Well, That Was Unexpected

Real life is stranger than fiction...depending on which authors you read, of course.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

1st day of class rundown

first day of school report:

the teacher for my poli sci research design and analysis class is, um, "lively". i put it this way to one of the 2nd year grad students in my seminar and he mimicked a cocaine sniffer. indeed. freely cursing and yet devoted to social justice, he reminded me of myself...if I were older and on crack. he said he only wears loud hawaiian shirts and his test for what to wear is that if his daughters would have cringed, then he wears it. hmm...reminds me of a certain high school teacher who wore pants that were purple on one side and black on the other...like a court jester, but whom we all dearly loved. our prof is quite funny, actually, but no one but me laughs at his jokes. i cant tell if it's because people are scared of him or if it's because he just isnt funny and i've adopted the asian technique of laughing during awkward silences. he freely dissed historians and journalists --multiple times i must add, at which i laughed uproariously b/c its so rare for people to completely write off whole disciplines!--as pansies who won't take a stand and think critically about information or offer opinions. he was like "political scientists don't read the news, we think it's all garbage" and he completely destroyed asian learning methods. he was like "passive learning is a complete waste of your life." also, he kept referencing times he had gotten drunk with famous scholars whose works we should have been familiar with (read the slight panic in my notes as i realize how much i don't know about political science) and said that once he got drunk with some guy and they did a james joyce night and read parts of finnegan's wake. my notes at this point read "what an Effing nerd!!" i was thinking about how i should make a video called "geeks gone wild" in which we tape academics getting drunk and then mock them..or market it to universities. unfortunately a finnegan's wake reading is about as scandalous as c-span. "holy crap, don't look now, but that guy--he's reciting Proust backward! he must be really shitfaced!" oh my gosh, i just started snoring at my keyboard at the thought. of course, i find that "rebel geek without a cause" thing very endearing. he's fabulous. he also encouraged everyone to get drunk in tijuana, which i'm sure went over well with the russian mormon girl who was sitting next to me.

we had a blonde southern guy with a heavy accent in class who was dressed like a jolly green pimp. and we have two military guys who are really verbose. our assignment for next week is to count something--do cursory, fun research to get in the habit of collecting data--you know, how many people wash their hands after they use the bathroom or how many cars parked in faculty parking actually have fac pkg stickers, etc. one military man said he had heard a study he'd like to replicate on the radio in which women said they would rather be a "10" and their man be less whereas men said they woudl rather have their women be "10"s and themselves be less. the girl across from me rolled her eyes really obviously at his royal heinousness, which i appreciated. men are always finding ways to excuse themselves from superficial pressures and simultaneously to freely put them onto women with the excuse that women are like that anyway. way to free yourselves from raising your daughters better and treating your wives right, guys. way to goooooooo.

my russian professor for post communist governments is an athletic, intense, and yet, goodnatured man (the US has beaten the constant frown of his people out of him, apparently), and has assigned us homework that i believe includes everything written since 1900 about russia and its politics. i am thinking of constructing a bed in love library. he was wearing the same zip off shorts, which are part of hiking pants, that i wore in montana. he strode about the room very purposely in his shorts. he left the room at one point and one of the 2nd year grad students said "wow, he's cute...come on, you know you were all thinking it, even the guys." she was right: i had thought that. i had also thought that one of my classmates looks like a girl who sleeps with professors, but i decided not to vocalize it.

i enrolled in a speed reading class offered by sdsu and everyone i talk to seems really interested in it. we got a mass mailing and i thought it was a good idea. and after seeing the russky's reading list, i'm pretty Effing happy i did.

well, i think i shall go read something about vladimir putin now. i have reading assignments by marx and lenin this week, too. i expect to be inciting riots at factories by the weekend.

Monday, August 28, 2006

a trip to the library of love

I am mildly vexed that these heinous pharmaceutical advertisers keep posting comments on my blog. I may have to change my comment settings. harumph. that does not jive with my general laziness m.o.

so despite the fact that I mocked my church's worship band when they changed their name in an assuredly meaningful-in-a-pretentious-cryptic-"deep" way, to Future of Forestry, I actually really like their new stuff. They are still awesome live. an excellent musical and worship experience. brotha d bought me their live ep. that damian is far more of an evangelist than myself.

in that vein, today was a day full of church. church in the morning, midday and evening. frankly, it was fantastic. you have no idea how readily available are good preaching, theology, and fellowship in the united states. and good music. it's a total glut. i'm poo-pooing churches i would have fought to go to in taiwan. sweet heaven. anyway, a good dilemma to have, choosing between the best of what is already more than sufficient.

school starts tomorrow and i think i am about to have a far more typical university experience than my first go round at wellesley. i believe sdsu has somewhere between 35-50000 students graduate and undergraduate. my student body president has written an email to inform me that i can pick up my free football ticket and round trip trolley pass from some admin center. wellesley, being as it was all women and certainly division III, was a tad light when it came to love of american football. a shortcoming to be sure. our mascot was Blue. yes, the Wellesley Blue. Go Blue! now i am at a university with a bona fide violent mascot, the Aztecs. We even have buildings named after aztecs or native american happiness, like montezuma hall and tepeyac hall and maya hall and cuicacalli hall. i'm quite excited about the new avenues of pronunciation my tongue will be traversing. the best feature thus far, though, has got to be Love library. Yes, our library is named after Malcom Love, whose history i will relate to you at some future point. Anyway, he is probably the illustrious alumnus who is president of roto-rooter or something and gave a ton of money for said library and i can only hope that he thought it was as humorous as i do that 50,000 people per year would be using Love library. it feels sort of smarmy, well, or new age, which is...smarmy, really. of course right afetr i left wellesley we had an awesome alumni donation from lulu chow wang for a new student center, so now they have the hilariously named lulu chow wang student center. wang being much like dong when it comes to 4th grade humor. sweeet.

world vision sent me a poster of the solar system with stickers yesterday so that I can send them to sharon in kenya with a little note. sadly, the map has pluto listed as a planet. i'm thinking, those poor world vision people must have been like "talk about dumb luck!" They do a mass mailing of this adorable educational material for us to send to our sponsored kids and it coincides right with the once-in-a-few-hundred-years conference where the whole scientific community up and decides pluto is no longer a planet. anyway, it is still an adorable idea, and i shall simply note to sharon that pluto is no longer a planet, but we love it anwyay and it rightfully deserves a sticker.

weight watchers is going smashingly. i have no idea if i have lost weight, but i feel good. this morning i had a bowl of banana blueberries and strawberries for breakfast. banana is nature's sweetener, really. since i had a ridiculous amount of fruit and a vegetable laden lunch at...Subway (of course) i think i will just have ice cream for dinner. that is one of my favorite things. ice cream tides me over for a very long time. it is delicious and unhealthy and yet it fits right in with my daily diet when i am a pinnacle of health for the first two meals of the day. by the way, yesterday when doing point calculations i realized yet again that pizza, while incredibly delicious especially when made right, is pretty much always the worst dietary choice you can make. two slices basically screwed over my entire day's consumption. grrr.

off now, to do homework. crazy. me, homework, hah!

