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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Morning Walk

Today I participated in the ALS Association's Walk to Defeat ALS. I was on Team Keri, and as many of you know I have been working on a fundraising campaign. Many of my friends donated, so thank you! I thought of you during the walk today. There are several "branches" of Team Keri--with the one in Greensboro being the largest--and closest to Keri's hometown. That walk will take place on June 14th.
As I have said before, I never got to meet Keri. I learned about her through her website, http://www.helpkeri.com/. I have since gotten to know her mom, Joanie, through emails. Joanie is an amazing woman--a grieving mom, a cancer survivor, a loving grandmother, and a woman on a mission. She is determined that her daughter's spirit will live on--and that she will work to find a cure for ALS.
I am so happy I have gotten to know this family and that I am getting to know some of Keri's friends. Keri had some wonderful friends, it never fails to touch me watching her friends in action now--as they all work to keep her memory alive and to surround Keri's mom and dad with love. They truly loved their friend.
This was a good day. My feet are tired, I could use a nap, but my heart is full!
To learn more about ALS, and how you can help, visit http://www.alsa.org/.
If you are interested in participating in an upcoming walk, or donating, you can click here.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Star is Lost

I gasped a little when I saw this news on CNN tonight. Sydney Pollack died today. I wasn't aware that he was ill, and this was a bit of a shock.
Sydney gave us so many great movies, among them two of my favorites, Tootsie and Out of Africa, and was such a great talent. I actually loved to watch him on screen--even though I know he was known more as a director. This is just sad news--that he won't bring us any more memories on camera or behind the lens. What a loss.
I love this statement from George Clooney: "Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better. A tip of the hat to a class act," actor George Clooney said in a statement issued by his publicist.
For more on Sydney Pollack's passing, read this article from the LA Times.
Also, on EW's website, a nice article of Sydney's 25 career milestones. What a career.

Photo credit-Everett Collection-EW.com


Monday, May 26, 2008


Lucy is very camera shy, so you may often see pictures of Baxter or Lilly on my blog, but rarely Lucy. When the camera comes out, she panics. Panic is one of her common reactions. The poor thing, she is just a nervous kitty. She always has been. The pictures I do manage to get of her always catch her looking weird, and she really is beautiful, so I rarely post them.

This picture captures her in one of our regular nightly routines, but I rarely have my camera handy. I think this is so cute. While I am working in bed, Lucy squishes up next to me and rests her head on the computer keyboard and watches everything I type. Her little eyes follow the cursor and the letters, and every now and then, she will turn and glance back at me. Adorable.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Work Rules

I had to give a presentation at work today to one of our business units. For those of you who talk to me --or rather listen to me talk about work--you know that I work with a large group of seriously opinionated engineers. Today was an all day meeting for this group starting at 7:45am (ouch!) and my presentation wasn't until 2:30pm.

When I walked into the room for the meeting, I saw this set of rules posted on the wall:

In case you can't read the fine print--here are the rules:
-No Personal Attacks
-Speak in turn
-Focus on Meeting Objective
--NO Personal Agendas
-What happens here- stays here
-Be here "Now" be engaged
-Follow through
--Clear action items
-Keep track of actions

No one could understand why I found this so funny, and that made it even funnier. Then, it got a little sad when I realized that they NEED these rules. It did get a little amusing during the meeting when someone felt personally "attacked", and they would point to this poster on the wall-- to "remind" the attacker of the rules. ...Ah, adulthood.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I get CNN News Alerts delivered to my email inbox--these are activities or events that CNN deems worthy of giving the title of "breaking news". For instance, today, there was and update on Teddy Kennedy's condition, a more grave announcement than the one sent yesterday. Some days, I get an announcement that Obama has won this state, or Clinton has won that one. So today, when I saw that my friend Cassandra had forwarded me a CNN story with the subject line "ugghh- did you see this?"-- I thought it might be about the Ted Kennedy story. While the story about Ted Kennedy is indeed sad, the story she sent me stopped me in the middle of a hectic work day and actually distracted me for a good bit.

