Writer's Block: Tearjerkers
Which movie always makes you cry?

So in the last 24 hours I've had enough that makes me want to pull the covers over my head.  I came home from work to find the power out.  Joy.  Stopped first at the neighbors to let her dogs out as I am dogsitting.  Didn't think anything of the fact that I have no power as we are on different grids even though we are two doors down from one another.  Get home.  Call about power.  Not a power outage.  The fuckers cut off my power, saying that I hadn't paid my bill since AUGUST.  I call Bullshit.  Called the bank.  Payment made on Friday will be credited on Wednesday.  Does me no good in a dark house on Tuesday night.  Try and find out what happened to the bimontly payment I made in October.  They sent it to my life insurance company by mistake.  Fucking bastards at Wells Fargo.  So now I have to find $300 to pay the charge, plus the reconnect fee, despite the fact that they see that a $200 payment has been made and will credit when the banks open on Wednesday.  I have to be at an engagement dinner at 730 in Northside, so I am crying and dialing while driving.  Oh, and the cell phone is beeping because I have less than 5% battery power remaining.  Bless Beth for helping me out via phone.  Then I find out when I am three blocks away that the dinner is cancelled.  Turn around and go home.  Find out they're coming to turn the fucking power back on.  Go to neighbors house to eat dinner and sit in a lit room.  Come home to find out that the power is on around 930pm, but that my Christmas tree has fallen over and has broken several ornaments that had huge sentimental value.  Turn the tree back up, call Beth to say thanks.  While lying on floor under tree trying to figure out what's going on, fucking tree falls over again, this time on top of me.  I lose it.  Cry my eyes out.  Damn post is bent in the middle.  Leave the tree lying in the floor, curl up on couch in denial with dog at my side.  Due to the power outage, the breaker tripped in the utility room which is where his invisible fencing is.  After being out of range for so long, his collar gave a few beeps to remind him to get back in range, and then started shocking him.  Barely got the sucker off of him he was hiding so far back in the crate.  Now the dog is scared of the living room couch again, the tree is still on it's side in the middle of the floor, we're having monsoon rainstorms outside, I have to go buy another fucking tree (because now that this shit is out of the attic I'm GOING to have it on a tree!), and my father is calling me for advice on what to say during his best man toast at the wedding in a few days. 

Anyone want to drop it all and go to Aruba?  I hear it's lovely this time of year....

Writer's Block: Background players
A photo from the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  There are fireworks exploding over the bird's nest in the background, while the foreground is a simple pagoda.  Beautiful.

Writer's Block: Reading corner
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Explain why.
lovecat10036.  That was the first time that the events were televised, that there was a scandal over doping, that there were endorsements, a entirely new perspective on the African continent, and in the midst of the Russo-American cold war there were three athletes that defied all: Wilma Rudolph, Cassius Clay, and the amazing Rafer Johnson who won the decathlon in a huge upset.  But other than this rare instance, I am a fiction girl all the way!

Writer's Block: Check, please!
Who pays on a first date?

Heart vs. head
I own my house.  Well, technically, the bank does, but you know what I mean.  Part of owning a house is maintaining that house, so that you will continue to own it in the future without it crumbling down around your knees.  I am eight years into this home, the longest I've lived anywhere for the last 22 years.  So it's weird that I am here and have these sorts of repairs to do, as I am not used to being around long enough to do them.  I have started repairs on the exterior, and have another $8500 to go--all cosmetic.  Teardown/rebuild projects, reinstallation projects where the prior owner did a crappy job, etc.  As I do not make a ton of money, that $8500 is something that I would love to see happen, but haven't got the faintest idea how it will.

Here is my dilemma.  I spent two weeks in Germany this past summer at the generous gift of my friends to serve on a mission trip with my church.  It was a glorious opportunity, and one I'll not soon forget.  I was incredibly blessed, and it was a poignant reminder of how service is essential to all that lay heartfelt claim to the Christian label.  It was also a chance to connect with some people in my church that I had not known before, and as I was in the minority as an adult (most were in the 21-23 age range) it was also a reminder that I'm not young, that these are our future leaders, and that I shouldn't find 23 year old boys that sing and play a musical instrument attractive.

This morning I was approached by someone that had been on that team.  They are putting together a group to go back again this summer, and they would like to make it an annual thing.  They also want me to be a part of that team leadership. 

What an opportunity.  I have been wanting to go back, was trying to figure out how to go back, and had no clue if the opportunity would present itself.  Well, now the opportunity is there, and I just need to figure out how to make it happen.  If nothing else in my life changes--same job, same house, same everything--I would need to find about $4000 to go.  In seven months.  That's well over $500/month between now and the time I go, and the deposit is due with the application.  Which based on my current situation is impossible.  There just isn't any way.

Backstory: I grew up at a church that was big on missions.  I didn't realize how unique that was until I went elsewhere on my own, and they talked about their *one* missionary from the church.  We had *dozens*, if not more.  The legendary Mary Saunders.  The children of Cliff and Nina Ellison.  The children of Kitty Walker.  People that had changed the world perception of hunger in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa in the 1980s.  People who had been held at gunpoint for their faith and survived.  People who made a difference.  This is what missions meant to me as a child.  This is what I expected as an adult.  Go someplace, help starving children. 

