Tuesday, February 27, 2007

When I Grow Up....

A while back I read on Ryane's blog where she'd considered what (else) she'd like to be when she grows up. I thought that was a fun exercise in thought, so I've been thinking about it too. When I was little I wanted to be a lawyer, forcing my identical twin babysitters and sister to "play" court. The case usually revolved around a dog bite, and I used photographs of our dogs as exhibits. When I was older and in middle school my dad would call me if an interesting case was going on, and he'd pick me up on his lunch break and take me back to watch. About that same time I started devouring Scott Turow and John Grisham books, but in high school I put the thought of being a lawyer out of my mind--in part because I found out how much college and law school cost and I found out what my parents earned. Funny how things work out.

1. A Professor at a Liberal Arts College: I would LOVE doing this. I really enjoyed being a teaching assistant in college and spent more time in one professor's office than with my peers. But the PhD route is just too long. And at the end of the very long tunnel, there may not even be a job. And if there is, it might be in New England and pay $35k, which would be tough with (more) student loans. But all of that aside, it'd be a blast to teach interdisciplinary classes like "Man's Inhumanity to Man" and engage in thought-provoking dialogue on a regular basis. Plus I could wear jeans to work.

2. Stay at Home Mom: This is probably one of the hardest jobs in the world, but it's hard for me to think of many jobs that are more important and that would be as rewarding. I'm guessing I'd need to get married and have children for this one to work out:)

3. Travel Writer: Getting paid to travel sounds wonderful; I wouldn't even mind writing for Lonely Planet or some budget guide since I usually "rough it" abroad anyway.

4. Restaurant Critic: As much as I love to eat, this would be a great fit. Or I could take Billy's advice and just evaluate bakeries; I'm pretty good at eating sweets after all.

5. Trust Fund Recipient: Ok, this isn't a job per se, but someone sort of has to do it, right? I'd love to just volunteer and not be tied to any one job--maybe working part time at different jobs. Each of my jobs has satisfied part of me, like teaching gave me a creative outlet and made me feel like I was doing something important; the law challenges me intellectually sometimes; being a nanny provided a lot of free time; and so on.

So what do you want to be when you grow up?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Have You Ever....

made a relatively important life decision that you knew seemed illogical (at least to most people)? I've been wrestling with a decision and realizing how suffocating (and liberating) it can feel to do (or in my case even contemplate) something that doesn't exactly make the best sense. I guess it's easy to fall into a cookie-cutter life and not to want to rock the boat or "mess up." Although I admire people who live less than traditional lives, I see myself making pretty boring choices.

I'm realizing more and more that my fear of making the wrong decision renders me inert. So I just don't make decisions. I've given thought as to why I'm so indecisive, and I think part of the reason is that I see so many options and know I'll be just fine with any of the options. For example, last night I went to dinner with my friend Jason and in my head this is what I'm thinking about the places we're to pick from for dinner (we needed something quick b/c Grey's was supposedly 2 hours; it was a rerun! Oh well more time for me to bake cookies:) "Well if we go to Panera, I'll have fruit, and that's healthy; but if we go to Firehouse, I'll get to try it for the first time; but sushi is good too, and I haven't had that in a month."

So I see what I'll like about all of them and know I'll be happy with any of the choices, and thus I honestly do not have a preference. Lame. I do not care. It's weird because I'm definitely opinionated about some things--issues that I think are important, relationships, eating at Red Lobster, and the like, so I figured this indecisiveness is a recent thing (I have a horrible memory so what do I know?). So I asked my mom, and she said that even when I was little I saw a lot of different perspectives and had a hard time picking one approach/choice.

So with the decision I'm trying to make now (and have casually thought about for months), I can't make up my mind. And yes, I've been prayerful about it, talked about it with friends, and am still waiting on God's e-mail with explicit instructions. But the bottom line may just be that I just need to make a choice, trusting that everything will be just fine (like what I claim to believe) even if my choice doesn't make the "best sense" to anyone else (or perhaps to myself).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gratitude: The Letter "T"

I am nearing the end of the alphabet! And about to begin some tough letters.