Friday, August 25, 2006

my relationship manager

today i made a call to cancel a credit card i had signed up for mainly b/c of the free teddy bear i got with it. anyway, i mean if the rates had been good with no annual fee i would have kept it and trashed a different unused card, but it had said profanities and so i trashed it. anyway, i call up and need to talk to a human with a pulse to cancel the card and here is what it said "press zero to speak with a relationship manager." and then it said "tranferring you to a relationship manager." this is a whole new level in creepy lingo used to make customers feel safe and secure and valued by corporations. anyway, my relationship manager was named judith and at the end of our conversation she asked if she could assist me with anything else. and i wanted to say something like "yeah, how does one balance work and home life, then, judith?" or "i think my boyfriend is lying to me about working late, i think he's "managing a relationship" with someone else, know what i mean, judy? honh honh honh"

this makes me think of so i married an axe murderer when charlie broke up with a girl because she "worked for the mafia" which he inferred because she never told him what she did for a living. that's right, the cosa nostra.

i'm loving this weight watcher's thing. it's like a puzzle. i have 30 points and i have to manipulate them into a day's worth of food. ie today i really wanted a snickerdoodle, yet i also know i am going to a pot luck games night and need at least 15 points in said situation tonight. so for lunch i had a spinach salad with spaghetti sauce and 1 tsp olive oil. 1 point, my friends--1 point! (when i'm feeling sinister i think it would be funny to shirk the system by eating an entire can of spaghetti sauce--technically 0 points-- or drinking the whole bottle of italian dressing my mom just bought that mysteriously has 0 calories and fat and yet also no preservatives. i said it was ingredient free, but apparently it's just vinegar and lots of dried spices.) as of this moment i have a cool 16 points left for tonight--if you think the math doesnt add up that's b/c i didnt list everything i consumed as judge julie ruled that that would be a little bit too neurotic.

i must go now and call up another relationship manager so they can take the excess from one of my relationships and transfer it to themselves. i hope they arent afraid of this new level of intimacy i am about to thrust upon them.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

in praise of the UNHCR

now, who else could negotiate the transfer of almost 200 north korean refugees to south korea from thailand? i mean, really. The UN does indeed provide indispensible services around the globe. i love how the BBC article says that the Thai government doesn't want to be known as an easy haven for refugees. bwahahaha. i'm sorry, i have been to thaialnd, and anyone who is desperate enough to refuge to thailand must be in one hell of a bad situation. excepting the tourist spots, thailand is a total shithole. easy refugee haven, my ass. (hmm, that was an interesting image.) anyway, apparently these north koreans traveled through china and then made their way to thailand. now, UNHCR has cleared some of the people, mostly children, i believe, for travel to south korea. and they aren't sure what will happen to the rest. um, if the thai government even tries to send those people back to that psycho in north korea they might as well shoot them themselves and it would be less traumatic. and if the thai governement does send them back to north korea, then they are lost morally at all levels of society. those refugees were found...176 stuffed into a two storey thai building. because apparently that was better than where they were before. they were probably just thrilled to be able to eat since their assing dictator is starving them. thailand. please. they should be happy anyone wants to refuge there. and this is me and beth playing with the sepia tone feature on her phone in order to send a picture to make julia jealous.

in other news, we now only have 8 planets in our solar system, but we have three little dwarf planets. how cute. that should be a boon for textbook reprints and classroom posters. i think the picture above clearly indicates that beth and i should be two of the 8 planets. full-fledged, though. though beth does like dwarfs...

my graduate advisor just called me. what a big sweetheart. he's so proactive and kind and interested that it almost makes me want to stay in Asian studies rather than transfer to international relations. certainly if i could make such decisions based on one man, i would happily stay on the Asian studies course. and he was very kind about my decision to transfer, and even unnecessarily encouraging...apparently he thinks my record is good enough that i should have no problem. i have no such confidence, but it relieves me that he does. anyway, i shall go visit him sometime when school starts so we can chat about china.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

interview one

Officially done with publishing interview number one. Hopefully will be called back in a few weeks for interview number 2 with the direct manager. I believe this is the tenth time I have answered the question: Tell me about a time when you felt you provided truly excellent customer service. Am now trying to figure out how to tighten up my example and give it some panache. I also had to take a typing, word, and excel test, which is mind numbing. it's cool because the company is great and i will be grateful to get a job there. but still. i felt like i was at a temp agency taking those tests. way for me to rock the advanced excel applications though. good to know my word knowledge is good as ever and i type 62 wpm. is that good? i have no idea. all i know is i get flack because i don't use standard hand position. i just hunt and peck very quickly. i have my own methods.

I love San Diego's downtown. The building I just interviewed in is huge and lovely with the name of the company in classic lettering as if you are working for the pinnacle of old world elegant publishing. it was adorable. managed to score what i believe was a direct hit when i said that i was going to graduate school for international relations and wanted to merge publishing and international relations. this is an emerging field I am told. especially in asia. the HR woman also told me they are learning new things about different ethical standards in publishing. Of course she was talking about China because they have no beef whatsoever with copyright violation--the world is aone large chinese community, right? everything belongs to everyone, right? why shouldn't i be able to publish your thoughts as my own, since they are part of the proletariat subconscious anyway. heh. they also, of course, have different ethical standards when it comes to vivisection, torture, censorship, and so much more!

i'm drinking a mocha out of the civil rights museum mug I bought in Memphis. My mug is morally superior to almost all other mugs in existence. Certainly to all the ones being sold in starbucks. Moral superiority definitely being undermined, however, by drinkiing at said corporate establishment, and also by the fact that I was about to buy a sandwich for this emaciated homeless woman outside but when i saw that a half a tuna sandwich was 5.50 i was like "hell no." hopefully i will find something less costly or at least a whole sandwich for 5.50 to try and help her out. poor thing is mumbling to herself. what do you think? is she a product of funding cuts for state mental institutions? My guess is either yes, or meth addiction.

