Monday, September 29, 2008

I is for Incomplete!

So I didn't get through the whole To Do list. Oh well. I did a crapton more, which is what counts, and did do some things on the To Do. The whole problem was that preparing my cousin's clothes for charity took Amy and me FIVE hours. That was with both of us ironing, steaming, folding and de-cat-hair-ing. It was positively exhausting, but we finished the task in one day and rewarded ourselves with burritos. Yum yum yummmm.

Yesterday I received an email from Mboya. Remember my friend, the one whose sister I'm sending to school (with support from various friends and family)? I was relieved to hear from him because whenever a few months go by without word my dark and twisty brain comes up with all of these horrifying scenarios, from an accident at work (he's toughing it out on a road crew) to friggin' malaria. Ugh, my stupid brain and its tendency to overthink! Long and short of it is that Mumbua is earning her O-level certificate this month. Yeah, if you're American you're in the same boat as I was, I had no clue what the heck that meant, except that it's probably a good thing. Naturally I consulted google for further explanation, and came up with this fairly reasonable-sounding wikipedia article (and an aside - Mumbua is in a private school because as far as I know, secondary education is STILL not free in Kenya - bad for everyone who can't afford it, but in all likelihood good for Mumbua because she has me to help her financially and does not have to deal with the fallout of sudden free school, which in beginning in 2003 was a very serious challenge). It's been a frustrating ride at times, not really understanding the educational system and really just wanting to go over there on more than one occasion to sort things out - open a bank account in Mumbua's name, for example, or set some sort of payment plan with the principal so Mboya wouldn't be so beholden to me (of course given corruption etc, this may not have worked). Now I want to jet over there to figure out the rest of her education. She has to get a job, HAS. There is no choice about that, and preferably she needs a job that could not only support her but also support her family to a certain degree, supplement the income Mboya is bringing in plus the pittance they make farming. It seems that now Mumbua must take her "A" levels, and then the KCSE exam, which could potentially earn her a spot at a public least I think. It's a muddle and I'm having a bit of a time making sense of it. I am hoping that Mumbua and Mboya have a plan together (and it's one I can afford :/) and all will be ok, but you can see how it's frustrating to be here trying to work things out, no? Of course, Mboya, or perhaps it's the Kenyan school system, has this incredible knack for asking for money at the worst possible time - in this case the same day my car goes to the shop for $500 worth of repairs. And of course, given the world economic situation, I have to send him more USD to get more KsH bang for his buck. Ah well, c'est la vie - if it weren't this, it would surely be something else. Besides, my ING fund was set up several years ago for emergencies and the car is an emergency. I also have an Mboya fund, which I cleaned out. On Thursday morning, he will have his money and Mumbua will be working to get her O levels. All is well for now.

Meanwhile back in suburbia......last night I meant to catch The Amazing Race, but missed it because I stupidly thought it was on at 9 instead of 8! Luckily I caught it on YouTube and was sucked in immediately, quickly deciding who I was going to root for and who I'd be counting down the minutes til their elimination. This should be an entertaining season no doubt, but as with the last couple of seasons, I always find myself shaking my head as soon as the teams leave the United States. I shudder to think of most of these people representing my country and fellow citizens abroad. First of all, you have the rude people who say 'HURRY UP FASTER GO FASTER, PASS THEM, WE'RE IN A HURRY" blah blah blah. Then you have the people who don't even make an attempt at the language, who just go up to some poor taxi driver, ask the name of a location in a Southern Belle accent (oh and that is not a jab at the belles on this season, who seem sweet, but dense) and sit in the taxi saying the whole time "did you understand me? are you lost? do you know where you are?" Ah and THEN there are the blatant idiotic statements that make you just want to whack teams upside the head, like when the belles were trying to cross the street in Brazil, desperately punching the crosswalk button. The light would not change and one got frustrated, only to have the other one say "Honey, this is not the US" No sh*t Sherlock, did you remember the 6 hour flight? I might add to my mockery by saying that while Brazil may not be the US by any means, the lack of cross walk light despite the desperate punches of the button are strangely reminiscent of a Boston street corner, the Longwood Medical Area for example. Maybe they still have dirt roads in the towns these ladies hail from....or just not enough traffic to hit them when the cross against the light. Anyway, it should be a good season.

