Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Going Couch Surfing

*Updated* (see below)

There's a new phenomena in travel and it's name is Couch Surfing, I kid you not.

You've probably guessed, but I work in the wonderful world of politics, and while I'm lucky to love how I eek out a living, some days a girl just needs to get away from it all.

I decided that a long weekend away from politics, the Internet, blogs, yes, even computers was just what the doctor ordered, so I decided to escape to coastal New England. I'm looking forward to the chilly weather, beautiful shore lines, lobster bakes, breath-taking national parks, lots of time by myself, a real escape from my normal everyday life.

I also love experiencing different cultures, history, and landscapes, while it isn't half a world away, New England is pretty different from our Great Lakes state.

No one ever got rich serving others, and I'm no exception. So when I travel, I have to do it on the frugal side. Anyone who's ever traveled knows that your accommodations can often be the most expensive part of the trip. Thankfully, CouchSurfing takes the cost out of traveling and puts a capital 'E' on Experience.

So what is this mysterious CouchSurfing? Well first, you should know why it exists -
"CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance, and facilitate cultural understanding."

CouchSurfing was created specifically so that everyone can travel the world and partake in cultural exchange. Staying with your host(s) is also always free; it is contrary to the values of CouchSurfing and against our terms of use to charge someone to surf your couch. Many surfers like to bring their hosts gifts or treat them to a meal as a "Thank you," but this is not a requirement. There are infinite ways to reciprocate goodwill.

So there you go. Fun, exciting travel can be done on a budget. I've picked my hosts, they've agreed to host me, and away I'll go, nary a computer or politico in sight. Just me, my camera, my jacket, and a small suitcase. When I return, I promise I'll bring back a picture of me with a lobster, before and after it's been cooked. Mmmm!!!

Update: It's been suggested that I (sheepishly) mention that you can support LiberalLucy's Travel-on-a-Dime fund by supporting this blog. :-) It's not necessary, but very much appreciated. Any supporters between now and the end of the month will receive a postcard from my trip. :-)

Thank you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Mark

I carry a lot of pain around. Some is physical, some emotional, and some an echo of pain that once was and now whose scars I bare.

Some is fresh and some lingers from decades past. Some festers, bubbling up during a drive, brushing teeth, or midst a laugh. Like a pin prick, it surprises when least expected, interrupting the most innocent of moments.

It's pain that spurs a reach for medicine, and ages past reality.

It's pain that has led me to the mark that my life is now built upon.

It can cause deep sorrow, regrets, anger, confusion, singularly or whirling together in a vortex that consumes you mind, body and soul.

But it's also pain that brings joy, thanksgiving, friendship, new life, and wisdom that lightens the path ahead.

For you see, pain leaves this unspeakable, indescribable mark on one's soul, only recognizable by another who also bares the very same. The dimensions may differ, but the mark is always the same.

Pain's mark has the uncanny ability to bring polar opposites together, forging an unbreakable bond that only leaves outsiders guessing. Like a spark in a dark cave, it is instantly noticeable, even if only on an unconscious level.

It's a survivors mark.

The point at which you pass the pain is often unremarkable. In many cases, it was just an attempt to fool the world around you that you could carry on, no matter the burden.

One day you wake up from a moment without pain and almost gasp because in fooling others, you were left the ultimate fool. Pain free, if only for a moment.

Like a match that quickly burns, it's the loss of pain that frightens as quickly as it brings joy. This cocoon of suffering that's consumed you for so long, might take leave, and in turn, the lessons, the moments endeared to you through that pain might also leave. Worse yet, in its absence, you might forget the beautiful source which borne that pain, leaving you the ultimate sinner. For what is life, if we don't learn from all its lessons?

But you see, the irony of it all is in the mark. The mark that will forever lay branded on the soul.

For it is the mark that will bring the very best in ourselves out. That same mark that will caution to painful dangers that lay ahead, and serve as a beacon for safe harbors.

It is a survivors mark, and with it, we live and we die all the more richer for it.

Holy Cow!

Well I missed it by a couple days, but happy 1st Anniversary to this blog!

That's right kids, on October 13th, Liberal, Loud and Proud turned a whopping 1 years-old. I know, it's just a year, but in terms of blogging, it's a milestone worthy of pride.

