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The comfort of the storm

I ran through the thick droplets
the thunder in my bones
the lightning in my eyes and my hair
I would scream out at the sky
but under city lights it is futile
a waste of breath in the clattering crowds
this is joy!
life breathed in the storm
coalesced in flashes
moving against each individual form
we’ll listen to music
in the silence between.

Write madly in the flickering candle nights
there are secrets here
whispered against our obscure smiles
sweet in the way you say it
tragic in the way I know life will be
from now.

We’re keeping the darkness at bay
with lights lit in the secret corners
of our hearts
with sighs and prayer
and maybe even the smallest amount
of song.

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I heart this town…

I’ve had the opportunity to be a bit of a tourist in my own town recently. I normally have a really hard time with tourists…they block sidewalks, gape at perfectly normal things (like the man painted silver on Michigan Avenue), and cut me off in traffic in completely unexpected ways. Resident Chicagoans are crazy drivers sometimes, but highly predictable.

ANYWAYS…I am really trying to take advantage of living here for as long as I can.

The train to HELL. As I like to call it…

oooh shiny…

Chess= AWESOME (by Millenium Park)

Relief by the river on Michigan Avenue

Lighthouse on Lake Michigan (taken by me on J’s camera)

The Cloud Gate, of course.

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The saga of the glasses

Oh, woe was me
my glasses were lost
I looked all day
I was really quite cross.

In purses and bags,
the kitchen and room,
the car, the gym,
even the vacuum!

Under the chairs,
behind the couch
I was getting a bit grumpy
I was becoming a grouch.

Finally gave up,
threw my hands in the air
and in the process
nearly fell down the stairs.

Today I grabbed my bag
on my way off to work
and there they were…
so I went berserk.
—————————-

True story. Well, most of it, anyways. I am really unable to see without assistance, and they were lost for a month. This gets annoying after a while. *whew*

I never watch TV, but this season I’ve been staying home more in the evenings, and as a consequence of this have actually gotten pulled into several shows.

Grey’s Anatomy– I don’t need to say much about this. Drama, pure fluff, and I love it.

Heroes– Can anyone say SUPER POWERS?! Finally a show that I can relate to, considering my fantasy/sci-fi geekiness.

ER– Ok so my beloved show is hardly recognizable, and I don’t really understand what is going on, but oh how I love it still.

Shows I used to love, such as Gilmore Girls and Scrubs, I haven’t yet had the chance to watch. *sigh* I am looking forward to Jericho, maybe.

Well, this is your glimpse in the life of Sholeh. Exciting, no? I mean, sure, I have many things to do. Tonight is Feast, tomorrow night is another Baha’i meeting, and there are people coming through Chicago all the time that I want to spend time with! Not to mention family, friends, chores, errands, cooking, and the things I need to do before December. 😉 But you don’t want to read my list of things to do, because you have things to do, too.

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The worth of words

This article by Michael Rogers was brought to my attention a few days ago. It puts forth the idea that in the future the need to analyze and extrapolate a complex book will not be a skill that most people need.

Its time to acknowledge that in a truly multimedia environment of 2025, most Americans dont need to understand more than a hundred or so words at a time, and certainly will never read anything approaching the length of an old-fashioned book.

It is hard to tell whether the author is kidding…for example:

The nations leaders must be able to read; for those who follow, the ability should be strictly optional.

In any case, this is a subject that I am passionate about. I remember arguing with my high school English teachers over the choice of reading material, whether it was Grendel or Catcher in the Rye (not that my teachers had any control, it was set up by the school district).


(used book store back home)

I was raised to love books, to dive into a 600 page book with no thought to the fact that it was bigger than my head. I tend toward fantasy & sci-fi, but love everything else nearly as much. I would not have the ability to write as I do, the ability to edit documents and read as fast as I do if I had not been encouraged from a very early age to read anything I could get my hands on.

It isn’t necessarily that someone must be a “book-worm” to learn to enjoy reading. Kids are often given books that are boring in school, forced to read things in class that they can’t connect to, and thus the process of reading is turned into a chore.

Thoughts?

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Sick of being sick.

