25 May 2007

Cape-ward Bound

I'm headed out of town tonight with three good friends. We're going to Cape Cod to enjoy the ocean, seafood, and lots of laughter. The doctor said I could go, and gave me some good drugs to make the travel a little easier on my gimpy leg. I warned my friends that I will do what I can to keep up with them, but if we have to run to catch a plane, I'm going to be left behind!

I can't wait to smell the ocean, taste some lobster, and play "Pit" for hours. While I've been to Cape Cod for a brief day and a half, it will be nice to be there for an entire week and to really have a chance to enjoy the cape.

Maybe once I get back I'll actually figure out how to upload pictures to the blog and show you how much fun Maria, Pam, (Kim) Crady, and I had! Until then, enjoy yourselves!

The Sound of Silence

I'm a typical redhead, at least when it comes to my temper. I don't suffer fools gladly, but usually I don't blow up at them, either. I generally try to stick with logic and reasonableness, but if pushed far enough, watch out! My anger is loud and explosive, the typical fiery temper of a true redhead. Be afraid, be very afraid. Of course, if you can stand to stay in the same place as I am when I'm angry, you'll also find out that I don't stay mad very long after I've had my say, and am ready for equilibrium to return.

Oh, if everyone else reacted the same way I do, how happy I would be! I grew up in a household where silence reigned whenever my Mom got mad at me. And my Mom can sustain that silence for a very long time. Maybe that's why I hate it so much whenever someone reacts to anger with silence. I feel like a little kid again, being punished with that oppressive, distainful lack of conversation. As a kid it never occurred to me to lash out and say my mind. Instead I would go into my room or outside and have conversations in my head where I yelled everything I wanted to say in response to the silent treatment. Eventually I would calm down again and just have to wait the silence out, most of the time even feeling guilty enough to apologize, even when I didn't think I was in the wrong.

Mom was surprised, and not in a pleasant way, when I grew up and went to law school and stopped letting her get away with giving me that silent treatment. While law school played a part, because if it did anything, it taught me how to argue a point into the ground, for the most part this change simply coincided with my going to law school rather than being a consequence of it. In college I had experienced the anger and silence of someone who had been a friend, and this person was so passive-aggressive that I never knew what caused the rift. I still don't. When I moved across the country and started a new phase of my life in a place where I knew no one, I also decided that I didn't want to have any more passive-aggressive relationships with people. I would tell people when they angered or hurt me. If it meant I lost the friendship, that would be the price I paid. But I was going to be true to my feelings.

I still try to do that, even with people in my life who prefer going silent when they are angry about something. Now on those few occassions when Mom and I are angry with each other, even if she won't talk, I will make sure she hears what I have to say. It drives her crazy.

Of course, there are times when the petty side of me rears its ugly little head, and my thoughts tend to be, "To heck with her. If she doesn't want to talk to me, fine. I can outlast her!" I know that doesn't do either person any good, and I end up going over and what I'd like to say in my head, just like when I was a kid. Today I've been feeling like this. Which means I need to get a few things off my chest with someone. So I'm going to try to live up to that decision I made so long ago, and try to not be passive-aggressive.

Instead of the sound of silence, let freedom (and words) ring!

21 May 2007

What's that smell?

Last Friday Scott and I headed to the Honda dealership after work and he bought a new car. The whole experience was as good as I guess one can ask for when dealing with a car salesman. We were in and out of the dealership within 2 hours, and he drove home with a shiny new car, "new car smell" and all!

Since he's started working in Frankfort we've been car pooling, but we've had to use my car. Scott's was 10 years old and on it's last leg. Given the miles, and the fear of having anything go wrong with the new job, he's been anxious to a new car and not have to worry about the potential that the car would die somewhere between his house and mine. No more worries now. And getting the car in Frankfort also had the added bonus that Frankfort is essentially a company town, the "company" being state government. So the dealership knows how secure those jobs are, and the way the pay structure works. They were able to give Scott some extra time before his first payment is due, since a new state employee has to work a month before getting a paycheck.

As tired as we both were, we had to go out and celebrate a little after successfully purchasing his new Honda Civic. Of course, since we'd both been up at 5:30 a.m., even our celebration wasn't much more than dinner and good conversation. But all around, it was a great night!

Good to Be Surprised Sometimes

I'm a planner. I've mentioned that before, and it's as true today as it was when I was a child. As Mom and I were relating to Scott during lunch yesterday, when I was a kid I wanted to know the timetable for everything: when I could get my ears pierced, wear makeup, go on a date, stop taking piano lessons, etc. What I never figured out was that my Mom hadn't mapped out my life like I seemed to insist upon, and was instead making spur-of-the-moment decisions when I posed these questions. Decisions she then felt like she had to abide by in order that I knew she didn't go back on her word. The other thing I was really slow in figuring out was that I should carefully pick and choose when I asked Mom about this weighty issues. Laying one on her when she was on a step ladder, searching for something in the back of the hall closet, was probably not the prime time. Oh well, I still asked, and I still planned.

