Pike’s Peak – Day Two

After yesterdays breakfast, I knew todays was going to be just as good. I almost couldn’t wait to get out of bed, almost.

Knowing we had to tire the dogs out before leaving them at the hotel, the Hubs found a disc golf coarse (golf with a frisbee) 25 minutes away. Every time we go somewhere new, we check out their disc golf courses. We were’t disappointed, the puppies were pooped.

There was a foot trail that circled the park and I decided to tire the pups out a little bit more. A quick run never hurt anybody, right? Wrong, we got lost, it didn’t circle the park and the Hubs had to come pick us up, miles into the country, oops.

I just love how much fresh water is running through Colorado. This was taken while we were getting lost (but didn't know that yet).
I just love how much fresh water is running through Colorado. This was taken while we were getting lost (but didn’t know that yet).
Bella enjoying some that fresh water.
Bella enjoying some that fresh water.

After we got back to the hotel, we checked out The Cog Railway Train Adventure and were disappointed to find you were required to schedule the ride 24 hours in advance. Matt really wanted to go on top of a mountain.

Plan B! We can drive up to Pikes Peak, even better! So we drove the 20 miles to get to the base of the mountain to begin our trek up, and man was that a long way down.

The views from the side of the mountain were anything but ordinary. Breathing in that fresh mountain air was rejuvenating, even with the altitude trying to take your breathe away.

We stopped to hike up some rocks before getting to the tops and this is where the picture below was taken.

Matt taking in that mountain air. It really is hard to take a bad photo when everything is so beautiful. This picture is one of my favorites though.
Matt taking in that mountain air. It really is hard to take a bad photo when everything is so beautiful. This picture is one of my favorites though.
I dared myself to get out of the car and near the edge. This picture is proof and so is my face. Mommy!
I dared myself to get out of the car and near the edge. This picture is proof and so is my face. Mommy!

I wouldn’t say I have a fear of heights, but rather a fear of falling. I’m pretty proud of myself for standing on the edge. My knees didn’t give out, hallelujah.

To the top of the summit is 14,115 feet above sea level. Fun Fact: The view from the summit inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful” in 1883.

Before you get to the summit, you travel up roads that are a little to close to the edge for my taste, guardrails only on the sharp turns. Due to ice and snow we couldn’t make it all the way to the top, but we got pretty close.

We made it to Boulder Park, 13,380 feet above sea level. We got out, trampled through feet of snow ( with improper clothing, I was wearing capri work out pants, yikes!) and hiked to the top of the boulders, trying to get as high in the clouds as possible.

I'm surprised I didn't trip, my kind of luck is funny like that.
I’m surprised I didn’t trip, my kind of luck is funny like that.
It is a long way down to the bottom, but the view is unbeatable.
It is a long way down to the bottom, but the view is unbeatable.
I think Matt was done with my obsessive picture taking, or he really is embracing #TheBeardLife.
I think Matt was done with my obsessive picture taking, or he really is embracing #TheBeardLife.
My, "I can't believe I'm climbing this, already up to high" face.
My, “I can’t believe I’m climbing this, already up to high” face.

As we drove back down the mountain, we stopped at the Crystal Reservoir and took the self-guided nature trail. The reservoir was frozen over and we got to read about the Big Foot sightings.

Yes, you read that right. Big Foot was spotted by a guest in Pikes Peak back in 2001. A sign was added to commemorate the sighting. You can read here about more tales of Big Foot and the Sea Monster in Mystic River.

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That's a big, foot!
That’s a big, foot!

We got back to the hotel, ate dinner and passed out before 10 p.m. and if you know me, that’s a feat all in itself. Goodnight!

Day One – Colorado Springs

The first wake up always feels so good, you have your whole trip ahead of you. The hotel bed feels amazing, you couldn’t get anymore comfortable and you don’t have to clean anything. Plus, free continental breakfast and if my husband was writing this he would tell you, it’s not a real free breakfast without a waffle iron. (For the record, ours did.)

When you walk into the lobby, a business center with way to many plush couches are set up around a faux fire. To the right of that, the indoor swimming pool is front and center, and the restaurant (where our breakfast was served) is up and to the left, additional seating on the ground level.

