Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good Morning!

Full sunriseImage via WikipediaLast night was a full moon. It was gorgeous.
It was even more beautiful this morning when I went walking with my two girls.
Okay, anyone who knows me knows that this is pretty monumental. A) That I'm up this early, and B) That I'm exercising.
It was pretty, though, with the moon hanging on one side of us, and the sunrise streaking the sky on the other. It was peaceful, too. Hardly anyone is out this time of the morning. (I'm not judging here. I'm usually in bed, too.)
My older girl ran for a mile. I was impressed. I was walking (albeit sleep walking). My younger girl hung back with me. She skipped, jumped, ran ahead and then back, waiting for me to catch up. Ah, the energy (and fitness) of youth.
When we got home, they announced, "I want to do this every morning!"
Well, I guess that's incentive for me. I've been wanting to exercise, wanting to get in shape. I guess if I have my two favorite girls with me, cheering me on, I can't go wrong!
So, here's to hoping this becomes a habit. And that we're still motivated when it's blazing hot or freezing cold. And that eventually I'll be able to keep up with them, too.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010


White MacBook laptopImage via WikipediaMy Apple Macbook laptop had a small crack in the case. It ran fine. It did everything I needed it to do. And I loved/love it!

Hubby was concerned about the crack. He wanted to make sure it didn't turn into a hole. And I decided he was probably right since a hole would involve some of my keys falling into the laptop. Probably not a very easy way to use a computer.

We packed it up and carried it down to BestBuy. I reverently placed it in the hands of their very capable Geek Squad and waited for their diagnosis.

They said the condition was beyond their expertise and they would need to send it off. I was nervous. I felt like I was sending a child off without my guardianship.

Then they said it would probably be two weeks. Two weeks? Without my laptop? Yikes. My life is in that thing.

Hubby had the foresight to back it up for me- just in case they decided to do something that would erase everything on it. But the back up is one of those little external memory devices.

My husband's antiquated computer is about as effective as a paper weight. (You can actually hear the little hamsters spinning on their wheels trying to make the thing go.) So trying to get anything from the back up to his computer is futile.

My kids' computers are all netbooks. They are not very viable resources for retrieving information either. Not to mention that hubby has installed some sort of safety software to keep the kids out of trouble. However, it will barely allow me to google anything, much less get on any kind of website to use any information I might need.

My best bet is my work computer. But then I feel guilty. Even though I'd be off the clock.

So for the time being, I'm retrieving my emails and checking Facebook from my BlackBerry phone. I'm blogging from Hubby's computer. And I'm writing everything else long-hand on a tablet of paper with a pen.

This is going to be the longest two weeks in the history of earth. So, please bear with me if you are looking for something from me. Be assured I'm not ignoring you. I just can't get to you. :(

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Saturday, August 21, 2010


Empty BoxImage by rkelland via FlickrHave you ever seen the television show called "Hoarders"? It's where people have a phobia of throwing anything away, and they almost literally end up burying themselves alive in all their masses of "stuff."

I don't know that anyone in my family actually has come to this (thankfully). But it certainly wouldn't be a stretch to say that we all suffer from some fairly mild cases of "stuff-itis." We really don't like throwing much away, especially if we "might" use it. So we keep it, "just in case."

The most frustrating thing my family seems to suffer from (in spades) is what I call "Box-itis." It is the condition by which my children can't seem to throw away empty boxes. Now, they do manage to put them back where they would technically belong if they were full. But since they have consumed every last cookie, cracker or piece of cereal, the new proper place would actually be the trash can. But they can never seem to manage to get them there.

I have found empty ice cream containers in the freezer (much to my disappointment when going on an ice cream raid). I have pulled out lonely popcorn boxes who only smell like the buttered popcorn they once contained. My children have even managed to fool me with my own purse, putting an empty packet of chewing gum back into its formerly proper spot. The worst thing they've done to me is to leave the empty Diet Coke box in the refrigerator, tempting me to take out my lack-of-caffeine rage on some unsuspecting children.

If I could ever teach them how to achieve freedom from "Box-itis," my next venture would be to teach them how to also kick the "Wrapper-itis" condition, along with the "Shoe-itis," "Book-itis," and "Paper-itis." "Paper-itis" is particularly bad after school when they are cleaning out their backpacks and pitch paper wildly about in order to keep their backpack "clean."