Lastly, do we all remember my small-headed commuter rail friend? Fall must be a special time of year for him because he was back on the train with his under-his-breath swearing. He couldn't get a seat this morning and, God FORBID, had to stand. Tragic really. He stood there saying "effing this, effing that, the mbta this, mbta that blah blah blah blah blah" I stared at him. I totally admit it. Stared at him, willing him to STOP. He caught me and stopped his monologue, and then looked at me as though he was going to say something. I just kept saying "Oh please, please say something to me, it would be my pleasure to tell you what I really think of you" But he didn't. He just looked down. This actually surprised me, given his fits of rage.
Eh well.
Tomorrow will be another day after all - plenty of time to be offensive!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Three Letters Short

Well I've decided to abandon the alphabet thing with xyz left. It was somewhat laaame to not do it in the month allotment, so I'm abandoning it. Oh well. Maybe I'll do NaBloPoMo's October theme and stick with it!

So it's the weekend and it's a rainy weekend at that, which means that there will be much inside time. Sometimes that's a disappointment because I just want to be out in the fresh air, but with practically all of fall left, I'm not going to stress about not being out of doors. Besides, there's a ton to accomplish this weekend. I've finally kicked the depressing funk that had been settling around me (hahahah haven't cried in TWO DAYS! I'm cured! lol) and now I'm ready to take action, which I am sure Jamaal will be happy to hear since he was sort of like "stop wallowing and figure your sh*t out" (in a very supportive way, btw, not unsympathetic. he knows I need a kick in the ass sometiems though).

Anyways, so I've assigned myself a TON of tasks for the weekend, but unlike the past few weekends, I feel like my tasks are reasonable. It's not something like "make a whole quilt" though technically I could probably get the log cabin one I have on the to do list done! No instead I'm going to be accomplishing reasonable tasks, hopefully meeting attainable goals and not be irrational trying to do ridiculous things that would require 6 more hours added to the day, and instead crossing one thing off my list and feeling like a failure, I'm gonna DO the list. Boo-yah.

First up is buying girl party favor supplies. Amy and I are hosting a girl party in a week - you know in my parent's home, in which we live rent free :D We have an artistic vision for the night, nothing to insane, but it's gonna be a fantastic party. Amy bought some amazing favors and they arrived yesterday - well ok they didn't start as favors but they are becoming favors! I have to go by the Paper Source today to buy some paper and ribbon as well as a decorative box/wrap to wrap Jam's goddaughter's bday gift in. *Aside - Jam's goddaughter, Lilian, is turning two and is one of the frickin' cutest kid's I've EVER seen. I got to buy her clothes and a book - because we always need something educational - and I had the most fun doing it. I told Jamaal we must have a girl child. the end*

What else is up for the weekend? Getting my pictures of flickr, all of them, up to date. I'm not gonna stress about getting them labeled right away, but I want to load all of them on the site, and then burn my pics to CD and put them in our fire-proof safe. This may sound ridiculous, but we were talking about natural disasters/fires/losing homes the other day and my family all agreed that while it would be positively devastating to have to leave your home and evacuate and then LOSE it without being able to take things with you, the most heartbreaking thing to lose would be photographs. I laughed and said if our house was ever on fire, I'll be out of my room, right after I chuck out my scrapbooks. Then seriously we talked about how we need to take better care of our "archives" - we need burn digital pics onto CD and get negatives into the safe. My Africa negatives are in a shoebox in the safe right now. It probably seems silly, but I can't even tell you how upset I'd be if I lost those, so it's time to be proactive and back up some stuff. My father had my parent's wedding album set to music and put on DVD recently and while it was a nice gift just to give my mom, it was also really really smart. We can copy that and put it in the safe. Very smart. So there's that.

What else? Oh, I'm in charge of steaming the clothes that we're donating to Interfaith Services' Back to Work Program. My cousin Catherine had a number of very stylish and very tiny (size 2 & 4) business outfits that would be perfect for a woman going to an interview or even into the office every day. Understandably, Interfaith has pretty strict rules about the condition at donation, which means I have make sure everything is pressed and hanging. It shouldn't be too bad of an operation though, as we'll just put the clothes on a rack in the garage and I'll drag the steamer out to them.

Organize craft projects will be next. This actually isn't a hard project or a tedious time-suck one. I've just been lazy.

Design an embroidery square for Colby and Gidon's wedding quilt (long story).

Make an exercise schedule.

Clean the bird cages.

Work on Colby and Gidon's wedding gift.


Frame/print some new pics for room and office

Actually, this is quite a pleasant weekend I have planned here. Save the bird cage thing (yick).

I will feel accomplished if I get to all this this weekend. Maybe I will even do more....!! Like finish two certain wedding gifts for two special couples who got married nearly 5 and 6 months ago! (oh the shame - though they're both the type of couples who would be delighted however late the gift I think.....M & K because they don't expect it and J & D because they're so chill - right EE?!) so yeah. It will be a good weekend. I feel it in my bones. And next weekend? Even better. :D YAY!

