Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Office Goddess

Okay, some of you may have noticed in my profile that I have listed "Office Goddess" as my occupation. The reason why I did that was because there wasn't room to write "secretary/bookkeeper/receptionist/technology coordinator/lab technician/digital photo specialist/research assistant/shipping coordinator/appointment setter/filing clerk/custodian" in the little box provided by blogspot.

So what exactly does that all mean in the grand scheme of things at work? I work for a metallurgical engineering firm in San Antonio, about three or four blocks from Jamie's school. The firm conducts failure analyses and chemical composition testing for the military, aerospace corporations, automotive industry, petrochemical corporations, television news investigative reports, law firms, and your average joe who wants to know why something that was supposed to work didn't (or if something is really made out of what it's supposed to be made of). I support three engineers - but that's all of the firm, pretty much. I'm one of SIX employees, and two of them are part-timers working their way through college!

It is my job to: log in and generate job numbers for new projects, type the engineers' handwritten reports, format and create any photoillustrations for said report, answer the phones, log expenses and properly invoice our clients, prepare bills to be paid, make contact with clients when payments are past due, greet clients as they come through the door, prepare samples for shipment and testing (if going to an outside lab), prepare reports from chemical analysis results of outside labs, keep all files in order, research metals specifications as needed, keep the office clean (yes, sweeping, mopping, dusting, etc), keep track of all engineers' schedules, trouble-shoot technology issues as they arise (whether I'm qualified to or not!), track all shipments to ensure on-time delivery, run errands, keep supplies well-stocked (drinks, consumables, chemicals, etc.), keep track of all routine paperwork and ensure is filed in a timely manner, and generally to know everything that is happening in the office at all times. So, as you can tell, I have just a few responsibilities at work. Oh, and I've also started a project at work where I'm converting their paper, handwritten job index to an Access database. So, as you can see, I don't really do much! LOL.

But I'm not complaining. I'm grateful to have a job, and to work with such nice people (okay, so one of them isn't nice, but he isn't directly my boss, so I can deal with him). I'm also grateful that I have benefits and am so close to Jamie's school! It's funny how all the seemingly unrelated jobs I've held over the years all directly tie in to what I'm doing now, though. I've been a radio station receptionist, a babysitter, a reporter/photographer for a newspaper, a photoillustrator and copywriter for a realtor, an automotive industry buyer, a warehouse stocker, an automotive industry line worker, an accounts receivable clerk, a construction industry secretary and a Mom. God knew I would need those skills to be equipped to handle this job!I have thanked God many times for the opportunities he has created for me! (I especially have to use my babysitting and "mommy" skills when I deal with one person there! LOL - just kidding... maybe)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Dog Isn't the Only Spoiled One in the House...

Nor is the boy. Seems like every person, er... creature, in my house is spoiled in one way or another. I'm the baby of the family, so of course I've been spoiled A LOT. Add to that being the baby and being the only surviving girl, plus the only one to provide progeny...well, you get my drift.

So why was it any surprise to get a phone call last night from my son, who is staying at his Papaw's house for the week? "Mommy! Guess what!" Jamie practically shreiked into the phone. "Papaw has a motorcycle and he let ME ride it!"

Excuse me? Did I just hear that a 72 year-old man was joyriding with an 8 year-old boy? Surely I must have misheard.

Well, I didn't. But the good news is that it was NOT really a motorcycle. It seems my dear and darlin' father shelled out for one of those Jesse James/West Coast Chopper edition bicycles all tricked out in chrome. I was informed that "it's Papaw's, but he said I could ride it whenever I want to!" I don't blame Dad for that one, as I live in what could be considered only slightly above the projects - not in how the place looks, but in the attitudes of all the wanna-be-thugs who live here. The "motorcycle" will be much safer in Papaw's garage.

As for the dog, well, he's currently sitting at my feet begging for a bite of my cereal bar. See, originally I posted this last night, and it got kind of whiny. So, this morning (May 31) I got up and deleted a big chunk of my post. I think all of you will be glad I did it, for had you read it, you would have realized that it was pretty redolent of some of my previous posts. Well, if I'm going to change my attitude, I might as well start with my blog.

Have a great day everyone. And remember, being a LITTLE spoiled isn't always a bad thing!

Childhood Story

To give you an idea of how my childhood and my thought processes at the time were much different from those of my peers, I'll share with you a story of which I was reminded after reading Suze's blog post for today.

