Friday, August 29

Interesting sermon by the Rev. Dr. Stephen J. Sidorak, Jr., delivered on August 17, 2003, at the National Cathedral. Take the time to check it out . . .

Could I have had any worse sleep last night? I figured a long day, only one cup of coffee early in the morning, a 2-mile run, a light dinner, and a mellow Thursday night with friends would have chilled me out enough so that I could drift into a comfortable sleep. But I should've known better.

I haven't had a comfortable sleep in about a month. I don't know why. There have been no undue stresses in my life, no illness (aside from The Boob), no sudden increase in caffeine intake. There has been plenty of water-drinking, exercise, getting fresh air, running around like an idiot. But I just haven't had good rest.

The only thing I can point to is this strange feeling of "something icky is going to happen" that I've had for most of the year. It wakes me up at night -- eight times last night. It gives me nightmares -- two yesterday. It makes me look over my shoulder constantly. It makes me take my vitamins and drink more water. It makes me . . . tense and emotional. I've been bawling like a baby every four hours. To top it all off, last night I get home from Thursday night meeting, check my email and find out that PK, our beloved former pastor, had a minor stroke -- his second, I hear? -- and is recovering. That means that this week, at one point, three people beloved to me were lying in a hospital bed. Two are still there. UGH. I knew August sucked for a reason.

But tonight I'm having steak with three of my favorite partners in crime, and I'm buying. I like feeding people even if I didn't make the food. Tomorrow, I'm getting a massage and browsing the Union Square Greenmarket and taking advantage of tax-free week in New York City. Tomorrow afternoon, I"m kibbutzing with church ladies at yet another bridal shower -- sexy lingerie that you can't imagine the bride wearing is always funny. Sunday evening, I'm headed to Joisey for a few hours of rock n' roll. Monday, I'm chilling out with my buds and catching my breath for the start of the "new" year. So, I shall try to shake off the weepiness and the down-pull of the mouth and head into a new season with joy, because despite everything, I know I -- and we -- have much to be thankful for . . .

Hold onto your seats, I'm actually on time today with the Friday Five:

1. Are you going to school this year? No, but I wish I was. I'd love to go back for a PhD in something totally random but fun: Asian-American Literature; Spanish; British Literature from the 19th Century . . . or even a -- gasp! -- LLM in Criminal Law. Nerd.

2. If yes, where are you going (high school, college, etc.)? If no, when did you graduate? I graduated law school in 2001. Man, those were the days.

3. What are/were your favorite school subjects? High school: Spanish, English and Russian. College: Korean Foreign Politics, Advanced Korean. Law school: Federal Civil Litigation, Federal Criminal Justice, Advanced Readings in Criminal Procedure. Nerd.

4. What are/were your least favorite school subjects? Math. All math. Always math. And physics. Because it involved math. (Although I'm strangely proficient at calculus and differential equations. Probably because there are fewer numbers and more letters involved.)

5. Have you ever had a favorite teacher? Why was he/she a favorite? High school: my Spanish and Russian teachers b/c they taught with such passion and flair, and did fun things, and hung out with us outside of class. College: SAM. Always Sam. Because he was old, Korean, distinguished, aloof, knowledgeable, and had the funniest Sam-isms. Law school: my Crim-Pro professor because he was liberal to the max and I loved to piss him off by being less liberal (therefore, ultra-conservative in his eyes), and he gave me an A+. Nerd.

Thursday, August 28

Update on the Boob

Two days' worth of Motrinizing seems to be working.

Not as much of frequent sharp stabbing burning pain today, except when I accidentally punched myself (not to worry: I do this often, usually when overdramatizing something -- "oh! dagger to the heart!" -- or imitating Celine Dion).

More of a constant, dull thudding ache, punctuated by the sharp stabbing burning pain when I stretch or lean against something.

Am concerned now more with Doc's warning not to lose any more weight (which I didn't know I was doing) and my constant tiredness. If I develop chronic fatigue syndrome and can't sit up to watch the fall TV season premieres, or if my mom makes me drink a regimen of those NARSTY herbal teas that smell like ass, I'm gonna be really annoyed . . .

I am a major conspiracy theorist. When you put me and Hooch together and anything even slightly out of the ordinary happens -- the local deli doesn't answer the phone after 2 rings -- we immediately think worst-case scenario, and our brains jump into gear as to what we can do about it. Clearly, the person who shot John F. Kennedy has taken the local deli owners hostage and that is why they are unable to bring us our turkey sandwiches, so we must go and rescue them, as well as solve a decades-long mystery!!!

Hearing about major power outages that shut down south London during the evening rush hour today does absolutely nothing to stop those gears from turning at full speed.

This is no coincidence, my friends. Even your more-rational, less-eager-to-jump-to-conclusions, haven't-watched-too-much-TV-or-read-too-many-political-crime-novels brains must concur with mine on this one.

Did al Qaeda operatives not take practice runs before 9/11, flying as airplane passengers and observing airplane protocol? Did they not take flying lessons, however feebly and stupidly and lazily? Did they not linger in Manhattan, rooting out flight patterns, watching the skies, staring at the World Trade Center towers as they plotted their sick little martyrdom?

Is it so outside the realm of possibility that such finesse-less preparation would take place again? Is it really possible that the whole Eastern seaboard and Canada would power down for a day without warning? Is it really possible that all of South London would power down within the same month with no warning? Are they -- whoever they are -- watching us, jotting down our reactions, seeing how prepared we are, observing who responds first and who answers to whom, listing the apparent chain of command, gauging the White House's reactions, gauging our reactions? And who's the chucklehead brushing these events off as if they happen everyday?

You can laugh, but I can't. You can't tell me to come to work in a federal courthouse every morning and not worry about it. You can't tell me that nothing untoward is happening because, well, you don't know. You can't tell me to trust my government because, well, there's only so much it can do to protect us, despite its most honest and best efforts. You can, however, come join me and Hooch for lunch and we can give ourselves the heebie-jeebies about all these theories . . . or are they?!?!

