Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Since I haven't had a job, or income, for the past several months, and the fact that I haven't secured a job here in Cincinnati, I decided to work part of my break at my "old" place of employment, Ingles. I had thought all along that I was still an employee and that everything would just be "reactivated" once I came back. Boy, was I wrong about that. Understandably though, they can't keep me on the payroll if I don't work for more than three months, so the only way I could work was to be rehired. This required filling out the same paperwork I completed upon hiring, but since it was a holiday week and they knew me well enough, I wasn't really rushed into completing it. So, I filled out parts of it that day and turned everything in on Friday, including driver's license and every other necessary component. I decided ahead of time, before my trip, that I would work five days while I was home. Since Ingles is open on Thanksgiving Day, and since I figured many people would ask for that day off, I decided to volunteer to work Thanksgiving morning, which would allow me to take care of a good amount of customers and still get home for my own Thanksgiving dinner. Here was my work schedule for that week:
My boss had requested that I work until midnight on Tuesday and Wednesday, since those would be the busiest days. (I had originally only requested to work until 11, but I was more than willing to work the extra hour.) I had also expected (silly me) that I would have the same job I had when I left. Alas, this was not the case, since there were two people who were already scheduled to do that job, and since there had been some changes since the last time I did that job. Ingles recently built a Fuel Center, which the bookkeeper had to handle, and I had no idea how to do that. So, my manager scheduled me as a cashier, which I was more than willing to do, just as long as I didn't have to be a bagger!!! Everything went very well that week while I worked, and I was very surprised about how much I actually remembered. Running a register will always be something that I can do, but produce codes and other special functions become a little bit hazy when you don't have practice. I hadn't actually run a register in more than six months, since I had been doing the bookkeeping job before I left, but I found out that I remembered more than I forgot...
Another surprise to me was that the current bookkeepers asked me to help them, and I performed many of the same tasks that I hadn't done in several months, and with great proficiency. I counted money, fixed the tills for later, ran reports, and other various tasks that I used to do every night. Also, on Thanksgiving Day, my Front End manager gave me the bookkeeping keys and made me in charge of giving out change and keeping track of the office while she was doing other management duties. At one point it became so busy that she called me to the office to do some management duties, since she was scheduled to leave (and had already worked overtime) and the other manager on duty was already up to his ears in stuff to do. So, since I had a good amount of experience with office duties, I helped a customer send a bunch of Western Unions (I suppose to pay his bills...), all of which added up to like $600-700! I was very proud of myself and remembered everything to do correctly and in a timely fashion.
After that shift was over, I got to go home and help prepare Thanksgiving dinner. I had already made two pumpkin pies on Wednesday morning, and the turkey and the potatoes were almost finished, so there were only a few things left to make. The cranberry sauce was easiest, of course, and only involved opening the can and putting it on a dish. I then made the green bean casserole, heated up some rolls, and helped set up the table with all our wonderful dishes. My mom then made the stuffing and the gravy, my dad whipped the real mashed potatoes, and my brother carved the turkey, as per his request to do so. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner together, and everything was delicious. I actually didn't eat that much, but I was definitely stuffed after dinner. Then I did something I have never done, or at least in recent memory: I took a nap! I was so tired from work, and that Tryptophan was definitely not helping. My family had started a movie, and I barely made it through the first 10 minutes. But it was a wonderful nap, and I woke up just before the end of the movie.
After that nap, we had some of that delicious pumpkin pie, complete with "sploosh," the whipped topping in the can. It was so good, and I had added just the right spices... We then watched some Jay Leno and went to bed, and for the first time since I got home, I slept very well. I didn't have to get up very early, so I slept at least 8-9 hours...ahh that felt good. Then I went back to work Friday night and started over again.
Saturday was a great day for me, since again I could sleep in a bit. I had originally planned to meet up with my friends on Saturday, but that didn't work out, since my friend never called me back... So, my family decided to go see a movie, and my mom and I decided to go see the new Harry Potter movie. It was a great movie, but somewhat depressing at the end. I actually haven't read any of those books in their entirety, but seeing these movies has definitely inspired me to read them. I would probably need to start at the beginning, since there is a lot of background information you can't get out of the movies, and then just move on to each subsequent novel. This would probably take a good amount of time, but as long as I read them all at some point, I should be happy.
