Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Mom, can I marry my boots? PLEASE?!"

I feel whole again.

I first picked up a pair of these WONDERFUL boots in 1999. They accompanied me just about every single day (no exaggeration) until their unforunately demise in 2004.

I paid about $150 for them at that time - and I didn't have to buy new shows (aside from gym shows) for the next 5 years... How many of you can say you spend less than $30/year on shoes??

I have challenges with my feet (basically, they are flat as a board and my ankles turn in), so these little beauties are just what the doctor ordered.

Slipping them on this morning for the first time in 5 years felt awesome. Perfect. No need to break these in.

All of this elicated a funny e-mail conversation between me and my mom.
Disclaimer: I think marriage is a WONDERFUL thing, as does my mom who has been married for many years. My mom and I talk often about my romantic life/future - as women are prone to do. Gives us something to discuss other than work. Anyway, here's the conversation:

Me: "...And my boots are oh-so-comfy. Can I marry my boots? I’m sure they’d give me many years of bliss.!"

Mom: "OK, now, don’t go weird on me……boots are not people, they are things you walk in and on….oops, maybe that is marriage. "

Of course, we are joking. We both believe in treating our partners with the upmost respect (and if you read this blog for any amount of time, you'll probably realize that I strongly feel that marriage is one of the last true vestiages of honor in this world).

Unfortunately, my boots are already "paired", and I never shared well. ;)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Realizations and Reviews from a Theatrical Weekend

Last Thursday began, what I've come to call "the great theater weekend!"
Until I find some weekend to top it, I attended 3 shows in 4 days.

Here are the reviews on those shows:

"Cats" at the Moonlight in Vista

A pretty decent show, but it seemed to lack that one essential ingredient that makes some shows truely work.

The singing was good.

The dancing was great.

The acting though... was just a tad lacking. So while it was enjoyable, it felt a bit like a variety show (which is somewhat what Cats is, so that's not too far off), but it wasn't quite there on the emotional level for me.

"Hamlet" Free Performance at the Coronado Playhouse

Kudos to each actor for knowing his or her lines well. Also, kudos to the lighting design and costuming crew. Very nice. And the price was right (free).

While it's very sad to see this theater lose it's funding, I was a bit less impressed by the overall acting. It almost felt that they didn't have enough time spent getting to know their characters. This scene depicted in the picture was probably one of Hamlet's truest scenes, but I didn't really see his descent into madness as I would have expected. Instead, the character felt more like a spoiled, scheming brat, than a truly tormented man.

Overall, it felt adequate for a community theater show, however - had I paid more than $10 for the ticket, I would have felt disappointed.

But before you think I hate everything...

"Cyrano De Bergerac" at the Old Globe Theater


It's this kind of well crafted show that makes my inner artist scream, "I want to be part of THAT! Tell me how I can do that. What do I need to do to be part of THAT?"

There was not a single weak link in the entire cast.

Each actor was either Equity or a student studying as part of the USD Master of the Arts Program. And it showed.

Well directed. Well acted. Great costuming, make-up, and set...

This show was 3 1/2 hours long with 2 short intermissions. And it was SOLD OUT and well deserved. If I had paid $100 for my seat (which I didn't), I would have felt I got my money's worth.

Unlike Cats, this show relied completely on excellent acting and character choices. Patrick Page and Cyrano carried the show along beautifully.

My Personal Take on the Story: Cyrano, while conflicted, was a man's man as far as I'm concerned. He knew the value of words, and had the drive to better himself to bring himself and those that knew him (comrad and foe alike) honor. While a furious villian at times, a deeper honor stood out in the sincerity of his expression to his love, as well as his interaction with the men close to him. Though he bucked society to the point of obsurdity at times, he also gave all he had to one woman - despite the fact that she may never be able to return it. Honoring those he loved was more important than his own pride in the end.

And for that, I am honored to have been able to be among the audience. It reinforced my beliefe that romance isn't optional - when it comes to love, it's a necessity.

The differences in all the shows reminded me that I am on the right road by giving this acting thing a real, definate shot.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Adoption Hits the News...And insider's perspective

This is the blog you've all been waiting for, I'm sure...

One of the defining moments in my life was being adopted. Now, I was an infant when I was adopted.

I don't believe my childhood was too different from any others. In fact, in many ways, it was exceptional. To this day, whatever their flaws, I believe I won the parent lottery.

That said, I also won the sibling lottery too. Whatever his flaws, my brother has been there for me more times than I can count as an adult. As kids, we were your typical brother and sister, driving each other crazy one minute, playing video games together the next.