Important note to the CIA: I REALLY don't know what I'm talking about. I have an over-active imagination. I read spy novels. I watch Tom Clancy movies. I look for action and adventure in everything around me because I'm afraid to get involved in it myself -- I don't like getting scraped up and having to slap Band-Aids all over myself. So don't come knocking on my door at 4 in the morning asking me why I'm saying these things. You should be thinking the same things before I can even formulate the sentences anyway. . . . Or perhaps I should just stop writing things that might spur the CIA into action. Sigh. When WILL I learn?
PLEASE, NO . . .

The New York Times has won a court battle to have the Port Authority release transcripts of emergency calls made by people trapped inside the World Trade Center on 9/11. The transcripts will be released by the end of business today.


You know, in the frenzied days and weeks after 9/11, I put together a scrapbook -- almost completely full now -- of the event, driven by numbness and adrenaline and a crazed need to document, document, document. Horrific and morbid, yes, but I wanted to make sure that I would never forget it, or reduce in my mind's eye the enormity of that day. I try to look through it now and again, thinking I'm ready to process, to read, to envision again. I'm not.

When I found out AK was missing . . . well, God, what do you do when you find out a friend, bosom buddy or not, is missing in something unimaginable like that?! We waited breathlessly. We looked for answers. We checked in with each other to see if maybe he had been found, on a sidewalk? In a hospital room? Wandering the streets of New York suffering from amnesia? Walking home across the George Washington Bridge, like everyone else? Collapsed in exhaustion on some street in New Jersey? We went to his memorial service. We reminisced. I thought about the short time that I had known him and the gazillion ways in which he had been a loving brother and friend to me in that time. I regretted not staying in touch, but for a quick hello and catch-up game at Yang's wedding a mere three days earlier. I thought I wouldn't mourn him that much. I did. I do.

When CBS ran that 2-hour special about 9/11, I watched it because I wanted to know. Part of me was afraid that I was forgetting, that I was moving on without properly coming to grips with my feelings, that I was starting to drift too far away from the momentous gravity of that day, and I felt guilty. I thought that watching that special would remind me of those things, would make me more grateful to be alive, would help me to sort out myself. I thought I was ready for it. I wasn't.

When 9/11/02 rolled around, life carried on as usual. There were the expected memorials, services, tolling bells, moments of silence, flags lowered to half-staff. I wore black. Everyone wore black. I wore an American flag. Everyone wore an American flag. I was somber that day. Everyone was somber that day. I thought that after one year, I -- and we -- would have moved on. I didn't. We didn't.

So what will I do when these transcripts are released and the New York Times gets its First Amendment paws on them? Will I be drawn to it like a car-wreck, some morbidity inside me wanting to read it, to hear it again, to see it again, and to relive the moments that are becoming reluctantly fainter and fainter pictures in my memory? Will I shun it completely and regress into denial -- if I don't read it, it won't be true, and all those people making those wretched phone calls will not have perished? Will I cover myself in anger for those families whose barely-dry scabs will become itchy again and will have to be picked off piece by painful piece? I won't. I will.

Wednesday, August 27

Update on the Boob

Still hurts.
Will pop 3 Advil in 45 minutes.

Update on the Boob: Doc says there is no discernible lump in my breast that causes her concern. Not that it didn't HURT LIKE A MO-FO while she was feeling around in there!!! Given that it's probably an infection caused by some trauma (that I don't remember receiving) or some sort of muscle strain, I am to Motrinize myself consistently for the next week. If the pain hasn't gone away, they will ultrasound my breast. Ew -- cold goo.

But anyway, thanks to all of yous who called, emailed, gave me the worried furrowed eyebrows, etc. I experienced considerably less agita as a result.

And my little scare has inspired me to run just that much harder on the morning of the 14th: Komen Run/Walk for the Cure, New York. GET OUT THERE AND DO IT.



I am the last of a dying breed: the single late-20-something woman.

When did this happen? It's like I woke up one morning and almost all my girlfriends were married or well on their way to being married, while I was away doing other stuff. What other stuff was I doing?!

Now, now, it's not that I begrudge my married friends their married status. Most of them are married happily and probably for life -- I do believe that is a special blessing and I would never sit here and grouse about it. In fact, I hope to one day be as happily married as some of my friends are.

Nor is it that I necessarily want to be married myself right now. A boyfriend might be nice, but do I really have the energy and the will to sustain a marriage at this point? Probably not, even though everyone around me thinks I should.

Nor is it that I think marriage is necessarily so great. I see a lot of unhappy married folks out there -- unhappy because of their married lives -- and I can't help but wonder "Why did you get yourself into this situation in the first place?!"

It's just that I'm not sure how I fit into the picture anymore. It's one thing if just the ladies are hanging out -- all the ladies in my different gaggles of girlfriends are feisty, smart, independent women who more often than not will leave their husbands at home for an evening out with the girls. "There's leftovers in the fridge, honey! Don't wait up!"

It's another thing when I'm out socializing and I realize that I'm surrounded by couples! WEIRD. For example, last night, I went for ice cream with the Gs, the Ls and C (half of M&C), and it was the strangest, most out-of-body experience I've had in at least the past several months. For most of the outing, I had absolutely nothing to say.

I read books. I read the newspaper and assorted magazines. I'm up-to-date with most of the current information and trends in health, science, politics, etc. But what married person, what pregnant mom, is going to listen to me offer advice or input on breastfeeding, relationships, communication with a spouse? Opening my mouth puts me at risk for my least favorite line of all time: "You're not married/You've never been pregnant, so you wouldn't understand/you wouldn't know."

To which I have several responses, so you can choose the one you like best:
1. "You're full of BULLSHIT."
2. "Being married/pregnant does NOT make you a better person. It DOES apparently, however, make you more trite."
3. "Being single doesn't mean I'm brainless or heartless."
4. "You be careful -- it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for because they know more and have experienced more than you would assume."

Of course, last night, I also heard this, from the mouth of someone I never thought would say such a thing to me: "Well, you're single, but guys like to collect senseless little toys." I don't even know what means, on a grammatical level, or any other level!!! I'm single, so I wouldn't have known that? I'm single, so I don't know anything about guys? I'm single, so . . . so what? What the f*ck?

Ugh. Anyway. Maybe I should not hang out with my married friends so much. Of course, that would mean I'd be spending a lot of time by myself, but I'm usually okay with that and prefer it to most other company anyway, so it wouldn't be that much of a sacrifice. But do I remove myself and let the triteness and close-mindedness of the married folks around me continue so they can unleash it on others, or do I stay put and force them to accept me for who I am?

