Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pho-ho-hoenix

We went to Phoenix for Christmas! Look:


This is in the backyard of dad's house, also known as my high-school house. We had fun running around on Christmas Day with my nephew and niecelet. Later we went swimming, had a big dinner chez mom, played a rousing game of Scene-it, and went to see Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story ( = funny).


The next day we hiked Squaw Piestewa Squaw Peak (my favorite Phoenix activity), went out to Mexican restaurants twice(my other favorite Phoenix activity), and saw Charlie Wilson's War(my current favorite movie, and I'm hopeful about its Best Picture potential). Ooh! and I almost forgot Monday night's Jack-in-the Box adventure. Being from the Midwest, and this being his first journey west of Colorado, Brian had been deprived of Crack-in-the-Box his whole life long. This has now been remedied.


My family bestowed many wonderful presents upon me, but the best thing about the trip was that we got to go. It was too brief a trip, but a good time introducing Brian and my home city to each other.

This is our ready-for-the-departure shot with Mother before my sister took us to the airport. I love Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stick a fork in me!

Because after:

5 exams
2 papers
38 pages
3 blog entries
4 WKRP episodes
14 Traveler's IQ challenges played on Facebook
3 new MySpace friends
1 new Marshmallow
3 evening shifts at B
1 IKEA expedition
1 Target expedition
at least a dozen enchiladas
1 episode of MXC
1 1/2 viewings of Blood Diamond
49 Christmas cards
11 beers
1 sleepover on Long Island
1 very, very sad and tragic loss
1 Broadway show about redemption and hope
and
1 mega sore throat

I.
Am.
Done!

Monday, December 17, 2007

My dad played with dolls
(yours did, too)

Amidst everything that's going on, I still have three more finals and two more papers to complete. This is when the reality of the whole taking seven-and-a-half classes thing sets in. However, I did get through my first two big intense finals last week, and this week's are the three two-credit classes, the little "finalettes" if you will. (And I will.)

So I thought I'd share something I've learned in my studies. First of all, Entertainment Law has been the place where I learn the most fascinating tidbits, week in and week out, and as a bonus they are always tidbits about things I care about such as film, music, publishing, and the like. That class has been a joy. I was particularly fond of trademark day. I am unstoppable with trademarks now. Just ask Brian how obsessed I am with the five levels of trademark protection! It's the best.

But here's the interesting tidbit from the licensing lesson: So, it seems that Marvel Comics went to the U.S. Court of International Trade to have the X-Men declared non-human. This, which admittedly barely registered outside the world of comic fans (a small but fervent world), could be a disappointment to those who care about the X-Men, as I believe part of the point is that they are "different" but human. Don't ask me to go any deeper than that -- I'm decidedly not a comics fan, and I went to one of the X-Men movies and thought it was really boring. What I can tell you is about the court decision.

You see, the X-Men action figures are made in China. (Of course they are. You didn't think anything was actually manufactured here in the U.S., did you?) And so Marvel pays a tariff upon importing them. The duty on dolls is 12%. The duty on toys is 6.8%. A figure of a human is a doll. A figure of an animal or non-human creature (robot, monster) is a toy, according to the customs code. So Marvel was pretty excited to save on import duties by having Wolverine et. al. declared, in the words of the Court, "something other than human."

But you know who IS a recognized human, and thus classified as a "doll" and not a toy? G.I. Joe!

See, I told you our dads played with dolls.



Saturday, December 15, 2007

Amanda Wilding

My friend Amanda Wilding died a few days ago. She was 27.

Amanda was in Boston. She and I worked together for a little more than a year at Borders in Cambridge. I didn't keep in touch with her that much while I was in Korea, but we'd got back in touch more since my return to the U.S., especially via MySpace (gotta love the MySpace! here's Amanda's page) and hanging out during the summers I was in Boston again. Most recently, she and a couple friends of hers have been starting a literary magazine, to which she was encouraging me to submit. And I was promising and swearing and totally meaning to do so, as soon as I got through the bulk of this law school semester.

Amanda was a writer, too. We often bonded about this during our days and nights at Borders (oh, those Friday night closes..such great talks we had, then, when the cats were away and the mice were a-playin'!) She was in school then, getting her English degree at the University of Massachusetts, and then she got a job in editing and publishing, and continued her writing. Yay for her. She was inspiring to all of her friends in many ways, but she always encouraged everyone's writing and other artistic creativity. And she wrote some damn fine poetry.

I knew she was a writer before I even met her. You see, when I transferred to the Cambridge Borders, I took her job as the merchandising supervisor, she moved to the cafe supervisor, the cafe supervisor took the office supervisor position from a departing supe, it was all a big supervisor switcheroo. Well, Amanda knew the incoming replacement supervisor had Borders experience, and merch supe experience even, but she kindly left me a note at my new desk (her old desk) about everything -- where signs were, the booksellers who assisted her, the communication methods, etc. It was helpful, and furthermore, it was a long and well-written note, a page and a half I believe. No one leaves long notes. I know from experience. People write short, terse memos, if that. They send emails that are as concise as possible. In fact, later on in that store, when I faced a vengeful attempt to slam my performance by some vindictive management (long story for another day) my "long emails" were cited as one of the reasons not to give me a raise. But a writer will leave a page-and-a-half handwritten note to the incoming person. And that is awesome, and this writer loved and appreciated it.

Amanda was funny. Big time. Sarcastic, clever, and witty, with great timing. It was tons of fun working with her. She worked hard, and she had fantastic taste in music. Books, too. I had my obsession with reading Pulitzer Prize-winning books (still do), and she had her obsession with reading the winners of the Booker Prize. I loved it. We agreed about a lot of things (Margaret Atwood, Tori Amos) and I learned about other things from her (the Berlin Wall, another of her obsessions, and the heretofore-ignored-by-me virtues of frequent Adult Swim viewing).

I remember the first day I started working there, when she wasn't working (hence the long note!), and I was talking to a couple of the other supervisors, Shaine and Maija, who were very good friends with her. I forget the exact context and conversation, but I distinctly remember Shaine saying, "Amanda has a lot of diseases." It was said in her very Shaine way, which is to say cheerfully matter-of-fact. I remember asking, what does that mean exactly? Well, as I got to know Amanda I learned a bit about her several autoimmune, adrenal, food allergy, diabetes, and other conditions. There was the one time I remember her getting sick and dizzy in the back office (I was useless, asking repeatedly for some unknown reason if she needed a blanket, then running to get Maija and Shaine) but for the most part she would talk about her medicines and vigilantly watch out for the things she couldn't eat, and often check her blood sugar, and then be OK. I knew there were hospital visits. I knew she had contended with her health since childhood. But she was Amanda -- vibrant, hilarious, creative, and a lively light unto us all. Last Monday she got dizzy and dehydrated, went to the hospital, and was not fine. She went into a coma and died.

I was in shock when I got the news from Maija. Over the past few days I've been deeply sad. Also, I could not make it to the funeral in Foxboro, Mass. on Friday, because I had my Constitutional Law final. I asked the dean of student affairs if I could start my final early. I didn't want to reschedule or postpone it, just start it early, like at 7:30 instead of 8:30. Alas, no. Because they only make final schedule changes for deaths of immediate family members. In the end, due to inclement weather all of the Con Law finals got pushed back from 8:30 to 10 a.m., so I couldn't make it at all, not even super late, to the service.

I am really sad. Not just in the crying-on-the-phone-to-my-law-school-dean way (which did happen) or the what-the-hell-can-I-say-or-do way (which is also there). I am very sad for my friends Shaine and Maija, who were close to her. Maija and Amanda were best of friends. And I don't know what on earth her fiance Don can possibly be going through. I got to hang out with him a few times, most notably at their housewarming party at their condo in Salem, and at Amanda's birthday this past summer. He and I became Netflix friends after that. He's great. They were so awesome together. My heart aches for him the most wrenching way I have ever known. Can you imagine being bright young twentysomethings and having your fiancee suddenly die?

I seriously sit here and look at old emails, or MySpace, or my Facebook page where it says "You have been poked by Amanda Lynne Wilding" and I don't want it to ever go away. I want her to live on. Not just in her obituary from the Foxboro Reporter. Not just in her amazing writing. Not just in the hearts of her friends. I want her 27-year-old self back, to live all the life she had left.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hey! Wait! I've got a new complaint!

I like Thanksgiving. I like Christmas. I like the holiday season. More specifically, I enjoyed Thanksgiving this year, in Grand Rapids, very much. And I am well on my way to enjoying this holiday season. I have delighted in, among other things, a bit of snowfall, the cute & community-fostered decorations on the store-lined avenue of Greenpoint, and even listening to the Chipmunks' Christmas CD.

But then there's this crazy little thing called law school final exams, and it tends to get in the way. I think of all the complaints I have about law school (and that is certainly not a short list. It's just so - well - complaint-inducing! It does, after all, teach you how to officially complain in this world) I think that might be the most egregious thing it does. It totally cramps my holiday revelry style. By the time I wade through all that I have to do from mid-November to late-mid-December, I turn around and Christmas is already here, and where did my holi-daze go?

I mean, I haven't even had time to think since approximately the first week of November. The end of November saw the wedding of my lovely friends Liza and Chris, and I barely, breathlessly made it there. And that was something I was really excited about! While I was there, I got to just sit and think and decompress for a little while, and it really made me start thinking about how much I have to DO but how sometimes you just need to sit in the awesome Sturbridge Publick House with all the New Englandy autmnal decor and eat and drink and dance and look at your awesome happy friends who are awesome. Yup, we all have to do that sometimes.

Speaking of outrageous things about law school, hello, Stanford law students grading law firms on diversity? You all need to get over yourselves. And here's why: I have officially declared "diversity" a meaningless word. It has been bandied about in crap rhetoric and it has now gone to the dark side along with "ADD" and "family values" (the poster child for bandied about phrases that have lost their meaning).

And speaking of outrage, Sudan religious freak fringe? Get over yourselves, too.

