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Category Archives: Convictions and Beliefs

I caught myself thinking the other day, “I can’t believe 2009 is almost over.  It seems like it just flew by…” and then I thought, “What a stupid saying.  It’s just as long as any other year.”

2009 was full of anything and everything.  Wonderful new beginnings, tragic endings, and comforting normalcy all mushed together is what made this year fly by.  So I’m taking some time to reflect on it all; I wanted to share some memories and musings, as well as put some commitments for 2010 in writing.

The year started off in great style at a tiny jazz club (Small’s actually) in NYC, and then New Year’s Day in the city with my good friend Adam Walker.  What a great trip that was!  I spent a week in beautiful upstate NY and Vermont, and it was so relaxing and calming.  This actually turned out to by my only trip out of the state this year, so I am very grateful that I got to travel.  Unfortunately, I did not have much to come home to.  I had graduated from UNT only three weeks earlier, without any solid job prospects, and not even a home to call my own.  Things were looking pretty bleak and to be honest I was going a little stir crazy.

It didn’t take long for things to turn around though.  By the second week of January, I was training for an internship with Thomson Reuters.  It felt pretty strange to be a 29 year old intern, but really it was the best foot in the door I could find.  However, it turns out that software support for corporate tax software is not my calling.  Luckily, I was offered a position at a small healthcare consulting firm, and I began that journey in June.  So far things are going well at SCA.  However, I was rather surprised at how slowly I learn new things these days, and how short my attention span is.  Training for this line of work is pretty grueling, and my thirty-year-old brain is no longer the sponge it used to be.  The company is unbelievable – the owner is beyond generous, the benefits are better than any I’ve heard of, and I really enjoy my coworkers.

The summer, however, brought a lot of goodbyes.  On June 9th, I received a phone call at work that a pivotal member of our circle of friends had suddenly, tragically, died.  Aaron Wuensch, 25, was unaware of his heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  He was the healthiest person I knew – an award-winning swimmer, biker, and runner – he had just completed a triathlon in May.  Needless to say, our large group of close-knit friends grieved and continue to grieve for Aaron and his family.  To rub salt into the wound, my good friend Josh’s father died two weeks later.  I didn’t expect it, but I was quite moved at Steve’s funeral.  I had only met him twice, but the lessons he passed to his sons gave me a lot to think about for two reasons: That man loved his wife (Bonita).  It was evident in every account from his friends and family that he was a virtuous man who knew the meaning of the word “honor.”  Moreover, he passed this on to his sons by teaching them that “the greatest gift you can give to your children is to love their mother.”  How true, and what a wonderful way to teach your children what a healthy relationship is.  I truly hope that I find love like that someday.

More goodbyes followed when my good friend Josh left for Germany (he is spending one year working abroad), and then Sarah left the same week for a year in France.  Now Josh Ballard has followed suit!  I cannot wait to be re-united with my dear friends in Europe this coming March.  Even more goodbyes from my musician friends: Bookman joined the Navy, Matt Timm is cruising the Pacific on a cruise ship, and even Tom was all over Asia for several months.  I am getting very good at Skype and writing letters!

Summer rolled on.  My brother and his wife visited for a full week and it was wonderful to reconnect with them.  My mother put together a fantastic surprise birthday celebration for me.  Boy did I feel loved!  I was able to move into my own place, just a short  drive from work.  I do love it up here, although I miss the comraderie that came with having my dear friends so close in Denton.  Living alone sure does teach you a lot about yourself!  I will save that for another blog!  The move has brought with it some new friends though, as well as becoming closer with old friends.  Joe and Lauren and their friends have been such a positive influence on me, and we have such a great time together.  I am truly grateful for all of my friends, old and new.

This fall has been fairly uneventful by comparison.  I am getting settled in at work and finally feel like I know what I’m doing.  I love living so close to Dallas; there is always something fun to do, and when I don’t feel like doing anything, I have my own space to cook, read, entertain, and do anything my heart desires – something I have never experienced before.  I have discovered that I enjoy golf (well really I just love being outdoors and golf courses provide some excellent scenery), and have been able to bond with my stepdad over a few rounds this year.  I played in my first golf tournament, held to raise funds for a scholarship in Aaron’s name.