Even today, I try to map out my life in big and small ways. Thank goodness I also try to stay somewhat flexible. If not, I would have despaired long ago, because I certainly haven't lived up to all of my personal timelines. Scott may say I'm not quite as flexible as I think I am, but I think that's a matter of perception. Whenever he suggests that we do something other than what I had planned, I'm usually receptive, but I pause before answering and he generally takes that to mean I'm not pleased with the change of plans. Typically that's not the case. It's just that I'm such a planner that I have to take a moment to reorder my brain, then I'm ready to say "Sure, let's go!"

But as I have also said, I'm a fan of whimsy. Whimsy often takes the form of surprises, at least the good variety of surprises. Thankfully, I count myself blessed that most of the big surprises in my life have been good ones. Scott certainly falls into that category. I wasn't necessarily looking for what I found, but I am ever thankful for the surprises our two-year relationship has offered to me so far.

In fact, Scott's been surprising me quite a lot recently, and it's been interesting. Some of the things I learn fall under stories he thought I already knew, some stories he specifically hasn't told me until now, and some are just creative thoughts rattling around in his head. I'm glad to have learned everything, even the more interesting of the tidbits.

"Interesting" is one of those words Southerners have appropriated to mean more than simply "of interest." "Interesting," in the Southern connotation, is a way of politely delivering a negative judgment or impression instead of bluntly pointing out your disapproval. Examples: "That's an interesting color combination you've chosen for your living room" or "My cousin's had some interesting experiences in his lifetime."

I'm glad Scott's surprised me with all of these tales and thoughts, even if all of the stories haven't been pleasant ones. I know everyone has secrets and thoughts that they keep hidden. But the fewer the secret stories and thoughts, the more two people who care about each other can continue to care about one another, and grow into more than they were.

So even when life springs interesting events upon us, it can be good to be surprised sometimes.

17 May 2007

A Kink in All My Plans

I was so looking forward to Derby Day. I love the race, and I was going to enjoy the company of lots of friends at two different parties. Earlier in the day I was going to plant the herbs I bought the Friday before the big race. And then everything changed.

Going home Friday afternoon I tried to relieve the nagging ache I'd been experiencing in my right hip by sitting more on my left side. I could barely get out of the car once Scott and I made it to my house. I'd screwed up my back. GRRRR! My back went out last September and while I wasn't in pain all the time, everything wasn't completely back to normal, either, because every once in awhile I'd have sciatic nerve pain down my left or right leg, or my back muscles would tighten up. But it was fleeting and I tried to ignore it. There was no ignoring it that evening.

So I spent Friday night and Saturday morning in bed, taking muscle relaxers and using a heating pad. Talk about making me feel old! Then I called my friends and told them I wouldn't be making it to either party. I was grumpy and frustrated and thought it was a bad Derby Day for me. Little did I know!

By 6 p.m., when the horses were called to the post for the big race, I was writhing in pain and crying. My left leg was screaming in pain, from my hip down to my toes. I vaguely was aware of the race itself, mostly because no matter how much pain I was in, I would be a huge social faux pas to call someone in Louisville right before the race. So I waited all of 5 minutes after Street Sense blew the other vaulted horses away and called Mom to take me to the emergency room.

That's right, folks! I spent Derby night at the hospital, and didn't even have any fun (and alcohol) to blame it on. By the time Mom got me back in my bed, my leg was still killing me, but I had good drugs in my system. Unfortunately, the problem persists, even a week and a half later (and on my first day back at work). My left foot is still numb, sitting is uncomfortable and requires pain medication to ease the worst of it, my herbs are still in their little plastic cups (but are hanging on so far), and there's no end in sight. I missed my cousin's graduation in California (sorry, Cole!!!!), and the trip Mom and I had planned on taking to Yosemite and San Francisco after our stop in L.A. Last night I had an MRI (that was Hell!), and there is apparently enough to go by that the doctor wants to send me to a neuro- or orthopedic surgeon to discuss treatment options. Not fun.

So, this is the reason for a lack of posts recently, and for a lack of much else of interest to talk about. I've been couped up in bed confirming my opinion of daytime television (worse than TV in general!) and going rather stir crazy. I'm back at work, but am wiped out by the effort. And the immediate future isn't looking too bright, either. But, by gum, I'm going on my trip to Cape Cod next week, unless some doctor specifically tells me it will induce permanent and unfixable damage!

04 May 2007

Herbal Remedies

It's going to happen this year. Last year I did all the planning, but none of the follow through (How many times will I have to say that about myself in this lifetime?)...I bought books, I bought soil, I checked out inventories around town, I even figured out where I'd put them. But what I didn't do was actually go out and buy all of the herbs (and tomatoes and peppers) that I wanted to plant. I'm in love with the idea of growing herbs and gardening. I'm not nearly as excited about the reality. I'm not particularly fond of being sweaty and insect bitten, which I am whenever I walk outside into the Ohio Valley heat and humidity that we affectionately call "summer."

