Thursday, June 03, 2004

Sunday, May 30, 2004
I received the following bit from a very dear Texan friend today. Hard to believe, but he is even more economically conservative than I am! Read on:

Fact: John Kerry recently gave a speech in which he claimed Americans are paying more taxes under Bush ,despite the tax cuts. He gave no explanation and provided no data on which to base this claim.

Fact # 2 :Both George Bush and John Kerry are wealthy men. Bush owns only one home, his ranch in Texas. Kerry owns four mansions, all worth several million dollars. His ski resort home in Idaho is an old barn brought over from Europe in pieces. Not your average A- frame.

Bush paid $250,000 in taxes this year; Kerry paid $90,000, does this sound right? The man who wants to raise your taxes has obviously figured out a way to avoid paying his own.

posted by jill # 5:15 PM
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My husband and I watched The Last Samurai last night. It was a good movie - if I had never seen Dances with Wolves, I would have considered it to be even better.

It got me thinking about this war in Iraq. I don't speak political too often - as I've mentioned before, we are a couple of economic conservatives in a land of screaming liberals. But here are some of the thoughts swirling around my mind:

1. Hollywood has helped develop an American Culture that has extremely high expectations with little tolerance for mistakes or slow forward motion. Thanks to movies like the James Bond 007 franchise and Mission Impossible series, we seem to think that we are more advanced than we truly are. Which, I believe, pumps up our expectations and minimizes our patience with Real Life and Real War.

2. Hearing about Pat Tillman's death from friendly fire was like a punch in the stomach. So tragic and heartbreaking. Yet a perfect example that War is Hell. It's not easy, smoothly operated or high tech. It's awash with confusion, bungling methodology and panic.

3. The media plays on all of the negatives and ignores anything positive or concrete. Surely, there are some heroic human rights advancements occurring in Afghanistan? What, is that Old News?

4. The lack of proactive response in the media by the Bush Camp is maddening. This is an opportunity to portray true leadership, share the focus, show some semblance of strength.

5. It's a shame that I can't vote for Rudy G. He'd be my number one pick.

posted by jill # 8:33 AM
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Saturday, May 29, 2004
The need for Red Onion in our dinner salad has sent my husband to the grocery store. I'm taking this free moment to reflect on something my sister said during our conversations about my parents today:

"The cruel twist to life is that when you get older, you expect that life will be easier, you'll have the money saved, and you can relax and enjoy your golden years. The truth is that you never reach that moment when you can say I've Made It and life glides forward easily and with no surprises."

This, coming from a woman who is raising her grandson. She expected to travel, do artwork and finally relax after her two kids were out of the house. Instead, the oldest daughter got pregnant and literally dropped the baby off at my sister's house and went her merry way.

My parents have never enjoyed an easy life. Much of their torment came from staying together, refusing to pursue a new life. My mother mostly said because she didn't want to face the stigma of divorce from family and friends. She cared more about what people thought than she cared about her own happiness - or the happiness of her children. So she and my dad lived miserable lives...and continue to do so even today.

I'm happy now in my life - something that I had to learn. But it isn't easy, and I'm beginning to learn that it may never be.

If anybody out there is reading this blog, please allow me to share these small tidbits of wisdom. They literally want to burst out of me. Things I have learned over the years that I wish someone had told me as I was walking out the door for college:

1. Be smart with your money. Learn how to use it to your advantage. Invest fully in your 401K from the day you start working. Start a Roth. Things happen throughout life that you would never imagine. Getting laid off from work. Damage to your home that may not be covered by insurance. An injury that keeps you from working for a length of time. You'll never, ever be sorry that you have money stashed away.

2. That being said, live a life that you enjoy. Don't just hoard away the money and be frugal in lifestyle. Splurge on yourself wisely. Take trips and learn about new cultures. Collect dividends of knowledge through experience. Remember, tomorrow is promised to no one. So enjoy life in the moment, today.

3. Don't marry someone just because you have great sex. The goodness, sweetness and character of your spouse will be what get you through the years together. Believe me, having someone you can count on to go through the rough times with you is Priceless.

4. Understand that Karma Kickback operates everywhere. I don't think I'll ever truly understand justice in this world. But I do believe that what goes around, comes around.

5. Money or glamour does not a hero make. I used to idolize celebrities. Gorgeous people who seemed perfect - they always looked terrific, said the right things. Guess what - it's fake. And the contributions they make to others in life is minimal. I've learned that teachers, nurses, firefighters, etc are the true hero's in life.

6. Overweight people carry more than extra pounds - they are filled with pain, shame, self-disgust and desperation. 9 times out of 10, if you see an obese person, the odds are that this person has gone through major trauma. Compassion toward them is deserving.

7. Don't steal. You lose a little piece of your soul every time you take something that's not yours. Live an honorable life, take care of what you have, and respect that other people may have more. It doesn't mean they're happier, believe me.

Enough for now - it's time to throw some burgers on the grill. Hooray for Saturday nights!

posted by jill # 7:38 PM
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My sister rarely initiates a telephone call to me. When she does, I know something "is up."

