Monday, December 28, 2009

One Life To Live

I'm not typically a fan of daytime soap operas (though I do know all the major characters of Day of Our Lives, thanks Mom!), but it looks like there is some interesting stuff happening on One Life To Live. Not only are there major characters who are gay, but ones who have an interesting ongoing relationship with good dialogue, not to mention a whole lot of make-out scenes, and even a bedroom scene! I'm imagining female retirees and stay-at-homers watching this - wondering about the reaction. I love it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What I Did Last Night

What the heck? I don't know why iMovie put bars on the top and bottom?! I'll have to upload it again...meh.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saint Louis Gentrification

I was digging around online looking for articles about the status of gentrification in Saint Louis, Missouri, my hometown. There isn't much, and of what I did find, there's nothing recent. Not looking good. In those articles/blogs that I looked at (the old ones), the idea of gentrification was being demonized, as simply a process that forces working-class populations out of their current neighborhoods. That's true: those with higher incomes must replace poor and working-class people as they leave their neighborhood for gentrification to really work. But to me, and to many of my peers, gentrification sounds like a really good thing, especially for St. Louis, a city that many readily describe as dying.

I can see how at first, gentrification may not seem like a win-win scenario. Rent prices rise, families can no longer afford to live in a neighborhood, one in which they may have lived comfortably for many years, and eventually they find themselves in a predicament to which relocation is the only solution. It sucks. But you know what sucks even more? The death of a city, firms choosing to relocate to other metropolitan areas with better reputations, and young adults choosing to start families in other cities with better school systems and safer streets. In my opinion, the on-going remixing of middle-class and upper-class with the working class is absolutely essential to the health of a city. At the moment, relative to other American cities, St. Louis features a dramatic segregation between the classes. Any St. Louis native can describe to you the difference between a typical North County citizen and a typical West County citizen. And weighing St. Louis County against St. Louis City? The difference in poverty rates, unemployment, and crime is shocking. Why is gentrification a bad thing for St. Louis? Are St. Louisans satisfied with high crime and a city that becomes a ghost-town at night?

I would like to see a St. Louis with good public schools and a bustling downtown. I'd like to know how far off it is, if it's possible at all. I want to know exactly what is needed to jump-start the gentrification of St. Louis. It would take more than a couple of billion-dollar companies, more than a few new condo developments. I'm going to look further to see if anyone with power/money has taken this issue to heart.

Photo: The Olive Street of 2010? I think we're gonna miss the deadline. Sorry 1910. (via)

EDIT! I didn't find any blogs that focus strictly on gentrification, but there are a few concerned about St. Louis urban planning: Dotage St. Louis, St. Louis / Elsewhere, Vanishing STL. All very good blogs.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Obama's Bow to Japan

 I love Japan. Japan has done wonderful things for my life. Sony anyone? Pokemon? Instant noodles? Japan deserves a high-five. But not everyone thinks so. Some Americans are still bothered by President Obama's bow to the Emperor of Japan a month ago. Now, anyone who's even briefly acquainted with Japanese culture knows that bowing is an important Japanese social custom - like saying "hello" when you answer the phone - if you don't do it, it's weird or rude. Actually, not returning a bow is probably worse than not saying hello...  Nevertheless some people are outraged by Obama's disgustingly blatant display of subservience to a foreign leader. Fox News anyone? 
I just want to say that I love how Fox News often includes commentary on how people feel, like when they say that the emperor and his wife looked uncomfortable. Did you ask them? Is there an interview on record, in which someone representing the emperor says that he, the emperor, was uncomfortable? No? Then don't include it in the story and pass it off as legitimate journalism. The addition of emotions into a report that may or may not have a basis in reality is no more than a subdued version of sensationalism.  
On the subject of "protocol" that "has been the constant since the country's founding" my thoughts would be that in the eighteenth century, our prime concern was not bowing to European powers - it probably wouldn't have been cool for George Washington to bow to George III. But Japan wasn't really on the map in the 1700s, much less our fourth largest trading partner. Surely, if "protocol" had been written properly back in the day it would read "don't let the President bow to people unless it's the Emperor of Japan 'cause that's what they fucking do in Japan!!!" Obama isn't exactly prostrating on his knees or kissing the emperor's rings. The end.
Oh, and here's this picture that I borrowed from Fox News. I thought it was worth noting that when I downloaded it, the suggested filename was "obama_japan_monster." Obama Japan Monster. Hmm. You're so totally a legitimate news organization. Good job, Fox News.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

St. Louis Zoo Features Electronic Polar Bears!

I have high regards for the St. Louis Zoo (not only because I grew up in the St. Louis area). And I always like to go to the Zoo during winter to see the polar bears frolicking. They have a deep pool of water and big rubber balls - it's amusing to watch them jump in the pool and bounce and toss the balls up in the air and such. Well, not anymore! Apparently, polar bears are extinct at the St. Louis Zoo. And they've replaced them with electronic ones! For me this just echos that fact that polar bears are becoming increasingly rare in the wild, and eventually electronic zoo versions are going to be all there is for anyone to see. Also, I wonder if this could also be taken as a metaphor for the dwindling status of St. Louis as a relevant American city.

