Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Blue Heron of Greenbelt Lake...

Today on my walk, I saw him again... a blue heron in the green muck near the lily pads. I had seen him before, about a month ago. Perhaps he resides in the lake. I will try to take pictures of him at some point before I leave, but today he reminded me of the heron that used to live in the pond at St. Mary's.

The heron had a sort of tragic demise when he failed to fly off to more tropical climes one winter and was frozen into the pond. Some animal-friendly eco-conscious students tried to rescue him, but I believe the shock of it all proved too much and he died. (Someone correct me if I am misremembering the incident... my memories of beloved birds on the campus are too interwoven with the peacock removal fiasco that ensued around the same time).

Herons have a graceful mystique to them. I suppose many birds seem like incarnations of ancient gods, hence Poe's most famous poem; if this is the case, then herons seem to me like some captured oriental princess who defies her father's wishes and studies martial arts secretly to defend herself from the man her father will force her to marry. Just in their stubbornness and their purposeful manner and movement.

The last few months have made me realize that I require fairly accessible natural beauty near where I live to be most content, healthy, and inspired. It doesn't have to be all that spectacular--farms and sparsely lined woods seem to have done just fine for me in my youth--but I get antsy living in too much concrete. Thankfully, I did not accept a job in the heart of Seoul!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Lazy Days...

Oh Maryland, my Maryland. You are so beautiful after a rainstorm. The way the light filters through the parting clouds and dew-laced tree leaves, that damp bark smell of earthy growth and freshness, that warm cushy feeling when you see a family of box turtles or ducks sunning themselves on driftwood in the lake... But why you gotta be so dang HUMID??? It's like I'm freaking SWIMMING over here. Sheesh. Weatherman says it's 80% right now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Finished it...

My children's lit/YA prof had a horrible experience the day after the book was released. She found a slip of paper saying "Sorry... ____________ dies." How horrible. What a cowardly little snit to write it and leaving such a note somewhere laying about for Nancy J. to find it!

I finished Deathly Hallows now, and I will not kill you if you speak to me of it. Out of kindness not within the realm of the author of the aforementioned note, I will not post my comments about all the events of the book here. I will simply say that it is magnificent and I am pleased to see that Rowling maintained the integrity and tone of the series while still delighting and surprising her readership; fame has certainly not ruined this writer.

I would love to chat about it, though, so if you feel the intense need to babble and coo over the delights of the Wizarding world, I shall be available via telephone and e-mail.

Menemsha (Martha's Vineyard)

One final, not-to-be-missed place on the island is the sunset at Menemsha. Menemsha is a small fisherman's village with some of the best fresh seafood on the island. We visitors know it better for the small beach on the harbor, which offers one of the most spectacular sunset views on the island, possibly in the world (although I think Church Point down at SMCM would give it a run for its money, but I may be partial). Even though sunset photos never turn out as spectacular as the even itself, here is one of my favorites (because this young lady was just too completely adorable for words):


One of the coolest things about the Menemsha sunset is that everybody claps for a natural event. So many people come out just to watch something awesome--such simple pleasures abound for those who would seek them. I don't even miss the television one little bit. I think I'm not even going to bother hooking it back up.

I have also uploaded other photos from Martha's Vineyard that did not appear in other posts, including many of program participants and my own master's thesis presentation. Check out the album:
Other Photos from Martha's Vineyard '07


Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Goodbye pretty island...

I will post more pictures of my last few days at the workshop later this week. Right now, I must finish reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before someone tells me who dies (DON'T TELL ME!!!)

I've gone back to the relatively mundane existence in my Greenbelt apartment. Princess was very happy to see me, and I was thrilled to see her. However, there was a distinctive chiding tone to her purring and cuddling, as if she meant to chastise me for leaving her. Don't worry pretty kitten, I'm not leaving you again (though I may be uprooting you from this country soon...)

My brother kept the apartment in relative good order, although I suppose it was unavoidable that he would leave it smelling a bit smoky and stale. Ah, the suckitude of smokers is immense. However, my cat is alive and nothing reeks unusually and while it looks like he might have had some kind of party or something, nothing is ruined and I'm glad to be home (even if it is only home for three more weeks).

On my way home, I stopped by New Rochelle, NY to have dinner with Rose-nose and her boyfriend Adam (who I had not met before). He is a kind, witty man who does some kind of consulting work for performance spaces that Rose was at a loss to explain. I approve. It was wonderful to see her again, and the couple seems happy and well-adjusted, so that is good. They made me yummy food (some kind of creamy leeks dish with rice and broccoli) from The Joy of Cooking, which appears to be a much-loved tome in their shared apartment. I hope we Blair girls didn't make Adam feel too alienated by our reminiscing (oh do you remember that time we fought before school? Yeah and then cried for two periods and made up with notes and cuddles in third? Haha! I think it was something about Marie. Oh, I forget!). It probably can seem daunting to the uninitiated!

