Monday, December 31, 2007

A Good Day Defined

This is an example of one good day. It begins in New Orleans and includes a trip here:


Which of course means that after a couple of beignets you end up looking like this:

And then you spend some time in Hattiesburg visiting with some charismatic children that you are related to that look like this:


This good day concludes by participating in this activity at dusk, preferably at a locale that is relatively isolated (like your parents' farm in Walthall County, Mississippi):




That is a great day.

Second example of a great day:

Wake up to a beautiful December day in Pensacola, Florida. Go to the gym with your Mom and spend some time on the eliptical machine and then in the Body Pump class. Then, go to get your hair cut and colored so that it looks like this:



Then, spend the afternoon playing tennis with your Mom in the seventy degree Florida Sunshine. Realize that you can hit the ball much harder now that you actually have some muscles in your arms.

Conclude the day by making a good, healthy dinner, and then blowing it all by eating the Sprinkles cupcakes that you make from the mix you purchased at Williams-Sonoma. Pet a dog named Ralph for the rest of the evening while watching an SEC-ACC bowl game, sponsored by your favorite fast food restaurant.

Remember these good days and be grateful for them in the wake of unexpected tragedies and losses that remind you of the fragility of mortality.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Post-Finals Update

After all of my papers were turned in for the term, I completely logged off the internet for awhile, while I caught up on my Christmas shopping. Perhaps in part because I haven't been shopping for so long, I seriously scored when it came to some pretty great finds last week. Some of the finds include:

1. A fantastic olive green World War II military style wool coat from Nordstrom. I can't help it, I put it on and I feel like some Soviet officer from World War II, trying to rout the Nazis out of Poland in the middle of winter.

2. A brown plaid BCBG shift dress.

3. The Disney DVD of my favorite Hayley Mills movie from the 1960's "Summer Magic".

4. After scouring the bookstores for some books to read during the break (can you believe that I have never read Mansfield Park), the best book find of the week was at the law library. I found the perfect book for me, International Law and Infectious Disease by David P. Fidler. Aside from attending Kansas as an undegrad, I basically would love to have this guy's CV.

5. Some fantastic gifts for the people on my Christmas list, that I cannot mention here, in the off chance that someone actually reads my blog.

Finally, on Saturday, David and I saw Juno, which has been getting such rave reviews, I couldn't wait another instant to see it. Even though they didn't have any scenes together, I really was excited to see Michael and George Michael Bluth on one screen again. Perhaps because the movie has been getting such fantastic reviews, I was a little bit let down. It was quirky and clever, and five years ago, I am sure that I would have thought this was the best movie of the year. But sarcastic, quick-witted teenage girls aren't the thrill that they once were to me. In fact, as a sign of just how much I have changed in the past few years, I actually was more affected by Jennifer Garner's role than Ellen Page's Juno. Sigh, I am getting old. Excellent soundtrack, though.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Favorite Forgotten Shakespeare Quotation

"I have done no harm. But I remember now
I am in this earthly world - where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly."

- Lady MacDuff

To Social Awkwardness

It appears that in my life I have the exact opposite problem from Michael Scott, on "The Office." Whereas he lacks any sort of self-awareness whatsoever, I am panfully self-aware of everything that I say and do. And that still provides for some of the most uncomfortable social situations imaginable; the kind that I am sure would be just as hilarious to an impartial observer. However it is phobia inducing to me. It is pretty bad when, in a room full of librarians, you can still manage to be the most socially inept and clumsy.

Friday night, I went with Carissa and Amanda to go bowling with several of our other library school classmates to celebrate the last day of class being finished. The first frame, the first ball that I threw, I fell in a painfully embarassing way, setting off the buzzer for committing a foul, of course, and ending up halfway down the lane. It was not my finest moment. Then last night, at the law library director's holiday open house, I spilled my drink all over her couch and totally bombed in my conversation attempts. Ouch. It was a fairly humiliating experience.

To console myself after the open house, David and I went and saw "Atonement", which I loved, and which David found depressing. After failing in two social events in one weekend, I welcomed the opportunity to sit in a dark theater and watch a movie about a love that was never meant to be because your sibling has your boyfriend arrested for a crime that he didn't commit.

When I returned back to my house, I saw that my new Netflix movies had arrived, and one of the movies that I got was "The Wind that Shakes the Barley." I thought to myself, SCORE! Because I was under the mistaken impression that James McAvoy was in that movie too. He is not. He is Scottish. Instead, it is Cillian Murphy, who is Irish, that is in that movie. There is a subtle but profound distinction between James McAvoy's puppy dog cute blue eyes and Cillian Murphy's mildly psychotic, creepy and threatening blue eyes.

Not to mention the fact that I think James McAvoy is pretty great because last year he got married to a woman who is nine years older than him and there is a quite from him on the IMDB page where he said, "I'm 5 foot 7, and I've got pasty white skin. I don't think I'm ugly, don't get me wrong, but I'm not your classic lead man, Brad Pitt guy." Cheers to pasty white skin. I have accepted mine.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gowns after Google

The last time I wrote, I stated that my wedding gown had not arrived yet. Well, now that doesn't even have to become a stress, because I got a call from the bridal salon that it came in yesterday. However, since I am in the midst of trying to complete my end of the term assignments, the earliest that I have time to try it on is next Wednesday. This means that if it needs alterations, I might not be able to get that started until after I get back to Seattle in January. I am hoping that since the dress was made exactly to my measurements, it will not require too many alterations (except, I am being optimistic now, maybe some taking in). It does give me something to look forward to as a reward for finishing up my assignments, though.

And here is a follow up note on my assignments: If I do say so myself, I am an excellent researcher. Granted, I am still early on in my library career and I have alot to learn, but at this point, I feel okay about where I am in that regard. For one class, I have an assignment due on Monday that required me to find one person who had a research need and do that research for them. For the better part of my college and post-college career, this is the most useful function that I have served for people. I actually get excited when people ask me to find some information for them on a particular topic. When I worked in New York, I would tell my collegues to give their research questions for me when they had to answer a motion, and I would happily do their research. In college, I would volunteer to do research for friends' papers. Even after being dumped by boys, I would still spend weekends researching their paper topics for them. So finally, this skill is actually being graded. I did research for my mom who is setting up a learning community of teachers to discuss how to apply differentiation strategies in middle school math classes. Although I had no idea what that meant when she gave me the topic, I am pretty pleased with the results that I found for her.

The next step is to get someone to pay me for researching for them full time. That is a bigger challenge than just being graded on your research skillz.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Less than Four Months to Go! Have some sugar!

I realize that our wedding planning is almost completely done, and I have scarcely posted a word about that process. I don't know what all of these people are talking about when they describe wedding planning as being one of the most stressful things. Currently, the only thing that is causing me any amount of stress when it comes to wedding planning is whether or not David will ever get his suit delivered from Neiman Marcus. However, since it has been four months since I have ordered my gown, I am getting mildly nervous about that. But it isn't anything remotely stressful at this point in time.

As far as the planning goes, we still have a few tasks to accomplish, like getting the music list squared away with the DJ (in other words, making sure that he plays exactly what I tell him to play); sending out our invitations (we should be getting them next week); collecting the RSVPs and planning the seating chart (a task that seems quite delicious to me in a very sinister sort of way); coordinating the day before the wedding activity with friends; coordinating the two days before the wedding dinner with family; and assorted other minor details. Thanks to the brilliance of the Mormon Temple Ceremony, I have virtually nothing to plan for the actual ceremony. Thanks to the efficiency of Disney, planning for all of the reception details has been pretty easy and was virtually done in our one day marathon of meetings with our wedding planner, chefs, and florist.

As much as I enjoyed the menu tasting and discussing beautiful flowers, my favorite thing to pick out was the cake. I am completely excited for the flavors we have chosen - bottom level: marble cake with white chocolate filling; third layer: almond cake with amaretto filling; second level - red velvet cake with cream cheese filling; top level - also marble cake with white chocolate filling. In order to pick the design of the cake, Disney sent us this great cd that had a power point presentation of about 100 different cake designs. All of these designs are created by the Disney bakers and cake designers at the Grand Floridian resort bakery. The cakes ranged in design from the fairly simple to the ridiculously large and ornate:


Or how about this one to top off your Disney experience?

