Saturday, December 17, 2005
Did I mention I was on vicodin when I wrote that last post? I had a root canal on Wednesday, and ibuprofen just wasn't working on the pain yesterday. I called the endodontist, and he phoned in a prescription for vicodin. I was on vicodin all yesterday afternoon and last night. Good stuff. I can see why it's addictive. I'm making a point of not taking it today, since the ibuprofen actually is working on the pain now. The vicodin did mean that I had a hard time keeping my eyes open when DH and I went to see The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe. I managed it, but it was tough.
That movie was pretty meh, though. I felt like the moviemakers had ripped so much of the battle scenes from Lord of the Rings, not to mention the White Witch's mutant/trollish army, which looked kind of like orcs, if you ask me. There also was no ambiguousness about good and evil in the story, and the feminist in me was asking, "Why is it that Peter, the oldest boy, is basically the top king/warrior/etc. of them all? And why is it that the bad character is female?" I haven't read the book in ages, but my friend mentioned that C.S. Lewis refers to the Queen as a "daughter of Lilith," which opens up a whole other feminist can of worms. Sigh. Since I haven't read the book in so long, it's hard for me to tell whether the flaws in the movie were actually from the movie, or if they were there in the book too. I suspect the latter, personally.
I also learned that my DH seriously, SERIOUSLY knows nothing about Christianity, despite whatever his mom did in taking him to church when he was little. I had to explain to him last night what Jesus's death and resurrection really meant, and how yes, in Christian tradition, this vanquished evil b/c Jesus conquered death. In a nutshell. Sigh. I seriously need to get him a "Christianity for Dummies" book that will spell everything out to him. I am far from a Bible scholar, but I could see how the story of Aslan had a few more parallels than just Aslan dying/coming back to life. Susan and Lucy, for instance, were the parallel of Mary and Martha.
I also thought there were some vague similarities between LW&W and Harry Potter, although I think that may be b/c LW&W, Harry Potter, and LOTR all have similar grounding in archetypal mythology (just like Star Wars, although from what I remember, Lucas was very, very specific in following Joseph Campbell's description of the typical hero story), so in that sense, the stories are going to be similar, at minimum.
Next on my list of movies to see is Memoirs of a Geisha. I hear it's also meh, but I liked the book a lot. We're going to see Walk the Line first, though. Tomorrow, in fact. I've heard so many people say how much they loved that movie... and then there was my mom, who said, "That story is just SO trashy!" LOL. My mom has no patience for drug abuse, violence, or infidelity, so it's no wonder she thinks that people like Johnny Cash and Elvis were trashy.
Also, on the subject of John Spencer's death, which I mentioned in my last post-
I've been reading a lot of Television Without Pity's West Wing boards today, just to see the reaction. There are a lot of really, really sad people out there today. John Spencer was only 58 years old- too young, in my opinion. (younger than my dad!) What I didn't know until I read the New York Times obituary was that John Spencer, like his character Leo, was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Sadly, alcohol and drug abuse really take a lasting toll on your system, and I'm sure that it contributed to his too-early demise. I'm not really shaken up by his death like some are, because I've experienced the death of a close loved one, so the death of a television actor that I didn't feel that passionately about doesn't affect me much. I was neutral on the character of Leo- I prefer C.J. and Toby, myself, but even I can see that if there was any question that this was the last season of West Wing, this has pretty much answered it. When The Powers That Be make the decision to put a major character in what I think is the extremely unrealistic position of vice presidential candidate, it's because they are saying "The future of this show lies with this character." And now he's gone. I think it's safe to say that the show will be too, after this season.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Ordered DH's Christmas presents yesterday. I'm having them shipped to my parents' house. Some of it won't be a surprise, but others will be! Muahahahaha! I am getting a new purse for Christmas. I have mixed feelings about this. I would have liked DH to work a little harder coming up with something nice for me with less input from me. However, I loathe my current purse, which is a crappy Nine West hobo bag that started looking really ratty within a few months of purchase. The real kicker, though, is that it's hard to find anything in it b/c of the unstructured body style of the hobo.
Finding a purse has been tough, though. So many of the purses out there right now are so, so fugly and trendy. If I'm going to spend money on something that's going out of style in a couple of years, the amount had better be less than $50. We finally found a Furla purse at Nordstrom's that was simple and classic, but didn't look like something an old lady would carry around. I wanted it in black or dark brown, though! So DH called every Nordstrom's in a 50 mile radius to find a store that had it in one of those colors. He bought it over the phone, and they're shipping it to us. Yeah! I admit, I'm excited to get rid of the crappy hobo.
On the knitting front, I've been working on a pair of Fuzzy Feet (from Knitty) to take home and felt in my parents' washing machine when I'm home. I'll give one to my sister and maybe the other to my mom, if she wants it. She probably won't.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
And, Local Yarn Store, you are NOT HELPING by having a 20% off EVERYTHING sale this month. I bought 5 hanks of Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille in two shades of pink and size 6 16" Addi Turbos so I could do the flower washcloths from Weekend Knitting. Not with all 5 hanks- I'll probably do them with the 2 light pink skeins, and do another scarf (another??? I think I may be getting sick of scarves) with the 3 darker pink skeins. Not sure yet. Then, today, I went back to the LYS of Destruction (of my wallet) and bought 2 skeins of Brown Sheep Wildfoote sock yarn in periwinkle for the lacy petticoat socks from Weekend Knitting (I have that book out from the library- can you tell??? I might have to buy a copy of it!), plus DPNs in size 2 and size 3 (G-d help me when I start knitting with those tiny wee needles!). I also bought size 10.5 DPNs so I could do Fuzzy Feet for my sister. This will help me get rid of some of my scratchy Cascade 220 that I have in my stash. It was the first yarn I ever bought, but it is just so scratchy and itchy for me. Can't handle it.
To top it all off, there's a new Knitty this week, with a couple of intriguing patterns.
I really want to work on designing my own sweater. I want one that is knit mostly in the round, with minimal seaming. I figure I can handle sewing the shoulders up, and attaching the sleeves to the body if I have to (maybe I could pick up stitches and do it that way?), but there is just no reason to sew a rectangle into a tube if I don't have to. I would much rather knit on double pointed needles than sew something up. Come on. I am not going to let myself design my own sweater until I manage to finish all the projects I have in the pipeline. If I have the yarn for it, I'm going to do it before I work on any kind of sweater. So I'll probably be doing sweaters in August!
Speaking of knitting, one of my friends sent me a really sweet Christmas present- Melanie Falick had a book signing in her town recently, and my friend bought me the knitting journal that Melanie Falick put out, and had it autographed for me! It says my name and everything. So sweet of her. I love thoughtful presents. I just wrote a long rant about generic presents with almost no thought put into them, but thought it sounded ungracious and got rid of it. Anyway, I think the knitting journal will come in handy when I start working on designing the sweater. I was really touched that my friend thought of me- I love books that are autographed by the author. I like to give them as presents too, although I haven't done that in a while.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I finished the scarf for my friend. I'll post pics of it later.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
DH and I spent a few minutes earlier in the day talking about what we were thankful for, and we were very conscious that we should be darn grateful for the sheer availability of food, as well as our ability to buy way more than enough for ourselves. As DH says, "We won the birth lottery just by being born in a highly developed country." So many people around the world (and in our own country) don't have what we have (meaning basic needs like food, clothing, basic human rights, etc. We are also thankful for each other. It's really nice to know that you married a nice person upon whom you can count when you are in need. DH has been sick for the last week or so, and I know he appreciates my efforts to take care of him.
On a knitting note, this weekend I frogged my Ugg scarf. I had doubled up the JoAnn's Beautiful (what is standing in for the shearling) on the first stripe of it, and I hated it. Rather than live with it, I decided to go back and start over. Good decision, I think. I'm also still working on my Agate & Lace scarf for my friend- it's coming along nicely. It's really long now, which I am particularly proud of!
And even though I have another Agate & Lace scarf in progress (using double-stranded Shimmer lace yarn from KnitPicks), and yarn for another TWO scarves, not to mention my Ugg scarf WIP, I keep looking for more yarn and projects! I checked out the book Weekend Knitting from the library, and there are several projects in there that look interesting. I'm also eyeing the recycled sari yarn on ebay... has anyone out there bought some? If so, how did you like it?
Friday, November 18, 2005
I'm thinking, "Well, that's good, I think. It's not a "no," anyway! I didn't know they'd let you revise and resubmit!"
So I told my advisor about it, and her reaction was almost exactly the same. "That's good- I guess. I didn't know they did that."
