Friday, December 28, 2012

Kheri ya mwaka mpya

Apparently, that's how you say Happy New Year in Swahili.  I know it's not officially the new year yet, but by the time it is, I will have gone back to work and will likely have forgotten about my year-end post.  Since this blog has become the only way I can remember anything that happened more than a month ago, I once again document a successful completion of my New Year's Resolution.

Go some place I've never been before...

  • I think Africa qualifies.  Actually, I'd been to Morocco, but the Kilimanjaro trip was on a whole other playing field.  See previous blog posts for details, but I think we got a pretty good Tanzanian experience for only having been at a hotel in Arusha and on the mountain.  We learned some key Swahili, got a few lessons about the culture and geography, ate some local food, and enjoyed/tolerated the trip of a lifetime.

...And try three new things outside my comfort zone.

  • Wiffleball- I know this doesn't sound like a big deal to anyone, but my wiffleball memories are 18+ years old and all bad.  I didn't have a single positive wiffleball experience in elementary school, and I hadn't played since then.  But a friend needed another player, and I figured it couldn't be any worse than I remembered.  It was actually a blast, enough so that I signed up again for this coming January.  I still am pretty terrible (it's so not the same as softball), but it's a good crowd and player-friendly rules, and we go out for happy hour after the games.  So, not a terrible way to start the year.
  • Kayaking- I'm not talking like sitting in a duckie (think single-person white-water raft) and floating down a river, nor am I talking lake kayaking (which I think I've done at the reservoir).  I'm talking full-on wet exit, white-water boat with a skirt, wetsuit with a dry-top and booties, terrified I might get stuck in the boat and die kind of kayaking.  There was a groupon for a lesson at the reservoir and I thought I would humor Marijo and see what all the fuss was about.  I believe my text to her midway through the lesson said something like "next time, we pick something you hate and make you do that." It wasn't really that bad.  We had awesome instructors, and I successfully "mastered" the wet exit and got 80% of the way through the T-rescue technique before lightening shooed us off the water.  I was okay with not finishing the other 20% because that involved actually letting go of the rescue boat and hanging out upside down in the water.  You aren't meant to be upside down in water.  Enough of that. I was proud of myself for trying, and not surprised in the least that I would perfectly content to never try it again.
  • Dancing- Again, I'm not talking free-for-all at a wedding reception.  I'm talking lessons.  My relaxing trip to South Carolina to visit my aunt turned into a stress-fest when she conned me into attending her dance lesson and then conveniently decided to pawn her instructor off on me for the final thirty minutes.  I don't dance with other people.  It makes me tense up, which makes me a terrible follower and makes me even more self conscious.  I want to be able to dance, which is why "dance lesson" made an early appearance on my 30-before-30 list, but I don't think I'd survive another lesson.  Eduardo was great, and patiently walked me through shag and west coast swing.  Aunt Julie got the whole thing on video which is even more mortifying.  But I survived to tell about it, and that's really all that matters.  This one, I would try again, in very extenuating circumstances.
  • Other notable events of the year include in no particular order: first participation in organized Ultimate Frisbee league, Urban Assault Ride, first Avs game, refinancing my mortgage, Jury Duty, awesome birthday trip to Portland, first pharmacy presentation since the end of my residency, USWNT soccer game vs. Australia, getting my front yard landscaped, first concert at Red Rocks, a couple trips to Missouri (KC and STL for sib visits), etc.  All in all, despite my overwhelming feeling that I'm in the exact same place at the end of 2012 as I was at the end of 2011, I know that's not true.  It was a good year, and I'm expecting great things from 2013.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Let Your Heart Be Light

Nothing like the day after Thanksgiving to really kick off the Christmas season.  Yes, I'm being a bad Catholic and ignoring Advent.  It's not even Christ the King yet, so get your liturgical correctness out of my good mood.  Even though the Christmas tunes have already made several appearances in the car (and even at work, gasp!), and I made it through my first full-length viewing of Christmas Vacation last night (I don't know Margo!), the holiday season always officially starts today.  Forget Black Friday and the madness of consumerism.  I spent the day watching college football--go 'Skers--and putting up my Christmas tree.  The outdoor lights were already up, courtesy of a gorgeous November day and my neighbor's "magic stick," so today was all about the indoor decorations.  Stockings are hung, garland adorns the stair railings, and my 8-foot fake tree is decorated in all its splendor.  It's got the traditional bulbs, the hallmark Creighton ornament, a couple Purdue classics, gifts from friends and family, a stolen strand of lights, and a conspicuously empty tree skirt.  Have a look, and have yourselves a merry little Christmas:


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Funday!

Recipe for a fabulous Sunday:
1. Sleep in
2. Almond chocolate-chip pancakes
3. Broncos victory
4. Run/walk in Wash Park with the sis and the dog
5. Skyfall (two seconds into the movie, when the "duh duh" of the Bond theme played, I knew I was in for a treat)
6. Yummy home-cooked dinner at the 'rents
7. Early night to bed
8. Repeat every week

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Aftermath.

It's been a while since I've felt this alone.  I didn't realize how hard tonight would hit me until I was trying to accept the inevitable while working with a room (and probably hospital) full of liberal agnostics.  I love my job, I think the hospital is a fabulous place to work, and I have phenomenal coworkers.  But when it comes to politics, morals, and especially faith, I stand nearly alone.  Most days it's okay because I know that I have a wonderful support system outside of work.  I have the most solid foundation, my rock I turn to when everything else is in shambles.  My family, my friends, my God.  That foundation is escaping me right now.  I should have stayed off of Facebook.  I see so many "friends" who are celebrating tonight and I'm torn between shame and judgment.  These are people who were raised Catholic, many of whom still claim to be Catholic, and I want to grab them by their collars and scream, "What the hell are you thinking?"  Strong words, I know.  But I cannot mentally grasp how you can watch the attack on religious freedom, on life, on God, that has happened over the last 4 years and still be so blind.  I look at everyone who is in victory mode right now and I can't help but despair for our country.  Tell me how it matters what your tax bracket looks like if you lose your basic freedoms.  Tell me how it matters what our foreign policy is when we are murdering thousands of innocent lives every day.  I am ashamed of the Catholics who swayed this election.  I'm afraid for the country they've created and what it will require of me to stand firm in such a hostile environment.  I'm praying fervently that when I wake tomorrow, I will feel hope and love instead of fear and hatred.  I pray that my prayers may be ones of compassion and not desperation.  I pray that I can take the plank out of my own eye before I judge all of those whose actions and words I'm struggling now to understand.  We were never promised an easy road.  But we were promised that we would not stand alone in our persecution.  I pray that tomorrow I may feel less alone.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wisdom for the Ages

As I was reading the book of Wisdom this morning, a book that was written 2100 years ago, chapter 14 sounded like it could have been written yesterday.  Here's an excerpt:

"They no longer safeguard either lives or pure wedlock; but each either waylays and kills his neighbor, or aggrieves him by adultery.  And all is confusion -- blood and murder, theft and guile, corruption, faithlessness, turmoil, perjury, disturbance of good men, neglect of gratitude, besmirching of souls, unnatural lust, disorder in marriage, adultery and shamelessness...For as their trust is in soulless idols, they expect no harm when they have sworn falsely."