Sunday was my last day back home, so obviously I didn't work that day. We got up to go to Mass at 11:30 and decided to meet up with Greg and Janie, some very close friends of ours, for lunch. We went to our favorite meeting place, Burger King, ate lunch, and sat and talked for almost three hours! I hadn't seen them in several months, so it was great to catch up and tell them about my own life up here. We talked about all the major events over the last few months, and also discussed some plans for Christmas vacation. I was so glad to see them, but if I wanted to get back to Cincinnati at a reasonable time, I needed to leave. So, we said goodbye, headed to the store to pick up a few things, and then back home.
I then got everything packed up and had to get my car ready for the trip, which included checking the oil and other fluids. Everything was a go, but I didn't end up leaving until almost 6:30PM. This meant that I wouldn't get in until 10:30-11:00, but this would allow me not to hit as much traffic. Actually, there was hardly any traffic the entire time, and I made pretty good time. I stopped just north of Lexington at a rest stop to eat, since my mom had packed me a turkey sandwich (with our leftover turkey!) with chips and a dessert. I finally got into town around 11:00PM and unloaded everything. By that time I was so tired, but I needed to get some stuff done online before I went to bed. But, when I did finally go to bed, I went to sleep right away and didn't wake up once through the night. Now I'm back to classes, and we are in the busiest time of the semester right before finals. I'll do a separate post later on about school, since this post is already starting to runneth over...
Well, that's all from me for now. As usual, I'll post if anything interesting happens later on, and I hope you all will let me know how your holidays were. I love comments on my blog, so if you are so inclined, I'd love to hear from you. Until then, have a great week, and finish up all those leftovers!
Monday, November 21, 2005
Soon after the funeral and all the formal arrangements back in Toledo, we got a card from Sharon thanking us for everything we had done for her and Vange. Inside the card was the notice from the newspaper, which actually had sort of a lengthy biography. In that notice, I found out some very interesting facts, such as that Vange was in the Navy during World War II. She never actually fought in the war, but she was here in the States doing electrical work for the Navy. She was one of those women that stepped in to work while all the men were at war, a very noble thing to do back then I'm sure. It was very sad that she was gone, but I felt glad to have known her.
As I began to get older, we saw Sharon less and less, mostly still at holidays, but not nearly as much. Now we were only seeing her maybe once a year, and sometimes not even that. Despite that though, we would still talk on the phone with her every once in a while, especially at holidays. She even began a sort of tradition of calling us on our birthdays, and this became a very happy tradition. Now the conversations didn't focus as much on computers and games, but on politics, religion, literature (reading was her biggest hobby!), and school.
Politics for Sharon was influenced somewhat by her profession as an attorney. She had very firm beliefs about the Law and justice in this country, and her political stance showed that. Sharon was a "devout" Democrat, and there was no issue big or small that she wasn't fully knowledgeable about. As I became older and started looking at politics, we would have a few political discussions about what was going on the world and how the politicians could fix it. I began to see that I agreed with a lot she had to say, and I think she was a major influence on my choosing to be a little more liberal. Our biggest discussions occurred before and after the 2000 presidential election, when we would discuss the major issues at the time and the candidates' views on those issues. Sharon was outspoken in her dislike of Bush; I would go so far as to say she despised him with all her heart. (not hate; I don't think Sharon ever hated anyone) We would criticize everything he did and said (not that either candidate was perfect, of course), and give reasons why he shouldn't be elected. Alas, he was elected, but Sharon accepted this and we moved on from that.
We still had those political conversations, mostly just discussing what should be done with this country and how to fix it if we could. We would discuss tax reform, health care, the War in Iraq (and anywhere else there was a war going on), and all the other major issues. This carried on up to the 2004 election, where again Sharon was totally against Bush, and wouldn't hesitate to tell anyone that. We again had the same sorts of conversations about the candidates, and criticized the entire Bush presidency. But, again, Bush won the election, and we were both very disappointed. I would like to think, though, that her political views have been passed on to me, which maybe in the future can make a difference in this country.
