Monday, December 31, 2007

Cha, cha, cha, Chaaanges.......

So, I haven't made any new-year resolutions for the past several years.  I used to make them but then I always broke them, so instead of setting myself up for failure, I just stopped making them.  I think this year might be different, though.  I've been thinking about everything that has happened in my life over this past year: my mother-in-law passed away; Brianna was born [I became a (pronounced with a whisper) grandparent]; pets died; Shelby ran away and converted to Islam; I graduated from MBA school; started a new career in a new industry; started living in Atlanta during the week; made new friend/relationships; my son, his girlfriend and Brianna moved into my house; found old friends and I've traveled.  That's a lot to happen in a year.

Overall, I think there has been a lot of positive things happen this year.  Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of paying closer attention to the negative rather than the positive.  In a previous blog, I wrote about my propensity to have feelings of depression and not be happy.  While I do think biology plays a significant role in that, I also want to believe will power can trump it.  So, one of my new-year resolutions is to try and look for the positive in things, people and situations.  Now, I'm not gonna deny my natural inclination to look at the negative (because I think it's important to be able to see things fully), but once I evaluate the negative side, I am going to make a real effort to look at the positive, with equal weight and gravity.

It seems the older I get, the less tolerant I become: I'd like to change that.  I'd like to become more patient with people.  I get easily annoyed and can turn into a bitch in a second, but I'm going to make a conscious effort to be more patient with people.  I have a strong personality and get frustrated with people who do not immediately see things the same way I do… it wrong or right.  I will admit when I'm wrong and I think I am pretty good at self-evaluation, but people usually have to uncomfortably suffer some pain until I realize that I was wrong and/or just being a complete bitch.

I am going to make an effort at being more compassionate—to try and appreciate different personality types.  Now, that doesn't mean that I am going to allow people to take advantage of me, nor does it mean that I will not voice my opinion, but I will try to understand the opinions of others more, and ask myself what kind of value I can get from listening to them or allowing them to proceed without a fight.  Yes, I am a fighter (not physically—just mentally and verbally).  I know, hard to imagine, uh? ;-)

I am also going to try to be nicer.  I think that if I can practice tolerance and increase my patience and compassion with others, the niceness will naturally follow.

Last, but certainly not least, I am going to focus on my health/fitness lifestyle.  I've vowed to lose 30 pounds by April 1st, and I've lost about five pounds so far.  I'm going to continue exercising in hopes of achieving that objective, but I'm going to try and change my thinking from just "I want to look good naked" to "I want to look good naked and feel good about good who I am—mentally and physically."  Even if I do lose the 30 pounds by April 1st, I still won't be at my ideal body weight.  By this time next year, I'd like to be at my ideal body weight for at least a few months and feel good about all of the hard work I've done.  I know I can do it.  I just need to apply the perseverance and tenacity I have for my other passions to mental and physical fitness as well.  I need to make health and fitness a passion.

So, this next year, I'm working on me—inside and out.  I know I can look the way I want to look and I know I can treat people the way I want to treat to them……I WANT to be nice, tolerant and compassionate (but not stupid and/nor taken advantage of) and look HOT while doing it.  I have to admit that I am afraid people will mistake kindness for weakness and I also don't want to feel like I am exchanging one for the other, so it will be a difficult transition, but I am going to work on it.  For my family, friends and loved ones—please bear with me.  Please help me.  If I am being intolerant or rude, please tell me so—but please tell me in a kind way.  And please don't use this self-profession of inadequacies against me.  I need you, your patience, your confidence and your smiles.  Your smiles will help me smile—which I need to do more of.

"Life without passion is unforgivable." ~ Sean John

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas in Athens

So, Mike was suffering from a severe case of wanderlust and booked us a trip to Athens, Greece, for the holidays. I had been to Athens before, as a teenager (hence the profile picture), but since I was a cantankerous teenager, it was completely wasted on me. This trip had a whole new promise to it.

We left Atlanta around lunchtime Christmas Eve and after a brief pit stop at JFK, arrived in Athens Christmas morning, around 9:00am. We tried to sleep on the plane, as much as that is possible, but we were still exhausted when we got to the hotel. We decided to crash for a few hours before hitting the town. Let me just say that the Delta flight attendants were the nicest I've ever seen. They're Greece based.....naturally.

Once we awoke, we headed to the Syntagma Square for the Christmas festivities. It's so neat seeing how other cultures celebrate holidays. There were hundreds of balloons in all shapes and sizes, consisting of favorite American cartoon characters. There were also lots of Santa Clauses, all with at least one pony and a photographer--to take photos of tiny tots on the pony they will probably never receive as a gift under the tree. A carousel played music as crowds surrounded it. Across the street shone two golden arches......yes, Mickey D's. We took in the festivities and travelled around via foot until it was dark and then headed back to the hotel. Below are some photos.

December 26th is Boxing Day, another well-known and celebrated holiday. Everything was closed and we had booked an all-day cruise to visit three Greek islands. We waited in the hotel lobby but nobody showed up to get us, as they were supposed to. We had the receptionsist call the number of the agency but there was no answer. We eventually hired a Taxi to take us down to the dock to see if we could still make a cruise. All of the scheduled tours had already left so we just ended up buying a ticket aboard a ferry to the island, Aegina. We spent most of the day there and took a quick carriage ride.

We had an early night, since everything was pretty much closed. The next day was a scheduled tour of the Acropolis. The Parthenon was amazing! I remembered it, but my memory mostly consisted of sitting on a step waiting for my parents. I had a completely different experience this time, especially after studying Plato, Aristotle and Socrates. To think that I stood where they did and looked at the same things they's amazing.

We walked our asses off yesterday. After leaving the Acropolis, we walked through the city and visited the famous flea market....picking up uneeded trinkets and cheap souvenirs. We had been wanting to eat at a local restaurant, to get a taste of local cuisine (well everyone else did...I was just along for the ride) but it had been closed until last night. Around 6:30pm, we made it to the Attikos Restaurant and knocked on the door (I know). A lady answered and said that they do not open until around 7:15pm or 7:30pm and to come back then. Can you imagine? That's how most of the restaurants were....they didn't open until 7ish for dinner. We walked back to the hotel and waited, and returned for a traditional Greek meal. Mike got some sort of chicken and Shane and Liz both got a lamb dish. I ate spaghetti with red sauce--no meat. Have I ever told you that I'm pretty much a vegetarian outside of the United States? I just don't trust it.

Today, we hopped on a plane to Turkey. Right now, as I sit and write this, I am in Istanbul (not Constantinople).

We flew Turkish Airways and it was great. I'm telling you, our American airline companies could really learn a lot from these foreign airlines--especially when it comes to customer service. We even got a meal--for only an hour flight. Go figure.

We checked in to our hotel and headed out to walk around the town. This is by no means a little town. There are some 15 million people in Istanbul. We asked the concierge for a dinner recommendation (again something traditional) and he sent us to Haci Baba. We are staying very close to Taksim Square, which is the European part of Istanbul, and there are numerous restaurants around. We finally found it. Again, Mike got a chicken dish, Liz and Shane both got lamb and I got a beef-filled eggplant, but removed the beef. It was all very good.