The only really unusual part of my childhood are things like:

In my first baby picture, I'm about a week old, and I'm living with a foster family.

Though I was born in January, I didn't legally get my last name until October that same year.

I don't look like anyone in the house I grew up in.

My family has a higher level of respect than most. Since our parents believed that we were our own people, and didn't seek traits of themselves in us, we were free to grow up as our own people - guided by the love and respect for our parents.

I realized early in life that blood may be thicker than water, but love is stronger than either.

That said - I realize that that simple circumstance of my birthright, gave me a unique view of family that I am forever grateful for.

So when I read today that, 18 months into an adoption, and infant was brought back to child services, I was saddened. I do believe that everything works out in the end for the best interests of the child (naive, I know, but I believe that faith is a good thing - maybe the best of things - and believing otherwise gives this infant a grim prognosis). But it saddened me that, someone who has five children of her own, and wanted to open her heart and home to give life to an innocent... well, the fact that they "couldn't bond" like these parents could with thier biological children, saddened me.

I'm sure the bond is different with biological families. In fact, I am 99.99% sure that it is. But I don't think that makes it "better", just, perhaps, easier? My speculation comes from this - it's easy to bond with something that looks like you, where you can look forward to "I wonder if they'll look/be like me?" With kids that aren't biologically related, some traits pass on, but many of the obvious ones (hair color, height, eye color, skin tone, etc) just don't.

So -the bond between adopted child and parent is unique. I think going into it expecting it to be the same relationship as a biological child, is a mistake. It's just as rewarding, and maybe perhaps even a little more because it's a tad more difficult to forge.

In conclusion, I'm sure things will work out just as they are supposed to for this little guy.

Just like it did for a little 5 year old girl from Taiwan that I won't forget. It was about 5 years ago. I remember sitting there at Christmas that year for the first time feeling that something was missing from the picture perfect life I was living with my then-husband.

She had glasses and was older and was therefore dubbed "difficult to place". I'd fallen in love and we'd gotten started collecting information to bring her home, when I found out that we didn't quite meet the requirements. I kept inquiring and after about 2 months, I found out that she was placed with a family in Chicago, closer to where her younger sister was adopted out to a couple years earlier.

While it obviously wasn't ment to be the way I had hoped. My heart both hurt and rejoiced for her.

For the first time, I felt like she was mine and it was just a matter of bringing her home - yet, when I heard where she was placed, I knew that right had been done by her and was glad for her good fortune. I'd like to think, for a split second, I may have understood one of the purest, most unadultered forms of love.

Not everyone is able to nurture that kind of unique relationship adopted kids have with their folks. As for me, I hope that little girl won the parent lottery like I did. It does my soul good to believe it, wether it's the truth or not.

I hope the same for this little guy.

And who knows?! I'm not dead yet! Maybe someday I'll be able to share the love my parents did for me. As long as I'm this side of dirt - there's hope! ;)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Gift that doesn't cost a penny...

There is one gift that any human can give any other.

It's never inappropriate, no matter what your relationship with someone.

In fact, you can give this to someone before you even know their name.

And they'll probably appreciate and remember it.

It doesn't cost a dime.

But it's something in this world we often withhold from those we hold dearest.

What is it?

It's undivided attention.

How many of us have texted while we're on the phone with someone else while we're doing something completely unrelated to either the text or the call? That may seem an extreme example, but I use it because - hey! I've done it.

If we didn't live in such an instant-gratification world, things like Google, text messaging, and wi-fi hotspots wouldn't exist.

Now, there's nothing wrong with technology. Don't get me wrong. I have long embraced the computer age. I remember learning keyboarding on my Apple IIE (you know, back when floppy disks were actually 'floppy').

But all that said and done, the best gift we can give anyone, is our undivided attention.

How many of us would consider a "great date" to involve multiple text messages or phone calls to someone we're not out with? What's the point of a date anyway- To get away, enjoy life, and share an experience with someone we care for. It's to make memories and focus on one another.

Having that one on one time of undivided attention makes children feel valued, check out clerks feel at ease, co-workers feel validated, and loved ones feel -well, loved.

Here's the challenge. Give the gift that doesn't cost a penny whenever you can. And you just may start a trend, in this multi-tasking world, of someone giving it back to you.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Autumn Eve!

I love fall. Don't get me wrong, summer is fine, and spring is okay, but I really love fall and winter. I love the air turning crisper and cooler. I love the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer.

The weather isn't cooling down yet, but I hope it turns that way soon. I love apple cider (especially the fresh, raw cider from Julian) and sweaters and coats. I love things made with pumpkin spices, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I love warm stews and comfort foods.

