Thursday, July 30, 2009

sangre

Today was blood day. It actually went a lot better than I thought! I was nervous last night. I woke up early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. What would it be like? Would it hurt? Would I faint? Would I get dizzy? What if I worked myself up and finally went there and they said I couldn't donate? (too little iron in my blood, traveled outside the U.S. within a year, etc.)

But everything went smoothly. I read the educational material, had my temperature and blood pressure taken, the prick of blood from my middle finger showed I had enough iron in my blood (yeah!), I answered all the questions the nurse asked me (Do you have gonorrhea? Chlamydia? Hepatitis?)

And finally it was time. A man in a white lab coat came up to me (laying on one of their tables and trying not to freak out).

"Hello, I'm Robert and I'll be receiving your donation today."

"Awesome, Robert. Take it quickly." - me

Well, that's what I was thinking. I was also thinking, "Don't look at it, Sarah. Don't look at the needle or blood bag. Focus on something else." Robert found a good vein, sanitized the inside of my elbow, gave me a red rubber ball to squeeze, and POP! in went the needle. The good news is, once it was in, I couldn't feel it any more.

I brought a magazine and my iPod but I ended up just chatting with Robert and the nurse next to him he was flirting with. I was so shocked when after only a few minutes, Robert told me my bag was already 2/3 full. Dang, blood! Speedy sangre.

When it was done, the needle was taken out and I was done. I sat up ve-r-r-r-y slowly, got to my feet and shuffled over to the snack area where two high school girls gave me water, juice, and cookies. After 15 minutes, I was free to go. No fainting. No dizzyness. No problems. Yeah!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

SUMMER

Summer is so freaking fantastic. It is by far my favorite season. And this summer is turning out to be one of the best I've had in a long time. It is going by non-stop with friends, trips, and fun. Oh and MAYBE a little work put in there somewhere. Ha ha.

My first trip to New York, road trip to Oregon, just had friends from college here, going to Tahoe this weekend for a wedding. There's also been lots of beach time, BBQs, waterslides, walks, sunshine, volleyball, ice cream, summer movies, fresh fruit, San Francisco, rollercoasters, softball, family time....love it.

I tried chocolate-covered-bacon last night at the Boardwalk. I don't know why. It was actually pretty good. It tasted like salty chocolate. I don't know what that has to do with summer, but it just does.

I don't want it to end. I am seeing Target commercials on TV for back-to-school stuff and I want to throw things. No! I am clinging to July as much as possible! I do not want summer to end! It goes by too fast! Who's with me?!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Oregon pixs

I wanted to write all about my fun time in Oregon, but I have two wonderful college friends in town and want to go play with them, so I shall let the following pictures (and video at the end) tell the story.

































video

Friday, July 17, 2009

Oregon

It's time for Adventure #2 with Amy! This time we are road-tripping to Oregon to see our good friends Jenn and Steve get married. We will be stopping in Ashland to stay with an old roomie, Laura (aka: Lola) and then driving up to Portland after the wedding to see our friend Haley! Yeah! I've never been past Ashland, so I'm looking forward to seeing the state.

(Ok this is really random, but the image of playing "Oregon Trail" just popped into my head. Thank goodness we're not going to Oregon in a covered wagon with 4 oxen, 3 broken wagon axles, 56 pounds of fresh buffalo meat we've just shot, and dying of dysentery or cholera. Ford the river? Or caulk and float across?)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

giving blood

I have never given blood before. I've always had good excuses.

"I don't weigh enough." (high school)
"I'm mildly anemic." (college)
My recent ones have been:
"I'm scared I'll faint."
"There's enough people who donate. They don't need me."

But then something happened a couple weeks ago that has shaken me up a bit. There is a dear, dear family who go to our church. I'll call them the Kay's. Dad, mom, 3 sons. Life has been pretty hard lately. They had a house fire a couple years ago. The dad lost his job and has been unemployed and looking for a very long time. And two weeks ago this happened:

Their middle soon, Jacob (17 years old), was at the beach with some friends. They heard a crash and ran over to see downed trees and power lines in the trees across the road. Jacob (who wants to be a firefighter when he grows up) attempted to put out a small fire on part of a tree. His friends heard something they describe as an explosion and what was like fire coursing down his whole body. Apparently, he came into contact with the the fallen power line. He suffered a concussion and severe electrocution, causing burn spots on his head, neck, hands, arms, chest, feet, and backside, mostly 2nd and 3rd degree burns. He was taken to the hospital, where the doctors told his parents that it was a miracle he was alive.

