Saturday, November 29, 2008

50th Post: 50 "Little" Things to be Thankful For

I can't believe I made it to my 50th post. I was looking back on some of my old posts last night, and I laughed at some of the memories that came back even if they happened only a few months ago. I think one of the joys of blogging is being able to find humor in the little things of daily life. So, in the spirit of this weekend, I want to give a list of 50 "little" things that I am thankful for. Of course I am thankful the most for the big things like family, faith, freedom, friends, and other things that start with letters other than "f". These are the most important things in life, but for this post I want to acknowledge some of the more "overlooked" blessings and joys of life. This week I came across a journal that I haven't seen in at least five years. I had written in quite a few pages a list of things that I was grateful. Many of them were roommate and school-oriented, and refelective of the daily blessings of my early 20-something life; nevertheless my gratitude for these things still stand years later. Here are 50 of them, in no particular order, taken from that journal:

1. Sunday phone calls from the family.
2. The way the grass looks a little bit greener after I water it.
3. Plumbing that works
4. Professors who remember my name
5. Being able to laugh everyday
6. Air conditioning, even if it freezes me in class/church/work
7. Performing in a good concert.
8. Left-overs
9. Eating ice cream with friends.
10. October daylight savings time when I get an extra hour of sleep.
11. High-5's.
12. Wintergreen mints.
13. Seeing people that I know in the temple.
14. Walking to school when it's still dark and seeing the moon and stars still out.
15. Laughing at myself when I am soaking wet from rain or snow.
16. Coming home from a long day at school and seeing that my roommates (or mom) have already finished making dinner.
17. Sales on bananas, especially when they're slightly under-ripe.
18. Remembering good/funny dreams the morning after.
19. Making homemade hot chocolate.
20. Dancing silly with roommates.
21. Movie nights with friends.
22. Clean restrooms.
23. Sharing a new CD with friends.
24. Getting email from people from the mission.
25. Evening conversations with a friend on the porch.
26. Being able to stay awake in the most boring classes.
27. Being involved in the education of others and watching them succeed.
28. Beautiful Sunday weather.
29. Free bus fare in Utah.
30. Rain, especially the sound of it at night.
31. The feeling of confidence and relief after a test.
32. New sweatshirts.
33. Laugh attacks.
34. When people understand and laugh at my jokes.
35. Cool-looking clouds on full-moon nights.
36. Smell of fresh-dried laundary.
37. Hearing the weather report before leaving the house.
38. Catching the bus or train just in time.
39. Flannel pants.
40. A camera with a new roll of film (this was before digital of course)
41. The silence that hangs in the night air after a fresh snow fall.
42. The feel of new socks.
43. Eating cold cereal at any time of the day.
44. Hearing a frog croak.
45. Roadtrips.
46. Making homemade tomato soup.
47. The feeling after a funeral of wanting to become a better person.
48. Canadian geese.
49. Walking in soft grass barefoot.
50. The moment of the day before the sun goes down when the landscape glows for one last moment.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I could feel the breeze in their hair...what??

Job hunting can be a bit monotonous. Some people do try to add an informal touch or advertise "community features" to encourage relocation. These are a few actual statements that I have come across in job listings:

For a job in Oklahoma: "Saddle up and lets get started."

Washington: "If you are tired of a big city we can help. If you are looking for an outdoor oriented lifestyle we can really help."

And this one is my favorite...
For a job in Nebraska: "Buffalo used to roam this land in the famous frontier days. If you listen closely in the quiet of the night you can still hear the settlers wagons cutting new ground and feel the breeze in their hair."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One of the best movies ever!!

On Saturday after a college football game I caught the beginning of the cartoon version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." This did surprise me a little because Thanksgiving was still a week and a half away. So I don't feel like I'm too premature if I share my love for what is often regarded as a "Christmas" movie. "It's a Wonderful Life" (IAWL) shouldn't belong in the same category of films such as "The Santa Clause," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," or "Frosty the Snowman," only to be dusted off once a year. This movie is awesome year round and only part of it takes place during the Chirstmas season. The story and cast are fantastic (more on Jimmy Stewart soon to follow) and Frank Capra is an amazing director. Here are some more reasons to love it:

There are few movies that I know of that captures so many human emotions: love, innocence, discouragement, fear, unity, courage, passion, the list goes on...

There are those classic one-liners, like:
"Say Brainless, don't you know where coconuts come from?"
"He's making violent love to me, Mother!"
And of course, "Every time a bell rings..." yeah, you know it.

There's also those timeless messages, as recited by Clarence the angel, how each man's life touches so many other lives, and no man who has friends is a failure.

If you're a fanatic like me, you might catch some of the little bloopers, the improvisations, and other behind the scenes trivia. If you want to know some, just ask me.