Before I was born, my brother Jerry David was still-born. The day before he was born, my mother noticed that he stopped kicking and she had a sharp pain in her belly. After Mom adamantly insisted the doctor deliver the baby, they discovered the umbilical cord had become tightly wrapped around his neck, crushing his windpipe and ceasing blood flow to his brain. In my family, we have always been very open about both the good and the bad, so from a young age I knew my brother Jerry was in Heaven. Then, when I was five or six years old, my sister was diagnosed with Leukemia. Again, my parents were very open about the fact that Jodi might die, as treatment options were few and bone-marrow transplants were still experimental.

I was already writing short stories and poetry by this time, so I wrote this story for my mother to comfort her (I've updated and edited it a bit, of course. It was much more rudimentary in its original form. What do you expect for an elementary-schooler?) :

Jerry was scared. He used to be in a warm, comforting place. There was a lovely voice that would sing to him, and little hands he could sometimes feel patting outside the room where he lay. But now it was cold, and quiet, and he felt all alone. Jerry began to cry.

Suddenly a kind voice said "Why do you cry, my son?"

"I'm scared and alone," Jerry replied. "I used to be somewhere nice, but now I don't know where I am."

"It's okay," the voice replied. "You weren't quite ready yet to be born, so I brought you here. Soon you'll be somewhere safe until you're ready for the world."

The baby asked, "Will there be people there?"

"Not quite," the voice replied. "Just others like you, who weren't quite strong enough to be in the world yet."

"But I'll miss the singing, and the cuddling," Jerry said. "I won't get to feel the little hands of my sister, or the big hands of my mother and father anymore. I won't get to hear my mother's heartbeat."

"I see," said the voice. "You'll miss the love, won't you?"

The voice said nothing for a time, and Jerry thought he had been left alone again. Slowly he began to realize his surroundings were changing. Where once there was nothing, now shapes were beginning to emerge. He could feel that he was lying on something soft, and when he looked at himself, he could see he was now covered in a downy fur.

Suddenly, he was lifted from behind up into the air, and was squeezed around his belly.

"What is that?" Jerry cried.

"It's called a hug," the voice replied. "You wanted to experience love while you waited for your time to come to Earth. I've placed you, and all the other souls like you, in the best places you could possibly be to experience unconditional love."

Then Jerry heard a little voice which he had heard long ago in his mother's womb. He was turned around, and there he beheld for the first time the face of his big sister.

"Come on, Teddy," the girl said. "Mommy says it's time for us to take a nap."

So it was that God placed the souls of the babies lost too soon into the stuffed animals of the children of the world, that they could experience love while they waited for their time to come to earth.

BTW - Hate to go all adult on you after that bit of fluff, but of course I have to state "Neither the above story nor any portion therein may be reproduced without the express written permission of the author - i.e., ME".

Monday, May 29, 2006

It's Official: I'm Pathetic

Okay, it's official. I'm pathetic. I have no life whatsoever outside of my role as Jamie's mom. He left today to spend a few days with Papaw.... Now I'm bored, and lonely, and have no idea what to do with myself for the next couple of days. If the dog had gone with them, I'd really be sunk!

I used to have all sorts of neat activities to do. Of course, the arrival of J left no time for those activities. I used to write poetry and short stories (but, as I've mentioned before, all that died pretty much when I got preggers), I used to act and sing (even did it for a while after Jamie was born, but then I was just too darn tired to do it anymore), I used to go to movies and plays.... But now, Jamie leaves and I have no idea what to do. So, what did I wind up doing today (after I got finished crying, of course)? I took a nap. Now I'm trying to make myself go take a shower and get busy unpacking boxes. But I, instead, have been blogging and watching a CSI marathon on cable.

So, basically, my life is pretty pathetic. How pathetic will it be when Jamie leaves for college? I'm going to be one of those neurotic "empty-nest-syndrome" people. I'm only 29, yet I'm already acting like one of those stereotypical moms who feel like their whole world is over when the kids leave (even though mine is only gone for a few days)! I need a life. Now I see why I haven't had a real, honest-to-goodness RELATIONSHIP since before Jamie was born. I can't think, talk about or do anything that isn't all about him. But maybe that's all I'm supposed to be doing right now (even though I'm lonely as heck and seem to forget what it feels like for someone to consider me interesting, attractive, and a WOMAN, not just "Mommy.") But then again, maybe that isn't all I'm supposed to be doing, but I've just been too afraid of having yet another bad relationship to go out on a limb and try to reach out to anyone. Maybe I should just stop second-guessing everything and go straight to Him and ask Him to show me what He wants me to do in my life right now. I think I'll go do that and stop rambling now.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Mi Perro Loco (My Crazy Dog)

I haven't talked much about my dog, Zig Zag Scalawag (a.k.a Ziggy). He's an AKC registered Bichon Frise, but when people ask me what kind of dog I have, I usually reply "a spoiled one". When Ziggy hears water running in the bath tub, he goes charging in and tries to get in it. However, if you actually start to wash him, he doesn't like it and will jump out of the bathtub. But the minute you stop trying to put shampoo on him, he'll jump in again.

