Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stop Motion

A friend of a friend made a funny stop motion video - check it out!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Great Mixed Tapes

Went to a White-Elephant re-gifting exchange last night and one of the gifts consisted of several cassette tapes. This on the heals of hearing how VHS as a format is pretty well dead, though this is not news to most of us. Cassette tapes seem to be pretty well dead, too and I'm not sure that CDs could have done it without the assistance of MP3s. I like the technology, but I'm saddened to think that no more will young lovers and friends express themselves in the language of mixed tapes. I pulled down a box today to find the few cassette tapes I still have and found the boxes, but not the tapes to a few of my favorite mixes. Here are a playlist from a mixed tape out of the singles that I liked on various CDs before selling them back to a used CD store.

Lucas With The Lid Off
Red Hooded Sweatshirt
I Got A Girl
Stars
The Freshman
Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?
All I Wanna Do
I Don't Want to Wait
Voodoo
Eternal Flame
What Do You Hear In These Sounds?
Falling In Love
Leaving Las Vegas
Strong Enough
We Danced Anyway
Out of My Head
Angus Soundtrack
Veinto De Cambio
Sex and Candy
With or Without You
River of Dreams
Luka

When I hear certain songs, my mind automatically queues up the song that followed on my old favorite mixed tapes. Many of the songs are things I wouldn't have heard otherwise or never had on any other format. I probably couldn't name the songs or the artists, either, so I probably won't ever acquire that tune. When I grabbed these empty tape cases, I actually got excited about recreating a mixed tape that my first college roommate gave me - it was a great tape - but alas, this case was just an album she copied for me and not the mixed tape that I so enjoyed.

I'm clutter clearing tonight, but I'm feeling a little nostalgic about it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Days

We got back from vacation late Sunday night, drove home Monday. Called in to work on Monday due to bad road conditions. Closed the clinic Tuesday and Wednesday due to bad road conditions. Was able to get to work Thursday, worked all day. Off Friday. Called in to work Saturday and Sunday due to bad road conditions.


What have I done with my snow days? What would I like to have done or do? What I've done includes not a lot - it's been a continuation of my vacation, but not a pleasant one. Note to self: in future, when bad road conditions prevent attending normal work functions, think about how you would have liked to spend the time.

What I wish I had done:
  • Finish unpacking - I moved in to my house in August and still find myself rummaging in boxes in the garage for this or that gadget
  • Clean/organize my house - we have company coming in January!
  • Study for board exams
  • Relax!

What I did that I'm glad of:

  • Got to know some new friends better
  • Played a lot
  • Took Chibo everywhere I went

Addendum: After this post, we had 5 more snow days in which I continued to do not-a-lot.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Breakfast

My business partners and I decided to close our clinic due to the nasty weather and a light schedule, so we're all staying home yesterday, today and maybe the rest of the week. I am releived, because I had no intention of driving when the roads are so icy. I keep saying it's all about what other people might do, but it's really just about the unpredictability of driving on ice. Some tanker truck rolled over on the freeway yesterday and I have no intention of being in the path of something like that.

So yesterday I stayed home, blogged, uploaded photos, slept, read, slept some more and refused to leave the house when A returned home in the evening and suggested driving the truck over to some friends' house to play games. I was out like a light by 9pm - hello, jet lag. This morning, I was up early at 5-something and couldn't go back to sleep so I got up and commenced more blogging, photos, etc. Eventually A got up and started getting ready for work. When it was time to go, he did the sweetest thing, though: he took me out for breakfast.

We headed over to one of our favorite local coffee shops, Insomnia Coffee Co (tied as favorite with the Iron Mutt Coffee Co), for bagels and coffee before he dropped me back off and headed into work. What a sweet heart to help me avoid cabin fever, feed me (we still haven't bought any groceries since we got home), caffeine me (zoom! zoom! zoom!) and then get out of my hair for the day! (Just kidding...sort of.)

I wonder if and how I could pleasantly surprise him?

Revised Packing List

As I wrote before the cruise, A and I made a packing list for this trip which came in handy to check off that we brought everything we intended, but I wondered how much we intended that didn't actually get used. Here's my revised packing list: (Yes, I know this pushes me even deeper into the category of nuts.)

Clothing

  • Swimsuit, sarong, bandana, sun hat, sunglasses
  • Underwear (1 pair each day +2)
  • Socks (in warm weather: 2 pair; in cold weather: 1 pair per day + 2)
  • Lounge wear (comfy's that can also be worn as PJs or work out clothes)
  • Sneakers, sandles, dress shoes per occassion
  • Interchangable outfits for 1/2 the days of travel - plan to rewear, you probably will anyways!
  • Formal/occassional wear per occassion

Toiletries and First Aid

  • Make up: tinted lip balm and a waterproof mascara, eye makeup remover
  • Misc: nail clippers and tweezers
  • Regular toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, shave kit, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deoderant, aftershave, lotion, hair products

Next time: share toiletries like shampoo and/or take 1/2 empty bottles or hotel bottles so you can just leave them behind!

  • First Aid: aftersun lotion, SPF, seasick meds, bug spray, papaya pills, eye drops, stress drops, all purpose salve, sleeping pills, cold sore meds, aspirin, arnica and tums

Next time: Keep the meds where you need them. We actually didn't use much of this, but I would have if it wasn't such work to get them out.

Gear and Misc:

  • Kleenex
  • Pen and little notebook
  • Day pack - maybe not a camel back - mine was always too heavy and a water bottle would have worked just as well. Each person needs their own day pack and to carry their own identification, credit card and cash!
  • Water bottle or travel mug
  • Cell phone, charger
  • Camera, batteries, memory cards - underwater camera case if going anywhere for snorkel and SCUBA - ESSENTIAL! Holy crap, I didn't know what life was missing until we got this case. It's incredible to take pictures of things underwater. I want one for my camera, post haste! Oh yeah, if you're going to be in or near the water, get on of these!

        Were we to do this entire trip over again, I actually think A and I could almost pack into a single suitcase. Let's see how that goes in April when we travel with his family to Hawaii and A meets his goal of visiting all 50 states!

        Sunday, December 14, 2008

        Post-Cruising

        We arrived back in Miami and it's time to depart. After saying good bye to everyone in the group the previous night - hugs! - we kept running into people - at breakfast, in the hall, on the way down the gangway, while picking up our luggage in the terminal, at the airport. It was funny to keep seeing people again and again, but it was also nice to sit together at the airport and put a close on the trip.

        A final bit of chaos on our return trip as a gate change for our flight was announced right before boarding (only a few people had been given the wrong gate information, A and I among them), a last minute plane change happened in Nashville (a stop we weren't even aware we were making) and an ice storm coated our home city. I wasn't sure we were even going to make it home and then during our descent, I kept having visions of us landing in the river or skidding past the runway. No problems occurred with landing though and we actually found a shuttle to take us to E's house very easily. We had left a car at E's house on the way out, so we returned there and stayed over since the roads were so bad.

        Addendum: We drove home the next day and the usual 30-40 minute drive took 2 hours because of the icy roads!

        Saturday, December 13, 2008

        Cruising Day 7: At Sea

        The last day of the cruise was spent at sea. By plan and chance, we spent most of the day with our cruise companions. Nearly everyone in the group tried out the rock wall - including me! Goal #5 Try Rock Climbing - Completed! In my recent goal posts (ha ha, excuse the pun), this goals seems to have fallen off the list, probably because I hated it so much, but I accomplished it - accomplished "trying" rock climbing. I didn't get more than 2 feet off the ground and probably tore something in my romboids, but I overcame my fear enough to try and that feels good. My competitive nature came out and I wanted to keep trying until I could get higher, but in this, my fear had the better of me. But now I know that maybe, just maybe, I'll try it again sometime. And if I never do, well, I did try it once. A couple people also boogie-boarded on the flow-rider and the rest of us enjoyed spectating that event since it was crazy windy that day.

        We had lunch in the formal dining room, which A and I hadn't even known was possible until mid-cruise. Of course, on days at port, we were never onboard during lunch, but we missed that opportunity on our first day at sea, so we told everyone who wanted to meet us there at noon our last day at sea and we had a nice group of about 10. I think everyone enjoyed their meals and I enjoyed another meal at table with my new friends.

        We spent some time in the afternoon discovering the final nooks and crannies of the ship, including the absolute front point (think Titanic), the open rear deck, the movie theater and conference rooms (occupied almost exclusively by a 300 member Mah-jong group!) hidden on level 2 and then - woops - time to hot tub. As soon as I noticed our friends in the hot tub, my tour was cut short and it was into the stew for me. Ahh, that's nice after tearing it up on the rock wall. Our group moved in and out of several of the hot tubs, so I got to spend time with several different people - including the flower girls from the wedding who were doing their best hip hop hand movements. Hilarious, cute and spunky.

        The rest of the day was pretty much all about packing. I spent some time that afternoon packing, figuring out only when I was done that I would have to unpack everything to accomodate our purchases because they would all have to be wrapped in clothing. A was at the hot tub drinking beers with the guys while I was doing this, so when I was finished I went to find him. I found him, like so many times, near the pizza place. He and the guys had just run into a couple others in the group and there were "hey's!" and various other Italian sounding drawn out noises and then, much to my surprise, a group hug. When the mother of the groom showed up moments later, a repeat of the noisy greeting and group hug. I wonder what other kind of vacation would see us all having multiple group hugs in public like that? It was great!

