Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I am having a lot of physical pain this evening. Every part of my body hurts. Everywhere. Normally, I have to deal with pain in my left foot, my left hip or my back. But very rarely is it all three causing pain together, along with everything else. My shoulders, neck and legs.

After I finished working on the edits in a manuscript this evening, which was the last of writing jobs to do for the day, I got up from my chair all set to go into the kitchen and do the dishes. (The best time for me to do dishes is when the baby's asleep but I hadn't had the chance when he took his afternoon nap today.) But right when I got up, pain just shot through me. It was like a huge weight pushing me down and crushing my bones. It was horrible.

So I took 3 Tylenol (not the usual two) and I am hoping it will help me to sleep tonight. Got to get up early in the morning tomorrow.

I don't know why it's so bad now. I wasn't in pain when I took Jen to school, ran errands, carried the baby around and moved stuff around in the house.

I have been doing an aerobics workout 3 times a week in the mornings. Maybe that is causing parts of my body that I don't normally exercise to feel pain. The workouts are only 20-30 minutes long. But I hadn't done one this morning. I only got about 4 1/2 hours of sleep last night, so I was too exhausted to exercise today.

Maybe it's dehydration. I haven't been drinking enough water, as I SHOULD be drinking more water.

Or it could be the changing seasons. The foot and hip pain are grievances I've had to deal with for some time. So I don't know.

At least it doesn't hurt so much when I am not moving around so much.

Maybe I just need more rest.

This has made me wonder, though: Is it possible that if someone carries around a deep, strong pain on the inside for so long, it can manifest into a real, physical pain? I wonder. I have been carrying pain around for so long. A sadness. Regret. I don't know if that's possible, but worth thinking about. If anything, it could be a story.

Monday, September 28, 2009

American Idolatry

Yesterday, I bought an issue of People Magazine for my daughter. I bought it for her because it was a special iCarly issue, and she LOVES iCarly.

While Jen was happy to get the magazine, my husband was not. When I asked him why, he explained he didn't want her to idolize people or things or...well, whatever else you can idolize!

I told him she already "idolizes" things. Like the TV show Avatar. Even though Avatar is over, she still loves that show and often plays Avatar with friends at school.

And it's not just Avatar she's crazy about. She also likes Scooby-Doo (she's got a Scooby-Doo plate and a Scooby-Doo lunch box!) and she's nuts over the Pet Shop toys. (Heh, I almost typed Pet Shop Boys!)

As to music, she does like Hannah Montana.

She already "idolizes" people and things. But I have made sure she doesn't get fanatical about them. And I don't see how buying her the iCarly magazine encourages her to idolize people!

If you want to talk about idolizing celebrities...well, I know a certain little girl in Eugene who is OBSESSED with Hannah Montana. Of course, I won't say her name. But I did notice how she has EVERYTHING Hannah Montana. Clothes, pillows, DVDs, accessories. Even a Hannah Montana peg board! As I noticed all of this, I could only shake my head and inwardly grumble over girls idolizing celebrities. And that was my husband's complaint, too. The way he put it, he doesn't want Jennifer to get all starry-eyed and weak in the knees and screaming "OH MY GOD! IT'S CARLY!!" every time she sees anything...with iCarly on it.

I'll admit, that kind of infatuation with celebrities and musicians was in my past, but as a tween and teen. Not as a child. I had a HUGE crush on Ricky Shroder and went nuts over bands like The Police and Heart, and singers like Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper. I was TOTALLY crazy about them and my parents pretty much just put up with my infatuation. They realized it was just a phase all girls go through. My dad would roll his eyes and mutter jokes whenever I bought those Teen Beat and Sweet 16 magazines. But he didn't freak out over it and start worrying over me idolizing people or things.

I really don't think Jennifer is at risk of idolizing iCarly, or any other TV show or celebrities. She's just a normal 7-year-old kid (almost 8!!) who just likes to watch iCarly and listen to Hannah Montana sing. Heck, sometimes she'll even dress up in her Hannah Montana costume and sing! But she's not obsessed with them. Her room is not covered with iCarly stuff or Hannah Montana stuff. She likes a variety of people, a variety of shows and a variety of things.

And as long as she has that variety, I think we'll be okay.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A squirrel story

Today, while Jennifer was out front riding her bike, I sat on the porch reading a book while also keeping an eye on her. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a squirrel cautiously scamper up to the little rock garden we'd constructed for Jennifer. When it was evident he wouldn't run off if I looked at him, I watched as the little guy came up to the biggest rock and started digging. This got me curious. A squirrel is digging in the dirt? Seriously??