So much has changed, so much hasn't, friends gone and new ones come, but I'll save the reflections for a time when I don't have so much churning in the old noggin.

Thanks for being here for this happy occasion!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Still Kickin'

Well that kidney stone of mine didn't kill me, but I swear at times it sure felt like it was close to it.

So for now I'm making my way back to my regular hectic pace, but thanks to all of you who emailed and inquired.

Over the next several days I'll be back on my feet, and I'll expect to return to blogging both here and over at Michigan Liberal shortly.

Thanks again, and here's seeing you on the Tubes of the Internet again soon!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Making the Good News

If you've been to MichLib much lately, you know I've had some serious concerns with the state of the media here in Lansing. While I don't have much to say about the Lansing State Journal as a paper, there are several fine individuals (unfortunately not in managerial roles) who are part of the LSJ team.

Let me also say this, while I have concerns about the media industry as a whole, I generally have a whole lot of respect for most of the journalists that I've come to know, both at the LSJ and particularly within the Capitol Press Corps. That's not an easy industry to work in, and it's clear that only the finest raise to the top.

That being said, I'd like to thank one journalist in particular. It's very easy to only focus on the negative, to report all the bad news, and goodness knows I do a good job of it on my own as a blogger. But when it's something other than the negative, boy is it refreshing to see.

Derek Wallbank writes the Capitol Journal blog for the LSJ. On Wednesday, Wallbank asked for some good news from his readers out of the Capitol to report. Seems as if I was the only one to respond (not sure if that's bad or good) and I offered thanks to the House who passed Rep. Andy Meisner's Restroom Access Bill. The bill would allow people like me who suffer from digestive diseases to have access, by way of a prescription, to those bathrooms in retail establishments normally reserved for employees only. There are measures built in for the security of both the business and the customer, and most everyone was on board with it.

Because I was the only one to respond, Wallbank was kind enough to make it the subject of his post. Obviously I'm pleased as punch that my email was featured, but I hope that he will consider making this Good News piece part of his regular bit, goodness know we could all use it!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Some Bright Ideas (and savings)

Ladies and gents, start your engines, scooters, bike, or just lace up the ol' tennis shoes and start heading down to your Mid-Michigan Ace Hardware store.

No, this isn't a paid endorsement for the chain, and I'm not getting a discount on my next snow shovel, but it is an endorsement for a cleaner tomorrow, starting in your own home.

My house already has several Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) installed, and while Edison himself probably wouldn't recognize them, they are light years ahead in terms of keeping the Earth clean and your energy bill down.

As reported by a late article today in the Lansing State Journal -
A kickoff event for the "Change a Light, Change the World" campaign was held at Lansing City Hall this morning. Invited guests included Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh, Michigan Public Service Commission Member Monica Martinez and Lansing Board of Water & Light General Manager J. Peter Lark.

The Environmental Protection Agency says Energy Star-rated CFLs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs and last six to 10 times longer. They save $30 or more in electricity costs over the bulb's life and prevent more than 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the national campaign sponsored by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy, CFLs will be on sale throughout October and November at area Ace Hardware stores for 99 cents each, $2 below the normal price.

There are participating Ace Hardware stores in Eaton Rapids, Grand Ledge, Holt, Laingsburg, Lansing, Mason and Okemos.

You can learn more about CFLs from Energy Star here. Check out this little factoid
If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.
So head on down, grab your new bulbs, and start lighting a brighter future today.

And we're back!

Hello there, remember me?

Okay, so it' s only been about 2 weeks since my last post, and I find it quite appropriate that on this day that I return here, we also have a state budget...well, at least for another 34 days.

But it's progress, and here's hoping that this is just the start of much more progress to come.

So while I watch hopefully, albeit warily on the Capitol, I'm also going to be returning to state of the affairs of Mid-Michigan. There's more going on here than just a massive squabble over the state.

As for me, I'm going to do my best to keep up with the posting, but remember that massive kidney stone I mentioned over a month ago? Yep, it's still there. Hopefully it will be gone in the next week or so, but there's some complications that have come up since they first discovered that have made it impossible for them to take care of it. So if I miss a day or two, it means I'm most likely sequestered on the couch or in the bed waiting for the pain to subside. Thank you for your patience though!

Stay tuned, there's lots more to come!