And one of the best reasons of all: Jimmy Stewart. Oh, yeah. One of the greatest actors who has the gift of portraying the "every man," and he delivers here as the memorable George Bailey.
We see the serious side of George as he struggles to provide for his family, stands up to the greedy Mr. Potter, and continuously demonstrates sacrifice and integrity.
There's the humorous side of George as well. Trying to get Violet to go to Mount Bedford and start a scandal that the whole town would talk about. His threat to sell tickets when Mary loses her robe... Then there's the romance. Who can forget the passionate scene when George is at Mary's house: The tension escalates, and he looks into her tear-filled eyes, knowing that loving and marrying her will cause him to lose his dreams of world travel and other endeavors. Then there is the kiss: Jimmy Stewart's first on-screen kiss since he returned from the war.

If all men were like unto George Bailey...

If you haven't seen it, see it. If you haven't watched it since you were a kid, watch it again. If you want a movie night, let me know and I'll bring the hot co'.

Friday, November 14, 2008

THIS is what I want to do...

This is something I want to add to my bucket list. I thought it was worth sharing...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm on the hunt. Release the hounds!!

I've been asked quite a few times today how my job hunting was going. I have sent my resume out to a few places. The lack of local jobs that I could apply for (especially since I don't have a lot of experience yet) has been a bit discouraging. I'm still looking...

After I tried to apply for a local position, I found out that I had uploaded my resume on a health career national database. Needless to say I have been receiving emails and calls from place like Bullhead City, Arizona and other places across the country.

Here was a conversation I had yesterday (yes, Saturday) morning.
Me: Hello?
Caller (very thick accent): Hello Janet (my name is pronounced this way quite frequently), my name is So-n'so from ::something incomprehensible, I thought I heard the name 'Pomona':: and Dr. So-n'so saw your resume and was wondering if you can come in for an interview next week.
::cue small earthquake - this really did happen and I was distracted for a moment::
Me: Sure, I'm pretty open. How about Tuesday at 2:00?
Caller: Okay, that's fine. Our clinic location is 380 Fremont. Will you be coming by car or bus?
Me: By car. What city is your clinic located again? (thinking it might be closer to Alhambra)
Caller: Da' Bronx. So you will be coming from the west?
Me: The east. I'm sorry, what city was that again?
Caller: Da' Bronx... ::moment of silence::...Oooooooohhhh, I'm sorry, I thought you were in Riverside, New York! Soooo... you probably won't be able to make it this Tuesday?
Me: I don't think that will happen.
Caller: Have you ever thought about working on the east coast?
Me: Um, how about you send me some information on the clinic and position and I'll get back to you.
Caller: Information? What do you mean?
Me: (Thinking, is she really asking me this?) Oh, things like, specialty, expectations, hours, benefits...
Caller: Oh, okay thank you!

Not all of the jobs I have seen have been weird. I did come across a good job at a rural pediatrics clinic in another state. There is even a lower cost of living and I would get paid extra just for being able to speak Spanish. To me, especially if it was a year or two ago, this seems like I would be living the dream! Before I started PA school and through most of my time in it I had thought about going into rural medicine in a high spanish-speaking population. Adding the factor that it's a pediatrics clinic sweetens the deal as I have considered that is the area I want to stay in for my career. But I am not sure if now is the right time to live that dream. Since the time I graduated, I have learned that timing is an essential factor in my career development. I recognized it first when I interviewed for a sub specialty position for my first job. While I had envisioned that type of job as an ultimate goal, it does not mean that it was the right job for me right now. I was even relieved when I was not offered the job after my interview. I am not sure if this current job offer has that similar lesson for me. I just know that right now I reeeeally want to stay in Southern California. This is where I have my roots. This is where I have grown up and lived with such a great support system. While I am a pretty independent person and can enjoy some solitude and I don't have a problem living alone, I still have a need for frequent social contact outside of work. Would a job in a rural area impede such peer interaction? There are so many things to consider right now and I must admit that I am getting a little less patient by the day and more stressed about financial obligations and the uncertainty of the whole situation. I am comforted by the fact that any decision I make will be used toward my good. I just have to keep relying on that fact. If I do have to cut my losses and find a better in situation in another city or state, then, as the Beatles would say, "let it be." We'll see what happens. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Matters of Rights, the Constitution, Discrimination, and Marriage

"May I humbly urge you to learn about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other basic documents of our great country so that you can sustain it and the free institutions set up under it...Before we can intelligently sustain the principles of this divinely inspired document, we need to understand it and the philosophy that underlies it. We will then be in a position to determine encroachments on our liberty when well-intentioned, but unenlightened politicians attempt to circumvent those principles. The greatest watchdog of our freedom is an informed electorate." Ezra Taft Benson

This election season, much is being said in support of rights. From the rights of animals, to the rights of the unborn, rights of teenage mothers, and the rights of same-gender relationships. I have decided to take up Benson's challenge and review the Constitution and ponder about the meaning of rights. Much of this blog will focus on the same gender marriage debate that is happening in California, Arizona, and Florida.

