Saturday, December 30, 2006

Year in Review

(A meme discovered via DM)

1. What did you do in 2006 that you'd never done before?
I went to Canada. I'd visited Mexico, Germany, and Portugal before, but I had yet to visit the great land just north of my state. I really enjoyed the trip with DM.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
The closest I came to having a resolution was to promise myself that I would embrace my feelings towards men I meet. I didn't do as well with this one, especially since I'm still playing Devil's Advocate about the entire Andriy dilemma. This year? I want to resolve to resolve an issue that is hindering my ability to jump on a plane and visit Andriy. This will not happen overnight, but could be resolved by the end of the year if I buckle down.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth or adopt?
No. Unless you count a bartender at the Chalet and I'll admit, I don't even know the baby's name. Oops. Oh, one of my bankers just had a child. Or his wife did but he is the father, so it counts.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. I had an uncle pass away that I'd never met.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
That's tough. I don't really feel like I'm lacking anything, except that one issue. Unlimited spending power? Without repayment? That's not really possible.

7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 15 (drunk at karaoke); October 26 (hearing from Andriy); March 11 (DM's Birthday); May something or another (Road trip to Canada)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Proving at work that my team could be #1 in sales

9. What was your biggest failure?
I still have yet to graduate college. That will take place in 2008.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing too severe. I think I got sick early in the year. Maybe.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Scrapbooking stuff - this year wasn't a big one for buying cool electronics.
Note - oops! I realized that I bought a laptop this year. That was cool.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
DM, Sarah, my mom, my dad, and quite a few of my bankers. I surround myself with good people. It helps. Always.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
There was a situation at work that I dealt with early in the year that was highly stressful, disappointing, and angering. The behaviors of a certain individual went against my trust and I was saddened to realize what was being done by that individual.

14. Where did most of your money go?
iTunes. Debt. School.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Canada with DM. Hearing from Andriy. My team's performance.

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
I don't know if there is a specific song for the year, but two songs that come to mind are, "Mess," by Ben Folds Five and "Maybe You're Right," by BNL. Both just move me.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Probably happier. About the same.
b) thinner or fatter?
Unfortunately, fatter. That's what happens when you start going to lunch every day.
c) richer or poorer?
Richer, but still poor.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Traveling. Scrapbooking. There's always a wish to spend more time with friends and family.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Going to the dentist?

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
It's past. I spent it with my parents and my mom's boyfriend.

21. Did you fall in love in 2006?
Love was reawakened in 2006. How does that sound?

22. How man one-night stands?
Dude. He lives in a foreign country. A little difficult. None to be exact.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I like LOST. I also watch Heroes and CSI (Vegas).

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I hate the actions of a few people, but nothing enough to wish badly upon anyone.

25. What was the best book you read?
I don't read enough. I guess I'd say, "Eyes of the Dragon." One, I love the story. Two, I don't remember reading anything else.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I got into Ben Folds and Death Cab for Cutie this year, thanks to Steve. KT Tunstall also.

27. What did you want and get?
A top performing team.

28. What did you want and not get?
I really should not write, "Laid," here.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
I didn't see many movies this year. I liked "Stranger Than Fiction," surprisingly.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Well, I'm still 28 (because that hasn't changed yet), and I went to Olive Garden with my mom and her boyfriend. I went to karaoke that night with DM. Sarah, Steve, Katie, Char, and Tom were all there. The next night, I went toManny's with DM, Char, Tom, Bryan, Liz, and James.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Having Portugal and Ukraine a whole lot closer.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
Understated. The only real thing I can think of getting any notice was the fact people could see m colored socks. There were a lot of days of blue jeans and long sleeved shirts.

33. What kept you sane?
My parents. DM. Sarah. Steve.

34. What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hmmm. I will always adore David Duchovny, Kevin Spacey, Hugh Grant, and Clint Eastwood. But for 2006? I guess Josh Holloway is pretty.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The hindering of gay-rights, the war in Iraq, and I guess the execution of Sadaam Hussein recently has got me checking the news. Not sure what I think of that yet, still catching up on the details.

36. Who did you miss?
Johnny. Andriy. Taco.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Meeting Diana was cool. There are a few bankers who also rank up there.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.
Just when you think things are hopeless, something can come around and change your life. You could give up on a dream to find in an instant that the dream is all you can imagine. And delegating does help reduce stress. It is okay to ask for help.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"There is nothing in this world quite as beautiful as your shiver." Or, "All alone, as I've learned to be, in this mess, I have made." The first is from a Fred LeBlanc song, "Shiver." The second is from, "Mess," by Ben Folds. "It was often talked about, it was often raised, but nothing was ever done about it." This one is from, "Maybe You're Right," by BNL.

Teri said: "May something or another (Road trip to Canada)" The date is etched in your memory, huh? Happy New Year!

Mother of Invention said: Wow, what a lot of thought you put into this! I like your positive nature about dreams being reawakened, and how you have such supportive and loving friends/family. You have good aspirations. I hope your dreams come true in 2007! Maybe you'll get up to Canada again and overseas before year's end! Happy New year, Beth. Thanks for being such a regular faithful visitor to my blog!

CarpeDM said: Yeah, we're real good with the date thing, aren't we? I am looking forward to the little trips we take to get away this year. They may not be very far, they may not be very expensive but as long as I have a camera and you, it'll be the best road trip ever. You know, until the next one.

Lioness said: Oh I loved this meme, and your 28 made me laugh out loud! I too wish Portugal were closer but never fear, what w the continental drift, some day we'll be crashing into each other. I'll then wave madly, so you can spot me. Happy 2007!

Frustrated Writer said: great meme! will use it on my blog. glad 2006 brought you some fantastic blessings including a reawakened love, top performing team, and satisfaction. Here's hoping 2007 is a banner year for you too!

