Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Have I gone all hippy on you?


When it comes to patriotism, I'm conflicted.

I love my country. I love the opportunities I've enjoyed because I was born and raised here in the USA. I feel blessed to have an education courtesy of my countrymen who pay their taxes. America is beautiful... You know, purple mountains majesty and spacious skies and shining seas.  I was born with privileges and rights that others yearn for their whole lives. I have the freedom to criticize government if I want to.

If being patriotic means showing gratitude for these blessings of being born where I was, then I'm a patriot. However I worry sometimes that our outward acts of patriotism make others wonder if we condone all the hateful, selfish, and irresponsible things that our government has done in the name of freedom, especially to people of foreign nations. I'm so ashamed of the errors that some imperfect and misguided leaders of my country's government have made and are making.

I want to be careful that in my gratitude for the good things that my country has provided to me, I don't show insensitivity, disrespect, or indifference to those who have been seriously hurt by the unwise or corrupt choices that my government has made. Americans have done wonderful things across the world, but we've also been behind disgusting schemes, and selfish mistakes which have infringed on the rights of fellow human beings.



 


Today we're celebrating Independence Day. We happily commemorate declaring independence from the oppressive government of Great Britain. Thanks to our founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence was a major statement on human rights:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." 

I love what Howard Zinn, an American historian and author, had to say on the subject:

“Today everybody is talking about the fact that we live in one world; because of globalization, we are all part of the same planet. They talk that way, but do they mean it? We should remind them that the words of the Declaration [of Independence] apply not only to people in this country, but also to people all over the world. People everywhere have the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When the government becomes destructive of that, then it is patriotic to dissent and to criticize - to do what we always praise and call heroic when we look upon the dissenters and critics in totalitarian countries who dare to speak out.” 
― Howard Zinn, Artists In Times of War and Other Essays


and this quote by the same wise man:


“What struck me as I began to study history was how nationalist fervor--inculcated from childhood on by pledges of allegiance, national anthems, flags waving and rhetoric blowing--permeated the educational systems of all countries, including our own. I wonder now how the foreign policies of the United States would look if we wiped out the national boundaries of the world, at least in our minds, and thought of all children everywhere as our own. Then we could never drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, or napalm on Vietnam, or wage war anywhere, because wars, especially in our time, are always wars against children, indeed our children.” 
― Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present



On the subject of war, can I go all hippy on you? Or have I already done so?


“All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers... Each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in which he was born.” 
― François Fénelon (French Roman Catholic Archibishop, brave writer, defender of human rights)


“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.” 
― Mark Twain 



As I'm enjoying my barbecue and fireworks tonight, my pride in my country will be limited by the pain it's caused others. I'm not personally accountable for America's past, but I am for its future. While I'm not always proud of where we've been as a country, I'm grateful for what we have and for those who have sacrificed to give us those blessings. Let's share our good fortune with our world family, not just with our countrymen.

“In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.” 
― Barack Obama

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hattie and I arrived home from our weekend trip to St. George this evening. I was carrying Hattie down the stairs to our home and at her first glimpse of Jonathan sitting at the computer, she said, "Dada!" I gave him a big hug and she wrapped one arm around him and one around me. It was so sweet. She kept wanting to hug us both at the same time. I love my family.

Now Jonathan is blowing Hattie's hair dry so that she won't be cold after her bath. She ate some bar soap in the bath.

We went on the trip without Jonathan so he could get tons of homework done. Jonathan and I have been married for three years and we hadn't ever been apart for more than one night until now. I missed him, but I think sometimes it's good to miss the person you love the most... at least just for a few days.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Hairy Revolution

One of my quarter-life crisis birthday resolutions is to learn how to do my hair... ahem, do my hair cute. I know, I know, I'm a 25-year-old woman. You'd think I would know how to do my hair by this point in life. Well, let's take a look at my hair history.

Birth: I was born with a TON of hair. I had my first haircut at 6 weeks or 3 months or something like that (right, Mom?)

Little Kid-hood: My mom made lots of pretty bows and did very cute hairstyles on me every day.

Elementary School-hood: I started to get VERY picky about my hair. NO bumps. I was absolutely horrified at the thought of any bump sticking up out of my hair when it was in a ponytail or bun. Everything had to be perfect and in the center with no hairs hanging out funny. It was bordering on OCD. Hair OCD. Most definitely a trial for my mother.

