Sunday, December 30, 2007

Movie Review: P.S. I Love You




Since I am in the hometown, my mom and I decided to indulge ourselves a cinematic outing and go see P.S. I Love You, the latest in the chick flick genre.

I was slightly disappointed in the movie- I loved the premise, which reminded me of Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral.

The story is lovely enough: Molly Kennedy (Hilary Swank) and her husband Gerry (Gerard Butler)are in their late 20's, living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, working to buy their own apartment and debating having a baby. Things change in an instant when Gerry dies of a brain tumor.

Gerry sends Molly letters from the grave, instructing her to do things or be certain places. The movie plays out as Molly deals with her grief and comes to terms with her new life.

I honestly didn't know if I had high hopes for this film...It is a "holiday" chick flick and I haven't seen many positive reviews, but for $6 it was a great diversion from the last of the holiday shove.

Karmic Sacrifice

Writing from the hometown, foolishly brought my civ pro with me thinking I might actually study. Hardy har har!

We arrived yesterday afternoon, and I immediately dropped the boy at his friend's house for the Saturday game. The girl and I proceeded to Mom's for the afternoon, wherein we returned a couple of Christmas gifts to the mall I hung out at as a teenager and then ate at Red Robin (yummm) for dinner.

After dinner, I got a call from Jordana and she and her husband asked me to go swimming at my old gym. Never one to pass up an opportunity to get a good swim in, I jumped at the chance, packing up my gym bag and iPod and heading out for a chlorine-filled evening of fun and sweat.

Upon returning home, I went to pull my iPod out and discovered that it had disappeared. Ransacking, rifling and two frantic phone calls later, still it was nowhere to be found. This morning, I called the gym to ask if it had been turned in, and was met with a negative response. I thought through last night's events, and determined that a quick trip out to the gym was in order.

Sure enough, there my nano lay, having spent the night on the cold, hard, icy-wet ground of the parking lot. Face down. Though encased in neoprene (my arm wrap), the screen appeared to have some strafing and it will occasionally power on, but I can't get it to play or show any data, so I fear that it is a corpse at this point. Fortunately, I have iTunes, and have everything backed up with the exception of a couple of David Ryan Harris live shows, some JM Hotel Cafe live tracks (and I fear for never getting those back) and my beloved Roster McCabe, however that is mostly easily replaced. All the rest of my JM live shows are on my laptop.

So, eBay here I come...on the lookout for a new nano, and maybe I'll upgrade the memory. The old iPod was 2 years old this Valentine's Day, and was, in fact, a V-day present from the boy. It pains me to lose it, mostly because it's a PITA to get everything rebuilt, but at the same time, I'm feeling that this is karmic payback for getting out of the ditch unscathed. Also, I've got a long drive back with no iPod...and my private writing somewhat depends on my music- it's what I'm inspired by and while it can be easily replaced, it's still a royal boo-hoo to have the writing bug bite...and not have the correct mood music with which to propel the word forward.

Things always happen in threes, and I'm waiting for the last shoe to drop...I hope it happens when we get back home and that the sacrifice of the iPod is what it takes for the universe to get me and the fam home safely.

Friday, December 28, 2007

No One Here Gets Out Alive

Five to one, baby
One in five
No one here gets out alive, now
You get yours, baby
I'll get mine
Gonna make it, baby
If we try
-Five to One, The Doors

Spring syllabi were posted sometime in the last couple days. I’m now seriously contemplating taking my books with me on our weekend trip...if I have three weeks before class starts, maybe I’ll be able to get some stuff done so I’m not feeling so overwhelmed when I get back from Chicago.

Ambition is such a foolish thing with which to toy...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ditched on Christmas

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So there I was, minding my own business, behind the wheel of my car. It was Christmas night, around 6:30 or so. The Cranberries were on the radio. I had completed about two hours of driving and was about 45 minutes away from home. We’d gone to the farm to visit the boy’s aunt and uncle, and I had to work the next day, so I drove back alone rather than staying overnight with the rest of the family.

I'd been admonished by no less than four family members to be careful driving, leaving early in order to drive in daylight and avoid driving the rural Minnesota highways in the dark. In fact, I’d gotten in a tiff with the boy over my winter driving skills on the drive out to the farm; he’d insisted that my notorious leadfoot was going to get me in trouble on snow-infested roads. I brushed him off, getting angry and insisting that I’d learned how to drive in the stuff, and having driven in snow for the last 15 years, I knew what I was doing, thankyouverymuch, and if he was going to critique my driving, he might volunteer to do the driving next time.

You know where this is headed, right?

I’d made it back to the outskirts of civilization, noting that I had just passed the turnoff for Ric’s town. (Remember Ric? Filmmaker? Right. Him. Nice guy.) As I came around a curve, I was in my own head, gliding across the road, well below the posted speed limit. Dolores O’Riordan and I were having a grand old time of it, not letting it linger, when I felt the car start to fishtail- the tires had run afoul of something on the road-likely a patch of fresh snow-and before I knew what was going on, I was careening out of control, heading for the opposite lane of traffic. I remember thinking to myself, “Just don’t hit another car, we can’t afford a new one or the insurance hit…”
I think I overcorrected my steering, but whatever happened, I slipped out of control and did a sliding 180 degree turn. I managed to keep the car on the correct side of the road, but ended up facing the wrong way, up to my driver door in a soft bank of snow. In the ditch.

Once I stopped, I performed a quick inventory:
Engine: still running.
Lights: still on.
Seatbelt: engaged.
Driver door: blocked.
Self: okay.

Almost immediately, there were people stopped up on the road, pulling over and approaching the car to ensure my well-being. My phone had been tossed somewhere in the car, and I couldn’t find it, so one of my Good Samaritans called the authorities and a tow wrecker. Another one, whose name was Tom, volunteered to stay with me until the tow truck got there. We chatted for a good twenty minutes, and I found out that he owned four horses and was a former corrections officer. I don’t know why I trusted him; but in my circumstances (woman alone, in a car, in the ditch, at night, bad weather), I had very little choice.

By this time I’d found my cell phone, and I called Ric. I was making contingency plans for rescue; if the car was broken, I would need someone to pick me up, and the family would take a few hours to get to me. I wouldn’t have wanted them to come out anyway, so I planned to stay at Ric’s until they could arrive, likely the next morning given the conditions. I found his number in my phone and hit the green call button.

“Hello?”

“Ric…hey, it’s Kate. Merry Christmas.”

“Hey…you too. What’s going on?”

“Oh, well…I’m in a ditch.”

“You’re what??”

“I put my car in a ditch…kinda close to where you live, I think.” (I described my location and Ric confirmed that his house was nearby.) “So…are you home?”

“Yeah, yeah- I’m home. Looking at adopting another ferret right now.”

“Ah…okay. Well, the wrecker is going to be here in a bit, but if we get the car out and it’s busted, would you be able to come get me?”

“Yeah, of course. Just let me know…I’ll keep my phone close by. Just let me know what you need, okay?”

“Okay. Thanks, Ric…sorry to bug you on Christmas.”

“Hey, it’s okay. Just hope everything turns out for you.”

“Okay, I’ll call you back once I know what’s going on. Thanks again, Ric.”

Once the wrecker showed up to haul me out, Tom left, and I shook his hand through the open passenger window. I wish I had his full name or address or anything, so I could send him a proper thank you. I’m about as resilient as most Midwestern girls, but I know the difference between bravado and safety, and Tom helped me stay calm and keep a good attitude throughout the whole ordeal.

Once I was hooked up, the wrecker dude coached me on how to turn my wheels, when to put it in drive and cued me to goose it up the hill as he pulled with the tow cable and then drove forward. He was assisted by two police cars, which were kind enough to block traffic so that the wrecker could do his job. I found out the wrecker dude’s name was Shane, and since he was kind enough to spend his Christmas hauling me and other motorists out of our vehicular mishaps, I tipped him an extra 10% above the tow bill. I'm also going to send a note to the tow company, complimenting Shane on a job well done. I hope his boss buys him a beer or something; he looked like the kind of guy who should have a beer bought for him every once in awhile.