Apparently a pigeon was trapped on our sales floor for 2 hours yesterday. I missed the excitement because I was home sick. Most Chicagoans have a hate-hate relationship with pigeons…they’re always getting in the way and making a mess. I’m amused by them, they are inherently silly-looking animals.

I have been sick for more than a week, and staying home yesterday was a great idea. When I was at my parent’s house on Sunday they took care of me so well (thanks Mom & Dad!!). There is just something about being home, I didn’t want to leave.

I woke up this morning and headed downstairs to the kitchen. My roommates had left me honey, lemon juice, and packets of tea on the counter with a note: “For Sholeh”. Lauren brought me tea yesterday morning, Maysoon brought me tea at 1 am, Chineze offered to get me medication, and Amber keeps asking if there is anything she can do for me. So sweet!

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So quiet here.

The sky and the slate roofs of the warehouses are almost the same shade of grey, blending into each other today. A good weekend of family, friends, the Baha’i House of Worship (always home to me, no matter what and how much time passes).

Phone call from friend currently traveling across the United States by car: “Sholeh, can my friend stay with you? She is stranded in Chicago for a night and needs somewhere to sleep. We were hanging out in Ohio, but she is from Portland.” Ok! It is always fun to have random people around.

I am no longer surprised that the vastness of our world is continually reduced. Everyone is connected somehow, you just have to unravel the threads.

Do any fellow Chicagoans remember the Great Flood of 1992? I remember watching footage of people in scuba gear and hard hats looking very grim. I went on a boat tour of the river & lake in the Loop on Saturday…the history of places is interesting and necessary to understand. I look forward to travels to places where the layers of cities and villages seem endless, buried under dirt and time.

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woohoo!

Happy Birthday to me! What a wonderful birthday…I ate so much chocolate I can’t even move. mmm.

Thank you to everyone who called, left messages, texted, and sent smoke signals. I am surrounded by amazing family and friends.

September seems to be a time of change for me, and this year is no exception. So blessed!

“True reliance is for the servant to pursue his profession and calling in this world, to hold fast unto the Lord, to seek naught but His grace, inasmuch as in His Hands is the destiny of all His servants.”
~Bah’u’llh

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The day of labor

This coming holiday weekend has special significance, since my birthday is one week from today. That is, September 4th.

This weekend also promises to be very busy. Friends in from out of town, family, and several events, some of which may be happening concurrently. I’m beginning to get overwhelmed.

hmm…haven’t changed much. Check out the rockin’ sunglasses. hah!

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A Paper Castle

I have a drawer at work devoted to chocolate. Sometimes people give me chocolate, and in fact I was stuffing a Kit Kat bar into my mouth this afternoon when two Snickers bars were dropped onto my desk. Food (specifically food that will make your skin greasy and your body protest) is highly thought of at this company. I have an entirely too-large bag of chocolate covered raisins, too.

Conversation:

“Hello, this is ____, could I have a quick price on material, please?”

“Sure, let me find my notebook. Oh my, I can’t find it. It has disappeared under the terrifying onslaught of papers. Papers everywhere! At least 3 inches deep. The fortress is being overrun, the moat has been taken, and the peasants are running in fear.”

(customer is cracking up)

“Well sir, it appears as though I’ll have to surrender. I have no choice. Now, what material were you looking for today?”

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I learned something?!

My accounting and finance professors will be happy to know that I remember some of the things they taught me.

I had a moment of shock during corporate training yesterday. I was able to answer a question about depreciation off the top of my head. I didn’t even have to think about it. This happened a few other times, as well.

Training was the epitomy of all corporate stuff I ever imagined. The swanky meeting room, glass pitchers of water tastefully scattered, notepads with the hotel logo stamped on them, and good food. I really can’t complain. I imagine if I did it every day I’d go crazy (every hotel looks the same after a while).

We played games and I sat with some “higher-ups”. I was definitely the youngest person there.

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Light is not enough.

constantly, consistently cold, the tips of my fingers shaking
I retreat to the sun outside for an hour, just to revive
quite sure that this is not the best way to work
under a flourescence that does nothing to warm
and struggles to provide light.
Within 10 minutes of sitting back down at my desk
I start aching again, hands/feet/back/legs…

I need to get out more, get sun into my skin
this is the first summer I have spent so much of the day
indoors, and my southern soul yearns to feel that touch.
I remember when summers lasted forever
(don’t we all?)
I would curl up on the brown carpet in a patch of sun
(like those lizards we used to catch) and fall asleep.
There are pictures of me dreaming in the long grass,
in the patch of sun between trees.