And I've always loved the anticipation that seems to ripple through the air. For some, it's anticipation for Halloween. For others, Thanksgiving. For others, it's for Christmas or the winter holidays approaching.

For me, the anticipation is palpable as I'm waiting on several different things right now.

I'm waiting to hear a reply to my apartment application.
I'm waiting on my doctor's office to decide what I need to do before my Rx can be renewed.
I'm waiting on a vacation - my first in quite a long time.
I'm waiting on seeing what tomorrow brings.

Happy Fall everyone!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"The Long Duree" - My PCOS, Then, Now, and the Bigger Picture

"Hi. My name is J, and I'm stubborn."

Stubborn to the point of detriment at times.

Okay... often.

There is perhaps no greater example of this than the way I've treated my PCOS.

I haven't discussed this much in this format, so I'd like to include the following disclaimer right off the bat.

Disclaimer: The following blog is snippet of an intensely personal, long journey, and worthy of a comment or two. I strongly encourage all followers of this blog to read the article linked several times in this blog. I was only lacking TWO symptoms listed here.

I haven't really discussed it much on this board, and I don't intend this to inspire pity in anyone. PCOS is highly misunderstood. Even many physicians believe it isn't a problem unless you're trying to get pregnant. But I would bet just about any woman who's had to face this would probably disagree.

As anyone with feet knows minimizing something like a hot spot, can result into a bigger problem later on - for example, ignoring a hot spot may lead to a blister. Ignoring that, may lead to an infection.

So I'll try to sum up my story, and what I've learned for this unique challenge in my daily life.


I was diagnosed in 1998, a few months after graduating from high school. I had been one of those "early bloomers" that had struggled with serious weight and depression issues for most of my younger years. They all seemed to get more under control as I aged, but in truth, I think I just got better at coping with and hiding them. When a problem did pop up (such as abnormal hair thinning, growth of hair in unwanted areas, or an obvious bout with serious depression, insomnia, or serious cyclical cramping), it was dismissed as "a phase".

But at 18, the "phases" hadn't really stablized like one would have expected. In fact, they seemed to be getting gradually worse, but still, we did think anything was really "wrong" with me physically.

Towards the end of this year, I was slated to get my wisdom teeth pulled. I first saw an oral/maxill/facial surgeon, but he wouldn't operate on me. He suspected my thyroid was off and sent me to my Family Practioner to get that checked out. I sat with the Family Practioner and we talked but I inisited nothing was wrong - figuring that I could hide the symptoms from her as I did from everyone else.

In fact, that first visit, I succeeded, and she ordered some lab work to check my thyroid.

Test results came back proving that was normal but my testosterone was high. WHAT?! I went back to discuss the results with the MD. This time, I think my mom (being suspsious that I wasn't being entirely open with the MD about what was going on with me) suspected that I was pulling the wool over the doctor's eyes, and she came in the room with me. Being my mom, she knew just the right questions to ask and buttons to push and BOOM! There is was. I was sitting on the doctor's table in tears. Once that dam broke, I was barely able to hold back sobs as we talked about all the things that were going on - things that made me feel like a flawed woman.

She sent me to an OBGYN for a closer look.

After still more tests - there it was - plain as day on the ultrasound screen. Ovarian cysts all over both of 'em, and a growth the size of my fist where it definately shouldn't be...

We took a conservative approach and I was started on medication.

Not just any medication - "the pill". Turns out the hormones in them actually can help balance out the symptoms of PCOS, though there is no cure available in the United States for this at this point. (Yes, even removing the offending body parts does not negate the symptoms once they have taken hold. It's a mysterious systemic illness.)

Thankfully, it helped. And I'm actually impressed with my level of maturity/responsibility at that age. I still "waited" until I got married, several years later, despite unwanted pregnancy not being a threat.

Fast forward to 2005 -
By this point, I'd been married for about 4 years and was hoping to start a family via adoption. I stopped taking the pills leaving the more natural way as an option for my then-husband and I. Well, an adoption fell through, the natural way didn't work, and the marriage quickly started collpasing.

Fast Forward to 2006 -
Figuring I didn't need the pill anymore since I was doing so well, I stopped consistant treatment.


PCOS is one of those things that can sometimes disappear, but in me - well, it hadn't. It's the sneakiest thing because it creeps up on ya. Symptoms start appearing slowly over time and gradual changes are easy to explain away and ignore - like that little hot spot a runner might get. "It's just a hot spot. It's nothing." But further down the road, given more time, you're dealing with a full blown blister.