My dad is exhausted and unable to get out of bed. He's been to the doctor and was told that there is nothing wrong, no sickness that can be identified. Somehow, they missed the diagnosis of: "You're 80 years old, taking care of a wife who has dementia, you've been chronically depressed for over 20 years, you had a stroke less than 2 years ago - rendering your left leg mostly useless, and you're tired of living. You've lost all but one of your close friends, and you feel ready to go at any moment."

There's no pill for this kind of malaise. A chocolate bar, a trip to Tahiti, even a boatload of money won't cure this ill.

To give my dad a break, I have "invited" my mother to come stay with us for the next month or so. She really has no choice - it's either this or she goes into a home. The man needs a break so he can be alone to recuperate and live without the constant nagging, bickering, emotional outbursts, and wild accusations that have nothing to do with reality, i.e. "You threw away the box my Raggedy Andy was stored in." "You stole my cashmere sweaters." "Why are you taking away my credit cards? Why won't you give me my money?" And on...and on...and on.

My husband has accepted this situation with silent resolve. Of course my mom is welcome to stay with us for however long is needed. He'll do all he can to help, starting with the purchase of a bed mattress this weekend so she can set up camp in the 2nd bedroom. It's times like this that I look at him and marvel at my luck.

I don't know what will happen when we start the remodel in July. And mom certainly can't be here when we begin our Homestudy. But she needs to be here now, and she will arrive no later than Wednesday. It's what's needed for all of us. For the family. For my dad and my sister. And somehow, strangely, it is these circumstances that bring me even closer to my husband. Further entwining our lives together as we get through the bumpy roads, side by side, holding each other up.

Forward Ho.

posted by jill # 11:38 AM
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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Spent the day out on the golf course, playing 18 holes with my fellow Marketeers. The sky was a gorgeous, brilliant blue....Canadian geese, squirrels and mud hens were everywhere...I even saw a wild pheasant running through the brush.

Right now, it hurts to breathe. By tomorrow morning, rigor mortis will have set in and I will end up screaming as I attempt to lift my haggard body out of bed. Yes, here is yet another reason why I should work out regularly.

My husband is sweet and affectionate tonight. He's never been one to hold a grudge, and it's almost as though we never had The Chat this morning.

My new book, Catastrophe Living just arrived. I'm going to fall asleep reading it tonight.

I cried when I heard Fantasia's name announced as the new American Idol. I'm so thrilled that America got this one right. (I stand by my assertion that LaToya should have been in the finals.)

I think Gore has an incredible amount of nerve to call for Condoleeza's resignation.

A fabulous painting on ebay went for over $1100 today. I was poised and ready to snipe...until the bids became more than double what I was willing to pay.

Crunchy Corn Bran is my favorite mid-week breakfast food.

I'm tired. I'm sore. I'm stiffening. And now, I'm off.

Exit Stage Left.

posted by jill # 10:26 PM
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I've been accused of being a Big Meanie.

Oy vey. My husband made this comment to me over breakfast. Apparently, I'm not very nice. Specifically, I tend to treat him harshly.

I'm open to this being a key learning experience, I really am. But why hasn't he said something sooner? And what exactly does Harsh mean?

There was a time, early in our marriage, when I could not make anything but a positive comment about his artwork. If I said..."That's awesome! Gorgeous. I love the clouds and the landscape. With a little bit of detail work, those trees will really pop."

My bad. The piece wasn't perfect so suddenly I was attacking it. And if I'm attacking his artwork, then I am attacking him. (This is The Agony and the Ecstasy...of being an Artist's Wife.) So, I got to a point where I tuned-out his pouts, because I felt he was being touchy, overly emotional, too Involved to hear critical praise.

Sometimes, it really helps to tune-out so you don't react to a certain stimulus all of the time. Okay, the man is sensitive. I don't need to get upset every time he gets upset. It's basically What He Does. It's his M.O. He's an artist, for God's sake.

Have I tuned-out too much?

This is the question that permeated my mind this morning. I need to listen to and think about his comments. Here I am, buzzing along through life thinking that I am loving and supportive and generous of praise....and the message back to me is that I'm Not.

I love my husband dearly and I want him to know it and feel confident in it.

I also have to deal with the fact that I constantly yearn for him to earn a decent living that I could rely on. An issue that is probably adding some sharpness to my edge.

posted by jill # 8:32 AM
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Is it really possible to know someone and say, for certain, that they are or aren't capable of certain behaviours?

I used to believe the answer was, "yes." Now, I'm not so sure.

I have worked with "Tony" for about 2 years. We met weekly to talk about sales, staffing, problems in the field and marketing promotions. Frequently, we'd talk about cultural issues, classic literature and the hot new restaurants in town. I have held Tony in the highest admiration. He has resolved issues quickly, with integrity and the perfect amount of accountability. Although he officially worked for a contracting company, I have always considered him to be part of the team. One of Us. A guy who I could always count on to do the right thing.