Thursday, December 28, 2006


The week between Christmas and New Year's always arrives with an odd feeling. It is a time of everyone reflecting on the end of the year, shopping and gift giving is pretty much over, recovery from the BIG holiday is done, and only those last minute things of the year seem important enough to tackle immediately.

I've been accomplishing quite a bit at work this week - coaching and coaching and then, yes, some more coaching! Sadly, I've gotten to a point where coaching is being used to avoid writing reviews because I just don't want to write them (plus, I find it hard to write them when the entire team is there asking for attention). I should probably hole up in an empty office with my iPod and crank the four reviews out, but I don't. Ah, I'll do it Saturday. Nothing like the absolute last minute.

We're running on bare bones staffing this week when it comes to management. If I counted correctly, there were four supervisors out of twelve in the building yesterday. It gets to be a bit of free reign for all of us, doing whatever we need to do without approval.

I did an interview last night and hired the applicant on the spot. It is nice to actually have good candidates. It does also sound like we're going to try the evening training program again, which means my January and February will be hectic work months.

I wrote the other night, after Christmas at my parents, that there was something nice when I got home. I meant to write this out on Tuesday evening, but never got around to it. Finally, after a month, I opened my email to find a letter from Andriy. It is a nice letter, simple in parts and completely proper in others. It is really cute. I had asked him in my previous emails to explain his job and he did. Now, while I love my job and I am passionate about my team at work, I realize that in perspective, he works harder, longer, and deals with more life affecting issues.

My inquiries about his position focused on whether or not he held an elected position or if he was part of a team that was elected. As it turns out, he is appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister to assist the Governor. The Governor is not elected as we would elect Governors, but is appointed by the President. Andriy is responsible for all duties the Governor would do when the Governor is not present. He is kept very busy at work, dealing with political and law related issues of the oblast (similiar to American states), regulartory matters, coordinating actions when disasters strike, land issues, forest-and-wood issues, internal affair body issues, and dealing with judicial institutions. Busy, busy, busy! Steve read the letter and I commented, "It makes our jobs look a bit easy, doesn't it?" He agreed.

One of the perks of his job that I would adore is the ability to travel. In one year, he's visited five countries plus traveled his country quite a bit. He went to Ireland. I want to go to Ireland. Very much so. As he describes all of his duties and responsibilities, he is factual and detailed. Then he follows up the description of his travels with a simple statement, "I like trips."

In typical form, Andriy tells me about his work mostly. It is where his passion lies and that is what he shares easily. He does mention, "In general, everything is ok." There are holiday greetings, well wishes for my family and myself, and a request to hear from me again soon. There is also a promise of another letter after the holidays (Ukraine starts celebration on New Year's and has Christmas in January). He mentions taking a trip to the mountains to get away for a few days. I would love to escape to the mountains for a few days. Minnesota doesn't have mountains.

It was a nice letter to read on Christmas and of course, in my typical fashion, it just creates more excitement for me. A trip to see him is a goal of mine and could be a possibility in 2008.

Lioness said: No no no, 2007, seven, SEVEN! It must be next year! I will keep my fingers permanently crossed for you, believe me, all crossed and twisted and fused together. It must come to be.

Teri said: 2008 is too far away, I agree.

CarpeDM said: Hmm. 2007. Is it doable? That would be awesome but I can also see why it would be difficult to manage. I got to see the email, nyah, nyah, nyah. I am not sure why I have decided to gloat over that but there you have it - proof positive that I am a dork. Hey, so when are you going to do some coaching? See you chica-chee!

Joe in Vegas said: The trip could be sooner, after all you only need to buy a ONE WAY TICKET.

Mother of Invention said: Nice to see that at Christmas! You never know...your trip may come sooner than you think!

Udge said: Definitely 2007. Carpe Diem and all that.

CarpeDM said: No, no, no, Udge, she's suppose to Carpe Andriy, not the Dana Marie!

Frustrated Writer said: Wow, that seems like a long wait. Go sooner.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Moments

As predicted, Christmas at my mom's was pleasant, fun, and to put it plainly, great. My dad and I both arrived a little after 4. Sitting in the family room, recently redone (quite the project for my mom and Scott), we watched the "Yule Log," on TV and conversed for a bit before opening gifts. The pets are getting older and all sat back, monitoring quietly.

I gave my mom a book, some cooking pans she wanted, coffee, and a movie she enjoyed. Scott received a CD and an iTunes gift card. I got my dad a DVD TV set and a golf store gift certificate. The gifts all matched the person and everyone enjoyd what they got. I received money from both parents, plus a care package (toilet paper and Kleenex), a bunch of miniture liquor bottles (I collect them like my father does - they are never opened and never drank), one of those memory foam pillows (yea!), and a digital picture frame complete with an extra memory card for my camera. There was the typical random gifts from mom, the things she picked up for me that she just decided to wrap. One year I got a jar of mayo. This year I got two cans of De-Icer for the car.

After presents, we talked some more. Then we headed upstairs for an excellent meal. The Swedish Pancakes, an old family recipe passed on since at least my great-grandmother, were perfect and I remember how much I love them. Once the meal was cleared, my dad hung around for a little bit and then went home. My mom and I ended up playing Trivial Pursuit, a game neither of us has ever really played before (except for Saturday night when I played it with Char). We were terrible at the game, but had a lot of fun. We both ended up laughing hysterically over a question about who was greeted in Japan by a robot dog singing the Russian national anthem. The answer was Vladimer Putin but my mom missed the fact it was the Russian national anthem and answered, "Walter Mondale!" Which was very wrong.

I took pictures, of course.

