27 December 2006

tonight i went to the beach. after dark. in december. it rained last night and this morning when i drove down the canyon and looked out over the ocean, there were white caps dotting the ocean as far out as i could see. and the crescent beach just north of laguna was being pounded with big waves sending white spray up the face of the cliff. i wonder if the water would have reached the mobile homes that were just torn down two or three months ago. when i drove back into town this evening, i could see the white of the waves as they hit the shore at main beach. so i stopped. on a whim. and walked out and watched for a bit.

i've lived near the ocean most of my life. i rarely go to the beach. but i know when i'm not near it. and i miss it. there's something indescribably magical about the ocean with all of its variable moods and colors. the thing i love the most about it is the way it soaks up all of the light of day and then, when the sun is setting and the darkness of night is coming, it gives that light back--glowing long after the sun has gone. at those moments, it seems possible that this world can find peace.

16 December 2006

tonight i uttered the words: "i like spam better." and then, when i realized what i had said, i laughed. but i was serious. to contextualize, perhaps i should mention that i was comparing spam to vienna sausages. surely you, too, like spam better than vienna sausages?

14 December 2006

i've done a lot of stateside visiting--more than half of the fifty states.

as you can see, i'm a bit of an east/west girl. my trips to the middle were all for business and were relatively short and full of long hours. but i did manage to witness a co-worker eat a 52 oz. steak in texas (which seems a particularly texas kind of thing to do), visit the campus of the university of indianna (which is beautiful), and take an architecture tour along the river in chicago in spite of my manic 12 to 15 hour work days while in those places. and in michigan, we ate at the same restaurant on nights one and three cause the steak there was so good. there was something about that restaurant that jinxed my sister, though; both nights she managed to spill a full glass across the table. the coworker she took aim for managed to move quickly enough to escape the flood the second time.

someday i'll venture out into the middle of the nation and take in a few sites. and maybe i'll make it to georgia someday.

{make your own map at route 66}

13 December 2006

jana tagged me with this meme and i love christmas too much to resist. and i'll just go ahead and pass it on to anyone who wants to share.

1. eggnog or hot chocolate?
i only do eggnog if it’s southern comfort’s vanilla spice eggnog, which is superyum. but usually i’d go for hot chocolate. with cinnamon. and sometimes with chile pepper, too.

2. does santa wrap presents or just put them under the tree?
santa lays presents out unwrapped; each child gets a different chair in the room and their presents are marked by their stockings (which have been duly stuffed with scrumptious things and little gadgets). presents from the parents are wrapped and go under the piano.

3. colored lights on the tree, or white?
beautiful, bright colors.

4. do you hang mistletoe?
when we hang something like this, it’s a kissing ball not mistletoe. but it doesn’t happen every year.

5. when do you put your decorations up?
first week of december.

6. what is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
my mama’s rolls, which are so delicious. no lousy breadmaker roll can even begin to compare, not even in your wildest imagination.

7. what's a favorite holiday memory from your childhood?
my parents often provided christmas for other families. one year they had all of us kids (there’s seven of us) help them do the shopping and delivery. i’ll never forget that woman’s face when we showed up at her door. reading the Christmas story with my family on Christmas eve is a favorite, too.

8. when and how did you learn the truth about santa?
i think i knew by the time i was nine or so--maybe even earlier, but i repressed the knowledge and continued pretending that he was real for a couple more years.

9. do you open a gift on christmas eve?
nope. that’s sacrilege.

10. how do you decorate your christmas tree?
with any ornament that strikes my fancy. i have everything from blown glass to handmade. i like them if they sparkle. i like them a bit funky. and i have a penchant for ornaments with things inside them (like my snowmen with snow inside or my snowglobe ornament). and i put disco balls on my tree—ornaments and strings of beads that look like disco balls. they do lovely things with the lights, which is, after all, what makes a tree so magical.

11. snow! love it or dread it?
love love love. visiting in, living in, frolicking in, walking in. love it.

12. can you ice skate?
sorta. but not as well as i roller skate. which takes me to. . .

13. do you remember your favorite gift?
the gift i remember the most is my white roller derby skates with bright pink wheels and stoppers. i got them when i was about ten or eleven and my mama bought them too big for me so i can still wear them twenty years later. i love my roller skates. a close second was my dream princess bed, doll and horse. man did i love that doll with her horse (which had flowers in its hair) and her bed (which had a wind up dream sequence which rolled under a screen underneath her pillow; when you laid the doll on it the dream sequence was supposed to scroll beneath the pillow; yeah, that’s right—under the pillow where it couldn’t be seen; i suppose the point was to know that the doll was having the dream; it was all pink, of course).

14. what's the most important thing about the holidays for you?
family and the savior. but really, i love it all. every last little bit of it.

15. what is your favorite holiday dessert?
in general, it’s pie—mostly pumpkin pie, but also coconut cream pie (my mama makes the best; i have never tasted cream pie that good anywhere else; and my pastry chef best friend says that the fancy-pants pastry chef she works for, who is famous for his coconut cream pie, doesn’t make cream pie as well as my mama does). but every other year or so my mama makes butter tarts which melt in my mouth and which taste like decadence incarnate. they’re pretty damn tasty, too.

16. what is your favorite holiday tradition?
reading the christmas story with my family on christmas eve. and going to the park with my nieces and nephews on christmas day to throw a frisbee or a ball or ride scooters. the last few years, we've started tracking santa's progress through norad, which my nieces and nephews just eat up. it's become a fun tradition.

17. what tops your tree?
i just got my tree topper this year, after spending four or five years looking for one i liked. it’s a silver, glittery angel made in a bit of an abstract style. i’m pleased.

18. which do you prefer - giving or receiving?
is there a difference? i love it all.

19. what is your favorite christmas song?
you want me to pick one favorite christmas song? are you crazy? away in a manger; joy to the world; o come, o come emmanuel; white christmas; mary did you know; bach’s christmas oratorio; the messiah; o come all ye faithful; i heard the bells on christmas day. really, i’ll stop now. there aren’t many christmas songs i don’t like. and there are a good many i love.

20. candy canes! yuck or yum?
they’re okay. i like them best when they melt into my hot chocolate.

12 December 2006

tonight i was craving something. i didn't really know what. i'd eaten dinner and it was satisfying. but i kept wandering into the kitchen, opening and closing cupboards and the fridge, eating single m&m's, hoping that i'd strike upon the perfect fix. but nothing did it. then i opened the fridge and made a marvelous discovery. frosting. perfectly buttery, creamy homemade frosting. the very best kind. and my mama had graham crackers. ten minutes and a few graham-cracker-and-frosting cookies later my craving was gone and i was happy. i can't eat graham cracker cookies without remembering those delightful days in elementary school when i would open my lunch bag and discover that my mama was out of store-bought treats and had resorted to whipping up a batch of frosting and building cookies of her own. she may have thought they were a last resort, a poor substitue for the real thing, but in my child's mind they were pure confectionary heaven. they still are.

09 December 2006

i'm sitting in my office working, listening to devotchka. and it's raining outside. and it's lovely. i think i'll make a cup of hot chocolate. perfection.

