Friday, September 30, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 28 - A scar I have and it's story

I am not accident prone and was hard pressed to find a scar at all - never mind a scar with a story.  After all, how exciting can the little round scar be on my stomach, where they pulled my gall bladder out after it quit working?  But then I remembered the very first scars I ever got. 

When I was a kid I had chicken pox, just like every other kid on the planet before they developed a vaccine, only I was lucky enough to get them twice.  The first time around I didn't have very many so apparently I didn't develop immunity.  Lucky me.  The second time around was brutal, or so I've heard. I was too young to remember more than what my parents told me about it but the stories are horrible.  Apparently they couldn't stop me from scratching at the ones on my face and I was left with two perfectly round pox scars - one over each of my eyebrows. 

When I got old enough to be sarcastic and sassy, I started telling people it was where my horns had been before I broke them off.  Ironically, I think my mother in law might have believed me...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 27 - A physical feature I love

Four words:  I. LOVE. MY. RACK.

I have already blogged about this here if you want the top ten things I love about my body - a list I still struggle with.  I am happy to report that seven months after the original list I have one more thing to add:  I love the definition in my arms.  After months of waffling between hard core runner training for multiple Ragnar Relays and a total body program with weights setup by my trainer, I have defined triceps and biceps.  Plus, I'm strong.  I never thought that would be true.  It is somewhat amazing even still...

I just realized I may have interpreted this all wrong.  In which case, I love shoulders and hair which are the first things I notice when I see people of the opposite sex.  There, now I have all my bases covered!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 26 - A childhood memory

My fondest memories of childhood all revolve around camping with extended family during the summers where I grew up in Utah.  One particular year my siblings, cousins and I were all old enough and allowed to wander away from camp for hours at a time.  We were in one of our favorite camp grounds in the Wasatch National Forest outside of Salt Lake and we discovered a trail leading up and away from the highest loop of the campground road in a steep section where there were no camp sites.  I remember hiking up and up, for what seemed like hours, through dense forest areas of aspen and pines looking for what undiscovered treasures we just knew we were going to find.  Around every corner there were new sights we'd never seen before, areas where we had to find the trail or make our own to an area that looked easier to travel.  Fallen logs to climb over, statuesque trees rising into the overhead canopy where the sun barely filtered through, long dark sections of trail lined with tree trunks beckoning us to go deeper.  The wind whispering through the leaves on the trees around us the whole time promising us adventure..  Our secret trail eventually ended at the top of a steep hill where it opened up into a meadow with a waterfall at the edge.  I remember breaking through the tree line into the bright sun of that summer afternoon thinking we had discovered our own world. We toiled at the waterfall and rollicked in the meadow before finally, and reluctantly, heading back to camp.  Looking back I'm amazed we remembered how to get back and I'm certain if our parents knew exactly where we had gone that day they would not be happy.  The memory of that one stolen, perfect afternoon has never left me...  Nor do I remember, even though I know we tried, ever finding that exact spot again.

I hope one day I'll allow my own girls enough freedom to explore on their own without worrying about the axe murderer or child molester who could be lurking, just waiting for their chance to pounce, so they too can make a memory like this of their own.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 25 - A recipe

I debated about what recipe to share pondering which would wow you all with my culinary skills.  But bottom line, I just discovered the most AMAZING frosting recipe and had to share it.  If you have the right frosting you can make anything better.  Case in point, this frosting made even the gluten-free cake it adorned completely edible.  I've been making frosting since I was a kid when my Mom taught me how to make chocolate cake from scratch.  And, my Dad is a baker.  But I had NEVER made butter cream frosting before last weekend at our neighbor's place.  Something I will definitely be changing every chance I get now that I have this amazing recipe!

Butter Cream Frosting

1 cup salted butter, softened*
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup milk

Blend it all together with a hand mixer and spread on everything - or whatever you have on hand that calls for frosting.

*The recipe we were following called for half butter, half shortening but we didn't have any shortening so we just used butter.  So yummy without all the partially hydrogenated oils.  Also, if you don't have salted butter, then just add a pinch of salt.  Whatever you do, don't - and I repeat, DO NOT - use margarine.  This is butter cream frosting and if you don't use butter it will taste like... well, shit.  (No one should ever eat margarine in my opinion but that's not what this post is about...)

