Monday, March 31, 2008

Something Private

Not really apropos to post something private on a public blog on the Internet, I suppose...but I have a private thought in my head, and a private feeling in my gut that I want to remember, so I'm leaving myself this reminder.

Time: 12:44PM
Date: Monday, March 31, 2008
Weather: Snowy and slippery. The roads are bad right now.
Clothing: white stretchy v-neck long sleeved t-shirt, jeans, barefoot
Hair: ponytail
Song in my head: "Still" - Matt Nathanson

Sometimes snowy days bring unexpected warmth and happiness. Sometimes you just have to take 20 minutes out of your day to experience it. It makes going back out into the cold that much better.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Friends, Part III

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young. - attributed to Mary Schmich

The above picture was taken in either second or third grade, at my friend Karen's birthday party. That's me, front and center, blonde crew cut and mismatched pink shirt and pants. To my immediate left, in the purple and white striped dress, is my oldest friend, Neysa.

Neysa and I met sometime in the first couple weeks of Kindergarten. We found out that we lived about a block and a half away from each other, and in the wisdom of all of our five years of life, we decided we needed to be best friends. We were inseparable after school, practically attached at the hip during the summers. We did Brownies together. Our moms drove the same carpool. She remembers my sister as a newborn.

I moved in the middle of third grade, to a state far far away, and into a school situation which was as far removed from my experiences as fathomable. I think, probably to ease my transition and give me some measure of comfort, our parents allowed us to call each other once a week. We alternated weeks, mostly so our parents could evenly split the long-distance charges.

This went on for years.

We visited each other a couple times - mostly when I was back in town visiting my grandparents, who always told me when they saw her around town.

We sent each other flowers on our 16th birthdays.

She came to my grandparents' funerals, in our former hometown.

When I was in college, she called me one morning, informed me she was married and would be in San Antonio to see her husband graduate from Air Force basic training. At that point, I had a car, and I drove down to see her.

In the intervening years, she divorced, I got married, had a baby, she got remarried, I saw her a couple more times (I think) and we managed, somehow, to keep touch.

When she married her second husband, the boy and I traveled back to attend her wedding. It was our fifth anniversary, and now one of the coolest things in the world is the fact that my oldest friend and I have the same wedding anniversary.


Back there in the corner, with the flute, is Karen. She's one of the smartest and most talented people I've ever known. She is Taiwanese, one of the strongest Christians I know, and I think I always thought she'd be a doctor like her father. I lost touch with Karen after my family moved in third grade, but always asked after her based on my relationship with Neysa, and the fact that her dad was my grandparents' family doctor. Recently, due to the modern miracle of Facebook, Karen and I reconnected. One of these days I hope I get back to her area of the country, and if I do, I would love to see her.

I found out that she became a music therapist, married a doctor named Joe, and that Joe recently lost his life to cancer. I think, looking at the girls in the picture above, we could never have predicted the turns our lives would take. Our biggest worry back then was what Karen's parents would say when they found the eight of us jumping like monkeys on Karen's bed in a birthday cake-induced collective sugar high. (Turns out they thought it was hilarious. The lawyer in me sees a tort action brewing.)

When we imagined our weddings, we (at least I) always assumed we'd be marrying Prince Charming, and that it would last forever. Whether we eloped and later divorced, or knelt in church next to a husband's casket before gray hair and wrinkles set in, I don't think any of us knew really what marriage was beyond the white dress and ring. In my common life with my husband, we have ups and downs, but I am blessed to have him with me. I have not had to say a permanent goodbye like Karen; I have not had to start over and try again like Neysa.

There are five other little girls in that picture; girls with dreams and lives ahead of them. I would love to gather them together, along with the other members of our second grade class, and find out what happened between 8 and 31.

Today's Training: Running
30 mins on the treadmill, 2.1 miles (14:30 pace fartlek)

Friday, March 28, 2008

From The Heart...

Among the many reasons I have a deep-seated appreciation for John Mayer is his ability to articulate so much of what goes on in his head. When I read his words, I often find myself relating so well to him; there's a kinship there that is unexplainable.

I wish I could just have him over to my house for dinner one night. I'd probably serve something Italian (lasagna maybe, or baked ziti, green beans and garlic bread) and we'd pop open a bottle of Beringer White Zinfandel. I'd pause the conversation only to offer dessert and tuck my daughter into bed. I would hope that even though dinner was at six, we'd talk until 3AM because we'd relate that well, and I'd pick his brain about everything from songwriting to politics to neuroses large and small.

By the time we looked at the clock, it would be too late for him to drive home, so I'd offer him our guest room and fresh towels, set the coffeepot for the next morning, and retire to my own room to sleep next to my husband.

