"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Monday, December 31, 2007

A New JJ Abrams Fan

OK, let me start by saying I am NOT a Star Trek fan. But, that may change soon. ;0)

If you refer back to my blog entry on November 26--"Live your Dreams--One Man's Life"-- I told a little of the story of Randy Pausch. He has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and does not have long to live, but has inspired millions with a lecture he gave at Carnegie Mellon (where he was a professor). He is just a good person, and while the whole thing is sad, following his journey also lifts my spirits and gives me hope somehow--mainly that good people doing good things DO make a difference in this life.

Now, back to the Star Trek reference. I have been trying to keep checking in on Randy's website to see how (and what) he is doing. It turns out that JJ Abrams (pictured-above), who is directing the new Star Trek movie, did a very wonderful thing.
The following is taken directly from a post on Randy's website:

This is, by far, the coolest thing (okay, #2 behind the palliative chemo working). JJ Abrams (Hollywood producer/director who did the TV series "Lost," the movie "Mission Impossible III" and a bunch of other stuff) emailed me, out of the blue:

JJ Abrams wrote:

Dear Randy --

Hi there -- I'm JJ Abrams, director of the new Star Trek movie. I read about you and your condition, and ALSO your affinity for things Trek. So, I just wanted to put the invitation out there -- that if you had any desire to be in the film (can't promise you role as CAPTAIN, but... we could do SOMETHING!), it would be my honor and pleasure. The last thing I want to do is intrude, so feel free not to reply --but I wanted to make sure you knew that, if you are willing and able, the door is wide open. I hope that your treatments are going well and that we get to meet one day.

Best, JJ

Naturally, I presumed this was one of my friends, playing a prank. But after a little sleuthing, it was clear it was for real. Jai & I hopped a plane to LA, where I got a custom-made Star Trek uniform and my own station on the bridge, where I had lots of buttons and controls. I even got a LINE!!!!
In addition to publicly thanking JJ Abrams, I just wanted to say what an incredibly egoless and cool guy he was. We chatted a little bit between takes, and he is so tech-savvy (and I'm not saying that *just* because he knew all about Alice!). Anyway, it was a truly magical experience. Speaking of Magic, I got to fulfill a long-standing wish of taking Jai to the Magic Castle on that trip, courtesy of Peter Farquar. MK Haley, who is herself quite magical, joined Peter and his wife and Jai & me for an incredible evening.
the "Star Trek" movie will be in theaters December 2008. Don't blink or you'll miss me, but at some point a guy walked across the bridge and says "Captain, we have visual!"
I'd *love* to show you my costume (which they let me keep), but I promised JJ Abrams "no photos". They're trying to keep things a secret; in fact, even on the Paramount lot, you have to walk around in a trenchcoat if you're in a Star Trek costume. It's kind of like being at a flasher's convention!


Isn't that just great? OK, so maybe I won't become a Trekkie, (is that how you spell it?) but I can tell you one thing for damn sure, I am a HUGE JJ Abrams fan.

Happy New Year!

-Kim >^..^<


Saturday, December 29, 2007

News before the New Year

I haven't updated in forever, and I hate for this to be the reason. But, during my time off from work, I have noticed that Lilly hasn't been herself. Thinking back now, she hasn't totally been herself for a few weeks, but I got really concerned on Thursday. So, we went to the vet on Friday, and they gave her some fluids and did some bloodwork.

I was relieved when last night, she perked up, and seemed like my Lilly again. Then, the vet called this morning, and I knew from the tone in her voice that something wasn't right. Lilly has always only had one working kidney, and it appears that her other kidney may be failing. The reason she perked up last night, was that the fluids help--temporarily.

This COULD be a fluke and she COULD be fine. But, I have never seen her act as sick as she did on Thursday, and my instincts tell me this is not good. If her kidney is failing, there isn't much we can do, there are some medications, but nothing that will make a huge difference long term.

We go back on January 8th for more bloodwork and we'll know then.

I love all my kitties, but Lilly is special. She has always been her own little person, defiant and utterly entertaining and loving. I have been upset all day. She is only 7 years old.

What a way to ring in the New Year.

Anyway, that's all for now, and I will keep you posted.

Kim >^..^<


Sunday, December 2, 2007

eat, pray, love....read

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love books, and reading, and I get really excited over really good books. I finished Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert a few weeks ago, and have been meaning to post about it. This book had a powerful impact on me, I absolutely loved it.

The book is a memoir and follows one woman's journey after a divorce and other confusion to do some "soul searching" and to find herself. (I can't do justice in a small synopsis here.) The treat of the book is the writing itself...I love the way Elizabeth Gilbert writes--and I found her words funny, touching and very real. I can't explain it, but I felt really connected to her struggles even though I am going through completely different things.

Some reviewers say they found her to be self-absorbed, and resented her ability to pick up and travel the world to find herself. I say poo to that, I am glad I was able to go vicariously with her on the journey, and I don't know how you totally avoid some sense of self-absorption in a memoir, anyway.

At first I thought this was mainly a woman's book, but a colleague at work said he had bought this book for his wife and then he read it and loved it! So, maybe not.

