Thursday, June 7, 2012

I'm MADD! So I'm out to make a difference...

Dear Family, Friends, and Readers,

As many of you know, I lost a dear childhood friend on May 15, 2006 to the hands of a drunk driver.  Justin was just shy of his 21st birthday, and was an accomplished and incredible young man.  He was a business student at the University of Colorado Denver, a Denver Public Safety Cadet (on his way to becoming a fireman), and was an avid soccer player, snowboarder, and phenomenal swimmer (might I mention that Justin and I were awarded "Rookie of the Year" trophies our first year on ACES Club swim team; impressive, right?! haha). Justin was on his way home from a softball game when his life was cut short by a drunk driver in an accident that ultimately took the lives of three people, and seriously injured another.  The crash site is marked with a sign to remember Justin and to warn every driver that passes along Hampden/HWY 285 at Federal (in Denver, CO) of the costs of driving drunk. 

No one should ever have to lose a son, a brother, or a friend at the hands of a drunk driver.  For me, the most frustrating part is that every crash and every life taken because of a drunk driver is completely, 100% avoidable.  The solution is beyond simple, and each and every one of us has the ability to erradicate this plague from our streets and our nation by making the choice not to drink, to drive sober, or to find a designated driver.  It is as simpple as that.

As a student in high school, I was a member and leader of Students Against Destructive Decisions ("SADD") (a student organization primarily devoted to helping raise awareness of the dangers of underage alcohol consumption and of drunk driving). Now, I've moved on to be a very active member of Mother's Against Drunk Driving ("MADD").  I have participated in the fundraising "Walk Like MADD" 5k walk for the past five years, and I frequently volunteer with the Lakewood and Denver Police Departments at DUI checkpoints throughout the Denver metro area. 

Raising awareness about the dangers of drunk driving is a cause that I've always believed in, but it didn't become a passion until after I lost Justin.  Now, I'm asking for your help in three ways:

1.  Be a part of the solution.  Make the choice to drive sober or find a designated driver.
2.  Help raise awareness. Start a "FADD" by making wise choices and educating your friends and families of the perils of drunk driving (get it? Fad...FADD...Friends Against Drunk Driving? I'm so clever...).
3. DONATE to the cause, if you can.  This year, on August 4, 2012 I will be walking and raising funds for 2 teams at Walk Like MADD!!  You can donate to either one - just follow the links below.  100% of donations go to MADD.  And if you are curious what your money does...well, it helps MADD and the Colorado community directly.  You can find out more here.

If you are interested and willing to donate, you can donate on my behalf to either: Team Justin OR Team DenverDA (just click on the team name and a hyperlink will take you to my homepage for that team).

Team Justin is captained by Jonni Conant, my friend Justin's mom and is composed primarily of his friends and family.  I have walked on Team Justin for the past five years.

Team Denver DA is composed primarily of the attorneys, staff, and friends of the Denver District Attorney's Office, where I am currently interning.

Thanks for your support!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Dog Will Be Claiming Me as a "Dependent..."

It's tax season, and as my dad and I were going through all the paper work and all the drudgery, he jokingly asked: "will you be claiming Sam (my dog) as a dependent this year?"  Of course you can't claim a dog as a dependent for tax purposes...that's one of the few things I know about taxes. :-) And even if I could, I'm not too sure it would be that beneficial.  That silly question got me to thinking, though, and I wondered, who is really "dependent" on who?  I mean, sure, Sam has to wait for me to get home from classes or work in order to go outside, he counts on me to remember to feed him breakfast and dinner, to keep his water bowl full, to play and exercise him, and to scratch his belly on command (my cue: when he rolls over and plays "dead").  But really, that's about it.  So, I came to the conclusion that I am really dependent on him, not the other way around.

Sam is the reason I wake up every morning. Literally.  He is usually up just before the alarm goes off, and in the event I don't set my alarm, he never fails to wake me up bright and early.  I count on him to be my exercise partner and pace keeper.  Sam also keeps me on a schedule...always reminding me when I should take a study break and get some fresh air.  I also count on him to provide comedic relief on a daily basis.  Two years and counting...and he still makes me laugh  He frequently makes 180 degree turns in order to chase and capture a leaf blowing by. He pounces on light reflections that appear on the carpet...and the wall.  He sprints and does laps around my condo for about five minutes every morning.  He chases butterflies and bird shadows at the dog park (he is famous around town for being "the butterfly chaser," and yes, he can spot them all the way across the field).  He always gets in my way as I am trying to put on my shoes.  When he sees a bug...he keeps his eye on it and slowly follows it with his nose until he gets bored with it.  He leaps through 2 feet of snow like its the best most wonderful thing on earth. He sings (literally) on the way to the dog park and doesn't stop until we get there.  He throws the ball and plays catch with himself.  And the list goes on...but the point is, Sam makes me smile and laugh out loud every day--something that in this rushed, busy, and stressful world is a true commodity.

As Christopher Morley once said, "no one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."  I have to admit that I am also dependent on Sam to be my friend and my confidant.  He is a wonderful listener...he'll sit for quite a while before he gets tired of hearing about how frustrating it is that after 200 years we still don't fully understand the origin of the justiciability doctrines of standing, ripeness, and mootness (are they constitutional requirements or merely prudential?), or how ambiguous the adequate state law ground rule is (I mean, precisely what constitutes an inadequate state procedural ground that permits judicial review?).  And when the discussion gets a bit more heated and political, he is always loyal and never voices opposition. By the way...I really don't talk to my dog as much as it seems...
Sam is also my bodyguard and watch dog - and a very good one at that!  He is always careful not to let some stranger get too close to us, and he has a wonderful ear for strange noises outside.  He's also pretty good at spotting lawn decorations (such as flamingos, deer, Christmas decorations...) and warning me of their presence. Thanks to him, I've so far avoided any run-ins with rogue statues.