My favorite part of the night was finding something I had been without all week. Starbucks! After we ate, we headed over and sipped on some Starbucks. We came back to the hotel, checked email, MySpace and Facebook and worked out at the gym. Now, I'm writing this blog. I do have to say that I was unable to log into MySpace nor Facebook the entire time in Greece and I was having little withdraws, in addition to my jonesing for Starbucks. I was not a very happy camper. I am now somewhat civilized and easier to deal with. I think. At least I'm easier to deal with now than when I was 13 years old. So there.

More later.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Okay, so I've seen this movie twice now, and it hasn't even opened yet.  I know, hard life, right?  I love the perks of my job.

I have to say, I LOVED this movie.  The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, directed by Julian Schnabel, is a French film, subtitled.  The story is about a man, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffers a stroke and has to learn to live with "locked-in syndrome."  Basically he's completely paralyzed (with the exception of his left eye-lid) but his mind and cognitive abilities are untouched.  He fully understands everything and can see, but cannot speak.  He is, however, able to communicate with the world one blink at a time.  In fact, with the help of an assistant, he is able to write a book about his experience.  His story is told through fantastic cinematography and a compelling soundtrack.  The song on my profile is one from the film.

The movie has to be one of the most beautifully shot that I've ever seen.  The story resonated with me for several reasons, but the most obvious is because it reminded me of my mother-in-law.  She wasn't paralyzed but there were quite a few parallels.  My favorite part of the movie was the way in which Bauby dealt with the change in his life.  Prior to the stroke, Bauby was a successful editor of Elle magazine and enjoyed the lavish lifestyle that someone in that position receives--women, money, travel, etc..  Now, isn't it logical to think that a devestating event, like a stroke, will make you rethink your life and actions, take note, and try to make amends while you still can. That's what makes this movie so great.  Schnabel did such an amazing job at not falling into that cliche.  I, however, am not as skilled.

So, at what point in your life do you stop to take stock?  Are you happy?  If not, are you willing to do something about it?  Or, do you settle?  Is it okay to settle for something less than what you want?  Bauby, a Frenchman, had many lovers, one of whom was the mother of his three children.  He loved his father, who had also been a man around town and a lover of the ladies.  While it was clear that Bauby thought about his playboy days, it was also clear that he still loved the ladies--even trapped in a diving bell.  Bauby had a true love but she never came to see him in the hospital.  Celine, the mother of his children, regularly visited him and made sure the kids knew they still had a father.  During one visit, Bauby's true love calls, and he stays true to himself.  It was somewhat painful to watch (because Celine is the one who takes the call), but it was true.  It was honest.  That moves me.

We often think about how much people matter to us.  If I asked you to name three people who matter the most to you, then asked you to name the three people that matter the most to those three, how many matches do you think there might be?  It's so easy to know how we feel about others but not know how others truly feel about us.  We create scenerios and beliefs and meaning.  Yes, we create meaning.  But, is the meaning mutually equitable?  Probably not.  It's during the most difficult times in life that illustrate whether or not those feelings/meanings are truly equitible or reciprocal.

What I loved about Bauby was his inability to give up--to give up his search for meaning.  He held on to the hope that the woman he loved would come visit him, even though she never did.  He still loved her more than Celine, who clearly loved him and visited him often, with three kids in tow.  He dreamt and fantasized about things that turned him on pre-stroke, illustrating true-to-character traits--a real-life person, not some stoic Hollywood creation.  Although, I have to say, anyone who can author a book with only the blink of an eye does possess a great hero quality.

Go see this movie.  Create meaningful relationships.  Laugh often and Love hard.  Live passionately.  Otherwise, it's a waste.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dance Dance Tanksgiving Revolution

So, I've cut together a little video of Thanksgiving from my house. It's not very good quality because the video clips actually came from three different sources....two cameras and a cell phone. But, I still think it's pretty fun. Anyway, the photos are in my photo album, because I know they go by pretty quickly. I had never played Dance Dance Revolution, but I loved it! We all had a great time.

Now, after looking at my fat ass jiggling all over the screen, I have promised myself that I will lose 30 pounds by April 1, 2008. So, I'll be giving you updates on my progress. If I don't, please ask me about it because I need people to ride my ass and keep me motivated.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I give thanks for.......

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, a friend of mine asked me today the things for which I'm thankful. Below is my list.

I'm thankful for:
human triumphs - when the soul and spirit work in tandem
empathy - the invisible connector to the world
visionaries - the world's trail blazers
musicians - fondlers of the soul
storytellers - visual and verbal illustrators of the essence of existence
old friends - repository lock-boxes for youth
pregnant pauses - meaningful forethought suspended in action
knowing glances - visceral intimacy
self-preservation - helps us satisfy our basic survival needs
personal perseverance - provides the means to accomplish self-preservation
boredom - a truly natural state of being
sarcasm - irony "on steroids"
wit - quickly distinguishes intellectually remarkable people
inside jokes - they make us feel special
intuition - allows us to feel magical
math - helps us organize, categorize and provide order
antibiotics - they're life savers
vaccines - are an excellent example of Utilitarianism
awkward silences - they develop character
tender touches - they make us feel loved
heartaches - teachers of appreciation
human pheromones - nature's own "eHarmony"
basic five senses - our internal Swiss Army Knife
laughter - a universal language and life preserver
passion - the active ingredient in go-getters and lovers
love - the irrational, idealistic and romantic protagonist of the heart
reason - the drill sergeant of the appetite

Well, that'll do it for now. I'm also thankful for my family, friends and pets. If it weren't for them, I doubt I'd be thankful for the things listed above. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Hugs and kisses.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Atlanta Screenplay Competition Weekend

The very talented Kent Osborne created this awesome video capturing some highlights of the weekend writer's retreat this past weekend. You can read more about the retreat in all of these wonderful places:
Bret Wood's Blog
Atlanta Film Festival

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Endings.....

If you know me, if you've been a loyal MySpace friend, you probaly know that although I try to maintain a "tough-girl" exterior, I'm really just a sap at heart and a sucker for love. I'm practical, yet sentimental. I'm logical and analytical, yet nostalgic and passionate with matters of the heart. Hence the 8th-grade photo of me and respective "true luv," Tony. Remember your junior-high days? Weren't things so intense back then? Well, that's how I remember mine, anyway.

I met Tony in the sixth grade, at Johann Kalb Elementary School in Nurnberg, Germany. We were both Army brats. I arrived in Nurnberg before him--in the 5th grade. In the sixth grade, we were in a shared classroom, with two teachers--Mr. Gill and Mrs. Get. It was such a different kind of class. We went hiking every Friday, played team-building games, and even went repelling during our weekly hikes. I remember Mr. Gill explaining the importance of good hygeine to the class, and he stressed the importance of matching clothes. He specifically pointed out that a red shirt doesn't really go with blue jeans. I know, right? WTF? But, I still think about that whenever I put on a red shirt. I seriously wonder if I match or clash.

