31 August 2008

Vacation, Day One: Young Harris Memories

Today started very early. I went to church with Mom and Dad and then took a trip back in time when we decided to eat lunch at Young Harris College's new "restaurant." It's where the cafeteria/dining hall used to be.

Liz and I talk often about how different our experiences were at YHC. She loved it and counts it as one of her more fond memories. I have blocked out so much of the 2 years I spent there that when Dad asked me what I thought of the new dining hall today I absolutely could NOT remember what the old one was like. I have no memory whatsoever of ever setting foot inside that building. Funny what the mind does.

My heart broke a little bit when we parked in the upper lot behind Appleby West, my first dorm at Young Harris, and I looked up the hill in front of me to see a parking lot where Mama and Papa Rich's house used to stand. Robby, their son, is the person in my life that I have known the longest (that isn't family) that I am still in touch with and count as a friend. I spent time in that house as a friend of the family, as a girlfriend, and finally as "family," and to have it not there just seemed kinda wrong, even though the inhabitants are all long gone.

The swing that was given to the college by my sorority, Sigma Beta Sigma, was one of the few things I recognized out in front of the new dining hall. I remember vividly sitting on that swing with Amy one night and figuring out the secret to life, the universe, religion, and probably calculus...only to be interrupted by a yelling Robby thundering down the hill toward us and forgetting what we'd only moments before been sure would CHANGE THE WORLD.

I wasn't sad to leave today, despite all the tiny smiles I afforded my heart as we walked around that tiny corner of my past. It made me who I am, unpleasant as it was, so I can't wish I'd never been there. I can only wish that I'll forget all the bad things, just like I have the dining hall. And then, after I've forgotten, I can don my old purple and yellow sorority jersey and take my children there. I can tell them how Amy was convinced she was developing pneumonia because I had to leave our dorm window open a crack so I could hear the chapel bell that my sorority was "in charge" of protecting. I can tell them how Liz and Heather and I made a snowman on the front porch of Appleby Center and then snuck it into the lobby.

I can tell them how I was a student there just like their Grandpa, my father was before me, and I can say then that if they want to go there I'd be very proud.

I wonder how long that bit of forgetting will take?

29 August 2008

Quote of the Day

People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.

-William Jefferson Clinton


Last night, or rather, this morning I had a dream. I dreamed that I wasn't with Simon anymore, due to some action on my part, and I'd gotten back together with an old college boyfriend called Charles. We were at some big religious thing, which is appropriate since we met while working at Camp Glisson (a United Methodist summer camp in Georgia and the closest place to Heaven on this earth...but I digress...). I slipped away at some point to ring Simon and make sure he was okay. He was angry on the phone and got even more surly when I suggested that since the ticket was already purchased I might just come on to England on Tuesday. I asked if he'd be around, or if I'd just be wandering around Manchester and Leeds on my own for two weeks (funny that I never thought, in my dream, to head to London and see Liz and Andrew)? He said he didn't know because some of us have to work for a living...

I woke up feeling just AWFUL. Of course nothing of the sort has happened...Charles is apparently married and has kids, for pete's sake! Anxiety is a funny thing...it sneaks up on you and pounces when you're defenseless...like when you're asleep.

Anyway, off to work. Less anxious somewhat for having talked to Simon. Somewhat.

28 August 2008

T minus...

Six days and counting until I see Simon again. That makes it five months and thirteen days, give or take, since I last saw him. And no, the webcam doesn't count.

Five days and counting until I put my life in the capable hands of the Delta pilot to fly to Manchester from Atlanta (and hopefully get some sleep along the way).

Two days and counting until I drop the kids off at their babysitters (and Mills with his fans...err...the vet's office) and head to Georgia to visit my parents for a few days.

And finally, several hours until I have to get up and go back to the hospital for my last day of work until September 15th.

On a completely unrelated note, I spent part of today reading/watching the speeches from the DNC and was blown away. Say what you want about Hillary, her speech showed what a class act she can be. She is a strong, opinionated, professional woman who knows what she wants and puts everything she has toward getting it.

She quoted Harriett Tubman at one point, and the words really resonated with me in the context of the uphill battle our country has in front of her starting in January. "If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see torches in the woods, keep going. If they're shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."

Bill's speech was phenomenal but who would have expected less from him. Count me in the group that say "I miss Bill." Joe Biden hit the nail on the head with so many of his points, but as did all the other speakers he did it with class. I'm looking forward to the coverage of the RNC to see if they can keep up the same level of decorum as I have seen this week.

