March 31, 2006


…person that is. I obediently trotted off to jury duty yesterday fully expecting to read all day and come home again without seeing a courtroom. This ignorant assumption was based on my last jury duty served. In Northampton, MA. Population 2.000 or so. Silly me, I live in BALTIMORE. In close competition for Murder Capital of the US of A. There are plenty of cases so No One has to feel left out.

In the morning my number was called so I sat through a two hour selection process. First anyone with someone in their immediate family (i.e. someone they’d lived with) who was in law enforcement stood up and stated the relationship. The stupid ritual involved the judge repeating back, “Ms. So-and-So, does the fact that your brother-in-law was chief of police in Timbuktu mean that you will be unable to render an impartial decision based solely on the evidence you will hear in this courtroom?” “No, your Honor”. "Then you may be seated". Next everyone who’d experienced a crime or had an immediate family member who had, went up one by one to tell the judge, the two lawyers, and the defendant about the issue. Out of 80 prospective jurors, only 15 of us remained seated! Finally people with a COMPELLING reason stood and reported their excuse. The main one that worked was non-refundable plane tickets. “I’m leaving tomorrow for a medical missions trip to the Republic of Palao.” (true). My favorite was the guy who stood up and said, “Your honor, I just can’t hear what’s going on half the time. I hear you now cause you’re talking to me, but if you turn your head I can’t hear you.” The judge laughing and shaking his head said, “Go on back to the assembly room then.” “What?”

At the end of all that I actually was placed in the jury box for the trial. Attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. The witness list included a bunch of “Lee” names. I’d dressed like a hippie in hopes it would lessen my chances of being called. Sigh. But the prosecutor looked at the whole panel and ‘respectfully dismissed juror #4’. Thank you, I knew the big blue scarf would get me off!

At 3 pm when we all assumed we'd be out the door at 4:30 they called another trial! This judge’s selection process only took an hour. By the luck of the draw, and because I’d taken off my hippie scarf, I was selected and seated in jury seat #1, closest to the judge. So he appointed me foreperson for the jury! What the heck? Shouldn’t it be someone with some experience?

Fortunately this case seems a little more straightforward. It’s ‘just’ for ‘possession with the intent to distribute’ crack/cocaine. Today I’m dressing more responsibly.

March 29, 2006

What to do?

BossOne fired her husband today! She used the line, “you’re not happy here and I want you to be happy", but when she told me about it she whispered, “I just fired BossTwo!” BossOne is terrified of conflict so it was really brave of her to tell BossTwo he shouldn’t be here anymore. On a purely selfish level I'm excited that BossOne may reinvest in this job. She's been withdrawn the past 4-5 months and work is fading away. She's an amazing networker, great with people, and fun to be around. But lately she's been a bitter shadow.

BossTwo is depressed and often angry. He needs to figure out what to do with his life but has no ideas. He’s in his 40’s and doesn’t have many job skills. He trained as an engineer but hated it, he wanted to be an architect but Daddy discouraged it, so he ended up being the billing department for his wife’s company. Yet he hasn’t been good even at that; I constantly field calls from bill collectors knowing he won’t call them back. Not fun. It’s sad to think that none of us will miss having him here. I like him a lot as a person, but as a boss he’s moody and inconsistent. He’s a great dad, a marathon runner, biker, cook, renovator and host. My real hope is for this to save their marriage, and ultimately lead him towards his purpose in life.

In the meantime, BossOne is looking at buying a new printer. Not a little desktop printer, a 44-inch wide Canon inkjet for large format digital printing. $4000. It would simplify production tremendously as well as give us better quality prints to offer clients. The dilemma is, do I tell her I might have to move? I didn’t want to freak her out unless it was definite. We’ve told each other neither of us wants this job if the other isn’t here. She has so much drama already in her life, I don't want to add to it if I don't have to. What do you think?

March 28, 2006

You asked for it

All right. Even thought the main thing in my head is the potential move (so-so neighborhood, 2 bedroom, 1 bath, $650,000!!!!!) I’ll tell you about the homeless woman.

