Tuesday, December 31, 2002

New Year's Resolutions to come.

One of which is that I will try to be a better friend. Take my friend John Y. He's not only very easy-going, he's got his house, and although in between jobs right now, he is a successful graphic artist. Sounds great, doesn't he, girls? HA! Too late, my procrastinating friends, because he is taken. He's met a lovely woman named Theresa and he's very happy.

Also, my friend Marian, who is a 4.0 scholar at my alma mater, Virginia Commonweath University. She is kind, thoughtful, introspective, never overbearing, energetic and fun. Boys, she's a looker- tall, red hair. Makes Julia Roberts look horsey. Sounds good? HA! Jeez, where were you people? She's met a mysterious stranger whose swept her of her feet. Even if their first date was friendly tea time, it looks positive.

Pamela has got to be one of the coolest people on the planet. She has a great dog, does Akito, and I am somewhat envious of her independent lifestyle. One of the neatest things, to me, about Pamela, is that, even though she is really great, she never lets her head swell.

Karelle is really creative. She makes hats. Very pretty hats. Also, fleece wraps. I wore the one she gave me for Christmas to the Nutcracker, and I was stylin'. She also always wins first prize at Halloween because her costumes are untouchable. And pretty much every regular knows it. Still, it's fun to see outsiders try to compete with her, thinking they had a snowball's chance in Hell.

Her brother Grantham is always cool. He too has his own house. He and I have been pals for a while, but a few days ago he left a message on my voice mail that started, "Good evening." He's found someone too, and although I haven't met her yet, he seems happy with her.

Chris Ramos stood out in Richmond December weather (not really threatening, but still really cold!) and got us Springsteen tickets. He's also a really good writer. His stuff is some of the best I've read.

Gotta run, minor emergency...to be continued.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

The Better Half and I talked for a long while tonight, and it was really good. I decided after almost 3 years of dating, it was time to open up to him things we've never really discussed before, maybe it was my fear of seeming like the Wicked Witch of The West, but he didn't take it that way at all. We've still got a lot of talking to do. For the first time, we did talk very seriously about getting married. Yep, it's true. And it's nice. And I love it. No concrete plans yet, but it's in the works. :)

Friday, December 27, 2002

Back to work, but it wasn't too bad. Just Dr. J today, and she's pretty easy-going. I asked about 80 gagillion questions, but Laura was very patient with me and answered every one. I think I will try to be more patient as part of my New Year's Resolution. My cousin and sister are here, so I gotta run!

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Today I got to experience two inspiring stories about two very different men. This morning, the winner of the Powerball $314 million lotto came forward. He's 55 and president of his company. He plans to expand his business because he had to recently lay off about 25 of his 117 workers because of the economy. Now he says he wants to enhance his company with the winnings so he can hire them all back and put them to work. I thought it was great that the winning ticket went to someone so cool and I am glad to hear he will put the money to such good use.

The second is about Father Mychal Judge, who was the first official casualty of the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11th. It turns out he was a fan of Black 47, the Irish rock group based out of New York. Black 47 wrote a beautiful song about him entitled "Mychal." When you read about his life, you realize that he was an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation, which leads many to believe he should be cannonized a saint in the Catholic church. I'm not really sure about going that far, but it sounds like he was the type of priest I thought I would really love to get to know. He reminds me in a lot of ways of Father John- fun, somewhat unconventional, and affectionate. At Christmas Eve Mass, he was so excited because we had a huge crowd of about 1600. It was good to see him jovial. I worry about him with all the stuff that has been going on.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

I've had a great Christmas so far. My grandmother gave me The Three Kings statues for my nativity scene. I got a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens as well as membership to the Virginia Museum (which means I can get my discount on some classes I want to take). I got a lot of monetarial gifts as well as gift certificates to my favorite store, Target. The funniest moment came when we gave my great aunt Da a keyboard. Da is over sixty and has never touched the piano except to pound out "Happy Birthday" which she plays with one hand and can be mastered by a three-year old. She proclaimed us all "mental."

My favorite gift was an onyx ring that my grandmother, Mema had worn when she was a young girl. It almost made me cry when I got it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

I really really like this message the Bishop gave us in his weekly column in The Catholic Virginian. The third paragraph from the end is my favorite. Merry Christmas!

Still a bit tired. I've decided to journal again. Don't get me wrong, the blog is great, and I wanna keep it up, but I have to admit, kids- it's edited, because it's not private and I don't want to offend or hurt feelings. Disclaimers can only go so far. Plus, there is a lot of stuff I've been contemplating and questioning recently, and there are some things that I need to release through writing as well, and it feels inappropriate to put them here. And plus, I'm a bit greedy in that I want people to read this blog, and don't want them to be bored as I ramble ad nauseum about certain topics.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Despite trying desparately to maintain Christmas tiding and cheer, there is a significant part of me that remains rather Scrooge-like. The Better Half isn't here for Christmas, I'm rather lonely, and my family is tromping off to the Bahamas for New Years. This is the third year in a row that they've gone away for New Years, and I wasn't able to go because of work. People are driving around like they are on crack, and the stores are unapproachable because the parking lot alone is enough to make you reach for a Jack-and-Xanax cocktail. Plus, Christmas is a holiday that celebrates children, which I tend not to prefer unless they are under age 1 and are unable to tell you that they hate you. At least, not so that you can understand it. And with children come parents...don't get me started on that.