Pepper was Santa:
Santa Pepper

The new additions to my collection:
Mini Liquor Bottles

My dad with a bow on his head. He wouldn't let me take a picture of him when the bow was on his forehead.
Dad with Bow

On Thursday, DM, Sarah, and I went to karaoke. We haven't exchanged gifts with each other yet, but we did bring up the gifts for Bryan, Liz, and James.
Liz, James, and bryan:
LizJamesBryan (2)

Now I'm back home, relaxing before the next work week starts. I have a few reviews I need to get written this week plus a couple of interviews (which could turn into evening training again).

There was also something nice tonight when I got home. More on that tomorrow. I hope everyone had a lovely day, filled with love and happiness.

CarpeDM said: Glad you had a great time. I love the fact that your mom wraps up mayo and De-icer. She rocks. My standard answer for Trivial Pursuit political questions is James Van Buren. No clue why. Why does James always look a tiny bit psychotic? It must be part of his charm.

Diana said: Glad your Christmas was lovely. I get a giggle out of your mom wrapping up mayo.

Mother of Invention said: susdxqivTrivial Pursuit gets easier as you recognize answers from previous questions...or not! I think it's great that your mom and dad get together so you can see them both. Perhaps it was never awkward for them. Sounds like everyone enjoyed all the gifting you did. I can't wait to see your next post! I'm already guessing what it might be about! Won't let me comment as Mother of Invention!

Ellen said: Love how your dad is decked out in a tropical polo for Christmas day, lol. Brad and I went over to Jeff's and he made prime rib for Christmas. It was nice. I should get the pancake recipe from your mom some day. I know it takes a lot of work to make them, though. Hope you have an equally awesome New Year's Eve/Day!

Lioness said: I'm so happy you had a lovely Christmas, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I wish we could meet again.

Frustrated Writer said: I am glad you had a wonderful Christmas! I am glad I can post comments on your blog again!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

What Christmas Means To Me

As Christmas Eve is upon us and the presents are all wrapped, ready to deliver to my mom's tomorrow, I sit and reflect upon the day. Subtract all the hectic shopping, the crass over decorating, and the politically correct way of saying, "Happy Holidays," because we're all afraid of offending another's religion, I do love the holiday. Christmas is not a religious holiday for my family, we have never been devout anything, church/mass is not a tradition we will participate in. But it is a time of family, friends, and being with those we love. Tonight, I will visit my dad and enjoy a quiet evening with him. Later, I will most likely hook up with Char and Tom to give gifts. Tomorrow will be simple; a visit to my mom's where my dad will join her, her boyfriend, and I for gift giving. She is making Swedish pancakes for dinner (a crepe style pancake that we put butter and jelly on, then roll and cover with syrup), one of my favorite dishes ever. The pets will sniff all the presents and run around as everyone opens them.

My parents are divorced but still friends. They still get together for this holiday and we have an easy afternoon of conversation. Talking with my parents tomorrow afternoon will remind me of their intellects and I know I'll learn something new again. Maybe we'll play cards after the presents and food are done. My camera will get a work out (must remember to put spare batteries in my purse). We'll listen to Christmas music, most likely the CD I made last year that holds the songs that our family remembers from years ago. We'll talk about extended family, catching up on all the news that arrived via Christmas cards.

I'll remember Christmases past, such as when Taco and Chip sat under the tree begging to open their presents (see picture below), such as when I was little and my great-grandmother was able to come to Christmas in Iowa and we'd all tease her by singing "These Three Kings," her least favorite carol ever. I'll also reflect upon the Christmas Miracle that our family felt years ago. (Update, he has gone back on the list.)

And in my Christmas fashion, I'll sleep late. Ever since I was a small child, I always slept in on Christmas. Unusual, yes, but logic always told me that the presents would still be there later in the afternoon. Usually the kids wake the parents up early on Christmas morning, but not in our home. Mom would usually send Taco in about noon to wake me, saying, "Would you get up already?"

I wish everyone a happy and memorable holiday. For those with kids, I hope that they have a magical Christmas and smiles are shared all day long. I hope everyone takes a moment to enjoy the season and not get wrapped up in the hectic moments. Merry Christmas!

Can We Open this One Please
Joe in Vegas said: And a Happy Christmas to you too! May you get things you like tomorrow.
CarpeDM said: Merry Christmas, Beth! I hope you have a great time at your mom's. I'm at Kari's right now, trying to convince her to let me go home (not working very well), watching Josh "help" Mommy put together a shelving unit and play with the drum I got him. Love you!

Mother of Invention said: You have the right idea about Christmas and it means family and friends for me also. it just makes all of us feel so close. I'll check that miracle soon.
Mother of Invention said: Wow! What a story and how brave and positive Chris is. He must really cherish all the times when he's feeling good. Thanks for that.
Lioness said: Oh my God, how cute they look!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


As you may have noticed, I have a new template. I wanted to play with Blogger Beta's new features and I'm not overly happy with everything here. Besides losing the banner at the top (which I still want!), I have also discovered a problem with Haloscan and the new Blogger that is being worked on by the people at Haloscan. Until then, it is back to Blogger comments.

Bah! Not overly happy with this template, expect changes. It should, however; work at any screen size. Any suggestions?

*Update - I was able to add a banner - quite simple in fact. All I had to do was put the Flickr link in the box on the template. Very simple.

**Update - Haloscan is back!

Teri said: No suggestions - and rat-bastard blogger won't let me switch, and I am totally josenin' for the ability to do the categories thing! I've long suspected that my customized template was a big reason blogger wouldn't let me switch...

CarpeDM said: I thought about switching but then I panicked when I couldn't get my banner in there. Fortunately it lets you switch back. Thank goodness. Hope you work it out soon, I learn from you! Hee! There's a Q

Lioness said: I like the wave, it always reminds me of our day - er, hours - on the beach. And yes please, once you figure it out, share the lurve!

Frustrated Writer said: I am glad I can comment now. It was so frustrating before when it wouldn't allow comments.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Inside Jokes...