The owner's of Tony's company recently sold the business and Tony parted ways with them. As soon as I heard the news, I was on the phone, inviting him to interview for one of several open positions. The job is a perfect fit. The compensation is a tad lower than he's been earning, but he's excited about the growth opportunities into management. As of Friday, he was ready to accept an offer.

The phone call from him today came as a surprise. Apparently he had not completed the written application by signing it, and he had not included his social security number. As we began the conversation, he mentioned The Complication.

I jokingly said, "Is this when you tell me that you're a Felon?" His reply was..."Yes." No follow up laughter like usual. No..."Bee-Da-Boom." No explanation. Just...silence.

I asked him to tell me what he felt comfortable sharing. He told me..."This was four and a half years ago. I spent over $40,000 on an attorney and a private investigator. I planned to fight the charges, but in the end, they told me that if it went to trial, there was a chance that I could lose and go to jail for a very long time. Instead, I plead No Contest and accepted 3 years probation with the understanding that the Felony would be reduced to a Misdomeaner in October, 2003. I called my attorney today to confirm that this was done, and it wasn't. We're going to have to go back to court to officially change the charge, and it will take 4 to 6 weeks."

Knowing that it would show up on his record anyway - because my company is extremely thorough with the background checks - I asked him to give me a sense of the severity. He said, "Jill, I didn't do it. I know a lot of guys say that they didn't do it when they really did...but that's not me. I didn't do it."

I swallowed hard and just kept listening. "Jill, I was charged with rape."

My insides are weeping. Crying because I know that there is no way to ever hire him for this outside sales position. Hurting because there is now a divider between me and my friend. Agonizing from my shame, because there's a hint of wonder in my mind...How on Earth he could plead out if he was Innocent?

In less than one minute, this simple, unplanned conversation turned our relationship around on its heels. It took bravery and guts to tell me the truth. My hope is that I can move out of my abject sorrow before our follow up chat I can give Tony the dignity and respect that he deserves in this vulnerable, painful moment.

I am absolutely, positively crushed.


posted by jill # 9:34 PM
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As of yesterday afternoon, I have finally overcome the sickness that kept me in bed A-L-L W-E-E-K-E-N-D. They say Be Careful of What You Wish For...It Just May Come True. I've been hoping to spend more time relaxing and sleeping, and that's exactly what I did for two full days. It didn't feel good, and my body is not happy about being stagnant for so long.

But enough kvetching....I'm in a day-dreamy kind of mood...and this is where I would be if I could close my eyes, snap my fingers, and reappear anywhere else in the world:

Today, I choose France. The sky is a brilliant blue with fluffy clouds smattered across the horizon. I'm sitting outside a small chateau, in the middle of a gorgeous garden filled with the vibrant colors of purple, white and red flowers. The roofline of the chateau is very steep...its walls appear to be constructed out of limestone. I'm at Rambouillet, just outside of Paris, one of my favorite spots on Earth. There is a gorgeous pond on the edge of the garden, with a statue of two lovers embracing at its entrance. The statue has a rich, green patina, and it exudes passion. My sketchbook and journal are in hand - I have no where else to go today - I can enjoy life at my leisure. With the sun on my face and a light wind blowing my hair back, I breathe deeply and feel the luxury of time passing slowly. I am at Peace with the World.

posted by jill # 6:58 AM
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Thursday, May 20, 2004
What Is - in my world as of today:

1. Horrible sore throat and stuffy head. A colleague had this 4 days ago and I could almost see the fog of contamination swirling around her when she stepped into my office. Just like Playpen in Peanuts - her head cold made an appearance before she did...and now, she has shared it with me.

2. Following the advice of my auto body manager: the fellow I rearended last week has submitted 4 repair estimates to me - one which is dated 2 weeks prior to the accident - which he admitted was sent "accidentally." Clearly, he had existing damage on the car and is now trying to "double dip." I originally told him I would pay out of pocket because the damage was minimal. I am now handing this entire mess off to my insurance company...and my faith in mankind is tainted yet again.

3. My husband is installing the new fireplace he carved for one of his clients today. He's thrilled - it really turned out beautifully.

4. One of my supervisors had breast augmentation last week and she is suffering terribly. Apparently, the saline sack in her left breast is resting on the nerves, and it's shooting pain throughout her body. She is in excruciating pain, pumped full of Vicadin and very very full of regret.

5. Despite swearing that I would never do this again...I purchased a piece of art through ebay yesterday. Here's hoping that it is as beautiful in person as it is on my computer screen.

6. My husband sings every morning as he does some of the chores...emptying the dishwasher, taking the newspaper down to the recycle bin, cleaning the cat boxes. Today, he is singing something about Babycakes.

posted by jill # 6:51 AM
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Wednesday, May 19, 2004
I've been thinking a lot about people dying lately. Mostly because my parents are in really poor health, my sister has a borderline tumor in her Fallopian tubes, my favorite listener (I'm a p/t deejay) Ruby has a lung infection and is in and out of the hospital, and I have been feeling "slumpy" lately.

