Nov 30, 2011

Someday, I Will Win...Something

I am notoriously optimistic about winning things. Even though I have a poor track record of winning, I still get that really warm, hopeful feeling when I'm doing a scratch-off ticket, or filling out a stupid online survey, or entering a some huge sweepstakes giveaway. "It will be someone, and I want it so bad, why not me???" I ask (plead). I don't like to pay attention to the low odds of actually winning, that negs me out.

So, no, I did not win the HGTV Urban Oasis Giveaway this year, like I was planning (look how still hurts a little. Better to have loved and lost, right?). But that is ok, because I still have 2 more great changes to win something awesome before the end of the year.

Plan A: Oprah's Favorite Things Giveaway

Oprah publishes page after page of her "favorite things" each December issue in O Magazine, and to 12 lucky winners, she will give away one of everything on the list. It totals almost $10,000 worth of gadgets, clothes, handbags, name it. I like to plan out ahead of time what I will give to whom (there is no way I could keep all of it). This is the third year I've done this... but this year she's going to pick me!

Dear Oprah, please please pick me this year.

Plan B: AfterEllen's Hot As L Sweepstakes

Obviously I don't want to be greedy and win both. So if this is not my year with Oprah, I would really like to win AfterEllen's Sweepstakes. And I don't even care about being the grand prize winner who gets $500. All I'm asking is to be one of the 10 runners-up who win the complete 6 seasons of the L Word. I cannot say how great this show is. And I miss it very much ever since Netflix stopped offering it on instant view.

Dear L Word, I miss you.

So there you have it! My winning (and only a little delusional) game plan. I will enter these every day and maybe, just maybe, 2011 has a little magic left in it for me. Any other good sweepstakes I should know about?

Nov 25, 2011

An Appreciation of Life

Thankful is a word that's thrown around a lot in these holidays. When it comes down to it, thankfulness is really just the art of recognizing the good things in your life, taking time to realize what you have. Hope you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving.

So thankful to spend time with my siblings.
My first pumpkin pie.
All of us together.
The perfect Thanksgiving meal.
A walk Friday with Frodo and my sisters.
Taking a little break.
Lily and Frodo are still a little suspicious of each other.

Nov 22, 2011

Did God Create Us to Hate Us?

Random train of thoughts. I'm cleaning getting ready for Thanksgiving, and listening to Pandora Christmas music (I told you, I can't stop!) and Blaine & Kurt's duet from Glee comes on, the one where they sang Baby It's Cold Outside. 

For three seasons now, America has followed Kurt's story: being bullied at school, being different, coming out to his dad, his first kiss, being crowned prom queen (as a cruel joke), and finally accepting himself and embracing who he is. His first relationship, falling in love, losing his virginity. I know this is a fictional character. I know this is a TV show. But the best stories are based on truth, and there is truth in this story.

And it is this truth, that makes me start tearing up when I hear him and Blaine singing together.

I don't read what "reviewers" are saying about Glee. I'm sure there are some conservative Christians out there condemning the show as.... well... the work of the devil. But for all the dumb high school drama, I believe good has come from it. Viewers are relating to Kurt, they are understanding that some people are gay. Some people are inherently different.... And that's ok.

This all reminded me of a joke I heard on the Colbert Report. I know Colbert was just messing around and being a punk, like he is apt to do, but he said something along the lines of "God just likes to create some people just so he can hate them, like gay people."

All of his snark and sarcasm aside, this might have a valid thought.

Why would God create something he supposedly hates*? Some humans are different from the "norm". If God created everything purposefully, then he created them to be different. Why would God make us all so different if he wanted us to be the same? Why would God create a human being he knew he would be destined to hate? This doesn't jive with an image of a loving God.

Maybe the word hate is going too far for some people. How about: why would God create a being that he would reject when that being was being fully him/herself?

I don't have the answers, but something in me says "no, absolutely not. If God is real, and he/she created me, then God must be ok with who I am."

*according to some lines of conservative Christian thought
**pretty sure that's from the movie "Saved"

Nov 21, 2011

Christmas Bug Came Early

I don't remember ever getting this excited about Christmas so early. But I have got the bug, and bad! I think it all started a week or two ago, sitting at my desk at work... I glanced out the window and it was snowing. I got that warm fuzzy feeling of the holiday season and listened to "Let It Snow" on you tube. (See Indiana? I don't always hate your weather. Just after 3 or 4 months of that I start to go a little crazy.)