I am single woman, hear me roar.




I finally got my new laptop! His name is Bob, and he is small, shiny and clean. The madness has officially begun.

1. I'm wireless in the house now which means that my life on the Internet doesn't end at 5pm when I leave the office and high-speed Internet access behind. Now I can nerd out ALL the TIME! My mom already hates it, which is a pretty good indicator of the success of my wireless hookup.

2. I have been schooled in the ways of iTunes. I am currently going through my CD collection and uploading all my favorite songs (though I'm told I should just upload the entire CD, even if I don't like the songs -- why would I do such a thing?!) into Bob. Bob likes it.

3. I got hooked up to some weird Internet phone thing. So now, if someone else has the same software or whatever it is (clearly, I'm not a techie), I can TALK to them -- as in SPEECH, using mouth, tongue, vocal cords, breaths -- through my computer. That's right -- no phone, no email, no IM chat rooms. Just me, Bob and the other person. So strange and surreal. Of course, right now, the only one who is thusly hooked up is C, so I'm making do until I find some more friends to download the appropriate workings . . .

4. My first night with Bob, I discovered the wild and woolly variety of late-night Internet nerds out there. About eight NHF-ers, all still logged on at 11pm on a Monday night, all jumping into a chat room to talk about . . . I don't even remember. But there was a lot of chatter and confusion -- even my Queen of the Multi-Taskers brain couldn't keep up.

In any event, Bob is the best. I love Bob. Goooo, Bob!

Monday, August 25


I have had a strange pain -- a stinging, burning sensation -- in my left breast for about a week now. Sharing the burden of this pain and describing it to my friends has been an interesting experience -- a mini-sociological study, if you will -- in and of itself. For example . . .

. . . Soy and JKA, two of my main partners in crime, ask me whenever they see me how I'm feeling. They ask about my symptoms, they give me the worried furrowed eyebrows, then tell me that I have to go to the doctor immediately, even giving me a little push to emphasize their point; Soy says I can't leave them hanging. Very normal, sisterly reaction. I am comforted.

. . . Mrs.G graciously offers her own friendship as well as the medical-advice services of her husband, Dr.G. "I know you don't believe it," she says with a grin, "but he can be quite professional and has helped other friends of mine out before, with second opinions and stuff." I am so grateful to her (and Dr.G too) and I express my appreciation. "Of course, if he starts giggling after saying the word 'breast'," she adds pensively, "then you might want to end the conversation there." Good point. I'll be keeping that under consideration.

. . . the older women at church love to kick into "mom" gear. If they could, they would just reach over and give me a breast examination themselves! They offer prayers for me -- even standing right in the middle of the fellowship hall at church, and tell me tales of their own breast pains and what they did or took to overcome it. They hug me a lot, too, but that kind of hurts, so I need to think of a nice way to discourage that for as long as the pain lasts. Their concern, while humorous at times, is certainly touching and makes me again so thankful for my friendships -- new and old -- and my growing ability to appreciate them more fully.

. . . JW, still immersed in his medical books for Friday's Boards, asks all the right clinical questions. I am not embarrassed -- I can put on my patient face as well as he puts on his doctor face. Then he whispers, "Do you have nipple discharge?" WHAT?! NOW I'm embarrassed. Outwardly, I say, "No, no discharge." Inwardly, my brain is screaming, "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THE WORDS 'NIPPLE DISCHARGE' TO ME!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!" But I can't laugh in his face when he's being so sincere, so I save it for later and I bust out hysterically in the car.

. . . C can't look me in the eye and say the word 'breast' at the same time. So he refers to my pain benignly as 'the heart condition'. Which makes me want to laugh almost as much as "nipple discharge." Okay, okay, I know it's not funny . . .

. . . I called my OB/GYN's office this morning to make an appointment for as soon as possible. Doc's going to be out on vacation until next week, the receptionist informs me. I tell her that it's not really an emergency, I don't think, but I have a pain in my breast and I think I felt something there that wasn't there before. All of a sudden, I can go in tomorrow afternoon at 12:30pm. Wow. They do take this stuff seriously. I don't know why I thought otherwise.

. . . and then there's me. I freak out at everything. Seeing a spider on the wall makes me think there are hundreds of them crawling all over the room. Watching someone else get hurt -- even a small paper-cut -- makes me jump into action and go running for the Band-Aids and the Neosporin (of course!). Observing a plane flying overhead convinces me that it's going to slam into another tall building somewhere. But when it comes to me, I get really . . . calm. Sure, I may wince and flinch involuntarily in public, but in my own head, I'm thinking, "It's no big deal. It's just an infection. I just pulled a muscle. There's no cancer in my family. It's just a calcification or something weird like that. I'll just take some Aleve and make it go away. I'll just fight through the pain. I don't need to see a doctor. What should I have for lunch?"

I don't know what makes me so (ir)rational about myself. Am I in denial? Or is it too scary and surreal to consider the alternatives? Or does my subconscious know that I'm right, that there's nothing wrong with me? Or am I really not afraid of illness and/or the death of myself? Strange questions, that I never thought I'd be pondering right about now . . .

Sunday, August 24

AGITA . . .

I discovered a lump, a bump, a something-not-normal in my left breast this morning.


Thursday, August 21


I'm having a conversation with Mrs.G right now. She's sitting in an office at her husband's hospital, having accompanied him to work for part of the day, and is catching up on the reading she needs to do for the AP English class she's going to be teaching this fall (how envious am I?!). She writes about how strange and slightly impressive it is to see her hubby, Dr.G, at work -- slipping on his white lab coat, chatting up the medical terms with his co-workers, throwing around the multi-syllabic scientific-sounding words like it's child's play. Dr.G puts on his professional self and heads out to work. I can picture it, but it doesn't make sense to me. Isn't Dr.G the goofy guy who pulls his shorts up to his ribs, yanks his socks up to his knees, and shimmies around making funny faces at us all? How can it be that he actually goes forth and heals the sick? Huh! I'm impressed, but I'll believe it when I see it.


