Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Are You Happy?

For those of you who think I serve no other purpose but to update here at least weekly, I tell you this: I'm on vacation! Leave me alone!

With that in mind, this will not be a fancy entry or anything terribly meaningful. It is simply an entry.

This is where I am right now visiting my parents.

This is where I'll be later tonight and the rest of the week.

And this is what I'll be doing on Thursday.

This is what I'll be doing on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings. Yes, this also means seeing someone I used to date (can I call him an ex-boyfriend? He's definitely someone I used to love that way but now I just wish he could accept a friendship. That's fodder for a solo entry, though.

On that note, I leave you with this happy thought. My parents introduced me to several of their friends at church the other day. What can I say? They love me and wanted to show me off. Anyway, one woman wanted to know if I was there with my family, which was a confusing question, because I was thinking, "Yes, don't you see these people? These are my parents, and my sister and her family are here too, and that's my family," but then I realized she meant did I have a husband and children of my own. While I was still working that word problem out in my head (sometimes I'm not very quick on the draw), my mother said, "No, she's not married."

The woman sympathetically clucked and shook her head and said, "Oh, you're all alone, are you?"

I drew myself up an extra two inches (I need to stop slouching anyway) and said, "I'm not married, but I'm not alone."

That was definitely not the answer she was expecting to hear. Truthfully, it wasn't really the answer I expected to give, but I hate the pitying looks from people who think I'm too old to be single when they really have no idea who I am or what I've gone through to get to this point. She said, just one step shy of huffiness, "Well. I've never heard that before. You'll have to explain to me what that means."

So I did. I may not be married, but that doesn't mean I'm alone. I'm the exact opposite of alone. In fact, I've known married people who really are alone, and that to me is sadder by far than not being married. In other words, I'd rather wish I were than wish I weren't. Of course there are times I wish I were married or I play the mental "what if" game about certain boys I've dated, but I'm happy in my life right now. I have a wonderful "family of choice," I surround myself with people and activities I love and that fill my spirit and soul, and I can be happy even while single. It's not the "happily ever after" ending I dreamed of when I was a little girl or even a young woman (actually, when I was a little girl, that kind of lovey-dovey stuff was non-existent to me), but that doesn't mean it's not a happily-ever-after ending. For one thing, it's not over yet, and for another, happy is defined however you want it to be. That definition changes as your life circumstances change, but if you're always anticipating the next great event in order to be happy, then you will never be happy.

"Men (and women) are, that they may be happy." In other words, the fact that I exist means I should be happy. And I am.

Are you?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Relationship Advice

As as already been addressed once by me here, people, particularly those who think they have the whole marriage/relationship thing worked out already, have no qualms whatsoever about giving out dating/catching a man/relationship advice, solicited or not.

I know I don't have everything figured out, and I'm open for advice that I think will help. What would be easiest, though, would be if there were no communication problems between men and women. If we spoke the same language, we probably wouldn't all be spinning our wheels in singledom wondering what we're doing well or wrong. Now I'm no John Gray Mars/Venus relationship guru, but there are a few things I have learned about men and women.

Sometimes, boys are stupid. Boys will always be stupid. That's just a gender difference, and even though it's not "stupid," really, as defined by Webster, we get mad when they don't see things the same way we do or think they should, so they immediately are esteemed as lower life forms. Some of them are, but not all. As long as we remember that boys and girls always ALWAYS have different ways of expressing themselves, we (girls) may be able to keep our heads above the ocean of dating. Girls crave emotional feedback on a level that boys are incapable of giving, especially in situations where those boys consider the girl to just be a friend-friend or buddy. It would never occur to them in a million years that we express friendship the way we do. So instead of telling them so, we (females) think that if we do something MORE, the boy will get it and reciprocate. But he won't. Not in that situation. We forgive without them even knowing they've wronged us, we apologize, we grovel, we express, we love, sometimes we push and shove, all to no avail. They don't get it. It's not that he (pick a "he," any one will do) doesn't understand the WORDS you are using with him, he doesn't understand WHY that could possibly be important to you. Boys are all about checklists and accomplishing things, without a moment's consideration given to the emotional reason needed to perform said duty. It never occurs to him that we have different expectations, because he thought all that was required of him was to perform a particular duty. He did that, one thing on his list checked off, time to move to the next item. I'm not saying that to excuse him, believe you me. I'm just saying he doesn't know better. He's incapable of expressing emotions, feelings, thoughts, whatever, the way girls want to hear it. Unless he thinks he can get some action out of it, however, then the rules change. That's why it really is hard for girls and boys, past adolescence, to have the same types of friendships with each other that girls can have with girls. It is never an equal playing ground. Never.

