Monday, December 31, 2012

Year's End

It's December 31st, the end of the year.  I'm feeling a bit reflective, and perhaps a bit morose, as is so common this time of year. My thoughts and attention are split between memories of the past year and hope for the one coming.

I'm not sure exactly what I thought moving back to the US would bring. I moved back in part to be near my family; my mom left the state and my sister and I are about as close now as we were when I lived half the world away.
I thought I'd go into the EMR field.  The money and work is good. . . when there is work.  I've spent almost as much time without work/between contracts as I have working.
I moved back to date, hoping to meet a man to be a part of my life.  I suppose I could go back and count the first dates from 2012.  It wasn't quite The Year of a Thousand First Dates, but it felt like it.  I don't feel much closer to finding someone I want to keep around.

I have made some great friends this year. Friends who I've hiked and kayaed and snowshoed with.  Who have enjoyed beer in multiple venues with.  Friends who I hope will be around a while.  I've also managed to keep in touch with a very few really important ones who live farther away than I'd like.

I have had some new experiences: International Beerfest, Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, flying on the company dime, lots of really horrible first dates.

I've filled a lot of days with the hum drum details that fill most people's lives.  Cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, watching hulu, blogging, commuting, dreaming, planning.

I don't see anything of note on the horizon in 2013 right now.  It will undoubtedly be more of the same.  Some of that same being fifteen minutes of cat in my lap meditations, communiting with nature on land and in the sea, organizing and reorganizing the house.  Some of it will be tears, loneliness, and heartache.  Books and movies, restaurants and bars, and lots of other fluff that no one, not even me, will recall at this time next year.

There will be a couple resolutions: less sugar and pop, more exercise.  Simple stuff that I will try to implement in miniscule increments to make them stick.

It's always about ten am on New Years Day that I get a little pang of disappointment.  There is always an expectation that when the sun rises on January 1st, the world will be different.  That maybe I'll be different.  That the sun will sparkle and dreams will come true.  I'm a realist.  I know that's not even going to be the case. I intellectually understand that. I can comprehend that  this expectation is an unrealistic and ludicrous one . . . yet it happens every year. I know it's coming.  In a moment of silence, I push it down the staircase and wait for it to hobble back up by the end of next year. At which point, I am obliged to push it back down.

To any of you who are actively in my life and read this, thank you. I'll see you next week for beers, or in February for a beach break, or when the trails melt.  I thank serendipity for the chance to have met you, my own good sense for having kept you around and I thank you for being fantastic.

Good luck in 2013, because a little luck never hurts ;)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Zen Driving

I am generally a mellow driver.  I wasn't always. When I was younger (and arguably dumber) I drove aggressively.  I tailgated slow drivers, I swerved around people, I took off from every stop like I was in a race.  As I've aged, I've mellowed.  I leave enough space while driving on the freeway that I usually get people jumping in front of me, even when I'm in the fast lane.  I only jam on my horn when someone is being exceptionally stupid or dangerous. I don't race everywhere. There are worse things in the world than being five or ten minutes late due to traffic.

All that being said, I hate stupid drivers.  There are two major classes, excluding the Seattle specific issue of being unable to drive in rain, snow or any other form of precipitation that falls from the sky. 

ONE: The dangerous, ridiculous ones.  Like the guy who made a U-turn in the mouth of the freeway on ramp. Like the one who made a three point turn in the middle of a two lane road.  Like anyone who is oblivious to the fact that there are other people on the road and after making a wrong turn/missing a turn/oopsing, they don't follow through the mistake and get off the road to get turned around. Instead, they insist on bringing everyone else to a halt so they didn't have to go another five minutes out of their way to correct their mistake.

TWO: Speed and speedless demons.  Like most people, when someone goes flying by on the freeway at 95, I shake my head and hope I'm far away when they crash, which they inevitably will. I get angry when someone decided to legislate speed.  If the sign says 35 MPH on a road in town, that is what everyone expects you to be doing.  Not 20, not 25.  Driving too slow is just as dangerous as too fast.  The speed limits give us all expectations.  No one assumes someone to be dragging ass when they time their turns into and out of the road. Additionally, the folks doing 60 on I-5 in the left hand/fast lane.  I realize the speed limit is 60MPH but it's a big highway and speed is, for the most part, dictated by the congestion at any given time.  If the freeway is packed, the speed limit is about 15MPH.  If it's empty, the fast lanes moves about 70 or 75MPH.  Don't be an idjit and go 55 in the fast lane.  If you want to go 55, FINE! DO IT IN ANY OTHER LANE!!!

Recently, I've had my patience tested by other drivers.  In one drive home last week I saw six stalled or broken down cars (both in the lanes of traffic and on the side), plus two accidents.  This was a reminder of why I practice zen driving, keep up on my car maintenance and honk at people who are stupid.