Speaking of sleep, do you remember when Leonor Dely sang to us
in Spanish the words of God,
and even in a language I can’t understand
I fell asleep on a couch by a fire
because prayers have that effect on me.
(only eight months have gone by?)

When I stepped outside today the wind blew against me
stopped me in my half-taken step against cracked pavement
because I was taken back to a thousand memories
summer in a million places and times
every window in the house open, with the sounds of
cicadas and trees and the cheerful hum of washing dishes.

That was then. ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. When green surrounded me in its safety (forests remind me of my father, my family, learning why trees do the things they do, feeling the life in the silence).

This is summer now:

I still love it.

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Gastronomical delights…

First of all, let me point out that Culver’s Chocolate Raspberry custard is all kinds of delicious. Real raspberries. Oh my.

Again, thanks to the intrepid Adam L, we have…(drumroll please)

MEATCAKE!!

Yes, cake make out of meat, mashed potatoes, and ketchup. I am strongly tempted to make it, just to say I have.

Speaking of trying new things, I got a chance to sample some beef tongue at Nuevo Leon the other night after Feast (a group of us went out). It just tasted like overly tender beef, except that Myk kept saying things like, “You know the tastebuds are still on that.” and “I don’t eat anything that can taste me back.”

I go through snack addictions…make up something quick, live on it for a few weeks. My current obsession is:

++

sour cream
a few spoonfuls of salsa
black olives, sliced

Eaten with corn chips, of course. The sour cream is the base of the mix. mmm.

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Default snack

Gluten-free bread + Kraft singles + sliced onion + toasting = DELICIOUS

My current food obsession. Grilled cheese onion sandwiches, open face. Can you tell I’ve been lazy recently? 🙂 My sandwiches, however, don’t have any images burned onto them.

(For those of you who would like suggestions for gluten-free bread, I suggest the Rice Almond bread, and the Brown Rice one after that. Look under the “Gluten free” section of this website.)

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OVERHEARD IN MY OFFICE:

Office drone #1: Can I help you?
Office drone #2: I’m looking for the matrix.

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How do we reach God?

Adam L pointed out this article to me about an art piece called a “Prayer Antenna” by Paul Davies. This started me thinking about why people of all faiths (or of no faith in particular) pray.

Wikipedia has a good article on definitions of prayer, and how people practice in different religions. One of the questions asked is: “If God is all-knowing, then doesn’t God already know what we are going to ask for before we pray?” Another is: “Do human beings actually have the ability to praise an omniscient and omnipotent God?”

Abdu’l-Baha, the Son of Baha’u’llah, who Baha’is believe is the most recent Manifestation of God, says this about why we need to pray:

“O thou spiritual friend! Thou hast asked the wisdom of prayer. Know thou that prayer is indispensable and obligatory, and man under no pretext whatsoever is excused from performing the prayer unless he be mentally unsound, or an insurmountable obstacle prevent him. The wisdom of prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because in that state ( i.e., prayer) man with all heart and soul turneth his face towards His Highness the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and compassion. The greatest happiness for a lover is to converse with his beloved, and the greatest gift for a seeker is to become familiar with the object of his longing; that is why with every soul who is attracted to the Kingdom of God, his greatest hope is to find an opportunity to entreat and supplicate before his Beloved, appeal for His mercy and grace and be immersed in the ocean of His utterance, goodness and generosity. Beside all this, prayer and fasting is the cause of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection and preservation from tests.”


(Baha’i prayer beads)
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On a completely silly note, when I was enlisting Paul’s help to provide the picture for this entry, he made this statement:“Prayer beads are for Baha’is what light sabers are for Jedi Knights. Each must construct his own.”

I nearly fell out of my chair, I was laughing so hard. (Paul is this site’s webmaster and a dear spiritual brother.)

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For love of steel…or something.

“O people of Bah! The source of crafts, sciences and arts is the power of reflection. Make ye every effort that out of this ideal mine there may gleam forth such pearls of wisdom and utterance as will promote the well-being and harmony of all the kindreds of the earth.”