When I was laid off from one of my jobs and very depressed, I used to obsess on the obituaries. So many young people pass away - and by young I'm talking 45 years old and less.

It took me years, but I have learned to appreciate every new day that awaits me. I drive 45 miles to work and I know I am blessed to make it there and back safely day in, day out. I take my health for granted, something that I am trying to change. I continue to seek the Point of Change, the day when I alter my behaviour and start putting some effort into weight loss and physical activity. Sadly, I've been waiting for that day for several years now. The next observation is obvious - yet somehow, I'm missing it and remain in denial. I'm living in Psychological Siberia.

The search for an adequate assisted living facility for my parents continues. It's a hard reality to swallow, for all of us.

posted by jill # 6:35 AM
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Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Nothing too new to describe. Work has been sheer and utter chaos. We've been handling crisis after crisis. This is most certainly the oddest industry I have ever worked in - all sales channels (there are 7 of them including direct, retail and service) have discovered unique ways to cheat. Really, if people would just spend their spare time on something constructive as opposed to planning how they are going to rip the company off...this world would be a different place.

Politicians would be honest.
We'd have more than enough gasoline to cover worldly needs - at a price everyone could afford.
Insurance rates would be reasonable and attorneys would stop creating an entitlement society.
People would treat one another with grace and respect instead of harboring suspiciousness and doubt.

And finally...the angels would sing.

posted by jill # 10:05 PM
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Sunday, May 16, 2004
Raptor. The mere mention of this word sends chills down my spine.

I envision thick, muscular legs with razor-sharp claws swooping down with lightening speed. Snatching-up my furry little rodents, my happy-go-lucky squirrels who want nothing more than a peanut and a cup of water.

I am amazed by the number of people who despise squirrels, including my neighbors to the East. Apparently Hogaboom, my little black squirrel, enjoys tearing up my neighbor's potted inpatiens. So I buy Irene a big new bucket of flowers every year, trying to placate her so she doesn't set poison or traps for Hogaboom.

The real problem that I have is the Hawk. The Raptor. The creaturous fiend that keeps circling over my backyard, hoping to catch one of my critters unaware. So far, everyone seem intact, although the damned bird was monitoring my birdfeeder yesterday to catch one of the backyard sparrows.

Something very disturbing happened last week. On my way out to the car, I saw a strange looking heap on the grass. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that it was 3 perfectly cleaned and intact a heart and two long, bowel looking things. No bite marks, no blood, no rips...these organs were pristine and just laying there in the middle of my front yard.

What kind of creature does this? Don't all carnivores eat organs? Why were they clean? From the size of them, I guessed they were from a squirrel, although my husband thought they could be from a big rat. But who knows?

After significant research on the internet yesterday, I have learned to strategically place my bird feeders out of Hawk-Harm's way. As beautiful as he is, his only goal is to eat my critters for breakfast. And I am not one to serve that up knowingly or willingly.

posted by jill # 12:12 PM
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Saturday, May 15, 2004
Courage. Chutzpah. Fortitude. Pluck.

Zippo. Gone. Depleted. Down on its luck.

I used to have plenty of spirit. I was on a mission in life and Bravery was my conveyor belt. It led me forward, unblinking, unaware of the risks. Now, the risks are all that I have going through my mind. Look what I have to lose...think of the effort it's going to I really want to try, and then deal with the outcome?

What happened? When did I lose my backbone?

Life has this funny way of heaping layer after layer of dejection and disappointment on a person. Resilience slowly breaks down. Sometimes, it's easy to reach a point where the apathy overtakes the spunk. Things just aren't worth the effort anymore. The mantra becomes..."What I have is good enough, so all I need to do now is hold on."

I'm ready to just glide through life for awhile. I've proven myself to...Myself.

For a long time, my mother told me I was going to be a failure....typically whenever I did something that she didn't agree with. I dropped out of college to take my very first job in The City. She told me that I wouldn't be employable to anyone else and that I would never make a decent living. I succeeded in that position and then moved on to several other positions. After I earned $50,000/year, something inside of me was released and I decided that it was time to go to back to college to complete my degree in Management. But first, I'd had to prove to my mom and to myself that I was resourceful and worth something. At the time, $50,000 in the Bay Area was good money. That was apparently my Set Point.

In the years since then, I've earned a lot more and even a tad less, thanks to being laid off in early-2001. And through it all, I've tried to prove myself over and over again. Much to my parent's utter amazement, I've been successful.

But I'm tired now. I've had enough. I want to develop the spunk and pluck that comes from loving life. And let go of the kind that's required to Move Forward...Earn More...and Get Accolades.

posted by jill # 4:30 PM
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I have been "in trouble" for most of my life.

My mom told me from the beginning that I was Not Planned. My sisters are 5 and 7 years older than I am, and this age difference meant that I was on my own for the majority of my childhood.

Dad had to moonlight at a liquor store to make ends meet after I arrived on the scene. I was also the reason we had to shop at Kmart for our shoes and clothing. Many times I heard that they couldn't afford 3 kids - only two.