26 August 2008

Playing Chicken with a Tornado

We've had a crazy weather day here in the Upstate and I don't know that it's going to get any better soon. Thanks to Kay coming on land and getting a bit stuck we've had rain rain rain and more rain today with a few thunderstorms and a tornado thrown in for good measure. Apparently there was a bad tornado that left some damage in Clemson...but Tiger Fans NEVER FEAR, it hit NEAR Death Valley, not IN Death Valley. I apparently caused a resident at the hospital tonight a momentary fright when I said that it had hit "at" the stadium.

Not that I don't totally get that...you tell me or anyone in my immediate family (except for my brother in law who suffers from a raging case of "I'm a University of Alabama Fan") that a tornado has hit Between the Hedges and watch the hysterics ensue. But I digress...

I left the hospital early today because I was very concerned that said storms would produce tornados in Greenville while my dogs were safely locked in their crates on the SECOND STORY of my house. I got home and sat through the outer edges of a nasty nasty storm, and finally was ready to feed the dogs and get on with making my dinner. Suddenly my phones were all going off with text messages and voice mails. Seems the hospital was trying to find me because there was ANOTHER deaf patient there and they needed an interpreter.

Did I mention that the hospital is about 45 minutes from my house on a sunny day with no traffic?

I fed the dogs and hopped in the car to head south to the hospital. I was listening to the radio, as you do, and the weather alerts just kept coming and coming. As I got off the interstate onto the road that leads to the hospital (but is still a good 20 minute drive), a new weather alert came on talking about a BAD storm that could produce a tornado that was heading RIGHT for the hospital where I was going. In fact, it was supposed to be at a town about 10 miles from the hospital at 7:30. I was supposed to be at the hospital at 7:30.

Enter the game of chicken. I was determined to get there first. I didn't. What I did, however, is get to the hospital while it was under a weather warning...which means that you can't leave until it is lifted or expires. Thankfully it was changed to a watch rather than a warning shortly after I'd gotten there so I could leave but under a warning from public safety that it wasn't a good idea. I considered that after I'd interpreted the intake and was ready to go until I asked when the watch was set to expire.

PSO: 2am, ma'am.
Me: Yeah, NO. I'll take my chances.

On the way home I came up on a wreck. I couldn't really tell what had happened because I was kind of blinded by all the flashing lights from the emergency vehicles that responded. However, it did give me pause because I had come that same way only hours before. What is that saying, there but by the grace of God?

So yeah, I raced a bad storm and didn't really lose, I think it was a draw. And now I'm back home, tired, full of bad take away food and ready for bed.

I just had to blog this...

APD and Friend.
Originally uploaded by ebeth
It came up on Liz's photo stream on her blog and I just had to do it. Hello, future brother in law! Who's the guy holding you?

Just kidding, Andrew. Much love.

19 August 2008

Not Really News

I am officially...

...tired (of the psych hospital...of the drive TO the psych hospital...of having a dirty house and no motivation nor energy to clean it).

...frustrated (the perfect job comes available for me and I can't take it because of my upcoming trip to the UK...and the fact that it doesn't carry benefits).

...lonely for Simon (it's now been over four months since I've seen him).

...achy (muscles I didn't know I had in my neck feel like concrete).

...ready for it to be January and the chips to fall where they may...ready to move to wherever, find a job wherever...just ready to be past all this bloody ridiculous and counter-productive waiting and anxiety. It's hard to get anything done when your emotions are so raw that you are quite literally reluctant to open your mouth for fear of either snapping or weeping. Most unattractive.

Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering, I know that I'll be leaving my family in the US to move to England, I know that the sign language is different there so I can't work, and I know that despite the fact that I'm clearly quite selfish I'm also positively rubbish at saving money for myself and we're most likely going to starve. Thanks for wanting to remind me, though. Seriously. The support means everything.

Hang on, my tongue seems to be lodged in my cheek. There, that's better.

I'm going to go crawl under my ratty old Ikea duvet and hide until 6:30am tomorrow when I get to do it all again. Hoo-friggin-rah.

"...she's yer sister..."

The BBC has recently put out a program focused on the inbreeding practices in the pedigree dog world that is causing somewhat of a stir. Pedigree dog people not only in the UK but the world round are up in arms that these scientists are telling them to worry over something that they say isn't harming their dogs. On Cold Wet Nose I found a quote from Terrierman's blog that made me happy...(bold type is mine)

"We find extremely inbred dogs in each breed except the Greyhound, and estimate an inbreeding effective population size between 40 and 80 for all but two breeds. For all but three breeds, more than 90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations, indicating a dramatic effect of reeding patterns on genetic diversity."