Since then, he has been in a paralytic/narcotic coma, had three or four surgeries to remove dead muscle tissue, battled pneumonia, and has had a hard time breathing on his own. All of us who heard the news were shocked and scared. Everyone has been praying like crazy for Jacob and his family. And even though prayer is the most important thing right now, I was starting to feel helpless. How could I help more?

The Kays have started a blog where they share updates on Jake and what we can do to help. One of ideas was donate blood in Jacob's name. I remember reading that and being convicted. I've never done it, but it is time.

I'm scared. It probably seems so silly, but I am. I've had shots before, had blood drawn, etc. But the thought of sitting down for 10-15 minutes and watching blood leaving my body and filling up a big ol' bag making me a little nauseous.

And yet, who cares? It seems so small compared to what Jacob and his family are going through.

Obviously, my blood won't be going to Jacob. But since they are using lots of blood on him, it's a cool way to give back to the American Red Cross. And this is something tangible we (many of my college students and co-workers are doing this, too) can do during this scary time.

I was hesitant to blog about this, because I didn't want to come across as "Hey, look at me, I'm giving blood, I'm so great" because that is definitely not the case. This has nothing to do with me and everything to do with a high school boy who is fighting for his life and his family who I love so much. It hurts seeing them in so much pain.

So friends, on July 30th, I'll be rolling up my sleeves. Nervous? Yes. Worth it? Abso-freakin-lutely. BTW, If you want to read the Kays' family blog, let me know and I'll email you the address.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Raging Waters

Yesterday, I took the college students to Raging Waters - our nearby waterslide park.

I have not been to this water park in 20 years. I barely remember it. I wasn't sure if the college students would be into it, but they totally were! There was 18 of us who met at the church and piled into 4 cars. We got a sweet discount because we had a group. Nice.

It was a great day. The only bad things was it rained a little around 1 pm. It wasn't a downpour, just some sprinkling. But other people started freaking out. We didn't mind though. One of my (smart-aleck) students said loudly, "It's a waterpark. You're gonna get wet."

We went on all the rides. Some were single rides, some you could go with one or two other people on innertubes. My favorite was the "Dragon's Den". You get in an innertube with a buddy and get shot down a tunnel into what looks like a striped toilet bowl. There is a huge dragon in the middle who glares at you. You spin a few times around him and then get sucked down to the bottom. It was so fun!

We ended the day with an obligatory stop at In 'N Out. Ahhhh....bliss.













Wednesday, July 08, 2009

you've got to be kidding me

Just when I think my nephew can't get any cuter.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Big Apple

When can I go back??

That was the first question I asked myself as soon as I got on the plane to fly home.

Seriously, such a good trip. That is one of the most fun cities I have ever visited. I am so glad I finally got to go.

I have so much to share, but I don't want this blog to be two million pages long. So I'll try and re-cap as much as possible. I just posted a ton o' pixs on facebook, so you can check those out if you want to see 'em.

Ok, so Amy and I set off for New York on a Thursday. I won't mention the 3 hours we had to wait for our Super Shuttle at JFK airport, but I WILL mention that the hotel we found from priceline.com was perfect. Midtown East, two blocks from the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Station and a bonus was an awesome view of the Empire State Building from our window (I love when it lit up at night!).

Our first full day will filled with fun times: Bryant Park, Times Square (they've blocked off two blocks for pedestrians and set up plastic lawn chairs - so fun!), double-decker tour bus to see the whole city (thanks for the idea, Tira!), Rockefeller Center, NBC Studios, Radio City Music Hall, top of the Empire State Building (woohoo!), dinner at Gallagher's Steakhouse (Mmmmm...), back to Times Square/Broadway area, etc. Whew! Full day.

One of my highlights was that night. We were walking by Shrek the Musical and the show had just gotten out. All the actors were coming out the stage doors to sign autographs. Amy and I saw Shrek (Brian d'Arcy James) come out and so we looked at each other and jumped into the line. We didn't have Playbills or anything for him to sign but we still tried to pretend we had seen the show. When he got to us with his Sharpie, we said, "Um, can we just take a picture with you?" He was so nice. As we took the pix, Amy turned to him and said, "You were great tonight." I could not stop laughing.

Our next day started off with brunch at a restaurant recommended to us by my friend Lacy. It was inside Le Parker Meridien, near Central Park. It was called "Norma's" and you can only get a seat there by reservation. SWANKY. We feasted and met the guys at he table next us. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention...we had made it a goal to meet as many people as possible on our trip. We took pictures with all of them. It was so fun!