Enjoy!  And remember don't be stingy when licking the bowl - it's just bad manners.  Although trust me when I say you will be tempted!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 24 - A movie no one would expect me to love

I love movies and Hubby and I watch lots of them.  I am not a particular fan of comedy - I much prefer chick flicks, action and thrillers - and I detest stupid comedy.  I still don't see the appeal of Napoleon Dynamite, Dumb and Dumber was only vaguely funny the first time when you didn't know the jokes and don't even get me started on Super Bad...  Little Fockers only made it all the way through the playback a few weeks ago because Hubby was sort of amused.  So, I'm sure it will surprise everyone that I loved the movie "Bad Santa".  I don't know what it was about that particular movie in that normally detested genre but I could watch it over and over and still laugh.  Maybe it was Billy Bob who pulled off the drunk Santa so well.  I know it wasn't a fluke because I saw it in the theater and several times since.  If they could bottle that movie and sell it I'd buy it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blogger Challenge Day 23 - A way in which I want to be remembered

This is easy.  I want to be remembered as someone who never gave up and always did what she wanted.  Someone who followed her dreams and made things happen for herself instead of waiting for life to deliver it up to her on a silver platter.  I live out loud, with no filter, and live every moment as it comes.  I don't do guilt - either inflicted upon me or imposed on others - and I'm usually impulsive.  I hope everyone who really knows me thinks of me as someone they like to be around because I'm a breath of fresh air.  I guess we'll see when I'm dead if I do a good job at that and can keep it up for another forty years at least.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 22 - A website I like

One of my favorite websites is  I love to be able to sit down at my computer, map out exactly where I want to run and see how far it is as well as the elevation change I have in store before I leave.  Just last week I found a neighborhood street that went all the way through between two major streets that only currently connect with a dirt road.  It made my run SO much better that day!  I know I could use the site to keep track of my workouts and lots of other really cool stuff but right now just knowing before I go is invaluable.  Right now I need to go and figure out how to squeeze eight miles out of the flattest parts of the surrounding area for tomorrow's run...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 21 - Something I know I do differently than other people

It might not have escaped you, if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, that I have the mouth of a sailor.  And I have young children.  And I live in a very conservative little suburb of the notoriously "red" state of Utah where that kind of thing is generally frowned upon.  I know I am different than most people I meet because I do not sensor my expletives even around my children. *gasp*  It might further surprise you to know that Big Sister - who turns ten in a few weeks - has not repeated them.  Well, except that one time when she was three and it was Daddy she was parroting at the time, thank god!

I was not the first of my siblings to have children and I had two adorable nephews years before I had kids of my own.  It was very hard to take hearing my oldest nephew, who was about four or five at the time, come up to me - constantly - and hit me while telling me I was bad because I had said a bad word. 

First of all, I don't really believe in good and bad as all-encompassing labels.  Every action, every reaction, every situation always has multiple sides to it and each party involved is justified when deciding his/her own actions.  Just because the majority of people in a community or a society have agreed to view a thing as unacceptable does not make it bad.  (Getting off my soapbox now but this distinction will help illustrate what's coming...)

From that moment on, I vowed that I would never label expletives as "bad words" regardless of who says them or in what company they are said.  Of course at the time I had no intention of ever pro-creating.

And then I got pregnant and people started talking about how I'd have to clean up my language and how everything would change and blah blah blah.  And the rebellious bitch who I am at my very core said "oh yeah?  Wanna bet?"  And I never did. You're probably wondering how both statements can be true - that I never have filtered myself around my children AND that they have never developed the same habits.  But both are true nonetheless.

You see, instead of labeling all my favorite colorful words as 'bad', they have been dubbed 'grown up words'.  And you have to be a grown up to choose whether you say them or not.  Ingenious, I know.  This way, Hubby and I say whatever is our nature to say - never directed AT the kids, of course - and the kids don't have to feel conflicted inside knowing that Mom and Dad are "good" people but they say "bad" words.  Plus, I've eliminated what I call the forbidden factor: that phenomenon when you tell a kid they can't do something and that just makes them want to go out and do it even more.  Of course, it also means that the kids will know exactly how to effectively use all the grown up words by the time they can choose to say them.  But, so be it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 20 - Foods I love and hate

I love pasta - but I don't eat it very often.  When I do, I choose red sauce over my preferred cream sauce because I can't afford ten hours on the treadmill to burn off that one meal.  My Dad is of Italian descent and he lived there for a time when he was younger before he met my Mom.  Which means the family recipe spaghetti sauce he passed down to me is authentic.  I love to make a big pan of sauce - simmered for hours so the flavors come alive (my mouth is watering as we speak) and then eat spaghetti all week - lunch and dinner.  Unfortunately, Hubby chose to spend his money in college predominantly on alcohol and thus ate a lot of ramen and spaghetti.  Which means he doesn't ever want spaghetti.  *sigh*  Oh well, more for me!