Rose is one of those friends with whom, even though we have not seen each other in almost three years, we can dispense with formalities and get right to the heart of matters. In the four hours I spent with her, I felt like we communicated more than I have with others I have seen frequently over the last four years. Part of it is our shared experiences and history, part of it is Rose's unique and charming obliviousness to what might be considered "common courtesies" (she is the friend who attempted to wilfully violate the cunningly put wisdom "You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose" by chasing after us with finger brandished), part of it is my own penchant for moving conversation into more meaningful places by overtly stating unvoiced insights in a way others might perceive as rude.

Mostly, I think it is love. The kind of love that comes from choosing your own family--a mutual, solid love that can make the three years apart seem meaningless, even as so much has happened in our lives and in the world.

I gave Rose a book that I read recently that reminded me of her. Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret is the brainchild of a purely creative, artistic soul. You should read it if you get the chance (although given that it falls somewhere between picture book and novel, "read" is not precisely the correct word...). I remain confident that Rose, being a gifted designer and artist (as you can see for yourself in the art link in this post), will one day produce something as blindingly awesome, but even better and more amazing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gay Head/Aquinnah/Moshup Beach...

Have you heard about the nudist beach on Martha's Vineyard?

No, seriously... there is a public beach where nudity is allowed in Massachusetts, the original home of the Puritan exiles from England, in a town called (oh yes, for real) Gay Head.

Once I stopped laughing about the ridiculousness, I noticed that the town was originally known as Aquinnah and is home to the Native Americans who inhabited this island before European settlement. (They have a lot of political battles with "locals" who are ironically very exclusive about who they consider "native" to the island...). This is the lighthouse:


The clay cliffs of Gay Head are known for their unique geological properties. The tribally owned cliffs are quite tall and the colors are intensely beautiful:


The public beach under the cliffs (called Moshup Beach) offers some of the most beautiful views of water and dramatic scenery because of the rockiness of the shoreline. Nancy, Andrea, and I took a walk down the shore through naked people territory to find the best views of the cliffs and the rocks:


One of the other cool features of the beach are the balanced rock formations left by people who are really good at that sort of zen art thing:


Sometimes these rock "sculptures" look like little guys with backpacks (this is my favorite picture from yesterday!)...


At the end of the beach, some of the natural clay from the cliffs had been pulled out toward the beach where (although it is illegal to touch the clay), people made interesting sculptures from it for us to find on our walk:


Now you must keep in mind that the whole time I was walking around trying to take these pictures, we were surrounded by naked people walking into and out of the frames. It was challenging because while I appreciate their openness with their bodies, I don't really want pictures of them to publish here (we're not trying to run THAT kind of blog...) and it's considered gauche to snap the shots. As Andrea said of the frolicking free spirits: "It's harder when they're mobile."

I got a lot of beautiful pictures (besides the favorites above), without taking one picture of a nudie! WOOHOO!

Check out the rest in the album:
Gay Head/Aquinnah--Martha's Vineyard

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fuller Street Beach (Edgartown)

Every year, the MVSI summer program hosts a traditional New England Clambake on Fuller Street beach. Fuller Street is a quiet Beach near Edgartown overlooking the water between the main island and Chappaquiddick. I get to eat really fresh lobster with really awesome and brilliant people in a gorgeous setting??? HECK YEAH!

The sky was incredible!

This is the Edgartown Lighthouse from a bit of a distance.

You can see "Chappy" in the background here.

Serenity...

As the sun set, the sky's colors were exceptional... this doesn't do it any sort of justice.


To see more, including the awesome participants and some of the remnants of our destroyed lobsters, check out the album at my Picasa site:

Fuller Street--Martha's Vineyard


P.S. Please let me know which style of photo-sharing on my blog works best for you guys. I'm re-learning html and playing around with photo sharing options at the moment.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shark Tournament... (Oak Bluffs)

Warning: This post will contain pictures of dead, bloody fish. And yes, that is a picture of a chum bucket. Yum, yum, chum, chum...