I went to college in New York City. Owning a car during college was not merely inefficient, it was just plain dumb. Whenever my friends and I had to venture somewhere -- and really, where would we go that wasn't on the all-inclusive island paradise known as Manhattan? -- we hailed a cab, jumped on a bus, rode the subway or simply walked. But occasionally, an event would arise -- an apple-picking trip upstate, a fellowship retreat in New Jersey -- where someone would have to drive a car. And on those occasions, I would sit in the passenger or back seat, watch my friend drive his or her car to our destination and wonder to myself "I didn't know s/he could drive!" Sometimes, I'd carry a murmur of panic with me for the entire ride, not completely sure that my friend was capable of driving safely. After all, wouldn't one get rusty after six months of not sitting behind the steering wheel? Other times, I would just marvel at the things that I had yet to find out about my friends.


Two of my close girlfriends are schoolteachers. JKA teaches 6th-grade language arts; Mrs.G teaches high school English. I live vicariously through them because I've always wanted to be a teacher. Unfortunately, I have neither the brain power nor the compassion nor the patience and endurance required by the position, so I stay away and leave it up to the professionals. That doesn't prevent me from wanting to be a fly on the wall in each of their classrooms, though. At NHF and during social events, JKA and Mrs.G are the life of the party, often the main players in a joke, a game, a discussion. As the summer winds down and I observe them preparing for their return to school, I wonder where the party girls will go. I try to imagine JKA controlling a bunch of crazed 6th-graders, reading to them, encouraging them to learn, all the while being a formative force in their young and impressionable lives. I try to picture Mrs.G, perhaps perched on the front edge of her desk like one of the cool English teachers I had during my own high school years, engaging her 12th-graders in a spirited discussion of "Crime and Punishment" or replaying scenes from "King Lear." It's too cool to daydream about, these teacher personalities that they'll put on from September to June.


One evening in L.A., we all took a drive to Dr.Y's hospital to do an ultrasound on the newly-pregnant Ha. We walked into the hospital at around 10:30pm, and I watched quietly, rocking Abby's stroller back and forth, as Dr.Y let us into the ultrasound room, turned on the machine, prepped Ha and started rolling the sensor over her belly. I stood in awe as Dr.Y pointed out the little pencil eraser-size dot that was Baby#2 and measured its tiny size. When the ultrasound was done, we accompanied Dr.Y back to the lab room where he could return the key. The two techs working that night greeted him and said goodnight to us as we walked out the door. "Good night, Dr.Y." "See you in the morning, Dr.Y." I looked around me. Who were they talking to? In every other environment I've shared with Dr.Y, he's just been Joe, Ha's husband, Abby's dad, the witty and loud guy who likes to tease me and give me agita. But at the hospital, they knew nothing of this Joe. He was simply Dr.Y, the radiologist. Crazy.


At home, I'm a bum. The moment I walk into my room after a day's work, everything gets thrown off, and the t-shirt and shorts come on. The hair goes up in a ponytail. The makeup gets wiped off. Until it's time to prepare for dinner, I putz around, pay my bills, read some magazines or books, lay on the couch and watch the news. I let my mom push me to eat more dinner. I hoot at the Yankee game on TV with my dad. I bring glasses of water to Gran. I slouch in my chair and rub my eyes when I get sleepy. My family mostly sees only this side of me. But on occasion, when our morning departure times overlap, my parents see me in a business suit or a clean pair of pants topped with a pressed shirt, my hair done and mostly in its place (at least until I step outside and the breeze gets it), my makeup not yet disturbed by me always touching my face. And those evenings, they'll say to me "You actually looked like a lawyer this morning." Yup. I clean up okay, and I kind of like my alter ego, too.

Wednesday, August 20


There are some things that always make me feel good . . .

. . . doing something nice and fun and unusual for someone else.
. . . loose, flowy linen pants.
. . . receiving a really cool and generous gift.
. . . thinking of ways to adequately express thanks for the really cool and generous gift.
. . . cute dogs that get sleepy in your car.
. . . a crispy-cold Lime Green Tea Snapple Iced Tea.
. . . understanding the value of true friendship and the maintenance thereof.
. . . little sweat beads on my forehead -- okay big sweat beads -- after a vigorous run.
. . . cute toothless children grinning mischievously while tugging on your hand to play a game.
. . . a plan executed flawlessly, successfully and happily.
. . . an adventure.
. . . a perfectly ironic turn of events at which I can only throw back my head and laugh hysterically.
. . . anticipating a fun day in the sun, running around, making a fool of myself, bonding with old friends, making new ones.

JKA and I decide we'd visit M this week, before we took off for the NHF retreat this weekend. Wednesday evening? Tuesday evening? Hmmmm, we were waffling, so we tell M we'll show up when we show up. We ask if there was anything in particular she wants, other than some sweets she had previously requested. No, M replies, nothing else. So, JKA and I agree to meet on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Waffle, waffle.

At 10pm, I receive an excited phone call from C.
"I know what you can bring when you go to see M this week! . . . POPCORN!"

Now, picture me lying in bed, formerly quietly reading a book, holding my phone away from my ear in a vain attempt to prevent hearing loss caused by C screaming into his cell phone, wondering why he's so excited about a snack food.

"Like, Smartfood?" I ask incredulously, still kind of skimming my book.


"WHAT?! NO!!!! THE DOG!!!"
C's exasperated. As if I should have known better.

C has a plan: after work on Tuesday, I will pick up JKA and M&C's crazy Jack Russell terrier (that would be the aforementioned Popcorn), then drive down to the hospital. I will give C a sneaky call when we have arrived, and C will roll M outside "for some air," at which point she will be pleasantly surprised by a joyous reunion with her beloved pup.

After consultation with JKA, I agree but experience a fair share of agita: Popcorn is crazy. Every time I see her at C's house, she's hyper, spastic, humping something (it's a domination thing, they say), barking, attempting to chomp on other dogs, or trying to bite off my nose. And I just agreed to have her in the small, enclosed space of my car for 50 minutes?!?!?!

C finds me online, mid-morning. "I have a better plan," he says, "but it will give you more agita."

Great. This I have to hear.

C proceeds to tell me that he's cooking up a storm -- French onion soup (later dubbed Freedom soup, natch), scallops on a bed of sauteed spinach and shallots, 21 Club-style burgers with stinky cheese, ginger crepes with creme fraiche -- and that we are going to have a picnic in the evening, in the courtyard of M's hospital.