As far as religion goes, Sharon was as you could say, a born-again Catholic (not the same as a born-again Christian; just making a point). She had been non-practicing for a very long time, and we had tried for years to have her come to Mass with us while she visited. We did succeed at one point, and boy was she glad to be back. This time, though, she was fully engaged in everything the Church did, and became very involved in the adult groups at her local parish. This marked a major turning point in her life, and she seemed to be happier than ever now that she was back in the Church. I think even at one point she was teaching an adult faith class about Scriptures, but I'm not sure about that. She also began volunteering more in the community, especially with the local Sisters of Mercy. Now we were having more and more religious discussions about morality and social justice, which actually tied in with what I was learning in school at one point. She showed compassion for the poor and homeless (which actually ties into political stuff, mostly tax reform) and we discussed that at one point also. Because she was an avid reader, the Bible was a good thing for her. She began reading it more and reflecting and meditating on those Scriptures more. It was amazing how she had become such a spiritual person. And to think, my mom may have been the one to catalyze that!
Now, if you asked anyone who knew her what her most precious hobby was, everyone would say that Sharon absolutely loved reading. As far as I know, she would read about anything, from mysteries, medical fiction, historical books, and even the Harry Potter books. There was always something to read for her, no matter what it was. Apparently, her home was filled with shelves and shelves of books, almost all of which she had read at one point. She could name off anything that she had read in order to make a point or entertain, and that was a great quality. Most Christmases (and even at other points in the year) she would buy us books that she thought would interest us, so that we could broaden our minds and entertain our curiosity. This became another sort of tradition over the years, and I still have most of those books. I don't think I ever received a book that I didn't like from her, so she must have figured my taste out pretty well! She also used her love of reading to catch up on current events and history, and I was amazed by her wealth of knowledge about any given topic. If she didn't know something, by golly if she didn't read up on it and report it back to us! This was surely a great talent to have, and everyone loved that quality about her.
And finally, the discussions about school. To her, nothing was more important for us than to get a good education and learn as much as possible. This was especially important when I was in high school, and we would discuss just about anything I had been learning in every class. We discussed the books I read in my English classes, and Sharon had a particular fascination with Shakespeare. Since every year we read a new Shakespeare play, we would always discuss them, and then she would reminisce about when she was reading those plays in school. She enjoyed hearing about all the stuff I learned in science, since there have been so many new discoveries since when she was in school obviously. We liked to talk about the future, and she wanted so badly that we get into good colleges and make something of ourselves. That's why she was so excited (and yet very nervous) when it came time for me to apply to colleges. At one point, I had absolutely no idea whatsoever where I wanted to go, and that was a little disheartening to her. But she said to just keep looking and to apply ASAP. Well, when I mentioned applying to Xavier, she was really excited. She knew a lot about the quality of education here, and what a great influence the Jesuits have on college students. So, when I told her about my acceptance here, she was really excited for me, and very proud. I would be able to further my education at a great institute of higher learning, and she was so happy to hear that. It was great to have someone else out there that was rooting for me and praying for me every step of the way.
Well, in the past few years, we actually didn't get to see Sharon really at all, since she had been staying home more and more. She had many health problems, and was on a plethora of medications, which kept her from traveling across the state. This also kept us from going to visit her, since she really didn't feel that she could keep company for any length of time. So, we just relied on the telephone and e-mail to keep in touch, which wasn't the same of course, but we all understood. It was still great to get e-mails, phone calls, and the occasional card in the mail from her, just to say hi or how much she cared about us. We would think about her even more around her favorite holidays, especially Thanksgiving, and we would always get a call from her to wish us well during those times. And even though we didn't get to see her in person, we always felt her presence and thought about her all the time.