Monday, August 21, 2006

monday again

after watching Return of the Sith the other night I am now in the throes of a star wars marathon, am about to watch The Empire Strikes Back. this is what i have been wanting to do ever since i saw episode three. it's very cool to get the references from the original trilogy about things that happened in episodes 1,2, and 3. and frankly, mark hamill isn't that much better an actor than hayden christensen or that kid who played young anakin, though in my memory hamill gets better as the trilogy progresses. still, i hope someone in the future who cares too much about this series, will go back and redo 1,2, and 3. much like batman begins is a huge improvement over the original batman series, someone must redeem this. charity had it right when she lamented that this was the best they could do with the creation of one of the greatest embodiments of evil in modern day lore. seriously, the chemistry and dialogue between hayden c and natalie portman is teen B movie cheesy. i cry for them, and i'm sure they are crying for themselves... in a big pile of money. in episode 3 natalie portman suddenly forgot she was a senator and became a teen mother in love? heinous.

my mother and i are starting weight watchers today. yesterday i told this information to one of my father's friends and he said "well, if you need any encouragement just give me a call." and i said "oh, are you on it too?" and he said "no." asshole. yeah, give me a call and i'll encourage you too, when you decide to get some Effing personality counseling. i'm sure he meant well somewhere deep in his moron man heart.

anyway, speaking fo this health plan, i have incorporated my recent purchase of Lush products into my motivation. i've decided that for every 10 hourlong workouts on my elliptical trainer, i may use one of my new Lush products. it's a nice way of assuaging my guilt over spending money on fun beauty products when i have no income.

by the way, coke rewards is definitely better than dr pepper rewards, despite my affinity for the latter.

today i realized that while my mother has no discernible accent, the way she says "oil" is directly related to the way my grandmother, raised in mississippi, says "point" which is like "poh-int" therefore my mother says "oh-ill" instead of oil.

i just watched my beth moore for the week. today's was particularly powerful. i just love that woman's theology. i'm loving the online Believing God series. at my own pace has meant i've been in teh series for like 18 months. but oh well, it's great that it is there when i get a fire under my butt.

oh speaking of my ass, my job search just got a nice kink thrown into it. well, no more ramblings from me, i'm off to apply apply apply.

Friday, August 18, 2006

domestic bliss?

All this hanging around at home is going to turn me into Martha Stewart. Or Martha's inept, sarcastic sister at least. Today, after hearing serious distress in my mom's voice "the house is at it's limit of messiness" after corinne's birthday and knowing it had more to do with the hell our father inflicts upon us when the house is messy-- involving him being moody and unresponsive and holing away in his room being totally unsociable and then saying something like "why don't we just [expletive] burn it if it's going to be trashed anyway" after 4 hours of silence--i decided to earn my keep and i spent the whole entire day cleaning inside and out. then i helped corinne make dinner. then i went shopping. and after such a day i thought "a totally typical and horrific suburban life could be mine if i just mind my p's and q's." actually that kind of domesticity is fun every once in a while. and its so nice to eat with the whole family. my father gave us all kisses on the cheek after dinner due to his happiness from having a hot meal and a clean house awaiting him. it was kind of like the incredibles family. awwwww. i suppose we won't flog him for being typical and painfully 50s patriarchal and caring more about the cleanliness of the house than the closeness of our relationships and our character and spiritual/moral health. bizarrely, in the end, we still really care what he thinks of us.

ahem, anyway, yesterday i stole a page out of rachel's book and i baked for the first time in years, i think. since corinne wanted a yogurt mill pie, which is murderous on the lactose intolerant among us--all you non san diegans out there: cry for yourselves and your lack of yogurt mill, and cry hard because, for the lactose tolerant it is as close as you get to heaven!--i decided to make a cake. i was about to go to the store and make my grandmother's famous german's chocolate cake recipe which is both hard and the best Effing cake in history, when i decided at the last minute to call corinne who informed me she hates nuts and coconut, i.e., she hates german's chocolate cake, so i decided to be boring and make the white cake from the mix we had in our cupboard. Thanks to Lauren it had the words "partially hydrogented soybean oil" heavily underlined in marker so that i would realize i was giving my family poisonous processed hazardous material that their bodies would never be able to digest. awesome. throwing mortality to the wind, i proceeded. anyway, i soon realized that a big white cake would be boring. so i put a truckload of cinnamon in one half and left the other side plain with a big 20 written in green dye. the 20 ended up looking like the word "no" from a certain angle, causing no end of confusion--possibly symbolic? hmmm. although i have no idea why i would want to prevent corinne from growing older and wiser, so it doesnt really work. everyone was skeptical about my cinnamon cake, but it actually tasted awesome--like a big, fluffy snickerdoodle. all of my domestic experiments have gone well. and in tragic news i spent one hour of today watching TLC makeover shows, one called "what not to wear" and another called "ten years younger." i was totally sapped in. the latter involved helping a 35 year old former meth addict clean up for her wedding. she had already lost 70 pounds in a year and is a postal carrier. she was so sweet, she was killing me talking about the depth of her relationships with her friends after recovery and how blessed she is and how she doesnt need substances anymore. she had a depth that was not matched by the shoddy host or vapid stylists helping her out. and her fiance was so supportive and loving, i damn near cried. the host had no words of encoruagement or afirmation for the miracle of her being clean for 8 years and having lost 70 pounds. he was like "okay, well, now let's hear how old people thought you were before the makeover." i felt like HE needed makeover...in his heart. harumph.

so i have a dilemma in that someone from my master's program is organizing some kind of beer social at a bar here. now, i am planning on changing my degree, but also, im wondering...do i really want to be that involved with my master's classmates? i already have friends. do i want more? hmmm. i shall ponder this. i mean, friends are great, but only if you have time to get to know them. is this some kind of higher networking thing, or will i be wasting hours of my life learning about the various ways San Diego frat boys plan on exploiting Asia in their future business plans.