"Lovely!" I think to myself. "I'm SO there."

C then proceeds to tell me that in addition to crazy Popcorn, JKA and I have to load my car up with a cooler and picnic basket full of food, a bag full of picnic accessories, and a portable picnic table. Oh. Okay. Jeez.

Popcorn is a Super-Star
My agita was for naught. Popcorn was . . . well, so un-Popcorny. JKA and I walked timidly into M&C's house, feeling not a little bit like a pair of dognappers. We walked towards Popcorn's lounge -- a little room off the kitchen -- waiting to hear the sounds of frantic barking and scuffling. Nothing. There she was, peering at us through the glass panes of the door, standing still, blinking brightly, tail wagging benignly.

I took a deep breath, grabbed her leash off the door-handle, and creaked open the door a few inches, breathlessly anticipating a rabid leap for my nose. Nothing. Popcorn stuck her neck out, inviting the leash to latch onto her collar. I swear she smiled at me. I led her out of her lounge and into the kitchen, where JKA was preparing to carry the food out and into the car. One quick, gentle jump onto JKA's legs, a still timid pat on Popcorn's head, and we headed out.

Popcorn didn't want to pee before getting in the car -- rats! -- but she did hop nicely into the front seat (poor JKA, out-shotgunned by a DOG), sniff around a bit, then settle into the towel I had laid out for her. "I'm ready now. Onward, Jeeves," she was saying. I swear she knew she was going to see her mommy.

Once the car got rolling, Popcorn lay down with her head on her paws and chilled out. Whenever the car slowed, she braced herself against the dashboard and took a quick peek around. When the scenery got boring, she lay back down and dozed some more. Occasionally, she licked my shoulder or JKA's hand -- ew! ew! ew! -- but she eventually tired of us, too. Only when we got into Manhattan -- completely unfamiliar surroundings -- did Popcorn perk up a little, whining out the window at passing dogs, staring intently at little children, jawing at pedestrians, flicking her ears at the strange and noisy sounds of the streets. I swear she knew mommy was close.

Dining Al Fresco . . . at the Hospital
As C was rolling M downstairs, JKA, JAhn and I set up dinner and awaited their arrival. We witnessed the joyous family reunion, then not-so-subtlely excused ourselves to wash our hands (dog spit, remember?).

After an appropriate period of time had passed, we returned to the courtyard and dove into the food. Scrumptious! Who knew C was capable of creating such delicacies, much less remembering the details, like matching plates, bowls, utensils and napkins, wine and sparkling cider, decaf coffee percolating in a camper's coffee pot, even crushed ginger snaps to garnish the crepes and creme fraiche?! Who knew, indeed . . .

Poor Popcorn had a Cujo moment -- the city freaked her out, and the annoying little boy walking into the courtyard and taunting her didn't help. Tired M had two contractions. Soy spilled the sparkling cider. The stinky cheese really stank (note to self: Asiago in moderation).

But it was fun anyway. A perfect breezy and dry evening. M getting fresh air and doggie-kisses. Soy practicing her mothering skills on Popcorn. M not being completely surprised -- C's not good at keeping secrets, she says -- but being pleased nonetheless. JKA eating slow like molasses. Me rolling M up to her room and not quite being adept at maneuvering the wheelchair. It was all good.

Popcorn is a Super-Star, Again
C's brother dropped by, and they decided to go out for one last hurrah before Brother moves out to California on Thursday. Hmm. That meant I had custody of Popcorn again.

With the car re-loaded, and JKA and JAhn once more relegated to the back seat in deference to the dog, we headed back home. Poor exhausted Popcorn. She hardly had the energy to look up at the passing lights of the city. She shuffled around a bit before settling into the most adorable position: head resting on the middle console, eyes lifted towards me sadly, gazing at me as if to ask "Where is my mommy?" I swear she knew it would be a while before another reunion occurred. Sigh. "Popcorn, sweetie, you are a pop star," I told her. Anything to make her feel better.

Popcorn perked up again, though, once we drove into her neighborhood. I swear she knew where her house was. She hopped to the ground, strolled up the steps and into the house, and let me unleash her when we got to her room. She sadly walked into her lounge towards her bed. Poor lonely exhausted Popcorn.

A quick unload, a double-check on the locked door, a short drive to drop off J2, and a leisurely drive home. Finally home, I was able to think through the evening, say a quick prayer for M and the Noodles, and ponder the absolute and unconditional generosity and selflessness of my friends, before dropping off into an exhausted sleep myself.

Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, August 19


I am taking part in a wonderfully sweet little plot tonight.
Can't divulge any details.
There will be mania.
There will be crying tears of joy.
There will be laughter.
There will be minor freaking out.

Will update tomorrow.

ACK! I have happy agita!

SHE'S ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mucho congratulations to Wonger and Shadow!!!!!!!!!!

I'm so thrilled. I can't think of anyone who deserves happiness and love and stability and devoted care more than my Wonger, and now she'll have it for-EVAH. Shadow is sooooo good to her -- and even to us, her crazy-ass friends. I am thrilled. SO thrilled. Another fun wedding -- and I know Wonger's gonna throw a truly fun bash -- I can't wait.

And another excuse to browse the shelves at Crate & Barrel . . .



If I were psychic, would I use my powers for good or for evil? Would it be cool to have a super-natural power, or utterly misery-inducing (see: Buffy's torment in "Earshot," Season Three)?

I ask because in the past two months, I have been abnormally astute and had one creepy vision. OK, don't freak out on me, because I'm telling the truth. And I'm normally pretty skeptical about psychics and palm-readings and other such nonsense, so if you're freaked out, imagine how I feel . . .

Late June: three days before JKA's wedding, I'm lying on mom's bed chatting with mom about the upcoming nuptials. All of a sudden, my heart starts racing and I actually have a "vision" -- as in, I can see this in front of my eyes -- that JKA has been in a car accident. Two shaky seconds later, the "vision" goes away and I resume my conversation. The next night, while helping JKA and JAhn tidy up the last licks before the big event, I learn that JKA was in a minor vehicle scrape in her driveway, accidentally driving up against her cousin's car and causing some damage to both automobiles. Weird.