Does that sound like a society you know?  Disturbance of good men?  Disorder in marriage?  Corruption and faithlessness?  I love when people say that the Church is irrelevant.  Yeah, this sure sounds like the author, both the physical author and the Divine Author, has no idea what he is talking about.  This sure sounds antiquated (sarcasm, people).  It is as true today as it was two millennia ago.  When we worship the false idols of power, money, fame, and instant gratification, we destroy our human dignity and the pure and perfect love that we are meant to receive.  It's no mystery how we've gotten to where we are.  And it's no mystery how to undo it. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Verso l'alto



9.30
  • Up at 10:45 (actually still 9.29 at this point), dressed and eating “breakfast,” hoping that this is the last porridge I’ll have to eat.  Turns out that one step at a time isn’t that hard when that’s all the farther you can see in front of you.
Just starting out, under the light of the full moon
  • Longest 5 ½ hours of my life.  (probably not really, but that’s how it felt at the time.  Not gonna sugar-coat it, I was miserable)  Froze the whole way to the top.  My trusty hand and foot warmers at least gave me peace of mind that I wasn’t getting frostbite.  Going pole pole was painful.  I wanted to go faster only because faster = warmer.  Trouble breathing from the get-go.  Not because of the thin air but because the air trapped in my stomach pushed my diaphragm against my lungs and I would’ve traded my hat and gloves for one good belch.
  • Camelbak froze around 2am, Nalgenes started freezing shortly after that.  It’s a chore to force myself to eat and drink.  When we hit Stella Point, I was so grateful to be almost done with this madness.  Hosea said “another one our and a half to two hours maybe” and I swear I wanted to punch him. (not the most Christian thought, I know, but that’s what I wrote in my journal. Blame the violent tendencies on the altitude)  Fortunately, it only felt like another 45 minutes or so, but my watch was buried under 6 layers, so who knows.
  • Summit was honestly anticlimactic.  I was just hoping that some of the pictures turned out, because that was the only thing keeping me going.  I was too cold to take my mittens off to take any of my own pics.  Too cold to get the summit bears out of my pack.  Too cold to smile.  The best part about the summit was actually just after we left the top, running into our Utah friends.  It was so wonderful to share that with them and to know that we were in it together.
Tebowing at the top
  • “Lunch” at 9:30 or so was crepe sandwiches which tasted fantastic given my ever-present nausea.  It was a steep, dusty trip down, lots of nearly rolled ankles, but we booked it to Mweka Camp and arrived an hour ahead of schedule. 
  • Meat!  Dinner included reinforcements from the bottom, so we had chicken and beef, and avocados the size of my head.  Not joking.  Said a sad, long goodbye to the Utah folks and promised to email. 

10.1
  • Early morning, but glad to be finally done with waking up in a tent and getting dressed sitting down.  Quick hike down to the bottom with only one pole (the other wouldn’t lock).  We saw monkeys, which seems minor, but turned out to be a highlight. 
  • The certificate ceremony was quite the production.  The Kiliwarriors sang and danced for us, and I actually understood the second half of the Kilimanjaro song this time. (they chant things about each of the camp sites and while I don’t know what they said about each one, I did recognize Machame, Barranco, Karanga, etc.)
I get my certificate
  • We had to wait quite a while for Peter to come get us in the fun bus to take us to our hotel for showers.  It gave us time to see the Utah folks one more time, but it also presented an easy target for all the locals selling souvenirs.  One guy told me Obama was his homeboy.  Great.  Can’t wait to get back to the States for the election hoopla.
  • We arrived at Kia Lodge to take showers and naps.  It’s hard to describe this place except to say that the emphasis is on nature.  Cabins sit amidst an array of plant life, and birds, lizards and insects are everywhere, including in the open-air restaurant during our lunch.  The shower was supposed to be a highlight of the trip but turned into a chore since the shower head was broken and the mosquito screens in the bathroom were ineffective and had me paranoid.  Still, felt good to be clean.
Lizard at the KIA Lodge
  • JRO airport is quite the novelty.  We didn’t see much of it on the way in, but they have four international “gates” which are really just doors straight out onto the tarmac.  During the three hours we were at the airport, they had two domestic flights and two international flights the whole time.  Once you go through security, that’s it.  No shops, no drinking fountain, barely a bathroom.  It was a long couple hours waiting for our flight.

10.2
  • Uneventful travel day.  Mostly spent trying to drink lots of water and trying to keep Dad from sneezing on me.  Caught up on lots of movies.  So great to be headed home.

And there you have it folks.  The trip of a lifetime, an epic adventure.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My kingdom for a Zofran



9.28
  • I’ve decided that without a bathroom tent, I would have officially abandoned ship by this point.  Still nauseous during breakfast, but not as bad as Mary.
  • Our “short hike” up Barranco Wall turned into a massive traffic jam as climbers and porters made their way up the rocks.  Lots of ups and downs and rock climbing and waiting.  Bounty bars made the hike a little more bearable.
 
