Monday, February 27, 2012

My Brain Hurts

I am studying insurance through an online learning site. Hopefully, I will have all the little quizzes done and can go for my state insurance license in the next few weeks, then go to work for AFLAC. Yep, I'm gonna work for the talking duck. (Or will he actually work for me since his commercials will hopefully bring me clients?)

Anyhoo, this online learning thing is not usually a big deal for me. I've taken many classes this way with no problem. Sometimes I actually prefer online learning to a regular classroom, depending on the course I'm taking. In this case it is most definitely preferable. I could not stand to sit in a classroom for this stuff.

Insurance stuff is about as dry as you can get. I wonder if studying law is a bit like this. I mean I read and reread and sometimes have to reread again to figure out what I just read in the first place. It's killing me. As a writer, I'm ready to bang my head against the keyboard. Can't these people hire someone to write these things in language that we can actually understand without having to stretch our brains to the limit? Textbooks are often the same way. And don't get me started on technical manuals.

But, I'm doing this so that I can get out there and sell some insurance and hopefully bring in some money to pay the bills that are continuing to pile up. I'm keeping my eye on the prize. And the prize? The cessation of calls from bill collectors. I'm really tired of hearing that phone ring all the time. (Here's a coincidence. Just as I typed that last line, the phone started ringing. Who's calling? Guess.)    

Sunday, February 19, 2012

We Should Never Forget

“And it seems to me important for a country, for a nation to certainly know about its glorious achievements but also to know where its ideals failed, in order to keep that from happening again.”-George Takei

It was 70 years ago today when an executive order was issued authorizing the internment of over 120,000 American of Japanese descent. Even people who were born in the US would be rounded up and taken away if they were as little as 1/16 Japanese. Of those taken to the camps, it is estimated that approximately 62% were American citizens.

Many internees lost their homes, personal property, even their lives. This is not something we should ever forget. We should remember so as to never repeat mistakes made in the past. 

"We saw all these people behind the fence, looking out, hanging onto the wire, and looking out because they were anxious to know who was coming in. But I will never forget the shocking feeling that human beings were behind this fence like animals [crying]. And we were going to also lose our freedom and walk inside of that gate and find ourselves…cooped up there…when the gates were shut, we knew that we had lost something that was very precious; that we were no longer free."
-Mary Tsukamoto

"Down in our hearts we cried and cursed this government every time when we showered with sand. We slept in the dust; we breathed the dust; we ate the dust."
-Joseph Kurihara, an internee at the Manzanar internment camp in California

History cannot be altered. All we can do is make sure each generation learns from the mistakes of those that came before. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Come On Get Happy

OK, my last two posts have had a kind of depressing tone what with all the talk about dead people and such. So, today let's get our happy on. Time to cheer up, stop and smell the roses, count our blessings, etc. You get the idea.

So, I am going to list some things that have made me happy recently. It's not been the best couple weeks or so, but little things (and not so little things) have happened here and there that have put a smile on my face.

*Figuring out how to play fetch with my new doggie pet sitting client, Montana. Now, this is no small feat. This dog does not really fetch. He runs for the ball, comes running back with it, and then either runs past you or stops several feet in front of you and waits for you to chase him (something my semi-arthritic knees will not usually let me do, at least not at a very fast pace). So, he and I came up with the two-ball fetch game. I throw one ball, he runs to get it. When he gets back to me with it, I show him the other ball and throw it. He drops the one in his mouth and goes running off after the second one, and we repeat the process. Pretty fun actually. (His sister Dixie just sits and watches us like we're crazy.)

*Opening my mailbox and finding a check from a client. I have a PO box I use for my pet sitting, so I make a few trips to the post office every week, trying to keep it from filling up with junk mail for the most part. But when I open up that box and find a payment from one of my clients, it always puts a smile on my face. I love what I do, and I do it so I can spend time with animals and help pet owners out when they want/need to go out of town and just do not want to put their pets in a kennel or some such. But let's face it, if I wasn't getting paid for it, I wouldn't be doing it. Heck, I COULDN'T do it.

*Winning something. Last year, I won a gift basket for my kitties from Hartz worth around $500. (Have to thank my Facebook friends for that one as they voted on a picture of my cat Eddie that I entered for the "Stinky Pee" contest. Yeah, she won a stinky pee contest. Weird I know.) I also won an Oreck air purifier worth about $300 on my friend Angie's blog. (If you haven't gone there yet, check out Catladyland. She's a hoot.) A few weeks ago, I won a Hepper Pod cat bed worth about $100 through the My Himalayan Cat Goma blog. And just this week I won a gift basket for my kitties worth close to $90 from the Pet News and Views blog. This basket includes a Drink Well pet fountain. I have wanted to get one of those for years. My guys will love it I'm sure. (Now, if only my luck would carry over to the lottery, I'd be especially happy.)

*New med for the hubs seems to be working. And most important of all, my hubs (who has been ill and suffering from constant pain for 2+ years now) has been put on a new med that seems like it might be helping a bit. He has constant joint and overall muscle pain, and nothing gets rid of it completely. We recently went to a pain specialist who prescribed a med that has been around for years and is not used very often any longer. He told us to stop the Celebrex the hubby has been taking and start this one. So, after contacting all his other doctors to make sure it wouldn't interfere with other meds he's on and such, we started it almost 2 weeks ago. After several days, it dawned on me that he hadn't complained about his hands hurting him. The joints in his hands seem to have had the worst of it for a while now. I asked him about it and he said he didn't even realize, but they weren't hurting. How cool is that? Add that to the fact that with his insurance, the Celebrex is a $64 med but the new med is only about $6, and it's a double WOOT!. (Keeping fingers crossed that this is a situation that continues to improve.) All I know is, he has been able to hug me and hold my hand more in the past several days than he has in the past year. That's the very absolute best part.   :-)

So, those are my happy things for the day. Whenever something happens that makes me feel bad, angry or sad, I try to look for happy things to hold on to. Big things or little, there's almost always something there to grab hold of and squeeze for dear life.