Meanwhile, yesterday on my way to school I learned that certain Long Island Rail Road trains were delayed/cancelled because a train had "struck an unauthorized person on the tracks" on the Ronkonkoma line. While I waited for my train at Jamaica station, the announcements soon turned to "while LIRR and MTA police investigate a fatality." Sure enough, upon arriving at school and checking out the story online, it was an "apparent suicide" of a man who jumped onto the tracks in front of the train going approximately 80mph. Apart from the creepiness of it all, I found myself almost feeling protective of "my" Long Island Rail Road. Also I couldn't help joking with Brian later, while ruminating on how sad it is for Anna or anyone to hurl themselves in front of a train, that the suicide man got it all wrong about how to use the LIRR to escape from Long Island. (Sick and twisted, I know. We also know appreciate how much the LIRR rules. So there.)

Three more days of classes!

And guess what? We have lots of kitchen things for cooking now and we have been eating fantastic enchiladas. Try not to be jealous! It is so great to be settling in, and I even have my magnetic poetry up on the fridge, with which I wrote the following poem about said enchiladas, as Brian dished them up:

smell these
for soon they will turn magic al
time has answered
here you find me happy
and full

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Can you tell me how to get...?

Why is everyone hating on Sesame Street? Twice this week I have found myself defending this greatest of shows. First my mom e-mailed that Time magazine said Sesame Street might "not meet the needs of today's preschool child" because Cookie Monster eats too many cookies. Are you kidding? I'll tell you who is clearly not meeting the needs of today's preschool children -- 1)their parents 2)any media company who would print that statement (or similarly absurd statements such as "W. Bush has legitimate reasons for going to war in Iraq")

Then today in class (the Gender Colloquium) we discussed categorization and the intersectionality of categories in legal advocacy. Example: there is often a blur between race and sex discrimination. Like, if Don Imus goes around calling someone "nappy-headed hos" it is interesting how quickly it became a racial discussion more than a women's groups discussion. That kind of thing. Anyway, the speaker talked about how we learn categorization from Sesame Street, a la "One of these things is not like the other."

Now, I like me some Ani DiFranco as much as the next person (if not more so), but her lyric "They tried to test my IQ, they showed me a picture of three oranges and a pear, they asked me which one is different and doesn't belong, they taught me different is wrong" is great poetry, but it is not the literal truth. Sesame Street is awesome and helps connect synapses and teach kids how to hang out in the world. As I pointed out in class today, there is no value judgment about circles and triangles. They're just different. One is not better than the other.

Also in that class, and I realize I am breaking my no-blogging-about-classmates-rule for the second time in a week, but come on: we were talking about optimism and pessimism in law students and lawyers, and some girl brought up The Secret. UGH. And quite frankly, a phrase more vulgar than "ugh" slipped out of me -- aloud, I fear -- before I could even catch myself. So I had to cover it up by saying some more about Oprah and pretending I wasn't offering this classmate my biggest eye roll of the semester. The Secret. Puh-leeze. I actually don't dislike Oprah at all, but she so missed the boat on that one. She should go back to He's Just Not That Into You.

*note: Not only is this the second time I have quoted Ani DiFranco's song "My IQ" but also the second time I have mentioned Ani D. and George W. in the same post (here's the first). This time instead of Tolstoy and Cleary, they are joined by Oprah, Don Imus, and Cookie Monster, another fabulous assortment of guests for a dinner party if I do say so myself.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pssssst...did you hear???

Normally I don't blog about my fellow Hofstra Law students, but the time has come to make an exception.

I am currently sitting in the law school lounge with my headphones in my ears, listening to sound from my computer while I prepare for Con Law, eating my lunch, etc. I am basically not paying attention to anyone around me, but just overheard the following exchange between two 3rd-years on a nearby couch:

Red Vest (I'll call her 'RV'): … [something about registering for Real Estate Transactions class]
Turtleneck (I'll call her 'TN'): “I’m not taking Real Estate. I refuse to take Silverman.”
RV: “Why, what’s wrong with him?” [note: RV is probably the only person in the school who doesn’t already know the answer to this question]
TN: “Oh my god, he’s the WORST professor in the whole school.”
RV: “Why? He’s mean, he can’t teach, what?”
TN: “He’s an asshole.” [which is a fair assessment, but…]
RV: “Really?”
TN: “Remember that girl who died last year?”
RV: “The first-year?”
TN: “Yeah. Well, she obviously hadn’t been there for a couple days, right? SO he calls on her, right, and he’s like, ‘Where is she? Why hasn’t she been here?’ and stuff, and finally someone goes, ‘Um, professor, she just passed’ and he’s like ‘What do you mean she passed?’ and they’re like, ‘She died’ and then he’s all, 'Oh, I did get a memo…’ and then on the break everyone was complaining but he refused to apologize, and so many people complained that now he’s on that forced, um, what’s it called – forced – you know, what Schepard’s doing?”
RV: “Sabbatical?”
TN: “Yeah, forced sabbatical. Everyone was so mad.”
RV: “Wow.”
TN: “Yeah, plus he talks like a robot...”

Great story, right? Except, guess what, that’s not what happened. I was actually IN that class. (Property. Spring 2007. Ugh.) So what REALLY happened is that he never called on anyone out of the blue; rather, he always had the attendance sheet from the previous class and called on the people who’d been absent (unless they had an excused absence with him because they had wisdom teeth surgery or something) which is actually probably a great tactic and it worked for me because I never missed class, so I never got called on, so it didn't matter that I never did the reading or paid attention to him. Anyway, it’s a big class of 120+ and it was early in the semester and probably no teachers knew anyone's name, not just him. So,then he did call on Heather Scott. And everyone got eerily, uncomfortably silent. Even the clackity-clacking grasshoppers were silenced. But that’s all that he said. He didn’t ask anything about her, or where she’d been, or chastise her. Within a few (painful) seconds someone said, “She passed away.” And he instantly said, “Oh my. Oh how clumsy of me. I do apologize. Yes, I did get an e-mail about that.” And he was subdued for a second and then he carried on with class.

Of course it's a great "can you believe it!" story; I recall telling it to Brian that night at McCann's while we played trivia. It was pretty messed up – and I still talk about it with my friends from that class, sometimes. But I always point out that frankly, that was the ONE day I saw him break character, and stop his ridiculous monologue that he’s been delivering on auto-pilot for 30 years. We did glimpse his humanity for a brief moment, even if it was the dark side of humanity. I love how the rumor mill tells it differently. I’m so curious where this girl got her story. And what's even better than the number of altered facts and added bits is how she just nonchalantly launched into it as if she had actually witnessed it.

For me, Silverman was kind of like going to BYU, or looking for a food you're craving in Cuba, or teaching in a Korean hagwon, or any number of other grueling but bizarrely inspiring experiences we undergo in life: there’s really no need to exaggerate and embellish the stories, because living through the reality is unsettling enough. You’d know that if you were there.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wow, Part II

After the prayers, the rain comes

This article is awesome! I love how it's like "Perdue -- and the National Weather Service -- said it would rain." Like, hello masses! It's not 600 B.C.E. anymore. We do have rational explanations for phenomena our world leaders like to pass off as their own/divine doing. Good for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

November it up!

If I were in Korea today, my adolescent minions would be gifting me with lots of chocolate sticks. Remember Pepero Day? Ahhh, good times. Instead, I did get some free treats today, but it was not candy, rather, continental breakfast, coffee, soda, water, and sub sandwiches for lunch. Where was I that I was the privileged recipient of such bounty? Well, this weekend I took an intensive class all about depositions. It was held Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday, and so in three days I earned one credit! You can't beat that. It definitely makes you feel like you did something productive with your weekend. Also, there is no exam and it's graded pass/fail. I hope I passed. I definitely practiced lots of deposing. I know many, many things about depositions now. Go on, ask me.

Oh, you'd rather talk about something else? Like movies?? OK, let's!

Specifically, Oscar movies!

I am getting excited about awards season. I don't care if everyone else is like blah blah low box office blah blah nothing exciting blah blah lukewarm critical response blah. I have seen some awesome movies this year, and a lot more are on the way. Some of the movies I have loved this year: Grindhouse, Once, Sunshine, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, American Gangster. Some of the upcoming movies I am really excited about: Margot at the Wedding, Juno, Sweeney Todd, Charlie Wilson's War, The Kite Runner...and there are more, so many more.

If I were a betting girl (what is this "if" talk?), I might put money on some of the following:
*American Gangster will get nominations, plural
*This might be Jennifer Jason Leigh's year, and if so, I already have my this-is-such-b.s.-she-is-not-a-supporting-role-in-this-film award
*For documentaries, I'm thinking...Sicko...Sharkwater...and maybe even the Donkey Kong one.
*And by the way, I must add: The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford not only should get multiple nominations for acting, cinematography, and I'd even like to see Best Picture, but hands down it is one of the best scripts in quite some time. So it absolutely positively must get a nomination for adapted screenplay (in which category it will probably compete with American Gangster, among others), but I don't feel bad saying already that it should win. I realize I've seen hardly any other contenders, but it will be really hard for any film to displace this as my top choice. It was just one of the best written films ever. Ever! Furthermore, it was visually amazing, and you really need to see it. That scene, early on, where the train comes out of the darkness...it is in my top three movie scenes of all time.

That's all for now, but I'll have more to say on this topic (of course I will!)

Meanwhile, though, I have to keep plugging away. I am super busy with school, writing major research papers, reading a ton, etc. Finals are approaching, and I've got a lot to do between now and then. I'm not far behind or anything, just have to keep on keeping on.

But there's an exciting thing on the horizon: we're going to Grand Rapids for Thanksgiving! (Brian's hometown) I've never been to Grand Rapids. Wheee!

OK, everybody go hug a veteran.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A strange thing happened on the way to Bioethics class...

Well, you don't see this every day.

We're on the death and dying unit in my Bioethics and the Law class. Recently on the Long Island Rail Road on my way to school, I did the reading for that class, including the case of In re T.A.C.P. For those of you to whom this means something, 609 So. 2d 588 (Fla. 1992). It was riveting, and moving, and I wept.

That's right. My law school reading -- a casebook! -- moved me to tears. I just sat there on the train, reading and reading and weeping and weeping.

It was amazing. Granted, I can often be found tearing up at movies, a fair amount of books, and even some "silly little things" in random daily life. But a law school casebook? Honestly, my texts may have induced tears before, but they wouldn't have been this kind.