The car seemed to drive fine, so I continued on my way home, calling Ric back to let him know that his (most appreciated) services would not be needed that evening. We chatted for awhile about school and Christmas doings, and what we planned to do for the rest of our break. By this time I was on the interstate headed toward home, and I knew I’d make it home without further incident.

I made the decision not to tell the boy or the family about putting the car in the ditch until tonight at dinner. I didn’t want them to worry and since things had turned out in the best possible manner given the situation (seriously- spinout, into the ditch, no injuries to person, vehicle or object? Damn good.) The family was obviously slightly fermisched that I waited to tell them, but as there was nothing to be done and all was well, the boy agreed that I’d exercised good judgment where that decision was concerned.

I also decided that the next time I see a car in the ditch, I will be one of the kind souls to stop and check the driver, call the cops and stay until the wrecker got there. A ten percent tip to the tow wrecker guy only goes so far in your karmic payback, no?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas



Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.


Merry Christmas to all.

Monday, December 24, 2007

My Girl Is Five

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Girls become lovers, who turn into mothers,
So mothers be good to your daughters, too.


-JM, "Daughters"

Dear Girl,

You turn five today.

Five years ago, at 8:07AM, after driving through wind and snow, after being laid down on a table and being cut open, after facing an army swathed in hospital blue and feeling as though a steamroller was placed directly on my lungs and chest, you were born.

I knew exactly what your face would look like, so when I saw you for the first time, I knew immediately it was you. In the back of my mind, I remember thinking that perhaps they kept a stockpile of babies in the scrub room of the OR, and instead of being pulled from my body, they merely went back, picked the one that looked closest to the parents in the OR, and presented it to them.

Of course, I know this was merely the wild thought of a woman deranged and high on morphine and spinal anesthesia.

I wish I had a more exciting story to tell you; I wish I could say that my water broke in the movie theatre or at a holiday party, or someplace exotic. I wish I'd known what real labor was like- but your shoulders were too wide to allow you to descend properly, and thus your head never engaged, and thus my body didn't know you were ready to be born. Thirty years ago, this might have caused me never to be able to have other children. Fifty years ago, we might have survived, but only after a month in the hospital. A hundred years ago or more and we'd be lying together in the churchyard.

Today you turned five, and received a new dress and three Barbies and a big girl bike, complete with training wheels and a matching Barbie princess bike helmet. You squealed with delight at the mess we made of the dining room, festooning the ceiling with pink and purple crepe paper strung from the ersatz chandelier. We followed old traditions- I made a huge family breakfast and we all gathered for the express purpose of celebrating your birthday. I've done this every year since your 2nd birthday and plan to make it a yearly event, no matter where we are. I always make quiche and banana bread, and you always get a balloon on your birthday. This year, we added a new tradition: you had a dozen pink roses on the table, fit for a princess and presented to you by your family. The poinsettia and wreaths were banished to the living room. This might be Christmas morning, but today is your birthday and we make a point to celebrate it every year.

You might ask us one day why we chose to have you on Christmas Eve. I don't know why exactly; I remember the day before you were born as one of frustration and fright, as having a c-section was the last thing on my mind when I learned I was pregnant. I know now that without it, we might have both been fine, but we might have both had incredible complications. I do remember that your Dad and I talked about it at length, and simply asked the doctor if she'd be available to deliver you the next day. It happened to be Christmas Eve; the decision wouldn't have been any different had it been any other Tuesday in any other month. We were tired and anxious to meet you.

This year, your transition from baby to girl was complete. You are completely night-trained, so no more Pull-Ups or Lil Swimmers diapers, ever, at all. Your vocabulary and pronunciation is approaching that of children twice your age; and your inflections and -isms are gleaned from waaaaay too much Nickelodeon and Disney. You love Spongebob SquarePants (and no I don't care that you watch it, you're too young to pickup on many of the adult references- you just think the worst thing SpongeBob says is "barnacles!") You now know how to read and write your name, and are picking up how to write various letters and numbers. Your fine motor skills are improving.

The biggest change (beyond what was probably a four inch growth spurt over the year, good Lord, Girl, are you tall), is that you have started to ask questions beyond how to do things or request things. You are questioning everything- and when we ask you questions, we enter a fantastic realm of answers, from the sublime to the ridiculous. You have definite favorites (short sleeves, dresses, Curious George) and definite dislikes (long sleeves, vegetables, being excluded from anything that grownups are doing). Some things remain ever-constant (you still beg to sleep between me and your daddy, you still love to wake up by me rubbing your back and singing softly, you still fuss when it's bedtime), but some things have changed. You are more independent and more stubborn than ever; you are less likely to ask for help (for better or worse). You give wonderful hugs and become, to borrow a phrase from Carrie, positively bereft when your daddy leaves the house in a rush and forgets to kiss you goodbye. You greet me with hugs and a cry of "MOMMY!" when I come through the door after school, and you know that's exactly what I need after a long day of class.

You are my greatest pride and hardest work.

I wonder how you will remember this, your fifth birthday. There will be no doubt that you will remember it for yourself, because four is still a bit hazy, but five is usually a fairly clear first-hand memory. I hope you will remember that your grandparents drove through an ice storm and were delayed 18 hours in Wisconsin to get here for you. I hope you remember that your aunties and other grandmother were here as well. Mostly, I hope you remember that we tried very hard to make this a good memory, a momentous occasion. When we ask you how old you are now, you say "Five!" and hold out a whole hand. You are a handful, indeed, my girl...but you are my handful, and though I still don't always know what I'm doing as a mom, I know that you'll do your best not to let me screw you up too badly.

The thing about you is that you not only believe you can conquer the world, but you believe you've already done so and are just waiting for your subjects to fall in line with the idea. You are a warrior princess, poised and ready to cry out in battle, charging forward astride your trusty pink steed. Next year you will conquer kindergarten, reading, and hopefully, swimming. It's been a great ride being your mom, and I can't wait to see where our adventure takes us next.

I love you, sweet Girl. Happy Fifth Birthday.

Love Always,

Mommy

Edited to add: Once again, I'm humbled and honored. Thanks to the panel.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Compline

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The Lord Almighty grant us a quiet night and peace at the last, Amen.
It is good to give thanks unto the Lord,
To sing praise to Your name, O Most High,
To herald Your love in the morning,
Your truth at the close of the day. Amen.


Isn't that a lovely sentiment?

Sorry if I'm getting all religious around here recently, but I'm discovering that my faith means more and more to me as I get older. This is probably because I've taken a lot of time to really think through my belief system, and sharply question what means what, what can fall by the wayside, and what's absolutely non-negotiable.

This morning, my mother-in-law's aunt came over for Christmas. This 87 year old lady still drives, attends daily Mass, never married, and taught microbiology for over 40 years on the university level. Quite accomplished. I marvel at her balance- she's a scientist by training and a Christian by faith. She has insights into God's presence and creation that would rival theologians and scientists alike. She's easily one of my favorite people, because she has a level of observation about the world that is incomparable. She sat at the breakfast table this morning and simply listened as my mother and sister and I chatted in our normal manner. A smile spread across her face and I turned to her and said "we must be a source of amusement to you."

"Yes!" she said. "You are all quite delightful to watch."

I'm surrounded by family and love, and as the default head female (there are matriarchs present, but none are resident, and thus my place is in the kitchen, running the show) I am stressed and bustling. In many respects I long for the days when I too, can be the ancient and revered relative, not allowed to lift a finger, required merely to sit and be regaled. There is much work ahead of me, a long journey ahead. Presents to wrap, dinner to prep, Mass to attend, family to entertain. Tomorrow shall be no different.

The Lord Almighty grant me a quiet night, and peace at the last, Amen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Twirling

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Time for a summer memory. Maybe it will warm me up on this cold Minnesota night. Y'all, my house is drafty.

The summer before my grandmother died, the girl was about...2 1/2 or so. For whatever reason, she discovered an affinity for sundresses, which continues to this day. I do not know whose child she is in this respect; I lived in t-shirts and shorts when anything beyond a swimsuit was required and school was out.