Well, I guess holes dug in a yard can't be blamed on the dog anymore! Ya hear that, people? It's not always Rover's fault if you find a hole in the yard!

But, seriously. This particular squirrel was not just digging a hole. Actually, after he dug a hole that was deep enough, he deposited the chestnut he had in his mouth (probably taken from our tree!). That's right, he buried the chestnut in the ground!

Dogs bury bones. And squirrels bury nuts. Heh.

I watched with amusement as the squirrel used his tiny hands to push the dirt back over the hole. Yes, he PUSHED it over the hole! I couldn't believe my eyes! Just as people push dirt into holes, so do the squirrels!

But the biggest surprise came when the squirrel patted -- yes, he PATTED -- the dirt firmly onto the ground over that hole! WOW!

I could not believe my eyes, As the squirrel finished burying his treasure, I laughed with amusement and cried out, "Oh, my God. Wow!"

That was SO NEAT! I have never seen such a thing. I am used to seeing squirrels hoard nuts in trees. But not on the ground.

I called Jennifer over and told her about this. She thought it was funny, too. She wished she could've seen it. Heck, I wish I could've taken a picture! If only I had my digi cam or cell phone with me. Darn! I figured if I moved to run and get a camera, the squirrel might run off. But trust me, it was SOOOO CUTE to see such a thing!! Those little squirrel hands patting down that dirt.

And I started to wonder how many OTHER nuts were buried in that garden. Hmm.

I told Jennifer he's probably storing them for after winter. And I said that might be a bad idea, because there will be snow on the ground, covering up all their secret hiding places.

I told hubby about it and he confirmed the squirrel was indeed probably storing food for winter.

It was such a cute thing to see and I am grateful that I got to witness it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I have wanted to update this blog all day. But I haven't been able to think about just ONE THING to blog about. Too many thoughts are running around in my head. So here we go:

1. I was pretty irritated over a newspaper story I read this week. Apparently, a couple in a neighboring city are suing Deere and Co. for being "negligent" after a mower ended up mutilating their daughter, who was 2 at the time of the accident (she is now 6). I remember reading this story when it happened. I was shocked! The little girl was behind her dad when he was mowing the yard. He didn't know she was there, backed up over her, and she lost a leg. At the time, it was tragic. But now I'm angry they are suing the Deere people. I mean, EXCUSE ME?? They are not supposed to be the ones WATCHING your kids while someone's mowing your yard! Wasn't anybody watching that little girl?? It was not Deere's fault. it was the PARENT'S fault for NOT keeping an eye on her child! OK, I know I'm probably getting too huffy over this. It just REALLY bugs me when people don't watch their kids when they're supposed to, and they want to blame somebody else when tragedy strikes. I wonder if the mother who's son drowned in the pool after he crawled out through the pet door is suing whoever made those pet doors?? Or the mom suing the manufacturer of a mattress that suffocated her child to death after another child sat on the mattress and buried his face? Or the mom whose child was killed after being ran over by a car driven by her older sister after standing behind the car as the sister backed out is going to sue the car maker?? Grr!! Parents, WATCH YOUR CHILDREN! Even if it means the pot of water will boil over or something will fall and break. A child's life and safety is more important than that!

2. On a lesser emotional note, Jennifer has a spelling test tomorrow. She has been having trouble with one word in particular. I have been working with her all week on spelling her words correctly and especially with that word: "excited." She kept spelling it with an "s" instead of "c" and I kept telling her, "There is no 's' in 'excited.'" Today, she has finally mastered how to spell that word! Hooray! She kept spelling it over and over, getting it right every time. I didn't grow tired of that! We'll see how she does on her test tomorrow.

3. This week, I read the short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving. I was reading it as a reference for the RGT book (since Sleepy Hollow IS in it!) but, I tell you, it was very, very hard to read that story. Ugh! The writing was not exactly the best. Well, it was okay, but...not exactly the way a story should be written. It is the perfect example of a story that is being told and not shown (remember the "show, don't tell" rule!). If I was an editor at a magazine and Mr. Irving submitted his story to me, I would strongly suggest he revise it. I would not reject it, because it is a good story and there's potential there, but I would ask for a revision. Anyway, it took a few days to FORCE myself to read through the story. I'm glad I did but it was certainly not what I remembered reading of that story in high school. Maybe what I read in school was an adaptation of this story. And I must say, the movie is good, too!