Simon and I were talking about the study this morning and before I read this I commented on how the Greyhounds I work with (NGA registered racing dogs, not AKC show dogs) don't have that problem as far as I knew because the NGA looks at who is bred to whom and I think if it's too close don't register the pups. I could be wrong on that. I know that their family trees used to look like telephone poles but I think it has gotten better lately...as have a lot of things in the industry.

If you're in the UK, "Pedigree Dogs Exposed will be shown on BBC One at 2100 BST on Tuesday 19 August.

16 August 2008


...that if you say one word too many times it becomes really funny, or maybe just that I need more sleep? Thanks to Dooce for this one:

15 August 2008

Just in case you still wish you were me...

Today I got myself trapped in my bedroom.

Yep, that's right, trapped. As in couldn't get out. As in door won't open and there's no way to go out the windows because my bedroom is on the second floor.

Here's the lead up...

I was on call this morning for an admission to the psych hospital. I was asked to come to a meeting an hour's drive from home to get some information on the patient from the case manager. So off I go, dressed to the nines (having originally been in a T-shirt and jeans since I knew I'd be going on the men's ward) to drive an hour away to a meeting...a meeting that I knew I'd be attending for about 10 minutes before I had to dash south to the hospital.

Sure enough, I was no sooner in the meeting room but I was again hurtling down the highway, planning to stop at home and put on my more androgynous outfit from earlier in the morning and then go straight to the hospital. The patient was coming from a good ways away so I felt sure that I would have time to change and even grab some lunch.

Speaking of lunch, I'd have to give the chicken sandwich at McDonald's a Nice Try. It's clear that it was supposed to resemble the Chik-Fil-A sandwich, down to the boiled/bagely texture of the bun and the pickle. Supposed to, but didn't. Reminded me more of the chicken we used to get in the lunchroom when I was in school. But back to the story, lunch comes long after the issue with the bedroom door.

I stopped by the house and dashed in the door, barely shutting the front door behind me. Up the stairs and to the left (that was for you, Liz), please, and into the bedroom with Jeany to change back into my "Looks Like A Boy" outfit. Of course, I didn't want Jeany running into the dog room and getting the other two all wound up so I shut the bedroom door.

Problem. When the bedroom door shuts, it sticks along the top. This isn't usually a problem because the door opens inward and I can hit it near the top as I turn the knob and it opens without a problem...from the outside. From the inside it doesn't budge.

Guess who's claustrophobic? I paced, I cried, I'm sure I scared Jeany to death. I hit the door, I kicked the door, I tried to get it to open by shoving an underwire (don't ask) and a metal bookmark between the door and the top of the door jam. Both those objects are now bent.

I called my parents for ideas. Mom asked if I had a knife in the room with me.

Pause. A knife? In my bedroom?

Anyway, then Simon called and tried to talk me down. It wasn't working. He did come up with the suggestion that saved the day, however. "Have you called Katy?" he asked. I love the text I got back from her... "Here I come 2 save the day!" Bless. I'm so glad she and her husband were close by and had time to come help me or I might just still be there.

So yeah, save your envy for another post. Today was not a day I'd wish on anyone...except those folks that think claustrophobia is a joke...

10 August 2008

See ya later, Boys.

Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
Bernard and DeNiro, my two houseguests for the past two weeks, will be going home today. While I was trying to get myself ready by thinking about how much more calm the house will be with only three dogs and fewer dog beds to step on, etc etc...the real truth is that I can't stop thinking about how far away I will be from them and their Momma, my best friend Leah when I move. But I can't think about that or I'll be late getting ready to go meet her and take her precious boys back.

Thanks for a rip roaring rousing restful relaxing reminder, boys, of what (and who) is important in life. And thanks for letting me sleep till at least 7am most mornings. Aunt Nancy loves you very much.

08 August 2008

Thoughts on the Olympic Opening Ceremonies

(My disclaimer here is that it is now 12:41 am and I started writing this post as the ceremony coverage was ending just before midnight.)

First of all, let me say that I hadn't planned to watch this. I used to be BIG into the Olympics when I was younger. I've never been an athletic type but something about getting to see all the countries of the world gathered together just fascinated me. The events I watched at the summer games were things like gymnastics (of course, what little girl doesn't?), track events, and swimming. I'm sure there were others, but those were the biggies for me. I loved the winter games even more, probably because when I was younger I had a secret dream to become a figure skater.