Huffington Post
River Front Times

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I saw this on TheBobBlog. I thought it was funny. I'm not sure how I should go about citing photographs. I assume citing the stolen-from website is sufficient?
Also, I thought Metro was a newspaper for Swedes, but I just looked it up on Wikipedia and it seems to be all over the place. Cool.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Love Al Jazeera

I have a tremendous respect for Al Jazeera. As far as televised media goes, the BBC and Al Jazeera are the only organizations I'd put stock in when it comes to good, undiluted, uncensored journalism. I know that they are often the only trusted source of news in the Middle East. They're not always perfect, but they're more valuable than the "journalism" that comes out of NBC and CBS.
I was just looking at Al Jazeera's uploads on YouTube (I'm a subscriber). Somehow I missed this one from last year. Note: this would have NEVER appeared on CBS or NBC or CNN, definitely not Fox News. I would like to know how many people continue to think of Barack Obama in this way. The first issue preventing its broadcast would be one man's casual use of the n-word in describing then Senator Obama...just see for yourself.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Also, Aliens in Norway

This is CBS coverage. And this is a report from the Christian Science Monitor

My first non-alien explanation would be a bizarre natural phenomenon, but news agencies are saying it's a Russian rocket launch gone awry. Hmm. Maybe I don't know very much about rockets, but I have trouble imagining how a rocket, even one spiraling out of control, manages to make a seemingly stationary perfect spiral appear for several minutes. Just don't get it. I would have more believed "time-space rift anomaly."

It's Really Cold

Haha, I'm posting this December 10th, but it's about December 9th, yesterday. It was really cold. I wasn't properly prepared for the sudden drop in temperature. I have a nice new semi-wool coat (with Thinsulate!), that goes almost to my knees, but it was barely enough to keep me warm. I only left my apartment to take my final sociology test for the semester. I always park in the Hitt St. Parking Garage because it's pretty convenient to all of my classes as well as the library and Memorial Union. I was kinda in a hurry because I wanted to look over the review questions quickly before taking the test. So I the far end of the garage away from the ticket machine. I ran to the machine, only to find an elderly man had was doing maintenance on it. I experienced a quick moment of simultaneous frustration and concern that an old man was doing machine maintenance without gloves at subzero temperatures. Okay, I run back to my car, drive to the other side of the garage, this time closer to a machine. Only when I get to the machine, it doesn't have a place for my student ID. Damn, good thing I have a healthy stock of quarters in my car at all times for exactly this purpose. In the few seconds it takes me to jog back to my car, my fingers begin to hurt. It must be colder than I thought. Oh, crap I need another quarter! Back to the car again. But the machine has mistaken my delay for incompetence and issued me a ticket with an insufficient amount of time on it! NOOO! So I place two tickets on my dash, one with 15 minutes on it.
On my way to class, I comfort myself by picking out people who aren't dressed appropriately. Honestly, there was still at least one person wearing flip-flops. I checked the temperature when I got home.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Yes Men

The part I want you to see starts at 9:52. One of Al Jazeera's reporters is interviewing "The Yes Men" who are two American guys who make it their job to go around the world while posing as representatives of huge corporations, like Halliburton and Exxon, so that they can basically spread happy lies in an effort to awaken the public. For example, one of them posed as a Dow Chemical representative, live on the BBC, and apologized for a huge hazardous waste disaster that Dow Chemical previously (or so they made it seem) had nothing to say about. Apparently this was a big news for a few days on the BBC, but I didn't hear anything about it. I've never heard of the Yes Men before today, either. I wonder why - they're pretty funny.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Required Viewing For YouTubers

YouTube has only been around since 2005, but to me it feels like it's been so much longer. I signed up for my account the summer of 2006, which was only a year after the site was born. And I know by that time, it was already a pretty big part of my teen culture. I remember that when I signed up for my account, I was also lamenting the fact that I been putting it off for months, and therefore thousands of people had gotten in line in front of me. Anyway, interesting video.


One of my best friends in middle school had a pug named Maddie (short for Madison), and I could not look at that dog without laughing. I don't know what exactly it is that I find so funny about them. Just love them. I don't know if this is common with pugs, but when Maddie got excited, she would start wheezing (which I found both adorable and hilarious), which after a while would usually transition into a dramatic sneezing fit. Sometimes I would get concerned that she wasn't going to make it through. She also always had trouble jumping up onto beds (also amusing). Anyway, this website makes me laugh.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Israel Digsite Clips

I probably should have uploaded this to YouTube months ago...

It's a boring video. If I had had any sense, I would have taken a proper video camera and my laptop, so as not to be restrained by my regular camera's memory (among other limitations). But it's certainly better than no video at all! This video is only a compilation of the videos I took at the Bethsaida dig. I have plenty more 13 second clips of Israel where this one came from! I used iMovie to upload directly to YouTube - it was painless, actually.