For now, I just have to get a handle on their "Box-itis". It is making me crazy. And at least twice I've not bought something at the grocery store because we supposedly had a box full of it at home. At the very least, I need them to add a box- of wine. So that I can toast their  ingenuity and their obedience at putting the box "back where they found it." (Figures they listen to that, right?)
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Hope Over Shadows Angst

Hope for a New Day in AmericaImage by cobalt123 via FlickrWhen I was in school, no matter how good things were between me and my friends, I always had this nagging doubt in the back of my mind: You are not good enough.

I had believed that it was a personal flaw that I had, miraculously, overcome in my adult years. And I wanted it to be something that never, ever touched my children.

My children are now tweens and teens themselves. And they are the age I was when my angst ran amock. And yet, they seem to be handling it okay.

From the outside in, I hold my breath when I feel they are being slighted; they simply shrug it off and move on. I haven't told them anything that my parents didn't tell me. But the defective gene that made me feel unworthy seems to have not been passed on to my kids.

I pray they and their psyches will continue to be happy and healthy. I want them to know that they are loved and valued. And I hope they are able to pass that acceptance on to their friends and peers.

One of the best things that could ever come out of me overcoming my sadness, would be the beginning of the all-together end of that sadness and angst for all children, tweens and teens.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Boop Boop Be Doo

Betty Boop in movie Bamboo Isle (1932).Image via WikipediaAll of my children are very creative. My eldest can make up an entire civilization and have the people/creatures live and battle. He is also an excellent artist that can draw characters to rival any comic book.

My middle child loves to make more domestic creations. She is more at home with a cookbook and a sewing pattern than many adults I know. And she has a musical ear that lets her hum beautiful melodies made up on the spot.

My youngest is still figuring it all out. She is terribly creative. But she's also impulsive. So most of her creations have to be completed in one sitting or else she loses interest. She also is very open to suggestion from movies, books, friends and television.

Her current obsession is Betty Boop. I was floored when she announced one day she wanted to redecorate her room all in Betty Boop. I had no idea she even knew who Betty Boop was. Then I discovered that an admired counselor from summer camp was a huge fan. Now almost all of my youngest daughter's projects are Betty Boop related (unless they are Justin Bieber related, which is another on-going obsession).

This morning she brought me a sock puppet. It was an old white sock (well, it was more like an earthy white, since it was an old sock) she had stuffed with tissue paper. She had cinched the top with a rubber band and stuck strings of old white yarn underneath to make hair. Then she found an old lip gloss container in the shape (and approximate size) of lips, which she secured with a rubber band.

When she presented this "puppet" to me, she proudly announced, "Momma, this is Betty Boop."

Then she asked if I would help her sew on some buttons for her eyes. I explained that it would have to be after school, since it was almost time to go. Amazingly enough, she was okay with that plan.

She followed me around with her "puppet" in hand, chattering away about the clothes she would make for it and so on. I listened and eyed the pitiful thing, wondering if there was any way to spruce it up a bit.

Then, my precious daughter said, "I would put arms on it, but then it would just look silly."

I had to bite the inside of my cheek very hard and turn away to keep from laughing and hurting her feelings. This poor sock monster looks more like a dog toy that the dog has already chewed and thrown aside. But in her mind, it was, is and will be Betty Boop.

Thank goodness for Imagination. It is, after all, the Mother of Invention.

And, I know one day her sock monsters- er, I mean, sock puppets- will be a thing of the past, and I will miss them.

But for this morning, and for now, Betty Boop's creator is probably busily rolling over in their grave at the likes of this creation. And I got a good laugh to start my day.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Those Crazy Kids

Multi-generational picture from 1946.Image by megnut via FlickrWhen I was in my teen-aged years and I referred to "kids," I was referring to little tykes, who were still losing baby teeth that would be rewarded with Tooth Fairy money.

In my late twenties, I worked in elder care. Most of my clients referred to me as a "kid." I was highly insulted. I was not a "kid;" I was a young adult. I had a college education. I considered myself to be quite worldly.