And that's okay, too. It's part of the greater plan. Yin/yang, opposites attract, whatever you want to call it -- we're different from each other because we need those differences. We can't make them conform to our rules anymore than they can make us slap them on the butts when it's time to tell them they did a good job. We just all have to learn about the differences, accommodate them, be frustrated by them, grow, then move on.

Here's some good news though, for those of us who may be floundering. This is from today's Reuters wire:

(Reuters) - A leading German dictionary publisher plans to launch a guide it says will help men translate the subtext of female conversation.

The Langenscheidt publishing group, best known for its well-respected yellow foreign language dictionaries, will launch sales of a 128-page book to translate such baffling female banter as: "Let's just cuddle" into "No sex tonight please!."

"Each themed chapter offers men behavioral tips and exposes hidden messages transmitted by women in everyday situations, such as on holiday or during shopping trips," said Silke Exius, chief editor at Langenscheidt.

Other examples in the "German-Woman/Woman-German" edition due out in October include explaining why a woman asks a man to take interest in the pair of shoes she may be trying on.

She wants him to look because he's about to pay for them.

For those of us who don't speak German and/or can't wait for the subtext translation guide, or who know there is no babelfish on earth that will ever translate any male/female subtext no matter the language, I leave you with this happy site. It's rich not only because of the advice it offers men who are looking to get into a relationship, but especially because it was translated from something (Russian? German?) into English, offering much hilarity in trying to translate the translation.

Be safe out there, relationship hitchhikers, and don't forget your towel!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Finally, a friend in cyberspace! You may remember Qwendy who wrote a charming guest entry here not too long ago. She has now started her own on-line journal. Though still new, I have no doubt she will make you laugh and cry right along with her. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Through the (Very Blurry) Looking Glass

Twenty years. Two decades. Four pentads. Two hundred and forty months. Eighty-seven thousand six-hundred and fifty-six days (give or take). That's how long it's been since I graduated from high school. Las Lomas Knights, class of 1984, to be precise. It's a long time, or at least it seems like it to me, probably because I have spent so much of the intervening years shoving those events as far down into the recesses of my mind as possible. The cloudy fingers of rememberances have further to travel for me to recognize them, but for some reason, the awful ones are always just within easy reach.

"So why go?" you ask. As well you might. Others have, you won't be the first. I wish I had an answer for you. I don't, at least not an easy one. I think I might now, but I didn't when I sent in my pre-registration form and made the reservations at the hotel. It just seemed like it might be the right thing to do, so I did.

I wasn't looking forward to it. I asked myself several times what I thought I was doing. These were not people I have spoken to, heard of or from, or even thought of for most of that time. In preparation, I dug my senior yearbook from out of the storage bin it has been in, neglected and dusty, with every intent of familiarizing myself with those faces from days gone by. Getting the yearbook out was the easy part. Opening its pages was not. The only thing it did for me was get the adrenalin pumping and heart rate going faster while bile rose in the back of my throat. And that's just looking at pictures of a bunch of punk 80s kids who mean nothing to me anymore! I quickly shut it and put it in a bag ready to bring with me for the trip.

I knew I was not going to be the person going to the reunion with something to prove. I guess I would have felt that way had I chosen or been able to go to the five- or even ten-year reunion. But my life has not gone the way my crystal ball said it should have, for which I'm very grateful, so I figured that after 20 years, it would be pointless to try to actually prove anything. Prove what, exactly? I would just try my hardest to be myself. I'm not saying that was easy to think about doing. I mean, high school is so very stressful. Each day is filled with impressing people so that you can be accepted. Willingly placing myself back into a social situation with the same people I had spent my formative years trying to impress even though I have nothing left to prove....? I was afraid old habits would die hard.

Then I remembered that we're all different, we'd all be bringing lifetimes of different experiences with us, and I'm not the only one who's probably gained a few pounds in 20 years or whatever. In fact, I was really hoping that there would be a lot of fat, bald people there. And that the men wouldn't look so hot either! Okay, I'm joking about that, but seriously, we'll have all changed, so I tried putting that stress behind me and walking through the door totally open to the experience.

My biggest fear was seeing Kim becase I still wasn't sure where things stood with her. I didn't know if I'd be able to fall back into the familiar habit of eating with her so that I could have a friend and not be a loner (see how easily those insecurities are dredged up?), or if we'd merely greet each other politely and get back to our lives.