His favorite thing to do is jump in the bathtub when Jamie is in there taking a bath. He'll then try to take the wash cloth away from Jamie (see picture). He's very sneaky about getting in there, too. I'll turn one way to try to grab him and get him out of the bathroom, and he'll duck around me behind my back and jump in the water anyway.

He also loves to sleep in the bed with his people. He'll snuggle down under the covers, lay on his back, and hook his paws up over the edge of the blanket! If you try to move him, he'll get up, scooch over and lay down with his butt in your face as punishment!

One thing that annoys me down here though is the fact that no one seems to know what kind of dog he is. I keep looking for one of those doggy shirts that says "I am NOT a poodle!" I haven't found one yet, though. Maybe I'll send my friend Suze some money and ask her to knit him one. I'm not very talented when it comes to sewing or knitting. In fact, my Granny once tried to teach me, but gave up when I managed to tangle up a whole skein of yarn within about 10 seconds.

Have to go put Jamie in the bathtub now, and lock the dog out so I don't have to give him a bath, too!

BTW - the little picture is of Ziggy when we first got him. He's bigger now. I'll post some new pictures once I finally get my film developed. I've only been carrying some of it around for a year now!

The Prodigal Daughter Will Return

In the past few posts, I've digressed from the original purpose of this blog - our adjustment to San Antonio (which is, as I've stated before, the cultural capital of a foreign country). The differences between my old life and my new one were particularly obvious after my trip home for my wonderful friend Ann's wedding.

We had already been wearing shorts and tank tops for about a month - the temperatures were fluctuating between the 90s and 100s. As we were driving north for our visit, it became progressively colder. When we arrived in Fayette County, the skies opened up with a deluge of hail and rain. By the time we arrived at my other good friend Kendra's house (where we were staying) we were both freezing and wet. You see, the sunroof of my car leaks; however, this isn't usually a problem in San Antonio as it hardly ever rains. So it was pretty miserable being inside my car and still having a steady stream of water running down the back of my neck. But at least it kept me awake until we got to Kendra's house!

In our part of Texas, the land is pretty much flat, with only the occassional rise. When we got in Kentucky, it almost felt as though the world were pressing in on us (especially driving up the BG Parkway with all its high hills and valleys!)

But still, it was wonderful to be home. Kentucky is still home to me. I cried when we had to leave, as I didn't want to come back here. I'm getting ready to go back to school to take another stab at my degree, then grad school. Once I have that done, I'm pretty confident I'll be back up there. That's where my heart is. So, hopefully I'll be seeing you all in about 3-4 years!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Picture Pages!

My superstar athlete.... Stinkbumps the Wonder Boy!

(5/26/06 - It just occurred to me that I better state original photos © Image in Motion; photo effects by Jenn Hacker. The original photo on the bottom had some other kids in it chasing Jamie. I took them out and brushed the background. The top photo is unchanged from the original. That stated, now I can't get nailed for copyright infringement or whatever [I hope])

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ch' Ch' Ch' Changes (a la David Bowie)

After reading my last post, my "adopted" Momma sent me this cartoon (please see above. I had to take it out of this post and put it in one of its own, as it kept floating around over the title of this post, driving me nuts - not that it would take me too long to get there!) The cartoon is very appropriate for me, as I often carry around my burdens. It would be much easier for me if I could learn how to lay them "at the foot of the cross" so to speak.

And for those of you whom have recently started reading my blog, and haven't seen me for a while, you're probably wondering "who in the world is writing this? The Jennifer I remember was mad at the world, didn't have a religious bone in her body and wouldn't be caught dead quoting scripture!"

That's true, the Jennifer you USED to know wouldn't. My family has been in and out of church all my life. There were sporadic fluctuations of faith, but there was a lot of anger and blame hurled at God and the church. I've fought tooth and nail against the inevitable my whole life. Struggling to be independent of God's will my whole life did nothing but make me very tired, angry, confused, and most of all, alone. Don't get me wrong, I'm still struggling. I don't have the Bible memorized, I often catch myself backsliding into old ways and I still have to force myself to not be so darned obstinate and independent. I have tons of questions about Christianity, and I don't necessarily swallow everything I hear from supposed religious leaders. But I'm working on a better life, a more peaceful life, for me and my son. I've started weeding out old past influences, those who were taking me down the wrong paths in life. There are even some past influences, former "friends" who have already stopped talking to me because of the changes God has wrought in me. That's fine. I can accept that, because if you can't accept me for the way I am now, I don't need that sort of negative influence in my life.

