Wednesday, February 25, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part IX - Lenten version

1. A story a friend told me on Wednesday: She had grown up going to a school where most kids were Protestant. At around 12 or 13, she went to the dermatologist for the first time, because of some acne problems she was having. She couldn't figure out what the heck kind of weird skin disease all the people there had, having no idea that it was Ash Wednesday or what that meant.

2. I was planning a post about all the things I'm doing for Lent, all the ways I'm hoping to be commited to prayer, fasting, and charity. Until, of course, I went to church on Ash Wednesday. The Gospel cured me of that plan. Not that it won't come up in conversation over the course of the next 40 days; I've already had one dream about eating M&Ms.

3. I'm having a really difficult time so far this Lent. Unreptant sinners usually do, I'd imagine.

4. I feel like ashes play a much different role here in DC than they do in NY. In NY, everyone gets ashes. Okay, maybe not everyone, but in NY, when the majority of Catholics are walking around with ashes, it's lot. In DC, when the majority of Catholics are walking around with ashes, it's not that many people. Ashes are just sort of part of the picture on Ash Wednesday in NY, whereas here, I think they call a lot of attention to individuals, but they also encourage a sort of camraderie between Catholics. After going to Mass at noon, I came back to work with my ashes, and had one woman - to whom I'd never spoken before - exclaim, excited, "Oh! You're Catholic, too!"

5. I finally went to the eye doctor when I visited home last weekend. My prescription had changed from -4.25 to -5.00, which is a pretty big jump. The thing is, I'm pretty sure that change happend last March. I've been walking around with very poor vision for close to a year. Actually being able to see things makes me feel like it's springtime and all is new in the world. There are cars a block down, and I don't have to squint in class; just being able to see fills me with such joy sometimes. I almost feel like I should have held off on the new prescription until Easter, when such feelings would have been more appropriate, but I'm not willing to make quite that much of a sacrifice this Lent.

6. I was crocheting on the bus the other day, and the man who sat next to me said, "Can you make me a hat?" I told him that I could not, that hats are too complicated for me. He asked if I could make him a scarf, and I told him I had lots and lots of people on my list to make scarves for. He said he didn't mind waiting. And you know, I don't mind making scarves for people. So I told him I'd do it, and I think I actually might. I hope I do. There's nothing wrong with devoting a little time and energy to a stranger. He wrote down his phone number for me.

7. Being the end of the month, I'm realizing that there's nothing like filling out time sheets at work to make you realize just how unproductive you really are. I'm trying to buckle down and do a lot of work this afternoon to boost my stats.


The first time I fasted for Ash Wednesday, I was in high school. I think I was a sophomore, so I must have been 16. I know, I know, a few years late. We were on a three-day field trip, and my friends and I, realizing it would be difficult to get to church for ashes, decided to fast instead. I fasted most of the day, but had a presentation - we were at a competition - Wednesday evening, and I thought that combining nerves with hunger and passing out during our speech wouldn't be fair to my partner, so I had a salad for dinner. Just to keep my energy up. People asked, "I thought you were fasting?" Of course I was fasting, I said. One big meal and two small meals.

My Jewish friends laughed and laughed. One big meal and two small meals? That's not fasting! You want fasting? Try Yom Kippur!

And I decided they were pretty much right. I understand the need to keep your energy up and not pass out in the middle of whatever you're doing that day, but one big meal and two small meals? That's not fasting! That's just not snacking!

Ever since, I've leaned toward a stricter fast for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I often try to eat nothing at all, but since Ash Wednesday falls on a Wednesday (duh!), and Wednesdays are when I go to Judo, I try to eat one small meal late in the day before going to the gym. Sometimes I skip Judo and go for a total fast, but weeks like this one - when I didn't make it to any of the other classes - I do a less than total fast, go to the gym, and cross my fingers that I won't pass out anyway.