4. My hip has REALLY been hurting a lot this week. Maybe that's good because it means I can sit down to write more, but it's not so good when I gotta chase after kids or clean the house. I really need to get it looked at ASAP. It's on the left side and when it hurts really bad, I end up limping a little.

5. Jennifer has missed karate again this week. Sigh. She's missed so many classes, I am beginning to wonder if we should even continue to pay for it.

6. This week, Jesse said grace with us for the first time. Woot! It was really neat. I guess he saw us folding our hands together over our plates so much that he figured that was the thing to do. One evening, as I was serving the children their dinners, I noticed that Jesse folded his hands together in prayer. I told Jennifer and we decided to grab that moment and say grace. After we were done, he unfolded his hands. Jennifer looked at me and said, "Jesse prayed!" Well, probably not...but it's a neat idea to think about.

7. I have lost motivation to do my morning aerobic workouts. Even after losing weight on my diet and a pair of my pants getting too big for me to wear anymore. I am not thrilled by this; I WANT to continue the workouts because they are a huge mood-booster and they help me get into shape. I've grown weary of being out of shape. Hopefully, I will find some way to get that motivation to work out again. Honestly, I have been contemplating professional competition as an athlete, with running. I would like to do that someday. Run in races. And I know I need to keep that motivation to work out and start running again in order to make that happen. First, I have to figure out how to make room for that is my disorganized life!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Knight Fever tank top

As promised, here's a pic of me wearing the Knight Fever tank top I ordered. I ordered it here:

Wow. I just checked that site, and it's not there. Hm, wonder what's up with that. Well, I also ordered the red one. Gotta get another picture, I suppose. Looks like I'm becoming their national spokesperson for the shirts, or something. Knight Fever T-shirts! Collect all 3! Haha.

Anyway, I was going to tell a little story on here yesterday. Something about how I baked my very first loaf of bread and a story about how it reminded me of something in my past that involves my grandmother. But something happened last night and I was too upset to write. So, I will have to save that story for another day. (The bread was not very good, anyhow. Ah, well. Practice makes perfect!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Using caution

Earlier in the week, Jennifer complained about stomach pain. She asked me to make an appointment with her doctor, especially since she'd been having the pain since the weekend. (By the time she told me about it, it had been three days of constant stomach pain. When I asked her why she hadn't told me about it sooner, she didn't have an answer.) Well, a couple of days went by with me forgetting to call her doctor. Then yesterday morning, as I was getting her ready for school, she started to have a coughing fit.

All this time, I thought the stomach pain was just her typical early morning queasiness. (We don't usually wake her up early on the weekends, but last weekend, we had to in order to help her adjust to the new wake-up time better. I started trying to make that happen long before school started up again, but that did not work out very well.) So I thought it was just queasiness, but I didn't like the looks of that cough. She seemed to be coughing pretty hard and it was a long cough.

So I did two things: I did send her to school with FIRM instructions to go to the nurse if she felt any worse. She did feel feverish but not a strong fever. I really thought she'd be okay! And the school knows to reach me by text if there was an emergency. (In hindsight, I now know I should have kept her home.)

And the second thing I did was call her doctor. I really wanted to try to get her in that day, because we had plans for the weekend involving Jennifer going to her BFF's house and she was supposed to leave today. So I was hoping I could bring her in on that day. They said that was fine, and that she'd be seen by Dr. Wong. I held my breath at the name. Even though I smile because it reminds me of a friend, Dr. Wong is not an easy person for me to lip-read. She does not write things down so much and I knew, I just KNEW, I would not have an interpreter to assist communication for this appointment. Not on such short notice. But I said, ok, I'll take that appointment.

Just to be on the safe side, I kept her home from karate. I didn't think she'd be very comfortable with that coughing and stomach pain in karate.

When we got to the doctor's office, the elevator was out so we had to use the stairs. This was tricky for me. I was grateful I hadn't put the baby into the stroller, but at the same time, I had to hold his hand with my good hand and hold the railing of the stairs with my bad hand! And they were big steps! Gah! I held on to that railing as tight as I could with my bad hand, praying I would not lose my balance then my grip, lose my grip or miss a step, as I helped Jesse climb the big steps with me. We took them one at a time and, despite my balance making me a bit shaky on the ascension, we made it up okay. Phew! I was so relieved and quietly saying a prayer of thanks.