Once I had children of my own, my personal definition of "kids" spanned from infant to the tween years. I didn't quite consider "teens" to be kids, because I was still smarting from being called a "kid" at twenty-seven. And, also, teens didn't seem to quite fit the bill for being a kid. "Kids" were dependent, trainable, happy-to-be-around-their-parents sorts of people. Teens were moody, cocky and mumbled a lot. In many ways, I forgot I had ever been a teenager myself.

Now, in my VERY early forties (in fact, I would say much closer to thirties, really), I realize that I was ever so naive to believe I was worldly at twenty. HA. It was like saying that because I had been to a rodeo, I was a champion bull rider.

I also have come face-to-face with all my transgressions and accomplishments as a teenager, because my children who are teens themselves have started delving into my personal history:

"Mom, when you were my age, did your mom make you clean the bathroom?" Why, yes she did.

Of course some of their questions definitely show the technological and social leaps and bounds that have occurred since I was their age.

"Mom, did your mom let you play with your iPod in bed before you went to sleep?"


"Why not?"

"Because we didn't have iPods."

"Seriously? What did you DO???"

"Well, I listened to my cassette tapes and read books."

"Oh, that's awful. I'm so sorry."

Certainly my definition of "kids" has changed, too. Now I DO include teenagers. In fact, I now include those younger twenties people who believe themselves (as I did) to be worldly because they have a checking account and don't live at home any more.

I am amused at myself as I see me shift from one side to the other. I was once on the side that believed anything after twenty-five was dead. Now I don't rule out anything under 100.

I am firmly in the middle of "middle aged," though I prefer to see the glass as half-full, instead of half-empty. But I'm also realistic enough to know that I am too old to wear teen aged fashions, and (thankfully) too young to qualify for AARP discounts.

I am also at an age where I appreciate being carded for drinks, having the doctor say, "you don't need to worry about that yet," and having older people lump me in with "kids." I guess it's all just perspective.

My grandmother turns ninety-five today. When I'm my parents' age, she'll be the kind of person I want to hang around every so often, just so I can be called a "kid" again.

Happy Birthday, Ooma, to the youngest ninety-five year old "kids" I've ever known!
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Blue Monday

Come MondayImage via Wikipedia
Monday is typically not my favorite day of the week anyway. But today was my own personal example of why Monday's stink. By the end of the day, I could have been the topic of a country music song. I will be glad when I crawl into bed and set my alarm for tomorrow!

First, my alarm, though set, did not go off. Thus, I had some extra zzz's, which evidently I needed. However, it did not make my dash to work go any more smoothly.

Then, when I did get ready to leave, I decided I'd snarf down my breakfast in the car to save time. HA. Half way to work a huge blob of peanut butter and jelly landed on my right boob and splatted over into my lap. So I turned around to change.

After I changed, I couldn't get the animals inside. They had gone AWOL from the fenced in back yard. So I whistled and wandered around the neighborhood until a little white dog and big orange cat appeared, looking as though they were surprised to see me.

The animals back inside, I tried to leave again. No keys. Anywhere.

Now how did I lose my keys? I just came home with them...

Finally I found them in the pocket of the pants that had the peanut butter and jelly blob on them. Of course.

I was going to work. An hour late. But I was going to work...



Yes, I was in a car wreck.

My kids had played with my sunglasses, leaving a big smudge of yuck all over the lenses. So, while at a red light, I was trying to clean them off.

In my peripheral vision I saw the car next to me go. So, I did what I never ever do: I went, too- without looking up first.

Everyone is okay. My car is (relatively) okay. But I'm fried. And totally mad at myself for being so stupid. I haven't been in a car wreck I caused since I was sixteen. It's probably been at least ten years since I was in any kind of car wreck.

I wanted to cry to the police officer and the other drivers, "I am a defensive driver, darn it!"

Fortunately, they were very understanding. But I still felt bad and apologized profusely.

I made it to work. Two hours late. I got my work done. Then I came home.

Like I said, I can't wait for bed tonight. Tuesday has GOT to be better!... Right???
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dream a Little Dream

yeah fly high baby yeahImage by oddsock via Flickr
I just finished watching "Inception" with Leonardo DiCaprio. It was... well, I'm still thinking about it, and probably will for several days.