Traveling: This activity is definitely among the top of my favorite things to do list. I'm especially grateful for the opportunities I had in Costa Rica & Spain to live with a family and learn about how the people there live and how that reflects their values (and makes me think about Americans' values).

Trust: It feels good to be trusted and to trust--even if it is hard and/or doesn't feel natural.

Tranquility: Sometimes I still think about going to spend a week in the woods a la Thoreau just to see how this feels. An hour here or there isn't quite the same, but I'm still grateful for the feeling when I actually make it a priority.

Tacos, the Taco Stand, trees (especially the ones you can easily climb), traditions, Thanksgiving--and turkey and dressing, toothbrush & toothpaste, Twix, tee shirts, turtles (I liked having them as pets....at least for a day or two), tea, Titus & Timothy, Toyotas (it's so nice to have cars that never have any problems), tank tops, and truth

Transformation: Placing my faith in Christ, learning more about the gospel, and seeking God has absolutely transformed me.

Teachers: I've had some really amazing teachers over the years--one of whom is my Uncle Joe. He challenged us to examine our culture and choices and taught me a lot about the kind of person I want to be. (I just had a Dirty Dancing flashback.)

Teaching: I taught elementary Spanish for a year, and it was such a positive experience. Before that I taught in an after-school/summer program and worked with special needs children and that work helped me learn to be patient and very creative. I especially love being creative with disciplining children.

Trav & Trish: My best friends from law school who are conveniently married to each other. Fortunately I get to see them this weekend. Speaking of the weekend, it's almost here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

DTR: Ambush Style

I learned the meaning of DTR after I heard the friends of a guy I'd been dating for about six weeks joking about us needing to have one. Of course, his friends refused to tell me what the term meant, and I was clueless. The guy ("Ethan") finally told me that DTR was an acronym for "define the relationship." I asked him to further explain, and Ethan posed a question to me. "If our relationship was a road, what kind of road would it be?"

I found the question as well as his eagerness to define our relationship sort of amusing. I was no longer dating the "other guy" who had initially been a thorn in Ethan's side and we saw each other once a week, so I was surprised further defining was necessary at the six week or so mark. But I played along, asking Ethan to give me multiple choices. So Ethan offered the following: "(a) the interstate, (b) a highway, (c) gravel road, or (d) a dirt road."

I chose a dirt road, and I could tell immediately that (d) was the wrong answer. I explained that he should just be relieved that we were on a road together and that after six weeks, there was no way for me to further define things in this road analogy. Furthermore, I was 22 and just trying not to laugh.

So today at the Soup Kitchen I was enjoying my pizza when the owner Phil asked the cop seated next to me if his new lady friend was his girlfriend. Gotta love these awkward moments when they're not your awkward moments! The cop replied "Sort of," and several people at the surrounding tables laughed and commented. The "lady friend" sighed and said "It's a long story." DTRs have often felt like a drag to me (I used to abhor labels and whatnot--but now I realize that at some point "the guy I'm dating" starts to sound silly), but I'm thinking they are even worse when a restaurant owner initiates them.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Good Things Are Contagious Too...

I love how a good mood or sweet spirit is every bit as contagious as the stomach virus that struck my best friend's husband this Saturday (and prevented a prolonged visit and play date with my nieces; I had to settle for dropping off cupcakes and a CD). I like to think that random acts of kindness, compliments, and the like are contagious, and this music video reminded me of how love and happiness can spread. Kathryn posted it on her blog a long time ago, and I ran across it again today and wanted to share.

I especially love how the smallest things can make me smile all day; in high school, a cafeteria menu that included tacos or barbecue made my day (these were the only two things I would risk eating). My friend M discovered I'd never had a pomengrante, so he delivered one to my office with a clever note on a narrow strip of paper wrapped around it. That simple act slapped a smile across my face for the rest of the day. Hearing my niece Alaina say something that is incredibly thoughtful and sweet makes me happy too. Or the colorist telling me that my niece Lauren and I look so much alike. And while I do my ocassional kind acts, I should do a lot more. It's so easy. So I'm challenging myself this week to do something intentional and kind every day this week--more than complimenting others and being appreciative; I want to do acts that take a little bit more time and thought than that. And in reality, it's a selfish undertaking because being kind is something that we makes us feel all warm and fuzzy too.

