Monday, January 26, 2009

Wow, January

What a month.

I had high expectations, as you know. You'll remember the Funeral for 2008, here are some pics and also my favorite line from the Catholic Last Rites directions for flowers (which I gave since they were so powerful): Any giving should be for the living, who are in need, and the grave should be forgotten. Man, I suck at that.

As you'll recall, New Year's Eve I spent much time with Zorba at the animal hospital and despite the almost $500 I've spent in Vet fees this month (more on that later), I also was able to spend some time with, as Michelle puts it, my "besties." Here's Joy, Michi and I being silly putting on our best ever (why we haven't tired of this yet, I'll never know) "Joy face," the pouty look our community has agreed Joy's makes in most pictures she's in.

New Year's Day, I woke up with early for there were still two more parties to attend. A breakfast party with the Waco crew (who now all live in Austin) at Ren and Alicia's house...

And also a deep fried turkey lunch with some friends from church who happen to be the parents of one of my favorite babies, Bella.

It was a full day and 2009 had officially begun.

However, I put too much pressure on myself that first week of January and ended up crying twice at work. Oh well. Desperation would not get the best of me I determined, and despite lingering reminders that another bad year was only one tragedy away, I put my best foot forward and marched on toward week two.

...which consisted of aforementioned trips to the vet. Zorba's eye isn't healed. Janie has dried rice worms on her butt. Potter is sneezing and his eyes are leaking like Zorba's. Here's Janie's poop... etc.

Three vet visits and five medications later, my dog's worms and giardia are hopefully gone, Zorba's officially healed and well and Potter's fighting off the last few days of an upper respitory infection both he and Zorba caught. And speaking of catching things... "Use good hygiene," my vet suggested during our last conversation when he revealed the findings from the fecal sample. "Giardia's contagious to humans."


Good thing I've been working out and keeping my antibodies high. Which brings us to week three: I'm a haus. Michelle and I have been working out at the Y (of which there is one ghetto-fied one near my house and one downtown). And since cedar is high and my allergies are awful (and I could catch a disease from my dog), I am able to make it through the treadmill and the weight lifting and that terrible monster of a machine you stand on and move your feet up and down on and practically fall off of the first time you get on it, only by rewarding myself with promises of the steam room at the end of the workout. I love it. I feel very healthy when my sweat (and terrible toxins hopefully) pour out of my body and drip to the floor. Sometimes I meditate which makes me feel healthy and holy. But most of the time I just try to sit quietly and pretend there aren't a bunch of middle aged men sitting in there with me. I love it.

Good thing too cause my therapist went on maternity leave.

I know, right?

Speaking of stress (the fun kind), we're doing another play at church. And because our director went out of town for two weeks (and only agreed to direct the show if I accepted that in advance), I've gotten to play a second hand at directing... which I love. Don't get me wrong, I love acting more. But I've found this new side of the theater, the side i often sat and observed from during much of my childhood, only this time, instead of my dad, I'm the director. And I love the concepts and the pictures formed and the character motivations and the mannerisms and the tone and the angles and the big picture. I love seeing the scenes come together to become a piece of art, a fluid, methodical piece of art.

It's fun. Oh, and it's Inherit the Wind. Just in time for the Texas state legislature to vote on whether or not to change the wording on some document that would essentially allow creationism to be taught in the classroom. At the beginning of the play, under Time and Place the author writes: any town, any time... and it's so true. I just with it wasn't true in Texas.

So that's January. In a nutshell.

Oh, and did I mention we got a new president? :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Q: What is christianity?

A: It is the belief that a two-thousand-year-old jewish zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat an apple off a magical tree in a wonderland.

Well, that's one way to put it...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Letters From Kids To Mr. President

Oh my gosh. I can't wait to have kids. Did you guys see this article in the NY Times on the opinion page? Awesome. How amazing would it be to be Barack Obama and receive these notes? Here's my favorite letter...

