Let the Summer Begin

Hey everyone in blogger-land! An update on my week: I am leaving on a week-long cruise tomorrow (yay!) and I saw Saturn (and it's moons) last night through a high-powered telescope. Talk about things in life that make you feel insignificant. I wonder if there were little (of course, GREEN) alien people looking at Earth through their own high-powered telescope thinking the exact same thing. I like to think so. If there are aliens out there, I do not think they are Independence Day-esque hostile creatures...I think they might look like this:
Oh I hope so. I really, really hope so. Then I will adopt them in mass quantities, Brangelina style!

Posting is going to be sparse this week. I do PROMISE, however, to post at least twice...so hold me to it...if I don't, I will publicly display my phone number and you all have permission to call ask if my refrigerator is running...which it won't be, as I am in the process of moving...but I digress.

I wanted to be able to pack up my apartment, get ready for the cruise, take finals, have family in town, and write enough posts to keep everyone occupied while I was away but, as it turns out, that might have been a tad over-ambitious.
Just so I say it today, because I believe it can never be said enough, I love all of you.


Nike Plus (A+)

Lance Armstrong keeps me going. I live for the moments when he whispers in my ear "Congratulations, you have just recorded a new personal best for the mile." He is in love with me, I can hear it in his voice. Do not tell my husband.

Nike plus gets my vote as the best new invention of the decade. Sure, hybrids are pretty cool...as are YouTube and the birth control patch...but none of these compare, in my heart, to the newfound ability to track your running mileage via a chip in your shoe.

If you're a runner and havent jumped on this bandwagon, you should...and then you should friend me on nikeplus.com and we can challenge each other!! (insert high, squeaky, excited voice here...competition enthuses me)

This weekend I finished my 50th mile and got a tiny, digital trophy. It may as well have been 50 feet tall and made of solid gold...I just love winning. Thank you, Nike Plus, for making each day a victory for the obsessive compulsive, cut-throat person in me.

This Book Club is Better than Oprah's

Graham and I have started a book club (it currently has, and probably henceforth will have, only two members). Side-note: we are huge geeks....well, technically I am a nerd and he is a geek, but whatever.

This month we have been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It is about the resistance that each person faces in life. Every time we hear a little voice (which is usually more clear in childhood than at any other point in life) that says "I want to do this" or "I want to be this" another voice kicks in and says "You can't."
You cannot be a writer, no one would want to read what you have to say. You cannot get your PhD, you didn't even get good grades in highschool. You cannot be an artist, get your head out of the clouds and be responsible. The trouble is...you can. Thinking that you can't is just resistance. So go out and do something today that scares you, the amount of fear you feel about doing something is a good indicator of how important it is to you.

For next month we are thinking A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Any other suggestions? The only requirement is that it is a piece of fiction, as this book club of ours alternates fiction and non-fiction...how impartial of us.


Santa Barbara Weekend

We played tourists again this weekend, visiting the beautiful city of Santa Barbara which, though we live only an hour south of it, we had never been to. Here are some pictures of Bear at Arroyo Burro Beach, a dog-friendly, off leash area. I don't think that he has ever had so much fun.


It's the End of the World as We Know it

If anyone has seen the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" you might remember the scene in which two tornadoes rip through the Capital Records building and the Hollywood sign in downtown LA. Well...they chose tornadoes because they don't have them in California. Not until yesterday, that is.
Yesterday two tornadoes touched down in Riverside. These twisters were accompanied by fires, thunderstorms, hail, and snow. No, that was not a typo...it snowed in Southern California yesterday...10 minutes outside of LA. Can we say "doomsday"?
People, guard your historic landmarks, according to the movies natural disasters always take them out first. If anyone is looking for me this weekend, I will be hiding in my bathtub...with a mattress over my head.


Prisoner of Bore (dom)

*note: this post includes pictures which are not eco-friendly...if you are passionately ridin' that green wave all the way to a new earth, please go no further...as it might burn your retinas, cause you to hate me or, worse, make me lose a page visit!)*

Boxes, tape, packing paper all around us (and "Where's that blasted Sharpie?")...sounds like moving season is officially upon us. We have taken the last month to say goodbye to our favorite LA spots, beloved friends and coworkers, and lastly to our uniquely apartment-like popcorn ceilings. All there is to do now is put everything in boxes. Usually this process isn't a dangerous one...but, alas, today there was some collateral.
I know, wasteful, and plastic of all things...but I just couldn't resist...


