General observations

A few observations now that it's been two weeks since school started:

1. One day I will fall asleep on the T and wake up when train goes out of service.
2. Fall comes too soon.
3. Just because you have something to say, does not mean you should say it.
4. Most of my shoes have no place in law school. I will have to buy more.
5. There's always next year.




You Are 60% Weird

You're so weird, you think you're *totally* normal. Right?

But you wig out even the biggest of circus freaks!

How Weird Are You?



Whickedy Whack for the Soul

Here's a little quiz Y tagged me for:

2 moments in your life you'd like to erase:
1. When I was mugged in D.C.
2. I was really mean to a boy in my class when I was in seventh grade. I'm sure he's forgotten, but I still feel bad.

4 moments you'd like to relive:
1. Holding Mariah in the hospital a few days after she was born. I sat in my mom's lap and Mariah was in mine. I was nearly four.
2. A first kiss while waiting for the Batman ride at Six Flags in 1999.
3. Feeding my grandfather ("Pop") when he was in the Alzheimer's unit soon before he died.
4. Sitting in a chair in the House chamber.

2 places you wouldn't go to/go to again:
1. A certain crappy motel near the Jersey shore.
2. In any theater where "Gladiator" is showing.

4 places you can't wait to visit/visit again:
1. Montana. Beautiful.
2. Paris. It's cliche, but I want to go.
3. Belize. Such a mix of cultures and languages, I'm fascinated by it.
4. The house I grew up in.

2 foods you can't stand:
1. Olives
2. Veal (Blame Ms. Wagner)

4 foods you love:
1. Edamame
2. Oranges
3. Any kind of ice cream that involves chocolate
4. Coffee

2 songs that make you change the station:
1. "God Bless The USA" ("Where at least I know I'm free" -- what kind of line is that?!)
2. "Macarena" or equivalent dance craze.

4 songs you play over and over:
1. "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon.
2. "Walk Unafraid" by R.E.M.
3. "Good-Bye My Lover" by James Blunt (It's not a theme -- I promise.)
4. "Reservations" by Wilco.

2 books you'd never finish/read again:
1. Jon Stewart's "Naked Pictures of Famous People" -- I'm with Y on that one.
2. The Stand. I started this four years ago and have never finished it.

4 books you have read more than once, and/or will read again:
1. A Wrinkle in Time.
2. Little Women.
3. Pride and Prejudice.
4. Gone With the Wind.

I'm supposed to tag someone: Jennifer is next ...



The entire premise of this long-neglected blog has changed. Were I the melodramatic sort (moi?!), I would tell you I'm unemployed. But that would be misleading. Really, I'm doing the unthinkable. Actually, two unthinkables. First, I'm taking a month off. Second, I'M GOING TO LAW SCHOOL. What's really weird about the latter is that I'm leaving journalism. That I'm on my way to being an attorney seems -- and is -- far off. But leaving journalism? It's a lifestyle, a way of being, a way of thinking. I called a former co-worker while I was at the airport the other day to make sure they had somebody following the corruption cases I was watching. And, oh, I miss that! I had read in the Times that morning that Bob Ney won't run for re-election and Republicans can't replace Tom DeLay on the ballot. Soon after, Lieberman lost the Democratic nomination -- and where am I? Michigan, but more on that later.

Transitions are funny things, especially when they're bridges between one good thing and (hopefully) another. I was ready to leave DC. I'll miss my friends, my job (largely) and the political process. I can't believe I won't be there for election day. But I also can't wait for that next step, for the intellectual challenge and novelty. For a different city, and an apartment that's more my own, for time in the library and in coffee shops pouring over thick books.

Also, I'm working on an article that is very different from the terse, straight-forward reporting I'm used to. It's a magazine profile of a man from my hometown whose grandfather was an important historical figure in the town. Pretty psyched about that -- and more on it later.