My new motto has become, "Rome wasn't built in a day." I'm trying to go easy on myself being in a new job, but I feel like I need to start writing things down in order to get them straight. It's been over a week, and I'm still trying to figure out stuff like surgical set-up and where the damn path reports go. 90% of the job is finding out where things are, and right now I am seriously lacking this skill. But for the first time in a while, I like coming to work. I like being at work. And although I don't have a whole lot in common with my coworkers, I like them too. I was leafing through a nursing book hoping to find some tricks and timesavers, and phrases like, "to help relieve a raw bottom from diarrhea, use this cream..." and "to get the odor out of bedpans and bedside commodes, try this..." and I realized I didn't really miss what I was doing before. Like every job that is truly worth it's weight in gold, it was often thankless and overwhelming. I remember how I used to run from room to room, sometimes having all three to five of my patients needing blood transfusions. I remember how awful it was when my patient had a reaction to a medication. I remember how terrifying administering chemotherapy was. I still look at the obituaries to see if any of my patients succumbed to their illness. Today, I recognized four names. The weekend before Thanksgiving: seven names. Seven. Most of the time, when we found out someone had died, we were too busy to grieve. Most of the time, we spent more time with the patient than anyone, including their families. As I said before, it took a special person to do that line of work without becoming a basketcase or completely jaded.

I am also tired and cranky. Maybe I'll feel different tommorrow.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Because Chris Ramos was so cool and got up at 4:30 to sit at Ukrops Ticketmaster, I'm going to see Springsteen play in Richmond! Granted, the Better Half is a bit more of a fan than I am, but I was really excited when Chris called me and told me that he was able to get us tickets. We're on the left of the stage, a little behind it. I am really happy, since it would make the Better Half so happy to see Springsteen in concert.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Oh. My. God. :

URBANA, Ohio (Dec. 19) - Police say a woman tried to trick her daughter and community into thinking the girl had cancer so she could raise money, even going so far as to shave the 7-year-old's head, give her sleeping pills and put her in counseling to prepare to die.

No charges had been filed against Teresa Milbrandt, 35, as of Wednesday. Her daughter, Hannah, has been taken from her and placed in the custody of relatives.

``By the time we get done, there's going to be a lot of charges here,'' Sgt. David Reese said.

Reese said Milbrandt admitted this week to county officials that the cancer was a hoax. He said police have collected coffee cans placed at businesses to seek donations that would supposedly go toward treatment. Police also found fliers with photos of the girl inviting people to fund-raisers, and a color TV donated as a raffle prize.

Milbrandt's husband, Robert Milbrandt, 44, is also under investigation, but no charges have been filed against him, police said.

Robert Milbrandt said he and his daughter never knew the cancer was faked. He said he took his wife to a mental hospital Tuesday.

``I don't know how you can be married to someone for so long, them lie to you and you not know,'' he told the Urbana Daily Citizen.

The Milbrandts' telephone number is unpublished and The Associated Press could not locate them for comment Wednesday night.

Reese said Mrs. Milbrandt allegedly researched the effects of leukemia and gave her daughter sleeping pills and shaved her head to make it appear she was receiving chemotherapy.

He said Mrs. Milbrandt placed a bandage on the girl's back to cover a supposed ``port'' where chemotherapy was administered.

Reese said the girl does have some illnesses but police have determined none are life-threatening.

Police began investigating the child's illness about a week ago when employees at the girl's school noticed that her hair was cut or shaved, not falling out. They reported the situation to the county Department of Job and Family Services, and the agency contacted police.

Investigators have not been able to calculate the amount of money collected or the number of fund-raisers that have been held, but at least one church gave $2,200 and two agencies gave $500 each.

Reese said people in the community were shocked to hear the woman faked her child's illness.

``I've delivered death messages that people have taken easier than some of the people are taking this,'' said Reese. ``They're just destroyed.''

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Trying to ease into a groove at the job wasn't easy today. Wednesday is the infamous day at the office. There are three doctors there all day, so there is plenty to do. So far, I've been able to work with most of them. For the most part, it isn't a question of competence. They are all really really good doctors. The challenge for the patient is just to find one that you mesh well with personality-wise.

Dr. B so far is my favorite. He is an eccentric boss, but he isn't mean-spirited or calious. I've recommended him already to the Better Half and my Dad. He's a bit chatty, laid back, very knowledgable.

Dr. S. is very personable and nice. She is younger, southern. She always greets me when I come in.

Dr. C is professional and very perfectionistic. I take her with a grain of salt. She complains and points out every mistake we make on the chart. She's very efficient with her patients. My uncle went to her once and loved her. She's the kind of doctor you go to when you hate doctors, because she'll get you out of there fast without seeming like she's giving you the brush-off.

Dr. J is younger, practicing medicine about a year. She takes her time with her patients. She's probably the strongest doctor clinically. I recommended her for my sister.

Dr. E is the pathologist of the group, but he also sees patients. He's my favorite to work with because he is FAST. He's one of those old school docs.

Dr. A is the only doc who sometimes acts like a typical doc. He can be kind of squirrely at times. He seems to flirt a lot with one of the other nurses, the only one he acknowledges, really. He hasn't crossed me personally, but from what I heard, it's only a matter of time before he shows his spots.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

I got this letter in the mail today, response to a job I applied for a few weeks ago:

Dear Jennifer,
Thank you for your interest in the Billing/Insurance Referal Specialist position with our company. We have had the opportunity to review your resume, however, we have made the difficult decision to fill the position by promoting someone in-house.

So what we're saying, basically, is that we didn't really wanna promote this loser, but since he's the bosses' kid and has incriminating photos of our HR director at the office Christmas party canoodling with a blonde floozy who was obviously not his wife, we gave him the job instead.

I'm not bitter, but I am glad that I didn't get the job. It sounded like they didn't value their employees very much.