So, anyway, this is definitely one to pick up. I can't remember when I have enjoyed a book so much. There are some great messages in there about enjoying life, not thinking/worrying too much (I am SO guilty of that), and knowing in your heart that everything will work out just fine.

Kim >^..^<


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Baxter, the end of my Christmas tree, and tummy trouble

Well, don't let those incredibly cute pictures fool you. I know he is adorable, I know he looks innocent. But, at the sight of my newly erected Christmas tree, he became "Baxter: the flying squirrel-cat".

That tree and all the lights brought out something in him I haven't seen even in my wild Lilly. When I tried squirting him with water to stop him (he HATES water), even that wouldn't deter him. He literally waited across the room for the right moment, and then ran, full speed, and flung himself into the center of the tree. I have never seen anything quite like it. He couldn't help himself, and I couldn't stop him. Lilly sat on the chair in the den watching him, and would then look at me as if to say, "what a dumbass".

I foolishly thought he would calm down during the night, and get used to the Christmas tree. The next morning, it looked like...well, it looked like a cat had repeatedly flung himself into it with great speed from a decent distance over and over.

So, the tree came down.

But, he is pretty darn cute.

Now, onto my tummy troubles. On top of everything else that has been going on, I saw a gastroenerologist today, and he is pretty sure I have an ulcer or two. Why, I wonder? It's not like I have been stressed! So, I have to go in and have a colonoscopy, AND an upper endoscopy to find out for sure what is going on. I dread this, but the pain the last week has been really bad. A shout out to a few of my friends who have had these tests (or know someone who has) and have given me gory, not so nice stories to think about (and look forward to). ;0)

Kim >^..^<


Monday, November 26, 2007

Live Your Dreams: One Man's Life

I came across this story quite accidentally, and was so touched by this. Randy Pausch, recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, has little time left to live. He is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has lived a full and amazing life, and has obviously touched many. As I read the article that accompanied this video, I realized that he lived his life very much by the "Be the Change" mantra I admire.
So much is to be learned here, about not letting obstacles stop you (and finding creative ways around them--a favorite of mine!), but also about the importance of giving back and living your life the right way.
The video is of a lecture in a series once called "The Last Lecture"...asking speakers to give a speech that they would give if it was the last lecture before they died. The title of the series had recently been changed, but Randy brought up the old series title (with humor). This is a long video, over an hour and a half, but if you get a chance, watch it, and please watch the dedications to him at the end. (and get a hanky). This is good stuff, important stuff for this time of year. Click here for the link to the video.

Also, for an update on Randy's life, click here for his webpage.

-Kim >^..^<
*(photo- Pam Panchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

I spent yesterday, Thanksgiving, with my friend Kim and her extended family in Matthews. It was wild, hilarious, touching, and fun. I can't remember when I have had such a great Thanksgiving. I have actually spent this particular holiday with a lot of different friends and their families over the years due to living far away from my family, or to the fact that while in college, I used to work through holidays-- Thanksgiving was a great time in retail to pick up extra shifts and extra money! This was by far one of my favorite Thanksgiving holidays!
Kim's cousins were there with their kids and Kim has 3 boys, so the house was alive with wild energy. All of the kids were armed with Nerf weapons, the likes of which I have never seen before. Kim's aunt has a great house, with a great basement, which was where all the ruckus of playing and "nerf war" took place, and where I spent most of my time, watching and laughing.
Being single, I was also amused to watch that all the younger husbands were drawn to these nerf weapons like magnets and were immediately engaged in playing with as much energy and enthusiasm as the 3 - 6 year olds. It was fun to watch, and of course, the kids had a blast. I love all of Kim's kids, but I have a soft spot for Kim's youngest, Nathan, who is already a bit of a handful, (and who is so cute I can't stand it) and I just love his attitude, although it leaves Kim weary sometimes. I only see him for small time periods, so I think it is cute and funny. He is three and rolls his eyes in exasperation with me and everyone else. Hilarious. (he also called the pucks on the air hockey table "hot pockets"--he cracks me up).
All of the food was amazing, and I got to see Kim's cousins that I knew (some I hadn't seen in years)--one of them, Lisa, was another dear friend of mine in high school, and got to meet some other members of her family that I hadn't met yet. It was all so fun. I took my camera, but never got around to taking it out, because I was too busy laughing and chasing Nathan. That's the sign of a good time- when you are having so much fun that you forget to take out the camera!
I hope you all had a great holiday, too!

