Monday, December 25, 2006

Some Long Overdue Pictures












Since my blog has been so devoid of visual content as of late, I thought I would mix it up a little bit with some great old family photos, from back in the days when we all felt a bit more photogenic.





Nips make you strong! Or so say Melissa and my cousin, Suzanne, in their bid to become the Nips Spokespeople.
Sarah and I when we were very young.

Melissa had a superhero birthday cake. And she carried her Snoopy with her everywhere.


Let me just say this right now, it will be a shame if Sarah, Melissa, and I never have children. We have good genes to have cute children. I mean, not to be conceited about it, but look at some of these pictures:

That is Sarah and our Irish Setter, Rusty.
I was cute too.

Of course, as can be seen above, Melissa was the cutest of all. Look at her in the pool, below:



Yep, the three of us were such cuties. I bet if more men saw us as babies and as children, then they would want to date us, marry us, and have kids with us. Because we were cute. Of course, we have to thank the ones who gave us such good genes.



Thanks Mom and Dad!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Even funnier still...

Check out these gems shared by Seattle Times readers regarding their storm experiences. Makes me miss the days of listening to WCOA talk radio in Pensacola and hearing the lady talking about an alligator that, "done crawled up in my backyard."

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

There certainly are alot of Chicken Littles running around Seattle. In what could only be compared to a weak tropical storm (if it were about 40 degrees warmer, that is), the entire Western Washington region has today proven how ridiculous an area can act in something that doesn't even amount to a natural disaster. I have learned today how much I don't want to be here should something significant ever actually happen, like an earthquake of major proportions.

Granted, I am fortunate because I didn't lose power, and my drive to work was incredibly easy, but half of my office didn't show up at all today. I just went out for lunch, and it is an absolute comedy of errors out there. People have forgotten the four way stop rule when a traffic signal is out. People are out clogging up gas stations and stocking up on ice (it is 40 degrees outside, mind you and it is forecast to get even colder this weekend). I feel like I am a genius because I had the common sense to fill up my tank of gas yesterday, when all of the gas stations had power.

Once again, I am reminded of how a little foresight goes a long way to staving off disasters. For example, so many people are without power, and all of the relevant utilities operations are saying it could be days until power is restored. Perhaps if the people here ever thought to cut the trees away from power lines, then some of this could have been avoided (I know right in front of my house there is a tree that grows directly through the power lines). I know road crews in Florida are pretty diligent about that. Generally, that diligence is why weak tropical storms in Florida don't cause widespread power outages. I have to comment on the work ethic of some of the power crews here too - I just went to Jack-in-the-Box for lunch with my paralegal, and watched a crew across the street. There were 5 people - two holding signs, one in the bucket repairing the line, and two people standing around smiking. At that rate, it is going to be months for them to restore power here.

Maybe I am just trained from living on the Gulf Coast; only I haven't lived there since high school.

Get a load of some of this silliness from the Seattle Times.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Continental Drift Divide...

I think it must be the end of the world in the Pacific Northwest. That is what the weather is telling me. First we had the floods, then the unusual snowfall, now the windstorms. Tonight we are supposed to have sustained winds at tropical storm force level. I did not sign up for this. If I wanted to lose power and spend an evening by the light of a flashlight, then I would have lived in a place where it is warm enough to swim in the water. What weather calamity is left now to suffer?

Here is something to be thankful for . . . awesome female friends. In the past couple of days I have been able to speak with several of my friends from BYU days. On Monday evening I spoke to Charelle, in SLC, on the phone. She just got engaged. I hope that she plays Backstreet Boys at her wedding, for old times sake! This girl is so awesome, that even a sniper on the roof of the Capitol in DC fell in love with her from a distance. That is a story for her grandkids. I also spoke to my friend Suzanne, in DC, who is busy saving Africa with training programs and projects that actually work. She is actually using all of her acquired Africa knowledge, whereas, I just keep reading and learning without ever doing much of anything anymore. Knowledge has become a possession to me, instead of something that has moved me to action. Talking to Suzanne reminds me of how much I need to do. Then, last night my friend Camille, in Boston, called me. She is an amazing writer, and talking to her was just another reminder of how nice it is to speak to someone who thinks so similiarly to the way that I do.

I have been pretty lucky to know some pretty amazing people in my life. It is just too bad that they all live so far away.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

So many memories...demolished

I saw this in today's Deseret News regarding the planned destruction of Deseret Towers at BYU. It all starts with "W" Hall.

My freshman year all started with "W" Hall. I may have lived in the penthouse of "U" Hall, but "W" Hall is part of what made my freshman year so memorable; particularly the second floor of W Hall. Now, the memory of those halls is being reduced to rubble.

In the picture, that is the back side of Gubler's room being torn away. So sad. Visiting hours will never be the same again.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Diamonds are for Drill Bits

I saw the movie "Blood Diamond" this week. I know that some reviewers have been hard on the film because in their opinion it is better suited for a "lecture hall" than an entertainment venue (from Entertainment Weekly). I am sorry, but the only way that the average American is going to learn about any important issue these days is through the popular media, not through lectures given by learned academics who can give in depth analysis on the issue. I would certainly bet that the 2 1/2 time of the film exceeds the total length of time given to the war in Sierra Leone by CNN at the time that the war was actually taking place. I think what is most appalling is that so many reviewers have reduced the movie to a "message movie", and who potentially file the abuses and calamities pictured under the category of "goofy" or "cliche" (go to Rotten Tomatoes to see some of these reviews). I have to state that in a year when it has taken alot for me to actually like a movie, I thought Blood Diamond was extremely well made, and well-acted. I am a big Leonardo and Djimon fan, and they both excelled, in my humble opinion. Granted, there were a few lines of the film that I thought were taken to excess (I understand Americans need their messages not in subtext, but was it really necessary to have a villager stating, "Oh, I hope they don't find oil here), but by in large I thought it was remarkably well done. The political message was embedded in the story of the film, which is as it should be. Particularly tortuous to view are the scenes of the RUF's child soldiers, but after reading some books regarding child soldiers in Africa, it was portrayed as it should have been. Sometimes, I think that things should be made brutally obvious to an American consuming public who buy first, think later, if at all.

Now, anyone who knows me certainly knows that I have maintained an intense dislike for diamonds for quite some time. Cynically, my outright dismissal of diamonds can probably be traced to certain events at Brigham Young University, but my dislike congealed together in law school when I wrote an essay, and also a letter to the editor, regarding why I thought BYU students should be more cautious before purchasing that special ring for that special someone. I won't rehash my conclusions in that letter here. The war in Sierra Leone ended some time ago, after all. Nonetheless, my conclusions remain the same. It has less to do with the fact that I will never own a diamond and more to do with the fact that people should be less inclined to buy into media campaigns for products, turning some object into some notion of "pure eternal love" when that object isn't even that rare, and has been used to perpetrate and finance terrible abuses. I mean, wars for oil are bad (and breed some horrible atrocities as well), but at least people aren't holding up that junk and stating that it represents something greater than what it actually is. Its value is its function. Diamond wars are wars over nothing - not wars over functional resources (I doubt people are so violent when it comes to the mining of industrial diamonds), but wars over advertising-assigned values. Thus, children were losing their arms and legs for nothing except so some chick could show off her rock to make her friends jealous.

I just have to say, though Blood Diamond, with The Queen, and The Last King of Scotland, were probably my favorite movies that I have seen thus far this fall. The movies that I enjoyed but didn't love are Stranger than Fiction, and The Fountain. Most of the rest have just been complete junk.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Driving Lessons by Kant

I think the worst part about moving to a city where I now have to commute in traffic is just how frustrated I get with having to drive, or rather, how frustrated I get with other drivers. I thought about this last night when I was driving home from work, and yet again, I was stuck behind another selfish slowpoke driver owning the left lane when he was not passing any vehicles on the right. The vehicles on the right were all passing him. I looked to the far right of the freeway, and there were practically no cars in the right line. This is a routine occurrence on the roads here in Washington State, as people customarily ignore the "keep right except to pass" signs posted on the shoulders and in the median. Because of this driving phenomenon, I have found myself becoming extremely conscious of not using the left lane except when I am passing other vehicles. I figure, I cannot get upset when other drivers don't follow the rule, unless I follow it myself. Last night, as I was thinking about this, I started to think about my other driving rules that I follow, knowing it makes my commute longer sometimes, but if I break the rule, then I would be hypocritical.

Merging is another common example. I hate people who see others patiently merging into the back of the line and then speed down to butt into someone in the front of the line of cars at the last possible second. I get in the back of the line. Did these people who speed down and merge at the last second not go to kindergarten? Did they not learn the various rhymes about cutting in line like, "No butts, no cuts, no peanut butter haircuts?" Perhaps not. But in any case these people are the exact kind of people who it is very hard for me to like in life - they have no common courtesy or concern for anyone else's welfare beside themselves; they are just trying to get ahead in life.

This is what I determined last night: when it comes to driving rules, Immanuel Kant was right. No one should drive in a manner that they couldn't universalize to every other driver on the highway. If everyone wait in line, then the line would go faster because there wouldn't be people cutting in at the last minute. Whereas, if everyone tried to cut in at the last minute, then there would just be a mess of traffic accidents.