Little words, phrases, or actions that make those in-the-know smile fill our lives. Out of context, the minute gestures or conversations may seem trivial or those observing two friends laughing hysterically will think those holding their guts and slapping their knees are certifiable.

While DM wrote a post today (Friday) about the letter Q, I could write a post about the letter K. For no reason what-so-ever, the letter K pops up into my favorite phrases regularly. Most of those result in an inside joke.

For example, I am extremely ticklish. It is so bad that I will giggle and laugh and feel like I am being tickled with just someone mentioning the word tickle. Those I work with and those I know from karaoke (another word with K) all torture me with this fact. I cannot tickle someone else without giggling uncontrollably and there is another supervisor at work who gets great pleasure at making me laugh all afternoon long.

Monkey! A few years ago, I was watching "Planet of the Apes," with Keem and DM. To annoy Keem, each time an ape was on the screen, I would say, "Monkey!" Yes, I know apes and monkeys are different. This was done to annoy Keem. I like monkeys, somewhat. They are cute and all, but no where near my favorite animal. But since I said this during the movie, people keep giving me monkeys. I have one that I really like, a stuffed animal that Ellen gave me years ago named, Elwood. She has his brother, Jake. Now Steve, my tem lead, loves monkeys and can do a pretty good impression. It doesn't hurt that he looks a bit like Curious George to begin with. Today, to entertain our HR consultant who was having a bad day, I was pulled into her office to be tickled while Steve acted like a monkey. It did make her smile.

There are other words that have strong K sounds in them that have been picked up as vocab between DM and I. Our trip to Canada helped us learn Kakabeka. A trip to Wisconsin helped us pick up Kinnickinnick (which is totally fun to say).

But the ultimate word that has a K sound in it that I've adopted is Chicken. Thrown randomly into conversation is a great way to watch DM throw up her arms and make the disgusted, "ARGH!" noise. The beauty of chicken is the fact that it is a common topic and references to it are easy to make.

It started simply, when DM would ask a question (such as, "What should I sing?"), I would reply, "Chicken." Then I grabbed the Ukrainian-English dictionary I have (before I had heard from Andriy) and learned the Ukrainian word for chicken is pronounced as "Kour-kah." More K sounds.

Then it has become a great challenge to find new ways to involve the word into conversation or throw a reference to it into DM's life. I'm particularly proud of the greeting card I sent inter-office mail to her, wishing her happy thoughts and CHICKEN! A radio ad helped me quite a bit by stating, "We've asked everyone and the answer keeps coming up CHICKEN." Co-workers (the other supervisor, Steve, and Sarah) have all sent her chicken related emails.

Earlier this week, while Christmas gift shopping with DM, I preprogrammed my cellular phone to say, "CHICKEN!" when closed. She was not expecting that one. Sarah told her last night that she is getting DM chicken for Christmas.

Two weeks ago, my team had a meeting where we watched a movie. The team chose to watch "Chicken Run." When I got to karaoke, I told DM that we watched a movie about chickens. Her reply, "No, no you did not. You're trying to get me. What did you watch?" Then I told her it was "Chicken Run."

The great part is now every time someone brings up the topic of chicken to DM, she thinks I had something to do with it.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and happy, safe, memorable, and pleasant holiday season. Don't cook the duck. It just tastes like chicken.

Teri said: I think you should learn to say chicken in other languages in order to drive DeeEm totally crazy. Spanish: Pollo (Poy-yo) French: Poulet (Poo-lay) German: Hähnchen (han-chen) Latin: pullus go here to get millions more language options...

CarpeDM said: Stupid thing wouldn't let me comment earlier. Teri, that's just mean. But funny! Beth, I loved this, especially about the monkey and the chicken part. It's always fun when you get goofy! Merry Christmas. I'm going to take a nap now.

Mother of Invention said: A Krafty and Kool post! HA! Have a wonderful Christmas...feast and fest!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sports and Children

Life lessons can be learned from movies where children play sports. The lessons are not those you would typically think are important, but the lessons are there, none-the-less. Recently, I had the displeasure of catching one of the sequels to the Mighty Ducks franchise on public television. In watching the movie, which I think I missed when it was originally released, I noticed some of the lessons seeming to mislead innocent children.

#1. No matter how strong your opponent is, they will all be fooled by a "trick" play. Examples include the "Flying V" and figure skating players doing spins on the ice.

#2. The sleaziest of adults will find their hearts of gold only when forced to spend time with underpriveleged children by a judge. I believe this to mean that spending time with children is slightly better punishment than prison. Nice message.

#3. In true sportsmanship, the opposing team will do their darnest to be jerks, play dirty, and their coach will search out ways to ruin the competition showing exactly how to be a poor role model.

#4. Visitors in the stands will be able to sneak onto the practice field/ice and taunt the players when the players are struggling the most. The taunter will turn out to be the team's newest secret weapon in competition, bringing their own ridiculous play into the game. Specific example from the Mighty Ducks (I think it was the second movie) includes a roller blading kid who can hit a puck so it spins out of control.

#5. The player who hits the hardest will not be any good at the game, but in the pivotal moment of the game, they will be able to be spot on in their aim.

#6. Injuries will only cause the best player to be out of the game until the final moment when their skills are the only realistic reason for the team to win.

#7. Junior hockey players will be allowed into fancy Beverly Hills shopping stores because they are junior hockey players. They will first need to lie their way in, but once recognized, the owner of the shop will parade women wearing next-to-nothing in front of the boys, believing their story about needing to buy their mothers fancy cocktail dresses.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Good Night and Good Luck

Good Night and Good Luck, directed by George Clooney, starring David Strathairn, Clooney, Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey Jr., and a few other familiar faces was released in 2005. My father saw it in a bin at the grocery store and decided to give it a try.