Point#1 Protection of Voting/Democratic/Republican Rights
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government... Article IV, Section 4 Clause 1
In regards to California's Prop 8, regardless of marriage, it is the right of the citizens to have their government respect the voice of the majority. The Founding Fathers did not intend to have the states run by a monarchy or a mobocracy, but they sought to preserve republican values to maintain the stability and liberty of the states. One of the issues behind California's Proposition 8 , regardless of one's opinion on the definition of marriage, was the abuse of power of 4 judges who overturned the will of 61% of Californian voters to legalize gay marriage. While some people may support this action, what is there to stop these judges from overturning the state's decision on another matter in the future.

Point #2 Constitutional Amendments in Other States
The controversy over same sex marriage is not new. This is an important issue to all Americans, and Americans have made their voices heard on the matter. Currently, defense of marriage amendments have been adopted into the state constitutions of 27 different states. Of these, eight make only same-sex marriage unconstitutional, seventeen make both same-sex marriage and civil unions unconstitutional and two states have their own unique laws. Hawaii grants legislature authority to ban same-sex marriages and Virginia prevents the state from recognizing private contracts of unions that "approximate" marriage. These amendments passed in their states with an affirmative vote ranging between 52% (South Dakota) to 86% (Mississippi) with an average of the combined states being 69%. 16 other states prohibit same-sex marriage by statute. 2 states (New Mexico and Rhode Island) have marriage undefined. Have these 44 states suffered negative backlash, being labeled as "bigots," "intolerant," "inhumane," "homophobes," "unjust," and "unconstitutional"?

Point #3: "Fundamental" and Civil Rights
I have heard the word, "fundamental rights" used repeatedly in the argument of the definition of marriage. Looking up the word "fundamental" in Webster's dictionary, the definition includes the synonym, "essential". Is homosexual marriage essential? Does it fall under the same category of other essential rights (freedom to protect one's property, free speech (communication), freedom of religion?) There has been argument that some of these rights would be violated if same-gender marriage is legalized.

The roots of marriage as found in JudeoChristian beliefs point to spiritual and moral reasons (including upholding chastity), as well as the perpetuation of the human species and upholding parental responsibilities. Other ancient anthropologic reasons for establishment of the family unit include safety, providing of needs to offspring, and again, species propagation. Some years ago I visited a rural, Peruvian village along the banks of the Amazon river. I learned that while some of the moral vales regarding chastity were not given importance among this small society, marriage was deemed essential once a girl (usually a teenager) was determined to be pregnant. It was then she was put into a monogamous relationship under the title of marriage to secure the physical and social needs of the child. Such is an example of why marriage is essential, or "fundamental" to this village and the global society in general. Is same-gender, or any other alternative marriage arrangement, equally essential to society as traditional marriage?

The issue of civil rights has also been brought up in the argument. According to the Constitution, civil rights are those guaranteed to all individuals by the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments. The 14th Amendment was first intended to secure the rights of former slaves and has since helped different cases that are mostly racial-based . The Equal Protection Clause, which includes the text in the latter portion: nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, has had some debate with issues like afirmative action and proponents of same-gender marriage are claiming to fall under the protection of the Amendment. Many claim that their civil rights are violated because their domestic partner rights are not equal to those of married couples. Their argument is legitimate, but does that have to involve the changing of the definiton of marriage?
Often civil rights and natural rights are used interchangably. Thomas Jefferson wrote, "a free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate."

Point #4: "Promoting the General Welfare...To Ourselves and Our Posterity" and Discrimination
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."
This is the preamble, or the Constitution's statement of purpose. This is to show the principles for its existance and why it needs to be upheld.
Are there times when rights of some may have to be denied or restricted for the welfare of others? Is "discrimination," as often used in this argument, ever justified? One random example is the issue of convicted sex offenders. Is it unjustified to have their names made publicly known or restrict them to where they can live (certain distances away from schools, etc...). In California, the California Teachers Association, ACLU, and Equality California opposed a bill, SB1105, that would withdraw the teaching credential of a teacher who pleads "no contest" in a sexual offense case. Why did they oppose? Because they considered it "discrimination" against teachers who may be homosexual. Has our obsession with being "politically correct," our fear of offending another, or the opinions of our peers crossed the line?
On the other hand, others have justified discrimination when it comes to the welfare of others is held at a greater level of importance. France banned same-sex unions because they believed that it was in the best interest of children. The Michigan state constitution states, "To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose." Is changing the definition of marriage, out of fear of being labeled "discriminators", justify the potential detrimental effects on society's views of marriage, family, and procreation? Will we have that same answer 10 year or 25 years from now?

There's more that could probably be said regarding this issue and the natural rights, democratic rights, and legal rights that encompass it. I hope all people, regardless of their politcal party or position on issues will look into the issues, become an informed electorate, and make decisions tomorrow that will uphold the prinicples of the Constitution.