So what was the case all about, you ask? Well, "T.A.C.P." was a baby born with anencephaly, which is basically a condition in which the child is born with only a brain stem and no brain. This particular child was missing the back of its skull and the brain stem was exposed to the air. Babies born anencephalic tend to die within a few days; apparently what happens is the body can briefly function on a kind of "auto pilot" of breathing and heartbeat, which soon stop because there is no brain and therefore no brain regulation of bodily functions.

That's not even the part that made me cry though. In learning of this condition of their soon-to-be-born child, the parents of "T.A.C.P." agreed to have a Caesarean section for the express purpose of having the child's organs be less damaged so that they might be donated to other children. They knew their child was going to be born with no brain and die extremely soon, and they tried to give life to others.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, because of the inability to define the child as dead and the resulting inability to harvest the organs. The most success with transplants from anencephalic infants has occurred when the child is placed on life support and the organs are taken as soon as possible. Even so, there have not been many transplants from anencephalics. Most states have a clinical cardio-pulmonary definition of death, which this child did not meet while the body continued breathing. Most states also have a definition of "brain death." It is odd in this case, because there literally was no brain, but because the brain stem had not entirely ceased to function, T.A.C.P. did not meet the criteria for brain death. Several states have introduced bills in their legislatures to try to get newborns with anencephaly declared legally dead, but so far none have passed.

I think one contributing factor to how emotional it was to read this case was how poignant and well written it was . If there's one thing I've learned in law school it's that some judges' writing is spectacular (including, believe it or not, Scalia -- his opinions are among the best as far as engaging the reader) and some are more like craptacular. This one was heartfelt. "We have been deeply touched by the altruism and unquestioned motives of the parents of T.A.C.P...we express no opinion today about who is right and who is wrong on these issues --if any 'right' or wrong' can be found here. The salient point is that no consensus exists...we find no basis to expand the common law to equate anencephaly with death..." and so on.

Have I mentioned that Bioethics is one of my favorite classes? In fact, it's not just one of my favorites this semester. It may be the best class I have had in quite some time, period. Maybe since Norman Corwin's Colum Writing, or even Cecilia Konchar Farr's Women's Literature... And my Bioethics professor, Janet Dolgin, is quite personable, analytical, funny, and insightful, and also just happens to be a major health law expert. It's almost time to register for next semester and I might take another class from her just to take another class from her. I am planning to do that with a couple professors, actually.

Because nothing is simple. Right? Even (especially) defining death.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Why I am going to miss a session of my best class

Have I really not blogged about this yet? This is seriously the dumbest thing ever. I have attended a lot of universities and experienced the ramifications of many a wacky decision, but this takes the cake. SO, are you ready for Hofstra's contribution, surely to be awarded the title of Most Retarded University Decision Ever? Then, with no further ado:

First we had Rosh Hashanah. If you've been around these parts a while, you know that Hofstra gives us a couple days off in September for Jewish holidays. The next month when it's time to celebrate the slayers of indigenous peoples we are out of luck, but September is great because we have maybe one full week of school and holidays pop up all over the place.

You may recall Rosh Hashanah this year, which began at sundown Wednesday, September 12. Therefore on Wednesday we had no classes after 4 p.m., and we had no classes Thursday and Friday. Many of my classmates scurried off to do high holy things, whereas I had a very long (and epiphany-laden) weekend.

Now, pay attention, because here's where it gets complicated.

As you may know, many universities play with the calendar in order to make up for class time lost to holidays. For example, in a spring semester filled with Monday holidays, they might turn a Monday into a Tuesday schedule during February to balance things out. Well, a careful reader may have noticed that cancelling classes only after 4 p.m. on that Wednesday means we're off kilter with our Wednesday. When can we make up the other half of that Wednesday? this careful reader might ask him/herself.

Meanwhile, we lost that Thursday and Friday to Rosh H. And we'd lost a Monday to Labor Day. So what we need is a week consisting only of Monday, Thursday, and Friday, right? The powers that be of Hofstra School of Law decided on Thanksgiving week: perfect! Monday is Monday, Tuesday is Thursday, and Wednesday is Friday. So for the two days before Thanksgiving, a Thurs-Fri schedule is in effect. (Yay for me; I have no classes on Fridays.)

Now about that lingering half a Wednesday. Well. In some lovely committee meeting, surely a banner day for group decision-making, they decided the following: the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be a Friday until 4 p.m., and after that will be a Wednesday.

Yes, you read that right. ONLY AFTER 4 P.M., the day before Thanksgiving, does one have to attend one's Wednesday classes. No one has classes after 4 on Fridays, so it's perfect, right?

Wrong, Hofstra. Wrong, wrong, wrong! How can anyone possibly think that's a good idea? It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. They could have just had a Wednesday -- an entire Wednesday extra -- in December. They could have done a lot of things. But no, that seemed like a good idea, to all these people who probably live five minutes away as do their families who have never left Long Island.

I hereby protest. I would be done early Tuesday ("Thursday") afternoon, and then I'm supposed to hang around until Wednesday ("Friday"--> Wednesday) at 6 pm? Uh - no.

A lot of people, obviously, are considering missing their classses. Some profs might cancel, but they're not all going to. It's SO DUMB. Furthermore, I resent it. I resent that Rosh Hashana gets preferential treatment. I should say I'm being slighted for my important holiday because I'm NOT Jewish. ('Cause I'm sure that would go over real well.)

Oh, the folly of the world.

Speaking of which, I have to get back to listening to my Con Law prof talk about the executive branch now.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

This is twisted logic even for fundamentalist Christians

OK, seriously. Seriously.

Church: Gays to blame for Iraq war

I really just have to quote one part from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article here:

"The church members testified they are following their religious beliefs by spreading the message that soldiers are dying because the nation is too tolerant of homosexuality."

I can't possibly make this stuff up. Go on. Click that link above and check it out. Wow.

Nah, soldiers aren't dying because Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld and more have sent them to war. They're not dying because of lack of equipment, or too much equipment. They're not dying because of oil, or Bush's greed, or Halliburton, or even terrorists. They're apparently not dying for freedom anymore, or to "defend our way of life." (I love that phrase. And by "love" I of course mean "laugh at it incessantly.") Nope, all of those are gone and we've now discovered the REAL reason that soldiers are dying in Iraq. Because we tolerate the gays.

Wow. I'm so glad we have this Baptist church around to enlighten us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why I guess we should have the right to bear arms after all

Indiana Law Student Shoots Real Estate Finance Casebook

I cannot thank Jenn enough for alerting me to this.

Wow. I love it. I love every second of it. And don't miss the comments at the end, which give still further insight into the law student psyche.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

But I do love cheese fries...






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"Would you like fries with that?" Getting ready for an eight-hour shift where you sweat over a grill, flip burgers, and go through the all the motions on auto-pilot is your sure path to existential angst — not career fulfillment. With your massive mental muscle, you pride yourself on always having something to say and important thoughts to contribute. Problem solving, strategizing, and critical thinking are where you excel, and spending your days increasing your customers' waists just wouldn't fit the bill.


Always using your head, there's no doubt you get a reputation for being the smartest kid on the block no matter where you work. So it's no wonder that for someone with your intellectual curiosity, the worst jobs are those that don't exercise your mind. But hey, if you worked really hard, you might get promoted to drive-thru...



Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fenway it up!

Yeah, Red Sox! Yay. Yay, yay, yay.

That's all I've got.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Does Hofstra Law support terrorism?

Well, the short answer is, of course not! But apparently you'd be hard-pressed to tell anyone in New York that. Actually, the invitation of Lynne Stewart to the current ethics conference going on at Hofstra has even garnered national media attention. I have MySpace blogged about it, too, but I'll just quickly say here that I totally support Hofstra inviting her to speak at the conference, there is no part of me that thinks that means we all agree with everything she's done, and that no one has been able to rationally or even irrationally explain to me why she shouldn't come.

Something weird happens to people here in New York when they hear the word "terrorism." I just think people here are the most loopy reactionaries who have lost all ability to function in the face of the T-word. It's hard to explain what they're like. Because some accusation, however spurious, has been hurled at the woman involving passing information to "a terrorist organization," all rational argument has gone out the window. Come to think of it so have complete sentences. They just start foaming at the mouth and saying she wants to singlehandedly bring down the United States, as does apparently anyone who supports her.

See ya at the lecture.

http://law.hofstra.edu/NewsAndEvents/Conferences/EthicsConference/index.html

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In which Linda gets to the point

Today I ran another 5K. This one was not for a charitable cause but rather just a festive neighborhood event right here in Greenpoint. It is in fact called the "Get to the 'Point 5K Run." I wasn't even sure I was going to do it, although I had idly considered it a couple weeks ago but didn't register because I often work on Sunday afternoons. As it happened, I didn't work today and when I got up this morning I was super-lethargic and I really needed to go running after skipping yesterday and finally was like, why not just do the 5K at 1:00? So I did.

It was superfun. Loads of people from the 'hood, which means lots of Polish but a blend of other Brooklyn cultures as well. First there were 50- and 75-yard dashes for the kids and then the actual 5K. Quite the turnout! I was pretty sure I wouldn't go too fast. I have felt a little sickly this weekend, even suspecting I might have been allergic to something I ate in my wacky gnocchi at Heather's birthday party Friday night, but I pushed through today anyway even though I felt drained and blah. And then I enjoyed the free food and even free beer at the party afterward. That was like the best post-race party ever. It was a veritable hootenanny. People of all ages, the whole 'hood, yucking it up and eating copious amounts of food. The emcee throwing t-shirts and other prizes out to the crowd, who were all eating and drinking at long tables set up in a church event hall. Drawing numbers from a box to award prizes that couldn't be thrown, such as cases of beer and such. And then trophies to the top three in each age group.
My time was 27:36. Not bad for how I felt, I'll say that much. I was 178th out of 310 runners. I was sixth in my age/sex division, which was a particular bummer because they posted all the results there at the back of the hall during the party, and separate from the grand lists of all our times were the lists of the top five of each division -- missed it by that much! (in this case "that much" = 38 seconds)

So I've decided that maybe 5Ks are my new hobby. Especially when they're as fun as this one. And besides, you get a free t-shirt. I'll do a lot of things for a free t-shirt. Remember the polar bear swim, anyone?