In my regular walk to church in downtown Baltimore, I pass a bus stop. Leaning against the wall this Sunday was a tiny person. She had a blue knit hat pulled down over the top of her face; a towel for a scarf wrapped the lower part. On her hands were huge black work gloves that curved around a metal cane. None of her skin was visible. I wanted to invite her to church so she could at least have a warm place to sit for a few hours. But I was late for an obligation and rushed past (regretting it all the way).

After church my friend M. came with me to get lunch. M. is a Nigerian-Englishwoman who is here working on post-doc research at Hopkins. The woman in the blue knit hat was now sitting on the bus stop bench. I moved past her and then pulled M. down next to me on another bench, “I can’t just walk by again. I meant to invite her this morning but I didn’t do it. Do you mind if we check if we can get her lunch?” M. nodded.

I sat near, but not next to the woman. I didn’t want to crowd her. “Hello. How are you?”

Nothing. I looked closer, her chest moved so she was alive, but there was no response. I touched her arm, “Ma’am? Are you ok?” Across the street a man in a ball-cap and a woman in a parka had stopped to watch. I shook the woman’s arm a little, “Can you hear me?” The couple crossed the street and the man said, “She was sitting here last night in the exact same position. Is she ok?” I shrugged and stood up, “I saw her standing this morning, but right now she’s not responding.” Based on the fact that she’d likely been out all night and hadn’t eaten anything, and seemed non-responsive I decided to call 9-1-1.

The 9-1-1 operator asked me to estimate her age. “I can’t see her face. OK. OK, I’m lifting her cap.” As I did so, she flinched away. I can’t say I blame her! I felt awful invading her space like that. She looked to be a white woman in her late 50’s or 60’s. The ambulance arrived in a few minutes. They were gentle with the woman and packed her bag of belongings under the stretcher. As we watched at least three people thanked us for paying attention to the woman. “She could have died and how long would she have sat there before anyone checked?”

I was glad we’d done something. But, I knew that really, it was nothing. Literally. The woman would go to the hospital, get a warm bed, get some food, get rehydrated and then be back where she started. M. was horrified that there was nothing available for a little old woman. I felt so ashamed of our health care system. “It’s the difference between socialized medicine and a profit based system. If you can’t afford it, you get nothing. Our politicians sit around wringing their hands, but people like her pay the real cost of our selfish mindset.” I hated the fact that there wasn’t a place available for less cost than the emergency room. “Homeless shelters are only open at night. Most are just for men. Older people are less and less able to pay the rent when landlords get greedy. If you have no family, or have any mental disorders you end up on the street.” I’ve met men who are deep in the drug lifestyle and choose to stay on the street. That’s one issue. But a tiny older woman should not have to spend her twilight years in such a manner. Last summer I met an older married couple that receives $600 a month in retirement money. They lost their apartment when the rent went up and chose to stay on the streets because it was the only place where they could stay together.

One of the core values of God is that widows and orphans be cared for. What are we doing as a society? What am I doing as an individual? More than some, but far from anything effective.

March 27, 2006

Too much to say

Topics I could write about. Pick one….

1. Choosing to stop and try to talk to a homeless woman after church. Calling an ambulance when she was non-responsive. The numerous people who came over to talk during that process. The reaction of my British friend to our (lack-of) health care system.
2. Saturday’s wedding where, during the ceremony, the groom busted out with a surprise (BAD and EXTREMELY) sappy song to his bride. Left the wedding saying over and over to Jrex, “Thank you for being you!”
3. Choosing NOT to go to the show opening for the ridiculously late and thoughtless museum.
4. Jrex calling me Friday night and saying in a caring tone, ‘I read your blog’. He made me dinner and did dishes.
5. Jrex saying, “we need to talk.”
6. Mystery topic that might involve us in moving to a new city by August. Nothing is final. Nothing decided, so can’t really discuss it, but my brain is sure hopping all over the place. (OTRsis, call D for details, he wouldn’t take vague for an answer…)

I’m sure you just want to hear about the homeless woman, right?

March 24, 2006

Friday 7:25 PM Still at Work!

There will be no cheese here, my friends. I’m in a bad mood.

