Monday, December 19, 2011

How Texting has Ruined My Dating Life

The title of this entry is a little misleading, because I really don't have a dating life. (Though I did have an awesome first date last night.  But that's neither here nor there, I'm sure I'll come up with a way to screw it up soon.)  In the interest of keeping this blog as schizophrenic as possible I decided to make a foray into a subject I know almost nothing about...Relationships!  I have been lucky enough to have had a couple of great boyfriends.  Obviously, as I am still single, something went wrong eventually.  School has effectively reduced my social life to a small, dysfunctional jello-like mass on the back burner.  Recently, I have made some effort to branch out and meet people, not necessarily with life-long romance on my mind, but just to have some age-appropriate companionship from time to time.  The first problem is that the mean age in this college town seems to be slightly over 21.  I've been buying beer legally for a decade, and I'm getting to the point where I'm tired of being a babysitter.  The problem I'm facing now is that almost every guy I meet wants to get my number and start texting right away.  Now, I am a texting fiend.  I have a 450-minute per month plan on my cell phone and I use less than 60 of those minutes in the average month.  I'm not a talker.  Luckily it comes with unlimited texting.  Texting is a great way to keep up with my friends, share jokes, and send quick info when I'm at work or in class.  (Yeah, I know, I'm a terrible student for texting in class.)  Texting someone I just met is awkward.  I have a dry sense of humor and a smart mouth.  Even face-to-face, people don't always know how to take some of the things I say.  In my experience, most of the guys I meet fall into one or more of a few categories.

#1:  The Overtexter.  This guy starts message overload the minute he wakes up in the morning.  Most overtexters open with "What r u doing?"  One guy used to send me this exact message at least four times a day.  I got to a point where I would send back some bizarre, cryptic activity that I had never done in my life, or a summary of something veterinary-related that he would never understand...bonus points for me if it was something that could be taken the wrong way ("Cleaning an artificial vagina."  Instant conversation killer...until the next "What r u doing?" which would arrive in less than two hours most of the time.)  Sometimes, it seems that ignoring the overtexter is the best defense, but this usually unleashes the barrage of "R u mad at me?" messages.  Yeah, dude.  We met for 10 minutes at a bar and you've texted me 14 times today.  I'm a little annoyed.  I don't talk to my mom that often, and I spent 9 months in her womb.  The real issue with the overtexter is that he manages to talk all day, without ever saying anything.  If you've sent me 29 messages in an hour and I still don't know anything about you, I'm bored!

#2:  The Disappearing Act.  Less annoying than the overtexter, this guy sends a few messages back and forth, then just stops answering.  Yeah, I do that too.  Sometimes my ADD flares up and I forget about my phone, but I try not to make it a pattern.  Text conversations are inherently awkward in some ways; in a voice conversation you pretty much have to say, "Hey, I need to go wash my dishes now so I'll catch you later."  Honestly, my phone service is not that reliable sometimes and I'm left wondering if the message didn't go through, if it went through and offended, or if a bird flew by and you felt the need to chase it.  I'm a girl.  We wonder about these things.

#3:  The Text-Only Guy.  This guy will not call.  On the rare occasions where I call, he doesn't answer.  If I leave a voicemail, I get a text reply.  He's more than willing to communicate over text.  I'm thinking he's married.  Or has a stuttering problem I didn't notice when we met.  Or he's married.

#4:  Send-Me-A-Picture Guy.  Why in the world would I want to take a picture of myself after I've told him that I'm cleaning horse troughs and organizing my trailer tack room?  I'm sweaty, I'm muddy, I'm wearing old jeans and a t-shirt, and my hair is under a ball cap that may or may not be covered in cobwebs.  We met, he knows what I look like, but we aren't living together (or even actually dating) so I'm not really into showing him my unretouched dark side.  If he has some weird "grubby girl" fetish, that's probably something he should keep to himself for now.  I'm not a narcissistic teenager.  I don't take endless pictures of myself on my phone.  I take endless pictures of my dog.  Dogs are always cute.

All of these texting types are annoying, but I have saved the most heinous for last.  Behold!

#5:  Penis Picture Guy.  DON'T BE THAT GUY.  Ever.  Just don't.  I will block the number.  And you are an idiot.  It disappoints me that this has happened more than once, with sober men, in my age group.  Seriously.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Take chances. Find your passion.