        Dinner, more packing, with A desperately racing to finish (chaos!) before the finale show because I wanted to go together, but didn't want to miss it, the best parts of the show and then some final time with the bride and groom while they packed. Jazz. Sleep.

        What I Learned:
        1. If you miss the shows or games on board the ship, they replay the videos of them on the TV.
        2. Especially when shared or large souveniers are purchased, you should just pack at the same time as your travel companion.
        3. Everybody loves group hugs.
        My Favorite Part: The feeling of everyone coming together at the end of the trip - once we realized it was almost over, we became even more friendly.

        Friday, December 12, 2008

        Cruising Day 6: Cozumel, Mexico

        We landed in Cozumel with a plan, albeit, we were to learn, not the best laid of plans. We were going to ferry over to Playa del Carmen and catch a tour to the ruins of Tulum. Our research and my guide book had told us that we could probably save quite a bit of money by going on our own as the shore excursion organized by the cruise was pretty spendy. We got an earlier start than other days, but struggled to get to the ferry. Though A and I both speak passable Spanish and understand if people speak slowly enough, I was still overwhelmed to be in a Spanish speaking country for the first time - I wanted to read every sign (A seemed to also want to do this, too as he delightedly read them all aloud to me, first in Spanish, then in English, forgetting that I speak Spanish, too), and talk to everyone in Spanish, though their English was always better than my Spanish.

        We did get there in perfect timing, though, right before the next ferry. I slept during the ferry over to Playa (the del Carmen is dropped by the locals) where we found no tours, but a very engaging taxi driver named Javier who was willing to take us to Tulum, wait for us, make another stop for shopping or the beach, wait for us and return us to the ferry in time for $80US. I don't know how that compares to other rates or if I could trust his assurance that the taxi drivers all charge the same amount, but it was still a good savings over the ship's excursion. The ride to Tulum was fast as Javier sped through traffic and weaved around vehicles not moving quickly enough for his liking - he pointed out his favorite hotels and the best places for snorkeling or diving in cenotes - water filled caves.

        At Tulum, Javier lent us 100 pesos for our entry fee since we still only had US$. We had a little confusion over that later as my guidebook had a typo on the conversion rate and suggested that 110 pesos was equal to $1US - apparently, it's more like $10 now - I don't know if the US$ has fallen that far that fast, but this was confirmed by all the money changers we saw at both Playa and Cozumel. At any rate, we walked through the ruins which were, well, ruined. I think I would have enjoyed a guide so that I could learn more about the various structures, but we read the posted information and learned what we could. The ruins at Tulum are the only ruins in Mexico that are located on the coast and this makes them both unique and ... distracting. There is a small beach just below the cliffs where Tulum is located a stairway takes visitors down for a swim or sunbathe. The water is amazingly blue-green and clear and the sand is perfectly white. By far, this was the most beautiful beach I'd been on the entire cruise and probably my entire life, so you can imagine it was hard to look at old rocky buildings when the beach was so inviting.

        After that, we raced back to Playa where I was too distracted by the possibility of missing our ferry to enjoy shopping. We did manage to grab a gourd lamp before I dragged A back to the ferry. While in line, we realized we were starving, so we ate from the closest food stand: pizza! I know, can you believe we ate pizza in Mexico? Don't get me wrong, pizza is among my favorite of foods, but Mexican definitely is ranked higher, so I was disappointed not to try authentic Mexican food. As I would have been more disappointed to miss our ferry, the last one that would get us back to Cozumel in time to catch the ship, I consoled myself with the promise of a future, longer trip to Mexico in which I would play on the beach and eat authentic Mexican food exclusively.

        Back in Cozumel, we had about an hour to wander around and practice our bartering skills. As neither A nor I particularly wanted anything, we just purchased a few necklaces and an icy cold Corona which we sipped on our way back to the ship.

        What I Learned:
        1. When long travel and/or meals are a part of the shore excursion package, it may be worth spending a little extra money for a ship's organized shore excursion to avoid the stress and clock-watching needed to do it on your own.
        2. When bartering, the seller can start with a ridiculously high price and expect to be bartered down, but if your counter offer is too low, they won't offer to come down and will instead simply be offended.
        3. Corona should always be drunk ice cold in 80+ degree weather.
        4. You should remember to look up monetary exchange rates before traveling.
        5. Gone are the days when you could only purchase "authentic" local items by traveling to those locations and gone are the days when purchasing something in a market ensured it's authenticity. We saw many of the same trinkets for sale as "authentic, hand carved by my brother" at each of our stops. The things we bought will remind us of our trip, we hope the money we spent will help the local people, but we are not deluded that there is a more unique story behind each item...well, except for the conch that we harvested in Cayman.

        My Favorite Part: Our last hour on Cozumel, when all the stress of getting back on time was gone and we were just wandering at our leisure, sipping our Corona. It being the end of the day, most of the shoppers had returned to the ships and most of the sellers were relaxing in the shade, so it was a very peaceful stroll through the colorful buildings and shaded alleyways.

        Thursday, December 11, 2008

        Cruising Day 5: Grand Cayman

        So, I was pretty excited about this stop as I had fantasized about living in the Cayman Islands since watching Fleming and John's video about living and diving there. To be sure, I was not disappointed. A and I got off the boat and negotiated a price for a trip to Stingray City and snorkeling at a coral garden. Wow! Stingray City?! Eek, you can imagine I was a little scaredey-cat about this, but I still wanted to do it and I'm so glad I did. The stingrays are fed a little by the tour operators so they are used to coming up to you when the boats come to their sandbar - they actually come in pretty great numbers as each boat pulls up.

        After a little adjusting to the waves and the shuffle step important to avoid stepping on any burrowed rays, I got to touch, stroke, hold and kiss the rays. They say kissing the ray will give you seven years of good luck (french kissing gets you a lifetime!). Luck or no luck, it was an incredible experience. Sting rays have a ridge of stiff and spiny tissue over their center on top and a stiff stinging barb on their tail, but other than that they are rabbit-fur soft and slippery to touch. I like touching them like a like touching snakes - they are so delightfully different that they are a pleasure to touch. They seem to like touching us to as they often would swim by with their fins tilted up running them along our legs and bodies. We learned that the big rays are female and the males are much smaller - our female guide joked about that charmingly.

        Even though we weren't snorkeling, I got back on the boat for my mask to see the rays under water better and A used his camera equipped with underwater case. I could really learn to love doing underwater photography - it was so fun to be able to take the camera underwater with us. We got some great photos and even a bit of video.

        After the sting rays, the coral garden wasn't quite as exciting. They had given us vests the help us float and requested that we not use fins, but I would have traded the two in since I'm a strong swimmer and would have preferred to do some duck-diving. Despite seeing several different kinds of fish and coral, I wondered if the coral around Cayman is dying. It made me think of this coral recovery project.

        A had to push me to get me back on the boat at the end of snorkeling - I wish I'd snorkeled, swam and dived at every stop! - but our guides even made the trip back interesting. They had harvested several conch while we were snorkeling and they showed us how they remove the animals from their shells - they are really strange and ugly to look at out of their beautiful homes with tubes that would seem more mechanical than biological. I was pleasantly surprised when our guide finished cleaning one of them and cut it up for us to eat - the consistency of a fleshy fruit with a sweet, briny flavor, A and I enjoyed the raw conch very much, but would probably recommend eating it in fritters or chowder. In the channel, we looked for swimming iguanas with no luck, but one of our guides dived off to hunt his dinner - a huge lobster! Everyone took pictures with the poor doomed creature and then we were back at the dock.


        We'd had so much fun there that we wanted some kind of souvenirs, so I got one of the empty conch shells from our trip and we grabbed a few ornaments for our Christmas tree. On our way back to the ship, A decided to grab a couple of Cuban cigars for himself and the groom and they were making last-call motions at the tender back to the ship. We managed to get onboard the last tender and make it back to the ship, but it was a close call. I guess being stuck on Grand Cayman with A and our snorkel gear wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world though.


        What I Learned: I LOVE Sting Rays!
        My Favorite Part: Everything STING RAY!
        video

        Wednesday, December 10, 2008

        Cruising Day 4: Ocho Rios, Jamaica

        Wedding Day!

        Holy moley. More chaos. Never having helped a bride prepare herself the day of a wedding, I simply had no idea. No idea whatsoever. Madness. Because the bride wanted to honor the tradition of her husband not seeing her before the wedding, she and A switched rooms for the night. She brought her things down the night before and stayed with me. Her best friend planned to join us in the morning, but that hamburger illness prevented her from joining us until much later. The breakfast I ordered got cold, the bag I packed with the wedding critical items was unpacked, her hair wouldn't do what we needed it to do, I didn't know how to do x, y or even simple z, why is that person in our room - get out of here, it's time to leave, oh shit.

        Dressed in a simple white halter top bathing suit with a white sarong around her waste and a pashmina over her shoulders, the bride was beautiful as all brides are. We kept her surrounded so that her groom wouldn't see her despite being only 20 feet apart, we seated her at the back of the bus that ferried our large and noisy group to a private beach where chairs and a huppah were set up for the wedding. The huppah was simply bamboo stakes with some tulle thrown over it and flowers tied to the corners. Simple, elegant, the stuff of wedding fantasies. The Portuguese-Jamaican rabbi performed a beautiful ceremony and the two were wed.

