Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What I am learning (Thursday 13)

The serious post is here, if you want to read a funny list of 13, skip here

1. Work Life balance is NECESSARY and HARD to maintain/create.

2. Working Out WILL, indeed, give you more energy. Write that down to remember when you don't want to go.

3. The need for friendship is NOT properly satisfied by the constant acquisition of random acquaintances. It is important to invest in people's lives and it is equally important to allow others to invest in yours.

4. Leave it all out on the field. Once you carefully choose a course of action, LEAVE IT ALL OUT ON THE FIELD.

5. It IS, indeed, true that: Second to trying and winning is trying and failing (LM Montgomery). As a corollary, it is shameful to not try at all, it is weak and shallow.

6. Do NOT judge a book by its cover. My best friends have found me before I was aware of them. Some of my favorite activities started with "I never will".

7. Do NOT look at the past in an attempt to re-live it. Look back only long enough to learn from your mistakes and LET IT GO. Once you do that, you will be stronger, happier and ready for new experiences.

8. Kids and the elderly hold the key! Look at things through their eyes and the smallest day to day tasks take on a new value and a new meaning. This so far seems to cure road rage, impatience, the desperate need to understand stuff and delusions of grandeur.

9. Them mice in your head that work double-time at making you doubt and wonder and not trust and second guess? FIRE THEM! Keep your conscience and common sense, but the mice are no good. Maybe without them you will be wrong about some things, but with them, you can never enjoy a good thing.

10. True friendships are indeed resilient and lasting. There is no sweeter taste than the realization that a "lost" friend was just on hiatus. True friendships are apparently re-kindled effortlessly, when you least expect it and when you most need it.

11. Do not let your fears have any impact on your choices/decisions and actions. It is silly to let thoughts of things you do not like direct your path.

12. LIVE LIFE! Enjoy every moment, every note, every red light, every falling hair, every rain drop, every puke, every cold, every germ, every tear, every laugh, every hug and every helping hand. Enjoy every little, big, old, young, new strong and weak gem that crosses your path. Do not do this because you are afraid it might be the last or you might lose your gems, do it because it is worth enjoying all that.

13. I miss my sisters more than anything in this world. My sisters are both wonderful, beautiful, smart, insightful people. It is a good thing God picks those because I could have never made a better choice and I would have missed out. My baby sister is amazingly trustworthy and loyal. My middle sister does not ever cease to amaze me and I doubt she ever will. If someone wrote a movie about our lives together (me and middle sis), it would HAVE to be a musical.

Happenin' Humping Hump Day

So I am readying a post of Thursday Thirteens, but Thursday is an easy day. So, I figured people need something to read on Wednesdays. The title is in honor of my teenagehood friend Elba who loves calling it 'Hump Day'.

So, here it is.

Things to do to get through Hump Day:

1. Pandora --This is very easy. It takes literally 30 seconds to get you to your favorite music. You enter artists and songs that you like and Pandora will play it intermixed with songs they consider to be similar. You get information about the artist and why the selection was made. Also, if you don't like something hit the thumbs down and they apologize and never play it again. What is wild is that I tried this for a few hours yesterday and only had to thumb down 2 songs and thumbed up just about everything else.

2. $2 Skate -- In Georgia, Sparkles has a $2 skate night. Also, Bowling Alleys and other like places have discounts on Wednesdays.

3. In Puerto Rico and other states, Wednesday is ladies night for movies and other date type activities. Meaning discounts.

4. Blogger -- Start a blog, or revive your dying one.

5. Text/E-mail a friend you haven't spoken to in a while.

6. Craigslist -- Get on craigslist and just look at the ads. Be careful with personal ads as they can be inappropriate and meeting people off the internet is dangerous.

7. Ebay -- Remember that lunch box you carried to school in the 3rd grade? Do you miss it? Look it up on ebay. Careful, it is addictive.

8. Lottery -- We do not advocate playing. Seriously, even if you played, chances are you would not win. BUT, the GA Lottery records the numbers for all past drawings and you can enter numbers on the website and it will see if it matches any drawings in the past. You can even download the results to Excel and do some stats with it.

