Must be at work at 6 am. Not looking forward to that. Am I crazy for volunteering for this stuff? Yes, yes I am.

Listening to Mandy...missing my girls.

Christmas isn't really a big deal in my family now that all the kids are grown, and I'd kind of forgotten how wonderful it could be to children. Actually, I don't think I've ever had Christmas with other kids around as an adult, so this one's Eve was new to me. We were hanging out at MG's house and Santa made a surprise appearance. After he left, we went out in the driveway to look for his sleigh flying high into the night. MG's 6 yr old brother watched the twinkling stars for signs of a sleigh and reindeer. (The NINE reindeer, as he so politely pointed out to me. Rudolph plus the other 8.) Christmas is oh so magical when children are around. Yay.


Finally got all the Christmas cards sent out. I think I do it later every year. Oh well, at least I still sent them.
Leave it to me to get drunk the first time I see high school people in forever and make a bit of a fool of myself. I guess it wasn't too bad, but still. I need to never drink when there are boys who don't know me well around. Or just males in general. I take that back, I guess I didn't make a fool of myself. Not last night anyway.

I'm off to go take care of some bills. Yay for my attempt to get out of financial ruin. Hmm...maybe ruination would be better there. What's the difference? Who knows.



Shouts out to Rebecca Lynn and Randy Gloyd.

Love you!!!!
So I've definitely been slacking on the blog entries. Will try to do better, but no promises.

It's Sunday, my only relaxation day, so I slept in forever. Went to bed around 3 or so last night and woke up this a.m. to some loud noises outside. Turned out to be mom yelling and banging on my window. For some reason she had no house keys on her ring and had locked herself out when my car was parked behind hers. My bad. Having no clue what was going on, I walked out in my robe with no glasses or contacts (i.e. blind as a bat) and was promptly told to move my car. She was already late, and going back in for my glasses didn't occur to me in my half asleep state, so I moved my car, blind and all. Not smart, but a quite impressive job I did if I do say so myself. v. proud. I then proceeded to sleep until 4pm. V. nice relaxing day.

Gotta love weekends. Or sundays, rather, since I work all friggin day on Saturdays.

Out to Spfld Brewing Co tonight with Stevie, and now Jan, too. Some people from high school are gonna be there, don't know how I feel about that. In high school I thought they were the cool kids and they were more popular and all that. Now, I've been through four years of that shit not mattering at all and don't know how it'll feel to hang out w. them. I kinda don't care. Am I a bad person for not wanting to hang out with these people at all? Nah, maybe I just came to my senses.

Off to go get all sexified for tonight. SMS rugby team hangs out there frequently, must dress to impress. Which doesn't take much for boys in bars, really. Perhaps will continue to update this thing more frequently. We shall see.

Oh, the tattoo is an abstractish outline drawing of a tiger on my ankle. Tres cool.


Thanksgiving was fabulous. I have the cutest little great nephew!

I have a TATTOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May explain later.


Sleep is a good thing.

Jan's boyfriend is being deployed to Iraq Saturday for 6 months to 2 years. Scary stuff. Will be spending the weekend keeping her spirits up if possible.

Gonna be Clifford the Big Red Dog for storytime at BN this weekend. Tres exciting.

on to that good thing :)


Poetry Excerpts

From "A Woman's Question" by Lena Lathrop

Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing
Ever made by the Hand above?
A woman's heart, and a woman's life--
And a woman's wonderful love.


I require all things that are grand and true,
All things that a man should be;
If you give this all, I would stake my life
To be all you demand of me.


I've been dealing with a lot of issues lately concerning men and relationships and icky first dates and such. Nothing really felt right and I wasn't sure what to do or what to think or anything. I finally got smart and turned to God about it and made a decision based on that and my own comfort level.

I decided I am no longer dating. Not at all.

Here's what's wrong with dating:

1. I hate first dates. They suck. I do NOT enjoy it, so why waste my time doing it? The argument is so that I can reap the benefits of a dating relationship, but I have never gone on a date with someone and had it turn into more, so what is there to show me that it's going to start now? I don't like them, therefore I don't want to go on them.

2. Dating is incredibly fake. Everyone puts out what they want you to see and you never really get to see a person for what they are. You see how they act with you and with waitresses and such, but you never get to see how they respond to daily life situations. At least not until you're already emotionally invested in the situation. Then you find out they're really assholes and it sucks even more. Might as well not bother.

3. Dating is done under false pretenses. Societal pressures force you to make a decision about the romantic possibilities with a person based on little information about them or your potential with them. It's unfair decision making. For example, on The Bachelor...15 women fell in love with Bob. Bob fell in love with a few of them. Why? Because the show set it up so that that's what they were expected to do. People had this image of what could be and tried to make it real. Of course it's not real, it can't be that soon...not with all of those people...but it sure seems that way at the time...then these people devote their lives to it and turns out not to be later? that sucks. Not for me. Dating is the same thing. You go out on a date with someone and you have an expectation that you shoudl have something romantic with them. based on what? a five minute conversation you had while helping them find a book or waiting in line at the grocery store? I don't think so.

4. Dating, if it proceeds to a relationship, leads to intimacy, which leads to either marriage, or heartbreak. Considering that most people plan to get married once, but start relationships many more times than that, that's a lot of heartbreak. Unlike some advocates of my new position, I do NOT believe that we should guard ourselves from heartbreak until marriage. However, I've had enough. I've had, what...2 really serious heartbreaks and a few milder ones...that's enough learning experience for me, thanks. Of course, if you're ready to delve into a real relationship, that risk is necessary, but when you're not read for marriage yet anyway, what's the point? If you know you aren't at a point in your life where you think marriage is a possibility, why bother getting super close only to have to end it? This is the exact reason I ended one of my serious heartbreaks. Why did I let it get there? It's like playing house, but the emotions are real. I refuse to let this happen anymore.

5. Dating takes my focus away from being happily single. Dude, I'm on my own, I get to do whatever I want with my time, focus on things I love and want to work on...FOCUS ON ME! But instead, I worry about who I like or who likes me or what I'm doing Friday night or if I should call him or whatever. Nope...that's over. I haven't been without someone in my life since I was 17. When I didn't have a boyfriend I had a guy friend I flirted with and talked to every night and kinda dated occasionally. When the last serious heartbreak happened, I was all about focusing on me. But I wasn't over the heartbreak, so instead I kept my focus on new guys. I kept people in my life that were there so I wasn't alone. Well, now I'm over it (possibly more on that later). Completely over it. It's fabulous! But it means my focus gets to shift. So NOW my focus can be completely on me. why waste that on more guys that will probably never even have the opportunity to audition for the whole husband thing because I'm nowhere near ready? That just hurts them and me. Instead, I get to focus my attention on me and my future and my relationship with God. MUCH better, i think. I went to church Sunday...you know why? Because I wasn't up talking to someone so super late that I couldn't get up in the morning. I spend my time with my jobs, with my family, on my interests, and on God. Not on guys. Def. a good thing.

6. Real life never lives up to the fantasy. So you have a crush on someone, you think they're amazing. You'd have beautiful children and he'd be perfect and you'd be happy forever (damn, think what mine and kiefer's kids would look like...we should soooo get together). Yeah...it never happens. Our fantasies RARELY include the bad stuff, but humans are fallible. Even the most perfect man will not live up to our fantasy because we don't fantasize about not being able to pay the bills and fighting over dishes being done or what happens when he really really wants me to spend the weekend with him and his obnoxious teenage nephew who thinks its funny to grab my ass on occasion...There will be problems. Yeah, we'll get through them, but if you build up the fantasy first, it's not gonna be a good situation because you're constantly going to be thinking there's something that will live up to that fantasy. Yeah...I'd rather just have my crushes and never act on them. Then life gets to be perfect in my head for a while. At least while I'm planning ons taying single :)

The alternative to dating:

1. Friends. Great friends. Friends that don't come with strings. I have way too many male friends that I can't talk to about these issues or about other guys because the focus was always us as a potential something, not as friends. That sucks. I want real friends that I can go to in trust, not afraid they have an agenda or that I have an agenda. I can be super manipulative, especially with men, and I need tog et that out of my life. I'd much rather have friends.

2. Getting to know someone before getting invested. In a friendship relationship, you get to see how someone interacts with others, how they respond in certain situations, and how they are different with youand with their dates (assuming they talk about them) BEFORE you decide to invest any emotions into the deal. Also, you don't have to do your hair before you head out. Much nicer :)

3. When you have a really great friendship, if you think the person is attractive,when you're both ready it can just happen. But there's no pressure for anything to happen before it should. meaning now, when I'm planning on going to Germany and have no idea what will happen after that. I can't deal with pressure to answer certain questions to which I can't possibly have answers. I get to focus on me, and have great friends,and not deal with romantic bullshit.

additional thoughts:

1. I've kinda already done this already. By having people who were so far away, I could have a friendship and then have the romance when we were together, but without the pressure. The problem with me is that my focus has always been on the other person more than on God and my own future and development. Now I'm shifting that so that no one person becomes more important to me than anyone else. I have my girls that mean everything to me, and no one guy should overshadow that. If someone does, I need to back off because at that point I know I am becoming too intimate with him.

2. This does not mean I'll never go on "dates." I'll still go out with male friends sometimes. I do think that for awhile, until I'm more into the swing of this, I'll stick to group things, but at some point I'm sure I'll want to hang out with someone and he might happen to be a guy. That's cool. I can deal with that. Just not oging to think about it like a date, and make sure he knows that, and we're cool.