Three Days Ago: Wonger calls my cell phone and leaves a message. "Hey, it's me. You wanna meet for a drink tonight? Gimme a call." Just as I sit down to return her call, mom comes to drag me out of my room -- many errands to run, major family gathering to prepare for. To my chagrin, Wonger's message flies out of my memory as I rush out the door. But I knew. Was it the tone of her voice? Was it the unusual nature of the invitation -- we rarely meet just for drinks? Was it -- gasp! -- me? Whatever it was, I knew. My Wonger was ENGAGED!!!! Sure enough, this morning, I get an email: "You didn't call! I wanted to tell you I got engaged . . . during the blackout!" Like I said, I'm THRILLED . . . and psychic. Hee, hee.

Two Days Ago: After post-NHF softball, we receive an invitation to go to Camp C for a mini-BBQ. J2 and I volunteer to pick up extraneous food products, so I drive to the local Stop & Shop, with J2 trailing right behind me. We pull into the parking lot, park our cars, and as I'm strolling towards the store to meet them, J2 come towards me with grins on their faces. "You wanna hear something funny?" JAhn asks. In an instant, I know exactly what they're getting at. "One of my tail lights is out, isn't it?" I reply. The stunned look on their faces = priceless. Heebie-jeebies all around.

Last Night: I'm chatting on-line with sleepy M and naughty C. After the requisite round of teasing and snapping back and forth, C says "Hey, guess what I just found out?" In an instant, I typed in reply: "Caleigh." Caleigh is the name of their daughter. It is also the name of the woman after whom baby Caleigh is named . . . kind of. Eh, long story. Anyway, C was freaked out that he and I were having similar thought processes. I was freaked out at my fourth bizarre mental incident in two months. Whoooooooo . . . goosebumps, please.

Now, the thing that most displeases me about my abnormal astuteness -- please, let's not call it psychic ability -- is that for the past month or so, I have been feeling a very heavy, over-arching sense of dread. As if something horrible is going to happen, as if something is going to go wretchedly awry, as if people close to me are going to be hurt -- emotionally or physically, as if my life -- our lives -- are going to change but not necessarily for the better. The scary weekend blackout came and went -- the feeling is still there. What could it be? I hate waiting . . .

Anyway. I don't really think I'm psychic. And in response to M & C's question, the answer is NO, I don't think I would want to be psychic. I've concluded that super-natural powers, in the hands of mere mortals like me = bad. But it's still fun to freak people out . . . and be freaked out.

Monday, August 18

Oy. I need a cigarette.

Summer is so weird when you're working full-time. I believe one can never get out of the "I deserve a summer break" mindset, and so we will always live our lives as if June, July and August were freebies. I don't know about your industries, but certainly in the Courthouse, things slow down. Normally, there are less trials scheduled, fewer judges actually in the Courthouse, more vacation-day opportunities.

Certainly, I've been treating my summer evenings as if I didn't have to get up the next morning and put in a full day's worth of work. Going for ice cream, hanging out at Camp J2 or Camp C, evenings in the city with M or the LOLs or other randoms, weekends away, Sunday nights watching "Angel," lolling about and doing nothing of any particular significance. It's been awesomely fun and I think many of my friendships have really been strengthened as a result.

But I'm exhausted. I barely see my family, and that probably has raised tensions of its own, although Saturday with mom was amazingly wonderful. I need to sleep more. I need to work out more. I need more massages. I need to spend quiet time with God. I need to burrow by myself and re-energize my innately introverted nature so that I don't burn out and react against my friends instead of embracing them.

That's why I can't wait for autumn. For the chill turn in the air that hurts my nostrils when I inhale. For the changing colors of the leaves that make my eyes water from their brilliance. For the cuddly sweaters and socks in which I can wrap myself and feel like a bunny. For the early onset of evening that drives me into my home instead of away from it. For the cups of coffee and hot chocolate that I'll share with friends, when we meet up for the first time after a busy week and truly have something to catch up on. For the oncoming holidays that remind me of all I have to be thankful for.


The different components and accessories of my new computer should start arriving today! NEW TOYS!!! I feel like a boy.


I think I am going through a really unhappy time in my life right now. Oy -- that's so heavy and personal, I hate even saying it. But the first definitive sign came last night: I did what I haven't done since my early homesick days in Boston when I started law school. I popped in Fiona Apple's first CD, "Tidal," to lull me away, and I cried myself to sleep. That CD is just too damn depressing, but it always touches a nerve with me . . . and makes me fall asleep. I fell asleep to it when my maternal grandfather died and mom had to speed off to Korea that very night. I fell asleep to it when I was going through a rough patch at work, dealing with office politics and balancing LSATs and law school applications. I fell asleep to it when I felt abandoned in Boston, with no friends and no familiarity around me at all, save for my pillow. I fell asleep to it when my last boyfriend and I broke up. And I fell asleep to it last night. Hmmm. This is going to need some self-analysis. Stay tuned.

You'll never see the courage I know
Its colors' richness won't appear within your view
I'll never glow - the way that you glow
Your presence dominates the judgements made on you
But as the scenery grows, I see in different lights
The shades and shadows undulate in my perception
My feelings swell and stretch; I see from greater heights
I understand what I am still too proud to mention - to you

You'll say you understand, but you don't understand
You'll say you'd never give up seeing eye to eye
But never is a promise, and you can't afford to lie

You'll never touch these things that I hold
The skin of my emotions lies beneath my own
You'll never feel the heat of this soul
My fever burns me deeper than I've ever shown - to you

You'll say, Don't fear your dreams, it's easier than it seems
You'll say you'd never let me fall from hopes so high
But never is a promise and you can't afford to lie

You'll never live the life that I live
I'll never live the life that wakes me in the night
You'll never hear the message I give
You'll say it looks as though I might give up this fight

But as the scenery grows, I see in different lights
The shades and shadows undulate in my perception
My feelings swell and stretch, I see from greater heights
I realize what I am now too smart to mention - to you

You'll say you understand, you'll never understand
I'll say I'll never wake up knowing how or why
I don't know what to believe in, you don't know who I am
You'll say I need appeasing when I start to cry
But never is a promise and I'll never need a lie


I am participating in the Komen Race for the Cure in September. THIS should be a hoot, not because I'm part of a team raising money for breast cancer research, but because I'll be RUNNING . . . in PUBLIC . . . with PEOPLE. This cracks me up. I don't know why, but it just does. I mean, I'm no Phoebe Buffet -- I don't flail my arms with my hair in pigtails, screaming at people as I run by them. I'm quite normal, in fact. But I'm SLOOOOOW. As I have informed skeptical friends, I run slower than I do math. That is SLOW, SLOW, SLOW. Also, I trip a lot when I run outdoors. THAT is funny, even to me. Luckily, it is a run/walk, so I anticipate that I'll be doing a fair share of walking with my strolling pals. I don't mind eating C's 8-minute-mile dust. I can handle the shame . . .


