Saturday, April 28, 2012

Aren't You Going to Pick That Up?

My last post, about saving worms from the sidewalk, reminded me of another habit I have that tends to gross people out. I call myself a Picker-Upper. If I see something lying on the ground, or generally discarded, that appears salvageable I like to go get it or at least investigate. I don’t understand why some people find this odd. Just because something’s on the ground doesn’t mean it’s been thrown away. It could be accidentally dropped or even lost with the potential of finding its owner. Although I will admit that for most random items I operate under the Finder’s Keepers, Loser’s Weepers policy.
“It’s not like I’m picking up trash!” I exclaim to my boyfriend each time this topic comes up.
“Well that depends on your definition of trash”, he replies. “And mine just happens to be things that are on the ground”.
Last winter there was something lying in the middle of our snowy street and when I drove by I couldn’t figure out what it was. I decided to walk down there to investigate. He went with me although he really didn’t want to and was completely horrified when I called out with glee “Awesome, it’s a pink shopping bag!” and snatched it up to take it home. The next day I showed my co-workers my sweet find, expecting some overdue praise but instead they were also disgusted. “Did you even wash that?” Yes, I did but it’s just a bag and it’s in perfectly decent shape. It would be wasteful to throw it out. I still use the bag often and my boyfriend always refers to it as “your trash bag”.
I honestly don’t pick up trash (I’m really grossed out by wet paper so that’s a major deterrent anyway) but I will pick up an envelope or something that looks like it could be relevant. Once I found $40 cash in an unmarked envelope along a busy street, I’ve also found a few small bills on the ground in parking lots. I don’t think of myself as a thief. I always look around to see if someone looks like they’ve lost something. I’ve found wallets in parking lots as well and I always turn those in at the store. I don’t pick up really dirty things or one shoe or anything like that. I do occasionally check discarded boxes because I’m afraid there might be abandoned kittens inside.
I’m also a big fan of yard sales, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. What if the greatest thing I’ve ever wanted is for sale in someone’s garage for $1 and I miss it? Plus, I love books and those are always cheap at yard sales. I also love the fact that everything has a story and now someone is passing their things and stories on so that I can give them new ones. I know that sounds corny but here’s a good example: I love elephants and collect elephant things. Last summer I went to a garage sale where an elderly woman had a few elephant knick-knacks so I bought them. She told me she has a large collection but is trying to minimize because she’s getting older. I told her I love and collect elephants (and even showed her my elephant tattoo) and she went into her house and got some more and just gave them to me. She told me the story behind each one and said she wanted someone to have them that would appreciate them. That’s cool.
I guess I’m trying to tie that in to justify picking up stuff from the ground and I know it’s a stretch but it all comes back to believing everything has a purpose and not wanting to be wasteful. So the next time you see a random hat or box along the road, you can wonder what its story is. And make sure you check for kittens.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yes, I'm a Weirdo

            It’s been a pretty rainy spring here in Montana. I don’t mind it. A dry spring here usually means a bad summer for wild fires. There is just one thing about spring rains that I dislike and have had to face several times already this year: worms. I don’t find worms disgusting or a nuisance as they cover all walking surfaces after it rains, but I actually find it a bit distressing.
            It usually starts with me heading out to grab the newspaper in the morning or leave for work:
            “Oh no, a worm!” on the walkway and I scoop it up and toss it into the grass.
            “Uh oh, another one” a little farther away and into the grass he flies.
            “Oh crap, another one” as I get to the driveway and see more wiggly lines and a bunch more already dead.
             *Big sigh* as I snatch up the newspaper and go back into the house without looking down.
            I’m not sure why it bothers me to see worms on the sidewalk but it has ever since I was a kid. Of course I now understand the biological reasons for it and why the rain encourages them to come out of the ground. I guess I just don’t like the thought that they may be suffering.
            I know everything happens for a reason and I’m sure there’s much more to this whole process than I understand. And yes, I know they’re “just worms”. I always think about how many of them there would be if a bunch didn’t die after each rainstorm. That’s too many worms. After the first few rainy days of the year, I just learn not to look down much at a wet sidewalk. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Inspiration Can Come From Strange Places