-Kim >^..^<


Friday, November 16, 2007

One Person--Big Difference

I have had not so great health stuff going on this week, and felt like I was losing my focus on my "Be the Change" mantra that I had adopted. Then, I get this email from my friend Judith this morning. She knows this woman, Sue, personally, and her husband, David...so this isn't one of those internet sappy scams. This is a true story of one person doing something that might have seemed small, but that had a huge impact on one person's life--and then subsequently on so many other lives. BE THE CHANGE, indeed.
The story begins below, an email that David, Sue's husband, sent to a group of their friends:

Sue is too modest to send this to you, but I kinda think it is a neat story that offers some inspiration. (And yes, I want to brag about her a little, and I didn't tell her I was sending it to you). Sue received the following email from a woman - an abuse victim - who once worked for her at a retail store. Until this email arrived on Saturday, they had not communicated for the past 17 odd years. If you get past the 3rd paragraph without some emotional response, I'll be surprised. Her email follows:

Hello, Sue! This morning I sat down to eat a grapefruit and was reminded of my time working with you at the mall and all those grapefruits we used to eat! I went to Google and typed in your name plus Atlanta, GA and immediately found your website. Good for you in starting your own business! You are in my thoughts quite often. The year that I worked with you at Briarcliff Mall, 1990, was certainly a defining year in my life. While my personal life was tragic, my professional life, working with you, was enlightening. I had married a really abusive man and we moved to Atlanta the day of our wedding. I worked in Visual Display in all the women's lines. Every day, I absorbed your presence and sense of self and learned about my rights as a woman, things they don't teach young girls in the mid-west. Every night, I endured physical, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse. My home life was a nightmare. I day-dreamed about the Highway Patrol knocking on my door and telling me that the guy I was married to had fallen asleep at the wheel and was dead. I was in absolute misery and had no idea how to get out. When I finally had had enough and called the police, they took me to a battered women's shelter. The next morning, I called work and told you what had happened and you immediately sent the other Sue to come pick me up. She brought me to your home and you let me stay in your attic. On Saturday, you took me to the airport and said, "We're not leaving until you get on airplane." It was December 19!! We went to the gate and the boarding agent laughed at us when we asked if I could get on a plane. Then we handed him a note from my therapist, a note from the doctor who had treated my whiplash and a sealed letter from a judge stating that I needed to get out of the state immediately. The boarding agent took one look at the letters and handed me my boarding pass and said, "Merry Christmas". I still cannot tell this story without crying. I am forever grateful for all that you did for me in that year. You poured your strength and sense of identity into me every time we were in the same room. I had no strength of my own and I certainly had no sense of self or sense of my own identity so I borrowed yours - I even cut my hair supershort like yours! I needed some pillar of strength to cling to while the waves of being in an abusive relationship crashed in on me from every side. You didn't pause for a moment when I told you I was at the shelter. You took me in like an orphaned child, without question or hesitation. I have no doubt in my mind about the time that I spent with you and the strength and support that you gave to me: Sue, you saved my life. I am certain I would have been dead if not for your support, friendship and mentoring. After leaving Atlanta, I lived with my parents and tried to get on with my life. I went to Biola University when I was 25 and majored in Art Therapy with a minor in Bible. I traveled as much as possible and even did a semester in London where I did my Art History classes and toured the museums and galleries and then backpacked through Europe and toured more museums and galleries. After graduating, I floundered around in very low paying jobs and went from one unhealthy relationship to the next. It really is an addiction! When I finally realized I could not do my life on my own, I started seeing a really wonderful therapist who helped build into me that sense of strengthand a sense of my own self that I saw you living every day. Years of therapy later, I am quite happy, pretty dog-gone healthy emotionally and currently dating only really great guys, if at all. No more wasting time, energy and emotional health with psychos!! Finally!! In the past few years, I have been teaching piano full time. I get to sleep in ... remember how late to work I always was?!? I also travel to Africa frequently. I started going with a group of people from a church here in Orange County, CA. I was the team photographer. I photographed as many people as possible and then brought their stories and photos back to people here in OC so more people would find out about the trips and go to Africa and then do other projects like bring shoes or soccer balls or underwear or build houses or invest in child sponsorship. Along the way, I realized that I would have photos of the folks there in the villages but they wouldn't have a copy of their photo. So, I went to the lab in town and printed out photos and then went back to the village and handed out the photos. Eventually, this turned into a huge project called the Photo Legacy Project. Now, photographers go all the time, giving people their family photos. And along the way, we are able to find out some of the needs of the family and help them get connected to locals who can provide health-care, food, child sponsorship, friendship, support, etc. The Photo Legacy Project has been anamazing tool to meet people and find out ways that we can help. And each person is SOOOOO excited to have their family photos!! They have never had a photo of themselves EVER! It's really cool to watch! If you want to find out more about the Photo Legacy Project, you can checkout my website at: http://www.photolegacyproject.com/ <http://www.photolegacyproject.com/> There is a video of me speaking telling my story. You will recognize part of the story ... it starts when I say, "I started dating a photographer ..." Now, the project has gotten to the place that we will seek corporate sponsorship within the next year. It is amazing to see how that horrible relationship with that photographer that I was married to (I NEVER call him my husband! He certainly was NOT a husband to me!!) left me with the gift of creating photos and now that gift is being used to touch people's lives in Africa. What a tragic relationship but what a blessing to see the good that came from it! This past summer I went to Goma Congo. I have not added those photos and stories to my website. I will send them in the next e-mail separately, incase you would like to read about that trip. I cannot thank you enough, Sue, for the wonderful friend and mentor that you were to me. You kept me sane and you kept me alive. I am forever grateful to have met you and to have had the privilege of working with you. You were just being you but that was exactly what I needed. My life is forever changed by knowing you. Thank you. Laura A. (you knew me by another last name)

