Sunday, May 31, 2009

sunlight and starbucks

that's all I really need...

thanking God for small (huge) miracles

Today, I'm being thankful for small decisions that turn into big miracles.

It was about 7 pm. Cyndi and I were on the end cusp of a good shopping trip in downtown Dallas. As we were leaving the store, we decided we were thirsty and needed to get a drink before we headed home, but we didn't want to stop at a restaurant. There was a gas station just down the block and we talked about just stopping there but for no identifiable reason we didn't and kept going until a block later we hit a KFC. We pulled in, got water, left; nothing fancy, no fuss. The detour cost us about five minutes.

Fast forward about fifteen minutes in time. We're on the highway. There's not a lot of traffic so we're listening to music and chatting, just kind of enjoying each other's company. Suddenly, about three hundred feet from the fork between the highway we're on and the highway we're about to merge on to, traffic just appears, almost as if everyone has stopped their cars at the same time, kind of the same way people walking pause briefly when they hear something shocking. Then cars start pulling into the left two lanes, a few are crossing over the double white lines to switch highways, and Cyndi and I are confused -- this is like a three lane split-off that has had about ten signs announcing it for the past five miles, people cannot possibly be confused. But, at least the line of cars in still moving, albeit slowly.

Silently, we both start speculating about why there's traffic (or at least I did). It's not that traffic is uncommon in the DFW area, it's just that we're not on a one lane road nor is it rush hour, so it seems out of place. Cyndi is the first to suggest that maybe there was an accident, but I discredit it because there were no lights or sirens or anything. Just then, we see a man in scrubs jump out of his car and run up ahead us and almost simultaneously, I hear sirens approaching us from the back of the line of cars. I scramble to pull as far into the lane to my left as I can as a cop comes barelling around my car, screeches to a halt about fifty feet in front of us, and jumps out, following the direction the man in scrubs disappeared to. Now Cyndi and I are fairly certain that it's an accident but we (or, just me, maybe) aren't worried because there's no ambulance.

That changed quickly.

An SUV in front of us shifts off to the left a little and we get a view of the carnage in front of us. Yes, carnage. That's the only word that can really describe what had happened. I don't know how it happened, but another SUV has somehow flipped over -- judging by the damage to the car, it hit another person or rolled a few times. The car is smoking and a strange liquid is trickling out of it from near the shattered driver's side window. Good Samaritans standing by have pulled someone out of the car and are standing around him/her and the doctor as others work on pulling more passengers out of the wrecked vehicle. The cop and another bytander are waving the cars through, presumably trying to get us moving so that the ambulance (which we could hear approaching) could get to the victims. As we drive through, I realize what the strange liquid trickling out of the driver's side of the car is -- blood. A very large, very real puddle of blood. I'm forced to drive through it on my way between the two men waving us through and as I drive by the upside SUV I can hear that it's engine is still cooling down, meaning it had stopped moving sometime in the past five minutes. As my eyes pass over the whole scene once more, the image is seared in my memory.

After a second of driving on open highway, Cyndi and I look at each other. And it hits me -- that very easily could have been us. We arrived before the cop and the ambulance, who have an average arrival time of five minutes. Five minutes. Those five minutes when we were going to KFC instead of the gas station for no reason? Yeah, those five minutes potentially saved our lives. If we had gone into that gas station and gotten on the road five minutes earlier, we could have been in the way of that SUV when it flipped. We could be laying in a hospital somewhere right now, if not a morgue.

Days like today remind me that there is absolutely no such thing as a coincidence -- everything happens for a reason. We may not always see it, but today we did. The only reason Cyndi and I got home safely was because God kept us from going to that gas station and getting on the road any sooner. Without that small miracle, I'm not sure I'd be here to hope that the passengers of that car received treatment quickly and are somewhere safe, recovering from their ordeal.

Friday, May 29, 2009

david bowie

"I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring."

David Bowie

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Seize the day

I know I’ve mentioned this before – carpe diem and the whole idea that goes along with that – but I feel like I haven’t been living it recently. If you’re friends with me on Facebook or have been seeing my tweets recently, you know that I’ve spent most of the past two weeks counting down to when I’ll be back in College Station. It took me until just now to realize that that is not living in the moment. I always say that one should be grateful for what they have and live every day to the fullest, but I’ve spent the greater part of the past fourteen days doing exactly the opposite of that – I’ve been going to bed too early, sleeping too late, spending too much of my time on Facebook, working too much, playing too little, worrying too much, being outside too little, planning too much, having fun too little, counting down too often. I’ve been living too little.