It's what any self-respecting member of JM's housewife contingent would do.

Excerpts from his latest blog:

This is about a level of self consciousness so high in my generation, that it's actually toxic.

This is about us all. Every one of us. Who all seem to know deep down that it's incredibly hard to be alive and interact with the world around us but will try and cover it up at any cost. For as badass and unaffected as we try to come off, we're all just one sentence away from being brought to the edge of tears, if only it was worded right.

We were promised we could be anything that we wanted to be, if only we believed it and then, faster than we saw coming, we were set loose into the world to shake hands with the millions of other people who were told the exact same thing.

And really? Really? It turns out we're just not all that special, when you break it down. Beautifully unspectacular, actually. And that truth is going to catch up with us whether we want to run from it or not... It's just a matter of how old you are once you embrace that fact. And for me, 30 sounds about right.

What now, then? I can only really say for myself: Enjoy who I am, the talents and the liabilities. Stop acting careless. In fact, care more. Be vulnerable but stay away from where it hurts. Read. See more shows. Of any kind. Rock shows, art shows, boat shows. Create more art. Wear hoodies to dinner. Carry a notebook and hand it to people when they passionately recommend something and ask them to write it down for me.

Root for others.

Give more and expect the same in return, but over time.

Act nervous when I'm nervous, puzzled when I don't know what the hell to do, and smile when it all goes my way. And never in any other order than that.

And when it's all over, whether at the end of this fabulous career or of this life, which I hope takes place at the same time, I should look back and say that I had it good and I made the most of it while I was able. And so should you.

JM's in Japan, clearing his head. I'm in the T.C., trying to think of a way to get myself through the next six weeks. Six weeks until the end of my first year in law school. Damn, that was fast.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Training Log - 3/27/08

Warmup: 100 free, 150 kick/pull/kick alternates
Main Set: 2x200, 45 second RI, 1x400 (all at race pace, last 50 of the 400 at sprint pace)
Total: 1050 yards

This felt AWESOME. A vast improvement over last week - I was dying on Tuesday about midway through my 3rd 200. Today, I was practically unphased after 2x200. We got to the pool a bit late and so I made the executive decision to turn my last 400 into a solid set. I got into such a groove, knowing I was swimming faster than I had on Tuesday. Knowing I was up against a time limit, I wanted to get my yardage in, so I sprinted the last 50 yards - perhaps not an all-out sprint, but I amped it up quite a bit. Nice to know I can still dig deep at the end of a long-ish set. Now if I can do it after an 800, then I'll be impressed. If I can do it after a 1600 I'll be freaking insane with glee!

Warmup: 5 minutes easy spin (low resistance)
Main Set: 20 minute tempo ride (normal cadence +/- 88 RPM, medium resistance)
Mini-Brick: 10 minutes run/walk
Cooldown: 5 minutes walk
Total: 40 minutes

OW! Bike butt! First time on a spinner since...the stone ages. 20 minutes at a normal cadence was enough for me today. The spinners don't have computers so I can't check my mileage, but the time felt good - and I'll throw some hill intervals on next time I have a standalone bike. For now as a swim followup, it was all good. My calves cramped up like nobody's business when I tried to run - so a nice long stretch will be in order tonight, and hopefully everything else loosens up in the next few days.

The Cake Is A Lie, Redux (or, Happy Birthday, Sooz!)

We had a most enjoyable evening last night! It was Sooz's birthday and she was kind enough to invite a gaggle of her besties over to her boyfriend's house for a game night. It was awesome!

All of her friends are lovely people who are imaginitive, friendly and intelligent. Special props to the boy, who seemed comfortable enough to meet all these new people, and step out of his comfort zone for a rousing game of Cranium. Originally this was to be a video game night but Cranium finished at 11:30 and the both of us were bushed. (Past our bedtimes, yo.)

My contributions to the party (since one never shows up emptyhanded) were a bottle of Three Buck Chuck and this:

I reprised The Cake Is A Lie for Sooz because she, like the boy, is a gamer and would appreciate the Portal reference. Recipe below:

The Cake Is A Lie:

1 dozen cupcakes (homebaked or store-bought as a matter of taste and preference)
1 sheet CakeMate alphabetical birthday characters (must be the full alphabet)
Other decorations as desired.

Place one letter on each cupcake to spell out T-H-E C-A-K-E A. "IS" goes on one cupcake together, and "lie" is spelled L-I-3 (the letter set comes one "E" short.)

You may substitute "l33t" characters if the birthday gamer is sufficiently fluent in l33tsP3@K. Most of the time though, this birthday treat will have to be explained to those not in the know, and it's explanation enough without needing to explain "l33t" as well.