Over the past two years or so, Sharon underwent several operations to correct some of her health problems. One in particular was a shortness of breath, which had been caused by a build-up of fluid around her heart. She has several procedures to remove this fluid, but time and time again, it kept coming back. For the most part, she was still doing her day-to-day activities, but the shortness of breath began to hold her back. Finally not too long ago, she had the same heart procedure again, but this time the findings were different. Apparently there had been tumor cells in the fluid, which were left over from when she had breast cancer so many years ago. Those cells were still wreaking havoc on her body, and it was beginning to show again. Now she was kept mostly at home and was having a lot of trouble breathing to the end. After more than two years of this, Sharon passed away at her home, with all her comforts and some of her friends around her. This was a great shock to everyone who knew her, and I took this especially hard. It has been very difficult to believe that she is really gone, but I do think reliving these memories has helped ease that pain a little bit. I hope this has also been therapeutic to her many other friends, who were indeed her family. Now I think more about how she is watching down over me and smiling, and hopefully still rooting for me to make something good of myself.
Before I close this post, I would like to attach the newspaper notice that I found in The Tennessean the other day:
November 15, 2005
Age 61 of Nashville, passed away at home November 15, 2005 after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer. Ms. Selby was a graduate of Hollins College and the University of Tennessee College of Law. She was an avid reader and a passionate follower of politics and current events. She used her intellectual abilities to engage social issues, helping others to see the importance of being politically active. Her devotion to Catholicism and her scholar's grasp of the Bible and church teaching, gave her a deep love for the poor and disenfranchised, so much so that she devoted the last years of her life volunteering at the House of Mercy. Her final wish was that her body be donated to science. A Memorial service will be held at St. Edward's Catholic Church at a later date. Contributions in Sharon's memory may be given to The House of Mercy, 4903 Tennessee Ave. North, Nashville, TN 37209. Sharon will be missed by all who knew her.
Well that's really all I can say right now. For all of Sharon's friends out there, I hope these good memories have made you think about your own good memories of Sharon, and please keep those good memories around. Do this especially during this week, as it is Thanksgiving, Sharon's favorite holiday.
To Sharon: your family is thinking of you every day, and we miss you with all our hearts. Please watch over us, and rest in peace. We love you very much and we look forward to the day when we can be with you again.
Friday, November 18, 2005
For those of you who don't know who Sharon was, she was a very dear friend of my mom's, and was actually very helpful in getting my parents to meet. Sharon and my mom met when my mom was in college at the University of Tennessee, which was over 20 years ago. They became very good friends and stayed friends despite the fact that Sharon moved to Morristown, TN (about an hour and a half away). My parents were married soon after, and Sharon, of course, was one of my mom's bridesmaids. I was born the next year, and obviously don't remember much from that time, and the next two years for that matter. I have seen pictures of that time and heard some stories, and found out that Sharon visited us for birthdays, holidays, etc. One picture that really comes to mind was one of Sharon, Greg (another very close family friend), and myself in our downstairs "family room." The three of us were playing with toys and stuffed animals, and there is a picture of the three of us on a couch, all wearing stuffed animals as hats. (Apparently I was a rather humorous child!!) Some time in between the time I was born and the time I was about three, Sharon moved out to Nashville, TN (about 4 hours away), and again despite the distance, she and my mom remained very good friends.
Sometime around when I was three (it might have been four), my mom and I (not sure if Dad was there) went out to Nashville to visit Sharon. I don't remember anything about this trip, but I have heard stories and seen the pictures. We traveled all around Nashville seeing some historical sites. A couple in particular included the Tennessee Capitol Building and the Parthenon, which are both prominent buildings in Nashville. We actually have some pictures of the three of us on the steps of these, which I got to see not too long ago. The only other major detail that I remember hearing about this trip was that I drew Sharon a picture while we were staying with her, which she in turn hung on her refrigerator. According to Sharon herself, in one of the most recent times she visited us, that picture was still hanging there, and this was about five years ago. I would not be surprised if it was still there, considering she practically treasured that drawing!