Postscript from David: This story proves once again that individuals can have a profound impact without great acts of courage or fantastic sums of money or amassing political power. Sometimes a simple act of kindness, our common sense, our judgment about what is right and wrong and just an ounce of compassion is all it takes to help someone or change a life. The airline employee is another unsung hero, but it really could be any of us at any moment. One reason Laura photographs these families with aids is so the children will have a photograph to remember their parents. Her own mother died when she was a few years old, and she has one picture of her, which she says is priceless. Who could imagine the immense value and meaning that resulted from someone taking that simple photo of a mother and child many years ago. The human spirit is an amazing force and it can become exponentially powerful when it plays forward into others lives. Lets hope that the photos taken of these African families will bring love, strength and goodwill that will play forward again and again. Have a great Thanksgiving. David

Click here to see Laura speaking--thank goodness Sue and that airline employee made miracles happen. Look what she has done with her life!

Kim >^..^<


Sunday, November 4, 2007

New Life

I have been having a tough few weeks, just some stuff I have to deal with...and then yesterday, a welcome distraction. My friend Meredith had her baby! A beautiful little girl, Olivia Anne. I didn't ask her permission to post pictures, I hope she won't mind. I am too excited. I haven't gotten to see either one of them yet, but I can't wait to meet this new little person. She is such a lucky baby...she has been born into a beautiful family. They have welcomed me into their home and their hearts over the years...and they are all dear to me.
It never ceases to amaze me the hope and happiness that springs alive with the birth of a baby. Just pure joy! And everyone's lives are changed in an instant.
All my love to Meredith, Neil and her family. I can't wait to meet Olivia!


Friday, October 26, 2007

Be the Change

Lately, I have been trying to adopt one of my favorite quotes as a way of living. I have this quote on my wall in my office, "Be the change you wish to see in the world". It is a quote from Gandhi.
I am a bit ashamed to say that I did not know that--I had heard the quote before, but it was lost in my memory somewhere. Then, I was watching an Oprah show about a group of American women who had lost their husbands in the Iraq war who were reaching out to Iraq women who had lost their husbands also. I was so touched by what these women were doing, reaching beyond their grief and anger. And one of the women said this quote. It really touched me-- and I looked it up online to find out the origin.
Since then, I have thought a lot about those words. There are a lot of things I get fired up about, angry about, and want to change. And the simple fact is, not doing anything about anything does nothing. And also, doing small things does matter. Being compassionate in small ways does matter.
So, when I am frustrated (especially when traveling--people seem to do stupid things all around me in airports and on airplanes)--before I say something rude (even though it might be deserved!)--I say to myself "Be the change..." and usually it works.
I learned a great lesson the other day in Barnes and Noble. It was on a Sunday, and I got into line in the store. The line had gotten quite long and there weren't enough cashiers. A woman, while talking on her cell phone suddenly came up to the side of the line and asked if she could break in front of me. "I am really in a hurry", she said. I was annoyed, because I felt this was a rude request, but I thought "be the change" and motioned her in. The guy behind me let out an audible sigh and murmured more than a few four-letter words. I think I started to literally sweat.
She stayed on her cell phone, which annoyed me. Finally she went up to the counter with her purchase, the guy behind me getting louder all the while. When she got up to the counter, she told the person on the other end of the phone, "I have to get her out of here now, she isn't doing well". About that time, someone else rolled an elderly woman in a wheelchair, who was bald and wearing some sort of gloves for medical reasons, near the line. She had obviously had chemo and was ill. The woman with the phone said, "I am buying your books, mom, I am almost done."
The amazing thing was not what I had done, but as we were still waiting in line, another person came up to the area between me and the guy behind me, thinking that was where you entered the line. He realized his mistake, and started to go to the back of the now long line. But the guy behind me, who had only moments before been cursing, motioned him in front of him, letting him break in line. That absolutely made my day. His heart had changed in just a moment!
It might not always work out that way, it might indeed just be a rude person making a request, but better to err on the side of caution. I would have hated myself later if I had realized that I hadn't let that woman in the line. That is not who I want to be.
It was a lesson for all of us standing there...and I loved that it spread in just a moment. Be the change you wish to see in the world....even if it is one moment at a time.

Kim >^..^<


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Light the Night

Yesterday was a busy, wonderful day. First, I headed to Mocksville for my friend Meredith's baby shower. I say friend, but Meredith and her family are more like family to me. I grew up with all of them, her sisters and brother and mom and dad. It is hard to believe Meredith is going to be a mom! Time flies! She is going to be such a great, fun mom. She was hilarious yesterday, as always, and the shower was so much fun--and it was great to see everyone I love.
Then, last night I went to the Light the Night walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. As many of you may know, my friend Kim has a son Jake who was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was three. He was diagnosed just as her youngest, Nathan, was born. Nathan turned out to be a perfect bone marrow match, and Jake is now a happy, healthy six year old thanks to a successful bone marrow transplant.
A group from Computer Associates in Charlotte, who had never met Jake or Kim, had been walking in Jake's honor at this Light the Night walk every year since his diagnosis. This year was the first year Jake came and got to meet the team. I went with Kim and all her kids to support them. It was a fun night, and no doubt had all of us thinking how lucky we all are for little Nathan, for our health, and for great friends and good people. It was just a beautiful night all the way around.
Kim >^..^<