I won’t be long and drawn out (it’s time to go out and play!) – but I’m saying right here right now that I’m making goals for everyday – I’m not planning, but committing. I know I won’t be able to accomplish all of them everyday, and I never know what order I’ll do them in, that’s for sure, but I’m going to try.

- Read a little bit of a book everyday. Related: try to read this list of 50 banned books by the
end of the summer.
- Learn something new everyday.
- Take a picture everyday.
- Have fun everyday.
- Do something for someone else everyday.
- Be impulsive.
- Work hard and play hard.
- Write everyday.
- Talk to a family member everyday.
- Read the good book everyday.

I know things will interfere – there will be days at the lake and vacations and parties and sicknesses and other things that will take away from one or more of those things – but I’ll classify most of those things as having fun and playing hard and let them slide. I’m going to live and learn.

Carpe diem.

(photo thanks to

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

road trip planning

Recently, my friends Cyndi, Katie and I decided that we're going to take a road trip to Austin and San Antonio sometime in July. We're pretty darn excited about it. I've spent most of this morning planning just how much it's going to cost -- we're looking at $160 - $210. I'm excited, because I can make that in one paycheck. Awesome! And if we do make it to San Antonio, I'll get to see the boyfriend. Excitement!

Other than road trip planning, sweet summertime is what's been keeping me from blogging as often as I was. Yesterday, there was a pretty sweet lake trip, during which I got a royally painful sun burn. I'll post a picture when Cyndi or Katie post their pictures, since I was silly and forgot to take my own camera with me. I've been working a lot as well, which is nice because that means dinero, which though I don't like in concept, I like in practice, because it buys me food. I've been writing a lot as well, which may be the biggest contributor to why this blog is being updated less. Writing my own novel has a tendency to take up all my creativity for the day, so I don't have anything creative to say when I log in. But I've been reading everyone else's blogs, no worries!

Other than that, I've been talking a lot on the phone to the boyfriend, who may or may not have heart surgery this summer -- I've nervous for him. He finds out for sure today, so I'll know soon. We'll all take it from there, I suppose.

How're you guys doing?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Abu Ghraib

CNN posted this article today at roughly 4 PM (CST). It's about a man who was at Abu Ghraib during the abhorrent abuses carried out by US military police in the early 2000s. The man spent 20 months in US captivity and during that time he witnessed some of the infamous photos that brought Americans such horror and shame in 2004. He himself was abused; stripped of his clothing for 32 days and forced to live completely naked in front of other detainees and soldiers, men and women alike. According to CNN, the man has "never been charged with a single crime," and Wikipedia says that Janis Karpinski (the commander at Abu Ghraib) "estimated later that 90% of detainees in the prison were innocent."

Soldiers that carried out the acts were dishonorably discharged, removed from service, and otherwise charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, and aggravated assault and battery. Two, only two, were ever sentenced to jail time -- Specialists Charles Graner and Lynndie England, and England is already out of jail and now on the Keyser, West Virginia volunteer recreation board. Karpinski, though in charge of Abu Ghraib at the time of the incidents, was only ever demoted to Colonel (from Brigadier General) for her "lack of oversight." (Wikipedia.)

The man mentioned in CNN's article also mentioned that he was later captured by the Iraqi army and suffered worse abuses at their hands, including being beaten with "cables and pipes" and "a cement block hung from his genitals."

I don't remember much of this when it was actually happening. I was thirteen when the scandal surfaced and my parents did a good job of keeping it away from me. The only fleeting memory I have from that time (in relation to this) was the sense that 'Abu Ghraib' was a familiar term and this picture of Lyndie England dragging a prisoner flashing up on the TV screen before my parents told me to go upstairs. Now that it's been reintroduced to me in a college-level US history course (during a lecture my professor lovingly called "Americans should stop being so arrogant") and I've read up on it and tried to familiarize myself with the situation, I'm horrified, to say the least. Disappointed, enraged, defensive... those would be words I'd use if I were to go on. As Bush said, the behavior of those captors was "abhorrent" and "a stain on our countries honor."

But it wasn't just a stain on America's honor. It's a stain on the honor of humanity as a whole. This is one of too many instances where humans have taken away each other's liberties and treated them as less than human, as less than animal. It honestly sickens me. We keep saying that this is the 21st century, we know better than to judge based on race -- that the Holocaust, slavery, mass genocides, and repression in general are a thing of the past; that today's people are a better, more educated people who don't take away the liberties of others for sick fun and games. But this happened in 2003. That was six years ago. There are rumors that it continued for up to a year after photos were released in 2004. That means that in 2005, detainees were still being physically, sexually, and psychologically abused in Abu Ghraib. Barely four years ago. That's not "the past" yet for those detainees, and it shouldn't be "the past" for us either. After all, although Abu Ghraib has been revamped and renamed, there is speculation that abuse and torture are still routine there and that is entirely unacceptable.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

adventures with doctors

So, this will probably be the first of many posts titled this. Remember the MRI I mentioned a few days ago? Well, I went to my surgeon today to find out what it showed. Oh so much fun.