Yesterday, visiting my dad for our typical Sunday get together, we watched this film depicting the "battle" between Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy. The history books discuss the Senator's use of un-American tactics to find those who were un-American. It's pretty safe to say in this day and age that the witch hunt to find "Communists" is exactly as I wrote, "A witch hunt." Fear was used to create power and individuals backed away from defending those accused because they feared their names would next appear on the list of accused. The use of fear to create power is no different than terrorism and using the fear of terrorism to create false power is just as illogical. But I digress. What I meant to do is to review this movie.

Throughout the film, songs will start playing where the lyrics seem perfect to the storyline. Just about the moment you find yourself thinking, "Wow, they found the best song for this," you see the jazz band and woman singing the tune. Neat way to create a soundtrack. Effective and unique, which is a plus for the movie.

The black and white tonal quality of the film fits well into the memory of the times, Murrow's show and McCarthy's hearings were televised on black and white sets, far from plasma flat screens that may show the movie to many these days.

The acting was good - serious in the right spots, and although I do enjoy David Strathairn (from L.A. Confidential - Pierce Moorehouse Patchett!), he played Murrow in an interesting light. The character was real, serious, loyal, and an intelligent man, yet the eyes seemed to show a quiet motive to bring down the American government. Little odd.

The plot is where I wonder about this movie. The running time is a little under 90 minutes and in that time, there is the "war" waged between Murrow and McCarthy, the death of another broadcaster, a storyline about a married couple working at CBS, and a message about the purpose of television. It is a jumbled mess. Three of the storylines were not needed at all to tell the story and the story of the battle between Murrow and McCarthy should have been stressed more to show the actual impact. Murrow's broadcasts about McCarthy started near the end of the witch hunt and the end of the Congressional Hearings to find Communists is anti-climatic in the film.

Not bad, not good. If you get a chance to see it without paying for it, do. Don't waste money on the film though.

Moderation is the Key

It is habit that makes me head to the Chalet on Sundays even when DM cannot make it. Liz had mentioned that she would arrive early if DM was still sick (which she is - Dana, go to the doctor. Get better now. You need to.) Well, it turned out tonight was the annual Christmas party for some group in Saint Paul (I think police?) and Bryan was hosting karaoke somewhere other than the Chalet. But! The good news? Angie Ang was hosting. So I went anyway.

When I arrived, a few of Angie's other friends invited me to their table and I sat with Tom, Josh, and Amy. Sara arrived shortly. Soon, we managed to adopt McKenzie.

It is unique to be the only sober person at a table. It's one thing when people have a tolerance and are not completely gone, but I was the only person without any liquor in my system. Sara was happy, Tom, Josh, and Amy were all enjoying themselves, and McKenzie started happy, went to blabbering, and then to sleepy. I felt a bit bad for her as she quickly went from having fun to sleeping at the table. Luckily, she had some good friends in the back of the bar who took her home and made sure she was safe.

There are a few pictures. Nothing much, but just an update. And maybe DM can feel like she was there a little?

Sara and Amy singing"Sweet Child 'O Mine". Tami and McKenzie dancing.

Karaoke (1)
Angie holding the dancers' beers

Karaoke (2)
Tom and Tami

Karaoke (4)
Sara singing (dancing) backup for Cory (a guy who was there with his uncle a few weeks ago)

The Chalet is closed next Sunday, but I'll be going on Thursday and hope DM feels better by then.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Little Things

Walking carefully to not slide on the ice, Steve and I returned from lunch talking about music. I made a CD for my car the other night - new songs that are just good to drive to. There's an array of various genres, eras, and explicit content.

As we were walking in, I asked Steve if he had ever heard of a song by The Offspring called, "Bad Habit." This song is about road rage and does include a chunk of curse words. When I mentioned the song, Steve rattled off the curse words and then!! followed up with an air drum solo.

This was extremely funny to me. I laughed the entire way into the building with Steve looking at me, a giggling idiot, thinking I was crazy. 'Sure, air drum solos are a bit silly, but what is with her?' I'm sure this is what he was thinking. But since he knows me better than to think I'm a complete raving lunatic, he finally asked, "What is so funny?"

He reminded me of Andriy. I know this song because of Andriy. He explained to me once that this song is where he learned many of the American swear words, chanting this little part of the song and finished it up with an air drum solo.

There are many little moments, little things, little reminders that pop up throughout my days that remind me of him. This was one of those moments.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Beta Baby!

I've been awaiting Blogger to offer the Beta version to me and finally this weekend, it happened. It appears DM's site is switched now too. Yea! The part that I've wanted is the ability to add labels to posts.

For those who use Bloglines (or some type of RSS feed), I apologize for all the updated posts showing up. I'm obsessive compulsive and feel the need to update all the old posts. All 1000+ of them. The scary part is the fact that I'm reading some of these old posts and groaning. Oh well.

I went to karaoke by myself on Sunday. Actually sang too. Interesting. But I finished my book (and lent it to Liz) and wrote up most of another post of memories about Andriy. It's a need I have to fulfill.

Hope everyone had a good weekend. I'm thinking about certain bloggers this weekend and sending warm thoughts.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

In Which She Goes On and On About HIM, Yet Again, What Else Did You Expect?

Scatterbrained. Lost in thought. Dreamy. Misty-eyed. A million miles away. All of these phrases could be used to describe myself as of late. Reconnecting with Andriy, anxiously awaiting replies, has rekindled the feelings I’ve felt and hidden for the past eight and a half years. It is not my intention to turn my blog into a shrine to this man. And yet… Yet, I am enjoying remembering the moments from his visit. As frustrating as it is that he is 5,000 miles away and we both take two weeks to reply to emails and I can’t touch him, hear his voice, share a funny story and hear his laughter/see his eyes sparkle, and share more moments with him, it is also pleasant to get lost in the memory of him. If there is someone to get hooked on, he’s a good one for me. I like sharing the stories about when he was here, I like thinking of him.