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Cat Tales

Thought I would show off my little furry babies today, especially the SO cute, SO photogenic Baxter. He is such a character...his personality is as adorable as he is. He and Lilly are pretty much pals now, she even bathes him! He and Lucy, not so much. Lucy's favorite thing to do is BAP! him on the head whenever possible. But, as always, he could care less, he is the happiest little guy.
All three of them are endlessly entertaining. They seem to like our new place, and racing me (and each other) down the staircase is really fun for them evidently. Lilly likes to bring balls to the top of my 17 stairs and then drop them down and chase them. With carpeting, you wouldn't think this would be noisy. But, at 3 o'clock in the morning (prime-stair-ball-game-time evidently) it is quite loud.
I just returned from another trip-(Denver) and I am officially tired of traveling! But, I think there is more to come, with things hopefully settling down a little at the end of this month or at least by mid-October. But things are good, and I can't complain.
I am off to enjoy a beautiful day here in Huntersville!
Kim >^..^<


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Memories, poetry, and unpacking

I am still busy unpacking, and I have accomplished more today than any other time since I have moved. Moving is a funny thing, at least for me, as I unpack boxes, I find unexpected memories sometimes. The whole process takes forever because I get caught up in old journals, or keepsake boxes that I haven't looked through in years.

This time is especially like this because I am going through some boxes that never made it to the "unpacked" stage through the last 2 moves. There were some hard moments to read in my journals...but the person I was in 2004 and 2005 seems so distant to me now. I can't even say I am back to my old self..recently, this has seemed to be a new me-- a new start somehow. As I read those journals, I was ever more grateful than I can begin to write for who and HOW I am today.
I came across a book from one of my old English classes in college. I remember this moment so well. The moment I discovered what is my favorite of all poems, a poem I can write and recite from memory. The class was an evening class and we were shuffling through pages to find another poem and I happened upon this one in class and read it. I was lost in it, and completely forgot the class around me. Of course, I got called on for a question-- this particular professor loved to catch us daydreaming-- but I simply exlained what had happened, and the professor (surprisingly) had us all turn to that poem and asked me to read it. She seemed moved that I was so moved. Here it is:

When You Are Old
by William Butler Yeats

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
I love that poem more each time I read it. But more importantly, at that time in college, reading that poem inspired me to start writing again--and to read more and more poetry and literature, and to start collecting my favorite poems. I started writing poetry in the 1st grade (!) and I have all of my poems and other writings since then, and I got off track today going through it all. But isn't it wonderful when one piece of work, just a few lines, can inspire and conjure up memories like that?
OK, back to unpacking. >^..^<

PS. Visit a cool site-- The Favorite Poem Project, and click on VIDEOS to see Americans of all ages reading their favorite poems--it is great!


Saturday, September 1, 2007

On the Waterfront

So much traveling lately! I just got back from Plymouth, MA, which is the most lovely area. I fell in love with the place from the minute I got there. The weather was in the 70's and we were right on the water. I was in town for an event we have been planning since I started my job in February.
Things started off a little rough. I had a bad migraine from the moment I landed on Sunday and ended up in the ER there for most of the night. UGGHH. They actually had to give me a morphine drip! I am still battling the same headache today and the doctor gave me some way cool pain meds and muscle relaxers, so this may not be the best time to be posting to a public blog! Oh, well.
Anyway, the event went well, we had a lobster bake, and the setting there was too beautiful. I would love to go back there when I could really relax and enjoy the area. The people there were also so friendly. I love the accent, too!
I have included some pictures from the lobster bake, and also a cute one of my friend's son who came to visit and play with Baxter the day before I left for Plymouth. Baxter was in heaven and took the longest nap ever after their playtime! I love this picture!


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Some like it HOT!

I just got back from traveling too much for work! But both were great trips, actually. The first was an internal event in Charleston, SC we have been planning since April--at least. It was a trip for about 70 of the employees (located on the east coast) and their families. We had about 130 people there. I must have some kind of sickness, because as stressful as these things are, I still love watching it all come together.
It was also fun to see everyone outside of the normal office setting--with their kids, and to meet some folks I had only emailed with. Everyone seemed to have fun-- but it was HOT in Charleston, even moreso than usual. It was a good thing we had a pool there...
Right before everything got started in Charleston, the first night, I realized I had about an hour. My hair has been driving me crazy (as it does always) and I called the concierge and asked if they could recommend somewhere super close that wouldn't ruin my hair. (I haven't had time to get my hair cut!) Long story short...I got the best haircut I have had in forever. The guy gave me a heart attack because he literally whacked more than a few inches without asking. (he said if he had asked I would have said no, and he knew what was best). Anyway, I am love it--and I always hate my hair. I may have to drive to Charleston every month to get him to cut it...but I can always find a reason to go to Charleston....
I got back late Saturday night and then only a few short hours later, I flew to Phoenix for a tradeshow. With one of my former companies, we used to do a lot of golf events in Phoenix, and I had forgotten how great the resort hotels are there. The one we stayed in-- and where the show took place--put them all to shame. It was unbelievable. AND, it had a Kinkos and a Starbucks INSIDE the hotel, a marketing person's dream!
Seeing the landscape in Phoenix always reminds me of my first trip across the country, when I was moving from Atlanta to California...really starting my career. My favorite part of the drive was through Arizona, the sunsets took my breath away!
All is well here--Baxter had to go to the vet today, but he was great-- he charmed everyone. Our new vet, the nicest man, was cradling Baxter like a baby and cooing at him. Needless to say, Baxter thought this whole vet thing was great! (he didn't even seem to mind his shots). I will post some new pictures of him tomorrow.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Longing for Paris

