Thursday, December 23, 2010

happy christmas!

If I can just make it until 4 o'clock. . .

. . . I will be *officially* on VACATION until January 4, 2011!

[From one Christmas Vacation obsessed watcher to, hopefully, another...]

Have the hap, hap, happiest (hopefully snow-filled) Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f-ing Kaye!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Happy Christmas List.

So I am finally able to take a breath. To relax. To breathe.
Why is this season, 'the happiest season of all', so dang stressful? I try and try to get into the holiday spirit, but continue to get bogged down by shopping lists, busy schedules and hectic traffic.

Maybe it's time that I sat back and took a good look at my life. That I took a moment to put things into perspective.

Things I am currently happy about.

[Reason 1.] I have somehow made enough money to get gifts for all of my loved ones, even to downright spoil some of them. They're almost wrapped, too.

[Reason 2.] My in-laws really want me to make that casserole I made over Thanksgiving, so they must have really liked it. My mom also requested a pie... who would've thought people would actually want me to bring baked goods to their home?

[Reason 3.] It's supposed to snow for Christmas -- really, really snow! I hope the weather man isn't lying, because nothing makes me feel like a kid again more than running through the snow and making snowmen and snow angels.

[Reason 4.] I survived Monday and Tuesday at work... two days I have been dreading due to the amount of stress they have caused for the past two months. (long story). Do people wait until the end of the month to have a crisis on purpose? sheesh!

[Reason 5.] Next week I am off of work and a total free bird for an entire week! An entire week! I don't know what my husband & I are going to do with ourselves... but fingers crossed, a trip to NYC may be in our future!

[Reason 6.] As shallow as it may be... I hope to get my tattoo (above) filled in next month. It's hard spending that much money on a tattoo when there are so many bills to pay, but I have been patiently waiting since April and I freakin' deserve it.

What makes you happy?

Friday, December 17, 2010


The other night, my very best friend and I decided to face the cold and run 6 miles in the Christmas Light Fun Run. I figured, no big deal. It's a fun run, so people will probably be walking some of it. Boy was I wrong. Painfully wrong. The entire group of at least 200 people was made up of what looked to me like professionals. Including my best friend. Out of my league doesn't even begin to describe the experience.

It started out fine. I have after all been jogging on my lunch breaks. Inside. In the warmth. For 30 minutes. With breaks. It was around 19 degrees outside, however, and within 10 minutes my lungs tightened up and my insides cramped and I swore I was in the process of dying. I wanted to run, but I couldn't. We ended up doing 3 miles before sneaking away from the pack and grabbing a warm dinner at Legend's Brewery. I wanted a beer, however I was wheezing like a 90 year old in desperate need of an oxygen tank. I didn't have a beer, and I certainly didn't have a cigarette.

The night left me feeling like a bit of a failure, even though I did pretty well considering my ability (or lack thereof for that matter). I think this has been the hardest part of post surgery. And the transplant was eight months ago so I'm not even sure I can use that excuse any longer. But, when you get out of the habit of running everyday................ it's hard to come back. Especially when you're starting from square 1, and you feel like you should be picking up where you left off.

I think I learned a very good lesson from this mess, however. I learned that people are good at something because they work hard at it, and if something means a lot to me.... I need to get off my ass and train! If I got nothing else out of this Christmas-not-so-fun-run, at least I found a really good trail to use.... and I have the week after Christmas off to use it. And I will. Because by this time next year, I want to be leading that pack and completing the 6 miles.................. and I don't want to wake up that next morning pretty positive that I pulled a muscle in my back. Because I'm pretty sure that's what I did this time!

Any of you ''professionals'' out there have a tip or two you want to share with an amature like myself?

Monday, December 13, 2010

tacky christmas sweaters

I love this time of year mostly for one reason: Themed Parties. And this weekend we hosted our very own Tacky Christmas Sweater Party, which was a huge success [if I do say so myself!]. We were able to squeeze nearly thirty people into our little loft, and the sweaters people showed up in were epic!

I also managed to do a little baking for the party. We had M&M Cookies, Brownies, Wings, Homemade meat balls [Sean is the master of these!], chicken fingers, and my personal favorite... roasted pecans -- I am pretty sure these are a new Christmas staple in our house! {Special thanks to my bff Brittany for bringing reeses peanut butter cookies and pepermint bark -- YUM!!!!!}

...and of course I had to make red & green jello shooters.... close to fifty of them! Don't you just love a good jello shot?

Yesterday we spent out Sunday relaxing. Sean was basically super-husband of the year and cleaned up the entire loft [about 10 garbage bags full of trash] while I snuggled on the couch and watched television. I did go pick us up subs though, and we loooove subs in this family! He also made homemade chicken vegetable soup, which I kid you not is to-die-for.
The pups partied hard... they did not move an inch the entire day...