After a quick stop at Carnegie Hall, we went to Central Park. Another highlight of the trip! We seriously spent the whole day there. There is so much to do and see. We sat and watched a softball game, walked by the Carousel, I danced and sang "That's How You Know" like Giselle (from the movie Enchanted) through the gingerbread house, took pictures of all the horse-drawn carriages, walked down the Mall, walked around the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, watched turtles swim in the pond next to all the people in their rowboats, visited the Hans Christian Anderson and Alice in Wonderland statues, went to the Belvedere Castle, the Delacorte Theater where Shakespeare in the Park happens (Anne Hathaway is doing Twelfth Night), and then my friend Kristen met us!

Kristen and I worked at camp for two summers when we were in college (her camp name was Willow and mine was Bouncer). She now lives in Manhattan and met us on the end of the Great Lawn where Amy and I were people-watching. It was a beautiful day, so tons of people were out sun-bathing, birthday parties, ultimate frisbee, reading, walking their dogs, ahhhh. The 3 of us walked around the Reservoir (when you're halfway around, you can look back and see the NY skyline - so pretty!) and then visited the Conservatory Gardens.

Kristen found us this yummy Cuban restaurant on the Upper West Side so off to the subway we headed. There was a wedding reception going on at the table next to us and our waiter snuck us some of their wedding cake! He put it in a bag and left it at our table with a whisper "Don't get me in trouble!" and a smile. It was so rad. I felt like little special things like that would happen to us all the time. After dinner, Kristen took us to her cute apartment. It's right by Times Square and you can see Radio City Music Hall from her window.

The next day after eating NY bagels and taking pictures with two policemen (who were so funny they should start their own comedy show - one of them took our picture with the other cop and then said, "Brian, you look fat in this picture. Lemme take another one...") we took the subway downtown. We walked around Wall Street and flashed our money in front of the NYSE. Trinity Church was near there so we popped in. Such a beautiful cathedral! We found out they housed injured people when the WTC fell back on 9/11. We then walked down to the water and took the ferry to see Lady Liberty. She is so regal! I loved seeing her in real life.



We went to Ground Zero which was really hard. They have barely built anything in 8 years, but maybe that's a good thing. We had heard about Lombardi's Pizzeria in the SoHo/Little Italy area from my friends Christy and Sarah so we went there for dinner. BEST PIZZA EVER! Oh my gosh, I was in heaven. Can you tell we ate a lot on this trip? Then we wanted to walk around Greenwich Village that evening. Can you tell we walked a lot on this trip? We hunted down Magnolia Bakery for their famous cupcakes (MMmmm...), took some pictures with NY firemen, and then toured the nearby neighborhoods where they filmed Carrie Bradshaw's apt. in Sex and the City.

Our first stop the next day was Grand Central Station. Have I mentioned yet how much I love the energy in the city? It is electric. The minute we stepped outside our hotel, it was contagious. Anything is possible, everything is exciting. In Grand Central Station, I enjoyed watching people walking all over the place. Places to go, people to see. Amy and I wanted to go back to our plastic lawn chairs in Times Square and eat NY hot dogs, so we did. Then we went to the Late Show with David Letterman theater and went to say hello to Rupert at the Hello Deli around the corner.

We headed to Serendipity's for their famous frrrrozen hot chocolates (we were told to go here by everyone we spoke to). While we waited for our table, we went to the corner candy store: Dylan's Candy Bar. Holy cow, I think I got three cavities just by walking inside. Serendipity's is so kitchy-cute. The frozen hot chocolates were bliss. I bought some mix so I can make them at home. We each bought necklaces from their little store to remember the experience.

We then went to FAO Schwarz and took pictures with the Lego statues (Harry Potter, Batman, Chewbacca, etc) and then tried to do chopsticks on the floor piano, like in the movie "Big". Across the street at the Plaza Hotel, there was a huge crowd and we found out Mariah Carey was shooting a new music video. Sweet!

Our last night we had tickets to see In The Heights on Broadway. YOU NEED TO SEE THIS SHOW! It was beyond what I imagined. The story, characters, singing, dancing, music, everything was phenomenal. A lot of the dancing was hip-hop so I was stoked. After the show, we went and met the cast by their stage door. I was so excited to take a picture with the main character Javier Muñoz (he played Usnavi). I think I have a bit of a crush on him. Tee hee! They were all so sweet and friendly, singing our Playbills, taking pictures, and patting my arm as they left. Cute.

We were so sad to fall asleep that night because we knew we had to leave the next morning. The Empire State Building shone blue and white our last night. Farewell wonderful city! Thanks for all the memories and special times. We flew home and I had to go to work the very next day. Booooo....

I am still recovering from the trip (you could probably tell we didn't sleep much). But it's been so fun looking at pictures and sharing stories with people. What a great vacay. Can't wait to go back and visit The Big Apple again. Thanks for reading!