Today I'll have a bowl of oatmeal just before I leave work. Oatmeal is pretty much going to be my sacrificial food this Lent. I don't hate it, but it's not something I hugely look forward to or anything. I'm giving up peanut butter, and since spending $7 on a nice sandwich at the deli across the street doesn't make sense, either financially or sacrificially, I think I'm going to be eating a lot of oatmeal over the next forty days. It's pretty much the only thing, other than peanut butter sandwiches, that's convenient enough to bring to work for lunch.

And as much as I don't usually look forward to oatmeal, it's right about lunch time, my stomach is growling, there are packets of oatmeal just inches away from my desk, and all of the sudden, oatmeal is very, very, tempting.

The Day I Became Afraid of Heights

When I was 16, Suellen and I visited cousins in Idaho. One of them was going cliff-jumping with his friends, and though our plans had been lazy-river tubing with the other cousin - something fun and safe and appropriate - we decided that cliff-jumping sounding especially fun, and that we should definitely do that. We drove a long way out to what I think was a quarry, where there were two cliffs: 15 ft, and 40 ft. We tried the 15-footer first, and it was fun. It's also for novices, apparently, as the Idahoans were bored and wanted to move immediately up to the big boys' cliff.

One of my cousins - the girl who had wanted to go tubing - goes first. "Raised in Idaho" kicks in, and she jumps off the cliff, no problemo.

Suellen and I are nervous, and ask our cousin - the boy, who was responsible for the cliff-jumping adventure - for advice.

"Just try to run fast, and push off when you get to the edge."

Sounds simple.

Suellen goes first. She concentrates on running faster. Concentrates so hard on running that she forgets about pushing off, or about paying attention to her footing at all, and slips as she reaches the end. She trips off the cliff.

She emerges from the water, climbs back up the cliff. She's fine.

Watching this leaves me very shaken.

I am determined not to slip. I pay very close attention to my footing - such close attention, it seems, that I forget about the running. They tell me I was moving so slowly that they thought I was just walking up to take another look. When they realize I'm not stopping, someone yells "She's not going to make it!" which I luckily do not hear. I don't know I've done anything wrong until I open my eyes in mid-air. I've done a 180 on the way down, so that I'm facing toward, instead of away from, the cliff - which is all of 12 inches away from my face. They tell me I screamed an expletive. I don't remember that.

I land just about where the water meets the land, in water that's about thigh-deep. My knees bend under me as I go in, luckily, so I don't, you know, break both legs. When I look up, everyone is staring down over the edge of the cliff, making sure I'm alright.

I'm fine.

Suellen and I do not jump off the cliff any more times that day, or, in fact, ever again.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Baby Blanket

Blanket, no flash

Blanket, flash.

Detail of the bottom corner. I like to try to make one corner square of every blanket a tiny little microcosm of the blanket as a whole. (It didn't work so well this time, since the corner square was designed and put together, and then I changed my mind about what the actual pattern of the blanket would be.)

These are the pictures of the blanket I made my baby cousin. I started it when I found out my aunt was pregnant (around Easter), worked on it on and off during the summer, buckled down during fall semester, and made myself finish it over Christmas. She was born in early November. I saw the family the day before the scheduled C-section, and was aiming to have it done by then. No dice. Then I aimed to have it done by Thanksgiving, the first time I saw her. Still no. ThenI aimed to have it done by Christmas, as a Christmas present. Then I made myself finish it before I left home for the next semester, and she got it right around her 2 month birthday. My original intention was blocks of color, each with a white center (thus the supposed microcosm), but then I decided against that and just made the blanket as random as possible - if by random you mean meticulously arranging it so that it looks as random as possible. It's blue, green, and yellow, with the occasional white square thrown in to make it look more random, and I was going to put a border of green, white, and more green on it, but my mom convinced me that it had to be yellow. (I put borders on all of my blankets, because I still haven't gotten the hang, after all this time, of joining squares evenly.)