• I work at a small company owned by a married couple (BAD IDEA). If their marriage sucks, my work life sucks. My work life sucks. BossTwo is off with his Dad bonding or something. BossOne is barely here. I’m stuck at work because RyGuy and I are more invested in this company than our bosses. He’s coming in tomorrow; I’m staying late tonight.
• All this is for a stupid museum in town that always does crap at the last minute. As in calling last night to say they have 120 labels that HAVE to get done. The show opens tomorrow night. I would say ‘screw you’, but see point 1.
• I got an email yesterday inviting me to interview for a job I’m not qualified for. I was honest about that. Sigh. It was to be the full time web designer for a University Department. I can do web design, but I know nothing about database creation and management. Sigh.
• If Boss1 were invested in the company and Boss2 disappeared and figured out his purpose in life, all would be well. I could bring my dog to work, show up in jeans and baseball hats and design happily. But no.
• I’ve spent this whole week doing prepress, which is completely boring and could be done by anyone. Bored OTRgirl = bad, grumpy, self-absorbed twit.
• BossOne is a great networker, but (see point 4) she’s not networking, so I have nothing to work on.
• This whole office is disorganized chaos and I hate being here (except for my dog, who sleeps under whatever chair I move to sit in. I love her.)
• I feel surrounded by things and people that drain me (except for the mutt and most of the time my husband. Really, I’m not just saying that cause he gave me a card. Which I loved.)
• I’m eating my frustrations at work. Literally. I’ve tried to bond with my hector, but I hate it. But I’m pissed at life in general and the thought of wasting hours of my life going to tread on a stupid machine makes me even more pissed. I want an integrated life where exercise is built in. Where I meet a friend to go for a walk. Where I walk to lunch. Where I don’t grab snacks because there’s nothing else to do and if I can’t do something I’ll explode. I’m thinking a lot about weight and body image, but I’ll post about that later.

[We interrupt this broadcast for a public service announcement: Honey, if you read this before you come home, tonight would be a good one for V is for Vendetta. I know you prefer interaction to sitting next to someone for two hours in a theater. But tonight, that’s your better option.]

On the good side
• I think I finally found a hairdresser who gets me, and gets my (outrageously thin yet stubbornly wavy) hair.

March 23, 2006

Sap Factors In

Have you ever noticed it’s much easier to write about sad things, or dramatic things than the quiet happiness of life? One of the only writers I know whose joy is as evocative as his pain is e.e. cummings:

“i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite a new thing”

“i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees”

I know most of you have been reading the blog and wondering why my writing seems so familiar, so evocative, so... so... poetic, really. Well, I hate to make you miss your daily dose of poetry in action, so here goes:

Yesterday we went
out for our ninth wedding
It was

See! See how hard it is to write about glad things?

Actually, Jrex gave me a poem last night, which was good. He’s a wonderful writer. It's very hard for him because he uses words so precisely, but that's what makes him good: he puts words to my previously vague thoughts. And it was a whole poem about ME and how glad he is that I’m still here.

[Now I'm fighting my instincts to crack a joke, thus deflecting the focus from something tender (and therefore sappy and therefore girly and therefore teasable—I grew up surrounded by boys). It would be easier to write about our severely bored waitress who said, “Oh, it’s your first time here, let me walk you through the menu” in the same tone someone would drone, “The morgue is this way, please follow me.” Isn’t it her job to be happy we’re there? But that’s Baltimore for you: “If I have to serve you, I sure as heck don’t have to do it with a smile.”]

The truth is, though, that we've been through a lot in the past nine years. Both of us still being here is one of our best accomplishments so far in life. And sometimes that's all it takes: still being here. Listening again. Deciding again to commit to each other. Deciding to make time for tears, jokes, and laughter. Giving each other another do-over. Deciding again to invest in each other's happiness.

March 21, 2006

What's taken for granted?

My life intersects jarringly between poverty and privilege. My parents both have graduate degrees (Dad went to Harvard Law), yet chose voluntary poverty (including food stamps for 6 months, but that’s another entry). I went to a public college-prep high school. Many of my friends (especially the single year I rowed) participated in cotillions and had to decide whether or not to have debut parties. I was gauche, awkward, and unable to afford the casual accoutrements of privilege. In 10th grade I transformed into a skate punk. My F* you attitude and thrift store clothes somehow assured a degree of popularity I’d never achieved when I tried to fit in (also another entry).