In the doctor's office, there were open boxes of masks and bottles of hand sanitizers on the counter. A warning sign said "STOP!" and to clean your hands and wear a mask IF you had a fever and...a list of other ailments. One of those ailments was "cough" and Jennifer said she needed a mask.

"No, you don't," I said, refusing to give into public hysteria over swine flu and trying to remind myself not to be paranoid. In some way, I was assuring myself that Jennifer could not possibly have swine flu. (Or so I wanted to delude myself into thinking! It's no secret that her doctor has often complained about the breeding ground of germs at schools. As it was, ALL toys and toy stations that used to be in the office were gone.)

"But, Mommy, I have a cough," Jennifer persisted.

I reminded her that she didn't have a fever. The sign said "fever AND cough." Not just "cough."

All the same, despite my opinion, the secretary did indeed want Jennifer wearing a mask and to clean her hands. Just to be safe, and as a way of showing I acknowledged my mistake to my daughter, I cleaned my hands, too. Though I drew the line with the baby. He still puts his hands into his mouth and I didn't want that stuff in his mouth.

Well, Dr. Wong examined Jennifer and ran some tests. Thankfully, she did write for me when I could not understand her. When we finally got results, the diagnosis was a stomach virus. She suggested Jennifer go on the bland diet. (BRAT diet, I suppose.) She said because of the time that has transpired, Jennifer should be better by Monday. But if not, if she gets worse or anything else happens, bring her back in.

After the appointment, we stopped at the grocery store. I bought her some bananas, yogurt and bread. I reminded her that yogurt is very good for stomach problems (as long as it has live cultures and acidophiles in it!) and she was looking forward to me making her a big bowl of rice. She was kind of excited about being able to eat as much yogurt and rice as she wanted to.

So far, the stomach pain has not worsened. I still kept her home from school today -- just to be safe -- and the plans with her BFF were changed. She was not happy about missing school but understood how I just wanted to be careful. I dropped off her homework off at the school.

I am hoping she'll be better by the time Monday gets here. I am relieved that I finally got her to the doctor for something that actually did need some medical attention. They say that tummyaches aren't something to take lightly with children. That is all the more true when that tummyache lasts for several days and there are other symptoms. Take the child to the doctor. It's better to err on the side of caution!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Little girl ghost

It's official: A child ghost is living in my house!

This evening, I was cleaning up a food mess on Jesse's highchair. (Why, oh why, did I decide to make spaghetti for dinner tonight??) I had the highchair just outside of the dining area, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the figure of a child going into my bedroom. I thought it was Jennifer because I saw a thin frame and small white legs. "Jennifer, you're supposed to be in bed," I muttered, still cleaning up the mess. Just earlier, the kids had had their shower/bath and the baby was asleep. I knew I'd left that room with Jennifer getting into bed.

After I cleaned up a big gob of old spaghetti off the chair, the whole time with the door to my room in view, I went to the bedroom expecting to find her in there, going through things she wasn't supposed to be going through.

But...she wasn't in there.

I froze, holding my breath. I walked out of the room and slowly walked to the other bedroom.

Sure enough, my daughter was in bed. Sleeping!

So now I think a child ghost is haunting this house. Well, maybe not "haunting" exactly. here. It would explain the many times that I've found things moved around or books on the floor that were on shelves shortly after I moved here! (In all honestly, I thought somebody broke into my house and nosed through my stuff.)

This is not the first time I saw the child ghost. I have mentioned seeing her before. And, yes, this ghost is a her. When I saw her once, I noticed long hair.

The thing of it is...I'm not surprised I'm seeing a little girl ghost. On the very day that I came to this house for the first time, something told me I HAD to rent it. THIS was the place for me to live.

And as I stood in the kitchen, talking with my future landlord, I got a very strong impression that a man and his daughter had lived here. They might as well have been in the same room as we were! I felt that impression so strongly, but I didn't say anything about it. Until now.

I do know a man lived here before me. Actually, a couple lived here. But maybe it's not them, but residents from way back when, or something. Well, it's something I can look into.

I wish I knew the child's name. I want to find that out. And hopefully, someday, I will see her better. Not just out of the corner of my eye.