Barranco Wall
  • Drama of the day: when we arrived at camp, the bathroom tent was NOT READY!  Turns out the water source for this camp site is a little ways away and our porters are still bringing water back for the toilet.  Still, changing into camp clothes feels pretty good.
  • Now it’s raining.  Awesome.  After feeling crappy all day, I’m now freezing and the thought of food makes me want to vomit.  Laura and Mary think they are being helpful by suggesting foods that might sound appetizing, but it all gets to me and I break into tears.  Way to be the wussy Zapapas. 
  • Our Utah friends came to say hi.  It made me feel better and worse.  Better because they are wonderful and funny and positive.  Worse because they all looked super warm and said they are used to skiing when it’s 10 below and know how to layer.  My version of skiing is 50 degrees and sunny.  A hot water bottle in the sleeping bag makes things a little better and at least I avoid the mid-night bathroom run.
9.29
  • Laura gets dressed so much faster than I do.  I tell her this and she says, “well I had to pee.”  (I’m sure she loves that I shared that.  We talked a lot more about bathroom topics than anyone should.)  A mocha and the sun coming out make things a little brighter, but I’m still trying to figure out how Aunt Carol did this twice and loved it.
  • I have an altitude brain moment and try to put my gaiter on over my other gaiter.  Doesn’t work so well. 
  • We pass Barafu camp and pause to rest in the sun.  It feels amazing.  As we start heading up towards our cheater camp for the night, porters carrying a stretcher pass us, going up to bring down a hiker in trouble.  That is tempered by all the people we pass who are on their way down who say it’s so worth it and to take one step at a time.  Feels good to know we are within striking distance.

Enjoying the heat of the sun
  • The afternoon and evening are spent trying to balance rest and cramming food down our throats.  Of the three rules on the mountain (eat enough, drink enough, pole pole), pole pole has become the easiest.  Dinner is grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches which is a Godsend because it actually is appetizing.  And even though it doesn’t feel like I slept, apparently I was snoring.  So, go me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dolly Parton and other comforts of home


9.26
  • Slept well, considering the Diamox; only up once during the night.  Mary is already struggling with a headache and didn’t sleep at all.  We wake up to a coffee bar outside our tent (hot water, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, etc.) and warm water in the bathroom tent “sink.”  The Kiliwarriors have impressed thus far.  We are calling Luceri (later we learn his nickname is Masta) our “barista” since he is the one who takes care of our coffee in the morning.  Despite the fact that all the Kiliwarriors introduced themselves this morning during a fine performance of the Kilimanjaro song, we aren’t going to be remembering many names.
  • Breakfast is fabulous: bacon, papaya, campfire toast (there isn’t really a fire on the mountain, but it looks and smells like the real deal), and omelets!  Meanwhile, our 25 Kiliwarriors are eating corn porridge with beef sauce.  Only Hosea gets to eat the good stuff in our mess tent with us while he runs through our day and checks our pulse ox.  This morning Mary wins bragging rights for what proves to be the low resting HR of the trip.  Her numbers are 97/50, worthy of a mile-high (former) collegiate athlete.
  • We are told that our omelets are made with white-necked raven eggs.  I nearly knock over the mess tent getting my camera out when one of these birds walks by outside our tent.  (We all feel pretty foolish when we find out three days later that our guides were just messing with us.  The white-necked ravens are everywhere on the mountain, but we are eating chicken eggs.)
  • Uneventful day of hiking, short but steep.  Lunch set-up was fabulous and we even got to take a Mars bar break while we took the daily pic for Facebook.  We played a little Euchre, our Utah friends came by to say hi, and we had another fabulous meal for dinner—pumpkin soup, avocado salad, chicken and rice, peas in peanut sauce, etc.  We are calling Emmanuel our “stomach engineer.”
Mars bar time!
  • This won’t be as funny to the rest of the world as it was to our family, but I’m gonna tell it anyway.  During dinner, we were discussing music and movies and Shanta.  And he says, “do you know who sings Jolene?”  With his accent, we didn’t understand what song he said, so he starts singing, “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene…”  Do we know Jolene!?!?  We may be the only family who could have serenaded Shanta with the entire song right there at the dinner table.  So we did.  Turns out Dolly Parton is a big favorite in Tanzania, or at least among the Kiliwarriors.  We would go on to hear Hosea joyfully butcher the lyrics (“Please don’t take my man because you can”) and Wilbert, another Kiliwarrior guide, do a very passable rendition.
  • Amusing last comments on going to sleep: Getting warm, packing, getting warm, brush teeth, bathroom, getting warm, Laura kicked me, bathroom, getting warm.

9.27
  • Cold this morning, feeling a little nauseous.  Try to pick which part of the five-course breakfast sounds most appetizing.
  • Hike to Lava Tower for lunch is so pole pole.  Although Mary and Laura needing to use the bathroom tent actually had us passing porters as we ended the last stretch in a near-run. 
  • Climbing Lava Tower was super fun!  The closest to real rock climbing that we’ll get on this trip.  We also met up with the other Kiliwarriors group who is doing the Western Breach route. 
 
Almost like professional rock climbers
  • Mary wiped out, necessitating the first use of the first aid kit.  Thank goodness we had a doctor on the trip.  Actually the most clutch moment was Chade cleaning all the mud off Mary’s new jacket.  That was the bigger concern.
  • Learned a new phrase today.  Twendae sasa = let’s go now.  As a trade, Laura taught Shanta some Spanish—que linda!  Both of these are repeated multiple times throughout the day as we try to cement them in our brain.
 
Que Linda! The giant senecio trees were super cool.
  • Tried washing our hair at camp tonight.  Turns out that waterless shampoo doesn’t make you any less wet or any less cold when you have wet hair and you took off all your layers to prevent them from getting shampoo on them.  I ruin my nice comb job by promptly stuffing my hat back on my head.

Cold "shower"
  • Macaroni and cheese for dinner!!  They have some kind of fabulous local cheese that we’ve been eating, the deliciousness makes up for the risk of eating dairy.
  • Our Utah friends came to hang out in the warm mess tent.  Theirs is freezing since the rain flaps don’t zip all the way.  It’s a bring-your-own-chair kind of deal, but we manage to fit eight people in the tent.  The night started with a bunch of drug questions.  Diamox dosing clarification, followed by “how do you feel about Ambien?”  Dad’s mind was still on the Diamox and he answered, “well, you might wake up with a wet sleeping bag.”  They taught us a new card game.  I don’t want to brag about winning both hands…who’m I kidding, I love to brag.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pole Pole


9.24
  • Pretty low-key day at the Mount Meru Hotel: amazing breakfast, gorgeous view, reading by the pool.  Hosea stops by to do a gear-check and a mountain briefing.  There are three rules on the mountain- eat enough, drink enough, and pole pole (slowly). 