07 December 2006

i love to eat. and i love to cook. so i thought i'd share an occasional recipe. this is one i pulled out of some random book of my mom's a couple years ago when i unexpectedly came into a hambone. i modified it. i'll give the recipe first and then my modifications.

ham & bean soup.

1 lb. white beans, prepared
8 c. water
1 hambone
2 c. ham, diced
1 c. celery
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf

combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 12 to 14 hours.

modifications: i used white beans and 15 bean mix. there are a couple of ways to prepare beans; the bag should say how. i usually soak them overnight. because i had more beans than it called for, i ended up using only about half the water it called for, which resulted in more of a chili consistency soup than a soupy soup. it was tasty. i also season to taste rather than measuring out my salt and pepper. and knowing me, i probably threw in other seasonings--whatever looked good at the moment. i had a very meaty hambone, meaning there was a lot of meat left on it, so i didn't bother with the 2 cups of diced ham. when i came home from work that day and tried to pull the hambone out, it fell apart. and i've never tasted ham that tender. delicious.


{i first made this soup as part of a series of experimental soups i made for the missionaries. it became a trend that year. and i post it in honor of brooke, who helped me eat the first batch and who has a hambone begging to be used.}

04 December 2006

this morning i started my day as i always do—with npr. after showering, i listened to "day to day" while moisturizing, styling, and toothbrushing. ambassador john bolton’s imminent departure from the u.n. robert gates upcoming senate confirmation hearings. the supreme court weighing anti-segregation measures in public school districts in st. louis and seattle. and lionel richie. that’s right. lionel richie. “lionel of arabia,” to be exact.

and then it struck. a bolt of insight so brilliant that i’m surprised i (and the bathroom i was in) withstood its incendiary power. clearly lionel richie is the answer—the best possible person bush could appoint as the next ambassador to the u.n. his lack of experience cannot be held against him. after all we don’t often require experience and knowledge of our national leaders—just check out such illustrious figures as jesse “the body” ventura and arnie, not to mention some of bush’s shining moments in the lead-up to his own first national election.

so much for dismissing his lack of qualifications. but if all it took to become ambassador to the u.n. was to lack all necessary qualifications, we’d have an entire nation of candidates. clearly there must be something that sets lionel apart from the masses of humanity who are similarly unqualified to act as ambassador to the u.n. and trust me, there is.

for starters, lionel is popular in the middle east, which is more than can be said for most americans who would only be identified as “american” (an open invitation to be kidnapped, shot, or mocked). according to lionel, when he goes to visit other nations he is not American, nor a man, nor even a black man. he is that nation. and how could the nations of the world not love a man who is their nation? not only does his aura allow him to identify as the nation he’s visiting, it’s got a magnetic pull powerful enough to bring together long-time enemies. as was the case when he visited some fancy-pants spa in sardinia and a high-level israeli government official and a high-level lebanese government official overcame their history of years of vacationing in the same place without once speaking to each other in order to bask in the glow of lionel’s presence, recounting stories of how their respective wives had come down the aisle to “truly” and sharing photos of their children. then there was the 20th anniversary of the american bombing of libya, on which lionel performed. at 2:00 in the morning—the anniversary not only of the bombing but also the moment at which gadafi’s infant daughter was killed.

clearly lionel has the necessary ability to bring together warring enemies. plus, if things were to get rough, he could just start singing in that silky smooth voice of his. and then his acolytes would parrot back his music (which according to him translates deep-seated anger into the mellifluous songs we all know and love [or not]; thus his universal appeal), as did “hundreds” of Libyan children when they followed him on a walking tour of the old city of Tripoli. he said hello, and they sang back to him “hello, is it me you’re looking for.” when he attempted to talk to them, he rapidly discovered the only English they knew was what they had picked up phonetically from his songs. just imagine the potential for captivating such world figures as hugo chavez, muqtada al-sadr, or jacques chiraq, and the subsequent parrotry. anytime the u.s. faced a difficult challenge in the u.n., lionel would simply have to write a song and sing it and before you know it, our perspective will be sung back to us by the masses. and isn’t that what we want of the u.n. after all? affirmation that everything and anything goes so long as it’s what we want?

i can’t believe the bush administration hasn’t struck upon this stroke of genius yet. clearly they should start paying attention to the world around them. had they been doing so, they may have noticed that baghdadis blared lionel’s “all night long” as American planes bombed the city in 2003 and they would have made this appointment years ago (but then, i've never accused the bushites of paying attention to realities on the ground in baghdad as they prepared their invasion).

and did i mention that lionel speaks of himself in the third person? if nothing else convinces you that he’s perfect for the job, that should do the trick.

02 December 2006

i finally watched it. the film. well, i missed the first twenty minutes or so, but i think i got a pretty good idea of what happened in them. i'd heard good things about it. and i can see why. the actors did a great job. the script was intelligent and funny. it very effectively skewered the hypocrisy of those who use christianity (christianity specifically, but any religion in general) as a weapon rather than as a way to enlightenment, as a means for self-affirmation and aggrandizement rather than as an avenue to self-knowledge.

that said, i have some reservations about it. when i started at uci, i was shocked by how many of my colleagues (mostly other grad students, but one or two faculty members also) were willing to dismiss christians and christianity out of hand as a narrow-minded, bigoted petrie dish for right wing fanaticism at best and more often for brutal hatred. i'll never forget the day when i was walking from university center back to campus with my grad student "mentor" and we were approached by a representative of one of the many on-campus christian student associations. the woman who approached us very nicely invited us to a fellowship dinner. being a part of an actively evangelizing church myself, i know the potential cost of approaching perfect strangers in order to discuss religion with them. as a rule, i try to respond to any missionary-type effort with kindness. so i very nicely told her that i had other plans that night and my "mentor" and i moved on. as we walked away, she (the "mentor") asked me, in a scandal-tinged sotto voce, if i could believe the nerve of such people. and then she looked at me askance and asked, "you're not religious, are you?" with that balance of incredulity and horror in her voice that implies that clearly the answer will be a resounding "no, of course not! why would you think such an impossibly preposterous thing as that?! how could i be a smart, open-minded, thoughtful intellectual if i had a religion?!?" i quietly told her i was mormon and left her to squirm her way out of it.

that was simply one incident of many that told me that many of the generally liberal secular scholarly types around me thought christianity was the spawn of satan. now, i should also say that many of my colleagues have not demonstrated this kind of narrowness of mind where christianity is. i know many, many people in the academic community who have nothing but respect for me and my religious beliefs and do not subscribe to the notion that christianity automatically means everything thoughtless, ultra-conservative, hateful, and bigoted.

okay. with that backstory. i liked saved. it was funny. the characters were fairly well-developed. it's a great satire of christian hypocrisy. but i am bothered by a too easy dismissal of strong belief as necessarily resulting in the kind of hypocrisy and inability to reason portrayed not only in the obviously satiric hillary faye, but also in the somewhat bumbling pastor skip. now, the pastor's son displayed a christian belief that was charitable and accepting of human frailty. and the mother of the main character clearly was genuine and ultimately privileged family and love over blind, foolish belief. but the film clearly implies that those who really understand compassion and acceptance are the rebellious, unreligious jewish girl and hillary faye's unbelieving brother. in other words, the victims of christianity's hatefulness are those who are truly compassionate.

okay. so that's a simplification. i think the film is more complex than that. but i also think that in our current climate, the message that christianity=bigotry comes across loud and clear while the nuances depicted in characters like patrick and in mary's crisis of faith get buried. worse, because such representations appear to support the notion that christianity=bigotry, they not only reinforce thoughtless prejudice against christianity, they simultaneously reinforce the stereotypical notion that the secular left unjustifiably dismisses christian belief as backwards. nothing like fostering prejudice on all sides.

but what's the answer? obviously the answer is not to avoid depictions of the problems of christianity just because such depictions might reinforce the prejudice that has become unfortunately prevalent against christianity. nor should they be avoided because some christians allow such representations to add to their martyr complexes. so what will save us?

i've been housesitting the last two weeks. and dog-, bird-, and turtle-sitting. i've started working in rowland's office. because it has a comfortable chair in it. and a nice desk. and the dogs seem to like being in here. this picture is on his desk. and i fell in love with it the first time i saw it. i don't really know why. maybe the exaggeration of the motion--it's almost a caricature of typical human motion. and there's something beautifully symetric in the arrangement of the man's limbs. and then there's the austerity of the setting. am i strange? probably. but i just find this image lovely.

{he's depicting author James Joyce "striding" along Sandymount Strand for a video that helped mark the centenary of bloomsday--june 16, 1904, the day on which Ulysses took place.}

20 November 2006

whitman says what i tried to say in my previous post in five brief lines of poetry:

Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?

Well I have . . . for the April rain has, and the mica on
the side of a rock has.

Do you take it I would astonish?

Does the daylight astonish? or the early redstart twittering
through the woods?

Do I astonish more than they?
(Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself" 1855)

these things do astonish. but not in the sublime way niagara or kilimanjaro do. not like a soaring eagle or an intense sunset. simply because in all of their ordinariness and commonality, they are intricate and purposeful and lovely in the way that they fulfill the measure of their creation. they astonish. but they are utterly ordinary. they are ordinary. but they astonish. shouldn't that be true of each of us?

13 November 2006

yesterday i spoke in my ward. it was a topic i chose myself because it is deeply meaningful to me. and because i have spent a great deal of time studying it recently. i spent a lot of time thinking about it, both in personal study before being asked to speak and over the last week as i tried to define a structure for my talk that would allow me to share some of the insights i had gained through my own study. it went well, though i don't think i fully articulated some of the points i was trying to make. it probably would have been better had i finished writing it more than half an hour before church started so that i could do some re-writing.

after i finished speaking and we had sung the intermediate hymn, the next speaker stood up and proclaimed me an asset. i bit back a smile, until i looked at caroline who was sitting at the back of the chapel, grinning from ear to ear. because i have complained to her and others many times over the course of the last month or so about being declared an asset. the very first sunday i attended my new ward, i bore my testimony. because i felt moved by the spirit to do so. after sacrament, a handful of people pulled me aside to compliment me. these were not pass-in-the-hallway-so-you-say-something-nice type compliments. i've given and received my share of those. these were heartfelt statements of appreciation tinged with a bit of awe. this was repeated several times throughout church that day. and then, during relief society, i made a few comments, as i am wont to do. and the teacher stopped her lesson--stopped it in the middle of a thought--in order to state that i would be such an asset to the ward.

this bothers me. immensely. and not because it feels impersonal or like i'm appreciated only for what i can give the ward. i know these comments are not meant in that way. it bothers me partially because i know how very different my reality is from the appearance created by my statements. not that i'm a hypocrite. just that i am articulate and speak well, that i know how to use rhetoric in order to communicate, which i think often gives people an idea of me that is a little more together than my reality is.

but that's not the biggest reason these comments and compliments bother me. the biggest reason is this: i don't think i should be complimented for simply doing what i should do, for simply being what god has asked me to be. god has given me certain gifts and i believe he expects me to use them. i do--at least i try to. i do not believe i merit compliments for doing so. heaven knows i don't use them as well as i could.

more importantly, i feel like such compliments almost nullify the potential for interaction, learning, and growth that comes with true discourse. i don't want someone to tell me how smart i sound, or how insightful i am, or that my talk should be given in general conference. i want them to respond in kind. i want them to share their insights with me. i want them to engage in conversation, because out of conversation, communion, discourse, come greater light and knowledge for everyone involved. what comes of telling me how great my talk was? nothing, really.

i probably sound ungrateful. and i don't mean to. i appreciate people's compliments. i know they are generally sincere and that they're being nice. i am truly happy if what i have to say helps someone else and i would never want them to keep that to themselves if they want to share that fact (which someone did yesterday; i was happy that the spirit could work through me to help her). but i can't help but be uncomfortable in the face of such comments and praise.

07 November 2006

i was in virginia last week, which made me remember some of the many reasons i love the east. this time of year, one of the primary reasons is color. everywhere you look, the world is bursting with warmth. red. gold. leaves burning brilliant against an indian summer sky. and the world is full of promise. it’s an odd thing--death bringing hope. endings filling you with wonder, not desolation.

the first few days i was there were chilly. perfectly autumnal. gray skies. rain. making color more brilliant. sunday was brisk, sunny, clouds scudding. and monday dawned beautifully clear--a perfect Indian summer day. the world was full of magic.

after a gorgeous drive into the city from loudoun county, i started my meanderings around the city at the east building of the national gallery--one of my art meccas. and by pure serendipity, i began on the lower level (which i usually save for last). i go there for the calders. i love the rothkos and the pollocks, among other incredible works from the last fifty years. but it's the magic of the calders, with their melding of concrete and nebulous forms and their magical shadows, that draw me back to the east building every time i'm in d.c. i love them so much that i save them for last, so that their magic leaves with me. but this time i went down first. and as i walked down the last half flight of stairs into the exhibit space, i discovered big beautiful rothkos that i had never seen before. in shades of red, orange, brown, maroon. warmth and peace. as if the palette of fall had been captured and transformed into these magnificent canvases that beckon you into pure color. and in that color you find your self.

18 October 2006

they've come.
the beautiful santa ana winds that fill the world with magic and wonder and make me want to be outside. they are just so beautiful.

15 October 2006

i made my first visit to las vegas last week. i'd driven through so many times i couldn't count how many. but i'd never gotten off the road in vegas. my only stopping place in vegas is craig road. in north vegas, far away from the strip. for gas. but my sister and brother-in-law were there on business and it's only four hours away and i needed to see my sister. so i made the drive on monday.

as i pulled into town, i had no idea where i was going--only that i needed to end up at the venetian. so i followed the lights to the strip and hazarded a guess at which direction to turn. and began the stop and go gawk parade down the strip. talk about sensory overload. more lights than one could imagine. fountains shooting 80 feet into the air. people everywhere. ads for strip shows and dancing girls. it was just so completely bizarre. and garish.

and then i got to the hotel. even the parking structure was extreme. and the building was overwhelmingly confusing. i think they built it to maximize confusion in their customers--confusion concealed under a veneer of services and amenities--in order to induce more spending. but i eventually made my way to the ballroom where my sister's company was holding their event that night. and found an amazing dessert spread, which i promptly visited. it was tasty. as was the room service egg fritata i consumed at 1 in the morning.

tuesday i spent the day at the tradeshow, so i didn't see much. until that evening, when tasha, mark and i went out walking to find some dinner. we ended up at caesar's palace. the shops, to be exact. where we ate. and then walked around so i could get an eyeful of the attractions. a huge replica of a trojan horse. an animatrix statuary show. it was so ridiculous that i couldn't help spontaneously laughing on occasion. which is kind of a fun feeling. walking down the street or through a mall, randomly laughing because of how utterly ridiculous the things you discover are. i probably sounded like a laughing fool.

we walked down to the bellagio. because i wanted to see the chihuly glass installation on the ceiling of the lobby. it was gorgeous. absolutely beautiful. and back behind the lobby there was a very pretty garden. in which there was a tree that the bellagio had had cut down in the south, shipped to vegas, and reassembled. did i say excessive? we also found this fabulous chocolate fountain in a shop back behind the garden. a three story chocolate fountain. yeah. you read that right.

on the walk back to the venetian, we were pleased to note that many of the casinos use fluorescent coil lightbulbs. very conservation-minded of them. now, if only we could convince them to use fewer than ten thousand of them...

it is a wild place. an absolute circus of humanity. one i wouldn't mind visiting on occasion just to people watch. but i think it would sap my soul if i spent too much time there.

[note: there were two primary discoveries last week. and each deserves its own post. so this one tonight. look for another in the next few days.]

about eight years ago, i spent a semester studying in london. upon my first trip to the national gallery, i decided i would work my way through the national gallery and the tate chronologically, beginning with the earliest works and moving on until i reached the contemporary work displayed at the tate. after about four weeks of madonnas and crucifixes and other medieval and early renaissance pieces that generally failed to speak to me, i gave up on my plan and found my way to the tate. where i experienced 20th century art for the first time. and experienced is the correct word. i found myself especially drawn to the abstract expressionists. david smith's sculpture, which relied as much upon surface variations and the way they played with light as it did upon form. mark rothko's beautiful, intense color fields. and pollock's wildly erratic, vibrant, massive works. as i encountered them, i realized that where all of the early art i'd consumed at the national gallery tried to communicate a specific story--often one laden with specific subsurface messages to go along with the story--, these works of abstraction were all about surface. about line and texture and motion. about hue and contrast. but the lovely discovery was that because they are all about surface, they have so much more depth. there is no pat explanation, no set understanding to be gained looking into a pollock. there's no moral of the story to be taken home from a rothko. there is only the color and the form and the texture and your own soul.

08 October 2006

i was listening to NPR tonight (surprise, surprise) and they reported that vice-president dick cheney has asked (too passive) or demanded (too aggressive) or ordered (too militant; you take your pick of verbs) that his televisions be pre-programmed to fox news when he checks into a hotel room while traveling. i was horrified. not because i find fox news repugnant in every possible way. but because of the presumptuousness of demanding that a television be pre-programmed. we couldn't ask our esteemd vice-president to take five minutes and find the damn station for himself, now could we. it smacks of the kind of snobbery that leaves me disillusioned with the world. and it makes me feel better about disliking cheney (not that i needed more reasons...).
more treasures.

  • chocolate. there are many reasons randi is my best friend. this week, she confirmed several of them by sending me a box of assorted chocolates from l'artisan du chocolate, a london-based chocolatier. a small box full of twenty assorted chocolates. some pure chocolate ganaches made from cocao beans grown in different areas of the world. some ganaches infused with spices, herbs, flowers, or fruites. all delicious. if you like chocolate, really like chocolate, you should indulge sometime.
  • chicken. i'm not a big one for chicken salad. never have been. but about four years ago, my two sisters, my mom and i went on our first girl trip--a driving tour of new england. we spent a night in portsmouth, new hampshire, before driving up the coast into main. in portsmouth, we discovered a little deli called bell pepper at which we found a chicken gorgonzola salad. it was so good that as we drove back south to boston, we pulled off the road in portsmouth to stop and buy it again. chicken, penne pasta, gorgonzola, celery, walnuts, red grapes, onion (red or green), and a blue cheesy dressing. it's delicious. my mama made it this week (we improvise based on the list of ingredients the guy gave us when we bought it the second time) and i rediscovered exactly how lovely it is.
  • haley bonar. i downloaded her album "...the size of planets" and have fallen in love with it. a bit folksy, a bit alternative. gorgeous voice. if you want women singer-songwriters, some others i've recently discovered (although not this week) include nina nastasia, regina spektor, deb talan, ida, hem, and jenny lewis. some of them use male vocals, too, but they're all driven by women. and check out the innocence mission. good stuff that.
  • faith. on the radio. NPR to be exact. i've been listening to speaking of faith for a long time. today's program was interesting--an interview with paraplegic matthew sanford who has become an expert yoga instructor and author. all about the mind-body connection. the show takes widely varied approaches to faith and features an impressive group of religious and philosophical personalities. it's worth a listen. on kpcc 89.3 at 4:00 on sunday afternoons.

07 October 2006

i love fall. it's almost a contradiction--plants dying, preparing for the hibernation and lifelessness of winter. but the air is practically sparkling with anticipation and expectation. promises of pure blue skies with fire-orange and gold leaves. or a stormy gray day perfect for curling up with a cup of cocoa and a good book. the happiness of family gatherings replete with mama's pumpkin pie and other yummy goodness. i think i like autumn more than any other season. and this illustration captured some of the magic i find in it.

04 October 2006

i went to fhe. actually, before going, i talked to a friend about what we were doing. she explained how one of the bishopric wives had a child who had discovered mini pigs around their block and we were going to go on a mini pig hunt for fhe. i went, showed up a bit late, and was assigned to a team. they'd already found one mini pig but the girl who had found it got all squeamish and grabbed it too hard so it was injured. plus it was kinda black and looked a bit more like a mouse. so we kept looking, circling the block, checking every crack and crevice and hidden spot. eventually i discovered one--a perfect pink specimen rooting about in a conical bucket on its side. i picked up the bucket and tipped it up so that the pig slid to the point. i reached in and very gently picked up the pig with a napkin. i didn't want to touch it, so i wrapped it in the napkin, being careful to keep its nose and mouth free so it could still breathe, and we headed back to the house. by the time i got there i was worried that the pig's skin was drying out. when we walked in we discovered another team had already arrived with a pink pig. it was submerged in a bowl of water and apparently it had suffered an untimely death, cause they weren't taking it back out of the water. i dunked my mini porker in the water to refresh it and then took it out, spread out the napkin and set the pig on it on top of the table. the conversation turned to a recent date i had gone on with a man who was divorced. the bishopric wives were asking me if i thought there was potential; i indicated there was a little but not strong potential (all the while my wee pig was exploring the limits of the table top). meanwhile a sacrament meeting is happening in which a woman in my ward was standing up to speak after two speakers who only took about five minutes each (thus she had a lot of time to fill). as i flashed back and forth between the pig-accompanied discussion of the possibility of dating this man and the sacrament meeting, the pig started shedding a layer of its skin. meanwhile the woman giving the sacrament talk started explaining that her talk wasn't that long so she wasn't sure how she'd fill all of the time and then said that before she started her talk she wanted to say something. she proceeded to talk about being six feet tall (she wasn't me; i swear; she was blonde and much more beautiful than i am)--except she wasn't six feet tall--and how that kept men from dating her. and then she started berating the men from the pulpit. until the bishopric interrupted her in order to address the situation. all the while this mini pig was grunting and rooting around on the table. i didn't get to hear what the bishop said.

now. i've had some weird dreams in the past. being chased by storm troopers. watching the crucifixion while being concerned that the argonauts were coming for me. receiving a proposal of polygamous marriage from a good friend, being encouraged by his current wife to accept, and being presented with the primary incentive--a huge diamond ring. but all of those i could kind of understand. i mean, it's not all that strange to incorporate fictional characters into dreams. the crucifixion/argonauts combo directly addressed an emotionally stressful situation in my life at the time. the polygamy was wacko, but i had been learning about the history of polygamy in the church that week at institute. this one--this one i just don't know what to do with. thoughts?

01 October 2006

this week's discoveries and recommendations.

  • philippe's. the home of the original french dip sandwich, which was, according to legend, discovered accidentally one day when a sandwich was dropped in the drippings from the roast but the customer was in such a hurry that he ate it anyway. and then returned and ordered it the same way. it was good. but not outstanding in terms of food. i prefer dipping my own sandwich rather than having them dip it for me, which resulted in a sogginess that messed with my textures sensitivity. however, the experience was worth it since i was alread in the neighborhood (union station, olivera street, disney hall, etc., etc.). next time i'm in the neighborhood, i think i'll go with the lamb incarnation (which i was advised to do and didn't; i had to try the beef first). get the potato salad on the side.
  • mahler. i told you last week you should go to this concernt. i did. last night with my mama. and it was every bit as incredible as i thought it would be. and then some. the third is a gorgeous, lush, formally unconventional symphony that celebrates love and joy's capacity to defeat suffering. everyone should see it performed. mahler is a genius. his third counts for this week's re-discovery.
  • gehry. specifically the walt disney concert hall. i'd been to the building twice--once to a film festival and once to explore the roof garden. i've always loved the exterior of the building and all of gehry's work. his buildings feel alive to me, an exquisite melding of movement and stasis in a building that demands to be called scuplture as well as a building. but i'd never seen the concert hall. it's as vibrant as the building, with curvaceous, warm wooden ceiling and walls, and a perfect twilight blue light. not to mention the exploding facade of the pipe organ. don't miss it.
  • love. a scripture chain for you. because following it gave me peace this week. start in romans 8. a lovely chapter. specifically verses 28 and 37-39. some cross references about what it means to love god, as mentioned in verse 28. Ezra 8:22, in which seek takes the place of love; Alma 36:3 in which trust takes the place of love; D&C 90:24 in which search, pray, believe, walk uprightly, and remember the covenant take the place of love. after thinking through this, verse 39 of Romans 8 got me thinking about what could separate us from god, which took me to D&C 124:33 in which i discovered that we are separated from god when we "hinder the almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven." i loved that idea--that god's love takes the shape of knowledge. thoughts?
  • classical. because you really should take advantage of the LA phil and disney hall. this week they're doing mozart's requiem and stravinsky's symphony of psalms (which uses the text from psalms 39, 40, and 150). i'm sure it will be brilliant.

30 September 2006

morning mist on my lake. part of the hilton lakes in the high sierra outside bishop. i took this about three years ago, the first time i went into the mountains with my brothers. going there is like going home.

i've decided to do an image of the week. sometimes a photo i take. sometimes a photo from someone else that's meaningful to me on a personal level. sometimes a photo or image that i've discovered and think is beautiful.

28 September 2006

somewhere between 6 and 7, the alarm goes off (sometimes this happens as early as 4:30 or 5; never after 8). i can't sleep later than about 7:30 or 8. the alarm is set to NPR (i'm a junkie)--morning edition. so i wake to news. sometimes i stayed up too late the night before so i kind of drift in and out of sleep with NPR playing in the background. this makes for fabulous dreams in which i believe i am building an eco-friendly house or am in a board meeting discussing the sale of a company. it's kind of a lovely way to wake up.

once i am awake rather than drifting in a sleepy haze through the virtual world of NPR, i generally laze around in bed for half an hour. guilty pleasure. to simply lie there all cozy warm in my bed (which i love!). plus i get to hear the news, without which my day is crappy (see above indication that i'm a junkie). then i do one of three things: 1. turn off the radio and read before getting up; if i do this, it's cause i'm reading something either fictional or for no reason other than pleasure; 2. listen to radio while checking email, blogs, etc., etc.; or 3. i get up. which sets in motion the following: stare at my closet to determine what i will wear that day (sometimes this happens while lazing in bed; and this is occasionally a much more difficult process than it should be); assemble clothing for day; shower; moisturize face and style hair to the accompaniment of more NPR (bought a bathroom clock radio for this purpose).

i might eat. it kind of depends on whether my mom is around and how insistent she is that i eat before leaving. these days i usually read a bit or do the email cause i don't have to be anywhere til 10. which is when i show up at pam's house to work. pam is a lady i know who is blind and is working on her master's in english. i help her out. reading to her, looking stuff up online, cleaning the fridge out, running errands, finding show times and ticket prices, etc., etc. at some point she will offer me food. i usually accept unless i had an unusually large and late breakfast (thanks to my mama).

i wrap up at 2 and head off to do my own thing. which means read. or research. which are essentially the same thing. this generally happens in some cafe (my favorites these days are panera or kean) where i can get something to drink.

evenings are: monday eat and work; tuesday eat and work or socialize; wednesday eat and institute; thursday eat and institute; friday eat and work or socialize or fry my brain in front of the boobtube.

you can see the glaring omissions. exercise. scripture study. enough time to work. the scripture study will change first. tonight i spent a lovely hour in the scriptures. it was enlightening. then maybe i can work on getting my body into shape. it's about damn time i reversed the slow upward creep of the scale. not to mention making it possible to hike seven miles without feeling like i'm going to keel over dead at the next step. completely untenable since next year i'm not only going on my usual week-long jaunt but also hoping to climb whitney.

with that, i think it's my bed time. 11:00. night.
so yesterday i was back down on harbor and found the infamous hummer again parked along the curb. except i noticed the rear of the vehicle was lower than the front. so i looked again only to discover it had a very flat rear tire. i wonder which of the potentially offended parties had slashed it. eco-freak? femi-nazi? ultra right-wing prude? hummer-lover? the possibilities are endless. who do you think did it?

26 September 2006

and crass. that was the message delivered by the hummer i saw parked on harbor today. a hummer complete with custom paint job in a swirl of grays and blacks with highly stylized and completely nude women surrounded by brilliant bursts of color scattered over the whole of it. topped off with a light bar of flashing yellow lights. i couldn't decide whether i should be offended or relieved to see such honest pairing of destructive wealth and destructive attitudes. at least the offensiveness wasn't buried behind a facade of genitility.

25 September 2006

at the prompting of friends, i decided it's time to start sharing the discoveries i make. they'll take all kinds of shapes and forms. dining. sweets. books. music. art. you name it, if it's good or interesting or scrumptious or lovely, i'll try to share it. so each week, check in and see what i've discovered in the last seven days. and for good measure i'll occasionally throw in something i've discovered a while ago and continue to enjoy.

  • sprinkles. the most ridiculous concept in sweet goods ever. a store that sells cupcakes. that's it. cupcakes for you. cupcakes for your dog. and shots of frosting. for those of us who don't like cupcakes but do like frosting. it's also ridiculously overpriced--$3.25 for a single cupcake. that didn't stop my friends and i from buying half a dozen to sample. i recommend the funkier varieties--pumpkin with cinnamon frosting, chai with chai frosting, ginger with lemon cream cheese frosting. you can pass on the basics--chocolate and vanilla in all of their varieties. i make better basics at home. if you must have a chocolate one, get the red velvet.
  • chocolate. so i did a chocolate night with friends this week. we sampled a pound of see's candies, five different chocolate bars, and three varieties of chocolate ice cream. the discovery was lindt's white chocolate coconut bar. it was tasty. hands down the best white chocolate i've ever tasted. it was so good, in fact, that a friend who likes neither white chocolate nor coconut liked it best of the bars available that night. and if you're up for something a bit trippy, try a nice dark chocolate with either peppercorn or chili pepper.
  • kean. i'm always on the lookout for a new cafe. and my standards are rather high. i want not only excellent hot cocoa (something that is nearly impossible to find), some herbal tea options, and decent snacks, but also a relaxing environment. somewhere i can sit and study for hours. i found a lovely new alternative this week. kean. at the intersection of irvine and 17th street at the edge of costa mesa and newport beach. they not only have your standard hot cocoa, but also mayan spiced and mexican spiced hot cocoa. and they not only have herbal teas, but also herbal iced tea (something i've never found before, though i've often wanted it) and herbal chai (another rarety). and they make italian cream sodas. pair it with tasty food and the sustenance side of the equation is met. on top of it all, they have a lovely atmosphere complete with comfy chairs, friendly employees, and live music in the evening on the weekends. and they give their coffee grounds to customers to use as fertilizer. goodness in all its possible cafe forms. for you coffee drinkers out there, i'm sure their coffee is as good as it gets. and it's an independent. long live the independent coffee house.
  • dickens. so i was browsing barnes & noble last night (a pasttime for me; i just can't walk through those doors without committing myself to a perusal of the bargains). i had gone in to buy sibelius' 5th symphony (which is gorgeous) for my dad for his birthday and on my way out i made my obligatory stop by the bargain shelves. only to discover beautiful hardbound reprints of the nonesuch series of dickens novels. nonesuch was a press active during the early half of the 20th century. they printed hardbound copies of literature that attempted to combine the quality of a fine press and the affordability of a mass market printer. these use dickens' final text and the illustrations he chose himself to accompany his novels. the original set included 24 books. i only purchased 4 and i don't know how many B&N is selling, but they're only $6.98 each.
  • thai. thai nakorn, to be exact. on garden grove boulevard between harbor and fairview. go. you won't regret it. it's worth the drive down harbor to eat this incredibly delicious food. and it's not expensive. i have far too many favorites to list them all, but some suggestions: beef panang curry(i have never, ever, even at ruth's chris steak house, had beef this tender; it practically melts in your mouth), barbequed catfish (incredible fish, amazing sauce), pad thai (the best i've eaten anywhere), beef with chili and basil. if there's a thai dish you want, they probably have it. and if it's not on the menu, they'll probably make it for you anyway. for dessert try the sweet sticky rice with mango, the coconut ice cream, the coconut custard (cooked in the coconut), or the fried banana. or you could be weird like me and get the coconut ice cream served on top of the sweet sticky rice. it makes me hungry just thinking about all of this deliciousness. do yourself a favor and go. right now if possible.
  • disney hall. to experience mahler's third. this friday, saturday, and sunday. not only is this the most gorgeous venue, anywhere, this symphony is an amazing experience. the first movement is longer than the entirety of beethoven's 5th. the work as a whole embodies all of creation, from the beginning to the angels. it uses not only an immense orchestra (nine double basses; there aren't many composers who call for that many double basses), but also a mezzo-soprano soloist, a women's chorus, and a boys' chorus. exquisitely passionate. if you get the chance go. if you're a student, you can try for a $10 rush ticket beginning two hours before the performance.

21 September 2006

i've decided that since i use google to find everything else, i should also use it to discover what exactly i need. because i clearly haven't been able to figure it out on my own and google is like the 21st century version of a seer. so, with thanks to marigold who inspired this and my last post, google tells me that i need the following:

  • amelia needs you!
  • amelia needs to turn her attention to regaining her husband's love
  • amelia needs 3-4 hours of exercise daily
  • amelia needs a haircut and a real job
  • amelia needs to rise to the challenge
  • amelia needs help
  • amelia needs to pray for getting her horrible grades up
  • amelia needs him
  • amelia needs constant support and encouragement and this can be achieved with outside help and financial aid in the form of regular donations or a monthly debit order
  • amelia needs attention to details
  • amelia needs to get to the library
  • amelia needs a desk that meets her work needs
  • amelia is really a princess, and in order to break the spell she is under, she needs a kiss before two cycles of the moon pass
  • amelia needs someone who is understanding, intelligent and likes planning ahead like she does
  • amelia needs to learn impulse control
  • amelia needs a good nap
  • amelia doesn't need "big assets"
i also discovered another amelia in the blogosphere who has done this precise search. i didn't steal all of her amelia needs; i only used the ones that my own google search turned up.

now i think i should feel slightly disturbed. the entries in color are so accurate that i couldn't have stated them better myself. i made one gray because it's essentially accurate--i could certainly use a kiss within the next two moon cycles--but the princess and spell parts can only be interpreted metaphorically.

and you? do you have needs?

20 September 2006

if i were a paper doll, i'd look like this. well, i might not be wearing earrings. cause i only wear them occasionally. and it's only about a 30% chance i'll be wearing my glasses. and the puppy is a figment of my imagination for now, but i'd have one if i could. the slightly funky style and the spiky short hair--that's pretty accurate. and i suppose i should be honest and say that my thighs are a smidgeon larger than hers. but you know, if i can't fantasize about having perfect legs when envisioning my paper doll self, when can i?

if you too would like a lovely way to completely waste time on the internet, go build yourself a doll. maybe one of these times i'll build myself a fantasy man to go with that fantasy dog and those fantasy legs.

11 September 2006

my week began and ended with light. i turned thirty-one last monday. my body woke at 6:00, unbidden, to a silence-filled dawn. my blinds were open and i watched as first light crept into the world, infusing the sky with golden periwinkle against which a palm tree stood silhouetted, the whole striated by my blinds. after watching the gold grow stronger and the blue of night fade, i sat up so i could look out on my world and discovered a crystal clear sky, blue mountains beckoning along the horizon. it was a beautiful way to start a new year.

as i moved through that day, thinking about the opportunities created by starting a new year, the clarity of that half an hour laying in bed watching the gleam infuse the world stayed with me. as i looked forward i saw nothing but possibility and happiness and love. in many incarnations, but possibility and happiness and love nonetheless. that feeling stayed with me all week, coloring all of my interactions with others. shaping my attitudes. leaving me feeling happier than i have in years. and for no discernible reason.

last night as i drove on a wild goose chase to meet friends, the sun set, filling the world with shadows. and over the palm trees' silhouette standing against the deepening night sky, the moon captured the sun's light, silver infused with the gold of a sinking sun.

17 August 2006

yesterday morning, i sat on my bed listening to NPR, and opened my new moleskine notebook. legend has it that moleskine notebooks were used by artists and poets and writers all through the 20th century, carried in pockets of van gogh and hemingway and picasso, traveling around the globe as the avant-garde found inspiration for their imaginings. probably the manufacturer of this incarnation of the moleskine has simply tapped into a beautiful marketing scheme, but these artists did in fact use pocket-sized notebooks. repositories for flashes of insight and skeletons of future works of genius.

there's something magical about a blank notebook or journal. empty pages, waiting to be filled. even when all that's inscribed there is ordinary, mundane bits of information, they tell a story of a life. and, in amongst the mundanities, there are bits and pieces of wisdom and brilliance and passion. sometimes insights of my own. sometimes those of others far more gifted than i, culled from the world around me as i wander museums and bookstores and the mall. yes. the mall. it's amazing where inspiration appears unbidden.

just as i finished unwrapping my black, grid-lined notebook with a pocket at the back to hold treasures, my mama walked into my room holding something in her hand, saying "i think i'll send these to madelyn." when she got closer, i saw that she was holding three or four old notebooks of mine--relics of my childhood interest in hello kitty. but also the ancestors of my continuing love of a blank book, ready to be filled with thoughts and ideas.

16 August 2006

more simple (potentially frivolous) things that make me happy:
  • the way a newborn baby's stomach rises and falls as he breathes
  • british accents, especially glottal stops and crisp t's
  • periwinkle blue moths fluttering
  • unexpected color combinations
  • ice cream sandwiches from diddy riese followed by a burrito from tito's tacos
  • cardigan sweaters with big buttons
  • brie's black look
to be continued...

14 August 2006

it has been a dark few months. dark with flashes of light. because god is good and because no matter how dark things get—and they have gotten rather dark at moments—i can’t help seeing some of the beauties and graces god gives me regularly. but i have been turning away from those moments, back into a landscape of despair and discouragement and self-disgust. i have struggled to do anything worth while. i have woken almost every morning wondering what it is i live for, what reason i have to do what i have to do. if i didn’t have unavoidable obligations, i don’t honestly know where i would be right now. the impulse to run, to hide, to avoid everything, to just go away has been strong. and i have done so in some ways. i have turned my back on so many things that i treasure. on myself and the gifts i have always loved. on my friends and family on occasion. on my education and my goals. on my understanding of the gospel and my relationship with god. faced by the pain that i had come to associate with these things, i simply turned away.

last week i broke. after saying the same things over and over for months, after having lambasted myself as lazy for not changing when i knew what i needed to change, after having felt anger and hatred for myself for not having the strength to take the simple actions i needed to take in order to help myself, i finally realized that i could not do this. this wasn’t a new realization. i’ve been realizing exactly that for a long time. but i have always rejected it. i’ve always adamantly insisted that if only i would get up earlier or work harder or eat better or some combination of the three or any number of other practical solutions, then i would feel better and i would be able to move on. but last week i came face to face with the realization that i. can. not. help. myself.

it was a strange moment. full of grief. and full of grace. it left me weeping at my own inadequacy—past and present. but it also left me turning to god. so bereft of any hope that i could save myself that i was forced to turn to him and put myself into his hands. i had been so full of despair and afraid of life that day that i didn’t even trust myself to do that little—to actually say to god, “i trust thee. please help.” so i sought help in taking even that small step by going to talk to an ecclesiastical leader who is also an old friend.

as we talked and as we turned to the scriptures for insight and guidance, a beautiful thing happened. he kept turning to passages that spoke to me. that summoned up some principle or truth that has long been dear to me, that i have studied. and i felt the threads of my life twine and knit together. abstract lines of thought and study became urgently real in my moment of need. i left that night trusting god as i never have before. since then, my soul has known peace.

i know that things will not be simple. i know that i will still struggle, that i will still have some of the same problems i have had for the last two or three years. but i also know that i now have hope. that life looks beautiful again. that i see opportunities. that i recognize gifts. that i love myself again. and with that knowledge and that outlook—with god’s assurance and care—i can face the struggle.

28 March 2006

101 things to do.
so as i was browsing the web (as i am wont to do), i ran across a meme on another blog. the object: identify 101 things i want to do in the next 1001 days. and it seemed like a fun way to identify and do all kinds of things i'd like to do, from simple activities to traveling to accomplishing major goals. i start tomorrow, march 28, 2007, and hope to finish by christmas eve 2009. activities in progress are in italics. activities accomplished are crossed out. and when i write about them, i'll link my entry.

{note: i dated this a year ago so i could link it in my sidebar without it showing up in the body of my blog. it may be an awkward way of accomplishing my goal, but what can i say...i'm only somewhat technologically savvy.}

1. gain a reading ability in spanish; i.e., pass my minor language exam

2. visit a cultural site once a month. some possibilities: the getty, the getty villa, the new moma (NYC), moca (LA), the norton simon, the museum of jurassic technologies, the art institute of chicago, cabazon’s highway dinosaurs, the legion of honor (san francisco), hollyhock house, etc., etc.

3. visit falling water. i suppose i should tell shaun this is on the agenda for my next trip to d.c. update: this is in the works. jeni and i are heading down to see shaun and alice this month and plan a stop at falling waters while en route home. final update: shaun and two of his boys, A and W, and i went to visit falling water in august. so incredible.

4. swim in the ocean. this is a bigger deal than you think, since i *never* actually swim at the beach. brrrrr!

5. climb mt. whitney. hopefully as part of the john muir trail. but maybe all by itself.

6. road trip up the west coast. update 11/07: i made a road trip north through california, but what i mean by this is driving up the coast, not just traveling north through california.

7. pass my PhD qualifying exams. update 1/08: this would be easier if i actually finished building my lists.

8. be able to run three miles without stopping.

9. travel to a foreign country. maybe even more than once. on another continent, if possible.

10. read the bible, book of mormon, doctrine & covenants, and pearl of great price. a challenge, since i tend to study scriptures with a cross-reference approach rather than a read-straight-through approach. (0/4)

11. go to mexico! having lived within three hours of the border most of my life, you’d think i’d have done this by now. i haven’t.

12. pot an herb garden and use it for cooking.

13. save up for a new camera and, once i have it, use it often.

14. write more letters. real letters. that go through the mail.

15. pay off credit card debt. now that is a worthy goal.

16. go to a concert at least once a quarter. and not a classical one. rock. folk. blues. jazz. in other words, work on making up for a long stretch of music oblivion.

17. go to a classical concert at least once a quarter. disney hall. segerstrom hall. and definitely something outdoors once in a while.

18. write a children’s book. just cause i think it would be interesting to try.

19. de-junk. positively herculean. update 8/07: i dug out my study and my bedroom in advance of 20 family members coming to town to visit. the job isn't done, but i've made a good start. update 1/08: yeah. all the work done in the summer? reversed. and now i need to start again.

20. finish at least three chapters of my dissertation. more if possible. (0/3)

21. present a paper at a conference. more than once.

22. write something every single day. no matter what it is. just something.

23. date someone. (this list of lofty goals needed some comic relief.) update 1/08: i am stunned--delightfully stunned--to report that this is happening.

24. read a book for the sheer pleasure of reading it at least once a quarter. (when you read for a living, you have to plan in pleasure reading.)

25. go for a walk—outside (malls, museums, libraries, and other buildings don’t count)—once a week. (36/145)

26. apply for a job. and hopefully have an interview at MLA set up.

27. learn how to play chess. re-learn backgammon and checkers. (0/3)

28. learn 4 new pieces on the piano. (0/4)

29. finish reading the complete novels of jane austen, the juvenilia, and susan. (i only need to read sense & sensibility to finish the novels.) (0/3)

30. go stargazing. maybe in joshua tree. maybe with shaun again.

31. see the desert in bloom. hopefully one of the next two winters will be wetter than this one has been.

32. try a food i've never eaten before once a month. or one i've always said i disliked. (11/33)

  • galia · guava · taro root (with black sticky rice and coconut) · apricots (white ones, to be exact) · corn tortillas (always have said i didn't like them; got enchiladas with corn tortillas last week and loved them; it might help that they were made fresh at the stand where i got them) · tamarind--a bit spicy, a bit sweet · soup dumplings · mushrooms · ramen · kuromame (at least i think that's what they're called; japanese sweet black beans) · pho

33. spend an afternoon people watching.

34. hike the north to south lake loop and see the beauty of evolution valley for myself.

35. hike at least one new trail each summer. (0/3)

36. shave my head. i've been saying for a long time i want to do it. maybe to celebrate passing exams? or maybe just for the hell of it sometime.

37. kayak on the bay.

38. go to the beach once a month. i love the ocean (though i don't particularly love swimming in it or sunbathing on the beach), but i rarely go to the beach. time to take advantage of being so close. (2/33)

39. watch the godfather. probably the whole series, though i'm aware that the third one is supposed to not be so great. and it's my best friend's favorite movie, so it's about time i watched it.

40. take a bookbinding class. i have no idea how plausible this is, but i really want to learn how to hand make books.

41. read jesus the christ. it's been on my list for a long time. and my parents bought me a lovely leather bound edition for my birthday last year. time to read.

42. make at least one leper bandage each month. my life is busy and it's hard to find time to do humanitarian service the way i would like to. but i can crochet while watching tv or movies, and i will watch tv and movies. (2/33)

43. lose a few pounds. at least ten. maybe 15. not because i think i'm fat. my body is fine. but half my clothes don't fit and i can't afford to buy new ones. so lose weight it is. i wonder if there's a cheese, bread, and fruit diet...

44. read the constitution, complete with all amendments. i've read bits of it, but never the whole thing.

45. donate blood. for some reason i've never done this. i don't even know my blood type.

46. learn my blood type.

47. read shakespeare. not all of it, cause i won't have that kind of reading time on my hands what with exams and all. but some. my shakespearean ignorance is kind of embarrassing (though i usually laugh at it).

48. go christmas caroling. every year i want to do this, and i never do. if you're interested, let me know. update 12/07: i didn't go caroling this year, but i did go to a christmas party that was all about singing carols.

49. participate in hearts and hands. i really should take advantage of service opportunities when they're given me.

50. read 365 ways to change the world. do what i can based on its ideas. or based on the accompanying website.

51. listen to a completely new band at least once a week (and trust me--my ignorance and seymour's tutelage make this possible; and to define completely new: meaning a band i've never consciously listened to, even if i've heard their stuff on the radio or something). (10/145)

  • the who · architecture in helsinki · a band of bees · band of horses · bjork · peter, bjorn & john · solomon burke · feist · a girl called eddy · electrelane

52. write a "this i believe" essay and submit it to NPR's series.

53. run a 5K for charity.

54. try that fabulous pizza place RAF has recommended.

55. go parasailing. i've always thought it sounds fun. though i'll say up front that if cost is prohibitive, this one's going to be struck from the list.

56. attend the los angeles times festival of books. April 28, 2007

57. extend a micro-loan (or multiple loans) through kiva or some similar organization.

58. take measures to preserve my sanity through the upcoming 2008 presidential campaign; i.e., get cable tv so i can watch the daily show. {mid-may 2007. i didn't get cable, but my brother did. complete with dvr or tivo or whatever so i can record my shows. i'm in love with john stewart. and i'm finally enjoying house.}

59. wash my car. {april 16, 07; of course i really should do it more than once.} laugh all you want, but if you could see my car you'd realize that i don't get around to this very often. and which leads me to...

60. clean out my trunk. what a disaster! of course, one never knows when one will need a guide to the university's study abroad opportunities or a comprehensive anthology of literary criticism...

61. go to the austin city limits festival. their line up this year is incredible. i'd love to go this year, but i'm not sure i'll be able to swing it. we'll have to see.

62. go to a cinespia screening at the hollywood forever cemetery. i've been wanting to do this ever since a former roommate told me about it. films projected on the side of the mausoleum. they tried to show night of the living dead there a few years ago, but the cemetery clientele objected. well, their living relatives did anyway...

63. visit san luis obispo. i keep hearing how gorgeous it is. and i've heard there's a fantastic bookstore there. i obviously need to go. plus nicole and i have been wanting to take another jaunt up the coast. it's time. update 11/07: i made a detour to SLO on my recent roadtrip, but it doesn't quite count.

64. take a roadtrip without a destination. just get on the road and drive. until i see something that makes me want to stop.

65. see wilco in concert. before the end of the summer. that means either going to austin city limits or arranging my summer travels so i can be back in l.a. for their show at the greek on august 29. update: i managed to get tickets for the august show at the greek, which determined my summer travel schedule. i'm counting down the days... update 9/07: saw wilco at the greek. incredible.

continued january 2008

66. improve my swing dancing, something i only started doing a month ago (november 2007) and i'd like to be a whole lot more confident.

67. see big sur. i've been wanting to for years. time to do it.

68. finally visit the museum of jurassic technology. i keep making half-hearted plans to do it, but i haven't managed it yet.

69. move into my own place again. it's been good to be at home. but it's time to be on my own again.

70. go biking at least three times a week. work my way up to the long rides my dad and j(wh) do. maybe even a century ride--have to see how much i fall in love with it.

71. participate in a political protest. maybe on the 5th anniversary of the war this march.

{to be continued}