3. Also does not mean that I'm all of a sudden super pure and will never end up kissing a friend or a "date" or whatever. I'd like to avoid all of that for some time, until I can clearly understand exactly what place that has in my life...but really, it's not necessary for me, I don't think. We'll see.

4. I get to keep my crushes and dreams and hopes of the future without ever feeling like I'm settling. I also get to work on myself and those things I love so that when I do decide I'm ready for marriage, I know that I'm the best person I can be for my husband.

5. The people in my life have been surprisingly supportive. The Russian guy understands. WIth him I think i knew right away that I wasn't interested, but this way I get to back off without really hurting his feelings :) another plus...you can say no to a date without hurting someone's feelings :) sounds great to me. It also takes the pressure off those relationships that were starting to suffer. Now I get to learn more about these wonderful men and really develop a comfort level with them without worrying about agendas or manipulation or romantic feelings.

Yay for me.

For the first time in a long time, I feel really really great about all of this stuff. I feel at peace with my decision. I feel like God really led me to this. What's even cooler...i came up with this on my own. That's never happened, I don't think. There's always been a book, or a person that has influenced me. This one, I just knew all of a sudden that it was right. It happened in the space ofthe 15 minute drive home fromMGs one night last week. Nobody helped me come to this...it was all about me and God.

Now that I've made the decision and people have suggested the book, I've read I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I like it and it really helps me understand some of my feelings and reiterates things I had already decided. I don't completely agree with everything in the book, but I do think it's a good start to understanding this position if anyone is interested. Anyway, this is important to me and I wanted to share it with those who think I'm important enough to read my blog. If anyone wants to comment or talk about it, please email me, I'd love to.


Why is it that the ones that actually feel like they could work out can never actually work out b/c of some stupid practicality...like...he lives in another state, or he's gay, or he's married, or he's a celebrity who would have you arrested for stalking...

what a clusterfuck
Tried on this fabu black dress today. Couldn't believe it, but it hid all my newly acquired and unwanted curves. Was v. happy until turned around and noticed daring backless area that revealed...back fat! Argh. Once you have back fat, you're def. overweight. Okay, so it's not mounds or anything, but still. I always loved my back. Til now.

Marched over to sports section and bought dumbbells and fun workout videos. Spent the next few hours salsa-ing and mambo-ing my way to slimdom. Also lifted weights for first time in MONTHS. It was soooo nice. Started diet, too. Def. actually starting it this time. No more breakdowns for me.

Got a strange email today. Pet Peeve of the moment: people who think they can judge you when they don't know you. That goes along with people who give you advice when you don't ask for it. Nothing bad against the person who does it...just need to not do it. I mean, does anyone really know any other person well enough to make judgments about their inner thoughts? We all want that. I think. At least I do. I want that amazing man to come up and tell me he gets it all and he knows all the stuff that I haven'tshared and he sees me for who I really am...but who am I kidding? I'm expecting a man to do that? That's a bit unfair. Sucks that the guys I want to read me can't and the ones who don't know what they're talking about are the ones who attempt. Topsy turvey analytical bullshit. argh.

I'm off to sulk, and properly plan my line of attack on cute bn boy, for awhile.



So I haven't posted in forever. Sorry 'bout that...if any of y'all out there are actually still reading this. I've been working on the soon to be launched Mandys website, as well as keeping busy with both Barnes and Noble and MarthaGrace.

It's Halloween,and I'm sick. It sucks. I put all of this effort into making this beautiful princess costume. I decided that I wanted to be pretty this year. Chris and I put together a bunch of material and a vintage dress and came up with a fabu outfit with lots of beading and layers of tule. V. flowy, v. princessy. Even had a big long train. Everyone loved it. Alas, did not get to wear it out. Only to BN. *sigh*

Went out with a Russian boy last Monday. Was v. nice...v. gentlemanly and sweet. He called tonight and Mom said he sounded super disappointed. It's really cute and I def.wanna give him a shot, I'm just not sure it has potential. I have this thing for the typical strong american male type. It's that damsel in distress part of me or some b.s. like that. I wanna cowboy with a poet's soul. But he's gotta be tough and macho when I want him to be. Is that so hard? Hmmm...maybe I should date twins. One could be strong and macho and masculine and one could be intellectual and sensitive and cultured...I could go back and forth. That sounds good to me.

I recently read a book that made me revisit the passion vs. comfiness issue in love/relationships. It's definitely got me thinking about some relationships of mine that I didn't give much of a chance to go anywhere. This is another reason I'm not sure about Russian boy. I'm trying not to limit myself, but I'm so tired of trying to deal with things that I just don't want to put forth any effort anymore. Maybe I'll swear off dating. That sounds like a good idea. I'll just make friends and one day it will be perfect and my best friend will suddenly turn into THAT guy. If only things could be so easy. :)

off to bed for me...need this danged cold to go away. Work in the a.m. I'll try to keep up with this blog a bit better from now on. We'll see if that actually happens. Good night all :)


I haven't been updating much lately, and I apologize to those of you who actually read this thing, but tonight probably won't be much better. I'm putting in a lot of time to the Mandys website, which is going very very well. Other than that, i suppose I'm spending a lot of time with things that don't really translate to blogdom. I had a conversation with someone recently about how much we reveal to others about ourselves. I admitted that I reveal more than most immediately, almost as a defense mechanism. I'm not sure, however, that I ever realized it was to keep people from asking about other things. I decided it would be better for me to limit how much I share with others, and now I'm being put to the ultimate test. In finding parts of myself I'm actually not willing to share with others, though, I've begun feeling more alone that I believe I ever have. At least before I could share my bullshit and have someone else understand and tell me they've dealt with it or cry with me or laugh at me or whatever. Now I'm just stuck. Sometimes, it's hard to even share things with God. What's up with that? Argh.

Okay, me making light of something not so light, but how else to deal with it all? I'm just not sure right now. Be patient with me if I don't blog for awhile, or if they're short.



This is by far the most personal post I've ever made on this blog. I'm usually rather hesitant about bearing my soul to any joe schmoe who might come along, but this is necessary. Some things are driven by something stronger than reason.

If you choose to read this post, I ask that you withhold judgment of my intentions or emotional state. I am going to write about God. I am not out to preach. I am also not in some overly emotional insincere repentant state. Quite honestly, I don't care what you get from this. It is entirely selfish. I need to admit my struggles to anyone willing to listen.

A little over a year ago a wonderful friend embraced me as I walked through her door. She told me I was my beautiful and laughed a little, knowing that all was a passing state, at my tears of despair. A little over a year ago I discovered the impossibility of receiving unconditional love from my god. I had just returned from a road trip that I had taken under the pretense of a search for self and God, when really I had been running from both. I had fallen desperately in love and chose to turn my questions and fears to a man who could answer them certainly and immediately, rather than to wait for answers that did not come in my time.

It is an unfortunate event when one yields to the reception of unconditional love with man before understanding it from God. It is much easier to believe that man will fail you and have man fail you than it is to believe that God will love you unconditionally and never quite know for sure. I was never lucky enough, or smart enough, to trust God before man.

This is not some big metaphor. I did not just find salvation, or rededicate my life, or have any real turning point in my relationship with God. In fact, I was lucky enough to know of God all my life. My story is rather typical and boring. I accepted Jesus as my Lord in the 9th grade during an emotional sermon that pushed every guilt button in the room. I happily lived my life with God as my focus, but eventually felt hurt and betrayed because I felt I had been tricked into it. I began to associate God with that church experience and rejected Him on many levels, though never outright. I set out on this road trip to find God through intellect and philosophy, rather than emotion. I eventually did, but not as I had expected.

I instead found someone who provided me with the answers. When I was scared, he comforted me. When I fought myself, he fought for me. When I doubted, he reassured me. This man took the place of God in my life, though I never realized it at the time. In fact, looking back, most have taken the place of God in my life. I expect them to love me unconditionally. I expect them to rescue me from my awful tragic existence. I expect them to convince me to trust them. They do, to some superficial extent that consumes my conscious mind, and I expect them to never fail because I have now been proven worthy of unconditional love. Men fail. But there are many men, and I've always been able to move on to the next one with relative ease.
This one got me, though. This one was timed rather nicely with my actual sincere quest for God. So much so that my faith in this man was never shaken, even when he made it very clear that it should be.

My friend who smiled at my tears helped me through many a night during that sorrowful time for me. Each time we spoke she reccomended a book she had read called Redeeming Love. It was a retelling of the book of Hosea and she thought I would identify with it. I was interested, but never found it in a bookstore so forgot about it. I found God through intellect and philosophy, to the extent that is possible, and committed myself to Him in all the ways I understood.

In the year since then, I've encountered more heartbreak than ever I could have imagined. I finally let go of that god, but as I have realized just tonight, only moved onto more. When one man fails you, there are always other men. There's always someone else to tell you that you're worthy of love. They always fail when it comes to the part about it all being unconditional, but then, that just keeps you from ever really having to admit you are worthy of that love. Even though I've walked with God by my side and in my heart this past year, I still haven't accepted that part. Had you told me that yesterday, I would have laughed at you.