Post Picture: Jam's goddaughter, Miss Lilian, A Very "Cool Chick" (her words)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh my goodness. I have found my people:

"Most brides have a similar focus when they finally get their hands on that first bridal magazine, or when they sit down in front of Google for that very first wedding-related search. That magical gown, the wedding dress.

For us craftier brides-to-be, the focus is a bit different. We dream of invitations, programs and stationery. Vellum and engraved and metallic and handmade and letterpress. Wedding invitations are little paper masterpieces, and for brides like myself, they set the tone for the wedding much more than the gown does."

Yup. When I got engaged I said "Hey Ame, will you ask your friend Brenda to make my dress" After the initial flurry and the excitement of her actually saying yes, I was like "whatev, gotta focus on invites now." so crazy.

New Post, Unangsty!

Well venting felt good. I mean looking back I probably took it all too personally and totally overreacted, but it's better to do it here than at a person's face I suppose.


So I took a mental health day yesterday. I don't do that too often at all, it's probably been my 2nd of 3 1/2 years here. Never took one with my other jobs (I liked them too much, dork that I am)....though I took them at school all the time. High school once or twice and college, but NOT grad school, strangely, where I actually needed them. I think I only ever missed one grad school class!! Anyways, so I took this mental health day which was actually more of a sick day because I did feel pretty gross in the morning, sore as health throat (which still hurts and feel like it legitimizes the sick day) stuffy nose, dry and yucky eyes, sore ears, and freakin' body aches - where did they even come from?! I felt well enough to trek to work but run down and sick and tired and thought "f*ck it, I'm calling in." SO there.

The day was restful. I slept, watched something ridiculous on The Tyra Banks show, watched Recount thanks to Amy's Netflix account, slept some more, knit, listened to an eBook, then watched hours of Animal Planet. There were two sort of marathons on yesterday, Animal Cops Houston and It's Me or the Dog. Fantastic. I love how Victoria Stilwell does not f*ck around. Anywho, last night on Animal Cops, the Houston SPCA was given the task of rescuing some emus. Apparently the owner died and when his relatives went to empty out his jungle-esque estate, those were the only two animals they did not and could not take. The things were wild and totally unapproachable, but living in very bad conditions and clearly needed to be rescued. Now if you've never seen an emu in person you might think "how bad could they be?" but after being in charge of mosquito collection on an emu farm (ok why out of all my coworkers did I land that particular task) I have a healthy fear of them (oh and we collected there because emus appear to be particularly sensitive to Easter Equine Encephalitis and not only do you want to test to see if the mosquitoes in the area are carrying it for the sake of the human population, the guy on this farm wanted to protect his meat-producing flock). It may come from being in Africa and being told "don't approach an ostrich EVER because they may run, they may do something really stupid like try to swallow your whole hand, but their tiny brain may tell them to kick and their kick can behead a lion, their toenails eviscerate a human." Now I'm not sure how much of that is true, but it seemed reasonable. Emus, on the other hand, are much smaller than ostrich - the emu pretty much maxes out size-wise at 6-6.5 feet and a lot of the birds on the emu farm were about my height (5'6'') while the ostrich can reach up to 9 ft. Emus' lets are a bit less intimidating too, but like the ostrich they have those prehistoric looking feet with nails that say "do not f*ck with me. EVER." When I would collect mosquitoes, it was always a wee bit tense. Of course the emus were contained in pens, but could I rely on the electric fence if they got angry? What if the flock turned on me? Laughable perhaps, but when you are walking amidst literally hundreds of emus, the thought crosses your mind. They make this horrifying crackling and drumming noise when they're ticked too, which doesn't exactly put your mind at ease.

Anyways, I watched eagerly as the brave souls with the SPCA tried to wrangle them, because they're frickin difficult, as most birds are when they're being "wrangled." I mean, you should see Lily when I try and cut his little toenails. Sure enough, one of the birds wriggled free and sliced the the Assistant Chief Cruelty Investigator right in the bicep - even knocked off his cowboy hat, which seemed to be the most egregious, as in all the many hours invested in watching Animal Cops Houston I have never seen him without it. It was sort of the same feeling I had when my friend Anne and I saw our track coach take off his baseball cap to reveal an entirely bald head, particulary shocking as a mass of shaggy hair and unruly beard framed his face when the cap was one. Anyways, the investigator got patched up - it required a night in the ER, though upon seeing the injury I'm surprised the bird didn't tear any muscle that had to be repaired surgically, and used his mad animal corralling skill to later move the emus to a sanctuary where they'd be safe forever - ha ha probably never to be moved again. I guess it sort of just drove the point home for me - never mess with an emu.