It adds another step to the process (I think they don't do R&Rs very often at this stage, which is basically a proposal to do a proposal!! I think they do usually give straight up yes, submit the full proposal or no, this isn't appropriate for the theme we're going for.), but that is fine with me. I'm just glad I didn't get rejected, and I'm sure that it is, in part, due to the Big Names who have agreed to participate. Next is to revise and resubmit by Dec. 10th. I will then get a yes/no decision about whether I can keep going forward with this. If it's a yes, then I submit the full proposal in the middle of January. I'm nervous! But it's a good nervous. I'm really glad I pushed myself to do this. I think it's really good for me to stretch like this. The easy thing would have been to chicken out and not do it. I thought this was the road that I would take, but then I changed my mind.
DH and I are planning Thanksgiving. We're doing it at our apartment- the two of us, plus DH's office mate, who is not from the US. We're making a ton of food! Yay! Last year, we spent T'giving with my in-laws, and they just didn't make enough food. It's sad when you think, "Gosh, I've already had 12 green beans... if I take any more, there won't be any left for the rest of the family!"
I don't like turkey, so we're having a standing rib roast. I figure since we don't have to pay $800+ for plane tickets home, we can splurge on our meat. MMM.
Knitting and Other Stuff
I'm working on my Christmas present for one of my friends. I'm doing the Agate and Lace scarf in Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille- a yarn I love! I am pretty sure I haven't posted a picture- it's a lot longer than this now (about double the length, maybe a little more), and I have one more ball to go.
I'm undecided about whether or not I'm going to do beads on the end of it. I've had a hard time finding beads that I like that aren't uber-expensive.
I'm also knitting an Ugg scarf, based on the one done by Kay. I'm only using one color of Lion Brand Suede, though, and my fleecy yarn is JoAnn's Sensations Beautiful in Off-White, which does a darn good impersonation of shearling, for yarn. The other change I'm going to make is to do the ends as a ruffle. I've never knit real ruffles (aside from the Ruffles scarf from Scarf Style, which is done with short rows instead of doing lots of increasing on each row), so this will be a first! I'm really liking my scarf break- they're pretty easy, and fun.
Went to a kick-butt Iyengar Yoga class on Wednesday night. Wow. It was hard! It was only a level 1-2 class, which I should totally be able to do, but it was pretty strenuous. I like that, though. We did handstands and headstands (I can only do them with the instructor's help!), and I must have worked pretty hard, b/c I have these tiny red pinprick-looking things around my eyes. I think I was straining so hard that I broke some capillaries- this is what some of my online friends think, anyway. This past week, I've been alternating yoga with running, and I like that mix a lot. I need the cardio of running, but there's nothing like yoga.
I've been running using an interval method of alternating running and walking. I started out running 3 minutes, walking 4 minutes, and then upped my running time by 30 seconds and decreasing my walking time by 30 seconds, so I was doing a 3:30/3:30 split (split isn't the right term, I know, but it makes sense to me here). Then, yesterday, I cut my walking time by 30 seconds, but left the running time alone, so it's now 3:30/3:00. Next step is to increase my running time. I try to do 5 intervals (so 5 running segments), and I succeed most of the time. Not always, but most of the time. I want to run a 5K at some point in the near future, and it is really important to me that I actually run the whole way. I could almost certainly do one now doing my run/walk system, but I want to run it! Seriously!
My running pace is at about 10 min/mile, which is pretty good for me! I'm starting to try to push myself a tiny bit during the first interval by raising my knees a couple inches higher- this makes you go faster with less effort, says my husband (who ran cross country and track in high school and cross country). It does make it harder, though! I don't care what he says!
Monday, November 14, 2005
I have been working to organize a symposium for the annual conference for my field. I have to submit a brief application, due tomorrow. One of the keys to getting accepted is to have Big Names agree to participate. I had emailed three Big Names. One said he didn't think that he would be able to go to the conference, so he referred me to one of his former students who is just starting out. She's not well known (yet) but does interesting work. One Big Name accepted. The third Big Name expressed interest, but didn't commit. This whole time, I was thinking really positively, and making my declarations about the favor of G-d and my ability to succeed, a la YBLN.
BigName #3 didn't get back to me, despite a couple of emails. I had a mild freakout this weekend, and settled on a couple of backups. Both of them turned me down. Then, at the last minute, BigName #3 got in touch with me. He's going to do it! I am really excited. He does very interesting work, and is very well known. Yeah!
I really feel that I'm starting to reap the benefits of positive thinking, and believing that G-d will come through for me.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Then, a bunch of my online friends started talking about doing the Journal, which is kind of a workbook. I read reviews of YBLN on amazon.com, thought about it, and decided to go for it.
I used to be a very positive person, always looking for the good in a situation. I eventually kind of had this beaten out of me (metaphorically). College was a really, really hard time for me socially. I felt like no matter what group I tried to join, no matter how many auditions I went on, it just wasn't working. I felt like I didn't have any friends, and if I only tried harder I could remedy this. I couldn't. To this day, I only have a couple of friends from college (well, I did meet my husband at college- I guess he counts too!), and aside from my husband, only one of them is really a close friend. Intellectually, I knew I could make and keep friends- I had a terrific group of friends in high school (most of them are still my friends!), so I didn't think it was all me. I don't know what it was, but it was just a very discouraging time in my life.
Things looked up after graduating from college, until my friend died, which was a huge, huge setback. Then I made the crazy decision of going to grad school and moving thousands of miles away, had a crazy horrible roommate with a cat that didn't like to use the litter box, and on top of all of that (not to mention being poor), I had this stressful incident where an epileptic with a suspended driver's license had a seizure and slammed into my parked car. Almost totalled it. Nice. (that situation worked out fine in the end, but was really stressful and awful).
So the combination of all these things over a 5 year period really got to me. I had been so disappointed on so many levels, that I just lowered my expectations to nothing, just to protect myself.
Recently, I have been feeling that I am ready to get back to who I used to be- the positive, upbeat QueenBee who was convinced that everything would work out in the end, and usually did.
Despite my initial skepticism of YBLN, it is really working! The journal is helping me look at the world in a more positive manner. It is helping me to expect positive outcomes from the world, and it is helping me to believe I can succeed. It's terrific!
I recently bought the book, as well as the YBLN devotional book. One of my complaints about the journal is that it seems so simplistic. The book really helps to clarify issues I was struggling with, and the devotional book is helping me understand the Biblical basis of what Joel Osteen is saying. I had originally thought that the book would be kind of "Name it and Claim it" (i.e. "prosperity gospel"), which I don't agree with, but it really isn't.
I highly recommend it. It's terrific.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Due to an administrative error, I received half of my support this summer from a professor not in my area that I have never met. The same administrative office that made the error has informed me that I now have to pay back that money to this professor. The amount will be at least a few thousand dollars.
I wish I were kidding. What the hell? The office suggested to me that I ask my advisor to transfer the money from her research budget to him so I don't have to pay him back out of my own pocket. If my advisor had the money in the first place, all my support would have come from her! Geez!
I am not sure what I am going to do about this. I may talk to my advisor anyway, not to ask her for the money, but to see what my options really are. I could possibly see her going ballistic on the business office about this, but I could also see her asking me why I didn't say anything earlier. I have to sign this piece of paper, but honestly, I didn't pay much attention to it. I have to sign these pieces of paper all the time; the business office often sends me multiple copies in a semester, even if nothing has changed. And I have to sign them all. At the time, I assumed that it was just an administrative thing to get me full funding- this sort of thing has happened before, but with professors that I knew- their names just showed up on the sheet, and no one told me until after the fact what was going on.
Argh. Anyway, I don't have time to worry about it right now. I'm working to put together a description of the symposium I am developing for our big professional conference this year. That's priority number one right now. I had a "Big Name" respond to my invitation to participate with interest, which is very, very positive. This is going to work out, I know it.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
My mom was concerned about that Mr. Gracie (as the cat is named- originally, my mom named him Grace, but then she found out that Grace is a boy cat, so she calls him Mr. Grace or Mr. Gracie now) wasn't eating enough, so she spoon feeds him. She used to hand-feed our dog, so this isn't anything new, but it is still hysterical. Here are some pictures my sister sent me:
In other news, I bought the soundtrack to the musical Wicked. Man, is it ever good. Apparently it's become an obsessive-fan favorite with teenage girls, which I can totally see. My actress friend told me that she thinks that Wicked and Avenue Q are the best musicals to come out recently. I listened to Avenue Q on Yahoo Music Unlimited, and it is really, really funny, but it's not a classic like Wicked will be.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
In other news, I came back home to find a large rock outside our front door. It's one of those landscape-type large rocks. I couldn't figure out why it was there at first, and then it occurred to me that it used to be outside our neighbor's door! I still wasn't sure why it was there, until I realized that while I was gone, the neighbors moved out. I guess they thought we'd want their rock? Not sure. I'm leaving it there for the time being. It's not a nuisance, it's just a rock.