First, they were running 45 minutes behind because he had to do an emergency surgery on another patient. This wasn't a big deal except I wish they'd warned me so I didn't have to overhear it from someone else complaining about it. Thank God I made my appointment early so I wasn't late to work. But I'm done complaining.

After much waiting and questioning by the surgeon I was finally told that my MRI showed I have a cyst behind the patella on my right knee, a few rips in what little cartilage I have left, and some patella-femural irritation. Surgery? Not necessary yet. Physical therapy? I start next week.

Did I mention this exact thing happened to me two years ago? Same knee and everything? I guess that's just how life goes, eh?

Just thinking...

Just been thinking recently about how ridiculously lucky I am. Yeah, I'm kind of broke right now, but that's really not even a big deal. I'm just enjoying friends, family, and summer. Life is good. No, life is great.

I was supposed to go to the zoo today with a bunch of friends, but money and a doctor's appointment at 2:30 stopped me. But Andy (boyfriend -- he has a lot of nicknames, you'll catch up) might be coming into town on Friday (two days!) so hopefully seeing him will just add to the happiness and make up for the lack of zootime. And I can always go later. Those giraffes aren't going anywhere.

I should go. I'm supposed to go help an old teacher from high school grade stuff. Hooray!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sweet summertime

So, it's been too long since I updated. There's been a lot going on. =]

First, finals ended on Wednesday and summer has finally begun! Finals went well -- I got an A in geology, a B in Shakespeare lit, and I haven't found out the rest of them yet. But I think they went well too. I packed up that night and came home on Thursday, which was sad. As much as I was ready to get away from school, I wasn't ready to leave all the friends there, especially Ayla (roomie for next year) and Tony (the boyfriend). I miss them so much already! But Tony is hopefully coming to visit this coming weekend, which will be exciting! =]

I'm loving summertime! I'm totally broke and have been working like crazy, but I love my job (I teach swim lessons) so it's okay. Last night I went to my best friend's prom (with a guy-friend I've known for a few years) and today I went to a Renaissance Festival about an hour away called Scarborough Faire, which was so much fun. The picture to the left is actually of us (Ryan, Cyndi, and I) in the parking lot before we went into the festival. I got a little sunburnt, but it was such a blast! I've also been catching up on all the TV I've missed -- Grey's Anatomy for the win! The season finale was absolutely crazy though! (Warning, spoilers ahead) I'm so glad that Meredith and Derek finally got married but I can't believe what's going on with George and Izzy! I mean, we've all been expecting Izzy to die because...well, she has really bad cancer. And Katherine Heigl wants to move on to movies and such (I hear she's filming with Ashton Kutcher currently). When Alex started crying in the corner though, it became suddenly much more real (as real as a fictional TV show can be, I suppose). But George?! I almost cried at the end scene with him greeting Izzy outside the elevator. He's one of my favorite characters. I hope that this isn't his way of leaving because he's still getting harassed on set about being gay (if he is?). I can't believe I have to wait until next season to know if they actually died. =[

Okay, spoilers done. On the less happy and exciting scale, I had to get an MRI on Friday. I had knee surgery two years ago and recently it's been acting up and being really swollen so my surgeon thought it would be best to check that the cyst hasn't grown back or anything. So...we'll see what comes of that.

On another note, I haven't gotten to visit my great-aunt's grave yet, unfortunately, though if Tony doesn't come for a visit this weekend, I might take a lone road trip to Arkansas in order to do so. I miss her so much. =[

I'll update again soon, I promise!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just one more reason to think my family is crazy.

Okay, so, I was planning on blogging about mother's day and how wonderful it was to see my mom (she drove down to see me at TAMU) and how thankful I am for her. And while I was thankful for her yesterday, I'm not so thankful now.

I realize that sounds awful, but I'm really upset.

Late last night, I found out that my Great-Aunt Mildred passed away early Sunday morning. I was floored when I found out. I mean, she'd been sick recently and I knew she was in a lot of pain so part of me is glad she's not in pain anymore, but I'd kind of expected her to pull through. I shouldn't have expected that and taken her health for granted, but how many people honestly expect death? I digress; I was devastated when I found out from my cousin. Of course, I immediately called my mom to tell her and to my surprise, she said, "I know."

She knew? She'd been here with me that morning and she knew? And she didn't tell me?