When Tony arrived, I remember thinking how cute he was. He had curly blonde locks, pretty eyes and a sheepishly-shy grin. As with most girls that age, I was always overly critical of myself, felt fat and ugly. That's why when Tony asked me out, I couldn't believe it. Yes, this is sixth grade. We were working on a group science project and Tony asked me if I dated. I didn't know what to say. I had never been on a date. I was pretty certain that my parents would strongly object the word "date," muchless allow me to practice the action of it. So, of course, I said yes. He then asked me if I would go to the movie with him. I told him no, and told him to get back to work on the science project before we got into trouble. So, he responded by singing to me. He wouldn't take no as an answer. He continued singing until I agreed to go to the movie with him. I think he sang something like "99 Bottle of Beer on the Wall." I finally gave in, somewhere around bottle number 97, I think. I think that's when I first fell in love with Tony.

Tony and I had the normal on-again-off-again boyfriend/girlfriend relationship over the next few years, until the end of 8th grade. I believe it was mostly off-again from his viewpoint and on-again from mine, but nonetheless, it was intense and memorable. Here are some of my very memorable moments:

1. He slow-danced (real close) with me at school dances.

2. We used to laugh at our science teacher and the way she would cough....she would always cough with her mouth open and her tongue pushed out....and then he and I would look at each other and do the same thing.

3. When we finally (officially) started going together, I went over to his house and wanted to kiss him so badly, but didn't. Then one night as I was going home he came up behind me and turned me around and kissed me. I loved it. I had butterflies for weeks!

4. Once, Tony, Paul (a mutual friend), Brian (Paul's brother) and I were playing hockey outside at the school (it was winter and school was closed). The boys were playing really well and each trying to be Wayne Gretsky, so when it became my turn and I hit the puck (a real puck), it went flying and hit Brian right smack in the head. This was like a 5 lb puck, or something. I felt horrible and was really embarrassed.

5. I once asked him if he liked me and he told me no. He said that he liked Cathy Gottstein. I was devastated--especially since she was tall, lanky and not even cute, whereas I was short and kinda cute. ;-) He broke my heart. ;-(

6. He used to play Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages" for me all the time. And he introduced me to Blue Oyster Cult (which is a true sign of love right there, right?!).

7. We smooched one time outside of the movie theater, close to the dentist's office on the picnic table. It was completely scandalous, and I loved every minute of it. ;-)

8. He was so cute and had the best smile out of anybody.

9. We only had one English-speaking TV station and once, after watching an episode of Square Pegs the previous night, he tried explaining away his playboy ways with a quote he stole from the show, "Love is good. I like love." He was going with a German girl named Manuella, and I was so jealous.

10. He taught me how to play marbles--the right (old school) way, with potholes not circles.

11. Shortly before I left for the states, I asked him his birthday (August 7th). I've remembered his birthday every year.

12. Also, my last day there, Tony and I smooched on the side of the building, saying goodbye. My heart was truly breaking at that moment. I hated my parents right then.

I left Nurnberg July 3, 1984. My heart was broken. I cried for days, weeks and months on end. I did get everyone's addresses and phone numbers and everthing, but those were quickly lost and/or quickly invalid, as the Army moves families around continually. I lost touch with most of my friends, and most importantly, Tony. I looked for Tony for years. I knew he was from, or had family in, Pennsylvania so several times over the years I'd go searching for him by contacting every Tony Keller that came up in the internet search. But I never had any luck. I also found several alumni sites for Nurnberg American High School

and posted comments, looking for several old friends, but mostly Tony. I did this every couple of years or so, the last time being just a little more than a year ago.

So, a week ago, I logged on to MySpace and saw that I had a new message waiting for me. Yep, it was from Tony! I think my heart fell right into my stomach when I saw that it was from him. I was so shocked--excited, ecstatic, elated, nervous, crazy happy. He left his phone number and told me to call him--which I did after I caught my breath. I was nervous and scared to call, but I had to. I'd been searching for him for years. My biggest fear was that he wouldn't remember me....but he did.

We talked and tried to get caught up with each as much as possible. He's in a relationship, has three kids and drives a truck. He's in Pennsylvannia. He found me via a mutual friend--Paul. Paul had seen my posting on one of the alumni sites and started looking for Tony.....with much more success than I'd ever had. Paul contacted Tony, they talked and he told Tony about my post. Tony found me on MySpace. We've spoken on the phone a couple of times and have texted each other, and we do plan on seeing each other sometime next month. How exciting is that?!

I was gonna wait to blog about this after I sorted through some old photos and scanned them in, but I'm just still so psyched, that I just had to blog about it first. I'll be looking through my photo albums this weekend and plan to pull out some old (and probably embarrassing) photos. I'll post them as I find them. I'm sure they will bring back a lot more memories. So, that's that--exciting, uh?! Happy endings number one.

And, another happy ending I wanted to share is about the best massage of my life-- which I had tonight. I've been working my ass off lately and after having a stressful day, being an emotional basketcase at work and a total bitch to my coworkers, I thought I owed it to myself and everyone else to get a massage and just relax. So, I made an appointment with Dwayne at Spa Sydell in Midtown. Let me just say, it was the best massage--ever!

You know, I've had several massages over the years and as I get older and the celluite gets thicker and gives birth to its own baby celluite, I'm always somewhat embarrassed that the massage therapist is gonna think that I'm gross and will only agree to massage me in the pitch-black dark, but let me just say that Dwayne owned my body tonight! Seriously, he touched me so fully and completely--he didn't hold back. I've had massages by people who tenderly fumble their way around and although they do a pretty good job, it was nothing like what I experienced tonight. I was so relaxed. Dwayne massaged my scalp, my feet, my back, thighs and calves. Little did he know that while he was massaging the palms of my hands, I probably would've signed over legal papers to all my property, had he only asked.

So, some advice to all you men out there.......when massaging your partner....own it. Own that leg, back, head or whatever bodypart is in your hand. Touch it like you mean it. Let her know that is how you roll! If you do, I can almost promise you that it will result in happy endings.....for both of you. For me and Dwayne, however, our relationship had to end just prior to that.......damn solicitation laws. Oh, I mean, yeah, it was nice, Mike, but nothing compares to you, honey. I thought of you the whole time.

Okay, that's it for now. I wish you all very happy endings.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Smiling & Crying

Why do you think it is that some people don't smile, or cry?  I think smiling and crying are two acts that are essential to being a fully functional person.  Everyone looks better when they smile, and people usually feel better after a good cry.  Sometimes, we can do both--at the same time--and that is pretty damn funny.

Here are some fun facts about smiling (according to

Smiling is a great way to make yourself stand out while helping your body to function better. Smile to improve your health, your stress level, and your attractiveness.

1. Smiling makes us attractive.

We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away -- but a smile draws them in.

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood

Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There's a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

3. Smiling is Contagious

When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress

Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you'll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System

Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure

When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin

Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger

The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don't go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day -- you'll look younger and feel better.

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful

Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive

Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It's hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that "Life is Good!" Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

I think a lot of the same things can also be said about crying.  So, today, I wish you a good cry (if needed) and lots of smiling!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lars and The Real Girl


I just saw Lars and The Real Girl, with Ryan Gosling. I'm a huge Ryan Gosling fan and I've been waiting to see this movie for some time now. I give it a B+. I think Gosling's character, Lars, was very well played but the actions in the movie didn't ring true. Gosling did give a very good performance, as usual, but the storyline was weak.