This past Saturday night those worlds collided.

One of my high school friends lives in DC with her Mom, which has allowed us to reconnect in the last three years. Jrex has come to know the family as well. We went to dinner there a year ago for my friend’s birthday. The table was filled with white DC journalists, socialites, and intellectuals. A few of them seemed to have trouble figuring out how to talk with Jrex. He’s shy, so not always the initiater, but he’ll answer any question and is happy to listen. Many times I looked across the room and saw him sitting next to someone in awkward silence. We both got the sense that despite their theories of non-prejudice, they just don’t know many minorities. My friend and her mother had no problem, just a few of the guests.

Saturday was a farewell ‘dance’ for my friend. A couple from the birthday dinner hosted it. My friend recently graduated from nursing school and is in love for the first time. She’s moving to San Francisco for her new beau (who’d flown out for the party). We loved seeing her radiance and seeing the rooms of the shabby mansion filled to overflowing with people who loved her. She’s someone who fits the cliché “not a mean bone in her body”, and she’s found a match. That part was great and not awkward in any way.

Over the years I’ve become used to hanging out with moneyed folk, learned how to handle silverware and drinks, accumulated a closet of fun dress clothes (via my MIL and the thrift store—some things don’t change). Privilege fits comfortably now, which often surprises (and worries) me. Yet it still felt strange to be surrounded by a home where privilege is so taken for granted it’s allowed to get dusty. Where there was as much tchotchke as any home filled with velvet Elvises and plastic couch covers, but collected from trips around the world rather than trips to the mall.

In three large rooms teeming with people there were four that weren’t white: an African-American nursing grad, Jrex, and a Filipino couple who were cooking and serving.

In the medical world, especially here at Hopkins, it’s easy to forget Asians are a minority! Yet in a room full of people who influence public policy, who write books, histories, and publish weekly magazines, there were few people reminding them of the privilege they take for granted. The weird thing for me has been that inside my head, I don’t fit in either, but no one knows it. Jrex has no way to blend in. I always knew I wanted to marry someone who wasn’t white. Maybe it was so the way I feel inside would at least be reflected in the ‘couple’. Comfortable, but not dusty.

March 20, 2006

The Landscape of Love

A month or so ago I gave a friend a wedding shower gift. In the accompanying card I referred to marriage as ‘a perilous adventure, have fun!’ I scared her. “What do you mean by ‘perilous’?!” she exclaimed. Since then I’ve enjoyed telling that story and seeing the differing reactions between married and single friends. Single friends, especially in their early 20’s look at me in horror. Married friends all laugh and agree. The idea comes from the following poem by Phyllis McGinley. My parents gave me the poem early in my marriage, and at the time it didn't make a ton of sense to me. The further into marriage I delve, the more true it becomes. Shave off the shreds of idealism, mix in daily life, add a dose of perseverance, many healthy helpings of laughter and you discover where you are:

"The Landscape of Love"
by Phyllis McGinley

Do not believe them. Do not believe what strangers
Or casual tourists, moored a night and day
In some snug, sunny, April-sheltering bay
(Along the coast and guarded from great dangers)
Tattle to friends when ignorant they return.
Love is no lotus-island endlessly
Washed by a summer ocean, no Capri;
But a huge landscape, perilous and stern—

More poplared than the nations to the north,
More bird-beguiled, stream-haunted. But the ground
Shakes underfoot. Incessant thunders sound,
Winds shake the trees, and tides run back and forth
And tempests winter there, and flood and frost
In which too many a voyager is lost.

None knows this country save the colonist,
His homestead planted. He alone has seen
The hidden groves unconquerably green,
The secret mountains steepling through the mist.
Each is his own discovery. No chart
Has pointed him past chasm, bog, quicksand,
Earthquake, mirage, into his chosen land—
Only the steadfast compass of the heart.