My problem in life is also my salvation - I see everything in terms of the possibility for universal justice. I thought that I had become so jaded in recent years, convinced that justice was impossible, because in my job as an attorney, it has become rare to see any notion of justice in the courtroom. Perhaps that is just not the proper venue for justice. Adversarial systems make no sense to me. Nonetheless, there is still a bit of an optimist in me, believing that there can be some rational basis for right and wrong, no matter how naive that may seem.

On an unrelated note, last night I went to the information session at UW on their library and information science masters degree program. Just walking on campus made me giddy, because I just love universities so much. I love everything about the idea of higher education. If I could spend the rest of my life affiliated with an institution of higher education I just think of how content I would be.

Don't get me started on the universal good of libraries...

Monday, December 04, 2006

L'Etat C'est Moi

I haven't posted in awhile. I have witnessed some exciting events lately. I actually was in Utah for Thanksgiving and attended the BYU/Utah football game. It was the first BYU game that I have been to since my freshman year of college. Throughout most of my BYU experience, I had a hate/hate relationship with the BYU football team. During the Luke Staley year, I actually wrote a Viewpoint in the Daily Universe to express my disgust with the very notion that BYU was deserving of a BCS bid. Nonetheless, despite my antagonistic history towards BYU football, I managed to put it behind me for the purpose of supporting my alma mater at the game. I even wore a BYU sweatshirt! Of course, I attended the game with three Ute fans, so that made it even more fun when BYU pulled off the victory in the end. I have to admit, it was an exciting football game, even for my jaded, hard to impress, sports sensibilities.
While I am on the subject of sports - I am so excited that it is now college basketball season, and North Carolina has an excellent young team to watch. I was able to watch two games this week - UNC vs. Ohio State and also vs. Kentucky. I think I love Brandon Wright, the freshman, the most. He has such freakishly long arms, I am just amazed what he can do with them.

Some non-sports excitement - the weather in Seattle was the talk of the town last week. I think it snowed a couple of inches, and practically the whole city shut down. I still braved the elements to go to work, and it was quite humorous to watch all of these Washingtonians trying to drive in the snow. My years in Utah trained this Southern girl in the art of icy driving, enough to laugh at those less versed than myself in that area.

My new career ambition (If the library science thing doesn't work out): AP European History teacher. Lately, I can't get enough of studying European History. I just finished a biography of Elizabeth I and am making my way through the new Antonia Fraser book on the women who affected Louis XIV. I find myself obsessed with Royal Family trees, trying to understand how everyone is related to each other. It is just this really weird phase I am in.

Monday, November 20, 2006

"The Wretched of the Earth"

This weekend I finished reading the new Dave Eggers' novel, What is the What, a fictional autobiography of a Sudanese Lost Boy. After spending some time working with the Sudanese, I found the book incredibly well written and thoughtful. The experiences of the Lost Boys are so overwhelming each time I hear one of their stories, I feel this intense urge to do more, accompanied by the polite resignation that I know I can never completely understand. Without ruining the book, I can safely say that the closing line of the book is so powerful, that I haven't been able to get it out of my head all weekend.

On Friday night, I went to hear one of David's co-worker's band play. It was a CD release party. The opening act was this acoustic guitar combo. It was the kind of music that reminded me of walking through the Wilkenson Center at BYU on a Thursday afternoon - acoustic guitars accompanying guys who are cute and non-threatening in a pre-teen kind of way. It was the kind of music that your mom listens to when she thinks that she is being hip and cool. Not my mom, though. My mom likes acoustic music that sings about whores, or maybe the Southern Cross constellation. In college, I always rolled my eyes at the silliness of the acoustic co-eds; guitar music as a means to Friday night dates. I held out my sighs and giddiness for the more experimental sounds of my favorite BYU college band, The Plan B. After all of this time, it is such a shame that I spent my Friday night listening to this flashback college acoustic music when such a short distance away, at the Paramount Theater, I could have been enjoying the unique musical stylings of the Decemberists. I think I have more to learn from chimbly sweeps and barrow boys than people who are "crazy" or "in love." No offense, Beyonce.

Lately I have developed this unfortunate habit of thinking that I need to wear, or at least purchase, makeup. I think it is because I fear I am getting older and my skin is starting to show my age. Anyway, I recently purchased this lip gloss that burns my lips the same way that my lips used to feel after making out with someone really hard. Sometime after the age of 25, making out just starts to seem incredibly ridiculous. You can't do it like when you were eighteen, making out behind the Morris Center at Deseret Towers. Nonetheless, even though you think you grow up and move beyond that, for some reason your lips still crave the burn.

So tell me Mr. Fanon, which one of the persons described here is "the wretched of the earth?"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Baseball Caps Everywhere

I love that line from the Simpsons, used by a Thai Restauranteur in describing state universities. When I went to see Borat on Friday night in Bellevue, I felt the exact same sentiment. Even worse, many of the guys at the movie were wearing their baseball caps backwards, which is one of the worst looks ever created. It renders the whole purpose of the baseball cap completely useless. I shouldn't have been so surprised to see so many backwards baseball caps in a venue where I actually heard someone use the expressions, "That's hella high" and "They are sitting up there in the butthole of the world." I was humiliated collectively by the youth of America. Of course, on a broader scale it was somewhat depressing, after seeing Borat, to find that people's primary source of entertainment can come from humiliating others.

This was the same movie theater that in the week prior, I had come to admire the quiet dignity of Queen Elizabeth II. Among that movie going crowd, David and I were by far the youngest. Fortunately, there were no backward baseball caps. Unfortunately, those wearing backwards baseball caps probably have the most to learn from someone like Queen Elizabeth.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess the following guilty pleasure, which potentially could render my whole regarding baseball caps incredibly hypocritical. The fall rain has set in for Seattle, seriously curtailing my Saturday activities. Thus, for the past few weekends, I have found tremendous solace in watching the SEC football games, broadcast on CBS. Perhaps I have been missing home and the South too much that I could do this one thing weekly that allows me to feel less far away from the Gulf Coast. It has gotten to be a problem - I even watch the NFL from time to time, to watch my favorite Southern stars in their pro years. The Southern accents of the Manning brothers provides me considerable respite after a week of dealing with obnoxious attorneys and impossible to please clients. Like the Manning brothers, I am a Southerner living in the North, in large part, for the sake of my career. They seem so much more connected to a place that hasn't been my literal home for quite some time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tell me a story

Here are three events from my recent history.

1. Lake Wobegan Days with Garrison Keillor: Last Thursday night, I had the opportunity to sit and enjoy an evening of good old fashioned storytelling. Something about Garrison Keillor's voice is so incredibly calming, and his stories make me long for a life apart from an urban existence. In all honesty, even though Garrison Keillor is from Minnesota, he makes me homesick for the South. Perhaps it is because in his stories about old fashioned small town life, I miss the eccentricities and nuances of really knowing a place as home. I used to think myself a rather good story teller. Now, in recent years, I have felt that my life consists of exploring other people's stories - rather at work, or through reading books, and I have stopped having interesting stories to share with others (except for relaying stories that are about other people). I remember, my first college boyfriend liked me in part because I had, "good stories" about my life growing up. Granted, it was an anomoly to be a BYU student who was born when your parents lived in a Mississippi trailer park. I want to have good stories again.

2. Marie Antoinette: the film by Sophia Coppola: I must admit, I was sorely disappointed. Perhaps I was too hyped up about it, and excited for it, and I ruined it by my excessive reading of history before viewing the movie. I appreciated the attempt to render more human Marie Antoinette, but there were certain historical inaccuracies that made me a little crazy. It was a beautiful film, but by the time Coppola doctored a painting to act as if Marie Antoinette only gave birth to three children instead of four, I just was upset. I mean, I know we only have two hours for a movie generally, but I just can't take it when filmmakers just change simple things about history so they can streamline their story. I know that she was trying to tell as much of the story as she could in a short time, nonetheless, it just does a disservice to the person's story. Through parts of the movie, I was thinking to myself, if Marie was here watching this movie, would she even recognize herself at all?

