Friday, October 30, 2009

Planes, Passes, and Procrastination

Since Shinedown is now my new favorite band, I joined their fan club.  This may sound like a geeky thing to do and you may be thinking that I'm way too old to be joining fan clubs.  What if I told you that was the best way to get good concert seats and even backstage passes?  I once went to Hawaii with Bon Jovi's fan club.  We spent a week exploring Oahu and went to two shows.  I got to go backstage and meet them at one of the concerts.  That would need a post (or 2, or 5) of it's own, though, so back to Shinedown.

I received an email containing the latest pre-sale dates and VIP packages.  I was debating whether to see them at one of their midwest concerts.  Only one was on a weekend that I don't have my daughter.  Can I drive to Ohio in December?  Do I need snow tires or chains?  Would I have a problem driving in the snow?  I've never even seen snow.  I could build a snowman!  Or I could die trying to get there.

I decided to check air fares.  I found an excellent rate!  The hotel provides a free shuttle to and from the airport and is less than 10 miles from the concert venue!  I can do this!  It would cost 500 dollars or more to buy a front row seat from a scalper.  For less than 500 dollars I can get a roundtrip plane ticket, a room, a good seat, and a meet and greet pass to say hello to the band!  I'm so excited!

I flipped back to the fan club website and saw that it was sold out already.  That's what I get for procrastinating...again... 


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Take My Breath Away

I let my asthma prescription run out.  I was feeling so good I just didn't think about it.  I was ok for the first couple of days but soon found myself getting short of breath doing simple tasks like climbing a flight of stairs or taking a short walk to the convenience store.  Last night my chest started hurting and I had to use my rescue inhaler.  I guess I really am stuck with this for the rest of my life.  I was only diagnosed a year ago and was hoping this would be a temporary condition, or that it would improve at least enough that I wouldn't need daily meds. 

My prescription is expensive.  I have to pay 200 dollars a month for the privilege of breathing.  What I really can't afford right now is a trip to the emergency room, though, so I will make sure I don't run out again.     

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Should Write a Book!

I just ordered No Plot? No Problem! from Amazon.  I've been seeing bloggers posting about NaNoWriMo.  These bloggers and more than 86,000 other people have signed up for a challenge to write a novel in 30 days beginning November 1.  I've been saying I want to write a novel, but I don't know where to start.  I saw the book on the NaNo website.  I won't get mine in time to participate in November, but that doesn't mean the book won't help.

I can use my adventures from my roadtrip.  I can include not only the things that did happen, but also the things I wish happened.  It will be fiction, so reality will have no place in my universe! 

That's Yellowstone National Park in the photo.  A good setting for my story? 


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Derailleurs, Downhills, and Daughters

I am putting my new bike to good use.  I rode 15 miles with my new friends this morning.  I discovered the front derailleur (the thingamajig that changes the gears) isn't working properly.  I was afraid the chain would come off, so I stopped using it and had difficulty with some of the uphills.  I had to get off and push.  The downhills were a lot of fun, though.  I cranked up the gears and went as fast as I could.

I took it to the bike shop on my way home and he made some adjustments while I waited.  He said since it is a new bike cables will stretch and they will make any adjustments necessary for the first six months at no charge.  Hopefully, the gears are working right now.  I'll take it out again soon and see.  I need it for the missions tour in San Antonio this weekend.

I had signed up for a 5 mile hike with another group, but found out at the last minute that my daughter had late cosmotology lab at school today and needed a ride home so I had to cancel.  Why do I hear about these things at the last minute?  I'm tempted to buy her a bike and tell her that's her ride home, but I'd be too worried about her riding in the dark alone.

That's my old bike on a trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park taken this summer.  It's the one that I used as a shield when I passed the alligator in Florida.  I still have it because I can't take my new bike off road.  The front derailleur doesn't work on it, either.  I'm a little worried because the common denominator is me...     


Monday, October 26, 2009

My Alligator Story

Can you see the alligator waiting for lunch to ride by?

