Monday, December 31, 2007

come and gone

well, christmas went off without a hitch. my parents came up and we had a lovely time. it had been awhile since we'd spent more than a couple of hours with each other (i've been too busy because of school), so it was nice to just BE together for a bit. after they left here on the 27th, though, they had to drive to nj instead of home to go tend to my uncle who was in the hospital (he's since out but still not in great shape). it's always something, you know?

and today is new year's eve. it's hard to believe that another year has passed, especially one as eventful as 2007 has been. in no particular order, i jumped off a melting iceberg, got a new job, started grad school (in which i'm currently getting As, thank you very much), had an accident, bought a red mixer AND laptop, went on some dates - some good, some horrible, made some new friends, managed to keep all my old ones, witnessed some amazing sunsets and a few truly unbelievable acts of weather (including a double rainbow in the midst of armageddon-type clouds and birds that literally glowed gold in the sky), saw lake michigan from 96 stories up, came within near spitting distance of the pacific ocean, had two brushes with famed musicians, perfected my peanut butter cookie recipe, AND although i spent more days in pain than not, realized that i'm actually way stronger than i once thought i was. i'd say that's quite a bit to cover in roughly 365 days, don't you?

well, 2008, i have no idea what you've got in store for me, but i suppose i am as prepared as i'll ever be. so bring it on....gently, all right? :)

happy new year, all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

so this is christmas....

all day friday, i couldn't stop thinking about michael, my ex. even though we didn't really talk for quite awhile (about 2 years, really), in the last few months we've stayed more connected in each other's lives and i found out right around thanksgiving that his father had been diagnosed with cancer. as soon as i heard the news, i sensed that the end was near. it's weird - it reminded me of when my grandmother went into the hospital just before she died. even though her prognosis at first looked moderately favorable, i knew that was it.

anyway, the last month or so, i've been - for obvious reasons - very concerned for him and his family and prayerful that they could all be fully at peace with one another in his dad's last days....
friday night i learned through a friend's blog that his dad died 10 days ago and the funeral was that afternoon. my heart broke when i found out the news, even though i had been expecting it. it's hard to find out something like this and to feel so remote. all i can do is pray for them - that they would know some measure of peace and comfort in the midst of all of this....that they would all actively sense the presence of a God who loves them intimately and personally, even though they might not see him with their physical eyes.

which brings me to christmas. this year i've sought to place the majority of my focus on a child and a family whom i do not know - whom i will never know - to help bring them some joy, some idea that someone out there cares for them, in the midst of what must be an otherwise difficult time. and the fact that i can do this for these people fills me with such joy, i cannot even explain it.

i know that the gifts i gave (and salimah gave as well) were physical things, but as we bought them, i asked God to love them through the things....to help them sense the presence of someone whom they cannot see but who loves them deeply and personally. and really, that's why Christ came - to make a way for such a relationship.....to give earthly evidence of the kind of love that God has for each of us - a deep, personal, intimate love that started even before we came to this place.

i want to keep with me the brokenness of loss and the hope of promise all at once. i don't want to lose my sensitivity to what's going on around me, in the lives of friends and loved ones, people i no longer know or ever will. we all need the same thing. michael's dad needed it. those children need it. i need it. we need to know we're not alone. we need to know that someone loves us deeper than we can fathom. and somehow this Christmas, i'm believing that God can remind me - all of us - that He does. in our sickness and depravity, in our triumphs and our losses, on Christmas and Hanukkah and solstice and the second tuesday of the month, in the desert of iraq, in our suburban ennui, when we're mean to one another, when all hope is gone, He does.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

harry belafonte loves potato chips

wow, so i've been back from LA for a week now, and i kept meaning to post and i kept meaning to post, and then i just didn't do it. sorry.

so my first flight back last thursday meant waking up at 3:30 PST to get to the airport by 5 for my 7 a.m. flight. i got on the plane and was waiting for everyone else to board when who should sit down RIGHT BEHIND ME but the legendary mr. harry belafonte!! my seat-mate didn't realize it was him until i pointed him out and she had a minor freak-out about it, even trying to take his photo with her phone after we had been told to shut off all electronic devices. he politely refused, covering his face with his hand. i'm thinking leave the man alone. he's 80. he doesn't need to be bothered.

harry spoke to the flight attendant a few times, mostly to request potato chips. (at one point he asked for 50 bags, which made the flight attendant giggle. apparently they were so delicious, his seat mate started requesting them as well. it's all about peer pressure.) his voice reminds me of gray cashmere....smokey and hoarse and lovely somehow.