It's obvious from the start that Lars is a damaged person. He doesn't like to be touched and he's detached from his family--apparently this is a result of early family tragedies. He is a functional being, with the ability to hold a job with very limited social skills. I will try not to give anything away that people can't get from the trailer or written reviews, but the first deviation from reality was when Lars actually ordered a man-made doll over the internet. It just doesn't seem within the character's ability to take such a proactive step in his attempt to find a companion/mate.

Several other things occur within the small northern town once Lars' companion, Bianca, arrives that also doesn't really mesh. I think it's great when people pull together to support those going through rough times, but even in a small town, resources (mostly financial) would definitely be an area of interest--but not in the movie.

The movie also touches on character--what it means to "be a man" and "do the right thing." This was probably the sweetest part of the film, but again, it was all just a little too simplistic and convenient. Now, even though I found several flaws with the movie, I would still recommend people see it. I think it does portray the nice and purposeful side of religion--to express tolerance, acceptance and a sense of community.

I do think Gosling put on a little weight for the movie, but I don't care--he's still hot. So, go see the movie--you'll like it. Plus, you'll get to see Ryan Gosling......who can knock that? In the meantime, I'll just be fantasizing about this being me:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If you sprinkle....

When I was growing up, my mom had a little framed print in the bathroom like this:

As a nine year old, I remember thinking how genius that little poem was.  Today, I wonder why that wasn't posted in everyone's bathroom.  I really think it should be a requirement.  It's funny how basic common sense is becoming more and more required public postings.

I mean, c'mon, ladies.  How do you leave a bathroom (public and/or private) stall with a dirty toilet seat?  Do you not think about wiping it off?  If so, why not?  Aren't you embarrassed when people enter the stall after you and will see the mess you've left?  Why not just wipe it off with toilet paper before you leave the stall?  Please help me understand.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Meet me at the Krystal.......and bring your laptop

I'll have three cheese Krystals, some chili-cheese fries and a diet coke……oh, and some free Wi-Fi, please.  What's the deal with people eating extremely fatty food and then ordering a Diet Coke?  I digress.  My real concern is the free Wi-Fi.  Yep, here it is—Krystal (the fast-food joint) now offers free Wi-Fi.  So, instead of trying to find those nice, "sit-down" restaurants to hold those working power lunches with the business executives, just have everyone meet up at the local Krystal.  Or not.


I have to say, when I first noticed the sign I didn't think much of it—so many places offer free WiFi now.  But then, I'd pass the sign several times a week and each time I saw it I found it more and more intriguing—then just pretty damn funny.  Why is it that a fast-food chain (that sells 59 cent hamburgers) can offer free WiFi as a service to its customers, but several hotel chains, airports, coffee shops, etc…, cannot—or does not, rather.  It seems a bit incongruous—dontcha think?

Yesterday, according to the New York Times, "The United Nations telecommunications agency in Geneva gave the upstart technology called WiMax a vote of approval. The International Telecommunication Union's radio assembly agreed late Thursday to include WiMax, a wireless technology that allows Internet and other data connections across much broader areas than Wi-Fi, as part of what is called the third-generation family of mobile standards.

That endorsement opens the way for many of the union's member countries to devote a part of the public radio spectrum to WiMax, and receivers for it could be built into laptop computers, phones, music players and other portable devices.

Unlike Wi-Fi, this mobile Internet technology can hand off a signal from antenna to antenna, thus allowing a device to hold a connection while in motion. WiMax potentially can move data at 70 megabits a second across 65 kilometers, or 40 miles. Current fixed-line broadband connections have speeds of about 2 megabits a second."

Doesn't it seem like we are behind the times, at times?  I mean, the technology to offer everyone completely wireless access to the internet exists.  It's there.  Because we live in a bureaucratic democracy, we have to first worry about regulation and establish so many vaguely written policies, to be challenged in court, before the people are given the "power" to access the world.  I think this is probably a measure to ensure the continuity of the middle class.  A democracy such as ours depends on the middle class to ensure its existence and viability.  The upper class doesn't have to worry about finance and policy and therefore are willing to pay a premium (literally and figuratively) to separate themselves from the rest of us.  But, again, I digress.

Just imagine how much free wireless internet access for all could benefit our capitalistic economy.  If internet access were free, how many purchases would be made by online shoppers waiting for their flight to board at the airport.  How many online movies would be downloaded, music purchased, etc, if people had all access all the time?  When people have to pay for mobile internet access, it reduces revenue because people have to either find hot-spots for their individual internet service provider (ISP), or they just don't bother.  But, again, due to the lack of regulations, free internet access for all is still a long ways away.  It seems as though the "Powers That Be" would be able to establish some sort of regs for ISP's that resemble the radio and TV stations.  WiMax might provide an outlet for this to occur—only time will tell.

I had a lot of ideas for this blog but due to lack of time and planning, I didn't get to shape my ideas into well-developed complete arguments.  I'll try to come back and do so as time permits, but in the meantime, lemme know your thoughts.  And, please change that Diet Coke into a chocolate milk shake, please.  If you're gonna splurge, do it right.  See ya at

Thursday, September 6, 2007

2 Days in Paris and then months and years and...

So, tonight I saw Julie Delpy's new flick 2 Days in Paris.  Overall, I guess the movie was pretty good.  It raises some age-old questions about life and love and how the two mix together, which are all pretty typical and not unlike other movies of the same genre, albiet the characters are more likely to be reversed.  However, to have written, directed, edited, starred in and everything else, Julie Delpy did an awesome job.

There is a typical introduction period at the beginning of the film that attempts to familiarize the audience with the characters and their two-year relationship.  This part of the film seemed a little too flat and forced to me, but an introduction is required, so that check box is marked.  Besides the flatness during the introduction was the fact that the characters weren't lovable.  Isn't it always great to fall in love with one, or both of the, characters and then follow along--leaving your heart crushed or euphoric by the end of the movie?  These characters were just regular people, nothing really too special about them, just a couple......maybe that was her point.  If that was her point, what do you think she might be saying?  That we idealize people (in Hollywood movies and in reality) and see things in them that don't really exist, or just think they exist until one day we wake up and realize that they don't and never did?  Just because we want things to be so doesn't really make them so, right?  Or, can it become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

For example, a nurse I used to work with (we'll call her Robin--mainly because that was her name) always seemed to live in this little fantasy world.  She was a 43 year-old divorcee with two grown children.  She was very good at managing her finances and actually was able to pay off her mortgage early and afford to buy her youngest son a slightly used car for about $12,000 in cash before he left for college.  Rarely do you see single parents in financial situations like that--especially since I knew the salary I was paying her.  But, despite her fiscal conservativism, she created a very elaborate world around herself.  She believed people were certain ways or carried particular characteristics because that is what she wanted them to be or portray.  When she spoke to others about these traits, and people disagreed with her or didn't see the same things as Robin saw, she would just laugh it off or say something like, "I know," as she giggled her way out of the conversation and the room.  The thing about it all, she was always so much happier than the rest of us--who actually lived in a shared common reality.