        After the ceremony, delicious eats, photos and a little play in the sand. Then it was back to the ship to change clothes. Most of the group proceeded to Dunn's Falls, while A and I headed into Ocho Rios for a little look-see. We ended up at Margaritaville, where it was the woman's fault - specifically, my fault that A got more than a little tipsy - because in addition to the free shot he got for showing up and his very strong mojito, I made him drink the test tube of rum that came with my daiquiri. What I didn't know was that was the rum meant to go in my drink! So, while I enjoyed my virgin lime daiquiri, A got silly on more rum than he had intended to drink. We had to stop at Margaritaville in honor of my mom, but what I didn't realize is that they are all over the Caribbean - we saw one at each of our later stops as well. It was fun, though.

        That evening was fun, fun, fun on the ship, too with an ice show and Love and Marriage Game Show (basically, the newlywed game). Unfortunately, our bride and groom were not there to participate, but it's probably better off for them, as there were snickers and cheers every time we came across one the couples from the game for the rest of the cruise.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a LOT of work.
        2. Destination weddings are worth the work.
        3. There is a reason people wed and honeymoon on Jamaica.
        4. Some places serve the alcohol for your mixed drink separately.
        5. If you break your leg walking over Dunn's Falls while on a cruise, you'll be treated at a local hospital and put back on the boat. (Yes, this really happened, though not to a member of my party.)
        My Favorite Part: The wedding.

        Tuesday, December 9, 2008

        Cruising Day 3: Labadee, Haiti

        There were 2 main options on Haiti - shopping or relaxing - and in my opinion, the two were mutually exclusive. I don't like shopping anyway, but I especially did not enjoy shopping on Haiti where the products were indistinguishable one from the other and the sellers were pushy and insistent. It's a cultural difference and though I can't put it to words, that's probably one of the greater lessons I learned - about different cultural norms. A and I did shop a bit, though, purchasing a mask and a painting for our house.

        Before the shopping, we lay in a hammock in the shade and I had an idea of what an affluent island lifestyle might be like if I chose it - I think I would love it. After shopping, we hit the water in a tandem kayak. Kayaking there was a mixed bag. As inexperienced as we are, we'd clearly done more kayaking than some of the others in our group. Our excursion leader kept us together at a pace that all could match, so A and I were chomping to go a little farther, a little faster. As we approached a secluded beach, I was excited to get to see part of the island the others cruisers would miss until I noticed more sellers in the shade beneath the trees. They helped pull our boats onto the beach then it was "please let me show you something," "I make a special deal for you, today only," and even, "if you don't buy from me, my family suffers." I was very frustrated to be paying for an excursion that left us no choice but to either ignore the Haitians or feign interest in their products. The kayaking was good, though, and I learned to trust in A's stearing and balance as there were many waves from the various motorized watercraft in our vicinity.

        After that we just hung out in the ocean with a couple of beers and a couple of friends. Oh yes, I would love this life.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a lot of work.
        2. Scupper plugs are a worthwhile investment for sit-on-top kayaks.
        3. Don't eat the hamburgers. [One of our companions got really sick - no one else got sick from eating them, but I'd rather stay veggie and avoid the ground beef.]
        4. Get details about shore excursions before signing up.
        5. Don't expect to get to know the locals or even be more than a blip on their radar when participating in a cruise - it would take a very different kind of vacation to have that kind of experience.
        My Favorite Part: Feeling totally warm and relaxed in the hammock with A.

        Monday, December 8, 2008

        Cruising Day 2: At Sea

        We spent the first day of the cruise at sea, heading towards Haiti. A and I toured the ship which had a rock climbing wall and onboard surfing as well as an adult-only swimming area, kids only gaming areas, movie theater, production show theater, 3 story dining room and more. It was incredible. What a ship! I also participated in a Sudoku challenge that day and almost won, but some amazing Sudoku-ing genius showed up late and finished 10 seconds before me. I was still given a prize, a Royal Caribbean luggage tag, for finishing second. Win, lose or draw, it was fun to compete.

        At dinner, A and I got to feel very brave ordering escargot off the dinner menu, having eaten it on our previous cruise. It was delicious again and the better part of the food. Throughout the cruise, A and I agreed that the food was ok, probably better on our previous cruise (although that may be rose-colored glasses) and that the simpler items on the menu were better than the more complex.

        That evening the younger cruisers met up at the bride and groom's room to open a "special" bottle of champagne and go our separate ways for bachelor and bachelorette parties. The champagne was a bottle from the bride's friend's wedding 12 years prior - at the time, the friend handed our bride the bottle, saying, we'll drink this at your wedding, expecting her friend to follow her down the aisle within the year. When that didn't happen, she promptly forgot about the bottle, but our bride did not. She brought the bottle on the cruise and we took it to the champagne bar to be opened and poured. It looked like beer and smelled like acetone and after several toasts (I hate it when brides demand that everyone make a toast - this is my second experience with that and it was just as awkward with this small group), we threw it out and ordered a fresher bottle.

        After drinking this much nicer bottle, the men departed to eyeball the "cradles" (the groom's term for young women) on the ship or whatever it is that bachelors do. We ladies hung out longer in the champagne bar getting to know one another better then headed over to karaoke. We were having so much fun that the other two gals went to get the guys to join us - unfortunately, by the time they got back (sans gentlemen, who had already dispersed), it was over. This a strange character of events at sea - nothing lasts very long. The karaoke was only scheduled for 1 hour. We headed over to the nightclub and danced for a few minutes before, we, too, decided to cut it off. After dropping the other gals at their floors, I headed down to the pizza parlor and had a slice with A and the groom.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a lot of work.
        2. Having a highlighter for the cruise compass would be handy.
        3. You can always find members of your group wherever there is late night food.
        My Favorite Part: Getting to know our cruise companions.

        Sunday, December 7, 2008

        Cruising Day 1: Leaving Miami

        Got up later than expected and chaos ensued. How to get 25 people staying at 3+ locations, all their luggage and 15-20 gift bags to the pier terminal and onto the boat using only a minivan? Patience, lots of patience. Lucky for A and I, who don't function well when we aren't fed well, the bride's family had planned ahead and called us all into their room to start the day with a meal together. Yeah! Despite the madness, we all made in onto the boat and the cruise departed on time.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a lot of work.
        2. Gift bags are a lot of work.
        3. Every adult should be responsible for their own baggage, their own transportation, and their own room number. [I was none of the above, but I think it would have been less stressful for everyone involved if every adult took those on.]
        4. If I'm not going to eat it at lunch, I shouldn't take it with me.
        My Favorite Part: Getting away from it all!

        Saturday, December 6, 2008

        Pre-Cruising

        Flying to Fort Lauderdale, FL today for cruise vacation. Wedding of A's best friend, same folks we recently saw in AZ will be in Jamaica on Friday. Cruising on the Freedom of the Seas, the biggest and rated best cruise ship in the world. Has a rock climbing wall and a a flowrider where you can surf right on the ship! Pretty amazing.

        Arrived in FL exhuasted, but excited. A and I weren't sure we were going to make it to the wedding, but the bride worked hard to make sure we made it - and did NOT tell her groom. When he got to the airport, she made him stay there and eat as he arrived an hour earlier than us. She kept him looking at her as we walked up to them - his reaction was priceless when A tapped him on the shoulder.

        That evening A and I helped the bride put together gift bags for everyone on the cruise, including waterproof disposable cameras, sunscreen, lip balm, gum, kleenex, lotion, body wash and beach towels. We ordered pizza into the condo, had a few drinks and went to sleep as early as we could since we were asked to go the peir early to facilitate the group's departure the next day.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a lot of work
        2. Gift bags are a lot of work
        3. Everybody loves surprises
        4. Everybody loves pizza
        5. Carry on should have clothing to change into immediately on arrival or better yet, on the plane, when changing climates.
        My Favorite Part: Surprising the groom.

        Friday, December 5, 2008

        Packing List

        So, A and I are leaving on a cruise tomorrow. Our second cruise, twice as long as the first and to a much warmer locale. We're heading to the Caribbean! Wahoo! My organizational addiction and A's preparation strategies collided when we spent some time putting together a packing list using various Internet sources. I can't believe that some people actually pack all the items on their lists - many of them are designed for catastrophes, major and minor: duct tape, sewing kit, eyeglass repair kit, flashlight, rope, swiss army knife, etc. etc. etc. I vetoed those items on the spot, but wondered what else we'd end up taking that would or would not prove useful. Here's out list and what we took - jump ahead a week to find out what we actually used!