The title of this entry is taken from a bracelet I wear.  A good friend gave it to me at Big Phil's funeral.  I hardly took it off in the next few weeks after, and I still wear it frequently.  It makes me stronger.  I have taken some big chances in my life.  One of the biggest was applying to veterinary school.  I have lost a lot of my passion for it in the stream of daily BS that vet school has become, but I still believe I am on the right path.  Part of the problem is simply my attitude.  I can't control what my life is like on a daily basis and there's a part of me that wants to sull up and fight some of the stupider things that come my way.  Once in a while, though, my passion finds me.  That's what happened this weekend.  After finals wrapped up, I got to make a flying trip to Vegas with my mom for the National Finals Rodeo.  A guy I grew up with was competing (and representing our little town quite well, I might add!) so we got to visit with him and his family for a bit after the 10th round.  There was a girl in the group who started telling my mom about the vet clinic she works for, so Ma, of course, introduced her to me.  She works for THE bucking horse vet in the industry, a man that I spent a couple of days with the summer after first year.  Now, I'm looking forward to being a veterinarian, and I will do what I need to to make a living when I graduate...even if that means (*shudder*) doing some small animal work once in a while.  But bucking horses are my passion.  I love their athleticism, their looks, their attitudes, and really everything about them.  Some people go to a rodeo to see a great ride; I go to see a 1500-lb bronc catch some air and snap their hind feet straight over their head.  I've had a pipe dream of having a roughstock practice someday, and only working on bucking horses and bulls.  There are a few great bucking bull vets, but only one guy is really doing much with bucking horses.  They can be hard to handle if you don't have the right staff and the right facilities.  Running into a girl who works for THE bucking horse vet was a reminder that I might be able to live out my pipe dream someday, I've just got to get off my ass and get after it.  As a result of a five minute conversation just outside portal 9 in Thomas & Mack Center, I now have a place to stay when I go extern with THE bucking horse vet.  Thanks for the reminder that all this crap will be worthwhile someday, God!  I know Phil is up there with you and it was probably his idea to nudge me back in the right direction.  I'm betting the Hard 8 and I think the dice are on my team now.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Finals...

Shockingly, it's the night before finals and I'm having trouble focusing on studying...I know, I know.  It's weird.  I'm actually interested in veterinary medicine, I promise!  I'm just so burnt out on studying.  It's frustrating to have 400 pages of notes to go through and not much idea what is "important" and what's not.  I guarantee that I will not retain all of the information.  Tomorrow's exam is all small animal medicine, so it's not my forte, but with my mantra "Cooperate to graduate" I'm ready to suck it up and get on with becoming 5/8 of a DVM.  Let's do this thing!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Motivation may be found in strange places...

As usual, I've been struggling with finding the motivation to study.  We have a small animal medicine exam in a couple of days, I have little to no interest in the subject, and I'm busy enough that it's not hard to find excuses to put it off.  So far today I have managed to stay busy, but somehow haven't found time to bust out the small animal cardiology and emergency care notes.  I had to go up to school twice to take care of my surgery dog, I washed dishes, cooked some pasta to keep me alive for the next few days, went to the grocery store, played with my dog, annoyed the landlord's donkey, read about some other interesting subjects, tweaked my registration schedule for the upcoming ruminant wetlab, updated my resume, fed my horse, cleaned water troughs...and then I opened up the new issue of Cutting Horse Chatter that came today.  It's like my portal to the world I used to live in, and miss very much.  As I was flipping through the pages, mostly stallion ads and ads for horses entered in the upcoming Futurity sale, I came across an ad for a stallion I know very well.  I was, in fact, the first person to see him when he entered this world.  Now, he has earned over $300,000 in the show pen and rates a full page spread with a long list of his syndicate owners and a $2500 stud fee in just his second year in the breeding shed.  He's part of cutting horse history, though he may become a footnote if his foals don't show well in a few years.  His syndication value was most likely measured in the millions.  This is why I get up in the mornings.  He was one of several big-time show horses that came out of the foal crop that year, and I am the one who got to introduce them to the world.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Admittedly, it's dim right now, but I'm getting closer to the time when I can rejoin the lifestyle I love and that I believe is responsible for some of the best things in me today.  Cooperate to graduate will be my mantra for the next 551 days.  I also saw a pick-up today that looked a lot like the one Big Man used to drive.  It made me tear up, which is ridiculous, but it's good to know he's still watching out for me.  I'm not sure I'll ever see a white crew-cab Ford with a headache rack again without catching my breath.  I know it's not him but there's always a second where I hope.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Goats are the answer