I really like the way it turned out, but I'm still curious about what the original pattern would have looked like.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


From the Brooklyn Eagle, February 22, 1875. I didn't crop the image to get rid of the first two, but the third is my favorite:

Friday, February 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part VIII

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

1. Competency. Isn't it great? I had one of those moments of pride today that comes with realizing you're competent at something, the feeling of pride you get when something goes wrong at work, and you fix it, and suddenly realize that you're no longer one of the new kids. Even though my first instinct was to call my boss to fix it, he wasn't around, so I did it myself, knew exactly what to do, and fixed the mix-up without, I think, anyone even knowing about it.

2. Competency proceeded to backfire a couple hours later, when knowing that I was as competent as anyone else to solve a particular problem meant, of course, that I had to solve that problem, too - this one taking an hour rather than 10 minutes.

3. Last night, I made a recipe I got from my paternal grandfather. If you'd ever met this grandfather, you'd either be laughing or scratching your head right now. He grilled in the summer, but basically only ever made grilled cheese and cereal otherwise. He ate out - either at a restaurant or at one of his children's houses - essentially every night between my grandmother's death in 1990 and his death in 2008. But a few years ago, after dinner at our house one night, we had ice cream - my mom and I always liked to try to fatten him up - he mentioned a strawberry sauce that his mother used to make to put on vanilla ice cream, something about cooking strawberries on the stove or something. At the time, my thought was, "It's a shame Grandma never had any girls so her recipes died with her." Recently, though, I had a thought, about what Grandma could have possibly been making with strawberries on the stove to put on ice cream. Sounds kind of like a strawberry syrup. So, since I had some strawberries that I'd let get old but not moldy, I googled "homemade strawberry syrup" and recipes like this one reinforced my theory that making strawberry syrup entailed exactly what I thought it would and sounded kind of like what Pop thought he remembered his mom doing. So I put together a more or less one-to-one-to-one recipe of sugar to water to cut up strawberries, boiled up a simple syrup with strawberries, and made what I assume is Grandma's strawberry sauce. Deductive reasoning + the internet = return to my roots?

4. I'm going home to NY this weekend for my cousin's engagement party. I can't wait. I've really been missing home lately, plus I love seeing my relatives. I've said in the past - and meant it - that I like my family more than some people like their friends.

5. On that note, oh my goodness, weddings everywhere! I have three cousins getting married this year, in March, July, and September. Yay weddings! We even have one wedding and another engagement party in the same weekend. Should I be this excited? Should I be admitting that I might be angling to catch one of these bouquets?

6. The other most exciting thing about going home this weekend - other than a fun party with the family (and the prospect of finally having a hot shower of course, since our plumbing still isn't fixed) is going to the eye doctor. My eyes changed drastically a little over a year ago, right after I last got a new prescription, and I've been squinting through class and pushing my glasses right up against my eyes and trying not to drive anywhere unfamiliar (I'm fine if I know where I'm going and don't have to make out words on signs) for about a year now. I think it's been contributing to my frequent headaches (I didn't think they were bad, but does not everyone get one-two disruptive headaches a week?), and I hate squinting and sitting in the front row like some 4th grader who hasn't had her eyes checked yet, and I really hate not being able to make out which player is which at basketball games (we sit in the nosebleeds). I am very excited for appropriate corrective lenses!

7. I've gone back to Judo, which I did through most of college but kind of let lag the past year or so. (For the curious, I've added a link to the Judo Info site in the sidebar, and oh look!. . . there it is in this post, too!) Judo can be a pretty intense sport, and even though I've been moving slowly and easing myself back in, I've reached the point where every ounce of flesh on my body hurts every moment of every day. It's a good feeling.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Valentine's Day

Last year was the first time I ever had a date for Valentine's Day. It was exciting. The very idea of having a date for Valentine's Day meant a lot to me. It was important. The evening, which started out with a lovely dinner that this guy cooked for me at his apartment, devolved into us going into his bedroom and some situations that I was uncomfortable with. Now, I'm no saint, but the amount of pressure exerted and the very extreme reluctance with which he finally took no for an answer weren't okay.