My grandmother was not in good health- since my grandfather died, she had slowly gone downhill, allowing her dementia to take over, slipping away from all of us. She was depressed and horribly angry at him for leaving her; after sixty years of doing everything together, it was the one thing about which he did not consult her. I can just picture my grandparents going over their weekly schedule together: Jean, on Thursday, we're going to the grocery store, you have an appointment with Dr. Brock in the afternoon, and oh, yes, the Grim Reaper will be coming on Friday night, so make sure to wash your hair.

My father brought her out to our hometown to live near us, and since I was the mother of the great-grandchild, I was duty-bound to visit every Sunday and bring the girl with us. To escape the stifling heat of her apartment (despite the 90 degree temperature, she would not turn on the air, and walked around the house in a pair of long pants and a cardigan sweater), we often went outside to the lawn of her assisted living complex, where a few benches rested and the girl could run about and play.

I can't tell you what day it was, nor can I relay the exact sequence of events. However, I know the girl was wearing a red gingham sundress and white sandals. The dress and her blonde hair contrasted with the clear blue sky and bright green grass, and my grandmother and I watched as she kicked a ball up and down the green. I leaned over to her and watched her smile, a genuine smile of enjoyment at her great-granddaughter's adventures.

"You know," I said. "She's learning all sorts of new things."

"Oh, I'm sure," she said, her voice gravelly from age and cigarette smoke. "She's a very smart little girl."

Because my girl is so cute, and so little, she naturally attracted a crowd of old folks whenever we visited, and on this day, a few of the ladies stopped by to chat with us as the girl played.

"I was just mentioning to my grandmother that the girl is really learning quite a lot of things," I said to the ladies. "For instance- look at her." We turned our attention to the girl, who had temporarily forgotten the ball she was kicking, and had instead turned her attention to the sky above. Her head tilted back, arms swung out to the sides, and skirt flowing, she circled and circled, laughing and laughing.

"She's learned how to twirl."

A collective sigh went up amongst the gathered womenfolk- and for a moment, I could see their eyes light up and the wrinkles smooth. For just one moment, we were all girls again, twirling in our Christmas dresses on the altar at church, in our Easter dresses on the lawn before the egg hunt, at the family reunion in a sundress that was made to have the wind blow under it, caressing skinned knees and cooling warm legs. Every woman to whom I've told this story has gotten that look on their face- the look of girlhood past, reliving the joy of a simple 360 degree turn, repeated ad infinitum.

It is a singularly girlish delight...and one more reason I am glad to be a woman.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Free At Last, Free At Last

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Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Finals ended today, and not a moment too soon. Rather than the cloud of doom that had hung over my classmates over the last couple weeks, the mood was cheery today. I was in a great mood when I woke up, and in an even better mood after Kate and I went to breakfast at Perkins, where we intermingled reciting the elements of certain crimes with discussion of home improvement and what we would be doing with our blessed time off.

"Reading something I want to read!"

"Catching up on Netflix!"

"Writing for fun!"

"Christmas shopping!"

"Sleeping IN on a Saturday morning!"

Personally, I'm going to relax, write, work a little, volunteer more, and try to focus on the fact that, for the next three weeks, I don't have four classes to prep for, 100+ pages of legal gibberish to read and brief, and next semester, whether good or bad, I know how to study better, learn better and digest law better. I have no idea what type of grades I'll get, but even if I'm dead last in the class, it can only get better from here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Healing

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Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
-Matthew 15:21-31, NKJV

The quote above involves a very famous episode in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Soon after he heals the Caananite woman's daughter, he feeds the masses (loaves and fishes), and his disciples are noting his miracle work. For me, as a Christian, this passage embodies healing. I had a physical healing this week regarding my neck, but I also got some balm for my soul after my final today.

My neck is feeling almost back to normal. It no longer hurts to swallow, and my range of motion is nearly 100% without pain. I'm wondering how much of this is the relief of being nearly done with finals, or the fact that I switched pillows and have been liberally applying cold packs and ingesting Advil.

As I was walking home from school this evening, the word healing came to me. We sat for our Contracts final this morning, repairing afterward to Friday's for debrief and humor. I was absolutely certain that I'd blown my final- I left the testing room 30 minutes early because I had nothing left to give or write, and I could not stand the oppression of sitting and waiting until time was called. I checked with the proctor, uploaded my exam and hightailed it to the student lounge, where I immediately blasted TATU and attempted to calm my nerves.

About 30 minutes later, Kate and Ric showed up, and we began to assess. This is the hardest part of finals for me; I hate rehashing what I did wrong, and realizing even more things I got wrong, and I try not to think so much about what ran through my brain during those three silent, regurgitative hours.

I wasn't the only one who thought the Contracts final was harder than we'd anticipated, but also that there weren't as many issues or problems as their could have been. My friends were my balm today; I could have easily lost my shit ten times over had I not had comrades to help me through.

Ric and I have managed to start a little tradition- we get our desks and computers set up, and I walk over to his spot (last row up, nearest the classroom door; I am in the third row on the opposite aisle) and we hug each other and wish each other good luck. Kate and I have sat next to each other during both of our finals; I don't doubt that we'll do so tomorrow as well. We wish each other good luck just as the tests are passed out.

At Friday's, we hung out with Adam, another friend from class who is fitting in well with our little tribe. Adam is, by all accounts, brilliant, and gifted at our subject matter. He singlehandedly talked us all through Civ Pro, and is lauded as the "Erie Doctrine Master" in our section; laying claim to knowing an arcane piece of civil procedure which prima facie, is simple, but becomes more and more complex the deeper one delves.

The subject turned to age, and Jon was thrilled to tears (quite literally, he got misty-eyed) to find that he was the youngest at the table (by 8 months, Sooz being the next oldest, then Kate, me, Adam and finally Ric, our elder statesman). Soon after we got onto our college majors (communications, psychology, business and French double, government, anthropology/women's studies double, English) and finally religion. I made the comment that on our side of the table we literally made a spectrum of religious thought, ranging from Adam (atheist) to Sooz (Buddhist/Unitarian leanings, grew up Methodist/UCC) to me (Roman Catholic by choice). Across the table we had Kate and Jon (good Minnesota hotdish Lutherans) and Ric, agnostic and recovering Christian).

I asked Adam how he would talk to his kids about religion when they finally asked him, and his answer was quite similar to anything I would tell the girl: people have different views, and it's up to you to decide what you want to believe.

It got me thinking about how our differences are brought to bear and yet, how similar we all really are. So much strife is caused in this world by people insisting that their way is the right way, and there's no other way. During the winter holidays, we all talk a good game, giving good wishes and with any luck, going out of our way to be kinder and gentler to each other.

I wonder if we did this on a daily basis, if we could set aside the differences, if we could simply accept each other for who we are instead of trying to continually press and push and insist upon fighting for superiority...if the world wouldn't heal itself, just a little bit.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Final(s) Push

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'


Tomorrow, I take my contracts final.
Sunday, Criminal Law.

Sunday night: I shall either be dead or drunk. Either way, bliss is mine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Friends, Part II

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We're pushing on, we're passing through
It won't be long til I walk with you
Tonight I'm down, I'm inside out
Staring at the pictures in the album you forgot about

Isn't it a shame, times have changed
But isn't it strange...lifelines stay the same

Round and round...can't believe my heart is waiting this long
All along we've been children in a cold world where wonder was lost everyday
If love was a compass
Oh I've lost my way


JM- Lifelines

This is my best friend. Her name is Jordana. This is what 18 years of friendship looks like.

We met in junior high- she was a year ahead of me, and all I remember is that one random winter day, we ended up on the same public bus home, and we figured out that we lived about three blocks away from each other.

From that point on, we were practically inseparable, save for the usual junior high drama that happens between two female best friends. We shared everything- extracurricular activities, New Kids on the Block tapes, boyfriends (yeah, plural. Twice- one went better for her and one went better for me, but neither of them ended up marrying either of us so, whatever. Besides, in junior high, at least for us, anything beyond second base was absolutely incomprehensible.)

I think we maybe grew apart a bit in high school, but we were still friends. There was never a time when I didn't consider her a friend. Perhaps the late night brownies and sleepovers cooled a bit, but we were both still there for each other when we needed it.