I love eggs.  I could eat eggs every meal of every day and never get sick of them.  I love them scrambled with onions, omelets, over hard, hard boiled... just as long as the yolk is cooked and NOT runny and slimy.  *ick*  Eggs are probably my biggest source of protein since I don't really love meat besides fish and fowl.

I'm a sucker for baked goods... cake, cookies, brownies.  OH.MY.GOD. I love brownies.  Again, I don't indulge very often but there's a side of me who wishes I wasn't so responsible.

I also love chocolate - especially when mixed with peanut butter.  Show me a candy bar with that combination and I'll show you a candy bar I've had a love affair with at some point in my life.  Currently, the Lindor chocolates that are little bit size balls sold individually are my nemesis.  They have them right by the cashier in the cafeteria at work and I break down and buy one almost every day.  


I hate diet drinks.  If it's got chemical sweetener in it, I can taste it a mile away and want to hurl once the liquid passes my lips.  If I were dying of thirst - literally - and the only thing available was a diet soda, I might waste away before I gave in and drank one.

I hate coconut.  Not sure if it's a taste or a texture thing - either way, I'm not a fan.

I hate walnuts and almonds.  I used to think I didn't like ANY nuts until I tried cashews and found they are delightful.  Peanuts don't count because they are really a legume and not a nut - and I like them, too.  Walnuts, though.  Bleck!  And why do people insist on RUINING a good browning by putting walnuts in them?!?  Seriously, people, enough already!  And don't get me started with all the things slivered almonds show up in. UGH and they are so hard to pick off, too!

I hate bloody rare beef and I refuse to handle raw hamburger.  If it doesn't come home from the store already nice and neatly formed into a patty before needing to be cooked, Hubby gets the honors.  The slimy feel of raw meat just makes me queasy.  And while I love a bite or two of a really great steak, if it's rare I can't even look at it.  Hubby, on the other hand, is a carnivore and has no problems.  Yuck!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bog Challenge Day 19 - A talent

I have a talent for spotting bullshit and calling it out.  You may not think of this as a talent, but I have found it comes in quite handy and not many people possess it or embrace it.  Does this talent get me into trouble?  Sometimes.  Will this talent potentially inhibit my ascension to an upper management position with my current company because I'm not willing to bum pat and kiss ass while I propagate the bullshit?  Maybe.  Would I trade this talent?  Not in a million years.  You have no idea how free it feels when you have not only spotted bullshit but have brought it out into the light of day so everyone must acknowledge it for what it is.  There are never elephants in the room when I'm around.  Do I come off as abrasive to people?  Possibly.  Do I care?  Nope.  One of my favorite quotes is (paraphrased) 'Always tell it like it is because those who care don't matter and those who matter won't care.'

Now, for those of you who were hoping for "normal" talents... I play piano, I play guitar, I draw (better than my Sister but not better than Hubby), I run, and I write fiction. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 18 - Things I do everyday

Here's another thing that you may find quirky about me!  I'm struggling with this post since 'everyday' has such a specific meaning and if I take it literally, meaning every single day, I can't come up with much to include.  So, since I am a literal kind of girl, I thought I'd break it down into weekdays and weekend days and give you two very different lists which still meets the criteria.  (Someone needs to remind me this is merely a blog challenge designed to get me posting about things I don't normally post about so you all can get a glimpse of me and that there are no right or wrong answers here!  Sheesh, I can be so uptight sometimes!)  Then I started the lists and found they were kind of boring and that the things I really do every day would be harder to come up with but might be a much cooler list.  So, here they are:

I wake up before eight AM - seriously?!? When I realized this is true I cried a little.  I am a night owl who officially never lets herself sleep in anymore, even on the weekends.  Even crazier, I usually wake up earlier on the weekends so I can go running.  Case in point was just this past Sunday when Hubby and I consciously decided not to set any alarms.  And I was still awake and up by 7:45.  Insane...

I play Words with Friends on my phone.  And, this is the ONLY game I play on my phone.

I think about running and whether I'll be able to fit a run into my crazy day.  I successfully find time to run an average of three times a week and I cross train or lift weights three others - something I can do much easier in the time allotted for the fitness center at work.  There is only one day a week that I do not work out but even that day I'm thinking about running and whether I really HAVE to rest.

