The day of labor

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

seriousjohn 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.

dirtyaddress

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

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A Paper Castle

http://moneyboat.live moneyboat

http://tiredwindow.live tiredwindow 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.

http://morecaught.live morecaught http://sentfeels.live sentfeels harryreport click Conversation:

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

http://soulplanet.live soulplanet “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.”

nameguilty go mouthstopped visit (customer is cracking up)

dollarslooked visit “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?!

http://staydrive.live staydrive My accounting and finance professors will be happy to know that I remember askeddoesn see some of the things they taught me.

angrygirls 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.

http://wantedhundred.live wantedhundred 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).

onesthem check 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.

trainpeter 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…

http://guesssister.live guesssister 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.

feelsentire visit 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?)

http://feltball.live feltball 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.

http://blackfault.live blackfault 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).

http://timenature.live timenature

This is summer now:

captainname view I still love it.

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Gastronomical delights…

namedarms

http://playforgot.live playforgot 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.)

———————————

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)
—————–

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 Bahá! 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.”

-Bahá’u’lláh

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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Job Satisfaction

I was reading this article called “Signs you have a great job … or not”. The following questions are asked.

$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$
1. Do I know what’s expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the last 7 days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and to grow?

…One cautionary note: Your job may not be as wonderful for you as you think if you answer a majority of the 12 questions affirmatively but the few questions that you can’t are among the first six…

…”If you’re not able to use your gifts everyday, you’ll be pretty frustrated,”…

…Of course, job satisfaction isn’t a one-way street with a department either meeting your needs or not. In order to answer the 12 questions honestly, you need to know what it is that makes you tick and not blindly blame your department for any job dissatisfaction…
$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$

So it makes me think about how we rate our jobs. Pay & benefits are important to everyone, of course, but how do we know what we are truly looking for in a satisfying job? What is our criteria for a job? Are we realistic about what we want?

In other news, expect me to be using this lot if I ever pick you up from the airport. Thank God.

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Weekend worker

So I get to work this weekend…as does everyone else at my company. I don’t specifically talk about work on my blog because that is just a little bit dumb. 🙂 However, I do work an 8-5 job, M-F. This weekend is a special circumstance having to do with computers. Yippee. I’ve also got birthday parties and a study circle, as well as Feast.

Here is a little tidbit for you:

“Whatever the customer wants, we can get it 9 times out of 10. 99%. Is that clear?” – lunch meeting, a sales manager

Well, no one said that we’re math majors over here. Speaking of which, last night I dreamt of fractions. 5/16, 3/4, .375, etc.

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A vacation is…

singing along to music on a road trip
scary gas station stops
traveling on rickety bikes through the woods
making s’mores each night on the campfire
sharing a cabin with four other women
watching sunsets
laughing while stargazing
naps in the afternoon as the sun shines down
exploration of a “haunted tower”
not having access to internet & tv
reading in the cabin while a thunderstorm rages
realizing that you forgot your tennis shoes but not caring
ice cream with espresso poured on top
taking a canoe out on a very deep lake
playing glow-in-the-dark frisbee with random kids from Minnesota
soaking up the sun after a long winter
watching boats on the water
wading in the water…even though your feet turn blue from the cold
posing for pictures
cooking food from scratch
aimless walks
stopping at random places on the way home just because you can

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Different Paths

We will walk down that dusty path
with the sun setting in front of us
our walking sticks and cloaks on our backs
our soft murmur of conversation veiled
by the desert wind we travel in.

We can look into each other’s eyes now
this power unknown to us
of pictures taken after the fact
during pure moments in time
because we see the divinity inherent
behind the eyes, inside our spirits.

Walk with me, soul companion.

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Not surprised.

I am still trying to understand
how people get to know each other
to form friendships or assumptions
based on 5 minute meetings in a
crowded room.

I am trying to fathom how one can
make any judgement of who I am
when they’ve never tried to know me
or have a conversation beyond “hellos”.

I am trying to discern
how it can be justified to say things
masked as “concern for a friend”
but are hurtful in any case.

I am trying to figure out
what it is I did to make them feel unwelcome
or why they simply did not approach me
when they felt slighted.

Maybe I am mistaken
but I was pretty sure we are supposed to
be going for a higher standard here.

But who am I to say
how others should think of me?
Maybe I need to try harder
but I feel like there is only so much
I can do.


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Live @ The Vic

I went with a friend to see Live at The Vic on Tuesday night.

Amazing.

I must start by saying that Live has been one of my favorite bands for at least the last 8 years. I’ve never seen them perform live. They’ve been doing this for over 15 years, and you can tell that they absolutely love their job. 2 encores, old favorites and songs from their cd that is coming out in June. 1.5 hours of wonderful music.

I’m still happy from it. Amazing how music can do that to you. Click to see a list of some of the songs that they played.

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