Sunday, June 7, 2009

i <3 DC

I just got back from a trip to my favorite US city so I thought I'd share a little bit about why I love Washington DC. The first thing I loved about being in DC was being with my old friend, Barbara, and her husband, but I got home without any pictures proving we spent any time together at all. We totally did, though. Really good times.

My brain hurts
After a couple of hours walking the city and perusing museums, one thing is clear. Your feet hurt. I love the walking. The weather was gorgeous and as you walk down the streets you just kind of wonder who else might have walked there yesterday or a hundred years ago. You look one way and there's the White House and another way and there's the Capitol building and all sorts of other important places. People are busy, probably not even noticing how much history is happening right on their doorstep. So the walking is something you have to do when you're in DC.

What I didn't expect as much was how much my brain would hurt from taking in so much information. I really love the American History museum. Right now there is a lot of focus on Abraham Lincoln all over DC because it's the 200th anniversary of his birth. So there's this whole exhibit about him, including the politics of the time and who he was and what he did for this country. They have some posters with clips from his inaugural addresses, which are pretty incredible.

I learned a lot I never knew about the Civil War and our 16th president. Between that and the Price of Freedom exhibit chronicling all of the American wars, I must admit I started feeling a little overloaded with information. Not enough to quit the museum, just enough to need a dose of the frivolity also offered by this museum, including a display housing Archie Bunker's chair, Dorothy's ruby slippers, Muhammad Ali's robe, and these fun characters:

Of course the serious displays have their moments of giving your brain a break, too. Like this little tidbit from World War II about how they made mittens with trigger fingers for the freezing soldiers in Eastern Europe in the winter:

Two other notable displays in this museum: The house built in the 1700s that was taken from Ippswich, Massachusetts in the 90s because it was about to be demolished and the townspeople thought Smithsonian might want it, so they moved the house and placed it in the museum to tell the stories of the 15 families that lived there, including colonial settlers, abolitionists, and the family of a World War II soldier. It's a pretty cool display because it's not about anybody who has gone down in history--just normal people living their lives and trying to do something good for the world. The other is of course the Star Spangled Banner. They have a new display for the flag that was left waving after the Battle of Baltimore in the war of 1812 and inspired the words for our national anthem. It's pretty moving.

I bet you never knew...
There are so many bits of information in DC that you probably never knew you were missing. Many such morsels can be found in the ever-popular Postal Museum. Okay, I lied about it being popular. To be honest, I didn't actually see anyone else in the museum the whole time I was there, but that was a welcome change from the mobs of youngsters in matching t-shirts at the Museum of Natural History. I guess most people aren't that interested in mail, but I find it fascinating. And I bet you never knew that the postal system is single-handedly responsible for the revolution, the democratic system as we know it, and the economic growth of this country. Oh, and also the postal system has protected the American people from countless terrorist attacks. It's true. Just ask them. Seriously, though, there are a lot of cool things to learn about the postal system. Like how Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General, which created quite a coup because the guy who actually came up with the idea for an American system (William Goddard) was overlooked for the position. This was one of the things that the American colonists did to assert their independence from Britain, even before the Declaration of Independence. The British government was all about reading the mail and controlling the information that people received and the goal in America was to give people real information (at this point the newspapers were also delivered by mail, so Britain wouldn't be able to control the news either) and help them communicate with each other. Now you know why they are responsible for our freedom. :) Anyway, I'm sure this information is far more interesting to me than anyone else (as evidenced by the volume of visitors to the museum), but there was also a lot of information about how the routes developed over time. I will spare the details, but one interesting bit was on this little placard:

I just thought it was interesting to note the crossover between American history and the history of the Mormon Saints. Their establishments and the subsequent railroad that followed their path actually helped the settlement of Americans across the west. Of course, not all information about the Mormons is entirely of my favorites was this label underneath a picture of Brigham Young hanging in the National Portrait Gallery:

In case you can't read that from my awesome cell phone camera, it says "Brigham Young: The Mormon Pope." I bet you never knew that, either.