Turn a deaf ear, then, on the traveler who,
Speaking a foreign tongue, has never stood
Upon love’s hills or in a holy wood
Sung incantations; yet, having bought a few
Postcards and trinkets at some cheap bazaar,
Cries, “This and thus the God’s dominions are!”

March 17, 2006

You get what you pay for

Various blogger sites, including mine, were out of commission most of today, sorry about that!
Reward for my labor

The good part about hosting a student tonight is I HAD to finish the artwork strewn around the floor of the guest room. I stayed up til 1:30 AM working on this. I haven’t finished the final assembly yet. I need some opinions (even if you don’t feel qualified to do art critique, an honest opinion is really helpful). The wing will be floating just above the collage. Should I leave it white, add a few collage elements, or paint it (it's watercolor paper)?

Bonus Art Sites

My Mom’s best friend
The nursery you WISH you could have for your kid.

Bruce Herman
Painter, professor, and great guy.

David Robinson
Don't know him, but I like the sculpture.

March 16, 2006

Paying it forward is biting my ___ !

In college I was surrounded by an amazing community of non-college students who invited me over for dinner, loaned (or gave) me their cars, gave me rides, let me do overnights, and whom I COMPLETELY took for granted.

Now I'm the 'grown-up'.

One of the college girls from my small group at the retreat is going through a hard time. Since June she's struggled with anorexia and hasn't had her period in months. Remembering how meaningful it was to me to get off campus and have time to regroup, I offered to let her do mini-retreat at our house Friday night/Saturday day.

Well, then the rest of my life started to overlap my good intentions. (Does anyone else double-schedule themselves!?) Friday night I'm helping another college kid fulfill a dream: I'm getting a bunch of folk together to go down and feed the homeless and hang out with them after. (My feelings about that form of 'charity' will be saved for another post) Saturday morning I'm meeting three of my close women friends for brunch. Saturday afternoon I'm meeting a new person for rock climbing at the gym around 2 pm. All this would be fine if college kid #1 had a car! But no. In the midst of all my own stuff I have to coordinate picking her up.

Hmmm.... maybe I'll see if she wants to come Saturday night instead. Then we can just drive to church together and be done with it. Plus, extra cleaning time! ;-) Not that I care about impressing her, but it might be kind to give her clean sheets on the bed and to finish my latest collage project (since it's occupying the floor of 'her' room). I woke up Wednesday night after 2 hours (!) of sleep and couldn't go back to sleep. My racing brain kept playing with an idea for a collage. So I got up and worked on it the rest of the night. But it's not done yet. Sigh. I have too many half-finished projects littering our house (and yard). Having her over gives me the deadline I need to get it done!

If only I'd done nice thank you gifts for everyone who was kind to me earlier in my life I might not feel this obligation to invest in others as I was invested in. Does anyone else carry this need to pay forward life's kindnesses?

March 14, 2006

Thoughts while watching a daughter grieve

It’s hard to lose a mother.
She’s gone
you’ve lost the home base you took for granted.
She’s gone
you’ve lost protection from life’s winds.
Your world will be more easily rocked
more easily drained
more easily destitute.
Who else will listen to your life’s trivia
and care as deeply?
Who else’s wry comment
stops life’s spinning and
right’s your upside downs?
Who else cares as much when you
    are sick?
    are tired?
    are scared?
    are petty?
    are selfish?
    are alone?

I’m grateful for the Mom hole shaped in me
Through her investment
of time
(how was your day?)
(cards and streamers for birthday breakfasts)
(Epiphany Open House)
and affirmation
(You are striking, daughter; I love your sense of style.)
Our paltry returns slim comfort for her pains
(did you remember today is my birthday?)
She set aside her life
(Dean of Women, Masters in Theology, Director of Drama, Writing)
to nurture ours
(fresh bread after school, daily dinner sacrament)

She made us feel worth it
And worthwhile.
I’ve grown accustomed to the hole
But still
I miss you, Mom.

March 13, 2006

I'm glad he's proud of me. Really.

I told my Dad about the blog a few days before we met in Miami this past Wednesday. I've realized there's nothing here I wouldn't say to his face. Wednesday night we picked up pre-packaged sushi rolls at the health food store and then ate them sitting on a dock in Coconut Grove. As we ate I asked him, "Was it bad that I didn’t tell you about the blog any sooner?"