The next 3 years, I began struggling once again with some "hot spots"- mainly indecision, insomnia, weight problems, etc... are seeing where this is heading?

I'm realizing I should never have stopped taking the medication. So today I'm working on getting back on track with that therapy. I realize I was stupidly stubborn because I decided I didn't want to take "medicine" every day. However, I seem to have no trouble taking supplements daily. The difference? Taking medicine means admitting I have a condition that I can't control on my own and I need help.

Silly thing to be stubborn about, huh?

The Big Picture:
IF you've done your homework and read the article linked to above, you see how PCOS is one of those things that effects almost every part of my life in some way. However, let's take a bigger step back.

While I have no gratitude towards this unique challenge, I see how it's made me grow as a person. It's made me face so many of my fears w/o giving me an option not to. It's forced me to find creative solutions to difficult problems, and to not base my self-esteem on things like what kind of condition my skin or hair may be in. It's forced me to focus on "health" over "beauty" and encouraged me not to judge others by the "beauty" yardstick either.

So the bigger picture is -
This may be a strongly defining factor about me, but it's not going to stop my growth or forward motion. It's just one tree in the forest of my life. And, as I face going on medication that will most likely make me ill for about 3 months while my body adjusts again, I find myself assured that somehow I'll be just fine.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Doing the paperwork...

After working a very long day, I came home, faced with the daunting task of yet another housing application. I'm pretty sure I'll get this place - and that it will mean a BIG change for me next month... but that's not all bad.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I've graduated to addict...

Surprised? Well, keep reading, and you won't be.

I graduated from the College of Disney Knowledge tonight! I should be getting my graduation packet in the mail, and I can't wait! The College of Disney Knowledge is a course especially for Disney Travel Professionals. I'll be working for The Main Street Travel Company as their west coast correspondent and resident Disneyland expert.

Pretty neat, huh?

Okay - all that said, I think I'm a closet addict.

"But J," you might say, "we already KNOW your Disney addiction runs deep!"

Well, while that's very true - there is more to me (dare I say it), and more to life than just Disney.
(Shocked I said that, huh?)

This 9/11 I had dinner with my folks and expressed my currently slightly exhaused view of relationships. My mom challenged me to stop seeing the glass as 1/2 empty and just have fun with it - and don't get me wrong, "fun" is great, but without sharing it with your soulmate, it's empty really.
(Yeah, that's right - I'm a nearly 30 year old sucker that bought into the "soulmate" and "love of my life" train. I'm grateful to this day that my ex realized he wasn't the love of my life and went his seperate way, freeing me to find "him" eventually.)

Anyway - the fruit of all of that discussion was the realization that I'm addicted to being productive. And the problem with being productive is that the feeling of accomplishment actually relaxes me. Sick, isn't it?

For example, take today's list of accompliments:

Talked with friends on the phone
Cleaned out car (FINALLY)
Grocery Shopping
Doing two loads of laundry while completing my Disney Courses and doing dishes
Doing some light construction and heavy sorting so that my closet doesn't look like a heap of rumpled clothes while still completing my Disney Courses
Walking 3 miles with the dog
Reserving all the dining reservations for my upcoming DisneyWorld Vacation
Taking a bubble bath while reading a book of excerpts of new fantasy novels
Making dinner (from scratch)
Watching a little bit of TV
Reading some blogs to catch up and commenting on them
Updating my facebook status two or three times and answering some e-mails...

And that's just SUNDAY.

It's currently after 10pm, and I still wish I had more daylight so I could finish my chores (yes, there are more - as I've mentioned before, I'm not the world's best domestic goddess).

This week, I'll get to go back to work (which I gripe about, but largely, I think it's because I know I can do better at my job, even though I'm going to shift gears next year and persue my calling).

I'm a girl on the go-go-go! I'm addicted to being in motion.

And ya know what? It's not a bad thing. There's a lot to be said for being productive. You'll NEVER be stagnant. You'll always be learning and growing and moving. "A rolling stone gather's no moss." Or, my personal favorite from my dad, "Wear out, don't rust out".

But part of me has to wonder if I'm waiting for something to slow down for... something that will make me choose a slower pace of life. Don't get me wrong. I have my down time! (See "bubble bath" above.) And I enjoy my down time EMENSELY! But, sitting around on my rump? Not my style I guess!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nicknames - the Good, The Bad, and the Evolving.

Ever had a pet name? I don’t mean something you named your pet, but I mean an affectionate little euphemism that someone caring bestows upon you.

Growing up, I had several.