There were tables upon tables of good breakfast food, buffet style. They also had a ‘omelette guy’ who made to order omelets right in front of you. Let me tell you, this is the best breakfast I’ve ever had to not clean up after.

After we finished out breakfasts, we gathered up the pups and went to check out Garden of the Gods. It’s rated as one of the best parks in the country and as an added bonus, it’s free! On the drive down we noticed the abundance of dogs being walked, all over the place! Colorado Springs is shaping up to be just as good as I expected.

As we pulled up to the parking lot for the park, the Hubs and I were both awed by not only the size and shapes of these boulder rocks, but the color of them on the backdrop of the mountains behind them. This place is awesome AND beautiful.

The entrance gate to Garden of the Gods, pictures don't do it justice.
The entrance gate to Garden of the Gods, pictures don’t do it justice.
Again, how could you not be awed?
Again, how could you not be awed?

We briskly walked all over the park, making sure to check out each designated spot on the map. We saw climbers on the tops of the rocks and birds flying out of holes at the tippy top of those same boulders. These rocks were huge, I loved it!

The park also had a number of trails that varied in length, feeling frisky we went for the big one, in total it would be a little over 8 miles, but it promised a big rock balancing on a smaller one, who wouldn’t want to see that?

The Hubs and Da Puppies in front of the 'balancing rock.'
The Hubs and Da Puppies in front of the ‘balancing rock.’

As we hiked around the mountain, I was surprised how hard it was to breathe, that altitude is no joke! My heart didn’t race this much while I ran a 5k or did the StairMill at the gym for 30 minutes, as expected, the views were worth the gasps of air.

The view from the top.
The view from the top.
That coloring, it's gorgeous.
That coloring, it’s gorgeous.
"Through the Looking Glass"
“Through the Looking Glass”
I can't believe I climbed up to this thing, it was worth the knee shakes!
I can’t believe I climbed up to this thing, it was worth the knee shakes!

By the time we got back to the hotel, puppies and parents were pooped. Everybody took a nap, except me … I began my blog writing, took a bath and read some more of my book, relaxation at its finest.

Around 4:30 we perked up again, and decided to check out the downtown historic area of Manitou Springs, about a 15 minute drive from our hotel. The buildings were old, the floors creaked in each boutique and as it should be, there was a penny arcade. Hubs and I won 62 tickets, he got a Butterfingers and a popper.

As we ate dinner our eyelids grew heavier and we were all in bed by 10 p.m. I hadn’t been that tired in a long time, but I had a sneaky suspicion we would be, if not more, because we had three more fun-filled days before the drive back to Texas, whoop-ee.

Bella (right) Bailey (left) My two babies.
Bella (right) Bailey (left) My two babies.

Road Trippin’ The Weekend Away

Ahh–vacation, it’s finally here! Today me and the Hubs are driving up to Colorado Springs for a long weekend, it lieu of our Spring Breaks. The beach did have its appeals, but the mountains won out. Plus, it’s a dog friendly city/state and there’s plenty to do with your pups, a win-win for us.

While we trekked into new territory, it still looked pretty similar to home. Texas is ginormous, but it generally has the same feel. A lot of farm land, old rusty cars rotting away into the dirt piles and way too many cows. Did you know that there are more cows in Texas than people? “Let’s hope they don’t figure that out,” as my husband would say.

As we drove north west, nothing but open road, we rocked out to oldies but goodies. We rapped Lil’ Wayne, Eminem, and a mix of old southern rappers, Crime Mob anybody?

After knuckin’ and buckin’ we turned the music down, randomly told stories, and posed questions to stir up more random conversation, the kind you only have when you’re stuck in a car with nowhere else to go. Then, we enjoyed the silence and scenery.

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Still in Texas, only two hours into the trip, not desperately wanting out of the car, yet.
One of my two, Hurricane Bailey, or just Bailey.
One of my two, Hurricane Bailey, or just Bailey.

I think it’s more telling when you can sit in silence with your significant other, not having to entertain each other, or feel like there needs to be a conversation in order for us to be an awesome couple. I think when you find someone you can enjoy the silence with, that speaks louder than words.