Disney calls it "Bridge to Happiness." I call it, one whiff away from a sugar/cheesiness induced coma.

David was fond of the Earthquake cake (which just coincidentally happened to be the most expensive cake on the list).

Something about the idea of an "Earthquake Cake" conjured up this disturbing mental image to me of starting out your marriage on a shaky foundation, and I just wasn't an enthusiastic supporter of the notion.

Instead, I favored the cakes that had an Austen-like appeal to me. They seemed traditional and elegant in a very Sense and Sensibility-type way.

Unfortunately, David didn't share my romantic sensibilities. So we didn't select any of these cakes for our big day. I won't ruin the surprise of what our cake will look like (there isn't a picture anyway, because it isn't a cake that Disney had done before exactly; we brought in some of our own elements).

Delicious cake, there is another incentive for people to come to Florida on March 28.

Wedding made simple, there is a big incentive for having your wedding reception at Disney World.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

dessert days of parties past

I am up late because I should be going over a last minute oral presentation that I have to give for a group project in one of my classes tomorrow. I had to take part of it over, because unfortunately, one of the younger members of our group wasn't performing up to par. However, instead of going over the power point presentation, I have been reading my journal circa 1999 and reading old emails and trying to remember what it was like to be 21 and irrational so I will gain greater sympathy for this member of our group. It isn't working. Although I was 21 and entirely irrational and entirely incapable of reading between the lines, I also possessed something else at that time that I now lack for all of the rationality that I have gained in that interim. That something was this wonderfully sensing nature, that I lost at some point in time in my life when I stopped trying to feel things too deeply. In fact, I had to stop reading my journal because it was more insightful than anything that I have written in the past couple of years. This is another lesson of why people should think twice before they go to law school. You may gain the ability to organize a well-reasoned argument, but you may lose the ability to intuit the way you once could as well as lose the ability to find meaning in the most seemingly absurd of events. I am not sure that the trade off is entirely worth it. I mean, I may be able to prove my point in the most reasonable of terms, but what is the point if you don't feel things as you once did?

A couple of Fridays ago, on PBS as a part of Bill Moyers' show, they played an interview that he had done with Desmond Tutu several years ago. I watched it and thought of how Tutu's book, No Future without Forgiveness, came out at just the right time in my life - November of 1999 after sustaining what was a pretty significant heartbreak in a most unexpected way. After seeing this old interview, I pulled the book out of one of my box of books in the basement and scanned the passages that I underlined at that time, to remind me of the good that human beings are capable of. I was so earnest and sincere at that time. Fortunately, I haven't sustained any heartbreaks in quite the same way lately (nor do I hope that I ever will again, thank you David James), but I feel like I need some other Desmond Tutu moment. Just something that I read to be the exact right thing to help me back into that sensitive state of mind where I once existed. I haven't had a book moment like that since perhaps the Erich Fromm phase of 2002. And I have read many, many books since then.

It is just these days, sometimes I can say something that seems entirely rational, but that can make everyone in the room think I am the most frightfully nasty person ever. Sometime since 2002, some strange phenomenon intervened that interferred with my ability to sense other people's feelings as well. Perhaps I just stopped trying, for the sake of an excuse to persist in crafting this expectation of a perfectly rational world around me. Maybe it is the political climate of the country since 2002; Bush's rhetoric about trying to create, through military means, the world that he views as best has affected my own personal interactions in an unconscious way that I would not have predicted from all of my rants against that precise foreign policy approach.

Maybe I just stopped reading that 8 year old journal because it reminded me that I used to feel so much about so many things in the world around me, that frankly, I have tuned out because I have become rooted in this practical existence. But reading it, I just realized how much I wanted to write like that again, but I need to feel like that again, first.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November 27 is here.

It is the day that officially allow myself to begin listening to Christmas music (as it is the day after my sister's birthday). This really didn't mean much in years past, but since the release of Sufjan Stevens' Christmas Collection, November 27 is officially one of my favorite days.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It is a blue day

Today was a good sports day.

BYU beat Utah in football to win the Mountain West. However, North Carolina beat BYU in basketball to win the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament. All is right with the world.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thankful

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have been thinking of some things for which I am thankful. One of those things is not that I am spending the Friday after Thanksgiving working on a very annoying legal research assignment. However, in engaging in some failproof procrastination, I was reminded of something in my life of which I am quite thankful, by running across an article on Yahoo about evangelicals and Mitt Romney that ultimately led me to this so called devotional who wrote that voting for Mitt Romney for President is the equivalent of casting a vote for the Prince of Darkness. Now this isn't because of any policy position or anything particularly evil in deed that Romney has done in his life. Nope. It is based solely on Mitt Romney's faith, which happens to be a faith which I also share. Wow. There is so much in that article that I don't even know where to begin. But here are a few highlights written by this pastor:

"I have been warning you for years now about this cult born out of the pits of hell and responsible for sending millions of souls to eternal damnation. For the nearly 200 years this cult has been in existence they have strived for mainstream acceptance. They are the most devious of all the cults since they have always tried to portray themselves as "just another Christian group" when in fact, they are no more Christian than a Muslim is! Their deception starts with their name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Sounds like a Christian church doesn't it?"

I always want to ask people who think of my chosen faith as a cult, what exactly is the qualification of a cult versues an actual religious denomination? Also, what qualifies upstate New York as "the pits of hell"? I mean, I guess upstate gets alot of snow in the winter, and that doesn't sound so heavenly to me, but hell, really?

"Knowing the satanic nature of the Mormon cult and the fact they have worldwide resources in the tens of billions, literally thousands of non profit and for profit corporations they control, it would be pocket change for them to funnel money and/or services to those Christian leaders who support Romney for President. Having been embarrassed when their ties to Moon's cult became public, I have no doubt that those who are in bed with Romney have been very careful to insure that however they are being rewarded for their support, it will be virtually impossible to discover.
Of course, the other component to those who are supporting Romney is power. Sadly, many evangelical leaders are also smitten with being "near the throne." Many of these men and women are willing to compromise the Truth in exchange for political power. They are willing to ignore the fact this hideous cult is leading millions to hell in order to be part of Romney's team. These leaders are nor driven by the Gospel but by political power!"


Well, now this guy is making allegations that our tithing money is being used to reward evangelicals who are supporting Romney's candidacy, because obviously, my church is financially supporting Romney's candidacy. Wow. Not only is this a conspiracy theory that even seems to insane for Oliver Stone to concoct, but if that were true, then that would mean that all Mormons are on a single-handed mission to make Mitt Romney president. Well, I am sorry to contradict this theory, but I am a Mormon who not only isn't supporting the Romney bid for the White House, but who also breathes a sigh of relief every Sunday before election day when we hear the statement read from the First Presidency that affirms the church's political neutrality. If only every other church had the same position, then perhaps we wouldn't have to listen to so-called men of God proclaim their political positions under the banner of religion. Of course, I am not so confident that other leaders necessarily want to encourage their flock to think for themselves, though.

The person who runs this so-called LivePrayer.com website really doesn't dignify a comment about this (after all, he also showed his complete lack of dignity by another so-called devotional that Govenor Romney show him his underwear, oh and then he directed another devotion to Ann Romney to tell her about how Mormonism doesn't understand the role of women). I keep trying to remind myself of this week's Sunday School lesson on the book of James and his counsel regarding controlling our tongues and being slow to wrath, because "pure religion" is accompanied by bridled tongues.