Here's a closer view:

Gator number two was closer and harder to see:

Saw some birds, too:

This one is the reason you stay on the road.  That clump of mud has teeth. 

Couldn't find him?  Try now.  Click to enlarge if you still can't see him.

Of all the stories I tell about my road trip, people remember the alligator the most.  When Poker Guy introduced me to his girlfriend he said, "I told her your alligator story."

I was on a 15 mile bike trail in Everglades National Park and I saw an alligator on the side of the road.  It was more than 10 miles back the way I came so I put my bike between me and the alligator, walked as close to the edge as I could, and hoped he would get a mouthful of tire if he decided to bite.  After about a mile I saw another one and had to do it again.

I started a series of articles about the trip on HubPages, but have only done the first 5 days so far.  I intend to add more.  I should have taken better notes so it would be easier.  I'll do better next time.  If anyone is interested, you can read more here.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Poker, Cemeteries, and Bikes

I was right not to think too much of Poker Guy's email.  He has a very nice girlfriend who I got to meet last night.  Don't feel bad for me.  Now I have two new friends to play poker and ride my bike with.

I won the Texas Hold 'Em tournament this time.  It was a ten dollar buy in and the prize was 50 dollars, so I won 40.  Maybe I should start looking for tournaments in casinos...

I bought a new bike this week.  I had a mountain bike but I was not able to keep up with the road bikes on my group rides.  I figured if I could spend 1100 dollars on a TV, I should invest that much on something that will improve my health and fitness level.  I had my eye on a racing bike that cost $899.  The guy at the bike shop said I did not need that one unless I was competing.  He pointed me towards what he called a fitness bike, which he said would be better for the tours that I take because it is more comfortable to ride and would be able to keep up when I ride with the group.  It has straight handlebars, slightly wider tires than a racing bike but still skinny,  is a lot lighter than a mountain bike or a hybrid, and only cost $450.  It is nice when you find someone honest who tries to sell you what you need instead of trying to get you to spend as much money as possible.     

I got to ride my new bike for the first time this afternoon.  I rode about 15 miles and had no trouble keeping up.  I went on a tour of Houston's cemeteries with Bayou City Outdoors.  The most famous grave was probably Howard Hughes', pictured above.  

Poker Guy and his girlfriend were there.  He is a very experienced rider who does the MS150 every year, which is a 150 mile 2 day ride from Houston to Austin that raises money to help people with Multiple Sclerosis.  He said my bike seems like a good one for riding around town.  He looked it over and told me the rear brakes are too tight, so I'll have them adjusted tomorrow morning.        

We went for pizza after and I've been invited to ride with them on Tuesday morning.  Now that I've bought the bike I need to put it to good use.          

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beautiful, Dreary Day

It is a beautiful day and I should have gone outside to enjoy it, but I didn't.  I should have cleaned the kitchen, done the laundry...I should have done a lot of things.  Do you ever have those days that you just can't get motivated to do anything?  I parked myself on the couch this morning and stayed there. 

It's 5 p.m. and I am just now getting dressed.  I would call the whole day a wash and start fresh tomorrow, but tonight is the Texas Hold 'Em party and I've been looking forward to seeing Poker Guy again.  I haven't eaten anything all day except some crackers so I'm looking forward to dinner, too.  I think I'll order the  Grilled Shrimp Alfredo.  "Spicy garlic and lime shrimp over penne pasta tossed in creamy Alfredo sauce. Topped with diced tomatoes, green onions and Parmesan cheese served with garlic toast."  Mmmmmm...

The picture was taken during my July road trip in Wyoming's Sinks Canyon State Park on a beautiful day that I didn't let go to waste.  I'll do better tomorrow.  


Random Questions

I tried answering those random questions they ask for your profile page, but they didn't make much sense.  Now I'm realizing, duh, that's the point.  Use your imagination.  OK.  I'll try here.

Q:  Your pajamas have duckies on them. Why did you switch from choo-choos? 
A:  Because I want my cat to get out of my way instead of eating my jammies.