We both ended up in Texas for various periods of time, and managed to stay in contact- she visited me at school a couple times and we had a great time. After we both moved back to the hometown, we had some contact and she helped me out with my wedding. We stayed close, then I became a mom and we grew apart, mostly because of the demands of a small child on my life. She also had joined a new church, and had a new bevy of friends, none of whom I knew very well. We temporarily lost each other, even though we were only a phone call away.

Circle around to a couple years ago, and the long and short of it is that Jordana needed a friend. And the first person she called was me. We got her through her what needed getting through, and we rebonded. It's sad when it takes a catharsis to make you realize what was gone in the first place- I won't pretend to have been the best person for the job, but I was there for her, and I know she'd be there for me if I needed her.

We did our first triathlon together- something I practically dragooned her into doing. Training time was a great time to get lots of talking done, and we often talked the way we had while spending nights at each others' houses. Somehow, despite the years passing, the charm of girlhood has never left the two of us- we are still the same girls we always were. We can often tell what the other is thinking- our tastes are incredibly divergent, anything from clothing to music to reading material. She knows me better than anyone else, save possibly my parents and husband- and our motto as regards our significant others is simple: I know you love her, and you can have her now, but she was mine first.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of serving as her maid of honor, and I can only hope that she and her husband find as much joy in their life together as the boy and I have. She's still in the hometown, and though I'm in Minnesota exile, I'm planning to get down home after finals, and I hope to get together for a day of scrapbooking, gabbing and bonding. There's always catching up to do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pain In The Neck

I woke up this morning and I could not move my neck. At all.

Even now, after a day of icepacks (yet another good use for a frozen corned beef brisket...) and painful stretching, it hurts like the dickens if I try and move it more than a certain way. I'm thinking I've spent too much time hunched over my computer, in the yoga pose known as "Stressed Law Student Studying for Finals."

I have the rest of the week off of work, which is a huge relief because I don't really need to be doing anything else in the next few days but studying for finals. Sooz is going to come over tomorrow for quiche, coffee and contracts, and for this I am grateful and happy.

Hopefully I can make it through the rest of the week with minor pain in the neck and major studying.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Different Decembers

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How is this December different from last year?

How is this December like last December? So many things have shifted and changed in the last twelve months, it's hard to "unpack" it all - as my Civ Pro professor might say.

Let's start with the obvious: for the first time in roughly nine years, I'm not living in what I might term my home state, I'm not working full time, and I am back in school. We lived in a house which we owned...and which we recently sold to facilitate the move. Last December, I was slowly learning to hate my job, and was slipping down a slope of denial, since every time I got a letter from a law school it was a waitlist or rejection. Fortunately, the one I currently attend had waitlisted me. There was a LOT less snow on the ground. I liked my daughter's school a LOT more. I had a gym membership. I was carpooling, fighting an hour commute each way on roads that were consistently under construction.

I've rounded the first turn and am into the backstretch of my first year of law school. We are no longer landed gentry, as we rent from my university. I like the idea of not being responsible for my house-outside of normal upkeep and cleaning. I am not enamored with the part time job that I have, but I am thrilled with school and with the volunteer clerkship I was placed in this fall. We're looking for a permanent school for the girl, and my drive to work is ten minutes, tops.

I did something yesterday before my Civ Pro final...a move I'd never previously contemplated but felt absolutely wonderful in the execution. I went to the registrar's office and filled out the forms necessary for permission to enter a dual-degree program. At my school, if one is already enrolled in the law school, one must petition the dean to be allowed to apply for a dual degree program. I can only assume it's a formality-if I am not approved due to grades or whatever, I will petition again at the end of spring, in order to start the dual-degree in Fall.

When I chose my school, I did so because there was a specific dual-degree program by which I'd been intrigued. However, the program for which I actually petitioned was not the library science degree I had intended, but rather an MFA in Creative Writing.

For some reason, law school has awakened in me the ability to write things unrelated to law school. I have been so profuse and prolific that I have started a blog and have delved into other (private) fictional forays. I even contemplated NaNoWriMo, if for no other reason than to say I put out 50,000 words in one month. They sound like strange bedfellows, the JD and the MFA, and both are terminal degrees, meaning that I can teach on the university level if I so choose. The thought of teaching creative writing is a balm for me - the wounds of first semester finals are open, angry and red, threatening to become infected.

Allowing myself the idea that you don't have to really become a lawyer after all this, not really, there are other things you can do... is like Neosporin to me. Only less smelly.

Two finals to prepare for next weekend. The thought of reviewing promissory estoppel and the elements of certain crimes in model penal codes just has me jumping with joy unabandoned.

Can't you tell?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Civil Procedure Final and Movie Review: August Rush

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This morning, I woke up with a queasy feeling in my stomach. I rolled over and found my husband laying next to me, under the influence of his own blissful awakening moments.

"Boo?" (I call him that. He calls me that. It's our thing.)

"Mmm..."

"Can you do me a favor?"

"Hmmm...what?"

"If I turn over, can you just wrap your arms around me and hold me for awhile?"

"Okay."

We laid there in bed this morning like that for a good fifteen minutes, and he held me tight, giving me the comfort I needed to get through the first part of my day today. After a bit, the girl came in and curled up next to me, completing the little family sandwich we had going in our bed.

All too soon, we disengaged, and I got up, showered, and headed out the door to school. They gave me good luck hugs and kisses, and soon enough I was ensconced with a few classmates at a table in the student lounge, re-reviewing the finer points of civil procedure, re-annotating my purple softcover version of the Federal Rules, making bets on what we'd be tested on and what would likely fall by the wayside.

We headed upstairs to our exam rooms around 1:30, nervously chatting, firing up laptops, settling into the exam room. Kate was nice enough to bring earplugs so that the clacking of keyboards could be blocked out- and I availed myself of them.

Three hours later, we walked out, intellectually spent, grateful to have two exams done and two more to go. About a dozen of us met up at Old Chicago for a drink and dinner, and though we dissected the test more than we should have, we also talked about various and sundry other topics, enjoyed each other's company, and blew off just a little steam. Grades won't be posted for at least three weeks- which is sheer torture for me- I just want to know how I've done! My civ pro casebook has been safely stowed on my bookshelf until January.

After dinner, Kate and I went to the movies and saw August Rush. Man, that Freddie Highmore- he's got Haley Joel Osment beat by a mile in terms of acting chops. I hope he gets an Oscar nod for this one. The movie has been met with mixed reviews, mostly because it is a bit sappy and predictable. However, I can see the filmmaker's point of view.

August Rush is a fairy tale. The story is about music, and so it is light on dialogue and heavy on score- and there are some absolutely lovely musical moments in the movie. I found myself breathless in places, simply over the fantastic use of sound as emotion.

In it's simplest form, August Rush is a retelling of Oliver Twist, down to the Fagan-like character known as the Wizard, played by Robin Williams in aging rock-n-roll garb- think U2 meets Ozzy Osbourne meets Tim McGraw, age 50. The Wizard enchants Highmore's character, and renames him August Rush, planning to use him to his own advantage. August is an orphan, taken away from his mother (Keri Russell) at birth because her own father had plans for her that did not include motherhood. His father doesn't know he exists until the end of the movie.

I especially enjoyed Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in this movie as August's father, an Irish rocker with a broken heart. He's in full force here, Irish brogue and all. If he does his own singing in this movie, he ought to have his own band.

August Rush is subtle and intelligent- there is clear motivation from the characters as to their actions, but we don't need heavy-handed dialogue or flashback scenes to pick up what the filmmaker was laying down. The director and the screenwriter give the audience the benefit of the doubt, leaving the details to our imagination. In my humble opinion, the ending was brilliant, but as always, you'll have to see it for yourself. And do go see it, if you are in the mood to suspend your disbelief for a retold Dickensian fairy tale.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Holiday Goodies

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Two quick notes before I proceed to today's writing prompt:



Congratulations to JM. Nominated for a GRAMMY award for Best Male Pop Vocal - Belief. The thing I love about this is that, not only is it a great song, and one of my favorites...but this particular version comes from a little album called "The Village Sessions" which JM put out very quietly last year. BMPV seems to be John's category- he's won three of his five Grammys in this category, and this year he's up against people he's been up against (and won against) before. This version of Belief is quite different from the Continuum version. JM can go to the studio, record for a day, put out an EP, and get a Grammy nod...just a walk in the park for this guy. Tremendous honor, tremendous talent.

