Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saying Goodbye.

This year has been lucrative for funeral homes. Between the celebrities and my own family members, I have to say that the morticians got dough for the holidays.

I realized the other day that I have lost two uncles, a cousin, and an aunt this year. My aunt Trish got in just under the gun by passing away on December 21st. It was highly unexpected. I fully believed that she would beat her cancer. It never even occurred to me that she wouldn't. So when we got the call last Monday morning, I was shocked. It had spread everywhere. But the real cause of her death was complications due to the chemo.

I have already decided that if I ever get cancer (which will not happen if I get my way) that I will forgo the chemo and find another route. I don't care what stage I'm at, how long the doctors give me, whatever. I can fight cancer another way. Chemo is not the only option, it's just usually the only option doctors will give (don't get me started on kick-backs - that's for another post).

Anyhow, I've been pretty down about Trish's passing. She's leaving a twelve-year-old behind. All I want to do is put my arms around Caity and tell her it will be okay, but I can't make the trip to NY now (it seems no one can). She seems to be doing alright. Trish had probably prepared her ahead of time. Very sad situation. But there it is. My dad's only sibling is gone now too. Now it's just us: me, Shannon, and Caitlyn. Oh, and now Lily.

It's these deaths that seem to just keep coming that remind me of the life I really want to lead, and so far, haven't. It also makes me curious of what lies on the other side of that line, the one that separates us. I've commented before to people that it's almost cruel that human existence is split into two parts and that those parts have a very fixed wall between them. We can't know those things that lie beyond yet. And we cannot be with those who've already journeyed there. I know my time is coming, and I'm reminded that there will be others that I will lose before then, when those eternal truths are finally revealed to me.

Until then, farewell Uncle Curt, Uncle Dick, Russell, and Aunt Trish.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 10

One of my best childhood memories is of watching The Goonies. My mom likes to recount the story of the first time my sister and I saw it. She and a couple of her friends who also had kids (albeit a little older than Shannon and me) took us to the theater. We kids sat in the front (as if we were somehow cool because we were in the front of the theater despite the fact that our moms were in the rear, watching over us). At some point, my four year old sister got scared. Because of the lights along the main aisles, my mom could make out some short chubby legs running from the front to the back, and nearly diving into her lap. Poor Shannon.

Since then, it has become a staple in my film diet. Yes, it is action/adventure rather than rom-com or amazingly inspirational true story. But it's fun and has a happy ending. And that's good enough to make the list. Not to mention a Cindy Lauper-infused soundtrack. I don't think it gets more 80's than that.

Perhaps the best part of this movie is that it mainly involves a group of friends who work together for the benefit of saving their families' homes. The camaraderie, along with sophomoric wit and slapstick humor, is a huge draw for anyone who loves comedies.

I love The Goonies (along with millions of other people who've adopted the same sort of cult following), and it's a great one to watch on a winter afternoon such as this. Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas! (A little early)

Hi everyone. I know that Christmas is a week away, but I just wanted to mention something.

I've been familiar with Charity: Water for a short time now, but the work they are doing astounds me. They're working tirelessly to bring clean, safe water to people in developing countries. Approximately 1 in 6 people living on this planet doesn't have adequate water to drink much less for hygiene and sanitation. What's sad is that it only takes $20 to provide a person in these third world locations with 20 years of clean water.

I don't often urge people to spend money or make donations, but if you can spare even a few dollars, every cent goes toward these projects. And even if you don't contribute to Charity: Water, I hope you will learn about them and pass on this information to others.

If Charity: Water isn't your calling, consider the Salvation Army. You can even start your own online red bucket for your website or blog. How cool is that? Or you can donate to my online red bucket. (Click here to start your own.)

Banner Ad for Red Kettle
Personal fundraising widget for 2009 Red Kettle campaign

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Things I should've learned by now (A Year in Review).

So, I've decided to make a list of how things have and haven't turned out this year. Funny, another passed, and I still haven't got my shit together. Hmmm...

Anyhow, I think it worthy of reflection, if only to note where I've been stupid, and where I've come a little closer to a self-actualized human being (baby-steps and some crawling).

1. I am occasionally still afraid of the dark. Case in point: I scared the shit out of myself by going to Paranormal Activity and The Fourth Kind in the same day. I'm regretting having seen the former and I think that made me appreciate less the latter. This led to a few nights of sleeping with the lights on. Silly, yes. Wise, absolutely. My mind goes all kinds of crazy and this is just one of those times when my own sanity is more important than saving the planet. Does this make me a hypocrite. A little.