Scientists have found that when people are slightly depressed, they actually have a pretty good grasp on reality, whereas when they're happy or sad, their view tends to be slightly more skewed with optimism or pessimism, respectively.  Now, I in now way think that is an endorsement for trying to achieve a permanent state of mild depression just to maintain a firm grip on reality, because we actually need to be optimistic to move forward and make progress and, likewise, pessimistic to slow down and take note.  But I do find it kind of enlightening to know that we probably project certain personality traits and characteristics onto people and then believe they are like that.  When they do something that is incongruous with those traits we are disappointed and shocked.  Who's to blame here--them or us?

I have lots more to say on this topic but the hour groweth late and my eyelids becometh heavy so I will close.  What are your thoughts?  Do you think we actually accept and see people as they are, or as we want to see them, or as we want them to be?  Do you think this is something we've learned as members of society?  Are we conditioned to it, or is completely natural?  What about love?  Do you think love works the same way?  This was the major theme in the film.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Shower Curtains and their rings

Okay, so you know how when you buy hot dogs, and there are like 10 hot dogs in a pack, but then when you get buns, there are only eight buns? Why do you think they can't work things out like the shower curtain makers and shower-curtain ring makers have been able to do? I mean, no matter where you buy shower curtains, there are always 12 slots for the rings. And, no matter where you buy the shower-curtain rings, there are always 12 rings to fit in each of the 12 shower-curtain slots. Now these are the type of complementary businesses that actually has the consumer in mind. If shower curtain makers and shower-curtain ring makers can work in tandem, then surely a lot of other businesses could do the same. Dontcha think?

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Favorite Quote

Hey, y'all.

Just feelin' a little contemplative and thought I'd share one of my favorite quotes, from one of my favorite philosophers, with ya:

"What is missing in my life is an understanding of what I must do, not what I must know - except, of course, that a certain amount of knowledge is presupposed in every action.  I need to understand the purpose of my life, and this means that I must find a truth which is true for me, that I must discover that Idea for which I can live and die.  For what is truth but to live and die for an Idea?" ~Soren Kierkegaard~

I hope that resonates with you too.  Share your thoughts.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Thank you for.........

So, I got this workbook, "Don't Sweat The Small StuffWorkbook," to help me deal with difficult things and people in my life.  Lately, things and people have become very difficult.  So, I recognized I needed help.  Luckily, I happened to be in Border's bookstore shortly after coming to this realization and found the worbook in the bargin bin!  Salvation for only $5.99.  Seriously, can it get any sweeter than that?!

Anyway, one of the exercises in the workbook instructs me to spend a moment every day thinking of someone to thank.  It lists 39 reasons to be grateful--some of which I will use here and some I have developed on my own.  Anyways, here goes:

1.  Thank you, Shane and Shelby, for helping me grow into the person that I am today.  Without you, I don't know where I might be.
2.  Thank you, Mike, for loving me even during my most schizophrenic moments.
3.  Thank you, Daisy, for loving everyone unconditionally.
4.  Thank you, Patricia, for staying in touch with me, knowing that I'm horrible at keeping in contact with people.
5.  Thank you, Xanna, for writing the nice notes after the film festival and for subscribing to (and reading) my blog.
6.  Thank you, Buddy, for having such an awesome personality.
7.  Thank you, Gabe, for getting to know me and then still hiring me.
8.  Thank you, Jessica, for driving four hours to spend time with me.
9.  Thank you, Paul, for listening to me bitch incessently, and then still calling me.
10.  Thank you, Wafa, for making me homemade Tiramasu.
11.  Thank you, Laura, for being such a strong woman.
12.  Thank you, Deanna, for making me laugh.
13.  Thank you, Holly, for taking care of me when I was sick from drinking too much.
14.  Thank you, Dr. Smith, for teaching me regression analysis at Mercer.

I have to thank lots of people who do the little things that mean so much to me.  So, instead of naming each person (you know who you are), I'm just gonna say thanks for the thing it is that makes me happy when you do it.

Thanks for calling me for no real reason.
Thanks for taking my feelings seriously.
Thanks for introducing me to Catcher in the Rye.
Thanks for the light touches.
Thanks for the words of encouragement and tender back scratches.
Thanks for riding in the car while I drive and not threatening to sue me.
Thanks for giving me good advice and not telling me "I told you so" when I didn't follow it.
Thanks for dancing with me.
Thanks for singing out loud with me.
Thanks for forcing me to stop what I was doing and go outside to look at the stars with you.
Thanks for texting me.

Okay, that's it for now.  More workbook sheets later. Ciao!
(Please don't be offended if I forgot you on here.........charge it to my mind and not my heart)

Monday, July 16, 2007

At Safari Camp on dial-up internet

Hey, guys.

I can't post any photos or videos because I'm using dial up right now.  I'll have to post new photos and video when I get back.  We start heading home tomorrow and arrive back in Atlanta early Wednesday morning.  Yesterday I was able to write a blog that actually contains a little more thought and time as opposed to the other blogs of late.  Thanks for reading my blogs and sending me your warm and thoughtful messages. Y'all are truly awesome.


Today is Sunday.  We are now at our safari camp, Kings Camp.  We arrived yesterday afternoon and right after being shown our room (which is AMAZING) we immediately jumped into a jeep, with our safari driver, Monet (as in the painter), and went on our first safari drive.  The goal is to see "The Big 5," which consist of lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo.  We didn't see all of the big five on our first drive but we saw two of the five, and several other animals.  We saw a pride of lions eating a buffalo they had killed the previous day.  The females, along with two cubs of different ages, were separated from the males.  The females kept trying to get to the buffalo meat (which was mostly a carcass at that point) but every time a lioness approached, a male would growl at her.  The two males were lightly napping beside of the carcass, but obviously still guarding it.  It was quite a thing to see.  By the way, the African buffalo does not look like the American buffalo—they look very different from each other.

We also saw a herd of elephant bathing in mud.  It was pretty hot yesterday afternoon so the elephants put mud all over their bodies to keep cool.  They were pretty funny to watch.  They saw us and made noises.  The guide said they didn't feel threatened in any way, because they are very use to seeing the jeeps.  The sounds they were making were more of a "Yeah, and what's it to you...." kind of gesture.

We saw several warthogs, some hyena, impala, several different bird species, a giraffe and a small school of hippos.  About 3/4 way into the safari we stopped for a cocktail—it was around sundown.  Awesome!  I know, right?!  Who woulda thunk it—a glass of Shiraz in the African bush.  The sundown drinks are called sundowners—go figure.  Anyway, after the drink we hopped back into the jeep and began our way back to the camp--taking the long scenic route.  When we started the drive it was about 80 degrees, but right after we got back in the jeep and started driving, the temperature dropped drastically, like 30 degrees, then another 10 degrees immediately after that.  Can you imagine that?  It went from nice and toasty to mother-fucking freezing in like 6.8 seconds.  We had an hour to go to get back to our camp.  We made it but I just about froze my ass off.  Unlike a crocodile, I'm not able to lower my heart rate to only a couple of beats per minute and survive freezing-cold temperatures.  I'm an American.  Central heat and air, along with Showtime and HBO are essential to my survival.

