Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You're only young once but you can always be immature.

Our book club read a book this year about how to write (Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott). She instructs the reader on various writing techniques and pit falls. She also teaches a class on writing and one of the "getting started" exercises she gives the class is to write about their childhood. Pick something. Anything childhood-related. And just write. There are an overwhelming amount of avenues one can take when writing on "childhood." Whether it be emotional, physical, pyschological. I am going to write on mechanical. More specifically, transportational (I just made that up).

When I was a yute growing up in Richmond, Virginia, I attended W.W. Gordon Elementary School. One of the children's favorite days of the year (second maybe only to Field Day) was Transportation Day. In my adult life, I have referenced Transporation Day in conversations with friends. Usually a conversation that goes something like... "Yes! I HAVE been inside the cab of an 18-wheeler! [Where!?] On Transportation Day! Haven't you?" This usually receives blank stares and comments of "What in hades are you talking about?" Apparently Gordon Elementary was the only school in the universe to have Transportation Day.

What IS Transportation Day? I shall explain. On Transportation Day, the school arranged for various modes of transportation to come to the school. They filled the bus-loop, neighboring parking lots, and yes, the helicopter was on the makeshift heli-pad a/k/a the baseball field. On this special day, each class got a tour of all of the vehicles. They included, but were not limited to RVs, tractor-trailers (just the cab), fire engines, police cars, collector's cars like a Model T, ambulances, limousines, and of course, the helicopter. The owner/operator of the respective vehicles would teach the kids about how they worked and anything cool a 10 year old could think to ask. It was a dream! It was a beautiful combination of education and fun.

Though you may not have had Transportation Day, I'm sure you can remember the various out-of-the-norm activities of your grade school days. Assemblies, awards day, field trips, field day, transportation day (for me), plays, pep rallies, etc. Having that upcoming special day provided so much excitement in the mind of a kid. For me, I know that that excitement is not unique to my childhood.

About a month ago I went on my yearly vacation to the beach. The week prior to my vacation, my attorney and I were going through some preparation for a hearing he would attend while I was gone. There was a new court required document we needed to draft and since we've never done it before he asked that I create a draft from scratch and see how it goes (side note: in the legal world, people use form documents as much as possible, so writing from "scratch" can be somewhat shocking). My response to him was, "Sure, but you do realize that I am leaving on vacation for 10 days. My ability to do anything worth while is completely shot due to my severe case of vacationist."

I have often thought that our society is too quick to rid ourselves of seemingly "childish" activities as we get older. If you look around at all of the humans you interact with on a daily basis, is it quite obvious that children have the best deal going on. Aside from the perks of not having to pay bills or work full time, kids get to sleep more, eat more and not pay for the consequences; their food, clothes, and admission prices are significantly cheaper and things like mismatched clothes and falling asleep in public are much more socially acceptable. The time and effort spent on education and nuturing are exponentially higher prior to the age of 10 than almost any other time in our lives. (There is no statistical backing to any of these statements. These are just Kelley-isms on life.) Whoever decided that adults no longer needed stimulating educational experiences like field trips? I'm sorry but conferences full of power point presentations and free pens and key chains do not count as field trips. Therefore, I vote for the reinstitution of field trips. And while we're at it, throw in nap time... and maybe some raisins and juice boxes in the break room.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Therapy Tears

Over the weekend I was feeling like I needed to laugh. Not just chuckle or giggle at something moderately funny. But really laugh. We Smiths have this problem of crying while laughing. I knew that the therapeutic laughing would probably need to involve the water-works if it was giong to make any significant impact on my well-being. I recently caught part of Love Actually and was reminded of my very favorite part of the movie. I could watch this part over and over and still laugh just as hard. I think my knew goal is to perfect the shimmy/slide he does across the hallway.

My other therapeutic video came after some of us were talking about Tom Hanks and how he's mainly an all-drama actor now but he used to do some really great comedies. One of my favorites is The Money Pit. The following clip has me in tears every time. I think you need to see the whole movie to understand why this part is so ridiculously funny but nonetheless, it's still fab.

Friday, June 13, 2008

In keeping an open mind...

I feel the need to add a follow-up post to my previous post on music. I like to go about life feeling that I've given things a fair chance before I write them off. It's why I tend to finish books I don't like, stay in a job where I'm not happy, and continue to eat olives. That being said, I have been listening to the new Coldplay CD nonstop for two days. Conclusion? I really like it! I could listen to "Strawberry Swing" over and over. In fact, I have. I was told that this album is a different style for them and I'm okay with that. In the past, Coldplay songs for me have been somewhat forgettable. There was nothing that really jumped out and grabbed my ears. This album is very musical and very dynamic and grabs my attention and keeps it. I don't plan on covering my wall in Coldplay pin-ups any time soon and I still don't like the U2 comparisons, but I am growing into a fan. If you need me, I'll be over there eating my words.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I love them? I love them not?

With my email reminders coming in that a new Coldplay album is on the horizon for release, it reminded me of a coversation I had with my dear friend Timmy a while back. It was something like... "what popular bands do you flat out just NOT like?" There are a lot of bands we don't like. That goes without saying. When I answer this question, it's more along the lines of... "what bands are very well-liked and I've actually tried to like but still can't come around?" I do not claim to be an authority about music or skill or talent. And this doesn't mean I don't revere or respect a band/artist. This is just me and my personal preferences. So here are my top 10 bands/singers (in no respective order) that I've still yet to fall in love with.

1) The Beatles. Go ahead. Throw things. Spit on me. Whatever. I feel that I have truly given The Beatles a shot. Some of the early stuff is fun. But definitely count me out with the latter. Maybe the next time I'm trippin on drugs I'll pop in some Sgt. Pepper or Yellow Submarine and rock out.

2) Red Hot Chili Peppers. For me it stopped with "Under the Bridge." The Californication album just reminds me of bad high school rock.

3) Coldplay. "Yellow" bothered me from the get-go. Ever since then, I've had a hard time overcoming my distaste for "Yellow" and accepting the band's other stuff. There are a few of their songs that I enjoy more than others. But it only further pushed me away when the U2 comparisons starting coming.

4) Fallout Boy. I will admit. My initial liking for them, and why I do in fact own From Under the Cork Tree, is because of a boy. He liked them. I liked him. So I gave it a go. I no longer like the band or the boy. 0 for 2.

5) Kelly Clarkson. I feel that numbers 5 and 6 might make me a traitor to my gender but oh well. Kelly doesn't really annoy me. I just don't LOVE her. Although I do feel a little more girl-power-charged when I listen to "Miss Independent" and "Walk Away."

6) Celine Dion. My favorite thing to do with Celine's songs is start singing really off-key when every other woman is belting out the heart-wrenching lyrics and trying their darndest to sound just like her.

7) R.E.M. As an 80's baby, I feel I had decent exposure to R.E.M. My brother liked them growing up and when I was still piggy-backing on my bro's music taste as a youngin, I listened to them quite often. I love "Night Swimming" and that's about it.

8) Gary Allen. I listened to a good bit of country in high school. I even have one of my current radio presets on a country station. The ladies love them some Gary Allen. The man does have some killer blue eyes and I feel bad that his wife committed suicide, but that doesn't change the fact that his voice drives me crazy.

9) Radiohead. I'll be honest. I just don't get it.

10) Dashboard Confessional. This one isn't entirely fair. I moreso have Dashboard on here to reflect a type of music that I have yet to find attractive enough to keep me coming back for more. Dashboard (and other like bands) started getting big during my college years and I never really caught on to whiney-ness of the tunes.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Missing Cape Cod lighthouse located in California

June 5, 2008 - WELLFLEET, Mass. - Local historians for decades thought the 30-foot tall lighthouse that once overlooked Wellfleet Harbor had been taken down and destroyed in 1925.

Turns out, it had just been moved to the California coast.

The fate of the cast-iron tower was uncovered last year by lighthouse researchers and reported by Colleen MacNeney in this month's edition of Lighthouse Digest. MacNeney told the Cape Cod Times in Wednesday's edition it was her most exciting discovery.

Wellfleet historian Helen Purcell says the discovery of the lighthouse at Point Montara, 25 miles south of San Francisco, was a genuine shock.

MacNeney says she discovered correspondence that proved the lighthouse, first erected in 1881, had been moved by the Coast Guard from Wellfleet to Yerba Buena, Calif., and eventually to Point Montara.

There is no known documentation explaining how it was moved across the country, MacNeney said. But Jim Walker, chairman of the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, speculates that because it is metal, it could have been disassembled bolt by bolt, with the pieces then transported by rail.

The lighthouse is still used as a navigational aid and a hostel.

Man, I HATE it when I lose just my keys... but a lighthouse? phew, talk about stress!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June Year's Resolutions

A June Year's Resolution is a New Year's Resolution that starts June 1st instead of January 1st. This is assuming the original act of self improvement has failed from January to June and it is time to start over with something else. Just yesterday I was saying to a co-worker of mine that I couldn't believe it's already June and then exclaimed... "what in the world have I done with my year!?! It's half over!" This is potentially one of the worst topics I could have picked to write about on my blog because this is typically my attitude towards goals... My June Year Resolution this year is to learn how to more effectively set and achieve goals. It seems that goal-setting or the inability to achieve goals is one of man's most natural downfalls. We wouldn't even need to set goals if we were accomplishing what we wanted/needed when we wanted/needed. They would just happen. I don't set a goal to sleep through both of my alarms every morning. It just happens. See how that works?

As one that is minimally experienced in the making/achieving/failing of goals, these are a few things I have discovered.

Making lists helps. It is easier to remember things once you've written them down. At a legal conference I recently attended
, one of the speakers asked for a show of hands of who makes To-Do lists. Nearly everyone raised their hands. Bravo for the paralegals! Next he asked for a show of hands who has ever made a To-Do list, done something that WASN'T on the list, and subsequently added it to the list just so they could check it off as "done." Again, a good number of people raised their hands. Why is this so? I'll tell you. Accomplishing our goals typically further propels us to accomplish more goals. There is nothing like having an incompleted list as the physical evidence of your almost-accomplishments to stare you right in the face. Especially if you're one to tape it to your mirror.