Finally, Jamaal thinks that I should share my morning email (we write to each other daily, and if I start the day I usually make him read about my morning commute). Know that I try to be charitable and respect people's spaziness but today it was just THAT extraordinary:


to Jamaal
show details 9:02 AM (1 hour ago)

morning love

how are you today? I am well but sleepy (must've been all the talking last night lol).
So have you ever wondered why people act so incredibly spazzy? I had two encounters with spazzes today. OK THREE.
1. Guy I sat next to on the commuter rail. As I sat I tapped his hand with my ass. Fine, whatever. Then he proceeded to shake his hand around like I had the plague, to the point where I wanted to offer him purell. Then he proceeded to bite his nails and rub his hand all over his face for the rest of the ride. Thank goodness I got off at JFK/UMASS. meh!
2. A lady opened the back doors on the bus (they're manual and dumb) and did not wait for me to get out the way. They hit me square in the back and tossed me across the aisle (because I was one of the few people standing - not that that's a big deal it was fine, but don't knock me over)
3. THE STARBUCKS WOMAN. omg. so she's reading a Kohl's circular in line. She keeps looking at me all shifty. Then she darts to the trash to throw it away, maintaining her watch on me the whole time, like I'm going to cut her or something. Then when she finally gets to the front of the line she asks for a venti latte, triple blended, three splendas and 140 degrees. What the f*ck. WTF??? 140 f*cking degrees? like can she tell? does she take a sip and send it back if it's not 140 degrees? I wanted to ask her "why" and if she realized that she was actually in a Starbucks and not a gourmet coffee cafe. I mean props to Starbucks and all but it is a f*cking chain and other people are waiting for their normal coffees. WHy you gotta be so spazzy?!

sigh. oh well. made it to my office safely after that. the throat clearer is the only one here, but I'll take her over the one next to me, who is annoying as hell. I am going to put on my headphones soon anyways. ALSO lunch theme today is "Old World Delicatessen" which would normally freak me out but the special of the day is pastrami. Oh JOY!!! PASTRAMIIIIIII!
ok that's sad. but still. it's ok to be excited about the simple things in life.
Also, I feel guilty because I think my other coworker might legit be at jury duty!!! (I suggested she had made that up - due to my boss's lax demeanor and "I don't care attitude" one could essentially lie about JD....)

Hope you have a good day dearie.

That's all for me. Have a Happy Thursday peeps - though how could you not, with Ugly Betty, Grey's and The Office on tonight. Yes I am one of those lame people who lives for TV on Thursdays. Deal with it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What do I even say?

So I hate talking about money for the most part. I mean Jamaal and I talk about it all the time, friends and I joke about how we're po' etc, but a serious conversation about cashmoney is something I love to avoid.

I was commiserating with a college friend about loans today. I was saying how my repayments are going to triple and it's a bit freaky as one month's student loan payment will be approximately one and a half times a week's pay and that if she goes to grad school she should look for grants or scholarships or some sort of supplemental to her tuition. Instead of being like "oh good luck with the loans" she said "you live with your parents, I only have so much sympathy"


Yeah it's true. It's a choice I've made that's been working for me. Then this person tells me her month expenses not including food are $100 less than my entire month's take home pay. Which leads me to believe that she makes quite a bit more than me (or at least I hope she does, otherwise she's not eating!) She said that she'd love to have petty cash like me. Um. Um. Wow.

I so didn't want to get into it with her because I value our friendship way more than I care about her view of my lifestyle, but that really hurt. I mean seriously hurt. Yeah, I guess the truth hurts and all but her life is also a choice, and I wasn't saying that I had trouble making ends meet, how I lived paycheck to paycheck blah blah blah. I didn't even bring up the $700 I need to fix my car and how it's gnawing an ulcer in my stomach. Or the fact that after I pay loans and put aside my wedding money and my regular savings money I have $110 a week for food/gas/other bills (maybe this sounds luxurious, I don't know). I just dropped it and was like "oh silly me for complaining! sorry! I could have rent! I have it so easy!!"

The thing is though, it's not easy. Not really. And yeah, people say "find a better job" "move to the city, give up your car" do this do that - well that's not so simple either. I'm living in this limbo at the moment, waiting to see what's going to happen job wise, waiting to see if Jamaal will find a place and a job up here and when, trying desperately to save up simultaneously for a house and wedding. Things aren't simple.