As the "on location" film site for Jaws, people sometimes associate Martha's Vineyard with sharks almost as much as they do with the Kennedys. On one weekend in July, this association is made even more apparent. Each year for the last 21, Oak Bluffs, MA on Martha's Vineyard hosts a Monster Shark Tournament that ESPN has covered since 2004. It is a very controversial event, as the airplane advertisement over Tashmoo we saw on Friday afternoon demonstrates:


(The sign reads: END THE CRUEL SHARK TOURNAMENT NOW www.HumaneSociety.org)

The tournament now attracts both sports fishermen and PETA/Humane Society protesters from around the globe. I'm not a fan of senseless killing, but I have always been intrigued by scenes of blood and gore. We went over to Oak Bluffs on Saturday for a concert of Ben Taylor's (son of James Taylor and Carly Simon) at the Tabernacle, but got there an hour or so early, so I got to take some awesome pictures of this event. They capture just a bit of the insanity happening at the harbor:







Now, I do eat fish (even though I still will call myself a vegetarian), and while I oppose factory farming because it is cruel treatment of the animals, I don't usually oppose the hunting of wild game because that seems a little more fair. However, I will say that hanging around OB that day made me a little sick to my stomach as some of the slaughter seemed a bit senseless. Sharks are nifty creatures and they deserve better than to have their heads mounted on the back of hundred thousand dollar boats to attract chicks (yes, that was part of the whole "fun and games" machismo). I will admit that as much as I found the events unfolding repulsive, it was fascinating to watch from a cultural studies perspective...

The concert was a far more pleasant way to spend the evening, especially when Carly Simon hopped up on stage, although the lighting made for less quality pictures:


Walter Cronkite was in the audience, but my pictures of him came out even worse! After the show, Ben signed my CD and posed for a picture where he looks stoned:

He's actually quite cute in person--and ridiculously tall! His music is very folk-rock, influenced by his parents' talents, but definitely unique in some cool ways. It was fun to see him play on the island where he grew up.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

West Chop Lighthouse

A bit north of Vineyard Haven is the smaller village of West Chop. I went for a long walk out that way a few days ago and took some pictures.

Although West Chop has some beautiful beaches and grand houses with pretty gardens, it has a distinctively anti-tourist KEEP OUT sentiment that is evident in the many posted signs near pretty meadows, beaches, and the lighthouse. Sometimes we can forget (or at least ignore) the feelings of resentment against tourists by the locals here, but the evidence is there in abundance. As a visitor with the workshop program, I am somewhere between tourist (especially a repeat visitor) and summer resident (like the European college students who come here to work in ice cream shops and live in the hostel or the campground). Most people here, even the famous ones who live here year round or vacation here, are welcoming. But sometimes the cynical part of me wonders if it is more out of economic necessity than genuine camaraderie!

Anyhow, here are my favorite West Chop pictures, including the family of wild turkeys:



I hope you all are enjoying the pictures. My next set will be Oak Bluffs, the annual shark fishing tournament and the concert with Ben Taylor (son of Carly Simon who was there and James Taylor who was not). I've been terribly busy with graduate work and all the cool stuff I'm doing, so updates are not really regular. I am trying!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Adventure... and isolation...

Apparently, I was a weirder child than I even remembered. I loved books like Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell that told stories of young women (and sometimes young men) who ended up isolated from society and forced to become independent and make a new life for themselves in difficult circumstances. I've been thinking about this theme and how it may have a slight influence on my upcoming journey to Korea... ya think? Anyhow, in the interest of pursuing this theme in young adult literature, I have been reading this fabulous book by Kirby Larson called Hattie Big Sky. It's about a 16 year old girl who inherits a homestead stake in Montana from her uncle and goes out to claim it with only her cat for company... Hm... Is there any reason I love this book? Well, it's also really cleverly written and it won a Newbery Honor, so I recommend it as a fun afternoon read. Especially if you liked Laura Ingalls Wilder or Louisa May Montgomery as a kid.

Or are just weird and crave alternative to expected society like I do...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Edgartown and South Beach

Today was a "reading day" which meant that while I had to do a ton of work on my papers and read a bunch of books for class, I had no scheduled activities. I woke up and started my paper that is due tomorrow for the children's lit class and around 10, Ellen popped in and said she was headed down to South Beach to read and asked if I wanted to come. Now, South Beach, which is also known as Katama, is about 10 miles south of Vineyard Haven, just outside of Edgartown, but it is by far my favorite beach on the island. It is not the most scenic or the most serene, but it is on the ocean side of the island and has the best waves for swimming. I jumped at the chance!