I tuck my girls into their beds at night.  Even Big Sister has not rejected this practice by deeming it not cool in her 'tween years.  YET...  Even if I'm not there when they go to bed and Daddy, grandma or the sitter does it, I still make a point to visit each of their rooms, make sure they are covered up and kiss them good night. Maybe they will look back on this as the one normal thing their crazy Mom did when they are talking to their therapists.

I check Facebook.  Yes, everyday.  Even when I swore it off and vowed never to waste another hour on it again.  I limit it to once a day to make sure I haven't got anyone to wish happy birthday to and get the status updates of the people on the list of real friends who's crap I care about seeing.

I drink water.  At least ninety ounces, sometimes more.  Some days I hit that mark easily, sometimes it is a chore but every day I'm committed to proper hydration.  It makes such a difference when I work out and I always know if I've been slacking because I feel it.

I think about my novel.  I wish I could say that I write every day.  I'm getting there but some days the things I count as "writing" are really just moments of day dreaming about the world I'm creating and wondering about what makes my characters tick.  While in my mind that counts as working on my novel, it is not really writing new words every day.

I stay up too late.  What can I say?  There are never enough hours in a day to squeeze in everything I want to do.  Most days I sacrifice sleep for doing more of the things I want than I would if I went to bed on time.  Do I pay for this every morning?  Yes.  Yes, I do.

Which leads to the one thing that surprised even me since it did NOT make the list of things I do every single day:  drink coffee.  I realized that I don't drink coffee on the weekends consistently.  While you can set your watch to my daily java consumption on work days, I just don't need it to get through the weekends when I'm not surrounded by bullshit.  Maybe that's because I can always squeeze a nap in between football games on Saturday and Sundays now that it is that season again.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blog Chllenge Day 17 - Things that annoy me

Finally, a list I will be able to finish with zero trouble...

People who waste my time.  As a busy woman I don't have time to waste.  So the checker at Smith's who stopped my checkout process to sniff my dryer sheets and then launch a conversation about them before continuing was not my favorite person that day.  People who walk slow in front of me, meandering, when I can't get around them.  People who drive the speed limit limiting my ability to go as fast as I wish.  (Yes, I am a speed demon, why do you ask?)  People in the express checkout lane in front of me with more than 15 items.  People who stop in the aisles at the grocery store to talk to someone else and block the entire aisle.  Meetings where nothing gets accomplished.  Yes, this category has many, many sub-categories of which I could go on and on.

Having to pick up after Big Sister.  This one sucks and is more than likely my own fault.  For eight years of her life I had enough time to baby her and go behind her whirlwind cleaning up after her since, after all, it was just her.  Now that we have added Baby Sister, I don't have the time or the energy.  It might kill me before she gets the hang of picking up after herself.

Baseball.  I hate everything about the sport and the fact that they play it practically all year is SO annoying.  And, no, this does not make me un-American.  I am allowed to have this opinion.

People who don't pull their weight at work.  This is a huge one - people who wander the cubicle halls and chat all day - either in adjoining cubicles within earshot or at intersections that I have to walk past.  They annoy me even if I don't know who they are.

Books that have not been made into audio books that I want to read.  Seriously, why isn't every single book just automatically made into an audio book for people like me?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 16 - A song that makes me cry

Remember the post about odd things where I confessed that I cry at lots of stuff?  Well, I've never - I repeat - never cried about a song.  Is that weird?  I did, once, cry because a certain song came on at a particular moment so I'll tell you about that instead.

It was seven and a half miles into my second leg of Ragnar.  I had already run six miles that morning and the leg had been rated Very Hard.  I thought it was because it was extra long but it was because it was also a lot of rolling hills.  It was excruciating and I didn't think I could go the distance.  And then I crested a hill overlooking a beautiful valley and "our song" came on my iPod and I knew that Hubby was at the next exchange waiting to take the baton from me and cheering me on from there in spirit.  

I'm not gonna lie - I cried like a baby for the next two miles.  

Had it been another song would I still have cried?  Perhaps eventually since that was the most painful two miles I've ever run, but since it was that particular song I didn't wait.  Anyone who things that running is only a physical sport has never done any endurance running.  It is one part physical, four parts mental.  And yes, there's crying in running!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 15 - Five funny fears

How are fears ever funny?  I guess I'll regale you with my silliest ones and hope that's adequate.

1.  Spiders - seriously, even the daddy long-legs kind scare the be-jesus out of me.

2.  Bees - they send me screaming and running.  And the time one flew in the window while I was driving?  I almost died because of that damn bee!