And don't let me forget that I was on a swim team and/or water polo team from age 7 through college. I endured the nickname "Green Queen," and endless comments from hairstylists about how my slimy chlorine hair would slip right through their scissors.

2nd Grade: Oh the bang cut debacle of 1992. You see, my mom used to cut my hair herself. I guess this particular time she had trouble getting my bangs even (and she surely knew the flip-out she'd have on her hands if they weren't EVEN!). So she took a little off one side, a little off the other, a little more off the right, now a tiny more from the left and middle and before we knew it, my bangs were an inch long. She even had the gall to make me go to school the next day. Oh the shame. I remember being completely shocked when I wasn't mocked and ridiculed. Needless to say, I didn't let my mom cut my hair ever again.

6th-ish grade: My mom decides it's high time for me to start doing my own hair. Oh the tantrums. And the terrible hair OCD beast roaring her ugly head. Oh the crunchy, crunchy snap clip-filled hair. Did I mention how crunchy my hair was?

Junior High: I finally got into a groove that involved pony tails, half-up (or as we call it, "Some up, some down"), messy buns, and curling irons. Oh HI, Boys.

High School: Early morning swim and water polo practices led to me going to class with wet and uncombed hair. This is also when I tried to stop caring what people thought. I would comb my hair in my first class of the day and just let it air dry. Eventually I really did stop caring what people thought. I considered my hair "styled" when I took the time to blow-dry and straighten it.

Oh and there was that time I used Kool-Aid to dye several inches of my long hair green for a state swim meet. Apparently Kool-Aid is not a temporary dye. Lesson learned.

College through now: My hairstyles have been blow-dryed and straightened, high ponytail, low ponytail, high messy bun, low messy bun, bangs = none or swoopy or straight-across. I've rocked the long hair, the really long hair, and the really really long hair.

While I don't have too many regrets about my life-long hair saga, I have recently gotten this unfamiliar desire to have prettier hair. I decided to start with a classic french braid.

I have been telling myself for awhile that I can absolutely learn anything I want to with just the internet for a teacher. Let me tell you, the internet can't make your arms stronger. My main problem with practicing the french braid is that I can't hold my arms up long enough to get anywhere! They would start shaking and I would give up.

I decided to switch away from braiding straight back to braiding down the side of my head in hopes of achieving one of these (click each photo for source):

French-Braid-Hairstyles Photobucket

Very pretty, right? These braids are a little easier on the arms, but let me tell you, there were many failures before I even got a recognizable braid. Embarrassing, I know.

Without further ado, here's my first attempt that resembled anything besides bedhead (please excuse the mud-stained shirt I'm wearing. It was Jonathan's Dirty Dash shirt and I was spray painting):
DSCF3898

Not exactly my finest hour of success, but it was a real braid!

DSCF3899
Unfortunately, it's not something I would consider wearing in public. Yes, even me.

Second Attempt... something obviously went very wrong:
DSCF3901
In my defense, bangs are difficult to braid into long hair. Also, I randomly grew a new row of hair when I had Hattie that's just a couple inches long now. So annoying.

Third Attempt. I asked Jonathan if it looked better or worse than the first. He said he couldn't tell. Sooo basically they both sucked:
DSCF3908
You can really see my new row of hair in this photo (above). Hot.


My most recent attempt happened as I was sitting on the couch watching the news. No mirror this time. I actually wore this one out of the house. YAY!
DSCF3912
I realized with this attempt that french braiding without a mirror is much easier and less confusing for my fingers.

I plan to keep trying and eventually master the french braid. No more boring ponytails (if you happen to see me wearing a boring ponytail, please don't say anything).

Here's to the next 25 hair years being much better than the last.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm officially on my quest to learn what I didn't learn in college.


Web Design.

I'm not sure when the desire to create a website came to me, but during my last semester of college I decided to figure out what this HTML business was all about. I signed up for a free class sponsored by the U of U's Marriott Library. Hmmm, well the guy who taught it ended up being a little old school. At the time, the world of website creation and web design were completely new to me and I just assumed I was learning cutting edge stuff here. It was a little disheartening when I realized that the teacher had taught us mostly outdated practices. Using table tags to format web pages. Tag names in all caps was best. Using old HTML tags instead of CSS to style a web page.

Anyway, try number two. I got a book and researched online. I'm now teaching myself from the latest sources (I hope) and I've decided to build a website completely from scratch.