I had a dream last night that one of my good friends didn't want to be my friend anymore and said that he hated my guts. Sigh. I hate dreams like that, that play on all my insecurities and make me wake up wondering if it's true or not. It's making my Monday all . . . weird-like.


And the ultimate question: what to have for lunch?!

Friday, August 15


Excerpts from my journal, dated 8/14/03 . . .

I'm writing by candlelight, feeling like I imagine Laura Ingalls Wilder would have felt while studying for her teaching examination, or like some young English lady would have felt writing precious secrets of love and laughter after a night of fashionable London events. No such fun tonight.


The power went out. It wasn't even the hottest day of the summer, and certainly the humidity was way down -- much more bearable than it had been in the past several days. D had left at 11:30am; Hooch took off at 3:30pm; Judge was out for the day. I was alone, not very motivated to keep working, just enjoying the stillness and planning my evening. I had just completed a major personal transaction -- bought a new laptop AND made awesome reservations for our second major foray up to Foxwoods.

As I sat at my computer, I saw the lights flicker and the power blew in and out, in and out. I felt the electric waves bellow around me, in and out, in and out, like a weird warp zone. Then it went out completely. My computer screen zapped. The lights fell dark. The air blower stopped. There was silence. And true stillness. In my brain, there was confusion. And wild, uncontrollable fear.

Was it not just three weeks ago that I had read the government was expecting major terrorist activity before the end of the summer? Was it not just two nights ago that I witnessed a lengthy conversation about 9/11 that made all the scenes flash before my mind's eye again? Was it not just last night that I had a nightmare about 9/11?

All this, whizzing through my brain in one second or less. The human mind is an amazing machine.


I grab my bag, wallet, sunglasses. I look dramatically, even longingly, at my desk and the morbid thought sneaks in unbidden . . . will I ever sit here again?

Out in the lobby, it's still fun. It's still just a power failure. Damn GSA, everyone says, for going for the lowest electrical bidder! No wonder the courthouse is always sweltering in summer, freezing in winter. No wonder the power goes out on a merely warm, gorgeous perfection of a day. Damn GSA. I don't feel better because of the banter, but there is outward control. Damning GSA gives me outward control.

Then one of the Court Security Officers picks up a radio transmission: the Manhattan courthouse is out too. THE MANHATTAN COURTHOUSE IS OUT TOO.

Outward control be damned. I'm standing in the lobby of a federal building watching the CSOs and U.S. Marshals hit high gear. There is no outward control.

There's no yelling. No screaming. What, you think this is 9/11 all over again? Why in the world would you think such a thing? Why in the world would I think such a thing? No, there's just tension. I sit on the lower step of the internal grand staircase and watch our guys -- our protectors, our lifesavers, if need be -- kick into action. Retired cops -- no spring chickens themselves -- scurrying around in an orderly fashion.

"Lock the doors. LOCK THE DOORS."
No one can get in for the rest of the day, no matter what. No one can get out unless they let you out.

"Check the back gate."
"Who's stuck in the elevator? GET HER OUT."
"Manhattan courthouse is down. I repeat, Manhattan is DOWN."

Do I cry? DO I stop a focused CSO and ask what the hell is going on? Do I know if it's safe to leave, go outside? Am I allowed to go outside? Is it morally right for me to leave knowing that these guys would go down with the ship if they had to?

"Go. GO. Make an early day of it. Go NOW."
I don't even remember who said that to me. I was thinking too many things. If I go, will I see you again, my friend? Am I an ass for being so scared and feeling so melodramatic? What if it's more dangerous outside than it is inside?

"They got us this time. They've hit us now. This is it."
I hear a coworker mutter this as I make my way out the door. Outside, on the steps of the courthouse, I adjust my eyes to the glare of the bright sun, and look up. There goes a plane. Does it know what just happened?


My car. Solace or source of information I don't want to have? I tune into the news station reluctantly. It's like a car wreck. I have to see, I have to know. I discover that all of Manhattan is down. I discover that most of the NorthEastern Seaboard is down. I discover that Cleveland, Detroit and Ottawa are down. Ottawa?!

Great, so it's not just the courthouse. Do I feel better?


It's slow going when no traffic lights function. I feel generous. I'm still morbid, though. If we're going to suffer again, I might as well let a few cars in front of me, right? Why the heck not . . .

The talking heads are yammering incessantly.

"This doesn't appear to be an act of --"
He doesn't know what to say. Don't say it out loud and it won't be true.

"This appears to be a natural occurrence."
Slight emphasis to try to be convincing.

"We don't know what happened. I mean, it's a gorgeous, dry, warm day, just like --"
She cuts off. Don't say it out loud and kick up the muck again. We're just getting over it, remember?
"Just like a summer day is supposed to be."
Good. Good recovery. That's why they pay you the big bucks.

"We are seeing plumes of smoke from the 14th Street power station."
And? What are you suggesting?
"It does not seem to stem from an . . . explosion or anything. They are saying this is normal when the power fails."
Okay. If you say so. I am so willing to believe you right now.

"I am seeing hordes of people walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and uptown towards the George Washington Bridge. It reminds me of --"
Another graceless cut-off. Somebody please fill the dead air time.
"Of, of, of, of the start of the, you know."
"Of the New York marathon?"
Co-anchor to the rescue. Thank you. Thank you.

Is it stupid that I'm crying in the car? Is it stupid that I'm driving extra-slow because I can't concentrate on the road? Is it stupid that my hair is flying into my face and all over the place because I have all the car windows open and I'm driving on the highway and my cell phone won't work so the only way I feel connected to the world is to see and hear it through open windows? What made me like this? When can I stop being like this?