I always laugh at myself when I tiredly say,"And this is Israel." I also like my heavy sigh at the very end. Haha. Few times in my life have I been that tired, which probably tells you something about my life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Awesome Alias Reference

I was looking at wordreference recently and stumbled upon this:

It's possibly my favorite Alias quote from the entire series. It's the last line Sydney has before she has a massive throwdown with Doubled Francie, passes out and then wakes up two years later as Season 3 Sydney. I'm sure 99% of people will not know what I'm talking about. A few entries back, I actually linked my blog to a YouTube clip of this scene. I love it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Online Friendships

This is Natalie's newest video, and it's come at the perfect time for me.

I was pitying myself because while I have tons of online friends, like on facebook and AIM, I only have a few who ever initiate conversation with me. I have a couple (two) of friends who regularly comment on my facebook updates, but out of 500 people, that's not saying much. And out of the three dozen people who are on my AIM buddy list, only two of them ever EVER initiate conversation with me, regardless of their online statuses. I suppose we don't really have that much to talk about. Those two people find me highly amusing, but I have to wonder what the rest think. Maybe they're just not that into me? Maybe they're not actually there? One of the two is actually a German, and I'm pretty sure half his motivation for talking to me is practicing his English.
Back to the video - I experience this situation frequently. A person ends the conversation somewhat abruptly, saying they have to go immediately, but they remain logged in, leaving me wondering if they really just didn't want to continue the conversation. It's even worse if you've only exchanged a couple of sentences, and the other person suddenly has to go....and then remains "available." It's awful.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cool Photo of the Week

I have no idea who to credit this photo to - someone I follow on Twitter directed me to it. I'd like to know what the story behind it is. I really like the color.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Twenty-six things that I am thankful for:

1. Awkward pictures of Hannah Fuerhoff (Hannah's in the background)


2. lolcats


3. Star Trek
4. my parents
5. internets
6. T9 word
7. credit cards
8. Hulu
9. my health
10. Buddha
11. Westboro Baptist Church
12. gentrification

13. Apple
14. Alias 


15. German tourists
16. the fact that Pepsi/Coke can be bought anywhere in the world
17. Facebook

18. indoor plumbing and related inventions


19. my American citzenship!


20. Stephen Colbert
21. Celtic Woman
22. my 1990's childhood 

23. my travel experiences (thanks to my parents again!)

24. thunderstorms
25. having access to a plentiful water supply

26. this song

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chinese: Choral Tribute to Lily Allen by Capital Children's Choir

When I was in Israel, I listened to Lily Allen on repeat for hours at a time - while carrying buckets of dirt, while riding on buses, while sitting by the sea of Galilee... *sigh* So, I can't keep myself from thinking of Israel when I hear Lily Allen. If I had to choose one of her songs, it'd have to be "Chinese." It just puts me in a different world... just seems so close. I really want this song to be true for me. It just sounds so nice, so comfy. The video is a re-imagining of "Chinese" by a children's choir. It's pretty amazing. And by amazing I mean ethereal.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hello, not much happening...

Nothing exciting in my life...  well, that's not true, but nothing I want to post about right now!

I have an irrational fear of spiders, as does Natalie. I have to say that Natalie's neurotic inner-monologue is exactly like my own. Every time I kill a spider, I'm afraid that another spider witnessed my crime and is going to try to take revenge.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Magical Security Guards

On Monday morning I went to campus early to ensure that I'd get a certain French assignment completed and turned in by 9 AM. I was sitting in the library with my computer and my books scattered across a desk for a couple of hours, working feverishly. For some reason, when I haven't gotten enough sleep, my allergies kick in, and Monday morning my nose was running like crazy. I had a pocket pack of tissues in my bag, but I quickly used all of them. There weren't but a handful of people (nothing compared to how many there are around noon), so I thought it'd be okay to run to a bathroom quickly to take care of my nose situation - without packing up my stuff of course. I actually jogged to and from - it couldn't have been more than three minutes that I was gone. But upon my return, I noticed a little card that had been placed on my keyboard. I looked around quickly like I was in an espionage movie or something. The only time I've seen security guards is when I'm on the 3rd floor late at night - they'll occasionally walk by the row of study desks with heavy footsteps and stern faces. They must have cameras...or magic!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jewels: A Secret History by Victoria Finlay

I just finished reading a good book!  I read another Victoria Finlay book a couple of years ago called Color: A Natural History of the Palette, which I enjoyed very much. Color was a wonderful introduction into the world of pigments, with each chapter discussing the history of a different chemical that has been used to color our world. The research for both of the books took her all over the world, and her writing style is so friendly, I couldn't help but imagine myself exploring right along with her. Jewels: A Secret History is comprised of nine chapters, which are ordered from softest to hardest according to the Mohs Scale of Hardness. The minerals discussed (in order) are: amber, jet, pearl, peridot, emerald, sapphire, ruby, and diamond. I have to say that I had never even heard of "jet" before opening this book, and really I learned a lot about all of the included gems. Jewels really are a fascinating and relevant part of human history, but I seriously doubt that the average person knows that emeralds, once the most desired gem in the world, were only found in Egypt, or that to wear even a single pearl in ancient Rome would have been a display of tremendous wealth. Her report spans from ancient opulence to modern poverty, and begs you to reconsider the way you look at pretty, sparkly things.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I love Natalie.

Here's why...