The first person I saw who looked familiar apparently also had no problem recognizing me. It helped that I knew she was going, so I could easily come up with her name without having to look at her nametag. Brenda hasn't changed a lot, at least physically. She's still bubbly and gregarious and seemed genuinely happy to see me. She told me she had just re-read the entry I wrote in her yearbook and how funny it was. I thought, "Really? Someone thought I was funny?" It's too bad we're all hung up in our insecurities and self-centeredeness in high school and focusing on ourselves. If I had spent more time thinking about others and less about what others thought about me, it probably would have been a lot more meaningful. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

I smiled at and made small talk with a few other people, finding that we're really not all that different after all. And no one really cared that I had gained weight (or if they did, they didn't say so) or that I wasn't married or that I'm not the CEO of a company. We were just a bunch of people in a room all facing the past in the present, and it was all okay.

Then I saw Kim. And her husband -- the one she's been married to for 18 years even after I was horrified that they started dating in high school. We greeted each other politely and got back to our own lives. And I thought, "Well, that was disappointing. I guess it's not all water under the bridge after 20 years," and went back to making small talk with other people.

Then a girl came up who hadn't yet registered so she didn't have her name tag on yet, greeted me by name, gave me a hug, and we started talking. I asked her what she was doing, where she was working, how'd she find out that was something she wanted to do -- having a perfectly lovely conversation with her -- all the while thinking to myself, "I wish I knew who this was." Kim came up and was glad to see this other person and said, "Let's get you a nametag!"

"Yes, let's," I thought to myself.

Since the mystery person hadn't registered on time, she was sure there wouldn't be a nametag for her, so she and Kim started shuffling through the copied yearbook pictures to find hers so they could make an impromptu nametag. Since I could provide absolutely no assistance in that endeavor, I idly looked at the other nametags on the table. Then someone else came up and said, "Look! Here's Cheryl!" I looked back down at the nametags and realized exactly who it was, smacked myself mentally on the forehead for not being able to figure it out on my own, and kind of shuffled away before they could figure out I had been staring at her nametag wondering if she was going to come.

It was a girl I had played softball with for three years and had various classes with. I couldn't believe I hadn't been able to remember her name.

The rest of the evening went smoothly after that. I actually ended up having dinner with Kim and Matt, and Sue and Mike and Allan, and it was all just fine after getting the initial jitters out of the way. Kim and I had a lovely conversation throughout dinner, which we would have happily shared with the rest of the table, but the music was progressively getting louder making it near impossible to hear anything that wasn't shouted directly into one's ear.

At one point, Regina finally wound her way to our table. She was one of my lunchtime buddies who I remember with fondness. It was good to talk with her and see what she's making of her life. It was also nice to have the courage and experience of being a grown-up now to tell her what I thought of her in high school. I was always so impressed with her ability to grasp nuances that seemed to flutter just out of the grasp of my consciousness. She knew things and expressed those things better than I ever could have. I always thought she was funny, if a bit cynical, but I admired that too, because it reminded me that high school was something to endure and get through, not a four-year cycle that would continue repeating itself year after hellish year. I told her that, and she was amazed. She thought she was the quiet

girl that no one ever paid any attention to.

I remembered again just how hard it is for all of us, no matter who we are or appear to be, we all have insecurities, fears, hang-ups and bad days. Wouldn't it be better if we approached people knowing that we're all human, instead of pretending that he's perfect or that I can't possibly offer this person anything? In fact, I stumbled across this the other day expressing this sentiment much better than I am capable of doing.

As the music increased in volume making conversation impossible, I decided to start heading back to the hotel. Kim and Matt also started making the same exodus. I hugged her goodbye, and asked for forgiveness for whatever stupid, childish, naive thing I had said or done that made it so that we weren't friends our senior year. She was surprised, then said, "Twenty years is a long time to hold on to something. If I said anything that was wrong, I'm sorry too."

Some say that revenge is sweet. I disagree. There is nothing sweeter in life than redemption and forgiveness. I gained a little bit of both that night, and nothing could feel better.

I think it will make it easier to face my past now, and not want to shove everything down into forgetfulness. Knowing that the past can be corrected in the present makes it easier to relive the past. I believe the past actually can be changed. I was no HG Wells time traveler, but my future has been changed because of confronting my past.


When I tell people that I attended my 20 year high school reunion this past weekend, they say, "Really? How was it?" Then answering their own question for me, "Surreal, huh?" I agree, because it's really too hard to explain any other way. But I'm going to try.