Once we made it back to camp, we hurled ourselves out of the jeep--it was like the jeep itself had somehow just flicked each of us from our seat.  I was never so glad to see the interior of a solid structure.  Since it was dark and we are in the wilds of South Africa, we have to be escorted to our room by a guide.  The guide comes equipped with a flashlight and walky-talky in case wild animals approach.  Little does he know that I would be long gone by the time he was able to reach someone on the two-way radio.  He would need to use the radio to dispatch a search and rescue team for me, if we were to encounter a wild animal en route to our room.

Once in our room, we found two robes had been laid out on the bed for us.  I went over to admire them and to my delight, there were hot-water bottles placed inside the folds of the robes.  I can't tell you when the last time I was so happy.  I jumped on the bed and placed one hot-water bottle (we'll call it Johnny—as in Depp) close to my stomach, took Mike's hot-water bottle (we'll call it George—as in Clooney) from his robe, placed it in my lap then curled into the fetal position.  There I lay for the next 45 minutes.  When they dropped us at our room, we were to prepare for dinner which is served at 8:00pm, about an hour after we returned from the safari drive.  At 7:45pm, Mike started nagging me that it was time to be escorted to dinner.  Could he not see the bond that had been created between me and my new loves?  Did he not care?  I felt torn--go with my husband or stay with the nice warm hot-water bottles—Johnny and George.  I was suddenly faced with Sophie's Choice.  I wondered if I could some way sneak the hot-water bottles out of my room, on my person, while we ate dinner.  Alas, I felt an obligation to leave the bliss of the hot-water bottles and have dinner with Mike, and just fantasize about how the Johnny and George felt against my body while we ate.

Dinner was served in a Boma—which is partly open to the elements (the center is open) and partly roofed.  Imagine a circle and along the curve is covered with a thatched roof and the center of the circle is open.  It's much like a donut.  We ate dinner in the donut—and it was good.  They served us a wonderful soup, ostrich (which I did not eat), an African staple much like chicken in the U.S., stir fry (which I did eat) with chicken and vegetables, and a desert.  After dinner, I quickly sought out our escort and eagerly walked back to our room.  Johnny and George were still there, waiting on me, and they didn't even hold a grudge.  They just got back into position and helped me to a good night's sleep.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Short update

The internet connections have been horrible.  Right now I'm in the business center of my hotel, paying $5 for 15 minutes of dial-ip internet.  I've been writing blogs but I can't post them.  I should be able to post more about our travels tomorrow night, when we get to Johannesburg.  We're in Zimbabwe right now.  I've never felt more white in my entire life.  The country is literally falling apart and the people are running out of food and fuel.  The hotel I'm in is such a contrast to its surrounding area.  Women outside of the hotel grounds are carrying firewood on their heads and women inside the hotel grounds are getting massages (I'm not one of them, though).  It's all very bizarre.  I'm happy to be here to see this part of the world and Victoria Falls but at the same time I feel guilty.  It's all very confusing.

I'll post more tomorrow night.  Until up on the goings on in Zimbabwe.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Updated African blog with new photos and video clips

First off, let me just preface this blog by letting you know that I look like a big fat cow in the pictures because I am donning like three layers of clothing--it's winter here. I know that doesn't explain the fat in my face, but just go with it, please. When I return home Holly has promised to help me get into shape.;-) Eating the food has not been a problem--eating too much of the food has been a problem.

Wow! I have seen and experienced so much over the past couple of days. I believe I left off letting ya'll know that we were going to Robben Island, which held the prison camp where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years as a political prisoner. Well, we made it to the island. It was a short boat ride from Cape Town to Robben Island--about 30 minutes.

The island is still inhabited by the people who work on the island and a few others. The majority of the island is inhabited by African penguins (also called Jackass penguins because of they sound like donkeys) and lots of large rabbits. They are doing construction on the prison cells where Nelson Mandela was kept, so we weren't able to see his cell, but we did a good idea of the conditions. The tour guides are all ex-convicts of the prison--they were all former political prisoners.

It was really interesting to get a tour of the prison from a person who actually lived through the experience (although he was there after Mandela was moved to another location). Here are some photos of the island, our guide from the prison, the penguins and the rabbits.


We visited Table Mountain on Monday. It was absolutely spectacular. The day started off cold and cloudy. We were afraid we weren't gonna be able to see anything but the weather cleared as the day went on and we had fantastic views. It was a nice cable-car ride up the mountain. Here are some photos from Table Mountain.

We did something odd and off the beaten path Monday night--we had dinner with a local family in their home. This dinner was organized by our travel agent. It's supposed to give visitors a "behind-the-scenes" look into the local culture and community. Our gracious hosts were Ann and Reggie Johnson. Reggie was involved in the political movements and they both clearly remember Apartheid.

I want to mention something about race. Race is still very much part of the culture here in South Africa. And, to talk about race here is not taboo like it is in the states. People are very aware and proud of their race, but they also still classify each other by race. For example, there are three races in South Africa: whites, colored and blacks. None of the classifications have derrogatory meanings. The differences between the races can be defined as follows (according to Ann and Reggie): Blacks are the native Africans--they have prominant facial features such as full lips, high cheekbones and small ears; Colored people are people of mixed races--they have brown skin and hair more consistent like white people; whites are people of mostly European decent--most of them are not of mixed race and they are clearly white. I find the classification of people a little awkward to listen to but I not only heard it from Ann and Reggie (who are colored) but also from tour guides (blacks and whites) and store clerks and so forth. It was all very bizarre.

Today we took a day-long tour of the Penninsula. It was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. We visited the Cape of Good Hope, took a short boat ride to see the seals, went to the top of the cape, and finished it off with a visit to Boulder Island where lots of African penguins call home. I'll have to upload some more shots and videos of the various places, but here is a small sample:

We finished our shopping today in Cape Town. The store clerk that followed us around (as they do in all of the stores) asked me where we were from and I told him. I then asked where he was from. He asked, "why?" I told him because he had asked where we were from. He then told me Uganda. I took a gulp--having just seen The Last King of Scottland not too long ago. He then asked me if I had heard of it and I told him I had. He asked if I had heard about the genocides and I said yes. I then asked him if he was there during the genocides and he said yes. He said that he lost several family members in the killings, even his mother. I didn't know what to say to that. My heart hurt for him, so I told him so.

Here is another musician playing along the waterfront in Cape Town. Check out his guitar.

This morning we visited Victoria Falls. The falls are about three times as large as Niagra Falls. Victoria Falls is considered one of the seven wonders of the world. They were absolutely amazing. We had to wear rain ponchos to keep us dry because of all of the mist from the falls. Hippos and croc's apparently like to live a little upstream from the falls but we didn't see any. Because the animals are wild here, they are free to roam wherever they like. However, some elephants and zebras used to get too close to the falls so they put up a wooden, makeshift fence to keep them out. Our tour guide told us that as a kid he used to see many elephants at the falls--which is very dangerous for the elephants.

