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'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.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Look, it's Linda's soapbox!
oh, and there's Linda with it...

First off, I love Chipper Jones. I do. He often tells off the media or says surprising things refusing to kowtow to dumb crap. This time he boycotted the New York media after they twisted his words about A-Rod. Awesome! When the sports journalists all walked into the locker room before the next Mets game, he said, "I'm not talking to you if you're from the New York press" and he only talked to the Atlanta reporters. I love it!!!

OK I totally have something to bitch about. I am tired of people complaining about public transportation. If I hear one more person uselessly whine about how they WOULD BE so inconvenienced by all things mass transit that they HAVEN'T EVEN TRIED, I am going to throw them in an oil well.

In New York where I live now (kind of, and soon for real again) there are major subway issues from time to time, and they suck. There are also a lot of righteous things going on, subway-wise. You people with your shiny cars in your driveways who have never so much as passed by a turnstile except maybe at Disneyland would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a good subway day and a bad subway day. And the bus? There are many of us here in Boston and in New York who rely on the bus. There was a time in L.A. when I happily relied on the bus. But there are a million cities where people refuse to try to ride the bus, drive down demand, then bitch that the bus is not "worth it" to them.

And no this rant is not because Lindsay Lohan supposedly blamed her current mess on lack of public transit in LA. She probably didn't even really do that, and even if she had, it would get a big ol' "Yeah, right" from the collective universe. But the point is, people always pull this nonsense that "if only" the bus/train/subway/unseen forces of public transit-dom would do X-Y-Z, then and only then would they park their car and try to do a damn thing to reduce their consumption/dependence on foreign oil. (<----for the love of god read my tone here and if you can't then just move on because I do not say that the way your frightful leader does. I am replete with irony)

What the hell do you people want? It's mass transit! It has a lot with which to contend! People seem to want a bus to pull up in front of their very front door every five minutes. Ugh. I am so disgusted by people who won't even try. All this solo driving for commuting so your car can sit in a parking lot at work all day = such a waste. But all anyone does is bitch and whine and moan about how crap it is, and then they pour more and more money into roads, when widening highways will never solve the problem. Cars, like homework and internet surfing, expand to fit the time/space allotted to them.

And by the way, I LOVE the public transportation in Los Angeles. At least they have 24-hour bus service there! Unlike Boston!

I read the best article ever - seriously, it might be my favorite article ever - in either Time or Newsweek once. It taught me that traffic behaves like light. Which is to say that although it is composed of and behaves like particles, it also has the properties of and behaves like a wave. Therefore, it reaches amplitude and ebbs and flows and instead of throwing more space at traffic, we should study it the way we study the particle/wave behavior of light.

So until you have scientifically examined the situation, or taken even one small step of your own, quit your bitchin'.

"It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."
- i don't know who said it

Double crossing

There is so much weirdness going on in this wonderful wacky world. Here's some of it: did you hear that Johnson & Johnson (of whom I have never been too fond, for animal-testing reasons) has filed a lawsuit against the Red Cross because they are disputing the Red Cross' use of - wait for it - the red cross logo, which apparently has been trademarked by J & J. I guess they signed a deal with Clara Barton long ago agreeing that the company could exclusively use the cross on pharmaceutical products. Big thanks to Mike for alerting me to this story. My response, of course, is this: Are you serious? No, wait. Are you !#$%* serious? It's the RED CROSS. So there are, what, like, two first aid kits they sell? And the money for those goes back into humanitarian efforts. But this is infringing upon Johnson & Johnson (whom I am about to rechristen Jackass & Jackass) and their exclusive use of the cross to sell medical-ish things? Are you kidding me? Because, yeah, when I think of J & J, yeah, I just won't know what to buy if I don't see their little red cross on the Band-Aids?


("And yes, I'm shouting. I'm shouting, I'm shouting, I'm shouting!!! [bonk on head with candlestick]" - Clue)

Now I must get on to what I really wanted to post about tonight. I have made an amazing discovery involving Indigo Girls, alcohol, and the king in the counting house counting out his money. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ketchup, precisely

Sometimes I make dramatic statements and I'm exaggerating a little. But sometimes I make dramatic statements because they're absolutely true, I tell you. Now for an example. When I first got back to Boston at the beginning of the summer, the first time I went to the place down the street where I love to get my cheese fries, the girl did the usual routine of throwing waaaaay too many ketchup packets in the bag. I said, "No, really, just a couple." The next time I went back, I insisted, "No, really. No ketchup. You gave me enough last time to last through my whole summer of cheese fries."

Not wanting to waste, I did toss all the extra ketchup packets in the refrigerator, and I have told them not to give me ketchup each time I've returned for cheese fries.

Tonight I got cheese fries, and when I came home I took two ketchup packets from the refrigerator stash for tonight's delicious feast. I noticed that the supply has dwindled to the point where there are enough left for just a couple more cheese fries events this summer. As it turns out, I head back to New York for year two of law school in about three weeks. So my ketchup prediction was just about perfect.

Now, go to my Literary Supplement and vote on whether or not I should keep reading Don Quixote.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about this temp job I'm working that proceeds so far into boring it actually at some point laps itself and becomes interesting again.

Monday, August 06, 2007


I very recently watched the movie Tsotsi and I LOVED it. I watched it Sunday night on the Greyhound bus from New York to Boston. (On my laptop.) I had a seat to myself. I was in my own little headphone world, watching this movie in the darknesss while the majority of the bus passengers slept. It was amazing.

Part of why it is amazing is because it is about forgiveness and redemption. I am very philosophically into what forgiveness and redemption mean, separately and in relation to each other. And it's interesting that this was a South Africa movie, because the last deep moving experience I had with forgiveness and the incredible human capacity for redemption was also related to South Africa. I loved Desmond Tutu's words on forgiveness in the Speak Truth to Power play; I often told my cast in Korea how moved I was by this part:

"One of the extraordinary things is how many of those who have suffered most grievously have been ready to forgive—people who you thought might be consumed by bitterness, by a lust for revenge. A massacre occurred in which soldiers had opened fire on a demonstration by the ANC (African National Congress), and about twenty people were killed and many wounded. We had a hearing chock-a-block full with people who had lost loved ones, or been injured. Four officers came up, one white and three black. The white said: 'We gave the orders for the soldiers to open fire'—in this room, where the tension could be cut with a knife, it was so palpable. Then he turned to the audience and said, 'Please, forgive us. And please receive these, my colleagues, back into the community.' And that very angry audience broke out into quite deafening applause. It was an incredible moment. I said, 'Let’s keep quiet, because we are in the presence of something holy.'"

Those words gave me the chills, and I often told my Desmond Tutu actor that. (But hey, no pressure!) Actually, at one rehearsal we all got in a lengthy discussion about it. My cast expressed an overall surprise, mixed with a fair amount of resistance, to my emphasis on forgiveness as an overriding theme of this play. I see it as one of the crucial elements of how the human rights defenders are able to do the amazing work they do.

Forgiveness is so often about the forgiver, not the forgivee, anyway. It is also not synonymous with "forget." I think forgiveness is way misunderstood. But it is good stuff.

Tsotsi won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 2005. I was in Korea at that time, and don't think I saw any of the foreign film category noms that Oscar season.

It's incredible. Hie thee to Netflix.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sunshine Sunshine Sunshine Sunshine SUNSHINE!!!

I've done a bunch of fun and lovely things since I last posted but easily one of the most exquisite experiences was going to see the movie Sunshine. I don't even know if I want to talk about it. I just want to see it again. It totally blew my mind. It is definitely one of the best film experiences I have had in a while. You are just totally, viscerally there. The music, the visuals, and the emotions grab hold and don't let go, and all the while you are intellectually processing and calculating as this space ship and crew head toward the dying sun to drop a nuclear bomb in it.

Questions of philosophy, questions of the meaning of life, questions of who is in charge of the if anything but the universe could be in control of the universe.

And while I could see it being categorized as science fiction, it really isn't. I mean, it's such gritty realism. No aliens, unheard of technology, or superpowers; no alternate universe; no futuristic mumbo-jumbo. It's kind of The X-Files brand of science fiction (which I love). Rather than offering up some irrational explanation for things we just sit around trying to come to grips with the rational ones, and that gives us quite enough to ponder.

All I wanted to do after seeing it was 1. see it again and 2. take a physics class.

Coming soon: my Official Literary Snob Report!