(parenthetically speaking)

a random gal’s random thoughts about nothing and everything in general

WWJD? (What Would Jill Do?) August 4, 2009

A colleague of mine recently sent me a survey to fill out that was designed to evaluate her strengths and weaknesses. It was an interesting request since we hadn’t worked together in a traditional office environment—rather I assigned her to write stories for the last magazine I worked on—and, in fact, we’ve never met in person. But having worked with her on multiple assignments, I felt competent to answer at least most of the questions on the survey. One of the ones I wasn’t sure about, and to which I checked “N/A,” was, “Do you think your colleague is challenged by her job?”

This got me to thinking if I was challenged by my own job. Pondering my answer, I started to wonder if I have ever really, truly been challenged at all.

I’ve known and interviewed people who battled cancer but somehow never lost a step. I worked with foster children who, despite having to deal with horrific living conditions and situations so vile it makes your blood boil, still manage to keep a smile on their face. I’ve had friends who had miscarriages and yet still bravely tried again. I’ve seen family members hit rock bottom and, with all their might and against all odds, somehow climb their way back up.

But have I, like they, been challenged? I’ve certainly had my share of bumps in the road—sincerely tough times that tested my strength and spirit, but that ultimately made me a stronger person—but have I ever really, seriously been challenged? I can’t say for sure.

Even more puzzling was the question of how I might respond if I ever was to be seriously challenged. Would I crumble if I went broke and lost the roof over my head? Would I give up if faced with a deadly disease? How would I respond if an accident left me paralyzed and wheelchair bound? What would I do if I couldn’t do what I do for a living anymore? Could I go on, god forbid, if faced with the loss of a family member?
We deal with challenges big and small every day, many of which challenge us in fun and exciting ways (I don’t mean to dwell on the negative), and how we react reveals a lot about our personalities. I only hope that if I ever am faced with a true challenge, that I show the courage and resolve of so many before me.


Name that Kitty February 14, 2009

I have a new kitten. But poor little kitty needs a name. Everything I’ve thought of so far or that’s been suggested sounds either too silly, too girly, too sad, or just plain doesn’t fit.

I’ve had this problem before. Back in my 20s, I adopted these two kittens from a woman at work. One was an adorable little boy who could almost pass for a Maine Coon and the other was a beautiful baby girl who was all white except for a spot of gray on the top of her head. As cute and wonderful as they were, you’d think it would have been easy to find names for them, but I could never make anything stick. They were almost six months old before everyone started threatening to name them for me and out of desperation I came up with Harold and Maude. They had those names for 20 and 21 years respectively.

My other cat, Man-Man, already had his name when I adopted him from the Humane Society two years ago. I thought it was kind of weird at the time and thought about changing it for a second, but now I can’t imagine calling him anything else.


New kitty at work with me on Friday.


New kitty photographs looking mean but isn't.

Maybe that’s what I should do with this new kitten. Just pick something and go with it. But I can’t seem to make myself do it. I’d rather wait to see if something great comes along. And that’s where maybe you can help me. Maybe you’ll take one look at her and the perfect name will pop into your head. Or maybe you’ll be inspired to come up with something after you hear the story of how I came to be her new mom. However you come to it, I’d love it if you share your suggested names with me, so I don’t have to keep referring to her as “new kitty.”

“New kitty” had just been rescued from being stuck in a storm drain when I found her. It was in the Publix parking lot over by my mom’s apartment complex, where this colony of feral cats has taken up residence in the adjoining wooded area. The cats are all wild, but survive because this nice woman comes regularly and leaves food out for them. Which is why I was so surprised when this little kitten didn’t immediately run off after being set free; she let the men pick her up and then as I started walking over to see what was going on, she ran right up to me and even starting playing with the bottom of my skirt.

Hey, maybe Skirt would be a good name for her. Or maybe Squirt, since she only weighs 4 pounds. I don’t know, I just can’t decide. What do you think?


Tweet, Tweet February 4, 2009

Anybody out there on Twitter? I just started playing around with it, and created a page for both myself (twitter.com/Jill_Becker) and the magazine I edit (twitter.com/GTPmagazine). It’s kind of fun, but at the same time, it’s one more inbox to check and wade through. Still, if you want to follow me, or Group Travel Planet magazine, I’d be flattered. twitter


are you ready for some football? January 29, 2009

Neither my beloved Cowboys or hometown team Falcons are in the Super Bowl this year, so, even as big a sports fan as I am, I don’t care about watching the big game on Sunday. Do you? Let’s take a vote.


Which Is Worse – Jail or the Hospital? January 26, 2009

For years, my sister and I have had this motto, “One illegal thing a day.” It’s more of a joke than anything, and usually revolves around piddly stuff like making a U-turn when there are signs posted that you’re not supposed to or stealing a handful of Sweet N’Low packets from a restaurant. It’s nickel and dime stuff. Because, trust me, I would never do anything that I knew had a good chance of getting me thrown in jail. Nope, I FEAR the jail cell way too much for that! For me, the thought of being locked in a prison cell for anything more than a second is the biggest deterrent to being a bad girl that you can imagine. I remember even being on a trip once and visiting this old historic jail cell and everyone was going in and closing the doors and having their picture taken “behind bars,” and I wouldn’t do it. I was afraid that, knowing my dumb luck, the door would get stuck or someone would mess with me and pretend to lock the door and I’d be trapped in there, like a caged animal, and I just couldn’t risk it.

Equally scary, I think, is being confined to a hospital room for any length of time. That very thing happened to my dad recently when he spent 70-plus days at Medical City Hospital in Dallas. He went in October 10 and didn’t get out until December 24. Can you imagine? I honestly don’t know how he didn’t lose his mind. Especially since for all but a few days, he couldn’t get up out of bed. He was pretty much resigned to sleeping, eating (when he could ingest anything other than ice chips, that is), and watching the tube. As much of a couch potato as I am, even I can’t fathom the boredom! My dad’s obviously a calmer, saner individual than I.

So which do you think would be worse, being in the hospital for that long or in prison?

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In the hospital, my dad at least had a window to look out of, which some prison cells don’t, but then he also had a steady stream of doctors and nurses poking and prodding him all hours of the day and night. Although in lock-up you may well encounter a certain criminal element looking to poke and prod you in other, let’s just say less clinical, ways. Even given the reputation of how bad hospital food is, my dad probably did eat a little better than the average inmate, but then he didn’t have the privilege, like most prisoners have, of being able to go out in the yard and stretch his legs and breathe fresh air.

So I’m inclined to think it’s a tie. I just pray I never have to find out for sure.