Monday, December 16, 2002


In cancer's shadow, she inspires others

On this particular morning in the Hinton home, the coffee table Bible is opened to the Book of Job.

It tells a story of righteous suffering.

Job was a man who did all the right things, yet faced enormous trials. And through it all, he never cursed God.

For more than a third of her life, Christina Hinton has battled cancer. Just a few weeks ago, doctors said she might not have to fight much longer.

For some, the prognosis would be the final chapter.

For Christina, 17, it is just another obstacle to conquer in a life that "won't end because the doctor said it will, but only if God says it will."

On this morning Christina is a ball of nervous energy. Dressed in a gray jogging suit, she makes it a point to check her online horoscope, hoping for some guidance on a day that she, family and friends have planned for some time.

Today, accomplishment replaces challenge.

Today, Christina graduates.

The reflection of her cocoa-cherub face glows from the computer screen as she clicks to a horoscope Web site.

"I think I'm going to need some direction today," she says with a smile.

Her smile is what people mention when they speak of Christina, but her determination is what inspires them.

Through bouts with an illness that would have mentally and physically crippled some, the teen completed her junior and senior years of high school at home and earned honor-roll grades.

It's the reason Varina High School teachers and administrators came together to give Christina her own graduation ceremony six months earlier than the regular commencement.

"At least I can say I have my diploma," she said. "Whether I go to college is one thing, but at least I can say I have it."

Varina teacher Lisa Roarty worked closely with the Hinton family and Carmen Nash, Christina's teacher.

"She's sort of like a superwoman," Roarty said. "She can't lift boulders, but she's managed to lift everyone's spirit throughout this whole ordeal and everything she has gone through."

Illness entered the Hinton family seven years ago when Christina, then 10, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in a gland in her neck. Doctors removed the tumor and she went on with her life. Then, two years ago, she felt a knot in her leg while in the shower.

"I didn't really want to make a big deal out of it." she said. "I thought maybe it would go away."

But it didn't.

On Dec. 14, 2000, Christina went in for a biopsy.

A few days before New Year's Eve, doctors informed Edna Hinton that her daughter had an aggressive form of cancer found most commonly in children. Called rhabdomyosarcoma, it can occur anywhere in the body. Often its symptoms don't become apparent until it's too late.

"I think most parents are just kind of bewildered when something like this happens," Hinton said. "But of course at this time, I still wasn't really understanding how serious it was."

The following year would be a whirlwind of changes for the high schooler and her family. Hinton, a single mother with another daughter and two foster children, stayed by Christina's side while maintaining her job as a licensed clinical social worker.

Christina began aggressive medical treatments - including a 16-month round of chemotherapy followed by radiation. She lost her hair and 100 pounds. But what she gained is most prominent in her mind.

"I realized none of us are promised tomorrow," she said. "I just look at the good things in life."

Some of those good things include a trip to the Bahamas for her 16th birthday, the lunches at Red Lobster that her mom treated her to during her chemotherapy and - most importantly - the bond that has developed between mother and daughter.

"So many times parents take their children for granted. I don't." Hinton said. "This is my best friend. I'm so grateful for the time we've had to hang out, shop and have a good time."

The two developed the habit of watching soap operas during Christina's long doctor visits.

On this day, Christina watches an episode of "The Young and the Restless" while waiting for her mom to return from the beauty salon.

It's a chance for the teen to rest from the beginning of an exhausting day. The phone rings constantly with calls from relatives coming to town for the graduation. Between calls, Christina rehearses the speech she plans to give.

Next stop: the nail salon. Christina gets a dainty French manicure, and her freshly coifed mom gets to rest.

"You're happy, you're thinking this is a milestone," Hinton said, reflecting on Christina's graduation day amid nail drills buzzing and the intoxicating smell of acrylic. "But you're also thinking, 'OK, what's after this?'"

The Hintons have become experts at riding the roller coaster that is cancer.

In April of 2001, about four months after her diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma, Christina became resistant to treatment and developed a new tumor. By August, the cancer had spread, and doctors told her there was a 25 percent chance for recovery.

Exceeding doctors' expectations, Christina's cancer went into remission by November 2001. She continued chemotherapy until June and returned to school in September.

But in early November, she began complaining of an aching hand. She was stumbling and getting severe headaches.

"I wanted it to be something Tylenol could cure," she said.

But it wasn't.

A few weeks ago, the news came that the cancer had spread to her brain.

"When we found out I asked her, 'Don't you want to scream or hit something?'" Hinton said.

Beyond the occasional retreat to her bedroom for a good cry, Christina said she's made a promise to deal with the diagnosis courageously.

"This is reality," Christina said. "This is what I have to deal with, so why cry? That's not going to make it go away."

Instead, she is noticing things she once overlooked.

The warmth of the sun on her face.

The taste of chocolate.

A flirtatious glance at the mall.

But today the big things take precedent.

With a few hours to spare before her commencement begins, Christina and her mom hurry through Kmart on the hunt for pantyhose and the perfect shade of lipstick.

"As long as I don't get brown lipstick she'll be happy," Christina says.

Hinton snaps back jovially, "You're supposed to wear something that pops out like 'Wow!'"

After a few more errands, mother and daughter are back home getting dressed for the occasion. Christina glides around the house in a white satin dress and jacket greeting aunts and uncles from out of town. Hinton appears from the bedroom in a royal blue suit with black sequins. Today Christina says she feels as good as she looks.

Mom and daughter hang close, right up until the moment Christina walks onto the stage to receive her diploma.

With diploma in hand, she has fulfilled two goals. One for herself, another for her mom.