Still, I'd had a date for Valentine's Day! It had never seemed much of a big deal to me, but the year before, I was the only of my 4 roommates to be single. The sum total of my Valentine's Day celebration consisted of a "Grow Your Own Boyfriend" doll (plastic, put it in water, turns into a little red man about 8 inches high) from one roommate, and a box of conversation hearts from my boss, with an inscription that read, "Dear [Boss], Happy Valentine's Day! Love, Kelly." (Who's Kelly?) That year brought home the fact that having a date for Valentine's Day is important, and so having to argue with a guy I barely knew to convince him that when I said I didn't want to spend the night, I meant I didn't want to spend the night seemed a small price to pay for having a date for Valentine's Day.

This year, everything was different. I only kinda sorta had a date for Valentine's Day. Rhett and I will have been dating for one year on the 24th, so we had a more-or-less unspoken agreement that Valentine's Day would take a backseat, and our real date-planning and gift-giving would center on our anniversary 10 days later. I did drop a not-so-subtle hint along the lines of "You'd better buy me chocolate," but I made sure to buy him chocolate, too. (And the heart-shaped box of chocolate I gave him was bigger than the heart-shaped box of chocolate he gave me, so I win! Or do I. . .?) His parents happened to have come into a pair of tickets to a Friday night show at the Kennedy Center, and gave them to us, so our real date was the show his mom arranged for us to see the night before Valentine's Day. We grabbed dinner before that, but nowhere particularly fancy or special (still good, though!), and afterwards went out to celebrate his friend's birthday at a bar. The next morning we each watched Georgetown disappoint separately - I at a friend's apartment, he at a bar with some friends - and then met up in the late afternoon to see a movie. We should do something on Valentine's Day, shouldn't we? (I highly recommend Slumdog Millionaire, by the way.) Being hungry after the movie, we got something to eat. None of it felt like a date, and I'm not sure whether any of it was, although dinner did happen to be at the restaurant where we had our first date - because our first-choice restaurant was too crowded. Happenstance romance. We were supposed to meet some friends of mine that night, but those plans fell through, so we hung out at my apartment and watched TV.

Nothing could have mattered less to me this year than having a "date" for Valentine's Day. All that mattered was having Rhett, and that wasn't manifested in having to be with him, or wanting to spend every second of the day being romantic with him, or needing fancy romantic plans with him. (The chocolate, on the other hand, was much appreciated.) Valentine's Day was so symbolic and so important when I was single, and meant either being alone and lonely or putting up with absolutely anything to make sure I wasn't. Being completely satisfied with my happy and loving relationship, though, means it's symbolic, too - symbolic of that happy and loving relationship. It happens to be a nice day to do what makes us so happy, which is just as much, if not more, watching tv on my couch and being there for each other as it is a fancy dinner, pretty flowers, and an extra romantic date. I can't imagine a Valentine's Day that I would have preferred.

Friday, February 13, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part VII

1. I was so close to skipping this week. I still might (well, not if you're reading, of course). 7 Quick Takes seems like so many. . . it seems like I don't think about 7 whole things per week, because if I did, I wouldn't have so much trouble coming up with 7 whole things to write about. I think I'll be supplementing this week's with embarrassing things about me, just to keep it interesting.

2. Embarrassing Fact 1: For a very, very long time, I thought Fergie the singer and Fergie the Duchess of York were the same person. It was an odd carreer path, but hey, stranger things have happened, right?

3. I can't believe I'm saying this, but all of the sudden, I'm starting to have trouble with the theory of Evolution. I've always believed what I saw as basic Catholic teaching on the subject - Faith and Reason don't conflict, they supplement each other; we can't deny Science, but there's no necessary conflict between Evolution and Creation; a "day" in Genesis didn't have to be a literal 24 hours but could refer to the period of time during which God created Earth, or plants, or Man. I never had trouble reconciling Evolution and Creation, but suddenly I'm having a lot of trouble trying to reconcil Evolution and the Fall. I know the Church doesn't have a lot of definitive teaching on the subject, and what I've glanced over so far hasn't enlightened me much. Is anyone familiar with some clear, concise, Catholic teaching on this one?