9. Draw something, doodle, something. Remember that pencil you pushed through so many years of school and which has been replaced by the keyboard, use it... it is very freeing to do so.

10. Make your weekend plans. Nothing makes Wednesday go by faster than planning for the weekend.

11. wikiHow -- Learn anything from how to braid, skate, ride a bike to how to bake, throw parties, re-create your life. It is amazing! When you are done reading the crazy abundance of guides try something from there for kicks (I do not recommend trying anything from the life advice section).

12. The Uncyclopedia -- Bet you have heard of Wikipedia by now. But, the Uncyclopedia looks, feels and smells like Wikipedia without all the real content. It is hillarious. Read the article on Earth for starters!

13. Wikipedia -- Gain some real knowledge that is close to accurate. The impress your friends. Consider this piece of interesting information about the Birthday Song and its strict copyright. I bet you never knew! Ok, if you have ever eaten with Jamil in the last year at a restaurant and it was someone's birthday, you have heard that information. If you are not inclined to reading, we are open for dinner all of next week just find a restaurant with good probability of birthdays and he will tell you all about it!

So, hopefully this will help you in your future pursuits of conquering Wednesday. We are not responsible for your employment status resulting directly or indirectly from following any of the 13 suggestions above. Nor are we responsible for the effects of any action resulting directly or indirectly from you following instructions from anyone, including any item contained hereinto or hereoutof or due to your bad hearing, etc, etc, etc. Read, we are broke and will not be sued!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jamil and Jamil went for a walk...

Patricia's recent post had me thinking about what my own "20 year old self", "15 year old self", and even "5 year old self" would say about my current life... Here goes...

Favorite Ice Cream
Now: Rocky Road.
20 yo: Rocky Road.
15 yo: Chocolate (hadn't discovered Rocky Road yet).
5 yo: Chocolate.

Prepackaged lunches
Now: Awesome!
20 yo: Awesome!
15 yo: Awesome!
5 yo: Awesome!

Gym / Exercise:
Now: Never!
20 yo: Never!
15 yo: Never!
5 yo: Never!

Now: Shouldn't I own my own business?
20 yo: Stupid cube farm.
15 yo:
Nice! You're successful.
5 yo: Wow! That is a lot of money, and you're on the computer all day!

Favorite Color:
Now: Blue.
20 yo: Blue.
15 yo: Blue.
5 yo: Blue.

So, in short... The only differences between "me" and all the "mini-me"s, are related to how I view my job/work. (At least for the specific categories in Patricia's original post!)...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Patricia and Patricia went for a walk

If it isn't clear to the few lurkers of this blog, something has changed.

I am trying to bring Rolling on the floor laughing back, but I don't know if it is still there. I mean, I am laughing lots and lots and lots: YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I am enjoying little things that you wouldn't believe. Jamil is thankfully quite amused by all of it. This morning this moron lady changed lanes in front of me, past where the turn lane line becomes solid, with no indicator on and proceeded to break on a yellow so we missed the green turn light: I did not honk (gasp).

Actually, I wanted to for a minute, but then I thought "it is just as well that I sit here in my car on the road and enjoy my morning drive since I do not get to drive so much anymore". 25 year old Patricia screams in my ear: Seriously, WHAT?! C'mon, get a grip Patricia". 16 year old Patricia claps twice and says "Goody yes, maybe let's also skip work and go for a long drive, we have waited so long to do this". 5 year old Patricia thinks "Look! special edition, I wonder why her car is special edition, why is it special? how many special ones are there? what does the regular edition look like? that's a pretty green color hanging there!" 3 year old Patricia, meanwhile sucks her thumb intrigued by a very familiar smell in the car, it makes her smile.

In an effort to bring funny back, here is some other Patricia arguments:

Which ice cream flavor?
Strawberry of course. 22 year old screams: Jake's chocolate slap yo' mama. 10 year old says nothing like chocolate, 7 year old remembers good bean ice cream and 5 year old does not really like any of it.