A month ago I was shelving books at B&N in the Christian romance section. Who knew? I came across the book my friend had asked me to read, but it was out of my budget. I put it on my mental list of books to buy and left it alone. As I left work the next day, after having been paid, I felt drawn to the Christianity section again. I hungered for something from God. I knew it would come in the form of a book, not the Bible, and I searched through the devotionals. I picked up a couple and took them home, only to never open them. That evening, I received an email from my beautiful wonderful friend asking me about God and reitering how important it was for me to read that book. I'd experienced enough impossible coincidences involving God and this friend to get the point. I went to the library the next day and found the book.

That was two weeks ago. The book has been sitting in my room unopened all this time. I read constantly, which means I often read in public. This was a romance book. Not just a romance book, but a Christian romance. I mean, c'mon. Last night, though, I'd finished my other books and decided to open it. I read all through the night until I had to leave for work. I finished the few pages I had left a few minutes ago.

Over the past year, and especially the last few months, I've been too heartbroken to think of anything other than healing the immediate pain. Recently, things have calmed down quite a bit. When you stop expecting a man to fill the role of God, it's easier to accept his fallibility and just be friends. Things are better now. I can finally think about God. And then I read this book.

The lessons are many, but they are not the focus of this post. Although, I suppose I'm not exactly sure what is. The most important of these lessons is that I can't expect a man to rescue me, fight for me (even if that means fighting me), be trustworthy, and love me unconditionally until I know God does those things. I can't sit here waiting for someone to ride up on a white horse and save me from my own destructive self until I'm willing to believe that God has already done that. I never really believed those men loved me. I never really believed I was worthy. I put on quite the show, but one has to in this world just to get by with a scrap of your heart left in the end. If I "believed" I could trust them fully, and they failed, it was really my fault. It was all in my control. And isn't that the point? The problem with trusting God is that you actually have to give up control when you finally let yourself believe.

Like hell if i'm gonna do that. I want to. Oh how I want to. That will take quite a bit more work.

So see, this isn't some big preachy testimony about how I got saved from myself. I'm struggling. I want to believe God could love me UNCONDITIONALLY. I have to believe it I ever want to believe that a man is a capable of something even close to that. But it's something of a catch 22, because really, if a lowly human won't do it, why would an amazing and all powerful God? But I'll get there. I have faith now. And I will never again let myself make the mistake of forcing man to be God. I owe sincere apologies to all of those wonderful men. I grew to resent them because they didn't fulfill my expectations of my god. I'm not exactly at a point where I'm going to admit fault yet, :) but I recognize that I owe it to them. And now I owe it to myself to at least give God a chance. If I write all this here, I can't pretend I never realized any of this and blow it off. Now I have to chip away at it. Slowly. Maybe it can wait until tomorrow.

Thank you, Linzers, for letting God work through you. I love you :)


So someone sent me this wonderful link to a study shown on CNN.com. It looks like CNN. But, alas, it's just an NC State website made by some very clever college kids. Damn. And I thought I was doing something healthy in my life.

CNN.com - Study: New study shows that fellatio may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

I really will update soon. For now, I'm recovering from an amazing weekend with the Mandys, working on the upcoming Mandys website (very slowly because my computer and connection suck), going through all of the certifications for my new job, and trying to get my bills in order. I've also got some pretty heavy stuff going on in the way of deep thoughts and such. Actually, that might lead me to distract myself with updating sooner. :) We'll see.


I'm home. I'm tired. I LOVE YOU MANDYS!!!!!!!!!! Too tired to write more, but will do so later. Work early. G'night.


Come over to Millbrook 1-107!!!!!!

Lotsa beer
Lotsa good loud music
Lotsa hot girls
Lotsa fun

I expect to see all Louians there, dammit!


Someone also pointed out to me that the vaccination cause is easy to grab at because so many parents feel guilt over their child's disorder. In fact, up until just a decade or so ago, most people still felt that autism was caused by mothers who didn't love their children enough. It was called the cold mother disease or something.

Autism and Vaccinations

A recent article in The New York Times Magazine brought into the light of popular media the controversy over whether or not vaccinations are linked to neurological disorders such as autism. The article presented the director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Neal Halsey's concerns over the affects of mercury in vaccinations (Allen, Arthur. "The Not-So-Crackpot Autism Theory." The New York Times Magazine. 11-10-2002). For many years, a preservative called Thimerosal has been used in several vaccines and has recently been blamed for symptoms in children that are very similar to those of autism spectrum disorders. A review of the incredibly sparse academic literature on thimerosal's role in autism leads to the need for more information, most of which must be obtained from government-issued press releases and the popular media. An examination of these materials reveals that most government-regulated organizations maintain that there is not enough evidence to show that vaccinations are responsible for causing autism. However, smaller organizations that are focused specifically on autism research offer reason to suggest that the vaccination theory should not be disregarded and that further research is necessary to make any conclusive judgments.

The concern about vaccinations is due to the fact that many of them require the use of a preservative that contains mercury. Thimerosal has been used as a preservative for many vaccines since the 1930s--even before the Food and Drug Administration required the use of preservatives (IVS). Preservatives are needed in immunizations to prevent bacterial or fungal contamination in multiple dose vials. This need was noted specifically in cases like one in Australia in 1928. Twenty-one children were given a vaccine, and eleven of those children died because of an injection of living staphylococci. The FDA mandated the use of preservatives in immunizations in 1968 after several such incidents.

The problem with this requirement is that thimerosal, the most widely used and most safely effective preservative, is 50% mercury by weight. Although the concentration of mercury within thimerosal is just a trace quantity at .01%, it amounts to 25 micrograms in one .5mL dose of a vaccine. This is within the safe levels of mercury designated by the FDA, however children are receiving more vaccines during infancy now than when those designations were made. Also, while many studies have been done on the effects of methylmercury on children's health, little research has been done on ethylmercury, the compound in thimerosal.

Methylmercury is a neurotoxin and has been shown to be responsible for cognitive deficits involving attention, language, motor, and sensory developmental delays. Because of these risks, the Environmental Protection Agency calculated safe levels of methylmercury to be 0.1 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day. A series of studies of children conducted by Philippe Grandjean in the Faroe and Seychelle islands are still being conducted in order to determine whether or not the safe level needs to be changed. Pregnant women who ate whale meat containing methyl mercury in these studies consumed four times the safe dosage. This resulted in minor neurological deficits in the children of these women when they were tested seven years later.

Because of the lack of data defining the differences in risks between ethyl- and methylmercury, the FDA considers them equivalent when deciding safe levels within food and vaccinations. There are few studies of thimerosal specifically, and those that do exist offer little conclusive evidence. In 1931, Powell and Jamieson issued up to 26 mg/kg (micrograms per kilogram of body weight) to subjects with no reported toxic effects. The reports of mercury poisoning that the FDA was able to find resulted from a range of 3mg/kg to several hundred mg/kg of ethylmercury. The toxic effects in these cases were local necrosis, acute hemolysis, acute renal tubular necrosis, and central nervous system injury resulting in coma or death. An EPA study by Mendola, et. al., showed that high levels of exposure to methylmercury produced mental retardation, cerebral palsy and visual and auditory deficits in children (Mendola P, Selevan SG, Gutter S, Rice D. "Environmental factors associated with a spectrum of neurodevelopmental deficits." Mental Retardation And Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews Vol. 8, No. 3, 2002. 188.). It is important to note that these are not symptoms that closely resemble those of autism spectrum disorders. A 1985 study by Magos compared methylmercury and ethylmercury directly. Magos concluded that ethylmercury was less neurotoxic, although no quantitative comparisons were provided. Additional concerns that infants may not be able to eliminate ethylmercury from their systems as adults do were addressed in studies by the National Vaccine Advisory Committee that showed infants excreted mercury into their stools as well as adults.

The recent concern about thimerosal in vaccines arises from several different factors. The number of vaccinations infants receive in the first two years of life has gone from 8 to up to 20 since the early 1990's (Allen, 2002). Coinciding with the rise in the number of vaccinations is the number of cases of autism. A University of California, Davis study recently confirmed this rise and could offer no explanation as to its cause. From 1987 to 1998, the rate of autism has increased 273 percent, and the UC Davis study showed that it could not be attributed to misclassification or changing diagnostic criteria. Studies including the rest of the world have found that before 1985 the prevalence of autism was 4-6 per 10,000 children. Between 1985 and 1995 studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a prevalence of 11.8 per 10,000 children, and up to 1 in 500 were affected by some form of an autism spectrum disorder. The CDC also notes that during the time the increase in California was measured, other developmental disorders increased less than fifty percent. These factors, combined with a few well-publicized testimonials from parents who noticed their children's autistic symptoms shortly after immunizations, have led to suspicions of a link between vaccinations and autism spectrum disorders (Shattock and Savery, 1997).

These suspicions are certainly not unfounded, but have resulted in no evidence that a causal relationship exists between vaccinations and autism. The known symptoms of mercury poisoning and those of autism, while similar, are certainly not the same. The CDC states the symptoms of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders as follows:

Social skills: Children with ASDs do not interact with other people the way most children do, or they may not be interested in other people at all. Children with ASDs may not make eye contact and may just want to be alone. They may have trouble understanding other people's feelings or talking about their own feelings. A child with an ASD may not like to be held or cuddled and may not form the usual attachments or bonds to other people.