9.25
  • Last morning of civilization for a while; spent the early morning hours staring at the ceiling waiting for the clock to read 6:30.  Watched Laura fall out of bed when the wake-up call interrupted the silence.  Apparently that pager-response instinct runs pretty deep.  Hoping the worst injury we have is a bruised neck.
  • Peter gives us some lessons in Tanzanian culture on our drive to the Machame gate.  Despite the many different tribes that inhabit Tanzania, tribalism has been pretty much absent since the first president took over in 1961.  He made a concentrated effort to integrate the tribes via a version of affirmative action- busing kids to different cities to attend school with other tribes, forcing adults to work in other areas once they were done with school, etc.  Peter’s wife is from a different tribe and he says their family essentially trumps the tribes.  Unfortunately, clouds cover the sky and obstruct our view of the mountain as we approach the gate.
  • The gate is madness.  Buses and vans everywhere, dropping off wide-eyed tourists while porters start grabbing bags and running off to weigh them.  I can only hope that the porters who took our bags are with Kiliwarriors.  
 
Ready to go
  • Our Utah friends from the Amsterdam airport are waiting at the gate too.  Michelle (who goes by Mitchell—crazy!), her husband Peter, Peter’s sister Mary and her husband Steve.  We joke about drinking enough water, the adequacy of our gear (our Mary can’t get her gaiters on), and the groups around us.  A French group has custom t-shirts that say Kilimondjar on the back.  I turn to Mitchell in mock concern, “Someone needs to tell them they’re on the wrong mountain!”
  • The wait stretches well past the hour mark.  Hosea says something is wrong with his card (the credit card he’s using to pay the park fees).  Mary wants to pay cash and forego the tips at the end of the week.  The delay does give all of us the chance to use a real bathroom one last time.
  • Finally on the trail.  Pole pole really means pole pole.  Dad keeps rushing past Efata, our assistant guide (nicknamed Shanta for future references) who spends the early hiking teaching us some Swahili and explaining that having 4 daughters is good, because when you give away your daughter’s hand in marriage, it’s worth 40 cows.  Lots of jokes ensue.  Shanta’s wife’s name is Mary and his daughter is Michelle—lots of name coincidences thus far.  First view of the summit reminds us why this journey will take a week.
The summit is there, look through the trees
  • Lunch gives us a glimpse of what our week will be like, and reaching the first campsite confirms that we will indeed be “glamping” (glamour camping).  Mess tent with backed chairs, tons of fresh food, bathroom tent (which is good, because the first 8 hours of today, the Diamox hit me 6 times), cupcakes.  First pulse ox = 98%, HR = 89.
The mess tent

Friday, October 5, 2012

Just to Get There

Excerpts from my journal, starting on the ride to the airport.  I'll try to post a couple days' worth every couple days.  (*when I say "excerpts," I really mean my shorthand notes expanded after the fact)


9.22
  • Don’t worry, it took us until 0430 on the way to the airport to start our list of things we forgot to pack.  So far, just my Dad leaving behind his “verso l’alto” bracelet and his cake gel (in case he has a seizure and goes hypoglycemic).  A quick text to Laura took care of the latter.
  • Our layover in the Detroit airport was spent making sure Laura no longer looked like a ghost (puking and nearly passing out during the landing can be fun) and finding motion-sickness meds for Mary and I.  I opted for the dimenhydranate but Mary insisted on meclizine because she thinks she has vertigo.  Fortunately, Detroit’s airport is nothing if not conducive to travelers needing drugs.  Legal drugs.
9.23
  • We are officially out of contact with home, landing in Amsterdam after a long flight made more bearable by frequent food and a wide array of TV and movies.  I got really excited about the “My first Dutch lesson” t-shirt that had pictures of a house, a cow, a car, etc, with the corresponding Dutch word underneath.  Then I realized they were for kids and the largest they had was a size 11-12.  Adults can learn Dutch too!
  • At our gate, waiting for our flight to JRO, it’s not hard to pick out those who are climbing the mountain versus those going on safari.  And of course, a whole bunch of people in jeans—no idea why they would be flying to a tiny airport at the base of Kilimanjaro.  We met a fun family from Utah who happens to be climbing the Machame route as well.
  • Flight to JRO was miserable; sat next to a sick lady who kept coughing all over, and thanks to my wonderful Dramamine, I slept through the hot towels, ice cream, and last round of drinks.  Boo!  The massive deplaning down the stairs straight onto the tarmac, paired with the giant Kilimanjaro sign, makes up for the flight a little.  We are finally in Africa!
  • Got a little freaked out waiting for our luggage as two other travelers had the exact same red, green, and yellow REI duffel that I thought was so unique and identifiable.  Flashback to landing in Barcelona and realizing that some moron from Pennsylvania walked off with my look-alike bag.  Not to worry, all bags are accounted for and we meet Hosea and Peter who will drive us to our hotel.
  • Driving in Tanzania is interesting, as I was forewarned.  Was expecting the crazy passing and the left-side driving, but was more than slightly amused by Peter’s exclusive use of the right turn signal.  Moving into the right lane? Right turn signal.  Back into the left lane? Right turn signal.  Hilarious!
  • Our hotel is 5-star by Tanzanian standards and is pretty much a first-class oasis in the middle of poverty-stricken Arusha.  Aside from not being able to figure out the lights and realizing our shower doesn’t have a curtain or a door, we are very pleased with the accommodations.  Hosea is surprised when we refuse a meal and opt for our beds.  More than 10 hours of sleep prove we made the right decision.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

From Ambien and Diamox to Giant Senecio


It would take days to write down my thoughts and process everything about our trip, so I’ve decided that I’ll do a sort of highlight reel, followed by a couple excerpts from each day’s journal entries.  So, to start you off, I present my Kilimanjaro Top Ten (in no particular order):
  • Sunrise on Summit Day- when you’re struggling to breathe somewhere in the vicinity of -10 degrees and 19,000 feet, about the only thing that can rapidly improve things is the sun peaking over the horizon (the “horizon” here being the clouds) to begin warming and brightening the day.  Before the sun came up, I was sure I would never be warm again, and I hadn’t completely ruled out fainting from nausea and lack of caloric intake.  Once the sun rose, all was going to be right with the world.