        Packing List - Cruise Vacation - Duration 1 Week, Climate: Warm


        For A:
        · Sneakers, Dress shoes
        · Sandles, Aqua socks
        · Black pants, Khakis, Jeans
        · Light jacket and sport coat
        · Nice shirts (2)
        · Tie (3)
        · Polo’s (2)
        · T-shirts
        · Swim trunks
        · Underwear, Socks
        · Hat
        · PJ’s
        · Workout clothes
        · Lounging pants

        For Me
        · Sandles (3), Dress sandles
        · Dresses (3)
        · Skirts (3)
        · Shirts
        · Underwear, Socks
        · Hat
        · PJs
        · Accessories
        · Hoodie, Sneakers, Jeans - to be worn on plane
        · Swimsuit
        · Workout clothes
        · Lounge wear
        · Make up + remover
        · Nail clippers and file
        · Tweezers

        Misc/Both Packing List
        · Sunglasses (I packed 2 pair)
        · Snorkle gear
        · Day pack (2)
        · Waterbottle/travel mug (2)
        · Cell phone + charger (2)
        · Camera + batteries + charger (2)
        · Extra memory cards, downloader
        · Drink Coupons for plane
        · Binoculars
        · Books (2)
        · Underwater camera case
        · Ipod + charger (2)
        · Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, shave kit, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deoderant, aftershave, lotion, hair products
        · First Aid – D meds (lost, didn't bring), aftersun lotion, SPF, seasick meds, bug spray, papaya pills, eye drops,
        · Ziplocks, plastic bags, laundry bag
        · Hand wipes/sanitizer
        · Pens, pencils, notebook
        · Business cards
        · Playing cards and games
        · Kleenex packs
        · Sarong/bandanas
        · Lanyard for key card
        · Post its
        · Rubberbands
        · Walkie Talkies

        Wednesday, December 3, 2008

        Emergency Contact

        It's so weird. I'm leaving town for a week and I'm making all these arrangements for emergency contacts and what to do IF. I was even thinking of putting an alternate greeting on my phone message and turning on vacation notification on my email. That seems a bit extreme given that I'm only gone for a week. Everyone in my office knows I won't be checking my email (and I get few external emails on that account that require a response), my family knows I'm not reachable and my friends probably all think I'm already gone given that I've been talking about this trip for months! I remember when I up and went to Germany on short notice and almost forgot to tell my parents. Oh, how times have changed.

        Worked my monthly early shift today, so I've had a nice long afternoon on the computer to get caught up on emails, reading blogs, paying bills online and other WWW miscellanea. I was surprised by how actually little there was to do. Thanks to Blogspot following, I have been keeping up on blogs of interest; I pre-scheduled most of my bill payments and there wasn't much needed doing in email. So...I guess it's going to be okay. My electronic and physical worlds will not fall apart due to my stepping behind the curtain for 8 days. And that's kind of weird.

        It's that strange self-centeredness that humans (living beings?) exhibit - the world revolves around us...I don't think this is a bad thing, seems actually quite healthy that one should be the center of their own world. But, when something like this vacation shakes things up a little and we realize that how much bigger the world is and how small our part of it is...it's humbling. And exhilarating in a way. Puts all my little stressors into perspective. Time will not cease to exist as we know it if I don't do the dishes one evening (okay, for a week or more), the world financial structure will not crack if Chibo's nails grow a little long (or maybe that's really what's going on?) and the cure for hunger, poverty or war will not be missed by a hair's breadth because I wasn't here at a crucial moment.

        Well, maybe something like that would happen, because we are all intricately connected, but I think it'll be okay to take a vacation. At least this once. Wowser, start down that line of thinking and it's all spirals and concentric circles. I need to sit down before I fall down or I'll be dealing with one of those IFs and calling my emergency contact before I've even left!

        Friday, November 28, 2008

        Thanks Giving

        I want corny holiday celebrations.

        I admit it. Guilty. I raise my hand. Me. Yup. I want corny holiday celebrations. I want my holidays like I've seen them on the movies (kinda). I want to celebrate holidays with all the little kitch that comes with them. I want to dress up on Halloween, I want to hand out treats and tell all the little ghost and ghouls how scary they are. I want to put up lights and listen to Christmas music. I want to have pujas whenever there is any excuse to have one in our home. And I want to be grateful on Thanksgiving.

        A and I headed over to a friend's house for Thanksgiving dinner and something just didn't feel right to me. I couldn't figure it out, but attributed it to our arrival about 30 minutes later than the rest of the group, though still well before the scheduled dinner hour. Since the food was ready, people were already seated and serving themselves when we arrived. Maybe we'd missed something. After dinner, we talked and laughed in smaller groups and rubbed our stuffed bellies until it was time to leave for our movie. After the movie, home to bed.

        I kept thinking something didn't seem right...maybe I'd forgotten something? Yes, I had. I'd forgotten the point of the day: to be grateful. After my conversation with my mom, no one else talked about what they were grateful for or asked what anyone else was grateful for - at least not in my hearing. In retrospect, among the irreverant group of our dining companions, a listing of the simple things I am grateful for might seem out of place, but I think the large meal eaten without grace, a moment of silence or a sharing of thanks was more uncomfortable.

        A and I talked about how we really wanted to have spent the holiday, casually among a small group of close friends or family, with a reasonable meal and games afterwards. I think among that group, for whom I am grateful, I wouldn't feel the need to say my thanks as feeding and entertaining them would be a more physical expression of my gratitude. On the other hand, I also think I would feel safer and happier to share my gratitude with such loved ones. Either way, I think I would like to make a point of verbalizing everything I'm grateful for at least once a year.

        Thursday, November 27, 2008

        The Ask-Back

        I talked to my mom for an hour today. I asked her what she was grateful for. She told me many things. And then she asked me what I was grateful for. In addition to the things I could list, such as my family, passing my board exam, finishing my masters degree, living with the love of my life and having my own business, I realized that I was grateful to be asked.

        It's a little piece of etiquette advise that I would like to share with the world...maybe etiquette is not the right word...maybe it's more of a form of social contracting. When someone asks you a question, it seems right to ask back. It's actually funny because sometimes I ask "how are you?" more than once because it's such a habit to reflect that question. That one is a pretty standard ask-back, but I think asking-back should be the rule in general, because it provides an opportunity for intimacy and compassionate sharing.

        I have been frustrated by not being asked back a question I asked several times - I wanted to tell someone my own answer to the question I asked them. That wasn't why I asked, I was genuinely interested in their answer and I listened to their answer, but it felt like it was only half a conversation somehow when I didn't get to tell my part, too.

        So try asking back. Start with me. I'll love it. If I ask you a question that can be reflected back, shoot it back to me. See what happens. You just might like it.

        Saturday, November 22, 2008

        Prioritizing Other People's Priorities

        It's funny that I just realized this, but today at work, I realized that my job is to prioritize tasks that are all priorities for other people. I've been getting a lot of jobs/requests/tasks that are labeled urgent, priority and even emergency. Well, no one has fallen. No one is injured. No lives are at stake. A delay would not result in injury or lives being placed in jeopardy. Emergency, really?

        But I'm good at this - I can collect all these tasks and look at them a bit more objectively than anyone of the immediate players and figure out which thing really needs doing right now and which can be done later.

        At my other job, my business, I may not be quite as good at this because I am too immediately involved. My To-Do list is as likely to include and prioritize balancing my personal checkbook as drafting an important and needed policy. Maybe this is why people hire business coaches and other external consultants to help them streamline and get their priorities in line. Additionally, I think if I could prioritize the business when I'm at the business and balancing my checkbook when I'm home, I would also appreciate the boundary between work and home a little better.

        Wednesday, November 19, 2008

        Thanks Mom

        Dear Mom,

        Thanks for always being great about the myriad of dietary choices and fads I've subscribed to over the years. Thanks for being willing to make vegetarian versions of classic dishes so that I could enjoy them with the family. And most of all, thanks for not ever making me feel like a freak or the butt of jokes, but instead for helping me always feel valued as an important part of our family.

        Love,
        B

        Friday, November 14, 2008

        Something to Report

        From my To-Do list on Sunday, I have accomplished a few things:
        • mail ear seeds to brother
        • mail donation to alma matter
        • study for board exams
        • collect gas receipts from car
        and most importantly: rock board exams!
        Yes, I passed my exam today. One more to take in two weeks. Wish me luck!

        Wednesday, November 12, 2008

        I WANT!


        I like to think I'm not into material things and pretty anti-consumerist in general, but now I know that I am just as susceptible as other people. My coworker got this tea pot for our office and I WANT IT NOW! I've been fighting myself to stay away from Target where it can be purchased for a mere $39.99.

        Yes, I said $39.99.

        For a kettle that heats water.

        When I have a stove and a glass tea kettle. [Those who do not know the glass tea kettle story, it's basically this: I had a glass teapot, I love it, it broke. I mourned it. I found a new one.] I want it, but I'm trying to resist. At least until Black Friday. And that I know and use that term says a lot about how consumerist I have actually become.

        Tuesday, November 11, 2008

        90-10 Take Two

        Writing about 90-10'ing reminds me of another way I use this ratio. I really love this one.
        It's about how you use things in your life, like say, a room in your house or an item/object. Think of the guest room in your house. Think of how often it is occupied by a guest. What is the percentage of time in a given week, month or year that this room is occupied by a guest? Unless you're the hostest with the mostest, probably less than 10% of the time. So what happens the other 90%?!

        I like to plan, organize and arrange things for the 90% of use they will get rather than the 10%. Things can always be adjusted for the 10% times, but I don't want to be adjusting every day when I'm doing my 90%. Here's a few examples:
        • In my kitchen, I have a set of white bowls that I use nearly every day. These live on the counter because I'm going to reach for them often enough that I don't even want to have to open a cupboard.
        • The guest room at my house is LOVELY. I love looking at it and am excited to have hosted our first guest in it. Can't wait to do it again. But in the meantime, I store my coats in that closet; keep an iron and ironing board handy and accessible, but not in my way; have a place to hang delicates to dry; and store my extra health and beauty supplies. I go in that room almost every day for something.
        • My dog's food sits in a canister on the counter because he eats twice every day. Way more important to have the dog food accessible than flour which I might use once a month.
        • File folders - I have a file cabinet in a closet deep in my house where I keep old tax files, medical records and old class notes. I have a filing crate next to my desk for insurance claims in progress, bills and other misc I may have to access any given day.