"I want her to feel comfortable knowing that she's done what she's had to do as a mother," Christina said. "I want her to know life hasn't cheated me in any way, shape or form.

"Because it hasn't."

So far so good with the job. Today was a full rich day, but I still had enough down time to read Cosmo in between patients. The drug reps fed us free lunch, but it was packed with carbs and calories, which is typical of most drug rep company lunches. I'm trying to get to know the doc's: who's clumsy, who's a chatterbox, who's a perfectionist, who's the one who wants you to "move quickly," who gets nasty about their schedules. Considering I've worked with some of the biggest egos in the city at my last job, this bunch seems pretty laid-back, and almost always pleasant. At the hospital, I remember there was one doctor who almost always turned up his nose at the site of the nurses. The Better Half and I got invited to the office Christmas shindig, so I figure we'd make an appearance then head to the pub. The only prob is that the Better Half will have to dress up, then dress down to go to NJ right after the pub, as he is heading up there for the hollerdays.

Tonight, turkey burgers, tomato soup, green beans, brown rice, then yoga with Pamela at the Y.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Wow! Russell Crowe is getting married! He proposed to Danielle Spencer last night! I am really happy for him. No, really. I'll have to take down Russ off my fridge, because it just seems weird to have a soon-to-be-married man on my fridge. That will be neat. He could knit stuff for the kids they'll have!

Last night we had BBQ and Brunswick stew at my dad's house. After which, my cousin Kristen, and the Better Half and I went back to my house for a cup of decaf. I served them Folger's decaf, which, after much searching, I've decided is the best home brew that is sold in stores. Kristen and John, who aren't big coffee drinkers, raved about the coffee. The only other coffee that I think is better is the brew from Krispy Kreme, and the incredible coffee from Tim Horton's which we discovered when we went to Windsor.

I feel good about my job decision. It's a great lifestyle...I can't really say that I'm absolutely ga-ga about dermatology, but I feel I can offer a lot to the practice, and I will do the job the best I can. For the first time in two years, I won't have to work Christmas or New Year's. All of my weekends are mine. I grew tired of watching baheads and boyfriend trot off to a fun event without me. I can commit to weekend activities and evening exercise classes, and basketball games.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

I started back to work today. The place is nice, the work doesn't strike me as too difficult, and it's a constant pace, but not overwhelming. I like my supervisors, Anne and Laura, and the two medical assistants, Sarah and Nerja, are knowledgable and pleasant. I have my own little space with a computer, and I can put up pictures of the Better Half, the Mew, and the dogs. They pay for our scrubs, which is something that I had to pay for at the hospital. I'm going to be crosstrained, so pretty soon I'll be able to do anything from working with the patients to operating the front desk. I love having every weekend off, all the major hollidays off, and the hours aren't obscene. It's definately worth the pay cut I took, which wasn't too bad. I threw a lot of money around when I worked for the hospital, and not having enough when I wound up needing it. Living on a budget seems comfortable. I'll be less inclined to waste money.

Tonight is the Freedom House Benefit at the Pub. The Better Half has his final, and afterwards, we will see each other there.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

More questions, derived from Chris, who got it from Chris.

1) What time do you wake up in the morning?
These days, 10am. My goal: 7am.

2) If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be?
Florence Nightingale

3) Gold or Silver? Silver.

4) What was the last film you saw at the Cinema?
The Tuxedo with Jackie Chan at the Byrd.

5) Favorite TV Show? Antiques Roadshow

6) What do you have for breakfast?
If the world was perfect, I'd have french toast everyday. But..Slim Fast, cereal, and yogurt.

7) What would you hate to be left in a room with?
Golddigging socialites, Neo-Nazis, a Christian Rock band, Satanists, a boa constrictor, Jesus Freaks, a karaoke machine that only plays "Knights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues, and Anna Nicole Smith. Frightening.

8) Can you touch your nose with your tongue? Nope.

9) What inspires you? Love, peace, charity, goodwill, kindness, Russell Crowe, my cat, Chessie.

10) What is your middle name? Michelle.

11) Beach, city, or country? Beach in the early fall, city in the spring, country at Christmastime.

12) Summer or winter? Summer. I was born in June.

13) Favorite Ice Cream? Ben & Jerry's Phish Food

14) Buttered, plain or salted popcorn? Buttered, with a smidge of caramel. Yum.

15) Favorite color? Red

Questions I've been pondering recently, and the answer...I think. DISCLAIMER: People, you've been great during my rantings, have respected my wishes and have not sent me hate mail or viruses. Again, I would like to say that I don't care to debate you if you disagree with me. I do this blog mainly because it helps me process things, but also to link sites that I feel are fun, informative, comforting, and worthwhile. I advise you not to take me too seriously, as I don't even take myself very seriously.
1) What would Jesus Drive? An SUV?
Yep. The best SUV Jerusalem had to offer: A donkey named Nester. But personally, I think that the recent dragging of the name of Christ into a debate about automobiles is really stupid. I don't agree with the argument that SUVs are evil. Cars are just objects. I don't friggin care what you drive, so long as you can maneuver the car safely. And if you can't do that, please don't hit me (2000 Cherry Red VW Beetle with Virginia Plates). I have a feeling however, if you are out there driving a car unsafely, you're driving days are numbered. Chances are you will be in an accident, total your car, and have to buy a new one. Chances are, given that you are a somewhat intelligent human being, you will not choose another SUV. But I could be wrong.