Dear Sir Obama,

These are the first 10 things you should do as president:

1. Make everyone read books.
2. Don’t let teachers give kids hard homework.
3. Make a law where kids only get one page of homework per week.
4. Kids can go visit you whenever they want.
5. Make volunteer tutors get paid.
6. Let the tutors do all the thinking.
7. Make universities free.
8. Make students get extra credit for everything.
9. Give teachers raises.
10. If No. 4 is approved, let kids visit the Oval Office, but don’t make it boring.

— Mireya Perez, age 8, San Francisco

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who Holds Israel Accountable?

"In Ireland, my favourite journalistic justification for this bloodbath came from my old mate Kevin Myers. 'The death toll from Gaza is, of course, shocking, dreadful, unspeakable,' he mourned. 'Though it does not compare with the death toll amongst Israelis if Hamas had its way.' Get it? The massacre in Gaza is justified because Hamas would have done the same if they could, even though they didn't do it because they couldn't. It took Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times's resident philosopher-in-chief, to speak the unspeakable. 'When does the mandate of victimhood expire?' he asked. 'At what point does the Nazi genocide of Europe's Jews cease to excuse the state of Israel from the demands of international law and of common humanity?' "

It bothers me that our bent in reporting and in placing judgments on the Middle East and specifically in Gaza seems favor Israel. I think it's dishonest. I admit that I don't understand what's going on over there. It's extremely complicated. But from what I can gather there is no flat out good guy and no flat out bad guy. It's like watching The Dark Knight. Only worse. And who you're listening to determines who should be held accountable for their irresponsible, defiant and self-centered actions.

I risk pissing off two of my closest friends and my vet by saying these things, but the excerpt from an article above sums up how i'm inclined to feel about Israel right now.

I hope that doesn't make me Anti-Semitic (kind of like I hoped criticizing America's decision to put her thumb on top of Iraq by going to war with her didn't make me Anti-American). I hope it just makes me honest. The violence needs to end no matter who thinks who started it because it's like all the fights you had with your little sister growing up. There was never any ending and never any beginning. Once that child was birthed the disagreements began and no one is really to blame. But there comes a time for everyone to leave home and go off to college and discover that low and behold she does actually love her sister and misses her and her sister feels the same. So much so that they decide to work on getting along better when they are actually at home and living together under one roof. And that is a miracle. The miracle of growing up.

So you know what Israelis (and Palestinians)? Grow up. Grow up. You live in the same land. Deal with it. Figure out you actually love your sisters and brothers and if you don't, you need to. It's way past time you learned how to get along.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Year

I like to post music videos when I think they're uber good or when they relate to a holiday. So in honor of New Year's, here's New Year by one of my favorite bands, Death Cab for Cutie.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Guess Who's Back?

My friends Patrick and Angela!

You may remember them because they were the first couple I ever "married." They had a beautiful outdoor wedding in June, 2006 at Chapel Dulcinea where Pete and Joy were married the summer before. (Yes, they were warm weddings!)

Pat and Ang left for Peru several months after their wedding to join the Peace Corps. While there they did peace corpsy thingys like build toilets, teach kids about geography and try not to get eaten by scorpions.

Anyway, they're back. Angela's working at Safe Place again and Patrick just got a job with Animal Trustees. (Yes, in case going into the Peace Corps and sticking it out for two years didn't signal that they are amazing people, their chosen vocations should!).

Speaking of animals, Zorba is doing better, but isn't healed yet, which is giving me anxiety. I may have to call Dr. B. Dr. B, you remember is my vet, whom Patrick used to work for and whom I began seeing (well, my pets began seeing) after Radley died and I adopted Potter from the dumpster with all of his dumpster diseases.

Okay, long story short, they're back and I got to hang out with them Friday night! It was awesome and I'm thrilled to hang with them again after a two year hiatus.