So, I'm in Michigan visiting Y&A -- then back to Boston for a couple of days. To Jersey for 10 (Anybody want to hang out in NYC?) and back up north for ... SCHOOL!

Here's to getting this thing going again, eh?



The Luck Of The Irish

(No, I don't know how to rotate this Quicktime movie.)

I have been informed that I am a rather slow-to-post blogger. But to that I say, "Ptew!"

Seriously, though, it's mostly that there isn't much I want to recant on a public site just now. Perhaps I picked the wrong forum to express my thoughts? Deadlines for deciding on schools, or if I'm even going, loom and I'm still waiting on a few. My trust for the postal service in D.C. is shaky, so I wonder, "Did those thin envelopes get lost in the mail?"

The count is four in, three not and four to be determined. One school offered me a fair amount of money, but I wonder if I could live there. And to confuse matters, I'm training "New Guy" just now and haven't had much chance to determine whether I want to ask for a deferral. That, though, would make another decision easier: I'd probably choose the New York school, money be damned. I don't know how long I really can stay away from my parents -- though the details of that are not fit for the blogosphere.

On a lighter note, spring has sprung and the trees here are draped in small buds. I keep thinking, "CHERRY BLOSSOMS!" Little sister was in town over the weekend, on the eve of her 21st birthday. Above is a very short clip of her getting her first age-21 bracelet -- the guy at the checkin for Shamrock Fest either didn't notice or didn't care that she was two days shy.

More soon. Probably.



Cute Is Powerless

Got back from Albany at about 11 this morning. Beautiful wedding, even if it was in upstate New York in February. We arrived Friday evening and drove north to Saratoga Springs to discover that power had been out since midday due to a wind storm, a revalation that put in context the awful turbulence we experienced upon landing. So, the four of us essentially camped in our unlit, unheated, fourth-floor hotel rooms, made comfortable by flashlights a la Target and the fact that heat rises. I later read that about 300,000 people were without power. M and I were awoken at 10 a.m. by the buzz of electricity returning, only to be disappointed 20 minutes later when we returned to the Stone Age. It came back for good at 4 p.m.

To give you an idea of the awesome cold that is Albany in February -- clearly my time in the District has spoiled me -- check out the photo. It dropped another 6 degrees that night, and with the windchill it was -1F. (The rest of my photos are on my camera as are some month-old shots of the panda cub. I don't motivate easily on such things.)

While I was there, I bought a sequel of Pride and Prejudice. I love the original, but this one by a modern author reads like a drug-store romance novel. It's called Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and it's by Linda Berdoll. I think I might be killing brain cells, but I need something to balance the book on the evolution of the English language that I'm reading too.

Berdoll seems to be emlulating Jane Austen's writing style, but it often reads like a college freshman trying to sound smart. For the sake of keeping this blog PG, or at least PG-13, take the following passage:

Desperation had begun to make a nasty crease betwitxt his usually unfurrowed brows. Was that not vexation enough, to be confronted in London by an obviously indignant Darcy whilst in lascivious company with the unwed, underage Lydia would have been quite unnerving to any man who valued his bursa virilia. (p. 14)
Um, yeah.

But the power of Jane Austen, to anyone who really loves her, is in the characters a reader grows to love. So Berdoll's novel might not win a National Book Award, but it's worth my while none the less.

Speaking of less-than-fine literature, I picked up a copy of March's Allure magazine, which has a rather astute short essay on being a petite woman. I often say that my personality was compensation for my small size growing up, and it seems I'm not the only one who sees herself that way. The writer, Ayelet Waldman, is 5'. She writes:
That paradoxical sense of empowerment may explain the reputation for a certain Napoleonic, domineering quality that we small women enjoy. It also helps account for the hatefulness of the adjective that is our bane, our kryptonite. Ostensibly a compliment, it serves to upset our precarious balance, to throw off our navigation of the big waves and high winds of the world. Not willowy. Never lissome.
Waldman beautifully explains the problem witht he word.:
My four-year-old daughter is cute. Her Hello Kitty lunch box is cute. When our Bernese mountain dog was a puppy, she was very, very cute. But don't call me cute. Cute is powerless; cute is sexless; cute can be dismissed.