I always think about Paris, about being there, but sometimes, I think when I am having stressful days at work, or whatever...I really long to be there more than other times.

I know others feel this way about Paris. For me, the first time I went there, I expected to have the typical tourist's experience, I was very excited. I actually planned the trip a bit last minute, I found myself with vacation time, and an abundance of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. The whole trip was free. I stayed at the Hilton at the base of the Eiffel Tower (literally).

I can't explain it any other way, except to say, it felt like home. It was strange and surprising to me. I felt this connection there...I never planned or thought about that happening. I am a pretty experienced traveler, but even so, I hopped on the subway there with an almost immediate ease, everything was perfect.

Before I left, everyone warned me about the rude Parisians--I never had that experience. Everyone, without exception, from waitstaff to museum staff to strangers I met and asked advice or directions from was lovely to me. One thing that I loved, and was constantly surprised by, was that other tourists kept coming up to me, thinking I was a local and asking for help or directions. It was hilarious to then see their faces when a southern accent popped out! It may have been just since I was traveling alone, I don't know, but it was funny to me even more since I felt so at home. I also had worried because I didn't and don't speak French, but it was never a concern. Everyone speaks English there, and contrary to warnings, no one was angry with me for not speaking French, or for mangling the French I attempted. I do want to learn French, taking a class is on my New Year's resolution list this year. (I am running out of time!)

I can remember so vividly walking the streets feeling as though I had been there before, always somehow. I can't explain. And no, I don't believe in any of that past lives stuff. There is just some connection there. I did make another trip that same year at Christmas, and wondered if it had been just a "first trip" thing. It was not. Christmas was just as magical as May had been.

So, anyway, I long to be there. I have posted a few of my favorite pictures from my trip. (This was back in 2000). I have included some more in the Slide on the right.

Someday...I hope my address reads "Paris, France".


Monday, August 6, 2007

A Loss for Words

I am sure most of you have heard about the tragedy in Connecticut a little over a week ago. What's so sad, is that since then, it seems that tragedy after tragedy has been on the news every time I turn on the television. The horrible bridge collapse in Minnesota, and a school shooting in NJ this afternoon.

But back to the Connecticut case. If you didn't hear about this, please take a moment to read this article and a little more about what happened. First, to educate yourself about why we need to pass laws to be tougher on repeat offenders (these horrible men had a long criminal history--I have read different numbers, but one of them alone had 26 prior convictions).

Secondly, no matter where you live, I know this sounds simple, and maybe stupid, but lock your doors, and if you have one, USE your alarm. I keep thinking...this family would be alive if they had done either one or both. The criminals entered through an open cellar door.

These two men broke into this home, beat the father (a prominent doctor) unconscious, raped the two daughters, (one 17, one 11), kidnapped the mother, took her to the bank, had her cash a check for $15,000, brought her back home, strangled the mother, left the daughters tied to their beds, and set the house on fire. The girls died of smoke inhalation. The father awoke and was able to escape.

This is so heartbreaking. Keep your loved ones safe.



Thursday, August 2, 2007

Home Sweet (new) Home

Well, the big move is over. I have said this to several people...with as many times as I have moved, you would think I would be an expert by now. But somehow, I am getting progressively worse at the whole process. This time was horrible. I was exhausted from traveling with work, I had hurt my back in Chicago, it was all a bit of a nightmare. But, it is finally over and we are slowly settling in.
I love the new place, my stuff looks great-- and this is a great neighborhood. Lilly came out of her carrier growling and hissing and spitting--which I expected, and this time, I was amused. She walked in the kitchen, took a look around-- "spit". Then, onto the dining area--"spit". Into the den--"spit"....and so on and so on. This usually goes on for a week at least, and I am happy to say that she is already calming down. Baxter and Lucy loved it here from the start. But, both Lucy and Lilly have been harder on Baxter since we got here. Baxter is fine, but I hope it all calms down.
I have posted a pic of my new place (more to come) and the cutest picture of Baxter in his new favorite spot--under my big eiffel tower wire sculpture in the den. He actually climbs it-- which is SO cute, but I can never catch him with the camera. I have to before he gets too big!