4. Embarrassing Fact 2: I once totalled my car - as well as the car I hit head-on - trying to kill a spider. When people hear this, they ask, "Was it a really big spider?" It was not. Imagine a pencil eraser. Cut that in half. It was smaller than that. But it was JUMPING! (No one was seriously hurt, though there were fears I'd broken my nose.)

5. What does it say about me that suddenly, when I'm having trouble reconciling Faith and Science, I start to doubt Science? That's never been the case before, and it scares me a little.

6. Embarrassing Fact 3: Until we were both well on our way through college, both Suellen and I pronounced "monster" (the scary creature) the same way we pronounced "Munster" (the cheese). We'd heard people pronouncing it "MONS-ter," but assumed they were wrong, like people who say "orange" like "OR-anje" instead of "ARE-anje." I think I still usually pronounce it our way, and I'm still just about convinced that everyone else in the English-speaking world is wrong about this one and she and I are right.

7. On the genealogy front, last night I came across this blurb in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online, which I'm almost certain refers to my great-great-great-grandfather:
I'm going to have to say I don't 100% believe the reporting. So we really think the suicide attempt was due to the fighting with a teenager and not the financial ruin?
See more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Scarves, Scarves, Scarves!

Nothing will make a camera upload easily like a blog post that tells the whole world how impossible it is to upload pictures off your camera. These are the rest of the scarves I made over Christmas. Only the ones for Suellen and my dad were Christmas presents, but after Suellen decided she liked hers, she asked for another one, so she could wear them together. (That's stylish? What do I know? I just create.) My cousin and Carreen both liked Suellen's, so I made them each one, too. They're all based off of the same basic pattern, the one that I used to make Suellen's original scarf at Christmas. It's really quick, and even I - I'm not a quick crocheter - can whip one out in an evening while I'm watching tv.

Suellen's second scarf

Detail. These were all made from yarn I had laying around the house, some of which had been sitting around in random granny squares for years, which is why some of the fringe is so curly. I hoped/hope it will straighten out, but I don't really mind the effect, in case it doesn't.

My cousin's scarf. She liked Suellen's gray, black, and pink, but didn't want the pink.

Carreen's scarf. This one might be my favorite color combination.


I really liked making these scarves. If only I weren't living in yarn poverty, I'd be making more. If I could find some nice blue and gray yarn (which I'm sure I could if I could FIND A YARN STORE!), I'd be making Georgetown scarves for all my girlfriends based on this pattern, and Georgetown scarves for Rhett and all my guy friends based loosely on this pattern. We might be aiming for next basketball season, at this rate.

Monday, February 9, 2009

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident: Good, Secular Pro-Life Arguments

I've hesitated to post this one, because it speaks of rights as God-given, but if it was good enough for the Founding Fathers, it's good enough for me.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I'm not even sure I have to comment. The Declaration of Independence really says it all. Self-evident, unalienable right, Life. In fact, it goes on to talk about how men have the right to alter or abolish a government that is destructive of these rights, but I'm not going into that. Our country - our secular, democratic country - was founded on the ideal that Life is an unalienable right. How much simpler can it be? Laws contrary to our founding ideals should not exist in this country.

As an aside, the Declaration of Independence does not have the force of law. Of the Charters of Freedom - The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights - only the latter two have the force of law. I'm not much of a Constitutional scholar, but it makes sense to me that these founding ideals weren't explicitly protected in the Constitution because they were considered so self-evident. Either that, or they naively assumed that the right of all innocent people to Life would be protected by clauses prohibiting depriving people of Life without due process of law and ensuring that all people are entitled to equal protection under the law. They thought they had all their bases covered, didn't they?