Speaking of warm and fuzzy, it was so hard to come back after a weekend with my nieces. We
painted pottery yesterday with their mom and just generally had a lovely time. I'll have to go back soon to see our finished products.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

NYC: The Final Installment

Day three began with another trip to Ess-A-Bagel so that Oz could share in the deliciousness. He actually finished his entire bagel. We took the subway to Ground Zero and then headed to Central Park, checking out Strawberry Fields and a snowboarding event. For some reason I had it in my head that I should check out the Museum of Modern Art rather than the Met (since one museum every four days is my limit), so we'd agreed to do that next. First we had lunch there at Modern, which was ok. I had sausage, and he had gnocchi; so it was a strange lunch. None of the desserts grabbed me, so I put that off for later.

The museum had a few Monets I liked and some other artists I'd never seen and liked, but a lot of it was crap for lack of a better word. I'm sure that betrays my ignorance and inability to appreciate "art," but if it looks like a child sribbled all over a white sheet of paper with his pencil I'm not going to "ooh" and "aah" over it. And a shovel hanging from the ceiling isn't going to impress me either. So MOMA was in large part the wrong museum choice for me:)

Afterwards Oz returned to the room, and I set out for a good bakery. I found one thanks to a nice Ann Taylor employee--Buttercup Bake Shop where the motto is "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first." Sounds good to me--when I was leaner and younger, I often had to eat dessert first to make sure I had room for it; I've since "stretched" my stomach out, I guess. Since I only eat the top half of cupcakes, I figured three was a good number--two with the sugary buttercream icing and one with cream cheese icing. Then I retired for a nap and a really good workout, and Oz and I went to Sparks (a steakhouse) for dinner. I wanted cheesecake for dessert, so a return trip to Roxy's followed.

On our last day I took a nice long stroll to Hunter College to attend Redeemer Presbyterian's service, and it was awesome--a definite highlight of the trip. Finally hearing Tim Keller speak in person was such a treat, and the sermon was on point. It was interesting to hear his arguments against the common refrain I hear from people about how they "just can't believe in an angry God" and choose to just believe in a "nice, friendly, happy God." Afterwards, I grabbed a pepperoni roll for lunch and ended up making friends wtih two cute cops. They offered to give me a tour of their neighborhood, but I had to pass since my flight was leaving soon. Not too soon to grab one more cupcake though. So all in all an excellent trip; I'd love to return.

In other news, I finally met one of my mystery note-leaving neighbors (remember the Christmas tree offer?) because I came home early today after a meeting. He's my age and friendly; maybe I'll meet his live-in girlfriend one day. And I am going to respond to my very first Myspace message from a stranger; one of Aaron's friends wrote me. Aaron gave him a slight heads up, so the grammer and spelling usage is all correct:) Happy Valentines Day!!

Monday, February 12, 2007

New York City: Day Two

My second day in NYC began at Ess-A-Bagel with the biggest bagel I've ever seen. They just don't make them that big down in the South. It was yummy--pumpernickel raisin with chocolate chip cream cheese. I decided to forego the subway and walk toward Soho and Greenwich Village. Along the way I stopped at Grand Central Station (or is it terminal?), which was beautiful and oddly quiet. I also ran across Las Halles, which e.b. had recommended, so I opted for an early lunch/brunch. It was lovely and quiet and gave me a chance to figure out my map a little better (thankfully NYC is incredibly easy to navigate). A sugar crepe and french toast was a bit much after the bagel, but I managed:)

After brunch I stopped by Union Square Park and checked out the market, did some shopping, and took a stroll through Washington Square Park. I ended up in the West Village and had a delicious Hummingbird cupcake at Magnolia Bakery (thanks to the heads up from Ella and Brookem). On my long walk back, I did some more shopping and had my first visit to H&M, where I managed to find three things--all that cost $20 or less. I also saw the magnificent public library and contemplated trying to climb up on to the lions but figured there was some law against it or something (plus there was a cop watching). I had the pleasure of observing a protest of sorts too--for the "legalization of dance in NYC." I had no idea it was outlawed; hmm....I found a spa near the hotel and treated myself to a manicure and quick massage and headed back to the room to get ready for dinner.