Happy Birthday, Sooz! You are an inspiration, academically, physically, mentally and emotionally. I'm so glad you decided to do the tri with me this summer - you're gonna rock on with your socks on. Except in the lake. Wet socks are never fun.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ten Things You Should Know About Me, Part III

1. I have about 15 versions of the song Summertime on iTunes. Not the Fresh Prince one (though that one is cool)- the opening song from Porgy and Bess. That song makes me wanna holler.

2. My favorite scent is vanilla, and I use it almost exclusively in my personal grooming products - deodorant, body wash, body spray, lotion and perfume.

3. I barely made it through this winter.

4. I recently found the connector cable for my camera. This is a good thing.

5. I have worn glasses since I was 15. I found out I needed them when I went to the DMV to get my learner's permit and failed the eye exam.

6. I wear a size 9 1/2 shoe.

7. My wedding scrapbook isn't done yet. We're coming up on our ninth anniversary.

8. I don't drink nearly enough water.

9. I've been seeing a counselor since January, to help me work out my mental issues and figure out why I'm depressed. We've identified a bunch of issues. She reads my blog. I don't hold back in my writing because of this. It's helping.

10. I have no excuse but money for this one: my favorite wine is either Beringer or Turning Leaf White Zinfandel.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Getting My House In Order

Technically, spring is upon us. However, Minnesota does not believe in spring, and thus, we still have snow on the ground. It snowed Easter Sunday.


In the spirit of my sister's visit, I have attempted to clean and declutter an area of my house every so often. The idea is to have my house as minimized and welcoming as possible. I wasn't raised this way - my mother and grandparents were savers, and so the idea of clear surfaces, while tantalizing and attractive, was at best, theoretical for me.

I am finding that this housecleaning business is not only healthy for my eyes - coming home to a clean house is so much better than coming home to a house which requires work - but also healthy for my mental well-being. Not only do I want to be home when it's clean, but I feel proud of my home, I can have people over any time I want (which, lately, has been more spontaneous due to study groups, etc.) and I don't have the rush to "get ready" when company comes.

Naturally, I have done my research. This is my house organization Bible:

I had 0/9 areas clean when she came. I now have 4/9 decluttered, organized, and they are kept clean and ready on a regular basis. It's funny - I've never been that great a housekeeper, but once the "stuff" quotient is gone, it's so easy to just look into my living room and go "oh, it's clean!" I have a great piece of mind when I go to bed, knowing the kitchen is looked after.

I have nine main areas in my house (ten if you count the porch, eleven if you count the basement) and I'm going room-by-room, decluttering and minimizing our "stuff" - redefining the space and determining what goes, what stays, and what's what. I'm making very deliberate choices in terms of how I'm doing this - nothing is going in the basement, no decision is temporary. I am giving myself to the end of the summer to have the whole house completely done. In order of priority, then, my House List:

1. Guest Room:
DONE. I have a study space, rearranged furniture, and nothing has gone in without it having a purpose.

2. Living Room:
DONE. The girl has a nook for her toys and they are all put away at the end of each night. The mantle and fireplace are clear or decorated with photos, and the gaming/TV unit is organized. I need to buy a toybox for the nook, just to make it a bit nicer, but for now, it's all good.

3. Kitchen:
DONE. I pitched a LOT of stuff when we moved - and right now it's a matter of making a nightly clean-up a priority. I'm also sticking to a grocery budget, so it is easy to keep the pantry organized, as we only have things we actually use and eat in there. Amazing how well that works.

4. Foyer/Stairs/Hallway:
DONE. The shoes went up, the laundry was cleared, and the hall table was cleaned off. I need to send the winter coats for cleaning and they will be stored soon, once we are done with them. Around Father's Day.

5. Dining Room: A MAJOR traffic area, and my general office space. Now that I have a study space, I need to USE IT. I have boxes of papers in here, and a lot of old mail and bills that need shredding. Note to self: find public shred service.

6. Bathroom: Not as big a challenge as originally thought, but I do need to get the extraneous care items used up and find a good place for everything. Not bad, considering.

7. The Girl's Room: In desperate need of a periodic childhood excavation. I need to pull out her clothes, thin out her bookshelves, get rid of random plastic pieces, remake the bed and really look at what she still plays with. Also - we have too many shoes right now - some of them are too small, so they will have to go and be replaced with new ones.

8. Our Room: 90% of our problem will be solved with the purchase of our new armoire from IKEA, and the Purple Heart donation drive next week - they want clothing this time round, and clothing they shall get! I plan to wade through ALL of our clothes and get rid of anything ill-fitting. Tim Gunn guide me!

And here comes the second book I'm using:

For two people who are not fashion forward, and constantly complain about having nothing to wear, we have a LOT of clothes!