So Long, So Long and Thanks for All the Sashimi

The past two years of my life have been spent in Los Angeles, California. Now, in keeping with my general restless nature, we are moving. This post is an acknowledgment of the things that I will miss most about Southern California.

1. Pepperdine University: The most beautiful campus in America (seriously, ask US World News)
Graduation 2008 - Alumni Field

2. The Gumbo Pot: Located at the Grove, this place has killer gumbo yaya...and sweet potato chips that will make you swoon. The closest to good ole' southern food that we have found here.

3. Sushi: Sushi bars are as commonplace as McDonalds here...and so far I have found one, count it, one in Connecticut...this will be a major adjustment. Graham is evil (and doesn't care much for sushi) so I am sure that he will delight in my sorrow.

4. University Church of Christ: I count this place as one of the few churches still able to challenge the intellect of its members. It has become our "home away from home" in a city that would have otherwise been a great deal more lonely.

5. Taco Tuesdays: You know you have good friends when dinner starts at 6:00pm and ends at 9. I am going to miss Taco Tuesdays at Dukes with my dear friends.
I am sure that there are more...but 5 seems like a very good, round number. So long, California, and thanks for everything.


The Great Equalizer

Graham and I watch a show called "American Gladiator" on Monday nights. At the end of the final obstacle course there is this uphill treadmill-type-apparatus that they call "The Great Equalizer" because of its' ability to trip up even the most formidable of athletes. This got me thinking about all of the great equalizers in life. For me one thing stands out.

Headgear. Headgear should come with a large sign (of the neon colored variety) that says: "warning, you are about to forfeit every ounce of social confidence you ever had (which, in middle school, is almost none) and be subjected to cruel teasing and mocking every day."

There was a girl who served as this warning label for me. When given the choice to wear headgear during the day for one month or only at night for six months she chose the former. Bad idea. The worst decision a 6th grader could ever make. Once I was faced with that decision, after having watched her suffer for 30 days, I (hurriedly, and with conviction) chose to wear my headgear only at night.

I did not wear my headgear to sleepovers; the only person I would wear it in front of was Kristen, my best friend, because she had headgear too. We had this whole "headgear language" that only we, the speaking-impaired lispers, could understand...but I will not go into that. Reliving the main points of this experience is plenty painful enough. I woke up every morning for half of a year with drool crusted to each side of my face. This was due to the "increased, uncontrollable salivating" that resulted from wearing headgear. Headgear even looks like a not-so-modern day torture device.

What has served, for each of you, as the greatest slice of humble pie in your life? What is your "great equalizer"?


Utilizing the Weekend

(disclaimer: pictures provided in part by Graham Scobey, any views expressed here within are mine and not his, prolonged exposure to his photography may result in a new-found appreciation for art and life, proceed with caution.)

We have exactly one weekend left in Los Angeles, and we are trying to cram in all of the touristy things that we didn't get around to in the past two years. This past Saturday (after our A.M. fix of World of Warcraft, which we play with our dear friend Ben) we went to The Griffith Observatory.

On the way there we stopped at a Panera in Studio City. I had been craving their "you pick two" combo (with a caesar salad and turkey sandwich) forever. It did not disappoint. Then, after driving circles in the hills of Hollywood (thanks, Tom Tom) we arrived. The observatory was, in short, phenomenal. It is amazing how many aspects of life are effected by astronomy. My favorite part by far was the planetarium...it also had one of the most amazing views of downtown LA that I've seen.

Los Angeles is so big...it is no wonder that it holds all of these jewels, but it makes me wonder how many amazing things that we will not have gotten to see by the time we leave next weekend. Regardless, the greatest jewels that I have found in LA are new friends (of both the furry and hairless persuasion). I am really going to miss this place.
(Please excuse my dog licking Karma's inner-ear...such indecency!)


A Big Day

Yesterday was a big day for all of our friends in California in same-sex relationships. The Supreme Court in this great state overturned the prior ruling that banned gay marriage. The deciding factor for this ruling was the belief that "responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation." The ruling was surprising, being that the California Supreme Court is overwhelmingly conservative, but I am pleased whenever people make steps away from discrimination and towards acceptance.

Just so you can decide how offended you should be by me, let me explain where I stand on the issue. Whether you call them marriages, unions, or whos-a-ma-whats'its, all people in this country (unless that have committed a crime against some other individual) deserve equal rights, regardless of the choices that they make in their personal lives.

I am hopeful that California will start a trend, and that other states might follow; allowing fair and equal rights to all people, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. No matter what your political bent, this ruling will likely make the issue of gay marriage a larger one in the upcoming elections. Here is where the candidates stand:

- Senator John McCain (GOP nominee) has always been a big supporter of "traditional" marriage but does not support a constitutional ban on gay marriage (as he believes it is a state issue). McCain also supports giving same-sex couples some of the same legal rights and benefits that heterosexual married couples have.

- Barack Obama (whoop whoop!) and Hillary Clinton stand united on this issue, both opposing a constitutional ruling (for or against) on same-sex marriages. Obama and Clinton support the idea of "civil unions", in which gay couples are afforded the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as married couples.



On Friday, May 30, 2008 the sales of Cosmos will go through the roof. Now would be a great time to invest in a vodka manufacturer. Girls, the world over, will be out with friends; laughing and crying. That's right, ladies, Sex and the City: The Movie's release date is just 15 days away.

As a young, married woman from the South I cannot identify with any of the characters from the show...but, somehow, I still love it. There is something about these single, self-pitying, oddly dressed women that makes me feel very good about my life.

So, will Carrie marry Big? Will one of our favorite four leading ladies kick the bucket? Will SJP tone down her flashy duds? Will our favorite sex columnist finally give in and upgrade to a Mac? I guess you, like me, will have to wait and see!

Great Idea

An old high school friend, Amanda, posted this amazingly challenging idea on her blog...but I thought I would give it a try...and maybe learn something about myself in the process. The mission, and I chose to accept it (why can I not resist cheesy references?) is to write my memoir in six words...here goes.

- Ambitious, energetic, book-loving, petulant child

- Indecisive, major-changing, judgmental dog-lover

- Impatient, competitive, clumsy, scheduled, chocolate-addict

- Crowd-following, self-realization,

- Self-reliant, man hating, lucky wife

- Bison, Panther, Wave, Husky, change monger

Those of you who know me...is this pretty accurate?


Dear Yoga

Dear Yoga -

I know that I have been distant. It's not you, it's me. I was told that you would change me; change the way I looked at the world...and you did...for a while. I have gotten bored. I have been seeing other people (pilates, the gym, running).

Please do not take this the wrong way, but I am breaking up with you. There is someone else. Someone from my past who makes my adrenaline rush, heart race and makes me feel strong. What we have is never stagnant. It is not just 60 predictable minutes - three times a week...but a daily uphill (and sometimes downhill) battle to be better and go longer.

You are not inferior...you just aren't for me. My heart belongs to running.





"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother"
- Abraham Lincoln


Life in the Woods

It is really wonderful that Henry David Thoreau was able to take time off from living in the city and escape to Concord, Massachusetts. Had he not, the world would be less over twenty volumes of literary work. Unfortunately for most of us, however, we live in the real world. In a place where, though we may try our best to live deliberately everyday, the hustle can take hold of us. We live in a place where some issues are more pressing than "simplicity, simplicity, simplicity". Things like rent, deadlines, and to-do lists. Though we may not all be so fortunate as Thoreau, I do believe he was onto something. We all need a place to go; a sacred place where we are able to breath.

My Walden Pond is my family. They are where I find my peace, where I am able to escape the insanity of everyday life and simply rest. I am sorry to disappoint, my dearest Henry, but I would take my one-bedroom apartment over your pond any day.


For the Love of Lunch

This past week the Pepperdine Lectures took place and I got to meet someone who, if given the chance, I would delight in spending more time with. Chi Ekwenye is the founder of Susana Homes, an orphanage in her hometown of Nigeria. After coming to the United States and getting her PhD at The University of Georgia she went back and established Susana Homes in order to provide a loving family for those children who had none.

Our afternoon together made me think about American ideas about love. So many people in our culture feel that love should be easy. Moreover, when that love is not easy, we want to be able to walk away (and, more often than not, we do). I cannot imagine the difficulty in doing what Chi does. In loving children who are sick, cast out, tainted by their pasts and (I am sure at least on their worst days) ungrateful. I cannot imagine the difficulty in this task, but Chi does this. She does this and she does it with grace, compassion, and a faith in God that I could only hope to emulate.

What would happen if we began loving people: siblings, parents, friends, partners, as Chi loves her children? I personally believe that many less people would walk away. People would continue to love one another when it is the most difficult, especially when it is the most difficult, because those are the times when selfless love can make the greatest impact. A short afternoon with Chi completely redefined my definition of what it means to love someone.

She also redefined my standards for what should be the length of a typical lunchtime meal...but that is another story for another time.


A Feminist Perspective on Art

Georgia O'Keffe, an American painter who died in 1986, is one of my top 5 favorite artists. To me, her paintings are an obvious expression of female sexuality. She consistently stated that her art was not about painting things as she saw them but, rather, as she felt them. I am always moved by her vivid use of color and bold lines.

Sky Above Clouds III - 1963

Nature Forms - 1932

Red Canna - 1923

Bruscetta, Anyone?

I am beginning to have dreams that consist of me, in front of a large classroom of college student, getting laughed at and having tomatoes (of the big, juicy, ripe variety) hurled at me. It is becoming apparent, in my mind, that not only do I not know how to teach, but that I am not the kind of person who commands any type of authority. I am barely a graduate, myself...(see picture). The lady at the grocery store not only cards me every time I buy wine, but she also comments on how I do not even look old enough to drive. I am. I am old enough to drive. My question is, if my pudgy cheeks make me look 14 years old, how will my students ever take me seriously. Maybe a nice pantsuit will do the trick...I guess we will see.


Pop Songs are Full of Meaning

This post is dedicated to my husband, Graham who (though I love him very much) has very poor taste in music. Example: he hates Britney Spears. I feel that it is my duty to show how meaningful the lyrics in pop songs can be.

" You must not know 'bout me, you must not know 'bout me. I could have another you in a minute, matter fact he'll be here in a minute." - Beyonce
An extraordinarily poignant and empowering phrase.

"I've been lookin' for a driver who is qualified, so if you think that you're the one step into my ride...can you handle the curves can you run all the lights?...Now shut up and drive." - Rihanna
Helps us to comprehend the importance of having the proper credentials before receiving ones' driver's license. It also mentions the problem we are facing now-a-days with people driving while talking on their cell phones.

"Tell me how I'm supossed to breathe with no air. Can't live, can't breathe with no air. No air. No air." - Jordin Sparks
Accurately emphasizes the importance of the element, oxygen, that allows us to breathe.

"Hey, baby, whether it's now or later...you can't shake me, cause I got you on my radar. And whether you like it or not, it aint gonna stop...cause I got you on my radar (I got you on my radar)" - Britney Spears
This lyric embodies the touching nature of a loving courtship. Truly moving.

"Do you, do you have a first-aid kit handy? Cause my heart is D-A-M-A-G-E-D" - Danity Kane
This lyric teaches us the importance of always having emergency supplies close at hand. It could, one day, be imperative to ones' survival.


Bok, Bok, Bok...Much Unlike a Chicken

Sissela Bok is, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant ethicists of the modern age. Her idea, the Principle of Veracity, states that the truth is always preferable to a lie. Very Kantian, yes...but unlike Kant, Bok's perspective is situational.

The thing about her book, Lying, that I find challenging are her ideas about white lies. The idea that lies are ethical when they "don't hurt anyone" is completely irrelevant because, in truth, we cannot know whether or not our lies (the large and small) damage ourselves or others. "To the extent that we train ourselves to see their (white lies') ramifications and succeed in eliminating them from our speech, the need to resort to them will diminish" (Bok, Lying p.72).

The proverbial butterfly wing flap that causes a hurricane...white lies have consequences just like anything else. It is important in life that we not only do the right thing, but that we know why we are doing the right thing. Ethical systems are important because humans lend themselves so heavily towards justification and because, sometimes, justifying wrongness can be all too easy.

Consider this your permission to say to me "That haircut totally sucks", "I do not think that I will have time to do ______ today", or "Yeah, that dress makes you look like a larger form of mammal than you are".


No Power Friday...

This past Friday an extraordinary thing happened. I was right in the middle of watching Oprah interview Tom cruise when our power went out...and then came back on...and then went out again...and then came back on...and then went out again, for good.

After a few minutes I got bored and decided to take Bear out for a walk. So I stepped outside and... POW...camaraderie. All of our neighbors and their children had stepped outside, into what happened to be a perfect California-sunny day, and actually began talking. Kids, unable to spend the afternoon in the usual way, got out their scooters and bikes and played (gasp) outside.

It was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I have had in a while. Throwing the ball to my puppy outside on the lawn, talking to my neighbors whom I had never met before. All of this made me think that what we need is to have the power go out, nation-wide, every Friday. Ok, ok, so it might not be ideal for the economy, traffic, or hospitals...but it sure would enhance our ability to have fun the old fashioned way: un-mediated.

"I am taught the poorness of our invention, the ugliness of towns and palaces. Art and luxury have early learned that they must work as enhancement and sequel to this original beauty...Henceforth I shall be hard to please. He who knows the most, he who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal man. Only as far as the masters of the world have called in nature to their aid, can they reach the height of magnificence."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I will not get a kickback for the sales of these books...

First off, you (whoever "you" may be) should know that this blog will forever lack any consistent themes...I am using it, as Graham puts it, as "a space to write whatever I am thinking about". I always thought that was the point of blogs...but apparently some of them have themes. I hate themes.

That said: I am a firm believer in children's books. I wish that I could be the type of brilliantly concise person who is able to write them, but I am not, so I simply enjoy them. I enjoy them a lot. Here are a few that, in my opinion, any person with little ones (or an inquiring mind of their own) should have.

The Little Prince by Antoine deSaint-Exupery: Not only does he have an amazing last name, but this ex-military French pilot puts into words, quite well, how adults tend to treat children like tiny little idiots...ignoring many of the possibly brilliant things that they have to tell us.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: I enjoy this book not only because the main character, Max, was quite possibly modeled after my husband, but because it is so vivid and imaginative. I also imagine that this book has helped many a children overcome their fears of monsters under their beds.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: Quite frankly, anything by this man is lovely. I grew up reading his various collections of silly poems. This book, however, has captured something about the idea of selflessness that no other book, in my humble opinion, has yet to come close to. As a 22 year old, it still warms my heart.

The Lorax by Dr. Suess: There are a lot of things that are is extremely difficult to teach children about...where babies come from, for example. This book, one of Suess' best as far as I am concerned, teaches them about the environment and the importance of taking care of what we have, while we have it, in a seamless and easy-to-understand way. For adults, it is an allegorical tale about the reason that non-renewable resources are termed "non-renewable".

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst: Because I, too, get a little angry when there is no dessert in my lunch box. Also, I read this book for the first time in elementary school in Ridgewood, New Jersey and still...all these years later, use the title of it to describe my very worst days.

Ok...now that I have recommended them there is no excuse not to have them. Unless you just don't trust me. You should, though. Also, public libraries have amazing book sales every so often and I can all but guarantee you that every book on this list will be there (and can be yours for just one easy payment of $.99...or something relatively close to that amount).

New to This

A lot of people blog...and I guess that I am now among them. A little behind the times, though. I have thought about starting a blog for a long time, as I tend to have a lot to say, but I never got around to it. Until now.

Yesterday I was introduced to the glory that is Grand Theft Auto. Now, before you judge me, you should know that I stopped at every red light, never stole a vehicle, and cooperated fully with the law enforcement officials. The game gets a lot of flack but, to be fair, it is seriously good fun. Plus, I do not subscribe to the school of thought that believes violence in video games begets violence in real life...at least not anymore than being amazing at Rock Band (which, by the way, I totally am) makes the non-digital-me rock-worthy.

It should. It really should.