The final ending was given up to a point, then the viewer had to decide for him/herself. I love/hate those kinds of endings. As a "glass half full" kind of girl, I picked the ending that was happier.

But my conscious has been prickling at the whole thing. Did he? Or didn't he?

The whole story line was about five stories within the story, but they are all interconnected. It's enough to make you dizzy. I was having to pay so much attention, I didn't even get to eat my popcorn. (gasp)

So now I have another "dream" movie floating around in my head. There was "Nightmare On Elm Street," which I never watched all the way through, but still freaks me out. I believe at least one of the "Matrix" implied some dreams and/or an alternate reality. "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "Alice in Wonderland," and many fairy tales go with the dream and/or alternate reality. And there are many, many more that I'm not even mentioning.

"Inception" was by far the most complex idea I've seen on the subject, though: Can you influence a person by going into their dreams?  This movie had a whole protocol on how it all worked. It was very thought-provoking.

You know, I think I'm influenced enough by things going on in my waking moments (advertising, movies, books, friends, the news, family, magazines, etc., etc., etc.). I really don't need anyone poking around in my head while I'm sleeping.

So what do you think? Is there any good reason to go into someone's dream to influence their life? If you could, what would you do?
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Friday, August 13, 2010

It's the Walmart Way

Wal-Mart location in MonctonImage via Wikipedia
Today I went for my big weekly Walmart run. My list of over fifty items made my basket runneth over.

But there were several things I couldn't find on my list, which really irritates me. I mean, I would expect to have a limited variety of items at, say, the Exxon station. But at Walmart, I really believe I should be able to get a big box of Goldfish crackers. And yet, there were none.

I know their stockers must have to work around the clock to keep the place full. No matter when I go in there, the place is packed with every kind of person from every walk of life.

As I wandered up and down the aisles unencumbered by children, I took the time to read labels and see what other items I might be missing when I do my usual snag-and-run. I found some of the most interesting and most disgusting stuff.

I knew the organic market had taken an upswing. But they make organic products for just about everything. I have to wonder if people realize that just because something is organic does not mean it is good for you. Ice cream that has no pesticides still has fat and sugar.

As I said, I could not find the big box of Goldfish crackers. But I did find canned shrimp. Really? Ew. I thought Spam was bad (and it is). But canned shrimp? I don't even eat seafood. But I can tell you that if I did, it would not come from a can.

And what on earth would you ever do with oyster juice? Do I even want to know? I can only envision a really awful episode of Fear Factor.

I also breezed by the clothing on my way over to the pet food and deodorant. I believe I should be able to sue the buyer of the clothes for Walmart. Why in the world they would purchase some of the clothes they carry in some of the sizes they have is beyond me.

I have said it before, and I stand by it: I am not a size that needs to wear a bikini. I admit it. I'm OK with that. I am fine in the skin that I'm in. I'm alright with my own body. But I do NOT need to wear a bikini in my size 10-12 (8 if it's really stretchy and I've had a stomach virus for a week). So why they would even make a bikini in a W26 is unfathomable. Ditto on the micro-mini skirts, spandex and anything from the Hannah Montana collection.

I know Walmart provides a great service to many people, myself included. But should a store like Walmart simply sell "whatever" and pander to the masses? Or do they have some kind of obligation to help people be their best by offering healthy, reasonable choices?
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's My Password?

Evil evil scam emailImage by Narisa via FlickrPasswords are the bane of my existence. They are useless pieces of cryptic information that only serve to keep ME out of my various accounts.

And some of my accounts that have passwords are really thinking way too highly of themselves. I mean, is it really necessary to have something like eight authentication codes for cable? My bank online only requires one!

I would need a veritable Rolodex the size of a bread box to keep up with all the user ID's and passwords and "secret questions" I have. To get into my Best Buy account and find out how many "points" I have, I have three steps. Do they really have such a major theft problem with people hacking in and taking your reward points at Best Buy that they have to require three steps?

Yesterday I needed some information about why my cable bill fluctuated from month-to-month. I had the awesome opportunity to befriend a customer service rep. He was quite obviously not a naturally English-speaking person, but he called himself "Kevin."

"Kevin" needed my phone number to access my account. Then he needed my name to make sure I was on the account. Then he needed my address to further make sure I was "me" (Because apparently if I rifled through someone's mail box to gain access to their cable bill and mess with their account, I would be unable to read the information on the bill. Whatever.)