If my YouTube subscriptions feel like my friends, then Natalie is like my bff, for sure. I love all of her videos...actually I just spent like 2 hours watching me some Nat. Yeah, I'm cool.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Keanu Reeves and Bernadette Peters

I recently started Twitter following this guy who I think is really cute (and smart, too!). He has no idea who I am, but that's okay. Occasionally he'll mention that he's going tanning, and that he's very excited about it, like he's going to Disney World or something. I can't really remember a time when I was tan, although I remember many times when I wish I was tan, even when I was little. I know that if enough elements come together, that I can develop a noticeable tan on my arms and legs, and if I'm lucky, on my face.  But a full-body tan is something that I can only dream about. That being said, even though I'd love to be tan, just for kicks, whenever I attempt to lay myself out in the summer sun, the entire time all I can think is "Skin cancer skin cancer skin cancer." A few days after my unsuccessful tanning session, I'll notice a new freckle and be completely convinced that I'm being punished for going against my lifelong indoctrination in the horrors of sun damage.

My brother is slightly darker than I am. He's more athletic, too. He was in the army and the navy - he tanned. And just a few years ago, him and his wife went on a big tanning bed kick. Now that he's in his 40s, the sun damage is beginning to show up. I asked him how he felt about tanning. Bad idea, he says. He told me to look at Bernadette Peters - hasn't aged in like 20 years. Apparently she's never been sunburned in her life. Then look at Keanu Reeves. He may be immortal.  Or maybe he just doesn't tan. Actually, I know two things about Keanu: he's Canadian and he played hockey growing up. Maybe that's the secret to looking immortal. Get a lot of exercise, while simultaneously avoiding the sun. Sounds promising.

Bern Hill

I love Antiques Roadshow. I never plan to watch it, but if I'm flipping through the channels and see that it's on, I'll always watch the entire thing. Yeah, I'm cool. I was having trouble getting into sleep mode last night, so I found myself watching PBS at 2 in the morning. This particular episode was in Louisville, which, btw, I refuse to pronounce "Louvul." I saw something that I really wanted to have for myself. An American artist, named Bern Hill, produced a reasonable number of illustrations used to advertise train travel in the mid-twentieth century, and I think they're due more recognition. I especially love the different perspectives he used and the theatrical use of color.

When I searched "Bern Hill" I found very little (not even a Wikipedia page!). Actually, my biggest find turned out to be the product of another blogger who saw the exact same episode of Antiques Roadshow when it originally aired last year. I laughed when I saw that most of the blog comments were from random people who had also just watched Antiques Roadshow. Here's the blog: Alphabet City: Bern Hill.  The pictures I included below (except for the last, which I stole from here) are ones that the blog's author took of his television. I really enjoy the illustration that shows the shadow of the bridge over which the train is traveling. I would love to have one of these posters to hang in my home.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yelling at my dreams

Lately, I haven't much liked my dreams. They're awful! Last week, I had a dream that I was talking to my mom on the phone while driving at night. She was trying to help me figure out how to get somewhere, but when I saw a bridge in the distance, I declared, "Oh no, this can't be right." And then I crash in a huge concrete wall - obviously I thought I was in a real lane, but I wasn't!

Although that dream did startle me enough so that I had to wake up and turn my bedroom light on, I wouldn't say that it's the best example of how weird my dreams are lately. I have this thing, where as soon as I wake up, my internal dialogue will be "What the hell was that dream? Where the f*** are you pulling that shit from mind? Like what bizarre horror movie did I see when I was 12 that enables you to incorporate these images in my dreams?" I talk to dream like they're a human to whom I'm giving money for a service...if you didn't pick up on that. I wake up and basically get mad at my dreams, as if I'm have no power over them at all, like I'm just a paying consumer hoping for a good show. It takes me a few seconds to realize how ridiculous that is, but I do it anyway.

I woke up from my last dream out of annoyance because I was basically watching two people argue whether wine was better than beer. I listened to a lot of it before I said, "Why the hell am I dreaming this?" But that's pretty typical - me just watching people I don't know in painfully every day scenarios that don't interest me...but I watch them anyway.

There's another kind of dream that involves people I do know, usually the people who I think of as my best friends. It goes something like this. I find myself somewhere (basically anywhere that I've ever been), standing alone idly. The friend comes out of nowhere, briskly marching toward me. They've made obvious changes to their appearance that I don't care for. They'll have gotten a nose job to make their nose larger, or dyed their hair an unflattering color. But really the problem is that this person suddenly doesn't like me, and that's the reason they're in my dream. It's not so much that I've done anything (after all I'm just standing alone minding my own business, right), rather it's just that we don't get along anymore. Sometimes it's a basic personality change, other times it's that the person has seen the light and thinks that we never really should have been friends to begin with. This is usually such an unpleasant scenario that I wake up, after a brief stint of in-dream crying.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This would be fantastic!

though I suspect that I may need a few more IQ points...  and definitely a French tutor.

Monday, October 26, 2009

FAIL at posting updates

My last entry was evidently on September 17!  That's over a month ago.  Hence, my FAIL.