I tried to go running yesterday around the neighborhood. It is not as flat as it might seem. It was HARD. I was out there for about 14 minutes, only half of which was actually running. Then I went to the gym and did the elliptical machine for 40 minutes. Today I'm going to go to the gym and run on the indoor track instead. Tomorrow I drive back up to our other apartment. DH is super excited- I'm getting back much earlier than he had anticipated. The tradeoff is that I have to come back here in a week and a half, but I think I'm going to try to fly, just for a quick pop-in-pop-out situation.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
I knitted this Big Bad Baby Blanket (pattern from the original Stitch N Bitch by Debbie Stoller) for the anticipated new baby of two friends of mine. Baby is due any day.
And... this has been finished for ages, but I promised my knitting group I would take pictures of my finished Clapotis (pattern from Knitty
This picture shows how nicely it drapes:
This is a partial view of the finished product.
Close-up of the stitches:
I have some other projects I am working on, including a ruffles scarf from Scarf Style, and I just started an Agate and Lace scarf using two strands of KnitPicks Shimmer. I found using only one strand to be really, really horrible. Using two works much better. The Ruffles scarf is close to being done- only one more ball (out of 5) to go!
Today, DH and I are going to see his sister, who is in our area for the next month on business. We're going to the birthday party of a friend of mine, a friend whom I have not seen in about three years. Yay! I love this friend. I'm so excited to see her.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Monday, October 17, 2005
His plans and food ran out this weekend, so I mentioned that we needed to do it again. I asked him not to stay at work for too long, so we could go out shopping. I asked him to leave no later than 5. He got home at 6. We planned and shopped, at least part way. We got what we could at Trader Joe's, then we went to Safeway to get the rest for tonight's dinner. We'll hit our local vegetable stand tomorrow.
Dinner took about an hour and a half total to cook, which was half an hour longer than I thought it would take, since we doubled the recipe. It took longer to cook. By the time dinner was ready, it was 9 PM.
I should mention at this point that I am not a stickler for dinner, or for eating together, or having any kind of formality whatsoever surrounding dinner. DH does, though.
By the time we actually got everything ready to eat, things started going wrong for DH. First, our water filter came off the faucet- I'm sure because he was hungry and impatient and too rough with turning it from "filter" to "unfilter." He threw it on the counter, and haphazardly began washing his hands, splashing soap into his bowl of drained pasta and ruining it. At this point he is incredibly hungry, angry, and impatient, so he announces he's having cereal. He can't wait to open the cereal box like a normal person, so he rips it into shreds. He proceeds to eat two bowls of cereal and a container of Greek yogurt (i.e. full fat) within 5 minutes.
Okay. You're hungry. I get it.
I kind of can't help but laugh at the poor guy, though, because tearing a cereal box to shreds because you can't open it right now is such a 4 year old temper-tantrumy thing to do. He points out that I shouldn't laugh because I colored all over a wastepaper basket that I was given as a gift because I was angry that it didn't have the right Care Bear on it. I said, "Yes, but that was when I was four!"
He was not amused, so he went off and now he's sulking in the bedroom. I'm actually not mad at him, but I disapprove of a 27 year old man behaving like a four year old. So I'm letting him have his space, and ignoring him, kind of like I would a four year old.
Seriously, though. What is so hard about eating that cereal and yogurt while we were watching The West Wing? I am not concerned about him spoiling his appetite, and even if he did, I wouldn't care at all.
I think he doesn't understand that this is why I relish time away from him. It's nice to have a break from his seeming inability to take care of himself properly. He has a mother- I don't need to be one too.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
This was a phenomenal production. The cast was absolutely amazing, from top to bottom. I went in completely unfamiliar with the plot of Sweeney Todd, and I have to admit that the first time I saw it, my thought was, "This is the most f^&*ed-up musical ever!" Since I had a boyfriend in the crew, and saw it many times, it grew on me in a BIG way. The music and lyrics are incredible- very fast paced in places, and high energy.
I'm not crazy about the DVD production, in particular with Patti LuPone, who is just not as good as Angela Lansbury (or the Mrs. Lovett in the local production I saw so many times), but George Hearn as Sweeney.... man! Amazing. Blew me away. Neil Patrick Harris (one of the few boys who appeared on my bedroom wall when I was growing up!) was Tobias, and he was really, really good! I'm all "Doogie Howser!" the way I always am when I see him in anything (he was also in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle).
I saw on Amazon that the original Broadway production (with Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou) is being re-released in a remastered version, so I'm going wait until it comes out in February to buy a soundtrack.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Caroline's mother and Jim's mother used to be close, close friends. Jim's mom was always a little bit bizarre, but she was good-hearted and manageable. My mom was never buddy-buddy with her, but they were friendly enough. Jim's mom's bizarroness would usually manifest itself in work trouble. Despite being an RN, she has had a really hard time keeping and thriving in a job. Even before my friend died.
After Jim died, his mom went wacko, which is entirely understandable, but talking to her is very frustrating for me, for Caroline, and for our mothers. After about three years, we finally started to see some kind of outward improvement in his parents, but my mom got really frustrated with the endless wallowing in grief. Everyone processes differently, but she and I firmly believe that the best way to get through it is to at least make an attempt to lead a normal life, even if it's hard, even if it seems impossible. You will not lead a normal life ever again, but with practice, you can approximate something close. You really need that practice, though.
Caroline and I were telling each other during our visit that our moms don't like to return Jim's mother's calls. My mom has a low tolerance for annoying people, but Caroline's mom is not like that at all! The other thing that really bothers our mothers is how Jim's mom treats Jim's younger brother. She doesn't treat him very well at all. I am not sure how this manifests itself, and I suspect it doesn't manifest itself in the material things, but in emotional support and attitude. His younger brother ("Rick") is (was?) six years younger than Jim, so as a result, I didn't really get to know him that well. He was 12 when Jim and I went off to college. When Jim died, Caroline said, "You know, Jim really was their favorite. They love Rick and all, but Jim was the Golden Child." Rick has a lot of physical similarities to his older brother- tall, thin, same deep voice, same hand gestures. I still don't know Rick that well (he is now a senior in college), but he seems to be more grounded in reality than his older brother, who lived for art. Rick likes history, and was an athlete in high school (until he quit to do theatre b/c he hated the coach...).
Soon after Jim died, his mother was showing me a purple beaded dress she had gotten from a closeout sale of a local department store. She said that she had bought it thinking it would be a mother-of-the-bride dress, since she chose not to see that her son was nowhere near engagement with his girlfriend (who also died in the accident). She said to me sadly, "I guess I'll never wear it now" as if Rick did not even exist! I reminded her that she still had Rick, and that someday he would get married and have kids.
At the time, I had chalked it up to grief. She said a lot of strange things during that first week, including wishing that they had collected some sperm from Jim's testicles so they could have paid someone to have his child. (I'm sure she was hoping I would volunteer, but NO WAY. NO WAY!) I thought this was insane on a number of different levels- first, Jim would not have wanted that. Maybe if he had a wife who really wanted kids, he would have been cool with it, but he didn't. Second, Jim would not have wanted his parents to raise his child. They were good parents to him, but so weird.
So I thought that totally forgetting about the possibility that Rick would get married and have kids one day was just grief talking. I also thought that with Jim, he had just graduated from college, he was dating this really nice girl that he was crazy about, was starting his "adult" life, so the prospect of a daughter (finally!!) plus grandchildren (hopefully granddaughters!!) was so close in her mind that she could taste it, but the world stole it from her.
Meanwhile, Rick was just starting his senior year in high school. It would be another six or seven years, minimum, before he could conceivably get married, and add a few years onto that for grandchildren. I had assumed that his mother was thinking like a 4 year old in July. Christmas is so far away in July that the 4 year old thinks it will never get here.
I'm starting to think that that remark is part of a more of a pernicious pattern that may have unearthed with the burial of my friend. Jim's mom has always wanted a daughter, and you could tell that she just longed for one. Perhaps she has always nursed a small resentment towards Rick for not being the girl she so desperately wanted. When Jim died, perhaps that resentment grew even larger because Rick wasn't Jim, and Rick was the one that wasn't dead.
So here's a little note to Rick, who will probably never read this, since only a couple of my RL friends know about this blog.
I don't know you very well, and in some ways that is good. I am sure that, like so many other people, I would be hoping in some way that you would fill the void left by your older brother. When I see you, I can't help but be reminded of him. For me, it's actually kind of nice because it makes the world a little less empty for me, but it seems like it pains your parents. This is not your fault.
I do know that you are a bright young man striving to make his way in the world, a task made harder for you by your parents and grandparents. I think, in the long run, you are choosing wisely by spending as much time away from them as possible. You may also think that you are imagining any less-than-terrific attitude towards you, and you also may be trying to be charitable with your parents and grandparents. Believe me, if my mom and Caroline's mom says that your mom seems to be reflecting a bad attitude towards you, I'm sure that is the case. Since you were significantly younger than your brother, you may have never noticed any kind of sibling rivalry. I know that I hardly ever heard about you from your brother, which you should interpret as a good thing. As a fellow older sibling, I can tell you when we talk about our siblings, it is usually to complain about them. Your brother loved you, and never felt any need to compete with you, so you may be surprised to find that you are in competition with him now.