About my pre-packaged lunch?
If I never eat Hormel again it will be too soon. 20yo: Hey, that solves the problem with the fridge space, awesome, no refrigeration... if only there was a rice with cheese one. 14yo: Why, Patricia, that does not look like rice and beans and while we like to try new things, rice is not supposed to be soupy wet. I thought we were going to step up from cafeteria food. 10yo: Whew, then we can put all $2 in our pocket to buy a nice present for someone special instead of wasting it on ketchupped burgers, maybe we can go to the craft store and buy some materials to make some stuff. 5yo: Can I just have milk instead? I really like the brown warm chocolatey stuff flowing from the bottle. The bottle has cool numbers, some are really big and some are small and they are on either side and when you scratch your fingernails on them it makes a cool sound and it feels nice. 2yo: I am never ever eating again, people who eat get fat. Look at grandma's pastor and all the people from church.

On going to the gym/excercising:
We must and we will! 20yo: Never, ever ever... I will play some roller hockey though with the guys on Curran Deck. 16yo: Ummm, remember we tried to avoid this? It causes injury and pain and we... ok we used to not need it... you have gotten a little chubby though, but still NO GYM can't we just walk downtown instead? 11yo: What and get hurt like the time with the baseball bat or the time with the basketball or the time with the volleyball? 4yo: Must conquer the monkey bars, we only got to the third one remember? 3yo: Can we ride the bike instead? I like playing better and you seem to have finally got the no wheels bit down, why risk forgetting?

On work and what I do for a living:
Pays the bills. 23yo: it will do until we figure out what we want. 17yo: great, found a way to be on the computer 24/7, I knew you could do it! I bet you are making friends all over the world! 12yo: I hope you get to program a lot and play Carmen San Diego, but exactly how are you going to make a better world on the computer again? 9yo: I bet you are really good at them fractions and conjugations and that's how you got the job. 7yo: Wow, and do you get to see how they make stuff? 5yo: You do what? Aw, c'mon. That is the best you can come up with? At least be the guy who puts the pills in a bottle but the lady who sits far away on a desk... c'mon! 3yo: But we liked flying, remember? What happened with all the flying? We also like hotels, remember the room service and the big bed and the TV and sleeping with the light on?

And what is my favorite color?
How the heck do you wake up one morning and not know what is your favorite color? Yet, I cannot name one!! 3: blue, 4-5: brown and black, 6-18: blue, ~19-20: yellow (RIP Jose Miguel) and Orange, briefly at 20: red and then I just don't know. I do like my eggs fried over medium with some sodium bicarbonate for the digestion. All Patricia's scream: yea, them tummy aches are no fun, but giving up chocolate/worrying/hot dogs/brownies/milk/fried food/eggs is no fun.

So that is it, my attempt at not boring you to death. WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!! WE ARE ALMOST DONE, WAKE UP!

I don't actually hear voices, but it is fun to try on someone else's perspective for a chance especially if it is a younger you. It helps figure out where you are going. Hopefully, one day, 70 year old Patricia will look back, smile, be in touch with the lives she has touched and the people she allowed to touch her heart, sigh, close her eyes and exhale the name of the most beautiful color in the world. Even better, she will ask two very important questions that we should all ask ourselves: Was it worth it? Are we proud of our work? and 70 Patricia's all of different ages will smile and scream in unison: YES! and YES! We are working to ensure God joins in on the second one.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The analogy you will never hear at Church--especially if you are Baptist

Disclaimer: We don't drink, smoke or advocate anyone to do either.

We are all alcoholics... every one of us, so to speak.

We all have very important needs (food, clothes, etc.), but we also have very strong desires or wants (emotional, physical and spiritual). The most popular: respect, relationships (love, friendship, parent-child), power, recognition, etc.

Most of these are harmless, but when we get too much of one of them, it consumes us. Like alcohol consumes an alcoholic. The desires are not bad, like alcohol in itself is not bad. However, they are both intoxicating. Some of us have higher tolerance than others. In C.S. Lewis's eyes the pursuit of any of these is simply a pursuit of happiness and he writes “And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

So we hear this, C.S. Lewis is a highly regarded scholar so we try to heed his advice. We can sober up, switch to cigarettes, a lesser form of that which fills our needs. We turn to God, and the strength of the pull from the alcohol is minimal. Then, one day, by accident even, you get a taste of the sweetest, purest, highest proof alcohol you have ever tasted-something they call joy-and you know life will never ever be the same.