Oz arrived around 5:00, and we met up with his very cool friend Lindsay and headed for Old Town Bar & Grill for bison burgers and drinks. We met Oz's step-brother there, and I got to learn a little more about the stockmarket and all of that kind of stuff. After dinner we found a bakery so I could get my dessert fix. Then we hit a few bars, and a definite highlight was the hottest bartender I've ever seen at a bar called Still. Absolutely gorgeous--and I almost never say that. Lindsay tried to get a photo of him (for you guys of course:), but she struck out. Oh, he was friendly too and only charged me $7 for my apple martini. After Still we went to Proof where an incredibly drunk Irishman bought me a drink, which I ended up passing on to Oz. I headed home since I was sort of restless, couldn't stomach any more drinks, and wanted to get up relatively early the next morning. Oz showed up about four hours later and reported a good time had by all.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

NYC: My First Day (ever)

Excellent trip!!

My plane landed around 10:30 Thursday morning, and I arrived at the hotel about an hour later and was glad to find out my room was ready (and glad to eat the warm, delicious chocolate chip cookie from the hotel). The room was the smallest hotel room I've ever stayed in--and also one of the most expensive hotel rooms I've ever paid for. After putting on some Cuddle Duds under my jeans and sweater, I bundled up, grabbed a map from the concierge (who told me that I shouldn't even consider play tickets for less than $200 and refused to give me any information on less expensive tickets) and headed for the Theater District. And as soon as I set out to explore, I was so glad I'd come early and alone. I forget how much I love wondering around new places. On my walk, I came across Rockefeller Center and watched the ice skaters. Periodic stops at various stores helped me acclimate to the cold air. I met a super friendly cop who directed me to the place to buy discounted play tickets (and gave me a great map), but it wasn't opened yet. I also stumbled upon the Hershey Store but was disappointed as it only had the stuff you can buy at the grocery store.

By this point I was starving and searching for lunch. While I looked I had several guys stop me and ask if I wanted to go to the Letterman show that afternoon, but I said no, thinking I'd rather see a play. I walked by Roxy's Delicatessen and stopped in my tracks when I saw the dessert display case. It was ridiculous. A ton of cheesecakes, brownies, and creative desserts in between. So my first meal in NYC was a fudge peanut butter cup New York style cheesecake. It was enormous and totally different (and better) than any cheesecake I've ever had. And for once I didn't finish my dessert. So after I left I decided the Letterman Show might be fun after all, so I got a ticket. It was quite a production with lots of twenty-something drama/high energy-types wanting us to yell, clap, and generally act excited out of our mind about being there. I made friends with a gay couple from Arkansas, one of whom works as a headhunter for one of my firm's big clients. I love how small the world is. So as we're waiting for taping to start, they finally announce who the guests are, saying "And from Grey's Anatomy [of course, I'm thinking "yes, McDreamy!"] Katherine Heigl." Speaking of television shows, does anyone else watch Brothers & Sisters? It's my new favorite show. Rob Lowe is even hotter than McDreamy too.

Letterman was cool and thanks to the "Ask the Audience" segment, my mom and aunt saw me on television that night (I was behind one of the people he talked to). Afterwards I submitted my name into the lottery for the 25 front row $25 tickets for Wicked but had no luck. And then I realized I didn't really want to go to a play for the next three hours; I just felt like I should, which isn't a very good reason.

After some more exploring, I headed back to the hotel and asked the concierge for a restaurant recommendation. Again, he was a disappointment and sent me to one of the few Mexican restaurants I've ever been to that isn't good. Oh well, at least I had a nice long conversation with a very cute boy in a sharp suit (I'm a sucker for suits) and his friends at the bar. Needless to say after beginning my very full day at 4:55 a.m., I slept very soundly in my hotel bed. Hope you all had a lovely weekend too.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

My First VD Card of 2007

I received it today from my very best friend from forever. I remember her when she barely had hair.