Speech, language, and communication: About 40% of children with ASDs do not talk at all. Other children have echolalia, which is when they repeat back something that was said to them. The repeated words might be said right away or at a later time. For example, if you ask the child, "Do you want some juice?" the child repeats "Do you want some juice?" instead of answering your question. Or a child may repeat a television ad he heard sometime in the past. Children with ASDs may not understand gestures such as waving goodbye. They may say "I" when they mean "you" or vice versa. Their voices may sound flat and it may seem like they cannot control how loudly or softly they talk. Children with ASDs may stand too close to the people they are talking to, or may stick with one topic of conversation for too long.

Repeated behaviors and routines: Children with ASDs may repeat actions over and over again. Children may want to have routines where things stay the same so they know what to expect. They may have trouble if family routines change. For example, if a child is used to washing his face before he gets into his pajamas, he may become very upset if he is asked to change the order and put on his pajamas first and then wash his face.

Some symptoms of mercury poisoning, such as developmental delays in language and attention, are similar to those of autism. However, the unusual symptoms that distinguish autism spectrum disorders from other developmental disorders, such as the social and sensory aspects of the disease, are not accounted for by what we know about mercury poisoning.

In fact, the main support for the link between vaccinations and autism seems to be the large number of case studies of children who were diagnosed with autism after receiving vaccinations. Safe Minds, or Sensible Action For Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders, presents myriad accounts of parents claiming that vaccines are responsible for their children's autism. Most of these case studies are similar to the following one published in NurseWeek and posted at www.safeminds.org:

After giving birth to her son, Lyn Redwood, MSN,FNP, of Tyrone, Ga., and her physician-husband tracked his development up to 15 months. After a series of vaccines, the boy started to regress, so Redwood had him tested. The diagnosis: severe developmental delay.

Redwood began to investigate the vaccines that preceded the diagnosis and found that all contained thimerosal, a preservative containing 49.6 percent ethylmercury by weight. By examining her son's records, she found that he had received 237.5 micrograms of ethylmercury in the first 18 months of life.

"I sent a piece of my son's baby hair for mercury testing and it came back with a report stating it contained 4.8 parts of mercury per million," Redwood said. "That's five times the allowable level for mercury. Research studies of children in the Faroe Islands whose mothers were eating mercury-contaminated seafood during pregnancy reported blood levels of 15 to 30 micrograms at birth, resulting in developmental delay. So I started looking at all the diagnostic markers for autism and found all those diagnostic markers to mercury. Looking back at it now, my son's symptoms for mercury poisoning were classic. My husband's a physician and he didn't see it, and I'm a nurse practitioner, but I had never seen a child with mercury poisoning."

Thimerosal - scientifically associated with a number of neurological disorders including autism, attention deficit disorder, speech delays and tics - was originally determined to be dangerous and was recommended to be withdrawn from nonprescription products by FDA experts in 1982, Redwood said.

Although case studies such as this are rather compelling, several things need to be taken into account. First of all, there is no conclusive evidence that thimerosal, ethyl-, or even methylmercury is associated, "scientifically" or in any way other than circumstantially, with autism, ADHD, or many of the other problems these case studies mention. In a 1999 study by F. Edward Yazbak, 25 out 240 women who received the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine postpartum reported problems in their children ranging from autistic symptoms to gastrointestinal problems to future miscarriages.

Also, many of these case studies offer quantitative measures of the mercury both in the vaccines to which the children were exposed and in hair samples. However, they don't offer measures from children who weren't diagnosed with autism after their vaccinations. Given that most children receive the same immunizations, and that the FDA guidelines for safe levels of ethylmercury are based on its supposed equivalency to methylmercury rather than actual knowledge of its effects, these quantities are meaningless.

This works in the other direction as well. A recent study at the University of Rochester Medical Center concluded that the mercury in vaccines is at safe levels. This is reassuring, but does not take into account the fact that the FDA is currently reexamining exactly what those safe levels should be. However, it does provide even more evidence that the mercury from immunizations is eliminated from the blood quickly, even in infants.

There is certainly cause to investigate the effects of thimerosal on children due to knowledge of the effects of methylmercury, growing knowledge of the effects of ethylmercury, and the increased amounts of ethylmercury received by infants in the 1990s. However, there is certainly no conclusive evidence to suggest that vaccines are directly responsible for the increased rates of autism. The Immunization Safety Review Committee at the Institute of Medicine states that although the hypothesis is biologically plausible, the evidence is inadequate and neither proves nor disproves the theory. Even the aforementioned Dr. Halsey himself denied that he believes in that vaccinations cause autism, saying that The New York Times Magazine misrepresented his position.

Regardless of whether or not vaccines cause autism, the questionable levels of safety are enough cause to find ways to preserve vaccines without the use of mercury. The rise in autism cases is certainly cause for more research in this area. For now however, the certain risk of getting a disease that could cause death is more urgent than the unknown risk of developing autism, so getting a child immunized is still most likely the best option for parents.



Nanny Diaries
Great book. Funny, fast read. Don't buy it, though, it'll only give you about 3 hours worth of entertainment. Go to the library instead.

Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill
A good look at all the different views one might have of the man, but not very good as a biography. It's more like a cliffs notes. If you already know a ton about him, this is great, but if you don't have a clue, start with an actual biography first.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Worthy of your money if only for the beautiful people.

Funny as hell. LOTS of shooting. Dark, dreary. Bad movie. Don't waste your money.
"I can't believe I actually convinced myself that my dream guy was (insert former dream guy's name here)! The state should take away my vagina."

"I'd like to meet that repo man."

From Good Morning Miami

Monday night I met with the cave kids to eat pizza and go putt putt golfing. It's weird sharing lude comments with people you know are bosses and high school teachers during the day. I was an obstacle. Then I was a fountain. It's difficult to balance on one leg while swinging a golf club like a pendulum over the hole and shooting water out of your mouth. We almost got into trouble. Silly crabby course owners.

While we were waiting for the old folks :) to finish, I decided I wanted to put red streaks in my hair. So Jordan did it last night. It's subtly done, but a dramatic red. Not exactly what I was going for, but fun nonetheless.

I'm sooooo grateful I've made friends with Jordan and her friends. These are some truly great people. Lucky me.


The little girl I just started working with is wonderful. Her mom is super cool I'm having such a great time and can't wait to start doing more work with others. YAY!

I need to sleep as I have a long day involving all three jobs ahead. Barnes & Noble in the morning, finalizing the end of my employment with Silver Dollar City by turning in those nasty uniforms, and training for the Nova center job. And then St. Louis for the Mandy Reunion on Thursday!!!!

For the St. Louis folk that actually read this: We're having a party this weekend at Meesh's. Becky should be sending out emails. If you don't get one, you're not invited. Just kidding :) if you don't get an email soon, give one of us a call to get the time. Prolly Saturday night, though. Can't wait to see you all!!!!!

just in case...if anyone wants a mandy tshirt, we have some extras for sale :) Tshirt companies apparently only do a minimum of 12 shirts per order. Which doesn't work for 6 girls. :)


Perfect day on Wednesday. Went home at noon due to lack of oxygen in the cave. Sat in park reading, and then swung on swings in favorite flowy skirt. Yesterday saw two bats mating in the cave. Interesting noises they make, these bats. Today found out I'd be working with exec director's daughter for the clinic. Tres excited. Joan of Arcadia was good, Miss Match was lacking. Coupling yesterday was somewhat disappointing. Definitely won't keep me watching. How sad. Bob on The Bachelor Wednesday was worth watching. Seems it will be a dramatic, and oh so real, of course, season. Must indulge myself in a little soap opera drama. Off to bed now.

Ohhh...don't read Dean Koontz's One Door Away From Heaven. Fabulous read, but too quick and neat of an ending. Very Full-Houseish.

Mandy reunion less than a week away!


So, in addition to my highly fulfilling work at Silver Dollar City, I'm now working with Nova of Springfield, a non-profit agency geared toward providing for special ed kids. Not only did they want me to work with Martha Grace, the child for whom I applied to work, but they also asked if I would be willing to do more. YAHOO!!!!

So I'm happy.



oh how I love working in a town that is mentioned in the best cartoon ever

From The Simpsons:

Ode to Branson
Remember the stars, you loved yesterday?
Where did they go? Did they all pass away?
Was it drugs or a car crush,
or a face lift gone wrong?
No they're right here in Branson
and they're singing, this song!
My name is Charo, I shake my maracas.
Remember me foo, I was BA Barachas.
We're the performers you thought were dead,
like Bonnie Franklin and Adrienne Zmed.
Branson's the place we can always be found.
They took NICK at Night and made it a town.
You can call me Ray or you can call me Jay.
Just don't call me washed up, I do three shows a day.
Charlie Callas doesn't sleep in the ground.
Yes I'm still alive an I'm making me sound.
vup hi vup hala voop voop.
So sit back, relax, and watch our review!
In Soviet Union, review watches you!


Last night I came home to sleep and relax and stuff, but Ashley (Jordan's roommate) called and asked me (please please please pleeeeeaaaaase) to come up and hang out b/c she'd just finished a big final for massage school. I said yes, of course, and there went my stay at home night.

I stopped to get wine and beer to enjoy with the other of age people who would be there and was told that Brown Derby (the big liquor store around here) doesn't accept passports as ID. Luckily, the guy said he "wasn't gonna ask, darlin." Called Brown Derby wine center to see if I left my ID there when I was distracted by sexy clerk named Brandon. Sexy Brandon answered phone, but, alas, no ID. Guess I'll have to actually pay for a new one. Damn, and I liked that picture.