Taking a step into the past as I just did felt like taking my present life in the form of an overhead transparency, complete with current memories of people and places, then taking another transparency of my childhood and youth and placing it directly over the current one. When the two are projected together, they're so similar as to almost be the same -- what I've really lived and what I remember to have lived -- but with such finely defined differences as to make the current image a little blurry. I almost need 3-D glasses to view it properly. Failing that, I squint and move my head around trying to get the whole image into focus. Then I shake my head a few times trying to work out the details. It's not surreal because it is real, it's just all jumbled together. I expect that to change, though, as I believe I'm a little more capable of taking the past and reconciling it with the now.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Excited about: A real vacation next week, to

West Yellowstone
, among other places. I don't know when the next update will be able to happen, but I will be taking copious notes so that I can share them with or alternatively bore you to tears with them when I get back.

Monday, August 23, 2004


I’ve read a lot of books. I like reading. You might even say that I devour them. I read quickly, trying to absorb as many details as possible in as short a time as possible because I'm anxious to find out how it ends, how the story develops, what the character learns. The inherent risk in this reading process is that I tend to forget unmemorable books soon after reading them. It's not until years later if I pick up a book that I've already (unknowingly, unrememberingly) read that I start to figure out that I've read it. The realization doesn't come at once, though. It comes page by page as I rediscover the plot and characters. A word or phrase or description or character will start to sound familiar, but since I don't remember reading the book, I don't know why it seems familiar. But with each page during the rediscovery process, more and more starts to ring with familiarity. I don't always remember what's going to happen next in the plot, but I remember that I once knew about what just happened.

Going home after 10 years is not unlike that. Well, "home" may be a relative term. I don't consider Walnut Creek to be home anymore. I don't even consider it to be my hometown, although I suppose I would consider this area, the East Bay, to be my home area. I moved, more or less on a whim, to the Los Angeles area nine years ago. I hadn't lived in my childhood home for four years before that. Home was something that was becoming redefined. Home was where I lived, where my furniture was, my cats, my friends, my bed, none of which resided on Trinity Avenue in the house I grew up in.

Driving north today started off as any ordinary road trip. There were the typical sparsely populated areas punctuated by the occasional rest stop or small town geared towards supplying weary travelers with their wants and needs.

After the 5/580 split though, the random, undecorated landscape changes. There are, of course, the fields of windmills on the outskirts of Livermore. Then there is Livermore itself, containing some vague memories. I attended church there for a year or so, making it only semi memorable. Not a lot of emotional attachment.

Then comes the junction for the 680. Now the memories, unbidden, start creeping in. Each exit going north closer to Walnut Creek triggers recollections of friends who live off those exits -- hours spent at their houses, driving late at night to and from dances or parties. There's the exit for my piano teacher. Also the Alamo chapel is up there. And the Bolen's used to live there; I wonder if they still do. And the Ostland's, but I know they moved to Illinois. There's where the Campbell twins lived -- memories of their boyfriend rivalries and time spent at girls' camp the year we pretended I was their older sister and had a lot of people fooled start filtering down.

Then the sign for Walnut Creek, population 63,400, which is only 9,000 more bodies than when I was in high school. Not as big as a population explosion as I had expected for a town known for attracting a rich yuppie demographic. They're the only ones who can really afford to live there anymore, and certainly only the elite can afford to shop there.

The other sign of note: "Downtown Walnut Creek, Next 3 Exits." I laughed at that one, thinking, "How much 'downtown' can there seriously be? Enough to need three exits? "Downtown" when I was a kid was defined as two blocks of Main Street. Really, I'm not making that up. Well, okay, Broadway Plaza had some anchor department stores with some boutiques wedged in between, but "downtown?" C’mon.

I debated as to whether or not I should do a quick drive by of the old homestead, but looking at the clock and knowing I was meeting Carmel for lunch, decided to hit it later. Then I looked to the right of the freeway, identifying streets and landmarks that had once been so familiar to me, and the pull was too great. At the last possible second, I crossed two lanes of traffic and exited on Ygnacio Valley Blvd.

Holy Cow! What have they done? What used to be Oakland Blvd. is now the off ramp to route traffic to Ygnacio Valley Blvd. Oakland Blvd. – the street perpendicular to mine, where I had waited for school buses to take me to elementary school, ridden my bike on, gone to the paper shack –has been bulldozed and reduced to a freeway off ramp.

I had to make a long, circuitous block to make it to Trinity Ave. What once used to be a straight shot from the freeway now requires the navigational skills of Columbus to reach.