The front of the card reads:

"Red Rover, Red Rover, send cute, financially stable, emotionally mature men right over!"

Anyway, I'll leave you with that and see you next week!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Infidelity: Should It Always Equal the End?

When I was much younger, the world seemed very black and white to me. Some things were wrong, and you were bad/immature/unwise if you did them. Over time I realized that life and people aren't as clear cut as I wanted them to be. I learned that people are going to let me down. We're all imperfect and are going to disappoint each other and make horrible mistakes. I know I've done things and said things that I never thought I would. Still I thought cheaters were a special class of awful. A lot of experiences have changed my condemnation of the unfaithful, including personal experiences and a better understanding of my faith. Oddly, one of the first things that changed my view was the movie The Bridges of Madison County

So anyway, today AM and I were chatting and cheating was a topic of conversation. AM and I both agreed that cheating in a dating relationship should signal the termination of said relationship. In my mind, there's just not enough of a commitment there to warrant the effort/therapy/heartache. There's also a part of me that thinks that if you'll cheat on me when we're totally still in the new-exciting phase and I'm not that old, then you'll really have a hard time staying in line when I'm old and have had a couple of kids.

Marital infidelity, however, is different in my mind. I would hope that despite the betrayal, anger, and sadness, I would not automatically end my marriage if my spouse cheated and wanted to attempt to repair the marriage. I've seen the type of despair that infidelity causes, but I've also admired the people I've watched who tried to keep their family together. And yes, I've seen some of those same people ultimately get a divorce, but they had the peace of mind that they tried to save their marriage and did everything they could to fulfill the commitment they made. While the commitment of marriage makes the discretion worse, it also warrants more reflection than "you cheated, it's over." Granted, a spouse who isn't remorseful, isn't willing to try, and/or had so many affairs it's clear that he'll never change, may result in little reflection being needed. In short, life isn't as simple as I once tried to make it, and the dissolution of a marriage requires at least as much thought and prayer as any other major decision, regardless of the why. There are a lot of other caveats I want to throw out, but I'll resist. So here's the question: would your reaction to cheating in a dating relationship be different than your response if you were married and why?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Gratitude: The Letter S

Warning: There are about a zillion things I'm grateful for that begin with the letter S! I finally just stopped typing because the list seems to be neverending.

Spain: It's tied with Switzerland as my favorite country besides the United States. I spent six weeks living there with a family and studying, and it was such a free feeling. Florrie, my senora, did all of the cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, and chores. I didn't have to call anyone with the exception of one or two calls a week; besides a little homework and morning classes, I had no responsibilities. In the afternoons I went to the public pool (complete with nice water slides), parks, pastelerias (bakeries), and just wandered around. On the weekends I often went other places, including Pamplona for the running of the bulls.

My trip to Pamplona wasn't really planned out, so I ended up sleeping in the stoop of a bank building, shivering in shorts. The next morning we went to the beginning of the run to find a place to stand & watch, but all of a sudden all the guys in the white outfits with red scarves turned around and took off running. And so did I. My friends weren't too quick on their feet, so I left them. After all, I didn't want to be trampled by bulls. And the cobblestone streets were wet and slippery from the wash down that morning, so it was particularly scary. I finally ran past a shop with an open door and ran inside, seeking protection from the bulls. My first instinct once inside was to pull out my camera, but the others in the store clearly disapproved as they muttered "Americana estupida." I realized that the bulls must bust through the glass on ocassions, so I moved to the back of the room with the others. But after five minutes had passed, there were still no bulls. Not a one. So finally the shopkeeper opened the door, gesturing for us to leave. The streets were deserted, and I walked around in search of my travel buddies. There were cops everywhere with shields and some with gas masks. I ended up crossing paths with my friends, and the girls were shaken up and had been crying. Evidently everyone was running because the police was using tear gas to disperse protesters (some political group had taken someone important hostage and decapitated him, I think). My friends were near the police and were trapped in a doorway, so they had to duck for cover as people threw things at the police officers. So anyway, the one day I was in Pamplona the running of the bulls was cancelled.