Hurray for friends!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Speaking of Professions... Awkward Moment of the Week

So i spent most of yesterday at the hospital hanging out with a student who's mom was in surgery. While we were playing cards, "B*llsh*t" i believe, some relatives of the woman in surgery came over to say good-bye to us. THey'd been sitting with her grandmother.

After the formal introductions, and upon hearing of my vocation, the couple began telling me of their daughter who went to seminary in the 80s and then was hired to be a singles and senior adult minister and wasn't that weird? and their daughter-in-law was a receptionist once at FBC in waco. yes i knew the church, my own seminary met in their building for several years before we got on own on baylor campus...

blah blah, the usual. but then this woman says,

"Well, I'll be praying for you. Ministers do hard work dealing with us." I glance over at Donna and Kelly (these are pseudonyms) who both go to my church (and are therefore my "parishioners"), trying to discern where this conversation was going.

"Yeah, it's hard dealing with all us stubborn sheep. We're just wandering around all stubborn, I know. So I'll pray for you. You're doing good work."

I giggled nervously. "But I like my job and the people I work with." The woman went on and on about how she knows but she also knows sheep go their own way and ministers have to take care of all of them...

Um... "Thank you." I said finally hoping she's stop talking.

And the couple left. Thank God. My two friends burst out laughing and I began apologizing profusely.

"I'm so sorry that woman called you sheep and called you stubborn! I don't think of you like that, I promise!"

"It's okay," Kelly said, "I know I'm no walk around the park. Besides she was probably just commenting on me since I'm her niece and I have no manners."

"But y'all do as much ministering to me as I do to you!" We laughed some more.

Either way, the three of us agreed that that was the most awkward conversation: one woman expressing her theology while putting one person on the spot and offending everyone else.

Hmm. Maybe it wasn't so uncommon after all.

And we returned to playing cards.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

You're In the Wrong Profession

What would you do?

What would you do if someone told you you were in the wrong profession?

Not because you messed up or failed at something or whatever. Rather, because you were gifted at something else. What would you do if your gifts didn't match your profession?

Someone asked me that tonight and i didn't know what to say. Probably because the economy is crappy and one of my friends just lost her job (take that all you people who keep reporting that jobs are up in austin), and because i don't have a savings account and i'm freaking out, and because many people my age are having babies and not really worrying about "what they want to be when they grew up."

So what would you say to someone who told you they were in the wrong profession? What would you say in 2009? The year of frugality? They year of opportunity?

Would you have told her, go for it?
Would you have said, do something practical?
Would you have said, stick with the job and the money, life's unpredictable?
Or would you have said, do what you like, what makes you happy ... honey, go for it.

That's what my parents say. I tried to stir the waters a bit when I was at home for Christmas. I announced in the car after my parents and i'd been out for a movie (Emily had a party and we were "excused" from the home front). "I'm considering going to opera school," I announced.

"That's great," mom replied. "Whatever makes you happy."

Please. I just said it to get a reaction. Perhaps like the person who told me the "wrong profession" comment.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd like to go to school for opera, but really. I'm too old to go pursuing whimsical fantasies.

So what would you tell this woman, blog world? Cause Lord knows I don't have all the answers.

What would you say if someone told you, "You're in the wrong profession"?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

True Love Lasts A Lifetime... Sometimes

Considering the divorce rate in America is 41% (for first marriages), this article was a little nugget of encouragement. Of course, it was only 10% encouraging which I guess means its 90% discouraging, but still. It's 2009 and I'm clinging to the 10%... and to my imaginary boyfriend named Bob. We've been off and on since High School.

I actually had a teacher ask me about him once when I came back to visit her when I was in college.

That's not right.

But... that's my life. Sometimes he buys me imaginary flowers.

10% chance. 10% chance. 10% chance.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Cute and Caring

These fifth graders are starting the year off right, saving the world one kid and one car at a time. Understanding that they "couldn't tell parents to buy Hybrid cars cause they're too expensive," they're helping the environment by asking parents instead not to idle their cars in the long line waiting to pick up students after school. What a great idea, boys. Cheers to you for caring!