Not trying to bore anyone to death with my posting, I try not to write about him every night. It intrigues me that I can find so many stories about his visit when it was only 4 weeks long, but they are there, etched into my mind. I tried hard, made a conscious effort, of making each day special when he was here. I revisited his visit in my mind over and over once he was gone to be sure to remember it. If there is something I never want to forget, it is how I felt when he was here. To remember those feelings, I replay the events of that month in my mind and share those stories.

Sharing those stories – that’s where this blog gets to play a part. Tonight, I will write a few more down.

Every June, Fridley (my hometown) holds a festival called, “Fridley 49er Days.” The town was formed in 1949. To celebrate, the town has a carnival, a parade, beauty pageant, and street dances. If we had visitors during this time, we made sure to take them to the different events. Andriy (and Bob – the defector) were our guests for a few of these events. We went to the parade, finding a spot at the bottom of Commons Hill. The floats and cars went by – the boys all waved at the beauty queens after learning the specific wave used by pageant winners. Marching bands strolled past, sometimes giving us a tune as we watched clowns run up and down the street. In Minnesota, there is a group out of St. Paul called the “Vulcans.” This has nothing to do with Star Trek. This group visits parades and numerous events in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Here’s a link to their website. The main thing about this group is that when visiting parades, they used to (not sure if they can anymore – some rumor about legal battles) put black face paint on those standing by. Andriy was a “victim” of their fun and smiled quite big when he had a thick goatee painted on his face. There’s a picture. Really should scan that one of these days.

During 49er Days, we also went to the carnival. Here’s something you may or may not know about me (depending on how long you’ve been reading this site): I am deathly afraid of heights and do NOT like rollercoasters at all. That goes for Ferris Wheels and rickety contraptions that spin you in every direction known to man at great velocities while being suspended in the air. There is a ride common at county carnivals called the Zipper. I hate this thing. Hate. Utterly despise. Never could you get me on this. Unless of course you happened to be HIM. After the ride stopped (which he had quite a good time rocking the car more than the ride would typically rock it for my benefit – jerk!), I was ready to kiss the sticky, cruddy ground and he was laughing hysterically.

One of the things that I found attractive about Andriy, and actually most men, was the fact he wore glasses. I don’t know what it is, but I do enjoy it when men wear glasses. The ones he wore while visiting were pretty thick – it’s a heavy prescription. One morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, he was at the kitchen table wearing his sunglasses and trying with all his might to get the tiny screw back into his glasses. He looked so lost. Being a “strong” man, he didn’t like to ask for help with this task, but also realized he had to. I was able to fix the frames quickly. That little moment is still in my memory.

It’s an odd experience to fall for someone who is living in your home. Intimacy is forced upon you and you see the side of people that they typically hide at first. We didn’t have close quarters, but he was there when I got home from work. He was there in the mornings. We were able to stay up late each night talking and there was more time to spend with each other since we were in the same house. Then there were moments where we’d both forget the other was in the same house. One morning, I awoke and got dressed before heading upstairs (my room was in the basement). I walk up a small flight of stairs to find Andriy ironing his blue jeans. That was adorable – I’ve never thought about ironing my blue jeans. I still don’t see the point, but there he was. His embarrassment was not caused by the fact he was ironing clothing that really doesn’t need ironing, but the fact that he was standing in his boxers. This memory is not etched in my mind because of his lack of clothing, but because of his conservative nature and shock being caught half dressed.

There are more stories, more moments that I want to capture and share. I have a list of things (notes to jog my own memory – although each story brings another one out of hiding – I think that’s the fun part for me) to write and will be doing so over the next week(s). I miss him. It hurts to miss him. But then, there is comfort in knowing that I did meet him. Hope eats at me and it is most likely a lost cause, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find happiness in the time I did share with him.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Promised Myself to Write 10 Things Tonight - So I Did

1. Last night, I went to go see "Stranger Than Fiction," and even with Will Ferrel in it, I liked it. Not side splitting laugher, but a cute movie with a fun plot and interesting turns of events. It was very much like reading a good book, but having the book read to you. I liked the narration, which drove the plot line. Emma Thompson was great, Dustin Hoffman brilliant as usual, and Will Ferrel was not annoying.

2. End of the year is coming and so we are forced to examine our budgets at work. After a little examination, Steve and I determined that we still had $250 to spend and since we have to spend it by the 10th, we went shopping. Normally we stock up on toys and food, but this trip to Target was one to get some prizes for contests (movies) and pick up some sort of holiday gift for the team. We ended up picking up winter mugs, tons of hot chocolate, tea, candy canes, about 10 types of chocolate, and some mint. Good winter presents. Once back at work, Steve and I put the gifts together.

3. To go with the mugs and to get ahead of the holiday frenzy, I got home from work and started making Christmas cards. I have 55 cards stamped and ready with pre-cut pieces. Now I just have to adhere all the pieces together. That's a project for another night. Too much bending over small pieces and I'm tired of it. But! I'm ahead of the holiday game. Sort of.

4. The other night I wrote about my mom's reaction to the pictures of Andriy. There was barely any reaction. Well, the next day (and today) she has been emailing me links and news she found online (she's into Google now - who knew?). The funny thing is she's not sending me anything I haven't found myself already ('cause being obsessive includes Google). But she managed to find the stories online about the previous men who held his job. I've been weary about posting the crazy stories I found about his job, but what the hey! So, here's the deal. It's not a safe job. Prestigious? Yes. Safe? No. There seems to be a history of men taking bribes and maybe one of those men was disliked and "riddled with bullets" on the front steps of his home because a group of people didn't want him to ever advance in politics. Yeah. This fact does not put me at ease. This is yet another reason why he should move to America.