Second: My exam is in 32 hours. Send good vibes toward Minnesota, for me and the lovely friends I wrote about yesterday. We need them.

Now, on to the writing prompt!

Write your own version of those holiday newsletters that people send to friends and relatives at this time of year.

Dear Everyone,

The move went well and the house finally sold, so we are settled into life in Minnesota. I suppose grousing about the abundance of early snow is uncalled for, as I hear that our old hometown got it just as badly as we did here. C'est la vie.

I started law school this past August- a dream of mine since high school. I am here only because of the unending support of my husband and family. I've made tremendous new friends and am slowly wrapping my head around the fact that I really am in law school. (As if the 40 pound backpack weren't evidence enough).

The boy has found a job he loves at BigCorp, Inc. He's been contracting but a permanent offer is on its way, we're assured, by Christmas.

The girl is in her final year of preschool and we are looking into schools for her- so far we've narrowed it down to a local magnet school, St. Swithen's, and Expensive Progressive School. Of these, EPS is our favorite, but it's also the most costly, so we're working on a budget for that, and praying they'll take my own school situation into consideration when awarding financial aid.

I don't know how you write about this sort of thing in a Christmas letter...but my parents are getting divorced after 33 years of marriage. In a lot of ways, it's a good thing, but it's still a shock to the system, so I guess that's all I'll say about that for now.

Some of this year's highlights beyond the big move included attending my first John Mayer concert, completing three triathlons (including traveling to Austin for one!) and assisting my tri coach with a few clinics. He says I have the talent to become a coach, and I'm still contemplating that.

We hope this letter finds you all healthy and safe, and you have our best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a great New Year!

Love and Blessings,

Kate and Family

I was going to try and bring the snark, but I just don't have it in me right now. Talk to me after finals are done...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Friends, Part I

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Friendship is such an integral part of life.

I wrote a few days ago about how much I dig my law school friends. We are in the midst of our first set of finals right now, a mere 39 hours away from staring down the beast known as the Civil Procedure I final. We are holding each other up by strings, testing each other with flashcards, busily quizzing via email, outlines flying across the Internet like so much detritus...our inboxes are virtual landfills of choice gems regarding long-arm jurisdiction and the effects test represented in Calder v. Jones. We are rife with details on how International Shoe placed a minimum contacts test upon personal jurisdiction as relates to foreign defendants. We can even tell you what in rem, quasi in rem and in personam jurisdictions are. Not that you'd really care to know, except if you are our Civ Pro professor.

A three hour final determines 25% of our first semester GPAs, and we're all at different stages of acceptance, denial, panic and terror. I'm told all of this is perfectly normal for the end of first semester, 1L year.

In order to get my mind off of Civ Pro for about 30 seconds (when can you motion to quash service again? And why is it important? Rules of alienage?) I'm going to post some pictures of my law school friends, and tell you a bit about them. I don't think they'll mind...at least, I hope not. Susi was gracious enough to take them last week after our civ pro review session. They are easily some of the smartest and funniest people I know.



This is Jon. He's not as scary as he looks here. He's very, very witty, has a killer iPod, and is dating the lovely and talented Julia, whom he calls "honey" on the phone in front of us.



This is Ric. He's a filmmaker, IT tech guy, writer and stand-up comic. He tells stories about his crazy family and wants to be a criminal defense lawyer, like his dad. Ric and I have had some surprisingly deep conversations, and he's someone I can relate to...we're both used to being gifted in the classroom, and now we're both fighting off the words academic probation. He's really not as constipated as he looks here.



The Other Kate. Somehow I ended up as "Kate" and she ended up "The Other Kate." Usually for me, it's the other way around...I'm never the main Kate if there's more than two of us. We've been bonding a lot recently- we're finding out just how much we have in common beyond our name...we have been yin-and-yanging over the last couple of weeks. She's got a wry wit, when she lets it show.



Susi is just plain awesome. She is a gamer girl who wants to be a lawyer for the EFF and is currently rejoicing in the fact that Jack Thompson is in his second week of disbarment hearings. She's a metal head, plays Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and is straight on unapologetic. One of the most honest souls I've ever met. She's also a badass swimmer and is doing the Danskin with me next summer. She's dating a metal boy called Jeremy, whom we have yet to meet. I suppose that rather sounds like she should be bringing him home to meet the parents.

And I suppose it's high time you got to see me...so here goes nothing:



I'm laughing because, as Jon says, somebody stuck a quarter in me and then walked away. I laugh harder and easier around this group of people than...well...probably most anybody, with the exception of my college girls. But they are a different blog entry.

This is living out loud, personified. They are blessings, personified. You know you have a special connection when all you have to do to have a good time is pull a camera out in the law school parking lot, then repair to the local soup and sandwich place for 90 minutes of lunch and conversation in multiple languages. (Somehow I ended up telling Kate something in both Spanish and German at the same time. I suppose I would be alright with that if I were in Argentina, but in Minnesota? Not so much.)

They make my law school life so much better.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Coach Kate?

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I did my first triathlon on July 9, 2006. I had trained for just under a year, found great training friends along the way, and found a passion for something athletic- something I never thought would occur in my life.

In a way it made me sad. Despite being part of the first generation of girls to have increased athletic opportunity in school, my parents never encouraged me to be active or go to athletic camp, or develop that aspect of myself. Looking back, I think I could have kicked some serious ass had I taken the opportunity or been encouraged to do so.

My coach was a tremendous source of encouragement in the process of training, and I stayed with him during the offseason and last year, parting ways only due to my move. He and I became friends, and he asked me to help him out at a few clinics during the last offseason. I had a tremendous amount of fun doing that- telling my story and giving the ladies in the audience (and by and large they were ladies- I think we had about three men show up to two clinics) real encouragement. The lights flickered on for more than a few of them and I was delighted to stay after class, answer questions about my equipment, my training and my overall feeling on triathlon.

I showed up to a few of Ken's classes this past summer- I didn't sign up for the formal tri-training class because I'd bought a personal training plan from him. He'd asked me to help marshal his group bike rides, and I got to chat with some of his students, answer questions and assuage fears. Anytime I'd run into any of the ladies in the class, I'd always ask after their training and encourage them to keep at it. I felt so happy to be able to give them the motivation to do just one more lap in the lake, run just 5 seconds longer, sprint out the last 100 yards on the bike. It felt cool to be a veteran.

Come Danskin race day this year, I felt more ready for a race than I think I ever had. It was my third race of the year and I was ready to kick butt. I had the swim of my life, a quick first transition, and the first half of the bike course was a personal best. I was on track for an overall PR, until I came around the halfway point on the bike course...and hit a wall of wind and heat. I was riding on an absolutely flat piece of pavement in a low gear...and going less than 10 miles an hour. I had to fight the entire way back, with very little respite.

What kept me going was the thought of those ladies who were fighting through the same things I was, some with inferior equipment, or just dealing with rookie fear. I eventually got back to transition and blazed through T2, making it out onto the run course. I started to run intervals but quickly found out that the wind had sapped my legs, and I would simply have to fight through the run portion by walking and running wherever I could, if I could at all.

After about a quarter mile on the run, I came up on one of the ladies from Ken's training class. She was fighting through the walk, and I yelled at her- one of the things I used to always do in class was make myself known- and I am not known for being quiet. I clapped my hands at her and just gave her as much positive energy as I could. She turned to me, eyes filled with tears and said words that brought me to tears and got me thinking:

"You're the reason I'm here."

I kept running, got to the finish line and realized that somewhere in the last half of the run portion of the fifth triathlon I ever participated in, that I might be halfway decent at being a triathlon coach.

After the tri, Ken and I took a bike ride together and I talked to him about it. He always gave me grief for having a big mouth in class, but I think he liked having a female counterpart- there are some questions it's just easier to defer to a woman on (i.e. What type of sports bra do you wear that can get wet?) and I know he liked that I had no fear about yelling (positively) at his students.

He said he thought I'd make a good coach- I listen, and despite not being a paragon of fitness, I am dedicated to the sport and can relate to the newbies quite well. He said he thought my physical imperfection was comforting to the students- sometimes being coached by a perfect Amazon of a woman with six pack abs isn't what the ladies want.