After that visit, I have no recollections of any other visits until about five years later (I was either seven or eight, but I'm not too sure). This time however, she was the one who visited us. Sharon's favorite holiday had always been, and remained to this day, Thanksgiving, because of family getting together and all the wonderful foods we got to share. Now, Sharon had very little family, and the only family I know of that was still alive at that time was her aunt Wanda (whom everyone called Vange), so we were essentially family to her. My mom invited her to spend Thanksgiving with us that year, and Sharon accepted that offer. At the time, I had no recollections of her, and as far as I knew, this was the first time I had ever met her. We had a lot of fun that year, and I really enjoyed having Sharon around. She brought lots of fun and mentally engaging games, and I really had a lot of fun with them. She also helped cook Thanksgiving dinner, and introduced my family, or at least my brother and myself, to squash casserole, which turned out to be very good. It then became a nice tradition thereafter to have Sharon over every Thanksgiving, and I enjoyed that tradition.
The next couple of years, Sharon had been having her aunt stay with her during the holidays. This time, my parents invited both Sharon and her aunt for Thanksgiving, and they both accepted. This was most probably the first time I had ever met Vange, and she was a very enjoyable person. She played all the games with us and helped with dinner, and we all enjoyed her company. Also during those visits, we found out that every Thanksgiving morning while Sharon was in town, she would go to a fox hunt that was about an hour away. Sharon was really into horses, so this was really her kind of thing. She was always so excited about it, and loved the fact that she could go to it while she was with us. For the longest time we never went to those, since it came so early in the morning. But, one year when we were a little older, we decided to go with her. It was very early in our opinion (I think it was around 6 or 7 AM) but we really wanted to go. It was like I said around an hour drive, but it was a really nice drive through the country. We got to the site and watched all the people get their horses ready and ride around a little. I remember that it was very cold, but we tried to stay as warm as we could. Finally around an hour later, the people set out on the hunt. (Now in this sense, a fox hunt didn't actually include foxes, since that was forbidden. Really what they did was ride around with the other riders and have an enjoyable time.) It was a great experience for us, since we had really seen nothing like it. I believe there were pictures of this also, but I haven't encountered any of those yet.
Sometime during these visits I just mentioned, Sharon brought us our very first computer. It was one of the first Dells with an early form of Windows, Windows 3.1. Sharon was always upgrading her computers, and instead of selling the old ones or throwing them away, she gave them to us. This became another "tradition" over the years, and we received a total of three computers from her. This computer just blew our minds; we had never had one of our own, and back then I had maybe only seen a very old-fashioned one in school. We quickly began to play the games on that computer, and I think at times we would have contests with Sharon to see who could get the highest scores. Again we played more of those fun games, and this was supplemented with the "new" computer games. Sharon was highly knowledgeable about computers, and taught me most of what I know now. She then took it upon herself to teach us as much as possible about our new computer, and I caught on the fastest of my entire family. It then became a running thing between the two of us to discuss technology and troubleshooting our new computer problems.
After one of those first times both Sharon and her aunt visited for Thanksgiving, I think I suggested that we should have them over for other holidays. We suggested Christmas of that year, and they both accepted again. It then became a tradition to have one or both of them for Thanksgiving and Christmas, or at least one of those holidays. So now we were seeing her twice a year for the holidays, and it was great to have her around then. Again, we played more games at Christmastime, but then we also enjoyed all the Christmas traditions that I have come to cherish. We got to go shopping for my family, and this time we added Sharon and Vange to our lists. As always, we picked out gifts at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store and were given a certain budget for our gifts. I enjoyed picking all those out, wrapping them, and watch everyone open them on Christmas morning. Then it became a tradition for Sharon to come at Christmas, and I think we had about four Christmases with her, and maybe two with Vange.
Some time a couple years later, we didn't get to have a visit for Thanksgiving or Christmas. We then suggested an Easter/Spring Break visit, and Sharon and Vange again accepted. Now we had even another tradition of having them over for the holidays, but I don't think we ever had them for all three major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter). This time it was much warmer outside, and we were able to do a lot more. One experience that I remember quite vividly was a trip we took to the Knoxville Zoo. Both Sharon and Vange wanted to go, since it was a beautiful day and we wanted to get out of the house. Vange couldn't walk for long distances, so we brought a wheelchair so that she could go around with us. I remember pushing her up and down the winding paths of the Knoxville Zoo and enjoying all the animals and exhibits. I think we did take pictures of this event, but I've not seen any of them. I do know that we had a really great time, especially Sharon and Vange. They really didn't get out too much, so it was a great experience to get out and do such a fun thing with friends.