3. Al Gore: A Man on a Mission: Monday night, Al Gore made a stop at Key Arena to make his global warming presentation to an incredibly friendly audience. Having still not seen "An Inconvenient Truth", I found out that there is even more to be paranoid about with regard to the current environmental state of our globe, than I knew previously.
When my sisters and I were much younger, we held in our possession one of those Fisher Price Microphones that you can hear yourself on the radio on. We would always make believe that we were doing radio shows. In between spinning our favorite tunes at the time, we would engage in commentary and have "guests" to our radio show to inform our audience about important issues. One such issue, was Arbor Day (I blame my mom's tuning into NPR during her mom as taxi driver hours for our ability to come up with such things to discuss on our "radio" show). Melissa played chairperson to the Arbor Day Foundation and educated our listeners on the importance of planting trees. It is amazing that an eight year old has a better understanding of science than the political leaders who control issues of environmental policy today. And it turns out that eight year old Melissa was exactly right.
I am constantly baffled why the current administration has declared war on science. I am also contantly baffled that so many people can care so little that their children potentially could grow up in a world that is vastly different from the one that we live in, even now. The evidence is in and global warming is a real thing. It is not natural. In my religous faith, the imagery of the world being "cleansed by fire" keeps coming to mind as a precursor to the Second Coming, and I can't help but to now this is because of what we ourselves have done to the world in which we live.
Al Gore was incredibly charismatic and interesting. In his slide show he tried to link just about every environmental calamity to global warming in some way. It was pretty persuasive. I mean, I have done some thinking about environmental issues, particularly issues of wilderness and water use, but now I just really think this should be one of the defining policy positions of our time. Right now, the people of the state of Washington are voting on a proposition to require utilities that do business in the state to utilize renewable sources as a certain percentage of their overall energy.
Sidenote: I still have an issue with hydroelectric dams being considered a "renewable" energy source. The fact is dams have life expectencies and are not a permanent power source. They silt up and can't be used. They do cause significant ecological harm in many cases as well. It is still this intense hatred of the Glen Canyon Dam that stops me short of being able to support the notion of dams as part of the answer.

An interesting few days...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Dream of Idi Amin

My junior year of college, I lived with my older sister Sarah, and two other members of the BYU Swim Team. The week that they were out of town for their WAC Championship Meet, I happened to be involved in writing a 30 page paper for my Ethics in International Affairs class, on the war between Tanzania and Uganda, that led to the downfall of the dictator, Idi Amin. My focus in the paper was based on answering the question whether or not it had been a just war from the Tanzanian perspective, using Walzer' Just War Theory. This paper was an obsession of mine. I checked out every known book in the Intermountain West, regarding Idi Amin. I stayed up late reading these books, falling asleep in the middle of passages regarding speculation of severed heads in Amin's refrigerator. As a direct result of this reading, I would experience terrible nightmares with Idi and his henchmen chasing me or torturing me. I would wake up on the couch in my empty living room, terrified that Idi Amin was lurking somewhere close, ready to attack me for disparaging his regime in my paper. In actually, he was far away, living a comfortable life in exile in Saudi Arabia. With time, the completion of the assignment, and the return of my roommates, the fears subsided.

Recently, I read in a film magazine that the director of the new film, "The Last King of Scotland," also would have nightmares about Idi Amin while working on the film. Amin is the stuff of nightmares, but my interest in seeing the new film outweighed my concern that my nightmares would resume. Saturday, I walked to the theater by my house and watched the movie. Forrest Whittaker was incredibly convincing as Idi Amin, because when I returned to my dark, empty apartment, and fell asleep on my couch, I was revisited with nightmares of Idi Amin. Unfortunately this time, I do not have any roommates coming home, so I still have been having these dreams. Idi is now dead - he died in 2003, but I have a feeling his memory still causes thousands of nightmares around the world.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

To the Mouse in Charge

Dear Mickey,
I wanted to take a moment and thank you for your hospitality on my recent trip to Disney World. My family and I had a wonderful time. I know that Disneyland claims to be "The Happiest Place on Earth," but after visiting Disney World again, I think you should rethink that title. After all, how can Disneyland be the Happiest Place on Earth, when it is Disney World that has all of the attractive, friendly Scandinavians working at the Norway attracting at the World Showcase in Epcot? I realize that Disney World, is "The Place Where Dreams Come True". I know that my dream came true of always wishing I could see the Yeti. Sure enough, after visiting the Expedition Everest ride in The Animal Kingdom, now I can say that dream has come true.
May I offer a few friendly suggestions? First, bring back the original Florida Citrus Swirl. Substituting that orange ice cream for the orange juice slush that the swirl used to contain is just no fair trade. It was one of the most delicious treats about Disney World, and it has been changed beyond recognition. Please remedy that.
Second, I noticed that I saw plenty of characters that I, who have not watched the Disney Channel in many years, could not recognize. I think that you should instead focus on making sure there are ample character appearances by the old standards - yourself, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, etc. I understand your continued need to promote your post-Lion King empire, but maybe you could throw us older folks a few bones, to remind us of our childhood days. Here are some suggestions from some of my favorite old school Disney Movies:
The Gnome Mobile: I think this ride sells itself. I mean, the song in the movie describes perfectly what this ride should be - "The Gnome Mobile, The Gnome Mobile, Jaunting Along in the Gnome Mobile..." There are alot of things to do in Disney World - You can go bouncing on the Winnie the Pooh Ride, "Soarin" in Epcot, "Splashin' at Splash Mountain, but there is no "jaunting" to be had anywhere. This is why I think that this ride would be such a great addition. Not to mention the fact that I am sure that this attraction would appeal to all of those British tourists in their short shorts and soccer jerseys.
Darby O'Gill and The Little People: How about an attraction about leprechauns and the banshee? I also think this could be a hot ticket item - go looking for your pot of gold, but watch out for the banshee!
Summer Magic: I am thinking this attraction could appeal to grown ups tired of walking around all day - a big front porch, with swings for everyone, and then a Burl Ives impersonator singing. I am relaxed just thinking about it!

Those are just some of my suggestions for new attractions, Mickey. Then, maybe even more of my dreams could come true at Disney World.

But here is another word of an issue that I think is very important to discuss. Right now, I know you are really big into pushing this whole Disney Princess thing. The little girls who had their Princess makeovers were everywhere. I couldn't count the number of Cinderella gowns. I understand wanting to allow each girl to feel special, I am all for that. I wanted to be a princess when I was a child. I had the rhinestone tiara and everything. But at some point in time, girls go from being princesses from having to learn the hard lesson that sometimes, the handsome prince has faults too. Or that you as the princess can't make the handsome prince as happy as you thought you could. At some point in time Mickey, these little girls need more realistic role models. By the way - to that end, you need to have a word with Belle. I heard her in the Magic Kingdom during a show talking about how Gaston could be "positively primeval." She needs a dictionary ASAP so she stops using vocabulary words incorrectly. She was using it in the context of "he is so evil" not in the context of "pertaining to the first age or ages of the world." These princesses need to show that education is important. Otherwise, you could have that kid I saw playing with the Chairman Mao puppet in Epcot come over and teach these princesses a lesson. How does that sound? Oh, and by the way, when did you start selling Chairman Mao puppets at Epcot?

Well, I think that I have given you enough things to think about in this letter. Thanks for the great time with my family, and plenty of new memories. Thank you for your emphasis on conservation, that I saw all throughout the Animal Kingdom. Also, thank you for your emphasis on harmony between nations, that I saw at Epcot. I am nominating you for the Nobel Peace Prize, so you know. I am sure that I will be seeing you again sometime in the future. In the meantime, I think I have one dream that I want to talk to you about and see if maybe you can help me in the way of making it come true. . .

Your Friend,
Leslie

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How Old Am I?

Last Friday evening, I decided to buy last minute concert tickets to an artist whom I have wanted to see for quite some time . . . Paul Simon. I have so many memories, dating back to childhood, regarding Paul Simon. After all, I first learned what a "whore" was from signing along to my mother playing "The Boxer" on her guitar. So on Friday night, I piled into the Key Arena with the crowd of graying Baby Boomers, to sing along to such hits as, "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." What was so particularly great about the Paul Simon concert is that practically every song had some memory or person associated with it. "Me and Julio" for example - that just reminds me of my sister, Melissa. Just a few highlights -

"You Can Call Me Al" - Of course this song reminds me of Chevy Chase, who was funny, back in the day. But what this song also reminds me of is singing along with my sisters to this song, in our Wood Paneled Buick station wagon, while being shuttled between school, swim practice, and dance lessons by my mom. We would change the words to "You can call me Alf." We really liked that show back in the 80s.

"The Only Living Boy in New York" - This song reminds me of being in New York, sitting in the Jet Blue Terminal in JFK Airport and waiting to take off for trips to Seattle. I just remember sitting in the airport, every time, so tortured about whether I should stay in New York or move to Seattle.

"The Boxer" - see above. I loved those nights as a kid singing with my mom's guitar.

"The Boy in the Bubble" - This song is responsible for my yahoo email address - thegirlinthebubble. I just thought it was particularly appropriate when I was living in Provo, UT, and I kept imaging my life in some more exciting destination somewhere else.

"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" - the beginning of this song just reminds me of being in Africa.

"Father and Daughter" - I love this song so much. It always makes me cry because it makes me feel good that after all of the years of turmoil with my dad, we have such a good relationship now. I always think that if I ever get married, I would like to dance with my dad to this song at my wedding reception.

"Graceland" - Summer 2003 - the worst summer of my life. I had just finished law school, was living at home with my parents, and I was impossible to get along with. I was in the worst depressive funk that I ever experienced in my entire life, based on my ridiculous break-up that consumed my life, and the only thing that I had to do was study for the New York Bar Exam. After I finished the Bar Exam, before I moved to New York, I took myself on a road trip over through New Orleans, and up the Mississippi Delta, with Graceland in mind, and in my CD player. It was the perfect trip and rehabilitated what had otherwise been a disastrous summer. "I may be obliged to defend every love and every ending, or maybe there's no obligations now." With that, everything in the past was done. I was moving on.