A most welcome sight
  •  Utah- we met the most fabulous people at the Amsterdam airport who just happened to be climbing our same route.  It was pretty easy to pick out the hikers at our gate.  You know, flying directly to JRO, hiking boots, internal frame backpack, etc = immediate conversation starter.  Mary, Steve, Peter and Michelle (who happened to go by Mitchell, I kid you not) were from Utah, brother and sister plus spouses, and they were one of the best things that could have happened to our trip.  After meeting at the airport and running into them again at Machame Gate, they took it upon themselves to come find us at campsites to decompress from the day, play cards, ask medication questions, and so on.  Even with the nausea, backaches, and exhaustion, they made every day more tolerable.  We even ran into them just below the summit on Day 6, and as sad as this may seem, that was the highlight of the morning.  Not reaching the top, not the sunrise, but hearing Mary near tears yelling, “You guys!!!” and joking about Mary’s (our Mary) George Washington hat.  Fabulous people, unexpected blessing.
L to R: our Mary, their Mitchell, Peter, Steve, their Mary, Laura
  •  Africa- ok, big duh, we did all of this halfway around the world on another continent.  But one of the coolest parts of the trip was getting to experience so much of Tanzania without ever leaving the mountain.  We got to learn some of the culture (thanks to Peter, our chauffeur to and from the airport), some of the language, some of the plant life, the climate zones, the economic state, and we even got to see monkeys!  I am grateful for this brief glimpse into a radically different way of life.
  • Family time- Until the last day, when exhaustion and me stepping on Mary’s trekking poles threatened the carefully maintained harmony, we actually had an entire trip of good family time.  When you are forced to share all your meals, your sleeping tents, your hiking time, your joys and especially your struggles (way too many conversations about bathroom topics), you will either be at each others’ throats or grow significantly closer.  I’m grateful that by and large, we seemed to do the latter.  
  • Successful summit- since the whole point of the trip was to obtain a picture of the four of us at the Uhuru Peak sign at the highest point in Africa, reaching this goal has to be a highlight.  It was not pretty, by any means, but we got it done.  There were many times along the way that I wasn’t sure we would all make it, including up to a couple hours before the summit when I was thinking, “how much do you have to not be able to breathe before you consider it a serious problem?”  Looking back, I consider success to be as much our safety and health as our summit.  Not having to make use of one of the emergency helipads on the mountain is a victory in my book.
On top of Africa, Zapapi FTW
  • Laughter- you guys, Mary was ON this trip.  Like, nailing-every-joke-opportunity on.  Between her snarky retorts and the joking of our guides and cake-eater comments from Utah, laughter was certainly abundant.  Which is good, because otherwise, tears might have been the emotional response of choice (I’m pretty sure I was the only Zapapi who cried; I don’t think my comments thus far would inspire anyone to do this).  
  • Prayer- mostly my intentions for this trip were our safety and success, but given the nature of each day, I had plenty of time for other prayers as well.  My daily rosary was offered up for a variety of friends and family, and there was plenty of suffering to offer up.  It’s been a while since daily prayer was a relevant part of my life, so getting back to that habit was very fruitful.
  • Kiliwarriors- it’s hard to put into words the sacrificial and generous nature of our team.  Twenty-six people serving us in so many ways, figuratively carrying us to the top.  Hosea, Shanta, Masta, Emmanuel, Julius and so many others, just giving of themselves.  They were joyful servants in every sense of the words, and we couldn’t have done it without them.
The amazing Kiliwarriors present us with our summit certificates
  • Toilet tent- I’m not going to go into detail here, but let’s just say that by day three, I would have given up and turned around if we didn’t have our own toilet tent.  Kiliwarriors was the first outfitter on the mountain to provide this service twenty years ago, and it’s become the norm for the higher-end companies.  If you are going to climb Kilimanjaro, do not do so unless your guide company has a toilet tent.  Between the Diamox and the havoc that new foods wreaked on my GI tract, it was a comfort that made the miserable a little more bearable.
  • Sleeping in my own bed- It’s kind of lame to end a top ten list of Kilimanjaro with the return home, but after 6 nights in a sleeping bag and another 40 or so hours of airplanes and airports, a full night’s sleep in my own bed felt glorious.

So, there you have it.  There were many other positives from the trip, and I’m sure you can gather from my commentary that there were many difficulties as well.  Sometime in the next couple days, I’ll look through my journal and write up a couple snapshots from the day-to-day adventures.  Until then, tutaonana!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How to Keep Your Kids on the Straight and Narrow

This morning, and three times a week, every week, I drive by my dad's old office.  It's not significant in my memories for being his place of work, but for being the site of many early morning family bonding breakfasts.  Getting kids to wake up early?  That's a challenge in and of itself.  Getting them to wake up early to go to 6:30am Mass during the week?  That takes promises of Burger King and foxes.  Yes, I know, those two things don't go together in the average mind.  But for me, nothing says baby foxes like french toast sticks. 

My dad used to wake us all up super early (at least in the mind of a 10-year-old) and we'd pull some clothes on and drive close-lidded to St. Thomas More.  Well, Dad would drive, and I'm pretty sure he was fully awake.  We'd sit through daily Mass like good kids, our minds ever on the prize.  A quick drive-thru BK run, and off to Dad's office.  He'd park facing the field, and we'd open our syrup packets and park a cheek on the curb, eyes glued to the tall grass below.  Usually about midway through my second french toast stick, we'd catch a glimpse of movement.  Baby foxes, not more than a couple months old, would poke their heads up as the sun rose.  Sometimes they were timid, and the early morning would barely be worth it.  Other times, they'd put on a show, romping and playing in the open for our pure enjoyment.

That was our tradition every spring.  Church and family bonding.  I think if more families put a little effort into time spent together, we'd have a society whose values more closely mirror what they should.  I blame those pre-dawn excursions on my love of food, the outdoors, and the Catholic Church.  A parent certainly could've done worse.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hehaw hehaw hehaw hehaw

My mom told me the other day that the only memory my youngest sister Kelly has of my grandma (my mom's mom) is of her getting mad in Walmart when Kelly ran over her foot with the shopping cart.  It broke my heart.  Even though she left us way too early 11 years ago, and I didn't spend nearly enough time with her when she was with us, all I have to do is close my eyes and I can see her standing in the kitchen making gravy bread (what my family always called biscuits and gravy), or pulling up the covers on the couch bed and kissing us goodnight, or calling us punchy when we were being a little rambunctious, or letting me put on her peach lipstick so I could feel more grown up, or her answering the phone in her trademark "N-yello".

There are the memories of her house that are fading as Aunt Ca renovates and makes the house her own.  The bookshelves in the back bedroom with the golf trophies and the plants, Grandpa's chair, the play food sets, the bear in the shed, throwing pop-flies to myself in the front yard, Rainbo drinks with straws punched through the top, the stationary bike in the garage, watching old Bugs Bunny videos, Land Before Time cups, the high chairs in the kitchen, the photo of the Pope that is so close it had to be professional until I turned it over and saw the Kodak logo and developed date on the back.