Our tour guide was named Ntando and he is from here--Victoria Falls. He went to primary and secondary school here and then traveled to Bulawayo for his education in tourism. He said his professional education lasted three years. He was a very good tour guide and spoke about a major concern he and others in his country have--the fact that Americans won't purchase ivory. He said that elephants are so abundant in Zimbabwe and Botswana and surrounding areas that they are actually harming the environment. The elephants pull down the trees and drink up all of the water in the watering holes other animals depend on for survival. Animals cannot live in the trees and hide themselves from predators. There are over 150,000 elephants and thousands are being born every year. The people in the countries use the ivory from the elephants to make sculptures and other ornate souvenirs for visitors. The problem is that the visitors aren't buying the ivory because they think the elephants are being killed just for the ivory. Apparently there is another side to the coin I didn't realize existed. I still didn't buy any ivory, though. Here is a photo of Ntando (pronounced Dando).

We went for a sundown cruise on the Mighty Zambezi River tonight. We were picked up at our hotel and driven to the boat dock--which mainly consisted of a large pontoon boat tied up to a tree. We were greeted by native dancers/musicians. One of the dancers/musicians boarded our vessel and provided us with on board entertainment after the sunset. Before sunset, I spoke with him at length about his life. His name is Admire Mutinhima and he is the leader of the dancing group called Idwala Elikhulu Theater Production Services. He is from Harrare, the capitol of Zimbabwe. He went to school but never sat for his final exams, so he does not have his diploma. He created the entertainment troupe and began traveling, hoping to find success.

Admire Mutinhima:

Since Zimbabwe is virtually collapsing, he and the troupe needed to leave the capitol for more greener pastures so they traveled to Bulawayo--another large city in Zimbabwe. They found a little work there but nothing to really sustain and support them. A person they met there invited them to Victoria Falls--the tourist capitol of Zimbabwe. The group, Idwala Elikhulu, has been dancing for The Boma a famous local restaurant that tourists flock to for a taste of the local life. The Boma proved to be one of the highlights of the trip to Zimbabwe--although I wonder how much of it really was local and how much was produced for the American tourist--or any tourist, for that matter. There was dancing, bongos, and everyone was draped with a local cloth upon entry, local cuisine and just a jolly good time.

Mike and I met another couple, Debbie and Randy from Cincinnati, who were also staying at our hotel. Since we rode over together to The Boma for dinner we decided to share a table. Debbie worked for Delta and Randy was a high-school guidance counselor. They were both very nice and had just finished three safaris in Botswana. As we were talking and waiting for our appetizers (I mostly stuck with vegetarian-type meals) we heard Admire's voice. He was introducing his group and telling the fellow patrons about the dance they were about to perform. I could not understand his explanation, but I did get some short video clips of the group. Here are the videos:">>

I asked Admire if he has some sort of business card or a postcard advertising his group and he told me no, but he does have an email address. I found that kinda funny. Anyway, he gave me all of his information. He is looking to travel internationally and hopes that someone will want to sponsor him and his group. If you are interested, just let me know and I will give you his contact information.

There was also interaction. A different group of entertainers passed out bongo drums for each person and we were given instructions on how to play. It was a call and response form of music. So, here is a photo of us playing the bongos and also a short video of Mike, Debbie & Randy playing along. I know the video is a little dark--sorry. The Boma was dark--it's basically a hut with a thatched roof, and part of it is open to the outside.

I almost forgot, we saw some animals while on our sundown cruise. We came across some Hippos, a couple of elephants, some crocs, warthogs and several types of birds. Here are some photos from the cruise along with some of the animals:

Friday, July 13, 2007

Today we left Victoria Falls and arrived in Johannesburg. I'm glad we went to Victoria Falls, but I'm also glad we are gone. The hotel shuts off power for four hours each day. Today, the power was shut off a little after 8:00am. We were scheduled to leave the hotel at 11:30am; since I didn't wake up until 7:45am, that meant I didn't get to take a shower before we left. Mike took a very quick one--but guys can do that sort of shit. It also meant no internet before we left. So, we decided to walk over to the bridge and crossed into Zambia. As we walked, I took several photos of the locals and a few short video clips. Women and men both carried oranges and other things on their heads (can you imagine the strength in their necks?!). There were baboons roaming about freely. Once we reached the bridge, there were several Americans gathered around to bungi jump from the bridge. I caught a video of it. So, below are several photos and video clips from this morning.

This is the business center I used to get the internet:


Now we are in Johannesburg. We have internet in our room and it is such a luxury. I have tried to give you a taste of what my life has been life for the past week. We are going on safari tomorrow. There is supposed to be internet at the lodge but given the history so far, I don't want to depend on it. I'll try and blog again as soon as I can. Thanks so much for the messages several people have sent asking about my trip! Y'all are so sweet! It's late here so I'm going to close for now. I'll talk to y'all soon.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

My South Africa Trip - Blog 1

Mike and I are in South Africa. The flights were long and tiring. We flew eight hours from Atlanta to Dakar, where we landed to refuel and make a crew change. We weren't allowed to deplane. Several Dakar airport personnel boarded our plan and searched it for explosives and other contraband. Afterwards, they walked through the cabin spraying an insectiside, which they claim was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). Afterwards, the plan left for Johannesburg, another eight-hour flight. From Johannesburg, we changed planes and flew a little more than two hours to Cape Town.

We arrived in Capetown on Friday around 8:15pm--which, given the six hour time difference, made it about 2:15pm EST. We will be in Capetown from Friday through Wednesday, July 11th. On Wednesday, we leave Capetown and head to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Friday, July 13th, we leave Victoria Falls and head to Johannesburg. We will only be in Johannesburg for one night. Saturday, Juy 14th, we take a flight into the Timbavati Nature Reserve, which runs parallel to the Western border of the famous Kruger National Park. We will be on safari at Kings Camp until July 17th. We head back to Georgia at 2:00pm on Tuesday, July 17th, and arrive in Atlanta early Wednesday morning. This is going to be the trip of a lifetime!

Here is a photo of Mike in the Johannesburg airport. We were waiting to catch our flight to Cape Town.

In an effort to stay in touch, I thought I would try and blog pretty regularly while on this trip. So, if you'll forgive me, I'd like to start right before we left the house--on Thursday. Given the fact that I am a model consumer of highly-processed American food, I'm afraid my daily meals are going to be the main area of concern. I packed a box of Ritz crackers and some fat-free Pringles in case I can't find anything to eat. I also brought some Charmin mini packs because one never knows how to properly gauge the softness of toilet paper in foreign countries. A girl's gotta take precautions, you know.

I've been asking Mike about our flights and since you have to fly from one city to another here (because they are just too far apart), I was wondering if we would be on a plane with any chickens and/or goats. He just laughed and told me that I've been watching too many movies. Although, you have to admit, since we have to fly everywhere, I could definitely see the possibility of being on the same plan with someone transporting some livestock he/she plans to use for trade. You think? I'll be sure to let you know if there are any chickens or goats on any of our flights. I hope there is at least one, that way I can have the last laugh, not Mike. See, when you think of Africa and riding in planes, don't you think it's entirely possible that this little kid and his chicken could be sitting in the seat right beside of me on the plane? I do.

