Friday, December 28, 2001

Kashi to the rescue... And an unidentified neighbor…

Some man broke into my apartment last night. It was awful.

I woke up around midnight because Kashi was barking. I told him to be quiet since usually he’s barking at someone hanging out my window who had stopped to talk to him as they walked by (an irritating, but common, occurrence that my neighbors seem to enjoy). When he got more and more agitated, I finally sat up and fumbled around for my glasses. Without them, I can only see about 10 inches away from my face, and I stopped sleeping with my contacts a few years ago. Anyway, I couldn’t find them.

At this point, I could now hear someone at the front door. I was terrified and didn’t want to leave my bedroom without being able to see. So I closed the door and huddled on the floor behind it. But before I could even think to call 911, I heard some man pounding on my bedroom door demanding that I open it.

I promptly threw up from fear.

It was many long, confusing minutes later before I let the policeman and his partner into the bedroom. At first I didn’t believe they were not robbers, and then I simply couldn’t stand up because I was trembling so violently. Finally, I managed to open the door.

Some neighbor had seen a man at my door and heard Kashi, so she called the police. When they arrived, quite speedily I might add, the door was left ajar, so the police went ahead and entered my apartment. After searching it for thugs, they came to the bedroom door to let me know that everything was all right. Amazingly enough, nothing appears to have been taken.

I spent the rest of the night alternately crying and trying to go to sleep. I guess I’m just a wimp.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Copied from “ALAMOGORDO, N.M., Dec. 26 — A New Mexico church plans to torch the Harry Potter children’s books Sunday...”

I cannot believe that book burning is back, with a vengeance. And the pastor admitted that he hasn't even read the books!

The mothers in my mother/daughter book club have each asked my opinion of the Harry Potter books. My dissertation was a study examining adolescent girls response to strong female protagonists in modern high fantasy, so I have a bit of a knowledge base where fantasy is concerned. Personally, I believe that there are many other fantasy books that are better written than the Harry Potter books, but there is nothing inherently wrong with them.

In fact, I find it rather ironic that the one reason the evil wizard couldn’t destroy Harry when he first tried was because Harry’s mother had given her life to save him. Thus, Harry was marked by a sacrifice of love. This is a dangerous message? That love is more powerful than evil?

There are good wizards and bad wizards. They have a community and laws that forbid them from abusing non-wizards (muggles). The spells and incantations are harmless. The author doesn’t even attempt to teach wizardry.

Does witchcraft abound today? Yes. Can it be dangerous? I believe so. Because much of present day witchcraft is immersed in satanic worship--black magic, if you will.

But even in Harry Potter’s world black magic is wrong and those who are against it have often given their lives in the battle to stop it. Again, another dangerous message? Evil is wrong?

In any case, the Harry Potter books have captured the imaginations of millions of readers, most of them children. Children are reading. They are engaged with the books and are finding ways to express their response to the stories. They are encouraging their friends to read. These are good things.

Rev. Jack Brock declares the books “an abomination to God.” I pity the man who has so lost sight of the call of Christ that he finds evil in children’s books filled with messages of love, responsibility, education, studying, friendship, loyalty, and the battle against evil. I pity the man who chooses to turn away from the true evils of this world to wage a senseless battle against a nonexistent enemy. If he is so concerned about children, why doesn’t he fight the evil of child abuse, child pornography, child poverty, child homelessness, and children without medical care?

Ah….but I already know the answer to that one…it is far easier to stand around and pontificate on fighting evil than to actually engage it in battle.

Monday, December 24, 2001

Did you know that if you peel open the wrapper on a BreathRight strip in the dark you will see a flash of fluorescent purple light?

When I was teaching at a college in Minnesota, I asked a science professor what would make that happen. He didn't know. Furthermore, he wasn't really interested in finding out why.

Imagine that!

Thursday, December 20, 2001

Monday I was in the locker room at the gym. I was staring at the bag I had just set down on the bench and mentally groaning about the workout that was to come. As I slowly changed my clothes, the woman next to me commented that she wasn’t sure she wanted to be there that day. I quickly agreed and we commiserated in our reluctance to punish our muscles for the next couple of hours.

She asked how long I had been coming and whether I had seen any improvement. I blurted out my frustration that in over two and a half months of working out six days a week, I had only managed to GAIN three pounds. And for some reason I added that everything was all the more difficult with having MS and that I wondered at times if such an uphill battle was worth it.

To my surprise, this older woman told me that her mother had fought MS for forty years before she died. Lynn went on to talk a bit about her mother’s struggle. I told her a bit about mine. At one point she thanked me because even now, she wonders if she push her mother too much…she wonders where the MS left off and her mother began. Some of what I shared had shed light on her own lingering questions.