He turned toward me and in a stern voice said, "Thank you for bringing that up. I’m very upset with you. You did a bad thing."

Uh oh. "What upset you?"

"You told me about that during a time when I was really busy. I started reading and kept reading for an hour and a half. That was not kind."


We were there for a funeral. The woman who’d died was married to my grandfather’s cousin (you had to trace that in your head just now, right?). However, both my Grandfather and Gruff Man were only children and so both were eager to connect with one another; Grandpa spent most holidays with Gruff Man’s family. Dad and I went down with the intention of helping the family clean out the house. But, unlike my Mother’s sprawling, enveloping family (oldest of 10 kids, mostly girls), Frankie’s kids weren’t ready to have more personalities added to the mix. I think they were dealing with enough family tension with just the three of them, so they told us to stay away and just join them for the funeral and dinner on Thursday. Instead of slaving for three days, we had a great vacation.

Thursday morning we checked out Dale Chihuly at the Botanical Garden. The Chihuly website currently features the same show. Their pics are way better than mine!

Here’s my Dad in a hat I bought him in New Orleans. As you can see, I get my shy retiring nature from him.

Being with my Dad is always exciting. He and my brother are alike in this: hate it or love it, time with them is never boring. His Attention Deficit Disorder (or Differently Wired Ability, as I call it) makes life interesting. I drove to avoid needing a stream of, “Dad, the light’s red. Dad. Dad!! Stop!!!” Gentle reminders are rarely heard; by the end of Day One I’m completely in the imperative mode. Since Dad navigated, the running commentary was more like this, “Dad, what’s my next turn? Right or left? Have you figured out where we’re going yet? Look on the back of the map, there’s a listing for museums, look it up there and find it. Should I pull over?”

Of course we got lost on the way to the church and the internment. Fortunately we were five minutes early (which is 35 minutes early for our family). The funeral itself was lovely. Frankie had been 1st cellist for the Miami Symphony and during the funeral music was performed on Frankie’s cello. Now, the fact that neither of us had known Frankie was in the Symphony will tell you that despite the blood tie, we were technically just acquaintances. Therefore, being included for the private internment ceremony was socially awkward. It was in a mausoleum that felt like something out of the twilight zone. Room after room with 20-foot ceilings and looming marble squares from floor to ceiling. Behind each square, a coffin. Temperature controlled. No rotting allowed. We got lost on the way there (see above) and would never have found them if the driver hadn’t come searching for us. Thank God for loud clicky heels!

The good news is that going out to dinner with the family was really fun. We were an eclectic collection of Alpha personalities, so conversation was never dull or lagging! Everyone has a witty, dry sense of humor and great taste in wine. My kind of people.

In the middle of dinner my Dad leans across to my 30-year old Norwegian ‘cousin’. “Have you heard of blogging?”

Oh God, oh God, oh God.

“No?” he continues, “It’s a form of on-line journaling with pictures and text. My daughter writes a fascinating blog. You would probably enjoy it. I’m sure she’ll be writing about her time in Miami and you might want to read it. She’ll give you the address.” He turned to me expectantly. Hey, I’d be happy for her to come here, no problem. But, how can either of us say no? My fear is of boring people with this thing, and now my father is going to inflict it on how many innocent passersby?! I’m sorry, people. You don’t have to do it. You can turn around and walk away, it’s fine!

But, really, I am glad he’s proud of me.

March 7, 2006

Miami Heat

Tomorrow I'm flying to Miami for a family funeral. It's my Dad's last relative (except for us kids), so I'm mostly going to support him.

Mary Frances, the woman who died, is technically a 2nd cousin once removed or something, but functionally was an aunt for my Dad. She died 'full of days' at the age of 90.