And there are the memories of who the family was with her, mostly Christmas memories because that's the time of year that we were all together.  Mini pizzas and mayonnaise cake and chipped beef, saving seats at Christmas Eve Mass, opening presents, everyone laughing and happy, and a little bit better because of her.

There are the memories that may only be appreciated by my family.  Grandma doing the pant jiggle on mom while she tried on new pants, the finger-stabbing tickle attacks accompanied by the obnoxious laugh-inducing "hehaw hehaw hehaw," the way that her death inspired possibly the only time that my mom heard her dad pray out loud.

And there's the overwhelming sense of a woman who was classy, warm, holy, loving, and genuine.  I hope that even if I forget all the other details, I remember that.


My favorite picture of her, on my grandparents' 50th anniversary

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

As of today...

My cousin sends her older daughter off to kindergarten today.  As a record, and to serve as comparison for later years, she documented some favorites, which are bound to change as the mind of a 5-year-old matures and experiences new and exciting things.  

Addi's list
Favorite color: pink
Favorite singer: Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber
Favorite song: "Toes" or "Vaya con Dios"
Favorite number: 100
Favorite book: Care Bears (YES!)
Favorite show: Doc McStuffins
Favorite food: cake (a girl after my own heart)
Favorite sport: cheerleading
What I want to be when I grow up: teacher
 
My list
 
Favorite color: purple
Favorite singer: tough one, I have so many options that aren't Justin Bieber.  Currently enjoying Kip Moore in preparation for an amazing show at Red Rocks tomorrow.
Favorite song: Come Monday
Favorite number: 3
Favorite book: Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton
Favorite show: Castle
Favorite food: pie (or cheese, or strawberries, dark chocolate, pizza)
Favorite sport: soccer
What I want to be when I grow up: more grown up

Actually, I told my soccer coach in high school, when he asked me to describe who I wanted to be in ten years, that I wanted to be "happy, healthy, and holy."  Oh, the wisdom of a teenager.  I still want that.  I don't think those favorites are bound to change all that much since those ones have been the same for about 5 years.  

Some favorites that may change:
Beer: Dry Dock Pumpkin Ale, Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Widmer Bros Dark Saison
Soccer player: Baby Horse (Alex Morgan)
Athlete: Missy Franklin
Guilty Pleasure: Call Me Maybe
Time Killer: Reviewing my Kili packing list
Song to blast in the car: Something 'Bout A Truck
Icecream: Chocolate Hazelnut Marscapone (that's all one flavor, and it's to die for)
Phrase: Tutaonana Kesho, Lala Salama, Poa Kachizi Kama Ndizi (I'm practicing my Swahili)

Also, my blog is being stupid and locking in font choices, so I'm sorry for the formatting ugliness.  Deal with it.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rocky Mountain High

Reasons why I love hiking in Colorado:
-no bugs
-the mountain air smells amazing
-5 minutes into my hike, I look up, and BOOM! there's a deer 20 feet away
-(sometimes) I can bring my dog
-other friendly Coloradans are out enjoying the same hikes
-the wildflowers
-you can drive 3 hours or 30 minutes and still feel all wilderness-y
-food tastes better at the top of a 14er
-summit bears
-boulder fields
-red rocks
-views like this




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thanks. Just Thanks.

Tonight, we celebrated a great man, a great life, a great ministry, a great sacrifice, a great service, a great blessing.  David Tschumper hit the twenty year milestone of youth ministry at St. Thomas More.  Twenty years in any career is a lot.  Twenty years at any employer is a lot.  Twenty years in youth ministry at the same church is nearly unheard of.  To say that I am in awe is an understatement.  I was in high school for years 7-10, and certainly stuck around enough afterward to feel a part of some of the later years as well.  It's really humbling to look at how he answered his call.  Youth ministry is a ministry of planting seeds, by David's definition.  And you don't always get to see the fruits of those seeds.  I was there for the days when he felt like hanging up his hat.  I was there for the days when it all felt worth it.  And I was there for a lot of memories on the days in between. 

By loose definition, I am in a profession that saves lives.  At times, I have made interventions that have prevented certain and life-threatening harm to a child.  Most of my minutes and hours spent in pharmacy aren't that dramatic, but I am proud of what I do.  I looked around that gym tonight, at all the lives that David has saved, and I was put very soundly in my place.  In my biased opinion, he has saved more lives than firefighters, more than paramedics, more than cardiac surgeons, more than Navy SEALs.  And the lives he saves are eternal lives.  He saves souls.  Well, God saves souls through David.  But you get the picture.  He has taken misguided youth, lost youth, struggling youth, and given them a second home, given them a purpose, given them love and hope, given them conviction and truth.  And those youth have grown up to become priests, religious, youth ministers, missionaries, husbands and fathers, mothers and wives, teachers, mentors, leaders.  They have become people of integrity and faith.  They have become beacons of light in a world that is threatening darkness.  And they have in turn saved other lives, other souls. 

Tonight brought back an awful lot of memories.  Joyful moments filled with the unconditional love of STM; tearful moments of WYD, JTL, SLW and all the other abbreviation-laden ministries; enlightening moments when a tiny piece of God was revealed to me.  Each memory carried with it a sense of home, of peace, of belonging, and most especially gratitude.  My heart is full.  And the words I want to say are best summed up by a song that expresses that gratitude.  For the incredible blessing of an incredible man.  David Tschumper--thanks, just thanks.


Thanks- for keepin' track of me
Thanks- for givin' a dang about me
Thanks- for sayin' that you love me
Thanks- just thanks

Thanks- for lettin' me know you care

Thanks- for always bein' there
Thanks- for makin' me do my share
Thanks- just thanks


Can't thank you enough
I'm high from you liftin' me up
 

Thanks- for sayin' what you said
Thanks- for clearin' out my head
Thanks- for givin' me hope instead
Thanks- just thanks


Thanks- you left me who I was
Thanks- you showed me what a smile does
Thanks- you loved me just because
Thanks- just thanks

Thanks- for cryin' when I bleed

Thanks- for wavin' when I leave
Thanks- for bein' what I believe
Thanks- just thanks

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Counting My Blessings

Enough time has passed that my heart is no longer in my throat when I talk about it.  Well, not in my throat and pounding and making me nauseous.  For all the grief that my dog causes me, I do love him.  And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't do very well if he pulled stupid stunts like this on a regular basis.