We went on mission trips as kids.  You were a member of the youth group you went, or the choir you went, depending on the year.  You paid your money, ponied up, and you were in.  Granted, the sticker price was a bit different than it is now, but the point was there.  You want to go, you wrote a check.  If you wanted to serve for a week in Armenia or Azerbaijan, knock yourself out, just pay for it and meet the requirements, and you're able to go to the third world country of your choice.

Well, people in developed countries are without God as well.  People there, in some ways I feel, need to know about God more than the ones that are in isolated third world countries.  Consumerism and materialism, not to mention idolatry and false prophets, are so much more dangerous in those communities.  And I realized how much so when I was able to go to the country with the fifth largest economy in the world.  And I was able to make a difference, in a very small way, that hopefully will last for a long time.  People here are starving as well, but in an entirely different way that the boy with the emaciated body and bloated stomach that you see on the news. 

And now I'm told that the opportunity to partake in such a trip is available for me to grab hold of.  Again.

There is a new practice now that bothers me, probably because of my experience in the past of "you want to go, okay, just pay".  The deal then was YOU paid.  Now, there seems to be a tradition of writing letters to acquaintances and friends and your dentist and your stepfathers fourth cousin's next door neighbor that says "hey, I'm going on a mission trip.  Wanna pay for it?"  I am not sure why that bothers me, but it does.  Probably because it feels to me like it removes all personal responsibility from the equation.  And it feels like yet another person asking you for money where we are all strapped tight this year.

Do I sacrifice my personal life (and, from experience, usually health) to get a second job?  When I went to Austria in 1997, that is what I did, and I continued to work two and three jobs up until the time I was halfway through graduate school.  I remember when I finally had a stretch of time that I didn't have to do anything but work the regular 8-5 job, I thought to myself "what do people do anymore?".  I had no idea.  I worked.  I worked during the day, I worked on weekends.  I went to church on Sunday for my social interaction.  I had let so many friendships lapse that I couldn't even begin to reconnect with them all (this was before the advent of facebook in my life) and I honestly didn't know if I wanted to rekindle them all.  I had no time to get involved in things, and no energy to do so, so when I was free via the calendar to interact with others, I had to start from scratch.  Build new friendships.  Find new groups and social outlets.  Pick new hobbies.  And how do I ask someone to help me out on this trip when I still have thousands of dollars of repairs that need to be done to my home, so that I have a home to come back to someday???  It's the entire reason I didn't go a few years ago when I had the time to go because I was unemployed--how the hell am I supposed to in good conscience ask someone to pay a portion of a trip for me when I can't even pay my own mortgage??

Look, I am 38 years old.  I am single, under employed, over educated, and truly in a life I never imagined for myself.  I thought I'd be married with kids.  I thought I'd be the American statistic.  I thought I'd be, for lack of a better way of putting it, more with it.  More put together.  More adult.  More grown up.  More willing to let the past live in the background and the future be the way to go.  I never thought I'd be *this* person.  I'm not saying I dislike *this* person, I'm just saying that I sometimes look around at my life and say "What in the world transpired in my life that happened to get me here???"

Here's the irony.  Or, if you subscribe to the theory that God has to smack you upside the head to make you pay attention, then it's that too:  In the past three weeks I have had at least a half dozen people, more if you count the entire table at lunch that got into the conversation, ask me when I was going to go back to Germany this year.  Not IF I was going to go back to Germany, but WHEN.  I'd hem and haw, and say it requires funding, but the response was always "you'll find a way to make it work out".  And now I've flat out been told "we want you here, do what you have to do to make it happen". 

In my heart, I'm going.  Come June/July 2012, I'm getting away from the sweltering unbearable heat and getting on a plane.  In my head, I'm at war with myself.  Again, assuming today's situation, I just don't see how I can without becoming the one that writes letters or works three jobs to the exclusion of all else again.  And I don't want to be so exhausted that I cannot do anything else when I finally get on a plane.  Assuming all expenses, the trip alone is almost $2000.  If I have to board the dog, that is unknown.  If I don't work, I don't get paid, so that's two weeks of pay for me, which right now take home is around $950 (oh how I miss the days when that was almost double!!!).  Then of course there is spending money for meals, for expenses, etc.  So figure a conservative $4000 to go for two weeks.  Which, after taxes, feels like half of my take home salary.  In reality, I'd have to find a way to squirrel away $700/month to cover that.  And I haven't got a clue how to do it. 

So how do I find a way to make my heart happy and over rule my mind?????  How do I live with myself if my head wins the argument?????

Writer's Block: Just stop, already!
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Sometimes people ask difficult questions.  Questions that provoke and cause introspection, questions that cause you to ponder and reflect.  Not this time, baby.  This time?  The answer is immediate.

My biggest pet peeve?  People who don't wash their hands after using the bathroom.  I know what you just did, sir, as you walk out of the restroom zipping your fly.  I know what you just touched, and you obviously didn't wash up after.  And then you go and paw through my files to find a piece of paper or--even worse--paw through the donuts to find one with rainbow sprinkles.  Touching every other one in the box in the progress.  Right after you manhandled your pecker. 

The least you can do is put a little antibacterial soap between your dick and the donuts.


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