First order of business is to catch up on the laundry, which is almost done. I'm also using this time to go through the sweaters and winter clothes, and weed out. I don't want to store anything that won't be fit for use next summer. We moved with three tubs of winter clothes and sweaters, and I want to get it down to two: one for me and one for him. As the sweaters are washed or sent to the cleaners, they are stored or put in the giveaway box.

Next, the closet - which is pretty darn scary:

I hope the "After" pictures are significantly better. And that there's only one. And that I have a bedroom floor.

I am also going to have to go through my t-shirt collection and pick out the ones I don't wear - the ones I'm saving for my t-shirt quilt. If I have enough, I have the money put away for it, and I shall actually get it done!

9. Rec Room:This is the last room to be attacked, mostly because we need a new desk for the boy (it is his computer domain) and it's been our catch-all room. Boxes leftover from the move must be gone through, shelves to organize, books to store.

Update in May - hopefully we'll be up to our room and the rec room by then. I like the idea of doing this a room at a time - right now it's second nature to keep the 1/3 of the house that's "done" clean. If I add a room at a time, it will be easy enough to adjust to the additional 3 minutes it will take (hopefully) to keep the rooms clean.

Oh, I have hopes! I have such high hopes!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Beijing 2008

I read this story on MSNBC this morning, whilst awaiting Sooz's arrival for our twice-weekly swim training session.

And I saw a few pictures that look something like this:

In case you're wondering, that's a picture from a vocational school in China, where girls train to become flight attendants. Most of them are also learning etiquette in hopes of being selected to be medal ceremony hostesses at this year's Summer Olympics.

Excerpts from the article:

The young women practice posture by balancing books on their heads while squeezing a sheet of paper between the knees. A perfect smile is honed by hours in front of a mirror with a chopstick clasped between the teeth.

“The smile should be spontaneous. If it’s a fake smile, then it doesn’t look good,” Yang said, her hands folded primly at the waist. “When we practice smiling, we hold a chopstick between our teeth and try to think about something happy.”

Some of those will likely be picked for the actual games, said Li Zhanjun, director of the Beijing Olympics media center. He would not say how many would be chosen or what criteria was used to pick presenters.

The 32 students in Yang’s class said they were thrilled by the possibility of being part of the Olympics, an event China’s communist government intends to use to show the world it is ready to take its place among the ranks of great nations.

“We want (visitors) to think that China is a polite country that really lives up to its name,” said 17-year-old Feng Jiale, who wore a Communist Youth League pin on her airline uniform.

“I want them to know that the Chinese people are refined, that we really are confident about our country,” said 16-year-old Feng Shuo.

Beijing Olympics organizers’ pickiness in choosing hostesses illustrates the inordinate amount of planning that has gone into the upcoming games. Four years ago, the laidback Greeks selected hostesses from among the general pool of volunteers following brief interviews, a former Athens Games official said.

By turning to the state-run flight attendant schools, organizers are picking from among a group selected for their physical attributes and ability to make a good impression.

At Changping, students must stand between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8 and weigh 110 to 120 pounds. They learn English, French, German, Japanese and Korean. Classes in applying makeup are part of the curriculum.

A class of young women, age 16 to 18, gave a demonstration in the school gymnasium on Wednesday to show off the proper posture and how to walk with a tray. (“The forearms and upper arms must form a 90 degree angle,” the teacher reminded them.)

They practiced bows of 15, 30 and 45 degrees, holding the poses even though they appeared rather uncomfortable.

China is often accused of human rights violations and torturing political prisoners. Unspeakable horror stories come out of dissenters, the brave students who sat in Tiananmen Square over 17 years ago are long forgotten. The Internet is censored completely by what the government calls "The Golden Shield."

I am certain that China is a country of great beauty, history and culture. However, there is enough evidence in my mind to suggest that Nicolas Sarkozy might just have it right this time; we might very well be best served to boycott this Olympics. I am certain it won't happen because the corporate culture of America won't permit it. Nike and Adidas have billions tied up in the athletes, the airline sponsorships are worth millions, the broadcasting rights alone are worth inordinate amounts of money, and no CEO would allow his stock to plummet over political issues and American values. Such is our culture now - the almighty dollar rules most everything, most of the time.

The picture above is just a kinder, gentler example of what China does to its citizens on a regular basis, in order to preserve its self image and maintain its devotion to outward appearances.

Sure, she's wearing a beautifully tailored suit, and she's got a smile on her face.

It still looks like torture to me.

Today's training:Swimming
100 free warm-up, 50 kick, 50 pull
Main set: 4x200, 45 second RI
50 breast cooldown
Total yardage: 950

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!