Q:  Come up with some possible band names for your group that features a washboard and a styrofoam tuba.
A:  Swamp Things,  Zydeco Zeroes

Q:  When your science teacher smashed a frozen rose with a hammer, did you warm the petals to bring them back to life?
A:  I tried to steal some of that stuff to take home and play with.  When that didn't work, we poured it on the carpet and stomped on it to see if it would crunch.

Q:   You forgot your mom's birthday! What can you make out of super glue and olive pits?
A:  A beautiful mosaic she can put on the fridge next to my 3rd grade report card.

Q:   If you drive on a parkway why don't they make the whole plane out of that?
A:  If you park on a driveway, why do they lock the 24-hour Stop N Rob?

Q:    The wicked backspin caught you off guard. How will you play it off without losing your footing?
A:  I meant to do that!

Q:   Aren't papier mache cuts the worst?
A:  I'm not sure.  Come here and we'll experiment...

Q:  Please describe how you could take the peel off an apple all in one go:
A:  Magic.  (They actually make a gadget for that.) 

Q:     Why does the color blue mean raspberry-flavored?
A:  It does?  I thought it meant bubblegum.

Q:    You can whistle and steam can whistle, so why do you sing in the shower?
A:  I can't whistle, actually.  I try and try but I just blow.  The cats look at me funny when I try.  Maybe I'm succeeding in a tone only they can hear...

Q:  You're going to the moon! What did you forget to pack?
A:  My tin foil hat.

Q:   You laughed so hard you can't catch your breath. Stick out your tongue and show us what's funny:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cave Without a Name

Because it's "too pretty to name"...

Is that a bat?

Yep. It's a bat.

The pictures were taken on a recent trip to the Hill Country with Bayou City Outdoors. We took a tour of the Cave Without a Name in Boerne, Texas. The guide didn't like us much. We asked too many questions.

We have another trip coming up in a week. We'll be hiking Canyon Lake Gorge and taking a bicycle tour of the missions in San Antonio. I've been camping instead of staying in hotels. The guided hike will cost 10 dollars and the bike tour is free, so I'm not blowing my budget.   

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Expensive Habit

I have developed a very expensive habit. Nope, not gambling. It's not drugs or alcohol, either. It's marathons. They're like potato chips; you can't stop at just one. I've completed two half marathons and am training for my third. Those are my medals and finisher's shirt.

My next race is the San Antonio Rock 'N Roll Marathon. There will be a live band every mile of the course and a concert after the race. I will be walking this one because my knee protests loudly when I try to run. There are a lot of people that walk marathons so I won't be alone.

Why so expensive? The entry fees range from 65 to 100+ dollars. I like to travel to marathons in other cities, which means I have to pay for hotel rooms, airfare or gas, meals, etc. I need at least 2 pairs of running shoes each year which cost around 95 dollars each. You cannot run or train for marathons in cheap shoes without injury.

Then there are the toys: The 250 dollar GPS watch that tracks my speed, distance, and route which I can upload to my computer to track my workouts. The 45 dollar hydration belt to hold my water, nutrition, inhaler, and keys.

Cotton clothing is miserable to run in, so I spend money on performance clothing for every possible weather condition. I have more running clothes in my closet than work clothes. My boobs are constantly changing depending on whether I'm actively training for a race or not, so I have to keep 2 different sizes on hand - in the sport variety and the ones I get from Victoria's Secret. I can buy less expensive shorts or tops but the cheap bras won't do.

When I'm in training I have to eat 2600 calories per day to maintain my current weight. That means I am always hungry and eat as much as two teenagers. The grocery bill skyrockets.

I was roped into this by someone who told me that running was cheap. "The streets are free. All you need is a good pair of shoes."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Some friends come into your life for a reason, they come into your life and teach you a lesson but they exit your life in such a way that the lesson is learned and they seldom cross your path again. Some friends come into your life for a season, they make your life better, but time or death leave you only with the great memories you shared. Some friends come into your life a lifetime, they make your soul dance of joy every time you see each other and even through distance you stay close. Those are the ones you should cherish and hold very close to your heart."