For me, the bright part of our conversation was near the end, where Lynn suddenly gripped my shoulders and proclaimed, “Good for you, Patricia! Good for you for being here and doing this and not letting MS overwhelm your life.”

Good for me.

Those words were such a balm that tears slipped down my cheek. I don’t really hear that much…people acknowledging how difficult life with asthma and MS is and celebrating, really, the effort I make to battle both of those diseases and get on with my life. There are days I think that hardly anyone notices what work simply living is at times for me. So, it was a wonderful gift to hear such encouragement.

Good for me.

An unexpected fillip to my day…

Monday, December 17, 2001

This is how my day went: I opened up a Reese’s miniature cup only to find the top covered in green mold.

Help me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

I caused an accident on Monday night.

I’ve been trying to decide if I should write about it. What I did was so very uncharacteristic for me and yet was done without a second thought.

Over two months ago, I joined the world of working-out-at-the-gym. Surrounded by muscle-bound, protein-drinking fitness gurus, I have been lifting my dinky weights and battling the treadmill. I used my raise at work to fund this endeavor complete with a trainer.

If you remember, some Wednesdays back, I fell ten times in one day. While that particular day bothered me, my increasing weakness frightens me. So, I thought I would try once again to work on combating the muscular weakness I struggle with due to MS. [I’ve tried to do so in the past, but even physical therapists seem to fail to understand the delicate balance between exercising my muscles and over taxing them.]

This time, I actually got together with someone who both has asthma herself and has been trained to be a trainer, focusing her studies on human anatomy and physiology. So, I have been doing the “gym thing” for over two months. I wish I could say I’ve lost weight, but I haven’t. I have been able to add more weight to what I am doing, though. I keep telling myself strength alone is worth all the incredibly difficult work.

I’ve essentially extended my workday by 2 hours, so I am more tired than I can say. I’ve forgotten more. My latest “forgettings” involve the refrigerator. I’ve left the door open four times, ruining most of the food inside. I’ve also left the milk out seven times. Spoiled milk is quite odiferous. Doing anything after work, after the gym, is difficult at best.

What does this have to do with a car wreck?

Well, I left the gym in a rush to try to get to Walmart for my Breathright strips (no…I was not speeding). I usually save such trips for the weekend, but I needed to go. I had not put on long pants and a sweatshirt because I thought I didn’t need them. [It’s been so unseasonably warm this whole fall.] But there I was freezing in my car even though sweat still trickled down my face. So, without thinking, I pulled off my wet t-shirt and reached for the sweat jacket next to me on the seat.

I pulled off my shirt.

I was wearing a sports bra, it was quite dark, and what can you see of a person seated in a car? All that flitted through my mind. Me, the one who’s shy enough to prefer changing clothes in the bathroom stall rather than the open benches. Me, who’s been twitted for my modesty for as long as I can remember.

I suppose it was because I’d been spending so much time around women who wear nothing but a sports bra on their torsos during their workouts. While I would never do the same, changing in the car just didn’t seem to be an issue.

I pulled off my shirt.

A guy noticed what I was doing and ended up running through the red light and hitting a car that was turning right onto the street we were on.

In one of those seemingly eternally long moments, I caught his eyes as he looked over at me while I was pulling off my shirt. I knew immediately what was the cause of his accident. I wanted to drive off. I wanted to hide. But I pulled over and waited for the police.

I was neither charged with anything, nor was I found to be at fault for the accident. The damage was fairly minor since the car turning right was moving slowly and the guy who was distracted had been slowing down for a stop.

Still, what am I to think?

Yeah, right, neither do I…

Monday, December 10, 2001

Saturday after the book club meeting, I hung out with the kids in the house where we were meeting. We played Skipbo until it was time for dinner. [Yes, I won the first game, but I LOST the second one…to a seven-year-old!] Of course I was asked to stay for the rather delicious meal.

After the meal, Paula, and I were talking in kitchen while her husband put the kids to bed. [I worry that he had no choice in doing so since I was monopolizing his wife.] In any case, at one point I glanced over at the open pantry. When Paula saw me looking at it, she apologized for its state. She said she kept meaning to cleaning it up, but hadn’t had time to get around to it. [Since she has five children and is home schooling, not being able to find the time is her reality rather than an excuse.]

I immediately volunteered to organize it for her since I have done so for others in the past. I’ve actually received remuneration for cleaning and organizing offices and homes, particularly children’s bedrooms. I haven’t done so since I moved here, but I enjoy the task.

So, without much thought to the hour or whether or not Paula really wanted help, I proceeded to pull things out of the pantry and pluck them down on the kitchen table. Once I had some space available in the pantry, I began to organize the contents into an arrangement that would serve her family best. Doing so, with anyone’s pantry, provides the opportunity to discover just how much of any one item you actually have. How many times have you gone to the grocery store for an item that you later found at the back of a shelf or behind a larger item? Needless to say, we found several items that will remain off her grocery list for some time to come.