2) What is the Pope's favorite movie?
According to Perhaps I Love You More: Why Millions Love Pope John II, the "Papal Trivia" section states that His Holiness' fave flicks are: Ghandi, Life is Beautiful, and Schindler's List. These are all excellent choices, but I must say that I don't believe His Holliness has seen Caddyshack yet. I believe that if he does see this ingenious film, it will trump the other three and become his favorite movie.

3) Willl Wynona Ryder go to Hell for stealing?
No, she'll go for many a crappy film she made. (Just kidding- but stealing is wrong. She's gotta be punished via the law. As for remorse, I don't think she really has any. Therein, for me and many, lies the problem. Sure, she's done a bunch of humanitarian things, but if I had to choose a celebrity to represent my organization, I wouldn't choose her because I couldn't trust her. I think a lot of people now find her untrustworthy and disrespect her. And in the real world, not Hollywood, that goes a long way, and she will have a long way to go to earn that trust again.) As for the Hell part...I don't know. It's not up to me.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Tonight, the Better Half and I celebrated my new employment opportunity. I made turkey burgers, lentil soup and for desert, pumpkin apple bread. I've made a decision to start eating a lot better than I was. It will be better for my heart, plus it will help me lose weight.

I'm employed.

You are reading the blog of the newest addition to the Dermatology offices! I start on Thursday! I'll be running the photo therapy machine, but in my spare time I'lll be an educator and counselor to the patients and staff! Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!

Monday, December 09, 2002

Back to the drawing board. Barbara called, and she told me that the company had decided not to hire anyone just now.

I felt schmucky, but maybe this is a sign from above telling me to keep trying. So, try I must. I'm following up with the Dermatology offices. I realize that hospital nursing needs to be an option now. I've applied to several area hospitals with some positions, mostly med-surg nursing units. Also, I'm not ruling out the military. I've asked for info from the Navy and the Army. Also, the dean of my college is the director of Red Cross Nursing in Richmond, so I am looking at that as well (volunteer experience most likely, but it's something productive to do in the mean time.) Then there is the nursing agencies in the area...I'd even do part time work (with benefits hopefully)...heck, right now, I'd shovel shit out of crackhouses if that's what the job required.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

NOTICE: This blog site and it's author can not, in good faith, support the Vatican in it's recent policy about priests with gay tendencies. I do NOT believe that homophobia is the answer to resolving the crisis in the priesthood. I have added a link to Dignity/USA, a gay Catholic advocacy group. Once again, if you disagree with me, please don't email or send hate letters or viruses. I don't care to debate you.

Friday, December 06, 2002

This was sent to the Better Half today. We thought it was very interesting and enlightening. I asked him to send it to me.

What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and
>especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do
>Here is the answer
>From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to
>practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a
>catechism song for young Catholics.
>It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning
>only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word
>for a religious reality which the children could remember.
>The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
>Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
>Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
>The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
>The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of
>Old Testament.
>The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
>Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit:
>Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, contribution, Leadership, and
>The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
>Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy,
>Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self
>The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
>The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
>The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the
>Apostles' Creed.
>So there is your history for today.
>This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and
>and now I know how that strange song
>became a Christmas Carol.

The Better Half is sick. He says it’s his stomach. He sleeps for long periods of time when he comes down with something. So he’s been here and I have been tending to him, assisted by Nurse Chessie, who gives her own medicine of T.L.C.

Last night, we stayed in and rented a cinematic masterpiece featuring my man actor, Russell Crowe. Proof of Life was the movie he made in Ecuador with Meg Ryan. He also made other things with Meg Ryan that trip…but that is a different story. The plot involves Russ, in various beautiful silk suits with wide shirt collars, as a kidnapping and hostage recovery expert who says “Mate” a lot. Meg’s husband gets kidnapped by painfully stereotypical banditos and it’s up to Russ to save the day. Even though Meg gets top billing, it is so obvious whose movie it is. Russ and David Caruso team up to save Meg’s man, and the climactic scene features these two studs kicking some serious stereotypical bandito ass! Russ wears a cute hat and a black tank top and wields a gun. This is without a doubt an Oscar moment. Also, Russ swims in Meg’s pool with just a pair of shorts on. I was ready to give him a Golden Globe.

So let’s recap why Russell Crowe is great:
1) Black tank top, cute hat, and gratuitous wet shots. Oh, and the suits. Can’t forget the suits.
2) The smile. Russ has this great smile that says “Aw shucks,” but means, “I’d really like it if you’d rip my clothes off, Mate.”
3) My boyfriend doesn’t actually mind that I drool over Russ. In fact, it gives him an excuse to watch action-adventure movies without having to listen to my whining about how boring the plotline is. (Although Russell does chose projects that have good, compelling plot lines)
4) Meg and Russ share a steamy kiss before he goes off to save Hostage Hubby. You can obviously see the chemistry between them. There are times it seems Meg has to think twice to remember her lines because she’s staring and thinking naughty thoughts about what she wants to do to her costar after the director yells “cut.” And I don’t blame the woman one bit. Russ is a rare breed of male species. He reminds me a lot of Frank Sinatra. Women couldn’t get enough of Frank’s tough guy crooner status. Russ not only acts, he plays rock and roll music and is apparently a decent singer as well. Sure, he gets into a lot of scrapes in real life, but it seems so simple to avoid this…just don’t piss him off. Just like dealing with Frank.
5) He knits. It’s true! He learned how as a boy in New Zealand! Go to the ChickKnits website if you don’t believe me!

This is such a cute story. Perfect for the holidays.

Morning smile
Inmates in Wisconsin knit for needy

REDGRANITE, Wis. (AP) - Some inmates at the Redgranite Correctional Institution have been busy making hats, mittens and scarves for orphans on the other side of the world.

Other inmates tease them about their knitting, but they say it gives them something enjoyable to do to pass the time.