when i went to get off the plane, i couldn't resist, so i leaned over my seat and said, 'excuse me.' he looked up at me. 'i just wanted to tell you - you're so lovely.....' i said. he looked me deep in the eyes, thanked me, beamed a huge grin, winked at me, and thanked me again. what a great moment that was. i told him to take care and i left. as i walked out of the gate, i saw who i assume was his granddaughter waiting for him. he's a dear man. i could just tell....

anyway, i obviously made it back safely, although since then i've been recovering from sleep deprivation. somehow i'm still tired, even after a week of being back on a fairly regular schedule. of course, it might help if i went to bed at a decent hour, but i digress....

tomorrow is the last day of my first semester of grad school. i can't believe i've almost made it! one more assignment to turn in, and then i'm done. and then i get a 10-day break and start all over again. *sigh* them's the breaks....

all right, i'll post something again soon. promise. in the mean time, allow me to leave you with one of my first glimpses of the pacific ocean, in all its glory....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

'well, east coast girls are hip....'

okay, let me recap my day because i don't want to forget it due to sleep deprivation later.

woke up this morning feeling slightly refreshed - at 4 a.m. local time, i might add! had a lovely phone convo for about 30 mins from 4:45 to 5:15, showered, dressed, checked e-mail, and then met my coworker for breakfast downstairs. had a ham and cheese omelette and some truly delish freshly squeezed oj (you've GOT to love california fruit!), along with strawberries and pineapple that were both sweet and delightful.

made our way to the office via cab and hit the ground running with day 2 of the long meeting. ended around 1, got some work done, and then left the office around 4 (7 by my internal clock) so that i could get taken on a little drive in my coworker's miata. i was most impressed that i managed to fold myself into the little number....further impressed that after over an hour tooling around in brisk air, my hair still looked pretty good! i saw the pacific ocean - finally - as well as some palm trees, a bunch of cool little houses, and some fun neighborhoods. oh, and smelled some truly divine mexican food (next trip). met up with the work peops at a lovely restaurant on a marina and had some nice wine and food....got to meet some others from my department, took some group shots, and had quite a little vibe going with our waiter (waiters love me) - especially after i informed him that he looked like ben affleck. he even winked at me on my way out and shook my hand. can you blame him? i'm enjoyable. oh, and i must say - i had some macadamia-encrusted mahi mahi with a peanut sauce, mango coulis, and a shot of frangelico somewhere in the mix. SO good.

anyhoo, suffice it to say that i work with some truly fantastic people. my coworker and i were discussing on our way back to the hotel how refreshing it is to work for people who are so passionate, knowledgeable, and down to earth. i'm so thankful for my job right now.

so, LA's been good to me. i'm glad i came, got to see how the other half of the country lives, etc. but truth be told, i'm SO ready to come home. my eyes are bloodshot, i feel out of sorts, and i'm tired as crap. but all in all, it was a good trip.

i'm off to bed again, because 4 a.m. (even if it's really 7) comes mighty early.

pictures will be forthcoming (if i got any decent ones!!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

goodnight, LA

adam duritz, you feel me.

so, i made it here safe and sound. it was a long flight, but a relatively uneventful one. i left my apartment at 4:30 this morning and got to the airport and through security without delay. on the first leg of my journey (to atlanta), i sat next to a lovely gentleman who is ending his naval career and preparing to go back to being a civilian in another year or so. we chatted the whole way. he reminded me of a couple of people i know, so it felt like being next to an old friend. and more than anything, it made the time FLY.

the second part of my journey was much longer - more than 4 hours - and before we even took off, i thought the man next to me was having a heart problem. they nearly had to stop the plane and take him off. but he rallied and seemed to be fine for the rest of the journey. our trusty pilot managed to shave a half hour off the flight time (woo hoo!) so i made it to LA by around 11 local time.

after sitting in a very interesting but very LONG meeting, i made it back to the hotel. i am sitting here in my room with a stomach full of juicy burger and ice cream i ordered from room service (sparkling water to drink, of course), and i'm thinking strongly about bed. yes, i know it's only 7:25 local time, but to me, it's nearly 10:30 and i've been up for almost 19 hours now. yeesh.

i have meetings all day tomorrow, then a holiday party for my department, and then thursday i get back on a plane...back to the city that reads...back to deal with my car needing to be repaired and all of that. can't wait:).

so far, i have this to say: LA is HUGE. being on the plane, i was astonished at how big and flat this city is! and not as smoggy as i was expecting. in fact, atlanta was WAY smoggier. also, new mexico has some truly interesting landscape. finally, on airtran, go for the cinnamon-raising pita chips. delish!

that's all for now. i'm off to bed....