Now upon the first day of the week very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared; and certain others were with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. And as they were afraid and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, "Why seek ye the living among the dead! He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke unto you when He was yet in Galilee saying, `The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and the third day rise again.' And they remembered His words, and returned from the sepulcher and told all these things unto the eleven and to all the rest.

It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James, and other women who were with them, who told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen cloths laid by themselves. And he departed, wondering to himself at that which had come to pass.

Luke 24:1-12

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Voice Mail

"You've had this problem since I've known you. Since we were 17 years old. Don't tell me it's not my problem because it definitely affects me. Nobody gets under your skin like him. I see it every time you tell me 'So I talked to my Dad today.' It's like a weight is holding you down...I hate seeing you hurt, and he's hurting you. So you have to do something, because he probably doesn't know that there's even a problem. The ball's in your court, and unless you're honest with him, and with yourself, nothing's going to change."

The boy said these words to me during dinner tonight. I sat in front of him and wept.

My father tried to call today. I let the phone go to voice mail.

That was at 4:00.

I still haven't picked up the voice mail. It's 6:29.

I haven't decided whether I should listen or just erase it. Chances are that he's just calling to wish us a happy Easter. I think that's the problem.

The things that brought you to me
Now are the very things you hate
And it's becoming very clear to me
That you're the one that's changed
I used to think that we could make it last
That I would love you all my life
But when you tell me I'm not good enough
You know it's just not right

-I Won't- Keri Noble

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday: Luke 23: 28-46 (NKJV)

But Jesus, turning unto them, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming in which they shall say, `Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore and the breasts which never gave suck.' Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, `Fall on us!' and to the hills, `Cover us!' For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"

And there were also two others, malefactors, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they parted His raiment and cast lots.

And the people stood beholding. And the rulers who were also with them derided Him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he be Christ, the chosen of God." And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him and offering Him vinegar and saying, "If thou art the king of the Jews, save thyself." And a superscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

And one of the malefactors who was hanged railed against Him, saying, "If thou be Christ, save thyself and us!" But the other answering rebuked him, saying, "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this Man hath done nothing amiss."

And he said unto Jesus, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom." And Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." And having said thus, He gave up the ghost.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oh Good Lord, Not Again

This morning, the girl and I were lazing about in bed, talking about the day ahead, and not doing much to extract ourselves from our cocoon of blankets and pillows and warm bodies.

Once again, she asked.

"Mom, can I get a baby sister?"

Uhhh...well, see...ahem, well...why do you want a baby sister?

"'Cause Ruth has one and she gets to hold it." (Ruth is her best friend at school.)

So you want a little sister like Ruth?

"Yeah, and um, Ruth has a big sister too but I can't have one of them because I already was born so I just want a little sister."

I thought you wanted a little brother?

"No, well... I want a sister, I think."

And what would you want to call her?

"Josie! I like Josie. It's a nice name."

Yes. Yes it is. Okay, kiddo - time to get up out of bed.

Twice in a month. Good Lord.

And now for something completely different:Sooz and I went swimming at school today - it felt GREAT to get back into the pool. I may keep a training log here just for simplicity's sake. Doubt if I'll get deeper than just a list of what I did - if I do, I'll make it a training-specific entry.

Swim: 100 warmup, 5x100 free (30 sec RI), 50 kick, 50 cooldown. 30 mins total. 700 total distance

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day, Or The Last Two Weeks of My Insanely Busy Life

Busy, busy times in the life of me. Not only do I have the whole "oh shit, I only have six weeks left of school before finals" thing going on, the boy had his 30th birthday, my sister came to visit, I saw Matt Nathanson in concert last night, I am in the process of cleaning house, Easter is a week from yesterday, I'm rushing through some projects before I become a self-imposed finals hermit, it's Spring Break, and it's snowing outside. Welcome to my world.

Any and all of the above should rightly be their own blog entries, and I may very well be inclined to do so (oh hell, who am I kidding? No way am I going to have the time to properly document everything, so lucky you! The abridged version!) It's still going to be a long entry because I have two weeks to cover.

So then, in chronological order:

Happy 30th Birthday, Boy!: we went out for dinner at the Olive Garden (and yes, we did make them sing us the Buona Festa song - but they did so over a plate of OG Andes Candies. Better than crack, those little green treats!) I also played fun with his birthday cake: I went to the store and got a dozen cupcakes and those hard candies they sell in the cake baking aisle - the letters that you can spell stuff out with. I arranged the cupcakes on a plate, and placed one letter on each one, then gave it to him, saying "Sorry."

I neglected to get a picture - perhaps I'll recreate it one of these days, but the cupcakes spelled out "THE CAKE IS A LIE." (The boy is a Portal fanatic and I got a huge laugh out of him with it. (We did, in fact have a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for him, as per his request.) He told most of his WoW guild about it...and I think I've been voted Coolest Wife Ever... his one buddy said "Woooww...she really does pay attention, doesn't she?" So... Happy Birthday, Boy.

