rest of the world. But I would have none of that. Not to be biased, but he was too good looking of a dog to not fall in love with. And really, abused animals can become untrustworthy. There was none of that in Lance. He was a dried up little sponge, just waiting to be rehydrated with love.

And I loved him as hard as I could. Multiple trips outside housebroke him within a week. And if I got busy and missed a trip, he would potty in the far corner of the cage. I taught him to sit and shake. I wanted him to become adoptable.

Wasn’t happening.

He was terrified of everyone else but me. No one else could go near him without shaking like a leaf. I was told over and over again that if I didn’t take him, Lance would get put down.

I made a decision. I brought him home for my Mom. It had been a few years since we had had a dog and I knew she needed a companion. A quiet, gentle dog for my quiet, gentle mother… What could be a better combination?

Well, the only thing better would have been if Mom had wanted a dog. She refused to come out of her room to see him, completely breaking my heart. But back Lance went to the shelter.

Immediately, I started thinking about how to save Lance. Lightbulb moment – move out and get an apartment that took dogs.

Mom ended up seeing Lance about a month or so later and FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM. I mean, it was almost disgusting how much Mom loved him. He was perfect for her. Sat by her side. Shook hands with her. Let her rub his chest.

Mom got Lance. Not only had he been neglected with no food for days on end, but a five-year-old boy who lived with his original owners used to punch Lance in the head. There had to have been yelling, too, because Lance still cowers at elevated voices. And Lance hates baseball caps. Something there, too.

Dad never got Lance. Head rubs were the way you showed affection towards dogs. And Dad was excitable and would raise his voice often, sending Lance running for cover.

But it was like a grandchild visiting. Bring the little lover boy and then take him home at the end of the day.

Which was fine because there was no mistaking whose dog Lance was.

I moved back home two years later to take care of my ailing parents. Lance was with my Mom when she died and was elemental in getting me through that tough time. Lance would go with me to visit Dad in the nursing home. I took him to restaurants that had outdoor seating. I took him to friends’ houses. We went to obedience training.

He ended up failing the Canine Good Citizenship test because he loved the other dogs too much. But really, I never saw that as a detriment. Lance IS love.

In fact, as a reward for his years of devotion, I got him a sister. Now, there are those of you who know Lainey and will argue that Lance was not rewarded but penalized. Yes, yes. I know. But they are faithful companions.

Just learn from my mistake and don’t get a Border Collie as a pet. They need to be working dogs. Anything less and you and the dog will want to kill each other.

I mean it.


But now that Lance is ten, I reflect back upon the years with affection and a bit of melancholy. I mean, he’s closer to his death than his birth. But I am a better person for having Lance in my life.

And there is no better dog than Lance for me.
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Steal You Blind

Last night was one of those evenings where everything seemed normal, but something was a little bit off and threw everything into a pattern of near-chaos.

Barry went to get money out of the ATM and while the machine did dispense the amount he requested, the receipt slip stated that his account was negative. Funny, since yesterday was payday and he has direct deposit. I chalked it up to a glitch with the bank and to check his online bank statement when we got home. Barry agreed and we went on our merry way.

Our merry way was to dinner with his family. It was much more pleasant than I imagined. I don’t know why I do this to myself… Generally when we got out with them, we have a pretty good time. But beforehand, I always imagine that we’re practically martyrs for going out with them. I suppose it’s because he grew up with them and there wasn’t always good times. And since both my parents are gone and I lack siblings, I kinda feel like an island sometimes.

But his parents are always warm and gregarious. His brother always has something funny to say. His sister-in-law is always asking for advice. And his sister is completely different from me, but we seem to be in sync with most of our hobbies.

So dinner was amusing, even if the restaurant was loud and dark. I have a mental list of pet peeves and while loud, dark restaurants don’t annoy me enough to rank in the top ten of my list, I have to wonder why bad lighting and lack of good acoustics seems like a good idea to restaurant owners. I mean, the food was good. But not great. Certainly I could get the same quality at a place that is better lit and has a quieter environment.

After much good-bying, Barry and I headed home. His car was needed a fill, so we swung by a BP to fuel up.

Only, his card kept getting rejected.

I finally swiped my card, we got the gas, and then we headed back to the homestead to see what the heck was going on with Barry’s bank account.

There are very few things in this world that scare me as much… and that I really am ignorant in the ways of…

Barry is the victim of identity theft.

Charges were pending for things that just didn’t make any sense. It would be almost comical to imagine what it was they were actually buying if it wasn’t happening to us.

Immediately, he called the 24-hour fraud line and was told that they had planned on contacting him in the morning.

Since I wasn’t in on the conversation, I have to wonder if the account would have remained active long enough for even more damage to have been done. I’m glad to know that they were aware that A LOT of money had been transactioned within a 48-hour period on his account, but it did bother me that the bank was going let it happen all night long, too.

So glad that Barry called when he did.

Because of the amount – over $500 – the feds are now involved. I presume that the feds are involved in almost every case because I can’t even begin to imagine that a stolen credit card number would be used to only buy one thing.