I started using my old LiveJournal again...  I'm just so used to divulging intimate information on LiveJournal, that it was hard to do it anywhere else. I was trying to use this journal/blog to write musings on things other than the trivialities of my own life, while also being more positive. I know that some people claim to be able to write better when they're in love, or when they're not happy, or after they've had a shot of whiskey. I was making an effort to prove that I'm not that kind of a person - that I can write about anything, no matter where I am in my life. I have to say, despite my best efforts, that it's not as easy as it sounds to just sit down and write about something. Those LiveJournal entries usually had some passion behind them, some chutzpah, which definitely helped my writing. I'm thinking the trick isn't so much practicing my writing as it is kindling my ability to become suddenly passionate about any selection of subjects.

I've decided my blog needs to be more visually interesting, so I plan to post more fun stuff...which will help the project seem to be less about me. Which is good.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cursing Flies

I have to say that I cuss more when I'm alone, especially now that I'm living alone. Besides the obvious reason that I have the chance to cuss freely without the risk of offending anyone, I was trying to think of a reason why I cuss more. It's funny because - again because I'm alone so much - I can go almost an entire day without saying a thing, but when I do speak, there's a good chance that it will be "motherfucker" or "fuck my life" or maybe just a simple "damn." I've been running into spiders and houseflies a lot more, and that's definitely when it's the worst. I can easily spout off a long list of curse words if I see a fast-approaching spider. Worst-case scenario: the spider jumps. Ugh. A few days ago, I was working at my computer, when a moderately-sized spider crawled out from behind the monitor onto the top of the screen.  "FUCK."  That shit was close to my face.  That particular spider made a successful escape. I did not sleep well that night.
But as much as I loathe spiders, they typically keep to themselves. The real invaders are flies! Last week, a remarkably large fly found itself in my very small apartment. It kept flying at me kamikaze-style. I could feel my basic instincts kicking in, hastily deciding whether to risk my life in order to slay the beast or just leave for a few days and hope it starves to death. I turned the AC down, hoping that the cooler temperature might slow it down a little. I armed myself with a rolled-up GQ in one hand and a newspaper in the other. This was not a normal fly - it was like something from the Amazon, and it was in  for the kill. At one point I had it shut in my bedroom, but it figured out an escape through the vent and resumed torturing me with its unpredictably timed assaults. This is when I assumed I was dealing with an intelligent lifeform and began talking to the fly. I eventually opened the door to the hallway and allowed the fly to leave on his own accord, but it was still a very tense moment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

College as a Necessity

If I had millions of dollars, would I still want to go to college?

Certainly people who are born into millionaire families go to college, albeit much more comfortable, more celebrated colleges.  But if tomorrow someone were to give me a check for 200 million dollars, I can see college suffering a significant drop on my list of priorities. Ideally, you go to college to learn, to expand your mind, but I've never thought of it that way. I've always seen it as a way to earn more money and to prove my worth. It was a matter of what kind of lifestyle I wanted, not what I wanted to do research in. I feel like that is pretty consistent with the aims of most people my age who are going to college. If I had millions of dollars, my reasons for pursuing a degree would probably be more social than financial. You might choose to go to Harvard so that you can remain on the same level as the kids you went to Exeter with, so that you can still party together and share the photos of your safari in Botswana...and so that you can maintain your lifestyle. I'm just imagining, I don't have any research to back this up.

I was thinking about this because this last week I've read some about studying in Paris. One of the schools I'm interested in had a "the cost of living in Paris" page that I examined very closely. In the section covering the renting of apartments, there was a little note about "students with higher incomes" that made me open my eyes a little wider. Of course, I had been mostly looking at the price of living in what's called a "chambre de bonne," which is basically an extra room, historically intended for maids and such, and usually found on the top floor of an old building. I searched "chambre de bonne" on Google and found some fairly posh-looking examples, so it's a matter of how you fill the space. But I'm curious about these students with "higher incomes." It'd be amazing to study in Paris without having to stress about the horrible exchange rate, or to have to wonder why coffee in one neighborhood costs 4 euros more than coffee in the next. I should probably worry about improving my French first.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Is it weird to do google searches on your neighbors?  I met my upstairs neighbor today.  I figured it was a guy a while ago: he comes home pretty late, usually around eleven, when I'm getting ready for bed - he walks heavy.  He also drives a navy VW Golf, which is in my opinion a very guy car.  I haven't really figured out when he leaves for work.  I assume work is the reason he comes home about 11.  Well, I actually talked to him tonight!
I was heading out to the dumpster to get rid of a particularly disgusting bag of fast food that I couldn't finish.  He was sitting on the stoop, right outside the door.  It had been drizzling for a few hours; he was noticeably rained-upon. He was wearing a blue running outfit.    You could probably imagine the conversation.  I asked if he could ever hear me.  No.  I told him that I'm going to MU, that I'm a transfer from Truman.  He gave an "Oh" response, like "Oh, Truman..." which I'm not sure meant that he actually recognized the name.  He's a photographer for the Columbia Tribune.  For some reason, I got the sense that he wasn't a Columbia native.  I wanted to ask him a few more questions, but didn't want to impose on his quiet post-running stoop time.  I'd say he's an attractive guy.  He's also a Nick.
So, I searched him. Seems like he does mostly sports photography, but I've found at least one non-sports collection. So many photos come up - I feel like I've chanced upon some Columbia celebrity.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Living In a War Zone

Today I had a thought: How strange it must be to live in a country that has war on its border, or even worse, within its border.  When it first occurred to me, it felt like a breakthrough, but the more it sits in my mind, the more stupid it sounds.  Think of how many movies I've seen, how many articles I've read about war, and this is just now becoming a thought?  I even went to Israel, a country whose continued existence owes thanks to state-sanctioned violence and oppression.  How nice it is that I live at this time in history and in a country where I am relatively very safe.  As long as I am not hurting anyone or threatening anyone (physically, or otherwise), I could do whatever I want to do with myself, provided I have the resources.