I also have to say this about Paul Simon - he is 65 years old and played a monster show including three encores. That is much better than these 20 something rockers today. All in all, an evening well spent.

This activity as well as the slate of my upcoming activities makes me feel quite aged. I am going to a taping of "A Prairie Home Companion," and to hear Al Gore speak, later in October. I feel so middle aged.

Or maybe not . . . I am going to Disney World this weekend!

So maybe it is just my own age group that I cannot relate to.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Weight or Lightness?

Sunday, I attended a fireside given by Dr. Wilford Griggs, a professor at BYU and an Egyptologist. It was tremendously interesting and took me back to sixth grade when I wanted to be an Egyptologist and I spent some time trying to learn Egyptian hyroglyphics after visiting the Ramses exhibit at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Griggs talked a little bit about the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and there was one part that particularly struck me - Before entering heaven, the deceased person's heart is weighed on a scale, balanced against a feather. To pass the test and enter into heaven, you heart must be lighter than the feather. Presumably, what weighed your heart down was sin, but I think there are plenty of other things that weigh my heart down that would make it difficult for pass this test. I have stated before that I feel this enormous sense of guilt for all of the world's wrongs, and at the same time, I feel this intense obligation to know exactly what is wrong with the world. I have to find the injustice and learn about it for fear that if I don't, then I am somehow complicit in it. So is the weight of awarness of the world's sorrows something that could keep me frmo the presence of God, as the Egyptians believed?

It reminds me of one of my favorite passages in modern literature, written by Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

"The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.
"Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.
"What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?"

These are answers that I don't have. I must admit, though, as someone who loves being aware of things, the allusion of needing a light heart to make it in the next life is extremely desirable. But of course, in my view of the next life, all of the sorrows of this world are made whole. Therefore, there isn't a need to be weighted down by anything. Whether we choose to allow the weight of this life to follow us into the next, I suppose, that is what the difference is.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I miss Manhattan, and the Bronx, for that matter

This week I have gotten several emails from Ed that have left me feeling quite nostalgic for New York and even the Bronx Family Court. It is amazing how in retrospect, I miss the job that I claim made me miserable. The weather in Seattle has taken a turn for the colder and grayer, and I find myself missing the New York City fall. I am just thinking about how if I would have stayed, I would have just made my three year anniversary date at the Law Department.

But what can be said for choices that we make. I still lament things and wonder where I would be if I would have made different decisions a long time ago. Lately, my biggest regret is not pursuing the Foreign Service after I passed the written exam. Perhaps if I would have done so I now would be fluent in French and not someone who has to resort to watching French movies non-stop for any exposure to the French language. Maybe it wouldn't be French, but some other language. Maybe I would be more like my friends from college who actually live in or work regarding the countries that they studied.

I don't want to be this person who is contantly living life in the past tense. Part of my decision to move to Seattle was to be someone who acts in life, rather than someone who lets things happen to them. One thing that I realized from this move is that although much of life is about taking your destiny into your own hands (as trite as that may sound), most of life is actually learning how to absorb the shocks and blows that you are dealt (I am trying to avoid an even more trite expression). I realize this sounds completely non-sensical when compared to my previous post regarding how I am single-handedly responsible for all of the world's faults.

We all are entitled to be somewhat contradictory - kind of like the contradiction of Manhattan and the Bronx both being a part of the same city and both being places that I love.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I really need to start posting my pictures again on my blog. My blog is dreadfully boring without them. I really need to stop being so cheap and just get the internet at home for my laptop.
My French obsession continues - now in the form of watching Francois Truffaut films - last night it was Mississippi Mermaid. I have decided that if I ever do get married, I would like a wedding dress like crazy Catherine Deneuve in that film. Tonight, I am going to rewatch The 400 Blows, which I have been meaning to do for quite a while, since I have forgotten it from my BYU International Cinema days.
I finished reading the book The Emperor's Children, by Claire Messud.

It was a pretty good read. Since I am only a couple of years away from 30, am having serious career angst, and have lingering issues about growing up, I could definitely relate to some of the characters. I have frequently looked at others in my peer group and seen them doing so much at the same age as me and have felt like I have failed to live up to my potential. It was well written and although I didn't completely enjoy some of the plot developments, it was one of the better books that I have completed this year.

On to the next book - a history of the Indian Ocean during the age of colonialism, that I picked up from Elliot Bay the other night, and whose title is escaping me right now.

I will come back to this entry and try to post some pictures of the weekend that I spent with my sister in town. Sarah was here interviewing for a Post Doc position, because she is totally a science genius and is in high demand. I think she is going to go to Boston, but nonetheless, it was fun to try to woo her to Seattle. Seattle cooperated, with great weekend weather.
Saturday we woke up and went to Greenlake to run. Sarah ran for 2.5 hours, and I didn't make it anywhere close to that, but I did play 2.5 hours of tennis, which is always great fun (Note: I am now bouncing the ball an odd number of times before I serve). We also went to Bumbershoot that afternoon (after a brief stop at Natacha's wedding reception), which had the following highlights - Blondie, Roller Derby, Rogue Wave, and seeing Rebecca from San Francisco! That girl is one of the best things about the West Coast.
Sunday, we took the ferry to Bainbridge, and then saw lots of salmon at the Ballard Locks.
Monday, we tackled Mount Rainier, with Sarah running up the side of the mountain, and David and I doing whatever we could to will ourselves up its steep climbs.
Tuesday, after work, Sarah reminded me what it was like to actually go to the gym. If Sarah did move to Seattle, I would be in much better shape.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Who is to blame?

I could list out 101 reasons why I should never have chosen to become an attorney. Yesterday, was more manifestations of those reasons. I appeared at an asylum interview for a client I have from Somalia. It was a trainwreck. Today, and probably for all of the days forward, I will continue to blame myself for everything that goes wrong, not only in this case, but in every single case that I handle. I have such a trememdous guilt conscience that I can somehow trace everything that goes wrong in the world back to some deficiency in me. The collective weight of the world's sins are somehow my fault.
Writing it like that, it seems the most unreasonable proposition one can make. Yet somehow, it seems entirely logical in my mind. This is why I cannot be an attorney. I cannot stop blaming myself when things go wrong in people's lives, with whom I interact. When I don't win, the fault for losing the case is entirely on me. Perhaps if I was doing some type of law where the outcome of the cases didn't affect people in such a personal way I could deal with it. But when losing means my client potentially being deported back to a war torn county that has lacked a central government for 16 years, I just cannot deal with it. I cannot. Maybe I can give her my life and my identity and I can go back to Somalia in her stead. That can be my penance. She can be Leslie, Mississippi born. It is the only thing that seems right.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Thank you Dr. Grey

I am starting to be concerned that I may be displaying symptoms of obsessive/compulsive disorder. I learned on Grey's Anatomy that around the age of 30 is when many people notice the onset of symptoms. It is a good thing we can diagnose ourselves thanks to television these days. Anyway, the symptoms that I have been manifesting is this - I have been trying to practice my French lately, and I will keep repeating the same French phrase over and over and over again, until I say it right. But then, it isn't just okay to say it right once, because it could have been a fluke, so I will keep saying it over and over again. The second behavior is this - when I play tennis, I have to bounce the ball an even number of times before I serve it, otherwise I cannot function, because I am sure I am going to get a double fault. No matter what I have to do that. I am hoping that these behaviors are not signs of OCD but rather are signs of being a perfectionist and superstitious.

By the way, Wide Angle on PBS last night was fascinating. It was on "Turkey's Tigers", about fundamentalist Turkish Capitalists. This one capitalist has built quite a business in selling modest Turkish clothing for women, and talked alot about the need for respect of women, and as they were showing women walking through the bazaar in Istanbul, I kept thinking to myself how interesting this was because when I was walking through that bazaar, Turkish men kept grabbing my ass, and I am sure they were Muslim. I guess I can't be positive that they were Turkish or Muslim, but I know it wasn't Blaine, who I was with in Turkey (although at the time, I probably wouldn't have minded so much if it was), so I go with the odds of who it could have been in a crowded Turkish market.

Here is my last unconnected thought for the day - it is August, and in Seattle the high temperature today was only supposed to be in the 60s. That is just wrong. I am sitting here in my office freezing, because the AC is still on, and I know outside it is going to be just as cold, if not colder. Climate change fails me when I need it most.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Let's Look On the Brightside!

This week has not had alot of happy news. I could sit and write today about I may be paying $4 for gas in WA soon, or about how annoying it may be to fly to Utah tomorrow, but since there is so much sadness in the world these days (Lebanon, Iraq, Darfur, etc.), I am going to try to to write about something positive for a change in my own life. Here are some good things:

1. The DC United/Real Madrid Game: It was so much fun. We sat three rows off the field, close to where the players entered and exited the field. My favorite MLS team, led by my favorite MLS players, Ben Olsen and Freddy Adu, tied Real Madrid in a game of some exciting soccer. Not only did the game provide me with a rare opportunity to showcase my DC United scarf, but it also gave me an opportunity to scream very loudly and appear on the Jumbotron. Life was complete.