3.  Ladders - I am not afraid of heights if looking down from above but I'm super squirmy and scared to climb higher than two rungs on a ladder.

4.  Throwing things away - I have serious hoarder tendencies that I must vigilantly curtail.  Every time I throw something away I'm afraid I will need it in the future regardless of how long it has been since I used it.

5.  The I.R.S. - those bastards truly frighten me with their ability to completely screw up your life if you cross them.  *shudder*

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 14 - A vacation I'd love to take

This was an easy one... My dream vacation is really more of a lifestyle change.  I would love to live abroad - in Italy.  If it can't happen permanently, I'd settle for a trip long enough to immerse myself in the culture beyond the typical tourist areas.

About seven years ago we had friends who had moved to Germany that we went and stayed with for two weeks.  Those two weeks changed my life.  To see how fundamentally different life is in Europe has never left me.  No large refrigerators to hold a week's worth of groceries because the bakery, the butcher and the grocer are all within walking distance and you buy what you will eat today and maybe tomorrow.  Think of how much food you would no longer waste because the vegetables - from Costco - go bad in the crisper before you have a chance to use them!  Recycling is not optional - you have a separate can for paper and one for real garbage - the stuff Americans send down the garbage disposal to be cleaned out of the water supply at the treatment plant.  Most things at the grocery store come packaged in recyclable paper packaging and there is very little plastics.  Those two things alone revolutionized our lives after that trip.  We are recycling Nazi's and the only time I ever use the disposal is if people who don't know are over and put crap down the sink that I cannot get out.

My heritage on my Dad's side is Italian and I have always been drawn there - as if my blood somehow longs to return home again.  I love the food, I love the wine... I even tried to teach myself the language in fifth grade as part of my gifted and talented program project.  (Yes, I've always been an overachiever.  Why do you ask?)  Maybe someday I'll work at a job where I have enough vacation to take an extended trip - and lots and lots of disposable cash on hand!  Or maybe when the kids are grown and I'm a full time writer I can do it from there instead.  Either way, bring on Italy and soon...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 13 - Five strange facts about me

Here's another of those challenging posts that I was tempted to replace.  How do I define strange and how do I pick just five? I looked it up on and here's the official definition: 

unusual, extraordinary, or curious; odd

Hmm... I can work within those boundaries! Here are five extraordinary, odd or curious facts about me:

1.  I am fearless and honestly never nervous in any situation - except when it comes to spiders and bees which send me screaming like the girl I am.

2.  I am one tough cookie, a heartless bitch even at times - but I cry at almost every episode of Parenthood, practically every movie ever made including some action packed ones, and lots of books.

3.  I still have the movie ticket stub from every movie I've ever seen in the theater for seventeen years with Hubby.  I have no plan of what I will do with them, nor do I scrapbook.

4.  I love chocolate and I love peanuts but I despise peanut M&M's and chocolate-covered peanuts.

5.  I am a problem solver to my very core.  Even Hubby sometimes has to stop me and tell me to just listen because he is merely venting and does not require me to solve the issue at hand.  Many arguments could have been avoided in our early years if he had figured this out immediately.

Bonus fact:  Doesn't matter what we are talking about, I can still eat.  I chalk it up to my Mom being a nurse and always answering any question that came up over dinner, regardless of the topic.  Like that one time when I was seventeen and asked what an IUD was in the middle of a restaurant...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 12 - A song played at my wedding

Nevermind the creepy 80's video that even I wish I had never seen...  
This was "our" song back when Hubby and I tied the knot in 1994.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 11 - A recent photo of me

This is me... 

at the beginning of the summer right after I got my feathers in my hair.  Can you see them among all the crazy curls?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 10 - Five things from my bucket list

I've never made a physical list of things I want to do before I kick the bucket before.  There's always things swimming around in the back of my head that I know I want to do but never something to mark them off of when completed.  Here's the first five that come to mind:

1. See Italy - including the town my family name originates from
2. Write a book - publishing it would be nice, too but not necessary
3. Get my pilot's license (I got halfway done in college)
4. Compete in a triathlon - and finish
5. Learn a foreign language - preferably Italian

Putting these down in an actual list makes me feel like I need to check them off.  You know what they say... someday will never come unless you are doing the things you want to do then now.  Or maybe that's just me that says that?  Now I'm not so sure but it's true nonetheless.  What's on your bucket list?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 9 - A photo I've taken

This was the sunset of the best day we ever spent at the beach.