I struggled with my size as a child, weighing 40 pounds in the second grade, according to my school records. My first communion dress, worn soon after my eighth birthday might have fit an ordinary five-year-old child. I think I felt as a child that I had to overcome being small, being easily overlooked and trounced in gym class. (I have an occasional recurring dream about having to retake gym.)

As it turned out, I stand a victorious 5'2", a good two inches taller than my mom thought I would likely be. But my personality was formed my body, and it will always reflect my childhood. Somehow, I'm thankful for that.



I'm From New Jersey

I had to share this ... New Jersey's state song ...

I'm From New Jersey

Written & Music by Red Mascara

Verse (Ad lib)

I know of a state that's a perfect playland with white sandy beaches by the sea;

With fun-filled mountains, lakes and parks, and folks with hospitality;

With historic towns where battles were fought, and presidents have made their home;

It's called New Jersey, and I toast and tout it wherever I may roam. 'Cause . . .

First Chorus

I'M FROM NEW JERSEY and I'm proud about it, I love the Garden State.

I'M FROM NEW JERSEY and I want to shout it, I think it's simply great.

All of the other states throughout the nation may mean a lot to some;

But I wouldn't want another, Jersey is like no other, I'm glad that's where I'm from.

Second Chorus

If you want glamour, try Atlantic City or Wildwood by the sea;

Then there is Trenton, Princeton, and Fort Monmouth, they all made history.

Each little town has got that certain something, from High Point to Cape May;

And some place like Mantoloking, Phillipsburg, or Hoboken will steal your heart away.




My boss pointed out how much more attention the death of Corretta Scott King has gotten in comparison to Betty Friedan's. Certainly, King deserves the honors bestowed upon her, but why doesn't an revolutionary like Friedan?

I hope he doesn't mind being quoted:
She [Friedan], too, helped remove shackles. She, too, helped force major changes in civil rights, in society and, in some cases, in individual behavior. She, too, altered the fabric of the nation, in a great and positive way. My goddaughter and my nieces are in a better place because of her.
There is a lesser awareness of the women's movement than of the civil rights movement that brought racial politics to the forefront. I think that is for several reasons:
I don't mean this to be a competition between two movements that really are intertwined, but I do wonder what the women's movement can learn from the civil rights movement and vice versa. Any ideas?



Bye, Bye Betty

Betty Friedan died. I had long meant to writer her a letter.

When I read The Feminine Mystique a few years ago, I looked her up and noticed she's in the phone book. I wanted to write her and thank her for the opportunities I and other women of my generation have because of her and and other trailblazing women. I didn't go to college as way to kill time until marriage, to make myself a well-rounded wife or to meet an up-and-coming man to marry. That in itself is a huge transformation from my mother's generation -- her father thought she should attend college so she didn't "marry a cop." And when my mother announced, 25-plus years ago that she was pregnant with me, her employer laid her off. It was illegal then, but attitudes hadn't caught up with the law, and it simply was expected that she would quit.

Without a doubt, women of my generation -- the granddaughters of Freidan's -- still struggle with issues of womanhood and the workplace. I have seen my friends take divergent paths, some refusing to cede scholarly and professional ambitions, some eyeing futures as stay-at-home mothers, and others making it up as they go along. I think all three groups should be thankful to her because they have those divergent paths to choose from. I struggle with it, with being a woman and wanting a family in that "some day" way that is completely intangible and noncommittal to the nth degree. I'm in the "see what comes" camp, leaning much more toward ambition in the raw sense; but I don't think anyone -- woman or man -- can plan his or her own life to a T. What comes at you is half luck, blessing or curse, and you make the best of it.