After all, this Jim Keller, who manages this LivePrayer.com shows what his real intent is on every page of his website:

"***TO GIVE A GIFT TO LIVEPRAYER, you can use your major credit card on our secure server at: www.liveprayer.com under the "Donation" link, you can give using your PayPal account using my email address: bkeller@liveprayer.com , or you can mail your gift to:
Liveprayer 6660 46th Ave. North St. Petersburg, Fl 33709
All gifts to Liveprayer are 100% tax deductible. "

It makes me upset to read such horrible things about my beliefs, but only for a brief moment. First of all, the concept of hell that Mr. Keller believes in isn't actually one that I find comforting at all. The plan of salvation that I believe in, after all, isn't based solely on faith, but actually on the concept that we as human beings are capable of doing great good in this world. My faith looks for good in the actions of others, because I believe that any good gift is actually a gift from God. I actually end up feeling even happier and luckier than I did before. Not only am I lucky to be able to believe in a Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ with whom I can have a personal relationship, but I am also not afraid of giving other people the right to worship, or not worship, God how they choose. My faith doesn't have to rely on spreading fear and telling other people that you know what they believe better than they do. I feel lucky that I do believe that Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet. I have never heard anything hateful or vengeful coming out of his mouth. True religion and pure religion isn't based upon such things. If you have to yell to be heard, then chances are, what you have to say probably isn't very powerful.

There are times in my life when I have felt ashamed, and even apologetic for the things that I claimed to believe. While being the first to acknowledge that I do not have all of the answers, nor am I anywhere close to perfect, what I do have now is a calmness and reassurance about what I believe. I still don't know how to talk about it with others. I don't want to offend anyone, nor do I wish to set myself up as someone else's punching bag for fun. But if I hear someone spreading false information about my faith, I certainly won't say nothing. I know how much happiness has come to me as I have learned and grown in my faith.

How can anyone, who hasn't felt what I have felt, tell me that I am wrong, that I made it all up?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I am not a Husky.

Last night, David was so proud of me. For one evening, I actually played the part of a good fiancee and suspended my own personal biases and cheered for Utah's basketball the team. The weird part is that it wasn't that difficult. Apparently, I have alot of animosity towards the University of Washington, even though this is the school that I currently am attending. Last night at the Preseason NIT tournament game that we attended, I screamed, probably for the only time in my life, "Go Utes," and actually meant it.

Background: I have hated the University of Utah basketball team since 1998 when they beat North Carolina in the Final Four. When it comes to basketball teams, I don't forgive and forget.

When I went to the game, I thought that I would be apathetic as to who would win the game. I thought, either way I wouldn't really care because both teams were mediocre and irrelevant. However, I hadn't been sitting in my seat for longer than five minutes, when I realized how much I was going to cheer for Utah. As the game progressed, the reasons for this unexpected situation became clearer:

1. The Washington Student Section - These kids modeled themselves on the Cameron Crazies, as if someone had videotaped what those Duke morons do throughout the entire game, and the Husky student section did the exact same obnoxious activities. If you are going to be ridiculous and obnoxious, at least get your own schtick.

2. The Other Washington Fans - It is so unsurprising that UW is a school with no basketball tradition. Their fans are complete idiots. They booed the ref for making all sorts of obvious, fundamental calls. Sorry fans, it actually is called offensive goaltending to hit the ball in when it is sitting on the rim; Oh, and if your player slides across the floor (and hence travels) and ends up on the sideline, and then is subsequently bumped into by a Utah player, it isn't a foul if your player is out of bounds. Carrying the ball is still illegal. Everytime a Washington player gets called for a foul, it isn't the worst call ever made in the history of sports. My view is this - of you are going to have any credibility when it comes to booing the actual bad calls, you can't boo everytime the whistle blows and it goes against your team.

3. Cheering against UW seems to be the only outlet that I have right now for airing my grievances about a few very terrible professors that I have at UW that I am just shocked ever were permitted to become professors. I take my education seriously, and I just get so frustrated with lazy, poor teaching that it engenders in me this irrational hatred for your university's stupid basketball team.

Utah ended up losing, which was easy enough to get over (particularly because North Carolina survived a scare to beat Davidson in their season opener earlier in the day, and nothing about basketball can piss me off too much on a day that North Carolina wins), and I told David that he should remember the occasion when I actually cheered for Utah.

A note on Point #3: I am actually looking forward to Winter Quarter, because I will have two professors, that I hear are actually good teachers. The downside to this is that the two professors that I will have for my three classes Winter Quarter are both Duke grads. Yes, in the middle of college basketball season, my academic fate will be controlled by two Duke grads. This has me worried. My mom has already told me that I need to keep my mouth shut. I don't know what is wrong with me, but I haven't found the button that I can push that keeps me from shooting my mouth off. Its really bad.

Note: There is another occasion upon which I might cheer for Utah - if they ever play Duke.

But back to this whole concern with my lack of control over my mouth, I don't know why, but this has gotten worse lately. I like to think that I used to be a nice person, but maybe I just lacked self-awareness before. Now, I feel like these ridiculous things come out of my mouth all of the time because I see flaws everywhere. Perhaps if I wasn't so much of a perfectionist I wouldn't expect a perfectly well-ordered world around me, and get so frustrated when my expectations are not met. It is certainly the downside of being an idealist (and the same reason I don't buy into Barack Obama's candidacy, I just think that its necessarily a realistic way to approach the world).

This post has gone so far afield from my original thoughts about basketball. Basketball season just has this unintended effect of making me accutely introspective.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gastroenteritis and other Childhood Pursuits

Last night on what was probably the last Curb Your Enthusiasm ever, Larry stated at the Gastroenterologist's office, "I am not an inventor. I am an improver." Amen, Larry. Amen. I particularly liked that Larry ended up with Vivica A. Fox who finally was able to out curse Susie in a curse off.

I also read a book this weekend that I couldn't put down, The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How It Changed Modern Science, Cities, and the Modern World, by Steven Johnson. If anyone else was a kid like me who was obsessed with infectuous diseases, then this may be a good book for you. It puts a fascinating cholera epidemic in an interesting historical context, and you are guaranteed never to think about modern plumbing and sewage disposal systems the same way. On days when I think I don't have anything to be grateful for, all I need to think about is how lucky I am not to have a cesspool of human filth in my basement.

For a look at what is emerging in the area of infectious disease, why not take a look at what's new on the CDC's Emerging Infectious Disease page? Or take a look at the International Society for Infectious Disease page where you can get updates about worldwide outbreaks emailed to you.

On a related note, my favorite other site to check from my childhood career ambitions is the USGS World Earthquakes Map where you can spot out seismic activity all over the world. It makes me want to watch the National Geographic movie, "Born of Fire" right now!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Swell

I am a fan of the movie Once. So last night, I was really excited to see The Swell Season, at the Moore Theater. The Swell Season, of course, is Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova accompanied by a bassist, violinst, and a cellist. They are even more charming in person than they are in their film. However, something about their music is so weighty, that I feel like I will still have the sensation of someone sitting upon my chest days from now. Perhaps it is because of Glen Hansard's voice; perhaps it is the cello; perhaps it is that their music conjures up ghosts (more of the Irish and not Scottish variety); perhaps it is that Marketa is Czech and it inevitably reminds me of the Czech writer, Milan Kundera, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and the whole dichotomy of weight versus lightness. But now that I am older I do believe that it is quite possible to feel weight and lightness all in the same moment, although I am not entirely sure whether that is a good or bad thing.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What I am least looking forward to about college basketball season:

The phrase, now used as a word, "stick-to-it-tive-ness".

What annoying commentator first coined that expression?

Other than that, I can't wait to see the Tarheels play my old wannabe alma mater Davidson next Wednesday night! I am counting down the days.

Television Symbiosis

A couple of weeks ago I wrote on my blog about how sad Curb Your Enthusiasm has become and how excited I was that My So-Called Life was being re-released on DVD. In a weird convergence of my prior television post, Winnie Holzman guest starred as Cheryl's therapist on last night's episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Winnie Holzman, of course, is the creator of My So-Called Life, who sometimes appeared in the series as the school guidance counselor, Ms. Kryzanowski.