And this is still the coolest picture of animals with attitude I've ever captured...  Can't you just see the mischievousness shining through in the one giraffe that's looking at the camera?  I know it's a female and that she doesn't take crap from any of the others.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 8 - Thank you letter to someone who has changed my life

How do you pick just one person?  One person to single out as the biggest influence of change? Is it your parents?  Your spouse?  Your children?  Your mentor?  The author of your favorite book?  I can't pick just one - and have been struggling with this question for a week now knowing this post was lurking in the blog challenge.  I was even tempted to replace it with something easier.  But then what would be the point of the blog challenge if I got rid of all the challenging posts?  Then I decided that I wasn't being graded on this and anyone I picked would give you an insight into me so I went with the first one that popped into my head a week ago.

Dear Big Sister,
             Thank you for surprising me with your conception at a time in my life when I was convinced I didn't want kids because my career was so important I couldn't be bothered with motherhood.  I was wrong.  Over the years I have suspended my selfishness in ways I didn't think possible without regret just to make you happy which in turn makes me a better person.  Your logical mind challenges me daily to explain how life works which means I surely won't ever suffer from Alzheimer's.  In trying to mold you into a well-rounded adult, I hope I don't scar you and that you don't need therapy as an adult.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

It's been ten years this weekend since the World Trade Center Towers were hit by planes and subsequently collapsed; the act which started the country down the road toward it's current state with two wars being waged, civil rights restricted in the name of National Security and overwhelming deficits where we are robbing Peter not even pretending to pay Paul.  I worry for my children and wonder what their lives as American citizens will be like when they are my age and paying taxes.  Luckily, Big Sister has already begun taking an interest in the election process and last week asked me when she gets to vote.  At nine she has more interest than half of my siblings do.

But I digress... this is about my memories of where I was on that fateful day in September of 2001.  A day like the one when Kennedy was shot since everyone old enough to have memory of it can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when it happened.

At the time, I was eight months pregnant with our first child, Big Sister.  Hubby and I were living in Tooele, Utah and both working in Salt Lake City which meant long commutes.  Hubby would wake up super early and be on the road by five AM and I would wake a couple of hours later to the television turning on - still the coolest alarm clock I've ever had.  I would lay in bed half conscious for the end of the local news until the Today show would come on at seven which was my queue to get up and get in the shower.  Instead of hitting the snooze button I'd watch the first little segment of national news and then get up.  That morning they were doing live coverage special reporting showing aerial shots of the World Trade Center towers, one of which had smoke coming out of it toward the top, and speculating on what could have happened.  Initial reports were just coming in about something having hit it with everyone at that point still thinking it was some kind of  horrible accident.

And then - live on television - I saw the second plane hit.  And they played it over and over for the rest of the morning while the country's collective sat in shock at the realization this was being done on purpose. Unfathomable.

It's mostly a blur from there as reports were made about yet another plane hitting the Pentagon and eventually the plane that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania instead of it's intended target because the passengers fought back against the hijackers.  I remember sitting there in bed rubbing my pregnant belly and wondering what kind of a world I was going to bring this new baby into and wishing Hubby was there with me instead of just a voice on the other end of the phone sounding just as shocked as I was feeling.  He was watching on television at work after a coworker's wife had called and told them to tune in.

I vaguely remember getting ready for work and heading for the office, much later than usual.  I kept wandering back and forth between the bathroom and the bedroom glued to the television.  Before I left I saw both the towers collapse - still live.  When I got to work, the little thirteen inch TV in the break room on top of the refrigerator, which I had only before seen used by the night janitorial crew, was turned on showing the news recapping over and over what people just tuning in might have missed.  People would wander into the small cramped room, watch for a bit, then wander away.  Everyone who had radios on their desks were listening to news reports.  Streaming CNN was choking our network broadband but not much work was happening anyway so no one said anything.  Everyone was talking about it constantly.  Many were visibly shaken and emotional.  Some never left that room all day.

The entire country was in chaos.   One of my coworker friends had left that morning for a vacation in New York.  I remember being frantic, worried if she was on one of the planes, and relieved when I heard from her.  They had arrived hours earlier and were nowhere near ground zero, as it was later dubbed, but had tried to make their way closer to see what was happening.  One of my closest friends at the time had just sent her husband off on a plane that morning for training in the Midwest.  His plane was grounded when they closed the airspace stranding him in Las Vegas for days until the two of us drove down to get him one night after work.  We returned just in time to change our clothes and go to work the next morning.

I was very lucky since neither Hubby or I had anyone close - or even an acquaintance - who were killed on that day.  Although thousands were not that lucky.  And that doesn't include the thousands who have been killed since that day in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In reality, the country hasn't been the same since...  And in many ways it is hard to believe it has been ten years.