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Baxter's World

Baxter is growing so fast. These aren't great pictures...I cannot emphasize enough what a little rascal he is and that he is in CONSTANT motion.
His favorite pastimes are:

~Trying (desperately) to catch and destroy the evil ceiling fan. This includes jumping wildly into the air (from the floor) and swatting, hissing and spitting in the general direction of the whirling ceiling fan.

~Playing with the little ball hanging down from the carpet covered cat "tree" (see photo). He LOVES this.

~Attacking Lilly at any and all opportunities. Sometimes the results are good and Lilly joins in, sometimes the results are not as good, and Lilly gets mad. Baxter's reaction is the same either way...POUNCE! (I have included a picture of Lilly on her "roost" where she debates whether to play with Baxter or not).

I have reassured Lilly that she is still my favorite and my baby, and she is doing well. Lucy has been a little grumpy lately, but I think it has more to do with all the traveling I have been doing lately. She has a hard time with that.

The big move is Monday-- and of course, I am nowhere near ready. I hate PACKING and all this crud. But, I had better get back to it.


The Elephant Sanctuary

Many of you may have seen me forward emails or information in the past about this wonderful place, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. This is a non-profit organization that rescues elephants that have suffered abuse in circuses, zoos, or captivity of some sort. I found out about this group once when I was channel surfing and saw a story about two elephants reunited here--after about 20 years apart (they had once been in a circus together) and they remembered each other!! For anyone that might doubt what they just read, if you see the video, you won't. The staff at the Sanctuary had no idea what was happening--only that the animals knew each other somehow...and then they were able to research and find out their history. It was an incredibly touching video--watching these animals cry out and touch each other. I cried, of course. But the show also highlighted the work that this organization does. Basically, once these elephants are rescued, they get to live free on all this land in Tennessee. It's not a public place, it's all about them. The work they do is wonderful, and the more you read about how some of these animals have suffered, it is horrible.
Their website is below, check it out, they are a fantastic organization!


Also, vote for The Elephant Sanctuary on ReZoom:

Final Weeks To Vote!
Rezoom.com's national competition for "A Better World" continues, and if The Elephant Sanctuary can tally the most votes by August 10, we could come away with a valuable $100,000 donation. But we need your help to get there.

Please don't forget to help us compete for this national prize by voting for The Elephant Sanctuary once a day, every day, until the end of the contest. Click here to cast your vote! (Be sure to "log in" in the upper right hand corner of the page, first.) Invite your friends, colleagues and family to join in, too, and help us make it "A Better World" for the elephants!


Friday, July 27, 2007

Must see Movies

I just got back from San Jose (took the redeye last night--ugghh). I was there for a training course I am in charge of that lasted two days--plus I had a presentation the day before. I always get all messed up with the time change and can't sleep, so I end up renting movies through the pay-per-view option in my room.
The first one I watched, "Zodiac", was one I had wanted to see when it was in the theaters. I guess it didn't do well, and I don't know why. I thought it was fantastic. But, I love all that kind of stuff. It was not gory at all-- the story was more about what the hunt for the Zodiac killer did to the detectives and reporters involved in the case. I REALLY recommend it. Robert Downey, Jr., who is always wonderful, absolutely outdid himself.
I finally saw "Dreamgirls", and let me tell you, Jennifer Hudson deserved every award she got. I was as impressed with her acting as much as I was her singing, and I thought the movie was truly more alive and interesting in the scenes she was in. She stole the movie right out from under all of them. Beyonce did do a good job, too, and Eddie Murphy also gave a good performance. It was also well worth the pay-per-view fee!
But finally, probably my favorite, "Waitress". I am going to require all of you reading this to see it. This is such a wonderful, lovely little film. Funny, sweet, touching, and just...watchable. I was caught up in it from minute one. I am a Kerri Russell fan, I think she is a fantastic actress, and she is perfect for this role. The sad story wrapped around this film is that the writer and director, Adrienne Shelley, was murdered shortly before the film's release, and didn't get to see her dream of a movie become such a critical success. (she is also in the movie). But, go see this movie (it is still in some theaters) or rent it, whatever-- you will love it. I will own this one.
That's it for now. I am packing for my move, ugghhh. I hope this is the last time I move for a loooonnnnnnggggg time. But, I love my new place. I will post pics of my new home soon!
Also, Baxter is growing SO fast, more pics of him tomorrow, if I can catch him!

Links to movie websites:

