Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah



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The Willy Loman Effect

Today, there are less and less people who don’t use social media somewhere in their lives, either as a part of work or relaxation (if not both!)

There are plenty of articles on the best way to use social media, and even more on how to get more “friends” or “likes”. However, is the meaning of the word “friend” the same on Facebook as it is in real life? Obviously not, but just How different is it? Should you accept every friend request you get, in the hopes of being popular and having hundreds of names on your friends list? Or do you turn down all but friend requests from close friends you know in person and speak to often? The first approach is what I like to call “The Willy Loman Effect”.

Willy Loman (from Death of a Salesman) is a perfect allegory for believing in a social false equivalency. In Willy’s case, he believed that the secret to success was being “well liked”. What Willy meant when he said “well liked” was to be everybody’s friend. Unfortunately, being everybody’s friend meant he was really nobody’s friend. He couldn’t depend on the people in his social network, because he hadn’t made a real connection with anybody, he’d simply been polite to everybody.  Willy Loman would be the guy who has 500 friends on Facebook, but when he puts out the call for help moving, nobody shows up.  That is what we call a false equivalency. 500 names on one’s friend list is not equivalent to 500 people you have a real human connection with.

On the other hand, we can have the opposite problem. If I were to turn down a friend request from anyone I don’t see and speak to on a regular basis, what would be the point of having a Facebook account? At that point, I’m just using it as a glorified text messaging service to talk to the people I’d be talking to anyway.  One of the wonderful things about social media is it’s ability to bring disparate people together. I’ve reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen since I was nine years old, gotten to know people better who I went to college with but never really hung out with, and I keep up to date on the day to day life of family members that live halfway around the world from me. I’ve also been introduced to new friends, and connected with them in a wholly digital way, swapping stories, advice, recipes and info, making human connections in a digital world.

I’m still hesitant to accept a friend request from someone I’ve never met/ don’t recognize/have no idea who they are- but sometimes taking a chance on a friend of a friend has had amazing results. (Not the least of which is having plenty of folks that will help me move when I need them, provided I bring the beer and pizza ; )

So the moral of this story is: Don’t be a Willy Loman, but do take advantage of the amazing community-building abilities of social media. The gift of Facebook is- you never know where your next (true) friend is going to come from, provided you can recognize a friend when you see one.

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What’s it Like?

So, a girlfriend of mine asked me today what it was like to be an egg donor. ‘Musing about the possibility of becoming one herself, I assume. It was a great question! This is what I said:


Big question!

Short answer? A huge pain in the ass and was totally worth it (the first time).
Long answer:
You make several thousand dollars, but there’s a lot of requirements, including an age requirement.
You have to fill out a big pile of paperwork, and I think write an essay. This is like a college entrance application. They want to be able to show prospective parents this information and say “look! Wouldn’t this be a great biological mother for your child?”
So you have to play up your gifts, intelligence, math skills, health, great hair, whatever. I thought it was sweet that the only picture I had to give them was a baby picture of myself.
(The idea being that you never know who they are, and they never know who you are. Neither party gets the others’ name(s) or adult pictures.)
They will also bring you in for a psych examination, and ask you questions to determine whether you’ll freak out and sue them and try to get the baby for yourself. They also want to know if you are going to sue them if this procedure turns out, in ten years, to make you sterile or something. They are just trying to weed out the crazy people that would put their company at risk. I remember especially the question “If something happened to the parents, would you take care of the baby?”
and my response, which got a big smile, was: “I’d take care of any child that needed it. Whether it was related to me or not is kind of irrelevant.”
Once you’re done with the huge pile of paperwork, then they start looking to match you with prospective parents (the lady into whom your egg(s) will be implanted, and the guy who fertilizes them via test tube)
Once some couple chooses Your application as the One they’ve always wanted, you get a call, and the medical process starts.
There are Dozens of doctor visits to their office, you have blood drawn many times, and after a certain stage, you give yourself injections every day in the thigh or other meaty parts (tiny needles, for the most part). And at the end, for a couple weeks, you are going into their office every day or two to have blood drawn and to get an internal ultrasound (with the wand they stick inside your lady parts, so they can look at your ovaries).
The last stage, they call you and tell you it’s time, and that night before bed you give yourself a honkin big injection (with a big needle) right in the cheek of your ass (you have to have someone else do it for you. No way to reach.)
Then the next morning, you go in for what amounts to surgery. They put you in a hospital gown, lay you on a wheeled bed, put you on an IV (which is good, because you can’t eat or drink anything before the procedure, and you’ll be super thirsty until they do that) then someone injects your IV with something that knocks you out, they wheel you into the operating room, and a doctor with a room full of techs and nurses goes into your womb (the usual way. No incision made.) with a little glass vacuum hose and sucks out the eight or twelve eggs that have just been spurted out by your ovaries.
Then you’re all groggy, and silly, and mildly chafed on your insides (glass vacuum hoses have hard little ends, apparently. I felt pretty scoured.) And someone will have to drive you home. You’ll get a check for several thousand dollars, and possibly a call in a year asking if you’ll come back and do it again. (My prospective parents wanted a brother for their little girl. I wasn’t exactly supposed to know this, but they didn’t care if I knew, so people got a little sloppy with that information. More likely you’ll never know if it was even successful.)
When I was in college, this all seemed interesting and a new experience and was money for spring break extravaganza.
When I got a bit older, I tried it again and found it EXCEEDINGLY annoying and trying. I had a real job by then, and getting up there all the time on short (1 day, sometimes) notice was a pain in the ass. If you’re using the same place I did, it’s right off the Shady Grove exit (8) on 270.
So, you know, up-sides and down-sides.
Let me know if you decide to do it and your guy doesn’t want to be the one to inject you in the butt. I’m happy to help : )