Do you remember where you were that morning?

Blog Challenge Day 7 - Five things I couldn't possibly live without

Since it says 'things' and not 'people' I'm going to answer literally instead of going to the safe and predictable places like family or friends... which goes without saying anyway.

1.  A smart phone.  I never really got over my addiction to the Blackberry - which was my gateway drug.  Currently I have a Droid and just upgraded my work phone to an iPhone.  And I carry them both.  I feel naked if I don't have my phone ON. MY. PERSON.  I'm not a lady who keeps it in her purse.  I don't wear pants without pockets.  I never ever turn it off.  Seriously, I could not live without my phone.

2.  Running shoes.  Again, an addiction.  What does this say about me, I wonder?  I used to be a shoe whore and was a sucker for a cute pair of shoes - especially heels and strappy sandals.  Now I love running so much that I have spent my allotted shoe money for the last three years on running shoes rather than shoe shoes.  I do not currently own any sensible black shoes for work and my brown shoes - the last pair I haven't worn out - are ones I bought more than three years ago.  Once my running shoes wear out and I can't wear them for running, they transition into my everyday shoes.  And if the day came that I couldn't afford to buy a new pair FOR running, I would spend food money to buy them and starve instead.

3.  Cottage cheese.  I eat cottage cheese every single day.  It is one of the best forms of non-meat protein and requires no work to prepare.  I love it plain. I love it with berries mixed in.  I could eat it for every meal.  If they quit making it, I would die.

4.  Hair color.  I suffer from a pretty shitty gene pool in the hair department.  I got my first gray hair at fifteen and have been coloring ever since.  If I didn't have hair color, instead of looking like Little Sister's mom, I'd look like her grandmother.  No joke.  No exaggeration.  I'm so busy these days that I don't get time to color it often enough and I KNOW it's time for color when I have a stripe of silver starring me down from the mirror yelling "color me quick!".  If I had to endure having THAT hair color from roots to ends, I would die.

5.  Books.  Bet you saw this one coming, huh?  I don't remember a time when I didn't love to read.  I came home the first day of Kindergarten so mad because "they didn't teach us to read today" like my Mom had said would happen.  I always have a book with me - either tucked into my bag or loaded up on my iPod or my reader app on my smart phone or all three.  If other authors stopped writing great stories for me to read I would die.  Probably why I want to be one of those authors and give back to other readers like me.

So, what on this list surprised you the most?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 6 - A moment I wish I could relive

Time to get a little heavy... fair warning.  As I said, this list has a bunch of things I don't normally blog about which is, I guess, the entire point.  I have two specific moments that, at their essence, are really the same moment with two different people and are the only two real regrets that I have in my life.  I wish I could go back and say goodbye to my maternal grandpa and my fraternal grandma differently before they both died.

One thing I don't do well is death - I always find a reason to skip a funeral, when I go to viewings I skip even going near the body.  It isn't necessarily that it creeps me out but just that I don't get the whole ritual.  When I die, I don't even want to be embalmed.  Donate all my organs, put me in a cardboard box, let my kids say goodbye one last time then burn me to ashes and have a gathering to celebrate my life.  Once I'm gone there's nothing left in the shell of my body so why go to all the trouble with preserving it.  And don't even get me started about the whole idea of cemeteries with all those bodies rotting away sealed up tight where they can't even nourish the trees and other life around them.

My grandpa died four years ago.  He was one of the most important men to ever come into my life.  I was there with the rest of my family - brothers, sister, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, literally everyone - when he died.  I think he held out long enough for us all to get there after the dreaded middle-of-the-night phone call before he took his last breath.  We all took turns going to the bed and saying our last goodbye and while I didn't skip it, I didn't do everything I wish I had.  I held his hand and told him I loved him but I hesitated and for some reason held back throwing myself on him for one last hug and kissing him like I really wanted to do.  So, I'd like to relive that moment and this time not give a shit how it looked or if it messed up some machine hooked to him and give him that hug.

