Thursday, August 31, 2006

Busy again

"Busy" isn't a word I would use to describe my life in the past nine months since I graduated with my master's degree. I've worked part-time and the rest of the time....well, the rest of the time I've done whatever I wanted. Slept late, watched TV, read books, gone to Wal-Mart during the long, lazy afternoons, listened to jazz late at night, spent time with my mom and sisters.

It's a wonderful luxury to be able to be careless with time. There have been times in the past where I've been so busy that I've craved free time the way I crave water when I'm thirsty. But the past nine months I've had nothing but time; I've been swimming and floating in time the way you would in a pool of water on a hot summer day. I thank my parents for being good parents and allowing me to do this for awhile. To try to figure things out, to break the chains of commitment that had me going forward on a train I didn't want to be on in the first place. Time to think. Time to just be.

But those days are coming to an end. Not that I wanted to do that for much longer. It was OK for a season, not for a life. It's like the alarm went off in my head, nine months is enough time, it's time to quit being a bum, it's time to think about the future and making money and being self-sufficient and all that other stuff that regular people do. *Groan* but I know, it's time to wake up. So I'm back to being a busy girl--this week I signed up for more hours at work and I'm taking a class at UTEP in the hopes that I'll get somewhere I want to be. Yesterday I had two hours of class, then four hours of work without a break, and afterward I felt tired and it was like, welcome back to the world of being busy and stressed. It wasn't an altogether bad feeling. Here we go again, back to the real world.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A year later

Everyone in America should see Spike Lee's documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts about Hurricane Katrina. You see those images, you know the ones I'm talking about, the dead bodies floating in the water, the people in line outside the convention center with no food or water, and you just wonder, how did this happen in America? This happens in Third World countries, not the United States of America, the richest country in the world. People were treated shamefully with no dignity whatsoever, and the poor, the elderly, and the sick were the ones who suffered the most. The government failed these people and basically allowed them to die.

My reaction to the documentary was shock, then sadness, and finally anger. You want to point the finger at someone, put the blame on Ray Nagin or Michael Brown or President Bush. And don't get me wrong, those people were responsible, but after mulling it over for awhile, I had this realization: at some level every person in America is responsible for letting something like this happen. Including me. Ouch. We live our comfortable lives and allow ourselves to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others going on all around us, even in our own communities, not to mention around the world. We allow people to slip through the cracks and live in poverty, and when a disaster like this strikes somehow we're surprised that they are the ones who get hit the worst?

And I think the government's handling of the situation highlights our national attitude problem, this attitude of I can't do anything, I don't matter, let's not prepare for a disaster, let's just wait for it to happen and then deal with it. Let's enjoy life now and deal with the consequences later. When we fail we'll pass the buck and refuse to take responsibility. We're extremely bad at long-term planning, witness the war in Iraq and our failure to deal with environmental issues like global warming.

And finally we are the ones who put the current leaders into power, leaders who 1) are incompetent and 2) care more about protecting the interests of the rich than protecting the poorest members of society. Not that I voted for Bush, but you didn't exactly see me campaigning against him.

Watching this documentary made me angry, not just at our government but angry at myself because I see all these problems in our society and yet I do nothing about them. This documentary really brought it home for me--this is what happens when we fail to act. And it makes me want to do something, protest or feed the homeless or donate money or build a house, anything so that I'm changing the world for the better and not just sitting around watching and criticizing. Maybe that's the whole point of the documentary, to not only make us angry but to motivate us to change.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Boys of summer