Apparently my blogs have predictive power for the future.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On the Politics of Hope

I haven't written anything about the presidential candidates lately, but it is no secret that I am a Hillary Clinton supporter. This weekend, the Barack Obama campaign turned me off even more. Why would a campaign publish in the New York Times their strategy? Since when do you publish and advertise your strategy for beating another candidate? It is so politically dubious, I don't see how people can remotely still think that Barack Obama is the candidate of "hope." Mark Penn, Hillary's strategist (and the boss of someone I know), says it quite well in this blog post on Hillary's page. The Democratic debate was disgraceful last night. I am starting to not respect Obama and Edwards at all (this is particularly disturbing considering I loved my North Carolina Edwards for so long) because the attacks stink of desparation. They also appear to be total frauds based on the "new and hopeful" types of campaigns that they swore that they were going to wage. Obviously, there was not much sincerity in those words (oh wait, but they declare that they are the trustworthy Washington outsiders...). What I respect about Hillary so much is that I know what I am getting with her. She is what she is and that is an intelligent, politically astute person. I know that her experience also begets her own political saviness. Why is that such a bad thing to Obama and Edwards? Oh right, because they don't know anything about actually getting work done inside of Washington (which last time I checked, is where the President of the United States actually has to operate). They get to sound high-minded, so long as it behooves them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scottish Ghosts for Halloween

Generally, Slate bugs me alot these days. This is generally because of their annoyingly biased campaign reporting in favor of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign. I also think that several of their writers showed that they are bigots after writing what they did about Mormons a few months ago. Every so often though, they still manage to post an article or two that is worth reading. Kate Bolick is writing one fine travel series on looking for ghosts in Scotland. Not only is she making me want to spend weeks exploring Scottish castles even more than I already want to do, but she also linked he article to the Ghost Finders Scotland Paranormal Investigation & Research website. On their website you can hear sound clips of ghosts who speak in Scottish accents and other paranormal phenomena as witnessed in many historical Scottish locales.

I have to get to those castles soon. I have read so many histories about Mary Queen of Scots, maybe if I get to Borthwick Castle, I can ask her some questions that I have about her life myself!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dad in Real Life

I saw the movie Dan in Real Life this weekend. It was very enjoyable. Steve Carrell plays very well those slightly unstable, yet good-hearted average Joes. Juliette Binoche was charming, as usual. In the movie, Dan has three daughters. The part that made me just burst in tears (which I don't think was intended by the makers of the film, because everyone else was laughing), was one of the scenes when the middle child is yelling at her dad about how he is ruining her life. It just made me think of my poor dad, and how he had to put up with three very intense daughters, but particularly I, as the middle one, was just a total drama queen as an adolescent. It just made me feel so guilty.

Thanks Dad, for putting up with me anyway!

Here is a tribute to my Dad:


Dad in his young Navy days.

Dad and Sarah on his favorite vehicle.


Dad and his favorite dessert, strawberry ice cream.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Quick Television Update

Last night's episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm was so sad, it made me want to cry. I can't believe that Cheryl left Larry. Poor Larry David just seemed so pathetic.

In better television news, a highly anticipated event approaches. Finally, My So-Called Life, the Complete Series, is being re-released on DVD on October 30. I have been waiting for this event for quite some time. When it was released on DVD before, I swear, they must have only released five copies and for five minutes only, because it was impossible to get. This time around, I already have my copy pre-ordered with Amazon, so I definitely will get it. Ever since my videotaped copy of "The Boiler Room" episode was mysteriously taped over when I was in law school with an episode of Star Trek Voyager, I have felt this significant loss from my adolescence. I know that I posted previously about my favorite moment from that episode, also my favorite moment of television of all time. It was probably the most significant television moment of high school. That same videotaped copy of that episode I watched with my friends Whitney and Drew my junior year of television, after Whitney and I went on and on about how Angela was the luckiest fictional television character of all time and Drew rolled his eyes over and over. We were walking out to Whitney's car, and Drew came up behind me and did the Jordan Catalano hand grab, just to be funny, since we had just talked about how it was the greatest thing a boy could do to a girl. Considering that I really wasn't much of a dater in high school, it was one of those moments of adolescence that stuck out in my mind. Then, we all went to Taco Bell.

I am just happy that I will be able to share My So-Called Life with future generations of over analytical teenage girls.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What a Thursday.

Yesterday was a day of unexpected surprises that reminded me that sometimes life can be more than just minimally unexpected. First, there was an unexpected, yet significant tornado that damaged a swath of Pensacola. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the last thing the people of Pensacola need to deal with is an unexpected tornado in a year when people were breathing another sigh of relief that the hurricane season was fairly sedate. In the meantime, people in Seattle were complaining about a few 50 mph wind gusts.


But the biggest surprise was a phone call from my oldest friend about this baby.


It is her story to tell, not mine, but suffice it to say, I am more convinced than ever that life can change in an instant when you least expect it.

Also, Dwight on The Office, made me realize just how much I want to have an "irrigation room" in my house. I mean, particularly since I am obsessed with water law issues.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Civics for Jimmy and Janie

Since I am now a librarian (or at least I am training to be), I thought that periodically I should provide a link to some fascinating new website that I have discovered while assisting a patron or just looking for resources. Today's websites have theme: Government Sponsored Websites for Children.

The first site is Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids which is maintained by the GPO office. I appreciate this site for the cartoon caricature of Benjanmin Franklin (since that Office episode with the Ben Franklin impersonator, I have been obsessed with all things Ben Franklin). Who better to introduce children to US Government than a Pennsylvania Quaker who possibly kept French mistresses? Ben's ABC's are particularly informative.

For the Future Farmers of America, there is the AIPL kids website, which of course is the website for kids from the Animal Improvement Programs Labratory. Do you want to know about which state is the number one milk producer? Or who knows when the first cow arrived in America? Perhaps you just want to play a good old-fashioned game of Who Stole the World's Milk Supply? All of that is available for you on this website in addition to learning about the genetic manipulation of America's farm animals so that they can be even more delicious to us.

Finally, let me just say that as far as administrative agencies go, the Department of the Treasury puts all others to same with the sheer volume of their websites for children. They've of course got the Treasury Page for Kids. The Mint has a webiste called H.I.P. Pocket Change. But the best of the government money websites for kids has to be the Bureau of Engraving and Printing's Children Page. First off, they seriously have the most interesting website to look at. It is called "Money Central Station." What kid wouldn't want to go there? From Money Central Station, you can depart to Mt. Cashmore or the Dollarado Canyon. Who knew that Engraving and Printing could be so much fun? The IRS - you clearly have something to learn. Until you can make learning about paying taxes as much fun as learning about making money, you can't possibly blame people for skipping out on their tax obligations can you?

Monday, October 15, 2007

My own Beauty Myth

So I have a new, extremely unhelpful obsession - skin care. Like my other new-founded physically based obsession, working out, I find that good skin care takes repetition and attention to detail. It pains me to admit that I can be so shallow as to spend so much time in recent weeks on these somewhat shallow pursuits, but I am a little bit vain sometimes. And I can't help it, but I really want to have porcelain skin for my wedding in March. For most of my life people always complemented me on my good skin and it wasn't something that I had to think much about but lately, I am overly concerned with the fact that too much time in the Florida sun with unprotected skin is now taking a toll on my face. The ladies at the Clarins counter at Nordstrom must be loving capitalizing on my insecurities. Even though they tell me that I look much younger than 29, they certainly know how to make me feel like my skin could age five years overnight.

Another lost soul to "The Beauty Myth." I am sorry Naomi Wolf. I was your biggest supporter back in the day. The stronger they boast about their feminist ethics, the harder they can fall sometimes.

Hopefully, it is just another phase.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Let's Take a Train Ride


Last night I saw The Darjeeling Limited. It was enjoyable, but above all else, made me want to go to India on a long trip with my two sisters. Although, if we went there probably wouldn't be as much prescription drug abuse or purchasing of poisonous snakes (unless Melissa decides that her superior snake handling abilities obtained in the Mississippi swamps can hack it).

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Happy Update of an Old Post

When I turned over my cases when I quit my job, there were a few lingering cases to which I still felt particularly close. Last year I posted this blog about a Somali client whose asylum interview didn't go perfectly and my sense of personal responsibility. After the interview, she and I worked hard to supplement her case with other materials. We waited and waited for a response. Finally, her response came this week and we were informed that she was granted asylum! It made me so happy! I worried so much about her case, and I just couldn't imagine her having to leave this country that has become her safe haven over the past six years. I am glad that I was able to help her in whatever small way that it might have been. She is a good person who deserves to have a happy life away from conflict and threats to her and her children's well being.