In what I suppose must have unintentionally coincided with Friedan's death, teacher Deborah M. Hoffman wrote in Sunday's Washington Post that society's low expectations for boys' and mens' behavior does them and women a disservice. In her piece, "What Does 'Boys Will Be Boys' Really Mean" she writes:
You can hear and see evidence of this longstanding folk "wisdom" about boys almost everywhere, from the gender-typed assumptions people make about young boys to the resigned attitude or blind eye adults so often turn to disrespectful or insensitive male behavior.
What results is a pardon of boorish behavior by men toward women, and an expecatation that women should keep them in line. It not only forgives, but encourages, teenage boys and young men to pursue members of the opposite sex like predators on their prey, reducing women to animals by analogy and asking very little of men as moral beings.

So much for the all-to-widely held belief that the women's movement is passe.

(P.S. Two for two on schools, eight to go, and no idea what I'll do.)



Raison d’être

OK, so here's an idea I got from another blogger, who compiled a list of 50 things she wants to do with her life.

I don't think we have one reason for being, but many.

So far, I have 39 "goals." Some are little, some are big, some I'll probably look back on and think "Why?!"

But here they are:

1. To travel to each of the continents, except Antarctica (too cold)
2. To earn a graduate or professional degree
3. To learn to like driving.
4. To learn a non-Romance language
5. To improve my credit rating.
6. To do a pullup.
7. To do 10 real pushups.
8. To own a house.
9. To see the Great Reef
10. To scuba dive
11. To do a walking tour of the Grand Canyon
12. To have a byline in a publication read nationwide
13. To run for office.
14. To memorize good Scrabble words
15. To learn to play the violin, again
16. To attend the Olympic games
17. To see a taping of "The Daily Show"
18. To retire comfortably
19. To research my family's geneology
20. To see the parts of Ireland my ancestors lived in
21. To live in New York City
22. To live abroad
23. To fall in love, and have it last
24. To have courage when I do
25. To be comfortable singing
26. To be trained as an EMT
27. To have a room with full bookcases on all sides
28. To exercise every day
29. To take pictures
30. To drive across country, again
31. To have children
32. To be just a little bit nicer
33. To learn to stop on ice skates
34. To be able to change the water jug, again
35. To write a book
36. To teach a class
37. To own original art
38. To spend time in the researchers' division of the National Archives
39. To learn to waltz



The More, The Merrier

Always stumbling, sometimes falling, I have learned along the way that making decisions is not always difficult because one has too many choices, but rather because one has only one life. That reality makes for infinate forks in the road and forces a person to decide what she will live for. I feel like I have a drawer full of forks. Plastic ones, well-shined silver ones, elaborately decorated ones.

The newest one is law school. I got my first acceptance today, but utter surprise since it's only the middle of January and I figured it would be at least one more month. I got it in an e-mail and gasped outloud in disbelief that something that has been such a focus of my life for the last six months -- nevermind extraordinary expense -- is actually an option.

But I stand here wondering if I want to give up what I have. My job is already an immense learning experience; each day is an education unto itself. Today, I researched the House majority leader election in 1998, when Dick Armey had to defend his post amid growing discontent with the leadership. One day, it's the budget process. Another day, it's a Senate race. I get to stand in the gym, watching Trent Lott on C-SPAN and take mental notes for what I'm going to do with my day later, based on what he says. There's something about seeing the smirk on his face and guessing what he'll say that I can't quite articulate. And, yes, there is C-SPAN in New York, but would I care so much if this weren't my life, my career?

Do I postpone law school? If I don't, where do I go? Where they give me money? Where I'll be close to home? Where the academic reputation is the greatest? Where I'll simply be happy?

For now, I suppose, I'm just going to be grateful that I have choices. The more, the better.



Super Duper

Went to the Alito hearing today. The following actually happened as he and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., were discussing judicial precedent:

“I personally would not categorize precedents as super or super duper.” -- Alito

“Did you say super duper?” -- Specter

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