2. My Sudanese friend Thichiot received a generous settlement offer from American Seafoods to settle his claim against them for the frostbite incident that led to his amputations. I was so happy for him. Now, Thichiot will have the money to go to Ethiopia and see his sick wife and have money to pay for his medical care. It is proof to me that every so often, one can find justice here in these United States.

3. David and I got to have dinner with Brigham and Jennie! Unfortunately, Brigham and Jennie are relocating to DC next month, which I won't focus on since this post is supposed to be happy and positive. We at dinner at Kingfish, which is a delicious soul food restaurant on Capitol Hill. The restaurant had some of the most delicious collard greens and I also got to eat red velvet cake! That alone would have made for an outstanding evening, but talking to Jennie and Brigham only made the evening even better. I am going to miss them alot when they leave the Pacific Northwest. I don't have many friends here, let alone friends like them who have so many interesting things to say.
BONUS: The bonus from dinner with David, Brigham, and Jennie is that in the middle of this restaurant in Seattle, Washington, Mike Johnson, one of my sister Sarah's friends from middle school and high school in Pensacola, walked in. It was a pretty odd coincidence. Sarah and Mike did a history fair project together in high school about Jimi Hendrix, and now, here we were blocks away from the famous Jimi Hendrix statue on Broadway. Mike Johnson introduced Sarah to alot of music, who in turn introduced a lot of great music to me and Melissa. It was crazy seeing Mike Johnson. I mean, my mom taught him in middle school.

4. This has now reminded me of one other item of good news - Sarah is coming to visit for Labor Day weekend. I am looking forward to that.

Aren't I just the picture of positivity today?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

That is exactly what I said Freddy!

'The crowd cheered a little too much for the other team,' joked Adu after the game. 'I thought this was America.'

More on how much I loved the DC United/Real Madrid game last night when I have the chance to write more later! It was beautiful.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On my media...

Goodness my blog looks boring now that I do not have internet access to my home computer (and my wireless card in my laptop is broken). I need to stop being so cheap, but it is difficult these days, considering I am trying to save money for library science school and gas prices in Washington State may be going up to near $4 a gallon. I guess that means no more weekend trips to beautiful places around the Pacific Northwest. After this weekend's trip to North Cascades, the idea of not being able to take weekend road trips makes me incredibly sad. Saturday was another day filled with beautiful glacier fed rivers and lakes, and a perfect blueberry shake.

So, I guess my life will more consist of the media that I can consume close to home. So here is my post on the media that has consumed me as of late:

Movie: Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby - The main impact that this movie had on me was the following: It made me want to go visit Grammy in North Carolina, where the movie was filmed, and it made me want to eat at Applebees. That is a pretty powerful piece of advertising. However, the overly crude children in the beginning of the film really bothered me. Luckily, they reformed, thanks to their Southern grandma. Everyone needs one.

DvD/Television: Gilmore Girls - I am all about the Gilmore Girls these days. My weekend splurge included purchasing the Season Five dvd, which I have been watching nonstop since then. I missed Season 6 all year long, so I am catching up on reruns of that as well. I can't explain why the smart talking female duo just entertains me so much, but they do. Maybe it is because of all of the literary references.

Music: I just got the French chanteuse Camille's latest album. It is fairly entertaining. Ever since Paris, I have felt the overwhelming need to immerse myself in the French language, to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, now when I am not tuned into NPR in my car, I listen to French music. If only they had French NPR in America - then I would be set!

Books: Well, I am still working on Emma, Middlemarch, and also Alexandra Fuller's Scribbling the Cat. I also have to note, I recently became a free subscriber to the Seattle Times. It is no New York Times, but it is a fairly good morning read. And, I really enjoy those Sodoku Puzzles.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Late Summer Reading

I decided to read Emma and Middlemarch this week. I actually have not read Emma before, and seeing as how my days are spent full of stories of people who fail to live happily ever after, lately I have been finding some peace in Jane Austen's wonderfully lighthearted Highbury. Middlemarch may not be quite so optimistic, but it is a book that I have been meaning to read for quite some time. All I think about during my days at work is how much I want to get home so I can read in the afternoon. It certainly does not bode well for my social life, but that was pretty much nonexistent anyway.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

DOMA DOMA DOMA

Yesterday the Washington Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the state's Defense of Marriage Act. Since I am still passing as a lawyer, I suppose I should take this opportunity to weigh into my views on the court's decision.
First, a note with regard to my personal views on gay marriage - I am totally unsure of what I think anymore. I honestly am not aroused with strong passion on either side of the issue. From a religious point of view, I believe that marriage is ordained to be between a man and a woman, but since I generally believe religious views should not have any place in determining public policy, I am more restrained in my views about what the government should do. Generally, I believe that people should have equal rights, and so I believe that some kind of civil union status seems appropriate. The fact is people should be able to determine for themselves who they wish to enjoy rights to their estate, to make medical decisions, and so forth (from a practical sense - people making wills, powers of attorneys and so forth can handle many of those concerns In fact, my view used to be that I thought the government should only sanction civil unions and then it is up to appropriate religious bodies and so forth to call the relationship a "marriage" or whatever, because from a civil law standpoint, that would treat people equally. But then I realized that would be impossible to impliment because it require a vast reworking of all family laws in every jurisdiction in the country. My solutions for problems are always impractical (I will later post my solution to America's oil dependency).
So, since my personal views on the subject are so disjointed these days, what I will post is my view of the Washington Supreme Court ruling. Yesterday, I tried to read the plurality decision, the concurrence, the dissent, and the concurrences to the dissent. All in all, it was just too long, but I think that I got through enough to understand the gist of the constitutional law ruling. First of all, I generally have to say that the plurality decision which upheld DOMA, was clearly centered in existing law. Based on my law school and bar exam knowedge of constitutional law, the plurality opinion made sense. There is no appeals court that has found that homosexuals are entitled to strict scrutiny protections or that there is a fundamental right to same sex marriage on the basis of the federal constitution. the Massachusetts ruling based its decision on its state constitution, and the Washington State Constitution's privileges and immunities clause only applies to minorities who are treated favorably (ie favoritism), not the other way around.
Second, I think that the court was correct in applying rational basis review to the legislation. This is the part of the opinion where I think most commentators get the ruling wrong - some commentators state that the court found that marriage between a man and a woman only is valid because of the procreative value of marriage between heterosexual couples. So basically, these commentators conclude that the court was ruling that procreation is what makes marriage between a man and a woman entitled to protection. Therefore, what about heterosexual couples that don't/can't produce offspring? Well, that is not what the court ruled at all. What the court said is that the legislature grounded their legislation on the basis of protecting children and the inherent benefit of reserving special rights to marriage because it is a relationship that facilitates the procreation of offspring, and that was rational basis for the state's interest in designing DOMA. Rational basis review isn't concerned with whether the legislation is over/underinclusive (meaning that just because not all married couples don't have kids, and because some kids are born outside of marriage doesn't mean the legislation isn't valid). It is only whether the legislature came up with a rational basis. Granted, as pointed out by the court, some of the legislators who sponsored the bill were bigots and clearly were motivated by bias against same sex couples. However, the state succeeded, according to the court, in showing the legislative intent was not motivated by bias.
The first thing I have to say about the dissents - Justice Bridges lost my respect when the dissent actually cited to Brokeback Mountain and Will and Grace. Pop culture in law decisions is never a good idea. The dissent also quoted a BYU Journal of Public Law article, which I found humorous, on a personal level. The dissents, taken as a whole, were extremely passionate. I don't think passion is a bad thing (it is what guides what I do every day), but at the same point in time, in the legal climate that we live in, I do believe there is absolutely a value in the judiciary not ruling based on their passions, and grounding their opinions in settled law. Why? Because, for too long have conservatives been blaming liberals for "judicial activism" overruling the will of the people. Now, I think that conservative judges are more guilty of this, particularly on a national level (the present conduct of the Supreme Court, as a perfect example). I want conservative judicial activism to take the spotlight (in rolling back environmental legislation, and other areas where conservatives have run completely wild in rolling back important legislation and regulation), and I want people to stop blaming all of America's problems on supposed "liberal" judges. To me, the dissents read exactly like what some paint liberal activist judges to be - where the judge has an opinion on what the outcome to be and will grasp at any legal straw to get there. They resorted to citing trial court and unpublished opinions from other states to get there. It just isn't what a supreme court opinion is supposed to be.
That being said, it is a legislative issue. It has to be. I am all about the 14th amendment and extending civil rights to people. It is one of the things that made the Supreme Court in the 1960s so great. But those same issues are not before us today. I think that it is compelling that in a state like Washington, we have been able to pass real anti-discrimination laws. I think that legislatively, there are not the same barriers that existing in the 1960s. I haven't seen anything yet that has persuaded me that the state doesn't have some interest in regulating marriage. If the state does have some interest in regulating it, then to me that makes it fertile grounds for legislation.
This is long and disjointed, because as I said, I don't really know what I think on this topic anymore. I just felt the need to say something.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The free visors continue

So my sister Sarah sent me another free visor for my birthday! Woo Hoo! It is a 2005 North Carolina National Championship visor, so it is particularly special. I am just totally set for playing tennis this summer. It is going to be a scorcher her in Seattle today (This is the day of the year when the high is 90 degrees), and I am going to the Mariners/Red Sox game tonight to cheer loudly against the Red Sox, so perhaps my sun visor will come in handy there too.