Personally, I think we should institute a stupid driver marking program.  If you have gone three or more years without a violation you get a paintball gun with two colors of paint.  One color for speed/lack of speed issues, one for stupidity/unsafe practices.  If a perpetrator is driving too slow, light them up.  If they are texting while driving, light em up! and even if it doesn't equate to tickets, at least it lets other drivers know that person is a moron and to be avoided. Of course there will have to be some recourse for those with paintball guns who get lit up themselves.  While there is a part of my that understands paintballing moving vehicles isn't a safe practice either, I want there to be a public shaming!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bullets and Booze

Well, paintballs and cocktails but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it?

A couple months ago I hosted a beer night.  It was Oktoberfest-y in intention. Everyone had to bring beer to share, with the caveat that it couldn't be a run-of-the-Mill-Budwiser-Coors type. There are gads of great local microbrews.  Combine that with inports and other US small batch breweries and why would anyone drink anything else?  Not to mention I've got some friends who are beer connoisseurs.  Some call us beer snobs.  I say we are selective. The night has a brilliant success.

A small group of four were intrepid enough that we venture on the the battlefield for paintball.  None of us had ever played before and weren't quite sure what we were in for. Danielle and I both had the sense to layer up.  I think we both had three layers on top and bottom.  The boys didn't think quite that far ahead.  Brendan ended up in just jeans with a t-shirt and sweatshirt on top. 

I'd covered our entry with a zozi deal (like groupons) and we'd each paid our $25 for gun rental and paintballs.  We were chatting and talking about the battle to come as we waited for our safety briefing when a big guy walked over and told us not to get hit in the nipples. That it really really hurt. He then proceeded to whine about it while clutching his chest for the next few minutes.  We all started to question the decision to play paintball. We were still milling around when that same guy came back holding his neck advising us not to get hit there either. It was unanimous that we either needed to start or bail.

That was when we got our rules and regs speech by a kid who probably spent waaay to much time on the paintball field and was trying to nurse a few scraggly lip hairs into a mustache. Don't shoot each other within ten feet, keep your mask on NO MATTER WHAT, how to load the guns, yadda, yadda.

Our first match was on the advanced, authorized tournament course.  It turned out to be our least favorite.  The spots to hide behind were all little bouncy castles. We played two life elimination which means if you get hit once, you go back and touch base then get to go again until you are hit a second time.  In actuality what happened was I got hit once, went back to back, followed the advice of the scraggly mustache kid and got shot almost immediately.  As I retreated hands up to show I was already "dead" I then got pelted three more times. The rest of my group had the same experience.

I think I did improve.  It wasn't but a game or two later that I got my first kill.  A few games after that we were combined with several other groups to make bigger teams.  We were on the beginner course.  Brendan and I were on the far right side watching in front for targets and in quick succession were both hit in the left hip, from nearly behind. No one from our team went left when we started so we'd been flanked by the enemy. We were both rather cross about it. By the end Eddie had taken two shots to the head, Brendan one.  Most of us are sporting some very purple or at the least red bruises on our thighs.  I've got a large plum like one on my left bicep. Despite all that, I'd go again.

The final game was on the first course.  It's running around trees, in mud using simple plyboard standups as cover.  I managed a couple kill shots and ran two guns out of ammo without getting killed.

Muddy, bruised and telling tales of glory, we headed to my house to clean up.  Pizza was ordered and we waited for others to arrive. This time it was a cocktail party with a concept similar to the beer nigh.  Everyone bring a liquor.  I provided tools (shakers, jiggers, strainers, swizzle sticks), mixers and garnishes. Each participant was to have a recipe in mind and we'd share. 

Pineapple upside down shots, rootbeer floats & creamsicles (no ice cream!), mojitos, vesper martinis, the Mel's special, egg nog martinis, straight samples of grappa, tequila, and moonshine made for but some of the choices.

Part of the reason I can host these events is that I have enough soft surfaces to cushion the walking dead who are unfit to drive.  This time around that meant five extra extra folks.  I'm a bit embarrassed by what a terrible morning after host I was.  I did manage to get Danielle to Seattle for her Bolt Bus and Eddie made it to the church on time, as it were.

Chris mentioned that now, we must surely be due for a wine night, though I think I may need months to fully recover.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Sigh. . . .not the sad, exasperated, slightly mopey sigh.  A sigh of relief and relaxation.  That's how I feel after acupuncture (acu).

I first tried acu when I was having shoulder problems.  I swam on a club team and averaged minimum ten hours per week.  With flexibility over stability, it was only a matter of time before I was in (out and and back in and. . . ) to physical therapy.  I found an acupuncturist then, about eleven years ago.  I would go in for treatment that consisted of lying facedown on a massage table, having a dozen or so needles inserted, a heat table hovering over the needles and I would proceed to fall asleep.  I'd wake up with my muscles more relaxed and less pain. My sessions with this acupuncturist were limited as dictated by my insurance and funds at the time.
Indonesia seems like a good place and time to return to acupuncture but I never did.  I was afraid that my explanations in basic Indonesian would not prove sufficient.  When someone is sticking small sharp instruments in you, it's not the time for a miscommunication.  The second reason was that there were masseuses everywhere.  I could get an hour and a half, full body oil massage for about fifteen dollars, plus tip. It was close to my apartment. A girlfriend and I would go together for a salon day. Easy.