Unfortunately, this is not a competition that you can win. Since Jim was enamoured with architecture, he had more resonance with your mother and grandfather, who also love art and construction. This is also not your fault, and you should not worry about changing your interests to suit theirs. In addition, he has achieved the exalted status of the departed. Most people choose to forget the flaws of their loved ones, and instead focus on their own flaws which caused the relationship to be less than what they wanted, or on the abrupt end of the relationship.
I do not forget his flaws though, and I think that was because he was so dear to me, and I had no regrets about our relationship. It was ended too soon, but, as I told your grandfather in a flash of wisdom that I can't believe I had, "No matter how long we had him, it wouldn't have been enough." I am sure that you have flaws, but I also know that, like your brother, you have had some very close, dear friends in your life. One of them wrote me a lengthy letter after hearing my eulogy because it reminded her of how much she cared about you. The closest dearest friends will see your flaws and love you anyway, as I did with your brother. If your parents cannot do this, then you should seek that love elsewhere.
Try to stay on good terms with your parents and grandparents, since you are literally all they have left. Try to see their flaws and love them anyway, even though you should work to protect yourself first. This may mean living far away from them, limiting contact, sheltering your future wife from your mother (who, even on her best days prior to Jim's death, would have made a hideous controlling mother-in-law!). Your parents are not the most positive people. Try to surround yourself with people who are.
Most of all, don't feel badly about yourself. You are who you are, not your brother, and certainly not some poor imitation. I wish you all the best, and more.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Usually, when I go to one of these churches for service, people turn around and stare at me, but refuse to talk to me. These churches don't get a lot of new people. They really don't. They are not out there recruiting. They are not even speaking English during most of the service. Hell, any of the service! If you're lucky, the priest will repeat his community announcements in English. You are only going to go there if you're in the ethnic group. Even if you're a member of a related church that isn't represented in town, you would probably go to another branch of the related churches, because there are at least two related branches that are way bigger than we are. This is what my aunt and uncle do in my hometown, since we don't have a church there. They go to a bigger, more established church that is in the same vein.
This church was better. The lady who runs the church office (and directs the choir) was delighted to meet me, and wants to hook me up with whatever she can. I think I've even been roped into singing in the choir next week, even though I am totally unfamiliar with the service, and I don't speak the language.
So I'm going to go next week. I am somewhat ambivalent about it, though. Going to ethnic church means giving up a lot of the spiritual education and growth that I would get at a more traditional church. It's not like there's going to be a lot of intellectual curiosity there- they've done things the same way for over 1700 years. On the other hand, my cultural heritage and the church are inextricably intertwined, and there is something really, really powerful about knowing that my dead grandmother sat and listened to the same service, word for word.
After just finishing (completing) the Candy Striper messenger bag from Stitch N Bitch Nation (well, except for sewing the zipper in, and doing the strap), I think I need to take a break from high-risk projects. This bag is UG-LEE. It's cute in the book, and it's cute when other people make it, but I would not carry my own creation around. It looks that bad. Unfortunately, you can't rip (aka: frog) a felted piece, and it is too ugly to give away, so I am not sure what I will do with it. Throw it away, probably. I don't like clutter, mostly because I keep all my stuff out. Not nicely put in drawers or in closets, but on coffee tables, on the floor, on the counters, thrown on chairs. I think I like to see what I have!
Okay, I do have some stuff in closets, but it's stuff I never use, or use only rarely. I am apt to forget about it if it's in a closet.
So, while I'm still working on the ruffles scarf from Scarf Style, I will be doing the Agate and Lace scarf, the Branching Out scarf from Knitty (maybe- this is still in the air), a pretty scarf called Liesel (I heard about it on Craftster, and it looks really pretty!), and then I got some other yarn for as-yet-undetermined scarf. Scarves are good. I don't need to sew them up.
Friday, October 07, 2005
In my defense, most of the parts in movies prior to Drop Dead Gorgeous are pretty small. I also think that she looks a lot different in The West Wing than she has in most of her older movies.
Anyway, Allison Janney is my current girl-crush. My whole life, when I have been seduced by the allure of celebrity, it has never been by the men. Or the traditionally beautiful women. The walls of my teenage bedroom were plastered with pictures of Debbie Gibson and, later, Emma Thompson. The walls of my friends' bedrooms were covered with New Kids on the Block, Bon Jovi, Skid Row. Mostly New Kids on the Block, though.
I secretly hated NKOTB. All my friends loved them, so I played along to a certain extent, even attending one of their concerts. Debbie Gibson had captured my heart. Rather than being a slick, manufactured product of the record labels (the boy bands of the late 90's would repeat this trend), Debbie (or Deborah, as she goes by now) wrote her own songs!!!! In my mind, this is what made her so much more awesome than New Kids on the Block, or Tiffany, or whatever else was on the radio then. I realize now that her music was cheesy and hokey, but, hey, she was fourteen! What else is a fourteen year old supposed to write about when she doesn't know about love or loss? So I'll give her a pass.
I really appreciated the fact that she wrote her own songs, because I knew it was something I could never do. I had also had many years of classical piano training (another thing I liked about Debbie is that the girl had been trained properly in voice and piano), enough to know my own limits, talent-wise. I could not ever imagine putting together a tune. Maybe lyrics, but I have never understood the creative process fusing lyrics with melody. For all the beautiful music out there, no tunes ever sprung into my head. Even when I tried, I couldn't produce anything. That particular talent isn't there. It's like I can read and understand a language, but not speak it. Anyone who could write their own songs was so far above what I could imagine. How could I help but be filled with admiration? This theme would play out again and again in my music preferences, in buying CDs of people like Tori Amos and Simon and Garfunkel and Dolly Parton.
So back to girl-crushes. After Debbie Gibson came Emma Thompson, my first girl-crush of substantive adult value. I think the first movie that I saw her in was The Remains of the Day. Emma was not especially attractive in either Howards End (indeed, her character in the book is described as not that attractive) or in The Remains of the Day. In fact, I think her movies don't do her justice. But there was something about her that you could see was pretty when you would see her in the media. Her incredibly high cheekbones. The fact that she was so smart (she went to Cambridge)...and funny! I remember watching her hold her own with David Letterman. I usually don't watch Letterman, because I think he's mean to his guests, but Emma handled him beautifully.
For a brief time, I had a girl-crush on Nigella Lawson, who is so good looking it is not even funny, but her beauty is not in the traditional way of the skinny starlet. I abandoned her soon, though, because I found her recipes don't work. Also, she married a big-time weirdo (art-collecting rich-man recluse Charles Saatchi, who has made some naughty comments about her in public that I feel are inappropriate for a husband to make in public about his wife). I have no patience for style without substance.
For some reason, I never developed a girl-crush on Tori Amos. You could say that she's my "type," enormously talented, not conventionally pretty, but pretty in her own way. I read interviews about her, I buy her CDs immediately when they come out, but she is definitely not a girl-crush. I think this situation may be more complicated than most others. I like having girl-crushes on people that others might not think of. While my friends were worshipping at the altar of NKOTB, I loved Debbie Gibson. My peers certainly weren't into Emma Thompson in high school- I don't even remember who the popular stars were at the time. But Tori? Tori has the market cornered on girl-crushes. Every alterna-chick feminist was in love with Tori Amos. Especially if they liked girls to begin with, but not necessarily. She was possibly the first mass girl-crush of my generation. One particular friend of mine, with whom I had a complicated relationship in high school, was really into Tori Amos. I like to stake out new territory, so Tori was less attractive to me just by virtue of my friend's adoration.
I still carry a flame for Emma Thompson, and I will go see anything, no matter how horrible (Junior, anyone?) if she is in it, even if it's an uncredited cameo (like My Father The Hero), but in recent years, she seems to be less active in movies now that she is a mother.
As a result, the void has been filled by Allison Janney. I think I really have the girl-crush on C.J., her character on the West Wing. Allison Janney is similar to Emma Thompson in many ways- both are tall, not conventionally pretty but with an alluring quality about them, both are incredibly talented and versatile. Emma and Allison both seem equally at home in serious drama and in slapstick comedy. (Emma was truly the only good thing about Junior.) Both of them can also take utter crap and spin it into gold, just on the virtue of their talent. In addition, I have it on good authority that Allison is very kind to the baristas at the Starbucks that she frequents. Nice people get points in their favor, whether crushes or not.
In short, both of them have substance along with their style. Major substance.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
It was pouring rain. I had some interesting conversations, and ate some soggy barbeque at a really nice house.