And of course I've had the following song in my head all afternoon...

"Get to the point of it
Get to the sense of it
I'm in a hurry to get through it
One day the war will stop
and we'll grow a peaceful crop..." etc.
(from indigo girls, 'trouble')

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Success

"And I said to it, 'Success,
I didn't recognize you at first.'
And I said to it, 'Success,

you don't look the way I have dreamed of you,
dreamed of you...'"
--erin mckeown, 'fast as i can'


I have moved into a new apartment in Greenpoint, the fabulously situated and mightily Polish Brooklyn neighborhood I adore. The struggle for this apartment may be just this side of "worth it." The struggle was due largely to the evil, laughable excuse for an apartment broker which did precious little of value for me, and which instead gave me heart palpitations at every turn. In hindsight, however, it makes a great story, one that I will relate in a future post but can't quite comment on yet. You'll like it though, I promise. It's a good story. Anyway, hurrah, here we are. In a series of fortuitous events, Brian and I both ended up needing to move out of the places in which we previously lived on October 1, and so for the moment, we are the newest residents of Box Street. Lovely!

The apartment is on the north end of Greenpoint, giving us fabulous proximity to Greenpoint, Long Island City, other parts of Brooklyn and Queens, the G train, the 7 train, Manhattan, and the Long Island Rail Road. I actually feel delighted when I think about coming home from wherever I happen to find myself. This is probably a combination of the apartment and the Brian. Fun times.

But the two weeks leading up to move-in were so stressful! As late as 24 hours before I moved in, the joke of a realty firm was still throwing me for anguished loops and casting doubt on whether I'd have a place to live, the jerky bastards. During the apartment search, I sorely neglected running, reading, concentrating on school, healthy sleep/eating habits, and this blog, among other things. So I am all about turning over a new leaf for October.

Then again, many who know me already know all about my whole theory of October = renewal. October brings seasonal change and renewal from the earth in a way that appeals to me even more than spring. It's harvest time, a chance to reap what we've sown. In my own life it always seems to be October when I do things like quit jobs, decide to move across/out of the country, and have various other assorted epiphanies. Furthermore, my family has seen October bring death and birth and poignant lessons about the circle of life. Finally, who can say anything bad about a month that has the World Series, is basically good weather for wearing hoodies the entire time, randomly lets you get an extra hour of sleep one weekend, and culminates with a holiday devoted to having fun, getting dressed up, and indulging fantasies of emotion, decadence, and copious amounts of refined sugar?

So yeah. I love Octobers. Including this one. This month also happens to be the 2nd birthday of my blog. Don't think I won't have a birthday party for it, either. You just watch.

Today I went running. I ran eight miles. My last two Saturday long runs disappeared into the three-week chaos of apartment hunting and such. I am so happy to have got back into my running schedule this past week, and today's run, though hot and a little difficult, felt great. I gave myself permission to take a week or so off after my 5K, but three weeks of sporadic running was less than OK. Speaking of the 5K, I ran it in 27:21, ably beating my goal of 28:44. If anyone cares, I finished 70th overall out of 244 runners, and I finished 7th in my division (females ages 30-39) out of I'm not sure how many, but there were at least a couple dozen of us.

As long as I'm doing the humbers, here are some more: my aunt sent along this link to test your "Real Age." I think I've done something like this quiz before, but probably a few years ago. I took the test again and it told me my Real Age is only 18.4, meaning I'm healthy and stuff. It also told me that I have a life expectancy of 87.6 years. To the extent that we believe what we learn from online quizzes, woo-hoo!

USC remains undefeated. (editor's note, tuesday 10/9: would that i had got around to posting this when i originally wrote it on saturday before USC's numbers became a bit dismal. whatever, stanford!) The Diamondbacks and the Red Sox are both doing their part to deliver up a Boston-Arizona World Series, much to the delight of me and several other members of my family. The sun is shining, the birds are singing. I like things.

Including school, still. In fact, I like school a lot. A whole lot. I was actually rather sad during the evil-apartment-broker time to not be able to give school the focus and energy it wants from me, and that I wanted to give it. I'm still learning many things there and still appreciating my professors more and more every day and still marveling at how much better the second year is than the first. And how much better life is living in Brooklyn instead of on Long Island. Seriously, people. SERiously.

I love everything in the world.

"In a strange bed, strange bed,
bedfellow strange.

Said it to me what they've always said,
said it to me what I've always heard,
'You're gonna make it,
you're gonna make it,
you're gonna make it, girl.
Girl, you sleep with success tonight."

--more of our girl Erin's 'fast as i can'

Thursday, September 27, 2007

War Is Over...if you've got 'em

It is major recap time. Where do I begin to tell the story of September? There's been more to accompany this passage from summer to fall than any recent season change of my lifetime.

To begin with, for those who didn't get the memo (and to you I say, when will you get a good text messaging plan?) the second year of law school is sooooo much better than the first. So supremely much better it's indescribable. Thus, I will now cease describing and move on to other things happening.

I love Brooklyn! Specifically, I love Greenpoint. And I never would have known this were it not for dear cousin Crystal. This has been a fabulous month -- despite the hectic nature of apartment hunting (ugh times fifty) -- in the Greenpoint 'hood. Woot woot! Highlights include: the park, The Mark, pierogis, convenient commuting, and just chilling out in the lovely, roomy, comfortable apartment crib.

Did everyone know I ran a 5K? Yeah, I loved that. My goal was 28:44 but I really ran it in more like 27:20. I then promptly took a week and a half off from running. But now I am back on the horse. Or something.

In other sports news, despite Chipper and Teixeira, the Atlanta Braves could not see fit to make the playoffs, so I am now officially all about the Red Sox. Also, I could get into a Boston-Arizona World Series, for sure. Meanwhile, keep your eye on my ever fabulous USC Trojans doing their football thing. (that thing = greatness)

And in world news this week, I hereby declare that it is officially time for the war in Iraq to end. How do I know this? Because I smoked a cigarette. Now, before anyone goes and gets his or her knickers in a twist, just listen up: I have not fallen prey to anything, and rest assured I have absolutely no desire for another one. I did not crave it, I did not enjoy it, and frankly I did not even remember it, until a few days later. The cigarette in question was smoked on a very drunken whim last Friday evening in Manhattan midway through Hurricane Rob. That is how I am now thinking of the three-day visit of Brian's good friend Rob from Michigan. From Thursday night through Sunday morning we were unstoppable. The beer was unstoppable. You get the idea.

I just know, as I have famously stated here and elsewhere, that I quit smoking the same week we went to war in Iraq, the same week that Michael Moore pointed out our fictitious president was leading us into a fictitious war, although for some absurd reason a lot of you didn't believe us at the time. So I always know how long we've been at war in Iraq because I always know how long I've been quit. I went four years, five months, and twenty-five days without a cigarette. Dubya, it's time for the war to end. The jig is up.

Speaking of Oscars, it's not the season yet but I already know one film that deserves things, and that is The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, or, as my friend Stacey put it, "Mr. Jolie's film." You might have heard about it. Do more than hear. Go see. Now. Go. Go go go. That was one of the many great accomplishments during the time of Hurricane Rob, the three of us seeing that film. Then we strolled through the mud of Central Park (long story) talking about it. Well, mostly I listened to and agreed with Brian and Rob talking about it, because it left me quite awestruck.

Anyway, as I mentioned at the beginning of that paragraph it's not Oscar season yet but I am very excited about some awards happening this Saturday, the Vendies! The third annual Vendy Awards are for New York's finest street vendors, of which there are many many many but only five finalists up for the grand prize this weekend, and get this: "our" guy in Astoria(in Queens) is one of the fab five! Brian discovered Freddy, the King of Falafel and Shawarma, shortly after moving to Astoria. He has introduced me and others to this wonderful street vendor cart, which is worth every step of the 2o-minute+ walk from Brian's place. I usually get the falafel, but I have also tried the chicken and rice, which is to die for. (Yes, I'm lapsed right now vegetarian-wise, so no flood of "What? Meat?!" emails, please. I've also been shaving my legs regularly this summer, so there.) Freddy and the others who dish it up there are amazingly cool. Freddy is HILARIOUS. And so good to us! But you don't have to take my word for it, go check out the street vendor awards site and WATCH THE VIDEO. Do it. Do it now.

It just so happened that Brian and I went there on the first day of Ramadan, and Freddy, who is always so lively and cracking jokes and good-naturedly teasing us, he actually slumped against the cart and sat atop the cooler to talk to us: "We stared fasting today, you know," he told us. "It's been really hard." Can you imagine? Working ALL DAY in the thick of those delicious aromas and not being able to eat or drink until sundown....wow. I told him he is so awesome. Go visit his site and wish him luck in the Vendy Awards!

One parting thought: Netflix, which really knows the way to my heart, has added an amazing new feature. We are now ranked. Each Netflix user has a ranking. How do you get ranked high? By reviewing and recommending on the site, and by having your Netflix friends and others read and respond to what you say. Not to mention by having people add things to their queue after seeing them on your pages, and then you get ranked even higher when they actually watch what they've discovered from you. I LOVE NETFLIX!!! This is the greatest new feature in some time. I am currently ranked #121,585. To give you an idea, out of my personal 19 Netflix friends, one is ranked higher than me, in the 18,000s. Several are in the two millions and two are three million and something. I rule!

And on that note, I am off to watch L.I.E., which means Long Island Expressway, on which I drove very much during September. You see, I had my friend Heather's car a couple times, for a few days at a stretch. And I learned many things about driving, and driving in New York, and LaGuardia, and myself. I meant to blog about it. I still will, actually. But not right now. It's late. And I am off. But I daresay if ever there were a parkway about which one could make an edgy independent film, the L.I.E. would certainly have to be it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Judgment and the dearly Departed

You had to know I’d have something to say about this. As someone who is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt (which is to say, a doubt that can be reasoned) that he is responsible for the murder of his ex-wife, I now duly note that my fellow USC alumni OJ Simpson has been arrested in Vegas on armed robbery charges. It would be wrong, I think, and it would sound vengeful to say something along the lines of “Ha! I love it!” But come on. The dude has been causing no end of trouble for the past year. The very notion of that horrifying book sent shivers down my spine that brought back the visceral sensation I felt when I stood next to him, briefly, in the bar of a fancy schmancy hotel in Bel-Air years ago (I was attending a work convention; he was staying at this lush place while his house was renovated). I had the sense of being in the presence of evil. I have never felt malevolence coming off another human being like that; it was creepy. Anyway, so instead of going out looking for the “real killers” he writes a book saying how he would have done it if, which is the most blatant lying ploy of evil I’ve ever heard, and now – a new felony.