On my roadtrip this summer, I had a choice between visiting Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon. I wanted to see both, but it became clear I would not be able to spend a significant amount of time if I tried. I could either spend a few days in each or choose one in which to spend a week or more. There was a guy I had been exchanging emails with for a while that I wanted to meet that just happened to live in one of the little towns in Wyoming that I would pass through if I chose Yellowstone. There was also a casino in that little town. Good-looking guys and casinos are two of my favorite things, so I chose Yellowstone.

I drove from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Wind River Valley, stopping only long enough to eat and get a few hours of sleep each night. I arrived in town after midnight and found a room. I sent him a text message the next morning saying, "Guess where I am?" He was busy the next few days but gave me some ideas of where to pitch my tent and where to eat. I was disappointed that I couldn't see him but didn't complain because he didn't invite me. I just showed up.

We stayed in touch while I visited Lander, Cody, and Yellowstone National Park. He told me I should extend my vacation and see the concerts at the county fair in Rock Springs. I asked if he knew anybody with extra tickets. He said I didn't need a ticket. It was eight dollars at the gate.

"Eighty dollars? For all three days?" I asked, thinking that was a bargain.

"No, eight dollars each day at the gate."

"Eighteen a day? No way."

"I said eight dollars. The concert is free with admission to the fair."

I'm not hard of hearing. I was just having great difficulty believing I could see Hoobestank and Shinedown for eight dollars each. I can't even park for eight dollars at home. I still didn't quite believe it. I showed up three hours before the concert because I was afraid there would be too many people and some would be turned away. I passed the time until the show watching kids trying mostly unsuccessfully to rope calves.

It was only eight dollars and was not crowded at all. Hoobestank only had ten rows of diehard fans. The rest of the audience was apathetically watching a free show. The singer worked very hard to get everyone involved, asking the people in the back to jump up and down just once. "It won't hurt. I promise." He told the ten rows up front he loved them. The people in back he liked, but "just as friends". They played their hearts out. I was impressed.

The next night was Shinedown. I knew I had heard a couple of their songs on the radio but couldn't name them. I was excited because I was finally going to meet my friend. We'll call him L. After the first couple of songs I got a text: "Left of stage." Off I went to find him. He was just as good-looking in person and a very sweet guy. He introduced me to his brother and friends then spent the rest of the concert by my side. I got a call from him before I made it out of the fairgrounds. He said, "I miss you already."

For the next few weeks I thought of him every time I heard a Shinedown song. Things did not work out and I am no longer on his friend list. I guess it is true that sometimes people come into your life only briefly but for a specific reason. L introduced me to a beautiful state that is second only to Texas in my heart and to music that inspires me. Shinedown has become my favorite band.

I was laid off in March and am still unemployed. I have decided this is my Second Chance to go back to college and get my degree. It's a chance to start over and reinvent myself.

Sometimes good-bye is a second chance...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Texas Hold 'Em

I love to gamble. Blackjack is my favorite game and the only one I understand enough to bet more than the minimum. My record win is 1300 dollars on my 40th birthday. Happy birthday to me!

I was excited to see that one of my social groups was doing a Texas Hold 'Em 101 event. I noticed the event leader was someone I had not met before and it was to take place in his home, so I made sure there were people I already knew on the attendance list. There were 3, so I felt pretty comfortable going.

We met at Chili's for dinner first. I saw the organizer at a table with two other guests and joined them. He was not the kind of guy that makes my jaw drop because he is so gorgeous, but not bad-looking. Much better than his picture. He's bald, which I don't always like, but it works for him. Then he smiled and I saw that he had braces. Shallow Jen made a brief appearance.

I learned that he does a lot of the same things that I do. He is running the San Antonio Marathon in November. I'm running the same race but doing the half. In the parking lot after dinner he noticed the bike rack on my car. He says he puts a bike rack on his tiny BMW convertible. That mental image makes me laugh. The bike is probably bigger than the car.