off to sleep. i have the sniffles. boo.

btw, did i forget to mention that i went kayaking in the potomac? because, i freaking went kayaking in the potomac! past the kennedy center and lincoln memorial and watergate complex. beth said i looked like a rock star when i paddled because of my intensity. too bad intensity does not equal effectiveness. still, my arms were all bronzed and i felt like an amazon woman afterward. high recommends.

pps: how awesome is northwest airlines? telling their fired employees to go dumpster diving and not to grocery shop when they are hungry to save money. they get my FT prize for 2006. FT stands for Effing Thoughtless. holy crap. it's just so..french or missionary. can you imagine getting that? you have been fired, now go be a trash digger. salut! bwahahahaha. it's killing me, the irony. i hope their ceo dumpster dives. oh yes, i bet he sure does. wtg NWA, you FT bastards!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

red alert day! and much more

Hello! I'm finally back in San Diego after my monthlong whirlwind tour around the country to see everything and everyone I could fit into a reasonable amount oftime before looking for gainful employment.

I'm sure the question on everyone's mind is: what did i have to do with breaking up the terror plot that would have brought down numerous transatlantic flights? Well, I told Beth that I had just been in Indianapolis, but the truth is that the night before in Effingham, I got out of my Effing bed at the Rodeway Inn and put the Effing kibosh on that Effing terror plot by using my deft Effing knowledge of chemistry and the far reaching power of my Effing laptop which was rocking some serious Effing power that it was leeching from the Effing Embassy Suites next door. I Effing love Effingham! It's also humorous that the reason we ended up in Effingham was that we were searching for a Bath and Body Works for Andrea but got there after the mall closed.

Anyway, in all seriousness, after I went to sleep assured of world security, I then forgot to remove one of my lipglosses and my mascara from my handbag and they were summarily taken, probably to be used by female members, or male--let's be 21st century about it--of airport security. And I must admit, I was pretty impressed that instead of the yawning stupor most security officers are in when I go through X-Ray screening, everyone on Red Alert day was very alert and intense. They were probably hoping for a chance to take someone down. I mean, I would be.

All of my flights were delayed, but not by security (the Indy airport is pretty small and efficient in my one time experience) and instead by weather. In fact, even when I left DC and was on my way to San Diego, we had a stopover in Kansas City and were delayed by a massive freak lightning storm that kept striking all around us. They informed us that they "did not want to fuel up while the lightning was striking around us" and I made my seatmate laugh when I said "I'm feeling that." Although he probably did not know that I was quoting the mathlete from Mean Girls when I said it. We had an adorable Saudi tourist on one of our flights who had bought an American football for his daughter and was all wide eyed about America. Beth and I agreed that in reality he was probably scared shitless that he was flying on the day that, yet again, Muslim extremists had tried to blow up Westerners. Luckily no one seemed to take notice and he was sitting next to a very patriotic woman who thought it was cute as Christmas that he loved America so much.

Whenever Beth decides to chuck her job fighting the idiocy of the Man from inside the system, she has a bright career ahead of her as the best tour guide in history. This base don experiences in DC and Morocco. She not only introduced me to as many DC neighborhoods as possible, she gave me little tours of the places that make them have the reputations they do, but also gave me rundowns on their social demographics and issues, how one neighborhood could be incredibly expensive--full of rich diplomats and one street over was unsafe because of gang violence. DC definitely seems like one of the most segregated cities in the US. We walked through Adams Morgan which had a little Latino section where for half a mile everything was in Spanish and then one block later was a sort of funky neighborhood with cool bars and quirky modern shops. Had awesome honeydew sorbet in said neighborhood. Found a delicious orange muscat wine at Best Cellars in DuPont Circle, splurged at Lush in Georgetown, laughed at the outrageous prices being charged at Ching Ching Cha, a Chinese tea shop populated with teas and pottery that sell for 1/15 the price in Taiwan. Watched Clerks for the first time--the darth vader discussion and the line I don't appreciate your ruse" were worth the whole movie. Played the internationally certfied most fun game in the world: Dutch Blitz. Ate many cheeses, one of which was smoked Armenian string cheese, which I highly recommend! Another highlight was the coffee shop/restaurant/bookstore/social gathering place called Busboys and Poets--after Langston Hughes, natch. I hope to find such a place in San Diego.

We milled around the Smithsonian, ostensibly to soak up some culture, but in reality just to buy time before we could buy rapaciously high-priced hot dogs and beer and roam the Mall. Went to the National Gallery for the first time--a fabulous experience. Had quiet moments of love in the impressionist section--pointed out to Beth which art works were featured in the art auction boardgame Masterpiece, which was certainly developed by someone mockable from high society in connecticut, but which i recommend nevertheless-- did the obligatory viewing of the DaVinci they have on display, which they said was the only one in the western hemisphere, but I just got back from the Hermitage which also has DaVinci...is that Eastern Hemisphere? anyway, it's like Da Vinci Da Vinci Da Vinci. Yawn. Two of my seatmates on various flights were reading the Da Vinci code. soon i'll be eating Da Vinci sponsored cornflakes in a da vinci engineered bowl with a coded spoon.

Anyway, my absolute favorite, to my surprise, was the Alexander Calder mobile room in the modern section of the museum. It was amazing! If you have the opportunity to see Calder mobiles, you must go! fun for all ages, really. 70 foot long mobiles projecting shapes of trees and leaves and human figures and animals.

of course also in the modern section were some super ass works of art like the ones where some painter puts a dot on a canvas and sells it as an homage to the question "what is art?" And this is what they have displayed instead of their Klimt and Hopper paintings? travesty. They should just hand out an essay "there was once a time when artists contemplated what art was and they made paintings like children and people were besotted enough to pay for them, but we decided to burn them when we came to our collective senses. now please enjoy gustav klimt's The Baby."
Anyway, modern art is fun, if not for beauty and enjoyment, then at least for mocking.