Of course, I’ve been known to be wrong before.

But it’s a scary world we live in. I hem and haw about actually wanting to bring children into it. I cry when I watch and read the news.

But I’m one of those people who think that things will never happen to me…

…until they do.

Or in this case, to Barry.

Which somehow wounds me worse.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nah, nah, nah... Hey, hey... Goodbye...

Yesterday morning, I came across a news story that Slobodan Ilijevski had passed away. It was preliminary information – very short – but I became very upset. Later in the day, it became more in depth.

I did not know Slobo personally, but I had paid for a fair number of tickets back in the day to watch him defend goal for the Steamer, the Ambush and the Storm. I truly believe that one of the greatest soccer goaltenders passed away, way too young.

I saw Slobo play his last game at the ol’ St. Louis Arena. I went with my friend Jim, a person I miss having in my life as a friend. But I suppose that’s another part of the reason I’m sad. Another chip in the plate that was once a very carefree and almost reckless life.

Indoor soccer and ice hockey used to be my sports. I drug my father – who was more than willing to cover the cost of the sporting events – to as many games as time allowed. I think Dad was happy to go for two reasons… First, if I wouldn’t be a football fan, then he was willing to oblige whatever sport I’d embrace. And second, there was always a captive audience for my Dad to foist his stories upon.

Jim and I met my – our – freshman year of college. We both said that it was the best year of our life. It was so good that we ended up graduating from other universities, but that’s besides the point. And really, we ended up thriving in the new environments…

But getting back to the best year of our lives.

Part of the reason, and there were many, Jim and I got along so well was because we shared the same political leanings – and the same passion for St. Louis indoor soccer. It was like we found a kindred spirit in each other. Or at least someone to go to games with. And Jim even liked my Dad, who didn’t always want to be set aside.

When whatever incarnation of team we were watching would play, “Whoomp! There it is!,” Dad had no idea what was being chanted but would pretend he did by saying, “Hey! Hey, hey, hey!” If Jim wasn’t charmed by that, bless his heart, he sure acted like it. I, personally, thought that my Dad was a goober.

But Jim and I went without my Dad, too.

We went with his family. We went with friends. We went by ourselves.

And we watched Slobo make save after save.

I’m not sure if I would have been such a fan if Slobo hadn’t been a part of the team. He would wander from the goal. He was bold. He was daring. He was a blast to watch.

And he rarely let a blast kicked by the opposition get past him.

It was 1993 when I saw him play his last professional indoor soccer game. It’s funny how a newspaper article can take you back 15 years in mere seconds.
And with his retirement came my waning interest in indoor soccer. While certainly not a household name, Slobodan Ilijevski was certainly a marquee player.

One last time, with feeling… Slobo! Slobo! Slobo!
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Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 232nd Birthday!

God Bless America.

Even if you don’t believe in God, on today, our nation’s birthday, you have to stand up a little straighter, sing a little louder and smile a little broader when you sing our national anthem or watch a fireworks celebration.

I’m a zealot patriot, even if I’m not the most informed when it comes to current events. Oh, I’m more informed than most, but most of what I see or read makes me cry. Barry has had to put me into news blackouts because of how upset I’ve gotten. The world breaks my heart, but also makes me proud. We do indeed live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. It’s easy to get jaded about the world outside our windows, but our founding fathers got it pretty darn close to perfect.

The national anthem makes me cry, too.

So many people see it as entertainment at sporting events, but I think it an HONOR to be able to sing the praises of our country. I hate the applause that follows the singing of The Star Spangled Banner, as the song itself is not meant to be entertainment. Just what is it that people are applauding? The singing? The flag? The song? A moment of solemn silence following the song, with hand still over heart, would seem more respectful.

I went to Fort McHenry in 8th grade, too young to appreciate the gravity and enormity of what I was being subjected to, but I wanted so badly to be a sponge and ‘get it.’ Sometimes mind over matter can be the most powerful decision one can make, but it wasn’t until I saw the flag that flew over the fort at the Smithsonian did it hit me.

The national anthem – in all it’s difficulty to sing – finally clicked. It wasn’t just a song, it was indeed an anthem for my – OUR – independence.

It was Tom who told me that applause for The Star Spangled Banner was considered offensive and I breathed a sigh of relief. For years now, he and I stand stoically after the anthem ends. And it feels good, knowing that my silence speaks greater volumes than all the hooting and hollering around me.

And when I hear it on the 4th of July, my chest tightens and I mourn for all those who made it possible for me to have the freedoms that I do.

But isn’t that what the Fabulous Fourth is all about? It’s a day reflect. To remember. To remember the heroes of the American Revolution. To remember the birth of a new nation.

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

I mean really, how much more perfect does it get? Oh wait, it’s followed by:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It’s easy to forget. And so hard to remember. But remember we must, for we are standing on the shoulders of men and women who clawed and climbed their way into a new way of life. Yes, some of our past is ugly and downright despicable. But while there is no going back, we can make sure the mistakes of the past are never repeated.

But for everything wrong about this country, I am grateful to be an American.

God Bless America, land that I love.
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