Seersucker, skimming (really really long posts like this one), spas, stars, sympathy, symphonies, Seven Mary Three, my savior, sincerity, solo cups, shrimp, Soul Asylum, salmon, San Fransico, sundaes, smoked gouda cheese, Seth, sugar, Sarah, Snow Patrol, Sambo, SVU, S&S Cafeteria (I bring the average age down a few decades:), Shakira, silver, Sister Hazel, Switzerland (it and Spain tie for my favorite country besides the U.S.), South Carolina, the South (I'm so grateful for 56 degrees and sunny right now, and I'm a sucker for "Southern gentlemen"), Sex & the City, simplicity, summers, spring, "Spaceship," softness, sushi, silk, Stone Temple Pilots, shakes, "Summer of 69," socks, skirts (so much better than shorts), Snickers, sports bras, sweet and sour sauce, savings, spontaneity, sunsets, sunrises, and Sarah McLachlan

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken, which contains several great quotes. Here is one that I agreed with as an agnostic and that I still agree with now that I'm a Christian:

"The best argument for Christians is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians--when they are somber and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths."

Saturdays & Sundays: the best days of the week!

This photo makes me think of the summer, sunglasses, sunshine, sand, and the sea.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I was accused of being a bit of a food snob the other day (thanks Aaron), and my first thought was "How can I be a food snob? I like Taco Bell."

My second reaction was to look up the word "snob" to see if that was an accurate label. I hadn't really thought much about that word since high school.

As defined by dictionary.com a snob is "a person who imitates, cultivates, or slavishly admires social superiors and is condescending or overbearing to others." That's the type of snob encountered in high school. The second definition is what we're talking about now: "a person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding this field: a musical snob." A musical snob is a great example. I've certainly known people who shun certain musicians just because said musician is played on the radio and/or gained a certain level of popularity.

I'll admit that in some weird way I am a food snob. I say in a weird way because it's not an exact and scientific snobbery, meaning I embrace Krystals but turn up my nose at Red Lobster or Olive Garden. In all fairness, I haven't eaten at Oliver Garden in at least five years. The last time I ate there was under protest, and my meal was so poor that I had to order dessert because I was still hungry. And then the dessert was still frozen in the center. My last meal at Red Lobster was at my father's request for Father's Day. Despite my usual ironclad stomach, I was sick within 30 minutes. And worse than that was the clientele at Red Lobster. In my direct line of vision was a woman who was eating like it was her job. Seriously, she was acting like she was at a trough rather than a restaurant. She was sweating. Totally unappetizing. On top of all of that, Red Lobster is expensive for what it is. A meal there easily costs $20, assuming you only have a soft drink and an entree. For that same price or a few dollars more, you can eat at a really nice restaurant in my neck of the woods (assuming your order just a soda and entree). Why settle for some shrimp that you can buy yourself in the local frozen foods section when you could have a nice meal somewhere else?

So Aaron then informed me that I fit into the high maintenance category solely based on my opinions about food. I'm not regularly labeled high maintenance, which is probably how I managed to be in so many (wrong) relationships for so long.

But again, Aaron is kind of right. If a guy suggested Applebees for a first date, I'd be tempted to back out. I'd be more impressed with a suggestion that we get shakes and fries at McDonalds with dessert at Krispy Kreme; those restaurants do what they do well. In general (with several notable exceptions), I'm not a huge fan of chain restaurants, especially chains that capitalize on mediocrity, and would much rather try something new and support a local establishment.

But as much as I love trying new places, once I find something I really love, I'm hooked. Hence my enormous excitement about having a bagel at Goldbergs each time I go to Atlanta. I guess in sum, food can be too good, in my mind, for us to settle for the mediocre. But who am I to declare what is and isn't mediocrity? To each their own; I'll try not to judge:)