My dad and my sister and I went to the Diablos baseball game last night. It was the second-to-last game of the season. I bought tickets right behind the visitor's dugout this time so we could see all the players from Coastal Bend waiting for their turn to bat. There was also this really cool batboy sitting there who would discreetly toss a baseball to some kids in the stands every once in a while. What a nice kid. It was a pretty good game from what I could tell even though I don't know much about baseball. The Diablos stayed ahead the whole time and won 5-4 in 7 innings (it was a short game since it was game 1 of a doubleheader). OK, then the fireworks show started. It had threatened to rain the whole game, so we were all kind of relieved the game hadn't gotten rained out and they were still going to put on the fireworks. The fireworks were awesome, as usual. So then the fireworks show ended and a minute later it started pouring rain. I almost had to laugh out loud at the irony of the situation. It makes you think that maybe God has a sense of humor. So I thought as we all got drenched walking back to my dad's truck. There was a mass exodus at that point and I don't think anyone stayed for the second game, which apparently was started but got rained out in the fourth inning. Anyway, it was a pretty fun night. Both times I've gone to games I've had a really good time. Kind of sad that the season is over. Until next summer, I guess...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Aristotle on Happiness

"We may define happiness as prosperity combined with virtue; or as independence of life; or as the secure enjoyment of the maximum of pleasure; or as a good condition of property and body, together with the power of guarding one's property and body and making use of them. That happiness is one or more of these things, pretty well everybody agrees.

From this definition of happiness it follows that its constituent parts are:-good birth, plenty of friends, good friends, wealth, good children, plenty of children, a happy old age, also such bodily excellences as health, beauty, strength, large stature, athletic powers, together with fame, honour, good luck, and virtue."

From Aristotle's Rhetoric

I've been reading Aristotle for the first time. It's amazing how the things he wrote 2,500 years ago are still true today.

New logo?

Is Blogger's new logo a dog with a party hat on? Weird.

For the curious

I uploaded a photo to go with my profile. I'll probably end up taking down soon. I'm getting embarrassed just thinking about it.
Update: Decided to go with a different picture. It's me at my 24th birthday holding my gift- a teddy bear.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

My first comment

Hallelujah, someone is actually reading this. And her blog is pretty cool, too- Big Brown Girl.

Rhetoric defined

Rhetoric- n. 1. a. The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively. b. A treatise or book discussing this art. 2. Skill in using language effectively and persuasively. 3. A style of speaking or writing, especially the language of a particular subject: fiery political rhetoric. 4. Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous: His offers of compromise were mere rhetoric. 5. Verbal communication; discourse.

From the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Is it better to know a little about a lot of things or a lot about a few things?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sandwich nights

Sunday night was "Sandwich Night" in our house back in the days when my parents were still together. It was like a lot of family traditions in that I don't remember how it started. It just was--here was a Sunday night, time for sandwiches. My dad hardly ever cooked, but for some reason he was put in charge of making the sandwiches.

My dad was a true sandwich artist. I'm sorry to admit that Mom's sandwiches couldn't hold a candle to his. Her idea of a sandwich was two pieces of stale bread, a leaf of lettuce, a couple of tomatoes, mayo, and bologna. My dad, on the other hand, had a complete sandwich-making technique, you might even call it a philosophy. He would make each person's sandwich according to their specifications. Mayo or mustard? Turkey or bologna? I would ask my sisters and report back to him. So many times over the years I would watch him make them in the kitchen, completely fascinated by the intricate process. On a big wooden cutting board he would chop lettuce into very fine slices along with tomatoes, onions, and pickles. Sometimes he would add mushrooms or avocado, even alfalfa sprouts if Mom had bought them that week. He would toast fresh rolls spread with butter in a pan on the stove and melt pieces of cheese with them. He would spread mayo and/or mustard onto the bread. Then he would layer all the vegetables and meat onto one half of the toasted bread and sprinkle salt and pepper over the whole thing. Ever the perfectionist, my dad even had a technique for that: hold the salt and pepper shakers high above the sandwich, he explained to me, that way the salt and pepper gets evenly distributed.