We made our way through Wichita Falls, Amarillo and other small farm towns before we hit New Mexico. I was shocked by how quiet these small towns were. Not many people on the road, except the few cars that were driving through, and the one flashing yellow light on Main Street. Not official ghost towns, but close enough.

A quaint building in small town, Texline.
A quaint building in small town, Texline.

As we entered New Mexico, the scenery hadn’t changed much. When you enter a new state the scenery should immediately change, especially for people who have been in a car for 5 hours already. Though, it was starting to get hillier, the clouds were getting lower and that dirt mountain rock began to appear, we were inching closer and closer.

Finally out of Texas. Two more states to go!
Finally out of Texas. Two more states to go!
"Rocky Mountain Dirt Stuff"
“Rocky Mountain Dirt Stuff”

About 25 minutes upon entering New Mexico, the Jeep overheated and we couldn’t go above 40 mph. There was a loud grinding noise and we had to pull over. What kind of car overheats in 60 degree weather? Thank Zeus for Google. The Hubs got onto a message board, found the trick, and after a mini freak out from me, we were on our way again.

(Apparently, other Jeep owners had this overheating problem also when they drove 75-80 mph for a long period of time. If you find yourself in this problem, put the car in neutral, wait for the transmission light to go off, and wah-la, you’ll be on your way.)

As we entered Colorado, FINALLY, The Rocky Mountains, with their thin blue mist, were to the west driving with us the last 3 hours of the trip. The change in scenery helped, a little, but we were all ready to be done. That last leg of the ride always takes the longest.

The Hubs with the Rockies in the back.
The Hubs with the Rockies in the back.

While we wound up and down and around the mountains, we noticed a few historical signs talking about some memorial, we decided to Google, nothing like a little history on a long trip.

Ruins of Ludlow - Wiki
Ruins of Ludlow – Wiki

The Ludlow Massacre was an attack on the miners and families of Ludlow Colorado, by Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. At the start of the fighting, any where between 19-26 people were burned to death in a single tent, women and children alike.

The strikes lasted from September 1913 to December 1914. It was dubbed one of the worst and deadliest incidents in southern Colorado history. The strikes were led by the United Mine Workers of America, and were fighting for better working conditions.

Interestingly enough, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was the chief owner of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. The results from this massacre, led to 8 hour work days and chill labor laws.

Historian Howard Zinn described the Ludlow Massacre as “the culminating act of perhaps the most violent struggle between corporate power and laboring men in American history”.

In total, around 200 miners and their families lost their lives. The remains of the burnt town can still be seen in the completely abandoned city of Ludlow Colorado in the southern part of the state.

As we pulled into our hotel parking lot, It took everything I had to not run underneath the bed covers and fall asleep. It was dark by the time we pulled in to Colorado Springs, so I could only see shadows of mountain tops, but it was nice to know they were there.

In the morning, it was going to be a beautiful sight and I can’t wait to get the party started, vacation never felt so good.

My First Agency Tour

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Photo Cred: Awo Eni

Today PRSSA and myself got the unique chance to tour the Weber Shandwick office in downtown Dallas, inside the Comerica Bank Tower. The PR firm represents over 3,000 companies and have multiple offices in 80 countries, including the United States, London and Middle East. In regards to the work they do, they are a little more corporate and little more traditional.

After climbing to the 16th floor, we entered a lobby that had double glass doors on opposite sides, upon entering the bunch of us were shuffled into a magnificent conference room with a gorgeous view of downtown Dallas.

We got a run down of the afternoons schedule from Senior Vice President Tracy Donalson and then dove into specifics about the firm and its daily routines from Neil Nowlin, executive vice president and general manager of Weber and Shandwick. Lesson one, it’s never routine in their offices.