Sisters, Sisters...There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters: A couple weeks ago, I was having a rough time dealing with a lot of the stuff that was bubbling to my surface regarding my family situation. A lot of my issues stem from the fact that I'm having to redefine family in my head: who qualifies, my perception of my family of origin, how best to deal with that. My sister is probably the person who knows as much about our family as I do - and I was IM'ing with her about a lot of the things I've been dealing with. She sensed I needed (help? companionship? friendship? love?)... I needed a sister. She immediately popped online, found a cheap flight, and got herself up here post-haste. We spent 4 days talking about our family - and I learned so much about her formative years, specifically the time after I left for college. I'm six years older than she, and I went to college when she went to junior high. We had such vastly different teen years for a lot of reasons, and this visit really brought to bear our differences. The good news is that we have just as many commonalities, and at the end of the day, we're there for each other, no matter what.
We did lots of sister-type activities, including shopping at IKEA and the Nordstrom shoe department (two places which, for us, equal Valhalla). Overall, it was a fantastic visit, one which I desperately needed, and one for which I will be forever grateful. Love you, sis. :)

MATTY NAY!!!!!!!!

Dude. If this doesn't make my yearly recap...then I will have died and gone to heaven. I got pretty damned close last night.

God love my friend Jen. She's been a Matty fan for AGES and I was grousing to her the other day - I'd failed to procure a ticket for the MN/Lifehouse show at First Ave in Minneapolis before it sold out. I was tempted to go anyway and see if they would release tickets, but more likely I would have just let it go. I had a multitude of excuses, the least of which was that I generally don't like to go to events alone.

Jen was having none of this. She has done street team things for MN before, and knows his tour manager, Megan. After my diatribe, she promptly sent Megan a PM asking if there was any slots on the street team for the Minneapolis show. Ten minutes later I was "on the list."

Long story short, I spent 90 minutes waiting outside the club, got to the box office and was admitted, free of charge, to the show. And I will be forever grateful because not only was Matt a phenomenal performer (literally turned a laid-back Minneapolis crowd into a singalong choir, as well as complimenting us on our ability to withstand the Northern climate native to our area "Dude, I'm just sayin'...y'all are badasses if you call this spring!") He played a ton of his new CD, a couple of older tunes, and tossed in a little Journey and Rick Springfield for good measure. Amazing, amazing 45 minute set. He's got a stage presence which is great - he rocks his tunes, interacts with the audience, and dude, could I GUSH any more? I'm an instant addict.

After his set, I hightailed it over to the merch table...and life was great, because he was easily the nicest performer I've ever met. He only had 15 minutes at the table but I think he was averaging about 5 seconds per autograph, and he was cool with pictures and stuff. My camera malfunctioned the first time I tried to get a picture with him, and he was like "Just get it going, and I'll come back - I'm totally down with it!" And he DID!

I left before Lifehouse - I didn't really have any interest in seeing them (and I would have stayed if Megan actually did have street team stuff for me to do, but their postcards were delivered to Chicago, not Minneapolis, and they were out), but I was out of there by 9:45PM, home by 10:15, and in bed by 11. Now THAT'S what I call a concert experience! (I must be getting old...)

I'll save cleaning house and Easter and all that rot for my next entry. And it wouldn't be St. Patty's if I didn't say it...

No way November will see our goodbye, when it comes to December, it's obvious why
No one wants to be alone at Christmastime
And come January, we're frozen inside, making new resolutions a hundred times
February, won't you be my Valentine?

And if our always is all that we gave, and then someday we take that away
We'll be alright, if it was just 'til St. Patrick's Day...

As they say in Texas: Erin Go Bragh, Y'all!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Father's Child

Things I have in common with my father:

1. The ability to be moved by music.
2. Inordinate desire to be educated.
3. Most at home in a classroom, whether as a student or teacher.
4. Inability to finish a story (or remember whether I've told it before) in less than 5 minutes or without a digression.
5. Bad vision.
6. Love for all things chocolate.
7. An appreciation for peanut butter and swiss cheese sandwiches.
8. Encyclopedic knowledge of near-useless trivia.
9. Vocabulary bordering the ridiculous.
10. Inability to correctly express my emotions, thoughts and feelings.

Music in my head right now: Mozart's "Requiem": Introit and Kyrie.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pure Moments

I must admit to completely ganking this from JM's Honeyee blog entry for today. It's 5AM in Japan right now...I hope when he wakes up, he doesn't mind that he inspired one fangirl to a bit of introspection. Not that he knows this blog exists, at all - so really? Moot point I suppose. Karmically speaking though, good to give credit where credit is due.