I guess this post really has no point. I guess I just wanted to put it out there that just because I live with my parents doesn't mean I have an entire floor to myself, my own bathroom, my own cellar filled with dollar bills in which I swim every night. This choice also means that some mornings, like today for example, it may take me 2 1/2 hours to get from my house to my office. Daddy doesn't pay my car insurance, Mom doesn't float me cash for my cell bill or to fill up my gas tank or to buy my $186 monthly MBTA pass. Actually Amy and I never needed to ask our parents for money in college or as adults for that matter. Financially, we cover our own sh*t, and while yeah, we may live rent free, there are certain expectations we have to deal with that someone who lives on their own may willingly pay rent just to escape, like no, you can't do laundry whenever you want, no you can't get a pet whatever, no you can't have people over all hours of the day, no I won't pay you back for the $40 worth of groceries you bought for me at Whole Foods, no you can't SLEEP IN THE SAME BED with your fiance, no you can't take a shower at 5:20am that's MY time, no you can't cook in the kitchen right now I just cleaned it no no no. Then there's the whole "go to the liquor store and get me a 12 pack" "go get me a Boston Herald" "go get hot dog buns" "go to Wal-Mart and get me this" "you owe me $100 for the flowers I sent in your name to the funeral home" "I got an estimate on that car part it was $300 so I just ordered it you can pay me back" or "you WILL be around Saturday because WE HAVE to get XYZ done"

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, please, don't think of it that way. I really get along well with my parents, and my sister and I are so tight, bff tight, and things are good, and really affordable - I would be so f*cked if I lived on my own or even with a roommate and my credit card debt would be astronomical and Jam and I would be getting married at City Hall instead of saving up for this big fabulous event everyone is marking on their calendars. But you know what? All that is fiiiine it's totally my choice and I don't complain about it - I've made my bed and I'm laying in it and it is pretty damn comfortable. Not ideal, not a $3,000 mattress, but comfortable as hell. I'm just sayin' before you go and knock a friend down a couple pegs cause you think they're life is so f8cking fantastic or so incredibly simple and delightful and they have not a care in the world -
THINK. It's probably a little more complicated than you thought.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Victorious and Adding a Feature

I feel like my blog page is so junky that it's distracting...but today I noticed a sad lack of photos, well personal photos at least (though who doesn't like looking at Tom Brady?) I am thinking of adding a photo element again, like a daily or weekly photo. Hmm.

What else is new?
Well some of our fears were put to rest on Sunday by a Patriots VICTORY. Everyone was grumbling "our season is over blah blah blah" but I knew that 1. Brady is good but not the whole team 2. Belichick is a mastermind (ok no Spygate references please) and 3. Cassell couldn't possibly be that bad. I mean maybe we won't have that 19-0 season we've been fantasizing about since last year's Superbowl shame, but it oughta be a bit exciting.

*aside* I love local organic food. It's awesome, it's a good choice for me and for the environment. BUT I scrubbed this lettuce and there is still dirt on it. Ehhh. I will eat it because it's washed and there are probably nutrients in the dirt. I mean I ate a lot of dirt as a kid and turned out pretty healthy but seriously? ACK! *aside over*

So I am thinking of applying for a new job. I won't go into detail yet because of my enormous fear of rejection but hopefully will have details soon. The work would indeed take me away from the cancer hospital. It's proven to be such a rewarding place to work, but let's face it, I can blog right now because the rest of the week's work is in a small pile in front of me and will take no more than 6 hours to accomplish and as of now I have 20 hours left to fill. It's time to pursue something that will make me utilize my degree. And call me lame but the job I found would entail the beautiful integration of getting grimy as hell in swampy river areas outside and ALSO require nice clothes for public presentations. Rockin'.

Jam is in town tomorrow. Yay! Of course it is for school though which means I see him Thursday night, Saturday night, then he heads home. Er. I think he is grateful for this though because I am starting to try and do some serious wedding planning and I'm not sure he's that into it yet LOL. I keep mulling things over in my head, though they are somewhat useless til we tack down a place and date. Ah well.

Ok this is the part where I cut myself off. What a dull post! I have to eat lunch because I am off to donate platelets. I feel like I must be nearing the 50 donations mark....I don't know if you get anything for 50, but just telling people I hit 50 would be badass. Too bad they don't measure by units. My platelets are so high I donate a double dose every time - one of the smartass pheresis techs told me if I gained 75lbs I could donate a triple with my counts. I told him I didn't plan on doing that and he said "hmmm. well wait a few years." WHA? Not so sure about that one ;)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Triglycerides and Uwem Akpan