2. I am capable of getting over personal shame. Despite my desperate desire not to go back to working for Hell-Mart and having to explain my explosive failure, I did. A little humble pie, anyone? But you know what? It was worth it if it means that I am on my way back to semi-normal (because who are we kidding - I never truly was normal). And if I was able to get over this shame, maybe there are others that can finally be resolved as well.

3. It isn't always bad to be ghetto-fabulous! I have managed to prove that I can be resourceful despite a lack of resources. I put together a bookshelf with out the use of a screwdriver or a hammer. Yay me! Who said that the handles on butter knives only have one purpose?

4. My sister is my best friend in the whole wide world. Mom's a close second. I needed to rely on some people who were completely trust-worthy, and none proved more so than Shannon this year. She has watched me struggling for the last few years and has only offered support and love (through her charming wit and sometimes sarcastic tones accompanied by advice). She may live three-hundred miles away, but she might as well have been next door.

5. It's okay to shave my legs every once in a while. After a long bout of refusing to shave, the itch began to drive me way too crazy to describe. I don't know how men do it. The cuffs of my socks were not my friends during this time. Lesson learned.

6. I watch way, way, way too much television. Here is the current list of shows I follow: How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Heroes, House, NCIS, NCIS: LA, The Good Wife, The Forgotten, Criminal Minds, Glee, Fringe, Bones, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, and Medium. Throw in a little House Hunters, Ghost Hunters, Stargate Universe, and Masterpiece Theatre, and you've got a recipe for couch-potato-ness (term officially coined). Now, I know that most of these are watched via an over-diligent DVR, but this is ridiculous and I am considering abstaining from TV for a while to cut the addiction. There are better things to do than spend all day on my days off catching up. Like reading, or getting my hair cut (more on that next), or catching up with friends. I remember a time when I often said, "I don't watch TV." Of course, this is when I worked two jobs (one of which covered second shift), and I didn't have DISH, much less a DVR. I think I'd like to go back to the freedom that comes with saying that.

7. My mother needs to get over my hair. She keeps telling me that my hair-style is out of style (I beg to differ - I tend to choose the styles that are relatively timeless, but whatever). Still, I have unresolved trust issues with my hair. Until I find the perfect stylist and can actually afford him or her, I will just have to decide to live through the pain of the possible catastrophe that might occur. My hair hasn't been cut since the beginning of March. A good four inches needs to be chopped at the least. I used to let it get super long. Not so much any more - it's just too big a hassle, and I'm getting too old. Plus, the last time I got it cut, I found that it was possibly the least emotional I've been about my hair. So maybe this is becoming less an attachment to my hair thing and more a Sam's-too-lazy-to-get-her-hair-cut thing.

8. My health needs to take priority. I am on the second cold in as many months and I am not pleased. This tells me that I'm out of balance (like I haven't been for the past three years [insert sarcastic eyebrow raise here]). Under normal circumstances, I get sick maybe twice a year, if that. If you've noticed the book I just read on the right (The Kind Diet), then you know that I'm working towards a plan for a lifestyle change. I haven't eaten meat in almost ten years, but that's only part of the problem. I need to consider how my body is responding to processed foods, dairy, and eggs. Plus, as previously posted, I've had an ongoing war with my weight for a while. Besides the phlegm-y disposition, and overall respiratory issues, my joints and back have ached a lot more (and I'm not even that huge). There has been a rising occurrence of stomach issues. Fatigue has been a major culprit in my overall well-being as well, even before the third shift made its appearance. I always do better when I'm eating mainly fruit and vegetables (in their unprocessed, whole or juiced forms). So, what I'm waiting for is beyond me. But I know that if I finally make the official switch to veganism, there won't be any turning back. It just wouldn't be worth it. I want to be healthy until the day I die and that doesn't have to be unreasonable a statement.

9. I can take each day at a time. If anything, being a third-shifter has taught me that. Yes, the personal sleep schedule is all out of whack, but it forces me to do things more in moderation than anything. If it doesn't fit into my waking hours for that day, then it will have to wait until the next day. And that's okay. Some people might rush to get things done and either wear themselves out or do a completely shabby job. It just doesn't have to be that way.