But first I have to go to court and complete a court hearing which I am dreading. This week has been overwhelmingly stressful and I hate being a lawyer. I don't know how I could have picked a career that I am so ill suited for.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Get on the phone Kofi!

President Bush's overheard remarks yesterday to Prime Minister Tony Blair, actually gave me more confidence in the president than any rehearsed statement he has made since he has taken office. Slate has an excellent article in the exact same phenomenon. Aside from President Bush's misuse of the word irony, he actually sounded like he knew what he was talking about yesterday. And, he actually sounded like he believed diplomacy was important. It was refreshing to hear it from a President that I lost any confidence in so long ago. Even though I don't agree with the President's unabashed support of Israel (their response and infliction of harm on the civilian population of Lebanon has just been too disproportionate for my taste), I like to see that he is actually thinking.

For my birthday weekend, David and I went hiking in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park. It was a perfect sunny day in the rainforest, which was green as far as the eye could see. Unless you looked down, that is. If you looked down, you would just see mud. But I think that it is important to get dirty now and then. We ate dinner at a delicious French Restaurant, Chez Shea on Saturday night. Thus, my birthday was pretty well spent. Of course, that is if you don't count the distressing event of having that time of the month and its associated symptoms overlap with a day when I was already stressing out about my ticking biological clock and fear that menopause is closer than ever. At 28, I am starting to worry about such things.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Yesterday, I was reading two of my old journals, one from my sophomore year of college, the other from my second year of law school, and they made me depressed. I was not depressed because I was humiliated at how much time I invested in pointless relationships (note to self: never advise a girl to write a paper for a boy, much less write a paper for a boy who cheats on you). Rather, I was depressed because I used to be so much more thoughtful and articulate. I would read Erich Fromm and comment for pages about the lack of overt authority in modern society. Now, what have I become? I write blog entries about free sun visors. Sigh. This is why I need to be a student again. For me it must be complete impracticality or mind numbing boredom.
In other news, I am still stuck on this world cup Zinadine Zidane head butt situation. On All Things Considered during my drive home from work yesterday, I was privileged to hear the new French dance song, "Coup de Boule." I wish I could find a link to that song. I love it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Two free Visors in One Week

My blog is significantly less interesting without having access to the internet at my house. I haven't been able to upload any pictures, and just my words can be dreadfully boring to read. Maybe I will have to pay for internet access...
The good news about last week is this - I went from owning zero sun visors to owning two sun visors in one week! They both were free, too! My mom gave me her Wake Forest Sun Visor after I used it at the beach on Tuesday and made a statement like, "I sure wish I had a visor like this for when I play tennis." Then, on Friday night, we went to the Mariners game and it turned out to be "Ladies Night" at Safeco Field. Thus, they gave to all of the Ladies, a free Mariners visor. It turned out to be useful at the game, too, because it was quite sunny. In Seattle in July, the sun does not set until after 10:00 pm, making an evening game feel like an afternoon game.
In more somber news, I am incredibly sad about France's World Cup performance yesterday. Of course, the antics of France's star Zidane were pretty hilarious. I guess if I was French, I would feel humiliated, the way I do when an American does something completely aggressive and reckless. But since I just happen to like France, and since I do not have any children that look up to Zidane as a role model, I just get to be entertained by the whole disgraceful showing.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Back again to gray

Growing up, I was so anxious for the time when I would finally be able to leave Pensacola, now I am sad whenever I have to leave it. Maybe it is because now that I am older I have finally learned how to appreciate my family. Maybe it is because I now live in a place where the water is too cold to swim at any time during the year and in the summer I just want to live in a bathing suit. In Pensacola, I was nearly able to accomplish this. We went swimming, sailing, kayaking, on trips to the beach. Of course, I also was able to play a fair amount of tennis, which was also quite lovely.
At the end of the day, no matter how I try to mask it, I am Southern. I am Southern because the older I become, the more connected to my roots I want to feel. The more I question as to why I live so far away from the people that I love and landscapes that I know. Even though the shape of the Gulf Islands changes with every passing hurricane, it is still the place I know best. I am beginning to appreciate familiarity a little bit more.
So I was sad to sad to leave and come back to my world of family law cases. Perhaps if I had a job which I could stand just a small bit more it wouldn't make me so weepy to come back. Or perhaps if at least the weather was somewhat more cheery when I returned instead of so gray and overcast.

Friday, June 30, 2006

My summer reading list

Reason #1 why I should be a librarian: What I am best at in this life is reading books. I get giddy inside of really great book stores. I love a day spent lost between book stacks.

Since I am headed to Pensacola this weekend, I picked up my summer reading books this week. This is what I chose for my continued liberal arts education:

For my modern literature and contempary world affairs class:

It is a rather lengthy book, but considering its setting is Southern Sudan I am already engrossed in it.

For my biology/genetics class:


Considering I spent part of my junior/senior year of high school and freshman year of college toying with the notion of studying genetics, I am excited to renew this old obsessive interest. I had forgotten all about the purpose of ribosomes.

For my history class:


I adore spices and frequently wish that I was in a place (like Zanzibar) that grows them. My life would be less complete if I didn't have spices for my culinary pleasures. Therefore, I should learn the history of their use among humanity.

So that is what I will be reading at the beach this weekend. Sigh, the beach. I can't wait to go home!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Do Marmots enjoy Paul Simon?

There comes a time in every adult person's life when you suddenly realize that the party you are attending is the party that your parents' were attending when you were a kid. All of a sudden, it makes you realize that you are not a kid anymore. Instead of being left at home with the babysitter, or even being the babysitter, you have suddenly passed through to the other side - you are now the reason for the babysitter. I had just such a moment Friday night. David and I attended the birthday party of David's co-worker. Instead of sitting at home with the babysitter, eating delivered pizza and playing Battleship, we were eating catered brick oven pizza and antipasto on a patio with other grown-ups talking about immigration and health care policy. Although I realize I have been boring people for many years at parties by discussing heath care and immigration policy, the whole evening, made me realize I now live in a world of mortgages and tax considerations. The soundtrack of this world is Paul Simon and Rod Stewart. The Paul Simon song, I can gladly take. My premature affection for Paul Simon probably indicates that this world is the world in which I was meant to reside. If I was married or had kids, I would have returned home at the end of the night to find them tucked into bed with the babysitter asleep on the couch.
Luckily, aside from giving an immigration workshop for the Southern Sudanese Community on Saturday morning, the rest of the weekend was less adult. We finally went to Mt. Rainier National Park on Saturday. The weather here has been warm and beautiful, and at 5,000 feet above sea level, the meadows are still covered with snow in spite of 70 degree temperatures. I wish I had my home computer connected to the internet, because then I could post pictures of all of this loveliness, but that will have to wait until a later date. On Saturday, we went to the East side of Rainier and hiked the aptly named "Summerland" trail. The enormous cedars and pines offered ample shade, and everwhere streams flew by us carrying the heavy early summer snow run-off.
One observation on the drive through rural Pierce and King Counties to get to Rainier - I actually saw a sign about how the UN wants to take your gun away. I felt like I was back in Southern Utah driving on one of my hiking outings! Interestingly enough, the town where I saw the sign, Enumclaw, recently made the news here because of a huge beastiality ring that was busted up by the state. It resulted in an anti-beastiality law finally being passed by the state of Washington. This too reminded me of Southern Utah, leading me to scientifically conclude that that the more anti-UN sentiment that exists, the higher the likelihood if incidents of beastiality.
On Sunday, after church, David and I drove to the Southwest side of Rainier. We drove to Paradise, still covered in snow, and observed the multiplicity of waterfalls and the tumultousness of the rivers and streams. The chasms cut by glaciers were remarkable and led me to think about just what would happen if a laharoriginated right then. David was pleased because we finally observed some wildlife - a marmot, poking around in some newly exposed grass.
It was a nice exploratory trip of Rainier which made me realize just how much more I need to go back and get a closer look at.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I have an excuse for my lack of postings - I recently relocated to a new home in Seattle and have yet to set up any sort of internet connection at my home because lately I have developed an extreme spending money paranoia. Suddenly, it is too easy to envision myself as a pauper and the thought of spending any money whatsoever sends me into panic induced fits. I realize that this is not normal, but it is yet another one of my obsessive phases which I just have to make it through. Tomorrow, I am actually even opening up a savings account and depositing my entire paycheck which I just received this week. Since I have decided I want to go back to school to be a librarian, I need to save money for it. If I ever hope to retire or buy a house, I need to save money too. Goodbye Anthropologie. You sure were a beautiful place to visit.

In other news, I also have endured some water related tragedies as of late (which have been hard to take because of the positive relationship with water I try to cultivate). When I was in North Carolina, the sewer in my old house backed up and destroyed alot of my things which were packed in boxes on the floor, waiting to be moved (Goodbye other material possessions). Then, when I moved into my new house my landlord went out of town to Australia and my hot water heater broke (Hello cold showers and long stints between washing my hair). Luckily, that is now resolved and water and I are back to our mutual understanding.