Sometimes, after a LONG time (she applied pro se for asylum in 2001), something good can finally happen and the federal government can make the right decision. It is refreshing when it happens. It feels good to have had some part in it and not having to feel like I screwed up someone's life in some major way.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Back to September

I am finally getting around to posting some overdue photos from my recent trip back to the South.
First things first. My cousin Danielle's daughter, Carson, knows there is a right way to eat cupcakes. Extra messy and extra sprinkles:
Now that has been said, I can move on to the only pictures that David and I took when we were in Orlando. We went to Orlando to meet with our Disney wedding planner, to plan out the details of our reception. I didn't take any pictures of this planning frenzy because I don't want to spoil the surprise for any of our friends or family who may attend. Suffice it to say, that planning the details made me so excited and I am quite optimistic that a good time will be had by all. It was also exciting to be able to plan most of the details so that I don't have to stress out about them as much now that I am back in school. I just have to count down the days.

We also were able to see my good friends, the Messers, and meet the newest member of their brood.
I think that David wanted to take the puppy home with him.

But he couldn't. Not only would Richelle have been sad, but we had to make another pit stop before we made it back to Seattle. We had to stop by everyone's favorite money trap in the desert that built itself on the misuse of the Colorado River - Las Vegas. This time, we stayed at the Westin, which was one refreshing block off of the Strip but seemed like it could have been miles away. That is, until you looked out of the window. The view gave it all away.We had to make a stop at one of our favorite Vegas spots - the Conservatory at the Bellagio (mostly to see if it was Professor Plum with the Candlestick) to check out the seasonal indoor garden. This season featured Halloween Ents:

Otherwise, this Vegas sojourn featured the main attributes of other Vegas trips from days past, namely, a good dinner (this time at a French restaurant at the Venetian), and shopping. Back in the day, I was the Vegas shopper. Now, David puts me to shame. Las Vegas contains stores for David's favorite British designers, and he just is a weakling when it comes to resisting those slim British cuts that were made for body types just like him. Last time we were here in February, it was the Ted Baker store. This time, he did his damage at the Ben Sherman store. Well, that was where he did his damage on Friday. When we were back in Vegas on Sunday to catch our flight back to Seattle, David did the real damage at Neiman Marcus where he bought a Paul Smith suit to wear to our wedding (along with a tie, shirt, and pocket square). NOTE: For anyone coming to the wedding, this might be the one wedding that you attend in history where the cost of the groom's attire far exceeded the cost of the bride's. He better not look better than me!!

But I am getting way ahead of myself here. On Saturday morning, we drove to Springdale, Utah for the wedding of our good friends Dan and Marie. They had planned to have a beautiful outdoor ceremony, framed by the cliffs of Zions National Park. Unfortunately, the strangest thing of all happened. It poured rain in the desert in late September. Poured. This was the view from our balcony at the lodge when we arrived.


I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but it really was gray and rainy. Take my word for it. This meant that Dan and Marie had to scramble around to find another place to host their wedding, luckily finding a community center/library in Springdale itself. They were able to have their ceremony on a veranda outside, before it started pouring rain again. The wedding guests were treated to one spectacular rainbow, though.

How many weddings get to have that? David and I tried to have our picture taken in front of it. Unfortunately, the part with the rainbow didn't quite turn out.

The wedding was great fun as we got to see lots of old friends including Abby, still in North Carolina, and the entire van Uitert clan. It was good to see everyone. On an unrelated sidenote, here is a quick thought regarding my attire. No one else told me that the entire wedding party, and most other people at the wedding were going to be wearing black. I, on the other hand, had dressed to match the colors of Southern Utah, so it was easy to spot me in the crowd.

I met Dan and Marie, the Groom and Bride, the same weekend that I first met David in New York in 2003. Marie and David were roommates in DC and Marie's sister Becca and her husband Jason lived in Queens and Marie and Dan were visiting them that weekend. It was one weekend where I was able to meet so many great people. Congrats Marie and Dan!


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Going Crazy Over Ricky

Last night when I was going through some of the boxes that my mom brought to me of my books that were in Florida, I thought that I had found my first photo album, the one that Pa-Paw had given me in 1984. However, when I opened it up, I instantly recognized it as Sarah's photo album because I was greeted with this:


And this:



I love that my sister, who is now a Post-Doc at Harvard, not only was in love with Ricky Schroeder when she was a kid, but that she used her allowance money to purchase Bop Magazine, so that she could cut out all of the photos of Ricky Schroeder and preserve them in the photo album that Pa-Paw had given her. That is just too awesome for words.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The War

Tonight PBS showed the seventh and final installment of Ken Burns' The War . As expected from Ken Burns, it was tremendous. I don't think I will ever look at World War II the same way again. I had already been thinking alot about World War II since I saw this V-mail from Pa Paw posted on the Street Family Website. I don't know if it is legible or not, posted on my blog in this fashion, but it made me sob and sob and sob the first time that I read it. I love the simpleness of the letter, considering that Pa-Paw only had a sixth grade education. I love that Pa-Paw, in his youthful innocence, was more concerned about eating his next meal than the fact that he was part of a build-up of American troops preparing to invade Nazi-occupied France. But he knew enough about the War to know that he must reassure his mother. I love this letter in the context of the Pa-Paw I knew, who was shaped profoundly by the War, as were all people who served in World War II. I didn't know much about Pa-Paw's service in the War, as like most veterans, he was hesitent to talk about it. But reading this letter made me feel close to him, perhaps in a way that I hadn't since he passed away in 1991. Pa-Paw was seriously injured in the War months after this letter was sent. After he fought his way across France with Allied troops, he was injured in fighting in Germany when a bomb blew up in front of him and shrapnel lodged into his leg, nearly severing it. He recovered in an Army Hospital in West Virginia, but years later, he still had pieces of that German artillery in his leg and showed his young grandchildren his scars.
By the time my generation came along and came to know our War veteran grandfathers, they had over 30 years to process the war. Men like my Pa-Paw (and also my Grampy who also fought in the Army in Europe and was also present on D-Day) had 30 years to reconcile the nightmares they faced on those fronts with the relative tranquility of life back in the States. There had been violent episodes with their loved ones along the way, perhaps in part caused by the violence they had seen and experienced in Italy, Okinawa, or Libya. There had been sleepless nights and demons wrestled. But I like to think that by the time my generation was birthed, they were finally able to receive the long deserved peace that came after the lingering personal battles were appeased and calmed. After dealing with the individual tragedies and terrors they had witnessed, and in some cases were ordered to perpetrate, people like my grandfathers could finally have the peace of knowing that what they fought for was good and right. They could know that they enabled my generation to be birthed into such prosperity and peace. We took their bravery for granted. We did not know what the origin of their kindness was. They were simply our granfathers who bought us treats and took us on truck rides or boat rides. They could look at our smiling faces, ignorant of the sacrifices they and their comrades had made for us, and finally truly feel like they had conquered the War.
Sidenote: If anyone needs an idea of what to get me for Christmas how about this?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Nerd Again

I have been trying to wait to post until I upload my pictures from Orlando, Marie and Dan's wedding in Zions, and Las Vegas. Unfortunately, I haven't yet gotten the camera cord to connect to the computer from David, so I still have not done this. However, I actually did purchase a new printer today that also has scanning capabilities, so I feel like my printing capabilities have finally moved into the 21st century.

It has been a busy first week back to school, but I am absolutely loving it. I can't possibly understate this. I love it. I love being back in an academic environment all day. I love working in the law library. I love taking notes from reading assignments. In fact, it is Saturday night and I am getting excited to do a reading assignment for class on Tuesday.

This feeling is in direct contrast to my views that I expressed after seing the movie "Into the Wild" last night. I was complaining about how the central character, whatever his name is, happens to be, in my view, one of the most selfish people on the planet. In fact, I went so far as to say that his selfishness is what killed him in the wilderness of Alaska. He was so starved because he falsely believed that he didn't need other people and that he was capable of doing all things on his own. Along the way of his journey, he successively and successfully blew off so many people whose lives he could have truly impacted, that is, were he not so selfish to only see the world in terms of what he wanted. He was blinded by his own ambition, when he hypocritically claimed that the materialist world in which we live blinds us from what is really important. Then, by the time he realized that life is only worth living when it is shared with others and when we are doing something to improve the lives of others, it was too late. Guess he should have realized that basic seasonal fact that springtime runoff from snow makes alpine rivers swell tremendously in size.

