2012 Flashback (a.k.a. Personal Reflections on this Past Year)

How is 2012 quickly drawing to a close?  Yes, it is true what people say: the years go by faster and faster the older you get.  This past year was a mix of hardships and saying good-bye to several friends who left my area, as well as various events and activities that shaped the year for me.  This list is a personal reflection of the past year, rather than a list of current events or a political piece, with dates as close as possible to the real month of occurrence.  I enjoy reflecting on the past before starting a new year.  It is good to have new goals and aspirations.

January

  • I began blogging on WordPress.  Yay!
  • A mild winter in Illinois. That’s awesome because I walked a 1/2 mile each way to work due to the scarcity of close parking at my job.

February

  • My birthday month.  Why does it feel like the last 5 years or so are gone in a blink?
  • I attended my second ever University of Illinois Basketball game.  It was a nice family time with my Dad, and Illinois beat Iowa, so that was exciting.

March

  • It was fun to co-coordinate a faculty/staff service outreach at my job.  We volunteered at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, a foodbank that helps provide food to hundreds of soup kitchens and food pantries in the central Illinois area.
  • I become the proud owner of a iPhone 4.  It is super cool, but dislikes when I try to use it as a PHONE from my apartment.  However, the apps, being able to easily check and write e-mails, and the camera are all great features.
  • Winter Jam Tour at the Assembly Hall with my friend, Sabrina

April

  • My church purchases our own building after the building we rented was damaged by a fire.  My church had been dislocated to a hotel for around 3-4 months, so the purchase of our own building was exciting.

May

  • My friend Carolina moved to Arizona when her husband graduated and expediently got a great job.

June

  • Summer= swimming (in my attempt at fitness).
  • Around this time (ish), I become a poet who publishes on poemhunter.  I enjoy writing poetry, especially about love, heartache, and God/faith.

July

  • More swimming.  Summer seemed to go by at warp speed.  I did get to go see the New Amazing Spiderman on the Fourth of July.
  • I covered many job duties for my co-worker who was off work for 3 weeks due to an accident.  I also spent around 4 months (off and on)  for my co-worker typing forms, scanning forms, e-mailing people (some out of state, out of country, or no longer with my department), and playing Nancy Drew with solving discrepancies in legal check-outs of equipment loans, mostly for laptop.  This was to get forms for approxiately a few hundred pieces of equipment updated for legal check-out.
  • My co-worker who was my back-up was promoted, so it was challenging during the 6 weeks before her replacement was hired and started.

August

English: Script logo of the Chicago Bears

  • I took a min-vacation to see my family in my hometown area.  We took a one day road trip to see the Chicago Bears training camp at Olivet Nazarene University.
  • My friend Amy moved out-of-state in order to complete her degree in Art.

September

  • I spend around $300 on an oil change and new brakes when I am told that my brakes are 95% gone.  I am glad this was found before winter, but sad to try to figure out how to pay for that in my tight budget.
  • My friend Melissa moves to Champaign for a new job.  I was blessed by that fact, but I also got a $100 rent credit when I referred her to my apartment complex.  Yay!

October

  •  After 2 years and approximately 3 months, I got into a close parking lot by my work building.  If you know the ordeals that I went through before this time, you will know why this was a HUGE positive for me (I even paid around $70/month for a few months for a private gravel lot in order to be able to get a break and actually get to places on time after work).
  • I join Pinterest and become semi-addicted.
  • My first ever 5K!  My friend Melissa encouraged me to do it.  I am not a runner, but I loved walking the 5K.   It was a fantastic experience.
  • I voted for my clerical union contract.  We had been without a contract for 14 or 15 months which was pretty discouraging, in spite of my union’s persistent negotiations.

November

  • I paid off my 5 year loan on my 2006 Ford Taurus!  Woohoo!
  • The Woodfield Mall bus trip that I was attending with my Mom got cancelled, but all was not lost when my Mom visited me and we spent the weekend shopping at a outlet mall and many great local places.
  • My first laptop that I have ever personally ordered was stolen when FedEx left it unsigned for outside of my apartment the day after Thanksgiving.