I have also spent some time helping others this year.  I have joined the Young Republicans group in Dallas, and I hope to find more opportunities to serve the GOP through this organization.  At the very least, they know how to have fun!  Operation Kindness, a no-kill animal shelter, gets at least few hours of my time each month as well.  I have to admit that I began volunteering for selfish reasons – I miss Winnie terribly and I needed some kitty love!  There is plenty of it at OK!  This organization is phenomenal, well-organized, and caring beyond belief.  I keep wanting to take home a 3-legged or one-eyed animal.  A bleeding heart, I am.  I have also spent a day with Habitat for Humanity and will hopefully be up for many more.

So far I have tentative plans to travel to Germany and France in March of 2010 (I am buying my plane tickets this week), and I am thrilled to finally be going to Europe.  The opportunity never presented itself before now, and what an opportunity!  Three friends living in Europe at the same time means it’s time for me to cross the pond.

I have also been reflecting on my personal goals for 2010, namely the image that I wish present and how I can improve myself.  Fitness goals are right up there with that, as well as financial, career, and long term goals.  Until now, I have felt that my life was not my own to live.  The possibilities are endless.

5920_684227181320_23931995_39718031_1271769_nHave you ever formed a friendship in an unexpected way?  For example: one of my best guy friends (Josh) I met through a bulletin on Myspace – it was a serious bulletin inviting people to tour the American Airlines maintenance facility, and his reply was, “want to go out?” I thought it was funny…friendship ensued.  Another good friend (Mike), I dated about 11 years ago.  Man after what we went through I never imagined he’d be one of my closest friends.  Shana, my go-to girlfriend, hated me when we first met.  Ashley and I used to chat in the same channel on IRC and we couldn’t stand each other.  Anyway, long story short – my best and oldest friends have come from experiences that I never believed would win anyone’s affections.

So, I am not all that surprised to feel a connection with Sarah, my ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend.  Honestly, I didn’t go out with him for very long (2 months) and it wasn’t one of the more important relationships in my life.  It was very tumultuous and he and I were so different I really thought we would never speak again.  But you know…the dust settled and everyone found their place and sure enough, he chose a wonderful woman that I can relate to, confide in, and admire.

It’s so funny that he should choose a woman who so closely mirrors my morals, beliefs, and opinions.  Sure, we probably don’t agree on everything, but we talk about relationship issues more than anything, and it amazes me that she and I are so much alike.  Some of the same issues he and I clashed on, she has been able to communicate her desires more clearly and in a much more palatable way so that he could understand and even agree.

I could go on about Sarah all night, but when it comes down to it – I am in awe.  I am in awe of her and her amazing woman-power to change a man so drastically (for the better – I am 99% sure he is happier in general).  I am in awe of my ability to get to know her objectively and love her for who she is.  I am in awe of her ability to love me despite our “history.”  I am in awe of Graham’s ability to forgive and forget.

Life is too short to hold grudges, and too short to not get to know someone because of their “status” or however you may have met them.  I’m not saying you should go out and be-friend your ex’s current love interest, but when you’re ignoring someone for a real stupid reason…you should consider that she just might change your life.

I love being single.

History:

Age 18-19: first “real” relationship

Age 19-21: relationship with future husband

Age 21-24: married

Age 25-26: horrible controlling 2 year relationship with an abusive alcoholic

Age 26-28: relationship (a good one this time)

Age 28-29: relationship

Does anyone else see a problem here?  I have only had a few months of single-dom over the last twelve years.  There were a few short-terms mixed in, lots of first and second dates, and I did have a good six months free in 2007.  I really don’t have any regrets about the relationships themselves (ok, I should not have gotten married, and I should not have stayed with the alcoholic for so long), but I sure do regret not having much time to myself.  Luckily, I’ve had quite a bit of time this year and I’m almost back to center.