Crochet Stuff

For the record, I've been trying to post more pictures of my crocheting projects - I finished several more scarves and a baby blanket for my cousin over Christmas break. I've had a difficult time getting the pictures from my camera to my computer though. The camera is new - it was a Christmas present - but I've uploaded pictures from it before, as evidenced by the few crochet projects I've posted on here so far. I can't figure out what I was doing differently then to make it work.

I'm currently working on a blanket, in red and white, for. . . well, I'm not 100% sure who it's for yet. I haven't been able to find any yarn stores that sell good, cheap, yarn - in the vein of Michael's or A.C. Moore - in DC that are easily accessible. There's one way out in Rockville. Everything in the city is small, boutiquey, and expensive, and doesn't appear to even sell yarns like Lion brand or Red Heart, much less at a good price. I had conceived of this project as a blanket for my aunt, as a thank you gift for her inviting us to her house for vacation every summer, and I chose colors that reminded me of her and her house. That was over a year ago, though, and I hadn't done any work since, but when I finished the baby blanket and needed something else to do, it had to involve that yarn, since it was all I had in the house and I had nowhere to buy anything else. As much as I'd like to make my aunt a blanket, though, I could do that any year. I have three cousins getting married this year, though, two of whose weddings I'll be attending, and one in particular (though the other one, too) for whom I thought I blanket would be a particularly good wedding present.

There's definitely not time to do both. Do I give this blanket to my cousin, even though I can't help but think of my aunt as I make it? I'd have to conceive of an entirely new blanket for my aunt, too, and ignore the blanket I have in my head for my cousin (It'd be sage and gold, I think). Or do I give to my aunt, as I'd always planned, for no particular reason at all, and not have anything much to give my cousin on the very big occasion of her wedding?

This is all, of course, complicated by the fact that I only actually had a couple skeins of yarn for this project, which are almost gone, and I won't have more until I go back to NY (for the engagement party of said cousin, in fact) in two weeks, which just puts a delay on the project, whichever deadline I'm aiming to meet.

Friday, February 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part VI

1. My favorite historical name has always been John Lackland (who was also, I find out from Wikipedia, called "soft-sword." Poor guy can't get a break, can he?), out of a sort of perverse pleasure at the irony of people in power having derisive nicknames. He was easily surpassed, though, when the history book I was reading last night made passing reference to "Aristodemus the Effeminate." Ouch!

2. I have this idea for a website I want to create. It's got a pretty specific audience, but (I think) it would definitely be a good resource. I was brainstorming ideas this morning, though, and after the list of things I'd like it to include came a list of questions:

who hosts domains?
what does it mean to "go live"?
what's a webmaster?
would that be me?
how do you make a website interactive?
do I need permission to take information from existing websites? Is this fair use? (I want to compare certain programs at different universities, and the program descriptions would be on the website/brochures; can I quote these without explicit permission?)
what does a domain name cost?

I am so unqualified for this, but I've been thinking about it for a long time and would really like to go through with it.

3. We've been having a bit of a hot water problem at our apartment. The sinks work fine, and the apartment upstairs - with which we share a hot water heater - has no problems, so it's clearly not the heater. Over the past few weeks, the hot water in our shower, though, has lasted for about 2 or 3 minutes before going lukewarm, and another 2 or 3 minutes before becoming flat-out cold. You can wash your hair with warm water, or your body, but not both. Shaving your legs is completely out of the question. The landlord and a plumber are looking into it, but not with much success. I've been going several days without showers (this week I showered before church on Sunday, and then again before work on Wednesday), but I think I've finally hit the point where I'm going to start exercising again so I can shower at the gym. What it takes to make me work out!

4. On a related note, this Wednesday, after a year and a half of working in this building, I finally went looking for the gym, and found it. I didn't even use it, I just figured out where it was, but I nonetheless consider that one step closer to being in shape.