Well, seeing as this is going to be a lot longer than I thought, I will cut this off here and continue tomorrow or Sunday. It really has been therapeutic for me somewhat, and I enjoy reminiscing about these times. Until later, please pray for my mom, myself, and all of Sharon's other friends during this time. Her friends were indeed her family, and she will be greatly missed by all.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Lately I've been trying to keep up on my blog reading, just because they seem to be getting more and more interesting. Of course, I'm talking about those posts from my family members, mostly my grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Lately, most of them have been about past experiences, and family history is something that really interests me. I love hearing stories about when my relatives were younger, because it really gives me a perspective I've never witnessed. Obviously, I wasn't around when my grandparents and their siblings were young, so I like hearing about what was happening when they were my age and younger. Right now, I've been trying to fit in reading at least one blog into my hectic schedule, just to read for pleasure for once. So far, I've been able to accomplish this, and it's really helped me to relax a little bit from my stressful day. So, if you are one of those telling those stories, keep 'em up, because they are really helping me out! hahaha
Okay, that's the interesting part for today. I'll promise to put some more in my next post, maybe tomorrow. In school recently, I had a Biology test last Friday and it was actually a pretty good test for me. I reported not too long ago my other most recent test grade, and let me tell you I did about ten points better. So, on this one I got a high B! I was really glad to get that grade, since it will bring my average a little bit. So, now I can try even harder on the next ones and get even better grades. We'll see...
Oh, and we did some more dissections in Biology Lab this week. We finished up respiratory and circulatory in our pigs, which were really interesting. Then later on we got to look at sheep hearts to map out the flow of blood through the heart. That was really neat and we actually got to follow the path with a probe (or even a finger!!). We also got to map out the flow of blood through the body, like the aorta, carotid artery (to the brain), and some of the others that I couldn't exactly spell out for you.
Well, that's pretty much it for school and anything interesting in my life. I guess I'll have to find another interesting activity to discuss tomorrow for you! hahaha Well, we'll see. Anyways, until later, enjoy your Friday. It's almost the weekend! YAY!
Saturday, November 05, 2005
As I mentioned in my last entry, we have been dissecting fetal pigs in my Biology Lab, now that we are learning about the different organ systems in the lecture class. Every person in the class gets their own pig, and we get to go through all the major organ systems in the body. So far we have explored the integumentary system, the digestive system, and the respiratory system in great detail. In smaller amounts we have discussed (and witnessed) parts of the endocrine and cardiovascular systems. I think we have one or two more lab periods with the pig dissection, and following that we will be going over any other organ systems. As of yet we still need to discuss and witness the nervous, lymphatic (immune), reproductive, and urinary systems. Parts of this will come from the pig dissections, but there will be other dissections in the future, and possibly other lectures about these systems. All very interesting stuff, if you ask me!!
Besides that, nothing really has happened this week that I want to report about. As I write this, I am watching the Notre Dame-UT football game, and it's really turning out a lot better than I had imagined! UT has had a pretty bad season this year, and it's nice that they are trying a little bit harder. Right now the score is 28-21 Notre Dame, but this is a lot better than some of the games UT has played recently. There is still one quarter to go, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens. I'm hoping that we can pull it out in the last quarter, but I don't want to get over-confident, given UT's history. I'll have to let y'all know the outcome tomorrow.
Oh, and another note of interest: I have just put up a picture of myself for my profile. It is a picture my dad took as I was leaving for Senior Prom this past May. I will have to update when I get a more recent picture taken, but I think this one will definitely serve its purpose for the time being. Enjoy! hahaha
:Here's the picture I've put up in my profile. After a long battle with my profile, I finally got it in there. I just put it here for you so that you can see it full-sized.
One more interesting change: I have changed the "ticker" at the top of my page. Now it counts down to Thanksgiving Break (which for me is the 22nd) and to Thanksgiving Day. Hopefully this will give y'all something to look forward to.
Well, that's really all I have to write for now. I'll continue watching this game and then find something to do with the rest of my weekend. I'll post anything new that comes up. Until then, have a great weekend, and keep on bloggin'!!