While listening to Mr. Nowlin talk, these are a few of the things we all took away from his speech:

  1. Take the initiative in all aspects of the job.
  2. Alway bring a positive attitude into work, a bad attitude is just as contagious as a good one.
  3. Be willing to do anything, don’t be that guy who walks in to an interview with stipulations and a chip on your shoulder. If they want you in a hotdog suit, waving at potential consumers, JUST DO IT.
  4. If you haven’t had a lot of experience thus far, think about what you can do. For example, can you take on a leader ship role in a club at school? Have you volunteered in your community or tried to work for a nonprofit? Is there a political campaign you can volunteer with?
  5. Practice your writing skills! The PR world needs strong writers, have you mastered the art of writing persuasively?
  6. NO RÉSUMÉ ERRORS!!!
  7. When submitting résumés make yours stand out, one guy sent his on top of a cake!

Then, we got to hear from staff who worked in the technology department, graphic design and videography department and most importantly, from the people who manage the interns they have quarterly each year, about six to seven in each batch. So if you are looking for something in the agency life, check out the opportunities here.

I also hear Senior Art Director Matthew Weir is always looking for a graphic design intern, and he hears The University of North Texas has one of the best programs around, so tell your friends.

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Gazing at the social media hub Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
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The Weber Shandwick break room. What a view! Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
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Another great view from their office windows. Photo Cred: Shannon Randol

Why Not Me?

About two weeks ago I got word I could be graduating early, YAY! The only stipulation was I needed to find another internship for the summer months. If I was unable to obtain one by registration in April, then I would have to ask the Dean for a special permission project – kind of like a graduate class, where you pick what you want to research and set up deadlines with a professor.

In a matter of five minutes, my entire world as I knew it, changed. I went from nonchalantly making my way through college, to having a fire light beneath me putting my butt in high gear, kind of like a dog chasing its tail. “OH MY GOD, I AM GOING TO FINALLY GRADUATE!” I screamed it to myself, to my husband and to my friends and family.

After the excitement settled, a wave of anxiety washed over me. “Wait, now I have to find a real job? How in the flip am I going to do that?” Almost immediately I thought I could puke on the spot. It was a feeling I wanted for so long, but I had’t thought far enough head, the moments after the light in the tunnel, I just saw the light and was happy with getting closer to that. So now what?!

The day after I realized I could graduate early, I signed up for PRSSA – Public Relations Student Society of America and started to attend the meetings that invites professionals to guest speaker. Real people in the real world. Rubbing elbows and putting myself out there, was something I hadn’t wanted to do in the year and half I was enrolled at the University of North Texas, because ever since I moved here I buried myself into a cocoon and it was nice and cozy in there.

In the meetings I would walk up to the professionals, shake their hand and introduce myself, a scary irrational fear I had, what if they laugh or blow me off? I went on agency tours with PRSSA to organizations and did the same thing. In those moments I was brave, even if I didn’t think I could be. Stepping out made me realize something.

I could do this, why not me?

A chant I have been telling myself the past month. A similar mantra the 12-man chanted in the stands while watching their beloved Seattle Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl, twice. Why not me.

I have an interview this Friday with an organization I hope to be a part of, The American Red Cross of the North Texas Region. I would be tasked with writing blogs and other content for them, as well as engaging with the social media giant it houses. I couldn’t be any more excited for this opportunity.

I also signed up for a student media tour in Frisco, near the end of the month. An all day event lasting from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. I can’t wait to put on my Sunday best and hand out my resumes. I will be meeting with professionals from i Heart Radio, The Dallas Stars ( hockey team), the Rough Riders ( minor league baseball team) and many more. An opportunity I can’t pass up on because of my own personal fears, it’s illogical.

That little voice of doubt and fear I have carried with me for most of my life is finally being quieted. I can do this, I want a job and I will get one. I won’t settle for anything less. Why not me?

I have always been a driven, motivated and hardworking being, in everything I have tried to accomplish. I just lost sight of who I actually was, I needed a reminder.

There are so many things I want to do in this life and I finally have grown the right mindset to achieve them. I will not allow myself to hold back, it is no longer an option, I will be graduating in May and I will get a job doing what I enjoy, I won’t settle for anything less, and neither should you.

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Deaf Coffee Chat

It’s called a comfort zone for a reason, it’s nice and cozy and familiar. There are hardly any expectations or anything out of the ordinary. You don’t get your feet wet in anything new, and there isn’t a reason to fret about going there, it’s like home.