"We're not all thugs. It's nice to do something for somebody else," inmate Rick Webb said. "I never met (the orphans), but I've got kids out there, too."

Webb and a handful of other inmates will contribute about 40 hats, pairs of mittens and scarves to orphans in Romania.

The inmates learned about the plight of Romania's huge orphan population from three area women who will travel there Wednesday to deliver the items made by the inmates and other supplies donated by local residents.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

My Christmas decor, thanks to the recent fung shui project that allowed more space at Maison du Jennique, has been separated into three sections this year, instead of two. This year, I have a fabulous four foot faux Alaskian pine tree that I bought at KMart during the initial flakes last night after my other tree went M.I.A. I've been able to put it in it's own space, right next to my reclining chair, where I can look at it. My philosophy of Christmas tree trimming is that it is an intimate and personal experience, and that ornaments should be chosen to reflect the lives of the people who live in the house. So each year I choose ornaments that reflect my life and personality. Natually, there are a lot of nursing, knitting, figure skating and Pooh bear ornaments. This year, Chessie has made her appearance on the tree in the form of a picture frame ornament. For the past couple of years she has been represented on the tree as a Hallmark ornament featuring a cat playing with an unenthusiastic hamster in one of those plastic balls. When we got it, John and I remarked that it looked like Chessie when she played with Harvey Wallbanger, a mechanical hamster with a plastic ball that we humans thought was funny, but was unpopular with the Chess, and pretty soon became part of a growing pile of toys in Chessie's kitty carrier. On his tree, John has a railroad car from the Ohio Railroad that is labled "The Chessie System." The Ohio Railroad's mascot was a sleeping kitten, who according to folklore, was found snoozing in a sleeper car by a big burly conducter, who immediately christened her Chessie. There are signs featuring the feline that read: "Chessie says you'll sleep like a kitten aboard the Ohio Railroad!" John says that right before he got her, he took a trip to Harper's Ferry when he was thinking about taking home a cat he'd seen at a local shelter, and when he saw the sign at the train station, he knew in his heart that the cat he saw named Chessie was the one for him.

The second part is my pretty little Christmas City, which is an offshoot of The Snow Village, those ceramic houses you see at Hechts this time of year. I haven't expanded my collection in almost two years, but it still looks pretty. I have Mrs. Stover's Candy Store, Jennie's Book Shop, the hospital, the beauty salon, the bridal shop, Molly O'Brien's Irish Pub (complete with the sign Erin Go Braugh!), and the center of the city, the Cathedral complete with mini-Nativity scene. With the exception of the hospital, it's a bit of a Girly Town, but hopefully I'll expand my collection when I start acquiring a paycheck. It's sitting on my fold-out table which sits next to the window, so people can see it from the outside. In theory, of course. Because my window faces my parent's backyard, it gives my German Shepherds an eyefull, but not many else. Still, I do like to think the dogs enjoy it. They are represented on the tree with Chess.

Finally, I've put my Advent wreath and my Nativity scene on a trunk that sits across from my bed. The Nativity scene is made of wood, and it was a Chirstmas present from my Nanny and Papa last year, making it all the more special. John got me the Advent wreath on our first Christmas together, so both pieces are sentimental. This morning, I couldn't take my eyes off the lit candle next to the Nativity scene. It was such a simple yet perfect moment.

For those of you unfamiliar, the Advent wreath consists of a circular wreath with four candles in it- three purple, one pink, each representing the four weeks of Advent, which is used to prepare for the birth of Baby Jesus. As the weeks progress, more candles are lit. The pink candle is lit on the third week. I prefer evening Mass during Advent, because Father John put St. Mike's Advent wreath near the window this year, and it's really pretty at night to see the candles lit.

Although it's been uttered in many a corny Christmas show, but I must say that this time of year I feel is almost magical. Being out of work this year for the Holidays has really taught me a humbling lesson. I feel I want to become more sensitive to the plight of those less fortunate than me. I was reading an article about a homeless woman who could give her daughter one gift for her birthday...a Slurpee from a local convienence store. A story like that I probably would have read and not felt anything before, but having read it only a few days ago, it truly broke my heart. I realize that there but for the grace of God go I. I am lucky in that my family supported me through this. There are people with no support. This time in the year, when candles are in the window, you can hear the whooshing of the snow, and Christians gather to celebrate the birth of the Man who would later subject himself to the torture of having nails put in his wrists (yes, Bert, I did read your blog :) ) and feet on a piece of wood so that people could have a better life, just seems like the perfect time do help support those who need it. It's a lesson that I needed to be reminded of, and I think it just might go down as the best Christmas present I've ever received. (Don't worry Granddaddy, the pink Huffy Big Girl bike you gave me at age 6 runs a close second!)

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

The snow came, and my cynicism that was rampant in the last few posts melted away. It's just so beautiful out there. The Better Half and I were discussing the sound of snow. Have you ever stood outside in a snowfall at night? It's absolutely silent, except for a peaceful whooshing noise, as the snow lands. I am now watching the infamous lower half of the screen on the news, waiting to hear if his school is closed in the morning. Most of the county schools are closed tomorrow, which leads me to believe that they will close too. Usually when I was anticipating school closings as a child, you could usually judge the severity of the storm by which schools closed. My school district, Henrico, usually was the last to closeUnlike today, where schools close at the drop of a snowflake. Yep, those were the good old days.