Mom forced to live in car with dogs

By Thelma Gutierrez and Wayne Drash CNN

SANTA BARBARA, California (CNN) -- Barbara Harvey climbs into the back of her small Honda sport utility vehicle and snuggles with her two golden retrievers, her head nestled on a pillow propped against the driver's seat. A former loan processor, the 67-year-old mother of three grown children said she never thought she'd spend her golden years sleeping in her car in a parking lot. "This is my bed, my dogs," she said. "This is my life in this car right now." Harvey was forced into homelessness this year after being laid off. She said that three-quarters of her income went to paying rent in Santa Barbara, where the median house in the scenic oceanfront city costs more than $1 million. She lost her condo two months ago and had little savings as backup. "It went to hell in a handbasket," she said. "I didn't think this would happen to me. It's just something that I don't think that people think is going to happen to them, is what it amounts to. It happens very quickly, too." Harvey now works part time for $8 an hour, and she draws Social Security to help make ends meet. But she still cannot afford an apartment, and so every night she pulls into a gated parking lot to sleep in her car,along with other women who find themselves in a similar predicament. There are 12 parking lots across Santa Barbara that have been set up to accommodate the growing middle-class homelessness. These lots are believed to be part of the first program of its kind in the United States, according to organizers. The lots open at 7 p.m. and close at 7 a.m. and are run by New Beginnings Counseling Center, a homeless outreach organization. It is illegal for people in California to sleep in their cars on streets. New Beginnings worked with the city to allow the parking lots as a safe place for the homeless to sleep in their vehicles without being harassed by people on the streets or ticketed by police. Harvey stays at the city's only parking lot for women. "This is very safe, and that's why I feel very comfortable," she said. Nancy Kapp, the New Beginnings parking lot coordinator, said the group began seeing a need for the lots in recent months as California's foreclosure crisis hit the city hard. She said a growing number of senior citizens, women and lower- and middle-class families live on the streets. "You look around today, and there are so many," said Kapp, who was homeless with her young daughter two decades ago. "I see women sleeping on benches. It's heartbreaking." She added, "The way the economy is going, it's just amazing the people that are becoming homeless. It's hit the middle class." She and others with New Beginnings walk the streets looking for people and families sleeping in their cars. The workers inform them about the parking lot program. New Beginnings screens people to make sure they won't cause trouble. No alcohol or drugs are allowed in the parking lots. "What we are trying to do is we pull bad apples out, and we put good apples in the parking lots and really help people out," said Shaw Tolley, another coordinator with New Beginnings. Most of the time, the lots are transition points. New Beginnings works with each person to try to find a more permanent housing solution. "It saddens me when they live in their vehicles," Tolley said. "It is not the most ideal situation for senior citizens and families, but it is reality." He added, "We need to engage this problem. This is reality." John Quigley, an economics professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said the California housing crisis has left many middle-class families temporarily homeless or forced them to go to food banks to feed their families. "Part of the reason why it's so painful in Santa Barbara is, there's so little in the way of alternative housing," Quigley said. "If there were alternative low and moderate housing and rental accommodations that were reasonably close by, you can imagine it wouldn't have this desperate look to it as people living in their cars." At the only lot for women in Santa Barbara, it's a tough existence. There are no showers or running water. On the night CNN visited, a half-dozen women were in the parking lot before nightfall. Linn Labou, 54, lives in her car with four cats. She used to be in the National Guard and is on a waiting list for government housing, but the wait is a year long. "I went looking for family, but I couldn't get them to help me," she said. As for Harvey, she begins each day by walking her two dogs before going to her part-time job. She leaves the dogs in her car with its windows cracked while she works. It's another chapter in her life that she's certain she'll get through. Her 19-year-old daughter moved in with friends to avoid being homeless. Her other children live overseas, and she didn't want to tell them about her living status. Even if her children offered to help, she said, she wouldn't accept it. "They know me well enough to know that I will get through this." "My daughter especially is very unhappy. Sometimes she'll cry, and she'll call and say, 'Mom, I just can't stand it that you are living in a car,' " Harvey said. "I'll say, 'You know what? This is OK for right now, because I'm safe, I'm healthy, the dogs are doing OK, and I have a job, and things will get better.' " CNN's Gregg Canes and Traci Tamura contributed to this report.