Then we all went to his apartment. It's a tiny 900 square feet, but very nice. The kitchen was as large as his living area. The floor was a hardwood-look laminate instead of the ugly shag carpet in most rentals. Where the dining table should be, he had a poker table. OK, we have just confirmed he is not married. He had an area rug in front of the sofa and the walls were decorated with black and white photographs in frames. The bathroom was as large as the bedroom. There was nothing special about the tile and did not have a garden tub, but it was nicer than most I've seen in a bachelor's apartment. I don't know about the closets. The doors were closed and I was not going to be that nosy.

He was on the 11th floor and had a bird's eye view of the city lights below. The red and green of the traffic lights next to the white of the street lights and the light from various house and office windows almost looks like Christmas. When I made the statement that no one could see in this high up so he could leave his blinds open all the time, someone remarked that people could see in with a telescope. He went and got his binoculars and said when that happens he looks back. I like that attitude!

We spent about 30 minutes learning the rules of the game and practicing a few just-for-fun deals to learn how to place bets, then played a tournament. For 10 dollars, we each got 1500 dollars worth of chips and played until we were out or won it all. I did not win. I need a lot more practice before I'm ready to play poker in a casino.

It was his first time leading an event so I thought about sending an email telling him what a great job he did but never got around to it. This morning, I found a message from him in my inbox. He said he had a lot of fun, would love to see me again, he's doing another one this weekend and hopes I can make it. I get messages like that from a lot of people in this group, including women, so I'm not making too much of it. I am going to make sure I'm at the next poker party, though.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


My virtual fish tank:

I heard from another voice from my past this morning. A former colleague IM'd me on Facebook. She has moved back to Romania and is going through a divorce. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she's going back to school and learning how to live her own life again. She told me when I finally take my trip to Europe I need to look her up and she'll be my guide. Maybe I'll make that my next summer vacation. I'd better add "get a passport" on my to do list.

Facebook has been great for reconnecting with old friends and staying in touch with current friends or recent colleagues. It has also gotten me hooked on FarmTown, FarmVille, Happy Aquarium, Fish World and other applications. I get invites to be a neighbor on a new one almost every day. I can't keep up with all of them. I log in to find my fish floating because I didn't feed them. I can't even keep virtual fish alive?!?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Am I Too Honest?

The pics are of my sister and nephew when they visited in 2006. I heard from her today for the first time in almost a year. She sent me an IM when she saw me online on Facebook. We don't see each other often. Her 5-year-old son, my nephew, kept telling her to say "hi" and that he wants to come to Texas and see me.

She asked why I wasn't collecting unemployment. In order to collect you are supposed to be actively looking for a fulltime job, which I am not. I'm going to look for a part-time job once I get an idea of how much of my time school will take. She asked why didn't I apply at places that I knew wouldn't hire me and then I could still collect. All my friends are telling me the same thing. I just don't think it's very honest.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Should I Let My Daughter Cut My Hair?

My daughter got her cosmotology kit today (that's me and my daughter in the photo). She rushed inside to show me all of her new toys: hairdryer, flat iron, haircutting scissors and razors, combs, those clipper things they use on the guys...she will probably have a parade of her friends in my home away free haircuts.

She's been cutting her friends' hair for years. She also colors their hair and puts in extensions. She's quite talented. Now she's taking the classes in high school and will be able to graduate with a license and the ability to earn a good living.

I don't think her father was happy about her chosen vocation at first. I have no problem with it. I think it's wonderful that she will be doing something she enjoys, plus this is not a job that can ever be outsourced to India and cannot be done by robots.

I would like to see her aspire to more than working at the mall giving haircuts all day. I would like her to start her own business, or learn to do stage makeup and work on films. She thinks I'm crazy. I will support her no matter what path she chooses.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Healthcare in America

It is not my style to post political arguments on my blog. Today's post does contain a rare expression of a political view with which anyone should feel free to disagree as long as there are no personal attacks. I enjoy an intelligent debate. I do not enjoy unnecessary drama.

