Wednesday, August 18, 2010

30 Before 30: Item 14, Part 1

I've seen a few "Classic" films in my day. Grew up watching Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Ben Hur and The Quiet Man to name a few. Of course I've seen a lot of the 80's classics like Sixteen Candles, Can't Buy Me Love, Christmas Vacation (best movie ever!), and Back to the Future

However, aside from Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany's and a handful Christmas movies (White Christmas, Holiday Inn, etc), I haven't seen many of the real old "Classiscs." I'm talking Jimmy Stewart, James Dean, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn super-movies that have shaped the cinematic world we live in today. And so, with quite a long introduction, I added Watch 5 "Classic" Movies to my 30 Before 30 list as Item 14.

The first film on the line-up was the James Dean & Natalie Wood classic, Rebel Without a Cause. I immediately fell in love with the movie during the opening credits when a drunken James Dean lied on the ground to play with one of those cymbal-banging monkey toys. And my heart swelled even further when he looked at the camera with those crystal blue, twinkling eyes that held the oh-so-heavy weight of teenage angst. 
Telling the story of 17-year old misfit, Jim Stark, who is looking for a new start in a new town, Rebel Without A Cause depicts him finding the right girl, Judy, who naturally runs with the wrong crowd and the resulting action-packed battle. Filmed in 1955, I've read that the movie was meant to capture the moral decline of American teenagers and the generational gab between them and their apparently caused quite a stir for the time. For me, the 1 hour and 51 minutes flew by as I ached for Jim while he overcame his home, school and emotional problems. In addition, thanks to digital remastering, I truly could not believe I was watching a movie that was 55 years old.

I'm a sucker for romantic movies (what girl doesn't love a good ro-co?) and the movie followed the typical love storyline of significant/traumatic event, silly behavior, the first kiss (usually in a unique setting) and the moment the characters realize they've fallen in love. And, as classic movies often do, it left a few loose ends dangling that we can just assume worked themselves out. 

Overall, in my non-professional, totally girly, and now James Dean-obsessed opinion, the movie was amazing! I recommend watching it to anyone who hasn't see it yet (even the spouse really liked it!) and let me know what you think as soon as you see it.

I'm excited to see the next classic film on my list....Some Like It Hot.

Monday, August 16, 2010

30 Before 30: Item 25, Part 1

When I was 19, I walked myself from White Hall down to the Union at the University of Wyoming and signed up to donate at the fall blood drive. I answered all the questions, signed off on a few documents and plopped down in the reclined chair, ready to give. After twenty minutes or so of prodding, stabbing and pushing both of my arms, the nurse gave up and told me my veins were simply too small to give. Bruised (emotionally and physically), I left disgruntled and haven’t set foot near a blood drive or bank since.

Over the years, the painful memory from that day has subsided. I've told myself that the experience was likely a fluke and I certainly could donate blood. Small veins, large veins, they must have seen them all. So, Item 25 was added to the list: Give Blood.

Last Tuesday, I woke up to a sunny and lovely day in Fort Collins, CO. I dressed myself for the warm weather and set my sights on crossing an item off my List. I called the Poudre Valley Hospital and inquired about blood donation times, locations, etc. No appointment necessary and a whole lunch hour to kill, I decided that day was the day I'd try to donate again.

Upon arriving, I explained my desire to donate and got to work answering questions about recent trips and all sorts of other things. A nice lady pricked my finger and determined I was not anemic. Good to know. She set me up in a teal recliner, explained the process (that I had planned to document here but have since decided is really quite dull) and cleaned my arm for the inevitable poke.

Well, she poked me. And then poked me again, and moved the needle (by the way, those things are ENORMOUS) and poked and moved again. Looking a bit disheartened, she called over the pro-phlebotomist, let's call him Joe, for assistance. He took at look at my untapped vein while pushing on my arm and telling me to squeeze the stress ball they'd provided.

Up until now, I had been pretty quiet about the pain I was feeling because I thought I was being a sissy. I concentrated on keeping my aching howls between my pursed lips as he determined that the left arm was not going work. I breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled the giant piece of pointy metal out of my arm, only to gasp the breath back in when he said, "Well, lets try the other side."

At this time, I felt compelled to tell him about my previous encounter with blood bank personnel and my very tiny veins (which I think made him nervous). He studied my right arm for several minutes and stated that a smaller needle would be most appropriate (huh, really??). Once again, they cleaned, provided me with a stress ball and started stabbing away.

Suddenly....success! I started flowin' into the plastic apparatus they'd strung up below me and all seemed to be in working order! I cheered! Joe cheered! The lady who stabbed my left arm cheered and some folks who were observing that day commented on the overall enthusiasm for blood donation in Fort Collins.

About a minute of excitement passed when suddenly my well went dry. Uh, oh. Joe started prodding and poking again, shooting pangs of determination into my arm. Sure enough, I started to get light-headed and for seemingly no reason at all, I became very aware of the inappropriate height of my stilettos for 1:30 in the afternoon.

As I contemplated passing out and proper blood donation footwear, Joe continuously moved his torture device asking if "that" or "this" felt any better. Giving up completely on my tough-guy attitude, I always answered, "Um, NO!"