Best of all, I woke up this morning to a winter wonderland! [well, almost]. Such a great way to end an amazing weekend with some of my very best friends in all of Richmond, VA.

can you believe i can usually see the city scape from this angle! it's too cloudy to see past the river... love it!
This week I am looking forward to four holiday parties...... can you believe Christmas is right around the corner?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

127 Hours

I went with a very good friend last night to see 127 hours, and yes it is very much worth all the hype! I won't give any of it away, but the movie is based on the true story of Aron Ralston - an adventurous twenty-something who goes canyoneering alone and gets his arm trapped in a rock, leaving him in the cayon all by himself for you guessed it... 127 hours. I was so fascinated by his story that I googled him the second I got home, reading every news story I could find about him. He is truly an inspiration.

The thing that I love most about this movie is the characters will to live. I always find it so interesting how, when every decision is life or death, people will do literally anything to survive. James Franco was so amazing in this role... and the entire time I felt like I was watching actual footage. You are able to bond with him and the emotions you go through allow you to really connect with him. I laughed and cried with his character until by the end of the film, I felt like he was a friend of mine. I love being able to connect with characters in that way.

It also hit very close to home, which to be honest is the last thing I expected because I have never been canyoneering and I certainly wouldn't have the courage to go alone. But while he's trapped, he starts thinking about his family and the ways he has pushed them and others in his life away. He actually vocalizes that his decisions have brought him to this place, and this rock has been waiting here since the day I was born. He regrets not returning phone calls from his mother, not letting others help him, doing it all on his own. It's a powerful realization, and at times I felt like he was talking to me. In the end, he realizes that he cannot do everything on his own, and once in a while he needs to ask for help from others -- in this case, he needs others to survive.

I just knew the second that I saw the trailor for this film that it would be one of my favorites. It made me realize that my connection to nature is almost greater than my connection with other people, and was a huge eye-opener. It made me appreciate my family, and in that way it was almost like an $8.00 therapy session... can't beat that!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Dear John,

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one.

[John Lennon, 10/8/40 - 12/8/80]

You died 30 years ago today, and continue to inspire the world from your grave. Your memory keeps the fight for peace alive.

Monday, December 06, 2010

getting into the christmas spirit:

It takes me a while to really get into the ''Christmas Spirit''. The only good thing that comes from this is that I'm constantly trying to find creative ways to prepare myself for the big day. This usually means watching Home Alone and Christmas Vacation 34901275189750894 times a day, which who can really complain about that?

So this weekend I decided to go into Christmas-Spirit-Over-Load and started the second I left work on Friday. I spent the night cutting out paper snow flakes, baking cookies, cleaning, and putting up our decorations. Then Saturday we had our very first snow of the season!!! Sunday was the best, though... we had lunch with Sean's parents and then went to pick out our Christmas tree! [We always get a real tree, because the smell its a sure fire way to feel all warm and fuzzy inside] We decorated while listening to Christmas music & sipping beers, had dinner, then watched more Christmas movies. Oh, did I mention the puppies relazed on the couch in their Christmas Pajama's while we hung ornaments and lights? Yes. They love this holiday, too!

Our tree... and of course our Charlie Brown tree &
lots of candles...
Sean hanging lights...
Stockings for Me, Sean, Samson, Pete & Imogen...
do you have stockings for your pets??
Abird in our tree, for good luck...
The official 2008 White House ornament...
Sean is really proud of this one :)
Vintage ninja turtle decoration... from when Sean was little...

What gets you in the
holiday spirit??

Friday, December 03, 2010


This entire week has been really hectic at work. I had a meeting with my boss the other day, and for the life of me... I could not keep an interested face or even force a smile. She was talking and talking and talking about paper work that needs to be done and filed away, and I was completely overwhelmed. I kept thinking to myself, did I make a mistake choosing social work as my career path? Am I really cut out for a position that requires this much mindless paperwork? Seriously, every phone call, home visit, conversation has to be documented. I'm not great with tiny details like that. Mostly because I don't really care about tiny details like that.

So yesterday I was a slave in the office. I sat with legs crossed on the floor surrounded by at least 20 files and paper thrown everywhere. I took one half hour break, for a quick jog in the gym, and then I was back at it again. Every time I stopped to think about it, I was literally nauseous. It was stressful, especially because it was so mind numbingly boring and the deadline was so short -- 2 days short. I kept fearing that this would be my life. That I would become some sort of deuche bag in a suit. I quickly made a promise to myself to not become a deuche bag in a suit, mostly because I don't even own a suit [and I'd rather spend my money on tattoos and going out to eat and spoiling my husband].

I was working and working and working and not really thinking much, when all of the sudden I started thinking about what my life would be like if it didn't require a 9 to 5. I said to myself: Oh no, focus. Don't even go there right now. But the thoughts just kept coming, and it seemed so easy to just walk out the door and never look back. I actually made a mental list of what I would take and what I would leave behind.... I couldn't think of anything I really wanted to bring other than my dogs and Sean.

I thought about how badly I want to go to the West Coast, and how I didn't really have a good reason for not going, at least to visit. Other than fear of the unknown. I have vacation time. I am healthy. I haven't got any kids. Good enough for me.