When I finished, I stood and admired my work for a few moments, despite the glance at the clock that told me the mid-night hour had arrived. While I gazed at my achievement, mentally searching to see if I had missed anything or could improve on my work any more than I had, Paula praised my efforts and expressed her appreciation for the work. I wonder if my looking somehow signaled to her that I was waiting for the praise.

I really wasn’t. I’ve written before about my penchant for cleaning and organizing. I’m a bit weird in that regard. Yes, I was glad to do the service for her, and I am equally glad that she will find pleasure in the work not just once, but as long as she uses the pantry. But it really is not about the praise, but about the task I did: the bringing of order to chaos. To move and change and arrange until the space speaks to me that it is done. While I am working at the task, I truly think only of what I am doing. I don’t worry about how I feel or what’s going on at work or having a dog and a bird as my closest friends in the area. I don’t think about me. I just focus on the task. While Paula might reap the benefits of my labor for some time to come, it was I who benefited the most from the work. I had the opportunity to conquer chaos once more.

I suspect that since so much of my life, my health, is no longer in my control, I leap at whatever opportunity to bring order to chaos there might be, rarely stopping to think about the other person or how my efforts might be perceived. [I shall not list the occasions that my organizing has ended up offending someone. I think I’m doing a good service; the other person thinks I’m judging them.]

Did Paula need to have her pantry cleaned out? Absolutely. Did it need to happen so late at night, knowing she had to get up early the next morning to get everyone ready for church? Probably not. Did I once again leap at the opportunity to conquer chaos without thought to anything else? Yes.

I suspect that Paula would disagree with my self-recrimination over staying so late and not really giving her the chance to tactfully decline my offer. I spoke with her today and she mentioned again how much she appreciated what I did with her pantry and how the kids were impressed when they came to breakfast.

Still, I wonder if it would have been better to curb my enthusiasm and merely offer to come another day and help her with the pantry.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

Well, Cox Cable has finally moved into the 21st century. As of today, December 5, 2001, I no longer have to use a cable box and remote on my cable-ready television. I got to turn in the box and remote.

I came home early to turn in the box and the remote and have my television hooked directly into the cable. This means that after three and a half LONG years, I can watch a show on one channel and record a second show on another (theoretically that is…I’ve yet to try doing so). For example, no more choosing between Gilmore Girls and JAG. Additionally, as a result of the change, I now have only one remote instead of THREE.

Is it too much to ask that the reception be clear? I supposed I should just focus on the positive. At least I now have only one audio on each channel. Previously, the Disney channel had three different ones. Plus, for many of the channels, when you changed to them, the audio would pop and crackle, scaring Kashi so much he would run to my room and hide under the bed (he didn’t even mind all the stuff I have stored under there).

So, let’s recap.

Pros: No more crackling audio. No more remote. No more cable box. Ability to tape a show and watch another.

Cons: They managed to raise the rate yet again. Fuzzy reception on many channels still.

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

When is an inch NOT an inch? At the beauty parlor!

I went to get my hair trimmed. I asked for the woman to cut only an inch. I flicked a lock of hair over my shoulder, held it up, marked an inch with my thumb, and asked her only to cut “this much…one inch.”

She nodded her head, said, “Yes, yes, I get it. You just want one inch cut. Just a trim.”

I replied that she was right and sat back in my chair.

Twenty minutes later, I was minus FOUR inches of hair.

I used to have hair down to my waist. While I was a college professor, I cut it to just above my shoulders because everyone around me insisted that I would look older if I would just cut my hair. [I look about a decade younger than my true age. While I’ll most certainly be glad for my youthful appearance in about three more decades, currently it oft times makes it difficult for people to take me seriously or see me as much more than a girl.] So…I cut it. I did not look older. I missed my long hair.

Three years ago, when I left teaching and moved here, I went for a trim and ended up with hair over my ears. First it was crooked on one side. Then on the other. Then she actually burned a few inches trying to curl it. I was too shell-shocked to leap up from her chair in time to save much of my hair. After recovering from the shock, I gritted my teeth, did not linger long in front of any mirror, and waited for it to grow out.

My hair had finally reached past the middle of my back. My long hair was back. Yahoo! Then I blow it by trying to get a trim. ARGH!

I would pay big bucks if for just once I could walk into a beauty parlor and have someone do as I ask.

Monday, December 03, 2001

Saturday was our office Christmas party. Naturally, much of this morning has already been spent comparing notes. Who came with whom. What food was best. Who drank too much. The dancing….

And now sex. Who had it just before the party…. Who had it after…. During….

Again, I’ll say that the office is just not the place to discuss such matters. This time, I heard it all sitting at my desk because the voices were particularly loud in their sex-laced jocularity.

Besides…isn’t a Christmas party supposed to be about something other than sex?