I've been having weird dreams lately, like some with familiar faces that I haven't seen in ages, all saying things that bother/anger me. Mostly it's just me seeing them and being excited. It's usually that I've walked somewhere unfamiliar. I think I'm lost but then I see them and become hopeful. But when I try to talk to them, there's something so fundamentally different about them that I have to question whether or not I truly have stumbled upon someone I actually know, or an impostor.  It usually wakes me up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

More than music

Music means a lot to me.  Someone long ago planted a seed in my brain - one that reprimands me when I relate to song lyrics too much, as if the song was written about me.  The person who wrote the song probably wrote it about their own experiences, but did they also plan it out thinking that perfect strangers in different circumstances would be searching for meaning in the same words?  Well, I don't know, I'm thinking of Coldplay right now...and I imagine they do attempt to make their songs' meanings ambiguous enough so that they can be enjoyed by a wide selection of people who are applying the lyrics to very different situations.  Coldplay nearly always makes me take a step back.  I actually wanted to write about how certain bands, like Coldplay, make me feel timeless, as if everytime I listen to "The Scientist," for example, I'm the exact same person.  Probably the first twenty times I heard "The Scientist" I didn't even know that it was called "The Scientist" but I like to think that every time that song comes up on iTunes, on some level my present self is converging with past versions...  and they're all pretty happy about it.  Some of those times I was alone, maybe depressed.  Other times I was on road trips - I might have been in Oregon, I might have been in Buffalo...or on a plane to Orlando.  I might have been listening to it as I drifted off to sleep.  Again this song in particular, it makes me feel like I'm progressing, like I'm moving on to something brighter. Maybe I'm not completely satisfied with the state of what I'm leaving, but still I'm optimistic that everything will work out for the best.  Everyone will be happy.  I tend to envision myself sitting in the window seat of an airplane, gazing at the blue lights of the tarmac during take-off, and I have this amazing sense of security.  It's pretty great.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Working at the Bookstore

My temp job at the bookstore as a cashier is hit and miss: either I'm really busy or I'm standing around for hours with nothing to do. The time goes by so much faster when all I'm doing is scanning books and swiping credit cards. They asked me to come in 30 minutes earlier for Wednesday and today at 8 am. I'm not sure what their logic was because even when we were scheduled for 8:30, it seemed as if we didn't really start until 9:30, and the students didn't begin to come in in droves until after 11. We all arched our proverbial eyebrows, but gladly accepted 30 minutes worth of additional pay. I once got reprimanded for flipping through an O magazine during one of those hours of nothingness - my supervisor firmly took it out of my hands the way you would from a small child who's misbehaving. *sigh* There are slightly less registers than cashiers, so occasionally I am told to dust different parts of the store. Today I was trusted with money (promotion?), but then was promptly exiled to the outdoor cash register by myself. They had a special tent set up on the front patio with dorm furnishings. I don't even think I had a dozen transactions in 6 hours. Part of that time was spent helping with the set up (I was really proud of my rug display), but the majority of the time was lost to idle people watching and day dreaming. There were three university Christian groups set up around the bookstore. One was giving out freeze-pops... had to get one. I skillfully played the Israel card. I might actually go to one of their talks to see what it's like.

Now I'm going to the glorious MizzouRec... and trying not to feel like the most puny person there. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Single Single Life

Shame on me for not updating this blog more often.

I've been in my new apartment for two weeks now, and I'm loving it. I don't have many complaints. Learning to cook all of my meals on my own is challenging, but it's also an easy confidence boost when I do manage to figure things out. I have to say that it feels weird spending so much money on things that are just for me. Usually when I go out and buy a new spatula (luxury!) or a skillet, I know that other people will be using it, too, but I'll be the only one here for a good part of the time. I'm still a little short on furniture. My brother, Andy, gave me a nice TV that he had in his basement - definitely an upgrade from the tiny one I had had in my dorm room. And my parents pulled some other extra furniture out of the chaos of our basement, so I have a table to eat/work on. I also have a new mattress, which is so wonderful! My old mattress at home was seriously not doing good things for my back. I don't think that I want a couch, maybe just a big chair for TV watching. I'm afraid that too much furniture will make it feel too small. I like all of the floor space.