Finally, I turn right onto Trinity Ave. from California Blvd. There's the Trinity Arms apartment building, with the N still on backwards as it has been for as long as I can remember. Funny the details you can remember when you see them again. Things you haven't thought about in years, or even knew that you were noticing, are all of a sudden as vivid and sharp as if you never left. It's an odd sensation.

There's old Mrs. Harmon's house, gone to ruin now with yellow caution tape protecting trespassers from the rickety stairs.

There's the apartment building my best grammar school friend, Adriana, and her family lived in. Looks the same, with a slightly lighter color of grey paint, but now seeing it, I have no doubt I could find my way to their apartment, even though they haven't lived there for 25 years.

Cresting the hill now, the same one that my sister used to make me get off my bike and walk up because she couldn’t make it up on her bike so she assumed I couldn't either. It's not as big as I remember.

There's the Episcopalian church parking lot where I learned to ride my bike. There's the condominiums built where Mr. Ink's house used to stand. I used to hang out with him in his backyard, where between my Evil Knievel stunts of jumping my bike over the fallen logs in his backyard, he afforded me the honor of knocking the ashes off his cigarette butts for him. Our friend Mary was one of the first people to buy and move into those condos when they were first built. Number Four. Several years later, Susan and her mother moved into number Six after the divorce. I wonder if she'll be there tomorrow? I have no idea what's happened to any of these people.

There's Mrs. Kimball's house. It doesn't look any different, although that huge two-ton pickup in the driveway is definitely not familiar.

And there's 1950. The white picket fence that the Dinkel's built for my parents. And the swing hanging from the black acacia tree is still there. I can't believe that tree is still there, but the swing is, indeed attached to the tree I used to climb every summer day. It was a fort, a lookout, an escape, a treehouse. Looking at the limbs that have been trimmed back, my fingers and hands already know exactly which handholds they need to grab, and where my legs need to swing up to catch the lower limbs to get myself to the first level.

The walnut tree is gone, but the front porch is the same. There're the poles I relied heavily on to hang our outdoor Christmas lights on. The front window is the same as when my parents moved into that house in the 50s. Details I didn't know I knew are as vivid as if I had never left. I know them before I look at them, before I'm aware that I'm looking at them, I see them in my mind's eye, then see them with my physical eyes and they are the same.

I grab my camera and start taking pictures, quickly earning me a wary look from the woman next door watching the truck. I don't want to scare her, so I raise a friendly hand and walk towards her, my car engine still running.

"I bet you're wondering why I'm taking pictures of this house, don't you?"

"Yes," which even though I've used my best, most reassuring, friendly tone and smile, does nothing to convince her I'm not casing the joint.

"I don't want you to think I'm casing the joint getting ready to burglarize it or anything, but I grew up in that house, and I'm home for a high school reunion, and I just wanted to come and see it. My sister actually still owns it," I add as additional reassurance.

"Oh!" she brightens. "You grew up in this area?"

"No. I grew up in THAT HOUSE," emphatically pointing.

She tells me she knows the tenants and is sure they wouldn't have a problem with me wandering around and checking it out. I immediately take advantage of it, and walk down the driveway.

It's all the same, but different. It's not mine, anymore. It's still in the family, but not my family -- my sister's family. Strangers live there now. The outside is the same, although the "garage" has been remodeled somewhat, apparently into a studio apartment to accommodate an additional resident. That explains the extra mailbox in the front yard -- 1950A.

My arm reaches over the redwood-colored gate to unlatch it. It knows exactly where to go, even though I have not performed this action on this gate in decades. The backyard hasn't changed much, although the distance to the back fence separating our yard from the Presbyterian nursery school playground that I used to hit home runs over appears to be dramatically shorter.

There are no more fruit trees or strawberries, but the back patio is the same. I boldly walk up those stairs to peer into the living room windows. A Great Dane skitters across the hardwood floors, barking furiously, probably more upset that I have made it that far without him noticing me than he is that I'm actually invading his territory. There is different furniture in there and a bike parked in what used to be the living room. Everything seems smaller somehow, and even though I always knew our house was not spacious, it had sufficient space. Now I look at it with dual eyes -- as a child who spent 17 straight years there, and an adult who's done her fair share of apartment hunting. Could I live there now? It seems strange that I ever did, but with a small squint of my eyes, I can picture the forest green carpeting that used to cover the floors, and the day my dad laid that carpet himself. There's the fireplace which held first our Christmas stockings, before making way for the wood burning stove. Now, it's just a fireplace. I can see the refrigerator in the kitchen from where I stand. It's exactly where it should be. But there are socks on the floor that don't belong to anyone I know, and the dog is still barking, and I am immediately jerked back to the present and what is currently reality.