Okay, not as exciting as it could have been, but still.
Friday, September 30, 2005
My advisor, who is very much like a bossy mother bear (I mean this in the best of ways- she's the best!), emailed me to ask how work was coming along because she had heard nothing from me for a while. Of course, I've practically done nothing. It is starting to stress me out. I am not sure why, exactly, I have done nothing. Nothing is a little strong. I found an exemplar, made an outline, wrote three paragraphs of the introduction (I have since realized that I need to leave that for last), realized I need to read more, got several articles etc. to read, read a couple of them, and that's it.
I summed that up in a truthful way that didn't make it sound as bad as it just did. Basically, I said that I was working on writing X paper, but I got stuck, so I was reading more.
Now to actually FINISH that damn reading and start writing again. I'm convinced you can read forever, if you let yourself.
I also got a few really good tips on authors to look up from another smart, nice professor in another part of the University. My University is really good in that respect- almost all the professors I have run across are smart and nice. I know this isn't true, but it sure seems like the people who work in my field at my university, no matter what department they're in, are all not only incredibly brilliant, but also very generous with that knowledge.
I'm currently at my university now. DH is at his university, b/c he has obligations that will keep him there all semester. I was thinking about maybe going back up tomorrow, but I think I'll stick around for another several days. I think it will be really good for me not to have the distractions of DH around, which, not only include him, but also feeding him. It sounds like such a throwback 1950's kind of thing, but I am more or less the brains behind our meals. Yes, it gets tiring. No, if I leave him to his own devices it doesn't work- he either spends a ton of money on takeout (this is what's happening this week), or he doesn't feed himself properly. Honestly, I get so tired of it. He almost always helps with cooking, but if I'm doing any cooking at all, that's time I'm not spending working, and then there's planning and shopping too. He will sometimes do shopping- I have started asking him more and more to do this. But goodness gracious- the planning!! It's soooo nice to have a break from that for a while. I can eat string cheese and an avocado and be good to go for dinner.
Monday, September 19, 2005
I think it's good that he wants to keep us safe. It's a good instinct in a husband, I think. Marrying an Eagle Scout has its privileges!
I know I haven't updated in a while, so more later, but I need to do some work first.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Ten years ago I was just starting my senior year of high school. Satan had earmarked my house as a corner of hell, which is a special gift he gives to most first-born children heading off to college. This manifests itself in your mother going batsh*t crazy and making your life a living hell. This happened to several of my friends, so I know I'm not the only one. It is supposed to make the transition easier for both of you because you both want you to get the hell out of the house. I was also starting to prepare my early-decision application for my college of choice (which I got into, yay), and probably taking the SAT for the second time somewhere around this time as well.
Five years ago I had JUST moved to the DC area and was about to start my first "big girl" job. This was the beginning of the happiest year of my life!
One year ago Married for 3 months. Similar place to where I am now- doing school, hating it, constantly thinking about quitting. Still in the honeymoon phase with my advisor (i.e. before she discovered how lazy I am...).
- chocolate chip cookies (preferably homemade)
- Tostidos Hint Of Lime Chips
- Trader Joe's Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (but not with the hint of lime chips, with regular tortilla chips only
- String cheese
- Krispy Kreme donuts- chocolate iced glazed. MMMM.
Five Songs I know all the words to
- Caught a Lite Sneeze- Tori Amos
- Dancing Queen- ABBA
- The Boxer-Simon & Garfunkel
- 867-5309-Tommy Tutone
- Love Shack- The B-52's
There are more. But it only asked for five. If you asked my husband, he wouldn't be able to list a single one. He doesn't pay attention to the lyrics and is tone deaf. He's all about the beat. Sometimes he claps along with the music. Not necessarily with the beat, though. Poor soul, he isn't musically inclined.
Five Places to Run Away to
- Washington DC. Haven't managed it yet, though.
- A bookstore cafe
- My parent's house, which is also sometimes a place tot run away from
- The movies, preferably foreign, preferably alone
Five things I would never wear
- Anything, and I mean ANYTHING yellow.
- Pleated pants
- Daisy Dukes
- Pasties without wearing something over them
- A muu muu
Five favorite TV shows
- West Wing, even though it's sucked since Aaron Sorkin got sober and left.
- The Daily Show. Jon Stewart, American Hero.
- Barefoot Contessa
- Clean Sweep
- The Sopranos
Five biggest joys
- Getting into college
- Graduating from college
- Getting married
- Driving down the GW Parkway on the way back from Target during my first year in DC, feeling completely happy that I was totally in control of my fabulous life.
- October 1997. It was a really good month.
- DVD player
Five people to pass this onto
I'm not sure I have five people that I know well enough to pass this onto! Oh well. Hanni and Angela I would pass it on to my other friend Chris, but I'm not sure he would even do it.
Feel free to tag yourself, gentle readers! Leave a comment if you do it so I can read it, please!
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
On a whim, I thought I would see if there was a Chicken Soup for the Academic's Soul. For those of you that aren't familiar with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, each book has a whole bunch (101?) of short little vignettes, each only a few pages long. The stories are always extremely positive and happy, and sometimes (maybe always? It's been years and years and years since I looked at one) feature something that starts out depressing and ends up positive somehow, either b/c people see the positive in it, or something terrific happens. The Chicken Soup for the Soul book series is pretty schmalzty, with heavy Christian undertones, so I figured that the academic market for it is non-existent.
I was right. Despite the fact that there are Chicken Soup books for almost every other niche market (especially those that go for schmaltz with Christian undertones), such as Christians (duh), NASCAR fans, nurses, Latter-Day-Saints, mothers, sisters, fishermen, golfers, generic sports lovers, dog lovers, cat lovers, dog and cat lovers, teenagers, retirees, grieving people, people in recovery... the list goes on and on and on. Nothing for academics, though. There is a book for teachers, but I assume (almost certainly correctly) that it is geared towards secondary school teachers. Perhaps there are a few stories about teaching college classes, but we all know that teaching is not the difficult, frustrating part about academia (except for the fact that it makes doing your research more difficult and more frustrating).
The hard part is doing the research, coming up with the ideas, forcing yourself to do things, navigating the political landscape, protecting your reputation. I am struggling with all these things right now (except for the ideas, but DH is struggling with that), and it is so frustrating. I would love to hear terrifically positive stories about academia.
Does anyone have one?
Thursday, September 01, 2005
I was thinking about Lisa's parents again today. They live in Metairie. I hope their house isn't destroyed. I can't imagine losing your child, then, four years later, losing your house. Probably Lisa's alma mater, which is on St. Charles Street, is flooded pretty badly, though hopefully not destroyed.
Tulane, my friend's alma mater, is closed indefinitely at this point.
In a way, I'm glad my friend wasn't here to see it. He would just be devestated at all the destruction of his beloved city. He loved New Orleans so much.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
One of the blogs that she links to is a Ph.D. student who goes by the pseudonym Badger. I haven't been following the story for very long, but Badger's husband just died a couple of days ago following a long battle with cancer. Add grad student financial troubles caused by incredibly expensive and underfunded health care into the mix. Also, an eleven year old son. What a crappy, crappy situation to be in. I can't remember exactly who told me this, but this person (I think it was a former student of mine) said, "Sometimes life just hands you a plate of shit, and you have to eat it with a smile on your face."
Sometimes I wonder what I would do if something happened to DH. The thought is frightening. I'd quit grad school and go home, probably. If something happened to DH, I wouldn't want to stay in my neck of the woods- I don't like it here, and I can only stand it because it's temporary. DH has a small inheritance in the bank, earmarked for our future house downpayment that I could use to take care of any death related expenses. I wonder if he has life insurance through school? I do, which is somewhat of a relief, because I know that if something unexpected happens to me, he wouldn't be saddled with a huge, enormous financial debt for funeral expenses, or whatever.
I try not to wonder too often, in case imagining manifests reality.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
So I was really relieved to hear that my parents didn't lose power. I do have an aunt and uncle in Baton Rouge, though, and we haven't heard from them. My uncle is sufficiently stubborn that I'm sure they didn't evacuate.
Poor New Orleans. It's such an amazing city. I love it so much- I'm sad to see that it's suffered so much damage. My best friend who died lived there. I hope his girlfriend's parents are okay. I put in an email to one of his other friends who doesn't live there anymore but is from the area and has a ton of friends still there to see if all her folks are okay, and maybe if Lisa's (the girlfriend) parents are okay too. Everyone she knows is fine, but she isn't sure about Lisa's parents. Hopefully they're okay too.