So you go back to Lewis:
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

And you wonder:
You realized the error in your ways. You realized that there was no happiness away from God. You realized happiness is in seeking God. You deprived yourself of earthly desires that take your attention away from the Source. You were not even looking for anything else, yet you are in the middle of pure bliss, so how could this be?

My answer:
God allows us to have a taste of happiness/joy provided by Him (a happiness you could never find even if you searched the whole world for it), with no effort of our own. This temporary state allows us to experience:
1. His Power--He can do what your efforts have failed to do.
2. His Mercy--We screw up, yet he chooses to bless us.
3. Heaven--happiness on earth is just a small taste of Heaven.
4. Your powerlessness--You need HIM.

When it is all done, because everything in the world ends, you are left longing not for the happiness which we can obtain by our efforts, but the joy only He can provide. Life's tests are simply the time periods during which this joy is absent from our lives. It is then that we make a very important choice: be bitter that our perfect bottle has been taken away and wallow in cheap beer or push on through enjoying the spare cigarette along the way knowing full well that whatever we do not have here, there is a bigger bottle of the sweetest, purest, most intoxicating alcohol you have ever tasted waiting on the other side. You have had a taste and know that nothing else will satisfy you the same.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cherish every rainbow rising in the sky in spite of the rain...

So it is officially an epidemic of pondering around these parts. I have discussed the issue of trust and friendship at least 30 times in the last month with a good 15-20 people--only 5 times have I been the one to bring up the subject. Roman and Greek philosophers such as Cicero and Laelius wrote many treatises on the subject with great passion. The Bible itself contains a good number of examples: David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and Lazarus. This is just a low quality story and is not meant or able to rival any of the other sources.

So this is right after one of the best summers of my life (Math program in California). I was building a puzzle of L.A. in my parents house in Puerto Rico when the phone rang and my "plans" changed.

Me: Hello
Christel: Hello, Patricia...
(Christel's tone is very business like which is not uncommon for her, but she worked hard to get to the next few words--this made it harder to understand what she said next)

Christel: I have some very bad news.. You remember Kevin?

Boy did I remember Kevin! Kevin was the most awesome guy in the world. We were all in grad school together. Grad school is very trying. Kevin didn't have it all figured out, but he sure as hell helped as much as he could to get us to feel welcome and figure stuff out. I loved Kevin like the big brother he took upon himself to be. I bugged him to stop smoking, but would stand outside with him while he smoked all the same.

He was very tall, very sweet, a huge teddy bear like no one else I ever knew. He was also very deep. We had a number of very interesting conversations about life, heritage, love, family, God, our beloved islands in the Caribbean and math. He was always encouraging me to push through in grad school.

As a matter of fact, I had been thinking about him and even e-mailed him without response a few weeks before Christel's call with no response. I figured he was busy...

Patricia: Of course... How is he doing?
Christel: Yes, so they found him dead. Apparently he died on Monday (July 21st, 2003)

Dead what? Dead serious? Where is Michael laughing in the background? C'mon guys this is not funny...

Patricia: What do you mean dead?
Christel; His roommate found him dead in his room. His brother is making arrangements to take his body back to the island. There will be a memorial service later in the week.
Patricia: What do you mean dead? What happened? Was he sick?
Christel: He had had food poisoning. No one really knows what happened and his family is keeping everything private. He has had a rough semester overall.
Patricia: Send me the details of the memorial.
Christel: Ok, but you will not be in town.
Patricia: No problem.

So a few other things about Kevin: he was sick an awful lot and he rarely complained. But, food poisoning? How could food poisoning take MY friend? How could a little food poisoning take down a guy as big as Kevin?

I did the only natural thing... I continued to build my puzzle.

Mom: Who was that?
Patricia: Christel
Mom: What happened?
Patricia: Oh, she was just telling me about a kid in school who died...