Two years ago Dad and I met in Miami to visit her. She's someone I've heard of all my life and had 'met' when I was three years old. At the time it felt a bit whimsical to go for a visit, but I'm glad I did. I knew that if I didn't, I would carry that as a life regret. One of my policies is to try to have as few life regrets as possible (I've got plenty of foot-in-mouth regrets, I'm talking about the bigger ones). Say what needs to be said without delay, prioritize the people in my life, don't assume there will be a tomorrow to 'get around to it'. I've slipped a bit in that discipline lately (being a homeowner makes for a much longer list of 'laters'), but in terms of the people in my life I try not to assume there will always be a later. This may be my last visit to Florida. This may be the only time I get to meet Frankie's children. This may be one of the last visits with just me and my Dad (not that I forsee any huge changes, but who knows?).

Mary Frances was well-off, graceful and dignified, yet with a twinkle in her eye asked that people call her 'Frankie'. She was married to a scientist who died 10 years ago. Unlike mine, her husband became a grouchy alcoholic. In contrast with many women of her generation, Frankie was comfortable speaking the facts. She did it in a gentle, loving way, but she didn't hide how hard it had been. I loved talking with her. Some women get pulled down by husbands like that, others get catapulted to automatic sainthood. There's an icon being written now with St. "Frankie" on it.

I'm glad that Jrex is willing to let me go (willing to deal with the Mutt and willing to take the money out of savings). As I read other women's blogs, I'm profoundly grateful that he's healthy, that we have a home, that he's alive, and that after almost 9 years we still like talking with each other.

March 6, 2006

Sleep, the new drug

The in-laws left Friday morning. Jrex and I both had insane weeks and were getting crunched at the end; we left the house at 6:30 AM (!). For me that's a miracle on par with Jesus walking on water. When I got home at 5, Jrex called to say he had to work late. I was so relieved to have complete dead-time! I went upstairs to read in bed (where it was warm). By 8 pm I was completely asleep and didn't wake up til the next morning. I've definitely become more introverted over the years. Going from a retreat where I led a small group to two weeks of house guests took more of a toll on me than I'd realized.

Last night I wanted to watch the Oscars, but it was the last night of a movie rental. Mondovino. It's a story of the modernizing of the wine industry, spans many countries and languages. I thought I'd find it fascinating, or at least interesting. Not so much. Jrex, however, reads Wine Spectator for the fun of it and loved it. Fortunately for my Oscar lust, he kept falling asleep.

Um... Crash? Really?

Though I haven't seen most of the movies nominated, I was surprised Crash took home the gold. The only nominated movies (in any of the categories) I've seen this year are Walk the Line, Pride & Prejudice, Howl's Moving Castle, Wallace & Grommit, King Kong, Batman Begins, and Harry Potter. Hmmm... it's the list of a 12 year old.

I like Oscar's movie clips and overall spectacle. George Clooney getting Best Supporting Actor, "I guess this means I'm not getting Best Director." Jon Stewart remarking after the Oscar for best song, "Let me just say, Martin Scorsese's Oscars: 0; Three 6 Mafia: 1".

Charlize, what was she thinking? Also, I know the '80's are back, but do we have to go back to big hair? Please, just say no! Reese's acceptance speech was a bit on the mushy side, but I like the June Carter quote she included. When asked how she was doing, June would often respond, "I'm just trying to matter."

It's hard to think that in any 100-year scheme of things, or even 25, that most of these movies will matter. That's the interesting thing to me about the Oscars, and other award shows: it's a love-fest reinforcing an internal perception that what they are doing is the center of the world. But, really, have any of us been truly changed by a movie? Impacted, yes. Stirred, sure. But, changed?

March 3, 2006

Weekend Edition: Mandu for the masses.

First, a note about pronunciation: I took Korean classes for a semester (they did a special class for me at a local ‘Saturday school’ run by a church). I would come home and try to talk to Jrex. He never knew what I was saying. I played a tape for him, “That’s how I’m saying it, right?” He nodded, confused, “Yeah, but it sounds weird.” When I told his Mom, she giggled and covered her mouth with her hand, “That’s because I have a Southern accent. He doesn’t know the right way to pronounce things.” So, you say Mandu, I say Mondu, let’s call the whole thing off!

There are numerous steps to making Mondu.