            I have a friend who also has a blog and she is participating in an A to Z blogging challenge which involves writing a blog a day with subjects that go through the letters of the alphabet. I didn’t find out about the challange until she was a few days into it and although I could have participated at that point, it felt lame to jump in at H so I haven’t joined in. However it has really inspired me. I’ve come up with of essay topics I normally wouldn’t have thought of while going through the alphabet & thinking of subjects I’d write about (just wait for the Ice cream essay coming soon!). The following story is from my past & I’ve always thought it was a good one but couldn’t come up with a way to share it or make it funny (which it is in hindsight). I think I would have put it under F for Faux Friend”.

            When I separated from my ex-husband, I moved in with a friend who had gone through a divorce about nine months prior. She was dating a guy at the time and after a few months he became an unofficial roommate. He was a pretty nice guy. Shortly after that I began seeing a guy who was a bad dude, however I just did not see it at the time. I moved in with him, against my better judgment, after only a few months of dating because my roommate was selling her house. I needed someplace to go and didn’t have a lot of other options. Things actually went okay for a while but it ended quite poorly. I’m pretty sure this guy had PTSD from being to Iraq and probably a drug problem I didn’t know about and definitely some anger management issues. Long story short it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life and I left in the middle of the night out of fear. Thankfully I had a very kind friend who knew what was going on and gave me a place to stay. The next day I started the process of getting a restraining order. If you’ve never gone through that process, let me tell you it’s scary and horrible but a relief when it’s over. Less than a month later I moved to Montana.
            I hadn’t been in touch with the female friend who had been my roommate while all the badness was going on. She and her boyfriend had moved away when she sold her house. Not too long after I moved away I heard through the grapevine that she was dating the guy I had the restraining order against. Who the hell does that? She and I weren’t terribly close, but we were friends and roommates. Seriously, who dates a guy their friend got a restraining order against? I know she never heard my side of the story but how could he possibly explain that to make himself look good? I guess it’s possible that she never knew about the order but still…Who does that? It’s funny to me now because it’s so ridiculous. How could I have had such poor judgment that I was spending my life with these kinds of people?
I have no idea whatever happened to either of them and I don’t really care. It’s a chapter of my life that I’m not proud of but it definitely taught me a lot and made me who I am today. It has also made me a much better judge of character and has taught me that it’s okay to be picky about who I let into my life.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Run For It


When I moved to Montana 5 years ago, I had never stepped foot in a gym in my life. I was at my personal rock bottom, starting over in a new place after my divorce, and I weighed more than I ever had before. A good friend basically said “You’re a mess. We’re going to the gym”. He took me to a yoga class, taught me how to use the elliptical machine and I was hooked. I lost almost 30 pounds in about six months and was hiking and being active in ways I had never imagined, after living in a big city for eight years.
            After about a year of working out and using the elliptical machine for cardio, I felt a natural urge to start running. I can’t remember running for “fun” since age 15. Late in 2008, a co-worker mentioned a Thanksgiving Day 5K race and I thought “Hey I can do that” so I trained and I did it and I was very slow, but I finished and I was incredibly proud of myself. Six months later I ran another 5K and finished eight minutes faster!
When I lost my job and was unemployed for three months in early 2010, I was lonely, frustrated, scared, bored, you name it. I also happened to get in the best shape of my life. Without much else to occupy my time I was going to the gym every day, sometimes twice, to keep myself busy and distracted. When my roommate asked if I’d run a 10K I thought “What the hell” even though I had never run more than 4 miles at a time. I did it and my time was reasonable. It was such a huge accomplishment for me because I felt like it was all I had to show for those three months I was unemployed and working out so much! Then I got a boyfriend and soon after, a full time job and there went my daily trips to the gym.
I don’t consider myself a “runner”. I obviously don’t run long distances and my desire to run waxes and wanes at times. As much as I enjoy running, it’s not easy for me. It’s physically difficult and takes every ounce of my effort and concentration. That’s part of what I like about it. I have friends who run 10 miles at a time on the treadmill or run half marathons for fun. I’d love to get there some day, but that’s just not me.
For me, running is a symbol of the transition I’ve made in the past five years. There are still times when I am running alone with beautiful mountains in the foreground and I think to myself “I can’t believe I’m doing this! I can’t believe this is my life!” That’s an amazing feeling and it reminds me of all I’ve accomplished and have to be proud of. Sometimes it's easy to forget that stuff in my hectic everyday life. That’s why I run.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Today I’d like to write about cats. 