Lest this post gets too boring for those with absolutely zero interest in the behind-the-scenes internet, a picture! This is a screenshot of the very VERY beginnings for my trial website. It will eventually be a working website for Jonathan's graphic design work, portfolio, blog, etc. On the right side is the HTML document and the left is how Internet Explorer displays it. Pretty cool?

Screenshot 1

Well even if you think it's completely lame, ugly, and boring (I hate you), the point is, I'm doing it. I'm learning something I've wanted to learn for a long while. Maybe it'll be a hobby, maybe I could make some money. Maybe once I'm done I'll realize there are other things I'd much rather be doing with my time. Who knows? But isn't it so exciting?!

I'll give occasional updates on how it's coming. Keep me on it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Making a Life

I've had a surge of motivation and inspiration lately. You just can't let those pass by. At least, I won't this time.

I want to learn things.

I've heard a lot of people say things like, "Learning shouldn't end when school ends." Now I realize that yes, that little saying and all its variations may be trite, maybe they're cliché, but the idea behind them? It hasn't lost it's meaning. It's true.

When I graduated from college 2 years ago, I was so excited to finally have the time to learn what I really want to know. Outside the confines of class requirements, professors, and syllabi, I could learn whatever I wanted! Instead, I was caught up in making a living, helping to support my family, the duties of life, watching tv.

My mom-in-law emailed me some Maya Angelou quotes today. One of them was:

"I've learned that 'making a living' is not the same as making a life."


I love it when you read something someone else wrote that feels like it was written for you. It just shows you how similar we humans are to each other.

I'm going to start making a life. It will be full of learning how to do things that I'm interested in. I will make an effort to go out and do things that I want to do. Your life can end at any time. Your knowledge and memories and experience stay with you forever.

The things I learn and do will make me a more interesting and thus hotter wife. Jonathan won't argue with that. I'll be a smarter and funner mom. I'll be more likely to cross paths with people who I can help and who can help me in some way. I'll be better equipped to help them. I'll be more aware of the world.

Next year I probably won't care or even remember who won So You Think You Can Dance, but I bet it'll feel good to wear a skirt that I sewed myself. So what if I sewed it while watching crazy talented people bust a move on tv? No one said I can't multi-task.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ambitious

I turned 25 a couple of days ago. Jonathan and Hattie and I went to Sugarhouse Park and fed the ducks and geese (and mostly seagulls. Gr!) some old stale pretzels. We went on a walk around the park, Jonathan pushing me in my wheelchair while I pushed Hattie in her stroller. We looked a little funny but it was nice to get some sunshine and not be stuck in bed.

I went and got a pedicure with my mom and sis. A foot massage and pink toenails can do a lot for your soul.

The icing on the cake was heavenly sushi for dinner at Takashi. I love that place so much. We had to wait 40 minutes for a table on a Wednesday evening, but I would have waited longer. It was delicious.

For dessert they gave us a mango mousse - a perfect, light dessert to end a meal of sushi. The server put a candle in the mouse, wished me a happy birthday, and left us alone.

As I blew out the candle I made my 25th Birthday Resolution: I will be more ambitious with my goals and ideas this coming year. I kept the candle to remind me. Hold me to it, friends.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Accident


Was my last post about change? I'm still amazed how the tiniest change can affect so much of your life. The tiniest extra minute that I spent getting ready for work one morning... that put me on the freeway one minute later. The tiniest couple of seconds another driver on the freeway spends looking at something other than the road. The tiniest fracture in my back. My world is different right now because of those tiny little things. Hopefully one day, my current predicament will just seem like a tiny part of my life.


Wednesday, April 6th I was involved in a freeway car accident. A driver two cars behind me wasn't paying attention, couldn't stop fast enough, swerved out of our lane, lost control, hit me directly on the rear driver side of my car. I was knocked unconscious and ended up running into the car in front of me.


I have seen one accident in my life where the Jaws of Life were cutting the car open to save the driver. I remember thinking how scary that would be. I've passed a few accidents with paramedics on scene and you see someone on a stretcher being loaded up into the ambulance. I always say a little prayer for them and hope they're okay.