In Texas, colleges require students to take a language. After having to take Spanish for four years, I couldn’t redo the first two years, again. The University of North Texas offers American Sign Language, and I chose to take that instead.

Every third Saturday of the month, a group of people get together at a coffee shop, Zera’s. It’s a local hang out in Denton that makes a pretty good cup of joe, without the hefty price tag. It has couches, mismatched chairs and tables, with odds and ends hung up on the walls.

It is a dimly lit coffee-house, but an interesting one none the less. It felt like I as hanging out in a friends basement. The kind where all the old furniture gets thrown in to and forgotten. The walls are dark but it feels cozy. I guess you would say this place was ‘hipster central.’

Anyways, my ASL professor offers extra credit to any student who shows up, one point for every hour. Doesn’t seem worth it, but after missing a few key points last test, a couple extra points sounds pretty good, plus, who doesn’t like coffee?

As Saturday approached, I began to name everything under the sun as why I shouldn’t go, or why a couple extra points wasn’t really worth three to four hours of my time. It was nearing the time I would have to leave when my hubby bribed me into going. Promising me a surprise for going and that I needed to provide proof. The stipulation was that I had to stay at least for one hour.

I’ve grown to be so socially awkward my own husband has to bribe me into doing social things, woof.

As I pulled into the parking lot, the nasty knot in my stomach began to tighten and the want to drive home was greater than the want for extra credit. I circled the lot twice, not able to find a parking space. It must be the parking Gods telling me, “go home.” Before I could even finish the thought, the red truck I had passed twice was pulling out, dammit.

As I walked through its doors and checked out my surroundings, I had never wanted to run so badly. There were over 30-something people signing to each other, the only noises being those coming from the baristas making coffee.

I was definitely out of my element, I was in a place that I have never visited, and everybody was conversing in another language, somewhat foreign to me. It had been the first time I’d seen ASL outside of the classroom. The conversations were much quicker and weren’t repeated twice, the courtesy my ASL professor gives us.

After I ordered my coffee I wandered over to a corner filled with handmade goods. Something most local businesses do in Denton, and I pretended to look through the stuff that I probably never buy, to pass time. I had no idea what I was going to do after browsing.

Thankfully, I noticed a few girls from my morning class and went in their direction to see if they recognized me. Gratefully, they did. After we signed in to gain extra credit, we huddled near a fake wall Zera’s had put up, for a wedding reception. We listened to the wedding party speeches instead of mingling with other students, and other deaf people.

An hour was going to be painstakingly achieved at this rate. I felt like a creep watching other groups sign to each other, like I was eavesdropping on their conversations without hiding it. I was that creeper staring!

I was terrified to start any conversations with anyone who was deaf and wanted to ask me anything else besides, what is your name? My professor, Dori Reeves, probably sensed this because she came over asking us ‘what up.’ All I could do was shake my head. In a matter of an hour, I had forgotten everything I had learned in almost a year, insane.

She started to sign to me, I imagine to make me feel comfortable with my signing. Then, she tried to introduce me to a couple of guys, she asked them what the sign for ‘Mormon’ was and told me to introduce myself to them. I nervously shaped my fingers into letters to form my name and said ‘bye’ almost immediately after.

Before I knew it, a few other people, both deaf, started a conversation with me. I almost ran.

Two hours later I made a few friends I’d be happy to see next month. It was awesome. I came home telling the Hubs all about it. I did mention I messed up a few signs, when signing ‘it was nice to meet you,’ I accidentally signed ‘it was nice to date you.” Everybody had a good laugh and I did too.

I had a great time, stayed for over thee hours and can’t wait to go again. It’s nice to go out on a limb every once in a while. It was nice to use something I learned in real-time. We should all remember to step put of our boxes every once in a while.

If you’re reading from North Texas tonight, stay warm and safe. You guys can’t drive in snow or ice! ;]

My Morning Wearing Red

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Photo Cred: Google

This morning a few PRSSA members and me visited the offices of The American Red Cross North Texas Region in Dallas. Our host Regional Marketing Manager, Amy Yen and Communications Associate, Lisa Morgan, showed us around the impressive and irreplaceable organization. We were also rewarded with a shortened version of the regional communications programs.