Finally, on Wednesday night, I saw the movie, "The Heart of the Game," about the Roosevelt Roughriders Girls' Basketball team (from a high school here in Seattle). My boss, Ken Luce, plays an important role in the movie as he represented the star basketball player, Darnelia Russell, when the WIAA found her ineligible to play in her senior year, by arguing that in essence, the WIAA was discriminating based on her sex, because only 1/2 of the population could face not being able to play because of being a teen mother. I love sports movies about basketball, even more when someone I know is in them. Roger Ebert liked it. He even mentioned Ken. Even without my boss being in it, it is a well done sports documentary that reminds us that even girls' sports can be entertaining.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Is there hope?

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been in the news again lately. On my flight returning from North Carolina, I read the Time Magazine cover story on coditionsinside of the Congo, after the supposed end of the civil war there. Today, CNN has a story regarding President Kabila's reaction to a CNN story on rapes and atrocities commited by the Congolese army. It has me wondering, when is it possible to truly start hoping in a place like the Congo? When can a Congolese citizen truly belief that the nightmare that they have been living for so many years is truly over?

I don't think anyone knows enough about Kabila the Younger to know if he really is a trustworthy character. At least in the CNN article he seems like he truly has compassion for the people who have been suffering in his country. Is that enough? At the same time, as a military man himself, how naive does he have to claim to be to say that he didn't know about widespread allegations of rape and other horrors.

I want to be able to hope for Africa. Last night, I was reading Paul Rusesabagina autobiography and it makes me more conflicted than ever. I don't know what I, as an American, can do right anymore with regard to Africa. I have this intense feeling of urgency to do something, but after so many misguided efforts, I don't know what the West is supposed to do to do things right. In college I thought I had all the answers, but I was just ignorant of the complexity of things.

I also read this article today in the Seattle Times about the murder charges pending against Lord Delamere's descendent in Kenya with a great deal of apprehension and a loss for what is right and what is wrong. Clearly it is wrong to kill someone. It is also wrong to be a poacher. I don't think one is any excuse for the other, but being a white person in Africa is so complicated these days. My whole love affair with the Out of Africa of Isak Dineson is what started part of my obsession with Africa, and now that just makes me feel like an elitist imperialist.

I wish I was still able to make sense of these things.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Grammy is no "Grandma"

A visit to North Carolina is like a visit to my happy days of childhood. When I was in elementary school, I picked out my future house on the corner of Sharon Road and Sharon Lane in Southeast Charlotte. Everytime I would pass that house I would say, I am going to live there someday. When I was in high school, I attended a college summer program at Davidson College. I was sure that its red brick campus would be the place that I would spend my college years. The July I spent at Davidson I felt like it was exactly what college was supposed to be like. So when, due to finances, I ended up in dusty Utah valley at BYU, it took me a while to make my peace. Of course, North Carolina is the home of my mother's family - who reside on the shores of Lake Norman, created by a dam in the 1960s. It is the one dam in the world I have made my peace with, at least in part because that lake is where I learned to sail and waterski and have about a hundred happy family memories associated with it. Grammy and Grampy actually got the land because he worked for Duke Power when the lake was created. Then, it was out in the middle of nowhere. Now, it is an expensive suburb of Charlotte, where the property values keep increasing, causing Grammy to complain about the constantly increasing property taxes, crowds, and traffic. In the past couple of years, the forest across the street from Grammy's house has been cleared to make the way for expensive homes. It is sad. The shade I always valued has been greatly reduced. My cousin Jordan, who lives next door to Grammy with my Uncle Bob and Aunt Tana, complains that one of these new homeowners is "Satan" because he gives her a dirty look when she takes walks by his house. It is truly unfortunate when rampant suburbanization brings the Prince of Darkness to your neighborhood.

I took a redeye plane Friday night not only across country, but miles away from the stress that consumes my days in Washington. Seeing the tall North Carolina hardwoods again was instant therapy.

It is quite a change from the evergreens of Washington State.

Mom and Melissa picked me up from the airport and we went out to Grammy's house, where we also met Sarah, who had driven down from Chapel Hill the day before. It was great to see them. As usual, one of our first activities consisted of shopping. Typically, in the past this entailed driving into Charlotte and paying a visit to Southpark Mall. We were able to see the shady oaks of Myers Park and the Queens College Campus on our way in. Of course now, driving to Charlotte always involves, "too much traffic", and lucky enough for Grammy and us, some developers recently completed Northlake Mall, complete with all of our favorite chain stores (once we confirmed it contained Anthropologie), which is located much closer to Grammy's house. Grammy possesses one of the most blessed treasures of any shop-a-holic, a lifetime 20% discount for anything she purchases at Dillard's. Grammy finagled her way into such a treat when she was forced into early retirement when Dillards bought out Ivy's, where Grammy had previously been employed in the accounting department. Since our childhood, our wardrobes are greatly endebted to this special credit card of Grammy's.

Most of the remainder of the weekend was spent at the lake. The weather was perfect for swimming - the highs were around 90 degrees every day, a real treat for a chilly Seattleite like myself. The water was much warmer than anything in the vicinty of the Pacific Northwest.


Mom bought an inflatable two person kayak, which we all enjoyed immensely, even if all I could do was go in circles. Melissa fared much better than I did - perhaps because of her upper body strength because of years of swim team training, or perhaps because Mom owns a regular kayak that she and Melissa take out in Pensacola.


I can't believe my cousin Greg, who used to beg for us to tell him ghost stories and was obsessed by dinosaurs is now in college. It makes me feel like I am two hundred years old. Jordan, his sister, is our only other cousin on my mom's side of the family and is turning 17 in July. I am eleven years older than her almost to the day. Here are Greg, Melissa, Sarah, and Jordan enjoying Grammy's Sunday afternoon lunch on Grammy's back porch.


Is this a good time for me to interject how much I love Grammy's back porch? Aside from the everpresent wasps, it is one of my favorite places to sit and read or just admire the view in general.


All in all, it was a great three days. I was sad to go home. I love my family and being the sap that I am these days, I always cry when I have to say goodbye. Isn't that true, Mom?


So when I headed out to the Charlotte, Douglas International Airport, I was sad. The only upside to coming back to Seattle was that I was finally able to see David again - who was back from his family vacation in Europe. The sadness of coming back to Seattle was magnified by the fact that while I was gone, due to the magnitude of rain Seattle experienced during the weekend, the sewer in our neighborhood backed up and flooded our house. Some of my things were ruined. The fact that you are going back to a home with raw sewage is never a pleasant thought. Particularly since I am moving later this week and alot of my belongings were in boxes on the ground. What a sad way to leave North Carolina.

North Carolina is the best, in spite of its ever increasing tax demands.

**Note: Why is it that no pictures of Grammy appear? Grammy is a lady who does not like having her picture taken. It is too bad, because she is one of the hippest grandmother's around. We cannot buy Grammy a card that says "Grandma" on it. And in these increasing casual times, it is hard to find a card that says "Grandmother" on it instead of "Grandma." Trust me, it just sounds different.

Friday, May 26, 2006

My new attempts to be social

So after feeling pretty terrible for my lack of social abilities, on Tuesday evening, seeking to prove that I am actually capable of carrying on a conversation with other people, I went over to see David's friends Hank and Tyson since I was in their neighborhood, after going to the gym. Proving that I have yet to evolve into a mature social being, I performed my old college "drop by" to see them at their house, without calling first. Yes, I know that is incredibly rude and annoying at my age.

Nonetheless, it was fun to see them. We watched the Country Music awards which was exactly how any person would expect the Country Music awards to be - full of tributes to soldiers, American Flags, pickup trucks and Jesus. Of course, there were also some scantily clad women mixed in here and there, as well. So much for those family values. The thing that I find so shockingly disturbing about the country music world is that the country music world will condemn the Dixie Chicks for saying it is wrong to bomb innocent people as anti-American and anti-family values, but yet will embrace some redneck who writes some song about "honky tonk bidongky bonk" or some such nonsense which is just a euphamism for sex (and whose performance includes a dozen 90% naked women dancing around him). The country music world is full of hypocracy. I did appreciate Reba's comment at the end of that performance though, something like "What a great humanitarian (insert sexist, redneck, country music singer's name here) is. He is giving all of those young ladies work so they can afford to go out and buy some clothes." Oh Reba.

The next day I went to my friend Natacha's going away party. She is moving down to San Francisco. So that was two social events two days in a row! I am making progress.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Communards have nothing on me

Sunday night, my roommate had guests over to our house for a sushi party. I thought, this would be a great opportunity for me to attempt to utilize some social skills around people that I don't know very well. Well, I made my sushi, and about ten minutes into dinner, I ended up retreating to another room because I felt this insatiable urge to continue reading the book, Seven Ages of Paris, by Alistair Horne. I don't know what is wrong with me that I feel this intense need to bone up on my knowledge of Paris under siege in 1870 by the Prussians or about the Communards instead of engage in actual human interaction. During the course of my reading, I started freaking out that I had totally forgotten that 1848 was a year of revolutions all across Europe (except England), and then I realized that I needed to call my mom so she could make sure that she brought all of my European History books from my AP class my sophomore year of high school for when I see her this weekend in North Carolina.