December

  • Old-Fashioned Christmas at my church.  I got to go on a horse and carriage ride!  It was amazing!
  • I bought a new laptop  after my laptop that I ordered online was stolen.
  • E-mail day of action that I participated in (off work time, of course) since my signed union contract giving all clericals a small raise and pay-back got stalled by my University when there was no real follow-through and months of stalemate.  Justice is important.  I will note that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can locate information that can be quite discouraging, such as discovering that “snack bar attendant” and “helper-kitchen” earned more pay than I did, until recently.
  • I reach over 100 likes on my WordPress blog.  Yes, sometimes I am addicted to my Stats!
  • Christmas with my family, after a two-day delay when my car would not start, got jumped twice, and eventually resulted in me paying $420 for a new alternator and serpentine belt.
  • My first ever pedicure, that was at a spa with my Mom, twin sister, and niece,  It was part of my Christmas gift from my Mom.  It was amazing!

Flashback- Me (on left) and my twin sister, Jody (on right), when we were little

Technological Speed Bumps, Excitement about a day off work, and a prayer request

TECHNOLOGY CAN BE LIKE RIDING A ROLLER COASTER

Technology is amazing.  Technology is progressive.  Technology is cool.  Technology is fun.  Technology is frustrating.  Technology is tricky.  Technology exists in many diverse facets and faces.  Technology can rule your life if you let it.  I must admit, sometimes I have purposefully left my laptop turned off for a weekend in order to get away from the internet when I am burned out on it and when I long for more simple times.  No, I don’t want to be Amish.  But, I do think that simplicity is not always a bad thing.  Argue with me if you will.  Sometimes life can be quite complicated.  Sometimes technology can be quite complicated.  Sometimes there are technological speed bumps when you long for smooth sailing, a beautiful beach, and a glorious sunset.

One thing that I have kept quiet on my blog up until now was regarding a situation that completely upset me, and I was afraid that if I blogged about it in the moment, then my blog would have been one long lament.  Hopefully, that is not the case now.  While I am trying to not be superstitious, it does seem that bad things happen to me around Thanksgiving.  Last year, there was a fire at my church right before Thanksgiving that actually the investigators said appeared to be arson.  From my understanding, someone set the cross behind our church building on fire and threw it through our window.  It was a horrible situation, and resulted in my church being displaced and relocated to a hotel for 4 months.  Then, right after that, my Grandma passed away the Sunday after Thanksgiving of last year.  I missed most of a week of work in order to be with my family and attend my Grandma’s funeral.

This year, I had a nice Thanksgiving and was really looking forward to my new laptop that was soon to be delivered by FedEx.  It was the first time that I had ever actually bought a new laptop on my own, which was a big step for me, especially considering that my first “real” computer I actually bought used after college for a $100 from a girl who used to go to my old church in college (side note: I actually survived college without owning my own computer, but at times I lived in the library and computer labs, and I was exceedingly grateful for friends who would let me borrow their computer).  My current laptop was overheating even while utilizing a cooling mat, and it had been an ongoing ordeal for months, making any writing that I tried to do on my laptop amazingly difficult.  I had argued with HP about it, especially since thousands of batteries had been recalled that were fire hazards.  My battery was actually listed as next in a series of batteries that had been recalled, but HP would not make amends. Thus, I decided that HP would NOT be a brand that I would buy my new laptop from, especially after many wasted hours trying to rectify the situation.  HP advised me to not use my laptop and made it a crisis case, then never contacted me like they said they would.  Finally, I realized that I just needed to invest in a new laptop.  I REALLY want a Macbook Pro, but I am trying not to covet everyone that seems to own MacBooks.  Unfortunately, it seems like MacBooks are just for the wealthy, but I would like to own one in the future.

After researching laptops and searching online for deals, I purchased one online from Wal-mart before Thanksgiving.  I was happy not to have to brave the Black Friday crowds, plus HP seemed to be the major brand with cheap Black Friday sales, and I was unofficially boycotting them.  Anyways, I figured that my laptop would not be delivered while I was out of town, because FedEx could not leave my laptop unsigned for outside of my apartment.  Well, I was wrong.  My expensive laptop cost over $500 was delivered without a signature confirmation.  The next day, when I came home, my laptop was gone.  I can only deduce that it was stolen.  It is a long story, but after hours spent with FedEx, the police,semi-interviewing my neighbors, and even scouring hopefully every apartment in my complex to see if my laptop was accidentally mis-delivered, I finally gave up.  The police said this  happens all the time in my community, and there are people that purposefully go to the wealthy neighborhoods and steal unattended laptops while people are working.  The problem is that you do not have a serial number to prove that the laptop is your laptop, and you have not set up a login password  to make it more secure.  It is  a scary situation.  Plus, there was no way that I could tell that the free shipping that Wal-mart gave me due to the expense of my purchase was would not require a signature confirmation.  It makes me wary to order online anymore, but I may ship site to store or to my workplace in the future, where someone is always available to sign for packages during the day.  Unfortunately, I feel like the whole situation robbed me of my trust in people, many hours of my time, as well as my laptop that I was so excited about.