So one of these days...after I finish law school...and maybe after I do my Ironman race (just one, I only need to do one), I will probably go get a USAT coaching certification. What I will do with it, who knows. But it's one of those nice things to have in your back pocket.

Meanwhile, I need to do an Olympic this summer and see about training for a half marathon. First things first.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

John Mayer Radio Stalking Incident #10

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For background, check out this post.

Time: 4:42PM

Station: Cities 97

Song: Gravity

Location: Exiting the preschool parking lot. (AGAIN, with preschool.)

Turned on car at this lyric: Last notes of previous song, got the full opening. No DJ talk.

Today's honorable mention: I turned on KS-95 on my way to work and heard ...places to make it feel like home...but all I feel's alone...might be a quarter-life crisis...or just a stirring in my soul. Doesn't quite make an official JMRSI post, because I'd been in the car beforehand and had just switched the station.

Sorry, Holidailies. This is just going to have to do for today's post. I'm ass over teakettle into the wonders of Civil Procedure right now.

Monday, December 3, 2007

S'now Place Like Minnesota

NB: If you are here from Holidailies, please leave me a comment...I don't have a site tracker and love feedback.

Today's writing prompt: Tell us a story about snow.

Oh, snow.

It's December 3rd and we're experiencing our first Minnesota winter. Mind you, we're hearty Midwesterners- with the exception of the four (or so) years I spent in Texas at school, I have been into my winter coat by Veteran's Day and out of it no later than April 1 for my entire life. Safe to say I'm a four season type of gal. No stranger to snow. Lots of time outside playing in it as a kid, and shoveling it as a teenager/adult.

For our first Christmas as a married couple, my parents bought us what was (and is) quite possibly the best Christmas present one could ever give to a couple who has just bought their first home in the upper Midwest: a John Deere snowblower. Complete with an electric starter. (Trust me, it's an option you don't want to live without.)

About four weeks ago, the weather turned unseasonably cold for late fall in the Midwest. I figured out 40 degrees here ain't what 40 degrees was back in the hometown. See, we had this tiny thing called proximity to Lake Michigan, which provided not only cool breeze in the summer, but additional humidity in the winter. Sounds hokey, but winter humidity is what made winter bearable there. Here? Not so much. Closest thing we have to a major body of water is the Mississippi River, and well, an inland sea it ain't. End result: it's dry as the freakin' desert here. My hands are begging for Udder Cream and my face, which was scaly and dry back home, is about ready to crack from the dry winter wind. It used to take effort for me to get windburnt...now I must merely step outside and face windward for a few moments.

I am assured that four inches on the ground the first week in December is a freak occurrence in these here parts, and normally we're above freezing til at least the week before Christmas. Something like home, but not quite. It's still colder here. The Vikings up here are predicting a January thaw, followed by another Big One in late January or around Valentine's Day. That's fine by me- load me up on the sidewalk salt and keep the cocoa on simmer. I can handle winter.

I really do love snow- it's not Christmas without it, hell, it ain't winter without it. Sledding, snow angels, snowball fights, skiing. I love winter nights when the moon is high and full, and the snow is white and pristine. The sky is clear and the snow reflects the moonlight so that it's nearly bright as day. There is a certain magic that comes with winter.

Snow also reminds me of my daughter's birthday- like, the day I gave birth to her, not just the yearly anniversary thereof. She was born Christmas Eve (and perhaps I'll write her birth story for that day's entry). One of the most vivid memories I have of that day is waking up at 5AM to go to the hospital, and watching the snowflakes dance in the headlights of the boy's car as we drove. The night was clear and the moon was high, and I took comfort in looking up through the sunroof and basking in her precious light. I savored the time in the car, feeling the girl kick from the inside for the last few times. Not three hours later, we saw her face for the first time in person.

When the snow falls, I remember becoming a mother.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mashup

NB: If you are here from Holidailies, please leave me a comment...I don't have a site tracker and love feedback.

If you want to know a little about me (since I missed the boat on the "tell me about yourself" Holidailies prompt yesterday) you can check my first post, which is still oven-fresh after only a couple months.

/housekeeping.

Today is going to be a mashup of random thoughts...because I can't think too much today about things other than law school.

I am really, really digging Roster McCabe right now. One of my law school buddies turned me on to them (he's roommates with a couple of the bandies) and they need to be signed to a major record label and unleashed upon the world, toute de suite.

I'm going swimming after class with a couple of fellow 1L's. This is my first time in the pool since Danskin. Hopefully I'm still seaworthy.

Class is such a freakin' waste of time sometimes.

I wish there was a Starbucks on my way to school. Either that, or I wish my husband would stop forgetting to bring in the thermal travel mugs from his car- we have a bunch and they end up collecting in there until I retrieve them.

I need to put my school sticker up in my rear window.

I need to get Minnesota license plates and a Minnesota driver's license.

I really, really dig my law school friends. We talk, we study, we laugh...we buy each other lunch, we commisserate. Hard to believe I barely knew them three months ago, and last year, they were faceless strangers. Now we're planning the Chicago roadtrip and there's talk of a post-graduation week long vacation someplace warm- either a beach or a boat (either option involving copious amounts of alcohol). All of my classmates are cool in their own ways...but the six of us have managed to make a little tribe of freaks and geeks. They are a tremendous source of comfort to me- as (relatively) close as I am to the hometown, I'm still in a foreign land here...getting my bearings and learning my way.

I've been Facebooking. A lot. More than I probably should.

My daughter has taken a liking to combing my hair at night, as I sit on the couch in front of my laptop, writing or studying or surfing. She climbs up behind me and sits on the back of the couch, the big blue wide-tooth comb in her hand. I take down my ponytail and as long as she doesn't tug, it's quite soothing.

The best five minutes of my day yesterday: waking up in a haze in the middle of my bed, my husband curled up behind me, my daughter snuggled in on my arm. I floated there on a cloud for a few minutes, fighting the urge to invite the world in for another day. Bliss.

this morning, there's a calm I can't explain...by the time I recognize this moment, the moment will be gone...but I will bend a light pretending...that it somehow lingers on... - JM, Clarity

Saturday, December 1, 2007

World AIDS Day 2007

Nota Bene: I am doing Holidailies this year...during finals...we'll see how that goes...if you have followed a link, please comment or let me know you're out there...I'm new at this...




There's a grief that can't be spoken, there's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables, now my friends are dead and gone.

Here they talked of revolution. Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about `tomorrow,' and tomorrow never came.

From the table in the corner they could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing...I can hear them now!
The very words that they had sung became their last communion
On the lonely barricade at dawn.

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me, that I live and you are gone.
There's a grief that can't be spoken. There's a pain goes on and on.

Phantom faces at the window. Phantom shadows on the floor.
Empty chairs at empty tables where my friends will meet no more.

Oh my friends, my friends, don't ask me, what your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables where my friends will sing no more.


-Les Miserables, "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables"

Despite the fact that celebrities no longer wear AIDS ribbons on their tuxedo lapels like grooms wear boutonnieres, people are still dying of AIDS. In America, we have the luxury of drug cocktails, early detection, proper education and the ability to live HIV positive- we've come so far from the days of Pedro Zamora and Tom Hanks winning an Oscar for "Philadelphia." We know that AIDS isn't a gay man's disease, we have researched and learned. We still have so far to go.

AIDS is still a scourge on Africa and other less rich and fortunate places in the globe. We get into so many issues with drug companies and how far we can/should/need to go to help get what we've got to those who don't have it. I could go into how Bono's got it right, and we should be concentrating on third world debt relief (he is), or how stupid the Bush administration is regarding prescriptives and Canada and drug company subsidies and compassionate corporate citizenship (they are), but I won't, because I am a law student who barely has time to write this post, much less do enough research to present my findings in a thoughtful and erudite way.

Instead I will just leave you with the sentiment above, and will find a small part of my budget with which to try and help, in whatever small, bourgeois, miniscule way I can.

Remember. Fight. Love.