I just read a study about how triglycerides stay in the body 15 times longer when a person is stressed. I've always been a bit concerned about my higher than average triglyceride levels. My cholesterol levels are fantastic, with the overall number decreasing for the past two years, with my LDL going down and my HDL going up quite a bit - but those pesky triglycerides stayed up there. Mind you they're not abnormal, and my doc was pretty much like "well if you don't have diabetes, your other counts are stupendous and you don't consume a lot of carbs or alcohol, I really wouldn't stress too much. Just stick with a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise." I wonder if two years worth of stress could've kicked them up a bit?? Hmmm. I notice since graduating while I am very depressed about my lack of job prospects and feeling a bit lonely without Jamaal close by and with him in school, that overall my stress level is much reduced. I actually have a little less gray hair (though I'm not sure stress and grays are linked scientifically) and tend to not overdo it as much, try to pack everything into a short period of time to the point of having to pull an all nighter only to end up exhausted and very very sick (happened twice in the past year). Now I am determined to destress a bit more, get organized, get exercising and stick to that healthy diet. It's for my health!

Anyways, I never thought I'd actually finish this alphabet theme - ha NaBloPoMo from April too! Think I can wrap it up before 6 months hits? Anyways the letter "U" was a bit of a sticking point. I was uninspired....until I read Uwem Akpan's book. I have read a rash of disturbing books about Africa these days, though all of them have been non-fiction. I think this collection of fictional short stories may be the most horrifying. They are so raw and gritty and real that as I read I wondered what kind of awful things this author had seen that made him able to write such heart-rending stories. I googled him (of course) and discovered this interview, which actually made me feel better about the book. In the course of reading it I was overcome with a sense of hopelessness, but when I read that Akpan wrote it to bring the troubles of Africa into the light, I was glad that was his motive. It's a hard read, but worth it....I got a feeling reading "An Ex-Mas Feast" that's what life is like for Kenyan street kids after seeing them in Nairobi and Machakos, pick-pocketing and sniffing glue, seeing the slums of Mathare and Kibera but the story drove it all home for me, helped me "get it" even more (and made me want to help even more). I was not as much educated on the other issues covered in the book (except for the ubiquitous issue of orphaned by HIV/AIDS...well ok and the Rwandan genocide) but reading something written from the African perspective was extremely rewarding. Be prepared going in if you're going to read it though; at times it is horrifyingly bleak.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This is actually freaky. I had this extensive 9/11 recall post up here. I wrote about how it was a beautiful day in Northampton and how I went to class and didn't know til I got out and saw people distraught and couldn't fathom til I saw the TV at what type of great disaster could make people act the way they were acting. How we had a family friend who was seen on the 20th floor of Tower 2 but didn't make it out. How we've recovered but not forgotten.

But then my computer froze. And I saved AND copied the post....but when I restored my firefox session and tried to paste the post in a word doc, it was gone. Perhaps it was never meant to be.

Sigh. Anyways, I hope everyone makes it through the day ok, and if today is a day of mourning, as it is for our friend Sally, my thoughts are with you.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tom Brady

Am I a bad person because I care more about Tom Brady's injury than Barack Obama's poll slippage???

Because I much more.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Top Model

I am so the product of my undergrad environment LOL.

Well. Ok, maybe not completely, since I rushed home last night after getting my fake nails buffed up and a sparkly, flower-bedecked pedicure on my toes to watch the two-hour season premiere of "America's Next Top Model"'s probably a little anti-all-women's-superpower-college of me, but who doesn't love Miss Jay and Tyra saying "This girl needs some ugly-pretty because she's just pretty-pretty, and pretty-pretty is ugly-ugly." Rockin.

Anyways, the whole "product of my environment" kind of hit me last night while watching ANTM and the girls' reaction to the first "transistioning" contestant, Isis, who was born physically male but "in the wrong body" an is transistioning to female. There was a real mix of horror, disbelief, chill-whatever-ness, disgust and then, total blankness. The "Oh sh*t, I don't know how to react so I will stare at my feet" which to me, is better than the whole disgust thing.

Transgender-sensitivity training was something I underwent every year at Smith. They delve into in your first year so you don't go up to a fellow student and do something embarrassing, like direct the seeming fourteen-year old boy wielding a skateboard back to the high school, only to find out that yes, that is the person who sits next to you in "The Art of Southeast Asia" and lives in the house (dorm) next door. Whoopsies. I then became a Head of New Students my sophomore year and since you are sort of a guide to the in-coming students they really lay sensitivity training on thick, covering race issues, sexual orientation issues, and a special part for transgender issues. My senior year I was house president and during that week-long training we spent a whole day on "issues" I think it was good for me though because I feel as though I came out of Smith pretty chill about the whole sexual orientation/transgender thing. I mean, true, it would not be my personal choice so I can't really "understand" what it's like to BE transitioning/questioning/gay etc, I can only understand what it is like to be me, but I can be open about the whole thing and cool with it.