To add pictures to the colorful commentary that I've been giving everyone over the last couple days:

Setting the stage--Kolbe had done brilliantly on his first 14er two weeks ago, navigating the boulder fields of Mt. Bierstadt like a pro.  I had no qualms about taking him on another one, my second summit of Gray's Peak (3rd attempt, but who's counting).  I even remembered to bring the good leash this time. 

All smiles as we started out.
We hit 13,000 feet without a hitch.  Then we stumbled upon a couple mountain goats.  Not my first sighting, but definitely Kolbe's first. 

I started with a firm grip on the leash as he lunged for the mystery beast.

After the first goat went behind the ridge, I focused my attention uphill and onward.  Another goat lay another couple hundred yards in the distance.  Little did I know the first one came back to make another appearance.  Kolbe ripped the leash out of my hand and started sprinting for the goat up the hillside to the right.  Unfortunately, he hasn't lived his whole life navigating the loose rock.  He quickly lost purchase and started tumbling down to the left, gravity winning over instinct and balance.  Just before hitting the tiny landing before the cliff dropped off several hundred feet below, survival kicked in and Kolbe skidded to a stop. 

If you can't read the arrow labels, bottom left is where Kolbe ended his slide. Top right is the goat he was trying to chase.
He sat at the bottom, glancing alternately between the goat (as if he could still get to it) and us (who were frantically screaming his name).  He wisely gave up on the goat and started back up the rock, sliding down a foot for every two he climbed.  Eventually, his leash caught between two rocks and I had to slide down halfway to free him. 

All things considered, ripping off a couple pads and a toenail, while causing a fair amount of bleeding, left him relatively unscathed.  He was actually able to finish the hike, albeit with a lot of coaxing. 
A successful summit.
 He was walking fine, just worn out.  Trust me, I don't consider it dog abuse, because he obviously felt well enough on the way down to resort to humping dogs he just met.  Yes, he's neutered.  The back of my dad's car looked a little bit like the storage site of a dead body, but once I got everything bandaged, he looked like a champ. 
 
Someone asked when our next 14er would be.  With him, probably never.  No wonder I call him Spaz Butt. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I threw a wish in the well, don't ask me, I'll never tell

I know it's teeny-bopper, bubble-gum, middle school pop, but I have had "Call Me, Maybe" stuck in my head for about the last 24 hours.  It's an awful song to have stuck in your head, because it's the same thing over and over and over again.  But it's a fun song, catchy and relatable.  And I graced all of my coworkers with my pathetic rendition for about the entirety of my shift last night.  Here are some other musings while the Orkin man does his thing at this God-awful hour in the morning:

It's only a God-awful hour because I was out until about 2am last night.  We decided to mix it up from our usual Aurora happy-hour hangout to appease some folks who don't live out that way.  You know, the folks who bailed on us anyway.  So, we hit up Falling Rock Tap House, which I've been dying to go back to since the Denver Microbrew Tour introduced me last year.  A long drive from Fitzsimmons, but so is anything that's open past midnight and isn't seedy.  I got really excited browsing their beer menu before I'd even left work.  I had five beers picked out, knowing I'd have to narrow it down to two.  Good news, they were out of three of them.  Problem solved.  That's the only scenario in which being out of great beer is good news.  Bad news, I was already so tired by the time I pulled up on Blake Street that I totally spaced putting money in the meter.  Suddenly, a night of (expensive) beer and snacks added up, what with that $25 parking ticket and all.  Oops.  And then, there was the getting home just before 2am and having to get up to greet the Orkin man at 8am. 

So, on to pest control.  The joys of home ownership continue.  Snakes, hornet's nest, spiders, and of course, the reason for the visit--mice.  I feel a little redeemed by my Tuesday efforts of cleaning up the mice nest and setting my own traps until the pros could come in.  One mouse caught, unknown hordes to go.  Hopefully the additional traps and sprays work or I could end up with mutinous roommates.  And murine roommates.  Ha ha.

And now we will play ready, set, word vomit in order to finish the blog post in time to go shopping with Kelly.  Because, remember, after last night, spending money is just what I need.  I already have a hard enough time making it to Rockies' games, and now they suck so bad, I'm not sure I want to go.  It isn't summer in Denver without a trip to Coors Field, and I don't even have a game on the horizon.  I hit Canvas and Cocktails for the fourth time last weekend.  I'm what you call an "addicted painter."  If you need some artwork for your house, let me know.  Tickets for Dierks Bentley at Red Rocks go on pre-sale today (well, they went on pre-sale for Dierks fan-club members yesterday, for KYGO folks today), and I'm terrified I won't be able to get tickets.  One show that I would want to see no matter where he was playing, and it happens to be at the venue on my 30-before-30 list.  It would be just my luck to not get tickets.  However, I have the day off for Iron Man at Film on the Rocks, so that's a big plus.  Speaking of good movies, I found someone who has never heard of, much less seen, The Princess Bride.  Crime against humanity much?  I invited her over on Saturday.  I think I scared her.  Still playing the waiting game on the job front.  We'll see if I'm more management material than I am preceptor material.  Fingers crossed.  Trying to remember to pray.

Until next time...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Catholic and...

I just got back from my first Theology on Tap in probably over a year.  Working evenings doesn't allow me the luxury of participating in the bulk of the Denver Catholic Young Adult event calendar, but having a roommate on the ToT hospitality committee gives me very little excuse to skip when the opportunity presents itself.  The topic was "Gay and Catholic: Is there a place in the Church for me?" as presented by Eve Tushnet, a Yale-grad convert who found and joined the Catholic Church years after coming out, a rare progress of events.  This isn't a topic that I particularly enjoy spending time with, because there is a lot of animosity and misunderstanding in our culture surrounding it.  It isn't the topic that I would have chosen for my one Theology on Tap this year.  But I think it's important to continually challenge ourselves in our faith.  There is a danger to living in any comfort zone, particularly the one in which I typically reside that says that being Catholic is the logical, comfortable norm.  While I don't have the desire or the expertise to go into the Catholic teaching on homosexuality, I did find a few points of Eve's talk relevant to the challenge of living Catholic, regardless of your particular struggles. 