This is my little grey goaty friend.  He makes my life better.  My landlord has a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats that serve mostly as pets but also do an excellent job of brush control…and provide me with endless entertainment.  They are always hungry, always begging, especially with grass being scarce this year.  It’s surprisingly pleasant to arrive home to a herd of cute little fat goats waddling up to the gate to say hello and badger me for food.  Goats have always been a favorite species of mine.  They are intelligent, playful, and friendly.  This little goat was rejected by his mother at birth, so my landlord raised him on a bottle and they keep him around with their small breeding herd.  He is the only one that will allow me to pet him, the rest have more of a livestock personality and will get very close, but shy away from any touch.  Really it would be a pain if they were any tamer…those horns are large and sharp!  There are a few younger kids and I love to watch them play.  They are fearless.  These little goats are some of the most honest creatures you will ever meet.  After a long day of dealing with people and all their agendas, it is refreshing to spend a little time with an animal who hides nothing.  They all want feed, little grey wants scratching, and they frolic when they please.  Don’t get me wrong, most of the people that I associate with are basically good, but humans are tricky creatures by nature.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have goals, and if your goals conflict with mine, we probably won’t get along.  The goats don’t get their feelings hurt if I don’t give them what they want.  They won’t look for ways to get back at me.  They don’t badger me with questions.  And now, some gratuitous goat frolicking…though the still pictures really don’t do it justice.



Friday, September 23, 2011

Family Time

Tomorrow we are saying goodbye to Big Daddy. I expected it to be harder to keep myself together here at the ranch surrounded by memories, but the truth is I feel better than I have all week. At school, I was the only one who knew how great Phil was and that the world was worse off than it had been last week. Here, there are new stories around every corner and everyone knows why I'm crying. I'm a big believer in being self sufficient, but sometimes you really need a family.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

3rd Year...AKA "Hang on to your ass cuz it`s going to be a bumpy ride!"

I can`t believe I`m already at the end of the first block of 3rd year. For those unfamiliar with the system, the first two years we tend to have the same classes for at least a semester at a time. 3rd year we change schedules every 4-5 weeks...just because we don`t have enough trouble keeping our lives straight already. We also have our first opportunity to "choose" some of our classes. (Smart alec emphasis intentional...the CVM controls our lives in nearly every way. A more optimistic person sees electives as a chance to explore subjects that interest them, being the cynical jerk that I am, I find the whole process patronizing and essentially a cruel tease.)

This year is much more tolerable than the first two have been. In a surprising twist, common sense is actually an asset in many of my classes. The roughest thing about 3rd year has been the schedule. I have never spent so much time up here as I have the past 3 weeks. Yesterday I was here 12 hours and considered it a fairly average day. When I was working for a living, a 12-hour day was nothing. Here, I barely have enough energy to drag myself to the couch with my microwave pizza after a day like yesterday. And then I realize I still have a surgery report to write, surgery laundry to do, and two exams to study for. Thank goodness most of what we have covered so far in those two classes has been theriogenology and that`s what I studied when doing my Master`s. I think my learning capacity has declined rapidly in the past five years.

And just in case you or I start looking forward to a weekend of relaxation, next week brings two more exams (in subjects I don`t have advanced degrees in), a new surgical procedure to learn (one that involves opening body cavities...yikes..), and missing 2.5 days of class to attend a bovine practitioners convention...and give a 15-minute presentation there, complete with a wide-open Q&A session where real live veterinarians can ask me basically any question they can vocalize. By the time that`s over, next weekend is pretty well shot too. Oh yeah, sprinkle in at least 20 hours of work in that two week period too.