I was the Odd Man Out. My sisters and my parents were bonded, and much of what I did was criticized or ridiculed by them. Pretty consistently, the odds were stacked 4 against 1.

I didn't ever do anything bad as a kid, I was just not accepted for who I was. Some of my favorite quotes by my family directed at me:

"That's a very interesting drawing. But I don't like that flower. Do it over without the flower and I'll like it better."

"Shut up! You are not to say a word. Don't talk back, don't you dare sass me. Just Shut Up or you'll be slapped."

"No wonder you're sitting at home alone on a Friday night. You're fat."

"Someday your heart is going to swell up to the size of a pea and explode."

"Why don't you pull your life together and just get married like your sister?"

"You're 30 years old and not married. What's wrong with you? Are you a lesbian?"

"I expect you to get on your knees and beg forgiveness from your sister. You hurt her feelings."

"I plan to divorce your mom but I need your help with a DNA test to prove I am not your father. I'll threaten to tell your sisters the Truth and your mom will give me a fair divorce. She cares too much about what your sisters think to say No."

"You think you had a difficult childhood? Well, that's tough. Go see a shrink, you can afford it."

"You've come a long way. As a kid, you didn't impress me overmuch, nothing too special about you. I never imagined you'd do so well."

Now that we are all in our 40s, my sisters readily admit that I took the brunt of the abuse. I was the youngest and I was Home Alone with my mom during her menopausal years. It's hard to imagine, but those were my high school years and the worst ever.

Although I was continually "in trouble," I didn't do anything truly bad. No stealing, no sneaking out, no bad language, no drugs, no carousing with boys, no bad grades, no ditching school. Nothing...nada.

And now all I want to do is make my parent's lives better somehow. People have asked me why I haven't walked away from this family, why I take the time to take care of them. I don't exactly know the answer to this. Maybe, I want to prove that I am a bigger person. Maybe I feel a visceral yearning to have a Real Family and give it my best shot. Maybe I'm duped, and part of the sick cycle.

The only thing I do know is that I have never, ever felt loved by my family...and if there is ever a chance of that happening, I'd like to be around for it.

posted by jill # 7:58 AM
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Friday, May 14, 2004
Bullet point highlights of my life as of today:

1. Back and neck hurt from the accident. I can only wonder how the other guy feels.
2. There's a news article out today that the brain prefers to work for cash - and not receive it gratis. Hmmmm...I'd be happier after winning the Lotto. I really would.
3. It occurred to me yesterday that I am devoting my life to a job where I could be replaced instantly. So ultimately, the reason I'm there and working so hard is just so I can keep the position - and not because I'm uniquely good at it and irreplaceable. It would serve me well to keep this realization Top Of Mind.
4. If I could have been the inventor of anything...I would choose eBay.
5. I believe Scott Peterson is guilty and I have no idea whether or not Kobe Bryant did it.
6. I am working from home today and it feels glorious!
7. Beauty really is Power....a concept that I have denied for many years.
8. Still waiting for the city council to approve the remodel plans. Life on Hold is not something that I do well.
9. Dad is excited about moving to an Assisted Living facility. Mom is fighting every last detail. It's amazing how someone who doesn't have all of their mental faculties can be so diligent and clear over something they don't want. It certainly does make me wonder.

posted by jill # 6:51 AM
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Thursday, May 13, 2004
There are three things that you should never do at a party.

Number One: Never say anything about your spouse's bathroom habits.
Number Two: Try not to give the household pets more attention than the other guests.
Number Three: Don't bring up Politics, unless you want to create Contention and Division.

Today, I choose to think about politics. And I'm smart enough to know that what I am about to say is going to tick a lot of people off.

I am not a Republican although I did not vote for Gore. I simply couldn't.

I have admired Bush for the cabinet he has put together - I am very Pro-Condoleeza - and I was supportive of going into Afghanistan after Sept. 11th. I didn't quite understand why we suddenly shifted positions and became focused on Iraq, so I started listening to talk radio, the news, etc. WMDs, OK. Saddam was a cruel bastard. OK. Oil. OK.

With trepidation, I supported the decision to invade Iraq. Try to keep in mind, that I hate to kill things, including spiders and mice. This was not an easy mental decision, but I went with it.

From the very beginning, I was extremely troubled by the media's Right to Know. They embedded themselves with our troops and in some cases gave away critical positioning information. When the number of US casualties began to rise, the graphic pictures and bios of the people who were dying began to grate on me. One by one, I heard the reports. Day by day, there were new casualties. Suddenly, the nation's wave of doubt over the war was turning into a sunami. The papers reported the loss of support by our global allies. Pictures were shown of miserable conditions for the Iraqi people. Now, we have photos depicting prisoner humiliation in our prisons in Iraq.

So, this is what I think about the war and the media and the state of the world:

1. War is Hell and I don't pretend to understand the methods that are needed to obtain information that could potentially save our troops. What I do know - this is not the behaviour of any of my friends in the military. Is this a reservist issue?