This made me think: where do i sit idly? At the bank teller window when I deposit checks! At sonic when I'm getting a chocolate cherry coke (only when i'm feeling nostalgic)! So thanks 5th graders at Casis Elementary School! I'm changing my behavior because of you. You are making a difference!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Saying Good-bye and Good Riddance

2008 did not go gentle into the good night, that's for sure.

It went kicking and screaming.

As if to make a point that 2008 was indeed a year to be feared, and maybe even to up the ante to replace 2005 as the worst year of all time, 2008 threw curve balls right up until the last second.

So after driving 12 and a half hours back to Austin from Missouri, I saw flashing lights behind me. Yes, in Austin, after I turned off my cruise control and was cruising to my house, not five miles away from my destination and closing down the 1400 mile trip, I got a speeding ticket. Crap. Thanks 2008. All the money I saved not buying a plane ticket will now go to the City of Austin cause some cop needed to make quota and I was on auto pilot.

New Year's Eve arrived, one of my favorite holidays of the year (the symbolism of turning over a new leaf, a new year is VERY important to me if you haven't figured that out yet) and I held a funeral service for 2008 in my back yard.

Because we still had a few hours left, I performed last rites over the year. And instead of the year confessing it's final sins, we funeral attendees wrote our sin, sadness we felt in 08, evil that happened to us or friends... stuff like that, on pieces of paper that we then threw into the small bonfire and burned. It was lovely. Then we went inside and wrote things in 09 that we are looking forward to including Pete & Joy's baby, Zoe, Chris & Michelle's baby "L," a new play (Inherit the Wind) at church, a Chile Mission Trip, etc. We put those papers in the center of the table and took turns picking one out, reading it out loud, and then cheering and toasting it with champagne and sparking grape juice. Finally, we planted a few new cacti in a flower pot and the service was over. We went our separate ways to prepare for the evening's festivities.

I went to the Animal Hospital. Because although the very sick 2008 had received it's last rites, as i mentioned before, it would not go gently into the good night. With 10 minutes until my vet closed, Zorba came inside the house covered in leaves with a swollen eye that was leaking fluid. I spent the next two and half hours at the animal hospital trying to ignore the urine smell and straining to read the subtitles on Pirates of the Carribean playing in the waiting room from the examination room Zorby and I had been put in. And because there were two emergencies that came in around that same time, Zorba had to wait. Consequently I had to wait. And wait and wait. I threatened to go home and just wait there for my vet to re-open on Jan 2, but Zorba's nurse threatened that my cat might lose his eye. So we stayed. And 2008 just smirked.

Two and a half hours (and a full movie) later, we left for home. Zorba threw up and then pooped on himself in the car.

I was cleaning that up when I realized that not making concrete plans for New Year's but rather "maybe meeting up" with about four or five separate groups of people may mean that I wasn't going to actually have any plans for New Year's. Fortunately, my best friends the Gold-Johnsons knew my diress and said, "Lines be damned we're going to Hyde Park Bar & Grill." There were no lines though and with our tummies filled with delicious food and bloody mary's (except for Michelle who's pregnant), we met with with the also pregnant Pete & Joy at Epoch and then on we went to the Gallagher's whom P & J hadn't seen since they returned from Israel.

An hour later with champagne in hand, Johnson gave a beautiful toast about years and memories, and it was poetic, but i don't remember a single word of it, and then 3-2-1, 2008 gasped it's last few breaths and then... was... gone. Gone.

Thank God.

And 2009 left our imaginations and entered into our lives. 2009.

2009. Welcome. I will bless you if you bless me. And maybe if we promise to get along, your last rites won't be so painful in 12 months. Cause that's all you get. 12 months. So let's make the most of it, okay?

January 1, 2009 This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

RIP 2008.

Year In Review by Uncle Jay