Here I am now, hypocritcally content with my own academic isolationism.

On a different note, here is something else good about today: I made a delicious fish po' boy sandwich for dinner. It really was very tasty. My cornmeal crust was perfect.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Back to School

I realize I have been slow in posting new content as of late. I haven't been lazy, just busy. Today I started my Law MLIS program, and since I only returned to Seattle late last night, I have been trying to get organized. My last week on vacation was very action packed. I had the opportunity to visit the two biggest tourists traps in America - Orlando and Las Vegas for two entirely unrelated, yet similar reasons. I will post more on this later.

As for now I need to go to sleep so as to prepare for my exciting second day back to school. I am still adjusting to being back on Pacific Time and I do not have the energy to post anything lengthier this evening.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Two weeks at the gym

What have I been doing since I have been home aside from attending high school football games and visiting Mississippi? Well, I have taken up my family's favorite hobby and have been spending alot of time at the gym. Both of my sisters, as former athletes, have always been pretty big into exercising. We joke around with Sarah that she has exercise bulimia because of how much she works out. My mom was also pretty athletic in earlier days. Now again, in the past few years, my mom has been working out daily and looks better than ever. Well, feeling like the lazy slob in the family, because my working out is spotty and isolated at best, I have used these past couple of weeks to work out daily. This means taking the favored class amongst my family at the gym, Body Pump, which basically is the most strength training that I have ever done in my life. As a result of this, I have had some days where muscles that I didn't know exisited on my body have been quite sore, but I truthfully feel better than ever. The goal is to keep this up when I get back to Seattle because I really do want to have toned arms and an actual waistline for my wedding dress. Unfortunately, my gym in Seattle doesn't have the Body Pump program. I have learned alot about how a fitness program needs to include more than just cardiovascular fitness, but needs to incoporate strength training and flexibility for overall health.

The other benefit from taking Body Pump and spending time at the gym is that I have caught up on the latest in pop music. Just when I thought I didn't recognize any of the songs played on popular radio, anymore. . .

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gothic Mississippi

When I write about going to Mississippi, I usually write about how much fun it is to see family, or to spend time at the farm, or how it reminds me of the English Countryside of Jane Austen settings. All of those things are still true, but it isn't entirely what compels me so much about that place. I usually leave out the darker parts that I am not quite sure what to do with or how to process. Nonetheless, I feel like I should say something about this, because I am more and more concerned with the degredation of rural America. It is a forgotten footnote to the cities and suburbs that dot the American landscape and command the attention of media because those places possess the consumer buying power that controls what places are worthy of attention.

Six weeks after my grandmother died, her house was burglarized in a pretty major way. My Aunt Barbara was living there at the time, and was at work, when the perpetrators cut a fence down the pasture and drove up a flatbed truck to remove whatever they could carry out. Aunt Barbara's dog Petey was kicked and tied up in a dog house while they systematically removed anything that wasn't tied down from the house. They got interrupted when trying to remove my Dad's John Deere Gator. However, they took the keys to that as well as the keys to Dad's tractor. They came back that night to remove the Gator, when Aunt Barbara was home. However, the investigator and a friend of my Dad's had disabled the Gator. They came back a third time, but Aunt Barbara frightened them away with her handgun, nearly shooting one of the intruders.

The part that I find so distressing about home invasions is that they have no respect for the history of the person whose property is invaded. In American society, for better or worse, it is quite often our property, what we own, that defines us. The history of my grandparents and their home was taken away in one desparate crime. When the pasture was searched, we found family mementos that were valueless to these criminals but were priceless to us: Pa-Paw's Polaroid Camera, for example. It was a symbol of our childhood, because Pa-paw followed us around everywhere snapping photos of my cousins, sisters and I at play. No, instead the intruders were more concerned with gathering up the unfilled prescriptions for Morphine and other pain medication that Ma-maw never took.

When the investigators came, they said that the door into the garage looked like it had been breached several times - opened with a sharp object. When Ma-maw was ill, she frequently talked about people coming in her home when she was there. She claimed that she could hear them talking. She claimed that she could hear them opening her closet door where she kept her medication. She claimed that one night, when she went to get a glass of water, she saw someone in her rocking chair. Now at this time in Ma-maw's life, she couldn't see very well. She had a brain tumor that eventually would take her life. We thought she was just seeing things, that it all was in her head. In retrospect, she probably wasn't making it up.

There is this kind of desparation born of drug use in rural America. A few days after the home invasion occurred, an African American boy went to a pharmacy in a nearby town, trying to fill one of Ma-maw's prescriptions for morphine. The security camera caught him, but the authorities never did. In fact, the authorities made little to no effort to apprehend any of the participants in the crime. The one person arrested, a girl, was the daughter of a recent candidate for Walthall County Sherriff. She is out of jail on five years probation. She didn't give up the name of any accomplices. Her family claims that she is clean now, but Aunt Barbara said that she better not see her on the road to her house, otherwise... When the intruders returned to the house, and Aunt Barbara called the authorities, they told her that she was crazy like her mom, that she was just seeing things. They didn't do anything. Law enforcement in rural Mississippi is a joke. During the Jim Crow era, they could be counted on to enforce racial separation and justice for no one, and now they delight themselves on being as corrupt as ever and protecting their own friends and family only. For the rest, we have no option but to attempt to protect ourselves, knowing that calling the police will bring a hasty response.

When Aunt Barbara and a neighbor observed a low flying aircraft routinely dropping packages on the gas pipeline, they didn't call the local sherriff. They called the feds located in Jackson - the DEA. They came, and ran an operation to try to apprehend the cargo plane dropping drugs in a place that they assumed that had been forgotten. The plane came, lowered down for the drop, saw the agents, pulled up and never returned again.

Why do I write all of this? Because this is a place that is home to my family. It isn't supposed to be that way in rural America. That is where we go to see the stars, to catch fireflies, to hear the birds sing. You can't see the stars if you are afraid to go outside at night.

There is a heaviness there. The place has so much history and so much hardship. But that same heaviness does make for great stories and great storytellers. Could William Faulkner have come from anywhere else? I love it but I confess that it does make me a little afraid.

I should say, these things happened four years ago. Since then, Aunt Barbara has said that she hasn't had any problems. They think she is Annie Oakley out there with her gun. But should it have to be that way? Shouldn't we care about the blight of drugs in the country? Walthall County, and places like it, are so far from the radar of any presidential candidate or person of influence or power.

I feel guilty. I sometimes think I should never have left the South because there is so much work to do here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Night Lights

I have been a little bit tardy in creating a new post. I have been back home in the South, and as expected, I become a little bit lazier when I come here. I have been home for a week. My schedule has basically consisted of playing tennis, watching tennis (the US open), going to the beach (only to have it rain), and spending alot of time at the gym. Oh yes, a trip to the South also includes alot of eating at all of my favorite restaurants, but I have spent alot of time talking about food before. So, I will bypass that discussion for an event that I haven't been able to do in over 10 years because I am never home at the right time. This event has only been made all the more exciting because of my love of the NBC critically acclaimed television series, "Friday Night Lights." It reminded me of how much fun it was to attend high school football games in the South back when I was a high school student. There is nothing like a late summer evening in a high school football stadium in the South. I wanted to live it again.

So tonight, my sister, Melissa, and I headed to our alma mater to see the Pensacola Tigers take on the Pine Forest Eagles.
It was a perfect steamy evening for the event. Pine Forest won the 2006 Florida State AAA Championship. Pensacola High has been picked to be a contender for State this year. I knew this game would be good.


To start the evening off with good football karma, Melissa and I headed to Krispy Kreme. In honor of football season, they have created a delicious doughnut treat in the shape of a football. Tasty and enthusiastic!