When we got there the weather was a bit gray and stormy but still very pleasant, but the best part was that the waves were brutally insane. Since I was a little kid and first vacationed at Virgina Beach during Hurricane Andrew, I have always craved bigger and badder waves to play in. It is only a "good day" at the beach from a swimming perspective if you have been knocked to the ground at least once. I am often disappointed by the small size of waves that terrify my companions. I tell you all this so that you understand when I say that today, the waves were perfect, though it is a little hard to see how huge these things were in the pictures (turn on comments--obviously the ones of me getting flipped were taken by Ellen!):



After all the insanity of the beach, we were starving, so we headed to a yummy sandwich shop in Edgartown and wandered about on the main street there. Edgartown has the best little quirky shops and most scenic gardens on the island, although everything there is very pricey.

The tea shop has a life-size butler mannequin out front, who is, quite frankly, a bit creepy:

This church had a beautiful little yard and a neat gift shop:


Where else but Martha's Vineyard would you find a scrimshaw gallery, huh?

These guys were outside a gallery that we couldn't go inside because they were power-washing the exterior. Given my love for harlequin jesters, I was disappointed to miss it, but glad I got this pic:

Whew! I was tired, but got home and cranked out my paper for class and read some articles before heading out (again) for dinner in Oak Bluffs. However, I stupidly forgot my camera. I will bring it another day and return to the Gingerbread Cottages, which are really quite an unbelievable sight. Good night!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Vineyard Haven (Tisbury)


There are six main towns on the island. Vineyard Haven (a.k.a. Tisbury), Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown are "down island" and have most of the touristy shops, restaurants, bars, and activities. Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury are located "up island," along with the tiny little popular sunset gazing spot, Menemsha. Classes for the writing institute are held at the Nathan Mayhew Seminars building, pictured to the left, in the town of Vineyard Haven.

Tisbury is a dry town, meaning its restaurants do not serve alcohol, which often surprises tourists because some of the restaurants have the words "tavern" or "lounge" in them! However, this makes the town a bit less of a party spot than Oak Bluffs, which is nice for our own peace of mind while working on my writing. I did go down there to Lola's last night for some dancing and boozing (apparently it's a pretty happening spot--they had a neat little live band and a good dance floor and everything), but it's more relaxing (as you can see from my new blog self-portrait) to be away from the madness. Our house (Downing House) has a hammock where I spent a lovely afternoon reading books for my children's lit class, until one of the ropes snapped (I didn't do anything to it... I guess it was just worn out), so now I can't use the hammock until our landlord repairs it. Darn!

The town itself has a few nice restaurants (including the famous Black Dog Tavern, a fresh seafood place called The Net Result, and the overpriced but well-beloved Mad Martha's handmade ice cream), a book store called "A Bunch of Grapes," some beautiful art galleries and quirky clothing/gift shops, and a fine library, conveniently located across the street from the seminar building. Downing House is about a 15 minute walk from the center of town.

As for beaches, Vineyard Haven does not offer the best of the island. The ferry terminal has some public beaches nearby, but they are filled with boats and ferry exhaust and usually overcrowded. However, for the adventurous sort, there is a kind of "secret" beach about 2 miles outside of town on a dusty, unmarked, unpaved road. Tashmoo Lake meets up with Vineyard Sound at a very narrow, very deep channel. There are many private homes around the lake that are probably quite pricey, even by Vineyard standards. I walked there yesterday (the hills just about killed my calves), but went back today via car to take some pictures and to read some more. I've included the album of Tashmoo Beach below.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Getting onto "The Vineyard"

Awesome--Internet at Downing House is functional!

Martha's Vineyard Island is accessible by ferry (steamships that carry passengers and vehicles) and by plane. Each of the three years I've come here, I have sojourned by driving up 95 alone to get on the ferry. The ferry where you can take your car with you onto the island is in Woods Hole, MA which is in lovely Cape Cod. It is a very long drive all to myself. I usually stop at a Denny's in Connecticut to rest, eat, and read. This year's trip was the best because I did it mostly during the daytime (previous years had been overnight trips). I do enjoy road trips, but not really driving by myself for so long.

My ferry reservation was for 3:45 p.m., but I was over an hour early, so they squeezed me in at 2:45 p.m. I saw Renee (who is staying in Downing House with me this year) on the ferry--she was in my class on memoir last year. We chatted, but she wanted to stay inside, so I went and took pictures of the trip. Check it out (recommend that you turn on comments):



I have been busy ever since, but mostly with school things. I will be visiting Tashmoo beach tomorrow after class, which is a beautiful area.

Oh yeah, and I spoke with my professor that I'm working with for my thesis and she said that I might be able to incorporate my blogging into my project, since it was in some ways an outgrowth of the progress I made as a teacher and a writer this year. Maybe I'll do a Ph.D. on blogging as a new form of literacy for an Internet savvy generation... Fancy!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I made it... just barely...