As I re-enter the world of dating (slowly), I find myself thinking about these past relationships a lot.  First of all, I feel that it’s necessary to just say up front that I am divorced.  How awkward would it be to come across my marriage license, or to see one of the bridal portraits a few family members insist on keeping on display, having no idea that I had been married.  Also, when you scan my driver’s license (like at a bar), my married name comes up and I’ve had to explain the situation to the doorman in front of a date.  Awkward does not begin to describe.  I always freeze with fear in anticipation of telling a guy that I’ve been married.  There have actually been a few negative reactions.  It’s never been a dealbreaker, but I usually have to redeem myself with an explanation, dredging up some rather painful memories.  It’s really not fun to get that personal on a first or second date.  Also, I usually explain that I spent a long time in an abusive relationship.  I developed some self-preservation behavior during that time that has been hard to shake.  I may as well wait to explain this one if it becomes an issue though, instead of overwhelming a poor guy.

So “they” say that you should make a list of your “must haves” and “can’t live withs.”  I think all of this experience I’ve had has made my list very long.  But why shouldn’t I keep raising my standards?  I’ve been overly forgiving in the past, and I’ve consequently more unhappy within a relationship than on my own.  So I’m wondering: How picky is too picky?

On one hand, being picky seems smart because I almost always choose men that are obviously wrong for me; ignoring red flags, friend’s advice, forget the signs I know what I’m doing, right?  Wrong!  I am incredibly sick of relationship failure.  It makes me sick to my stomach just to think about it.  It’s stressful, it’s painful, it hurts.  No matter what side you’re on, if you’ve got anything invested in this relationship (even if it’s just time), it’s going to take you a few months to recover.  Sometimes just the fact that yet another one didn’t work out makes me terribly sad.

But, being picky usually gets you labeled as a bitch.  I’m not kidding.  Because I feel that the guy should take charge and plan and pay for the first date, I’m apparently greedy and looking for a sugar daddy.  Why can’t I just want a man to be in charge and for there to not be awkwardness when the check comes?  If you get another date, it’s likely that I will pay or at least split it, unless you insist.  This particular “must have” comes from experience: on our first date, my husband walked up to the ticket booth at the movie theater and ordered one ticket.  It was a good thing I had cash, but I spent the rest of the evening miffed – if he didn’t have the money, why did he ask me on a date?  Was it really a date?  In hindsight it seems like such a douchebag thing to do and I’m so mad at myself for not paying more attention to my own feelings way back then.  Since then, I have actually paid more attention to this and it seems to be a good indicator of things to come.  So in general I “must have” a take-charge kinda guy who likes to show me a good time.  You could also lump this in with wanting a guy who is generous.  Hey, I don’t want your money, I don’t need to be showered with gifts (although it is nice), I just want to know that you want to share because I will definitely be sharing with you.

I also like to see how a guy acts towards my friends.  I’m not very close to my family, so my friends’ opinions are very important to me.  If you’re not at all interested in the most important people in my life, it’s a key indicator that you don’t care about me, period.  The best guys have been very interested in my friends, and take the time to get to know them.  They don’t sit and text their friends the whole night.  So I’ve been criticized for that one as well – I shouldn’t let those closest to me make my decisions.  Um, they’re not making my decision, they’re sizing you up and you’d better impress them.

Just plain not being interested makes me a bitch sometimes as well.  I’ve lost countless male friends when they decided they wanted something more from our relationship.  Am I not entitled to like whomever I want?  Is my friendship completely worthless because we’ll never have sex?  How is getting angry with me for not sharing your feelings going to make the situation any better?  Sure, I’ve been disappointed before, but I wouldn’t want to burn a bridge.  I may not feel that way about you right now, but perhaps if you don’t get angry with me I might consider you in the future.  Way to go, now you don’t have a girlfriend OR a friend.

My list of must haves is pretty lengthy; I’ll just mention a few more: intelligence, sense of humor, good friends/family relationships, hobbies, good manners, opens doors, calls instead of constantly texting, acknowledges my birthday, politically conservative, wants kids, enjoys live music, friendly, gregarious, ambitious etc. etc. etc.