Edited to add: I'm humbled. A thousand thanks to the panel, and special ups to my girl Kate for calling it to my attention.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ten Things You Should Know About Me, Part II

1. I am fascinated with the events of September 11, 2001, and I believe it could have been avoided.

2.I attempt to find the good in all people, and consistently remind myself to not judge people because they make choices that are different from my own.

3. God and I are on pretty good terms. We talk a lot. I pray for things like wisdom and peace, forgiveness and understanding. I also pray to know His plans for me, and to walk the path He needs me to follow. I think it’s cool with Him that I do it in my own way.

4. I hate the term “Mrs.” and I never ever address a piece of correspondence to Mrs. John Doe. She’s got a name of her own.

5. I have a touch of the crazy when it comes to educational choices for my daughter.

6. I am a hopeless TV addict. I doubt seriously this will change anytime soon...with the possible exception of the next few weeks getting ready for finals.

7. My goal in life is to live my life with joy and without regret.

8. I have a confidence problem.

9. My ability to tell my parents exactly what I think and how I feel is novice, at best, and I’m just now learning to talk to them without crying.

10. I endlessly compare myself to other people. I don’t know why this is, but I have a compelling force in my nature that insists upon it. I’m working on letting this go.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

John Mayer Radio Stalking Incident #9

Time: 11:19AM

Station: Cities 97

Song: Stitched Up, JM w/Herbie Hancock

Location: Heading to Roseville to study with a law school buddy.

Turned on car at this lyric: Herbie's piano solo, right before the last chorus.

Stitched Up twice in what, 10 days? I think Cities has a DJ who has a crush on this song...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

John Mayer Radio Stalking Incident #8

Time: 4:48PM

Station: Cities 97

Song: Wonderland, R4S Album Version

Location: Driving to pick the girl up from preschool (Again with the preschool parking lot and Wonderland?!?!)

Turned on car at this lyric: And if you want love...we'll make it (first chorus)

Props to Cities for playing the full album version, not just the radio edit.

Now I just need to hear "Say" on the radio. And...whilst Youtubing it up this morning, I found the video! Downloaded it from iTunes too, but the Youtube feed is way smoother. Stupid decrepit old Dell laptop...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

Tri season is coming up!

Aside from the fact that I've done practically ZERO training since starting law school, I'm really looking forward to this season. First, because it will be infinitely better than the chaos that was last summer...I was probably a little too ambitious to think I could get five triathlons into a summer where I was not only selling my house, but packing, moving, settling into and starting law school, finding a job for my husband, and generally dealing with about as much chaos as one could possibly imagine in the span of three months.

However, I did get three out of five in...so that ain't bad...so here's what I'm thinking:

1. I want to do five this year. If I can get an early race in like I did last year, this should not be a problem.

2. I want to travel again. I don't know if it's going to work, but I would love to go down to Austin again for either Danskin Austin or CapTex. CapTex was actually rained out/cancelled last year- but that was a freak occurrence. Danskin Austin was probably one of the most challenging races I've ever done (bike hill hell!) but I did it once and could probably do it again. If I can't get to Austin, I might try for the Octomax in St. Louis.

3. I will be doing Danskin Chicagoland. I promised my training buddies that I would come down and do it, and I've got some law school buds that will road trip down with me. That's like going home for me. Plus- there is talk of combining with a trip to Great America. Fun for the whole family!

4. Beyond the two "travelers" I want to do roughly two or three local races. There's a new race in Rochester that looks like it could be fun. It's the same weekend as Naperville, which I would also drive down for, but I don't know if I'll have the time. Spirit of Racine is also the week right after Danskin and I can't stay down there for the whole week- but neither do I want to be driving back and forth so much, nor do I want to do two races back to back. I'm not at that level yet.

5. God help me, I'm actually entertaining the thought of doing an Olympic this year. If I had my druthers, I'd do the Oly at Pleasant Prairie, but the timing is off- PP is the first weekend of class next fall. (At least I can get one last August race in this year...)

So...a preliminary race list:

May 3: Chain O Lakes Sprint (indoor swim): Alexandria, MN
May 18: Land Between The Lakes Tri (outdoor swim...brrr!!): Albert Lea, MN
Memorial Day Weekend: CapTex, Austin, TX
June 8: Danskin Austin, Austin, TX
June 14: Liberty Tri (Oly): Maple Plain, MN
June 21: Lake Minnetonka Tri, Minnetonka, MN
June 24: Mankato Tri, Mankato, MN
June 29: Rochesterfest Tri, Rochester, MN
July 13: Danskin Chicagoland, Pleasant Prairie, WI
July 19: Spirit of Racine, Racine, WI
July 20: Door County Tri, Egg Harbor, WI
August 2: Octomax, St. Louis, MO
August 3: Brewhouse Tri, Duluth, MN
August 11: Northwoods Tri, Nevis, MN


One of these days, I'll give up Danskin, or just go and coach or volunteer...I have probably outgrown it as a motivator- for me it's just another race now. However, I'll always have a place for it in my heart- after all, you always remember your first. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Damn Right I've Got The Blues!!

And I've got four tickets to see Buddy Guy at Legends in January.

And three friends to road trip to Chicago with to see the show. It will be our "we survived first semester of law school" treat to ourselves.

Plus: Chicago! Woo!!!

It might be too much to ask...and I'll enjoy the show regardless...but I'm kinda hoping this little deal might repeat itself:



John and Buddy, January 2006 at Legends.

Can't wait!!! Sweet Home Chicago!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Current Musical Obsession

Sometimes, a song from a few years ago comes back to move you in a way you never knew it could. I admit, I probably didn't pay proper attention to this one when it first came out (2-3 years ago?) but as I recently went Youtubing for Alicia Keys'new video, I found this gem:

Go listen. And watch. I'll wait. (I don't know how to do the insert-video-here-thingee).

Here are some lyrics (I omitted the spoken word portion, though it's definitely cool):

Baby, baby, baby, from the day I saw you,
I really, really wanted to catch your eye.
There's something special 'bout you; I must really like you,'cause not a lot of guys are worth my time.
Baby, baby, baby,it's gettin' kinda crazy, 'cause you are takin' over my mind.

And it feels like ooo...you don't know my name.
I swear...It feels like ooo...you don't know my name.
('Round and 'round and 'round we go. Will you ever know?)

Baby, baby, baby, I see us on our first date.
You doin' everything that makes me smile.
And when we had our first kiss, it happened on a Thursday,
and, it set my soul on fire.
Ooh, baby, baby, baby, I can't wait for the first time.
My imagination's runnin' wild...

It feels like ooo...you don't know my name.
And I swear it, baby, it feels like oooo...you don't know my name.
('Round and 'round and 'round we go. Will you ever know?)
Will you ever know?

I'm sayin' he don't even know what he's doin' to me.
Got me feelin all crazy inside.
I'm I'm feelin like...oh...I'm doin' more than I've ever done for anyone's attention.
Take notice of what's in front of you 'cause did i mention, you're 'bout to miss a good thing?
And you'll never know how good it feels to have all of my affection.

And it feels like ooo...But you don't know my name.
('Round and 'round and 'round we go. Will you ever know?)
And I swear on my mother and father, it feels like oooh...
(But you don't know my name. 'Round and 'round and 'round we go.)

Will you ever know?


As always, Alicia's playing and lyrics are masterful, and she just captures the essence of the song effortlessly. I get that this was probably a song that was "built" around the video-with such a literal interpretation, it couldn't be anything but an organic coexistence.

I've had this experience before...unrequited affection- where you crush on someone you know from afar, wishing like hell the other person could just figure out what's going on inside your head and heart. Sometimes all you can do is imagine picking up the phone, or sending that email, or saying something more than what you might otherwise.

Wishing for something you can't have makes you want it that much more. It also makes you wonder if what you do have is really worth keeping.

I'll keep what I've got- I don't need to worry about what Might Be or what Could Have Been.

But it is fun to imagine every now and again.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Be Grateful. Be Thankful.

"Lord, for the erring thought
Not into evil wrought:
Lord, for the wicked will
Betrayed and baffled still;
For the heart from itself kept,
Our thanksgiving accept."


-- William Dean Howells

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Life x 2

It always warms my heart when someone I know becomes a parent. In this case, it happens to be a classmate, with whom I haven't had much contact since high school, and last saw at the reunion last spring.