I have asthma and have lost my insurance coverage along with my job. COBRA would cost more than 800 dollars per month, which I cannot afford. My current medications cost 200 dollars per month if I do not have an attack. If I get sick, it can cost a whole lot more. I'm hoping I can change to something less expensive with fewer possible side effects (like death) since it is now under control. Before I schedule an appointment with a specialist, I want to make sure I don't qualify for assistance of some sort.

Today, I had an appointment with the social worker at the Community Clinic. She put my information into the system to see if I would qualify for Medicaid or the Montgomery County Hospital District. I have zero income, but I was responsible and saved for a rainy day. I thought I would be rejected until all of my savings was gone. They didn't even ask how much money I have in the bank.

The reason I did not qualify is because my car is too expensive. I do not drive a Cadillac or a Mercedes; I drive a 2007 Toyota Corolla. My car is a practical, reliable car; not a luxury model. She told me most of the people who qualify drive autos that are worth only 500 to 1000 dollars. In my experience, those older cars pollute the air, cost more than my yearly car payments in needed maintenance and repairs, and are not reliable. I could stop making payments, let them repossess my car (which would not help the economy recover), and buy a gas-guzzling clunker and then I would qualify.

It seems this clinic is going to accept me, though. I have to apply for Montgomery County Hospital District services, be rejected, and then they can help me. They serve the people who are not poor enough for Medicaid but do not have insurance.

I agree with Obama that no one in this country should ever be denied medical care because they can't afford it, but why do we have to throw everything out and start all over? Why are we fixing the parts that aren't broken? We have the best medical care in the world. Why not just change the stupid rules that make no sense? There are already places like this clinic that help people like me and would help more if they received more funds. Why not give them more money?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


"Insomnia. . .you were like a one night stand. . .that i wanted to f@&#. . .and then get rid of you . .. but then you just ended up hanging around. . .but i'd really like to f@&# someone else now. . .so . . .get out of my bed insomnia." - Zach Myers

I could not sleep last night. My body was ready to shut down, but my mind refused. My head was racing with thoughts of all the things I needed to do, people I needed to call, places I needed to go, ideas for blogs, the novel I should write if only I knew where to begin...I decided to go and get my to do list thinking if I wrote them down maybe they would settle for the night, as if they could be magically transferred from my brain to the page and stay there.

My days and nights have been mixed up lately. I stay up until 4 a.m., then sleep until noon or later. I try to go to bed earlier, but it doesn't work. I just lay in bed and stare at the ceiling until 4, my mind racing...

Meme - Five Words

Here's my attempt at doing it justice.

Kenju sent me the five words. Go check hers out here.

Brave epitaph imagination salute tempest

1 : having or showing courage
2 : making a fine show : colorful
3 : excellent, splendid

People tell me I am brave because I often travel alone. I recently took a solo road trip from Houston to Key West to Great Smoky Mountain National Park to Yellowstone and back to Houston. I even camped alone in bear country. I don’t think it’s brave as much as impatient and maybe a little selfish. If I’m traveling alone, I get to do what I want, when I want, and where I want.

There are times that I feel the need to get away from everyone and spend time by myself.

1 : an inscription on or at a tomb or a grave in memory of the one buried there
2 : a brief statement commemorating or epitomizing a deceased person or something past

I didn’t write this and I’m not sure who did. It’s one of my favorite quotes. I would like it or something similar to be the epitaph on my tombstone.

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘WOO HOO what a ride! ‘ ”

1 : the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality
2 a : creative ability b : ability to confront and deal with a problem : resourcefulness c : the thinking or active mind : interest
3 a : a creation of the mind; especially : an idealized or poetic creation b : fanciful or empty assumption

I enjoy the company of creative people. I admire someone who can conjure up something in his imagination and share it with the rest of us.

I would like to create something. I have a quite vivid imagination, but am not as talented as some people I know and cannot transfer the images from my head to the real world. I don’t play an instrument, don’t sing, and have trouble drawing stick figures. I can write. I have toyed with the idea of writing a novel. Maybe I’ll start writing down my daydreams and turn them into something tangible.