        As A and I make decisions about our life, I'm constantly saying, "well, that'll happen 10% of the time, but what about the other 90%?" And generally, this serves me well. Think about it - try it.

        Monday, November 10, 2008

        Ninety-Ten

        First, I have to say that I LOVE that Blogspot has a "create" button instead of a "post" button. I feel more creative already just hitting that button and I'm jazzed to remember that I am a creative being. So, after a brief aside, I'm going to create a clean work space, some dog food, dinner and a clean body. But first, my aside:

        A wise friend that I frequently quote here told me that the difference in how men and women communicate can be described by the rule of 90-10:
        Men will be 10% sure they are correct about something and speak as though they
        are 90% (100%) sure of it; women will be 90% sure of something and speak
        as though they are 10% sure.

        It wasn't actually men I was pandering to today but women who thought they knew something. Now, I'm not judging them for not knowing, but I don't like that they assume that I don't know. Actually, I do know and yes, vegetables are a great source of soluble fiber. I also don't like that they might be spreading what they don't know around. I find there are 2 ways to go in the face of gross misinformation: a) provide correct information or another way of viewing things or b) let it go. Today I did a little of both. It's just so much easier to share information with someone when they are willing to admit that they aren't exactly sure or that their facts may be wrong. The challenge is to set aside my own feelings in the matter and offer information that may or may not be accepted.

        I find that female pattern 90-10'ing give me a lot of benefits:
        1. I can admit that I don't know everything - what a relief!
        2. I can ask questions that I think I already know the answer to and learn something!
        3. I don't roll over other people, aggravate them or patronize them. I get to treat everyone as my teacher.
        4. I get to offer information to people rather than tell them.

        Male pattern 90-10'ing is rarely as useful. The times I do it the most are the times I think I'm supposed to know the answers to the questions I'm being asked. I become less authentic and less open to learning new things. The opportunity for me and my audience to learn is lost as I stretch what I know to cover the gap or make something up. Yes, if the other party allows that the confidence with which I answer them (a keystone of the male pattern 90-10) means that what I'm saying is true, my pride is assuaged - oh good, I don't have to admit I don't know or that what I just said was actually wrong, but is that worth it? It also just caters to my perfectionist tendencies that I'd like to jettison.

        Sunday, November 9, 2008

        Nothing to Report

        Nothing to report on jury duty. Was not selected for trial, very boring, should have gone to work afterwards. Needing a little organization to my thoughts for the week ahead:

        Work related:

        • create sliding scale policy
        • create seasonal health talk
        • call patient back
        • call verizon
        Personal:

        • mail ear seeds to brother
        • mail donation to alma matter
        • study for board exams
        • rock board exams
        • call verizon
        • collect gas receipts from car
        • consider re-writing 101 goals
        • find notebook for art project

        Saturday, November 8, 2008

        Letting Go...

        Some of my musings on why I'm letting some of the 101 goals go...funny in that when I write down my reasons that I don't think I'll do them, I notice that letting go of my have-to mentality makes me feel a little more like doing them.

        7: Write my masters thesis. Because of a new Masters program that I am eligible to transfer into, I may not finish this. And frankly, if I can throw money at this problem and make it go away, I'm happy to do it in this instance.

        4. Get names/artists for the currently un-labeled music – do I need that much organization?!

        14. Sell or donate crafting supplies not in use – I like having them around so I can create whenever I want.

        20. Do deep breathing exercises every night for 1 week – I’m just not into this. It's like I think I can force a new healthy habit on myself. Since I'm all about life evolving organically, I don't think I should force myself into this.

        30. Get caught up on filing and data entry – what does “caught up” mean? I’ve felt caught up several times and still have a stack. I think I need to define goals like this one a little more clearly.

        35. Consult with an adoption counselor – I’m content for this to happen in it’s own time and take it off the list with a deadline.

        45. Take ceramics/pottery class – I’d like to do this someday when it feels organic.

        51. Plant Tiger Lily's bulbs – ditto.

        52. Buy a book on Lily's or orchids – I’d rather take a book from the library one spring when I feel like planting things.

        59. Hike 2x per week for 2 months – I just don’t like hiking that much. I'd rather be swimming or boating.

        83. Get a fish or bird – Chibo’s enough companion animal for me and learning about what it takes to get fish for aquariums makes me dislike them a bit.

        90. Make a recommended reading list for professional development – I don’t want to take the time to make a list, I just want to keep reading.

        96. Fast for 24 hours – If I find a viable spiritual reason within my own practice, I’ll do this, but otherwise, I just added this because it sounded challenging.

        Friday, November 7, 2008

        101 Goals

        Due to various reasons, I'm not feeling as connected to my 101 goals project as I had been. I do not think now is the time for some goals (like my trip to Italy); I stopped caring about other goals (like buying a book on lilies or orchids); some goals weren't worded specifically enough for me to feel like focusing on them any longer (like "finish filing"); and there are several that I feel like I completed even though I couldn't document them. The following is my modified list of goals for the next 418 days:

        2. Finish putting my hard copies of photos and scraps into albums - I'm also scanning in photos, but that is a long term project
        10. Finish my mom's afghan
        12. Drink no soda for 1 month (excluding soda water)
        23. Teach a QiGong class
        27. Go outrigger paddling again
        28. Go for an overnight backpacking trip
        29. Go backpacking for more than one night
        31. Take another obedience class with Chibo
        34. Consult with a dermatologist
        38. Reduce by 1/2 my primary credit card – need to adjust this and consider where I started
        43. Take guitar lesson/class
        44. Take dance class
        48. Eat no processed food for 1 week
        49. Plant an herb garden (or at least 4 kinds in pots)
        50. Plant a vegetable garden
        54. Crochet something to wear
        56. Spend an important anniversary with mom
        60. Visit Pete and Sara in DC/NY
        65. Make a supplement list and take consistently for 2 weeks
        66. Go 1 day without swearing
        67. Set aside an afternoon 1x per month for 3 months to send birthday greetings and other mail
        69. Find a good calcium supplement and add to regular supplement list
        70. Put videos onto DVD
        71. Learn to sharpen dad's knives
        72. Renew SCUBA certification and go diving!
        73. Learn 3 prayers
        74. Memorize 1 poem
        75. Floss nightly for 2 weeks
        80. Go to the zoo
        81. Have a day of gracious living - tell people about the concept
        85. Go to my 10 year college reunion - scheduled 10/2009
        86. Find out if Math/Science Center is still running and contact the director
        87. Tune up sewing machine
        88. Take a sewing class
        92. Go to AANP and/or NWNPC conferences
        93. Drink 8 glasses of water daily for 1 month
        95. Take the train to Seattle
        97. Have a cocktail party - make a new drink for friends!
        100. Go to Olympic National Forest

        Wednesday, November 5, 2008

        Civic Duty Week

        In addition to voting this week, I am also serving jury dury tomorrow.

        Pontification in an Obama-Nation

        Ferris Bueler said that -isms, in general, are a bag thing, but I think -ations can also fall into this category. Hearing a lot of pontification (to speak or express opinions in a pompous or dogmatic way) today and would like to refer people to the following: "No We Can't, White Folks" and "No We Can't, Black Folks." I love The Root.

        Spoke with my mom early in the evening yesterday before the polls were closing. She asked me, almost shyly, if she could ask who I voted for. I had been avoiding asking her and my brothers who they voted for, assuming we would disagree and not wanting to create further tension in the family, but it turns out that mom and I agreed on this one. The two brothers who made it to the polls cancelled one another out and surprised me on their choices.

        A and I were glued to the television watching the results come in and when the icon saying "Elected: President Barack Obama" came on the screen, we couldn't believe it - it was too fast. There were still so many states unaccounted for and he had already won! It was amazing. I watched the people celebrating in the streets, crying and shouting while A went upstairs and talked to his family and Martin. Martin voted McCain and called to congratulate A that his candidate won. A smartly replied that we will all benefit from Obama's presidency. A said to remember what we were doing that day because it is an historic occasion, the election of the first African American president of the United States.

        There is some part of me that is also very inspired that president-elect Obama is not only African-American, but biracial. It's not that he has a white parent, but just that part of me that relates to that on some level, being in an inter-racial, inter-cultural relationship. In a word, I guess it's because, Barack's masala, too.

        I feel so touched, inspired, proud, relieved and happy today. I feel like we've all been waiting to exhale and finally I can feel the tightness in my chest start to release. I'm looking forward to the next four to eight years. Oh yes, I said it, eight years. God bless Barack.

        Tuesday, November 4, 2008

        Fingers Crossed

        Each election feels slightly more important than the last and I feel more involved, but this election seems crucial. I'm not making the college threats of relocating to another country if this election doesn't go the direction I'd like it to as I am more firmly rooted in my community than that, but my heart does catch at the thought.

        On the other hand, I voted for hope and I voted for change. Even if the election doesn't provide the strong catalyst for change that I hope it will, I must have hope and stimulate change where and how I can. I haven't listened to many speeches, but Senator Barack Obama's debate response in which he described how America needs real leadership and what that means moved me and struck me.

        I have heard the call. Now, fingers crossed that the majority of Americans have also heard.

        Sunday, November 2, 2008

        Two Years and Counting...

        A and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary yesterday. Two years together and so much has changed. He's a much different person than the man I started dating. I have to imagine that I'm also a very different person.