Monday, December 10, 2007

good-bye baltimore, hello la-la-land!

tomorrow morning VERY early i'm leaving crabcake corners for the land of paris hilton. well, i'm not actually going there to see her...more like the people i work with...but i'm keenly aware that this is where pretty woman dropped some serious bank and picked up richard gere while wearing that carol channing wig. in other words, it's not quite like home. i'll be super interested to see what i think of it. will keep you all posted!

i need to finish packing my bag and then i must get to bed. 4 a.m. comes mighty early.

see ya, east coast. be home soon.

Friday, December 07, 2007

'with the snow falling down around me like a silent prayer....'

what a week it's been....

wednesday i worked from home because i had an ultrasound scheduled for the afternoon. as i sat at my desk and watched the snow falling outside all day, i wondered if i should reschedule my appointment. no, i thought, it'll take too long to get another one, and i need this situation resolved asap.

i really did think about it long and hard, but at the end of it all, i decided to go. so i made my way through slushy streets in the sleeting rain to GBMC, trudged through the snow to the physicians' pavilion, waited in an overheated office for what seemed like entirely too long, and finally got called back for my test. my podiatrist wanted both feet looked at, just to be sure, but essentially the test was to confirm what we both suspect: that i have a rather large neuroma (swollen nerve, essentially) in my right foot that is causing major pain and discomfort.

the test didn't take very long - 15 minutes at the most. when it was over, the ultrasound tech said simply, i don't see anything, sarah.

???

seriously, i was flabbergasted. what do you mean? i asked. she explained that normally with a neuroma, it's pretty obvious, but she said that i'd still need to wait for the final reading before i got my hopes up - or down, as the case may be.

i left the office feeling truly crappy. i mean, it's not that i want to have this wrong with me, but at least it would be a diagnosis that makes some sense of the pain i've been in for nearly a year now. at least it would mean that the next step could be taken - a procedure that might actually relieve the pain. but no. back to wearing athletic shoes everywhere i go for the foreseeable future.

so, i drove back home through what was now increasingly icy slush. and i almost made it home without event.

almost.

not 50 yards from the entrance to my apartment, bella and i were trundling along slowly when out of nowhere, the car in front of me spun out of control and crashed into a parked van at the side of the street. i immediately tapped my brakes, tried my best to slow down, but bella's tires had no traction, and i knew immediately that this wasn't good.

as my beloved car crunched into the passenger side door of this woman's car, i cried out in agony. it was all i could do not to cry....(don't worry - i did plenty of that later on.)

i called the cops, we stood around in the cold, filled out forms, waited. no one spoke to me. i was alone in the snow and the dark....with no neuroma in my foot and the pain still stinging from the ultrasound. i couldn't believe what had just happened. and it was only wednesday.

since then i'm slightly less frazzled, getting over some ambient soreness and an upset stomach (from the tension, i'm sure), and trying to brace myself to inspect my isabella when i leave the apartment tomorrow morning. it will be okay, i keep telling myself. really, it will.

i have work piling up around me, 2 weeks left of class in this semester, and a business trip to LA this week. in between all of that, i have to take bella to get inspected for damages and find time to pack and prepare myself for my first cross-country flight ever.

at the end of the day, i'm not injured, though (and neither was the other driver or her passenger), which i keep trying to remind myself is the most important thing. but can i be honest? i'm frustrated. and disappointed. and over the last couple of days, i'm chagrined to admit there's been a lump in my throat more than once. i'll say this, though: in the midst of all this mess i realized all over again that my friends...and my parents...are amazing. so supportive. people called to check up, offered to bring me whatever i needed (which was nothing, really). my boss let me work from home. my new coworker called several times for moral support. and a lovely person let me blubber my eyes out on the phone for at least 45 minutes that night. oh, and on top of that, i got an unexpected refund check from school for an amount that more than covers my rather hefty deductible. thank God for that.

so, really, sarah, it'll be okay, you see? really, it will.

Monday, December 03, 2007

pause

so apparently i never came down with anything. it's a good thing, really, because i just don't have time for that right now.

i had a pretty productive weekend. got all my shopping done for the salvation army family salimah and i adopted, as well as an angel tree child i picked for myself. right now i've got 5 bags of toys and clothes sitting in my living room. some kids are gonna have a great christmas this year. that makes me feel happy:).

in other news, the tempo is definitely picking up at work. i'm trying to keep myself calm about it, but because i have a big learning curve (new job and all), i'm a bit nervous about doing a good job on my first big project. oh, and finding enough time to do my homework AND sleep. yeah, that'd be great.

speaking of biz-related items, i fly to lala land next week to meet my department and sit in on some meetings. first trip to the west coast. should be exciting to see how the other half lives:).

i need a quickie dinner (turkey sandwich) and then off to do homework. such is the story of my life these days....