Update from the beautiful barrier island of Martha's Vineyard near Cape Cod. It was made famous and infamous by Ted Kennedy's drinking and driving (Chappaquiddick). I am here to rest, read, and write. Oh yeah, and finish my degree through the Martha's Vineyard Summer Institute with Northeastern University.

My trip up here was pretty hellish. I had not slept the night before the night I was packing from a rather silly incident I wrote about before with my little sister that involved kidnapping and hilarity. This made me excessively tired. I had stupidly left all my packing for the last minute, so it should not have surprised me when I again got almost no sleep and then had to drive for the nine hours it takes to get up here.

I took pictures of the ferry ride, but they are on the laptop computer at Downing House. When I get a chance, I will post more information for you and document my trip more accurately. For now, I'm just exhausted and finished running around the island doing various errands and dropped by Hough house to check the internet (which I can't seem to access from my house here).

I will say that for my class on young adult literature, I had to read a book recommended to me by my students, so on the (very long) drive up to the island, I listened to the memoir Gifted Hands by Ben Carson, MD. Although a little overtly spiritual for my tastes (yes, God sure saved that little girl who you operated on for 10 hours after years of some of the best medical training in the world... right...God... /sarcasm--although, to be fair to Mr. Carson, he does his best to rationalize his beliefs for us), the book was detailed and inspirational. I can see why my students enjoyed it so much. I might actually consider reading some of his other works (for some reason, I do find detailed descriptions of brain surgery fascinating... no joke!). He's not the best writer in the world, but his writing is more than competent and his voice is compelling. Give it a shot!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sarah and I

At 2:30 a.m. July 11, I kidnapped Sarah. I am devious.

Seriously, though, I had a terrible case of insomnia brought on by my witnessing the horrible death of a puppy that afternoon and anxiety/excitement about leaving for Martha's Vineyard.

I was restless and thinking about going out to an all night diner, when I noticed her IM was still active. I asked her if she wanted to come. After a few minutes convincing her that I was serious, I left to abscond with the lass for Denny's in Gaithersburg (as Damascus is seriously lacking in things that are open at pre-dawn hours). Unfortunately, Denny's no longer exists at this location, so we ended up driving all the way down to Rockville's Broadway Diner for a bite to eat. There were kindly police officers and other unscrupulous youths like ourselves there. It was very fun.

The Players:

Diana (D): Insane older sister


Sarah (S): Equally insane, much cuter, younger sister

D: (trying to whisper and failing miserably) Hey Sarah...let's go!
S: So tell me again: Why are we doing this?
D: Because I was hungry and it's fun!
S: Oh my god, Mom's going to kill me. She'll think I'm out making babies or something.
D: With your sister? Ew, that's gross.
S: No dumb-butt, she won't know it's you.
D: I told you I was kidnapping you. What are you doing with that video camera?
S: Um... taping your lame ass bopping around while you're driving.
D: (singing along to Rihanna) "Baby you got the keys... So shut up and drive..."
S: I basically love you right now.
D: Only basically?
S: God, you're such an idiot.
D: I know. Don't post that video online. Oh wait. I'm not a teacher anymore--go wild!

We were worried that my parents would wake up and be terrified that Sarah had run off in the middle of the night with a boy (horrors!), but even though we made a LOT of noise exiting and entering through the front door, we left at 3:30 and returned at 5 am with nary a peep from either of the folks. I even crashed at the house, with my car parked behind Dad's and he failed to notice when he left for work that morning. I was exhausted later that day, after driving Mom to & from the doctor's for her procedure that required anaesthesia, but finally made it home to pack for my trip.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Warning!

This post will likely be depressing and full of curse words. I'm writing from still a state of shock after witnessing certain events.

Oh my bloody fucking god. I took Princess to the vet for her last round of vaccinations and oh fucking fuck. I am still shaking.

When I came out of the clinic, which is off 450, I saw the cutest little puppy dog wandering aimlessly into the road with a small boy about 10-12 following after him. Mom was stalled in a car in the right lane, which was blocking the traffic... but then puppy went into the next lane over and I heard the most disgusting popping wet sound and I think I heard a scream from the boy and the dog was lying in the road, legs twitching. I watched it for any sign that rushing out into the street and taking it to the vet clinic behind me would be of any use... but I think the pop pop sploosh sound was the irretrievable sound of the head crushed under the tires. Thirty seconds, that felt like 20 minutes, and the puppy stopped twitching.

I think Mom was yelling at the boy.

He wasn't crying. I don't know if it was his puppy. I'm still sick.

The man who hit him came back and picked him up from the road and I saw the blood smear. And puppy was dead...