-Bahullh

How often do we think of these verses when creating art, or even just working in our jobs?

Speaking of jobs, I dodge flatbed trucks every day on my way in to the office. I’ve gotten pretty good at listening to distinguish when they’re accelerating or heading in my direction. The truckers try to watch out for pedestrians, but it can be difficult to stop a truck with a couple thousand pounds of steel on it.

The doors of the plant are open during the summer and as I walk by each morning and afternoon, the acrid smell of steel (especially in the processing centers where it is burned). 250 pounds of steel is, to me, a paltry number, not even worth mentioning. When did this happen?

I accidently recorded a conversation the other day and I was shocked to hear how much I sound like my sisters. I think every sales rep should hear a recording of themselves talking to customers, just so they can see how weird/annoying/crazy they sound.

And now, for a lunch meeting.

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No possible excuse to litter!


(By Buckingham Fountain, click here for a larger image.)

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people lately about transition. I had a shocking moment the other day when I realized that a vast number of friends I formerly thought of in the singular form have turned into a unit of the married variety. Theoretically I knew that this was the case, but after the announcement of yet another engagement (I’ve kind of given up counting), and the realization that I would be attending one wedding in Chicago in a week and another in Texas in 3 weeks…well. I sat back in my chair, put my hand over my forehead in a dramatic way, and proceeded to enact a very Shakespearean scene, complete with swordfights and swooning maidens.

No. Not really. I was just amused. It happens to everyone, haha. And I love the chance to watch my friends happiness first-hand and dance at the weddings. Really, the dancing is the most important part. 😉

Other kinds of transitions are taking place. I have friends going to grad school, or deciding not to go back to school. Friends moving overseas, and friends returning from being abroad. There are career choices, lifestyle changes, moves, babies being born (oh yes, that is slowly starting to happen, too!). How very wonderful!

In the theme of my post about search, we learn a lot about our decision making styles and ability to commit to a path once we start on it. The factors that play into these choices (family, responsibilities, friends, jobs, service) all have to be weighed.

However, do we sometimes wait to take action until we have everything figured out? “Life is busy right now, I’ll wait to ____ (get married/change careers/do service/etc) when life slows down.” Or fear can take over, whether it is fear of failure (which, as we know, has no place in the path of service), or fear of injury/heartache/complications/the uknown. This is not to say that fear is not a valid feeling, but that we must overcome it to reach our goals.

So then, for me, it all boils down to detachment…especially detachment to our ego & self. Resignation to whatever is the Will of God (Insha’allah, in Arabic), while taking action in the best way we know how.

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The Sea House

I dreamed about a house on a cliff last night
it went on forever on the coast
the waves crashed around and under the foundation
it was in the mountains, abandoned
there were stories draped around the house
the corridors went on forever
doors closed in front of me, cheaply made
but apparently there were rooms
with chandeliers and french couches
enough space for every orphan in the world
to make a home of their own
and the outer walls writhed in time with the wind
sea grass hugged the stones and sand
as we stood beside the house in the mountains
next to the sea.

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Searching

Last night at the Junior Youth Animator training we read the following quotation from the Baha’i Writings:

“The more we search for ourselves, the less likely we are to find ourselves; and the more we search for God, and to serve our fellow-men, the more profoundly will we become acquainted with ourselves, and the more inwardly assured. This is one of the great spiritual laws of life.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954)

It made me think a lot about how we go about the process of searching for ourselves. When we say we are “lost” or need to go find ourselves, and often “disappear” from the world in order to facilitate that process. But the Guardian (Shoghi Effendi) is clear as to how the process of spiritual growth and transformation is to occur: through worship of God and service to others!

I’m still figuring out how I want to present myself to the world, of course. Last night, out of several conversations, I started thinking about why I do certain things in different situations. This is not to over-analyze myself, but rather to understand my own motives and actions in order to learn and grow. How we choose to act outwardly reflects our inner selves.