I should have learned my lesson about this particular moment by the time my dear grandma on my Dad's side passed away a year later.  But, instead I listened to my Dad - who knows how I feel about the whole subject of death.  He told me the last time he had seen her she hadn't even known who he was and that it wouldn't matter if I went to see her one last time or not.  So I didn't.  At the time I rationalized that it would break my heart to have her not recognize me and to see her in such a diminished capacity preferring instead to remember the small, sweet lady who was always such a gracious and giving woman.  Even now I wonder how different it would have been had I gone to say goodbye.  Maybe she would have known me and taken some small comfort in my presence.  I'll never know and I wish I had gone.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 5 - The meaning behind my blog's name

For a long time I've been fascinated with all things occult.  I love astrology, read Tarot cards, am fascinated with palm readers, have been to a psychic, and always gravitate to movies and books with these things and characters who do them.  One of the things I've always said is "I wish I had a crystal ball!" - usually when I'm trying to make tough choices where there are no easy answers and could mean significant change in my life.  When I got the blogging bug - which seems like a lifetime ago - I thought it would be cool to theme it around being a glimpse into my life from the outside - like a crystal ball - and also a reflection of my own life from the inside.   Over the years it has been just that - a way for me to project outward what I'm doing, feeling, thinking and also for me to reflect on what makes me who I am.  I still have days when I really wish I had that magical crystal ball to make my life easier, but in the meantime I have this!

My blog began before I consciously decided I wanted to be a writer who would also have a blog or thought there might be actual people who would read it regularly.  Many times I have thought "Terra, could you have made the blog url any longer and why doesn't it match the name of the blog?" and have thought long and hard about changing it.  But if I change the url to match the name of the blog would I lose people who stop by occasionally or would it be easier for everyone to find - never mind the fact it's printed on my business cards?  Or would I fall into the trap of being one of "those" bloggers who are infamous for changing their blog name or deleting them? I've found several in this category over the years and am sad when the blog is one day inexplicably gone.  So of course I don't want to do that to any of MY readers.

I'd love to know...  How did you find me in the blog-isphere and what do you think of the name or the url - love it, hate it or never thought about it?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 4 - A favorite quote

My favorite quote of all time is the last stanza of this Victorian poem by William Ernest Henley.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

I love the power this poem conveys - especially the last two lines.  No matter what happens, I know that I am in control of my fate and that I am the one steering the ship of my life.  It helps me avoid falling into the trap of feeling victimized or being made to feel guilty by others.  I don't remember when I first heard this poem - I think it was an old Army veteran I worked with about twenty years ago - but I don't remember when I haven't had those last few lines always running through my subconscious. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 3 - A favorite book

Having to pick just one favorite book when I read many a month is brutal.  Since I frequently review books here on the blog, I think you probably know by well what kinds of books I read.  But, pick one I will.  My favorite book - based on how much it impacted my life - is "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan.  This was the second I read from Pollan and together they literally changed my life.  Does it surprise you that my pick for this category comes in the form of non-fiction?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 2 - A favorite movie

How do I pick just one?  I love movies.  I love movies so much I didn't once bitch about Netflix raising their prices and charging separately for streaming and by-mail options AND have continued paying for both.  Instead of nailing down just one movie that I love, which would be like picking my favorite child, I'll pick my favorite genre which is science fiction.  I loved Armageddon, I loved all the Star Wars, I loved all the Star Treks... Go figure, a technology gadget geek loves science fiction.  So much for learning something new about me, huh?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Celebrating with a blog challenge - Day 1

I don't know what specific date I started blogging - sometime in 2008 I think.  But, the new blogger layout now shows me the number of posts I've done and this is number two hundred.  That number seems significant so I thought I'd do something to celebrate.  I see lots of people doing these 30-Day Blog Challenges and I found one that is designed to let readers get to know the blogger a little better.  (As if you don't know me pretty well already after two hundred posts of hold-nothing-back, right?)  One of the lists has things on it that I do not normally blog about so I thought what the hell.  The next month you can all get to know me just a little better and I'd love it if you commented and told me these same facts about you!

Day 1: A favorite song

This is a hard one to nail down.  I am a child of the 80's and love pretty much any hair band.  I played guitar in a garage band back in college and we did some extremely heavy stuff.  At the time, my favorite was Metallica.  I was also classically trained on the piano and LOVE classical music, especially Tchiakovsky.  But, right now my favorite song is "So What" by Pink.  It has such a great beat and great lyrics and Pink is one of my favorite artists because she knows how to tell it like it is.  I also love pretty much anything by Katy Perry and have been known to sing along to some of the teeny boppers that Big Sister listens to - like Selena Gomez lately.  I love music in general and will listen to anything - as long as it isn't country which makes me violent and irritable or show tunes which I never got into.  The heavier the better if I'm trying to concentrate and the lyrics have to hit home to make it a favorite.

Stay tuned for the next thirty days for other random facts with a window into who I am.  Hope you enjoy!