2. We, the people, don't have a right to know everything that is happening during wartime. Afterwards, yes.

3. Our nation's newspapers are catering to the terrorists by depicting gruesome scenes and cryptic messaging on the front page. The San Francisco Chronicle showed a photo of the young man who was executed mere seconds later, with the headline - Worse Will Come to You...or something as equally awful for us humiliating the Iraqi prisoners. Nice job SF Chron - way to spread that Terrorist Propaganda and distrurb young children throughout the Bay Area.

4. We should have been told the truth about why we were going into Iraq.

5. The Bush media campaign has been painfully absent this entire year, allowing the sunami of doubt to swell and traverse across the nation. What happened to the leadership? Where's Bush and where's Cheney?

6. John Kerry makes my skin crawl. He offers nothing better.

7. Is oil a good enough reason to go to war? Perhaps. Our country would shut down without it. And just maybe our government knows something that I don't know - something that extends beyond the accusations of greed and kickbacks.

That, unfortunately is all I have time to write this morning. I have to get myself showered and out the door.

posted by jill # 7:32 AM
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Tuesday, May 11, 2004
God is spoonfeeding me Humble Pie.

I tend to race around, getting things done, always in a hurry. But not today. So, I decided that I needed to leave the building to enjoy lunch in a restaurant, read a newspaper and take a break from work. Clearly, not a good plan.

I rear-ended someone while driving back to the office. I was behind him at a stop sign and saw him stop and then drive off. I then drove up to the stop sign, stopped, looked left and waited for 2 cars to pass. I began to merge onto the street...and guess who was stopped up ahead just 8 feet in front of me. That big 'ol Ford 150 truck that was in front of me at the stop sign. Why he stopped in the middle of the road, I'll never know.

I saw the truck a split second before I hit it. My only thought..."No Way Out of this one."

I didn't feel any emotion - there was no time for that. I was only able to process the realization that I was going to hit him and the inevitability of it happening.

I'm thankful that no one got seriously hurt. I'm thankful that the airbag didn't pop me in the face. And I'm very appreciative that the guy I hit appears to be an upstanding citizen.

Of course, I cried on the side of the road because it's another big heap of something on my already too crowded plate. I also cried because I am severely angry with myself for not looking in front of me before hitting the pedal. I cried because I didn't want to have to tell my husband about this - the car is less than a year old and it's not paid off. And I cried because there was No Way Out. It happened, it was done, and it was my fault.

I broke the news to my husband when he got home. He simply smiled and said, "Babe, don't be so hard on yourself. It was a mistake." I then told him the repairs could add up to $3,000. He scrunched his eyebrows and said, "It's OK. Accidents happen and that's Life."

So now I'm left pondering exactly how I went from abject misery in my childhood to life with a Saint in my adulthood. I am one lucky girl, yesiree.

posted by jill # 7:01 PM
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Sunday, May 09, 2004
First allow me to say that I am confused by these changes at blogger. I was really quite comfortable with the old format. Yes, that's me, being resistant to change yet again.

Speaking of change, I need a major overhaul in the health department. I was down with a headache for about 3 hours today. I've been having them frequently enough now to cause me some concern. Add to that the stomach aches, the digestive issues and the ongoing fatigue.

I've been researching resorts in the area for my mini-vacation, and I keep getting the message that it's not what I'm supposed to be doing. I really don't need to go somewhere and just relax - get a facial and a massage and be catered to. Candidly, I already lead a pampered life in a whole bunch of ways. My husband literally does everything around the house including the laundry, the dishes, cleaning the cat boxes, waste management, paying the bills, making the bed every morning, an dpicking up all of my dry cleaning at least once a week.

Don't say it, don't say it, don't say it. I'm spoiled rotten, I know.

The worst part of all of this is that I don't even take good care of myself. I've taken laziness to a whole new level. I think, in some ways, my spirit is tired. I do need to recharge, but it's going to take more than a 5 day getaway. It really is going to require a transformation that jump-starts my mojo.

I've been looking at a wellness program at The Raj. It's wicked expensive, but it feels right. Total purge of toxins in the body, reeducation on nutrition, focus on body and meditation. I'd like to call it preventive medicine, but I'm already so sick all of the time it's hardly accurate to think I'm preempting anything.

I need to look past the money and realize that I'm running out of time. I've taken too much for granted and it is catching up with me.

posted by jill # 9:43 PM
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10 more things about me that very few people know:

1. I drink straight out of the milk carton.
2. I just discovered the joy of brushing my teeth in the shower.
3. I love being able to see in peoples' windows at night to see how they decorate.
4. I am addicted to eBay and rarely shop at malls.
5. 99% of the time I'll give a homeless person $10 or more.
6. I love the smell of skunk and gasoline.
7. I have never tried cocaine.
8. I slugged a man once for abusing my dog.
9. I am seriously considering a nose job.
10. I rarely cry when others are hurt or crying themselves. It takes me days to process their pain.

posted by jill # 9:51 AM
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Saturday, May 08, 2004
It swooped in, out of the blue...and hit me squarely on the heart. Tomorrow is Mother's Day, and I am aching throughout my insides. Not because I forgot to send gifts to my mom and mom-in-law. I took care of that about 10 days ago.