“Man’s evolution is both individual and collective, because of his twofold relationship to himself and to the society in which he lives. Individual evolution starts with the early stages of one’s existence. Consciousness too grows with this evolution.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1938)

We can’t separate ourselves from society. Monasticism and similar activities are discouraged. We are to grow spiritually by being a part of the community around us. Sometimes our communities can test us, our fellow Baha’is can be a trial. The state of the world is crumbling and it is easy to feel hopeless. The link below has a wonderful quote.

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Slow down

Answering questions is such a difficult thing sometimes. I have such an open face, you can read my soul in my eyes and smile most of the time.

This is both good and bad. Sometimes we have to be just a little bit private, hold things close to our hearts. It’s ok to do this.

I’m tired of asking what is new with people. I am tired of being asked what is new with me. I’m becoming weary of myself. The personal surface level has been discussed so many times before. What has happened to intelligent conversation? I’m not saying any of this in a whining way, nor am I berating people. I see it in myself as well, and I write to figure out how I want to take action on things in my life.

So we’ll laugh, and I’ll laugh, and be happy to see you. I promise. I’d also like to talk about the article I read in Business Week or the way stars are disappearing from our lives or the way flowers hold their shape in the sun and the velvet smoothness of wind off of Lake Michigan in the summer when we sit on the beach or maybe even we will sit quietly and that is ok too. I promise. Silence is not scary for me. We’ll read books on the grass because those are the kinds of memories that last, ice cream unplanned and talking until our hearts feel full again.

I am writing new songs in that clumsy way of mine
hoping that the words spoken have a purpose
and take apart the little glass pieces that work their way
under our heart’s skin.
Wishing I could sing one note with clarity
knowing that this muddled mash of awkward phrases
is enough to help me hold on
remember.

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Mama bird

I like bird nests. My sister and I used to collect them as children, along with any eggshell pieces we would find discarded.

I like birds, too. But when a bird interferes with my everyday life, I get a little annoyed.

Exhibit A: The American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

(Look at those beady, devilish eyes…)

We have a nest in the roof of our back porch with several baby robins. During our 4th of July BBQ, Andrew was attacked as he attempted to set up the grill. Once Jinous, Maysoon, Lauren, and I came outside she was less aggressive…too many people to fight, I guess.

A few days ago I was weeding the patio and the mother bird was swooping down so close that her wings were touching my hair. I abandoned the effort with half of my task completed. Yesterday I tried to hang lights on the back porch for the party and she dive-bombed me with such ferocity that I retreated back into the house, shaking with terror.

This is just ridiculous.

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Sand memories

Feet sinking in the worn-down rocks
When was the last time
We felt sea foam around our ankles?
I still think that I can spend sand dollars
And get change.
Spiny horseshoe crabs
are banned from the car
(sensitive noses, you see).Why is it that
I used to feel so much closer to the ground?
If I kneel it isn’t the same
Buried in seagull wings and screams
Our ears assaulted
We’ll take refuge in the waves.

Can I promise
With a caveat of sometime when?
That tomorrow I’ll take your hand
To walk down past the grassy dunes
On the South Carolina shore?

Since I can’t share the past with you
I’ll recreate past lives
Of 20 years gone by
And we’ll wash out our mouths
With sweet salt air.

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Cloth

We are never too old to play dress-up.

(Sarah L & I get into some cloth. Lots of laughing and picture taking ensues.)

As we looked at our collection of materials, I realized that I really wanted to make a dress. So I bought a pattern on Monday and have started it. I’ll post pictures of the finished product when I am done.

Speaking of younger people (good transition, eh?), I’m taking the training for working with junior youth . We’re doing it in an intensive style, which involves a good deal of “Guys, we really need to focus!” because we’re simply having so much fun discussing the material.

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PARTY!

Host: Sholeh & Jinous
Location: Sholeh’s house
When: Friday, July 7, 8:00pm

Let me know if you haven’t received an Evite.

All paparazzi will be barred from entering. Helicopters will be silenced and egos should be checked at the door.

Formal Attire required to attend Gala. “Creatively formal” attire will be accepted.

Bring your friends/date/dance partner/co-workers/sidekick/co-conspirators!

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Amaranth & Quinoa

I found this article on CNN about the growing demand for amaranth and quinoa, as well as other alternatives to wheat.

“One reason for the fledgling demand is a growing awareness of celiac disease, which is triggered by gluten, the protein found in wheat.”