But overall, I'm still the same Jennifer - I still want to know all there is to know about everything that can be learned; I still have a wierd, off-kilter sense of humor; I still can be pretty morbid at times; I still love my families (both biological and "heart") fiercely; I still read voraciously; and I still love the arts. I'm still me, but I'm trying to be a better "me", hopefully one with more peace and a lot less anger.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Quoting the Quote Quoted by Everett

WARNING: Deep thoughts (or at least the possibily of some deep poo) contained herein.

In his last post, Everett quoted the following verse:

"The highway of the upright turns aside from evil
Whoever guards his way preserves his life" Prov. 16:17 (ESV)

This lead me to wonder - how does one guard against the evil that lurks, unseen, in others until after they have already insinuated themselves into one's life? And how does one guard against the evil that lurks inside his/her own nature? Furthermore, how does one know if one is not the catalyst for evil in another's life? The person may not be evil in and of him/herself, but could that person bring about the entree of evil into another person's life?

It is no secret that I have a fairly (okay, very) negative view about myself and some of the choices I have made in my life. I've done some pretty stupid things and am still paying the price of some of them. Yes, Jamie is a consequence of some of my stupidity. While I do consider him a burden in some ways, he is a joyful burden. My life would be so much easier had I not made the choices which led to his being and my decision to raise him on my own; however, my life would also be much emptier and would not have any meaning whatsoever. In fact, I've often said that without Jamie, I probably would have killed myself a long time ago. (I'm not saying that to be melodramatic or whatever, I'm merely stating a fact.) Therefore, while the introduction of his biological father into my life and the type of relationship we had was essentially evil, great good came of it. Can then the reverse be true? Could I unintentionally bring evil to a good person?

This begs a further question: Do I have the right to even put myself on the same level as said good, Godly person? (By Godly, I mean one who has a true relationship with God, and doesn't just quote the Bible, but tries to live it). My friend Kendra and I were having a conversation while I was in Kentucky. I asked if I had the right to desire the same kind of life as a person who has not messed up in life as badly as I have. She responded that once were beg God's forgiveness, that we are then white as snow. We have no past, we only have our present and future. That old person is gone and is replaced by God's child, who should seek Him and walk in His footsteps. My head understands this, but my heart still feels I don't have the right to His forgiveness. I feel inferior; I'm rhinestones, while those who haven't stumbled so close to the edge are diamonds. I seek relationships with Godly people who will help guide me on His path, not off into the brambles and briars where I used to tread. But I can't help but wonder if I am worthy of their attentions. Could I, instead of learning from them, unintentionally be a bad influence? And when/if I ever get into a relationship, do I have the right to pursue a Godly man?

I'm still learning about Christ. I want a deeper relationship with Him, I want to walk the path God set out for me before I was born. I feel there is so much more to me, and this life, than what I have previously experienced. But I wonder if I really deserve it.

I'm a Blogger, You're a Blogger, He's a Blogger, She's a Blogger.....

I had never even heard of a blog before Ann told me about Lydia and Geron's baby blog. Now I not only visit their site just about daily, but I have a blog, and seem to be adding to my list of must-visit blogs daily! So, check these out and enjoy!

Now we need to get Ann and Daniel, and Susan and David to start their own blogs!

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Dissertation on Thankfulness

I had an epiphany the other night when I was preparing for my Bible study class. We are studying a book called "I Didn't Sign Up for This Life... But I'm Finding Hope and Healing Along the Way." It's all about how no one signed up for the life we have. We aren't given a choice in what kind of families we have, what the major traumatic events of our lives are, etc. But we ARE given a choice on how to react to those changes, and what kind of relationship we want to have with God.

I have a tendency to be a bit negative (no...really? I never would have noticed!) It hit me really hard when I was reading a chapter on perception. The author was discussing families who lost loved ones, and how they react. The author's sister is a nurse in a pediatric oncology unit. She wrote "Instead of blaming God for taking your loved one away, you should be thankful for whatever time He gave you together" or something resembling that. And I realized that I've been concentrating on what I didn't have (my mom or my sister), when I should have been thankful for the years we had together, and the lessons they taught me.