5. Genealogy has finally made me lose my senses. In my research, I've come across several online postings by a man talking about an ancestor of his, who I think is the brother of an ancestor of mine. These postings are all several years old, and the contact e-mails they include are out-dated. But I came across a family history website (also several years old) that he had made that listed a mailing address, and, spur of the moment, I wrote a letter to this complete stranger who is possibly my second cousin twice removed, printed out some relevant census records that I believe show his ancestor and my ancestor growing up together, enveloped them, stamped them, and mailed them. This morning I had a realization along the lines of "Dear Lord! What have I done? I'm a stalker! That was completely innappropriate!" I can't get that letter out of the mail, can I? I just have to hope and pray that what shows up at my door is a friendly letter of response brimming with relevant family history information, and not. . . the cops.

6. If you're interested in historical curiosities, the kind of thing you might not usually come across, here's an article I was sent, about the life of an unusual and legendary (at the time) freed slave in Washington:

7. Six weeks of this, and I'm still no better at coming up with 7 whole quick takes. It's been a long day (it's Thursday night as I write), and I give up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I'm torn about what to do this summer. I need to get an internship, but I can't decide whether to get one here in DC or to go home to NY. There are internships I'd like to apply for in each place.

If I stay here, I'd be able to keep my job, at least part time, in case my internship is unpaid. I'd be around all my friends. I'd be near Rhett. We'd get to do fun, romantic things like Screen on the Green. Since the master plan involves moving to NY when Rhett and I are done with school, I'd get to make the most of DC, where I only have about a year left.

If I go home to NY this summer, I'll have to find a new job, if my internship is unpaid. It would probably end up being in retail or food service - neither of which I'd particularly look forward to - rather than in a place that's relevant to my career field. I'd be away from my friends; I've maintained few friendships from HS. I'd be away from Rhett. He'd be in DC, and I'd be in NY, so even if either of us did fun things like Screen on the Green or Shakespeare in the Park, it wouldn't be romantic. I'd miss out on what are probably some of my last months in DC.

But I'd be around my family. If I'd go home, I'd probably live at home, just to save money. It would be pleasant at first, but eventually, we'd fight like cats and dogs. My parents and I would scream at each, or goes days without speaking. (Last year it wasn't until I got my first migraine that my dad and I started speaking again after our biggest fight. Nothing like crying and sobbing in pain to bring a family together!) Last summer we actually had a very pleasant time, up until the last 2 or 3 weeks I was home, which were utterly miserable. The fighting's not the point, though. Fighting comes with family. The family's the point.

My first semester at college, I called my grandmother on her birthday. My little cousin, who was 4 or 5, picked up the phone. (The conversation was actually very funny, because she kept ignoring the people in the background who were asking her who was calling, and you could hear them getting progressively more anxious. "Who's that?" "Who's on the phone?" "Tell me who you're talking to!" and then, louder and closer, "Say, 'Here's my mom' and give me the phone!" which she finally did.) My conversation with her, though, was heart-breaking. I felt bad about not being able to be there for Grandma's birthday, and when I told my cousin that I was calling to say happy birthday to Grandma, she said, "Well, you can just tell her at the party tonight." I wanted to cry. I wasn't going to the party that night. It was a weeknight in November; I couldn't get home. I missed my family, I missed my grandmother, and I felt awful about not being there for the party.

Over Christmas this year, I took Grandma shopping at CVS. Then she taught me some recipes as I helped her cook, and I stayed for dinner with my grandparents and one of their friends. It was idyllic. At CVS, she thanked me for taking her shopping. I said, "Any time." She said, "Oh, but you're always in Washington." Ouch. She was just stating a fact, but it was a fact that hurt. I'm not around to help my family, to spend time with them, to learn from them, to celebrate special events, because I'm always in Washington.