Anywho.....back to it. We arrived at our hotel last night and it's a nice hotel. We have an excellent view of Table Mountain right outside of our window. Here are a couple of pics that I took from our hotel window.

Breakfast was great. Since I'm such a picky eater I always wonder what they are gonna have that I'm able to eat. Seriously, I am the poster child for American high-fat, highly processed foods. When you depend on sugar and cabohydrates as your main form of sustenance, meals can be a major cause for concern. There were all kinds of foods from which to choose this morning. I'm always skeptical of eggs and meat at hotels, so I chose the more safe route. I had a roll with ham and cheese--nice. Question: if all chickens are more or less the same, and lay similar eggs, why are scrambled eggs more brown in foreign countries?

We thought it would be a good idea to just make it a light day today since we were still kinda tired from all of the travelling, so we decided to hang out at the waterfront and take in the local atmosphere. There was mall, much like our malls with several stores selling inferior products at superior prices. We didn't buy anything today but scoped out some definite gift possibilities. As we were walking about, we came across some young dancers performing for the crowd. Here is a little video I shot of them. They were young and full of energy. They looked a little too young to be moving the way they moved, but I guess that's how it goes. I'm sure it's just because I'm old and only getting older.

Right behind the dancers was a section of ground skirted off with several inflated animals and jump castles for the youngsters. The inflatable animals were from Atlanta's own Cartoon Network--they were of Scooby Doo and his pals. America is everywhere. As we were walking through the local crafts market (which very closely resembled an international market in the states--with lots of cheap trinkets sold by people who also offer to read your fortune and give
you a quick foot massage--we ran across an item that must be a foreigner's interpretation of true American culture. It was a coin-operated machine that seemed to promise the true American experience. It came complete the Confederate battle flag.

We also took a nice little stroll through the aquarium here. We watched a fish feeding and learned some things about sharks--particularly snaggle-tooth sharks. The message basically consisted of telling us that most people are ignorant about sharks and they are far less dangerous than we think. There was a creative educational video playing on our way out of the aquarium that did an excellent job conveying the mesage. I didn't record it, but I found this recording on YouTube.

To take a break from all of the walking we decided to see if there was a local theater--there were two: an arts cinema and a regular, mainstream theater. We opted for the arts cinema and saw the movie Shortbus. The film itself is very risque and it does show actual sex acts, but I do think the movie was very well done and it was interesting. Everyone in the movie was searching for something in his/her life and the common bond that united all of them was sex, whether it be with each other or by themselves. I love movies that show the vulnerabilities of everyday people in everyday situations. I think we often try to be more than what we are and when we don't live up to our expectations we feel depressed or disappointed in ourselves. Always wanting something more than what we currently have or had is an interesting part of human nature and I like it when
movies explore people's actions in trying to attain that something. This was one of those movies.

It looks like a travelling documentary film festival is also coming to Cape Town in a few weeks. So, if you're in the area be sure to check it out.

Tomorrow, we are going to Robben Island. This is the island where Nelson Mandela was jailed. We will see the actual jail cell where he was held as a political prisoner for over twenty years, finally getting released in 1990. After his release, Mandela was voted president in 1994, after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Even though Apartheid was legally put into place in the 1940's, the oppression did not really end until the election of 1994, with the appointment of Nelson Mandela. So, the end of segregation is really young here. But, enough with the overly simplistic history lesson. We're gonna get on a boat tomorrow and go to an island. We're also gonna get to see the African (jackass) penguins that populate the island--SWEET! You know, penguins are my favorite animals.

One final picture for you (from the waterfront):

Monday, June 18, 2007

Admission Esaay

Hey, guys.  I just want to say thanks to everyone for reading my blogs and being so supportive of me.  Several people have responded to me with personal messages and I just want to say thanks.  Y'all are great thinkers!  I love your comments.

Wyn had suggested that I write some things about my life.  I've written several stories about various parts of my life over the years (not here on MySpace) with the intention of publishing a book one day but the stories are all incomplete.  I do have an admission essay that I think is compelling though, and I thought I would put that on here.  Let me preface this by letting you know that this was written in the early part of 1997.  I was attending Georgia State University at night and teaching phlebotomy during the day.  I had just met Mike and we had been dating for a few months.  There are several typos and grammatical errors, so please just overlook them.

I was applying to
Agnes Scott College--a small private liberal arts school for women.  I had to write about a time that changed my life.

I remember driving home from my mother's house one day when I was about 19 years old.  It must have been late spring because the flowers were in full bloom and the trees were green with all of their leaves.  It was not sweltering hot yet, so I know it wasn't summer.  I was married to an abusive man who thought the struggle in life was to remain within the poverty threshold so they wouldn't stop the food stamps or kick us out of our subsidized housing.

            Growing up I did not experience being poor, or doing without, so this new environment took some getting used to.  I never remember sitting in my room as a child envisioning my future of being, or becoming, a welfare recipient.  I don't ever recall saying, "I want to be a tax-taker instead of a tax-payer when I grow up."  But, somehow, that was what I had become.

            As I drove home, I remember thinking about how unhappy I was, and I knew that, without a doubt, this was not the life I wanted for myself.  But, I did not know how to change it.

            The sun was beaming down on me through the windshield and, since I didn't have air conditioning, I had the windows rolled down.  I could smell the sweet scent of honeysuckles, they were everywhere in Tennessee.  I started looking at all of the nice little houses, with their manicured lawns, as I drove.  Then I started seeing everybody zooming past me in their newer model cars.  That's when it happened.  I made up my mind that I wanted one of those cute little houses and a nice car.  Even more, I wanted the hope of a future that came with those houses and cars.  But in order to obtain those things, that would mean having to become educated and work every day, and possibly lose those well-earned food stamps.  I knew it would never fly with my husband.

            When I got home and walked through the front door of my low-income apartment I felt something I had never felt before, or at least not paid attention to.  I knew that apartment was not my final destination.  That apartment was no longer my home.  I knew, for a fact, that this was only a temporary stop.  Knowing that felt good.  But now since I had a new found future for myself, what was I going to tell my welfare-professional husband?

            I didn't tell him anything.  The next day I got up and left the house before he awoke.  I went and got a job at a convenient store called Jet.  I was thrilled.  When I went home to tell him the good news, he glared at me and told me that I could not work there.  He told me that he would do everything in his power to stop me.  I didn't let that discourage me though—I started work the very next day.

            After working for about a week, and my husband realizing that he was not going to be able to keep me from it, he hit me.  I guess he thought if he made my face look all beat up, I would be too ashamed to go to work.  But I wasn't.  In fact, after the hitting stop, I called the police, he was arrested, and I moved out of that apartment.  I went to live at my grandmother's house and continued to work.

            Eight and a half years later, here I am.  I've been working consistently and going to college at night.  I have been raising my two kids and paying a mortgage for about a year.  I bought my car two years ago—new.

            The drive home from my mother's house had a significant impact on my life.  For the first time in years, I saw where I was going.

Agnes Scott granted me admission.