Now that I've returned to an English speaking country, I've returned to acupuncture.   A part of the reason I moved back was to be healthier.  Jakarta is a big dirty city.  It has some of the highest rates of pollution (land, air and sea) in the world.  There isn't anywhere to get outside for hiking, biking, etc, that's less than three hours away; and if the traffic is worse than usual, even longer.  My friends and I went out and ate and drank not only because it's fun but for lack of many other options.  Aside from travel, salon or pool days, eating and drinking are it! I moved back, bought some hiking boots, dug out my snowshoes, got in to kayaking and signed up for the gym (oh right, the gym.  A month away means I haven't been in six weeks.  Don't ask me about the math). I cut down on drinking and started to think about being healthier.

Acupuncture makes me feel good.  It can address issues that are more than skin/muscle deep.  I find that I usually sleep better and have more energy when I go to acu on a regular basis.  My mom asked me what makes it different from massage.  Now, before any of you masseuses jump down my throat, I am not taking anything away from massage. I do enjoy a good massage.  I have tried many different types, including Thai, Indian, Swedish, pressure point and several others.  I know there are great benefits to be had, and probably more than I've experienced. For me though, acu is king. It helps tackle issues like allergies, energy and headaches/migraines. When I go on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, these issues are all under control. I haven't been while I was away and I can tell.  I feel worse and my acupuncturist is using more needles per session (I'm a pincushion! but I don't mind in the least) to get back to neutral.  I feel grounded, more comfortable in my own body and relaxed. I've got a great acupuncturist, Natalie, who listens and had proven to be very competent. She knows what ongoing issues I have, asks probing questions when necessary and has a nice touch. We always chat and have a laugh.  I trust her with my care and I believe that goes a long way in my treatment.

Folks new to acupuncture are often turned off not because of direct pain, but because of sensations they falsely think is pain.  The needles used in acupuncture are thinner and lighter than the ones used for flu shots.  There shouldn't be pain when the needle is tapped in to place.  There can be an interesting sensation.  I've been told by more than one acupuncturist that I am particularly responsive to the needle.  I can give feedback on the sensations I get from different points.  Sometimes there is a warming or burning feeling, other times a tiny shock or tingle.  For the uninitiated, these sensations can be mistaken for pain. I challenge those individuals to think more carefully about what their body is actually telling them.

This has turned into quite a long blog.  I realize most of you readers will have trailed off long ago.  Positive articles about it b630-190a983a2e0d_story.html) abound as it's been show to be especially helpful to children and those in chronic pain.  Obamacare has left the option open to states to decide if they want to cover acupuncture. As community acupuncture has brought the price per treatment down (I pay $35 per 1.5 hour session), and Americans are looking for more ways to be healthy, acupuncture should rise to the forefront.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

2 months? Holy . .

It's infinitely interesting to me how time is so elastic and infinite and undefinable.  Yes, I suppose we as a people have defined it by breaking  time as a whole into days and hours and seconds. Yet there are episodes in life when time flies. When a year is gone and you haven't even lifted your head to see it zoom by the window.  There are other periods when a day lasts eons and even staring at the clock doesn't mean you can will it to drag by a tiny bit faster.

My life these days is a fairly random mix of these two I suppose.  I both knew it had been ages since I blogged and didn't really feel the time sliding by as it went. The last two months have been a bit chaotic, though not in an entirely undesirable way. 

Between October 30th and November 24th I spent only four days at home in Seattle. The rest was in Southern California.  First, a ten day trip to visit my mom and best friend Ana.  That was a chosen, vacation -type trip. I enjoyed my time there and trucked back home with a smile on my face.  The day after I arrived home I was contacted by a company, SSI, that I have been working with.  They needed someone to rush down to  California to help at a clinic.  Funny enough, it was the exact area my mom was working and only about 15 minutes from where Ana lives. More rants about this company later.  They sent me down to work in Torrance from Nov 11-16th.  I asked to have my flight back delayed a week as was able to spend Thanksgiving with my mom, stepdad and about twenty members (no exaggeration) of his family. It was nice to see them for the holiday since I had sworn I would not fly for turkey day.  Too many crazies.  Since my flight was the 11th, it was actually ok. I'll probably do a separate post about Thanksgiving.  At least it gives you a timeline for why I haven't blogged.

I returned home on the 25th and have been cleaning, recovering, shopping and seeing friends since. I know I need to get back to blogging; for my own benefit more than anyone else's. Blog you can expect to see this month:
Awful drivers
Online dating!!
Holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas
More dating