5. When Andriy stayed at our home, we had another man visiting. He was older and, dare I say it, creepy. Not older as in elder, but just older than Andriy and I were. He was probably 32. Well, each time a group arrives through this program to the US, there is always a fear that the interns will defect. In this particular group, the leaders were actually thinking it would be Andriy they needed to worry about because of his political ties and if the election going on back home turned sour, it wouldn't be safe for him to return home. No one expected the guy learning about the Boy Scouts to defect. As we took Andriy to the hospital, he went to the airport but didn't return to Ukraine. Instead, he went to New Jersey and then disappeared. We figure he changed his name (we joke and call him Bob Smith). The really bad, sad part? He was married and left his wife and daughter in Ukraine. I'm sure he was sending them money, but the daughter was also very ill (Chernoybl effects). It was an odd turn of events. Not relevant, just something I remember.

6. I got an award today at work. It is for the performance of my team in 2nd quarter. It came with a $25 gift card. If I save up enough of these cards, I may treat myself. I know what I want, but that dollar amount seems to be too high for the time being.

7. It got really cold here. Yesterday wasn't too bad at 35 F, just above freezing. But drives home from work are at about 11 F (or less) and I wish it would warm up and snow. That's the problem here. We get really cold, but it gets so cold that the snow passes us by.

8. I have a new banker who joined my team at the beginning of the month. Nice guy - is performing pretty well too. I think he's going to fit in well in our team. But he did something I didn't expect yesterday. He left me a note (explaining something going on), but then signed it with "Love," drew a heart, and put XOXO under his name. It doesn't bother me, just seemed like an ending you'd use on a note to your boss.

9. Thursday night is karaoke night. Again. Finally. I've missed going on Thursdays. It will be nice to have that relief again.

10. Thursday will also be a hectic day for me. My team has two meetings tomorrow (our team is split into meetings because of the hours and instead of one meeting each month, Steve and I lead the same meeting twice in the same day). So I have a meeting from 3-5 and one from 7-9. Plus, I have a scheduled coaching session with my boss from 5-7. That's 6 straight hours of scheduled activities. Not entirely sure when I'll take lunch. Oh well. The meetings should be fairly easy. We want to celebrate a good year so Steve and I are planning on talking for about a 1/2 hour about performance and the results of some contests and then the team will watch a movie. That is if we can get a room with a DVD player. The evening meeting will be no problem, but the 3-5 one might be hard to find a room.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Yet Another Seriously Boring Post in Which I Dream

Fairy Tale. n A fictititious, highly fanciful story or explanation.

Dream. n A wild or vain fancy.

Fantasy. n Imagination, esp. when extravagant and unrestrained.

While I've written the story of meeting Andriy before, there are bits and pieces of that story missing. Memory only brought up certain times during the writing of that post. My mind has been working in overdrive in the last five weeks wandering to a place where a happy ending could reside. I'm remembering more things. One month was not enough and yet that one month was filled with so many wonderful moments. June of 1998 was the best month of my life. And the joy was always clouded by the knowledge that on July 1, he would leave.

In a fairy tale, July 1 would never have arrived. Or he would have found the way to stay. Or I would have gotten on that plane with him. Something other than geographical distance getting in the way.

Okay, what is the direction I want this to take? The writing, not the dream, I mean. I guess this is going to be a long post. If you continue reading, thanks. I don't expect it. It is just me going on and on again about a man that I've probably elevated in my mind beyond anything that he could possibly be.

Memories, misty water colored memories. I'm not sure if that is even the right lyric. Okay, moments that have come back to me over these years, again and again. Some small thing will remind me of him. Movies, music, tiny little details. Places.

One night while he was here, my mom got it into her head that a "crazy American" thing to do would be to visit a country bar and see some line dancing. Not entirely sure what she thought country bars were really like in Minnesota, but "Why not!" There's a bar in the town I now live (and actually drive past a few nights a week coming home from karaoke) called "Robert's." It's a dive. My mom heard they played country music. So one night, we all went. Keep in mind that at the time, Andriy and I were both underage. Little details like this never stopped my mom. When we got to the bar, she decided to try and get us in. She even told the person at the door that we were underage. She used some facts even. My mother explained to the woman that she wanted these foreigners to experience a country bar. Promising no liquor (which was a broken promise), she explained that both Andriy and I were from Ukraine and made me pretend that I couldn't speak English. And we were in. Inside, it was a typical dive bar. Loud music, one drunk woman dancing back and forth by herself, and dark lighting. We sat inside, chatting and watching the lack of synchoized line dancing. It was still a good time. We were together.

The third night he was here, my family went to go play billiards at this place called "Fat Boys." It is owned by the man who owned the pool hall I used to go to religiously. Thinking nothing of it, I wore this T-shirt my mom got me. The T-shirt was for a TV show that is still popular today. An American TV show that had not made syndication in Ukraine. Imagine the surprise and shock of a person who doesn't get the reference and sees a young woman wearing a T-shirt that proudly boasts, "I Killed Kenny." Yeah. I still remember his look as he asked me, cautiously, "You killed someone? And you wear a shirt that says it?" Cultural difference.

One evening, we went online (AOL) and my cousin's step-children were online at the same time. They chatted with us for about an hour, asking Andriy question after question. Andriy was having fun with the questions and being inappropriate. I edited the inappropriate comments out (the kids were 8 and 10), but remember his wicked smile as they asked him, "Do you drink milk?" His reply was, "No. I drink Vodka." It's cuter if you imagine it as it was, with the Slavic accent.