There are so many things about this story that got to me. One, I have gone through layoffs, and I know too well the devastating effect it can have on your life. Without the help of family and friends, it scares me where I would have ended up. I can't tell you how that worries and haunts me, even now. I worry about it happening again one day--I worry about ending up like the woman in this article.
Two, in the sunset of your life, you shouldn't have to live like this. And having pets, I can sympathize with this woman so much. Some folks who read this article can say this or that about what is good for the animals, but I know what it feels like to feel like you have lost everything...and to not want to lose those babies--those animals that are a part of you, and that love you, too.
I do believe that where this woman lives is one of the most expensive places in the US to live and relocating wouldn't be a bad idea, but imagine her predicament. Where do you go when you don't have the resources to search for a job outside of the city or state and you feel so lost?
Anyway...this article made me think about how far I have come in the last few years and how fortunate I am. As a woman, it made me ache for these women. I am so thankful that this organization is doing this to give them some small safety. I hope this article brings publicity to this organization, these women, and this situation.
Something else happened tonight, that I will write about later and it hit me that all of this is happening to remind me to give back. I have been doing some of that, but I need to do more. I need to volunteer, to support organizations like the one in this article in my community.
And one last thing...why isn't this "breaking news"? I know, I know, there's too much of this. But, seriously. How much worse can the economy get? How much scarier can this situation be?
Please pass the CNN article on to others, especially those in the Santa Monica area. Click here to go to the original location.
photo: Gregg Canes, CNN


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Party Plans

I went to Cassandra's mom's 60th birthday party yesterday. A friend asked me on the phone this morning if I had fun. I said--you never have to ask if I had fun with Cassandra's family--that is a given. You can't go to Brenda's house and not laugh until you are in pain. They are all hilarious.
Brenda's friends are also hilarious. The house (and pool) were filled with an assortment of Cassandra, Jimmy, Brenda and Jim's family and friends, along with all the kids. It was raucous fun and there was yummy food, to boot!
I didn't stay into the wee hours like I usually do, but I was there long enough to get a few pictures. You can see more on Cassandra's blog.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Childish Crime: Grownup Justice

(Megan Meier)

When this story came across the news last year, it stopped me in my tracks. I was sure I had heard it wrong. I remember flipping the channels to find another 24 hour news station. Surely it wasn't true. An adult, a MOTHER, in Missouri, had helped set up a fake MySpace account, had posed as a teenage boy and communicated with a girl, Megan Meier, a friend of her daughter's. The so-called adult, Lori Drew, then proceeded to instigate a relationship with Megan over the internet. Her reasoning for doing all this? To find out what Megan might be saying about her daughter.
She ended the whole ruse by "breaking up" with Megan and telling her horrible things, and saying the "world would be a better place without her". Megan committed suicide. She was 13 years old. Lori Drew was 49 at the time.
I was so angered by this story, I couldn't see straight. To think that an adult would sink to this, and that she also involved her daughter and her daughter's friends in the whole thing just sickened me. Did she never stop and think what she was teaching them? Even worse, Lori knew that Megan was on medication for depression, as Megan had spent time with the Drew family on vacations, etc.
This story bothered me for weeks afterwords. I followed the updates, learning that there were no laws that covered this type of crime. I also learned that the neighborhood there had turned against the Drews, and I was glad for that. Now, was Lori the sole reason for Megan's suicide? Maybe not--even Megan's parents said that. But, was what she did horribly wrong and should she be punished? You bet.
Watching Megan's parents in interviews, though, my heart ached for them. They were torn apart by guilt and anger and pain. Something needed to be done. As you will read from the article below from CNN, Lori Drew is at least being charged now.
I know that the internet is a free and open space, and that so much can happen, but at least as adults, we have to set examples, especially those adults with children, to teach them right from wrong, respect and compassion. Hell, we have to teach them that in every day life. The internet gives everyone easy ways to hide behind masks and hidden identities though, so these lessons are more important every day. I hope Lori Drew and her children have learned theirs. And I hope other parents are paying attention.