10. I'm getting to the age where I don't feel the need to sweat so much of the small stuff. So, things didn't work out perfectly. That's okay. I find that I will live a much better life if I am okay with all possible outcomes, even the less than stellar ones. I've always been one of those people who would fret and worry. But now, not so much. And that's awesome.

11. So the planned fortune that the business was supposed to bring didn't happen. So much for basing my success on the outcomes of others in that line of work. Oh well. If it wasn't meant to be, then it's just a matter of me getting over it. It would've been nice to be free of the burden that comes with being poor. I keep trying to remember that these periods come and go, and eventually the freedom, that comes with a good income, will arrive when it's supposed to. Millionaire I am not. [Insert sigh here.]

12. I actually found a wine that I like (two to be exact). Both are from Cedar Creek Winery. Their Settlement Gold and Cranberry Blush are awesome. I got oh-so-lost on my way back from Cedarburg the day I decided to venture up there. I thought maybe I'd get some Christmas shopping done up there and then all I came back with was wine. I don't do well with dry wine. I like sweet. And I made a total ass of myself tasting them at the winery, acting like I knew what to look for. I don't. Wine expert I am not. What's funny about that trip is that I found historic downtown Cedarburg really easily, but when it came time to come home, I got completely turned around and ended up even farther north in Saukville. Not too big a deal. Strange that it's only fun to get lost when that is your intention. Otherwise, it's just a little scary.

13. I finally, finally get that I am responsible for my own happiness. It was drilled into me as a kid, but now I finally feel like that is how I can live. I've been responsible for the crappy existence that I have thus far created. And if the last three years have taught me anything, it's that if I am capable of utter misery, then I am also capable of an absolutely fantastic life. And that's exactly what I intend from now on. If I want to see change, then it has to start with me.

14. I realized what it is that I really want to do with my life. And no more distractions. No more excuses. If I really want something to happen, I have to make it happen. The business was just something that clouded my judgment and kept me from the things I really wanted to do, or thought I couldn't do. Not anymore. I think I'd rather try and fail at something I actually love and not something that only frustrates, annoys, disheartens, and ultimately I hate to do. Besides, when you do what you love, it's not work. It only reinforces joy.

So, that's it. I'm not saying there won't be amendments and additions to the list. But for now, this is pretty good. I won't bore you with the details of things that I plan to change about myself, not as a resolution, but something bigger and better. Besides, I'm sure the details of my life will emerge here over the course of the next year.

Okay New Year, bring it on! Bring. It. On.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 9

Okay, okay. I get it. It's been a while and if some of you have been wondering what happened to Cinema Therapy, don't be alarmed at the length of time it took me to post one. No, I haven't become one of those jags who doesn't believe in feel-good movies being quality viewing. No, I haven't become overly depressed with the world and want to shut out all that is happy and good. I simply have found myself overwhelmed with the schedule lately and Wednesdays come and go, with me remembering by Friday night, and by then thinking, "Oh, I'll do it next week." And then, it happens again. Oh well. I'll try to get better.

So, here it is, volume 9. And my pick for this week isn't just a feel-good drama. It's a great expression of family dysfunction that somehow shows how cohesive the group really is, and how they are better together than apart. Plus, Susan Sarandon makes me want to have all boys in this pic.

Say "hello" to Safe Passage. Even though this film was made in the 90's, it still resonates, especially given the international political circumstances this country finds itself. The story revolves around the Singer family, made up of Mom and Dad, Mag and Patrick, and their seven sons. Though Mag and Patrick are currently estranged, they come together with the rest of their family when one of the boys, Percival, is feared dead after a bomb has been detonated at a military barracks in the Sinai desert where he was stationed. How this film is brilliant is that it is filmed entirely from the perspective of the family awaiting news of Percy and through Mag's memories of her children. You feel that powerless sense of not knowing what has happened and the building anxiety and anticipation one experiences in situations such as these. So, how does this make it a feel-good movie? The family antics drive enough laughter through their fears, as well as a climactic ending that may be predictable, but still worthwhile.

Including an always brilliant Ms. Sarandon, there's also great performances by Sam Shepard, Nick Stahl, Robert Sean Leonard (of "House, M.D." fame), Marcia Gay Harden, and Sean Astin.

Despite the neuroses of most of the family members, I always find myself desiring my own place in the Singer household. It might even remind you of your own family, with it's sarcasm, wit, drama, and above all, love.

Sam-in-Progress | Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial License | Dandy Dandilion Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates