Tuesday, December 30, 2008


DENVER (AP) - Mike Shanahan became the latest and most stunning victim of the NFL coaching purge, fired today by the Denver Broncos after a late-season collapse knocked the team out of the playoffs for the third straight year.

Despite that, and the 52-21 loss to the Chargers that ended Denver’s season Sunday, this was a shocker: The ouster of a 14-year coaching veteran who won two Super Bowl titles for Denver and was considered by many in this town to be a lifer.

Shanahan’s record was 146-89, but the Broncos remained stuck at only one postseason victory since John Elway retired in 1999 after Denver’s second championship.

This year, as the defense floundered, it became obvious it wasn’t just a coaching problem. It was an issue of talent on the field, and in Denver, Shanahan makes all the personnel decisions.

Known as “The Mastermind” during his tenure with the Broncos, Shanahan shouldn’t have much trouble getting another job if he’s interested - and willing to part with the 35,000-square-foot house he’s building in a fancy part of Denver.

He earned the reputation honestly, returning to lead the Broncos after a short, unsuccessful stint with the Oakland Raiders, where he was fired by Al Davis in a contentious parting that still isn’t fully resolved. (Shanahan still claims he’s owed $250,000).

Shanahan became a coaching star as a coordinator and confidant of Elway’s while the Broncos were being coached by Dan Reeves. But Reeves ended up firing Shanahan, accusing him of insubordination for supposedly conspiring with Elway to hatch game plans behind the head coach’s back.

Denver’s two Super Bowl victories came behind the running of Terrell Davis and the brilliance of Elway, but Shanahan pulled the strings and finally helped deliver the title to a city that had been through four painful Super Bowl losses, three with Elway at the helm.

I am one of the many people surprised. I haven't watched TV since I moved into my apartment. I don't want it to be the focus of my life, but even I thought Shanahan would be in Denver forever. He and Elway were magic. It had to end, and it is very difficult to create that chemistry once, much less twice...I guess he couldn't find anyone to take Elway's place in his heart.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Perfect environment

Someone in my group celebrated 60 days sobriety today. In sharing his experience strength and hope, he put me in mind of a statement that was shared with me last week:

I now know that you need almost a perfect environment to stay sober.

That was part of a long email sent to me by someone who had to live with me during my drinking days. I feel sorry for him that he had to put up with me. Alcoholism is a selfish disease. It is selfish on both sides, during our drinking and working through our sobriety. There is no question that for me my disease is largely genetic given my family history. I know I also have a serious thinking problem that is how I justified my drinking for so long. To that end, my disease is psychological and physiological and has to be addressed on both levels. So far I have been able to arrest it through simple determination brought about by severe consequences due to drinking myself into seriously nefarious places. Included in that determination has been finding a solid support group and working every single day on my sobriety. I am far from a perfect environment, but where I am is in a safe environment, surrounded by a group of people who want to stay sober as much as I want to stay sober. I didn't feel supported at all where I was two years ago through no one's fault but my own. I find myself resenting that sentence, but it is my resentment and my issue to work through. I am clear that my sobriety is a daily reprieve contingent on going to meetings, working the steps and staying in touch with like-minded individuals who can help me. The sole reason they can help is because they have been where I was: drinking and they couldn't stop, wanting so badly to stop, but couldn't, and finally having to completely surrender to the demon that controlled them. I no longer expect anyone who has never suffered from an addiction to understand. The individual quoted above dealt with my selfishness for too long and made his choice that he no longer wanted any part of it. I completely understand that and I hope that things work out for him. Things are working out for me. I am on my path, and I am happy here. It is not perfect, or even almost perfect, but it much healthier than where I was. I like it. And I believe I have a fighting chance every single day that I do what I do to stay sober and save my life. No question in my selfish mind, saving my life is my number one priority in this world.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My little love

I love one of the lines from the movie "Marley & Me". "A dog doesn't care if you're rich or your poor, give him your heart and he'll give you his." I haven't seen the movie yet, but I can't wait. I think the next day I'm off work I'll take it in.

Here is why that line is so poignant to me:

These are the remnants of Callie's fourth...yes, fourth...dog bed (I made her pose for this picture, isn't she cute!) The line from that movie means a lot to me because I am convinced that my dog wants to ensure that I am poor and absolutely have to have a job. If for nothing else, to keep a constant supply of dog beds (aka stuffed toys) in stock. She is not the worlds worst dog by any stretch, but she is certainly one of the most active! A side note: My friend Kara thinks I'm one of the most calm, in control people she knows...she finds it incredibly funny that Callie is as wild as she is, and that she's my dog. What she doesn't realize is what a great balance Callie is for me. I'm a little too serious, and Callie makes sure I lighten up and live life on life's terms.

P.S. If you blow up the picture, you can see her snazzy new collar Santa found for her at a craft fair. She had a blue collar, so everyone thought she was a boy, which started to irritate me, but I didn't like the pink collars at PetsMart, so Santa went hunting and found this one that is very pretty, subtle, yet feminine. Callie likes it too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The year in review

I've been thinking about this past year since it is soon coming to an end. I have to say that all said and done, it's been a pretty darn good year. With the help of the program I've made enormous strides in my emotional sobriety. I no longer fool myself, I know it will be something I will work on the rest of my life, but progress, not perfection is what I strive for everyday. There are some things that happened this year that I'm very proud of, there are some things I could have handled better, but rather than flog myself like I've done in years past, I learn and move on. Losing Ozzie was difficult, finding Callie was a great joy. Both reminding me of the cycle of life. Having to file bankruptcy was humiliating, but in the end has given me a fresh start and new hope that I can walk through anything and not have to drink over it. Knowing that my drinking led to my bankruptcy; emotional, spiritual and financial has galvanized me to work the program and try to be a better person each day. I am happy to discover that my optimism for life is intact. I am glad to discover that while I am wiser, I am also less fearful of the world around me. More easily, I take things in stride. Someone breaking my car window while I was at work became a minor inconvenience rather than a "world will stop spinning on its axis" crisis. That I have a job, that I have been able to keep this job, that I have been able to advance in this job is a major miracle in itself. I have a pretty nice and very safe place to live. I have made great friends at work, in my group, and through my writing, and I feel like I belong here, I feel welcome here, and I feel comfortable and safe here. Two years ago, I didn't feel any of that. I am glad that I have it and can welcome it into my life everyday.

I have struggled to bury the past, finally making peace with the fact that I can't bury it. Remembering it, and slowly it's all coming back to me, helps keep me sober and keeps me wise. Making the mistakes that I made will likely not happen again simply because I am sober and trust my own counsel, and no one will ever be able to manipulate me to their own selfish ends ever again. I still believe if I had had more sobriety behind me, and the support group I needed, I never would have made such a destructive, life-altering decision, or at the very least would have done it better, done it right. But it cannot be changed. I will live with it and work on healing from it the rest of my life, however, it will not rule me any longer, of that I'm very sure.

The most important thing that has happened this year has been the rebuilding of my relationship with my family, especially my parents. We have been able to talk a lot about what happened and share the damage it did and have been able to heal from it. We each have our own work to do in this area, but as a family we will do it. I appreciate their love and support and ability to deal with the pain I caused honestly and openly, and I am proud of myself for being able to hear it and do what I can to make amends. Some amends can never be made, but with time and continued sobriety, trust will return, I believe that.

The big event: I finally finished a manuscript. I think it helped me work through Step Four. I've said that before. It was a difficult but cathartic experience, and best of all, I know I can write the way I have always wanted to write, but through lack of confidence, self-sabotage and living too far in the future, never thought it would happen. In January, I plan to begin another project, and look forward to its unfolding, one day at a time.

The most important lesson of the year: While I can plan ahead, I cannot put my hopes on a future that isn't here. I have to take care of today. I learned from my own experience and listening to the experience of the group, that if I take care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself. There are many things that are out of my control, the best that I can do is take care of the things that I can control. With that, I look forward to putting together the 365 days that will make up the next year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

10th annual pumkin run a bust

BOULDER (AP) - The first of 12 people cited with running down Boulder's Pearl Street Mall on Halloween night wearing nothing but pumpkins on their heads has accepted a plea deal.

Twenty-year-old Natalie Ziemba of Boulder pleaded guilty Thursday to disorderly conduct.

Under the agreement, she will receive six months of probation and eight hours of community service, and pay $27 in court fees.

Prosecutors say the same deal likely will be offered to the others facing charges in the 10th Naked Pumpkin Run, a popular Oct. 31 tradition that involves pumpkin carving, beer and a late-night naked run down the mall.

All 12 people originally faced indecent exposure charges, which would have required them to register as sex offenders.

Prosecutor David Chavel says the remaining cases are in negotiations with the Boulder district attorney's office.

That's how much the world has changed. When I was growing up in Boulder, naked was the norm. You would generally be cited for decent exposure. :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Callie's first snow

We had our first snow last night, finally! I got home a little late from work because someone busted out my passenger window on my car while I was at work (I had this funny feeling of dread most of the day, but brushed it off because I was tired. I should pay more attention to my intuition, it has never lied to me...especially about men); so I had to talk to the police, go to Dad's and have him put some plastic on it until I can get it fixed (of course it happened on a Saturday night!) I was doing okay last night with it, this morning I'm a little grumpy because of the snow...This too will pass. It started snowing shortly after I got home, go figure.

Anyway, on to the good news...Callie had her first snowfall of her little life. I was really excited about it...her...not so much :-) She tiptoed around last night and kept coming in the house. She didn't want to be out in it. I think it felt funny on her paws. This morning we went out in the front yard and she had a blast! She discovered snow was really fun, and if she ran really fast she could kick it up behind her and slide and roll and all sorts of fun stuff. I had a hard time getting her to come in this morning! What a silly dog...I just love her so much!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Excerpts from the wrap up letter from Chris Baty - NaNoWriMo

Whatever magical forces were afoot this year, we collectively managed to write 1.6 billion words, demolishing last year's count by nearly 500,000,000 words. Wow!

The sneaky secondary mission: Jobs. Having a job is one of the greatest, trickiest things you can do as an adult. Employment brings perks like challenges and growth and (sometimes) money. But the longer you work at a job, the easier it is to confuse what you are doing with what you can do.

Each of us has a wealth of talents spread broadly over domains both marketable and deliciously impractical. The tricky part is that we tend to develop the former at the expense of the latter. Passions become hobbies. Hobbies become something we swear we'll get back to when we have more time. Or when the kids are grown. Or when the stock market recovers.

Which means we leave unexplored many of those paths that ultimately make us feel most alive—the moments of creating, building, playing, and doing that lead to extraordinary and unexpected things.

Like writing a book.

Or, more loosely, postponing the must-dos of the real world to spend 30 days exploring an attractive, improbable dream.

Giving ourselves that time is so important. Because the world can wait. It's what the world does best, in fact. It was hanging out for 4.5 billion years before we arrived, and it'll be waiting around for another few billion after we're gone.

Our dreams, however, have much shorter shelf-lives.

Whatever you think you are, you are more than that. You possess a fearsome array of skills and abilities, and the most satisfying of these may be completely unknown to you now...Life is so short. Adventures beckon. Let's get packed and head out on a new one today.


Some how, some way I have managed to walk through hell and negativity and self-sabotage and have been lucky to end up in a safe and nurturing place. This place gives me permission to explore all the crazy, improbable ideas and dreams I have in my head, and I am finding they are not all so crazy or improbable. The working me does not have to be mutually exclusive of the creative me. I can make a living, save some money and do what I love to do, all in one fell swoop. I've heard it a million times, but thought it never applied to me, but it does. It applies to all of us if we let ourselves believe.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A life worth living

Someone celebrated their 60 days sobriety today. We always make a big deal out of birthdays because they truly are a big deal. Self-destruction has ceased, healing has begun. Someone mentioned that they hated counting days. I shared that I love counting days because it is always one more day that I am saving my life and creating a life worth living. I have been very lucky. I really have landed on my feet and have a life that I enjoy and cherish and have fun with every single day. My life has become a life genuinely worth living and I am grateful.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I find myself getting so frustrated

It's getting colder here and especially the mornings are a little intimidating to me. I am always grateful I have a roof over my head, I almost didn't at one point. Anyway...Callie likes her morning walks. I like our morning walks too, but not so much in the cold. Try as I might, I haven't been successful in talking Callie out of walking in the morning after I get home from my meetings. So I layer myself up in my sheepskin everything: ski cap and all, and we hit the road. Then the frustration begins. I've got Callie on a leash, am carrying bags to pick up her big jobs and we're minding our own business. I know there are other dog owners out there like me, but I don't see them much on these cold days. What I do see is dogs running the neighborhood unattended by anyone, or attended by some asshole who stands in their yard and yells at their non-responsive dog who is charging my dog - who is on a leash. I'm not worried about my dog, most of these little yappers are about 1/4 her size. If I give them a slight shove with my hand, they bolt. What scares me is that this town is full of rednecks. Really stupid ones who have their F-250's and money because they've been in the oil fields. I live in a very residential area, but it doesn't stop them from barreling through the streets at 60 MPH at 8:30 in the morning. I said to one guy today who was yelling from his yard at his non-responsive dog who was in the middle of the street, that she was going to get hit. Lucky for her, the car that came along was not driven by a brainless redneck dickhead, and the driver stopped in time. I am afraid, however, that she will not always be so lucky. She is one of several examples I see on a daily basis.

Part of the reason I frequent places like Devil's Canyon and the Mesa is that there are many places that Callie can run off her leash legally and enjoy immense (albeit controlled) freedom. Sadly, I can't do that every day simply because of the time it takes to get there and back and my work schedule, but we go as often as possible on my days off. So, on days I work, I walk my dog in the neighborhood, each and every day - on a leash.

I think that a majority of dog owners around here try to be good to their pets. But I think they are ignorant when it comes to animal behavior. They treat their dogs like little people, which they are not. They are dogs, and behave as such. People need to learn to speak dog, not the other way around. They will tell you a lot if you pay attention to their behavior and body language. But most people are too busy inside their warm houses, with their hot coffee, and morning news to even know most of the time what their dogs are doing.

Obviously, I have some patience and tolerance issues to work through. :-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It took a scientist to tell me this?!

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Dogs appear to experience a range of complex, unpleasant emotions such as jealousy and pride, scientists have discovered. Really?!

Dogs hate their owner showing affection to other dogs. How Shocking!

Until now, this type of behavior had only been shown in humans or chimpanzees, but researchers suspected that other species that live together could be sensitive to fair play -- or a lack of one. Are they kidding, they had to study that?!

"We are learning that dogs, horses, and perhaps many other species are far more emotionally complex than we ever realized," Paul Morris, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth who studies animal emotions, told The Sunday Times. No shit Sherlock!

"They can suffer simple forms of many emotions we once thought only primates could experience." I really hadn't noticed this behavior before...Duh!

How annoying that there was a scientific study that showed what any animal owner knows or ought to know! The British government must have had left over grant money, no where to spend it and decided to give it to the dud heads that performed this experiment!

Monday, December 8, 2008

drunk testing a suspected drunk for drinking...or something like that

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A contract worker for a Nevada sheriff's department is accused of driving drunk to a jail to test a suspect's blood alcohol content.

She said she had one margarita that night before driving to the jail. That might be true, but isn't ironic that someone who is drinking is charged with testing suspected drunks. Makes me chuckle. I don't know if she was telling the truth about how much she had or not, but I know in my drinking days, I did drive drunk, and I always lied about how much I had to drink. Stories like this remind me that I am really grateful I've found my sobriety.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The last seven days

I was looking at the NaNo website this morning and was struck by what Chris Baty said he was feeling since the end of November: weird. Maybe it's because he's been doing the month long project for so many years, that he gets a sense of loss when it's over. I know there are other terrific things that his organization "Letters of Light" does throughout the year that keep him busy, but in that month long gig, he digs in like the rest of us and cranks out words that eventually shape novels.

Weird was the not word that went through my head when the project was done. I didn't have a word, just an AAAAAAA! (a big sigh of relief and sense of accomplishment). I was really glad I participated, and really glad when the end of the month came around. It was a huge push! Scraping every second I could out of a day to get some words typed. It was actually quite grueling on some days. But I'll likely do it again. And now that I have some experience under my belt with the support of the group, I may give it another shot on my own. Maybe January.....? The great thing about January is there are 31 days...one whole extra 24 hours!

But the last seven days have been like a vacation. I get up go to a meeting, come home, walk Callie, get ready for work, go to work (I know...but I really like my job), come home, play with Callie for as long as I want, go to bed and read some mindless drivel before I doze off. Both of my days off, Callie and I hit Devil's Canyon. Absolute Blast! I've also been sleeping really well the last seven days! Sheer exhaustion? Maybe. Proud of myself for having achieved something I've wanted to do for so many years? Most definitely. Do I care that it will likely never be edited and never see the light of day? Nope. What I know for sure now is that I can do it! And the project that has been eating at me for a really long time is possible. January may be the month to begin it!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Callie and I had a great hike yesterday

Callie and I have been out to Devil's Canyon twice this week and it's only Wednesday. I really like to take advantage of the cool weather. In the summer it gets simply to scorching to take a black puppy, and there is no water out there like this time of year.

I like Devil's Canyon for a lot of reasons. It is close to home. It is BLM land, so Callie can go off-leash. It sits at the base of the Colorado National Monument, so the views are breathtaking. It has over 20 miles of trails that are loops upon loops upon loops, and each trail has it's own incredible scenery. Since my November project is done, and I had a couple days off work on the heels of it, Callie and I spent the last couple of days exploring a couple of different loops. Yesterday, she had just a kick of a time because we found really muddy water!

Callie rock climbing again!

Callie getting a drink of water and making sure she gets good and filthy! She jumped right on me aftter I took this picture. She doesn't usually do that...smartass!

This is just a pretty view. If you blow up the picture you can see the monument road cut into the mountain.

Callie checking out the view! Pretty incredible!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Signs of Recession

Cheap food

You might have noticed more junk mail in your inbox as Internet scams are on the rise but Spam, the original canned meat product made famous by Monty Python and astronauts looking for something to complement their Tang, is expected to reap some serious profits this year.

According to the New York Times, it’s boom times at the Hormel Foods Corporation that manufactures the canned recession-proof meat. Factory workers are racking up overtime working seven days a week to keep up with demand.

Other comfort foods that offer comfort to a marketer’s budget are also up so many Americans may be looking to incorporate macaroni and cheese, Jell-O, and Kool-Aid into their Christmas dinners.

The thing that's interesting about this article is that Spam is not all that cheap. I work in a grocery store, and know that you can buy a large package of bologna that will last longer than Spam for about $1.50 less than a can of Spam. That is...at least in our market. I've noticed that people are stocking up on deals, and our store has been running some killers on canned goods. We've had weeks of 2 for $1.00 on various things. Ramen Noodles are still running about $.17 a package. That and some cheap frozen vegetables make a perfect, hearty meal (or in my case, two meals) and the vegetables if not overcooked can be vitamin packed. I have been leaning heavily on my employee discount by buying the store brand, and haven't hurt too much in this slow down.

I also think that the business I'm in is a pretty good place to be right now. People will need groceries, and they have begun to slow down eating out, so our business has actually been up. I was told the day after Thanksgiving would be slow at work, and for our particular store it was. The weekend came and we were swamped all day, yet again. People are spending money and stockpiling their pantries. I know I did when we started running bargains. I don't know how bad it will get before it gets better, but am told and seem to think we are at the bottom. How long we hang out here at the bottom is another issue.

If Callie and Abbie kept journals...

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
Noon - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.
They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.
The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. ................For now

Monday, December 1, 2008

Done! HA!

I have completed the NaNo month and am incredibly proud of myself! Also, I'm proud of the hundreds of thousands of other people who got to finish line. There is a high percentage of teenagers that do this process. Impressive, all of them.

Here is what I learned:

1,667 words a day is possible. The catch is I have to do it every day because once I get behind, it is an absolute bitch to catch up! (That's about three pages a day, and takes about an hour or so. Larry McMurtry writes five a day, but that's because it really is his full time job. I have a paycheck to paycheck job to pay the bills till I become incredibly famous...etc.)

Writing that fast keeps the editor and the censor at bay. There is no time to question what's being put on the page, and decide that it is too stupid to say. All of that that can be done later after the first draft is written, and most times, it is surprising that what I wrote is not so bad.

When writing that fast, Dialogue flows. This was always my biggest struggle. Halted, jerky conversations between characters. This didn't happen in this process.

I don't have to wait for the Muse to be present. I can drag her by the hair to my writing space with me. She may be pissy at first, but she gets with the program pretty quick.

It's not hard to pick up where I left off. And when I have a thought while I'm not working on the project, all I have to do is make a really quick note, and later it goes on the page, and it isn't hard to remember what I was thinking. I used to believe that if I didn't write it immediately, the brilliant idea would be lost forever...not so. Sometimes it was even more brilliant :-)

I also have to add, when doing a project like this, it is really important to keep a static schedule, especially if you have a dog. They are creatures of habit and routine. When I started shortening Callie's walks to sneak in a little more writing time before work...let me just put it gently...I paid the price...Seriously, the physical exercise part was critical for clearing my head and giving me the energy and stamina to spend more time writing in a short time than I think I've done in my entire life. So having a dog is actually a really good thing. Ask her, she'll tell ya!

I learned that this was a really great and fun process and there are so many people out there who really love writing, and supporting each other is essential to make it to the finish line. Fun deal...I think I'll do it again!