Have a great day and keep happy thoughts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

80s Music Memories - RIP: Part II (John Hughes Edition)

John Huges' movies defined my generation in the 80s. He was the 80s. Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, Some Kind of Wonderful....way too many to name. Yeah, he had hits in the 90s, too. But I think he will always be best remembered for his 80s movies. And don't forget the soundtracks. He had a knack for getting the perfect music for his films.

"Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds
(From the movie The Breakfast Club)

"Turning Japanese" by The Vapors
(From the movie Sixteen Candles)

"Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo
(From the movie Weird Science)

"Twist and Shout" by The Beatles
(From the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. OK, so this isn't actually an 80s song, and it wasn't written for this movie specifically, but this scene is, to this day, TOTALLY AWESOME!!!)

And one of my favorite quotes from The Breakfast Club. It pretty much summed up how I felt back then.
"We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."

John Hughes died of a heart attack in 2009. He was only 59. In the 80s, he was an adult who spoke to and for all us teenagers. No matter if you were a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, a criminal...or a bit of all five. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

80s Music Memories - RIP: Part I

I'm a child of the 80s. I was born in December of '69, and yeah I do remember some music from the 70s (still love disco), but the 80s make up my main soundtrack. The death of Whitney Houston this past Saturday made me think of so many others from that era who have passed on.

Since I have been a HUGE Def Leppard fan since 1983, guitarist Steve "Steamin" Clark comes to mind first when I think about those who have gone on. My very first concert was Def Leppard (a total dream come true). It was their Hysteria tour and this video was filmed during that time, so it's a pretty good indicator of what I saw. Clark died in 1991 and I remember it like it was yesterday. I cried so hard the day I heard the news. He was only 30 years old.

Ben Orr was the bassist for The Cars. He sang lead on their song 'Drive," which is my favorite of theirs. It's such a beautiful song and I never get tired of listening to it. Orr died in 2000 at the age of 53.

Oh man, The Ramones.....WOW! Love these guys almost as much as Def Leppard. They were around before the 80s, being the first big American punk band in the 70s, but when I heard "I Wanna Be Sedated" I was so hooked. These guys were fun (not to mention Stephen King was a HUGE fan, and I was a  pretty big fan of his). We have since lost Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny. So very sad.

Lastly, for today anyway, we have Falco. Yeah, the song "Rock Me Amadeus" is in German and I have no idea what the heck he's saying, but I love it. So did most everyone else back in the day. This is one of those songs that just makes me want to get up and dance. Falco was only 40 when he died in 1998.

I've always said that I don't feel my age. But then I look back at so many who are gone now, and I feel it sneaking up on me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mother Earth Produce

I started a small second business not long ago, setting up and maintaining Facebook pages for businesses. I was recently hired to set up a page for a new business in the Asheville area, Mother Earth Produce. I really like this idea; a delivery service that brings locally grown organic produce right to your door. Such a great idea for those who can't get to the local farmer's markets and such. This way, you can still get fresh veggies that have been grown right here in WNC even if you don't have the time to go out and do a lot of shopping. We all need to live a bit healthier, and now there's no excuse not to. (Well, for those in the delivery area anyway. LOL)

This is Graham, Andrea and Totem Duvall. They're the heart behind this endeavor. (And Totem is the cuteness of course. Just look at that face.) I really hope they do well, and I honestly think they will. How about checking out their Facebook page and "liking" it. Then pass the word around about them and what they're doing. Even if you don't live in the Asheville area, the more likes their page has, the more it gets caught by the search engines and such.

Welcome to Western North Carolina Mother Earth Produce. We look forward to watching you succeed and grow.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mom's Birthday

(Mom in the early 80s. Not too clear a picture, can't find the original scan.)

Today would have been my mom's 76th birthday (she died in 2000). For several years, we weren't too close at all, but being the baby of the family, and the only one at home from the time I was about 7 or 8, there was a time when we were almost inseparable. 

Mom raised me singlehandedly, doing the best she could with what she had. I'm not going to say she always did the right thing, or that she had no fault in the fact that she was divorced several times. I don't believe in white-washing things and making people sound like saints just because they have passed away. But, my mother taught me a lot, and one of the most important things she taught me was about accepting people for who they are regardless of race, religion, etc. Despite a family with a lot of prejudice flowing through it, she did not look at a person's skin color and decide they were less of a person because they weren't white. 

I wish my mother had lived to see our first black president. I also wish she had been able to marry the man she was so in love with and dated when I was in high school, but he was black and she was afraid my brothers would not accept him and she'd lose them. Her relationship with my siblings was strained as it was, she did not want to chance losing them completely.

Although we weren't close any more, Mom was the one person who was in my life from the very beginning as my dad and I went years at a time without even speaking to each other. When someone who has been with you like that, losing them is almost a surprise, even though you know the time will eventually come. And my life was shaped by this woman, even by the bad moments with her, as what matters most is not what happened in your past, but what you do with that throughout your life. 

My mother was searching most of her life for something. I don't know what, and I don't think she ever found it, even though we moved 30+ times in her quest for whatever it was. Maybe it was just simple acceptance. We all long for acceptance at some point in our lives. After several years of fighting illness, she got tired of fighting and stopped treatment. Maybe she did find what she was looking for in the end.

(I know I've written about Mom before, but for some reason, I just felt like doing it again.)