“James” was a common one (believe it or not), often given to me by soccer and softball coaches. Probably because they were more comfortable around little boys than girls, but I didn’t mind it during those seasons. I was never a “girly girl” in obvious ways anyway.

My dad was the KING of crazy nicknames! I think I remember being called “Girn-della and “Smerndy” pretty often.
My mom called me “Sweet Pea”.
Other friends – you know, the ones that are like family because you grew up together – often took variations of my last name (my maiden name) to make them into something silly or derogatory like “Munderbutt,” or “Munderwear,” or “Wonderbutt”.

A blessed few still get away with calling me the Spanish version of my name without getting a slap.
(You thought I was going to share it here, didn’t you? HA! Gotcha!)

As I got more romantically involved, such sweet and playful names as “Honey”, “Angel”, and other such things came out of the lips of those I loved.

I’ve dubbed some men I’ve been romantically interested in as “handsome” or “hun” myself. My ex husband laughed (and rolled his eyes) through many a “Hugglebutt”, but you had to be there (and know us) to find that as funny as we did.

Friends I haven’t heard from in a long time might get a “Hey Stranger”, from me when I answer the phone.

“J” or “Jay” is a nickname born of necessity more than anything else. I tired of people misspelling/pronouncing my name, so the initial just stuck.

I can’t remember who gave it to me first.

All that said, when is a nickname inappropriate? Is it ever?

Relationships, no matter the type, are evolving creatures.

I’ve got a great example.

ComputerGuy and I met in 2006. We got along smashingly, and had considered dating.
When he’d call, he was greeted with a “Hey Handsome!”
Then ComputerGuy and DesignerGirl decided to get together and make a serious go of things.
When I learned that, the “Hey Handsome!” changed to a more respectful “Hey Stranger!” when my phone rings and it’s him.

I’m sure ComputerGuy isn’t even aware of the change, but it seemed natural as the nature of our relationship changed. We’re still friends and DesignerGirl is very sweet. I wouldn’t want ANYONE to get the wrong idea. Opposite gender friendships (when one person isn’t homosexual) can be tricky sometimes as it is, so the evolution of language just seemed to fit. In this case, I would never want to give her the impression that I’m after her man. I want her to feel secure and comfortable with my presence and I want her to get to know me, rather than feeling threatened. Also, in support of ComputerGuy, doing all I can to show respect for his relationship seemed the right thing to do.

Trust is always key, and no silly nickname should destroy it (unless it’s already on a shaking foundation), but what would the world be like if we did all that we could to support our friends’ healthy growing relationships, and received the same in return?

"Trading Spaces" ...er... Races...

Last year, I said I wanted to run the Disney World Princess 1/2 Marathon. Unforunately, there are a couple different reasons why that's looking like it won't pan out. As it looks like I may be in the process of a fairly significant move, March just seems like it's going to be too soon for the money to show up.

So, that said, I'm "Trading Races".

So I'm trading in the Disney World Princess 1/2 Marathon for the Everest Challenge! Once I learned you could register as a single person, I was sold. (If I'm still in So-Cal, I may take on the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon next year - but we'll see where I end up.)

I will say that running, for me, is the most difficult part of any event for me. I'm getting better at biking and actually enjoy it (okay - I'm mildly addicted to it) but I've yet to be able to build up that kind of passion for running - yet. So the Everest Challenge sounds right up my alley! What is it?

One of my all-time-favorite Disney parks is the Animal Kingdom. So a race that takes place AFTER HOURS in my favorite park AND only includes a 5k? Where do I sign up!

Here are the big selling points for me regaurding this race:

*Fireworks kick off your trek
I LOVE fireworks and that's a great way to get ya pumped up!

*Timed event with online results

That means all of you who can't come and cheer me on, can follow me online!

*A portion of every entry fee will benefit the Himalayan Youth Foundation and Disney's Wildlife Conservation Fund.
If you know me, you probably know the passion I have for the kids of the world. Being adopted has given me a unique view and I hope to adopt internationally within the next 10 years of my life. This feels like putting intent toward that dream.

* Expedition Everest Challenge Finishers' Medal
Now THERE'S a good birthday present!

*Champion tech T-shirt
LOVE my tech shirt from my 2008 Tri!

1 day ticket to the park to scout out the course.
This will be helpful in paying for the trip in general.

*Admission to the exclusive post-race party!
Did someone say EXCLUSIVE after-hours ANIMAL KINGDOM PARTY?!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The homefront -a Review

So I'm working on finding a new home for Clydas and I.

But I thought I'd give out a little salute to my current home - and everything that's happened there.

I'm working on a new slide show so stay tuned!