The Lincoln memorial is as powerful as ever. The speech carved on the wall about the moral/spiritual abomination of slavery made me want to climb up his bronze ass and make out with his memory. Unfortunately he was probably far too devout to have any of that. A proud moment in Christianity is Abraham Loncoln.*sigh* ah yes, and it was at this very memorial that we saw a gaggle of people all wearing military fatigue skirts and black shirts, it seriously looked like the Michigan militia had come to roost. With the long green skirts and long braided hair of the women folk, we surmised that they were either a Mormon or Christian group, and indeed I was brazen enough to ask them what was up with the matching uniforms. The poor girl I asked clearly didn't trust me because she just said "we're all friends, and we like to dress like each other." but I wheedled out of her that they were actually an apostolic pentecostal youth group. i allayed her fears by telling her that I too was a Christian and had gone on such outings with my youth group. I neglected to tell her that they really needed to do away with the scary military fatigue getup. They're from missouri, no one in missouri will care--in fact i find it scary that they were able to procure 15+ military skirts. Then I found my grandpa's brother, and Lauren's namesake, in the WWII memorial annals. That was cool.

The definite subplot of my whole trip has to be Civil Rights. In Memphis we went to the Civil Rights museum which was eerie and heavy, but also hopeful in the end. It looks like a motel at first because it indeed IS in the same Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. And you can go across the street and stand in the same place that James Earl Ray did when he assassinated Dr. King. When you go through the museum, the setup takes you through a summary history at first, but then a month-by-month detailed demonstration of the Civil Rights movement, which is a necessary experience to show you just how hard it was to keep fighting, and how hard and embittering it would be to have others consider you inferior when you know you aren't, when they treat you like you are subhuman. I cannot imagine the strength it would have taken to keep up nonviolent protest after the shameful things white people did to them. It made me cry. Especially when we got to the part where they killed Martin Luther King. I guess I'm so naive because I was raised in totally diverse neighborhoods in San Diego and the only thing that mattered was whether people were nice or not. Color didn't even register in my conscience until junior high history told me that it should. Okay, so then it made me cry a little bit because we listened to Martin Luther King's "I have a dream speech" and even though we have so far to go, in some ways his dream has become reality, and when you see what it was like before, it's sobering.

Anyway, in totally unrelated news, Orbitz booked me on Midwest Airlines which I thought was like "we aren't responsible for your death in the Midwest Airlines" but no! Actually Midwest Airlines is this posh carrier that has only business class seats and serves freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on each leg of the flight. Hot dog! If they had personal entertainment systems they would surpass even my beloved Singapore Airlines.

Well, my bran cereal breakfast is kicking in, and it's about time to do our ritual Subway lunch with my father, who refuses to eat anything else for lunch. It's Corinne's birthday--happy birthday baby! and it's Elvis' deathday. i bet graceland is a zoo!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

We went to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennesee

Oh Paul Simon has been with us in spirit here as we visit Elvis' spirit's true resting spot. We have helped fulfill Andrea's life long dream of going to Graceland to see the home of her beloved Elvis. And we have had a mighty good time of it along the way.

Graceland is not nearly as ostentatious as I thought it would be, and in fact was less spectacular than many homes I have gone to in California and Boston for church gatherings and whatnot. Yet it is homey. I must lament the fact that Elvis died in the 1970s and therefore his entire home has been frozen in a shag carpet time warp. Probably better than the 80s houses with all those tacky David Hockney pics all over the place decorated in the colors of Don Johnson's shirts of the 80s, which happen to still be the colors of present day Miami. I was glad to note that in his David-Bowie-meets-Buck-Rogers basement he used the colors of the San Diego Chargers: blue, yellow and white. an extra special touch was the gold lightning bolt emblazoned on the wall, which symbolizes both Elvis and the San Diego Chargers, apparently-- who we san diegans happen to affectionately refer to the Chargers as "the bolts"-- whereas the acronym atop the bolt,TCB, which stands for the groanworthy phrase "Taking Care of Business" stands only for Elvis. I'm sure people in East County heartily approve of such an inane slogan, as is evidenced by their classic rockin love for the Bachman Turner Overdrive song of the same name. ANything that implies power and efficiency and manliness is beloved by the males of East County. unfortunately the only businesses i see being truly taken care of in East county have to do with beer and porn, which is not really "taking care of business" if you ask the julie. harumph. if they would take care of the kids they have scattered among their womenfolk and buy them some clothing that fits and give them foods that at some point was natural even if it has now been pounded beyond oblivion, and show up for their parent-teacher conferences, then they could dub themselves TCB all they like.

Ahem, I digress. Graceland is far homier than I thought it would be despite the unfortunate presence of wall to wall shag carpeting, mirrored ceilings, and stunningly unmatching decor. They seal off the top "out of respect" they say, but probably because it would be mayhem around where he died of his overdose/attack. Jessie read a book that said he had advanced bone cancer when he died and may have been medicating himself against pain. Anyway, his early death has clearly been a boon. He has sold over 400 million records in his life, unbelievable!!- and i have to admit, I really like a lot of his stuff. I seem to particularly enjoy the bluesy rock stuff. i do not enjoy ballads. We looked through his cars--big shout out to the pink and purple cadillacs--and his planes--gold plates seatbelts and sinks. and then we slunk out of the memphis heat and humidity to enjoy Elvis' favorite food: grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Totally delicious, as you might expect. Most Southern food is rich and heavy and super delicious and i'm pretty sure my cholesterol level has gone through the roof in the past few days. we went to one exhibit that talked about how people thought he was pornographic because of his awesome dance moves. totally scandalous! they would only show him waist up on a few shows. anyway, he seemed pretty cool--maybe a bit too slick, like Bill Clinton--and no one could doubt how much he loved music. i wish i had some passion or talent like that.

anyway, our next stop was sun studios, which was actually the highlight of some of our days, mainly because of our kickass tour guide. she had on the cutest docs, and she was extremely exuberant and adorfably sardonic about telling us the history of the studio that had recorded some of the hugest, most amazing acts ever ala elvis, bb king, jerry lee lewis, johnny cash, carl perkins, howlin wolf, and many many more. Memphis is definitely a music lover's paradise. it's like a ritual stopover for any awesome band that appreciates music and they leave their traces all over with jam sessions and signed instruments and the generally cool attitude Memphis seems to have.

and then we went to Beale Street. which was awesome. much shorter than i would have thought, but not mattering. we went to a restaurant called Rum Boogie or Stax merely because we could not resist the smell wafting out of there. incredible southern food and incredible music. and signed guitars from the likes of dave matthews, the temptations, hootie and the blowfish. we were sitting right under pearl jam and sid vicious, so that made me quite happy. people. the gumbo there was delicious squared. the red beans and rice: phenomenal. fried catfish and pickles were two other musts.

we drank beer and listened to the awesome band in from L.A. and all agreed we had just had an incredible day. and i realized that while I do not like jazz, i love the blues. oh my.

for some reason this reminds me of the lesson i promised to pass on from indianapolis. you can't stereotype avid hunters who decorate their houses in american flags and animal skins. not all people who have stuffed heads mounted on their walls are backcountry ignoramuses. some of them are kind, so kind in fact that even though you know you could get some PETA members in there to burn it down in horror, you would never do that just because those patriotic animal skinners are so darn wonderfully kind and generous.