I set up my Christmas decorations and my Advent and Nativity scene tonight while watching the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. I also love watching Christmas at the White House, especially when the First Lady shows off the tree. I sometimes pretend that the cameras are on me as I trim the White House tree:

My Fellow Americans, it has been such a special year for my husband and me. Being your President has been so rewarding for me. America truly is the greatest country in the world. This year, we not only established world peace, found cures for AIDS, cancer and the Ebola virus, and improved health care by giving nurses free schooling and seven digit salaries, but also, we were able to eradicate stupidity nationwide, took funds from hate groups to build flower gardens, and established a fat-free cheesecake that really does taste like the real thing. Here's my tree, and this year we have a very special ornament, featuring your favorite First Pet, and mine, Chessie. It's a Christopher Radko original of Chessie sitting on my desk in The Oval Office. Isn't it fab?!
I love the holidays!

So, on a recent trip to fellow Bahead John Y.'s blog, Mixed Nuts (click on the link to the left to take you there), he discusses the new reality show Joe Millionaire. Apparently, this show is about a gaggle of women who fly to France in hopes of rocking the world of a guy who they believe has recently inherited $50 million dollars. In truth, it turns out that the man is a construction worker who makes about 19 grand a year. But the girls don't know that. The guy in question is honest about everything else in his life...except the money.

Okay, I'd like to do a reality show entitled, "Reality TV People and Ebola Virus," in which we put all the contestants, cast members, network executives, directors and producers of these crappy shows in an airtight glass house with one port-a-potty and a monkey. Once they start hating each other, we introduce, probably during sweeps week, The Ebola Virus, which will be piped in through air ducts, food and the monkey that will chase everyone around and bite them. (Monkeys equal huge ratings. Everyone loves monkeys!). Basically, I am hoping that the virus will work slowly, so we can get at least two seasons out of this. I'm almost thinking we could fuck with them and have an internet poll in which viewers can vote as to which viral fuckface gets vaccinated at the end of the show. The big payoff for the last person left standing: a ventalator and three hours of nursing care a week!

I would definately watch that.

Ahh. After that, and a bit of hatha stretching, I feel better. By the way, that group's name is Regum Christi. I found their website and sent them a somewhat nasty email. Nothing threatening, or profane, mind you. They deserve it. No one separates me from my bathroom privilages, you Pope-brown nosing little reactionary Vatican hacks! Moo!

(DISCLAIMER: Attention World Youth Day Participants and Fans: What follows is my rant. I am a creature of moods. Today I feel like saying these things. If you don't like it, don't read my blog anymore. I don't care. The events that transpired at the Papal Mass are written in the viewpoint of one person. The comments are opinions, perrogatives and dreams. Please don't send me any response, positive or negative, and please don't email me any viruses because I happen to piss you off with what I say. If you want someone to tell you all about the love and cuddliness of World Youth Day, then don't read my blog. This entry does not reflect the views of any other pilgrims, other Catholics, the Catholic Church, and most likely, The Blessed Mother, Mary. I am sure She would not use the word, "suck" because She is good like that. Thank you. Support Public Radio. Read on, if you dare! )

Last night I had a dream I was back at World Youth Day. I went to find members of a group called Reginum Christi (yes, I believe that is their real name, it was something Latin something having to do with Christ the King), which was, on the real World Youth Day composed of a bunch of little fuckers who made a human chain around an area of land and wouldn't let anyone else pass through, including us. David called them on it and was basically threatened with bodily harm. The group then erected a tent (which was not allowed per the World Youth Day paperwork, according to the Better Half) and a big sign, blocking the view of the pilgrims behind them. They later set up ropes and baracades, so walking to the potty, a struggle to begin with, was virtually impossible. No one separates me from my bathroom privilages.

In my dream, I caught up to the group's main cow who was impatient and rude with me. I grabbed her, bend her hand back and squeezed hard, all the time telling her what I thought of her and her group, how they abused their name and their Catholicism to screw others. How they treated others like dirt to advance themselves. How they restricted their brothers and sisters from sitting near them, then had the audacity and stupidity to preach inclusiveness. I then was ranting and calling her and her group thugs and goons, all the time still gripping her wrist, dragging her all around. It didn't seem to hurt her much; she hardly flinched, but I've been told certain demon spawns don't feel physical pain. She disappeared in her Reginum Christi restricted Nazi house and mooed with the other cows, then I saw the door open and a skinny bitch talked with four big Latino guys and pointed towards me. They took off in a line and came towards me. I spoke to them in Spanish, told them I didn't want any trouble or wasn't looking for retrobution, I was just speaking my mind. The guys were nicer than the cow, but they looked at my I.D., hoping they could get my name. I remember the last part of the dream being me with my hand stuck out and saying, "Me llamo Jenn." (translation for those who don't habla, is "My name is Jenn." They left me alone after that.

It's sort of unrelated, but I have a feeling that this dream stems from the thoughts that I was having yesterday. Mainly, I realized that bringing a tape recorder was my mistake. It was the first time I did; usually I bring a bound journal and write. I feel that if I'd done that, I'd be able to just whip it out and scribble thoughts that would be offputing if I was talking into a tape recorder where people could hear me, such as:
"Man, this group next to us are real assholes!" or
"So-and-so in our group is being such a bitch today!" or
"Today the Better Half is drving me crazy with his fast walking and his Neopolianic complex!" or
"Sitting here admist overzealous pilgrims, I am reminded of a fatal flaw of the Catholic people- get a big group of them together and stick a Pope in front of them and they become a big bunch of dickheads. David had us say the Rosary. He finds it comforting. I don't know what passive-aggresive Blessed Mother he talks to, probably not the same one I talk to because right now, my Blessed Mother is whispering in my ear, 'Jenn, these people suck, let's get out of here and find a bathroom!' because She's good like that." It would have been cathartic...I think I'd have less issues now. In fact I feel better already getting it out here, on this blog.