The up side is that I`m actually motivated to do school work for about the first time since the second day of 1st year. I can see a point to some of this now. It`s not just a "memorize and regurgitate" contest that I always seem to be losing. This week has been rough, a man that I consider a second father is in ICU in a different time zone fighting for his life. I was pretty useless through Monday and Tuesday because of my emotional response to this news. Yesterday I managed to get some perspective back and focus on school a little. I`m still constantly praying and worrying about him, but there is nothing else that I can do, and I know he wouldn`t want me to derail my whole life because of his condition. I finally managed to give it to God (Handing things over is NOT a strength of mine...) and I am trusting Him to take care of my family.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Here are the things I will miss when I have to head back down to school in a few days, in no particular order:

  • Sharing racist/sexist, and just generally inappropriate jokes with my co-workers without having to worry about somebody reporting me to the Dean's office.
  • Sitting up at night waiting for armadillos who apparently got tipped off that I was waiting for them. Stupid armadillos.
  • Riding around on the grey mare.
  • Spanglish/charades-themed telephone conversations with Antonio as we attempt to get a message across.
  • Drinking beer pretty much whenever I feel like it.
  • Getting sent to the convenience store just up the road a 9:00 on a Wednesday evening for Blue Bell, Powerade, Copenhagen, and cokes.
  • Waking up at 3:00 AM to a large paw...or doggie tongue...to the face. Ok, maybe I won't miss these events so much, but I will miss River.
  • Watching River & Brooke's puppies grow up.
  • Floating around in the pool.
  • Having River attempt to board my pool floatie if I don't get off of it to retrieve his red ball from the bottom of the pool after he drops it there for the 30th time in an afternoon.
  • Watching River do his happy dance when I get the pool skimmer net to retrieve his red ball from the bottom of the pool if I don't happen to be in the water.
  • Taking Oreos to Bernice the Brahman heifer.
  • Oscar the flunk-out cutting horse prancing along behind me when I run in the horse pasture.
  • Stopping at the convenience store by work every morning before 6:00 AM for coffee...it's quite a show in there!
  • Actually spending time with people that I like with no PC crap to worry about.
  • Barbeque...mmmmmmm.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ever get tired of your own whining?

I like to run. I never used to work out much because I actually worked, so I stayed pretty fit without really putting any effort into it. Now that I'm spending 90% of my time either in a classroom or studying at home, I have to work out. Not only do I feel better physically, it helps keep my temper under control.
I've been running quite a bit lately, I decided that I wanted to step things up a little since I am getting older and I think it will be easier to stay fit than to let myself go now and work my way back into it later...when I'm even older... Yesterday I ran my first 5k race just to change things up a little. I don't run for the sake of training for anything in particular, I just want to stay sane and capable of walking up the stairs without taking a break, so I hadn't done any races before. I don't consider running a social event, I run for myself. Plus, I have a nasty competitive streak, so it's usually better if I run by myself.
Lately my workouts have been slower and shorter than normal. It's ridiculously hot outside, I'm working 50+ hours a week, blah, blah, whine, whine... I started a new training program with some sprint intervals to try to step my speed up and get off of the fitness plateau I've been stuck on. I suck at sprints. They're hard. My legs hurt. I get out of breath. My underwear ride up. I caught myself today running the most ridiculous line of whiny crap through my head. It was pathetic. I know it'll happen again, but I'm going to make a conscious effort to cut it off as soon as it starts. I can't stand people who whine and make excuses, so I guess I should try to stop being one.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Oilfield Trash

The fact that I grew up in the oilfield probably explains a lot about the way I am today. To some people, it's a bad thing, but I'm proud to be from the patch. Oilfield companies get a bad rap for harming the environment, oilfield workers get a bad rap for being uneducated and crude. I am not what most would consider oilfield trash but I am more at home with these people than I will ever be at the vet school. Yes, they are crude. Most of them drink and swear a lot. Many barely made it through highschool. Some of them are lazy. Most of the hands have been on the wrong side of a set of jail bars at at least one point in their lives. On the other hand, the oil field contains some of the hardest-working, most loyal friends that I have. Education also has little to do with intelligence, and some of these guys who are barely literate are suprisingly perceptive. I've been working for my boss' company off and on for the past three years. Now I'm only there over school breaks, but most of the old hands know me and are always interested in how school is going. They are always willing to help me out, and smile and joke while doing it. Just like with any family, there are disputes, but I know most of the guys would have my back anytime. One of my favorite things about oilfield folks is best explained by telling you about the ride back from lunch today with the two people I've worked with the most lately, one is a black male and the other is a Hispanic female. (I'm a white female...we joke that we're the affirmative action division of the company.) We were using our smart phones to search for black jokes, Mexican jokes, and white jokes, and we were laughing our asses off at all of them. In today's hyper-sensitive world, it's nice to get out in the oil patch and be offensive for a while.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Coming Home