I want to go camping on the beach. And the only thing harder than convincing my husband to go camping, would be convincing him to get on a plane and fly across the country to sleep in a tent. But I want to sit along the beach and look up at where the mountains meet the sea. I want to go a whole week where the only sort of bathing I do is a cleansing dive right into the ocean. At night, I want to sit beside a fire and look up at the stars. I want to notice how many of them are missing when I look up at them from the City.

I want to pretend that I live this way on a regular basis.

The more I sit in this office, the more I am realizing that I am not pursuaded to give up my soul for ''practical'' reasons such as consistancy and normality. A soul that longs to not only be surrounded by nature, but connected to it.

So, whose going with me to California?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

december 1st.

Today is World AIDS Day. In college, one of my internships was at the Valley AIDS Network [VAN] where I shadowed a case manager and got to work directly with clients, bringing them food and filling out papework with them or taking them to and from appointments. This is where I realized that in order to be happy in life, I need to be around people at all times. I had so much fun visiting their homes and talking with them about their families. I felt like I was actually helping, if only by being their friend.

The first thing that jumped out at me was realizing that people with HIV or AIDS don't look any different than anyone else. This seems like common knowledge, and of course I had been taught that they wouldn't, but I guess seeing is truly believing. I kept looking for skin discoloration or even dirty fingernails..... something that they all shared, but honestly they looked totally normal. They didn't even look or act sick.

The second thing I realized, is that the majority of our clients were having a really hard time economically. All of them lived in government housing. Some lived in these really creepy apartments that I only went into once because I was actually scared for my life -- this coming from a person who can go from project to project in an actual City and not feel afraid in the least bit. The lights were dim and I had to walk down this long hallway where people were laying up against the walls and talking to themselves. Honestly, it felt like a freakin crack house and I was waiting to get stabbed with a dirty needle. I couldn't imagine calling this place home.

I quickly realized that of course these people would end up living in government housing. It's a nasty little cycle. This disease eats away at your immune system which causes you to get sick all the time. It's really easy to lose your job when you're calling out every week. It's even easier to lose your job when you can no longer go to it, because the people and surroundings are exposing you to germs that are continuing to keep you sick. Then you come home to a nasty, dusty apartment, which I am positive is shared with roaches and other creatures, and you continue to get exposed to germs that your body cannot fight off.

There were some drug addicts that I worked with. You know who else was there? Several woman who had contracted the disease after their husbands had cheated on them. Children and babies. Older grandma's and grandpa's. Straight people. Gay people. And some people my age. It was really, really hard to leave work without feeling hopeless -- but I also left feeling like I was making a tiny difference in my community, because I was listening to these stories, connecting them to resources such as food banks and grants, and making so many friends along the way. This internship changed my life, and I'm not so sure most of my classmates could say the same.

The irony? I had been trying and trying to get this attorney to let me do my internship with him, because I was thinking that I may want to go to law school after I graduated. He led me on for a month and at that point I had to find something... anything. That's when I flipped through the yellow pages and found Valled AIDS. I didn't even know much about the disease, but they let me join them anyway. [things always happen for a reason!]

Here are some of the things that I learned during my internship:

[01.] You cannot get HIV/AIDS from kissing, drinking after someone, or even protected sex (using a condom). No!!!!! Your skin does a pretty good job of protecting your body, and the only way you can get it is if you have a cut on your hand and some one with HIV/AIDS bleeds into it. Or of course if you share a dirty needle or engage in unprotected sex. The disease does not travel through saliva.

*Condoms are the best protection against HIV and if worn with every act of sexual intercourse (including oral sex) you will not get HIV. If the condom breaks, there is medication available to stop the transmission of HIV. This is called PEPand is availalbe in most hospital emergency rooms. It is most effective if taken with 24 hours but can work up to 72 hours after exposure. source

[02.] Gay men and minorities are at a greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS than the rest of the population. No!!!!! 50% of people living worldwide with HIV/AIDS are women. Anyone can contract the disease -- it does not discriminate between males or females, homosexuals, black or white, amongst religious or non-religious. Everyone is at risk, which is why it is so imortant to educate yourself on this issue.

[03.] HIV and AIDS are the same thing. No!!!!! HIV is the virus that eventually can lead to AIDS. AIDS is a syndrome, a group of illnesses, consisting of what are called opportunistic infections because a healthy person without HIV would never get these illnesses.

[04.] If you get HIV then you will definintly die from AIDS at a young age. No!!!!! HIV medication and testing has vastly improved since the early '80s. This means that people are diagnosed earlier which means that there is less permanent damage done to their immune system. This also means that medications are now effective at reducing the amount of virus (viral load) in a person's body to such low levels that they can carry on as normal and live normal lives.

[05.] If you touch blood, you will definintly get AIDS. No!!!!! Other than sharing injecting drug needles with an HIV-positive person, the only way for this to happen would be if you had an open, gaping wound and someone with HIV bled into it! Also, HIV is actually quite weak, so even if you had a wound and it touched blood, if that blood was outside someone's body the time, light, and temperature would likely have killed it so it would not likely be infectious.

The most important thing you can do today is educate yourself. This is the only way to break steriotypes and stop the spread of this terrible disease!

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