Monday, August 07, 2006


We’re going to Graceland! Amy’s wedding wrapped up yesterday in Indianapolis, a very relaxed and lovely affair. The reunion of our Taiwan friends has been as fun as I thought it would be. Lamont, Melissa, Jessie, Andrea and I are all now on the road. We just passed from Indiana into Southern Illinois where we stopped in Effingham to eat at the Cracker Barrel. It was fate that we stopped in Effingham, of course, because it gave us a chance to make fun of the name Effingham. My favorite was when Lamont mistakenly said Effington and I said “no, Lamont, it’s Effing HAM, like Effing Bacon or Effing Sausage, but Effing Ham.” Effingham, if you didn’t know it before, is the crossroads of opportunity, so says the enormous water tower in town. Clearly, it is fact that if you go through Effingham, you will make jokes about the F word. Much like when you go to Vietnam, you must make jokes about the currency: dong. And you will make fun of their famous noodle soup, pho, which I have said before is pronounced like “fun” without the “n.” So you are forced to say things like “I could really use a pho right now, but I don’t have any dong.” Or “what the pho?!” or “this is the best pho I’ve ever had,” or “it’s hot as pho out here.” In the case of Effingham, I’m sure there are infinitely more plausible variations. With pho there is a little bit more manipulation required, whereas effing is a capable substitute for um, you know.

Melissa and Andrea decided to try on these very bizarre American flag shirt/jackets that they were selling in the Cracker Barrel gift shop, and the lady came over to tell us they were on sale and it was our lucky day, so then the girls had to act like they weren’t just effing around with patriotic gear and say that it was actually a good deal at 25 dollars and as if anyone under the age of 65 would wear said apparel. Cracker Barrel is the cat’s meow. I got a ham sandwich and grits for lunch today. Their ham sandwich is awesome mainly because of the super thick ham they put on it and the sourdough bread, which is something I couldn’t have in Taiwan, and feels very special now.

Okay, so I now have to sign up for mycokerewards.com just like Beth, because some places just don’t have diet dr. pepper and I am forced to buy diet coke. I am ashamed of buying in to this brand ploy of getting my information, and am also ashamed of my frightfully deep wish to win something free. Don’t you think it’s funny how some people are proud of the brands they buy, as if they somehow were responsible for creating or producing it, people get testy over which soda brands they favor, jeans, cars, etc. I think that’s hilarious. You become such an automaton. Of course, it’s not just about the brand, it’s that the brand identifies itself with a part of your personality that makes it seem like it appeals to you in a unique way. They found just the unique flavor that appeals to your amazingness. Excellent.

Andrea keeps losing teeth. I think she will remember this phase in her life as that period in her life when she had so much trouble with her teeth. She has also asked me to convey to all of you her abhorrence of, and probably to get your support in condemning, eating contests. We saw that Kobayashi won yet another eating contest, this time he ate 58 bratwursts in 10 minutes. That man is aamazing, just a machine. Oh, whoops, I’m supposed to condemn this. The waste, the gluttony, the genral distatstefulness of having aqn eating contest when people are starving in the world. Foul. Disgusting. And they often barf it all up. It’s not right. It’s reminiscent of the Roman times when gluttonmy was so rampant that they had vomitoriums so you could go vomit your food out and return to the table for more and more throughout the night. It needs to stop. Andrea’s face when she sees news of eating contests is much like someone watching kids kill a puppy or something in which she is both sickened and disheartened. If you saw her face you would never promote an eating contest again. I guess it goes against the enjoyment of food, just the animalistic shoving in and ripping up of it. we should donate those bratwursts to kids who really need them. You know, one thing that added to her disgust was probably the fact that she is German. Such a waste of brats, it’s just sad, people. sad.

Melissa and I deicded to walk to Starbucks yesterday. And if you ever wanted to visit a place totally incondusive to walking, Indianapolis would be it. There were no sidewalks anywhere, we had to forge a path on the pavement. Mel was mildly disappointed that no one yelled at us saying “you idiots!!” but we did have two guys catcall us, which is sort of objectifying, but still complimentary, no derision of our intelligence for not driving the ¼ mile to the Starbucks.

The end of the day ended up a little bit heinous. we spent 3 hours searching for the mystical hotel 8 we booked ourselves into. we were laughing, laughing out of fear and car-claustrophobia. Memphis looks promising though--clean and very well patrolled and beale street is a bright light of fun. the super 8 is scary as heck, but we are sharing it with a bunch of WWE fans and some environmental conservationists at a worldwide conference. the guy at the front desk said it was a unique group of people. indeed.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

the squirt can spittoon and other adventures

argh, this blog would definitely be better with pictures. i saw emily's and had blog envy. lisa is probably telling me it is my own fault for not using her awesome computer camera that i use often to send one off stuff to friends and fam, but not for posting. when i get back home where the camera resides i will make sure to rectufy this. that is if i ever manage to not be blogging in the middle of the night in a serious race against the clock. you'd think i was posting important state secrets with the fast and covert nature of my blogging. alas, you are about to hear other secrets...