In my life, I have been fortunate to have accumulated a number of "homes." I often joke (not entirely jokingly) that my educational mortgage will leave me living in my truck by the time I graduate. It would be nice to own my own piece of land someday, but for now I have privileges on a number of very appealing sites.
My childhood involved several moves, but the last move I made while living with my mother was to the place where she is still living, so I consider this my original home base. It is remote, fairly secluded, and a constant work-in-progress. I don't know how my mom does it by herself. The location is appealing, but the amount of work that goes into keeping it liveable is intimidating. There is always some piece that is on the verge of falling apart. I will be headed there in about a week and I am excited to see my home country again. It is one place where nobody can find me unless I want them to, as there is no cell phone service.
My latest outpost at school is pretty much ideal for the situation. It's very close to school, with laid-back landlords and plenty of room for relaxing and pets. There are great running trails close by, friendly animals, friendly people, and everything I need for the low-frills life of a student.
My home for school breaks is really a dream. I escape back to a ranch I used to work for and stay with the owners, who have become an adopted family to me. My dog has room to wander and swim, my horse has the same, and I have a pool, two arenas, well-trained horses to ride, paying work when I want it, and the freedom to go play junior veterinarian when I please. I am madly in love with this place, and in spite of the fact that I know I have no claim on it, it feels as much like home as anywhere I have ever lived. I know every corner of this place. I've ridden it, driven it, walked it, ran it, hunted hogs on it, fought fire on it, and done my best to keep it looking great. It's like Disneyland for me. Time to go saddle a horse.

Friday, February 18, 2011

People Eating Tasty Animals

I have had a certain subject on my mind for the past few days. I don't know if anyone even reads this blog, and if they do, it's probably not the best subject to bring up, but here we go anyway.

As a vet student, I am frequently faced with issues of animal welfare. Growing up in the agricultural industry, this is not a new subject for me, but I feel that I'm moving into a new role in the debate. As a veterinarian, I will be expected to be something of an "expert" by some, just as friends and family expected me to be able to do magical phone and e-mail diagnoses of the ailments of their various species of pets after my first week of school. I have a cousin who is a vegan and seems to spend a lot of time and money promoting various animal sanctuaries, as well as exorting everyone within virtual earshot about the supposed benefits of a "cruelty-free" lifestyle. I love her, and I respect her drive and opinions, but at my core I believe anyone who chooses a vegan lifestyle is tragically misinformed. Really, my problem isn't with my vegan cousin, it's with the organizations that are supported by the people who share her beliefs. I couldn't care less if she never touches a piece of meat in her life. It's up to her to decide what she puts in her mouth. I do, however, have a huge problem with the lobbyists who are fronting the animal rights movement and the fact that they are attacking an industry and a way of life that I will always love.

Agriculture is not a typical industry. Sure, there are some large corporations involved, but at the base level ag is driven by families just like mine, who work our asses into the ground to produce something in which we take pride. I have been accused of taking the animal rights debate too personally, but I don't see how I could be expected to do otherwise. Animal agriculture is something that I am attached to on a deeply personal level. I have waded through snow drifts to drag calves back to the barn in sub-zero weather; I have strained to pull a calf I knew was dead in order to save his mother's life; and I have helped kill a foal who was supposed to be the pride of a rancher's horse breeding program but was born with an unmanageable, unrepairable congenital defect that would have caused it immense pain. Once you've done these things, you cannot separate yourself from the emotion. The fact that animal rights organizations believe what I do every day is cruel to animals is offensive.

For years, I have put forth an argument that is very convincing in my mind. Healthy, happy animals are more productive, thus giving ranching families a better chance of not going bankrupt. Abusing animals is logically counterproductive to what we do. Recently, I was informed that this argument is not persuasive to the average non-agricultural citizen, as it makes us sound like money-hungry capitalists. At the end of the day, we are trying to make a living, but if these people knew how thin that living could be at times, they would know that we are not in this for the money. Making a living in agriculture requires the mind of an animal scientist, the discipline of an accountant, and the luck of a gilded leprechaun. There is little room for error, and sometimes one lean year is all it takes. We depend on the mercy of the weather...let it rain, make that rain after the fertilizer is out, don't let it rain too much, hope the snow melts before we run out of hay, pray that fire season leaves our grass untouched, pray that the government doesn't shut us out of half our grazing land because they found a bone or an endangered weasel.