This morning on the Long Island Rail Road I passed someone reading one of the New York tabloid papers, and the sensationalist headline blazed across the story was “If the charges fit, in jail he’ll sit.” This is a great headline for many reasons. First of all, ha ha. (And it’s not even extremely clever, though you do have to wonder how long a copy editor sat there coming up with it.) Secondly, it reminds us of what a fiasco that entire first trial was. And the fiasco-dom, it is often thought, just may be what saved him from jail. That time. Well, that and the flat-out stupidity of the jurors (“I don’t understand why the prosecution was introducing all that evidence of domestic abuse,” one of them told a local TV news reporter. “I don’t understand what that had to do with this murder case.”)

So today I sit here quite comfortable in the assumption that I am not the only person in the country who had the fleeting thought of “Ha ha, he might have to serve jail time after all.”

Now, as an A+ criminal law student I can surely tell you all the reasons why you can’t punish someone for one crime under the guise of punishing them for another, legally. But you know what they say about the court of public opinion. Here’s what I was really thinking, however. It’s kind of like Martin Scorsese. Right? I mean, The Academy does this all the time, bestowing delayed Oscar recognition on someone, often directors, but sometimes actors too. Or even the people of New Zealand. Let’s face it, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won every single bingle award (and made for one of the most boring Oscar broadcasts since The English Patient) not because it alone was the best film but because Peter Jackson (and the people of New Zealand) had made an amazing trilogy.

A lot of people complain about this practice of Oscar voters. But I don’t. I observe it, and sometimes I think it is rather unfortunate for the poor soul who did create amazing art -- but only one amazing work of art -- in a year that someone is “owed.” I don’t vilify this. I wanted Morgan Freeman to win during the Million Dollar Baby year just as much as the next person, and I particularly remember Alan Alda, who was up against him for Bes t Supporting Actor for The Aviator, on the red carpet. Alan was delighted to be nominated and “having a great time, this is so fun” but he utterly 100% casually dismissed his chances of winning. “Oh no, this is Morgan’s night,” he said. It struck me during that interview that he didn’t say it petulantly, or with any snide or “woe is me” or even clever insidery tone to his voice. Seriously, go to the tape and you’ll see what I mean. He was matter-of-fact, almost like he just wanted to quickly but graciously point out that the interviewer had misspoken, like, “Oh, no, I don’t win tonight. This is Morgan’s night” the way you might say, “Oh, Sunset Blvd? No, go up there and make a left this is Wilshire. Oh, you’re welcome, bye.” And, you know, I think it kind of IS OK to subconsciously consider a body of work. I mean, we do it with other artists. For example, Starry Night is one of the most amazing paintings I’ve ever seen for a lot of reasons, but I totally take Vincent Van Gogh as a whole into account when I look at it and pass that judgment.

And so, OJ, I’m not sure how often you’ve attended the Oscars; perhaps you’ve been at more Oscar after-parties. But you are definitely familiar with that Hollywood lifestyle, and I hope you’ve taken into account the many ways in which the crimes of your past might be judged, not the least of which is via the crimes of the present.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Watershed

Wow, this is just getting weirder and weirder, so I feel compelled to blog about it even though it is kind of personal and may reveal things about people which they'd prefer remain unrevealed. Ahh, but such are the risks we run when we have a blogger in our lives. Yes?
(waits for collective affirmation from the blogosphere)
(gets sick of waiting and gives self permission to get on with it)

As you know I am really big on "oh-my-god-that's-so-weird" moments. Cosmic signs, coincidences, and especially things coming full circle. Even more since I went to Korea, but also before, I like to look at dates and anniversaries, and I like to think about "on this day one year ago..." and I like to sing "every five years or so I look back on my life and have a good laugh" (indigo girls) and so forth. I like the neatness with which time packages up our lives.

This brings us to Rosh Hashanah. I have had the last couple of days off of school from Hofstra, since sundown Wednesday. Since I am not in the least bit Jewish and am perfectly comfortable writing the "o" in god, the high holy days don't really do much for me (a high holi-daze, however, is a different story). What they really do is give me time off school. A mere week after Labor Day. And then with no more three-day weekends or holidays until Thanksgiving. Columbus Day, you say? Not at Hofstra, which has clearly come down on the side of Jews as opposed to slayers of indigenous peoples.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It's all about casting off the past and preparing yourself to plunge headlong into something better. I love New Year's Eve/Day for this very reason. It epitomizes my whole time-looking back-looking forward-isn't life amazing thing that I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago. So I'm down with Rosh Hashanah, and fond of the lunar (some would say "Chinese") new year, too. I think we should co-opt as many cultures' calendars as possible. What could be better than one new year fresh start? Three new year fresh starts! Yeah!

Anyway. Now for the trippy part. I am currently in Boston. I came up from New York yesterday to retrieve a few things from the house here, while I have the use of a kind friend's car and another kind person's assistance to boot. But even as I arranged to come up here I'd forgotten this week, until I started plotting how to avoid anticipated traffic, that I also came up from Hofstra for a September stuff-retrieval sojourn in Boston LAST Rosh Hashanah. Which I now clearly remember because there was SO MUCH TRAFFIC as the Jews all fled New York City for the holiday; it took three hours just to get into Connecticut.

So that in itself is fun, the whole last-year-Rosh-Hashanah same-thing. But it gets better. Last year my September was indeed spent casting off the past, in particular one despicable sordid member of it whom we like to fondly remember as the interpersonal jackassical alcoholic demon of all that is lying cheating betrayal, or "the evil ex" for short. Among the interpersonal emotional tricks I was playing on myself during that casting off time, I had re-opened a ferociously close friendship with "the first guy I loved" from high school/early college (i.e., BYU time. That is to say, the faaaaaaar distant past.) Yeah, found him on MySpace, "coincidentally," (and by that I mean probably not coincidentally at all) right as evil ex and I were disintegrating. This led to a few months of both of us sort of marveling at how "after so long" we had "magically found" each other again, although I would like to point out for the record that if MySpace is magical, it is so in a kind of The Prestige way -- be careful. And be afraid.

So anyway, there I was last September having way too many way too intense conversations with this man who is now married with two small children, and as much as I did care for him very much at age sixteen and then again briefly at age twenty-one, even I can admit that he "reappeared" at a time when the most evil betraying raging alcoholic demon I'd ever let into my head had just ravaged my trusting soul and therefore the teenage love friend, who had no shortage of issues of his own to work out (let's just say I wasn't the first "other woman" he was having late night phone conversations with), was kind of sucked in to my emotional vacuum and it was stupid and furthermore it was stupid. Now stick with me, because I'm almost to the point.

Last Rosh Hashanah I lay on the mattress in the little guest room of this Massachusetts house, just as I am doing this Rosh Hashanah weekend. These are in fact the only two times I've slept on this mattress in this room, because usually when I'm at this house I'm living here and sleeping in a bedroom, so the association would be powerfully strong already even if it didn't have the extra Rosh Hashanah cast off my old year anniversary full circle going on. And I thought about some of this full circle Rosh Hashanah-ness as I drove up here last night belting out Patty Griffin songs at the top of my lungs and leaving me with hardly any voice once I got up here (though you don't need much of a voice to enjoy cheese fries).

Here's the point, about the present: Brian, the boyfriend, my partner in a relationship in which I am quite content, lovely Brian, he is in Maryland with his entire group of high school friends this weekend at a wedding. For a variety of reasons (although there are 1-2 prominent ones), I am not there with him. (I won't get into those here as that would take a while; this entry is long enough, wouldn't you agree?) Last night as I sat enjoying my cheese fries and the end of the Red Sox game I started getting "wish you were here" messages from him as he and his high-school crew partied into the night. Furthermore, I woke up this morning to several very late night text and voice mail isn't-there-some-way-it's-not-too-late-to-get-you-here messages. In fact, it is too late. And since I did not go with him to the Maryland wedding adventure, I am running a 5k in Brooklyn tomorrow, so at any rate now I'm doing that and even if it weren't too late in time, it would be "too late" in the "too bad you didn't plan this accordingly to begin with" sense.

Last Rosh Hashanah, unhealthy-in-his-marriage-high-school-love friend was on a business trip and he called me, a lot, from there. In fact, he invited me to go there. To see him. Because he was on a business trip away from his wife and two small children. I would like to point out for the record that I said, "No, I am not coming." But that Friday night I went to sleep on this very mattress in this very room in Boston amid can't-you-just-change-everything- and-get-on-the-next-plane and woke up to text and voice mail messages about it.

It's weird.

Now of course the differences are many, duh, I see that. For one thing, let's start with the fact that one situation is appropriate (if unfortunate) while the other was so entirely inappropriate it shocks me I could have suspended my disbelief to participate in a conversation about it as long as I did. (And if anyone is wondering what kind of evil person I am, no, I did not ever see high-school-out-of-the-woodwork friend last year, and I in fact told him he needs to learn to be honest in his marriage. We also stopped talking late last fall. Right around when I stopped being an alcoholic and clued in that he and I were both pathetic and using each other emotionally for shite we needed to go work out ourselves.)

Nonetheless, it was weird. Despite the differences. Which, interestingly, Despite Our Differences is the title of the Indigo Girls album that was released that very Rosh Hashanah week last September, which I was buying at a Borders on Long Island when I received the first "come meet me on my business trip" message and which contains a few songs about heartbreak/betrayal that at the time reminded me of the freshly cast off evil jackass ex.

And just to further stir the weirdness pot, I am also in the midst of this whole weird thing about my cousin's wedding next month to which I of course want Brian to come but about which there is an issue which is decidedly different from the reasons for which I did not go with him to his friend's wedding but which seems to leave me feeling kind of oddly similar when I think about it. Wedding weirdness.