Maybe next time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stuff going on

Jesse is doing A LOT better now. His eyes are still healing from the surgery and the anesthetic is still making its way out of his system, but he's not stumbling when he tries to walk anymore and not walking into walls. He's been really fussy, though. Probably from irritation in his eyes. I give him Ibuprofen only when it's very bad and he's very uncomfortable. The post-op appointment went okay and he goes back next month for another check-up on his eyes. It will be some time before we see actual progress. I'm just glad the surgery went okay! Thank God for that!

I'm really nervous about applying the topical medicine under his eyes, though. Tonight, I did it for the first time and I don't even know if I did it right! Grr! I've watched hubby apply the medicine and he told me how to do it. I get really nervous trying to do it, though. I don't want to get any of it INSIDE of his eyes!

I have been sooooo busy all week. Writing, running errands, taking care of the kids and cleaning. CLEANING! The other day, when I picked Jen up from school, my hair looked like I just stepped out of a tornado because I went right from speed-vacuuming to going out to pick her up. I saw Jen's old teacher with my hair like that and I guess maybe I gave her something to wonder about. Haha. "Erm, what exactly were you up to??"

One of the cleaning jobs I had was Jennifer's room. It got REALLY bad because she's not very good at putting things away (she's a piler) and because she just doesn't take good care of her things or tidy up when she is done playing, or something. So I took it upon myself to clean the room. I was tired of not being able to walk in there and Jesse kept getting into EVERYTHING. It took me TWO DAYS to clean that room. What a job! I wish I could get her to keep her room tidy so it doesn't get so bad. Anyway, it's a lot better now and everything is put away and organized.

Jen started school this week. Yay! She really likes her class. Thankfully, there aren't any troublesome students in her classroom this year. Thank goodness for that! There is a boy who sits next to her and on the first day, he was messing around with her stuff. I gave him a dirty look and he just went about doing other things. I guess he is not giving her trouble and that's good. Last year, there was a kid in her class who caused trouble a lot. (The same kid who pushed a little boy in the hall) and I have been very concerned about her dealing with bullies. Believe me, I had to deal with them when I went to school! (They were in the public AND private school. Ugh.) Looking the way I do, I was an easy target for bullies. Even when I fought back on one occasion. But with Jennifer, I have always worried about it. I've even had nightmares about it! So I keep an eye out for things like that and I hope she doesn't have that problem this year.

Speaking of nightmares...I had a real bad one last night. It was horrible. Weather disasters were striking the entire state of Oregon. There were hurricanes, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, tornadoes. EVERYTHING! And in all of the state of Oregon! The whole state! It was awful. I saw so many people die in that dream. Being covered by mudslides, sucked into hurricanes. Homes being destroyed. People tried to evacuate but often the weather disasters hit before they could. So many people....all gone. It was just terrible to see all that. I woke up from that dream, went out to the living room and sat on the couch. Hubby was on the computer and he turned around to ask me what was wrong. When I told him my dream, he said, "Hurricane?" I nodded. Then he said, "Wrong side of the country." Yeah, tell me about it! Then I looked at the TV, hoping to get my mind off that dream. And, wouldn't you know it, there was a program on about rogue waves! ARGH!! I covered my eyes, shook my head and mumbled, "WHY did I have a dream like that then come out to see something like THAT on TV?"

Jennifer's BFF had a birthday party this week. At least, we THINK she did. Jen never got an invitation. I'm a little confused and angry about this. I sent the friend's mother an email and asked about it but, so far, no reply. I'm starting to get upset about this, because if the friend DID have a birthday party and decided not to invite Jennifer, then I think that's really uncool. It would make Jennifer REALLY upset and then there'd be problems with the friendship. I don't get it. So I hope it was a misunderstanding. I am going to call tomorrow and find out. If I don't end up hearing from them by email first.

Today hubby and I watched the movie Stardust. I heard so many good things about it. Even though I'm iffy with Neil Gaiman (some of his stuff is good, some of it...meh), I really liked this movie. It's a great fantasy story. The part where Victoria starts to like Tristan after he changes his looks, though, REALLY irritated me. I got all huffy and said, "She likes him NOW only because he looks good!" Hubby rolled his eyes and said, "It's just a movie!" That may be, but that kinda thing DOES happen in the real world. People are SO dependent on looks and beauty. I'm sick of it and I hate it. But I guess being a person with burn scars, of course I'm going to hate it. I often blame my lack of friends on the fact that I am burned. People think I'm too ugly to want to be seen with me in public. Or they are too uncomfortable around someone who is NOT beautiful or who looks unattractive because I am burned. Or maybe they think that because I look like a monster, I really am a monster. I know it's stupid to think that, but I do. Oregonians only love beautiful people!