I ended up spending a good portion of the weekend listening to Christmas music on Pandora, setting out decorations, dancing around the apartment and shopping for Christmas presents online.

Getting excited about Christmas nowadays is a bit different from when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I was excited about getting presents, like all kids are. But now, I honestly don't even think about that. I just look forward to giving presents. I'm not trying to sound all self-righteous, because giving gifts makes me so happy, it really is kind of a selfish thing. I try to reign in my spending so I don't get crazy...but it's hard. I love finding gifts for people. And I look forward to spending time with my family, we live a little spread out so when we're actually all together, it's priceless to me.

I really need to be focusing on the holiday at hand, Thanksgiving. My family is all coming to my place!

Horrified to find Mrs. Reindeer kissing Mr. Bear when unpacking the ornaments.

Jingles the penguin (he's holding a little jingle bell).

A very kind co-worker gave me this for my birthday.

Colored lights around the front window.

Mini tree at the hearth (aka, the TV)

Nov 20, 2011

Book Review: Keeping Faith

I've read a handful of Jodi Picoult's books now. Here's what I like about them:

-She is quite a master at weaving a plot that will keep your interest until the very end (watch out for twists!)
-She does thorough research for each book, they're always about some relevant topic in our society, so they are usually pretty educational.
-She usually takes on a variety of characters in each book and helps you see different perspectives.
-She has courtroom drama in every book I've read. I love courtroom drama.

So, the other week when I was getting ready to drive down to see K, I picked up an audio book of Keeping Faith at the library. Nothing makes a drive go faster than an interesting book.

This is the story about a family: Mariah & Colin, and their 7-year old daughter, Faith. When Faith and Mariah walk in on Colin cheating one day, their lives are torn apart. Faith is traumatized, and Mariah fights falling into a deep depression. This is not the first time he's cheated on her, and while she had been so depressed years ago to attempt suicide because of his affair, this time she has her daughter to take care of.

In the aftermath of the divorce, Faith starts talking about her imaginary friend, her "Guard". Her visions inspire her to quote scriptures (she's never been taught), perform healings, and experience stigmata (bleeding from her hands). Suddenly the world is watching this little girl. Is she a prophet? Is she a fraud seeking attention? She believes she is seeing God, but God is a woman and is her friend.

With an onslaught of media, Faith's life is transformed almost overnight. Colin sues for custody of Faith claiming that Mariah is an unfit mother, and it's her fault all this is happening. Mariah searches for the truth of what is happening to her daughter, and fights to keep Faith.

So many interesting topics covered here: atheism, religion (Jewish & Catholic mainly), psychology, media, parenting, stigmata, depression & suicide, mental health, and the gender of God.

Overall it got me thinking, and it was a good read. It ended a little "PC" for me, but I don't want to give anything away. I'd still recommend it.

Nov 15, 2011

New Beginnings & a Happy Birthday

I love new beginnings. To say I live for them would probably only be a slight exaggeration. There is something about them so hopeful, so beautiful and pure and exciting. In some ways, I think beginnings are the definition of life itself.

I realize the phrase "new beginnings" is redundant. Is there a beginning that is not new? But I like it all the same.  Beginnings I love: a new day, a new project, a new month, a new year, a new decision, a new insight, a new relationship, a new love, a new chapter in life.

A year ago, I got these necklaces for me and K, a reminder that every day is a new beginning for us, and that even though we have some mud in our past, we can rise above that and become something beautiful (like the lotus flower). Our past does not define our future! Sorry if that is really cheesy...I get like that sometimes. But I love this necklace and I wear it every day & so does K (she always jokes with people that it's a pot leaf...).

This weekend I turned 25.  And it was a beautiful new beginning if there ever was one. I felt so loved by my family and friends. K came and stayed with me for FIVE whole nights. She surprised me and showed up early. My co-workers had a little party for me at work.

I don't have much figured out as far as the future goes. These first 25 years have been unpredictable, and I suppose the next 25 will be too. I'll just take one new beginning at a time.

Birthday eve dinner from K. She made the whole thing herself and it was sinfully delicious. It was so special with a custom menu (restaurant A La Fuzzybug), playlist and candlelight. I might have cried. 