HERE'S MY POINT! (At last!) It is ALL ABOUT casting off the sins of the past and moving forward and doing good. It is all about new years and new horizons. Frankly, it may be all about love. And by that I mean love. I do not mean Days of Wine and Roses-style finding a fellow traveler who will accompany you down into your circles of hell. I do not mean being afraid to face your life and fears and so talking to someone thousands of miles away instead. I mean, love. I mean two peas in a pod. I mean making mistakes and then when you see they are mistakes, saying, "Oh, that was a mistake, and I am sorry for it" and then growing from that realization and doing something to make it right. Love does not mean "never having to say you're sorry" (god, I hate that movie). Love totally says it is sorry. Because it truly is, when it does something wrong, and it is not just blowing smoke when it apologizes. By love I mean moving forward, together. I mean knowing each other. I mean finding someone when you were not even looking.

And here's my other point: I LOVE NEW YEARS. Even Jewish ones that I don't know anything about. Because I love looking back to see how far I have come since the last one, and by extension contemplating how far I might be able to go before the next one.

L'shanah tovah!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I run for human rights

Click here to support my upcoming weekend 5K adventure!

I'm very excited to be running in the 2nd Annual Liz Padilla Memorial 5K in Brooklyn this weekend. I will be even more excited if you (yes, you!) would take a moment to read a bit about her and then stop by my fundraising page to donate to the cause. All the money raised by the run goes to the Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project and a memorial scholarship fund, to further the human rights cause and Liz' legacy.

I appreciate any donation -- even one dollar!

http://www.active.com/donate/lizpadilla5k/LNapiko


It is just a way for you to acknowledge my effort to triumphantly run a 5K after my summer-in-training, and more importantly to recognize the human rights lawyer goodness that Liz Padilla brought to the world.

Thanks in advance for your support!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Brooklyn Delight

There is just something about a Sunday morning. There is a different feel in the air. I have long been fascinated by this, and have found it's true almost anywhere I go. It is not because it's "the lord's day" or anything silly like that. I love when I get up and out and about early enough on a Sunday morning to enjoy that moment, that Sunday morningness. It makes me feel solemn contentment, wistful appreciation, a sense of being ready for the world while also being already fulfilled.

Today I appreciated Sunday morning in my new Brooklyn neighborhood. I woke up early and set out in search of coffee and greasy breakfast, which I found for $3.00 at a fabulous corner coffee shop, as well as some other errands. There were just a few of us strolling in the bright stillness. I like this 'hood. I'll be staying here one month, in Greenpoint, living with my cousin. I am subletting the room of one of her roommates while said roommate is off touring with a show she's in. So everybody wins. This neighborhood is great--it's so Polish (love it), it's got a great park with a track for running (yay!), and it's actually very well located for accessing all the places I need/want to go, which are basically Manhattan, Astoria, good ol' Atlas Park, and the Long Island Rail Road to Hofstra.

I've been here two days and I already feel so much better about being in New York than when I lived on Long Island. For example, last night I headed to the bar on 36th Street which has been designated as the gathering place for USC alumni to watch our Trojan football. (We are so #1. Seriously. Try not to be jealous.) It was SO NICE to be out and then just be able to go home like a normal person in a normal amount of time instead of schlepping all the way to Hempstead. Now, don't get me wrong; I still love me some Long Island Rail Road. I will be loving it as I commute to school four days a week. All summer in Boston I would sing the praises of the LIRR every time I even thought about riding Boston's far-too-infrequent-service commuter rail. But it's nice when you reach the late night point of tipsy exhaustion to not have a long night's journey into day ahead of you.

But even before I relocated, even as I stayed with a friend on Long Island during the first week of classes, I discovered that no matter where I choose to live the second year of law school is so much better than the first. SO much better it's impossible to explain. I officially think my third-year friends were holding out on me last year, and I have now told them this. How dare they let me entertain thoughts of dropping out? The suckage ended when I handed in that Property exam! Hurrah!

I am taking seven classes. A lot of people think that's crazy. Then again, they also think it's crazy I'm taking things I'm interested in instead of things they heard are on the bar exam. So I don't listen to those people. Well, I listen to them, but then I shake my head and move on. Most of my classes are only two credits. I have one required class, Constitutional Law, which is three credits, and International Law, which is three credits, and then I have five two-credit classes: Bioethics and the Law, Foreign Affairs and the Constitution, Entertainment Law, the Gender Law and Policy Colloquium, and Energy the Environment and the Global Economy. I love my classes. The week just got better and better as it went along. I couldn't believe my luck; I just kept loving class after class, professor after professor.

If only those Atlanta Braves could get themselves into the playoffs...but I think I'm going to have to settle for being happy with my team in the American League, which is the Red Sox of course. The Red Sox are making me exceedingly happy, and have been all summer.

Now, if you haven't already, go watch The Road to Guantanamo.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

With apologies to Peter, Paul, Mary, and John

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go!
I'm sitting here in an emptied bedroom on the floor
I don't have to wake anyone up to say goodbye
I just have to write them checks for the utilities bills...

OK, so for the third (and final?) time I am moving out of our little Orchard House, Medford, Mass., home of tree-hugging dirt worshippers and one kick-ass balcony.

Tomorrow I commence Law School II: Return to Long Island. Except, I'm not actually living on Long Island this year (YES!) except for the first week (but that's OK, I'm staying at a friend's until I move into a Brooklyn sublet for September).

I am really excited for my classes! Even -- especially -- the one I didn't think I'd be excited about. I am also excited about all the potential activities on my plate for the fall. I am also excited to see the quiz answers trickling in from friends and family that I sent out via e-mail. If you somehow didn't make that list and get your Linda's Back-to-School Quiz, let me know.

Off to South Station. Hey hey Willie.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sometimes it's hard to make fun of the news

You know what? I was remarking on this just the other day: jokes about Michael Vick aren't really funny. The whole dogfighting thing -- not funny. I happened to see a few minutes of Jay Leno the other week (he's not my late night host of choice, but David Duchovny was on!) and he made a joke about Paris Hilton, her new dog, and Michael Vick. It went over like a lead balloon, and I understood why. The whole thing is just so sadistic and twisted. In searching for something else tonight, I came across the following mildly amusing satirical post about Vick. But like I said, I just don't think there's humor to be found (yet?) in the whole thing. Am I alone in this opinion?

Also today I recieved the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, which features an article about scandals. Its premise is that the starlet train wreck and am-I-the-father? and racist slur and other celeb scandals of late are now a story in themselves. They totally give props to the scandals of old (Fatty Arbuckle and the like) but note that frequency is what distinguishes this latest paparazzi-ridden flurry of celebrity scandal. I thought it was such an interesting choice; they actually have to cover the existence/prevalence of scandals instead of the scandals themselves. That's so meta. It seems to be a way of rising above, or at least appearing to, the tabloid-esque nature of covering scandals that, admittedly, somehow become news.

I also like what they say about how Justin Timberlake emerged unscathed from the wardrobe malfunction, unlike Janet Jackson. Was it racism? Sexism? Or just flat-out popularity? He he. (That's right, I'm still no fan of the Jacksons. And I never was fully convinced that Michael and Janet aren't the same person...)

I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep my EW subscription going all through this school year. The Hofstra Law Library gets The New Yorker and a bunch of other newsweeklies, so I read them there for free. But I must seek other mags in the outside world!

57 hours and 10 minutes until my first class of my second year! Which in case you're wondering is called Energy, the Environment, and the Global Economy. I am so excited to argue about oil. And just as Condoleezza is trotting off to Libya to start claiming THEIR oil reserves for us, too.

Yeah. Sometimes there's just nothing funny about the news.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back to School

Today I became excited about going back for Law School Year II: Return to Long Island. It was quite a remarkable moment. (For many reasons.) I even remarked on it. I am excited to take classes and be a student and do law schooly things and all that. I have no desire to research and write legal crap, but I'm pretty sure I will have precious little of that to do this semester, so I'm not too worried about that, actually.

On that note, here's a funny thing: Facebook has this little "Compare Me" game where it gives you a choice between two of your Facebook friends such as who is more likely to succeed, whom would you rather take shopping, who is cuddlier, that sort of thing. So far out of my friends who have done the Compare Me, I am at 100% in my network for "Who is crazier" and "Who is more likely to skip class." Awesome!

Of course, going back to law school means leaving Boston. This is sad, but also OK. Mostly I will miss my house and 'hood here in Medford on the Tufts/Somerville line. I will also miss Anna's Taqueria, Espresso Pizza, being among droves of Red Sox fans, jogging along the Mystic River, gazing at the Charles, sitting on the Boston Common or Cambridge Common, Harvard Square, John Harvard's in particular, the Dunkin' Donuts by my house, and The Weekly Dig.

But, I will be glad to return to 24-hour public transportation, 24-hour restaurants, 24-hour markets, 24-hour anything at all, really...also, Central Park, the LIRR (it's true -- that is one kick-ass commuter rail and easily the best thing about Long Island), some friends I haven't seen in a while, a much shorter commute to Brian, gazillions of cheap and delicious food choices of every conceivable ethnicity, the structure of my class schedule (it's true -- I miss the structure), and tons of other things I didn't get to take advantage of all the time last year but of which I hope to take more advantage this year as I will be living in Brooklyn and then probably Manhattan. Huzzah!

"I could go crazy on a night like tonight
Summer's beginning to give up her fight
And every thought's a possibility
And the voices are heard, but nothing is seen
Why do you spend this time with me?
May be an equal mystery..."
-- indigo girls

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In which Linda expresses unpopular sentiments
or, You thought the Harry Potter post was bad!

OK. Let's start with the miners in Utah who are trapped and presumed dead. Of course I am horrified on behalf of the families of the miners, as well as on behalf of the families of the rescue workers, and so on. And I will admit that apart from these occasional-and-yet-all-too-frequent mine disasters, most of my limited coal mining knowledge comes from two chief sources: The Buffalo Creek Disaster, a stirring account I read in my Civil Procedure class last semester, and before that Coal Miner's Daughter.