And the same goes for love....Love is SO dependent on outward beauty. Or so many people in this world say it should be. You HAVE to be beautiful to be loved. If you are ugly, then you are shunned and ignored. One beautiful person will not love an ugly person. They BOTH have to look beautiful. Because outward appearances MATTER. It's just not right.

Which is why I would rather be with someone who would love me for my heart and not for my looks. I can't take these burn scars away. I can't make them disappear, even when wearing make-up. Love me for who I am and for the kind of heart that I have. Not for how I look.

That is my opinion, anyway....

I got A LOT done with the writing this week. Unfortunately, I was not able to do my article for SIGNews, because my source at Gallaudet refused to do an interview and so did anybody else associated with that topic. ARGH! I was really upset and NOT happy about losing the money I would have received for that article. Sigh. Fortunately, my editor was very understanding. I was soooo tempted to complain about it on the writing blog. But....I am a grown up. I can handle this in a mature, professional manner. (Those poopie-heads!)

As for the Ghost book, I am FINALLY allllllll caught up on the emails for it. YAAAAYYY!!!! Now to get caught up on the phone calls I have to make for it. I have two that I keep FORGETTING! But the email thing is good and it was a huge weight off my shoulders to get caught up on them. Hopefully, I'll be able to wrap up gathering all the stories I need VERRRRRY soon.

There are other emails I need to get caught up on, too. Hm. I'm working on it! So please don't think I am ignoring you....

I got an idea for a cartoon today. Imagine it: Writer goes into a printing shop and asks, "How much do you charge to print?"

Saleslady says, "How many pages do you need to print?"

Writer answers, "Oh, about 580 pages."

Saleslady faints.

That right there is how long the Totally Scared book is. Ayuh.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Pictures of Jesse

As promised, here are before and after haircut pictures of Jesse. The last ones are the after pictures.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Sunday, September 06, 2009

What's a girl gotta do for romance?

Despite the fact that I majorly dress in "guy clothes" (jeans and T-shirt), I do like to be girly sometimes. I am, more than anything, a girl. And girls like a little romance every once in a while.

So it was a huge disappointment when, last night, while my daughter was at a sleepover and the baby was asleep, there was NO romance with hubby. At all.

I had hoped we could spend some alone time together. But it didn't happen. Instead, he spent hours playing a computer game. While I was left alone. And when I was trying to get his attention, he didn't notice. I sat there grumbling, "The house could burn down and he wouldn't even notice!"

Our marriage hasn't exactly been great lately. There has not been much physical expression. Just a hug. We don't even hold hands when we go out, if we ever go somewhere together at all. He hardly ever says "I love you" and, if he does, it's because I have to say it first. We've grown emotionally distant and just don't spend any time together. At all.

So last night, eventually, I just opened up to him about it. But in the wrong way: We had an argument. I complained about the lack of intimacy and the lack of emotion between us. I told him I feel like we're roommates and not husband and wife. I kept stressing this WAS NOT about sex (and lack of it); this was about how we are so emotionally distant from each other. There's no closeness.

I also reminded him how he does so much stuff with his friend but nothing with me. We don't have coffee together. We don't "meet for lunch." We don't go to community events together like we used to. We've stopped treating each other like husband and wife and instead act as father and mother.

I also told him how I had hoped we could have a romantic evening together, since we FINALLY had that chance. FINALLY!! That chance to spend time together is finally there...and it never happened. I was so upset.

He said that he was waiting for me to say something. Or do something. And I asked him why he didn't say or do anything, either. I told him, "Don't wait. Just do something!"

Anyway, there came and went our one chance for romance. It bothers me because it has been so long since any romance has been a part of how we relate to each other. I told him I am very unhappy here and very lonely. I doubt it would do much good to even have said that, though.

Sometimes, I feel like he just doesn't care.

It's not exactly the kind of marriage I want to be in. I want my companion. My "other half." My soul mate.

And that is not there.

It really has made me see things differently and think about this marriage differently. Before, it used to be for my child's sake. (Despite this, she told me she's scared of her father.) But now I have to take a look at myself and ask myself if I can continue to live with unhappiness and disappointments. If that's something I want to continue to carry. And even if it's something I want to fix or have the strength to fix.