And there was no point to carrying him all the way up to the vet (another 100 feet maybe), so the man left him on the side of the road. And I kept thinking that the boy could have been next and then I would be oligated to do something about it--call the police, 911, whatever and they would have to do something about it. But if I did all that for the puppy, it would be a pointless waste of time. (One of the funny side effects of working for the hotline is knowing exactly what the police would do about such a call from a frantic bystander)...

And I thought about the last time I was at this vet and a man rushed his (obviously) deceased animal in like it were an emergency and was shouting demands at the doctor to save his dog. But the doc couldn't do anything for a dead animal... there was nothing to be done...

Nothing to be done.
Feeling a little numb.

And I keep hearing the fucking popping sound of crushing bone and seeing the pavement streaked with blood and hearing the mom yell at her son who will go home tonight and cry and probably be called a baby for doing so and will learn that men don't cry or show emotion. And I'm crazy for wanting to do something to help.

Paralyzed and powerless... in the face of death.

Fucking fuck fuck fuck, get this scene out of my head--out of my ears and my mind and let me just cry like the little boy instead of this numb, sick, thud in my stomach that makes me want to throw up.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Grandma E...

I haven't written about her since she died in April, but I've had my birthday card from her sitting on my desk for a few months. It must have been one of the last things she ever wrote before she had the back to back strokes and the heart attack. Strangely, it is the most touching card she has gotten me for a birthday ever and I can't figure out if it's because she actually got to know me a bit better on this last trip or if it was just chance.

The card itself is a fine message, hitting me at a particularly important time to hear it: "Indulge in whatever you love most. Wish big. Laugh long. Enjoy lots." It is followed by a handwritten inscription "Lots of love and good wishes for many more birthdays, Grandma"...

Anyhow... the last conversation we had was a great departure from her usual "If you're going to get married, could you get married soon? I don't know how much longer I'll be around..." injunctions into a frank discussion of her choice to wait on marriage until she was 30 (almost unheard of in her time) and how happy she was that she had a long, single life because it brought a certain intangible satisfaction to her marriage to Grandpa E.

I unearthed the card today. So I am missing my grandma today.

I've been thinking about the things we talked about recently (god knows why), but I think I'm only just now comfortable enough with myself to really believe that it's not worth my time trying to reign in who I am that is so that I might attract someone. Maybe love isn't a numbers game. The heart of one quality guy over the attentions many subpar matches does sound better. Just remember not to waste too much time on guys I know won't meet my needs (or that I won't meet theirs).

Or maybe I'm just listening to too much Eric Clapton. This is a distinct possibility.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Numbers don't lie... do they?

Some people place undue (in my opinion) weight on the numbers in dates. From astrological signs to triskaidekaphobia (say that three times fast), it seems that America is a cultural hodgepodge of superstitious crap. Yesterday's "lucky sevens" date that happened to fall on a Saturday brought a surge of weddings, apparently (and as a hotline co-worker joked, perhaps an inevitable flurry of annulments on this Friday the 13th!). Some volunteers from the hotline were actually wed to each other yesterday (and I am very happy for them because they are sweet people), along with countless thousands who I don't have any personal knowledge about, and this was a REALLY BIG news story. Why?

I don't know.

Numerology, to me, has always been a harmless bit of entertainment and fun; something akin to taking personality quizzes online. I like checking my Aries horoscope some days (especially when I have a crush on some guy... it's a very seventh grade habit of mine) and when I was much younger and convinced that my friend's father was a werewolf (we did research in the library to prove it and everything) I thought certain numbers might be associated with evil and others with good. However, I never made life decisions based on this stuff. That's just silly. Like refusing to date someone because they aren't a cosmological match, especially when the descriptions are purposefully vague and could apply to a lot of different types. That and if my little brother demonstrates any of the Capricorn tendencies to ambitiously seek the finer things in life, you sure could have fooled me!

But many people seem to really get into this whole numbers-having-significance thing. My half-sister Janet can make some eerily accurate predictions based on her study of numerology and astrology. I remember the guy I was dating last summer was really hung up on 6/6/06--like that was the day he had set for himself to have his first kid and he was dreadfully disappointed it didn't happen. (He also had a rather bizarre obsession with The Omen movies...hm....). I thought it was a joke, but considering that within three months of our break up about five months following my refusal to bear his illegitimate anti-Christ son Damien, he married a woman with two children already, perhaps there was more to it than that. Could our lives be as determined by the random numerals associated with significant dates, and I'm just not aware of this?