Ashley's older brother Josh was there and very drunk and/or high. Very amusing to watch and listen to. Very NOT sexy, though, so when he asked if I wanted to hook up, my no came out a little harsher than meant. The fact that he won't remember that and probably didn't give a fuck anyway eases my guilt.

Sarah played one of her songs...she's really friggin good. I'm soooo excited about her possibly playing at Relay. People will LOVE her!!! She's great. Called Vegas John to confirm rumors that Kevin Smith is making the next Scary Movie. Rumors were refuted. Met Laurie, who is now working with Martha Grace, the girl I will hopefully be working with after my interview tomorrow. She's really sweet. She brought a guy with her (Chris) who kept trying to tell me about ABA and what I could and couldn't do. I asked him what his major was, to make sure I didn't step on any toes. When he told me marketing, I decided not to let him interrupt me anymore. He was kind of a jerk to Jordan, and the total pissed me off. I think he's Laurie's boyfriend, though, so he must be nice some of the time. Maybe I'll see a better side in the future. Maybe it'll just take more beer.

A couple hours into the night I was feeling a bit down, very contemplative, when Jordan told me she was going to bed. I didn't feel like sticking around with Chris dominating the conversation, and I had a lot on my mind, so I decided to drive home. Probably not the most intelligent thing I've ever done. I got home and passed out after much uninhibited dialing. Thank God nobody answered. Then again, dammit to hell. People should answer their phones. Oh well.

Woke up today and still felt a bit down. Haven't really talked to anyone, though, so the Emmys and my cats helped me ignore stuff I should have been writing and figuring out. Amy IMed me, and out of nowhere I decided to discuss. She fucking rules. I just have to say that again. Amy fucking rules. I feel a lot better knowing that I have someone who loves me so unconditionally like that...even when she knows me so well. Also put some perspective on stuff...things aren't all that big of a deal. My emotions are often so fleeting, I need to pay a great deal of them much less attention. Still have some stuff to work on, but am not all torn up about it. Not as much, anyway.

Now I'm off to bed. Interview tomorrow, then some Johnny Depp on the big screen therapy. Mmmmm.
So those ghosts in the cave? Yeah...falling rocks.

Apparently, it's a big deal when there are falling rocks. I did not know this. Jordan and I were in the cave the other day and we heard the same noises I'd heard before. She told me they were from rocks. Sounded like some pretty big fucking rocks to me, but I guess the sound is amplified due to the audio effects of the cathedral room. We told Sue, a cave guide, who told Lucky, a lead cave guide, who stalled tours for awhile to go check it out. Must use this again.

No ghosts.
Debra Messing finally won an Emmy! Yay.
Neither Kiefer nor 24 won. Poor Kiefer. I'll comfort you!


Leaving to go out at 9:30. So goes another Saturday night that was supposed to be spent resting at home. This is why I have no energy in the cave.


A few differences between the Ozarks and everywhere else concerning Asian food:

In the Ozarks...

...you have to ask for chopsticks, and you'll be the only one using them.
...Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai are all the same thing, served at the same restaurants, by thesame people.
...all the waitresses are white, only the cooks, and occasionally the owners are actually Asian.
...everyone who is Asian is "Chinese"
...a Chinese restaurant without a buffet requires a jacket and tie and is a place you go for that pre-prom meal.
...it's not so much orange chicken, as chicken in orange gelatin.
...it's not so much sauce as it is thick country gravy.
...all Chinese restaurants have Friday night crab legs. The "good" places have King crab legs.
...Chinese restaurants have some knd of smoked sausage or steak in the buffet, thrown in for good measure.
...Chinese restaurants are fast food joints, Japanese steak houses, that may or may not have sushi, are the nice elegant places.
...Chinese restaurants seem to have stopped serving fortune cookies.
...you will NEVER see a Chinese person EATING at a Chinese restaurant. Oh wait...you'll never see a Chinese person that's not cooking. Hmmm.

Yep. Gotta get out of here.

Are there Chinese restaurants in Germany? Good ones, ya think?
Ahhhh, and then sometimes friends make you wonder in a good way. It's such a great feeling to hear from someone you haven't talked to in awhile and have it sound like they've missed you. Even if they didn't, it's a nice delusion. :)

I have an interview Monday with NOVA, the company that hires the employees for working with the autistic girl. Hopefully that all goes well.

A blind woman took the tour today. I would have absolutely no problem with this if any one of the following were true:
1. She had someone with her who could actually manage the cave on his own, much less while guiding her.
2. She didn't go on the last tour of the day, making us all get out of work 45 minutes later.
3. There was actually something to experience in the cave that didn't require site. You can't touch stuff, there's nothing to hear, and the only thing you MIGHT smell is bat guano...so what the hell? There are soooo many opportunities to injure yourself badly even WITH sight. Argh. Silly people.

I decided that people should be humanely executed at the age of 75. At least those who've ever mentioned going to some kind of theme park. This should not be allowed. Perhaps it could be a ride...we could allow 75 year olds in free, send em on a ride that doesn't work right, and let em have one last thrill. Dude, that could totally be part of the park. Okay, maybe not, and maybe I don't really want that, but you've gotta wonder what these people are doing in a 500 foot wet cold hole in the ground.

I can't really write anything else. I have so much on my mind, so much I want to discuss, but I can't write a damn thing. That seems so wrong.
I suppose I need to go write on my own, so the world doesn't have full access, before I start posting shit here.

Hmmm...I really need to slow down on the cussing. When it doesn't sound right without it when I'm writing, I know I must use it way too much. That's gotta be a bad thing.


Some fantasies never die.
My last day at Silver Dollar City is next Thursday. now I'm kinda sad about it. Guess I'll get over that pretty quickly. :)

A good quote from Becky for Relay For Life:

"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour is
that moment when he has worked his heart out
for a good cause and lies exhausted on the
field of battle...victorious"
- Vince Lombardi

How perfect. How amazing was that morning of March 16th? Ahhh, to watch a new group go through that. Can't wait.

Okay..more fun stuff:

Read the following sentence straight through without really thinking about it:

Acocdrnig to an elgnsih unviesitry sutdy the oredr of letetrs in a wrod dosen't mttaer, the olny thnig thta's iopmrantt is that the frsit and lsat ltteer of eevry word is in the crcreot ptoision. the rset can be jmbueld and one is stlil able to raed the txet wiohtut dclftfuiiy.

Pretty cool, huh?

Also, we named the other cat Hannah. She seems to like it. :)


And then sometimes you have those friends who make you wonder.


I've been enlightened to a term I most likely should have known, but didn't, so I decided to share it with the rest of the world:

moped (n.)

a person whom one would enjoy riding for awhile, but with whom one would not like to be seen in public

Oh yeah.

Okay, I just have to brag about having the best friends in the whole friggin world. Today's example:

Jordan. She rocks. Here's why...

I've been whining about wanting to quite Silver Dollar City and looking for a new job for quite some time. I've also been really missing work with Maddi. I put in my resignation to SDC and called all the behavioral health places around the area to see if they had anything available for work with autistic children. The problem here is that there's not a large market for it. In St. Louis, if you have an autistic child, you get ABA FREE. Usually it costs about $65,000 per year. Nationally, you get funding until age 3, but after that it's up to individual school districts. With St. Louis so close, most families here with autistic children just make the move to provide the best treatment for their child. Those that stay here often have to work through non-profits that can only provide a few hours of therapy or pay the cost directly. That makes the chance of me finding a job with autistic children very very low without at least a year's commitment. I decided that I missed the work so much that I'd do voluntary work just to get back into it.

I called Jordan on my way to her house yesterday and she told me she had a surprise for me. When I got there, she sat me down and said, "okay, her name is Martha Grace, she's nonverbal, she needs someone in the afternoons..." I almost started crying right there. I'm obviously not hired yet, but Jordan's friend Laurie is looking for someone to replace her when she stops working with this family. I'm applying for the position tomorrow.

It gets better.
Jordan's friend Sarah came over and asked Jordan if she'd called Laurie yet. When Jordan said no, Sarah asked if she was going to do it. Jordan told her that I would be taking the position. That's when I realized that Jordan gave up that job so that I could have it. I seriously wanted to bawl right there, but had to play it off all cool. I can not believe that someone who has known me such a short time would be willing to do something like that for me. It's incredible. I am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

When one door closes, another opens...cheesy, but true.
I have sooo just discovered the man I'm going to marry. Too bad he lives in Canada and has absolutely no clue that I even exist. The first time I saw him he was standing in a field, watching a tiger play. I was enthralled, wanting to watch forever, but then the show cut to commercial. Damn Discovery Channel.

So there's this experiment to reintroduce captive tigers into the wild. A 24 year old zoologist from Canada teamed up with a South African entrepeneur to create a sanctuary in Africa (where tigers do NOT live, by the way) to train captive tigers to hunt and then raise their children wild. The hope is that the new wild cubs can be introduced to their natural environment in Asia or Sibera to restrock the populations there and keep tigers from becoming extinct.

Dave Salmoni was a 24 year old accomplished zoologist and big cat handler when he started this project. I so want to be everything that he is, but the possibility of being a zoologist that actually gets to to do what he does is so small that I dind't think the risk was worth it. What better way to make up for that than to go through him, right? :) He's pretty damn, cute, too. :) Oh to play with tigers and cute men who play with tigers. That would be the life.