        Saturday, November 1, 2008

        Things That Haven't Happened...Yet?

        I totally lost it yesterday. No costume, no make up, no candy (okay, I did eat one 'fun pack' of M and M's) and no parties. I got myself worked up in such a state that I spent much of the evening in tears and sent A to party alone. Alone at home with Chibo, I didn't even answer the door when our outside lights turned back on (on timer) and we got some late Trick-or-Treaters.

        What the heck? Why? What was so upsetting? I don't know, but I know it started much earlier in the day as I could feel anxiety rising while I was still about my business before I even headed home to get dressed. I was speaking to a friend in the car on the way home and I told her that I was aware that I was manifesting this bad time with all the dread I was feeling. She pointed out that I was upset about things that haven't even happened yet. That is interesting.

        I was upset about things that haven't even happened yet.

        Not only had they not happened, but it was possible they wouldn't happen. It was entirely possible that the things I had envisioned or thought of either consciously or unconsciously would not ever happen, let alone having not even happened yet. But I was just as upset, sad, angry and anxious as if they had already happened. I already felt berated, beat up, left out, less than, ugly, unwitty and taken for granted when in fact, I had every reason to feel supported, cherished, included, valued, respected and fun.

        By staying home, I certainly prevented the worst of my projected unpleasantness, the things that hadn't happened yet, from happening. If I lived alone and had no partner, this wouldn't have been a problem for anyone else - maybe friends would miss me, but when I saw them again as my normal contented self, they would be none the wiser and no feelings would have been hurt by my responding to things that haven't happened yet. But I live with A and he was hoping to spend a fun evening together. Though I'm sure he had fun, he was very disappointed that I didn't go and then he started wondering about things that haven't happened yet, such as my future refusals to go to parties, because of the various reasons I gave to try to explain my disquiet.

        This, I think, is the gift of Buddhist practice - being in the moment, you don't hold on to the past or project the future. Things that haven't happened yet have no bearing on the moment. I need practice with this, because every day my decisions and emotions are influenced by things that haven't happened yet. The more I consider this, the clearer it becomes that these things have a strong influence in my life - I can become a weeping mess over the death of a loved one that hasn't happened yet within moments, I prepare for confrontations that I imagine happening that never materialize and I get myself in these anxious states because of imagined slights, attacks, disrespects and situations that leave me feeling powerless.

        Besides practicing being in the moment, I think an important next step is to examine the pieces of these imagined things that haven't happened yet and see why they would be so upsetting to me and how I could develop myself so that they aren't. That sounds a bit like preparing myself for confrontations that never materialize, a practice I'm already more than familiar enough with, but what I mean is something different. What I mean is to figure out what I feel that allows me to project these imagined scenarios, such as feeling powerless or disrespected, and determine if there are social skills to develop or conversations to have to ensure I'm feeling in control of my own destiny or respected in the present moment. Because these imagined scenarios can really only reflect the reality going on right now.

        And right now, I'm feeling determined to be more clear about why I do or do not want to do things, to respect my own desires to be in certain environments and to allow myself the freedom of entering situations without manifesting my own pre-meditated resentments and negativities.

        Thursday, October 30, 2008

        First Completely Raw Dinner

        Raw food dinner party last night. Our house, friends T and Ree attending. Plan: dinner and Rock Band. At the risk of being "that guy," we (okay, I) talked a lot about raw food and about high fructose corn syrup and sugar. Dinner was a hit and rock band was fun, though we (okay, I) did talk through it. Something about raw food makes me kind of manic.

        Dinner:
        Fresh green salad with tomotoes we picked from the farm this weekend. The tomatoes were the best part - so delicious.

        Live pizza. Tried two types of raw pizza. Sergei's Live Pizza made with a flax crust and the same sauce on dehydrated eggplant slices. Both were delicious with toppings consisting of red and green peppers, julienned yam and parsley. (Don't ask me why parsley, all the books suggested it and I had some so I thought, 'why not?')

        Dessert: raw apple crisp. The filling was apples, dates, raisins and cinnamon - some ground in the food processor and some sliced. The topping was walnuts, raisins, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg and a bit of allspice. Freakin' delicious with no sugar or HFCS added.

        Yum.

        Then we watched Sarah Silverman's video about Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel's response. Did I mention that my friends told me about this blog/new book?

        Saturday, October 25, 2008

        Binge Living

        Prior to this moment, I have had a binging lifestyle. In college, as is unfortunately and unwisely common, I did a fair bit of binge drinking. Currently, I eat too fast and often feel over-full and uncomfortable after eating and even though I don't meet the medical definitions for binge eating, I consider this binging as well. This morning, I've recognized another element of binging - media binging.

        I've written about my love of Law and Order, but even I didn't realize how strong its grip on me is. I reviewed my viewing history on Netflix and counted at least 6 episodes one day. The episodes run about 40 minutes, so that's 6 x 40 = 240 minutes or 4 hours. Four hours. Watching Law and Order. One day. That's a lot of Law and Order. I've almost watched everything that Netflix has available. By some strange quirk, I am unable to enjoy watching these out of order, so I'm happy and lucky that Netflix doesn't have everything up to the current season, so I have to wait and can't get hooked to watching it on television.

        Another form of media binging is blogs. There are several blogs that I follow and a few that I've started reading backwards, forwards, crosswise and inside out. Christine Kane's beautiful blog is one such. I'm enjoying jumping from post-to-post, reading related entries and then jumping to another random one. This binging seems a bit healthier than food or alcohol or television, but I am aware that I am not and could not possibly be digesting all that is coming at me. Would it be better to miss some posts in order to really ruminate on another?

        Can one really get too much personal growth or spiritual work? When I stopped working with my transformational educator several years ago, I certainly thought so. I was a little "worked out" on that front - not quite burned out, but certainly overtrained and underexperienced. I felt like I needed to take some time to assimilate and practice all that I'd learned. It's been several years and seems like my quick attachment to this series might indicate readiness for another guide or more structured form of learning.

        Teacher, I am ready, open and grateful for your kind and gentle lessons.

        Friday, October 24, 2008

        What Crisis Is

        From my page a day calendar, dated yesterday:
        In every crisis there is a message. Crises are nature's way of forcing change - breaking down old structures, shaking loose negative habits so that something new and better can take their place. -Susan L Taylor, Essence Editor

        Thursday, October 23, 2008

        The Bright Side of Life

        Lots of crazy-crazy going down with the families at the moment. The trifecta of what can go wrong in life: medical, legal and financial burdens scattered among the loved ones all at the same time. What to do?

        I'm not one to suggest looking at the bright side at the expense of dealing with the real, legitimate and important experiences and feelings that are happening even if they are hard or ugly or uncomfortable, but I do remind myself that this, too, shall pass and a list of the positive experiences is a good reminder to myself that even in the dark times, beauty is blooming.

        Today, I'm grateful for:
        • the widening group of people that I think of as family
        • the calm and centered feeling I've experienced all week
        • having tonight and tomorrow free
        • Chibo's enduring love and patience
        • my brother calling me for help - even though I'm not sure what I can do, it means a lot that he called me ... and that nothing can rock our relationship as siblings
        On the other hand, I'm going to use my free night and day to really take care of myself and A. Some really nourishing food and entertainment, meaningful work and time together.

        Powerful Words

        There's a great power in words, if you don't hitch too many of them together. - Josh Billings

        Words are powerful. I noticed recently that when certain words come out of unexpected mouths, I sit up and take more notice. In coming across this new-to-me blog, I've remembered how healing words can be. And I noticed how knowing certain jargonal words might help someone feel control in a situation that is really not theirs to control.

        I'm fascinated by words and their meanings and et·y·mol·o·gies. It started with foreign languages and has evolved to include the evolution of English, street slang, proverbs, catch phrases and mottos. Despite this, I'm not always precise in my use of words and language and in fact, sometimes, on purpose, play with words, such as jargonal, above. Nowadays, after reading this post by Erin McKean, my favorite lexicographer, I almost want people to tell me 'that's not a word,' so I can smile and say 'oh.'

        The inspiration for this entry is the strange and unexpected utterance of medical terminology from a non-medical source. E and I have talked a bit lately about how people suffering or believing they suffer from some symptom, syndrome, condition or disease may actually know more about said symptom, syndrome, condition or disease than their medical personnel, because they research it unendingly on the Internet. Now, I think this can be valuable to get some background, read some explanations and learn about options that may not be common knowledge in your own community, but sometimes I think all that's happening is they are learning the words, but not all the connected ideas and experiences that accompany them.

        Just using the words might provide some feeling of control in an insane world, but does it really foster understanding or closeness? Or does it simply provide family, friends and loved ones a distancing medical language to use instead of sharing their fears and sadness? In theory, I would much rather tell a patient that they have Stage 5 something or other than to use the words, 'you're dying,' but I think the honesty, commitment and caring in the second are much more powerful than the first. [I do recognize the power of suggestion, especially in words spoken by The Medical Profession and I don't know yet how to balance that with allowing an individual to die with dignity.]

        I remember my own experience online when I was sick. Everything I read and even people in the online support group I found told me that I shouldn't/wouldn't/couldn't live beyond 5 years. What did they know?

        Not me.

        Wednesday, October 22, 2008

        My Personal Style

        Ever since I read this post, I've been pondering the idea of personal style, mostly in a navel gazing 'what is my personal style?' kind if way, but also noticing how other people reflect their personal style and what ideas and lifestyles I guess at or attribute to them based on what textiles they use to keep themselves warm. That, of course, makes me wonder what my clothes say about me.