Yeah, those of you that are my regular readers, try to stop laughing. Seriously. You're causing a spectacle.

Somewhere around college I became slightly less interested in the games. I still followed the progress of the American team and celebrated our successes, but the thrill was not the same. I was working at the University of Georgia during the 1996 games and one of my less fond memories of that time is being underneath one of the speakers placed in the trees when it announced a welcome to the games in French and English at an ungodly decibel level. There was also being literally locked into my office because the toilets in our building became "Public."

Needless to say I was a bit turned off by the Olympics after that. If you watch it on television it's all pomp and circumstance and national pride and glory. If you live and work in the city that hosts it (and Athens only had a few events, but it was enough) you see the underbelly of the Olympics and some of the glitter wears thin.

Now, y'all that know me know that I'm a tree hugging left wing liberal peacenik. I am also a child of the Cold War. It amazes me to think that the college students graduating today never knew the overpowering shadow of the Communist Block. All of these parts of me sort of collided when I started thinking about the Beijing games.

But I sat down, with a semi-open mind, and watched the opening ceremonies. The past four and a half hours have been amazing. I was able to temporarily put aside concerns about Tibet and Darfur. The outrage felt over the dog and cat food contamination faded. But I will be honest and say that my emotions were all over the map as I watched.

The opening performances that told the history of China tugged at the girl in me who loved learning about different countries. I had a book called "The Book of Knowlege" or something like that (I'm making a note to ask my mom tomorrow) which had a blurb about everything under the sun, including sections about different countries. Each one had a sample of that country's language and notes about culture, and I devoured all of it. Tonight I found myself devouring the performances, listening attentively to the normally annoying American commentators as they explained what each section represented.

The Chinese children that bore the Chinese flag in made me miss my goddaughters Kaya and Tai. It's been far too long since I've seen them and they only live a state away now. I was so impressed and awed by the absolute beauty of those young faces, clearly overflowing with pride for their country.

Remember how my emotions were all over the map? When the children handed off the flag to the soldiers to raise on the flagpole, I felt a strange twinge in my gut when the soldiers marched away. It was the way they marched...the high steps, the arms and legs moving slowly and in unison...I remembered, as I watched, being a child and learning about the Communists in school. They were the enemy. They had the power to blow us all to kingdom come. They didn't care about individuals as long as their agenda advanced. To an American child living in the land of the individual capitalist and the home of the easily outraged, the Chinese and the Soviets were about the scariest things I could imagine.

Oh how well the politicians did their jobs...clearly the politicians of today learned the same lessons I did as children and are still teaching them...the target of the lesson is just different.

Anyway, I took a moment to process my feelings upon seeing the soldiers. Truth be told, that old twinge had surfaced for a moment in the beginning of the ceremony when some 2000+ drummers performed in unison. One of the announcers commented at the end of that segment that it had been impressive, but intimidating. I agree. I think that was done purposefully, even though (as told by the same announcer) the drummers were told to smile. There is something intimidating about that many people moving in unison...there is also something very Chinese about it. The same feeling crept in again while the Tai Chi masters performed. Precision. Symmetry. Intimidation by sheer mass? Perhaps. China is inviting us into their country and introducing us to "modern" China, but they remind us always of their strength and position in the world arena.

So what's wrong with that? Dubya makes it a point as often as he can to remind anyone that is still listening that America is the most powerful nation in the world. But are we? I wonder if some of the discomfort some Americans feel when faced with countries such as China is because they know that regardless of the Rah Rah Rhetoric preached by Dubya and others, we are not truly a United bunch of States. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link...

Now I'm not naive enough to think that everyone in China is equal. I've heard the tales of the orphanages that my goddaughters lived in before they were adopted. I've seen, as has everyone in this mass and immediate media age, the images of China "cleaning up" before the opening of the Beijing games. But the looks on the faces of the Chinese people in the crowd...the roar of the crowd when the Chinese athletes entered to finish the INCREDIBLY LONG parade of nations...China from the outside seems to be a country of people that recognize its faults and hope for the future. I'm not so sure that the US can say the same about its people.

I applauded a bit for the delegation from Great Britain...never too early to start supporting my second home. Who knew that one of their competitors is only fourteen years old and isn't a gymnast?