The setting: Jim Scoggins Stadium Pensacola, Florida; Air Temperature: 86 degrees Farenheit; Humidity: 95%; Wind: slight breeze from the Southeast; Kickoff time: 7:30 pm; Add all of these up - an evening of gridiron excitement.
The Tigers started out slow - allowing the Pine Forest Eagles to score 14 points before finally turning on their defensive might.
PHS blocked a punt and scored a safety, and then ended the first half with a field goal. Halftime score: Pine Forest leading 14 - 5.

Halftime Show! The Pine Forest Band performed first. This is where it gets weird. Pine Forest, known throughout Northwest Florida as a redneck school, peformed "A Tribute to Tiannaman Square." The opening number was called, "The Dawning of Democracy." What the H?

I didn't capture the most magical moment of the performance, though. I hope that it was a symbolic part of the show, representing the hopeful Chinese students who lost their lives standing defiantly in front of those Red Army tanks. At the end of the Dawning of Democracy, a tuba player fell down on the field. Suddenly, there were band members tripping all over her. She was stuck inside of her tuba, a lifeless form down on the 50 yard line. After the number was over, the band director rushed out to check on her. She was okay, she just twisted her ankle and couldn't get up (she was a rather large tuba player).

How could PHS's marching band compete with that. Two words: electric guitars.

Actually, I have to say, the PHS band made me very, very sad. Back in the day when I was a student at Pensacola High School, we had a drum line that could make you booty dance like nobody's business. Now, the drumline dwindled in size to only six people! And even worse than that, Pine Forest's band stole all of our old booty dancing songs. It was postively depressing. I mean, what is a Pensacola High School football game without some good booty dancing?

Without a good drum line, I was concerned about the ability of the Fighting Tigers to take control of the game in the second half. What was left to motivate them? I tried to convince Melissa to show a little more school spirit.

This picture may not be too convincing, but Melissa did bust out the Tiger Pride in the second half.

It was up to the cheerleaders (led by two girls named Jasmine and two girls named Ebony)to get the crowd back into the game. Note: back in the day, my sister Sarah would sometimes wear the PHS mascot uniform. There was no Tiger at the game. What happened to the mascot? Does Sarah need to come back and sweat up the costume again?

What else could PHS count on for generating some school spirit? Well, the standing IB geeks of course. This is a tradition that I am glad to see has survived the IB generations. We did the same thing back in my day - stand up during the entire game, sticking out like sore thumbs from the rest of the crowd. I used to be one of those IB geeks. It makes me all weepy and nostalgic.

You have to give it to those IB kids though - they certainly are the most spirited people in the stadium. That is the ironic fun of being a nerd at an inner city high school.

More gridiron game action:

Anyway, did the Tiger Pride have an effect? Well, we did manage to finally score a touchdown in the fourth quarter: Score 14-12. Pine Forest responded by marching the sticks back down the field the other way. Then, uh oh, with 1:10 left in the game, fumbled on the five yard line. Tiger Football! Tiger Football!

We moved the sticks back in the other direction. Unfortunately, with 1.1 seconds left on the clock, we only just made it into Pine Forest Territory at the 45 yard line. It was time for that Friday Night Lights moment. With the feeling of optimism that takes over the Dillon High Panthers game during the last few seconds on every episode of Friday Night Lights, I knew the field goal was a longshot but it just might happen. The kick was up and was going the distance and. . . and. . .

Final Score:


The kick was wide. The kicker was devastated. It was a very long kick. I didn't fault him at all. Those kind of endings only happen on scripted television shows.

Still, it was a very exciting game and a great way to spend a Friday Night. Pensacola Tigers, you will always be #1 to me!


Tomorrow, I am headed over to Mississippi.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Perfect Moment

Since I finished my job today, I have shifted into wedding planning mode. I can do that for the next couple of weeks before I start school (The goal being to finish as much as I can prior to school starting). The problem with planning is that there are not alot of wedding details that I have few opinions on, and the ones that I do, I have really specific and precise opinions (Like my desire only to have white and ivory southern flowers that end in the letter "a").

Music. Music. When else do you have the opportunity to share the perfect mix with all of your favorite people? For the past 10 years of my life, I have been refining and creating my wedding mix to remind me of all of those great happy moments, of which I am sure that my wedding will be the pinnacle. This song, this moment, when people ask me for my wedding theme, I want to say this clip is it because that is exactly what I want it to feel like.

Needless to say, Buffalo Tom will be included in the mix.

Another Last Day

Today is my last day at my job. Tomorrow I am flying home to visit my family in the South for a couple of weeks. Then, when I return to Washington, I will be a student all over again.

We actually had my going away party last Friday night. We had pizza and went bowling. This is also an excellent idea if your son is turning twelve years old. I haven't had many parties thrown for me in my adult life, but my 24th birthday party was also a bowling party. This means that roughly 2/3 of the parties on my behalf I have had in my adult life (a going away party in New York, a going away party here, and my 24th birthday party in New York) have been bowling parties. One would think that I am a good bowler with all of this bowling. One would be wrong.

Today for my goodbye lunch with my assistants, Melissa and Carrie, we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory. This marks the first time that I have been to Ye Olde Spagetti Factory since I visited the restaurant of the same name in Trolley Square before I left Utah. I wish I could say that the food has gotten better. It hasn't. In fact, we had to give the server our bread back because it actually was moldy.

These are the events that mark the possible end to my career as an attorney.

Tomorrow, Florida awaits.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Return to high school

Today, I had a dentist appointment so I could, get this, pick up my new retainer. I am suddenly fourteen years old again. But since I was probably fourteen years old the last time that I wore my retainer, I have lately become paranoid that my teeth are going to move around and become crooked again. Hence, I asked my dentist to make a new retainer for me. I am trying to model myself on my sister Melissa who always wore her retainers and therefore her teeth remain unchanged since the day her braces were removed.

I need to write an addendum to my post from yesterday. We actually didn't end up going to the Mariners game last night as the Nintendo tickets were not available (it was just as well considering how badly the Mariners lost to the Angels last night). However, we did go eat at the newest Tom Douglas restaurant in Seattle, Serious Pie, with Brandon and Wendy, and Wendy's sister. It was so much fun. I am so sad that they are moving because we have been able to bond over our mutual love of food. When I get back from the South, I am going to try to bake them a Red Velvet Cake before their move.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why do all of the cool ones move away?

David and I sometimes have bad luck when it comes to friends. It seems like when we have people that we really enjoy hanging out with, they end up relocating away from Seattle. It happened first with Brigham and Jennie, who moved to D.C. Now, it is happening with Brandon and Wendy, who are moving to the Bay Area, as Brandon is being transferred for work. The worst part about Brandon and Wendy's move is that we just realized that we had fun together in the past week, and now I am leaving to go to the South for three weeks, and when I return, Brandon and Wendy are leaving on the 27th.

We met Brandon and Wendy because Brandon was the second counselor in our bishopric, even though Brandon graduated high school two years behind David and I. He and Wendy have excellent stories, and we figured out that we know some of the same people from our BYU days. Tonight we are hoping to go the Mariners game with them, as another chance to hang out. Brandon works for Nintendo, and since Nintendo owns the Mariners, he probably can get some pretty good seats through work. Wendy is more of the baseball fan, though. She actually likes the Yankees (bonus points for Wendy) and when we were talking about crushes on athletes, she talked about how much she loved North Carolina's basketball team in years past (so many bonus points here, I can't even calculate).

The Bay Area is getting even cooler with these new additions.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thank you Mrs. McGhee

My mom told me that she ran into Mrs. McGhee the other day. Ms. McGhee was not only my fifth grade teacher, but she also taught both of my sisters. Apparently, Mrs. McGhee recognized my mom and asked about her three daughters. After my mom gave her the update, Ms. McGhee sais something to the effect of, "I know that your daughters would go on to do great things." Well, Sarah and Melissa may have gone one to do great things, but right now the law isn't what I would classify as "great things." Anyway, I just made me think for a minute about the great things that my sisters are doing. I am bragging on them a little bit for the sake of Ms. McGhee.