I'm still drinking the Mizzou kool-aid. I still think it's great. Amanda took me around to all of my class locations a couple days ago. Not bad at all. Two of my buildings are in close proximity to a Starbucks, which could definitely spell trouble for my checking account. I visited the rec center yesterday. It was beautiful. I might have cried a little. The treadmills...have touchscreen...TVs...and built-in iPod docks. Just beautiful. I don't have cable in my apartment, so I figure I might go to the rec to watch shows on certain days. Haha. It works... The complex was designed very well. When I walked in, it felt more like a hotel than a typical athletic facility. They also have designated quiet rooms with machines and weights, so you don't have to kill your ears. Even if I have to spend time finding a parking place, it's still a definite upgrade from any workout place I've been to before.

So far, I don't feel like transferring to Mizzou has greatly altered any of my relationships. I still plan on visiting my old university pretty frequently. My primary goal at Mizzou is to regain confidence in my academic ability, but I'm afraid it might be hard to focus in a new environment with so many new things to do and people to meet. I'm hoping that having a place to be alone will aid me in maintaining a sane perspective on my life. At Truman I felt like I was constantly being tugged in different directions, with the only hope of feeling normal being total escape. I definitely have no desire to ever feel those emotions again. Certain relationships, one in particular, I'm destined to maintain for a long time coming, and I'm quite happy about it. Now that I'm closer to being in my element again, it's easier to appreciate people for every thing they are, and also to see my own mistakes without completely condemning myself.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I got a job!

Hey, things are looking up! Today I went to a job interview in Columbia for a position in the university bookstore. Success. I took a sandwich with me for lunch and ate in the little park across the street from my future apartment building. I'm really excited about having my own space, though my only furniture for a few weeks is going to be Rubbermaid bins and an air mattress. It's like camping!... I had been figuring out my theoretical monthly expenses (effective procrastination activity) by planning to make $7.00 an hour, but I'm getting 25 cents more...per hour... which means... I don't know what it means. I won't even get my first paycheck until halfway through August.

I only have two more weeks to finish my Middle Eastern studies class. It's really not so bad, but I'm still putting off reading An Introduction to Biblical Archaeology. Ugh. When I was at Mizzou today I picked up my ID card before stopping by the library. I recruited a librarian to guide me through Mizzou's search engines. I mentioned that I was from Truman and she gave this, "Oh! Truman!" response... but oddly, she's one of a few people who've said anything at all. I'm so impressed with Mizzou. Every thing. I try not to beat myself up for not going to Mizzou to begin with. I'm excited about the new Harry Potter film. Joey said the ending was weird, but I don't remember how the book ended, so I won't be expecting anything. Probably for the best.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer Goings-On

I've been back in the US since June 25th, so sorry that this is my first blog post. I feel like I've been back longer than just the last 2 weeks. I guess I've had my plate full of things to do. Obviously I did not post regularly on this blog while I was in Israel. That was undoubtedly the most exhausting trip I've yet taken. Suffice to say I did not have any trouble falling asleep every night. It was all I could do to take notes each day, and hope that I remember enough to fill in the blanks when I get home. Not everyone was such a wimp though. Several people wrote their journals out on the bus, which is a good use of travel time, but is mostly just a fast-track to carsickness for me. I figured that my notes and my pictures would guide my words once I was rested back at home. It worked pretty well. I'm still not anywhere finished with this course though. There are still a couple of books that I need to read and summarize.

It's probably for the best that we didn't stay any longer than we did. I had found trouble effectively communicating with several of the people on the trip, and that's never fun. Israel was beautiful in its own way, and the warm, dry climate is very enjoyable, but I was more than ready to trade Roman ruins for the grassy green hills of Missouri. ...and for television that wasn't in Arabic or Hebrew. One night while in Bethlehem, I was watching TV alone in my room while making notes about the past day's events. I watched Al Jazeera in Arabic for a solid 30 minutes... I was probably very tired, but I was still perplexed with my own behavior when I realized what I'd done. If it was the night that I'm thinking of, I woke up at 3 in the morning to throw up and do other things until I was so weak that I couldn't pry myself off the bathroom floor. My roommate was Jordan Buchheit. I genuinely thought that I was going to blackout...possibly with my boxer briefs around my ankles, so I started yelling for Jordan. He got up and went to find Loren, the nursing major of our group who came to help me. Though by the time she came just a couple of minutes later, I had gotten half my sense back and completely regretted waking up Jordan. Ah, the joys of travel.

For the past week, my top priorities have had mostly to do with transferring to Mizzou. Except for financial aid, every thing is in order. My major now is "International Studies," which was a surprise to me when I logged onto MyZou. Clever name. Better than "TruView?" I think maybe, I filled out some form a while back on which I ranked my top choice majors...somehow Political Science got the boot, and International Studies won. Originally International Studies struck me as a poofy major, not a real major, like Gender and Women's Studies. But I took a look at the course listings and the International Studies classes are shared with several other majors: Poli Sci, Psychology, Sociology, Economics... It seems perfect for me at the moment.

My parents helped me find an apartment. My dad found a place just a few blocks from campus - I could ride my bike to class. The man who owns the place told Dad that he usually rents only to graduate students and adults, and that he'd have to meet me in person. I guess he liked me well enough. The rent is cheaper than other places we had looked at, and the location is so much better. It's a one bedroom with a good-sized living space and and a small kitchen. I think it's exactly what I was looking for. It's on the basement level, so not an abundance of natural light, but on the other hand, my utitlies should cost less. The neighborhood seems quiet and there's a park with a bike trail directly across the street. I'm letting myself have only positive thoughts about getting a good job to pay for my apartment and food costs....cause I have to.