Friday, August 26, 2005
I was talking about moving from my Southern hometown, which is practically the capital of White Flight, to Washington DC, which is quite possibly the most integrated city I've ever seen (Okay, maybe NYC is more integrated but I haven't spent a lot of time there). I made the comment that moving to such a diverse city was really great, and that it was a really new experience for me. And one of the things I said was that in DC, you can't judge a neighborhood by the color of the skin of the people in the grocery store. Oy. Everywhere else I've lived, including my Northeastern College City and the current West Coast Cities that DH and I have apartments in, is relatively segregated. I remember when I first went apartment shopping in the DC area, I tried to gauge the neighborhoods, in part, by the racial makeup of the neighborhood. Maybe not the most enlightened decision process, but it was the heuristic I was used to.
I discovered that I couldn't do it, and that in fact, that ended up being a good thing b/c DC is a much more interesting, vibrant place than anywhere else I've lived. Realizing that I was even trying to judge neighborhoods by that kind of qualification taught me a depressing lesson about myself, that despite the fact that I had several African-American friends that I knew through work, etc. I was still less tolerant than I would like, but I think I'm a better person now. Not perfect, but better.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Dinner party went fine- tiramisu was a big hit, the rest of the food, only so so. Oh well. I think people had fun anyway.
Too hungry to post now... maybe more later.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
However, these are DH's friends that we're inviting, so maybe he's better liked than I am. We know they're coming, anyway, so hurrah!
I need to learn how to throw cheap dinner parties. I've spent in the ballpark of about $60-$80 on food for this party. We're serving $30 worth of flank steak (DH and I are hoping we'll have leftovers!), I'm making tiramisu from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, which required going to my local Peet's Coffee and asking for 12 shots of espresso (we don't have a coffee maker since we're tea drinkers), and seeing the saucer eyes of the barista because she actually thought I was going to drink it all. As it turned out, I did not need NEARLY that much. I could have done with half. It also required buying a bottle of run. Then, halfway through assembling the dish, I had to go back to Trader Joe's to buy a second box of ladyfingers because I ran out. I couldn't have just done a box of Trader Joe's truffle brownies (which are really good, by the way!) and served it with the most excellent Double Rainbow vanilla ice cream we already have in our freezer, but no. I am making up for the fact that I kept wanting to order tiramisu when we ate at the tasty little Italian place when we were at my conference but kept being too full. No way to ensure that I'll eat a ton of tiramisu like making it. Ugh. Because you know I really need to eat food that has 16 ounces of mascarpone cheese in it. I should have just ordered the tiramisu at the restaurant a few weeks ago.
We're also serving, get this, smoked salmon, plus chips and Trader joe's onion dip for appetizers. We're having three side dishes in addition to appetizer, flank steak main course, and dessert, because DH thinks that the other two guys will be big eaters. DH is a big eater, and honestly, it's hard to top him, but he's right. Better to be prepared than to not have enough food.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
We had dinner at a little French restaurant, which was really tasty. We were the youngest patrons there by at least 15 years (much more in most cases!), with the exception of 2 girls who were around 10-12 years old, brought in by their parents. Although the restaurant was pretty crowded and noisy, the food was really, really good. Creme brulee to die for!!! mmmm.
DH also surprised me with the tank top, panties, and pajama pants that I had been admiring last week at the Gap. Yay! They're pretty blue things with ecru lace edging. Really pretty! This is in addition to my anniversary present, which is 2 21 karat gold bracelets similar to what my sister got at her wedding from my aunt. (Yes, I'm jealous! I admit it!) The bracelets are being sent over from the home country b/c they're hard to find in the US.
Now onto the conference. It was pretty good. It was held in a touristy beachy destination, which is a lot less cool than it might sound if I told you where it was. We were pretty unimpressed, actually. We did go parasailing, though, which was extremely cool, except for the incredibly I-think-I'm-funny-but-really-I'm-obnoxious boat operators. Our guidebook said that they're the best ones (and they were good in the sense that nothing bad happened, and the actual parasailing was an enjoyable experience), but I kind of wish we had gone with a less obnoxious one. First, they made it abundantly clear that they expected tips- not just by the "Tips appreciated" lettering on the inside of the boat, but also the phrase "Tipping is not a city in China!" also done in sticky letters very prominently. Then there was the row of 20s, a 50, and even a 100 dollar bill stuck under a piece of rubber on the railing so you could see exactly what was an "acceptable" tip. We were the last ride of the day, so during the ride, I saw one of the guys counting a big wad of 1s that he apparently keeps hidden, so the 20s probably weren't the norm, or were for whole families that went out. I was moderately annoyed by the whole thing, since we were already paying about $50 a person to go. It's not like these people are waiters. I'm sure they get good wages, and it's not like they did anything special. They made sure that we got up and down safely. Gee, that's what we were paying them for! We did tip them, actually- we gave $10, which was about 10%. I probably would have felt better about tipping them if they weren't so damned obnoxious- saying things like how DH and I were "the whitest people ever" and how they made fun of me for wanting to keep my life jacket on the whole boat ride, even though they were trying to round them up way early so they could go home faster, since we were the last ride of the day.
Anyway. Onto the work part of the trip. I actually did go to a number of sessions, as well as a mini-conference for doctoral students. The mini-conference could have been more helpful, since this group (which is not strictly international in nature) is putting a heavy focus on bringing in a non-US perspective, which is fine, except the nature of these mini-conferences is, in large part, to give career advice and direction to the students. The non-US academic systems are VERY, VERY different than the US system, so often, the advice is totally useless to a US student. Oh well.
The other thing I realized was that I need to get my behind in gear in a big way if I want to be on the market next year. And I do want to be on the market. In a big way. Eek. I have a LOT of work to do.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
For me, my friend's death and 9/11 are very closely linked in my head because they happened about a month apart, and at the time I was living in DC, working in a government agency just up the road from the Pentagon. I think I can safely say that I have never been so scared in my life (I remember that I wouldn't take the highway home- I took surface streets because who knew what would happen next?), and it was just unbelievable that so many people died. It was a trauma after a trauma that was still very fresh.
My husband is so awesome (this is related). I was in the bathroom last night brushing my teeth when I overheard the news, and then I came to bed, and he immediately knew something was wrong. He is really good at being perceptive. It's amazing. I was thinking last night how incredible he was after my friend died. I was a total mess. I was a total mess for about 2 years, but I was especially bad off during the first couple of months. That experience was what allayed any doubts that I had about him being a good person to marry. He had led a relatively charmed life, and I had real concerns about how he would handle hardship- would he run away or take it like a man? Thankfully, it was the latter. He's the best.
Monday, August 01, 2005
It was thrown by a magazine called Planet Magazine at some random small art gallery. I had agonized about what to wear beforehand, because it was a fashion party, so wouldn't people be dressed all trendily? I ended up wearing clothing from the Gap, which I had thought wouldn't be trendy enough, but as it turned out, were okay. Yes, other people were wearing trendier t-shirts, but I was wearing my just-finished Clapotis scarf (I was weaving in the ends during the car ride to the city), so I think it was all good. Crafting is the new hipster thing, don't you know?
Anyway, there was a fashion show, featuring t-shirts from lines from all over the country, including Skaen , Anzevino & Florence, and Headline Shirts. I really wanted to buy a Skaen shirt with bunnies on it, but they were sold out! Alas.
The quality of t-shirts varied from line to line- I think the Skaen ones were the best ones I saw (and they were priced that way, too!). Some of them just weren't that creative or funny. There was one t-shirt that was really tempting that said:
LOS ANGELES SHOPPING LIST
1. bottled water
2. tooth whitener
Ha! Too funny. And, kinda true.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
The couple decorated the tables at their reception with copies of the police report of the accident.
This is really creepy to me. It's one thing to have a cute story, but really. The accident report on the tables, as part of the decor? This seems kind of macabre to me. Even though no one was hurt in the accident.
I think that's just me and my personal biases, given my experience. But still.
On another note, I bought Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now Journal. I have heard good things about him from friends- friends who aren't into the "name it and claim it" televangelism. I think I'll start working on it today. You're supposed to do one entry/lesson each day for seven weeks. The first lesson is to write down two dreams of yours that are so big that you haven't even dared to entertain achieving. I know one already, but I don't have a second one. Maybe that says something about me, and why this exercise might be good for me. I think I need to be more positive, honestly. I have lived life mostly preparing for the worst and managing expectations. A change might be helpful.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Gah. One of the things I hate about academia is that standing up for your own interests sometimes means you would damage your reputation and get people pissed at you. Which is NOT what you want.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
DH and I were waiting to go to a showing of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (skip it), and we could hear all the fighting, etc. from the showing of the movie Cinderella Man in the next theatre.
My dad made me promise to see Cinderella Man, and told me more about his childhood. My dad is a Baby Boomer, but his parents lived and remembered the Depression, and even with all the govermental assistance, the war, etc., his family was still pretty poor. So poor, in fact, that my dad's stepfather used to (get this) box for money when my dad and his brother were little. I knew they were live-in-the-projects poor (back when the projects were a respectable place, not the drug-ridden, gang-infested dangerous places of today), but not get-your-brains-beaten-out-so-you-can-put-food-on-the-table poor. My dad almost cried remembering it, not because his life personally was so hard- he says that he never realized they were poor because everyone was poor, so it was normal- but because he realized now how tough it was for his parents, and how close he was to the brink growing up.