The problem is that, much like the misleading field of statistics that likes to encourage the old myth "numbers don't lie," a clever mind can make the numbers do pretty much whatever they want by looking at the same situation from different angles. I think the funniest scene from War and Peace is the one where Pierre writes and rewrites Napoleon's name with his various titles so that when you replaced the letters with numbers, it adds up to 666, and then turns around and is shocked by the coincidence and ascribes to it all sorts of divine import! It is so telling of that mindset (though usually someone doesn't actually mislead themselves in quite so obvious a manner... silly Tolstoy).

The human mind is an amazing thing. We construct significance and meaning from chance occurrence so often, it is hard to figure out what is a legitimate connection and what is one where we are just deluding ourselves. I often believe I am lucky and lead a fairly blessed existence (I have the "golden child" syndrome where everything seems to happen for me the way I want it to most of the time), but sometimes I wonder if it's just my eternally optimistic personality. I want to believe in divinity and love and significance and karma...

I just think that marrying on 7/7/07 isn't really the way to get it. Now maybe 11/11/11 on the other hand... Well, off to check my horoscope for today!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Welcome

I just sent a mass e-mail to a lot of people about this blog. So if you're checking it out because of that, welcome!

If you were not included in my mass e-mail, but would like to be included in any such future e-mail update, please drop me a line: storysinger81 @ gmail.com.

In other news, I am the proud owner of several new pairs of thrift store goodness (aka blue jeans). I love thrift stores for so many reasons... I wonder if I'll miss them in Korea...

Friday, July 6, 2007

Inspiring things...

So, one of the people whose blogs are linked over on the side there is Jane Keeler, a brilliant writer/photographer/teacher person whose job in Korea I'm taking over when she jets off to Siberia for a service project (which is awesome). Anyhow, she's really inspired me to get back in this blogging groove (since after college, I made all my livejournal entries private and stopped writing so often out of fear that I might be fired for it... stupid litigious America). I forgot how much I do enjoy it, even if no one reads what I write.

Anyhow, she wrote a cool bit for her blog group about her reasons for living as she does that is just awesome. I even commented on it at length.

You must read this (Yes, this is the same link as above).

That is all.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Girls are mean.

I have this exercise for my children's/young adult lit class this summer where I am supposed to re-read a book that we loved as a child, but first reflect on why it was so significant to us at the time. Now, I know that for me, the most significant books that taught me about people and resonated with me on some kind of profoundly spiritual level were those written by Judy Blume. I read all of her books for young adults when I was a kid. The most popular series, the Superfudge trilogy, weren't even my favorites, although they were great.

I rarely re-read books. I have a bizarrely good memory and almost never feel the need to revisit a text I read before without reason (poetry is a notable exception). One book from childhood, though, that I must have read 4-5 times in fifth and sixth grades was Blume's Just as Long as We're Together. The funny thing is, I cannot really recall details about it, like I can most of her other books that I read. I know it's about a close friendship that changes as the girls grow apart and encounter new challenges like popularity and boys, but for a book I read like good Christians read the Bible, I can't even remember the names of the main characters.

It's kind of embarrassing to admit that such a significant part of my development is just... forgotten. Maybe it was just absorbed so thoroughly that I cannot distinguish the story from my life. I know it was my favorite book back then, and I'm pretty sure I know why, but it's hard to own up that something so childishly trivial had affected me for so long... I wrote a lot in diaries about the hurt for years because I was afraid to publicly own it. I told the story to someone the other day and I couldn't believe that I still felt some tears catching in the back of my throat, but as an adult I want to just take my still-injured fifth grade psyche and tell her to get over it already. It's really so stupid. I feel myself hesitant to type it out even now, even after such an introduction (that hopefully turned most of you off from reading about my ridiculously embarrassing childhood).

I didn't have many friends growing up. I played with stuffed animals more than other children and had a vivid imagination. I was a bit of a "tom boy" in that I got along better with the boys in day care because they played superhero games instead of gossiping. At Damascus Elementary, they called me the walking, talking dictionary (which was strangely ironic because vocabulary was my weakest subject at the time). Even the other smart kids would make fun of me to gain an edge with the popular kids.

Then my parents sent me to Fox Chapel, a gifted and talented center for fourth grade, and suddenly being smart was normal. I had friends for the first time--you know the kind you have slumber parties with and giggle about boys and tell all your deepest, darkest secrets to. I suddenly had a "best friend" like the girls in the books I read. Her name was Shekar. We had two other friends, Erin and Missy, who were best friends with each other. It was lovely.