        I made a list of style elements that appeal: natural fabrics, relaxed fit, big silver and earthy jewelry, stones, earth tones, solid colors, neutrals, some bright colors, classic styles, men's styles, separates, natural make up, long hair.

        I've looked online at books and services (this one and this one looked good for me) that could help me better define and establish my personal style and considered spending money for such services, but in the end, I just went shopping. After months of arriving to my professional job feeling like somebody's red-headed step child, I bought myself a few comfortable, professional, inter-mixable separates that I feel totally comfortable in. When I went out to dinner in the same clothes I wore to work, I knew I was on the right track.

        Monday, October 20, 2008

        Spinach-Artichoke Yummy Goodness

        So. Good. Thank you, Gail. Thank you.

        DANDELION AND ARTICHOKE SPREAD
        This savory dip was the top winner in the National Dandelion Cookoff (who knew?!) at last year's Dandelion May Fest in Dover, Ohio (of all places?!).

        Ingredients:
        1 cup mayonnaise
        1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
        1 1/4 cups dandelion greens, chopped
        1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, prepackaged or canned, chopped
        2 13.75-ounce cans artichokes, drained and chopped
        1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped fine
        1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
        1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
        3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
        1 small loaf French bread, pita triangles or crackers

        In a large mixing bowl, place mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, dandelion greens, chicken, artichokes, red bell pepper, onion and garlic powder. Stir until well mixed. Place in a well-greased 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Spread out evenly. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
        Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve with bread, pita or crackers.

        -- Gail Harshbarger, Akron, Ohio

        Perfectly Imperfect Birthday

        I loved my birthday today. It was wonderful in so many ways, but most (and least!) of all because I just let it happen organically and was prepared for imperfection. This post by Christine Kane (thanks again to KMK for the useful reference!) gave me the idea of an imperfect birthday and in the end, it came out just great! Here's my favorite parts:
        • Waking up to the sound of my beloved softly saying "happy birthday honey"
        • My mom's delight in receiving the birthday gift I sent her three weeks ago
        • Getting flowers at work
        • Cooking for myself and A (yum - recipe to follow!)
        • Staying home
        • Getting to do whatever I want
        • Not having to eat over-frosted cake (or cake at all!)
        • Getting incredibly thoughtful gifts, including: a raw uncook book, a massage and the knowing that my partner does sometimes read my blog (and enjoys it)!

        All in all, I think it's been a very insight provoking and self-empowering birthday. Yeah, 32!

        Saturday, October 18, 2008

        So Much Synergy

        This is another of those times where I keep thinking "yeah, I'm going to blog about that later" and then never get to it. I don't feel too bad about it because I recognize that I'm just busy living my life, but I do sometimes regret not getting to express about different things. I keep an ongoing list of topics to write about in my professional blog, but I write there even less than here, though I expect that will change dramatically and soon (because I'll be linking the main webpage to the blog). In any case, the latest theme in my life seems to be synergy. I keep finding links and connections everywhere I look. I feel like I may actually be in the flow again, because things are coming easily and I'm feeling at ease and well.

        Today is my dad's birthday and I had a lot of anxiety about how I was going to spend the day. I wanted to mark the day somehow and make it special without bringing myself or the people around me down, but how? Then I thought I wanted to just stay home and meditate quietly and alone. What I ended up doing was beautiful and perfect for my energy and mood. A and I set up our guest bedroom. How that relates to my dad specifically is very peripheral - we have an alter space in that room where I will keep a photo of my dad. But doing the work, cleaning the room, setting up the furniture just so to be welcoming and comfortable for whatever guests come felt really nurturing to me, too, so it was perfect.

        And the result of that is a domino effect that seems to clarify the placement of a lot of things that haven't been getting done at home. Oh, if that goes there, then of course this will go over there. All in all, a calm, healing and fun evening.

        Thursday, October 16, 2008

        TV Follow Up

        In follow up to my earlier post about cutting down my TV watching, I am pleased to say that I'm not watching as much. When I started paying attention, I realized that not only were the shows really not that good, but I really didn't miss them when I wasn't watching. I still enjoy Family Guy on Sundays with A and I still sneak my Law and Order on Netflix, but I don't spend all the hours of my evenings hooked to the tube. And frankly, I think I prefer watching on Netflix, because I'm not exposed to all that advertising and if it's really exciting, I can watch the next episode immediately.

        My other brilliant idea of going to the gym to watch television (for example, on Heroes night) has yet to materialize, but I'm still holding onto that one. A wants to try going to the gym in the mornings and I say great - even if that does mean we end up going twice a day. Then I'll at least feel like I'm earning my entertainment.

        Sunday, October 12, 2008

        Work, More or Less

        Recently, my friend suggested that I welcome prosperity into my life and start working less. I didn't get it. Work less? What about my bills? Am I supposed to proceed on the blind faith that my bills will be paid? What about getting something saved? What about improving my quality of life, even a little bit?

        "Yes. Don't worry. Yes. Don't worry. Yes, work less," she answered.

        I don't hear that answer often. It seems that everyone -my mom, teachers, boss, government - is telling me to work more. A recent article on burnout suggested that you may be burned out or on your way if you routinely work more than 40 hours a week. I work 50 hours most weeks and 60 several, but instead of comparing myself to those working that 40 hour week, I compare myself to those working 80-90 to put food on the table. Mom's arguments are particularly compelling - she worked overtime waiting tables to feed us kids and we never went hungry. It's a different time, though. I don't have kids and could probably benefit from a little hunger.

        In this current climate of financial meltdown, I keep reading about retirees going back to work and baby boomers who are just going to have to work a little bit longer. My partner had planned on retiring at 55 and though I hoped he might work a little longer so we might retire together, I did not want it to be forced on him by the slow death of his 401(k). Why is the answer always "more work?" Or more specifically, why is the answer "more work at a job?" I like the idea of opas and abuelos working with the children, in the garden patch or at educating and guiding our young adults, but I think it's a special form of American cruelty that ties us for longer years to a desk, production line or fast food joint.

        It's a depressing time, so perhaps watching some good videos like Obama's talks leadership or Be The Change is in order. And maybe, just maybe, I should try working less. After all, I've been working more for a long time and that's not getting me anywhere fast.

        Saturday, October 11, 2008

        Good Karma

        Here's a few signs of good karma in my life:

        1. My last place of residence was rented to me more inexpensively than anything else I could find. It required no paperwork, no security and allowed my dog without question. I paid my rent late several times with apologies but no penalties and moving out was simply a matter of mutual respect between myself and my landlord.

        2. I got a new car for nothing. That said, out of the four cars I've owned, I've only purchased one. My first car was a gift from my dad, the second a gift from a girlfriend and this fourth car is a three-year loan with option to buy from a friend of A's. Getting a "free ride" is definitely something of a gift from the universe.

        3. A and I were invited to a cruise wedding and weren't sure we would be able to go for various reasons - when things seemed to fall into place for our attendance, I requested time off only be told that I would be risking my job to go due to holiday black out dates (no time off granted). My immediate supervisor said she'd try to work something out, so we hoped for the best and booked our tickets. A couple weeks later, my boss pulled me aside and asked me the dates for the trip. After I told him, he smiled and showed me the modified black out dates that start the day I return home.

        4. My finances seem to be straightening themselves out. Far from attributing this to karma, I recognize that my hard work, planning and frugal habits have much to do with it. I do recognize, however, that I have much to be grateful for not happening in my life too - it's so easy for this or that negative event to rack up the bills and bring on financial ruin. I say good karma has kept me from those events that could have pushed me over the brink I've been walking so close to.

        Friday, October 10, 2008

        Ding, Dong, The Truck is Gone!

        I feel like some transition is complete. I'm moved into A's house and now I've sold my truck. Somehow, having my truck was something left of my pre-living-with-A life and now it's gone. I don't know why it feels so symbolic, but there is definitely a different feeling now that we have his and hers VW Golfs in the driveway. Have I gone from hippie earth cookie doctor to yuppie physician?

        It's also weird that I talk about what "we" have all the time now. I don't say it without some self-consciousness, but I still say it and haven't been questioned or corrected to date. As in, "we still have a pick up truck for hauling things around and taking the kayak out."

        Anyways, the happy news about the truck selling is that it breaks me even so that I'm in a much more stable financial place in addition to saving money on gas with my new car every month. So, from here onward, if I can continue to keep spending in check, things are just going to get better.

        Addendum: I just remembered that this was one of my goals! Goal #26 - CHECK!

        Thursday, October 9, 2008

        An Honest Day's Work

        Worked my shift at the clinic, nothing doing in afternoon, so I left about an hour after my shift ended and came home. I picked up lunch and decided rather than crawl into bed, I would make the most of my day. And so I did:

        I took out 1 bag of trash.
        I recycled 2 bags of plastic from inside the house.
        I unpacked at least 6 boxes.
        I recycled all the packing paper immediately and broke down the boxes for recycling.
        I found the remaining boxes containing food (made harder by my mixed packing methods).
        I discovered new cupboards in the kitchen.
        I located my travel coffee cup and brought the dog food in.