But - here's what I think. Rather than sitting here blaming the mine companies, the owners, the ruthless capitalists and robber barons, rather than criticizing the botched rescue efforts, or even expressing condescending sympathy for "those poor people" who have to work those jobs, how about we all take a long hard look at ourselves? Perhaps we should all go sit for a few hours --or a few days -- in a darkened room, with no TV, no Internet, no refrigerator or microwave. No, I don't mean to try to empathize with the mine workers trapped in darkness, although that's not a half-bad idea. I mean because we all take electricity for granted! Well, how the hell do you think we get it? And I do mean hell. Mining coal sucks. People do it to make a living, and they work under brutal conditions and likely die young. The rest of us who will never have to go through that consume electricity ravenously. We blithely wander from room to room leaving lights on; we are wasteful. We buy more and more things we don't need. And then we bitch about being inconvenienced by a blackout, because obviously we are entitled to every last drop and clearly the power company shouldn't be charging us so much for us to enjoy our lifestyle.

I come from a family of engineers. Thanksgiving dinner at my house regularly consists of debating the merits of this or that regional power grid, or analyzing the traffic flow of a major city, or on one particularly memorable occasion determining just how the Challenger space shuttle failed and drawing up an alternative design. Well, all these engineers have infused me with a sense of realism about power plants. Coal-fired power plants. That give you the electricity you are using to read this.

Not to mention my very young childhood spent living in the middle of nowhere Arizona, on the edge of the Navajo reservation near the Cholla Power Plant where my dad worked, because that's what we do, build power plants on the edge of Native American reservations (rural) or poor neighborhoods (urban). We all just want to use electricity without wanting to think about where it comes from or god forbid watch it be generated, but we sure feel comfortable talking about pollutants and global warming and trapped mine workers when we don't know squat and have ourselves done nothing whatsoever to solve the problem, or as I like to think of it, reduce our dependence on domestic coal.

Next, today I stood waiting for the bus at Davis Square. A woman with two daughters in tow shouted into her cell phone. The following is a direct quote (with strong language) from her discussion about some sort of medical issue: "I said. 'Bitch, I know that, I want to know what the fuck is wrong with my child.'" Hmmm. Did I mention that the girls, maybe around ages 6-9, were right there next to her? I glanced over. The two girls weren't needy or pestering their mother to get off the phone; they were happily eating their McDonald's sandwiches. I gazed upon the evening scene, sun glistening on the blonde children's hair as they sat on the curb, and I thought, 'Maybe what the fuck is wrong with your child is that you shove McDonalds in their faces while you gab with reckless vulgar abandon about what the fuck is wrong with your child.'

Furthermore, while it's just this side of frightening when I see my two-year-old niece and not-quite four-year-old nephew display their little Mormon behaviors that induce such fond memories of brainwashing from my childhood, I suppose I'd rather see parents (such as my sister and brother-in-law) talking about Jesus and whatnot than screaming "what the fuck is wrong with my child." I think.

Now on to Michael Vick. What a jackass. What a malevolent pathetic excuse for a human being. And I would like to extend that title to any and all of his dogfighting friends. I don't care if it's "widespread" or "part of the culture in the South" -- although, I might add, has it occurred to anyone in "The South" yet that they might want to hold off on using the "It's just what we do here" excuse if they want to gain sympathy from us damn Yankees? Hello.

I am no stranger to the animal baiting/fighting debate. Besides dogs, where I come from they also like to fight roosters. In my teenage years, Arizona was one of two states where cockfighting was still legal. (The other was Oklahoma.) It horrifies me. All of it. And not "because they are dogs." A lot of people have a soft spot in their hearts for dogs they don't have for other creatures. Thus when someone such as myself goes to Korea where "oh my god they eat dogs" they muster up all sorts of righteous outrage. Righteous ignorant outrage, I would like to point out. No, I didn't eat that particular delicacy while I was there, although a few of my ESL teachin' expat cohorts tried it. But I did have philosophical vegetarian debate with some folks back home along the lines of how-is-that-so-different, since they eat only a certain breed of dog, specifically bred and raised for meat, as we do with cows and such.

But I digress. Back to Vick and his nasty "sport" of ripping sentient beings into shreds. Ewww. I am no fan of hunting, racing, lab animal experimentation, or keeping pets in cages. But even I will admit that those are on an entirely different level than dogfighting. There is a staggering level of malice involved in training two creatures to tear each other apart, with death and destruction as ends in themselves and not means to an end, not to mention executing the dogs when they fail to perform according to the criminals' callous whims. That level of malice seems matched only by war, as far as I can see. Now if only W. Bush et. al. would have to answer for their unholy violence alliance just as Vick has to answer for his.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

August, die she must

So it's weird. The temperature here has totally dropped, to the extent that at night one is donning sweatshirts and shutting windows and no longer crying, "Woe is me! I shall suffocate without a fan!" It won't last, of course. I know we'll still have another temperature spike and a bit more summer. But I won't be here for much more of it anyway, as it is high time to return to New York for year number two of law school. Yes, I do realize I have indeed become a New Englander if I am actually sitting here BLOGging about the WEATHER. But I was so struck as I walked down the street this evening. It didn't just feel like a summer evening that had cooled off. It had that change-of-season feel in the air. And my roommate Christine baked pumpkin cookies. Which she would normally do starting in October. She is very in tune with the changing of the seasons, being a tree-hugging dirt worshipper and all.

Last night a few of us gathered at my friend's lake house, where in addition to pretending to be in our own cheesy Lake House movie, in which all night we accuse one another of secretly being the killer and puzzle about just how that mailbox works, we huddled around the bonfire in sweatshirts while roasting S'mores. Sweatshirts, huddling, and even one comment that it would have been more fun squirting one another with water guns if one wasn't inclined to shiver when wet.

Meanwhile, I'm grateful to Megan and Joyce for e-mailing me links to presidential fitness test qualifying standards, although I actually did find them pretty soon after that last blog entry. Guess that's what happens when I post stream-of-consciousness. Man, I'd totally forgotten about the shuttle run. That was so random. I love thinking back on this stuff. I can totally picture the days on the Sunrise Elementary playground, or the track at good ol' Barry Goldwater High. I liked P.E. A lot.

Can you believe it's time for me to go back to school already? I wish I could take a P.E. class! I am going to try to. Hofstra is weirder about letting law students audit undergrad classes than, like, any school I've ever heard of. Hofstra is weird anyway. But I want to make them let me audit things.

I'm going back to school! In one week! One week, people! Do you comprehend the significance of this??!?!

OK, just checking.

Also, I really need to get into a Constitutional Law class.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Fit to be president

Today I decided to administer my own "presidential fitness test" to myself. I say, I'm my own president! Why not? We don't have a legitimate prez in the White House right now anyway. So I timed myself to see how fast I could run a mile, and curiously, my result was 9:11. I'll let you numerologists and conspiracy theorists determine what that means. All I know is that I a.)need improvement but b.)have improved since the beginning of the summer. Oh, I also know that despite all my blathering on here about my realization that girls aren't pushed hard enough in athletics, I don't really do much to alter that. I need to push myself harder. It felt good to run faster than was perfectly comfortable today. Yeah. I even came home and did sit-ups. I can't remember how many sit-ups you had to do either, in the Presidential Fitness test, to get "excellent" or "satisfactory."

My assignment on today's training schedule was "45 minute run." This is how it went:

0:00 - 07:26 Jog slowly from mailbox on the corner (where I had just dropped my latest Netflix return) to the Tufts track
07:27 - 19:30 Jog slow, easy mile around the Tufts track
19:30 -22:10 Run slightly faster lap
**pause. drink water.**
22:11 - 31:21 Run presidentially fit mile
31:22 -33:58 Cool-down lap
**pause. drink more water. talk to random woman asking me if I know about where she can get running pointers. discuss training schedules, interval training, etc.**
33:59 -44:34 Jog home

Don't worry, I'm not going to stop talking about everything else and turn this into a blog about my running. I have way too many other things to babble about.

But I really do want to find all those Presidential Fitness test specifics...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Run Linda Run

Now I am going to talk about running. Because ten weeks in, I rather feel that I can.

For those of you who don't know, this summer I have begun to run. Like, for real. I have been a half-assed jogger for most of my life. Back at ye olde Deer Valley School District when it came to annual Presidential Fitness time, I'd dutifully run my eight- or nine-minute mile, get a cramp, then move on to the areas in which I did much better, like flexibility tests. I didn't dislike running, per se, but they definitely pointed out the "good runners" very early on in elementary school (Alia Al-Alawi, Michelle DeGeronimo, Carlee Lane, where are they now?) and kind of told the rest of us that wasn't really our sport. "My" sports, I guess, were gymnastics, hiking, swimming, and anything involving a bicycle. Oh and I had a secret fondness and woefully neglected talent for basketball, which is sad to recall now, since I was an occasional all-star but never really a champion at the team sports I did play, mostly softball and volleyball. But I digress. Back to running. I thought I sucked at it. In high school and college I'd jog occasionally, come up with some great plan, go once or twice, then forget about it for another few months. I actually went to a bunch of my friends' track meets and continued to think, "Wow, look at them. That's not me."

In L.A., right when I moved to Manhattan Beach, I got caught up in the excitement of my roommate/family friend I'd known for years as she ran the L.A. Marathon. We had an exquisite run path literally next to our house there in the MB, and she inspired me to begin using it. I ran. I would even get up before work at The Savvy Traveler and run in the joyous light of California morning. (Yes, that is SoCal nostalgia you see spilling all over my keyboard.) The path wound through the lovely neighborhood of shockingly overpriced homes, complete with mile markers and such. Soon enough, running farther and faster every day, I strained my hamstring. Ouch! "Why, you idiot, you never do strength training," said my co-worker who had recently quit smoking, started running, and won her age/sex division in her first big race, on Catalina Island. Right. Strength training. But I went to yoga at the gym sometimes...? Apparently not often enough.

Well, after the healing, I had great intentions, I'm sure, to run again and run better, but we all know how to pave a road to hell. Soon I entered the particularly self-destructive period of my life we like to call "Borders Westwood," and running kind of stopped for a while. I think I probably went once or twice a year, seriously, that's it, for a couple years there. Toward the end of those two years I moved into my little studio apartment off Hollywood Boulevard and I think that's when I finally started running again, up onto Franklin and into the hills, but still only occasionally. I do remember that the day the moving truck came and packed up my life to haul it to Boston, I went on a farewell Hollywood jog. Then I came here to find sheets of ice everywhere.