Oh, that accent. Lovely. Absolutely lovely. One evening, just the two of us driving back from somewhere (I think it was Target), we were talking about the accents. The conversation probably arose from the "Th-" or "-th" sound in English that is not common in other languages. Native English speakers - did you ever realize there are actually different ways to pronounce this combination of letters within our language? It's just something we pick up. It was something Andriy learned. He was explaining how my first name would sound different if someone didn't know the -th sound. I knew this. I spent a month in Germany during my senior year of high school, living with a girl who called me "Bess" when I knew for a fact she could pronounce my name correctly. The conversation turned to his name. He introduced himself as "Andrew" many times during his visit to people (and uses it sometimes in emails). His first name is not pronounced like the common Andre. Think Andri. Which makes no sense here. The ending sound is not "A" but "E". As we chatted, I demonstrated how someone could butcher his last name, using the "hard, crass American accent" that he had deemed to be common. His last name is correctly pronounced, "Ro-man-shoo-k." I looked at him, saw the gleam in his eyes, and said, "Roman-CHUCK." The horrified look was priceless.

I tried to teach him to drive a stick shift car. What you have to realize is that stick shifts are more common in Europe than here. He knew how to drive. But since his father was fairly prominent in his country, he learned on automatics. To this day, I still don't know how he managed to get the car parked horizontally in a vertical spot. There was a lot of laughter.

There are certain words that are not taught in foreign language classes. While his English teacher did a great job telling him about detailed topics (such as abortion - we actually had a debate one evening), she never did cover certain slang or curse words. Yep. Yup. Common words spoken in the Midwest. He didn't know they were forms of, "Yes." To him, they sounded like a certain Ukrainian word that we would commonly call the F-word. One evening, he actually said, "Why do people keep swearing at me?" That's when I learned a phrase, which I cannot spell but is pronounced, "Yup-for-you-much," that would be quite effective in displaying frustration or anger. The phrase, "C*cks*cker" also ended up being a conversation I will never forget. You really do have to break down the compound word to explain it. Because demonstration was not going to happen.

He doesn't like rootbeer. That surprised me. While we commonly use cherry flavor for medicine, it appears rootbeer flavor is used for medicine in Eastern Europe. Trips to A&W did not happen while he was here.

We made an unique pair. You have to know that I was 19, an American young woman who grew up in the 90's and had been taught my entire life that women are strong, equal to men. He grew up Ukraine and watched the fall of Communism and the rebuilding of his society. His views of men and women roles were different than mine. And the thought of letting me walk though a door by myself or holding the door open for him drove him CRAZY. It wasn't right. Also, the idea of letting me pay for evenings out was insane to him. But he was a guest in my home and I did pay for our evenings out. He'd get so mad. It was adorable.

So, my memory of him is of an ambitious man - going to law school (now graduated and holding a prestigious job in politics), a kind, gentle man, a man willing to learn about different cultures and finding better ways to live, a man with a passion for life, a bit of a work-a-holic, a man who loved to travel, a man with a brilliant laugh, and a man who just symbolized everything I thought was never going to be a reality in a man. I was 19 and had notions that love was a pipedream. I never thought there could be someone out there who was so right.

He is a fairy tale to me - one with a small hope of coming true. I want that fairy tale. Logic takes a backseat to the dream, no matter how unrealistic. Almost 9 years and I'm still completely taken with him. Every man since has been compared to him. And always will be.

A Post in Which I Mean to Talk About Random Things that Eventually Makes it Back to Him

Once a month, I write a check. One. Between online services and debit cards, my checkbook is somewhat obsolete. But my apartment complex still only accepts paper checks. While I was rummaging through a pile of junk to find my checkbook (which I manage to misplace every month), I found the remote for my DVD player.

Two months ago, I tore up my apartment looking for this thing. I looked under furniture. I checked boxes. I went through every drawer and searched high and low. The moment that I found it today was one of those moments where you go, "Oh man, I'm an idiot." Want to know where it was? You'll never guess. Well, maybe you will. I didn't. It was sitting in plain sight on my desk. ARGH!

I finished up DM's Christmas present today. Now I just need to wrap it. Hee hee! I also completed something for myself and got a good start on the rest of Christmas gifts. Yea!

It got cold here. Really cold. The temp isn't quite below zero Farenheit yet, but it is approaching and with windchill, it sure feels like it. Awful. And we still don't have enough snow to cause a problem or play in. Just a couple of minor dustings. I'm bummed.

Last night at karaoke, we were chatting about cell phones. I mentioned that I might want a new phone one of these days, especially since little pieces are starting to fall off my phone. But I didn't want to change my plan or pay for it. So it is a "one of these days" purchase. Well, I stopped over at my mom's tonight to find a notice from my cell phone provider offering me a $230 phone free if I renew my contract. Since I was planning on renewing the contract, I called them up and I'll have the phone by next weekend. Cool!

When I got to my mom's, I found her making Chex Mix. She sent me home with a big bag of it. I love her.

There seems to be some problem with my template. I'm planning on fixing it tomorrow on my day off. Hopefully I'll get it working again. Seems to be a problem when I post pictures. Sorry about that. I may have to scrap a bit of the formatting I've done, but I'll do what I can. Actualy, I think it might have something to do with one thing in the template.

I wrote a week or so ago about the fact I haven't told my parents about emailing back and forth with Andriy. It is silly not to talk to them about it, but not unusual for me. I've never been good at sharing my feelings for men with them. Probably because neither of them are great at sharing their own emotions with me (or each other), but that's how it is. Well, tonight I was at my mom's and she was talking about Russia (she's helping her friend's daughter with these countries puzzles and it is really cool and this month's topic is Russia). I said, "Speaking of the Post Soviet States, here's some pictures." I showed her the pictures of Andriy.

This is what bothered me about the conversation and the reason I tend to not share with her about him. Her response, "Hmm. He looks middle-aged." That was about it. No excitement, no caring, just factual and thinking he looked middle-aged. Maybe I'm biased, but I don't see it. Maybe she just remembers him being 19.

Oh, the waiting game is still going.

I have to finish a project up for work now. Have a great night!