One day in the summer between fifth and sixth grade, unbeknownst to me, the other three girls had a slumber party where they decided that they no longer wanted to be my friend. Shekar wrote me a letter, in beautiful calligraphy no less, explaining their decision. They mailed it to me. It took a few days to arrive, but the thing that kills me in retrospect, is how they kept up appearances during those days post letter writing, but prior to my receiving it, as if they were still my best friends. The shocking level of deceptiveness was, for me, what marks the cruelty of their actions. I can take being rejected. I cannot take being lied to and manipulated.

Girls are mean.

I've had other things happen since in relationships with females that are similar. I still don't get it. I still can't treat people I really care about like that and although I now understand not everyone works the same way I do, I still don't believe it is possible to care about someone the way I care about people and to deceive them in that way.

I've been reflecting a lot about the past lately; like not just the recent boyfriend and career complexities, but about what formed me into the person I am. I have been writing about my mother a lot (I know you sometimes read this, so hi mom--don't worry, it's nothing bad!) and about other significant, formative relationships.

I think this event is the that got me writing so much, because I could no longer trust others like I could trust myself. There is more to this story... to my story. But I feel I must abruptly end this because I cannot share any more at this time. I can't even properly edit this post so that you'll enjoy it. Just take it as it is, or not at all.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

This is an update...

Sarah reminded me that I was going to use her brilliant, profound statement as the title of my entry about our hike on Sunday.

Instead, I think it is such a compelling thought that it deserved its own entry.

Sarah's Wisdom:
"If God didn't want us to be entertained, he wouldn't have invented strippers."

Really, who can argue with such flawless truth--from the mouths of babes and all that?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ah... Metro is my new boyfriend...

I had a very pleasant experience in my voyage to the Korean embassy to verify documents today. Not at all like that evil trip made previously. Two notarized copies of my diploma cost me only $4, a 45-min each way metro ride that gave me the chance to read a new, fun trashy novel by Jane Moore called Fourplay, and one official transcript (luckily I still had one to give them!). The Metro is one of the best ways to people watch in DC. Everyone takes the metro! Tourists, businesspersons, locals, college students, homeless people, everyone. Plus the seats are comfy and the system is relatively easy to navigate if you are patient with all the pushy, impatient people. I think it might be true love... .

I got home, fully intending to do laundry and clean the apartment, but instead I continued reading my deliciously fun novel, cuddled with my cat, made a curious stir-fry wrap thing for lunch and listened to some new music on iTunes (a co-worker at the hotline recommended Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" and it was, in fact, excellent).

And now, although I was fully intending to go to Bally's before heading out clubbing with Michelle, I believe I will continue reading while I finish the laundry that so desperately needs finishing and making various plans with various friends who are about. I do wish I had some convenient space for a proper goodbye party for myself, but I am just not up to organizing it. I think I'd feel a bit like the nervous character I always played in "Party Quirks" with Take One--I worry that no one I really wanted to see would show up, only the people I didn't really care all that much about.

I keep saying "I'm bored" lately, but that's not really what I mean. I just feel very uncomfortable with the "limbo" stage I'm in right now. I need to lighten up. Every moment is worth living, not just the ones you plan for in the future. Darn it, my life as it is right NOW is pretty awesome if I would just bother to appreciate it! I wonder if it is a case of "the grass is always greener" or just restlessness. I've actually been having fun the last week and have many plans in the next few days for more fun adventures, but everything seems mundane, muted, distant. It's like all the little things that I used to get all excited about seem less important than they once were. And not in the "I'm depressed" way... More like in the "no excitement compares with leaving the country for a year or two" way.

Or maybe I'm just a closet drama addict with no score in sight for a couple months. That's a sobering thought.

Or do I just want nothing else that exciting to happen? Could I handle caring about something else right now? (I NEED to start caring about this degree again or it ain't gonna get done...) Hmph... nerves won't get the best of me this time!

***edit, later***

After going for a walk around the lake, I'm feeling much better.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Hiking in the "wilds" of Maryland

Early this morning, I went on a hike at Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, MD. This mountain is interesting because it is privately owned, but has accessible trails for all. The hikes are short (between 1/4 mile and 7 miles--most around 1.5 miles), but a couple are rather challenging. I went on the shorter, steeper trails because I had to be at work by 2 p.m.

So I kidnapped my "brother" Sam, author of the Sampedia (here's his entry on me, for your amusement), and my sister (for real) Sarah (for her Sampedia entry click here!) at 9 a.m. The weather was perfect. I brought my camera and took lots of pictures. I'm proud of how much my photography skills have improved since taking over the yearbook two years ago. Not that I am a good photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm starting to figure out a bit more about light and composition. Check out the album:

Turn on the comments if you want a bit more info.

Note (posted late night July 1, edited a bit July 2 AM)

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