So I guess it is official. I have now moved into another manic European history phase, except this time it is more about French history than British history. David should have never taken me to Paris. I have four days in the city and look what happens to me . . .

I use French history to take my mind off of the three days in a row I have to go to court because I hate it so much.

On the plus side, I learned alot about the history of Paris which makes my recent trip mean even more. Of course, it also has the side effect of just completely making me want to go back and explore more. Usually trips to other places do that to me. I made myself watch the film adaptation of Les Miserables again on Saturday night (the one with Geoffrey Rush and Claire Danes, etc.), just because I couldn't remember what rebellion it took place during (it actually was an unsuccessful rebellion in 1830 launched after the death of revolutionary hero General Lamarque against the monarchy of Louis-Philippe) and I don't have a copy of the book here.

I don't know what is wrong with me that I cannot engage in polite Sunday evening conversation and that I prefer a book which describes wealthy Parisians forced to eat rats while under a year long siege or about how Louis Napoleon's master architect, Georges-Eugene Haussmann covered Paris's new streets with macadam, to prevent people from tearing them up and using the street as a weapon in the event of future revolutions.

Friday, May 19, 2006

David gets to go everywhere

About right now David is taking off for another international trip. I dropped him off at the airport about an hour and a half ago. He is going to Barcelona, Spain to meet his parents and brother there. They will head off for a cruise - visiting Sicily, Naples, Rome, and Nice. I am jealous, to say the least. I have nothing but annoying family law cases to look forward to for next week. I do get to take the red eye to visit Grammy and my family in North Carolina next Friday night, but still . . . I mean I have to be at work all week.

Hopefully, David won't face the results of this survey which was recently done showing attitudes of people in different countries towards America. It seems like they just don't hate George Bush anymore, but they are actually starting to hate all Americans. Who can blame them? On most days, I hate many Americans too. Sometimes I am embarassed to see other Americans when I am traveling outside of the US. I try to be especially quiet, and non-confrontational to contradict the loud American stereotype. Granted, I don't think it is fair that the world stereotypes all Americans, but it happens.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Everyone hated Da Vinci

Poor Ron Howard. It seems like everyone is protesting The Da Vinci Code these days. The critics hate it. The movie opened up to Cannes and heard the audience hiss instead of applaud. The Catholic Church is up in arms. Everyone is outraged at Tom Hanks haircut. Perhaps the funniest protest I heard about the movie was a Muslim man in India who was outraged at the movie because it depicted Jesus, a prophet in Islam. The BBC reporter who was interviewing him said, "but there is no one actually portraying Jesus in the movie." And the Indian guy was like, "Oh, I didn't know that."

The person that I feel the worst for in all of this is Audrey Tatou. I still think she is fabulous.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In the latest Plague news

Seems the bubonic plague has been detected again in Utah. It makes me want to go to Southern Utah again...sigh.

I guess things are back to normal after my return from Paris. . .

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mardi

Another morning in Paris, another start to the day with the delightful pain au chocolat at Le Meridien's breakfast buffet. That and the tasty blood orange juice were my two favorite morning treats. I wish that US orange juice was made out of blood oranges. They have so much more flavor.
Again, on Tuesday, I was on my own again for most of the day. I decided that I would spend the morning a little bit farther from the beaten tourist track, because when I came to Paris, I said I wanted to visit Parks and Cemetaries. Aside from a quick walk by the Cimetiere de Montmartre and a quick stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries on my way to something else, I had failed to accomplish this. So today, I decided to head over to the northeast side of Paris and go to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, where I could pay homage to Marcel Proust, Moliere, and Edith Piaf.
When I arrived at Buttes Chaumont, there was a light rain falling, but the Park was seemingly quiet, green, and serene. That is, it was quiet and serene until I noticed dozens of primary school children, all about five or six years old, out running through the park, apparently in their physical education class. They all screamed as they ran. Oh well, I infinitely prefer screaming French five year olds to lousy, American tourists any day. Here are some pictures of how beautiful that park is:


After exploring the park and its environs, I went to pull my cell phone out of my bag so I could check the time. Because I was supposed to meet David at 14:45 that day, and I lacked a functioning watch, I needed my cell phone so I could make sure of the time. Unfortunately, it was the day that I left my cell phone at the hotel. So, I was faced with a decision - continue on to Pere Lachaise and go retrieve my cell phone afterwards, giving up my visit to the Musee D'Orsay or go back to the hotel and give up my trip to Pere Lachaise. Since it was beginning to rain harder, I decided to forgo Pere Lachaise for the time being (there is always my next trip to Paris), and go back to the hotel before heading to the Musee D'Orsay. Of course, I probably could have gotten by without having my cell phone to tell time, but that would have required me instigating a conversation with someone else, which still put me in dire fear, even for asking a simple question.

After retrieving my phone, I made my way to the Musee D'Orsay. Wow. What a line. It was easily an hour and a half wait to get into the museum, and it was raining. Waiting in the line, I noticed my first college sweatshirt that I had seen in Paris - some guy wearing a University of Utah sweatshirt. About five minutes later I saw another guy wearing a Utah State sweatshirt. Leave it to those Utahans.

About 45 minutes into waiting in line, I realized that since I already had bought a four day museum pass, I didn't have to wait in line and I could go through the reserved entry door. Although I should have realized that forty five minutes ago, I was just happy to get out of the line and go through the door because I had only made it about halfway through the line.

The Musee D'Orsay's collection contains many of the paintings that most people commonly think of when they think of France. Its collection is focused only on the years from 1848 until 1914 and is pretty much divided into pre-impressionism, impressionism, and post-impressionism. The Musee d'Orsay is located in a converted turn of the century railroad station, so its main hall is open and full of light.


It is significantly smaller and not as overwhelming as the Louvre, which is definitely a good thing. It also houses some of my favorite paintings including, Renoir's "Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette" which he painted in Montmartre.


It also was the home of this van Gogh work which I didn't know before but is now one of my favorites because I love the cascading waves of green and blue paint.


I particularly enjoyed the exhibition on Art Nouveau design and decorative arts as well.


The museum also contains Rodin's "Gates of Hell", plenty of Degas's ballet paintings, and more nude routund ladies which again, do so much to boost one's self-esteem. All and all, I loved the d'Orsay.

After the d'Orsay, I had to hurry up to the Opera where I was to meet David at 2:45. He had a break from listening to his French focus groups, so we were going to do some shopping in the Opera district. David bought a shirt, but all I bought was some delicious chocolate. I realized that I had forgotten to learn how to convert my US size to French sizes and I didn't want to ask anyone about it and seem like a dumb American tourist. Oh well, the last thing that I need to buy is more clothes. Next time I am in Paris . . .

David and I had a late lunch at a bistro on the Boulevard des Capucines. Then, he had to head back to work, and I did a little more shopping to pick up some things for my new house where I am moving in a few weeks. I have decided on a new decorating scheme, so I found some little accents for my kitchen that should be nice.

I went back to the hotel to drop off my bags and take a quick twenty minute power nap. Then, I decided upon an evening walking tour of Montmartre. Even though I had already been there once, I decided it would be a lovely way to end my Paris experience and also try to find Le Cafe des Deux Moulins, where Amelie worked, which would make my brief Parisian trip complete. I had a guide book which featured an excellent walking tour of Montmartre which would take my by some of the buildings and studios where artists such as Van Gogh and composers such as Eric Satie lived and worked.

As I began my walking tour through the narrow streets surrounding Pigalle (home to many of Paris's famous sex shops and cabaret acts) I saw this on the street:

I really wonder what Provo means. Was it a gang of tough BYU study abroad kids marking their territory? I guess I will never know.

My path wound around up and down the Montmartre hill. I deviated from the suggested walking tour route hoping to find des Deux Moulins. Where could it be? I continued to walk and walk, until my feet no longer felt like they were a part of my body. I still couldn't find it. I stopped off at a pastry shop to buy a treat for David when he got home from work. I window shopped at cute boutique stores that I wished were open so I could buy fun Montmartre skirts. I kept walking. Finally, I decided it was not meant to be, so I headed up La Rue Lepic, towards the Blanche Metro stop. Then, in a moment, there it was before me - Cafe des Deux Moulins:My Paris experience was complete! I headed back to the hotel, and made it back by 9:00. David arrived shortly thereafter, preparing to make some conference calls for work. This is why there are no pictures of David for the past two days:

This is the way my feet looked after I made it back to the hotel.

We woke up the next morning and had to say goodbye to Paris. It was a sad day, and to add to the sadness of the day, the hostess for the breakfast buffet sat us at a table that didn't have pain au chocolat. It was a sad, sad day. We made our way to Charles de Gaulle airport and spent some time in the Red Carpet Lounge. We then said goodbye to Paris.

Here we are once again enjoying the comforts of business class on our way to Washington DC.

In DC, I said goodbye to David, who had to stop there fore work and transferred to my Seattle flight. This was of course, after the wretched experience coming through immigration and having Customs and Border Patrol people yelling at everyone. I missed France already.

Wow, writing this has made me sad all over again for having to leave Paris.