Sunday, April 30, 2006

Presenting the New Site

After tinkering with the look of this blog for quite some time, I decided to just replace the whole durn thing. So here you go -- a new look to start into a new month. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment. I may or may not get around to incorporating your comments into the look in the next year or so. How's that for commitment?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

True Love

Today, two of my very best friends got married to each other. It is so exciting to see people that you love very much tie the knot, knowing they are perfect for each other and ready to begin their life together. Her family is all from Nuevo Laredo (just across the border from Laredo, Texas), so that was the location for the festivities. The Mexican Catholic wedding doesn't really have bridesmaids and groomsmen, but there are three sponsor couples for different parts of the mass. The groom's best friend and his wife were the padrinos, or godparents, of the rings, the bride's sister and her boyfriend were the padrinos of the lasso, a giant rosary that fits over both the bride and groom while the prayers are read, and my husband and I were the padrinos of the arras, or gold coins.

The tradition of the thirteen gold coins is one that is really interesting, and one that I wish was more prevalent in the general American wedding population. The priest blesses the coins and hands them to the groom. The groom then tells the bride that these coins represent his intent to provide everything he can for their family, and drops them into her waiting, cupped hands. She then thanks him for his plan and promises to make their earnings stretch to meet their needs and appreciate what he does for them. While this particular couple is more likely to have her work and him stay home with the future children, the sentiment that is shared between them during this piece really drives home that "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer," part of the vows.

Anyway, this responsibility in the ceremony is the closest thing to being named the matron of honor in a US wedding. So, it was my job to help get the bride ready in the morning and over to the church for the noon start.

I started out in fine fashion by waking up when I was supposed to meet the bride to go get our makeup done. Conveniently, she is always running late, so I was downstairs by 9am, and she hadn't left her parents house at that point. We got makeup and hair finished up and were back at the hotel to get into the dress and over to the church. We had made up any lost time, so we weren't rushing to be on time. However, we did have to have her all dressed up before going over to the church (unlike any other wedding I've been at where the bride dresses at the church). Then I was going to drive her over in the groom's car, which I've never driven before. This is where things got interesting.

Now, I have no problem driving a manual transmission. I've had extensive experience with four of them in my life: my dad's Ford Escort, my first car, a Nissan Sentra, my husband's 1978 Chevy pickup truck (a three-on-the-tree), and his Mini Cooper. It's a wide range of styles, and I wasn't too worried about it. However, I didn't want the bride to have to traipse through the garage parking lot in her dress, so I told her I'd bring the car around and pick her up. I got in the car, a VW Jetta, and started it up. And then, couldn't get it into reverse. Now, I have since learned that the Jetta requires you to push down on the shifter in order to access the reverse gear, but I didn't know that, nor did it occur to me to try. So, try as I might, I couldn't get it into gear. Not wanting to stress out the bride or call someone for help, I found my own solution when I realized it was a small car, and couldn't be that heavy. The spot next to me was empty, so I turned the steering wheel all the way to the left, dropped the shifter into neutral, and got out and pushed it out of the spot. In my dress...and myself. I did look around to make sure there were no witnesses. Whew. Once it was pushed out, I got in and drove the bride to the church without incident.

The ceremony was beautiful, even if I understood very little of what was going on since the whole thing was in Spanish. The groom did a great job of managing all his spoken parts in a language he doesn't speak, and the bride didn't cry enough to mess up her makeup. The reception included great company and wonderful food. What more could a couple want? I was just happy to have been a part of it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Coming Out of Hiding

My husband and I have gone to Mexico for a friend's wedding. I very seldom make him go to anything, but this was one of those things that I told him wasn't optional -- he was coming to this wedding. He is a bit of a hermit (or homebody if you feel that is a nicer term), and really doesn't like to go out much. I, on the otherhand, start to feel stir-crazy if I'm home too many nights in a week. For the first couple of years we were married, I tried to go out only when he wanted to. And then I started to resent him with all the invitations we turned down (and subsequently stopped receiving). So, somewhere along the line I realized it was okay for me to go out without him when an invitation came up for something that interested me. I didn't really realize how often I did this until we arrived in Mexico.

The bride-to-be's sister met my husband and I in the hotel lobby with a gaggle of other folks. Later, the bride relayed her comment to me: "How serious is Heather with that guy?" Nearly eight years of marriage later, I guess we're pretty serious.

Most other couples are referred to by both their names -- The Guy and The Girl (order generally depending on which of them you knew first, or better). When people talk about inviting us to things, they say "Heather, you wanna come? Oh, and if your husband wants to come too, that's fine." He's the afterthought. I don't want him to be the afterthought, but I don't want to wait and only leave the house the 2 times a year he feels like it, either.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


I have never been a shy person. I have always been able to strike up a conversation with anyone, and have never avoided a chance at a leadership role. I'm also not afraid to look like an idiot, and most people I know have a story about something stupid I've done or said.