Anyway, the experiment rocks and seems to be going successfully so far. The tigers learned to hunt and are now being tracked by satellite to make sure they are truly adapted before impregnating the female. Check out the story of "Living With Tigers."

There's also a really cool description of the different species of tigers that are still living today. The last of the most recently extinct species, the Javan tiger, died no more than eight years ago.


So much to write, so little energy.

Had a fabulous night out downtown watching cops hassle public urinaters, tow trucks take away broken car belonging to one of said cops, drunken teenagers yelling about their drunkenness, and dealing with supposedly homeless but clean shaven beggars. All with great company, but didn't get home until 4:30, so was extremely tired this a.m. Had a wicked fun day in the cave today with Jordan and Gabe. Three hours of sleep adds a lot toward the hyperness scale. Karaoke sessions and pole dancing are wonderful ways to end the day.

My new little tiny kittens are doing fabulously. Mom refuses to give up either of them, so I guess we now have five cats. I haven't found a name for the really outgoing one. She likes to fight, she's fearless, and she's very mouthy. Any ideas? Her sister's name is Talula. My other cats are Gatsby, Mallory, and Brett, all named for historical or literary characters. Little one needs a good name, too.

St. Louis folk:
The Mandys are reuniting for WILD October 2nd through October 5th. I'll probably stay through until October 6th. That's a Thursday through a Monday. If you're in town and wanna hang out, let me know.

I'm reading a fabulous book: Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything Bryson has proven himself thorough and hysterical in his travel narratives, but this is sooooo much better. He delves a bit into the history of just about everything having to do with science. It's not, however, a sciency book. It is meant for everyone, and he does a great job finding amusing things to put in side notes to make even the most mundane subjects enthralling. I highly reccomend it. I'll close this post with an excerpt from the book that made me laugh.

On chemistry:

Perhaps nothing better typifies the strange and often accidental nature of chemical science in its early days than a discovery made by a German named Hennig Brand in 1675. Brans became convinced that gold could somehow be distilled from human urine. ... He assembled fifty buckets of human urine, which he kept for months in his cellar. By various recondite processess, he converted the urine first into a noxious paste and then into a translucent waxy substance. None of it yielded gold, of course, but a strange and interesting thing did happen. After a time, the substance began to glow. Moreover, when exposed to air, it often spontaneously burst into flame.

...[the material] soon became known as phosphorous. ... In the 1750s a Swedish chemist named Karl Scheele devised a way to manufacture phosphorous in bulk without the slop or smell of urine.

...Scheele's one notable shortcoming was a curious insistence on tasting a little of everything he worked with, including such notoriously disagreeable substances as mercury, prussic acid, and hydrocyanic acid. Scheele's rashness eventually caught up with him. In 1786, aged just forty-three, he was found dead at his workbench surrounded by an array of toxic chemicals, any one of which could have accounted for the stunned and terminal look on his face.

Off to bed for me...another long day in the cave tomorrow.



Today I was forced to ask myself whether or not I believe in ghosts. I honestly can't answer that question. There are many stories of ghosts in the cave. People claim they have seen Old Mr. Lynch up on top of the tower when nobody else is there. I KNOW the power of the mind. Light, incorrect depth perception, and a person's mind can definitely make them think they see someone when there's nothing there. How do you account for sounds, though? Not little creaking dripping sounds that can be explained away by settling structures or underground creeks, but real sounds that have to be made by humans.

Amanda and I were sitting in the bottom of the cave today when I heard the tower door open and close and heard loud footsteps on the platform. I heard no voices, so I thought the tour guide was ahead of his tour, or it was someone cleaning or something, and I waited to hear more. About ten minutes later, I realized I hadn't heard anything else. I asked Amanda what that sound had been. She had heard it, too, but thought she was hearing things because there was noone there. Assured that we both heard it, I got a little spooked, but let it go.

Upstairs in the darkroom, everyone tried to convince me it was the ghosts. I didn't buy it and told them so.

Downstairs in the cave, we heard more noises. These noises were not things that could have happened without SOMETHING making them happen. We had no explanations for what it could have been. I hate not knowing what I believe about this. At least I should have some explanation, right? Right?


Boo to those who diss Better Than Ezra concerts. Especially when they're free and you're drunk. Mandecca, those silly youngins don't know what they're talking about.

So today was an interesting day. I got to work and someone brought a tiny little kitten into the darkroom. Apparently, the shinglesaw workers found some kittens under their shed. Our feral momma gave birth and left the litter hidden, but too close for comfort for the park, so SDC security was going to put to sleep four beautiful little felines. We cavedwellers couldn't allow that, but nobody would do anything about it, so I offered to take them.

I spent the day offering kittens to tourists as they came out of the cave, walking around the park showing them off to passersby, and talking to the craftsmen to see if they might want one. At the end of the day, each kitten had a home, including one that I just couldn't resist taking for myself. I had to bring another one home to hold until I can deliver it to Springfield to its future residence, so I now have two tiny little kittens. They make my kittens look huge. They are way smaller than my hand. The one I'm keeping is all gray except for this tiny little white exclamation point on her forehead. She's got a huge head, funny shaped ears, and fuzz for fur that makes her look like a cross between an opossum and a koala bear. Her name is Talula. Currently, the little buggers are hiding behind the couch. They've had quite the day. They encountered humans for the first time this morning, got ripped away from their momma, met other cats, and then a huge German shepherd. I think they're a little overwhelmed. :)

As am I. So off to bed I go.


I'm in a mood. Here's some poetry:

wishes for sons
by Lucille Clifton

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
i wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.

(From The Hell With Love, edited by Esselman and Velez)


The safety crew at Silver Dollar City installed a new "low clearance" sign today because of my clumsy ass. Coming out of the cave, I totally missed a low-hanging beam and rammed my head straight into it. Because I was in full forward motion, my legs kept going and I ended up pretty much on the floor. After a semi-forced trip to first aid and an hour of ice packs, I have a huge red knot that's turning into a bruise and a black eye, and a possible mild concussion.

Okay, I know there were more issues to address, but apparently my head injury has caused some sortof selective amnesia for those things meant to be in the blog. So toodaloo!
For Jordan:

M: You know, there's a Christian romance section at Barnes and Noble
J: Do they get it on?
M: I don't know, I think they wait for marriage.


Cardinals 2, Cubs 0


Also...BIG apologies to my girls for the drunk dialing. I miss you and thus had you all on my mind. Stupid things sound like good ideas when you're drunk, I suppose. Especially when you have other drunkards around. So Sorry, Mandys!

We've decided that Mallory (the kitten) actually looks like a ring tailed lemur. I wanna call her monkey now, as an endearing term, of course, but lemurs aren't really monkeys, and after geting irritated when other people called them that (they're prosimians, dangit) I can't really encourage the incorrect usage, now can I? Especially when she's sitting on my shoulder watching me type.

Hmm...but Mallory monkey is just so cute :)
I've either managed to severely fuck up a major relationship in my life and add drama to the soap opera that is me, OR I've fixed a problem. No doubt there will be some fucking up regardless of which it is. I suppose we'll see sometime soon enough.

You know, I used to say that I wasn't a jealous person. I was very very wrong.

It's a rainy day...a beautiful grey cloudy rainy day. I'm gonna curl up in bed with my kittens and read ALL afternoon. Who needs the relationship/friendship/work drama when you have kittens? Really.


Kiefer Sutherland REALLY needs to take his daughter to Silver Dollar City. And they need to go through the cave. And he needs to fall madly in love with the photographer. Only if I'm the photographer that day, of course. Also, someone needs to award FX for fine programming decisions with their "24 hours of 24" thing they've got going. I only watched the last episode, seeing as it was the only episode I missed during the first run. I don't think I could handle that much Kiefer, anyway. It's torture, really, seeing him all hurt up their on screen and not being able to kiss him better. I mean, really, I could do it so much better than that wimpy Kate Warner. I bought the DVD of Desert Saints even though I'd never heard of it because it was on sale for $4 and had Kiefer in it. Damn, he's perfect. Sexy and nice and tough and bad in all the good ways. Now that I've fucked up every opportunity I've had for a love life here, I really need that fantasy. Thank God 24 starts again soon.

A little Silver Dollar City-all girls in the darkroom cause the cave is flooded humor:
While enjoying our Dark Angel marathon (and getting paid for it), I apparently comment wayyyy too much on the sexiness of Logan Cale. The girls tell me I need to get laid. Michelle says I'm sick and I need a shot of penis-cillin. She then goes on to explain, "My brother, I mean my husband..." Freudian slip, Michelle?

Okay, my book reccommendation for the month of August: Truman by David McCullough. It's FABULOUS. Seriously...even if you're not into history, or biographies, or old people, or anything other than People Magazine...you'll like it. It's an incredible book. Go read it. If you have a long commute to work, go pick up the audio from the library and listen to that. (hint: that's shorter, too)

If you're into suspenseful thrillers, government conspiracy, or adventure romance with a hint of psychosis, pick up Dark Rivers of the Heart by Dean Koontz. It's actually pretty good, pretty involved...it exposes some things that are actually happening in the government, but takes them to extremes so that he could fit it all into a nice little package of fiction. It's not a literary masterpiece or anything, but I definitely got into it, read it quickly, and experienced some major concept appearance in the dream world. It's worth the few hours it'll take you to read it. Don't blame me for any nightmares about government conspiracies to end the problem with the circulation of pennies by taking out the Chinese and restocking the federal reserve.