When he would finish making my sandwich, Dad would bring it out to me on a plate. He would dress it up fancy the way a restaurant would--the sandwich cut diagonally in half, toothpicks with olives holding it together, chips set between the two halves. It always tasted fantastic, with just the right mix of vinegar, cheese, salt and pepper. Even now the idea of it makes my mouth water. Every Sunday, my mom and dad and sisters and I would sit and eat our sandwiches on TV trays and watch "60 Minutes" together. Those were good times, as close to perfect as I remember in our family. I really can't explain to you how much I miss those nights. Somehow it just seemed like all was right with the world back then. I'd give almost anything if there were a way to get that back.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Font deja vu

Is it just me, or does the font used in the new HP "The Computer is Personal Again" ads remind you of The Nightmare Before Christmas? This is so weird, because when I saw the ads I thought that right away and wondered how the HP people could rip off the font like that. Then it occurred to me that Nightmare was released 13 years ago (!) and the ads' target audience probably isn't old enough to make the connection. Further evidence that I am getting old.


Found a nice local blog (about knitting) through an article in today's El Paso Times:

Monday, August 14, 2006

Weekend update

The weekend:
- Five girls and a U-Haul was all it took to move my sister into her new house on Saturday. I got to ride in a U-Haul for the first time. Exciting.
- Sunday night I started to get sick with a cold :=(. So begins a week of drinking water and staying in bed with a box of Kleenex.


Pandora and the Music Genome Project. Awesome.

Friday, August 11, 2006


The good thing about living here is that after ten minutes of walking I can be right up against the side of a mountain. I walk past two blocks of houses and a gas station, past more houses, past bunches of weeds with purple flowers and yellow berries, past a pair of roadrunners. Then I cross the main road and keep going on a side road that leads up to a higher point on the mountain. A few minutes after that I stop hearing the noise from the main road and it becomes strangely quiet.

At the highest point of the road I arrive at a clearing with huge rocks, desert brush, and tons of mosquitoes. I sit for a few minutes on a rock. It is warm from the day's heat, almost hot. My mind is full of anxieties and I sit there and let them go through my mind as I swat away mosquitoes. Finally the mosquitoes annoy me enough that I want to move someplace else.

I walk a few steps and reach a ditch full of sand and debris from recent rains. I walk through the sandy ditch like it's a road and finally I stand at the perfect view. I look out on a beautiful valley below. A few hundred yards away from me a large pond of water reflects right in the center of the cactus and brush of desert landscape. It looks so out-of-place- water in a desert. Further off, there's a good-sized mountain range of brown-black mountains with pale blue and pink sky above it. Before that, I can see the last line of civilization before the landscape turns completely to desert- the white canopy of the baseball field, US Hwy. 54, houses, businesses. I contemplate the valley for a few minutes, wishing I had a camera.

Then I look behind me. Above the peak of the large brown mountain there are gray clouds rimmed with sunlight. A plane flies into those clouds, leaving a contrail that dissolves right into the cloud. Rays of sun peek through the clouds, though the setting sun itself is hidden behind the clouds. Dragonflies fly all around me. The scene is stunningly beautiful.

Once again, I become aware of how quiet it is. My life is noisy- the TV or radio is always on, the A/C is on, people are talking, cars are passing by, and here it is finally quiet. I went up there thinking it would be a good spot to reflect and maybe shed a few tears in privacy, and yet at the moment I stand there I feel calm and serene and the tears don't come. The permanence of the mountains is calming- knowing they will be here long after you die, long after everyone you know has died, and suddenly a day's worth of anxiety doesn't matter as much. A constant when everything else is changing.

My legs are tired by this time, I start down a pile of rocks and head back to the house. It has been 45 minutes, it seems like less. But it's darker now. I hurry home. Back to the road, past the gas station, past apartments where someone is grilling their dinner. Ten minutes and I'm home.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Summer viewing

Because the shows I watch during the regular season are in reruns, I've found a few replacement shows to be obsessed with this summer:
  • Project Runway. Catty, talented designers fight it out on the runway. Unlike a lot of reality shows these people actually have skills, i.e. actually went to design school, run fashion businesses, etc. Tim Gunn is my favorite.
  • Reruns of The Office (American version). My sister got me hooked on this show. The American version is not as good as the British one- it's way less subtle than the Brit one and can get over-the-top with the stupidity of the boss, but it's probably still the funniest sitcom in current production. There are a few episodes I've watched that make me laugh just thinking about them.
  • 30 Days. Documentary/reality show/social experiment. I -heart- Morgan Spurlock.
  • Reruns of Felicity. Reruns have reappeared on cable this summer after a long absence. I've already seen most of the episodes, but I think they're worth a second or third viewing, which for me is saying a lot. I like how the show is both funny and dramatic. The other night my (other) sister and I started talking about the characters on the show like they were real people. Which either shows that Felicity is really absorbing or that my sister and I are both a little nutty.