Waitress (2 sites) http://www.foxsearchlight.com/waitress/

Zodiac: http://www.zodiacmovie.com/

Dreamgirls: http://www.dreamgirlsmovie.com/


Friday, July 20, 2007

My kind of town

I was just in Chicago for business...we were hosting a workshop there, I was in charge of all the logistics. These things are so tiring for me, because while I am handling all the details, I also have to be handling my everyday work--all the emails, etc. I went into town early--on Sunday--so I could scout out good evening plans for the attendees--dinner loactions, etc.
Since I was there early, I went to the Art Institute of Chicago. The museum was amazing-- surpassing even my favorite in DC. I have posted my favorite painting--it took my breath away--"Resting", by Antonio Mancini. This copy doesn't do it justice, of course. It is amazing.
The impressionist gallery there was also fantastic, I was in heaven.
I hadn't been to Chicago--at least not since I could remember. My aunt lived there for a long time, and we went when I was a very little girl. The city is amazing-- if it weren't for the winters--I could totally see myself living there. So much to do, and so gorgeous. I have to say, though, I was accosted by more homeless people than any other place I have been. And remember, I have LIVED in San Francisco and DC. But even after living in those places and traveling a lot to NY--the homeless people here were more numerous and more aggressive. I think most of you know I am tenderhearted on this issue, but in Chicago, after being harrassed constantly, I kind of got numb. A funny story...I was walking around downtown and was waiting at a crosswalk. I watched across the street as a young homeless man bothered an elderly tourist couple--completely harrassed them until they practically emptied their wallet to rid themselves of him. As I had to cross over to the corner where he was, I was ready. Immediately, when I stepped onto the sidewalk, he started in on me, and I just ignored him. he then- grabbed my arm!!! I turned around sharply and very loudly said BACK OFF! He just walked away. As I stood to wait and cross to another corner, I noticed the same elderly couple waiting nearby. The elderly man turned to his wife and said, "See honey, she lives here. She knows how to handle them." Made me laugh.
On the side bar are some pictures from Navy Pier, the only other place I managed to venture to, for just a short walk. I really want to go to Chicago for a fun weekend when I have a chance.
As for the kitties, I came home, and all was well. And today-- I walked into my bedroom and got a shock--Lilly and Baxter were asleep on the window seat together--Lilly's treasured favorite spot! Now, that's progress!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

A little less fur flying...and deep thoughts

Well, I am almost afraid to write this, afraid of jinxing things. But, for the last 48 hours, Baxter has been out amongst us, and has survived. No more separation and limited freedom. There is still some hissing, but not quite as scary and threatening as before.
So, when I leave the house, I leave them all out and have come back and everyone is alive! Lilly even seems to be playing with him a little--which was one of my original reasons for adding to our little family. Lilly is still SO playful and she drives Lucy bananas.
Baxter is such a perfect fit for us, he is brave-- neither Lilly or Lucy scares him--in fact, he taunts them and is hilarious with what I now call "drive by Baxter attacks".

Onto other things. Work has been going so well, a bit stressful, but only because I am doing so much, and my department is growing. But, it is all so good. And for those of you that know what I went through in 2004 and 2005, the fact that I am here, doing what I am doing, that I survived, and that my biggest worry right now is helping my new kitten adapt to the house...it really is almost unbelievable. Honestly, not a day goes by that I don't marvel at the miracle of it all. At the lowest point, in September of 2005, no one could have ever convinced me I could ever be this happy, this present, this thankful. And I am so lucky to have this close circle of friends who are my family who took care of me and wouldn't let me give up. It is amazing. Truly.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Baxter photos

Ok, this post is just to share some more cute pics of Baxter. It is hard to get pictures of him because he doesn't stay still for a minute! I have to catch him sleeping. He is adorable, purrs almost constantly--and wants SO badly to play with Lilly and Lucy. We are making SLOW progress. Lucy is OK, actually I can have them in the same room together OK, I just have to reel Baxter in when he can't stand it anymore and pounces on her.
Lilly is pissed, but every day, she does a little better. I am getting some evil looks, though!


Monday, July 2, 2007

If Lilly ain't happy... and poetry ?

Whew! I forgot how scary Lilly gets during times of change. She is NOT happy about this little being in the house. Baxter is staying tucked safely away in the bathroom upstairs...and he is remarkably content. I go in and stay with him for long periods of time and then get him out and bring him into my bedroom and close Lilly out. Lucy is cautious, but fine. She is normal. Lilly is hissing at me, at Lucy, at everything. There was some progress today...Lilly had refused to come upstairs altogether because Baxter was up here. She finally came up here--to her favorite spot- her window seat.

I talked to a couple of people that have been through this with similar "Lillys" in their households and I am trying to hope for the best. I also had this flash yesterday that I always joke that "Lilly runs the house". It's scary, but true!

And on a TOTALLY different subject, I have this free HBO thing going on right now with my cable company, and I also stay up late, so I am seeing movies I would probably never watch otherwise. One came on the other night-- "In Her Shoes"--with Cameron Diaz (don't like her) and Toni Collette (DO like her). But, I am snob about books, and this was a book I had tossed aside in the bookstore-- I had read the first few pages and thought it was stupid fluff. I expected the movie to be the same. It wasn't. It was a nice, sweet, touching surprise. And, I love this--stupid Cameron Diaz--who actually did a good job in this movie-- read a poem for her sister at her wedding. I just thought it was beautiful and it made me go online and look up (and discover) e.e. cummings. Now, of all the writers and poets I love, I had never looked deep enough into e.e. cummings to get hooked. It's amazing how one poem can hit a nerve and hook you. Also, though, the way she read it in the movie, the pace, the tone, it was, I have to say, perfect. And although this is a love poem, it carried more than one meaning in the movie, and you can see that it could have meaning for family and friends. I love things like that.

Oh, of course, I'll include the poem:

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)



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