Ian is one of the smartest people I know - we'd gone to school together since 7th grade, and I was positive he was going to go to MIT and be a rocket scientist or astronaut or something equally daunting and scientific.

He ended up doing an equally great thing: he's working in a small town in Illinois as a music teacher. Even better than touching the stars, he's teaching them.

He's now the proud father of twin girls, and while I won't post any links here to maintain privacy, I have nothing but the best wishes for this new family. I can only hope that his girls will melt his heart and amaze him every day, just as my girl has done to me since that fateful day almost five years ago when first I saw her face in real life.

So many blessings, mazel tov, and welcome to the wonderful world of babyhood, Ian and Emily. Your girls have found their way into a warm and welcoming family and no doubt you can't remember life before their names (even if they were just born Friday night).

You're gonna be just fine.

Friday, November 16, 2007

AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!

"Say" was just leaked to Perez!!!!

I won't link it here, but go go go if you are a JM fan and listen, for goddess' sake, LISTEN!

Chillbumps on my spine. God, it is good to hear you, Johnny.

Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems
Better put them in quotations

Say what you need to say

Walking like a one-man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you'd be better off instead if you could only

Say what you need to say

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You better know that in the end, it's better to say too much than never to say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say


- Say, John Mayer

Overall, the song is a more mature acoustic sound- he's got the poet in him, and I think this comes from a different place in his mental archive- he said it was an "assignment" as a writer, whereas he usually writes from a more internal/visceral place. Written for the movie "The Bucket List" which is coming out at Christmas, I would guess he needed to capture the moment of the movie. It also matches some of the preliminary music I've heard in the movie trailer- the "ukelele" sounding music is mixed into this song. However, we've got lots of lovely JM acoustic. Definitely a JM tune, tempered by the limitations of the assignment. The poetry of the lyrics is all JM, and as always, it's eloquent and simply stated.

This is not post-Continuum John...but I'm okay with that. We, as his fans, don't know where his next musical direction will come from, and that's honestly part of what's best about JM- you never know what he'll do next. Frankly, I appreciate the diversity of his music. I was just listening to Go! (his collab with Common) this afternoon. Anyone who can go from hip-hop to Hendrix and back to acoustic cafe in the span of a couple years is a true musician in my book.

If the next album is acoustic, great. If it's electric, eclectic, poetic or all of the above, it's all good as long as it's honest, and as long as it's John.

I'm now off to memorize the lyrics...no doubt what will be on the iPod this weekend.

Edited to add:My best guess is that it will be the "closing credit song." And I hope like hell they add the video to the end of the movie, because my butt will be in the theatre until the very last note of this song. Point blank.

October Project



The summer of 1994 was a pivotal time in my life. I was on the verge of my senior year, tasting the first small bits of true freedom: a driver's license, a reasonable curfew, a car at my disposal, a job which provided good money and a decent amount of free time, and the undeniable invincibility that comes at the magical age of 17. I reflect on that summer with the filter of hindsight, and though I'm sure there were times when I felt life was unfair, I remember having the clarity, even then, to savor what I had- one of the most precious memories I have in my mental scrapbook is slipping out of my parents' house early in the morning and driving down to the lakeshore to watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan. I parked as close to the sand as I could, and using the doorframe as a ladder, I climbed up onto the roof of my car and watched the sky diffuse with light of a hundred colors. I felt my hair wind into knots as the lake breeze lifted it away from my shoulders. I sat with my chin on my knee, folded into a ball with my arms wrapped around my shins. It was as close to a perfect moment as anyone could ever expect in their life.

That summer was filled with summer school, cruising Lake Michigan, a garage sale to raise money for the drama club theatre trip to New York over Thanksgiving, and the warm, hazy feeling that the world was my oyster.

'Twas also the summer of October Project.

In a fit of late-summer discretionary spending, my friends and I bought tickets to the Sarah McLachlan concert. This was Sarah's first major tour- we had 3rd row tickets at the Navy Pier amphitheatre, which seated maybe 10,000 people. Far cry from stadium tours and pre-Lilith Fair. As was custom for teenagers from my hometown, we took the train downtown (because God no, you don't drive downtown Chicago...no no no!) and cabbed over to the Pier for the concert.

Amy, Dan and I arrived in plenty of time to watch the opening act- this little band called October Project. In advance of the concert, I'd picked up their CD- I figured it would be good to at least have an idea of their music before we saw the concert.

It never left my CD player...I dubbed it to tape so I could listen to it in my car.

I've always appreciated a good lyric- I've never been one to deny a good turn of phrase set to a tune. The wonderful thing about OP's lyrics are that they are soulful without trying. Using tight prose and careful rhyme, they grasp the themes of their songs without pounding ridiculous symbolism or metaphor into the listener. At the same time they are far from vapid. Examples:

you rise like a wave in the ocean
and you fall gently back to the sea
now I want to know how to hold you
return to me

you shine like the moon over water
and you darken the sky when you leave
now I want to know how to keep you
return to me

-Return to Me

Take me as I am, I may disappear
Fade into the night, Lighter than your thoughts
Take me while you can, Never knowing who or what you are until you're
Living with the unfamiliar

-Take Me As I Am

Cover the madness, Cover the fear
No one will ever know you were here
A figure in the hallway light returning like a ghost
Something that was left behind, something in a child's mind

-Bury My Lovely

Mary Fahl's voice haunted me for the first time that summer...and as an aspiring vocalist, I could only hope to achieve half the sound she produces through those magnificent pipes. I liked (still like) the fact that her voice is deep, soulful, unconventional, high and dark at the same time. Her tone can best be described as rich. It's the sound a Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bar would make as it was melted and poured into the batter of your mom's flourless chocolate cake.

I recently rediscovered OP, and am in the process of digging out the same CD I bought during that summer...13 years and change ago. OP has since disbanded or gone into exile, but if I ever hear they are playing anywhere in my vicinity...I'm there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

John Mayer Radio Stalking Incident #7

Time: 3:20PM

Station: Cities 97

Song: Stitched Up (Herbie Hancock w/JM)

Location: Driving down the street - 2nd song on the radio.

Turned on car at this lyric: 2nd song...but noteworthy because you NEVER hear this song on the radio. Points to Cities, once again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

John Mayer Radio Stalking Incident #6

Time: 5:03PM

Station: KS-95

Song: Why Georgia, R4S album version

Location: W@lmart Parking Lot

Turned on car at this lyric: "four more exits to my apartment but I am tempted to keep the car in drive...and leave it all behind."

I plan to document this for the foreseeable future...because it's getting downright eerie.

The rules:

1. Only when I am in the TC.
2. Aforementioned format.
3. All JM songs, including JM3 and any named collaborations included.

Forgot to mention: last stalking incident in the law school parking lot- the very next song on the radio after "Dreaming" was "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police. Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Further Evidence That Life Is Unfair



1. It's in L.A.

2. One night only.

3. I HAVE TO SIT MY FIRST FREAKING LAW SCHOOL FINAL EXAM THE NEXT DAY.

No way, even if I took the redeye back, would it work- if I didn't have my stupid finals, I would be on a plane faster than you can say "Continuum."

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Split Screen Sadness/Something's Missing

Cause I can't wait to figure out what's wrong with me
So I can say this is the way that I used to be


I can't be sure that this state of mind is not of my own design...I wish there was an over-the-counter test for loneliness like this

Working on myself.

Ups and downs are part of life. I've had ebbs and flows, but this last one was a tsunami. Reading back through my blog, I was up late one night, and that was probably the start of it.

I had three weeks of lost time, hurt feelings (so much hurt...), I let my family, my classmates, myself down. All because of a funk that took me this long to recognize, set right, attempt to free myself from, and get back on track.

Picking up the pieces is the worst part- when I'm down I can find peace inside myself...I absolutely shut down. Coming up for air is not always something I want to do for fear of the aftermath.

I overcame part yesterday by apologizing to my study group and one of my professors...my husband and I, well- that wound is probably too late for stitches, but it's bandaged carefully, we're watching out for infection and hoping it heals without too much scar tissue.

I need to go get my mail, clean my house, and get ready for the weekend- my mom and sister are visiting and it's the last push before Thanksgiving and finals.