Well, I asked her why she didn't tell me and after a few minutes of stammering and talking in circles, she finally admitted that the family had decided not to tell me. My entire family decided not to tell me (except my cousin, apparently). They actually decided that not telling me was the best answer because of finals. I asked when they had planned on actually telling me and she said Thursday at the earliest, but probably more like Sunday because I have my friend's prom to go to.

Let's reiterate. They were going to wait until a week after she passed to tell me because of a few tests and a prom.

Pushing the betrayal I felt by the alone aside, I asked when the funeral was going to be. This led to more stammering before she finally said that it would probably be Wednesday. My last two finals are on Wednesday. The funeral would be roughly 6 hours away. There's no possible way I could make that. So, I ask her to call me as soon as the date and time are confirmed, thinking that if it is on Wednesday, I still have time to reschedule my finals for Tuesday and make the funeral. I retire to my room to deal with the fact that this wonderful woman who loved me and my entire family unconditionally has passed away and I realize that my world feels a little emptier without her in it.

Today, I wake up at noon and immediately check my phone to see if my mom has called to let me know when the funeral will be. I have no missed calls, which shocks me. My mother said she was going to find out at about 7 am when the funeral was. So, I call her to see if she knows and maybe just forgot to call. She doesn't answer and I leave a message, asking her to call me as soon as possible.

I call her again at one. No answer. Two PM: no answer. Three o'clock, four o'clock, five o'clock: No answer. I left a message each time. I tried calling other family members. No answers.

At this point, I'm starting to get anxious. Did they decide to have the funeral today? Or is it just coincidence none of them answered? My mom hasn't answered all day... is she okay? Did something else happen? Are they trying to keep more stuff from me? Should I go ahead and reschedule my finals for Tuesday? Well, the family is really widespread, they probably couldn't all get there by Wednesday, so what if they do have it Thursday or Friday? What the hell am I supposed to do, hundreds of miles from the nearest family member, when no one will answer the phone and tell me what's going on?

Finally, my mother calls me back at 9:16 PM. By that point, my rationale that it will be on Thursday has won out (I also added in that my mother knew I knew and that she couldn't possibly be cruel enough to deny me the chance to honor my Aunt at her funeral), so I haven't emailed my profs and asked to reschedule. I've packed up most of my dorm so I can leave as soon as my finals are over and drive straight to Arkansas (where the funeral was supposed to be). Well, my mother calls me back, and I immediately ask "Okay, so, what time is the funeral?"

After a minute or so of talking in circles she tells me: Wednesday, 2 PM. Of course.

She soon admitted to having found out at 7 am that morning and having ignored all my phone calls because she didn't want me to reschedule my finals because she didn't want me to rush through them and possibly get a bad grade on them. She knew if she waited late enough, I wouldn't be able to reschedule my finals in time to make it to the funeral.

Let's get this straight: First, they were just not going to tell me because of a few tests and a dance. Then, when I found out, they decided to not tell me when the funeral was so I wouldn't get a bad grade on my finals. Did they think I was going to be happy that they didn't tell me until a week later? "Oh, thanks family for not telling me so I could take a test and go to someone else's prom and be happy"? Do they really think I'm going to get a good grade on finals now? "Oh, my Aunt just died and my family has virtually denied me all chances to go to her funeral and get some closure and say goodbye... LET'S ACE THIS TEST!"? Like...honestly? And did they really think I was going to cope better without my family? Without going to the funeral? Without that closure? What honestly made them think this was the best way of going about this?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Finals Week

Okay... I'm not doing so well with this "posting regularly" thing. But I'm working on it! And I'll get better once finals are done. I have my US history final today at 3 pm (can't you tell I'm studying hard?), then I've got a break until next Wednesday, then I'm done!

I'm a little stressed out these days. Not just because of finals, but because of a lot of things -- I'm broke out of my mind, the boyfriend and I keep fighting, I'm starting a new job, I'm trying to declare my major, I need to pack up to move back home for summer, I need to register for summer school... every time I list something, I think of one more. Hopefully, it'll get better once finals are done. Maybe?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

On Life

Carpe Diem. It’s a Latin phrase from a poem by Horace, written between 65 and 8 BCE. The full line actually says “aetas: carpe diem quam minimum credula postero” which in English roughly mean “Sieze the day and place no trust in tomorrow.” I freaking love that phrase. I’m pretty sure I like it better as just “carpe diem;” the “place no trust in tomorrow” part seems rather pessimistic, and while I understand it’s supposed to say that we’re not supposed to assume we’ll have tomorrow to do anything, I like to keep things positive and hope that there will be a tomorrow to enjoy as well.

I know that not everyday can be happy and peppy and positive (heck, today wasn’t happy or peppy) but I do know that we have to spend each day living, because if you don’t live today, when the heck will you?

Carpe diem.