Interspersed with lovely photos from Nijo Castle in Kyoto, Japan, JM writes these lovely words:

When was the last time you had a truly pure moment? The simple order of you, the enjoyment, the happiness, the end.
Without that nagging arithmetic of what the moment must look like to others, what it might read like tomorrow, and if it bears any significance in the long term...
When was the last time you heard the voice in your head over all the noise?
Simple happiness is at a premium... and I can't think of anything more valuable I want to own right now...
Self consciousness is toxic... And it's everywhere...I have not learned anything from fame and success that I wouldn't have wanted life to teach me without it...

Truth be told; I had a small glimmer of one of these moments yesterday. I was sitting at my dining room table, outlining Torts. (Outlining is a torturous process by which a law student boils down notes, prep materials, case briefs, and supplementals into a 25 page summary of everything learned in a class. It is then memorized, rehashed, beaten into a bloody pulp, torn apart, put back together and stomped upon over the last two weeks of the semester, and then forgotten forever. Or at at least until bar review time. I digress.) Sooz was sitting next to me, and Beethoven was on the stereo. We worked for four hours, lazily trading anecdotes from the readings, asking each other the pertinence of certain words and cases, and for once, I felt like a law student. I felt right; I felt like I was nearly enjoying myself.

Perhaps it was the Beethoven.

Pure moments:

When I'm saddled up and in the middle of a 20 mile training ride.

When I'm in the middle of a 1000 yard swim.

When I'm standing at the shore of Lake Michigan, on any given day, in any given season, and have nothing but the crashing waves in my ears and the rising sun in my face.

When I hear my daughter's laugh, or watch her sleep peacefully, for just a moment before I start thinking about all that she means to me and why she is growing up too damned fast.

When I'm behind the wheel of my car, driving.

When I kneel in a deserted church, adhering to the admonition be still, and know that I am God.

I'm relearning my definition of happiness, and I'm learning that it is self-determined. A quiet church, or a Japanese castle, or Beethoven, or even a sleeping child can effect a temporal euphoria; but in order to maintain true happiness (particularly the even keel that those of us with depression fight so desperately to maintain), it has to originate internally. External stimuli can give us the right feelings, but the internal condition is what makes that sunrise, that laughter, that prayer and that castle turn into that which pulls your mind and heart through the deepest of winters and the darkest of days.

It reminds you that spring is on its way.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Movie Review: Jumper

My sister is in town! She flew in today and offered the boy and I a chance to get out for a date - which we did after a lovely spaghetti dinner cooked by yours truly.

Since his birthday was this past week, and he rarely gets to go to the movies, he got to pick the flick, and he chose Jumper.

Overall, the film was okay. Basically a sci/fi-fantasy hybrid, it centers around the world of David, a "jumper" - basically a person who can teleport to anywhere at any given time. We meet him in high school, and he's the typical picked-upon weakling...until he falls through a frozen river and ends up in the stacks of the local public library.

Of course, the crush of his life is the unattainable girl from school - I preferred the younger version played by Annasophia Robb over Rachel Bilson's college coed - and the sidekick, an acerbic Brit called Griffin.

The bad guy is played by Samuel L. Jackson, who is a badass par excellence and seems born to play these types of roles. He is a "paladin" named Roland - which any good fantasy geek knows is a form of a holy warrior of some sort - in existence since the Middle Ages. "Roland" is also the name of the Gunslinger in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King - I can't help but wonder if the name was used specifically to conjure images of King's gunslinger.

Vastly underused (in my opinion) is Diane Lane, who plays David's mother. She abandoned him at age 5, and though her role in his life is explained at the end of the movie, I still felt she should have had more presence, at least as much as Roland, if not more.

Overall, not the type of movie I'd normally go see. However, I'd give it a 6 out of 10 - and the fact that I got a date with my husband, regardless of cinematic choice, gives the movie bonus points.

Friday, March 7, 2008


What's the matter Mary Jane, you had a hard day
As you place the don't disturb sign on the door
You lost your place in line again, what a pity
You never seem to want to dance anymore

It's a long way down on this roller coaster
The last chance streetcar went off the track
And you're on it

I hear you're counting sheep again Mary Jane
What's the point of trying to dream anymore?
I hear you're losing weight again Mary Jane
Do you ever wonder who you're losing it for?

Well it's full speed baby, in the wrong direction
There's a few more bruises if that's the way you insist on heading

Please be honest Mary Jane - are you happy?
Please don't censor your tears

You're the sweet crusader and you're on your way
You're the last great innocent, and that's why I love you

So take this moment Mary Jane and be selfish
Worry not about the cars that go by
All that matters Mary Jane is your freedom
Keep warm my dear, keep dry

Mary Jane-Alanis Morrissette

I've been thinking a lot about hurt.