I walk back around the way I came, the dog's barking still accompanying me to show me who's boss around here. It doesn't bother me -- I lived there for longer than that dog will be alive. He considers it his territory, but it belongs to me. Even seeing it dressed differently, it is my childhood home. Just because I have not lived here for 12 years does not mean it isn't my home. I don't live there, but my memories do, those memories I didn't know I had, pushing their way through the layers of fog placed there by the passing years.

Is it possible to go home? Is it possible to return to a place that exists only in your memories? I didn't think it was. But I found out today, that just like rediscovering a book , the pages of the memory are just as easily accessed, turned, caressed, read, rediscovered, brushing away the heavy fog of forgetfulness. Even if there is a Great Dane barking running interference, yesterday’s memories are as brightly vivid as today’s events.

Welcome home.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Reading: "The Putt at the End of the World," a novel written contiguously by nine authors.

Excited about: A & M's new baby, freshly arrived to this world from the pre-existence on Saturday, August 12. Congratulations!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Is This the End As We Know It?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day -- something that I have the luxury of doing two or three times a week since my job doesn't always have pressing, demanding present requirements. Don't get me wrong -- I do my job, but it doesn't require the same urgent timeline that I've been used to in the past. No real deadlines. No huge pressures hanging over my head. Just a steady, plodding, daily, show-up-to-work-and-do-what-you-can type of a job. As such, I have some down time to spend talking on the phone and browsing the web. The phone and the computer are both tools on my desk, after all, and it'd be a shame to ignore them for the sake of work.

Anyway, we were talking about my downtime and lack of urgency this job presents, and she asked me, knowing that I spend a bit of time on the internet, if I had reached the end yet.

"The end? The end of what?" I somewhat stupidly asked.

"The internet," she replied.

I laughed, because what an absurd thought! The end of the internet, indeed! With billions of people who think they all of important things to write, preach or sell, it surely must be infinite. But then I figured it really, by definition, would have to be finite. It might be circular, landing you right back where you started from, but that doesn't make it infinite, I don't think.

As a mere human, I myself don't have the resources to find the end; I'd need several hundred computers or programs or something to do that for me, but really, how hard could it be? If I eliminate all porn and non-English sites, I ought to be able to find the end in only a couple of weeks. Okay, maybe not that soon, but the very fact that I can put definite parameters around finding the end of the internet means it is not infinite; it's gotta end somewhere.

Sadly, I don't have the resources available at my fingertips to do the necessary searching. And I really DO have a job to do, contrary to popular belief. So I decided to do, what else? a Yahoo! search.

And guess what? I found it. Right here.

Go ahead, check it out. I'll wait. You can always use the Back button on your browser to get here. Finding the end of the internet doesn't mean you can't work your way backwards.

Are you back? Okay, good. Because guess what else I found? That's right. Another ending.

And yet another one.

And another one.

One more.

Still one more.

So, what does it mean? If there's only one internet, one world wide web, shouldn't there only be one ending to it? I guess it depends on your definition of ending. I purposely did not include links here to sites claiming to be the last of the internet pages that included other links to other sites. Because then that's not really the end, right? So I have just imposed upon you my definition of The End.

Am I right? I don't know. Look at life. (Not for very long -- you'll get depressed.) How do you know when one phase of your life has ended and another one begun? Sometimes you can tell based on dates -- the date you graduated from high school or college, or the date you were married, or broke up with your significant other. Those may seem to be definitive, measurable beginning or ending times. But are they really? Just because you say your wedding vows on a certain date doesn't really mean that's the beginning of the marriage, does it? It seems to me that would start during the courtship process. And the courtship process would begin when you start dreaming about the type of person you want to date, and....well, you see where I'm going with this, right?

And some people really never leave high school, even if they do have a diploma to prove they graduated. You know who they are -- you've dated at least one in your lifetime.

So, how do you know when you reach the end of something? How do you measure it if there are many possible different endings? I don't know. But I will share this with you, a piece of wisdom gleaned from my first tai chi class. Maybe life really is like the hokey pokey -- you make a circle with your friends, and put your left foot in, take it out again.

Why are you looking at me like that? I don't know what it means! Don't ask me!

The point is (I think I really do have one), all we can do, rather than measure time or define beginnings and endings, is to do what all of those "last page of the internet" sites said -- go out and play. Read a book. Be nice to each other. Get along. Hold hands, and keep putting your left foot and taking it out again. Enjoy the moment. Even if the moment sucks, try to enjoy it.