My dad's stepfather, who was a really good stepfather and a better dad to my father than his real dad (who was involved, but not as much as his stepfather), was a hobo who rode the rails during the Depression who later went on to work in the local factory. His mother was a licensed practical nurse. Neither one finished high school. It seems to me all the more wondrous and impressive that my dad finished college (the first in his family), freaking sent his kids to private school (this was mostly my mother's doing, admittedly, and she had lots of financial help from her family), and owns a house in a good neighborhood.
A few years ago, my dad told me that when I was growing up, he made a conscious effort to say the phrase "When you go to college" rather than "If you go to college," because he wanted my sister and me to think that going to college was not optional, that it was a given. I cannot tell you how much this floored me, because for me, going to college WAS a given, always. And not just going to any crappy college, either- going to a good school. It astonished me that to my dad, going to college wasn't automatic, something that you were kind of different for doing. Times were different then, but I still know PLENTY of people my age, who have similar educational backgrounds in terms of good schools, who didn't bother to finish college. They started, but didn't finish.
I knew, growing up, that my dad felt kind of uncomfortable around the other private school parents. His background was so different from theirs, and he just didn't feel like he fit in, and he really didn't. But I never wanted him to fit in- I loved him just the way he was, and still do. He could do things that other dads couldn't do- like build me this totally kickass bookcase when I was in college. He says he just "threw it together", but it lasted through two moves, and when I graduated, I gave it to DH's best friend to use- sadly, it wouldn't fit in the minivan when we packed my apartment up senior year. Friend gave it to his sister when he graduated. I'm not sure if she still has it, or what. I loved that bookcase.
The other thing that he did when I was growing up that the other dads didn't do was come to all my plays, all my performances, all my school concerts. In junior kindergarten, your parents could come on your birthday, and they'd do things like read a story to the class, participate in activities, etc. Most of the time, the mothers came alone, but both of my parents came. All those kinds of things mean a lot to kids, and I'm really glad that he made such an effort to be a great father. I am a better person for it.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
This is bad b/c DH also wants to TA this quarter (for the experience- he's never done it before. Meanwhile, I have TAed 7 times now? Ah, the benefits of being at a comparatively poorer state school.), which would mean being in class twice a week plus having office hours.
We just got through a rough spot of having to be separated most of the time over a period of several weeks. It sucked. I'm of the "you gotta do what you gotta do" mentality, but his mentality is more like, "Hell no!!"
I'm just not worrying about it, actually.
The other thing I'm working on is trying to put together my application for IRB approval. IRB= Internal Review Board. They're the people who review EVERY research project undertaken under the auspicies of a university. Every university has one, and they're important, because they make sure that researchers aren't doing anything dangerous/risky/etc. to the subjects, that the subjects aren't coerced into doing the research (damn! At my undergrad school, they could REQUIRE the students to participate in studies for course credit. You can do that at my school too, but you have to offer them an alternative that is of equal or lesser rigor to get that credit. You didn't have that option at my alma mater!!), etc.
But it is a really bureaucratic process. And I'm just starting it off. Wow.
Friday, July 08, 2005
I am writing to recommend against the parole of XXXXX. Nearly four years ago, Mr. XXXX ran a stop sign, and hit the car that my best friend, XXXXX, was driving, killing both him and his beloved girlfriend, XXXXX.
Losing [BFF] has impacted so many people who were close to him. We have changed in irrevocable ways, and not for the better. The shock of losing a beloved grandson so suddenly due to the careless actions of someone who fled the scene to avoid taking responsibility for his actions caused his grandfather to suffer an immediate, sharp decline in his health from which he has not fully recovered. His parents have, only recently, been able to piece together a sense of normality in their own lives. I know that they have written letters, as have other friends, so I will let them speak for themselves.
[BFF] was like a brother to me, and we had a friendship that I think will never be duplicated in my lifetime. He was the sort of friend that you could call up in times of trouble, and you’d always finish the conversation feeling better. At the time of his death, I had known him for almost ten years- we progressed from teenagers to young adults together, and we knew each other so well that we could read each other’s thoughts just from slight changes of expression that went unnoticed by others. He was the most loyal friend anyone could ever find, and there was nothing that he loved more (other than architecture) than eating good food, listening to good music, and spending time with his friends. As an intellect, a spiritual musician, an artist, and even occasional athlete; his kind will not soon be in the world again.
Mr. XXXX took away from me the person in the world who was most dear to me. It took me a full two years to even start to feel normal again, and I’m still hit with overwhelming waves of grief at times, sometimes when I least expect it. I think the worst thing, though, is that there is nothing in life that is truly, purely joyous anymore because there is always a shadow of sadness lurking in the background. Even at my wedding a year ago, I felt an immense grief that not only was my dearest friend not there to share in my joy, but also that I was going on a path that he would never be able to experience himself. I was reminded of my loss again this past weekend at another wedding. I wonder if I will ever be able to experience pure, unadulterated joy again, and I doubt that I will. Even though I know he is in heaven looking down on me and all his friends and family, I admit being selfish. I would prefer that he was here.
[BFF] died during a time that was a crossroads for him. He had just graduated from [University], where he had the Dean’s Scholarship, the highest possible honor for students entering [University]. He had spent a year in the Study Abroad program, which was also a program that was very competitive to get into, and he had also received honors for his senior thesis. When Mr. XXXX ran that stop sign at [street] and [crossstreet], and killed my friend and his girlfriend, [BFF] was in the process of planning his future. He was incredibly excited about starting his professional life, and being with [his girlfriend], whom he loved very much. While Mr. XXXX was hiding from police to avoid taking responsibility for his actions, I was tracking down the names of architecture firms where he had three job interviews scheduled two weeks later. [BFF] was nothing if not conscientious and responsible, and I knew that he would never want senior professionals in his chosen avocation to believe that he was a lazy slacker who cared so little about himself and others that he stood up his interviewers, because this was the complete opposite of his true nature.
While it is part of life that people die, [BFF]’s death was entirely unnatural and unnecessary. So many of [BFF] and [his girlfriend'’s friends and family have suffered tremendously due to the careless, reckless, and illegal actions of Mr. XXXX. He stole from the world a budding architectural talent, a loving and respectful son and brother, and a caring and loyal friend. I ask the Parole Board to please keep Mr. XXXX incarcerated, not only because such a loss requires the fulfillment of a just punishment, but to prevent, at least for the remainder of his full sentence, any other people from having to suffer from his mistakes. My understanding is that when this accident happened, he was on parole for another drug-related offense, so you will forgive me if I am skeptical about his rehabilitation. Our suffering was something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, so I certainly wouldn’t wish it on anyone else that he might cross paths with. I would not even wish it on Mr. XXXX. No amount of suffering on his part will bring [BFF] and [his girlfriend] back and heal our wounds. I am content with his original sentence, and ask no more, but I also ask no less. It is too late for me and for the rest of his loved ones, but please protect other innocent families from the same fate suffered at the same hands.
Here are some anonymous pics from my sister's wedding:
Dress and flowers
Close up of detail on cake
Table with favors, guest book, and decorative bride and groom teddy bears (the groom bear is a Marine, just like my sister's DH)
I have to say that I enjoyed the second wedding more, for a couple of reasons. One, I was just guest. No bridesmaid duties for me, no sisterly support, etc. I could just show up and have fun. Two, the second wedding had two things that are missing from a lot of weddings. First, the bride and groom were genuinely excited to be getting married to each other. It was clear that they really loved each other a lot. Second, there was also a sense of anticipation of the wedding actually being the start of a life together.
My sister's wedding had the first, but not the second. They had been living together for at LEAST two years, they bought a house a year ago, etc., so it was almost like the wedding was just a formality to them, and they were doing it b/c everyone expected them to. My sister was so nervous the week before, and was really wishing that she eloped, she didn't want the wedding, was doing it b/c everyone else wanted her to, et cetera.
Just an interesting observation.