        Then I went out for dinner. By the time we got home, I was beat! No need for sleep aids when your body is bone weary. Now that I'm up on the day after, I do regret, just slightly, not taking more time to put the unpacked things away. Every burner on the stove, every inch of counter space, the entire kitchen table, the bar in the living room and yes, even the kitchen sink, are covered in misc kitchen stuff. I can get a glass of water, but that's about it. Oh well, I guess that's tonight's project.

        Monday, September 22, 2008

        It's All Fun and Games Until...

        Someone gets their eye poked.

        Somehow A and I have a these weird things that happen in our sleep. We've each gotten socked in the face several times, there have been rolling-over-on's and now, an eye poke. I'm unclear exactly on how it happened, but somehow he stretched with his arm extended in the air over my part of the bed and his finger(s) pointed at the exact moment that I returned to bed from a nature call and lay back down. The pointed fingers landed right in my eye.

        Luckily I hadn't flopped quite as vigorously, but it still hurt and there was little sleep after that.

        Sunday, September 21, 2008

        Every Friggin Day

        My friends from DC were here since Wednesday and I spent every evening with them. Wednesday night, we met for dinner and planned to see a show. When showtime turned out to be 11 instead of 9, we all admitted that the show was just a great way to choose the venue and we were there for the company anyways. Thursday, I went to a game night to see them and was disappointed that I didn't get them all to myself, but practiced my sharing skills and eventually got to play with my friends again. Friday, typical date night, we had dinner and a movie. Delicious middle eastern food and Burn After Reading. And, finally, Saturday, visits to my and E's shops and some rice pudding, hugs and tears as we said goodbye. I had told them I was keeping my schedule open to spend as much time as possible with them while they were here, but never expected it to work out that way.

        It was wonderful to spend some time with them, but I definitely was feeling my routine blown a bit. Yesterday, I came home after work and got several hours to putz around the house before meeting them and that was great. So now I find myself wondering about things I do every day and things I don't. I recently set a goal to take and post (to a different site) one photograph every day. My first day was easy, that was the day I set the goal and the goal came after the first photo which was really cool and jumped out at me on its own. The second day, no photo, but I posted one on the third day and pre-dated it the second day. Since then (4 days later), no photos taken or posted. Maybe that has something to do with how I did spend the last 4 days, but I also think it's a goal-setting issue that I have.

        I set high goals - realistically or not - of doing certain things perfectly. Post a photo everyday, and make sure it's a good one. Give up soda pop everyday for a month. Do X, Y or Z consistently or everyday. When I miss a day or mess up, I have trouble continuing - this, of course, is the curse of perfectionism. One can't actually live up to the perfectionist ideal that exists only in our heads, so we do nothing. I think that's one reason I actually blog so much - it's easy to blog everyday or regularly because I don't consider this a priority, I don't try to write anything particularly deep or well, and I don't feel obligated either way to write or not write. It's just something fun for fun.

        I think goals are important and wouldn't want to be without goals, but I think this is worth thinking about some more. Perhaps I would do better with hobbie-related goals that are about attaining a skill or skill level or trying something new rather than about consistency, especially since my schedule is so packed with work. So, my modified photography goals is to take and post photos on that other site from time to time. And my modified fun goal is to have some, every day. Oops, I did it again.

        Saturday, September 20, 2008

        Hi Mom

        Talked to my mom today. Have been trying to call regularly because I feel helpless to help her out during this hard time. As a result of Hurricane Ike, her basement flooded, her roof was damaged and water leaked into her house. In addition to all that, my brothers have not been as helpful as I feel they ought to be. But, I beat myself up by wondering who I am to judge, happily giggling with my friends all this far away.

        I'm doing what I can, though, calling regularly, being an ear, hopefully taking her mind off her woes a bit by talking about things we both enjoy. That helps me finally realize what Ree was going for years ago when I was sick and she was trying to keep things light. Now I understand that when you don't have the personal resources to go deep, you help by staying light.

        Thursday, September 18, 2008

        Our House is a Very, Very, Very Fine House

        Work happening on
        Our house. So far so good. So
        Much work happening.

        Shine

        My friend Ree shines.

        Addendum: What do you know?

        My Best Friends' Ex-Boyfriends

        In junior high, negotiating relationships and ex-relationships was easy. Any boy who didn't want to be with my gal pals was a jerk and I didn't talk to them anymore. And any girl who dated my friends' exes was some kinda something. Things are different now and I sometimes remain friends with friends' exes. Things are really different in that I now have become friends with friends' exes new girlfriends and wives.

        I like to think we're all mature (read: ma-toor) enough to be in the same room together, but human emotions get involved and sometimes that's just not comfortable, not least of all for me. There's definitely a feeling sometimes of being in the middle. Take the other evening when I found myself with a close gal pal and her old flame's new wife. I hadn't been together with them before, so I was very conscious of the hugs and kisses I gave new wife in front of old girlfriend. Though we used to poke fun at new wife together, I've since gotten to know her and found her perfectly pleasant and nice to be around, but old girlfriend wasn't really around for the getting-to-know part.

        I've also become quite close with the ex-boyfriend and his new wife of another friend. This ex-boyfriend had made something, let's call it a 'birdhouse' for lack of any other imagination on my part, for his ex-girlfriend, my good friend. This 'birdhouse' was given or taken back in the break up but has landed with me several times in the years since. In my recent move in with A, I declined to take the birdhouse with me and another friend took it to put in her 'yard.' I'm not losing sleep over this, but I am aware of the fact that when the ex-girlfriend-friend visits the home/yard where the birdhouse is now displayed, she might have a reaction.

        I'm learning to let people have their own reactions, to be open and willing to talk about them and negotiate ways to keep people comfortable within my own home or event, but not to take responsibility for managing these people in other circumstances. I've also stopped being afraid to say an ex's name in front of the wrong people - these are people in my life, so they may get mentioned, although I try not to do it gratuitously. And finally, I've learned that there are some advantages to my having kept my dates outside of my own social circle for the most part.

        Wednesday, September 17, 2008

        Rain Tunes

        Been thinking of a rainy day soundtrack since I moved to the wetlands.

        1. Rusted Root Rain
        2. Eurythmics Here Comes The Rain Again
        3. Fleming and John Rain All Day
        4. Jane Siberry It Can't Rain All The Time
        5. Frank Sinatra Come Rain Or Come Shine
        6. Prince Purple Rain
        7. Red Hot Chili Peppers Naked In The Rain
        8. Kenny Chesney There's Something Sexy About The Rain
        9. John Denver Fire and Rain
        10. John Mayer Covered In Rain
        11. Adele Right As Rain
        12. Ani Difranco Rain Check
        13. Counting Crows Rain King
        14. Otis Redding I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone

        Sunshine Songlist

        Just for fun:

        Marvin Gaye Ain’t No Sunshine (When She’s Gone)
        KC and The Sunshine Band Walking on Sunshine
        John Denver Sunshine on My Shoulders
        The Beatles Good Day Sunshine
        Natasha Bedingfield Pocketful Of Sunshine
        Prince Play In The Sunshine
        The Brady Bunch It's A Sunshine Day
        The Corrs Summer Sunshine
        Stevie Wonder You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
        The 5th Dimension Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In
        Osibisa Sunshine Day
        De La Soul Sunshine
        Belle And Sebastian Song For Sunshine
        Johnny Cash You Are My Sunshine

        Monkey Business

        Would that be the version by Fats Domino, Michael Jackson or Skid Row? If it was Too Much Monkey Business, we'd have to choose between The Beatles, Chuck Berry, The Hollies, The Kinks and The Cramps . I used to be in the monkey business, studying animal behavior. After reading Walking With the Great Apes: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Birute Galdikas by Sy Montgomery in college, I was sold on studying primates and twisted every special project to learn more about monkeys and apes. I even studied American Sign Language (ASL) in the hopes of interacting with chimpanzees trained in ASL. I haven't given up my love for these amazing creatures, but my deeper forays into animal studies led me into a field that supports our keeping wild creatures wild.

        That personal history aside, I've always wanted to make a compilation CD of songs about monkeys or with monkeys in them. I was shocked by how many songs I was able to find with just a simple search - 111! No fewer than than 10 songs just called Monkey or The Monkey; several about Monkey Business; the obligatory monkey phrases such as Monkey Wrench and Monkey Bars; monkey body parts: Monkey Butt and Monkey Back; all kinds of monkeys: Dirty Monkey, Toilet Monkey, Spider Monkey, New Monkey, Cheeky Monkey, Little Monkey, Steel Monkey, Musical Monkey, Brass Monkey; and all kinds of things to do to or with monkeys: Spank the Monkey, Shake Your Monkey, Punish the Monkey, Shock Dat Monkey and my favorite, Let Da Monkey Out!

        Hard to choose, but my CD would probably go something like this (some picked just because I like the name or the band):
        Dial Zero Be No Monkey
        George Michael Monkey
        Eminem Monkey See, Monkey Do
        Beastie Boys Brass Monkey
        Dave Matthews Band Proudest Monkey
        Elvis Costello Monkey To Man
        Goldie Lookin' Chain Monkey Love
        Michael Jackson Monkey Business
        Smokey Robinson Mickeys Monkey
        The Rolling Stones MONKEY MAN
        Aerosmith Monkey On My Back
        The Beatles Too Much Monkey Business
        Traveling Wilburys Tweeter And The Monkey Man
        Gorillaz Fire Coming Out Of A Monkey's Head
        Sprout Why Don't You Wear What That Monkey Wears?
        The Beatles Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey
        The Monkeys Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkees