Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Panic causes mistakes.

I know that there are huge problems. Problems that were foreseen and problems that were unforeseen.

But there are also mistakes being made.

In an examination of what is necessary and what is superfluous, let us be wise, not hasty in our decisions.

My fear of ice.

I have a whole series of recurring nightmares:
- a snake chasing me
- a man leering at me from outside my window
- falling on the ice

In the falling on the ice dream, I live in my childhood home (or one of them), the one in Drayton Plains, MI that was built on a hill. I leave the basement door, which was closest to the driveway, take one step out of the door and fall.

Except the weird part is that I always wake up before I hit the ground.

So today, when everything from stairs to windshield wipers are coated with a heavy sheet of ice, I live in fear.

Those of you that know that I love the cold will be confused.

Well, I cannot be put in a box.

I am a complex creature.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I swear.

The last twelve hours have been marked by two separate incidents of people swearing uncontrollably outside where I was.

It all started last night, when our across-the-hall-diagonally neighbor went into the shared hallway and starting yelling "f**king *itch, f**k you!" over and over and over again.

Why was she doing this?

I have no clue.

I do know that when Charles and I left a few minutes before 7am this morning, she ran to the door to see who it was. Saw Charles and then went back into her house. Let's hope she has the same reaction to me when I get home tonight. I am not in the mood to beat-up little old ladies with weird accents.

But just now there was a student just outside my office by the elevators doing the same thing.


I'm starting to wonder. Perhaps that little old lady followed me to work? Or perhaps the planets have aligned to create some general unrest and anger?

I don't know, but I hope it's not contagious.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

3's about me...

Jnet sent this to me... so I thought I would respond here:

Just not spoil the fun!

Three jobs I have had:
Head Concierge, 4-star hotel
Studio Assistant, mosaic/public art studio
Researcher/Project Manager/Gallery Assistant/Secretary/Diplomat, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Three movies I would watch over and over:
Nowhere in Africa
Y tu Mama Tambien
Talk to Her

Three places I have lived:
London, Ontario, Canada
St. Louis, Missouri
Grosse Ile, Michigan

Three shows that I watch:
The Rachel Maddow Show
How I Met your Mother

Three places I have been: and loved....
Paris, France
Santorini, Greece
Farmington, Maine

Three people who email me regularly:
(Outside of work, to make it different)
My aunt Jan (Grand Rapids, MI)
My sister-in-law, Catherine (Nairobi, Kenya)
Barack Obama (Washington, DC)

My Favorite Foods:
Borscht (Beet, not Meat)
Chai (Kenyan, Soy, or even Ethiopian Shahi... I love it all)

Three Places I'd rather be right now:
At home, napping with my husband.
At a yoga class.
In a hammock, reading a book, somewhere that is approximately 75 degrees F.

Three friends I think will respond:
Maybe if I ask very nicely, I could get Craige, my dad, and Gina to leave their answers in the comments. Please? Pretty please?

Three things I am looking forward to this year:
A birthday party or trip for Charles in August
The birth of my second "nephew" - my dear Ellie's impending arrival
Writing more substantive pieces

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inauguration Speech with my notations.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled* by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and co-operation he has shown throughout this transition.

*I love when people with power speak of humility, for without it, their efforts will always be tainted. And by the way, I wanted to hate Rick Warren for hating so many, but his benediction was good and he also spoke of the need for humility. I hope that his faith can bring him to a new place with his antiquated beliefs.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.

At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

Serious challenges

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some**, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. We have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord

**I am glad that he spoke of the greed of some. For the average middle class worker, like myself has not seen a substantial increase in salary in the last decades, while the top 1% has shifted from holding only 8% of the total wealth to holding 21% of the total wealth in the same period.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all*** deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

*** That's right, he said "ALL" and that means immigrants, homosexuals, african americans, and all other marginalized people.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life. ****

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and ploughed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift

**** I am so glad to hear such a strong sentiment towards those people that have literally given their lives for us to be here. I know I live under the belief that my ancestors created this path, which is easier than theirs, and for that I am grateful.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more. We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.***** We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

***** This is where I began to cry. A call for peace is truly an answer to my prayers.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have travelled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America"

Monday, January 19, 2009

It is a historic day...

Have you hugged your president today?

Peaceful Transition

I have been thinking a lot about transition today. We are so lucky to live in a country that is about to undergo a peaceful transition of political parties. Millions of people are taking to the streets, but not in violence. They are out there with joy. Watching the people in Washington brings tears to my eyes. People from all over the world are out there, rejoicing.

I know there are people that are unhappy (sarah palin), but for the most part people are able to control themselves (except sarah palin), and I hope that they are at peace, knowing that their voice will still be heard, by what promises to be a quite moderate administration.

Beyond that this weekend, I was faced at every turn with other people in transition.

I met with a close friend that is quickly becoming a phenomenon. His staggering intellect has been recognized and his uncommon work ethic is being utilized. I am so happy this is so. We all need him to work on our behalves. While he still laughs easily and often, I couldn't help but worry about him. He has plenty. But he no longer has time to go for a swim, or help young kids learn how to play soccer. Those things were important too.

He challenged me to make greater use of my talents. Gently accused me of wasting my intellect. Reminded me not to give up on my artistic pursuits. Encouraged me to remember how much I love to learn. I needed all of those reminders. I hope I will have many opportunities to collaborate with him in the future, for our mission in life is similar. (Except I always want to have time for a swim and to help kids learn, and to spend time with my friends.)

It was a great reminder at just the right moment. Marriage and family can so quickly eclipse everything else in your life, but it takes a village to raise a child and it takes more than one person in your life to make you happy. It is easy to forget that when there is so much comfort in your partner. And so much distraction in the pursuit of raising a family.

So while there were challenges in the rest of the weekend, I am sitting in all of it, marinating. Trying to see where to begin to get back those parts of myself that have slipped away a bit.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Off for a visit.

See the folks in the background of this picture? Patiently waiting for their slice of cake. I'm going to see them in a few hours. I CANNOT wait!

More upon my return!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What will keep me from going insane?

While some might like to make suggestions of medication or psychotherapy, I really just need one of the following:

1) Earplugs

2) Noise canceling headphones

3) An Ipod

Or some combination of those things. Because my commute is different than it used to be. For 3 years I rode the train and heard nothing. No conversations, ever. Oh, the R5 in all it's stepford, elitist glory. Then I had the most magical of commutes, a 20 minute walk with friends. A year and a half of starting my day with tales of trials and tribulations, window shopping, and funny stories. It was magical.

Now, my terrible, dreaded commute. I have to get to the train station at 7:20am, in order to get a parking spot, even though the train doesn't leave until 7:45am. Then, it is an entire train of people that know each other, so I either have to listen to 20 minute conversations about what color Uggs some lady bought her teenager, or worse.

Like this morning.

This morning the ladies next to me had a 20-minute conversation about how the one lady is having problems with her dog. Apparently, the dog vomits and then eats it...everyday.

Ladies, appropriate conversation topics for the train do not include gross actions involving bodily fluids.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I am afraid to post this, but it seems necessary:

From my favorite humorist:

Weingarten's Maxim on The Meaning of Life

"One cannot be a fully realized human being if one has never in one's life attended to the butthole of anyone other than oneself."

Monday, January 12, 2009

The extent to which I am a nerd:

I went to the bookstore with my husband to buy his books for this semester, and I was so excited about them that I read 4 chapters in one before bed.

Charles has predicted that I will do my masters soon. He might be right.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hey, was that you?

Dear Juwan:
Hey there! So, I didn't want to interupt your phone call this morning with your sweetie - she sounded like she was REALLY concerned with what you did last night after practice. You should send her flowers, maybe then she would relax. Wait, wait, nevermind, that might make it worse... like you were trying to hard to compensate for some indiscretion.

But seriously, that was you, right? I must say, you are REALLY tall. And you ordered an extra-hot venti chai. Nice order. If you ever want a cup of Kenyan chai, I'm pretty good and making it, and I bet you and my husband would get along great. I know you do a bunch of humanitarian work in Africa, perhaps you all could start something sports-related in Kenya? Just an idea.

Well, sorry I didn't say hi. Some lady stole my drink and I had to wait around while they made another one. But you seemed concerned that someone might recognize you and then make things uncomfortable - I get that... as a huge basketball player in the tiniest Starbucks on the planet it must be hard to stay incognito. Well I didn't blow your cover. You are welcome.

So one more thing. Remember those dark days when you were a Wizard? For the record, I'm sorry that those fans boo-ed you all the time. It must be tough to put up like 30 points a game and still get boo-ed. I hope that new team is treating you well. Good luck with that lady of yours.

See ya!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Michigan Pictures

Lets start with the end. Here we are at the end of trip, waiting in airport.

Here is Grandma. Notice how she is holding Charles' hand. We were starting to pose with her and she said, "WAIT, like this" and put his arm around hers. It was so sweet.

We took a post-Lake Michigan rest in Holland for some warmth in the form of hot chocolate. Only problem: Dutch Parking Only!

Oh and here is me at Lake Michigan in my new coat. Charles did well with my Christmas present!!!

Nathan shooting a video. I hope that he sets it to music as a representation of the existential angst of a lake on a cold winter day.

Things that happened in December.

- I moved into my husband's house - full time.

- I bought a car.

- I visited my grandmother - who is awesome at 88.

- I fixed approximately 237 cups of tea.

- I did the dishes approximately 97 times.

- I unpacked most of my things.

- I went to several parties.

- I (we) bought a TV. The first electronic that I have purchased new since the boom box I got for Christmas in 1983. The first new TV I have ever purchased in my whole life. And by the way, the last TV I bought was 5 years old, and I purchased in 1997. (It was still going strong, but then about 2 years ago I lent it to a friend's mother, then she passed away, then I felt bad asking for it back. Seriously, how do you have that conversation?)

More on all of that soon. And someday with pictures and explanations.

- Oh, and I turned 35. It's not so bad, for those of you that are nearing it in the next few months!