Mom indicted in deadly MySpace hoax

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A Missouri mother was indicted Thursday in the case of a teen who killed herself after being taunted on the social networking site MySpace.com.
Megan Meier, 13, hanged herself in her bedroom after being targeted in a MySpace hoax.
A federal indictment accuses Lori Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Missouri, of using a MySpace account to pose as a 16-year-old boy and feign romantic interest in the girl.
The girl, Megan Meier, committed suicide after her online love interest spurned her, according to prosecutors, telling her the world would be a better place without her.
Drew faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.
The indictment, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accuses Drew and others of registering on MySpace as "Josh Evans" and using the account to start an online romance with Meier.
Authorities have previously said that Drew set up the account to find out what Meier, who lived in her neighborhood, was saying about her daughter.
Prosecutors allege that Drew and the others violated MySpace's terms of service by using false information to create the account so they could "harass, abuse or harm" Meier, according to the indictment.
The two corresponded for about four weeks before "Josh" broke off the relationship, authorities said. Within an hour, Meier hanged herself in her room and died the next day.
The indictment does not allege that Drew sent the final message telling Meier the world would be a better place without her. Instead, the indictment blames her unnamed co-conspirators, who authorities have previously said include a teenage girl.
After Drew learned of the teen's suicide, the indictment alleges, she directed one of the teens involved to "keep her mouth shut" and deleted the account.
Meier's mother, Tina Meier, told CNN in November that her daughter had self-esteem issues and had struggled with depression since childhood.
She said when her daughter began receiving messages from "Josh" telling her she was pretty, she was thrilled.
When "Josh" broke off the relationship, Tina Meier said, her daughter was devastated.
"She was looking for me to help calm herself down like I always did and be there for her. And I was upset because I didn't like the language she was using, and I was angry she didn't sign off when I told her to," Tina Meier told CNN.
"She said to me, 'You're supposed to be my mom, you're supposed to be on my side,' and then took off running upstairs," Tina Meier said.
Tina Meier found her daughter hanging by a belt shortly afterward.
"It's as if my daughter killed herself with a gun," Meier's father, Ron, told CNN. "And it's as if they loaded the gun for her."
Drew is scheduled for arraignment in June.
"This adult woman allegedly used the Internet to target a young teenage girl, with horrendous ramifications," U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said in a written statement.
"Any adult who uses the Internet or a social gathering Web site to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl, needs to realize that their actions can have serious consequences," O'Brien said.
In December, Missouri prosecutors declined to file charges against Drew, saying there was no law under which she could be charged.
"There is no way that anybody could know that talking to someone or saying that you're mean to your friends on the Internet would create a substantial risk," St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said. "Under the law, we just couldn't show that."

-article credit: CNN.com
Read an original article about this story here.


Monday, May 12, 2008

On Island Time

I actually took a few days off--I know, I know, it's a miracle. I took Friday off (sort of)-- I had a dentist appointment because I broke a tooth. Fun! Then, on Friday, I started looking around on the internet, and trying to decide if I could actually go somewhere fun for the weekend. I had been thinking about it all week. I have been really stressed over the past few weeks, and I needed to go somewhere and relax. I was going to go to Charleston, but I found a resort on Hilton Head Island where I could use my hotel points. It all fell into place. I decided to take Monday off, and I left at a really insane hour on Saturday morning (like 3:30am) and got to Hilton Head at 7:30am. I have never been to Hilton Head before! I stayed at the Marriott Resort there, and it was amazing, and the weather was perfect. Well, the weather was perfect on Saturday and Monday, Sunday was rainy, but I did some writing and reading--which was great. There was an outdoor bar, and they delivered drinks and food right to your chair, and I was completely spoiled, and loved that. Probably the best thing of all, though, is while I was there, I slept like a champ. At night. When I am supposed to.
I never left the resort, I relaxed, lazied by the pool, ate good food, had a few fruity drinks, and just loooooved it. I had a hard time leaving today.
But, I missed the kitties. My petsitter, Lisa, looked in on them while I was gone, so i knew they were OK, but I always miss them. Baxter breaks my heart when I come home, he actually makes little crying noises when he runs to me when I have been gone more than a day. He cries and runs to me when I come to the door and I scoop him up and he buries his little head in my neck and breathes hard and purrs. It is so sweet. It almost makes me cry. He is so attached to me, and is such a sweet baby. Lilly is sitting next to me right now--smooshed against me--purring. Lucy is behind me on the back of the couch. They are always like this when I have been away, they need to be near me when I get home, and to be truthful, I love it. I couldn't wait to see them!