I will admit to a fluttery feeling when the American athletes entered the stadium. I may complain about the state of America and I will say to anyone that asks that I think our current place in the world arena could use some serious upgrading...but at heart I'm still that little girl who almost cried when the American flag showed up in the Olympic stadium and sang "My Country Tis of Thee" with all my heart. I love my country. I love being from the South. I'm proud to be an American...I just wish we could get back to the real America. Seriously. This ultra-conservative place we've ended up in after the past eight years is really starting to get old.

My flutters over the Stars and Stripes halted abruptly as I compared the demeanor of the American athletes to those from other countries. Some of the athletes, especially those from the smaller teams, seemed to enter the stadium with a look of awe on their faces, almost reverently like they were on holy ground. The Chinese entered all smiles, waving their flags proudly. The Austrians did some sort of a strange little dance, but they all did it together and then resumed smiling and snapping digital photos and waving.

While some of the Americans seemed to appreciate the magnitude of the setting, others were talking to each other, some were even swaggering about, shouting into the cameras and generally looking like a group of children. They represented the American ideal, I thought: proud, smug, and eager to remind the world who they were. AMERICANS. Stand back.

The torch lighting was awe inspiring to say the least, and it really seemed to drive home how important these games are to China. As the final torchbearer "ran" around the scrim at the top of the Bird's Nest stadium, faces of athletes and other Chinese people appeared behind him. It was as though the energy and pride of that enormous country surged through the flame as it burned up toward the top, then finally the torch was lit and the games were begun.

The Chinese outdid themselves for the opening ceremonies. Here's hoping that Team USA brings home some medals and that the world can pause for a moment and see these athletes standing side by side, appreciating each others accomplishments and coexisting in peace.

Thank GOD it's Friday.

Mmmm...POM tea...
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen
First of all, if you haven't tried POM pomegranate tea, you totally should. I'm in LOVE...and so is Bernard, apparently...

Not that much to report, really, only that I'm very glad that it's Friday today. Lots of fantastic blog posts have crossed my mind this week, but I've simply been TOO STINKING BUSY to sit down and write them as they come up.

I'm the only interpreter in my region now that N has moved to the Low Country. That means every single assignment that comes up is mine and mine alone...unless it's something that needs a team, of course. I may be dedicated to my profession but I'm not an idiot nor am I a martyr. If I want to keep being able to provide communication access to folks that can't communicate with each other, it's downright stupid to think I can be superwoman and interpret long assignments alone.

Oh, and then there's the minor issue of the PAIN that it causes. Now, I know that K is reading this and I'm NOT NOT NOT trying to make you feel guilty. Not in the least. I learned a lesson this week, and that is I can't interpret an hour of support group meeting alone. Period. How do I know? After attempting that on Tuesday (not the first time I've done that, either), on Wednesday I had pain in my right elbow like I've NEVER felt. Sharp. Shooting. KILL ME NOW pain. Thursday it was better (with tylenol, GOD BLESS MEDICATION) and by today it seems to be gone.

In addition to work, I've been totally blessed to have two furry houseguests these past two weeks. Bernard and DeNiro have been as good as gold...I honestly forget that they are here a lot of the time! I took all five pups to play day last night which was an adventure, to say the least. Did you know that five greyhounds will NOT fit in a Honda Element comfortably unless you take the seats completely out? File that away for future reference. I have the pictures to prove it.

The dogs ran around and socialized while I worried about the family that showed up with twin toddler boys and LET THEM IN THE FIELD. Now I understand childcare can be an issue and if your kid is raised with big dogs then they're accustomed to them, etc etc. I fully intend to NEVER be without animals as a part of my family. I feel it makes for better adults to grow up loving animals and learning to care for them. However, these kids were used to ONE greyhound. We had about 15 out on the field last night. And tell me this, those of you that read me that have kids, how many toddlers do you know that will sit quietly on a bench in a dugout for two hours? Yeah, thought so. NONE.

So I quietly panicked every time the mob of dogs got anywhere near those kids and verbally panicked when H did. He loves kids and loves babies even more but sometimes forgets that he outweighs them when he tries to get them to play. All I need is to be sued by someone because my geriatric greyhound knocked her toddler down...a toddler that had no business in that fence to start with in my opinion.

Storing the soapbox away till another post...

I'm off now to get ready for two appointments followed by some birthday shopping for my mom and then hummus preparing and muffin baking! It's going to be a full day, but it's FRIDAY!!!

Music Monday: Just Say No to Whamageddon...

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