Because I can't get enough of interviews with bloggers

Interview with Jason Kottke on Rebecca's Pocket. 8-10 hours a day online? Damn.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


"Self is another dodgy concept, since I am, when I subject this "I" to careful inspection, not much more than a swarm of flickering affinities, habits, memories, and predilections that could go either way--toward neediness or independence, for example, courage or cowardice."
-Barbara Ehrenreich, p. 24, Bait and Switch

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blue mood

I had the best cup of coffee I've ever tasted this morning. Fresh-ground Starbucks coffee beans, brewed in a coffee-maker that looks like a glass jar with a strainer. The pastor's wife poured the coffee into four non-matching mugs. I took one and stirred in a drop of Half and Half. So so good, accompanied by cranberry bread made with fresh cranberries. It was the most satisfying breakfast I've had in awhile.

Anyway, I've made a promise to myself to keep the moping to a minimum on here. But I'm just in this emotional mood, the kind of mood where you stay up until 3 AM writing in your journal and listening to jazz. I've been reflecting on things, particularly the past two and a half years, grad school and why it became the mess it turned out to be. I think it's something I need to deal with in order to put it behind me and to move on to the next phase of my life. So I've been dealing with it, writing about it with the intent to eventually post something about it.

I've been reading Mockingbird by Charles J. Shields, a portrait (biography?) of Nelle Harper Lee. I don't know why I'm so fascinated by this woman, she just seems so unusual, a true writer. Write one of the most brilliant novels of the 20th century, retire to Monroeville, Alabama, never publish another novel, and refuse all interviews. It seems very romantic and brave and the true definition of living life on one's own terms. She recently published a letter in O, the Oprah Magazine, about books, which was lovely to read, after I got over the shock.

My apologies for the all-over-the-map post, but there it is just to give you an idea of where my mind is at right now. Blue moods, people, gotta love them.

Monday, August 07, 2006


"...when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all."
-C.S. Lewis, introduction to The Problem of Pain

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Storm 2006 update

"August 2006: The days a drought-stricken city stopped praying for rain" reads the banner on the El Paso Times' Photos of the Week feature. It's still unbelievable that this actually happened in El Paso. I've been to that Sun Harvest grocery store so many times, it's so odd to see the photo of it flooded with water.

Five days later we're still a soggy city, the clouds are still out and ponds and lakes have appeared all over the city that weren't there last Monday. This was a week to remember for sure. Fortunately it looks like the end is in sight. The sun came out for a few hours mid-afternoon today, and the forecast for Monday looks hot and dry. Thank God for that, I think this city has had enough rain to last for the next year or two.

Classic Cat

Classic Cat is a great site if you are in the mood to listen to some classical music. It's well-organized, comprehensive, and, best of all, free. I found a recording Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin and Two Cellos in C on this page. Heavenly.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I was supposed to go to the ladies Bible study this morning and then spend a lovely afternoon browsing books at Barnes and Noble. Instead I'm here at home, having spent a most of the day bailing water out of our flooded back porch. It has been raining from the time I got up at 8:30, with about an hour break from 11:30-12:30, then it started again. The whole backyard is flooded and water is still trickling in to our back porch. This despite the fact that we live on the mountain. I'm scared to think what it's like in low-lying areas. From the news coverage I've seen it's not pretty. Starting to feel a little like Noah in the Old Testament- when will this rain end? And how I am going to get to work? This is not supposed to happen in the desert.