1. Ignore subliminal messages repeating, “Drop it. Drop it. Please. Drop it.”

2. Ignore the appearance of random condiments.

3. Pull back the table cloth and gather willing hands for the work. Wine is optional.

4. Mix egg batter to make the dough edges sticky.

5. Figure out the exact right amount of filling. Too much and your dumpling will burst in the soup, too little and you look like a scared white girl who has a well-developed klutz factor. Better safe than sorry = pitiful mondu. Greedy boy = mondu explosions.

6. Dip finger in egg, dab on edges, smush together.

7. Pre-cooked loveliness. Continue avoiding subliminal voice. As well as audible whine. And nudges.

8. Do what a creative MIL does when she realizes that there is no white rice in the house. Use the wild rice with beans and make the Kim Bop anyway. By the way, it was SO much tastier than white rice. There’s no going back now. It's like the first time you try fresh grated Parmesan. It's not possible to return to bland when you've tasted real flavor! On the down side, the purple rice looks a little scary.

9. Enjoy!

P.S. Interior Decorator/lazy homeowner note: the lace curtains came with the house. I've replaced the living room curtains, but became gainfully employed before I did anything about the dining room. The Victorian theme came with the house, we had to go with it.

Appropriate Appropriations

I nabbed these from a couple other blogs.

I’ve only been to two foreign countries, but I’ve certainly covered the Continental US of A!

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Driving from Cincinnati to visit grandparents in Kansas and Florida helped a great deal. When I went to college in Massachusetts, I only drove home for Christmas and summer vacation (16 hour drive + no car=not worth it for a four-day weekend). That meant I spent lots of time exploring New England with friends. After graduation I did the requisite cross-country road trip with my friend Post-Modern Feminist. Her Mom was paranoid about her driving home alone, so she offered to pay airfare for someone to drive with her. She picked me! Her Mom also paid for hotels and gas. For $200 worth of food we drove from Amherst to Atlanta, GA, then across the South (let me just say: Texas. August. No AC.) to LA. then up to San Francisco. We crossed the Mojave desert in the dead of night after watching the sunset at the Grand Canyon. I had a great time. My friend, not as much. She was vegetarian bordering on vegan, but had to survive on grilled cheese sandwiches and iceberg lettuce salads. (Let me add: New Orleans. Vegetarian.) I think she was glad to get home.

This link is purely for my sister who lives in Seattle (home of the Micromasters), but is on the Mac side of the skirmish.

Coming Soon: the Mandu Extravaganza (the dog and my FIL survived each other, though she did assault me when I came home and was a bit clingy all night).

March 1, 2006

[Read in Monty Python accent] "I'm not dead yet!"

My arms were temporarily cut-off, but have now been restored. On Friday I tried to restart the laptop and got the dreaded gray screen of nothingness. I resurrected it fully by the end of the day yesterday, but now I'm playing catchup with work stuff (and, *ahem*, this counts right?).

The in-laws arrived on Monday with enough food to feed an army for a month. Mom K is happily cooking for us. We hope to do a mondu-making party tonight (korean dumplings. YUM!). Seafood soup last night (though I don't understand why the shrimp are left in the shell...), and kalbi on Thursday.

I arrived home last night to see both of them huddled on the couch with their coats on. I'd forgotten to turn up the heat for them, and they didn't want to disturb anything without asking (well, Dad K was quite ready to manhandle the thermostat, but Mom wouldn't let him). I'm such a bad daughter in law!

The mutt is TERRIFIED of my Father-in-law. As soon as she saw him walk into the house she became the velcro dog. 'Wherever you go, Mom, I will go.' He's not mean to her, but he's very rough. She's on the anxious end of the dog spectrum and having someone grab her neck to give her an affectionate shake doesn't translate well. We'd finally calmed her down since bringing her home from the pound. Three weeks ago she was a happy, confident dog. The last two weeks seem to have brought back the anxious side. Too much coming and going and too many new people all at once. The last two days, Mom has somehow induced Dad to be gentle. This morning when Dad came in, Muttola slowly wagged her tail. As I prepared to leave for work, Mom seemed sad about me taking the dog to work. So, I'm trying it. Muttola alone with Halmoni and Habaji. I'm a little nervous, but, they have nothing to do all day and I'm sure all three of them will be fine. Right?