It's a lot I've been thinking about. Sometimes, we just really need to ask ourselves whose happiness should come first. A lot of the times, it feels like he puts HIS happiness first. Maybe I should do the same for me.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Going green

I recently started a new diet, which one of my sisters is on. I needed a dietary change because my eating habits were REALLY bad. Too much junk food, too much sugar, too much fast food and, especially, too much soda. I was REALLY not eating very healthy and I guess that is why I was so tired and cranky a lot. And gaining weight!

Ever since I started this diet, which is the Michael Thurmond diet, I have had more energy and been able to focus better.

My old diet had hardly any veggies and fruits, and I was hardly ever drinking enough water.

With the new diet, I'm drinking A LOT of water, eating fruits and not eating so much junk food. (It will be a while before I can totally kick the junk food habit!) But I'm also eating a lot more veggies now, especially greens.

In fact, the main veggie to eat for this diet is anything green. Green beans, lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, peas, celery, etc.

I have enjoyed this new abundance of green veggies in my diet. I know green veggies are especially good for you because they fight cancer. But it has been good for me on a personal level because I am now trying veggies I would not have otherwise tasted. I'm mad about sugar snap peas. I also get to learn new ways of prepping and cooking these foods.

The other night, I boiled Brussels sprouts to serve with dinner. And tonight, for the first time ever, I cooked fresh spinach.

Unfortunately, the spinach did not turn out very well. I sauteed them thanks to a recipe from eHow and the smell of cooking garlic and onions in the kitchen soon had Jennifer plugging up her nose. (That garlicky smell is still in my kitchen! It does not smell bad, but I know it irritates her. I was reminded of a scene from the movie Candleshoe, when the character Bobby says "garlic keeps ghosts away" and Jodie Foster's character says, "Garlic will keep everybody away." When I was a kid, my dad would cut up fresh cloves of garlic and down a bunch of them with a glass of water. He often coaxed me into doing the same thing, and one time it was actually a good thing he did, because it saved me from getting sick from food poisoning! My sister had not been so lucky.)

Still, we ate some of the spinach. I wasn't happy with how it turned out and debated trying another way of cooking fresh spinach that I found on the Internet. Later, I texted my sister to see if she had a good way of cooking it. She said, "Steam it."

Tomorrow I am making a broccoli salad to go with lunch (still need to type up the recipe to send to my sister!) and we've also got cabbage and peas in the refrigerator.

Even though I've had a few setbacks with this diet (hard to shake off the cravings for chocolate! And I'm not happy about the fact that the only meats I can eat are poultry and fish), I am going to keep it up whenever and however possible. Even if I am not successfully sticking to the dietary guidelines at the very beginning, I'll keep at it! It does not make me "starve" myself, it does not force any dairy products (which is good since I can't digest dairy very well anyway) and it does not forbid grains. In essence, I do like the foods I am allowed to eat, and I really think this particular diet is much better for me than the old one. I know this way of eating is healthier and it will be worth it in the long run if I just stick with it despite these setbacks at the start.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hacker alert

When I checked my email this morning, at my writing email account, there was an email there from a friend, who is also a writer. The subject line reading "urgent help needed" had me open it at once. As I read the email, I started to feel confusion then alarm then suspicion and concern.

The email said that my friend was traveling out of her country and was robbed. Her phone and all of her money was stolen. All she had left was the clothes on her back and her passport. And now she was using a laptop provided by a kindly Chinese gentleman to email everyone asking for help. That help came in the form of asking for $2000 to be sent through Western Union so she could fly home and be with her children.

I became suspicious of the email after I noticed that the English was not very good. (My friend is, after all, a PROFESSIONAL writer, with many books under her belt, and an editor! Surely she would be able to put together a sentence in decent English.)

My second reason for suspicion was when I saw the location for the money to be sent to: Nigeria. Right away, "Nigerian scam" went through my head. (Poor Nigeria, for being stigmatized as the homeland of so many scams.)

So instead of replying to the email asking "is this true?" I sent my friend an email to her OTHER email address, asking her if this was indeed what happened to her. (I was kicking myself for not having her phone number, but I might have it written down around here somewhere.) I was worried because she might've been hurt and she could be left stranded somewhere with nothing. I was also concerned that, if this was indeed an email from a hacker, then that meant her Gmail account had been hacked.

Thankfully, my friend responded to my email right away. She was fine, she told me. And, no, that email did NOT come from her. And, on top of this, she was not able to log into her Gmail account. Later, she told me that she contacted Gmail about this, as well as the FBI.