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Friday in Israel

Today was our last day of digging for the week. I lost some of the steam that I had yesterday. Unfortunately, Rami asked me to leave Elizabeth's group to go join "A West," saying that Elizabeth's site was too crowded. I reluctantly complied. I didn't find my new site nearly as interesting. Elizabeth had been teaching us poems and songs, which honestly, I wouldn't have known existed. Her favorite was Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit...which goes something like: Run rabbit, run rabbit, run run run... Don't give the farmer his fun fun fun! He'll get by without his rabbit pie, so run rabbit run rabbit run run run. She had all of us singing. We didn't find very much today at our site, but we had fun digging nonetheless.

I'm not sure what we're doing tonight. I know we're having a special Sabbat dinner, which is supposed to be a bit more formal... Some people from the other groups are planning to climb Mt. Arbel this evening, but I think we've decided to try next weekend. I know that I can be very afraid of heights, but'll be fun. I still have dirt on my arms from digging. It makes me look like I have a nice tan going. Tomorrow is going to be so busy. We're starting at six in the morning and then we'll be gone all day long, touring ancient sites.

We do have lectures every evening - last night's lecture was an overview of the Crusades in the Middle East. A woman we know as "Kate" is an expert on medieval architecture - she recently finished her doctorate at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I thought I was already well versed on the basics of the Crusades, but I hadn't really been familiar with fortifications in Israel. I love her voice. Interstingly, scholars back in the day had come to believe that fortifications in the Middle East were positioned to defend borders, but in actuality they were placed wherever trade was lucrative or the land was fertile - it didn't really have anything to do with defending frontiers or laying out borders between kingdoms.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In Israel

Please ignore the seeming lack of concern for aesthetics on my blog page. It will get better.

Today is Wednesday, and my fourth day in Israel. Today I went swimming in the Galillee for the third time. The top portion of my back is fully sunburned, so much so that one of the girls suggested that I just wear a shirt in the sea instead of having someone else put sunscreen on me while I try to keep from flinching. I wore the shirt that I wore for the dig yesterday, which was filthy with sweat and dirt. The Galillee is beautiful - the color and the way the high, high hills rise up all around it. Mount Arbel is particularly striking, as it rises especially high, then ends in a dramatic cliff. Kinda Grand Canyon-esque. Lauren (Greenspan) has gotten all of us wanting to trek up there this weekend. One of the guys who joined our group in Tel Aviv, Justin, said that when he took the trip several years ago, the hike took over an hour and involved climbing up metal spikes that the Israelis had installed to facilliate climbing on the more vertical part of the mountain. We've had several people tell us that after climbing so far, it is nearly impossible to go back. Once you reach the summit (and taken loads of photos of the sea), you have to take a different trail for the descent. We already have a lot planned for Saturday, so if we wanted to climb it, we would have to start early. We have to walk to the mountain from the kibbutz first, which I imagine is what will take the longest. I shoud explain that Justin went on the trip with Dr. Appold in 2001, and graduated from college two years afterward. He's been on duty in Afghanistan, and is currently attending Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He's shared many insights into Arabic customs and so forth that he's absorbed from his experience in the military as well as his own travels. It's interesting. He's also one of my roommates.

Sorry if I'm jumping around too much with this entry.

Today was my third day on the dig site at Bethsaida. Monday we were given a tour of Bethsaida, with explanations of the history, as well as all of the various levels of the city. Tuesday was the first day of actual digging. At the last moment, I chose to work with a group of students from West Virginia who I had been talking to. They were happy to have me. The most difficult part of the dig is arguably setting up the tarp at the very beginning, which serves to make shade for working. Israel is hot and dry. I felt like I was drinking tons of water, but strangely I didn't have to make a single trip to the restroom any of the days we have been on the site. Just fyi. So staying away from direct sunlight is very important if you want to avoid dehydration. In fact, the director of Bethsaida who shows us how to do every thing has told us that we are not allowed to work unless our site is under the tarp.
We wake up at 5 every morning and get on the bus by 5:30. We have breakfast at 9 o'clock on site. Breakfast is actually pretty wonerful; today there watermelon, boiled eggs, zucchini, tomatoes, and hazelnut spread to put on our bread, and this wonderful spiced coffee. It's curious that in Israel they sell 3% milk instead of 2% milk. Israelis just need an extra 1% I guess. More to come.

Friday, May 29, 2009

This is the first entry on my new blog. I'm leaving for Israel in less than two days. Hopefully every thing goes amazingly and my brain figuratively explodes. This trip is going to be awesome. I've been reading one of the required texts for the trip, a book about the Palestinian situation authored by President Jimmy Carter. It's really enhanced my view of what the Palestinians are up against. I've long been suspicious of Israeli political methods - it doesn't take too much NPR listening to understand how I could think of them as dangerous, reckless and impulsive. I do like the idea of Israel, but the political realities of the last few decades really do a lot to cast Israeli methods as simply criminal.