I bet you never knew that Norman Rockwell did a portrait of Richard Nixon.

Or maybe you did. But I bet you never knew that the viral and t-shirt famous picture of Obama that we have all seen over and over:

is actually painted on a paper mache canvas of newpapers. It's really quite striking to see, especially since this guy wasn't commissioned to paint it or anything. This picture shows the detail a little bit:

You might wish you didn't know
The National Archives are also incredibly cool. To see those documents (The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights) is really something special.

But the whole point of the National Archives is to tell you just how much information is archived. I mean, it's great to realize on the one hand that pretty much everything that ever happens in this country is documented and filed somewhere, and just a little creepy on the other hand. There is a room there that is seriously fascinating, because it houses all of these letters from random people to the presidents of the United States. There is one from a 12-year-old Fidel Castro to Roosevelt, and many serious diplomatic letters, but the best ones are the ones from kids with great requests, like this one about Elvis Presley's sideburns:

Or this one from a 7th grader requesting national funds for his room declared by his mother to be a "national disaster area"

And this one from a "disgusted" physical education student

From the history of the birth control pill to the invention of Kevlar (bet you didn't know a woman did that!), from an exhibit to all we can learn from human bones to a walk through a butterfly garden, you seriously can't be disappointed by this city. Dusk at the World War II memorial after seeing "Night at the Museum" inside the Smithsonian, a Tom Stoppard Play at the Folger Shakespeare theater and spontaneous "concerts" on the way into the Metro. If you haven't been, you must go. When you do, take me with you! I love DC!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

my college reunion

No, they didn't plan anything. There was no crazy huge party with lots of drunk people in dresses. There were no black and gold balloons. Just four women ten years later remembering a lot of good times together.

Ten years ago last December I graduated from college. Three and a half years before that, I started the incredible journey. Those are days to remember. It's funny because when I think back to my college days it always makes me smile. I think about these friends
and all of the fun things we did together, it just makes me happy. When I look at my journals, though, it turns out that it was just life with it's ups and downs and issues. It makes me happy to think that what I took away was the good from all of these experiences.

Like dressing up as Janis Joplin for a theatre class lip sync or as Barbie and the Rockers for a crazy Croatian Halloween party in Chicago

Or living in the scariest dorm on the planet, Meredith Hall, Home. Seriously, though, how many people can say they evacuated their dormitory for both a fire and a bomb threat in the same semester? Or had a legitimately psychologically disturbed person living next door to them that always thought someone was trying to kill her? Or didn't have air conditioning in 110 degree humid Indiana heat? Or had a roommate that lived on BET? Or literally shared the space of a closet with another human being and all their stuff? We really laughed a lot!

It seriously hasn't changed AT ALL!!

Or how about eating out at our favorite restaurant every time someone had a birthday, which was pretty much the only time we subsisted on anything but packaged noodles and cereal? Don Pablos was the place. It was pretty much the only restaurant in town. We went back and I have to say the food wasn't everything I remembered it to be, but it was sure a great time.
We wandered all over campus and drove around to our favorite places, including the houses and apartments where we spent so much time.

We caught up on what has happened in everybody's lives since the weddings and graduations
And mostly we just enjoyed the memories of a time that has been burned in our memories as wonderful and transformative and fun. I am so grateful for these people that helped me figure out who I was and made me feel loved and interesting and important.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

calling for pictures

So I mentioned in my new years post that there was a chance I lost hard drive number two but Jon was trying to fix it for me. He was unsuccessful. So the sad truth of my life is that unless I have emailed it to anyone, I have no pictures and no documents from basically the last 8 years. So I'm asking for anyone who has proof that I was ever a brunette or that I ever did anything fun or interesting in the last 8 years to help me out by sending it on over. Meanwhile, I just don't take pictures any more. Which makes for a pretty boring blog.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

lost again


So I've only ever had 11 posts, so it seems sad to return to the topic of one already, but LOST is back and it didn't disappoint. So here are my top ten most favorite things about this show (WARNING**SPOILERS**DON'T READ ON IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED THE SEASON PREMIERE).