It's incredibly surreal to be the one lying in your car in so much pain. Staring at the deflated airbags, the smashed windshield. Accepting a stranger's coat. Holding another stranger's hand as she cries and asks you if you're okay. Wondering which one of them hit you. Calling your husband and then forgetting what you said to him. Feeling the pain in your back and wondering if you'll be okay and how you're going to get out of the smashed car. Listening to the side of your car being cut away. Being transferred onto a hard board. Getting your head strapped down. Not caring if they cut off your clothes. Watching a paramedic call your husband on your own cell phone and telling him where they're taking you. Being asked basic questions, "How long have you been married?" "How old is your baby?" and answering, "I don't know, I don't know."


Thank goodness for shock - that state your body goes into during traumatic situations. I didn't reach the hospital until 45 minutes after the accident, but it felt so much faster. If I would have been thinking clearly I don't know that I could have handled the scariness of it all.


At the ER I was given some strong pain medicine and sent directly to the CT scan. A few minutes later the nurse told me I had fractured the bone that connects my spine to my pelvis. That didn't sound good. I took comfort that I could move my toes. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink until late afternoon (hours later). The orthopedic surgeon had to look at the scans first and tell me whether I would be getting surgery that day. The shock had worn off and I was growing worried about a surgery, long recovery, complications, worst-case scenarios.


Finally the orthopedic surgeon came in to tell me my sacrum was fractured. The bone at the base of your spine between your hips. He felt that it would likely heal without surgery. If not, a 4 inch screw would be placed. No weight on my right leg for at least 6 weeks. A painful fracture. Painful recovery. If I'm careful, no surgery. Hopefully.


I took some comfort in no surgery but some sadness in realizing life would be a little difficult for awhile.


I stayed in the hospital 5 days. The second day a physical therapist made me sit up. Then stand up. So much pain! He asked me my pain level and I screamed, "TEN!" He left me alone for the rest of the day. The next day he came in again. Made me sit up, stand up. It was a little better. He had me take a couple of steps with a walker. Pain. He let me sit back down. I screamed a type of scream I've never heard myself scream. Right in his face. That sitting down HURT! I was depressed. I can't do that for 6 weeks.


Slowly but surely, in between the demoralizing experiences that come when you're bedridden in a hospital, I was able to get the hang of moving enough to finally make it into the bathroom on Sunday morning. After proving I could get out of bed and to the bathroom they decided they could let me go home.


I live in a basement. Stairs! Luckily my aunt, who owns the home we live in and lives upstairs, had an extra room upstairs that she's letting me live in. Sometimes I lie in bed. Sometimes I sit in a chair. Jonathan and Hattie still live downstairs. It stinks. I miss sharing a bed with Jonathan but I'm afraid to right now. I can't check on Hattie while she's sleeping anymore. I can't carry her. I can't pick her up off the floor. I can't meet her needs. I can't be alone with her. Boo!


Yesterday I was going crazy from sitting inside at home. I went to Costco with my Mom, Jonathan, and Hattie. I used my wheelchair. Little kids stared or smiled at me. Employees offered me extra samples. I'm a handicapped person! It's only for a couple of months. I'm so lucky.


Looking at pictures of my smushed car, I realize how lucky I truly am to be alive. To not be paralyzed. My sacrum is probably broken because of the seat belt, but I likely would have died without it. Many family-members, friends, and coworkers have sent flowers, games, books, movies, treats, dinners, cards. I feel very loved and taken care of. No matter how much I wish I could be the one to meet Hattie's needs, there are many people willing to do it for me. I'm so grateful for that. I have a friend who is an attorney helping me sort out insurance settlement stuff free of charge. So thankful! My aunt is a Licensed Nurse Practitioner who can reassure me that that lump in my thigh is not a blood clot. Blessings!


This has been scary, painful, frustrating, embarrassing, demoralizing, boring, annoying, and depressing but I am so grateful it's temporary. It's going to suck to see my muscles in my right leg deteriorate to nothing. It's hard to wonder if my baby is learning to love others more than me. It's frustrating to have to rely on Jonathan to bring me food, help me shower and dress, get this and that for me. I hope he doesn't hate me by the end of this.


It will end. I will heal. It will stop hurting. I can gain muscle back. I won't miss the whole summer. I have a lot of support. I can do this! (Maybe if I say that enough it will be true.)


Everyone, PLEASE, watch where you're going on the road! You're driving a 4000 lb machine at high speeds. Watch where you are going!


Sadly, no matter how much you watch where you're going, you are still taking a risk by driving. People forget every day that they are driving 4000 lb machines. And they text. Gr!