I can’t live with: infidelity, lying, drugs, bad drinker, rude to waitresses, negativity, unwilling to do stuff with me, drama, laziness, pushiness… I suppose those are pretty basic.

I would like to have a family with the “right” guy some day in the next…oh…five (?) years.  So why do I feel guilty about having a list??

Working with the general public is almost always a thankless job.  As a former waitress, bartender, and cashier, I can tell you firsthand how poorly the people who serve the public are treated.  Even when I was the friendliest I could possibly be, all smiles and “hello” and perkiness galore – but not the over-done annoying perkiness where you just want to get the hell out of there – I was ignored, argued with, and abused.  One guy would come into the bar and complain that the beer wasn’t cold enough and gave me HELL about it.  Do I look like a refrigeration specialist?  I can remember saying “hi! How are you doing?” and being flat out IGNORED!  How rude is that?  Once, a woman once threw a pen at me because I wouldn’t take her check without a drivers’ license.  I hope somebody steals that bitch’s checkbook…

Anyway, so when I receive good service, or when a cashier, clerk, phone operator, tech support rep, toll booth worker…or whomever…brightens my day, I don’t just leave it unnoticed.  Because you know what?  That poor clerk is going to HATE life.  Their boss doesn’t notice, only the customers notice.  So when you just use up their friendliness you are beating them down and eventually they’re rude like everybody else.  Have you ever been to the Northeast?  I don’t want it to be like that everywhere. *sad face*  I had a few customers write letters for me when I worked at Lowe’s, and I still have them.  They meant the world to me – they hung on the bulletin board in the manager’s office until the day I quit and I bring them to every interview.

So I do stuff like this as often as possible.  Do something nice for someone else for a change.

To the store manager of Service King Collision Repair in Carrollton, TX.

Dear Mr. Peel,

I just picked up my car today (Thursday, April 16th) from your shop in Carrollton.  I had paintless dent repair for some hail damage – I live in North Richland Hills but am lucky enough to work just down the street from you on Midway so I brought my car to your location.  I just wanted you to know that the experience was a pleasure.  From the very first phone call to the 1-800 #, to the key-handoff from Brian Martin…not one bit of it was unpleasant.  The woman who set up the appointment through the call center was extremely friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.  The receptionist was very friendly and helpful.  The gentleman who helped me when I first dropped off my car (Brian was at lunch) was thorough and friendly.  Brian kept me well-informed and was always in touch.  I had to literally make Brian stop shining my car so that I could head home!  Everything was fantastic.  I know that your customers are very happy and I wish you much success!

Thank you,

Susan B

n23931995_38634002_51561281

I attended the Dallas Tea Party (T.E.A. = Taxed Enough Already)!

I do love a good political rally.  It was fun…I could only stay for about an hour though.  A girl can only take so much standing on concrete in heels.  So that was fun, it reminded me that my views on the current political situation are shared by thousands (perhaps millions) across the country.  Of course I am disappointed in the media coverage – in most cases the turnout is understated, or they are saying the movement is misguided (thanks, CNN).  Most of the coverage went to Fort Worth because governor Rick Perry showed up there.  I’m glad the Dallas rally didn’t have all the political election hoo-ha.  It was by the citizens, for the citizens and all that good stuff.

For those of you that don’t get it…let me try to sum it up for you.  We don’t like to have our hard-earned money given away to others.  We work hard for ourselves, not for others.  This time it’s not taxation without representation, it’s that our representation isn’t LISTENING.  Taxes are a necessary evil…but this is out of control.  O.O.C. I tell  ya!

The emcee, Mark Davis, quoted some things from Atlas Shrugged (a book I have started but have yet to finish…come on, it’s really really long!) that I would like to share. These can all be attributed to Ayn Rand (obviously).

I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

In other words – I work for myself, not for the lazy people (in Atlas Shrugged they are called the “moochers”).

So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

In other words – money is necessary.  Get over it.  Get some of your own.