I also think it would have provided me a rare quiet spot in which I would become introspective and be able to ask personal questions to God about my faith, as yammering into a tape recorder seems so less meaningful and virtually impossible when you're surrounded by 800,000 others. Plus, when I didn't want to talk to someone, I could just pull it out and start scribbling. Also at World Youth Day, I didn't bring any knitting along, as every little space counts. But there were times when I really could have used it, like at the lectures or when the rest of the group stomped and clapped and made hand puppets during the hymns. From now on, it goes with me, anywhere.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Okay, the movie, according to MaximumRussellCrowe.com, is a film called The Crossing, a 1991 Austrailian film featuring Danielle Spencer, who is his girlfriend now. It's about a love triangle...he plays Johnny, one of the boys, and she plays the girl he and his best friend that they are fighting over...apparently, before I tuned in, one of them had come back to town to find the other canoodling with the lass. It's kind of the same plot line as Pearl Harbor (a.k.a here as Ben Affleck's Chest) with accents. Except Russell is much more fine a specimen then Affleck. Trouble is, the other guy in this flick, playing the best friend, Sam, is kind of nerdy, so obviously the Anti-Russ.

Uh-oh. Apparently, the highly terrifying climactic scene is happening right now. A drunk Russ sees Danielle and Sam dancing together. Pissed, he smacks Sam one and gets in his truck. Danielle climbs in with him, then Sam chases them in his truck. Russ is going very fast, because he's drunk. He looks very hot however, in his tank top. She's screaming, there's a train coming, oh-no, look out Sam...DAMN IT, they cut to a commercial!

Oh no, we're back now. Russ is cradling the train-squashed Sam in his arms. Danielle screams and sobs...cut to a shot of a cross with a steeple. Never a good sign. Danielle walks through a graveyard...also not a good sign. Russ is with her, he looks very fine in a brown and olive green shirt and pants combo with matching tie. He wanders off to look at headstones. She places flowers at a grave, who's name I didn't see because I'm typing at the same time. But it doesn't look good for poor Sam. Russ and Danielle look at each other forlornly. That is definately not a good sign. Fade out. And we have closing credits.

Ah, how I love Australian cinema.

Hey! There's a movie on WE that is featuring a very cute, very young Russell Crowe! Will continue to investigate.

It was easier than expected deciding which Hallmark ornaments I would buy this year. I allowed myself two ornaments, both Collector series: Jo March from the Little Women series, and a little puppy dog from the Puppy Love series. The puppy is playing with a tattered woolen hat and has '02 on his collar. I always try to get something dated. So this was perfect.

Today I get to organize my yarn stash! First, pizza.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Tonight I went to see Roses In December, a documentary about the life of Jean Donovan, who was killed in El Salvador along with three other American women, nuns, in 1980. The sick part is that her killers didn't go to trial and were released, despite confessing to the murders. It was a time of civil war in El Salvador, and the side that murdered the women was the side supported by the United States.

It made me think a lot. This woman left behind her very prestigious life, her family and her fiancee to work as a missionary helping poor refugees in El Salvador during a time of civil war. She knew her life was in danger. She knew she'd probably be killed. She had thought about leaving El Salvador, but each time she thought about it, she realized she couldn't, because her next thought would be the faces of the refugee children who would then have no one to help them. She was murdered by soldiers who then dumped her and her three friends into a shallow grave. And she knew that she would not be the last one it would happen to. Ah, I realized, that is why we're here tonight. That is why there is a documentary about Jean. She truly, almost literally, lived the Gospel. There is a lot of parallel between her story and the story of Christ. And like Christ, she died for her faith.

After the movie, there was a prayer service, featuring a litany of many of the martyrs of Central America. There were names from not only the Americas, but Belguim, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland. Hundreds of names that were not mentioned either. I've been inspired recently to read about the lives of people like Jean Donovan and Cesar Chavez, and Archbishop Romero. This event tonight has reinforced that.

Yesterday I had an amazing experience at the World AIDS Day Ecumenical Prayer Service, which was held at the Cathedral dowtown. The Cathedral boasts the Dynamic Duo of Parish Priests, Msgr. Bob Perkins and Father Peter Creed. Father Bob is eloquent, calm and well-versed, while Father Creed exudes warmth and comfort with his voice and actions. As I walked in, a volunteer handed me a red ribbon, a candle, prayer card and program. There were many churches participating in the event- Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Community. Father Perkins did the opening prayer, and then there were four readings from groups of two. The second reading featured a lady named Joanna Haliday, who is the Chairperson of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond AIDS Task Force, as well as a member of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church AIDS Committee. She read a fictional autobiography of a 6-month old baby with HIV, abandoned in a hospital. The reading stressed how the nurses would hold the baby, and it ended with the line, "I like to be held!"

The most touching part of the ceremony was the presentation of photos and mementos on the alter. People came forward with banners, cards, pieces of clothing, photos, and AIDS quilt panels in memorial to their friends and loved ones as a lone cello played Bach. A group of young men sitting the pews across from me began to wipe their eyes, and focused on consoling one of the young men, who was crying a bit harder than the rest. Father Creed and a volunteer helped us light our candles. Reverend Dennis of Greater Mount Moriah Baptist Church then asked us to hold up our candles, and to reach out and touch the person next to us. Through that touch, Rev. Dennis said, we were helping each other heal. Then he told us to blow out the candles, and to watch the smoke fly away. Our problems would fly away with that smoke, he told us. After which, Father Perkins gave us a final blessing. It was truly lovely.

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