It occurred to me that I am not a Mom myself...yet.

Normally, I can compartmentalize issues and not deal with them emotionally if I decide that the pain is too much. I have been choosing to not think about the fact that I did not get pregnant. I have been choosing to not be devastated and left wondering what "our" little baby would look like. I have been choosing not to dwell on the fact that all of my friends have had babies - many who became pregnant within the first 3 months of trying.

I have been completely at peace with the thought of adoption. But here it is...Mother's Day...and I want my babies NOW. Right here, right now, so I can smooch them and make them giggle.

Aye, carumba. This is really hurting. I am going to have to exit-stage-left and hunt down one of the cats. It's time to smother one of them with love and fishy treats.

posted by jill # 6:51 PM
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Realizing that people from around the World are reading blogs....I wonder if You find some of these items interesting:

1. Home prices in the Bay Area are skyrocketing. The median price for a home in San Mateo county is $643,000, up almost 13% over last year. However, I defy anyone who is looking for a house in a decent neighborhood to find one for that amount. Non fixer-upper homes with 3 bdrs and 1.5 bths are going for $800,000+. And I'm talking about 1700 square feet here. A friend is placing an offer on a townhouse in San Mateo for $590,000. It's got 2 bdrs, 2.5 bths and 1300 square feet. It's listed for $545,000 and even with the higher offer amount, she doesn't expect to get it. The sellers are only accepting offers on Tuesday and then it becomes a bidding war.

2. I paid $2.35/gallon for unleaded gasoline yesterday.

3. Do you want to remodel your house? Bay Area contractors are charging $250-$400 a square foot.

4. Need to park in the Financial District in San Francisco? That will be $6.00 for every 20 minutes.

5. Burgers in a restaurant are $10.50 and salads are $11.95. When did lettuce get so expensive?

Over the years, I have frequently pressed my husband to relocate. Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania. The answer was, "Nope, nope and nope." He's lived in over 8 states on the East and West coasts, and loves to tell me that I wouldn't survive the snow, the humidity and the Bugs.

True, I hate Bugs. But sometimes I watch HGTV and yearn to own one of those gorgeous homes in the South that cost a fraction of what we paid for our cozy, little bungalow. I can't help but believe the standard of living is so much higher in these tiny, tucked-away cities across America.

Mosquitoes, gnats and flies be damned! Can they really be all that bothersome when you're living in a house that has enough space between neighbors so they can't see in all of your windows?

posted by jill # 8:42 AM
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Friday, May 07, 2004
Telltale signs that you're desperately in need of a vacation:

1. You fall asleep at 7:30pm and it's tough to drag yourself out of bed by 7am the next morning.
2. Your justification to your boss for not attending a business social event is, "Because I don't want to."
3. You eat breakfast at McDonalds, lunch at Taco Bell and dinner out of a cracker box because you're too tired to place an item in the microwave.
4. It's a struggle to complete your expense reports.
5. People you haven't seen for a couple of weeks casually remark that you look "stressed."
6. You tell your husband that you'd like to go to a spa with a girlfriend for 5 days and he replies, "That's a good idea," without missing a beat.
7. You frequently daydream how lovely it would be to be a cat and just...sleep all day.

posted by jill # 6:15 AM
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Tuesday, May 04, 2004
I just hung up the phone with Denise, my oldest sister. Last night, my other sister Ann went into diabetic shock and the paramedics had to revive her. She started screaming when they put an oxygen mask on her face, but thankfully, at least this time Ann was fully dressed.'s been really gruesome.

Ann goes through this at least twice a month. Denise calls Ann every two hours...every make sure she is coherent and OK. When she's not, Denise rushes over to Ann's place, tries to get her to eat glucose and then calls emergency if needed. This has happened more than 40 times.

Ann was 16 when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. She had lost a ton of weight and my mom yelled at her for "being on drugs." They argued about it constantly, and I remember Ann running out of the house, crying and insisting that she didn't do it - she didn't take drugs. Eventually, she landed in the hospital and received the diagnosis.

Mom didn't apologize - she went into Guilt Mode. She used to wail that it was All Her Fault because she had a distant cousin who had diabetes. Suddenly, all of the family's attention was directed at mom who went into a depressive state. No one talked to Ann about her illness, she didn't tell any of her friends, and most extended family members were kept out of the loop. Everything changed at home. No more cookies in the kitchen cabinets, no more ice cream. I was 11 at the time and really didn't understand how this would affect Ann for the rest of her life.

When she was 28, Ann started getting Sinus Headaches. Unfortunately, she refused to go to the doctor, which she had done for all of the 12 years she'd had diabetes. Ann was ashamed to have diabeties, refused to talk about it, and refused to see a doctor regularly. One morning she woke up and her eyesight was completely gone in her right eye. Doctors tried for over a year to save her left eye, but in the end, she got toxic shock and lost all of her sight.