This thinking lead to other things - instead of grousing about Jamie's medical and behavioral issues, I should be thankful that I still have him with me, and that he is relatively healthy and able to function like most other children. There are many parents whose children are in hospitals, or wheelchairs, or who have died. I'm lucky that I have Jamie with me every day!

So far as family goes, I grouse about a certain family member all the time, but how much harder would life be without the bit of support and love I get from this person? And God has blessed me with what I like to think of as a family of the heart, even if they aren't related to me by genes. So, even if I feel very scared and alone much of the time, I'm not really, because God is there, and my "heart" family is only a phone call away.

Life Imitates Art

Jamie and I went to see a neat exhibit at the local museum of modern art. The author/illustrator of the Babar books wrote a book called "Babar's Museum of Art." He took famous masterpieces and redrew them as they would appear in Babar's fictitious world; so Whistler's Mother was an elephant, the Mona Lisa had a distinct elephantine bent, etc. There were activity cards where you could match the Babar version to the real painting and learn facts about the masterpieces. There was also a table that had copies of some of the paintings in the museum under the glass, and laminated cut-outs of the heads of the various Babar characters, so you could create your own pachydermic painting.

The exhibit was fun, but I felt I was in one of those "life imitates art" stories. I've been feeling decidedly unfemine and unattractive lately, so I kind of felt like all those elephants in those paintings could have represented me. Finding yourself physically resembling a bunch of elephants dressed up in human clothes is definitely NOT fun. I came home and looked at myself, I mean REALLY looked at myself for the first time in a long time, and I didn't like what I saw. Of course, I didn't like what I saw before, that's why I stopped really looking at myself. So I guess it's time for my annual self-loathing episode and concentrated effort to change my appearance. Maybe I'll succeed this year. Who knows?

Anyway, I'm preparing for my road trip back to Kentucky for my wonderful friend Ann's wedding! I'm very happy for her (and yes, I'll admit it, a tiny... okay, big.... bit envious). It couldn't happen to a nicer person! And Daniel is a sweetheart. Ann's whole family is wonderful (and also pretty much the only ones who ever read this blog). I can't wait to see them all! They pretty much adopted me and Jamie, and I can't wait to see them!

Gotta get back to work, so I can leave on time and go home and start packing!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Random Derailings of a One-Track Mind

It has been said that I have a one-track mind that often gets derailed. Okay, so I'm the one who said it. Big deal. It was still said, right? Anyhoo - the point is, this post does not have one subject, but many subjects I'll touch upon to bring those (happy few) who read my blog up to date on what is occuring in my part of the world these days.

After 11 years in and out of college, I have finally decided what I want to be when I grow up. I'm getting ready to go back to school to pursue a degree in either English Literature or Information Resources (depending on which of the two different colleges offering these two different online degrees will offer me more financial aid). Then I plan to get my Master's of Library Science. I've finally discovered that I would be a great children's librarian (so modest, aren't I?). For years, I've been reading adolescent and children's literature in addition to my own "grown up" favorite authors. I have been known to recommend books to children (whether I know them or just overhear them talking to staff at the local library). I read to Jamie's class at school about once a month, using all the different voices and accents I learned under Ms. Moore (she was such a neat lady!). I enjoy it, and the kids love it. I love kids (but don't have the patience to be a classroom teacher). I want to help kids get excited about the worlds to be found in books. So, there you have it. I'm almost 30 (5 months away - yikes!) and I'm just now deciding what I want to do. Hopefully I'll have it all finished by the time I'm 35 or so. Heck, Jamie will graduate high school when I'm 39!

Speaking of Jamie, he has responded very well to the combination of counseling and medication for his ADD. His last spelling quiz grade was an 82! His last spelling/reading assignment grade was a 100! Yay, Jamie! In about a week, he brought his overall grade up from a 54 to an 80! Now THAT's progress! To celebrate, I took him to a little carnival in the parking lot of one of the malls here and let him ride all the kiddie rides. In addition to an improvement in grades, there has been progress at home, too. I still have to redirect him quite a bit, but it's getting better. His self-esteem is getting higher, too. There for a while, he was really down on himself. He couldn't understand why he was having such a hard time while his classmates kept telling him it was easy. We're still playing with his dosages, so hopefully soon we'll find the minimum effective dose for him to take, and he won't have to struggle anymore.

I'll be taking my car to the shop soon to see if 1) the air conditioner can be fixed, and 2) if it will make the trip to Kentucky or not. I would rather find out if something is about to blow now, rather than out in the middle of Podunk in Arkansas or Tennessee! I'm so excited about this trip!

Looking back over this post, there sure are an inordinate number of exclamation points. If I didn't know better, I would swear this was written by the perky-cheerleader-type.