A recent article:

ST. LOUIS (Aug. 28) - Crazy carp have invaded Missouri's rivers. Two species of nonnative carp have been jumping into boats, injuring occupants and damaging the watercraft.

A state fisheries biologist motoring near Columbia had a filling knocked out of his tooth by a high-flying fish that struck him on the side of the head. Another state biologist in the St. Charles area was seriously hurt when he was hit by a giant carp.

You gotta love this state with its crazy fish.


A poem by Margaret Atwood:

You Fit Into Me

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

A fish hook
An open eye

I love Margaret Atwood.
I hate many other things, however. Men suck. Love sucks. Missing a man you love sucks. Missing a man you love when all the girls you love aren't anywhere close to you sucks.
You know what doesn't suck? Great friends who responded to text messages at 3am or come pick you up to get you shit-faced when you really need it.

Woo hoo!


True or False...I miss my MANDYS?

So True. Especially when I get to watch Will & Grace reruns featuring Madonna and American Idol intro music. Oh waaooowaaaaoooooooo!

So I went to Barnes and Noble today for my shelving job that was only supposed to go to 11:30am but was asked to stay until 4pm. My boss called me back in the office for a conversation where I thought I was going to be told something I had been doing wrong. Although she did ask me about the incredibly slow job of shelving we all did this morning, she also told me she'd like to put me on the fast track to lead. That's not all that big of a deal, but it's my fourth day. Yay for me.

Considering the amount of debt I have left to pay and the situation at B&N, it looks like I might stick around here a few more months before I head off to Germany. I really want to go over there with no debt left here at all. I've already cut my debt by $2500. I'm doing really well, and I'd like to keep it up while I can so that when I get back from Germany I can start life without worrying about old credit cards and such. Also, Germany sounds much more fun if I'm not sending every paycheck back to the states to pay interest on some car repair I made freshman year. It's going to take a bit more work to fight for my dual citizenship, or work permit if I can't get that, anyway.

Karma taught me a lesson yesterday. Bored and waiting for Mom to go to bed so that I could have the couch and watch the end of the Cubs-Cards game, I dangled stuff over the couch so that Mallory would drive Mom crazy enough to finally leave the living room by jumping after it. I thought it was really funny when Mallory jumped so hard she fell off the couch. I laughed. A lot. I did not, however, think it was the least bit funny when Mallory jumped to get the phone cord dangling by my head and landed on my face with her claws out. My nose is disfigured for life. Or a few days anyway. Seriously, though...the kittens weigh less than the rats in my psych lab did, but when they fly at your face with those daggers curled into your skin, it hurts like a bitch.

My friend Paul in California finally posted some of his photography online. Take a minute and check it out!


What is the sound of one hand smacking you upside the head?

Dude, I'm addicted to Dark Angel and it was cancelled before I ever saw an episode. That's never a good thing. It's a kickass show, though. Watch an epi if you ever get the chance.

Also, I have to say, it is soooo amazingly refreshing to click so well with someone that you can tell them exactly how you feel and have them say the same thing right back. It's even better when you're telling them that you just aren't sure about it all and they're telling you they feel the same way. Life can be so good to you, even when it doesn't throw explosive passionate love your way.

Alright, I have more to write about, but I should save something for tomorrow when I'm being driven crazy by my mother and cats and want to bitch about it all.


An evil migraine knocked me out of commission for the day and now I feel all lazy and unproductive. At least this gives me something to live for. :)

Yesterday we had another day of sitting up in the darkroom getting paid for no work for a couple of hours. It was completely made up for by the fact that the cave smelled like bat shit when we did finally go to work. Bat shit is an oddity, really. It smells like shit, but also smells a bit like ammonia. So really, it's a shitty clean smell. I guess you can't clean it up with bleach. That being toxic and all.

The bats being up and about does have its advantages, however. The cute little things were hanging all over the place, even in low passages the tours use all day. I walked through behind a tour and practically ran right into two of the little buggers. They were soooo damn cute. At the end of the day, loaded on honey sticks and so hyper my mom mistakenly thought I had finished her bottle of wine when I got home, I lagged behind a tour and decided to lightly touch one of the bats. They just kinda stretched and curled. Very cute. Very bad, so shhhhhh!

Mmmmmmm. Honey Sticks.

Big props to Triller the Thriller, by the way. She's hosting a friend of mine tonight. I LOVE YOU!!!! Friends rule.

Okay, now I sound like a 12 year old. Gotta love it.

My cats are psycho. That's all I'm going to say at the moment. They're just psycho.

Alright, thought train crashed and is scattered throughout the land. I'll report back when we've got it all back on the track headed to a point. Chill in the heatwave til then, folks.


I love days in the cave where I get to sit up in the darkroom and watch movies and get paid for it. This happened yesterday because there was so much bat guano on the pathways through the cave that they couldn't give tours. Because they were cleaning it and expecting to give tours later that day, I had to wait around for them to open the cave. This meant that I sat on the couches with Jordan and tour guides and other cave photo people, including my incredibly cool boss Shannon, watching Batman, Chicago, and other movies. All while getting paid. Rock on.

Today I had my first real day at B&N. It was nice...lots of shelving all morning. I love it. I love getting to shelve books. I'm a dork. I finally fixed my shelf in my room. You know, those little things that stick in the holes to hold the moveable shelves up do NOT come in standard sized. I had to drill bigger holes into my bookcase. The problem with that is that I don't own a drill. So really, I guess I screwdrivered bigger holes. Too bad that didn't have anything to do with vodka. I also had to cut part of the plastic off the little thingies b/c my shelf fits too tight to leave room for them on the side. You'd think they'd come that way, but no, it was left to me and my crappy scissors. Well, they're crappy now anyway.

On my break at B&N today I picked up a book in the lounge and started reading. I found out that any book in the lounge is free to take home. So I brought home, and already finished, the uncorrected proof copy of Boy Meets Girl, by Meg Cabot. It's fabulous. Definitely chick lit, but fabulous. If you liked Bridget Jones, you'll love it. It's completely made up of emails, company memos, recipes, voice mails, and journal entries. It's very very cool. Very funny. The IMs between the two female characters are so Mandy it hurts. I MISS YOU GUYS!!!! Anyway, it's not out yet, but it will be sometime soon. You all should check it out.

Okay, I'm off to find someone in St. Louis for Jordan to stay with this Saturday b/c she's going to the Radiohead concert there. If anyone reading this wants to offer a really cool person and her roommate a place to stay, let me know. :)


So I've spent the last 6 days having fun and not dealing with life. Now it's time to catch up and get reorganized and all that jazz.

My friend John flew in from Raleigh last week so I could show off the Ozarks and exploit the Herschen Family Entertainment Corporation by using my discount in all possible situations. I explored Silver Dollar City for the first time in quite a few years. It was fun, but still slightly lame. Celebration City, however, was much better. Okay, still lame, but with some fun rides. John and I debated the creepy effect of the twilight that made everything look all fake and pristine. Actually, the pristine quality added to the fakeness. Everything was super clean. They must have invisible janitors on duty at all times. Oddly enough, we later found a photography book called Twilight that examined the creepy effects of dusk.

I rode all the big scary rides! :) Yay, ME! I cussed through most of 'em...but I rode them.

Don't laugh. They WERE scary, dammit.

After explaining the coolness of Route 66 and watching money get wasted on an evil carnival game where we didn't win a huge stuffed Cookie Monster, we explored Branson from above...by riding the ferris wheel. You know, there's really nothing to see. It's sad.

We went horseback riding on one of those nice little trail ride things. I love horses, but I have to say, I just don't get why someone wants to ride around for an hour on a horse that's very slowly and uncomfortably making his way down a rocky hillside and not getting anywhere. I thought it would be fun, but if you're gonna ride a horse, really, you should ride the damn horse. None of this following another horse's ass crap. Seriously. Smack that horsey butt and let her fly. That's riding.

Spent the rest of the few days getting asses slapped by Jordan's very drunk but usually very sweet and innocent type roommate Ashley, fighting the kittens off my toes at night, and trying to find more things to do in this region that civilization refused to rescue. They were good times.

Also, went on a quest for chocolate cheesecake. Couldn't find any in Springfield OR Branson. Guess I'll have to make it. Dammit, Amy, I need you here to make yours for me. We all know it's the best ever.

Oooooh, tried a new thing. Lavash, I think. It's like a tortilla wrapped around lunchmeat and pimentos and sliced into little rolls. Interesting, but very good. Got it at Wal Mart. Weird, huh? Lavash in the Ozarks at Wal Mart. I feel incredibly cultured now.

I've decided that Kansas City doesn't really exist in this world. Or at least it crosses over with another realm somewhere. See, when you drive to St. Louis, you kinda feel like you're in St. Louis about an hour before you get there. Suburbs start popping up and everyone in every town will tell an outsider they're from St. louis. When driving through western Missouri, you're in the middle of fields and pastures and flat countryside, when all of a sudden up pops a Kansas City city limits sign. Then, a few miles down the road, there's another one. Then another one. On the way to the airport, I think we counted a total of 8 city limit signs for Kansas City. What's that all about? Very twilight zone-esque. Could only have been more surreal had it actually been twilight.