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Beautiful Sunny Day to be Unclogging the Bathtub Drain

Good morning, world! Nothing can get me down today, it’s blue skies and fluffy white clouds, playful breezes and warm sunshine.

It’s a good thing, too, because now I have to put on my big yellow gloves and go unclog this bathroom drain.

I came home last night to three inches of opaque, whitish grey standing water in the shower. To be perfectly honest, both myself and my husband have very long, wavy hair, which gets everywhere, and I shed like a Pomeranian on a hot day. It had been a slow drain for a couple of days, and my sweetheart (bless his heart) not realizing that THIS would be the day the drain would totally clog, had taken his shower in the morning, dropped the slippery bar of oatmeal soap, said “meh, I’ll get it tonight when the water has drained away” and promptly left for work, leaving an entire bar of soap to dissolve in the already mildly icky water, making it totally opaque. Opalescent dirt. This is different.

So today, I made the (admittedly lovely) trek to the store to pick up draino (and groceries while I’m at it), then to a friend’s house to borrow a drain snake just in case the chemicals don’t do the trick (I Will get this drain working today by golly, because for one thing, I could really use a shower.) I’ve poured the entire bottle in, and am in the process of waiting the requisite half hour for it to work. (Going to peek now, fifteen minutes in, fingers crossed that it’s at least STARTING to work…) and YES! The water is gone! All hail the Draino fairies! And there’s a little pile of oatmeal in bar-of-soap form on the floor, where the oatmeal soap dissolved.

I am SO GLAD the chemical method worked, because otherwise, I would have been fishing with a screwdriver in opaque, gross, draino-filled water to unscrew the drain plate, so I could get a drain snake down there (hopefully without splashing myself in the eyes with draino-flavored water.)

Today is a good day. Now to put the tea kettle on to boil, so I can pour hot water down this sucker so this doesn’t happen again. At least not for a couple of months.

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Night Run

I get back to the house, shoulders thrown back, I unzip my sweatshirt and slow to a walk, cooling down. Slam the door on the way in, and when I get to the bottom of the stairs, I can feel my heart thump. I feel alive.

I had a bad feeling about tonight’s run. Probably just nerves. It’s been a while since I’ve run, longer since I’ve taken one at night. But I bring my new tazer anyway. It’ll probably pass for a flashlight. No reason to scare the neighbors.

Wearing black on the bottom, navy on the top, with a little reflective tape on my feet- I need the flashlight just so I can show cars where I am. ‘Try to hold the light steady on the ground in front of me as I walk down the front steps, break into a jog, avoiding the cracks in the pavement, getting my feet under me. It takes half a block to find my gait, and then my feet feel sure, like paws gripping the ground- that’s it. When I’ve got my breath I feel fine, but as soon as I get on the track the hairs on the back of my neck prickle. The blood rushing in my ears makes it hard to hear. Is that my own footsteps echoing back at me, or someone following me? Was that scuff of the gravel a noise I made, or not? A dog barks, and my shoulders jump imperceptibly. I’m on edge. I stop. Take a breath. Turn around and just look. Heart slows, breathing quiets. Nobody but me out here. I turn the flashlight off and activate the tazer. It has a red LED that stops killing my night vision. I turn it over and point the light at the ground, start again. Now I don’t hear an echo of my footsteps. I pick up the pace up the steep slope, as always, and my blood is rushing in my ears again. I can’t hear, and I feel vulnerable. Can’t hear, can’t see. I don’t like this one bit. Almost run off the path. Turn the flashlight back on, startle at some playground equipment that looms. Almost done with my first pass of the track. It takes two. Flash of brilliance. I’m going to run the second lap back the way I came. If there’s someone behind me, I’ll run right into them. Better that way anyway. Now feeling like the hunter, my pace quickens, and my teeth show. Flashlight shining, I take the second lap quicker than the first. No stops, precious little slows. And the uphill I take at an absolute sprint, grinning like a demon.