this morning the Family Hartle left Owen the Brave with his great grandparents and went on a whirlwind tour of Corinne's planning which was basically a morning of reliving great memories from the Hartle past and re-creating them. slightly bizarre. anyway, something happened, i slept poorly and when they finally got me up it was definitely in the wrong part of my sleep cycle because i was as happy as ted kaczynski in a federal building until i perked up at avalanche gorge. anyway, it was about 40 degrees outside and our first stop was at lake mcdonald for corinne to skip rocks, which she is shockingly good at. lauren is not good at it, but announced that she got 3rd place in her softball throw in 7th grade which prompted snarky comments that there were probably only 3 people in the competition. speaking of which, i do distinctly remember us all getting first and second place ribbons when we were in swimming competitions against only one other student. sweet celebrations of mediocrity! one of my friends of late said that she knows a man who is dealing with the fact that he has been too praised in his life and is dealing with the crushing reality that he is not wonderful and perfect like his mom said he was. hysterical. this sounds like a particularly american problem to have. anyway, i digress.

next stop was the gorgeous avalanche gorge, I know the pun is killing you, as it does us. we took about 1000 pictures next to the gorge and lauren put down my grandparents travel coffee mug on the railing and corinne accidentally flailed and knocked it into avalanche creek. might not seem like a big deal unless you know that what a needle is to a heroine user is what the travel coffee mug is to my grandparents. Yeah, serious business. anyway, they took it tolerably well.

our last stop was the Glacier Maze, which is a lifesize maze whose pattern changes weekly and was fun when i was 10 and is still fun now when i am 27. anyway, we left the parents at home to pack and we three sisters went to conquer the maze. we were feeling pretty cocky after 15 minutes and two of the four corners already conquered. 20 minutes later with still only 2 corners conquered we were in a fit of cursing and depression. we took a 10 minute break to lament and then gathered our strength and ended in an hour, and when your time get slower as you get older but it has nothing to do with fitness, you should either praise the virtues of curious youth or curse your already weakening mind. anyway, at the end we bought a Squirt to share from the vending machine--p.s. weigh in: fresca vs squirt?, lauren chooses fresca, i think i choose squirt with its 1% juice. and this is where the story gets really good. i finished off the can of Squirt and then decided i should start day three of my Crest whitestrip brilliant smile regimen. so i put on the strips and sometimes, see, my mouth gets foamy. so i decided to use the squirt can as a spittoon whenever i felt i couldn't swallow during the 30 minutes i had to wear the strip. do you see this coming from 100 miles away? corinne comes in from her smoke break, sees the refreshing can of Squirt and feels there is something in it...and drinks my spit! yes! sooo disgusting. she immediately spits it into my perplexed grandfather's coffee cup (remember a mere few sentences ago I illustrated how important daily coffee is for the grandparents?) and i gingerly hear her ask the question, "Julie...did you spit in the Squirt can?" and after two seconds I realized I hadnt announced that the Squirt can had been transformed into my foamy whitening spit's new home, and then i started laughing hysterically and basically haven't stopped.

in other news, over the last two days I have gotten very serious about huckleberry picking. it's kind of like sudoku or any other worthwhile puzzle. i have learned the berry's terrain, and it hides, see, and so finding it is very gratifying, not to mention delicious. this whole venture has brought out the adolescent in me, fording little streams and tromping over fallen trees in rough forests all to find the desired purple berry. I love throwing caution to the wind and getting caught in webs and flicking off childsized bugs and picking off 100 burrs from my pants.

i had an interview for a position as a production assistant at a megachurch in san diego which means helping with the logistics of their services and their emerging tv and radio ministries. the more i know about it the more excited i am--a full time media ministry non desk job? be still my beating heart. wait, i think i've heard myself say this before...hmm. anyway, i really want this job despite my last job. but they want to fill it and they want to fill it yesterday, so I am in the super unfortunate position of being interviewed over the phone. And even though I think it went really well and even though I think I may actually be overqualified for the position, being at least half admin work, as it were, I still have a nagging feeling it isnt going to work out. I have no idea why--besides, of course, the glaring fact that i won't be in town for the exact ten days during which they have a fire under their rears to get someone hired. I mean, technically I should be really confident. anyway, i have faith that it will all work out. any day i'm not running away from a bloodthirsty warlord has got to be a decent day, right?

in the evening after mom and dad and lauren had said farewells and i had had my good phone interview, we took a risk, took a chance and took owen out to dinner. he was so good. we sedated him with huckleberry iced tea. and then rewarded him with french fries, yum! then we took him to lake mcdonald to watch momma corinne skip rocks on the lake while he threw rocks in the lake. go! big strong baby! yeah, so then we tried to leave and he threw a raging fit replete with tears and this nazgul shriek he has perfected. it makes me want to have one of those dog collar shockers that zaps dogs when they bark, but one for babies. couldn't he just mime something like "but I am so very disappointed that we must leave because I am having so much fun, I love rocks, I love water; this is really my spiritual home" and then we could explain that he should be grateful he isnt running away from sudanese warlords and we will return to the lake tomorrow for him to throw more rocks, or we could always just fill up the tub at home with rocks and let him throw to his little heart's content? do i expect too much from an 18 month old?

i leave tomorrow for indianapolis and amy's wedding. today i plucked off my eyebrows and whitened my teeth. yesterday i used my mother's liquid laser lotion which disintigrated the hair off my legs and didnt work well the first time, so i used it again and acid burned myself in a few places. sort of defeats the beautification and ease aspect of liquid weirdness to shave instead of good old razor in the shower. if you are surprised at the amount of upkeep i am doing recently well, i mean, i am living in the US again, so I may now have the possibility of running into someone i woudl want to look good for. the unfortunate freckling of my face due to sun exposure from CA heatwave and hiking can't be helped. some people think they are cute. i'm just going to have to go with that.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

the douchies

guess what i don't have to do this week? if you answered: get up in chapel and wear stupid clothes and sing some assing songs to my former boss, then you answered correctly. woohoo! i love uncheesy america! i have not once been forced to perform publicly, or even to express emotions i don't feel. in fact i have even been chided for being too excited about inconsequential things. praise the Lord.