K gave me these cute little knit birds, it even includes a nest. I love love love them and they are now living on my bookshelf.

Can you see a fuzzybug among the creepy happy Old Navy mannequins?

Me and K always make the mistake of wandering into pet stores and meeting some little animal that we cannot live without! This little guy was in love with her. I can't blame him.

And completely unrelated... anyone watch Glee tonight? Santana!! I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll stop.

Nov 9, 2011

The Givers & The Takers

There are givers, and there are takers. If you know what I'm talking about, you are probably a giver.

I've noticed, throughout the years, that I have a special knack for attracting needy people to me. I don't mean financially struggling people, I mean the people who always just need something from you.

Here are some qualities of a Taker:

*Talk about themselves frequently, but don't ask questions about you in return
*Everything is based on their convenience and schedule
*Lack empathy and awareness of the situations of others
*Always focused on their own personal dramas (they are starring in their own movie and you are a side character)
*Don't initiate doing things for other "just because", it's always: What's in it for me?
*Have no idea that they are a taker

Here are some qualities of a Giver:

*Very good listener, to the point that they don't talk about themselves much
*Put others' comfort and convenience before their own
*Go out of the way to help someone, even at personal costs
*Often focused on others, may lose sight of their own personal needs
*Give time, money, and energy into relationships that often don't yield any return
*Aware that they are sometimes being taken advantage of

I don't believe any one person is 100% one or the other, but you usually lean a certain way. I have always been fated as a Giver, ever since my parents named me Ruth, meaning "compassionate one". I don't begrudge this, but sometimes I just get worn down. I like to give, but I've come to expect very little in return.

That's why I'm always so refreshed to have Givers in my own life. It's beautiful and unexpected to have someone looking out for YOU, not thinking about what's in it for them, not waiting for something in return. It was how I was raised. It was one of the first things I noticed about K. And it's one of the most important things I look for if I'm going to trust them as a close friend.

Even givers have to take sometimes, or there won't be anything left to give.

Nov 6, 2011

Opposites Attract (How We Met)

Me, my roomie, K
I was always a little skeptical of the old adage "opposites attract". How does that work exactly? What brings two people, so very different, together?

I was never a very outgoing girl in college (or in life). Freshman year I was very shy. I warmed up a little my sophomore year, but I still didn't venture out of my room much. Fortunately, my roommate was a warm, bubbly type who was always welcoming people in.  Even though I valued my alone time, I knew it was always healthy for me to have a dose of socializing. One Friday night in the fall, we have a few random people in our room, with a movie on, sort of talking and lounging around on the futon. And in walks K. Not timidly, not tapping on the door with an "excuse me...", she just strolls right in with a "hey, I'm K. I live upstairs."

She and my roommate get along instantly. They share a love of music, and playing guitars. We all get introduced, and I honestly don't think much of it.

Here's something about K so vastly different from me. She lives for people. Not that I don't care about people, I do. But people are her life. When she was in college, she made it her business to know everyone. Not in a "I'm so popular" kind of way. She genuinely found everyone interesting and wanted to know them. And when she says "let's hang out", she means it.

Over that semester she and my roommate got to know each other. We'd talk briefly in passing, or when she wandered into our room and my roomie was out. To be honest, I found her very intimidating. She was so...foreign to me, everything I was not. She was the girl everyone knew, everyone liked. She was cool and hilarious. The center of attention much of the time. Goofy. Completely irresistible to anyone. She was so comfortable in her own skin.

How could someone like that ever want to be friends with someone like me? I was more of the mysterious, quiet type. Nice. But mostly just quiet. Dry sense of humor. Observer. I hate being the center of attention. And I was not very self-confident.

For reasons I do not understand, she wanted to get to know me. I hung back, deflecting her if she came in the room with "my roomie's not here".  But she wanted to hang out with me too, she insisted. Months passed, and I started to believe that she really meant it. She carved out time for me, stopped by to say hi when I was working on an art project, secretly washed my laundry when I was passed out from an all-nighter. I made her work for it--not on purpose.  I have always been guarded about letting someone in.  But she earned my trust. And within six months of our meeting, I was calling her my best friend and I knew she needed to be part of my life.

There is so much more to the story than that faraway time 5 years ago. But sometimes it's fun to remember those times. We are still discovering ways in which we are different. But those things just make me love her more.

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