NUMBER ONE: The fact that I get to share it with all my pals and a blender full of pina coladas. Don't judge us for wishing they had real rum in them. But seriously, the party is great fun! We miss Bek for sure though and her yoga moves in the corner and making us stop at crucial parts to go to the bathroom.

NUMBER TWO: Sawyer with his shirt off. I mean, I don't know why he thought he needed a shirt for all that time traveling in the first episode.

NUMBER THREE: The way that this show answers every question you have by creating another question.

NUMBER FOUR: The way you feel like lots of things are happening but really nothing has happened at all.

NUMBER FIVE: There are no one-dimensional characters on this show. Just when you think you've got someone figured out, they show some side of themselves you never expected to see

NUMBER SIX: I love that Carlton Cuse hinted during the recap episode before the premiere that Jin's not dead. I never let him go.

NUMBER SEVEN: All the twists and turns that keep you guessing and googling. Tonight we used to determine that the lady at the end of the episode has, in fact, been in a previous episode. She was in the one where Desmond travels through time to meet Daniel at Oxford. There should be some good things coming with all of that.

Well, this is clearly not a blog of someone who is overthinking anything at midnight. Underthinking perhaps. But I'm happy the show is back so I just thought I'd say it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Things I (should have) learned in 2008

Top ten things I've learned in 2008.

Number 10: I have learned that I'm not a very good blogger. Perhaps I'm more self-conscious than I think I am. I'm not sure I have anything all that interesting to say. Plus, my camera is on the fritz and I find the whole process of picture-taking a little sad since I lost so many pictures on my computer this year. I'm scrapbooking (in the least crafty sense of the word) my college days and then all of the pictures from my childhood. That's right. Forget digital photography. I'm sticking with the old-school. Anyway, blogs without pictures are like movies without kissing. But I'm going to try to learn in 2009 how to be a better blogger, mostly for the sake of remembering that it's fun to spout off and say things that are interesting to me, even if they aren't to anybody else.

Number 9: I've learned that being a homeowner is both amazing and expensive. I really love my home. I loved making it my own and I love having people into it. I love taking care of it, although if it weren't so expensive already, I'd probably hire someone to clean it for me, especially the bathrooms. Seriously, what does one person need with 3 bathrooms? And if I don't use them, I don't have to clean them, right? Anyway, it's totally worth it.

Number 8: I've learned that the teenagers I work with have way more interesting dating lives than I do. I guess I already knew this, and I guess it doesn't really take much to have a more interesting dating life than I do, but somehow my ways do NOT rub off on them. At least it allows for some vicarious living.

Number 7: I've learned that a really horrible scraping sound upon trying to stop your vehicle means you need new brakes. And that these are the times when it is particularly advantageous to have a man around. I'd like to thank Jon and my dad for fixing said brakes and Toyota for creating a vehicle that can stand up to the likes of me.

Number 6: Speaking of my car, I've learned that texting while driving is dangerous. This bumper is evidence of sheer stupidity. I mean, if you saw how this happened, you would think my brain shut off momentarily or something. I am pleased to announce, however that this is something that I have LEARNED, not just that I should have learned. So if you text me and I call you back instead of texting, consider it a nod to my safety and that of the motorists and pedestrians around me. I am done texting while driving.

Number 5: I have learned that living alone is mostly wonderful. I choose the temperature at all times (my apologies to all my guests who are generally freezing. at least I have good blankets). I never go to the fridge expecting something to be there only to find it gone. I have full control of the remote. If there's a mess, I made it. I can have people over whenever I want for as long as I want. I can take up the whole garage. Nobody cares if or when I come home. Of course, that's the downfall, too. I do miss the good times with my fabulous roommate of a lot of years, and I wouldn't mind sharing this place with some handsome guy. But for now, this works.

Number 4: I have learned that it's okay to relax. Yeah, this one is still a work in progress, but I'm generally a little less of a workaholic this year than I was last year. I've gotten better at delegating and letting things go. This year, I am going on a real vacation in another country.