Why? Cause ulitimately I don't give a sh*t how you choose to live your life if you are a good person. I think that's what it has really come down to for me since college and the years of being "out in the real world" and having to interact with all kinds of people, and having to deal with a changing America - and by changing America I mean having to vote in church as to whether or not we will "allow" gay couples to be married (I'm glad I missed to vote because I have all kinds of problems with this that I won't even go into because it would involve a separate post on the word "allow" alone, then a post on why I don't think a congregation should ever dictate what a minister can do if he feels he is doing God's work, whether we pay his salary or not) Had I been present in the congregation that day I would have voted "yes" without a second though, without worrying about the judgements that might be made of me by the rest of the congregation (the majority of whom voted "yes" by the way) or by my family (who all voted yes, though my parents struggled with the decision a bit). My mother explained later why she and my father voted "yes" - my mother, a Protestant, and my father, a Catholic, were not allowed to marry in the Catholic church unless my mother converted (yeah right, ha) and even had a difficult time finding a priest to reside over the marriage (the State Police chaplain finally came through). My mother said "I know what it's like to be told you can't get married. I looked at Chad (our gay organist - how he sat through this vote is beyond me) and thought about someone having to tell him he couldn't marry his boyfriend and I thought about how sad that was and I couldn't do it, I couldn't vote no." I think my father may have struggled less with this decision not only because of the marriage issues he and my mother faced but also because of his very much lapsed Catholicism....I think. Maybe he just doesn't find it as big a deal. I dunno for sure.

When she asked me to justify my reasoning I said "Because I don't care" She wouldn't take that as an answer. Finally I said "Look Mom, I know a lot of straight couples who are frickin' miserable and fight and have affairs and get divorced. If the legalization of gay marriage and our vote for Rev. Don to perform the ceremony allows to happy loving people to make a life together, that's all I could ask for." That seemed to satisfy her, or at least satisfy her better than the "I don't care" statement. The thing of it is, that I really DON'T care - just go, be happy, do the world some good, and don't be a jerk, those are my only requirements LOL.

So anyways, back to Isis. It's her damn business that she is transitioning to a woman. I mean if you want to ask questions to learn, that is cool, but seriously, all this "ANTM is for girls only, no man is gonna beat me" and "this is not a drag competition" (OMG) is sooo not cool. And this whole "good southern values" = transgender person gets shot is bullsh*t. How do I know? A transgender student lived in the house next to ours and shared our dining room with the rest of his housemates. He began transitioning between freshman and sophomore years, and this was a bit hard for some people as he showed up and left as "Joanna" and came back as "Jo". I met him as Jo. No biggie. Because some of our housemates knew Joanna and were confused and because we had a LGBT workshop at one of our Friday teas, Jo volunteered to give us his perspective, and one of the things that struck me was the reaction of people in his small, rural western-Virginia home. He said that he was really nervous because everyone knows everyone in this town and it's the type of place where old men sit in chairs on the porch of the general store and talk about the passersby. He said at first everyone was like 'um. what? you're a girl, why do you want to be a boy?" But he went out and he wasn't afraid to answer questions and face adversity, much like Isis on ANTM. He said that there would always be people who didn't understand, but small towns are protective of their own he found, and the people in his town stood by him and made sure no one made a fuss.

Anyways, I suppose the moral of the story is that education is the key. I am sure that many of these girls have never met anyone who identified as transgender/transsexual/trapped in the wrong body and their initial reaction of shock or bewilderment is natural (I can't remember my reaction. probably "heh??!" but I tend to hide things well) and I give Isis mad props for dealing with their questions the was she has so far, 'cause it's got to be exhausting. What I don't like is the refusal to accept another person as they are. Some of the girls even gave Elina a hard time for dating other women. Just because it's not your personal choice doesn't make the person whose choice it is "wrong" or "weird" or "freaky" or "bad." They're just different from you. I mean that's what makes this world so freakin' interesting. There's no two of us alike and we have such an opportunity to learn from one another. I'm very grateful that I do live up here in Massachusetts which has been a bit of a pioneering state (don't believe the Californians and all their hoopla, WE were the first state to legalize gay marriage a whole four years before they did!) where a more open environment is fostered (most of the time, there will always be exceptions). I like being around different people with different values and beliefs, because even if I struggle to understand them, it still opens up an opportunity for me to learn. I just hope the mostly-vapid immature ANTM girls will grow a little bit and embrace their chance to learn a little bit more about something other than themselves.

