Thursday, December 27, 2007


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
1 mega sore throat


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