Then it got tricky. "What are the last four digits of the card used to pay the auto draft bill?" I, apparently, guessed correctly, because he let me go on to the next round.

"What is the password for this account?" I slapped my forehead. This is when I get to play the guessing game.

Hubby and I have about three passwords we usually alternate through. Since hubby set up this account, however, I crossed my fingers that he didn't get excited and make up something new.

Attempt number one was incorrect. But I scored with attempt number two.

"Kevin" was excited as well. "Now, I just need the the expiration date on the credit card used for the auto draft."

Egad. No idea. Not even a guess. The only reason I knew the last for digits of the credit card was because it was on the bank statement. I took a deep breath and silently let it out, instead of saying, "SERIOUSLY?" like I wanted to.

"Well, Kevin, I'm sorry, but I don't have that information. I really don't want to make any changes to the account. I just need to know the amount that is supposed to be drafted each month so I can plug it into my budget." I hoped this would call to his sense of reason. After all, it wasn't like I was trying to upgrade to the most expensive package and get satellite coverage on the moon. (Although, he probably could have done that without any authorization at all.)

"Kevin" patiently explained to me that he was really not supposed to give out that information without the correct passwords and such. BUT, he would go ahead and make an exception in my case. (Because we're such buddies at this point, don't you know.)

FINALLY, I got my answer. I told "Kevin" thank you, and hung up after our twenty minute game of "What's My Password," when I just needed a two minute answer.

I do understand the need for protection. And I'm very appreciative of people being sensitive to giving out any and all information about me.

However, Identity Theft is not something I really worry about when it comes to my cable bill or my rewards program at Best Buy. I am more concerned about my social security number being lifted (Although, any thief hoping to get big bucks off of my social security number will be in for a big disappointment. Ha.). And I'm more worried about someone trying to take my banking information and stealing my $38.52, thus sending my account into overdraft at $37 a whack (which is a whole different rant).

"Kevin" and I parted as friends. Who knows? We may even exchange Christmas cards. But I'll make sure to have my card password protected. You know- just in case.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Not-so-Green Grass of Home

MTD Yard Machines Lawn Mower 4.5HP Tecumseh En...Image via Wikipedia
My yard looks like a sea of brown with little islands of green. In each little island, there are happy weeds waving in the breeze (when the breeze decides to blow).

I'm realistic: I've totally given up hope on getting "Yard of the Month." But is it too much to ask to have either a green yard, or a dead yard?

As it stands, I'm a little concerned about mowing my little islands. I'm afraid the lawnmower will spark and catch the whole yard on fire. But the tall (waist-high) weeds are too close together to take a weed whacker to the offensive roughage.

My solution? Get my thirteen year old to do it. Sounded brilliant to me. But thirteen year old balked.

"It's too hot."  "Can I borrow a riding lawn mower? I don't want to use the push mower." "Can I wait until next week?"

However, same child will wear long sleeves and jeans outside- "because it looks cool." Um, no. When I have to call 911 because you were too stupid to take off your jacket in the 104 degree heat- that's quite the opposite of cool. In fact, it is UNcool.

But, if you really want to sweat, sweetie, you may mow my little weed islands. Thank you.

I'm waiting for our Home Owner's Association to send me a nasty-gram to tell me they are fining me for my grass being too long. Of course, I will object. After all, my "grass" is brown and flat to the dirt. Only my "weeds" are too tall.

And if I get a letter for my weeds being an "eyesore", I'll definitely have something to say about the neighbor man who walks around the block in black socks talking to himself. Of course, I guess I should be grateful he doesn't try to talk to me.

On the plus side, I have a beautiful red single flower blooming down sort of by my mailbox. And the weeds are quite healthy and growing well, despite the money we've been shelling out for the lawn service to come spray.

In fact, I've decided that maybe instead of trying to grow grass, I should cancel the lawn service and grow weeds, since they seem to thrive in my yard. Oh, but then instead of islands, I would have an entire yard of waist-high "grass/weeds". Then I really would have to mow...  Nah...

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Mom, I don't want to get up!