Ok. I'm climbing off my high horse now and reverting back to my trashy-reality tv induced judginess to show you my favorites:Elina. Her stomach tattoo definitely freaked me out at first, but then I heard her talking and loved her reaction to the "You date girls?" and "Girls are so moody!!" comments and I dig her. I am worried about her whole vegan platform. Not that that's not cool BUT I hope it doesn't turn into a "thing."

Isis. Duh. Just wrote a whole post about her. She's fieeeerce.

Joslyn. I don't know how good she'll be but I like her positive attitude.
McKey (TAFKA Brittany). I like her mostly because Clark doesn't like her and makes fun of her and I think Clark is foul. I also like her pretty pretty red hair and her kickboxing bod. Right on.

Sheena. OMG she is my favorite. Initially I was like "SHUT IT HORRRRR" but that only lasted for about five minutes. Ummm loved how she is just out there and doesn't give a sh*t, and also loved how she "doesn't hate and dates all races and all flavors" which prompted Ms Jay to say "You're an equal opportunity employer." Heh. What else - she's got a rockin' bod and is not freaky skinny - I love me a girl with a booty. She's just chill. She so far hasn't made judgements or said anything nasty about anyone else (though that won't last most likely LOL, around episode 4 the true bitchery begins). She also concluded episode 1 with "You're not ready for this yellow fever" Awesome.

Well that's it for me and my ramblingness. Better get back to work.

P to the S: Is Nigel not hotter than ever this season? daaaang
P to the P to the S: I cannot tell you how much I love Ms. Jay "Girl, you so country but I looooove it" I love you Ms. Jay. Times ten.
P to the P to the P to the S: could you even BELIEVE that the girl from Harvard could not name ONE English-lit female heroine???!! I mean at first I thought she was thinking, because I would have a really hard time choosing between Cathy from Wuthering Heights, Jane from Jane Eyre, Elinore from Sense and Sensibility, and Anne from Persuasion (and those are just the 19th century female English authors!!) but no. She was silent. Nothing. And then freaking TYRA BANKS a women whose intelligence I used to think was somewhat iffy, starts with "what about Rebecca? What about The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck? What about Jane Eyre?" After I recovered from the girl from one America's top Ivies not being able to come up with an answer, I sat for a moment and let Tyra's sudden smartness wash over me. Yeah anyone can list books true, but I guarantee you if you interviewed people on the street, more than half wll probably say they never heard of them. I mean I talked to someone I think is very intelligent and very well-educated and I said "you know, Jane Austen, the author" and he said "Never heard of her" Ummm. As Amy would say "skurry" At least his major wasn't English Lit though!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sexy Summer, now September

Oh god LORD how did September happen?

I have to say though, the fam ushered in September in fantastic fashion. It turned into a very low key weekend, the highlights being running errands with dad (always hilarious - especially at Home Depot), drinking four or five margaritas at our southwestern fiesta party with the neighbors, getting a stack of books out of the library, buying much needed girlie supplies to fill the empty beauty/personal care product coffers, falling asleep with Lily on my bed to wake up finding him dozing next to me (awwrrr), being home alone with Ame and watching one disturbing movie (Lust, Caution) and one fantastic very sweet movie (Arranged), fabric shopping, and ROOM ORGANIZING. Oh, and successfully diagnosing my pet fish with a fungal infection and getting to the pet store to buy medicine before the whole tank came down with it. That was a pretty big triumph for me . Conclusion: pay more attention to the fish!

Anyways, I looked over my goals for the summer (which technically I do not consider over until it's too cold to go out in flip flops, and we're good for another month up here) and I did fairly well. I did get very organized, though not wedding organized, not quite yet. I did hang out with Amy and watched about a zillion episodes of Grey's Anatomy and crafted, during our cancelled vacation. I didn't make it to NH for more than five days, though that is because my granfather's retina started bleeding like a mofo and he couldn't go up there (and we need him to drive the boat). So that was a unforseen complication. I never got to hang out with my friend Jenny and her daughter, but that is also due to complications, as her grandma is very very sick right now and the timing is no good. I didn't fly a kite either, but hell, I got tiiiime. There's some other stuff I didn't get to, but I'll get there eventually.

I guess this post is pretty damn boring. Oh well. This entire summer I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off and this is really the first time I feel calm and relaxed. It's really fantastic. I think knowing I don't have to go back to school this fall is a huge reason why. The only thing I'm worrying about right now is how I'm going to get my backlog of homemade gifts finished before the holidays hit! I'm not even stressed about work or the fact that the job market is abysmal (and the fact that I haven't heard from the company to which I applied, sadly). No stress. Just looking to enjoy the end of summer and the lucious New England fall. Oh yeah :)