-----The End. For Now. -------

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Reading: I'm trying out John Lutz' suspense stuff.

Listening to: Dress Rehearsal by Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Watching: The Olympics. Even if it does mean putting up with that mealy-mouthed Bob Costas. What other choice do I have? Besides, I LOVE the Olympics!

Wednesday, August 4, 2004


One of the first classes I took at CSUH when I got back from Chile was history. I didn't have high hopes for doing well in it; it was to fulfill some of my last GE requirements, and I've always been bad with exact dates. The first thing the teacher did was have us turn to the two-page spread of the world-wide map at the beginning of the book and look at it. The map was unlike anything I had ever seen before, as the eastern hemisphere was on the left side of the page, and the western hemisphere on the right. For those of you keeping score at home, that's backwards.

The professor waited for us to notice, which not everyone did, then said, "If you learn nothing else in college, you must learn to become bullsh*t detectors." (He actually used the entire word -- my first indicator that I was no longer at BYU.) "Just because this map is in a textbook for which you have just paid $65 does not mean that everything in it is correct or accurate. You must learn for yourselves how to recognize truth and error."

I didn't do great in the class -- my lack of ability to memorize dates was a deterrent in doing well on the quizzes and tests, and I don't really even remember anything else from that class, other than the admonition to not only learn when the wool is being pulled over your eyes, but to do or say something about it.

This has served me well in life, although I still need the occasional reminder that just because something is written down does not make it true. That's a true statement, even if you did just stumble across it on the internet. It bears repeating. Just. Because. Something. Is. Written. Down. Does. Not. Make. It. True.

This holds true for the emails you get from your well-intentioned aunt or co-worker about the fire hazards posed by Glade plug-ins, or the warning to not smell perfume in parking lots. The best one yet -- don't fall asleep somewhere you don't know, because when you wake up, you'll be in a bathtub filled with ice and your kidneys will be missing.

For those of you who still feel the need to forward me the emails that your best friend's cousin's boss's mother-in-law just got from her son who knows someone who knows someone else that this seriously happened to and NO KIDDING! just forwarded it to 10 people and the flashing message appeared right afterwards, I offer this plea: Don't send it to me. I don't want it. It doesn't work. Bill Gates and Michael Eisner are not standing by to cut me a check for $5,000 or send me to Walt Disney World. They're just not.

Here are some other tips for you. Yes, you may have already received this in an email, but my truth sensors have detected it as truth, so here you go.

The Forwarders 12 Step Program

1) I will NOT get bad luck, lose my friends, or lose my mailing lists if I don't forward an email!

2) I will NOT hear any music or see a taco dog if I do forward an e-mail to 10 of my closest friends. No pop-up windows of any kind will ever appear. NEVER.

3) I will NEVER receive gift certificates, coupons, or freebies from Coca Cola, Cracker Barrel, Old Navy, or anyone else if I send an e- mail to 10 people.

4) There is NO SUCH THING as an e-mail tracking program, and I am not STUPID enough to think that someone will send me $100 for forwarding an e-mail to 10 or more people!

5) There is NO kid with cancer through the Make-a-Wish program in England collecting anything! If he ever existed, he is now either dead, or cancer-free and 25 years old. He DOESN'T WANT ANY MORE POST CARDS, or GET-WELL CARDS.

6) The government does not have a bill in Congress called 901B (or whatever they named it this week) that, if passed, will enable them to charge us 5 cents for every e-mail we send.

7) There will be NO cool dancing, singing, waving, colorful flowers, characters, or program that I will receive immediately after I forward an e-mail. NONE, ZIP, ZERO, ZILCH, NADA !!

8) The American Red Cross will NOT donate 50 cents to certain individual dying of some never-heard-of disease for every e-mail address I send this to. The American Red Cross RECEIVES donations.

9) I WILL NOT let others guilt me into sending things by telling me I am not their friend or that I don't believe in Jesus Christ. If God wants to send me a message, I believe the bushes in my yard will burn before He picks up a PC to pass it on!

10) Even if I try to justify it with my own personal tag-line of "I'm sure this won't work, but I have to try it just to see for myself!", I should not pass it on.

11) But...!

12) No.

Now, repeat this to yourself until you have it memorized, and send it along to at least 5 of your friends before the next full moon or you will surely be constipated for the next three months.

Okay, that last paragraph isn't true, but you should have figured that out by now using your own BS detector.

By the way, if you ever do get anything that looks like it holds even a granule of truth, don't forward it on without checking it out first. My recommendation on how to figure out which urban legend is true or not is to go to www.snopes.com Use it. Make it your friend. Others will thank you for it.