I hate cliches but some of them are true. I.E. - The easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. An almost sure-fire way to goal failure is being overloaded with either the amount of goals or by unrealistic goals to the point where you don't accomplish anything, then quickly plunge into anti-goal mode. You will recognize the anti-goals as things like: Goal- stop eating any food that contains more than 13 calories. Anti-goal- eating your weight in Ben & Jerry's. (Tangent: my favorite depiction of diet related frustrations is this. Close tangent).

With this criteria in mind, my June Year Resolution will look something like this:
1) Accomplish more goals
By the end of the year, I want to disguard my previous attitude of ignoring my goals and relate more to
this picture:

Monday, June 2, 2008

Happy Anniversary

As of June 1, 2008, I recognize my three year anniversary as a full-time paralegal at my law firm. With that in mind, it got me thinking that I wasn't really sure how much people know about what I do for my job. Some people may not know because I have never told them much about it and some may not know because they just don't care. Either way... here is some of what I do.

I am an adoption paralegal. I work for a law firm in the domestic section. I am second in seniority (only by length of employment) but also the youngest out of the paralegals at my firm. I am the deputy fire warden. I have fancy business cards (and about 473 left so if you want one... or seven... let me know). I am one of three people that knows how to reboot the server (this is an immensely powerful responsibility).

We have an adoption agency within our office that operates as a separate business entity but whose directors are attorneys for our firm. The basic run down: the adoption agency matches up prospective adoptive parents with a birthmother who has previously contacted the agency to set up an adoption plan. Once they are matched and the baby is born, pretty much the whole file gets kicked over to me and I begin the legal work. Every adoption must but filed with a courthouse in North Carolina. North Carolina's statutes regulate adoptions quite closely. Every detail must be accounted and they cannot be finalized until this is done. In Wake County, this never takes less than six months.

Many see adoptions are fairly open and shut but this is the exception more than the norm. Most of our situations
deal with unwed parents and situations where the birthfather of the adopted child is nowhere to be found. Some of our situations are rape. Some of them are couples with an unplanned pregnancy. But every case is a mixture of emotions. I have sat in hospital rooms with tearful teenage girls signing paperwork that will permanently relinquish their rights to a child they delivered less than 24 hours ago. I have also sat across the table from couples that have been childless for 10+ years as they hold their child for the very first time. When I spend most of my days dealing with papers and forms, meeting my clients and seeing their family physically grow before my eyes puts into perspective the reality of my job.

So what takes so long? The most
complicated part of an adoption is dealing with the daddy. In the duration of my job, I have seen a lot regarding birthfather situations. Clearly the ideal situation is one where the birthmother tells us who dad is, we contact him, he submits to a DNA test, he signs paperwork. That's about as easy as it gets. But life isn't easy. The majority of the time we have situations where birthfathers cannot be identified for various reasons: no last name, no first name, don't know where he lived, don't have a phone number, he broke up with her when he found out about the baby and she doesn't know where he is now. With all the heartbeaking stories I see, there are a few that make me smile.

There is a section on one of
our forms for "Special Comments to the Child." More often than not, this is left blank. If it is filled in, it's something short and sweet. But today, I read this:
“My life goal has been to have a son to carry on my name. Though I do not expect you to keep my name, I am sure you will carry on my legacy. I know you will be GREAT one day. After all, it is in your blood. Though I was never informed of your existence until I received the adoption papers, you will always be in my thoughts.
If I can pass on any wisdom I have gained over the years, it would be the following:
1) Be who you are, not what’s “cool”. People will respect you if you are an individual instead of a number.
2) Remember to laugh, especially at yourself. I find great pleasure in looking back on the things I’ve done and realizing your flaws and laughing is a difficult but powerful skill.
3) Most important: though I may never be your dad, I will always be your father and love you like my child.
Good luck in your endeavors, whatever they may be! Perhaps one day we will meet.
For what it is worth, I am sorry to have made you go through this.”

For the most part
, I work in "happy law". No one is getting sued. No one is being violated by exorbitant attorney's fees. And we have never had an adoption overturned. I work for very thorough and very good adoption attorneys. I have learned to appreciate the life of just one child and the influence it can have on a family for eternity. I have encountered many people that are not "adoption friendly", families that try to disrupt adoptions for their own agendas and not that of the child. There is an adoption world beyond what is portrayed in the news. It is very fascinating and very joyous. I will not be working in adoption law forever but the experience over the last three years has been great.

Duck Beach '08

Well. I'm back from vaca. Booo. It was a blast this year yet again. I definitely had fun planning and being somewhat in charge. As I stated before, I'm glad Trevor and I planned it together. I think it was a success and everyone had fun (as far as I know). No major disasters. We had plenty of yummy food. No drama. No one got swept out to sea. A bird did die on our section of the beach but that was the only casualty. I didn't take a whole lot of pictures this year. I left that up to a few other people in our house. But here is a small slide show of what I did have. To see other pics, see my Facebook account. I'm really glad the week went well and I'm very appreciative of the friends I have and how wonderful they all are. I'm already excited for next year!!!

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