I’m a cat person. I’ve owned many cats in my life and have hand raised more kittens that I can count. I’m not ashamed to be called a “cat lady”. Now don’t get me wrong, I like dogs. I work with dogs every day and I own the best dog in the world (who also happens to love cats) but I am not a Dog Person. There’s a difference.
I’ve found that most people tend to gravitate one way or the other. I think you can tell a lot about a person by their choice of pet. Owning a dog is much more demanding both emotionally and physically. They can’t be left alone for long periods of time, they need to go out, to be walked, to be bathed and trained. Cats need to be fed and usually prefer a clean litter box but that’s about it. If you visit the home of someone who owns a dog, you know it. On the other hand, you could stay for several days in a house where three cats live yet never see so much as a whisker. Cats are observers, typically suspicious of everything and usually satisfied with minimal interaction. Owning a cat is much lower maintenance but they make their demands in different ways, like walking on your face while you sleep.
In my opinion, cats are often underappreciated and misunderstood. Most people who say they don’t like cats just haven’t spent enough time around them to realize how amazing they are. Cats are strong and fierce, even a tiny little house cat. I think that’s something you might not fully understand unless you work with cats in a veterinary setting.
I don’t have a philosophical point to make with this essay. I’m not even trying to prove that cats are better than dogs. I simply wanted to acknowledge that my life has been enriched over and over again by the animals I’ve come in contact with (except birds). Being 30 and single and living alone, it was always nice to come home to creatures that were happy to see me. And maybe it’s because I don’t plan to have children but I have found hand raising a litter of kittens to be one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.
So the next time you pet your cat or come across one that you don’t even care for too much, take a minute to appreciate it’s awesomeness. And then either feed it or leave it alone.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


            I’m one of “those people”. I love technology and gadgets. I’m not exaggerating when I say my iPhone changed my life. It’s always within reach and I use it for just about anything you can think of: a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, for games, web browsing, email, text messages, to watch basketball, to settle arguments. Sometimes I even use it to make phone calls. I have apps that keep track of what I eat, when I exercise, how much I weigh, even when my period is due. I can’t imagine life without it.
One thing that fancy phone doesn’t come with is manners and instructions for how and when is appropriate to use it. I try to be a responsible and well mannered smart phone user but for some reason, it’s very difficult. The best method I’ve found so far is to observe someone being obnoxious or inappropriate with their phone and then make sure I never do that. I don’t use my phone in the car, that’s a no brainer for me. When I see people doing it, I try to make eye contact and then mouth the words “HANG UP”. I also try not to talk on my phone in public because that’s one thing that drives me crazy when other people do it. Sure, I understand there are times it may be necessary or appropriate and that’s fine, just stand still in an out of the way place and talk in a normal tone. I’ve done that. But wandering around a store with your phone held up to your face on speaker mode is rude and annoying to those around you. Same with the guy at the booth across from me at a small restaurant last week, who ate his entire lunch while wearing his Bluetooth earpiece and talking very loudly about work meetings.
I see signs up in places quite frequently, asking that patrons refrain from using their cell phones. I also see those signs ignored (do you seriously need to be talking on the phone while you’re at the gym?!) just like I see people using their phones while driving in a town where it’s illegal. I wonder why people think the rules shouldn’t apply to them or why that urge to use their device is so strong that they can’t wait til they get home? And I know that even people who engage in these behaviors often find it annoying when they see someone else doing the same things.
I’m not really sure what the best way would be to implement a set of guidelines. Maybe a good start would be: If you are getting your phone out to do something in public, think about whether you would find it bothersome or unsafe if you saw someone else doing the same thing. Perhaps if we start holding each other accountable for our actions we can start treating each other better.