Its mission is to, “Empower online social communities to execute our mission.” A lot of its disaster response is done through social media, and on any given day the organization is mentioned around 4,000 times each day, according to Yen.

During Super Storm Sandy, there were an estimated 2.5 million conversations occurring on social media between users, The Red Cross tagged 4,500 tweets to follow up on. Workers and volunteers tracked tweets by keywords, such as: lightening, tornado, ice, and storm. How were they able to do this?

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Photo Cred: Shannon Randol

The DigiDot is a humungous operating system sponsored by Dell and ran on Radian6. “A Hootsuite on steroids,” explained Yen.

The monstrous network is located on the second floor. Upon entering the room, you immediately notice the large projectors hung front and center. To the left there are four plasma screens, each monitor various media aspects around the country. There are only two DigiDots currently operating, one being in Dallas, the other in Washington D.C.

There are two reasons why The American Red Cross North Texas Region acquired the DigiDot, the first being DFW had a huge presence on social media, the second being North Texas is the most disaster prone area in the country, you name it we got it, now even earthquakes!

Though all the technology and high tech equipment is impressive, it’s the people behind the computer screens who are the real life changers. A majority of the workers at The Red Cross are volunteers, 97 percent, actually.

Volunteers are the bread and butter of this organization and The Red Cross is ever so thankful for those people. There are 75 volunteer positions offered and they are always searching to hire a few rad interns throughout the year. If you are interested in becoming a part of this nonprofit organization, check out their website here. You’ll be grateful you did. I could only hope I score its summer internship.

As we toured the rest of the building, we were able to see their emergency storage areas. The first being a medium sized room with black containers, each labeled with its materials. Items like snacks, flip-flops, t-shirts, stuffed animals for children, and their new pet comfort bags – thanks to their new partnership with Don’t Forget to Feed Me.

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Photo Cred: Awo

Up to six or seven times a day, police and firehouses call The Red Cross to notify them about families or people, who are in need of aid, circumstances ranging from house fires or flooding.

The next storage area was in a large warehouse. Where supplies were stored on pallets and carried in bulk sizes.

To conclude my experience, I leave you with a fun fact: President Obama sent his first official tweet from The Red Cross Twitter handle page, as he too was once a volunteer with The Red Cross. What a catch phrase, right?

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I’ve got the ‘Ities & the Itch

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The art of writing is a sacred being, its appeal is charming and the idea easy, the latter is never true. Writing isn’t easy and it never will be. If you write long enough you acquire a passion for words and new ways to express them, but it’s never an easy journey, though nothing worth while hardly ever is.

Any soul who enjoys the magic of writing remembers when they first got the itch to put pen to paper and create something creative. Any “great” remembers the craving to prefect a skill became apparent. A jolt of weightless energy that hits you hard, causing the lightbulb to brighten above your head. That’s what I want to do!

Personally, I was little, maybe six or seven, too little to actually be thinking about future plans, but I knew I enjoyed reading what I wrote and creating short stories were my fav.

I acquired an eccentric style of writing while in grammar school, and my mom thought it was adorable. I had a funny tendency to only write on the left-hand edges of my paper, the rest of the paper seemed tainted. I remember thinking, look how many pages I can write! Well, when you only use half the page …

My signature trademark was soon corrected by the first or second grade, whenever the teachers start to send you home with real homework. I’m sure it’s Pre-K now, the books are heavier and the snow they have to walk to school in is deeper.

Anyways, my itch started with writing fan fiction, I didn’t know that’s what it was called, but regardless, anybody remember the T.V. series Arthur? Yes, yes I did. I wrote my own stories for Arthur and his family and friends to wander through. I wrote some stories that were funny, others were sad. Mostly, I liked to write ones that had a good moral buried in it. Typical Shannon, I was seven going on 30. 

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My mom used to keep them in her dresser, the bottom right hand drawer. By the time I was in my teens the drawer resembled how stuffed and worn it was, papers were being pushed from the sides, the handle was hanging on by one screw and the drawer had long been knocked off its frame. It was the perfect setting for where my mom crammed us kids’ works of art.