Number 3: I have learned that vacationing with small children is difficult. My hat's off to all you bloggers out there who do this. I mean, vacationing with kids is barely vacationing at all. Your whole schedule has to be planned around them. You spend at least half of your time preparing meals and cleaning up. But then they throw their arms around you or say something hilarious or just give you a killer smile and you feel grateful you got to spend some time with them, even if it doesn't really feel like a vacation.

Number 2: I should have learned by now to back up all of my files. Remember the previously-blogged-about incident with my hard drive? Many of the pictures that I didn't lose, I didn't lose because they were backed up on my ancient Dell laptop. Heaven forbid I would have learned to back up THOSE files with some other external device. Yes, that's right, my Dell hard drive has officially bitten the dust as well, taking with it the rest of my pictures and everything I have written for the past 10 years worth keeping. My computer-savvy brother-in-law, Jon is trying to retrieve the data for me using special Jedi mind tricks or something. Fingers crossed.

Number 1: Finally, I have learned, and I probably should have known this sooner, that this is the section of my life that's all about teenagers. With a calling in the Young Women's, my church and work lives have rounded out to being about having these magnificent young people in my life and having some responsibility for their lives and their progress right now. I can only trust that this is what I'm meant to be doing right now. That there are things that I can share with them now that will help them. But mostly I'm convinced that there are things that I can learn right now from these great kids that will help me, too. They teach me about pressing forward. They teach me about love. They teach me about give and take.

2008 was a great year. I'm excited for 2009. (First lesson of 2009--don't ever try to take down your live Christmas tree by yourself. If only there had been someone else there to take pictures of the compromising positions I found myself in. Four hours of vacuuming and picking needles out of my underwear--seriously--and actually the lesson is to buy an artificial tree)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

ode to my mom

So it's my mom's birthday tomorrow, October 20, and I most definitely couldn't live without her, so here's a little post in her honor. I won't say how old she is this year but I'm 31 so she's at least older than that, and she looks fabulous.
But she's more than just beauty...

She's not afraid to attempt a variety of awesome hairstyles and fashion choices. I know these photos are pretty classic, but the truth is that my mom has always been a great example of figuring out how to make herself and her kids look great even on a really tight budget. She showed us how to be thrifty and still feel good about ourselves. She also always got us awesome presents for birthdays and Christmas (evidence #1: the amazing see through phone in the final hair picture. That was probably my 14th birthday and I had that phone all the way through college)

She loves coming up with really incredible ideas for family Christmas card pictures. But the creativity doesn't end there. When my mom has a great idea, she'll stop at nothing to see it through. Whether it's a year's worth of work to create the perfect girls' camp or youth conference, or an afternoon putting together an exquisite dining experience right in her own home, a thoughtful birthday surprise party or a beautiful bulletin board, gathering fun holiday decorations for her grown children's homes or thinking of a great topic for a family email conversation, my mom's mind is always buzzing with new ways to enhance the lives of everyone around her.

My mom, despite being incredibly organized and somehow managing to have a perfectly cleaned kitchen even when she's just made a 5 course meal, is very FUN! She made sure we all learned how to snowski, waterski, hike, bike, swim, and play as much as possible. If there is a fun family activity out there, my mom has found it and given us all the chance to try it. She and my dad planned incredible vacations and somehow had the gumption to load 5 kids in a car and tool all over everywhere.

Finally (just for the purposes of this blog since there is much much more I could say) my mom is incredibly compassionate. She has always listened to us whenever we had anything we wanted to say. She is the absolute best person to have around when you are sick because she takes such great care of you. She can always just sense when someone needs a phone call or a visit or a special gift and when she has one of those senses, she follows through. She loves her kids more than anything in life and would do anything she could for all of us. And she's the most amazing grandma! This little guy in particular is practically the president of her fan club.

So here's to my beautiful, generous, creative, fun, compassionate mother. I love you! Happy Birthday!