My personal detector has also served me well when it comes to dealing with people. You know who the problem ones are -- you've met them at work or at school. Sometimes they're in positions of authority, so you think you're supposed to trust everything that person says. The worst is when the person is really nice so you think you should trust him because nice = truth. Only, not really.

In fact, what I have discovered, as a general rule and specifically regarding people I have worked with is that nice = dumb. They use the niceness to cover up the fact that their IQ is lower than the ground floor.

For example, a girl I used to work with is not the heaviest anchor in the harbor. For starters, I can still access her calendar to see her appointments. It's not even that I still have access to it, it's also that our entire department can access it at will. So, we do. Frequently. We all need a good laugh now and again. Here are some of the gems demonstrating her basic grasp of the English (her first and only) language.

Ventran's Day

Shriley's Retirement Lunchment

Candel Light Rehearsal What amazes me most about that is she got "rehearsal" right, but not "candle."

10 Year Anavrsary .... First Date!

Holiday Volenteering!

...and others. You get the general idea. Nice girl, but dumber than a box of hair.

Other Gems From Other (Nice But) Dumb People

Using the word "analytics" instead of "analyze." Or any other time a noun is turned into a verb.

"Are we in agreeance?" Yes, we are in agreement that you're too dumb to get into your car and drive to work every day.

Or the day that one of the managers, yes, MANAGERS -- you know, the person who's supposed to be in charge of other people -- had to test a bug fix when neither the developer or analyst was there. She took one of the test scripts that she herself wrote, executed the test, and it failed. So she tried it again and it worked. Her message to the analyst was, "Well I don't know why it failed, but it worked the second time I tried it. So it's tested." Sounds like she's ready for a promotion!

I work for Disney. As such, we are expected to know a certain amount about the animated characters -- the "people" who have made us who we are today as a company. One day, one of the girls on the other side of my cubicle wall was asking the general vicinity which movie the Evil Queen is in. "Who says, 'Mirror, mirror on the wall'? Is it the Evil Queen? From Snow White? What about Mafelicent? Where's she from? Come on, you guys! Mafelcent! Mafelicent! Is she from Sleeping Beauty? Come on, haven't you heard of Mafelicent? Aren't you guys supposed to be 'Brand Ambassadors?'" She's hollering this at her interns. Ah yes, the pinnacle of the Brand Ambassador herself. Only two of the most famous Disney villians ever, and not only do you not know what movies they're from, it's MALIFICENT, not MAFELICENT, dolt.

Here's the finale. Oh, except I should tell you, this person doesn't fall under the "nice" category. She's in a ball park all by herself. My former manager at the "old" place was as dumb as they come. Her joys in the workplace came from creating large project plans and printing them in color. It doesn't take a lot to entertain her. By the same token, it doesn't take a lot for her to entertain us, either, so it's a win-win situation. One day in the department managers' meeting she announced that her number one priority was to find a cute name for her archive project. Coincidentally, one of the other managers had just seen a television show called "Vault Disney," which is a bunch of old Disney shows pulled out of the vault (archive) that haven't been seen in forever. You, smart reader that you are, already see the play in words between "Vault Disney" and "Walt Disney," right?

So the manager who had seen the show recommended that as a project name to Dumb Manager. The vice president and other managers agreed that would be a great name. When presented to DM, here's how the conversation went:

Smart Manager: Hey (Dummy) - how about this for a name for your project? "Vault Disney."

Dumb Manager: Oh. The Disney Vault. That's good.

SM: No, "VAULT Disney," you know, like WALT Disney?"

DM: Oh. Well The Disney Vault is good.

After lunch the dumb manager went to the developer who is stuck working on the project with the idiot.

DM: Hey, Dave, I have a new name for the project: DAVe -- "Disney Archive Vault." So now that it's named after you, you have to take ownership of it.

Dave: (says nothing)

An innocent bystander: (catching on immediately to the CORRECT play on words) Hey that's good. Like Vault Disney. That's clever.

DM: That's what the Smart Manager said. But it's called The DISNEY Archive Vault.

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What I'm Reading: "Satellite Sisters' Uncommon Senses," by Julie, Liz, Lian, Monica and Sheila Dolan.

What I'm Watching: I saw "The Village" last weekend. It was okay. Waaaaayyy better than "Signs" and "Unbreakable," but nowhere near as good as "The 6th Sense."

Re-watched "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" last night. Fabulous movie. Except for the ending. I love it right up until the last three minutes.