My frustration with trying to find alternatives to bread substances is that it can get very expensive. The American market is not yet at the point where obtaining gluten-free meals is inexpensive. If I want to eat a quick meal, I am often reduced to salad (and I’m am completely sick of salad).

I don’t mind when people forget I can’t eat bread/pasta/pizza/etc, but it is frustrating when I try to take responsibility for my food and it STILL has allergens in it. Although the recent requirements to list common allergens helps, I am still very limited in my food options at times.

Sometimes I slip up and eat a cookie, or a piece of cake. I don’t have an life-threatening allergic reaction, so it can be difficult to resist when a piece of pie is calling my name.

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aaaaah…

Most relaxing night EVER. I didn’t get home until 9:30 pm but it was for a good reason. Sometimes you just have to take care of yourself, to take the time so that you’re a productive member of society again. yay.

I was reminded last night (again) how much I love Chinatown. I got a huge dinner (that was also breakfast) for $4.

I looked at my stats for the blog and I had 29 unique visitors yesterday. I’m also realizing that I have some international visitors that I never would have thought I had. Um, could the person from somewhere in South America please stand up? hahaha. Awesome.

I have at least 3 blog entries that I’ve started and not yet had time to sit down and finish/post. So y’all get this filler entry for now. 🙂

*waves to the masses that read but never comment* Have a great day!

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Positively Medieval

I came back to the city Sunday night after visiting my family in the suburbs over the weekend. It was nearly 11 pm and I had a car to unload. Sarah L was staying with me, and so I enlisted her help.

After several trips to the car we got everything inside. As we stood in the living room, I looked over to the corner and realized that something was different…

There was a full suit of armor in my living room.

“Sarah!” I pointed and exclaimed, “I did not even SEE that until now.”

She looked over at it, and then looked at me with wide eyes. “I didn’t see it either. And I’ve been here all day.”

We discovered that he belongs to one of my roommates, and his name is Sir Tetanus. And he has a new home in our living room.

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9 Miles

At the Viceroy Hotel,
a car sits up on rocks
(not blocks)
Across the street from the shelter
are the condos, which are
across the street from the homeless
who are
sitting with signs by the highway entrance.
I am
skimming down Ogden Ave
doing my death dance with
cell-phone wielding socialites on wheels.
I’ll dare to race you
on two or four
you’ll never know what hit you
On my 9 mile ride
I defy the signs and lights
and in the darkness of the night
finish where I started.

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A rivalry of shoes

One of my friends pointed me in the direction of this article at BBC about Adidas & Puma.

“It’s quite a crazy story because in this little town, Herzogenaurach, a cobblestoned medieval town, you have two of the world’s biggest sports companies,” says Barbara Smit.

Apparently two brothers started a shoe company in the 1920s, but a feud happened between them, and eventually everyone in the town had to choose sides.

Rudolf, or Rudi, set up his rival firm, Puma, on one side of the river; Adolf, or Adi, stayed on the hill and shortened his name to form Adidas.

I find it very amusing that such a feud created two of the largest and most famous sports companies in the world…and that it was in a little German town, the name of which I can’t even pronounce.

Even in death, Rudi and Adi were not reconciled. At the local cemetery, their graves are about as far apart as you can get.

Although the feud had some positive result (the creation of two companies), it is also very sad that the brothers never allowed themselves to get over their pride and hurt. Ah well…the story as old as time, eh?

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Top 10 things…

that are awesome about working for a large corporation at headquarters:

10. Free mouthwash in the bathrooms…with little disposable cups.

9. Parking is never a problem.

8. Italian ice for afternoon snacks.

7. Free camp chairs with the company logo on them.

6. Grilled steak, hamburgers, and hot dogs when you have to work overtime on the weekend.

5. Office supplies whenever you need them (and no one complains about you needing office supplies!)

4. A cafeteria in the building, with a cook who knows that you can’t eat bread and leaves the bun off of your hamburger.

3. The coffee is already made when you get to work because there are 60 other sales reps who are more addicted than you are.

2. Almost getting run over by flatbed trucks on the way to & from the parking lot…every day. Woohoo adrenaline rush!

1. Having an ID badge with your name on it…and you actually look good in the picture.

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