Occasionally I went running with these Orchard House roommates, occasionally I checked out my pace on the treadmill at the gym, and I ran all of twice, I think, while I was in Korea. I don't know why I couldn't commit. But it's been like that for years, and then, suddenly, inexplicably I went to law school.

As most of us know, law school has a way of taking over your brain. But I didn't want to let it take over my body as well. Hofstra has a delicious pool facility into which I soon plunged, but I also discovered that I could jog a nice little loop around that north campus there, right outside my residence hall door. No, I wasn't diligent, but I upped my frequency from a few times a year to a few times a semester (fall) and a few times a month (spring). Then, in May, the day I found out my grandmother died in the middle of finals, I ran longer and faster than I had in some time, and even as I ran I felt something strange in my leg but I kept running (away?) Two days later I attempted to play a softball game and literally could not run to first base. I felt the most intense pain in my quads and it was as if the muscle was too small to stretch over the entire length of my thigh. Oddly enough, Marcia in town visiting had wanted to run a 5K that weekend while she was in New York, and that was coincidentally the weekend Brian had gone to Michigan to run his 25K, and instead I went off to my grandmother's funeral and iced my leg and couldn't squat down and thought a lot about life, but also running.

So at the beginning of June, after doing nothing for a couple weeks, I decided this summer in Boston I would get back into running, but ease into it and follow a proper training schedule in the hopes of not injuring myself. I shamelessly stole the training schedule from Brian's 25K he had just run (because it's a really good training schedule; I rather like it) and I have been following it for ten weeks!

Isn't that exciting? Ten weeks. That's a long time. I run six days a week and have hardly ever skipped; I can count the missed days on slightly more than one hand. In case you're interested, this week I run seven miles for my longer weekend run. Most days I run along the Mystic River and the Mystic Valley Parkway toward Arlington and the Mystic Lakes. Occasionally I run on the Tufts track to time my mile pace. I haven't actually tried to see how fast I can run a mile. I've been just timing the pace I'm running anyway, which has been getting slightly faster over the weeks. I was all about running slowly ("Slow and steady wins the race!") rather than injuring myself again. But maybe this week I will revisit those Presidential Fitness Test days and see how fast I can go. Some people I've talked to seem to have no recollection of the Presidential Fitness thing, but man, my schools were all over it. Go Deer Valley School district! At some point I set a new high school record in the sit and reach, that flexibility test. It's probably been broken by now. I even searched a bit on the web for the Presidential Fitness test but haven't found the list of the categories and the scores. I know you had to reach a certain time, etc., to get "satisfactory" or "excellent" in P.E. Doesn't anyone else remember this? I want to get the bottom of it! One more way to leave no child behind!

I can honestly now say that I really, really enjoy running. And I enjoy not being half-assed about it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A theme recurs, in two parts

Part One: Contemporary Trobaritzes

I have several recurring themes on this blog. If I were better about applying labels to the posts, this would be more easily demonstrated. Anyway, one of the recurring themes is that sometimes I suddenly understand a long-listened to Indigo Girls song differently, and then I look at my life a little differently, and when that happens I must post.

I've been listening to "Center Stage" for 18 years. (gulp!) It's on their eponymous album, the first one released by their ooh-la-la major label Epic. (You know, the album that won the Best Contemporary Folk Grammy, while at the same time the Girls managed to lose Best New Artist to Milli Vanilli. God, I hate the Grammys.) I might add that I ONLY listen to "Center Stage" when I am listening to that album, as I have never heard them play it live. I don't think anyone has heard them play it live. It is seriously one of the most obscure of their tracks, and, I have always thought, for good reason, because what on earth is it about? And by that point on Indigo Girls (track #9) you're sort of fading away, or if you're sharing the album with a newcomer they're about tapped out on willingness to listen and they want to go back and hear "Closer to Fine" (track #1) again.

I don't mean to say I've disliked "Center Stage," but really. Have I mentioned no one has any idea what it's about? And it's not particularly rhythmically exciting either (no offense). It's a bunch of random imagery, kind of like if Grace Slick had felt a lot more mellow while singing "White Rabbit," and also had read some nursery rhymes instead of Alice in Wonderland. It is probably the one Indigo Girls song whose existence I most often forget.

But not anymore!

I woke up on Thursday morning and thought, 'Gosh, we sure drank a lot last night.' Wednesday night the pitchers of Hefeweizen flowed freely, as did the laughter and the text messages. So Thursday as I lay there contemplating how much water I'd drunk before going to bed vs. how much water I should have drunk, I discovered that I did not really feel like getting up to go running. Now, to be fair, or perhaps to try to defend myself, I will say that I had not been running in the morning the three previous days either, but rather had had to run in the evening after my long days at my convention temp job. So it's not weird that my body thought it wasn't running until the evening. However, I wanted it to run before writing group. But it said no. It barely made it to writing group. It took two coffees.

I don't really get hungover, much, really, and especially not the headaches, not for many years. It's all about staving off the headache. Water, bread, painkillers. The holy trinity before bed. But you can still get that just-plain-wiped-out feeling the next day. Oooh boy, can you ever. What I noticed on Thursday is that this felt different. Hence my lying there contemplating it for so long. (I'm getting to the Indigo Girls part. No, really, I am. Stay with me.) I was sharing these "this morning after feels different" thoughts with a friend, and I started hypothesizing that what with me being ten weeks into my running training schedule at which I am ever-so-diligent, my body is in such a different place than other times when I've been drinking more often than doing such fit and healthy things. Example, law school. Even better example, Korea. Like that.

So then I thought perhaps when one is feeling so good and healthy one has farther to fall into drunken debauchery. This made me think of the Indigo Girls lyric (see?) "The higher the leap, I said, the harder the ground." From "Center Stage."

And suddenly, eureka! Center Stage! It starts like this:

"Laughing in a crown of jewels
numbness from a scepter's wound
Toss and turn, I spin and learn
Catch yourself before you burn.
A joker's dance before the king..."

Then it gets into a lot of jangling beads and jokers and thieves, and one could get the idea we're on a drug voyage, but now that I've had this epiphany I think they are just drunk and playing cards. The chorus goes like this:

"Falling falling falling falling down
Look yourself in the eye before you drown."

Hello. Do those lines scream "I'm drunk" or what? Anyway, the king makes another appearance later, when he is "in the counting house counting out his money." (Yes, we know Amy Ray did not come up with that, I told you she was reading nursery rhymes. Mary has a little lamb in this song, too.) Right? The bar owner makes a mint off of our foolishness. And then, "you must dance the dance that you imply."

So now I think "Center Stage" is totally about how we get wasted and it's all a big performance, really, in which we get caught up. And at the very end:

"Your actions will follow you full circle round
Your actions will follow you full circle round
Your actions will follow you full circle round
Your actions will follow you full circle round
The higher the leap, I said,
the harder the ground."

Finally, what made me so happy about this alcohol theory is that "Center Stage" is an Amy Ray song (the duo write their songs separately, then arrange and sing them together) whereas there is an Emily Saliers song on that very album that also contemplates the drinking we do. That is, of course, the aforementioned "Closer to Fine," in which Emily...

"...stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
to seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board,
twice as cloudy as I'd been the night before,
and I went in seeking clarity."

So it's good to see that they were both drinking. And it's even better to see that while they were busily transferring away from their first universities back to Atlanta where they reconnected after knowing each other since elementary school and began playing guitar and singing together again and the rest is history...it's even better to see that they can be all drunk and searching and then do healthy awesome creative artistic things and find the answer and have great lives. 'Cause then there must be hope for the rest of us, yeah?

Part Two: Amazingly Talented Rock n' Roll Gods

Continuing along with my epiphany-laden week, I woke up this morning decidedly less hungover but no less ready to enter into philosophical discussions online. This time, the site of choice was MySpace. I was clicking around some friends' pages, and then to some friends of friends' pages, and suddenly on the page of a girl I've never met but of whom I've heard tales through her friend I do know, I heard the strain of Led Zeppelin, specifically "Going to California." And I stopped in mySpace tracks.

Led Zeppelin. Man, those were some talented folks. Well, are/were talented, you know what I mean. I will direct you to what I wrote about on my actual MySpace blog this morning, rather than attempting to duplicate the moment here. So, go read that and then come back here for the final summing-up paragraph. Paragraphs.

The point is, how purely solidly joyful it makes me, even if it's a bittersweet thing, to listen to certain Led Zeppelin songs. And certain Pink Floyd songs fill me with a similar bursting hurts-to-be-this-happiness. And many of the songs are associated with life moments I've had, but also bring strong associations of their own, of course.

I can think of two particular days in Korea when I was utterly, completely, 100% aware of that heart-bursting life goodness. One was the day we traveled to Pusan for the "English Work Club" trip. Me, Bryan, JJ, Charlie, and BK. And the live baby octopus. Oh, what a day. My cheeks hurt from laughing just like my heart hurts from the bursting. All the pictures you see on MySpace and Facebook involving me and a large frog come from the Pusan Aquarium that day. What bliss. That was early in my Korea time. Later, as I was nearing the end of my indentured servitude, we had a cast party after the last Speak Truth To Power performance in Daegu. Simon and Greg played guitar and we all sang and drank beers and I for one danced and whirled a lot. But I sat, subdued, for many of the songs, and at one point the song of choice was Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here." I actually stopped singing and closed my eyes and listened to the people who had come together for this play -- expats from the U.S., Canada, England, Wales, New Zealand -- sitting in our scrappy arts space in Daegu, Korea singing:

"So, so you think you can tell
heaven from hell
blue skies from pain...
How I wish, how I wish you were here
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
year after year,
running over the same old ground

What have we found? The same old fears
Wish you were here."

It was nothing short of amazing. I was fully aware and fully alive, and I knew I never wanted that moment to end. But I also knew that it would end, and I would leave that room and leave those people and leave Korea and go on to the next stop on the journey, in search of my life's next moment.

I think the important thing is to carry the song with you. So that you don't have to wait to stumble across someone's MySpace page full of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, although it's nice when you do. I don't believe I will ever think of the phrase "a song in my heart" in quite the same way; turns out that's not a cheesy phrase at all.