On another note, I decided to write a parole letter after all. I need to overnight it today for it to get there by the 13th. That's okay, though. It's worth it. The more I think about it, the more I really don't want him to get parole.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
However, now that I know, I wanted to see what I could find out about it. I couldn't even remember the guy's name, and didn't care that much. My thinking at the time prior to sentencing, and to a certain extent, my thought now, is that the amount of punishment he gets doesn't matter much- they could torture him, and riddle his body with bullets, rip out his fingernails, whatever, but it won't bring my friend, or his girlfriend back. I'm more concerned with this man, who is my age, getting sober so he won't do this again than I am with him sitting in a prison cell for the next 5 years, which would be the rest of his sentence. In fact, I probably would feel better if I knew he had turned around his life. Our prison system isn't exactly set up for rehabilitation, unfortunately. In fact, he was already out on parole for drug possession when he ran the stop sign and went right into my friend's car. On the other hand, I'm not exactly excited about the prospect of him getting out. When I found out that he had gotten 9 years (even knowing that he might serve half that...), I was shocked at how pleased I was with that. I had prepared myself for being excited at a sentence of 2 years, which seemed like a long time at the time, but is a mere drop in the bucket when recovering from grief. I hadn't even gotten back to normal at the end of 2 years. I think it took me almost 3 years to do that, and now I'm staring year 4 right in the face.
So... I did a bunch of googling. I found the Louisiana Parole Board website, but didn't see anyone with involuntary manslaughter or felony hit and run. Ended up going to Lexis-Nexis to search the Times-Picayune for my friend's name, and found the brief article I was looking for. Went back to the Louisiana Parole Board website, and did a little searching, but couldn't find anything. Googled the guy's name. Couldn't find anything.
Eventually, I googled his girlfriend's dad's name. Her dad was athletic director at a prominent high school in the area, and I thought that maybe there would be something related to a letter writing campaign, or something, since apparently, his influence in the community, and the support and love that everyone related to that school had for him and his family, was no small impact in getting the guy a reasonable sentence.
I found this article instead:
One of his girlfriend's friends from grad school discovered a new kind of toad. When someone finds a new species, they get to name that species, and he named it after her, in her memory. Wow. Made me sob like a baby.
I'm sure I'll hear more about the parole thing when I get home. I think my mom was probably right not to tell me, but it's not devestating or anything now that I know.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
1. Washington DC is my favorite city of all time, ever.
2. My favorite meal is a virgin Pina Colada, Tom Yum Goong soup, and Pad Thai Jae from Neisha Thai. I haven't had this meal in almost 3 years.
3. My mother is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
4. I have played the piano since I was 3. Unfortunately, I am not as good as you might think, given 24 years of piano playing (some years consist of hardly any playing at all, which is also unfortunate)
5. My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
6. Despite my atrocious math background, I was chosen to be in the honors program at college.
7. I got kicked out of the honors program 1 semester before graduation because my GPA was too low.
8. My husband and I have 2 apartments.
9. I am a bleeding heart liberal.
10. I like to watch Barefoot Contessa while working out at the gym. Ironic, no?
11. I took a semester off in college b/c I was extremely depressed.
12. I am a dog person.
13. My favorite movie is The Remains of the Day.
14. I'm not sure if this record has been broken, but I was the youngest person ever in my county to get a library card.
15. I own a Nissan Altima.
16. My wildest dream is to be an opera singer.
17. I used to play air violin as a child, and would still like to learn to play for real.
18. I love foreign movies.
19. I am mildly allergic to cats
20. My parents almost split up when I was 11.
21. Everyone has a "type." My type is "nerdy."
22. I loved living alone.
23. My hair is straight and brown, with a few gray hairs that I pull out the second I see them.
24. I competed in the Miss America pageant at the state level (meaning that I won a local pageant and went on to compete for Miss State, which I didn't win.)
25. I knew one of the girls from the first season of America's Next Top Model.
26. I had a finance class with an Olympic athlete and the son of one of the nation's most famous billionaires.
27. I know I've talked about it in previous posts, but it's such an important part of who I am that I have to repeat it. My best friend was killed in a car accident.
28. I am a feminist.
29. I have been married for almost a year- it will be a year in about a week and a half!
30. I could probably eat fudge and/or maple sugar all day long, if I didn't know how horrible it is for you.
31. I went to a private, all-girls school from pre-k through high school. 14 years.
32. My best girlfriend in high school stabbed me in the back. We're no longer friends.
33. I love weddings.
34. I post on multiple internet boards.
35. I am an expert on using self-tanner. (thanks to my pageant days)
36. I learned copperplate calligraphy to address my wedding invitations.
37. I can name just about every celebrity from my hometown, to the point that my college roommate used to make fun of me.
38. I drink lots of tea. My favorite tea is Lapsang Soushong.
39. I saw going away to college as my only way to get away from parental control.
40. I have never tried illegal drugs of any kind.
41. I have tried cigars, though, but didn't inhale smoke into my lungs- just puffed on them.
42. I don't eat pork, unless it's in bacon form.
43. I am a slight overpronator (this is a running term- it means my feet roll inward)
44. I can drive a stick-shift.
45. I do all my own waxing.
46. I have always liked butterflies, since I was a toddler. I liked them so much that my mom had butterflies drawn on my birthday cake on my first birthday.
47. I took a Cusinart food processor as carryon on a flight once. This was before 9/11, obviously. I found out from my mom that when my grandmother immigrated to the US around 1970, she also carried on her food processor for the international flight.
48. I still miss our dog, who died only a couple of months before my best friend.
49. The best month of my life in terms of number of good things that happened to me was October 1997.
50. I am a member of the oldest continuously-existing literary society in the U.S.
51. I majored in Marketing.
52. I was this close to minoring in Religious Studies.
53. My favorite TV show was The West Wing. It's sucked a lot in the last few years, but I haven't really found a replacement, and I love Allison Janney so much, I can't quit watching.
54. I used to be a rabid fan of Days of Our Lives.
55. I think my most prized possession is my engagement ring. Even more so than my grandmother's wedding band.
56. I once dated a guy who told me that I was the only girl he had ever dated that had never had an eating disorder or a stalker. Okaaaaaaaay.
57. Most days, I don't think I'll make it out of the Ph.D. program with a diploma.
58. I sometimes wish my husband wasn't going into academia, solely for financial reasons.
59. Male TV personality I'd most like to hook up with, if neither one of us were married: Jon Stewart
60. Sometimes I wish I could go blonde and have it actually not look horrible on me.
61. I once had a pair of diamond earrings. They went missing somewhere in my parents' house, and we never found them. Stolen? We're not sure.
62. King of the Hill reminds me of my dad.
63. You know I knit, but did you know that I'm also a natural fiber snob?
64. I think bunnies, mice, and hamsters are cute.
65. I hate washing dishes.
66. I have a sister who is 20 months younger than I am.
67. I am a terrible procrastinator.
68. I am not athletic at all, and only work out for health reasons. I do not enjoy it, and would rather be knitting, or doing something else more fun.
69. I did run a 5K once.
70. I took five years of Latin in high school, and that was what I used to fulfill my language requirement at college.
71. I used to test software for a living.
72. My scariest moment was 9/11. I was living in DC at the time, and working in a government agency just a few miles from the Pentagon. You just didn't know what was going to happen next, and even driving home was scary.
73. When I donate money to charity, I donate to public broadcasting and to my alma maters (secondary school and college).
74. Foreign countries I have been to: Canada, England, France, Hong Kong. I have also been to Japan, but this was due to an unfortunate flight delay on the way to HK, and subsequent overnight stay in the Narita Airport Radisson.
75. I have lived in the midwest, the south, the northeast, and the west coast.
76. My favorite kind of underwear is GapBody.
77. I hate moving more than almost anything.
78. My favorite color is blue.
79. I am a terrible procrastinator.
80. My favorite dessert is creme brulee.
81. I used to have an apartment of really nice furnishings, and I really miss it.
82. I was on antidepressants for 7 months during my first year of grad school.
83. I love thunderstorms, as long as I'm inside.
84. If I won the lottery, I'd pay off my parents' house, pay for their planned remodeling, and set up scholarships in my friend's name at my alma mater (he went to the boys' school next door, and they really pissed me off, so they're not getting my money) and at his undergraduate college. I'd probably stay in grad school, but I'd move to a place where we could get a dog.
85. Almost all my close friends are from high school.
86. I am a good cook, but have started to hate cooking since getting married. I can't just cook for fun anymore.
87. I have loved Saturday Night Live since 7th grade.
88. I am not entrepreneurial at all.
89. I have a friend in high places.
90. I grew up without cable- I didn't have cable until my sophomore year of college, when it was free in the dorms. I then went without cable for 4 years, with a brief interlude of a few months with my EvilBlackSouledRoommate, when I moved in and she already had it. When she moved out, I went back to not having it, until I moved into on-campus dorms, which then got free cable again. (the free cable sucks, though)
91. I cannot remember not being able to read. I could read when I started school at age 3.
92. I am working on breaking an in-law hating pattern that my mother has tried her best to instill in me.
93. I am always cold.
94. I love humidity.
95. My first car was a 1986 BMW 528e.
96. I love yoga, even though my skills ebb and flow depending on how often I go. (right now, not that often)
97. When I was growing up, I LOVED the show Doogie Howser, M.D.
98. I am 5'7" tall.
99. I have 6 first cousins.
100. Tori Amos is one of my favorite musical artists.