Decided I could live in KC if I actually got to live in the posh suburb of Overland Park. Right next to Half-Price Books, of course. Why don't we have one of those here? And why haven't I heard of this place before? It's amazing. CHEAP Dali, Bressan, and San Francisco art books. My my. I do believe I have reason to head back that way again. :)

Seven is my new lucky number.

It's also the time I have to leave the house in the morning, so I'll be signing off now. Over and Out.
A reiteration of a past post:

Debt is BAD!

Also, having all of your belongings 2000 miles away in a storage locker that costs $100 a month is BAD. Anyone wanna contribute to the "Get Monika's Stuff Home Fund"?


I spent the past week showing a friend around the lovely Ozarks. After two days, I was without new things to show. Of course, there are hundreds of wonderful things out here: caves, streams, lakes, forests...but when it's 104 degrees outside with Missouri humidity, the outdoorsy stuff gets old pretty quickly. So, with rediscovered boredom with my town, I bought a few cheap photography books on San Francisco. After driving back from the Kansas City airport (because Springfield has to make it all that much harder for me to get out of here or let in respite for awhile) I sat in the living room flipping through the pages of my gifts to myself. I actually started crying when I saw the view of Marin county and the Golden Gate in the afternoon sun. Dude, something is seriously wrong with me. So I had a night of grieving over my lost city. Mom asked me if I wanted to have a funeral. Maybe I should. This is so much more heartbreaking than any man has ever been. Perhaps I can marry the city? Monika Francisco. Doesn't that sound good?

Ah, so.

I'll make it back someday. After my night of mourning.

Perhaps I can transfer some of this love to Frankfurt. It does have an incredible skyline!


When one starts to believe all things are finite, amusement parks serve as wonderful reminders of infinity. There is absolutely no limit to how stupid people can be after they have paid $50 to travel back to the 1800's in the Ozarks. The atmosphere must take away common sense, because all kinds of weird things start happening:
Claustrophobic people go on hour-long cave tours and have to call first aid to take them out when they have a panic attack.
Grown adults believe tour guides who are being silly when told there are purple cave elephants.
Forty year old women wear stilleto heels in a cave with over 700 stairs that goes up and down 500 feet. Not to mention the fact that they wore the heels to the amusement park in the first place.
People come into the 54 degree cave immediately after getting completely soaked on a water ride.
Photographers give up on getting a camera to work because they don't know how to read a manual to find out that they need to flip the focus to manual rather than automatic.


It was a long day, folks. Yep, I say folks now. I'm gettin' the Silver Dollar City dialect going pretty strong.

Bats are incredibly cute, by the way. They really do look like tiny little furry chicken nuggets. The ones in our cave are about half the size of a baseball. Super cute.

On a more positive note, tomorrow is my last day of work for a week. I'm headed to KC tomorrow night to hang out, then pick up a friend to come down here and party for a week. Fun times will be had by all.

Also, I've been checking out schools for organizational psych...some of the best programs are at NYU, Tulane, and University of South Fla. How great is my luck? Sadly, no good ones out in Cali, but that's alright. I'll head back that way eventually.

Alright, off to bed for me...11 hour work shift, 3 hour drive, and lots of cleaning to do tomorrow. Fun fun.


Why do claustrophobic people go on cave tours? Masochistic tendencies, perhaps? Argh!

I finally got to run the darkroom today!!! It's soooo much better than working in the cave. Between tours, Jordan, the bitchily funny girl who lets things slip out of her mouth before she thinks about them, decided we should watch Say Anything. You WashUians all know how much young John Cusack looks like Shorty, so I mentioned that to Jordan (who has a big of a crush on Cusack) and that got us on the subject of college and all kinds of other things. In the span of just a few minutes, we learned that we both love Ani, Old 97s, Dar, and have other similar tastes in music. We both love Kevin Smith and Christopher Guest movies. AND we went to both Summerscape and Missouri Scholars Academy. So basically, as one of the tour guides put it, we're both big nerds. The cool think about that is that we're both big nerds who are stuck in the Ozarks for the time being. She is so much like me before I went to college. It's very cool to finally have someone I can talk to around here who isn't married with kids already.

I started the adventures of hair today. After four years of my $150 hair cut and highlights at Michael Dominic's in St. Louis (BEST SALON EVER!), I had to break down and get a cheap haircut. I'm too broke to do anything else. I actually went to Wal-Mart...and luckily, got a chick who understood why I was nervous (anyone recall the pink hair of freshman year from the College of Cosmetology?). She did a really great job, and told me how to dye my own hair to even out the Christina Aguilera-like difference in the brown underside and blonde top that my overpriced highlights used to fix. So, for the first time. in a few days I am going to color my hair. I'm terrified. If it turns green or something I'll send pics. I suppose if it DOES turn green, that'll be my opportunity to dye it dark brown. I've always wondered how I'd like dark hair :)

If you like suspenseful beach-type reads, read Dean Koontz' Cold Fire. It's not an amazing book, but I got lost enough in it that I finished it in a few hours. Also, Jacquelyn Mitchard's Twelve Times Blessed is VERY good. Great character development. Slightly Oprah's Book Clubesque, though. If you can get over that, it's definitely worth the read.

Yay for friends who send out discount cards to great retailers! Happy shopping this weekend, Mandys!


So the people at the German-American Chamber of Commerce don't return phone calls. Alas, I shall have to drive up to the consulate in Chicago soon. Yeah, like I need an excuse for another trip to Chicago.

Started my first day at good ol' B&N today. Seems very cool...lots of cool people, some great ones my age...plus MAJOR benefits. We're talkin' book discounts, half off in the cafe (and yes, the B&N here has Cheesecake Factory cheesecake and hand-dipped ice cream!), working on my own time without a boss over my shoulder...great stuff.

Got my room a bit more organized, too. Can't figure out how to get all the stuff that used to be in my desk organized onto a large shelf, though. I have my priorities straight, however...all of my pictures are up and displayed, as are my books, of course. Can there be too many picture frames in one room? I seem to have collected quite a few over the years. Well, I guess that means the more fun times I get to display.

Tomko won his first game for the Cards at Busch tonight! Woo Hoo. Oh, and since y'all think Kiefer's too old for me, I've moved on to fresh meat. Bo Hart, the rookie second basemen for the birds, is my new love. But Kiefer will always have my heart *cough*libido*coughhackcough*.
Wünsch mir viel Glück!

Okay, I posted that again because it was worth repeating AND because I just learned how to type the umlauts.


It looks so much better done correctly.
Es ist sehr schön!
Both Germany and the United States have nationality laws that state the following:

1. No matter where you are born, if at least one parent is a citizen of the country in question, you are a citizen of that country.

2. No matter the nationality of your parents, if you are born in the country in question, you are a citizen of that country.

3. Dual-citizenships between the United States and Germany are recognized.

4. Therefore, if you have one parent who is American and one parent who is German, you are automatically born with dual-citizenship.

5. If you are NOT born with dual-citizenship, but decide to switch later in life, you cannot keep both citizenships. You MUST choose.

My dilemma:
My mother was a German citizen when she had my sister in Germany. Therefore, under two laws, my sister is a dual-citizen. My mother then became a United States citizen. Then she had me. In the United States. Therefore, I am only an American citizen and cannot apply for German citizenship without giving up my place as an American. We know that isn't going to happen.

So...how to bypass the whole visa problem? Well, thank God Germany deals with all visa and citizenship matters on an individual basis. Maybe the nice people at the German consulate in Chicago will hear my plea that it was not MY choice for my mother to become an American citizen between birthing my sister and I.

And thank you, God, for the ability I have to persuade total strangers into giving me exactly what I need (proven by my recurrent success in telemarketing, of course).

Now, to work on that whole speaking German thing...

Wuensch mir viel Glueck!

I really need to learn how to do an umlaut on here.


Mandy Moment

My mother is terribly addicted to news magazine shows. She watches every single one and always tapes those she is forced to miss. The problem with this is that with 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, Dateline, and others, there is ALWAYS a "news" show on during primetime. As I have recently become miss Suzy homemaker, I was busy making pillows to match my curtains when the annoying guy came on at the end of 60 Minutes II to complain about the tourism industry in America. He talked about the world's largest ball of twine in Kansas, the pumpkin-hurling festival in Deleware, and the dirt museum in Boston. Mr. Cynical picked up a jar of pretty polished grey rocks and said they were from the driveway of a celebrity. Whose jar did he choose to announce on national TV? Why, Mr. Barry Manilow's of course.

oh Mandy
I waited two weeks after paying my cell phone bill to call and complain about Cingular not turning it back on. Fifteen seconds later, I now have service again. Does it really haveto require bitching to get something done? What happened to money getting you everything? Now it's a whole lot of money, with a side of bitch? Anyway, for those of y'all who actually use it, my cell phone works again. :) All because I can be a bitch. Good to know, eh?


I decided to make a quick batch of brownies tonight. Following a conversation all about how clumsy I am, I dropped a big heavy glass pan on my toe and broke the damn thing. My toe, not the pan. The brownies were worth it, but only b/c of the nice vicodin loopiness. A friend commented:

R: you epitomize loop
R: your loopiness

I wonder if he meant now, on the meds, or in my usual state?
There's a first time for everything, moment #1:

Today, I started a sentence with, "When I was in school..."