Hurt and pain come in many forms - we have physical pain, emotional pain, physiological pain in response to psychological pain.

Sharp pain, dull pain, intermittent pain, persistent pain.

There's a pain scale - you've seen it in your doctor's office - "Rate your pain on a scale of 1-10" with a crying sad face on one end and a happy, smiley face on the other.

Hurt causes pain.

It can be anything from a paper cut to the most excruciating torture imaginable.

We cauterize pain - we do what we can to avoid it, we take pills to quell it, we run from it. We even say "I don't want to hurt you" just as we get ready to issue words that, once said, will inflict it. We make up stories to save face, we are not honest in our dealings with others. We let people down easy, we take the high road, we avoid conflict. Anything at all not to feel pain. Or hurt.

As humans, though, we are meant to hurt. The sensations of pain are what remind us that we are alive, just as much as the sensations of happiness and love and positivity. We're taught from a young age that pain is bad and love is good, and the less pain in your life, the better.

Exhiliration/excruciation. The highest highs come with the lowest lows, and without one you cannot achieve the other.

It follows then, that if you're not used to dealing with pain, you don't know what to do with it when it comes. When it's inevitable, unavoidable, perhaps even necessary.

For so long I have buffered and cauterized my wounds, and as such they have never healed properly. I've done what I must to make the pain go away. The pain I now feel is the kind of hurt that doesn't go away with a pill or a bandage. It lay dormant, sleeping, until one day it attacked, and I shut into myself, pleading and begging it to just leave me the fuck alone, already, I have enough to deal with without you making things worse

This is quite possibly the scariest thing I've ever done...letting myself lay bare and feel...let myself bleed and suffer and face my scars head-on. Is it so wrong to want to hurt? I'm not talking about self infliction, or cutting, or anything damaging...but really, to face what the world gives you head on? Is that so bad? Finding out that you thought you were doing just that, when in reality you were just watching the overwhelming.

Sometimes the attempt at mitigating your pain causes even more pain.

Sometimes you hurt so much you can't feel anymore - you become numb to the sensations. That's when you have to pull back and regain perspective.

Sometimes the most toxic, addictive things in your life are the things that you can't easily rid from yourself. Sometimes they are the things that make you you - to unwind them and separate them would be to unravel yourself at the threads and seams...and the thought of being left with a pile of string and no idea how to weave it back together into something usable is scarier than taking out the bad stuff. And moreso - even if you knew how to rework your would you know that the end result was somehow better than what you had before?

Breaking down to build back up is tricky business.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Goodnight, You Moonlight Ladies

This morning, the girl suggested to the boy and myself that she would enjoy having a baby brother. We asked her if she knew what exactly was entailed in having a new baby in the house, and she said "yeah, well, you have to feed it."


"And you give it time to sleep."


The boy reminded her about the diaper changing and the late nights and sharing everything, and she still seemed pretty insistent at the thought. I played along a bit, goading the boy. "Well, you know...I'll be 31, and I'm not working so we wouldn't have child care issues...and we're living pretty cheap right now...we could time it around finals..."

His answer: "Are you seriously considering the family planning suggestions of a five year old?"

Me: "No, not really. We'll maintain the policy position: whatever happens happens."

And in a way, I get it - we're a lovely little threesome, complete as can be and thoroughly content. Sometimes though, I wonder if we'll have more kids. I am absolutely satisfied with just the girl, but part of me wonders what another child of ours might look like, might act like. How would I be different as a parent at age 31-32 than I was at 25?

Would I be heartbroken if we never had any more kids? How could I be? We're incredibly blessed. Then I hear an old James Taylor song, and my mind wanders to a place where I sit in my glider, breastfeeding a tiny cream-and-blue bundle, the girl watching me intently...and I quietly sing to both of them.

There is a young cowboy he lives on the range, his horse and his cattle are his only companions
He works in the saddle and he sleeps in the canyons, waiting for summer, his pastures to change

And as the moon rises he sits by his fire, thinking about women and glasses of beer
And closing his eyes as the doggies retire, he sings out a song which is soft but its clear
As if maybe someone could hear

Goodnight you moonlight ladies, rockabye sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose, won't you let me go down in my dreams
And rockabye sweet baby James

Now the first of December was covered with snow
And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go

Theres a song that they sing when they take to the highway
A song that they sing when they take to the sea
A song that they sing of their home in the sky
Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep
But singing works just fine for me

So goodnight you moonlight ladies, and rockabye sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose, won't you let me go down in my dreams
And rockabye sweet baby James