NAZARETH, ISRAEL - SEPTEMBER 1: Israeli Prime ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
School officially started back last Friday. I know: It's crazy to start your first day back on a Friday. But that's how they did it, so we went, too.

After the first full day, we had a whole weekend to recover. Nice. We were able to pick up school-related items we may have forgotten on our first pass. And we got to go to our football jamboree and celebrate my wonderful mom's birthday.

Monday we started our second full day of school having been rested and refreshed. Should be chugging right along into Wednesday, right? But we aren't chugging well.  We are exhausted.

My youngest has cried from the pick up line at school to the goodnight kiss in her room at home. My eldest (a teenager, no less) fell asleep at 8:45 last night. Unprompted by me. Just up and went to the bed and was snoring by the time I found out where he'd gone.

I know anything new is taxing. Any training I've ever had has left me feeling gummy-headed and fuzzy-headed by the end of the day. So I know learning a new routine, learning new teachers, having new course work and reuniting with friends has taken its toll on my kids.

Add to that the lovely, balmy Tennessee weather (who moved the equator???) and I can totally understand why they are so whipped by the end of the day. I'm just surprised it happened so fast.

I fully expect that, if things continue the way they have, my kids will all be asleep in the car on the way home from school Friday... Not such a terrible prospect...

But I need them to be somewhat coherent this weekend. We need to clean our poor, neglected house. In lieu of housework, we have chosen sleep this week to get them up and running for the new school year. But at some point we either have to clean up or board up the house.

I imagine that, like in years past, we will soon be back in the routine of things and we won't feel quite so haggard at the end of every day...

...And then, once we've established our routine, we'll start adding back in sleep-overs, play dates, parties and all the other miscellaneous social events...

...Then it will be time for teachers to start assigning big projects and tests...

Great. Now I'm tired all over again.

Oh well. Happy New School Year!
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

BlackBerry Coma

RIM BlackBerry Storm 2 9550Image via Wikipedia
I have been in a funk. A deep, dark, mean, yucky funk.

I haven't been on Facebook or Twitter. I haven't written in my blog. I haven't written much of anything.

I have managed to get some pretty decent house cleaning done. And I've gotten my kids ready for school every morning (which is no small feat). I've made sure they were fed and clothed, that Dear Son (DS) gets to and from football, and that everyone was in bed by 9:00 PM. *WHEW*

Hubby has been out of town since Saturday morning, which has been sorta' normal these days, but still no fun. Prior to that he was in town for a whole week, which was nice, but not very normal.

Somewhere about the time his plane landed for his extended stay home, my funk settled in on me. It's not that I didn't have plenty to write and plenty to say. Goodness knows I'm never at a loss for words. But I turned in my Mac for some family time.

I kept up with the world through emails. But I rarely got any of the everyday "stuff" that I get from Twitter and Facebook. I was amazed at how disconnected I felt.

But in a weird way, it was kind of liberating, too.

I sat with my family and visited with them. I got all the "school stuff" taken care of. I just "hung out."

I missed it, though. Especially writing and my blog. I would be sitting in the car pool line and think, "Oh, I need to write about that." Then I would remember my self-imposed sabbatical and think about something else.

Today my BlackBerry Storm died. Well, I should say it's still dying. It's blinking at me, which is like watching the heart monitor blip. It hasn't quite flat-lined. But it won't do anything but blink. It's more like a BlackBerry coma.

Part of me hopes the thing will just go on to the place where good BlackBerrys go when they've served their time here on earth. Because I want a Droid. But part of me mourns the passing of this devise that has been attached to me like nothing else in my life.

It holds my contacts, my emails, my phone numbers, my facebook, my calendar, my GPS, my Kindle app, some games, some pictures... You get the idea.

This little mini computer with a pink Dooney & Bourke cover has never left my side. It's like losing a good friend.

And this event has pulled me kicking and screaming straight out of my funk. My sabbatical is over. Because I can't connect with the world, I feel I must. And therein lies the paradox.

The good news: I'm back to my creative outlet that allows me to also keep up with friends and family. The bad news: I'm back to my creative outlet that allows me to also keep up with friends and family.

Hmmm... Maybe I'm still just a little in my funk...

But now it's minus my BlackBerry... *sigh*

Hi ho, Hi ho, It's off to Verizon I go...

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