when we were on our hike the other day--which by the way, was totally gorgeous and yet traumatic b/c my mom was not in shape at all and we were seriously concerned she wouldnt get out. but she did and my dad rescued us at the end of the trail in his red tacoma and it was all good--we saw these kids who were singing and being generally showy on the trail, and lauren was like "douchebags behind us" b/c one of them kept yelling something to the others in a fake french accent at which they all laughed. anyway, so we called them "the douchies" for the rest of the trip, thrilling my mother :) . um, the point is that we knew immediately that these people were either drama or band people/christians or mormons/or christian or mormon drama/band people. normal people do not sing loudly in unison and pretend to flap their wings on the trail when in full view of others. normal people show a mild amount of surprise when other people discover them singing on a trail, like the people perched above us on a rock who caught me and lauren singing "99 hundredths of a mile on the wall" ,a variation of the beer classic, and said "thats depressing. " we laughed embarrassedly and moved on. my father, for one, seemed to love the unconquerable spirit of the douchies, though he would assuredly never have been one of them in his school days..he was the type who seduced the girls and beat up people who made fun of the gay kid, but you know, that brute sort of man thing. he didnt walk trails loudly singing show tunes.

so, uh apparently owen was a little hellion on their second half of the flight causing corinne to burst into tears repeatedly on their flight. whoops. i feel sorry for mom's who have to deal with all the crap and then the extended relatives get the kids and are like "he's such a little angel." bwahahaha.

we had the most amazing mexican fusion food here in whitefish tonight at a place called pescado blanco--i know, groan, white fish in spanish. we never thought it could happen, good mexican food in montana, but it did, high scale and super yummy. i had enchiladas that had mushrooms and onions and cheese and butternut squash with roasted garlic sauce. it was incredible. their halibut fish tacos had a guacamole/orange salsa underneath that was also very stellar. then we went and saw a production of Camelot at the local theater. it was very good for being a musical theater type thing. since i generally feel indifferent about theater and particularly hate musicals, it was good that they had some very stellar actors and a good deal of humor to keep it from making me want to barf all over them. john lithgow has a house up here and did some sold out thing at their theater last night. i've ridden on a plane with him and his family from kalispell. he seems very cool. and i just watched footloose and he is terribly good in it.

i cant believe i forgot that darcy's name is fitzwilliam and it is only in bridget jones that he is mark darcy. same general feeling abounds about both, though so i suppose it's ok.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

owen is coming

Yesterday my grandparents and my father were all out of town so Lauren, Mom and I had a quintessential girl day. We got haircuts, went to costco, visited a particularly uncaring, alcoholic relative who knows right around nothing about us besides our birthdays and rewarded ourselves with ice cream for doing the right thing and stopping rather than speeding away from town, shopped at costco and bought a table picnic for ourselves, and then watched all five hours of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, which was greatly adored by all. Yes, Mark Darcy is the knight in shining armor for women of all ages and it is no mistake. Raise your hand if you are in love with Mark Darcy. yes, i see you back there, the lady with no teeth and the ten year old in the front, i see you too.

so i got a new haircut. it looks vaguely like my other haircuts, but edgier, since I am finally in america where i trust hairdressers to try and make a style of my own design and trust that they will not interpret that their own way by making it into a mullet or shaving it into some flyaway ostrich hair atrocity that looks intentionally like you have a head full of split ends when you walk out the door.

yesterday morning, before we started our adventures I put in two new job applications and submitted an essay for the iris chang memorial scholarship. i have a lot more thoughts about the rape of nanjing than i knew before i wrote the essay. anyway, having to relive the gruesome atrocities of the japanese against the chinese was an interesting lesson. that kind of incident, which frankly you should not be able to say the name of without a measure of wincing or pain, much like the Nazi holocaust, makes me understand why forgiveness is so hard and how we can have these national tensions that go back hundreds of years and which, by the constant cycle of vengeance have more and more hurts contantly heaped upon their backs. if you ever have a friend who likes horror, have them read the book Rape of Nanking by iris chang. it's not only historical, it chronicles the extent of the evil and cruelty humans can inflict upon each other. a major downer though. teh author ended up killing herslef later on. i don't really know why, i think the paper said she had suffered from depression and i said, indeed, if i had no faith or hope in redemption and had delved into researching basically the worst evil humans can do to each other, i would probably kill myself too. i mean, how do you repeair those kinds of atrocities. what is a sufficient apology? what is the correct payment for a life digraced?
yeah, there are two spellings for nanjing. she uses nanking. i use nanjing because of my unswerving devotion to pinyin.

i have been reading Eugene Peterson's updated translation of the Bible entitled The Message and I like it quite a lot. It reads like a novel in most places. Of course his idea of vernacular and my idea of vernacular are not exactly the same, but it's infinitely better than most translations, like the KJV which can be lovely and poetic, but as far as deep inspiration, most people can't get their heads past the language, so the point is moot. And then of course there are the versions that use patriarchal phrasing and force me incessantly to remind myself that when it says him it means "them" and brothers it means "brothers and sisters" so I can apply teachings to myself. this is remedied in the NRSV which i generally use. yesterday at the montana costco they had a bunch of new stylish Bibles. hysterical. very small and with adorable carrying cases. I didn't buy one b/c I have enough Bibles lying around, really. still, way to move with the times, marketing people of the NIV. if it had been the TNIV I would have bought it, though.

the right wing slant of the book selection at costco was a bit disturbing. there was some ann coulter book, and an anti hillary clinton book endorsed by rush limbaugh. it scares me that people read that kind of crap on both sides of the political spectrum, frankly. it dehumanizes people and makes them into symbols for ideas, when they are only flesh and blood. suddenly a person becomes evil and you find the sweetest people in the world, who sacrifice for their families and take care of the elderly, turning into barking, ignorant lunatics when it comes to politics. terribly unfortunate.

corinne and owen arrive today for a week stay. i am very excited to see owen take in the natural wonder of monatana. he has never seen forests and mountains and lawns this big in his little life! i wonder if we can take him up to see a snow field. it's his first ride on a plane and from the report of the first half of the flight, he did very well, no crying. i think corinne's natural optimism has probably already affected him. she can make almost anything fun, and her lack of worry probably sets him at ease.

the other day my whole family mowed the lawn together. it was hysterical. i was trying to do it to help my father who wanted to do it to help my grandparents but got bogged down by work and a presentation he had to make to a bunch of CPAs. snooze. when he taught me, then my mom came out to help and so did lauren. i won't lie and say it was perfect, it's a lot like vacuuming and we had a lot of little mohawk parts of the lawn we had to go over, so the pattern was a little suspect. It was however, great fun and hilarious to pass each line over to another person.
corinne is here. owen is here! must go.