It's been a heartbreaking experience. Ann does her best, but her body lets her down. Two of her former boyfriends died in 2002 from complications from diabetes. They also were completely blind and had kidney and cardiovascular problems, which led to their early deaths while they were still in their late 30s.

My exposure to all of this has led me to understand that may people lead dreadful lives. One illness, one weakness can make you susceptible to a plethora of other issues...illness can and will heap itself upon you without mercy.

No one is guaranteed happiness, and many people live and die tragically. Life just has this way of beating some people up. It isn't fair. It isn't right. But it continues on...impervious to the suffering.

posted by jill # 9:54 PM
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Monday, May 03, 2004
I'm supposed to be in bed asleep, but I can't seem to get myself upstairs and tucked away. Something is eating away at me. Something...Indefinable.

I wish I could see into the future and know where I am going to be in exactly one year.

I'm antsy and short tempered and on-edge. I think it's because we're waiting for final approvals from the city for the remodel, and I've got papers to submit on the adoption. However, this all needs to be timed perfectly or we'll end up with two Russian babies in a house that is torn apart. Once we're ready to break ground, I can send in the next round of papers and move forward with the adoption. In the meantime, I'm hurting inside because I don't want to have to wait. I don't want a schedule dictating when we get our babies.

I feel like a car with a revving engine that is ready to tear outta here...but the parking brake is on and holding me back. What is this? Maturity...or madness?

posted by jill # 10:31 PM
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Sunday, May 02, 2004
My parents have lived in the same house since the late 50's. It's down in Riverside, which was recently named California's #1 city with the worst air quality. This was certainly true when I was growing up. They used to have 3rd Degree Smog Alerts that kept us inside - either at school or at home. The heat in Riverside was often unbearable - typically above 100 degrees, and mixed with the smog, it made it a fairly dismal place to be.

I lucked out. I had a great-aunt who let us visit her during the summer. Aunti Hazel. My favorite person in the whole, wide world. Aunti Hazel was a self-made millionaire. She started working in a small clothing store as a teenager and eventually purchased it from the owners. From there, she opened her own boutique clothing stores...mostly high end merchandise for women. She married a wealthy man and they purchased a home in Corona del Mar in the 40's. It was right on the beach and this is where I was lucky enough to spend my summers.

I've always called Aunti Hazel "My Second Mom." Truth is, I learned more positive things from her than I learned from my mother. She taught me etiquette, such as how to set a table. She taught me how to throw dinner parties. Every night we'd sit down together and enjoy a "cocktail." She'd have a scotch and I'd have a Coke. Her Half-Moon parrot, Dickey Bird, would sit on my finger and talk and dance when I sang Yankee Doodle. We'd watch the news together and talk about the day. Aunti Hazel offered me a respite from the angry world my parents fostered. There was no yelling, no chasing me around the house, no threats, no emotional outbursts. Visiting her was more than just a trip to the beach - it was a haven, a safe place where I could let my guard down and not worry about being abused. I never once hid in a closet in her house.

I know that my Aunti Hazel was a Gift in my life, and I've accepted responsibility to pass it on. This is probably why I'm more Gung Ho than my husband about adopting.

I understand how one person can completely change another person's life.

posted by jill # 9:13 AM
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Saturday, May 01, 2004
The house is spotless. We've done a significant amount of spring cleaning. This morning, we sat down over coffee and began to build a new list of To-Do's:

1. Clean the gutters
2. Hang the new doors
3. Plant more flowers in the window boxes

I'm struggling here...this is the entire list. We are caught up with every house project - and we're probably in the best shape we've been in for 6 years. With nothing much left to do, we decided to! We found the perfect leather chair for the living room and it's close to $700 less than the one I've been trying to order from Horchow for over 7 months. Funny thing is, it's a Barca-lounger. Yikes, this is the chair that I'm always teasing our friends about - the chair that stood for Retro, old fashioned, out of date, dorky. Now, we're buying one, so what does that make us? Yup, you guessed it right.

This chair really is outstanding. It's olive green leather and reclines to a position similar to the seats in First Class on the 777s. It goes "awl" the way back to a horizontal position. My husband fell in love with it the minute he sat down and declared, "This will be MY chair." And that's OK, because visually, it is perfect for my living room-turned library. The walls are fauxed with a gorgeous mix of olive, ochre and candlelight colored paint. It's cozy and warm and inviting. And now, we have the perfect reading chair.

The rest of the day was spent grilling hamburgers, enjoying the sunshine and shopping at Expo in preparation of the remodel. We've identified the new dishwasher (Bosch), the bar refrigerator (Viking) and the soaking tub. We will attempt to turn the back room into a Loggia (open air) and use pocket doors to close off the adjoining rooms. I may regret saying this one day...but I love-love-love remodeling.

There is no question in my mind that I am blessed. Lucky to be alive, lucky to be married to such a wonderful man, and lucky to be able to add our very own creative touch to our home. God Bless America.

posted by jill # 10:21 PM
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