The first question that Eve had to answer before joining the Catholic Church was which did she believe more? That homosexuality was morally neutral or that the Catholic Church had the authority to teach on the topic of homosexuality.  She phrased it better, but you get the idea.  Her conclusion was that she believed the latter more.  For anyone struggling with a teaching of the Catholic Church, I think this is a fundamental question.  Is __________ (fill in the blank) morally neutral and/or does the Catholic Church have the authority to teach a doctrine on the matter.  You can fill in the blank with abortion, premarital sex, contraception, the death penalty, euthanasia, etc.  You can talk about the need for confession, Holy Days of Obligation, the primacy of the Eucharistic presence of Christ, or any other hot-button topic that non-Catholics and uneducated Catholics alike can argue to a pulp.  Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of faith in the Church that Christ founded and to whom He gave authority.  I don't have to understand why the Church says what She does about any of these issues, but I do believe that it is within Her scope to teach the truth about them.

Eve also mentioned that in her journey, many times she felt like Peter, saying "Lord, to whom shall we go?"  There were many moments that led her to an edge, a crossroads, and she found herself thinking that if there were anywhere else that she could possibly go, she would choose that instead.  But she realized that she didn't have anywhere else to go but straight into the arms of the bride of Christ.  That was home.  It wasn't an easy home, and if she could have taken another path, with less suffering, less doubt, she would have.  But she couldn't.  And that's what I find myself thinking when I encounter not just non-Catholics, but those who have no place for religion of any kind in their lives.  Where else are you going?  I don't have anywhere else to go and I can't imagine that what they've found could possibly be any better.

The final point that I want to process is Eve's distinction between a negative enactment of a vocation and a positive enactment.  The negative is "God doesn't want me to have homosexual relations" whereas the positive is "how does God want me to give and receive love within the guidance of His Church?"  You can apply this to any vocation, and I certainly see a parallel to how I am living as a single woman.  Until I am blessed with the grace of marriage (which is where I believe God is calling me), I can focus on all the things I can't do.  I can lament the childbearing years lost.  I can wallow in my loneliness of another Saturday night without a date.  I can succumb to jealousy of all my friends who are living their vocation of marriage.  Or, I can figure out how God is calling me to give and receive love in this moment.  He isn't calling me to be a wife and mother tomorrow.  But He is calling me to be a woman of God tomorrow.  And if I can figure out the best way to embody His love in that way, then when I look back, these won't be years I spent waiting for my vocation, but they will be years spent living my vocation.

I think it's important to recognize that it is difficult to be Catholic and homosexual in the same way that it is difficult to be Catholic and anything.  That your sacrifice and your cross are no more or less uniquely difficult than anyone else's.  It is difficult to be Catholic and chaste before marriage.  It is difficult to be Catholic and a doctor.  It is difficult to be Catholic and work weekends.  It is difficult to be Catholic in a materialistic, hedonistic society.  The lesson that I take from tonight is the importance of offering all our brothers and sisters in Christ compassion, support and love.  I don't have any more answers than I did three hours ago.  But I do cherish the knowledge that God knows what He is doing and He gives us a way to peace and joy, if we are only willing to accept it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Speaking of being long overdue...

It's been awhile since I've posted, mostly because I can't keep a train of thought for longer than about seven seconds. So sitting down to write a blog post has seemed a little daunting. Plus I used all my writing skills on Hilary's Wheat Letter. Sorry to the rest of RM TEC 131, you get nothing because like every other TEC, this weekend snuck up on me without so much as a warning and I have no time. Still, sending you love and prayers.

Speaking of TEC...Angie McCann has got to have the world's most pure, most loving, most welcoming heart. I swear, every time I see her, it's like she has been waiting all day just to give me a hug. People like that make it hard to feel justified when you just want to wallow in a bad mood.

Speaking of not wallowing in bad moods...I saw a bumper sticker today that said "Don't Postpone Joy." Doesn't that just say it all? I'm so glad it didn't say "Don't Postpone Happiness" or "Don't Postpone Pleasure." Because those can leave you empty if that's all you seek. But joy, oh joy. It lifts up the soul, it is not fleeting, it grounds me in turbulent times. Sometimes I forgot the mass of joy that sits inside me. It's there, because even on the days I forget, I still believe Jesus when He said He came "that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete." I am reminded of that joy when I catch a glimpse of the impossibly blue, white-capped Rockies. When I catch myself singing along to an upbeat song in the car. When I take stock of everything that is going right in my life. When I take that first sip of coffee. (And I want to clarify that something as mundane as coffee can bring joy rather than happiness, because when I savor it, I thank God for the blessing of the small joys in life and am reminded of His love for me)

Speaking of coffee...it's one thing I do well. I hate to brag (who'm I kidding, I love to brag), but I make a darn good cup o' joe. One more thing to offer to my future soul mate who is floating out there in the universe. Is it sad that that's what I think of when I make coffee? That I want someone to make it for? To appreciate my subtle talent for grinding beans, measuring grounds, hitting the 'on' button. Am I that lonely? I'd like to think it's just me preparing my heart to serve, but I think somewhere in there is some extreme selfishness that I'll probably need to purge before I'm ready to meet Mr. Right.

Speaking of purging...Lent is hard. Harder than I remember. It's certainly bringing to light that my will power is so weak. I consider myself to be a strong person, physically, mentally, occasionally emotionally, sometimes spiritually. But my ability to exercise self control is about up there with my ability to whistle and wink. It doesn't exist. I've tried to practice, I've tried to have people teach me tricks. But I am a weak-willed individual, and it's disheartening. However, buck up Michelle, we're more than halfway there. I will run the race, I will cross the finish line. And I will continue to stock up on sweets throughout the week, saving them for Sundays (and those blessed solemnities that seem to pop-up at the most needed times).

Speaking of weekends...so looking forward to Tracy's visit. We're gonna knock off a couple more beers on my tour (getting close to 100, folks), do a little painting at Canvas and Cocktails, hit up some fabulous restaurants, cheer on the Avs in their hunt for the playoffs, and in general try to convince her to move back to Colorado. With how crazy things have been at work, we could use another good pharmacist.

Speaking of work...someday soon, I'm going to have a drug-name pictionary t-shirt to show off. That's all I'm going to say about work, because even though I love my job, sometimes it's better not to get started on the egos of surgeons and how pleas fall on deaf ears. That's all I'm speaking of today.
I reserve the right to make this blog as worthless to read as I feel like, and also to write as infrequently as I deem necessary. Just thought I'd let you know since I finally decided to share my blog.