1 a : to address with expressions of kind wishes, courtesy, or honor b : to give a sign of respect, courtesy, or goodwill to : greet
2 : to become apparent to (one of the senses)
3 a : to honor (as a person, nation, or event) by a conventional military or naval ceremony b : to show respect and recognition to (a military superior) by assuming a prescribed position c : to express commendation of : praise

I am the first in my family to never learn how to salute. My grandfather served in World War II. My father was a Drill Sergeant during Vietnam. My uncle served in country during Vietnam. My older brother was a Green Beret. My other older brother and my older sister both also joined the Army. My father was not happy when I refused.

1 : a violent storm
2 : tumult, uproar

I won’t stay in a tempestuous relationship. I like romantic passion, but cannot handle people that are too quick to anger. If we can’t disagree without yelling and name-calling, it’s over.

Of course, living in Houston, this word also brings to mind hurricanes. Ike was not fun and I hope it is quite a while before we get another major storm.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Am I in Junior High?

I don't make good decisions when I drink. I don't drink beer or wine, I shoot Patron (tequila). I drink to get drunk. I don't have one or two shots, I have 3 or 4. Since I don't do this very often, no one thinks I have a drinking problem. I had a couple of experiences recently that have made me decide I need to quit, at least for a little while.

I went to see a live band with one of the Meetup groups and there was a new guy in the group that was cute, so I invited him to sit next to me and talk. He apparently thought it meant bite me hard enough to leave a bruise on my arm in the shape of teeth, wrap the beads I'm wearing around my neck and pull until they break. I thought he was funny at first, and didn't even realize he had bitten me until I found the bruise the next day. If I had been sober, I would have been a better judge of character.

I went to see my friend's band play at another club. They are looking for a new singer, and one of the guys auditioning for the job started hitting on me. Again, I had 4 shots of tequila and for some reason decided to leave with him. We went to another bar, where I think it's possible I had a fifth shot. I ended up at his apartment because I was too drunk to drive. One thing led to another and we ended up in bed. I'm over 21 and not in a committed relationship, so I don't feel guilty about that much. I was willing until he refused to wear a condom. I told him nothing else was happening unless he did. He did it anyway! I had to hit him to get him off of me! If that wasn't bad enough, I didn't leave. I stayed the rest of the night - another bad decision. He didn't try anything else after I hit him, but that was not a smart move.

My friends know these things happened to me, so I would have thought they would support my decision to take a break from drinking. They didn't. We went to a music festival and they kept trying to buy me drinks and insisting that I needed one because I didn't look like I was having a good time. I was having a great time listening to the bands until they started harassing me about not drinking. If I say I don't want a drink, I don't want a drink!

I'm the one without a drink. Do I look like I wasn't having fun? I think I enjoyed the festival more because I was sober. I didn't get sick, didn't lose my balance and fall in the mud, and I remember everything.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lazy Day

The view from my balcony:

I did not go on my hike today as planned. I did not realize that Bastrop State Park was a 3 hour drive from my home. I would have loved to go but that is too far for a day trip. Next time I will leave the day before and camp overnight in the park.

It was a rainy, chilly day - perfect for curling up on the couch with my blanket and a good book or my favorite movies, enjoying the view from my living room. I live on the third floor in the woods, so it is a very nice view. It feels like living in a treehouse.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hiking in Houston

I kept busy today with my outdoor social group (Bayou City Outdoors) hiking through the museum district in Houston. We started from the statue of Sam Houston in front of the Museum of Natural Science...

...wound our way through the district, stopping briefly in a sculpture garden...

...walked through a gorgeous neighborhood...

 The Menil Collection where I was reprimanded for trying to take pictures. This used to be a private collection of paintings, artifacts, masks, and various pieces of art that are now on display for the general public. Some of the exhibits date back to the 15th century.

This group is taking me to places I never knew existed. Houston is so ugly from the freeway. I'm learning how much more it has to offer.

We spent a little while exploring the museum, went to lunch, and then returned to our starting point. I went off on my own to the rose garden next to the Museum of Natural Science.