I was so enormously relieved that my friend was okay. I was also relieved to hear that other people on her Gmail contacts list contacted her FIRST before doing anything. They, too, noticed the bad English and also noted that, because she is a writer, it just didn't seem like the kind of email she herself would write.

Nevertheless, she made it an effort to resolve this matter and get control over her email account again. I hope she does. I also pray she hasn't lost anything.

Still, I was worried. All this time, I have assumed that Gmail was top notch in preventing accounts from being hacked. But I guess there isn't anything on the World Wide Web a hacker can't get into, if they try hard enough.

With this in mind, I strengthened my security settings on my Gmail account and changed my password. I'd had that password for over a year and never had anyone hack into my account. Still, you can never be too careful. Don't get comfortable or favorite a password. It's important to get those passwords changed!

I have not received an update from my friend yet on whether or not she was able to finally access her Gmail account but I hope that she can. I hope I will hear from her soon about this. I can imagine she would be devastated, as I would be, if anything is lost. I started to wonder if there's some kind of "back-up" in place to "rescue" emails that hackers delete or encrypt.

This unfortunate situation my friend was in made me feel really uneasy. What if the hacker took my email address and managed to use it in some way? And send that very same email to everybody on my contacts list? What if he hacked into my account despite my best efforts to protect it??? (I was kinda afraid to log out of Gmail today!) If this happened, I didn't think I could bear it if anyone on my contacts list fell for that scam.

I debated sending out a mass email to EVERYBODY on my contact list saying something like "If you get an email from me saying I am out of the country, was robbed and need $2000 to fly home and be with my kids, just know it's not from me but a hacker." But I know there ARE people on my contact list who HATE getting mass emails. And a lot of them might worry that if a hacker gets into my account, he might get into THEIR account, too! What sort of virus got a piggyback ride on the email they just read??

I didn't want to alarm anyone. I didn't want to cause panic. So, instead, I texted a FEW people who are on that contact list. With that same message.

One of the people I texted was my sister-in-law. I was surprised when I got a response back very quickly, because I knew she was at work and probably busy. But when I opened the message, it was using "text language." She usually does not type with "textspeak." (Whatever it's called!!) I got confused and told her who I was and soon enough I realized that the person responding WAS NOT my sister-in-law! It was someone who kept asking things like "who are you?" "what's your name?" "you gonna tell me your name?"

At one point, I thought it was one of my sister-in-law's teenage sons playing a prank on her phone. That's something I am going to find out about.

He or she just kept sending me messages and I had no way to block the messages, either. (Maybe Virgin Mobile should look into making that an option on the phones???) I stopped responding and thought that would be the end of it. But the person kept texting me again and again and again. It was irritating!!

I did tell my husband about this. He read the messages and told me just keep ignoring it. It'll stop eventually.

But it didn't.

Finally, while I was busy working on an article, I had the phone nearby and it went off again. I was really busy, though -- just typing away -- and my husband grabbed the phone before I got to it. He read the message, responded to it then deleted EVERYTHING. I asked him what the message said and he said he didn't know. I asked him what HE said and he said he told whoever that was "wrong number." I have to wonder if that's true. I'm guessing he said something else, because whoever that clown was didn't bother me anymore. Thank goodness! (It's times like this I'm glad I have a husband! LOL)

Later, when I had the chance, I called my sister-in-law to ask her what was up. Had she been joking around with me? Was it one of her boys playing a prank? Had she changed her number? Or had her phone been stolen?

I considered all of these possibilities as the line just rang and rang. Nobody answered, so I sent her a message on Facebook. Hopefully, I will find out what happened!

So today there was a hacker scare and quite possibly my cell phone number getting into the hands of someone who has nothing better to do than taunt others. What a day!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Welcome September's rigor

"There is work to be done in the world, after all, tasks more strenuous than thumbnail painting or lounging in a chair, as difficult as it can be to do those things properly. At some point summer ends, and we return to autumn's realities. For many of us this comes as a relief. After August's compulsory laziness, we welcome September's rigor. The fall justifies and even demands our busyness: we bustle our children off to school; we pick the last tomatoes before the frost, setting the green ones to ripen on the windowsill; we store window screens and worry about firewood. At our jobs the pace quickens. We're full of projects, plans, ambitions."

Quote from the book Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life by Philip Simmons