Sunday, July 24, 2005


There was a wedding profile in the New York Times today about a couple that met through a pretty nasty car accident. It was the type of accident that was really scary, and the bride's car was pretty well smashed up (she was rear-ended, which sent her car careening into the groom's car, and then onto the median, dangerously close to oncoming traffic), but thankfully no one was hurt.

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

stupid TA assignments

Argh. I have the crappiest TA assignment ever for next semester. Well, it's crappy for me and my situation. I got the opportunity to possibly switch, but the professor thinks that I should stay in my current assignment b/c it's with the brand new, green professor who probably needs an experienced TA.

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

My Dad

Yesterday, I started thinking about my father.

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

Less stitchin'! More bitchin'!

So I found out yesterday that I have a super crappy TA assignment for next fall. I'm TAing two sections of the same class. Each section meets once a week. Damn! I'm hoping that the professor won't make me go to both sections every week, but what I'm really hoping for is that she doesn't make me go to ANY, or only go sporadically, and uses me only for grading, which would be nice.

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

Parole letter

Here's the letter I wrote to the parole board. It was kind of tough to write it, but I'm glad I did. I hope it helps. I didn't want to be melodramatic; I wanted to tell the truth about how this has affected me. At the same time, I don't want him out either. I think I did a decent job walking this line.

To the [State] Parole Board:

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.


Queen Bee
City, State


Just got back several days ago from a 2 week trip for 2 different weddings. The first one was my sister's, and the second one was one of DH's friends from high school.

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.