Finally, after what seemed like ages, four minutes went by and it was decided that my rate of blood flow was not going to be a sufficient amount for the twenty minute window of donation time. They removed the smaller, yet still vicious, needle from my right arm and told me I could come back in two months if I wanted to try again.

What? You think I'm going to try again?? I sat there covered in cold sweats staring at the man who'd just bandaged up my non-flowing veins in bright purple and green tape. He looked at me with utmost confidence proclaiming he could definitely get the other arm next time. I looked down at both of my bandaged appendages thinking, how many arms does he think I have?

He then brought me juice and a cookie, which naturally put him back on my good side. Once the sweating, lightheadedness and nausea finally passed, I looked from my bruised arms to my ego-bruised phlebotomist and, while munching on my chocolate chip cookie, promised to give it one more try. I know it's not thier fault that I wasn't able to donate so I've decided to give it another shot since the office was full of really nice people.

So, lucky blog readers, you'll once again get to read about blood and almost fainting shortly after October 5. I've gone ahead and crossed Item 25: Give Blood off the list because, darn it, I gave it a good try and faced my fear. Hopefully, I'll be able to muscle up enough mojo to fill that torturous little bag that will potentially save someone's life one day.

If you are interested in donating blood (since I made it sound so appealing), PLEASE DONATE! There is a blood shortage and donations are very important! Check out the links below to find a blood bank in your area!!

United Blood Services

Red Cross

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pandas & Prop 8

I was recently told that I am better at writing than I am at speaking. Hmmmm…..I was initially insulted, but it only took a moment for me to absorb the backhanded compliment and reluctantly agree.

I’ve determined that the reason that the statement is true is because in writing I can always rewrite, edit, crumple up the page and start over. It’s easy to write exactly what I want because I can revise it countless times to ensure it’s perfect (or as perfect as I can make it).

However, when speaking, as soon as the words are out of my mouth, it’s over. My foot has been inserted where the word-vomit spewed out and I can’t revise it and I can’t delete it.

At first, I was disheartened by this as I compared my poor speaking skills to life. It made me think that the bad decisions and mistakes I’d blurted out over the past 29 years would forever be captured in my life’s story with no way to retract them.

Then California & I had a great week…..

Back in June, I went to San Diego for the first time ever. Delighted to visit the city with “perfect weather” and an incredible downtown, I couldn’t wait to get there (even for a work trip) to see the beautiful blue ocean and take in the California sun. Unfortunately, the trip was anything but good. Bad weather, ruined plans and work-stress added up to a negative experience and poor review of southern CA.

Due to a series of events, I was given the opportunity to visit San Diego again this week. With my expectations low, I flew from my Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean hoping to have at least a slightly better experience.

Upon arriving in CA, I was ecstatic to feel the warm sun and see it bouncing off the blue harbor waters, a HUGE improvement over the gray sky and matching ocean from my previous trip. I checked into my hotel and quickly went to work on our tradeshow booth (the purpose for the excursion). I finished my work in record time and found myself with 2.5 hours of free time to spare. It only took a few seconds for me to decide what to do….and I made a beeline for the Panda Line at the San Diego Zoo.

After a surprisingly short wait in the famously long line, I stepped into the Panda’s lair with gleeful anticipation. Upon seeing the black and white bamboo-eating giants just beyond the railing, I was instantly overtaken with a peaceful calm and overwhelming gratitude. Quiet and elated, I watched three of the majestic creatures nibble on trees and bask in the sun. I snapped picture after picture of the beautiful bears so very thankful for their existence, my own existence and the experience to witness the incredible artistic hand of nature.

Very high on life, and with time left before I had to get back to work, I was able to take in the rest of the incredible zoo (at a pretty quick pace…that place is HUGE!) and see the big cats, elephants, giraffes, polar bears, silly monkeys and adorable koalas that our amazing planet has provided.

In addition to the Zoo, San Diego included drinks with a rugby friend I hadn’t seen in seven years, sun-filled runs along the harbor and even a really good work experience.

I left CA with positive memories and a new appreciation of San Diego, replacing all the negative emotions and sub-par reviews I’d previously given the city. I arrived back in CO just in time to learn of something else that California had done this week – Overturning Prop 8.

The initial passing of Proposition 8, in my mind, was a black mark on American history and an unconstitutional neglect of equal rights for all. On Wednesday, August 4th, the ruling was finally overturned. My favorite excerpt from one of the many articles written on the monumental event is “eliminating gender and race restrictions in marriage has not deprived the institution of marriage of its vitality,” with which I whole-heartedly agree.

So, what do visiting Pandas and Proposition 8 have to do with each other?

They’ve taught me that wrongful decisions can be overturned and disappointing adventures can be revisited. That being said, can’t inappropriate actions be apologized for (and forgotten)? And although bad choices can’t be unmade, they can allow us to revise the way we make the next choice. All of this has led me to the conclusion that that life is exactly like writing.

Sure, what has been done will always be stuck in the first draft, but its only a first draft. The final copy can be edited along the way, characters can change, old chapters can be revised and rewritten, current pages can be pulled out, crumpled up, and thrown away to clear the way for clean sheets of opportunity.

I embrace the compliment that I’m better at writing than I am at speaking. Rather than thinking of life as a one-time shot of blurting out the right thing, I apply the “draft, revise, draft, revise” approach, composing a story that can only end as perfect as I can make it.