Since my stolen laptop was such a good deal, of course it was out of stock with Wal-mart, meaning that I could not get it replaced.  One shining thing amidst the sea of horribleness was that Wal-mart gave me a refund without argument.  However, they pointed the finger at FedEx, who had pointed the finger at Wal-mart in terms of responsibility.  Honestly, Wal-mart did NOT require FedEx to get a signature, so they did not.  I want to caution anyone who orders online to be careful of this type of situation, because I would not want this to happen to anyone else.

However, I must note that while it is not the laptop that I really wanted, I did buy a different laptop that was almost $200 cheaper than the laptop that was stolen.  It does not have as much RAM though, but you win some and you lose some.  The really funny part of the situation is that I purchased it from Toys R Us.  Who knew that they sold laptops?  I receive e-mails from Toys R US, since I have shopped there for my niece and nephew, and they had an adult laptop that was $80 off recently, which is the one that I purchased.  I am adjusting to it.  I like it.  It is different because the keys are quite a bit wider than my old laptop, making it harder to type and causing me to make even more typing mistakes than normal, but all is well.  I am just so thankful to have a working laptop again after the long road and long ordeal thatI have been through .  Also, because of Toys R Us having a holiday promotion for people who are in their free rewards program, you can get $10 back on every $100 you spend, so that really is quite beautiful.

logo.

Finally, on a non-related note, I will end by saying that I am really excited about a day off work on Monday.  I have semi-stockpiled my vacation days at my job, and I decided to take a Monday off in order to have a three-day weekend and to catch up on things before the Christmas holiday.  Also, I want to mention a prayer request.  I think it is good to keep the families and friends of those who lost loved ones in the horrible tragedy in Connecticut in prayer.  My heart goes out to the families, and I can only pray that God will comfort them with peace in this time of grief and loss.

“Shy Girl” and “The Waterfall”: Original Poetry

Shy Girl

The shy girl smiles.

She ponders and does muse

why when it comes to love

she always seems to lose.

 

The shy girl hopes,

but hopes seem so threadbare;

in a tapestry of love

she finds it quite unfair.

 

The shy girl wishes

that things would change.

She is shy of heart and action,

and she is forlorn for a love exchange.

____________________________________________________________

English: Waterfall near Lepena, Slovenia Slove...

English: Waterfall near Lepena, Slovenia Slovenščina: Slap, Lepena, Slovenija (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Waterfall

Churning.

Rushing.

Swirling.

Flowing.

Tumultuous

waters

flow down

the rocky

craggy

cliffs

seeking freedom.

Seeking peace.

Seeking release

from the chains that bind her.

 

She would cry

if she wasn’t

already water.

Transparent

and flowing

amidst the

beat of the sun

on her body

and the chirping

of the birds

comforting her with their tender song

in the sweet mountain air

that completely envelops her.

Perhaps

the water

are her

many tears

as they flow

free

and with abandon.

 

Tired of trying.

Tired of bondage.

Tired of who she needs to be.

Tired of the expectations.

 

She just longs to be free.

Pure.

Unrestrained by people’s expectations

of who she needs to be.

She wants to just be herself.

A waterfall flowing,

but now with a new calm strength

that is soothed by the warmth

of unconditional acceptance

from the One who watches over her

and loves her

even when she cannot always accept herself

or love herself.

 

Poet’s noteThis poem explores the internal conflict of the poet amidst expectations in the spheres of her family, work, faith, society, and even herself. 

 

***I have more of my poetry on www.poemhunter.com.  Here is a link to my poet page and poems:

http://www.poemhunter.com/julie-a-smith/