First, there is Sarah. She is a genius. She just got her PhD in Molecular Physiology, which most people have no idea understand even what the name means. She is getting ready to move to Boston, where she was accepted to do post-doctorate research at Harvard University's medical school. That is just how smart she is. And I know that she is trying to do research that will actually be responsible for trying to make people healthier (even if I won't understand all of those technical terms that she uses in the articles in which she writes about her research). Not only is she a genius, but she also happens to be the fittest person I know. I mean, the girl always was an athlete (her awards at BYU for her athletic and academic abilities are just too numerous to list, but she was after all, the NCAA Woman of the Year for the entire state of Utah). Now, she is running ten miles a day, biking thirty, then swimming a few more on top of that, every day. She runs marathons, does triathalons, including Half Ironman's. It is only a matter of time until she does the full Ironman. She does more before 6:00 in the morning than I do all day.

Then there is Melissa. That girl has some guts. She quit the relative stability and safety of her job teaching sixth grade science to take a chance on what she really wants to do - save animals. That is brave. I mean, I may have won a poetry contest in third grade with my poem, "Loving Animals," and have written a play on saving manatees for my gifted class that was performed for McArthur Elementary School, but Melissa has taken it to the next level. And because she took a risk, she is working for the next year to save the severely endangered Attwater Prairie Chicken . In fact, she is working at the Attwater Prairie Chicken Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Texas to try to save a bird that there are only fifty left of in the wild. It makes me happy for those Prairie Chickens, because they have a pretty compassionate advocate and ally in Melissa. I can't think of anyone else that I would want trying to save me. I love that Melissa just took this huge risk to do something that she could be passionnate about.

So thank you Ms. McGhee for your excellent fifth grade instruction. Thank you also for pointing out what I always knew, that my sisters would turn out to do pretty remarkable things.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Support for my Fred Thompson Theory

"He seems to be closer to the conservative that I am," said Richard Bussa, 60, a Thompson supporter and retired newspaper writer from Minford, Ohio. "Playing on the police shows he's on, he does present a hard-nosed, law-and-order-type guy."

That quotation is directly from an article posted on Yahoo about Fred Thompson. People do get their opinions of Fred Thompson from the characters that he plays on SCRIPTED television shows. Sigh. This is a sad state of affairs.

(The article also discusses how men continue to not support Hillary Clinton, who I support for President, right now. Sexist jerks.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

More thoughts on Jane

I was thinking about this Jane Austen thing a little bit more. Every so often, whenever I am in need of a quick gut check, I read my old journals. I read them because it makes me laugh and wince as to my general lack of optimism regarding past relationships and what my life would be in general. I read one of them this evening. The one that I read covered the unrequited crush that I maintained for many years on my friend, Blaine. Blaine is still one of the people that I admire most, and for many years he was the Mr. Darcy of my world, always unattainable, yet always commendable. After we went to Turkey, he became so idolized in my head, he was scarecely real. Instead of thinking in the general Christian mantra, What would Jesus do, in situations, I thought to myself, What would Blaine do? Although, this crush was generally not useful in terms of allowing me to see the good in people around me, because everyone that I met I compared to this idealized view of Blaine, at the same time, the best part of the crush was the part that I think explains why so many women love Jane Austen books so much. The crush really taught me how good people are capable of being, so if people were capable of being this good, then perhaps I was too.

The nature of how I came to idealize someone so much was very Austen-like, in its own way. Jane Austen never married so her idealized male characters like Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley have flaws, but she never really wrote about them in such a way to make their flaws seem in any way other than completely desirable (She rounded out the character, but even their flaws seemed to make them more perfect). Because I never had an actual relationship with Blaine, I never saw any other side of Blaine than the brilliant, thoughtful person who I believed would change the world. When the guys that I actually dated treated me poorly, cheated on me, etc., I could always fall back on my unrequited crush, because Blaine could never be the person that treated me (or in my mind anyone else) that way. That is the beauty of the unrequited crush, just as that is the beauty of reading of Mr. Darcy in a fictional book.

I think about truth versus fiction. I actually still think Blaine is a brilliant, thoughtful person who could change the world. Everyone needs their Jane Austen period pieces to make them sigh and think, "Oh, how lovely."

However, it is pretty good to finally find someone in my life that treats me well in reality, so that I no longer need an unrequited crush as my backup plan, to make me feel like there is good in the world when the person that I love makes me cry. I have always been an idealist, which makes me incredibly bothersome to deal with in relationships, because just as I want to be the perfect person, I want to be with the perfect person. But in reading my journal from five years ago, what I think that I have finally learned is that reality is always a little bit messy, but that is what makes it real. Experiencing the ordinary with someone, seeing their flaws, and allowing them to see yours is what makes a relationship tangible and not simply some fictional notion of perfection. Isn't that what Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy ultimately learned together?

Now Batting, third baseman Jane Austen. . .

My friends Tracy and Brigham would be proud of me. I went to three Seattle Mariners games in one week. The first game was last Saturday with our new friends Ryan and Cat. Then, we decided to go to the game on Wednesday night since the Mariners were playing the Angels, and they are trying to beat them and get to the top of the AL West Division. Then on Friday night, we decided to go again for two reasons - the Mariners were playing the Red Sox, and I love cheering against the Red Sox (I can't help it, I am still a Yankees fan), and Adam Jones, my favorite player from the Tacoma Rainiers got called up to play for the Mariners. We picked three good games to attend - the Mariners won all of those games. They didn't fare as well in the Red Sox games yesterday and today, nor in one of the other games in the Angels series. Although baseball is one of the sports I probably know the least about, I do enjoy Safeco Field on a warm, summer evening. Not only is it a perfect excuse to eat garlic fries and boo referees, but it is one of those American traditions I actually enjoy. I also enjoy thinking up insults in my mind for the insane number of Red Sox fans that pop up at a stadium even across the country from Boston. The worst thing about Sarah moving to Boston is that I think she will become a Red Sox fan. If she realized how many Red Sox fans I see that also wear Duke paraphanelia, maybe she would change her mind.

Pointless rivalries, people always like something to divide and distinguish them. I am such a hypocrite about this. Such a hypocrite.

So just to stay in touch with my feminine side, to divert myself from the mental taunts I composed, I also saw Becoming Jane this weekend. Although the movie was pretty much inventing a history for Jane Austen for which there is limited proof, I found it quite enjoyable. The thing that I find interesting is that so many people say that Tom Lefroy was her model for Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, but if anything, his character in the movie seemed a little more Wickham than Darcy. But I guess he challenged Jane in the same way that Mr. Darcy challenged Elizabeth Bennet, so perhaps that is where the parallel is made.

What is it about contemporary American culture that leaves so many of us wishing that we were experiencing life through the lens of Regency Era England? Why does it seem so much more romantic than life in modern day America?

In the film, Jane played cricket. I watch baseball. That's really all I can say about it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I am a hypocrite

So I have been feeling a little bit guilty lately. I recoginze that there are many aspects of my personality that are somewhat contradictory. Most people do. However, sometimes I have gut checks that cause me to feel like a complete hypocrite. I had one of those moments earlier on the phone when I was talking to my Dad earlier on the phone (sidenote: Today the sale of our house closed. We are no longer the owners of 654 Timber Ridge Road. This makes me cry. A moment of silence, please.). Anyway, back on topic, we were talking about the Michael Vick dogfighting indictment. I think dogfighting for sport is one of the most disturbing hobbies that human beings participate in. It makes me sick to my stomach. When we lived in Mississippi many years ago one of my mom's Irish Setters was abducted from Ma Maws and Pa Paws farm, and circumstantial evidence pointed to the possibility that people from Louisiana took poor Rusty as one of the poor dogs that dogfighting dogs used for their "training." Dog abductions of this type were quite common in Southern Mississippi at the time. It breaks my little heart to this day to think about this. So I am of the view that if Michael Vick is guilty of this whole interstate dogfighting ring, he deserves what he gets.

But then I feel like such a hypocrite for this reason - because I have admitted on many prior occasions to enjoying fois gras. A couple of weeks ago, I heard this story on NPR about China's growing fois gras industry (in part because it is being banned so many other places). During part of the story they played this sound clip of the geese being force-fed and it was one of the most horrible noises I have ever heard in my life. I think my days of enjoying fois gras are over, no matter how tasty it may be, because I need to live a more ethically consistent lifestyle. So, I am going to try to give it up. Break the habit. I just have to think of that sound; of poor Rusty. I think that will help.