I've grown some herbs before, and enjoyed using them. Unfortunately, my only desire is to use the herbs in cooking, and as much as I really like to cook, I don't cook nearly as much as I always plan to. Sounds like a familiar pattern in my life, doesn't it? It is. The books I bought last year that are all about herbs also include lots of other uses for herbs other than cooking. But if living in Portland, Oregon, didn't make me into a natural-homeopathic-vegan-carbon neutral-earthy-crunchy girl, then it's just not meant to be who I am. I can't see myself making sachet for teas or nice smelling baths.

But I started taking the plunge again today. Actually, I acquired a rosemary plant several months ago and haven't killed it yet (though I've also not used it much, either). Today a local school was selling plants and herbs as a fundraiser, and I got suckered in. I bought lots of cilantro, because I love it, basil, oregano, flat and curly parsley, and dill, as well as 4 Roma tomato plants. They'd already run out of the pepper plants I wanted, so I'll have to go elsewhere for those and for a few more herbs and tomatoes.

Heaven help me! With this latest endeavor, I'd better start cooking every night! At least that will be an herbal remedy for my bank balance, which shows way too much take out and restaurant food. No matter what, I think I'll be digging in some dirt this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

03 May 2007

The Stuff of Nightmares

It's been a weird work-week, and Friday probably won't bring any relief.

On the good side, Scott started his state job on Tuesday, and things looked promising. He's doing security work, meaning he will patrol the facility and oversee visitors to various state buildings. As part of his training, he was sent to shadow an officer at the state crime lab yesterday. That's when things stopped looking so great. Apparently they don't just check in visitors at the crime lab; they also check in the recently deceased. Yuck! Especially when you think that bodies being sent to the crime lab don't die of peaceful deaths. Just within the first few hours there Scott reported he'd seen enough to know his dreams would be haunted. I guess it's a lot easier looking at dead bodies on "CSI" than it is seeing a gunshot victim roll through the door (with the body bag open for all to see)! I told him it must be a hazing ritual that they put all of the officers through. He's just hoping he's not permanently assigned there.

Then there's my job. I love my job. I work for the state legislature, doing research and drafting bills. I love my issue area. I've always liked constitutional issues, but I also found that I like elections and campaign finance law. I love my boss, Judy. She's one of the coolest women I have ever known, and she's smart and fair. She's my friend, not just my boss. But don't get me wrong, I don't always like working for the legislature, or more specifically, for a particular legislator. I have to do stuff for people even when I think their ideas are the worst things I've ever heard of. However, I know this is what I was meant to do and I'm very thankful that I've got this job.

Unfortunately, every job has "stuff" that goes on that just is no fun at all, and people that you have to work with that make life annoying or miserable. Let's just say that at this point there's a lot of that going on around here, and my little corner of this job is directly involved. Wish it wasn't, that's for sure! Especially since no matter what, these things never end well. I'm not particularly worried about my own job, but this whole thing won't shake out for some time to come. We're all in the midst of the storm.

It's really the stuff of nightmares.

01 May 2007

Margaritas Rather Than Mint Julips

It's a busy time to be in Louisville, KY. Derby fever has taken us all for a spin. The Kentucky Derby is 4 days away! Do you have your horses yet? What? You say you don't even know what horses are running? What's wrong with you people!?!?! Time to get on the ball and go place your bets. (Kat and Josh: Your Pegasus Pins will be in the mail tomorrow...hope you get them by Saturday!)

I'll be spending Derby Day working in my yard, in the morning at least, and then over at my friends' Emily and John's house for a party and the big race. I think I'm even going to bring the big bucket of margarita mix. Yum! Bourbon-based Mint Julips are the drink du jour for Derby, but I'd rather drink my bourbon neat, or in the yummy Maker's Mark Bourbon Ball Martini concoction. Those are actually too dangerous for me to have around, as they taste like an adult milk shake and are just as quickly consumed. So instead I'll stick with my margaritas. Thankfully, Emily and John only live about 4 blocks from me, so if I have too much fun with the horses and the margaritas, I can probably get home without breaking any laws.

Louisville's been enjoying the festivities for the past week and a half. Last night were the bed races. Really. It's a fundraiser for a local charity. We've also had balloon glows and races, and a mini-Marathon (Good job, Lisa!). Actually, picking Lisa up from the mini-Marathon and trying to get her to her car was like experiencing the 5th circle of Hell, but that's not a story I want to relive. Tomorrow night is a boat race between paddle boats, and Thursday is the parade. Friday is Oaks Day, where fillies (i.e., female) horses only race.

Needless to say, it's been one big party in Louisville recently. We'll all wake up on Sunday and feel the letdown of another Derby gone by. Many will trek to Lynn's Paradise Cafe for the post-Derby breakfast party. And everyone will be talking about the next possible Triple Crown winner. Fans of the Derby and of horse racing keep waiting for some horse to be special enough to win the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. It's been a long, long time. Maybe we'll have another special horse to fall in love with, just as we all did with Barbaro last year (God rest his big-horse soul!). No matter what, you can be sure there will be some poignant and fun stories to revel in on Sunday.

Happy Kentucky Derby to all!