Red light on for the second half of the second lap. I know this ground now. This is my house. My track. Just try and take it from me. I dare you.

I turn on the flashlight as I come back to the road, to let the cars know where I am. No sense alarming the neighbors.

I come into my home parking lot, shoulders thrown back, and unzip my sweatshirt.

My house.

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Words of Wisdom

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”

-Barbara Kingsolver

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Cruise January 2013 – Day 10 – Disembarkation and the drive home




Day 10 – Monday:

Seven am rolled around, and with it, the need to haul my sand-filled eyes open, and get out of the Very soft bed that made my whole body ache the entire trip. Neither Gene nor I slept very soundly on that very expensive, very soft mattress. The sheets weren’t as soft as ours at home, and the bed didn’t support us the way our straw mattress does, so I would wake up every morning having had bad dreams of no particular import (zombies, etc.)  and be sore all over. It didn’t help that there was no natural light to help our bodies’ clocks wake us up naturally. Left to our own devices, we would probably have slept at least nine hours a night, and not felt rested even so. Thank goodness for good coffee.

So I got up first, as I generally do, and took my shower, and put on the clothes I’d left out the night before, and tucked the last few things into the bag I’d left open for them the night before. Gene woke up half an hour later, and we were ready in plenty of time, which was good, because when we stepped out the door to go wait in the Centrum for the rest of our party to stumble out their doors, there was a bill on the floor of the hallway with a bonus $50 charge for pool towels not returned, which we had in fact returned. So we went to the customer service desk to get that sorted (easily done, it turns out), and finally to meet up with the family for breakfast. Mom had organized it so that we were allowed to leave our carry-on luggage in our rooms while we ate breakfast, an extra hour and a half of leeway. So we did, and I was too nervous to eat much besides granola and milk. Coffee was appreciated, though. And post-breakfast, we all trooped back to get our things, and carried them, winding through long lines of people snaking all over the centrum, who were waiting to exit the ship (the first people off are the ones who checked no luggage, so they just walk off as soon as the ship has been cleared by port authorities for disembarkation.)

We wandered up to the upper-level formal dining room, to sit at a table, and drink coffee, and chat aimlessly until our disembarkation number was called (39). Sir John and Lady Honor had been assigned the same waiting area, and I introduced John to my family (the lady was talking on her cell to her son- who John thinks is a mama’s boy). He made the appropriate social noises, and later on, I wandered over to talk to lady Honor about her team for the Golden Rose Tournament. She told me that she had been talking to John even before they got on the cruise, about how she was hoping to get Syr Justus for her team, as he had really impressed her when they met at a crown tourney. Evidently, someone new to the SCA had asked him what this “crown tourney thing” was all about, and he took time out of his day to instruct them and describe the event. She was so impressed, the day stuck in her mind, so when they moved to Atlantia and she was charged with putting together a team for this tourney, it was incredibly lucky that his squire just happened to be on the same cruise ship as they were, and John just happened to strike up a conversation with Gene about the SCA, who likes to brag on his squire wife.

I am so lucky : )

In any case, eventually our number was called, and we made our way to the gangway (which is, if you can imagine, a square spiral ramp going down the several stories to ground level, inside a framework coated with what looks like saran wrap, to keep out the cold.) Eventually, we got to ground level, and waited in a quick-moving line to see a customs agent so we could be officially let back into the country.

A search through a huge hangar for our checked bags, and a heavy (but blessedly short) walk out to the pick-up area, putting the bags in the car and then a 45 minute ride home that just FLEW by, we had so many stories to tell, and Dee had so many polite questions, he kept us talking the whole time. I was so surprised to see our neighborhood when we pulled in!

Thank goodness we cleaned the house before we left. Walking into our bedroom was a little déjà-vu, as the set up is almost identical to that of our stateroom. Gene had it bad, because he did the unfortunate JUMP onto the bed, which is NOT soft, and he was quite surprised!

Laundry in the wash, pizza ordered, drinks made with our duty-free rum, and now we start the process of re-acclimating to a world where the food is NOT prepared for us all day long, and nobody does our dishes or makes our bed, and where if you want dance lessons or a day at the beach, you have to pay people money and arrange a ride and a dozen other things.  We especially missed the sunshine, and a long walk outside helped a lot, even though we were all bundled up against the cold, and the sunshine was grey and thin, compared to the tropics. The saving grace of the real world is all the digital media and internet we can sink our teeth into. That, and in the real world, the bed feels amazing, and after seven and a half hours of sleep I felt so rested and restless, I was up before my work alarm, not sore, no nightmares. Thank goodness : )

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