I must have sounded very convincing because she did not pick up at all on what the news meant: I had lost my dear Kevin. Actually, I think I was convincing because the news hadn't made it all the way in my head yet. Either way, I realized there was something odd that just happened. I tried to understand what was going on. What went wrong. A few minutes later, I had it all figured out. I called Christel back with my conclusion. She said they had decided not to tell me the whole story until I got back.

I should have kept in touch like I said I would! I am a tool for not doing so, life is sooo short. That would not have changed the outcome since some things were already in gear which I could not stop, or could I? It took a long time to make peace with the fact that Kevin was not coming back. It took longer to make peace with the fact that I wasted the last 2 months of time I had with Kevin by not staying in touch. I had phantom Kevin syndrome for a very long time. I would think "oh, I need to tell Kevin this" or "oh, Kevin is not in yet" or "should I wait for him to go to lunch?" The calls coming in our shared office asking for kevin in the following year did not help. I was in shock.

I tried to blame his death on other people and when I got tired of assigning guilt, I heard the full story from another source. Then I understood that there are things you cannot change and there are things outside your control. Everyone must travel their own road and all you can do is be there, open ears to hear their calling for help, open arms to help them stand up and open heart so you can rejoice in the memories later.

Today, 5.5 years later, I still think of Kevin. He was so right about so many things and so wrong about so many others. I took for granted that he would be there when I came back. This is a bad philosophy of life because there is no promise of tomorrow. We should live today, every day, like there is no tomorrow. Real friends are special gifts from God/life with unknown expiration dates. Few are meant to stay a lifetime, no matter how hard we try. But we serve them and ourselves best if we maximize the little or long time we have together by putting all we got on the line and worrying about picking up the pieces later. Worrying before loving is a recipe for regret and missed opportunities or as L.M. Montgomery puts it: Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.

"Dance like no one is watching, love like you'll never be hurt,sing like no one is listening,and live like it's heaven on earth."- William Purkey

Monday, January 05, 2009

The proof is in the pudding or American nonsense sayings series part 2

Jamil is nuts. Yes sir, he most certainly is. He is trying to make it sounds like it is me, but no sir, it ain't. He is the crazy one he just has you all fooled.

One thing about me, though, I think American sayings do not make much sense.

This afternoon he says: the proof is in the pudding.
Me: The what?
J: The proof.
Me: What proof?
J: The pudding.
Me: So what does the pudding prove?
J: It proves nothing, the pudding IS the proof.
Me: But you said the proof was IN the pudding.
J: Right.
Me: So how can the proof be both THE pudding and IN the pudding?
J: I need a grocery list.
Me: I will give you a list, but I do not like pudding, so don't buy any.
J: I wasn't going to buy pudding.
Me: Is this pudding thing a saying or something?
J: Yes.

(Jamil always resolves everything with google, ask him why his shoes are not velcro and you'll see)

J: It is a perfectly valid saying.
Me: All your base are belong to us.

Seriously! What a waste of perfectly good computer space.

The original proverb: "the proof of the pudding is in the eating."
So what if you do not like pudding? and what proof does the pudding require? And what if the pudding ends up being a false lead, why would you eat it? And eating just proves you have a stomach. If anything, this actually says the proof is in the eating of the pudding. How do you go from the proof is in the eating to the proof is in the pudding?

Other stupid American sayings I heard recently:
Bats in a bellfry -- Hopefully the bellfry is in the caves where bats belong
A Chain is Only as Strong as its Weakest Link -- Do you mean it is only as WEAK as the weakest link?
A diamond in the rough -- Doesn't that mean you are hard to cut through and have potential for being a lot of work for nothing? How is this a compliment?
A little goes a long way -- Yeah, if you are Jesus. Have you looked at the economy recently?
A dime a dozen -- listen, a dime is 10 and a dozen is 12. So what gives?

Some real sayings, the kind that help you live longer and avoid injury. Also the kind that explain life rather than complicate it. Of course, from Spanish origin:
A shrimp that falls asleep is swept up by the current.
He doesn't miss even a doll's baptism.
Longer than a poor man's hope.
Slower than a tar IV or a procession of lame men.
No one knows who they work for.