What we are up against is an image. For too many years, we have assumed that the general public will know that we are good people, we assumed that common sense, our version of common sense, would carry the day. This was naive. The ironic thing is that animal rights groups are painting us with an image that I'm sure could equally apply to them. They say that "big agriculture" is harming innocent animals in order to line our pockets. I say that HSUS is preying on the compassion that nearly everyone has for all things cute and furry to line their pockets. Seeing as they brought in over $99 million in 2008 and I'm struggling to make my rent from month to month, I think my point of view has some merit. I'm not a very tactful person by nature, and I'm working on that. If I'm going to be a positive ambassador for animal agriculture, I need to improve. I think a part of me will always be offended by the insinuation that I am a cruel person for the way I choose to make my living. The best I can do right now is turn to Bernice, Randi, Leroy, Cinch, and River to ask their opinions, since they are, after all, the animals that I abuse on a regular basis.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Epic Journeys...Not Just for Greek Sagas

The spring semester has begun with a bang. I waited until my very last day of freedom to make the trek back to school, and managed to turn a three hour drive into a twelve hour trainwreck of epic proportions. I was just over an hour into the trip when I pulled over to try to figure out why my battery was losing charge. I had just had a new alternator and new batteries put on because it was giving me trouble, so I was hoping for a loose wire. No such luck.

I got into a gas station in a small town and stopped to see if there might be a parts store open where I could get another new alternator, figuring the one I'd just gotten must be bad. Of course, in a small town on a Sunday afternoon, no parts stores are open.

Plan B...I got on the phone and called a parts store in the larger town I'd come from. They were open, and had an alternator in stock, but they couldn't take payment over the phone. The advised me to go through their website to make the payment, and then I could have someone pick it up at the store. Luckily my phone has web capabilities, so I fought with their semi-functional website for about 45 minutes, trying unsucessfully to pay for my alternator. Finally I called a friend and had her try it on her computer with my information. Still, no good.

Plan C...I had another friend in the town I'd come from go buy the alternator and I would pay him back when he brought it to me. I'm not sure why my friends answer my phone calls anymore. He arrived on the scene with the parts in hand. We pulled the old alternator off, put the new one one, and discovered that the new alternator had a smaller pulley. Being the resourceful types we are, we managed to trim the fan belt down so that it would work. Not an ideal solution, but you work with what you have. We hooked up the jumper cables, charged my truck for a while, and it started right up...and ran until we took the jumper cables off. Charged it a little longer, same result. Repeat this cycle several times with my truck never running independently for longer than five minutes. Outstanding.

Plan D...I called a guy I'd met at the gas station who had a shop about an eighth of a mile down the road. We managed to get my truck there in phases and left it in the secure parking lot. Called my boss and arranged to borrow a vehicle and have his company mechanics come down today to salvage my wreck. I caught a ride back up with my parts runner friend and switched vehicles. Then back on the road with a short stop by my truck to get my belongings. By now my dog has ridden in three different vehicles in one day and is convinced that I've gone completely off the tracks...and did I mention that it has been about 35 degrees all day and misting rain?

Finally, nearly 12 hours after setting out, I made it to my apartment. After some minimal unpacking and a quick shower, I turned in for a good six hours of sleep before eight solid hours of classes today. Not an ideal start to the semester, but I guess it'll have to do. I hate having to ask for help. I have been fortunate to accumulate a number of people in my life who are willing to bring me parts, lend me vehicles, and generally pluck me out of the trainwreck that is my life sometimes. It's hard not to get into a cycle of feeling like an incompetent child when I get stuck somewhere and can't take care of it on my own, but it's even harder not to feel blessed that I have those people who answer my distress calls and drop what they're doing to help me out. As I've gotten older I have gotten better about accepting help when I need it. It's been a series of hard lessons and I doubt I'll ever fully get there. Maybe progress is the best I can hope for!