Two summers ago, I stayed in DC. I had a wonderful time. My friends and I had lots of fun, I worked as a nanny for a wonderful family I'm still in contact with, my other job was awesome and with awesome people. There was no Rhett at the time, but I did fun things like Screen on the Green with my friends. I didn't regret it for a second.

Until my grandfather died in the spring. How was I supposed to know that that summer would have been my last chance to see him regularly. It's not like I never saw him again - there was Thanksgiving, maybe a few times over Christmas, and Easter - but I missed all the summer nights he came over to have dinner with us on the porch, drink a few beers, tell a few stories. I didn't know those would be the last summer nights. I don't so much regret all the fall, winter, and spring nights I missed, because I didn't really have a choice. I was at school. But I had a choice about those summer nights - and I chose a big house with all my friends, a job that barely paid the bills, and lots of drinking on weeknights.

Would I have enjoyed that summer more if I'd been at home? Probably not. But should I have been there? I think so. I didn't know there was any chance he'd be dead in less than a year. But now I know - at least abstractly - that my two remaining grandparents won't live forever.

I think I want to stay in DC. Rhett and my friends and not having to go job-hunting and find a subletter are strong temptations. DC seems practical; my life continues as it is now, it's not interrupted by a big move and practically starting over, for only a few months before doing it again. But I worry so much about what I might be missing: my grandparents, evenings on the porch doing crossword puzzles with my parents, birthday parties for family, nights out with my cousins. Are those more important than practicality and fun?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"For Selling Ale to a Minor"

From the Brooklyn Standard Union, 11 August 1887:

John BOHANNA, who keeps a saloon at 358 Hamilton avenue, was fined $25 by Justice MASSEY this morning for selling mixed ale to Hulda ANDERSON, a little girl aged 12 years, residing at 252 Hamilton avenue. This is the same child whom Mrs. Margaret HUMPHY, of the above address, forced to drink ale until she became unconscious. Margaret will be tried next Monday.

How awful! This gets labelled "cool old stuff," because that's what I call items pulled from old newspapers, NOT because I think the article is "cool."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Peggy? Jack? Polly?

Here's an interesting article that was linked in the comments at the Baby Name Wizard blog.

The author is generally quite knowledgeable about names and naming conventions. I've heard plenty of people express surprise at how Jack and John, for example, or Peggy and Margaret, are related. I honestly thought that was something everyone knew. Medieval nicknames! This article spells it all out.


Fun "article" from the NY Times.

Is it embarrassing to admit that I never knew how to tell whether a taxi was free until I saw this?
More NYC-related Lego creations at:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Shouting "Fire!" in a Crowded Theater: Good, Secular Pro-Life Arguments

No one's arguing that a woman doesn't have the right to choose what to do with her own body. Of course she does. It's just that this right - like all the other rights enjoyed by all American citizens - is bounded by the rights of others. If what I, as a woman, choose to with my body is to wave my arms wildly in the air, I am free to do so. Right up to the point where my flailing arms hit the person standing next to me - at which point I am no longer exercising my rights but infringing on his.

In this country, no one's rights extend so far as to allow them to cause injury to another person.

You may be able to legally own a gun, but you are only legally able to use it against another human being in self-defense. Your right to bear arms does not extend so far as to allow you to inflict harm on an innocent individual.

If your religion participated in ritual human sacrifice, would you be allowed to practice this? No. Your right to freedom of religion does not extend so far as to allow you to inflict harm on another.

Shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater creates a dangerous situation for others. Your right to free speech does not extend so far as to allow you to even potentially put others in danger.

Printing lies in a newspaper is libel, and it's against the law. Your right to freedom of the press does not extend so far as to allow you to injure even the reputation of another.

Likewise, your right to choose what to do with your own body does not extend so far as to allow you to injure another person. It does not extend so far as to allow you to choose to use your hand to pick up a knife and stab somebody, nor does it extend so far as to allow you to choose to wave your arms wildly until they hit someone, intentionally or not, nor should it extend so far as to allow you to choose to destroy an innocent life, born or unborn.