Friday, May 9, 2008

Yo Mamma...is funny

I was reading an online article from Newsweek, and they featured a blog called: Postcards from Yo Mama. http://www.postcardsfromyomomma.com/. The site lists funny emails and IMs from moms to their kids (mostly daughters). This particular site just cracks me up, because I can see my mom (and her emails and IMs) in so many of the postings. It made me laugh to read them, but also to realize that mothers out there are a lot alike. (as are daughters, I guess). You have to visit the site, but here are a few that Newsweek picked as their faves, that also got me to go to the site:

"Call me. I suffer," writes one mom.

And another: "tell me about face book. do you have a page on it? can anyone look at your page? I am worried about this type of thing."

Then there's the short, but direct variety: "std's are on the rise. love, mom."

Have fun in Houston . Keep in touch with your strawberry

***good news!Our insurance covers : THE HPV VACCINATION.but, this is NOT a license to have wild, unprotected sex, y'know!! hehehhehehee.xox,mom

Mom: hi kid. on the way to jumble java, i started crying. the kids are moving in to the dorms today and i saw a dad hugging his daughter goodbye and i lost it. that feeling never goes away. :( mom
Me: don't be lame, mom
Mom: i hope i live long enough to see you experience the same feeling. and i'm not lame.
Me: well at the rate i'm going, i doubt you'll be around to see my kids go to college. even if i do have some, they'll have three heads because i won't have them until i'm 50.
Mom: well then it will be three times as hard to say goodbye.

***Dad and I deposited some money into your bank account since it looks like you blew your last paycheck at H&M.

me: mother?
mom: Hey Jenna
me: Look at you on Gmail!
mom: How did this happen?
me: How did what happen?
mom: How did you know I was on Gmail? and I didn't know it had IM.
me: I am something of a genius, mom.

... I heard on the radio that people can google themselves. I've done a lot of things to myself before, but I've never googled myself.

I love you. I will pray for you. Be sure and take some kind of i.d. so if your plane crashes and burns they will know who to call. Hope you do that on all your trips anyway. That way if I don't get a dreadful call, I will know you are just fine and happy.

Me: Do you read my blog? I can track who is reading it and I think you may be. Me no likey mother.
Mom: What's a blag?
Me: It is a sin to lie. Don't play coy with me!! Are you reading my "online journal"?
Mom: I barely have time to call you! I don't know how to do my space or whatever it is. You may recall that when I asked you about how it worked, you never showed me.


me: hi mom
mom: hi pookie...i just booked tickets for zumanity. miss you
me: What is zumanity?
mom: it is a very erotic show that explores sexuality. hopefully dad will enjoy it. Lol. it is at new york new york where we are stayingme: oh dear lord. does dad know about this?
mom: yeah....it explores gay stuff too. he he. he shold be ok...there are boobs in it too. zumanity.com
me: well i can't click on that right now because i'm at work
mom: oh...maybe later then

Lazy boy,I was very surprised to hear your message last night. I already forgot I still have a son in Chicago.

I was in the car listening to the radio, and who is this "shorty" they keep talking about in rap songs?


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Room with a View

Pictured is the prime piece of real estate in my house...the window seat in my bedroom. The kitties all fight over it, even though there are two of these in the house, and several other areas they can camp out in front of a window. My theory is that this window gets the best sun, but also, this window gives a view of me leaving and coming home each day.
I love looking up when I come home and seeing whoever is resting there (usually Lilly, sometimes Baxter). They watch me get out of the car and then jump down as soon as I hit the porch to meet me at the front door. Too sweet.
I can't imagine my life without animals -- without these fur babies. They are entertaining, peaceful, and loving, all in good measure!



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