The prized possessions were all slightly brown and had obviously seen better days. Every once in a while I wonder if my mom still has them shoved in that drawer, but the memory vanishes by the time one of us calls each other.

It took years of denying any worth to my writing before I told myself to shut the -efff up. I started my higher education with the thought I’d never leave education, I’d just become a teacher. I did my classroom visits and almost ran out the door, though working with kids was rewarding.

I think that when something sinks its teeth into you, it’s hard to deny the sting it leaves. Writing got its dirty paws around me long ago, and the sooner I realized it, the quicker I believed I did have a purpose. College really does seem to suck the life out of you sometimes. 

When did your passions sink their teeth into you? Was it a furry, ( what was Arthur? An Aardvark?) cartoon friend that sparked your enthusiasm!?

-Ramble Out

The V.A. Hospital is a Joke

Dear Mr. President & South Dallas V.A. Hospital Director,

The Veterans Affairs Hospital in South Dallas is the most atrocious building, company and hospital I’ve ever had to set foot in. The receptionists you employ to handle the front face of your organization are horrible, rude and miserable human beings. I hope that with this letter, it challenges you to take a closer look into how the people who selflessly fought for this country, are being treated with such a lack of respect, a dog wouldn’t bother its time.

On February 6, my husband and I spent almost six-god-forsaken-hours at your E.R. not counting the two hours it took to drive both ways. He didn’t even get to see a doctor. A total of 10 hours wasted at the hands of your entire staff. Tell me, how would that make you feel? Do you remember what it feels like to be treated like a peon?

The whole fiasco started a week ago, when my husband injured something near his groin area. After two days without a change in the swelling or pain, that Wednesday morning he called his primary doctors office in Denton, another V.A. clinic, to schedule an appointment. That receptionist took down his information and promised a phone call by the end of the day.

No such call came, instead an explanation that appointments could be made after business hours, implying my husband needed to practice patience. So he did, for three more days until on Friday when he left work early to sit in their offices until they had to see him. It’s hard to promise a phone call to someone when they are standing in front of you.

His primary doctor explained that he wasn’t sure what was causing the inflammation but that if it were him, he’d make a trip down to the V.A. hospital in South Dallas. A urology appointment could take at least a month, and with it being so close to the family jewels, it was in his best interests to make sure nothing major was wrong.

So here we are, still waiting, staring at this faux wood walls waiting to hear his name called. So that he can vanish behind the mysterious doors that are so damn hard to get through. Where nobody knows how to get in, but plenty have made it through, just not my husband.

A women at the from desk, rudely waves off my husband at the four hour mark, when he questioned if his name had already been called. “You’re still waiting for a bed.” She couldn’t even remove her eyes from the computer screen to give him the shitty news. Where did these people, if they can even be called that, get their people skills? Didn’t they receive any customer service training?

These same employees were chumming it up with their fellow coworkers while texting and browsing around on their phones. A constant show of how much they didn’t care about the people waiting beyond their plastic patrician. What a bunch of disgusting individuals.

But it’s true, isn’t it? They don’t care, because this hospital gives “free” health care to its guests and if you don’t want to receive the free part, you are more than welcome to visit a regular E.R. I heard that solution come from a few of your employees mouths, as a problem solver for other wannabe patients. Is this how you want to be represented?

Two more hours have passed, and this time it’s my turn to do the questioning, women to women. “Hey, I was just wondering if there is any way you could tell me how much longer it’s going to be, we’ve been here almost six hours.”

Without as so much of  glance my way she told me, “he’s still waiting on a bed.” She never even asked about my last name.

“We’ve been here longer than all the people in this waiting room, you can’t give me any information on how much longer it’s going to be, or where he is on the list?”

“No, we have a priority list and that is how we see our patients.”

I had tears in my eyes because of how frustrating it was, words couldn’t describe the feeling, only the sounds of steam coming from my ears and my teeth grinding gave truth to my emotions, furious.

“Well when will my husband be a priority? How much time do we have to pay before he is allowed a doctor?”