However, I freeze up quite regularly when I sing solo in my church. Now, I've been directing the praise team at the church for the last year, and I was part of the band for about two years before that. I sing with the group and play keyboard when I'm needed to fill in. I was a bit nervous the first couple of times I sang or played with the group, but then I got past it, and I really enjoy it. But, I can't seem to get past the nervousness when I'm singing by myself. This morning, I started the song incorrectly twice before I was able to hear my starting notes. And you can always tell how badly you've done by the number of people that come up to you after the service to tell you how good the music was in the service. I did pretty badly. Once I got going, it was fine, but the beginning was rough.

It doesn't seem to matter how much I practice. Freezing up seldom seems to have anything to do with my preparedness level. Part of me feels I just need to do more solos to get passed my nervousness. And another part of me thinks I shouldn't subject people to my mess-ups anymore.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday is Very Good

Good Friday is my favorite day of the year. Every year I look forward to Good Friday more than Christmas or Easter or anything like that. For starters, it's the beginning to the weekend that defines why a Christian is a Christian. As a card-carrying Christ follower, it's a primo weekend. Meanwhile, the service tonight will be somber and reflective -- the only service of the year that is like that. Every other Sunday service is Easter, or a mini-Easter celebration. I love Easter, don't get me wrong. But it helps to have the valleys in order to appreciate the mountaintops. And the service tonight is that perspective-setting valley.

The office of tenebrae is the service we will be following tonight. It ends in darkness and silence broken by a loud crash. The darkness and silence leading up to the harsh noise is a critical part of completing the symbolism of the tragedy of Christ's death. In past years, though, with Easter after Daylight Savings time, a 7pm service finishes with it still being light outside. When you can see the pastor about to slam the Bible down, it sort of removes the surprise bit of it. This year, however, my church has decided to move tonight's service to 8pm. So, while that is too late for some people, it means that it will be dark by the time the service is over, which better sets the sad mood that is most appropriate to have by the end of the service.

I am really excited for this weekend. And it all starts with a appropriately sobering Friday night, a commemoration of that terrible, but very good, Friday two thousand years ago.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Getting a New Job

I'm not leaving my company, just getting a new job. I love working at a small, growing company, like I do. There is so much flexibility to grow and change one's role to coincide with your own strengths. And that is what I am doing. Taking my strengths and moving into a role I will really excel at.

In the meantime, I am doing both jobs. The one I'm transitioning out of as well as the new one I'm moving into. As a result I have been working a lot of hours, leaving little, to no, time for blogging. I haven't disappeared, I just have a brain that looks like mush by the time I get home.

Today, for example, I started work at 4am. and I worked until 6:30pm. I've pulled all-nighters for this company, more all-nighters, I might add, than I ever did in college. And yet, I get excited to keep going back to work day in and day out. I guess that's how I know I've found a job and a company that I really like.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with a customer where I was wearing my new role hat. This particular customer was beligerent and pushy and downright rude. Anytime I tried to share the ways we would address their concerns, they would talk over me condescendingly and talk about all their wonderful traits. I had to repeat the same solution explanation 4 times because they wouldn't shut up long enough to hear what I had to say. During this 90-minute meeting, I ceased to have the 10 nicely grown out nails (and that is quite the accomplishment for me, believe me). After the meeting, I was down to 1. That's how stressed they made me. That meeting made me question if I was really moving into the right position in the company.

Today I got a voicemail from that customer's primary contact. She apologized for the behavior of her co-workers, and let me know that they have "handled" the problem, and we will never need to expect that sort of behavior from them. Apparently, during the call when they put us on hold, one of the managers came in and reprimanded the offenders for their behavior. Too bad that was about 80 minutes into the call, because they were much more civil afterwards. And then I remembered why I like my job so much. While I have the occasional asswipe to deal with, the vast majority of our customers are wonderful to work with. They are reasonable and sweet, and some of them even write poetry about us or send us cookies. They are good people.

And so, I won't be quitting after one bad call, no matter how bad. And I will keep doing two jobs for the next few weeks while everything works itself out for a transition. And I will keep working with good people. I love my job.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Special Needs Dog

I recently wrote up my paragraph on why someone should adopt Shiner for the website describing the available dogs at this time. I went to the site and saw Rufus' story. As I read his description, I realized this was the dog that was originally slated to come to my house, instead of Shiner. Having been out of the fostering realm for a couple of years, I don't think that would have been the best way to start back in. Thankfully, the foster coordinators saw the better plan and gave us Shiner for the time being. And he's been a joy.