The evening was spent at Miller Outdoor Theatre watching members of the Shanghai Dance Company and some local Chinese dance companies with one of my Meetup groups. There were beautiful costumes, amazing choreography, and I discovered I had left the memory card for my camera at home so I don't have any pictures.

Did I mention the hike, the Menil Collection exhibit, the garden, and the performance were all free? I spent only 10 dollars today - for lunch. This is good because I am still unemployed and need to make my money last as long as possible.

I have to get up early tomorrow for a hike in Bastrop State Park. I'm hoping it doesn't rain.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Slaying the Clutter Beast

In my "woe is me, what am I going to do now" unemployment funk the clutter piled up. Now that I have a plan and have found new things to do with my time I'm in better spirits, but I'm looking around my apartment and wondering how I let it get this bad. I don't mind offending others. They don't live here so I don't feel the need to meet their standards. If it's not a health hazard and not a fire hazard, leave me alone. The clutter is now offending me, though, so something has to be done.

I'm slaying the beast one counter / drawer / corner at a time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Under a Wyoming Sun?

I'm watching Under the Tuscan Sun and fantasizing about making a new start someplace far away myself. I would not go to Italy; I would go to Wyoming. I have no job, no husband, no boyfriend to keep me here. I do have a daughter in high school, though, so I cannot.

My road trip this summer was supposed to be coast to coast. I was having so much fun in Wyoming that I never made it to California. I spent time in the Wind River Valley, Cody, and Yellowstone. I have not met so many friendly people outside of Texas. Everywhere I went, the locals suggested places to see. "Have you been to the museum in Cody?" "Have you eaten at The Red Willow in Riverton?" I lost my checkbook and someone mailed it home to me.

The photo is my campsite in the Shoshone National Forest. I met a local woman there on my first night alone in bear country. I was overjoyed to see a neighbor set up camp in the site next to me. I was invited to have hotdogs and s'mores with her and her three girls. I was also told I was welcome to return to Wyoming and stay with her sometime in the future. I need to find her email address and beg forgiveness for not contacting her sooner.

I met one of my online friends at the county fair in Rock Springs. I saw Shinedown for 8 dollars! I was crushing on my friend more than a little, but he is 3 states away. I was hoping to stay in touch, but he deleted me from his friend list yesterday. *sigh* I was not the only one he deleted, so I am fairly certain it was nothing I said or did. I noticed he deleted almost all of the women on his friend list. That makes me think there is a woman in his life that either inspired that decision or insisted.

I miss Wyoming. People kept telling me about places that were hiring and it was killing me that I couldn't apply. In two years, my daughter will have graduated high school. I might just decide to take off to The Cowboy State.

A New Beginning

I have been unemployed since the end of March, when I was laid off. I spent April and May at home in a slightly bi-polar state; happy not to have to go to work one moment and depressed the next because I had no place to go. I spent June at home with my daughter. I spent July on a road trip from Houston to Key West to the Smoky Mountains, to Yellowstone, and back to Houston. I spent August and September discovering no one in my industry is hiring right now.

I have decided I'm going back to school full time. I know it's a risky move, but I'm funding it with the money from my 401K. I have been wanting to go back to school for years, but didn't have the time or the money. It's now or never, I think.

I'm still debating what to study. I have 13 years experience in the Import / Export industry. I could study International Business and graduate with the degree plus all that work history. Or I could study emergency medicine. I took some EMT classes years ago and loved the clinical rotations on the ambulance. I do not love the idea of working for a transport service. Decisions...

I'm also looking for ways to have a social life without spending a lot of money. I have joined a few groups on Most have free or very inexpensive activities planned. Once I buy a bike, the roads will be free and I've got a new set of friends to ride with. I've also found a kayaking group. I'm waiting to see how often I do anything with them to decide whether I'll buy a kayak or keep renting. (That's me in a rental at the top of the page.)

This blog will probably be a sort of diary. I have found blogging on other sites to be somewhat therapeutic. If anyone finds my life interesting enough to read or has any friendly advice that will be a bonus.