I have few suggestions for how to better operate this lack of professional taste and common courtesy company, and it’s to employ people who have a heart. Administer attitude and personality tests, those in the green are only allowed to deal with the public, the rest of your barbarians can work with behind closed doors.

The amount of disrespect shown in such a small space is sickening. I have dealt with the public since I was 15-years-old and I have always treated people the way that I would want to be treated. Communication is what makes all relationships work, and it’s a crying shame the people in charge of this world don’t know that.

It’s a shame our own country can’t protect the same people who fought to protect them. They fulfilled their contract, now fulfill yours. If small business owners ran their businesses the way the government runs theirs, they would be out of business and maybe that’s the solution to the problem.

Get your act together.

Regrettably,

An angry, taxpaying, higher educated, concerned and frustrated wife.

“Shinseki Obama VA hospital”Jeff Koterba May 22, 2014

**Update** A little over a week later the V.A. called my husband asking if he was okay. The hospital called his name at 5 a.m. the next morning (11 hours after we arrived) and he wasn’t there. They were calling to make sure he was still alive …

Truckin’ Up To Buffalo

Is it safe to say that we, as human beings, have an overwhelming urge to fit in or feel like we belong to something? Set aside the notion of it being corny and think about it. What defines you as a person? Is it your culture, religion and family? Are you apart of a team or nostalgic about where you were raised? What is it?

78a48737096afc9efe56b310147da5b3I was born and semi-raised in Buffalo, New York. My memories of winter being my fondest, building igloos in the feet of snow we were destined to get each year and never knowing what you were for Halloween, because it was too cold to matter, everyone was double layered by the end of October anyways. My husband actually tells people I’m Canadian and that he suspects I married him for the green card.

I always felt like I belonged in Buffalo, maybe it’s because I was still young and didn’t know what it felt like to be the new girl yet again. It was my only home and I didn’t know what it meant to be anywhere else.

When I was in the fourth grade my family moved me closer to New York City. We lived in a small town called Walden. We had a town square, that mostly consisted of a library and elementary school. There were no Walmarts, but instead local grocery stores like ShopRite and Thruway.

I had made my best friends again, learned what it meant to have best friends and got my cootie shots here. I was still an outsider though. I wasn’t born in this small town and my family wasn’t tied to the local hairdresser, mechanic or family doctor. I said pop instead of soda and talked with an accent.

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When I was in eighth grade we moved again. This time, a lot farther and a little hotter. I started high school in Jacksonville, Florida and thankfully, finished it there too.

Who even knows who they are in high school, or what it means to find yourself. We all thought we knew what was up, swore we had a clue, and couldn’t be told any different. It was never the case and high school was weird.

I moved again when I was 22, with my new husband to Virginia Beach, Virginia. The first time a huge move would be made without my family. I had a new one now that consisted of only one dog at that time and a husband. I was nervous and excited at the same time.

I met two of the greatest people in Virginia, and unfortunately, true to fashion, I had to say goodbye to them a little over a year later. The Hubs wasn’t going to re-enlist and we wanted a change. Virginia smelled of sea water and he had been stuck on a boat long enough.

Ever since that move, a little piece of me never truly recovered, my husband included. He misses the ocean and being on a coast. I miss my friends and feeling like I belonged. I had people I could confide in, ladies need ladies night with plenty of wine. I can’t always lean on the hubby, Zeus knows he needs a break.

We landed in Denton, Texas in 2013. I am currently finishing up my under-grad degree and planning my escape of this flat-tornado filled-hotter than hades- state the sooner the better.

There are days I want to run home and scream, but I don’t know where home is. I listen to people talk about childhood friends, how the neighborhood has changed since they were kids, the gossip that ensues with people who have known each other for entirely too long, and I don’t have that. Will I ever? 

I’ve had an overwhelming feeling that I wouldn’t feel complete unless I moved back to Buffalo and gave it another try. Easier said than done, my husband is from Southern California, that adjust might kill him, Virginia almost did.

How do you deal with emotions that never really get resolved, even after long nights of brainstorming it? Do you push them aside and bottle them up, or rant and rave to yourself late at night, when everyone is asleep? Is it the curse of overthinking or does it mean something deeper? Tell me.

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