I guess what I'm trying to say is simply that there is something truly extraordinary about dogs.  They have personalities. They are forever loyal and compassionate creatures.  They don't judge (or at least they do a good job hiding it) and they don't care what we look like on any given day.  They are forgiving and don't hold grudges. They make a positive difference in the lives of others on a daily basis.  We could all learn a lot from dogs...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You Know You've Lived in Spain When...

I must say that I am ashamed that I haven't posted in well over a year.  I'm guessing no one even follows me anymore - heck, if you have to wait years in between posts, there really isn't much to follow!  My respite is partly due to a lack of time (law school keeps me plenty busy - reading and writing assignments galore), but also due to a lack of inspiration.  Spain inspired me to write, to share my adventures and perspectives, and to memorialize every moment.  It has been hard to find similar inspiration here.

The other day, however, my friend Carly passed along a wonderful e-mail entitled "You know you've lived in Spain when...".  We've all seen these kinds of e-mails before, but this one truly hit home.  After studying abroad in college and then living in Spain for nearly two years, I can honestly say that most of these are 100% accurate.  And #50, is definitely true.  While those of you who don't speak Spanish might miss the humor in some of these, I encourage you to take a glimpse at a dictionary or find a translator online.  It's worth it (and you'll learn a word or two!).  Read on and enjoy...

You know you’ve lived in Spain when….

1.  You think adding lemonade, fanta or even coke to red wine is perfectly acceptable. Especially at lunch.  
2.  You can’t get over how early bars and clubs close back home, surely they’re closing just as you should be going out?  
3.  You aren’t just surprised that the plumber or electrician has turned up on time, you’re surprised he turned up at all.  
4.  You think it’s fine to comment on everyone’s appearance. And to openly stare at strangers.  
5.  Not giving every new acquaintance dos besos seems so rude.  
6.  You’re shocked by people getting their legs out at the first hint of sun - surely they should wait until at least late June?  
7.  On msn you sometimes type ‘jajaja’ instead of ‘hahaha’  
8.  You’re amazed when Spanish TV ad breaks last less than half an hour, especially right before the end of films.  
9.  You’re not surprised that Spanish TV program info doesn’t match with what is actually being shown, unless it is “Prensa Rosa”.  
10.  You forget to say please when asking for things - you implied it in your tone of voice, right?  
11.  You know what a pijo / pija is and how to spot one.  
12.  Every sentence you speak contains at least one of these words: buenocoño, vale, venga, pues nada...  
13.  You know how to eat boquerones.
14.  You know the difference between gambas, gambones, cigalas, langostinos...
15.  You know the difference between jamón pata negra and jamón de York, and you prefer the first.  
16.  You eat lunch after 2pm & would never even think of having your  evening meal before 9.  
17.  You know after 2pm there’s no point in going shopping, you might as well just have a siesta until 5 when the shops re-open.  
18.  You know you must take two days off when you have to do any official paperchasing, for cars, residence, etc.  
19.  You know that those astronomical prices they’re talking about are actually in pesetas, and what that means in euros.  
20.  If anyone insults your mother, they better watch out…  
21.  You know how to change a bombona.
22.  It’s not rude to answer the intercom to your flat by asking Quien?
23.  You don’t accept beer that’s anything less than ice-cold.  
24.  You know Bimbo isn’t a slutty woman, it’s a make of pan de molde (which, incidentally, isn’t moldy)  
25.  You know the difference between cojones and cajones, tener calor and estar caliente, bacalao and bakalao, pollo and polla, estar hecho polvo and echar un polvo...and maybe you learned the differences the hard way!  
26.  On some Sunday mornings you have breakfast before going to bed, not after you get up.  
27.  Floors in certain bars are an ideal dumping ground for your colillas, servilletas etc. Why use a trash can?!  
28.  You know ensaladilla rusa has nothing to do with Russia.  
29.  The doctor says you are constipado you don’t go and buy ExLax.  
30.  You have friends named Jesus, Jose Maria, Maria Jose, Angel, maybe even Inmaculada Concepcion.
31.  You know that ahora doesn’t really mean now.  
32.  When you make arrangements to meet at 3, the first person turns up at 3.30…if you’re lucky!  
33.  When women think that clear bra straps are in fact invisible.  
34.  When it’s totally normal for every kitchen to have a deep-fat fryer but no kettle.  
35.  Te cagas en la leche….  
36.  To avoid that cheap Eristoff vodka you have to ask for ‘un esmirnoff’.  
37.  You think J&B and Ballantines are OK to drink.  
38.  When you know what a guiri is and have been called one  (*one of my favorites!*)  
39.  Blonde girls actually start to think their name is rubia.  
40.  If something is great, it’s de puta madre
41.  You eat up to 5 times a day: 1st breakfast, 2nd breakfast at 11.30, almuerzo, merienda, cena.  
42.  You know the jingles for Los Cuarenta Principales, M80, Onda Zero, etc.  
43.  If you see someone wearing a T-shirt with something written on it in English, you can almost guarantee it won’t make sense.  
44.  When you go into a bank/bakery etc, it’s standard practice to ask "Quien es la ultima?"
45.  When you have the habit of answering the above question "Ahora es   Usted."  
46.  Who needs a dryer when you have a washing line outside the window of your apartment?  
47.  You are more likely to call your friends tio/a, nena, chaval, macho or even tronco than by their name.  
48.  You answer the phone by saying ‘Yes’. Or even ¿Diga?49.  You prefer UHT milk.  
50.  You prefer all the above to the way they do things back home.