I arrive home, through a gridlocked but eerily silent neighborhood. My mom's car is in the driveway. Of course. The garage doors run on electricity. Thank God -- one family member accounted for. Morbid thought: at least I still have one parent.

I rush inside, then mom and I rush back out. We're going to Manhattan, to my dad. We're going to check on him. We're going to bring home some of the huge amounts of cash reserved for the ATM machine. We're going to check the inventory and the refrigerated medicines.

It's slow going. Nothing new on the radio, except they're not afraid to use the T-word now, now that it's apparent that it's not applicable.
"Authorities do not believe it was terrorism."
"They don't think we were attacked by terrorists."
"Washington does not believe this was an act of terrorism."

Oh. Good, then.


Dad is fine. The inventory is fine. The cash is ferried to my car. Jeez, now I really have to focus on getting home in one piece.

Dad's employees -- all good-natured teenagers from the neighborhood -- will stay with him until the power comes back on and they can lower the security grate, or until they can figure out how to lower it manually. Are we beyond the years when looting was commonplace? Is my dad in danger? Will he be coming home tonight, or is he going to have to sleep with one eye open on a folding chair inside the hot pharmacy?


Mom and I hit the road again. We pass die-hard trekkers hiking the West Side Highway to get to the Bridge. We pass hitchhikers in the Bronx, still wearing their suits, but having lost the fire to walk all the way home.

Otherwise, the streets are empty. Back in our neck of the woods, the town cops stand at crucial intersections idly, picking their fingernails, wondering why they have to be there when there are hardly any cars left on the roads, glancing balefully at our car as we roll by.

I'm exhausted. I'm tense. I'm relieved. I don't think any planes have gone down or buildings have fallen. I don't think I've breathed in invisible poison gas. I don't think I've heard anything explode into nothingness.


We're home. We sit with Gran for a simple, cold, but satisfying meal. Thank God for kimchi, the ever-present epitome of Korean comfort food. Thank God for so many things.


The house looks so romantic, with candlelight flickering off all the newly-painted walls. I take a moment to look in the mirror. Candlelight is flattering. I'll allow myself just that.

I'm not scared anymore. I'm too sleepy to be scared now. I'm sheepish at how scared I was earlier. Dad's home. They're all asleep. I will be soon, too.

Rumors abound that power will come up in increments, starting at about 11:00pm. Five minutes.

Five minutes until our garage doors will open. Until we can open our fridge. Until the lights will glow on me instead of flattering candlelight. Until I can email my friends again. Until I don't have insight into what Laura Ingalls Wilder's nights must have been like (booooooring). Until our CSOs don't have to usher us out the courthouse door. Until the courthouse isn't put on lockdown. Until I stop shaking my head at myself for being such a worrywart, a doomsayer, a fraidy-cat, a nervous Nellie.

But do you blame me? Weren't you right there along with me?


Friday, 8/15/03, 10:20am
I woke up and checked my clock. Yup, it's flashing. 12:00 . . . 12:00 . . . 12:00. Good. I trudged to the bathroom, took a shower, put in my contacts, got dressed, and started to put on my makeup. Just when I'm about to smear my eyeliner again, the phone rings.

Cheech tells us that Manhattan is still out. No subways. No power. No Metro-North. The thought strikes me: if Manhattan is down, can we be down too? I mean, I'm walking around a fully-lit and powered-up house, about to plug in my hairdryer, but if the Manhattan courthouse isn't functioning . . .

Sure enough, our emergency notification line tells me that "the Courthouse is CLOSED." Why, thank you! I'll just put my hairdryer away now . . . A quick call to Hooch, and we hoot and holler about our unexpectedly long weekend. I change back into comfortable clothes and wonder what to do with the rest of my day, in a world that's only half-functioning.

So for now, I sit here at my computer at home, alternately typing and staring idly out the window into our gloriously sunny back yard. And I have to wonder, what was I thinking?! What was the big freaking deal? Why did I cry yesterday? Why was I upset? Why was I so scared? Why did I say a constant running prayer that didn't get an "Amen" until I woke up this morning?


8/15/03, 11:13am
Everyone's accounted for. Of course, everyone's accounted for. It was just a blackout. We're all coming back up on power, slowly but surely.

Cheech turned around and went back home -- Montreal can wait for another weekend. C spent the night with M in the teeny tiny hospital bed -- now he's wearing her maternity clothes. NRL got home okay, taking refuge at a friend's apartment until her hubby could find her. JAhn and JKA reunited at about 9:00pm. Everyone found their parents, their spouses, their friends and loved ones.

Of course they did. It was just a blackout.

Tuesday, August 12


1. "Here, Have Another": Give your hyper-traditional, hard-drinking, hard-talking, reformed-only-because-he-doesn't-get-around-so-fast-anymore grand-uncle his third beer (after 2 glasses of wine). Sit back and listen to the slurred hilarity that ensues.

2. "I Don't Have Time To Get Married": When the above-mentioned -- and did I already say hyper-traditional? -- grand-uncle asks you where your boyfriend is, tell him you don't have one. Watch carefully as that statement registers and observe the grand-uncle's face clench up in indignance. When the grand-uncle then asks you why you don't have one, inform him that you don't have time for boyfriends right now because they are too much of a hassle and they need to be coddled all the time. Watch carefully as that statement registers and observe the grand-uncle's face turn red with simmering annoyance. When the grand-uncle then asks you "Shouldn't you be getting married soon, though?" reply that you don't have time to get married because you have so many other, more important things to do. Watch carefully as the grand-uncle stutters off into silence with a look of sheer confusion on his face. Allow yourself half a second of gleeful smirking. Any longer would just be graceless.

3. "Validate Me, Baby!": This game has several components, including:
a. Wash all the dinner dishes (seven place settings!), all the time. Sit back and listen to the elderly folks fawn over how hard-working you are.
b. Whip up a batch of cookies and let mom describe the pastry ice-cream-filled swans floating in a pool of chocolate sauce that you made for dessert a few Christmases ago. Sit back and listen to the elderly folks fawn over what a culinary talent you are.
c. Let mom and dad describe how you taught yourself to knit and how you take cooking classes for fun and how you buy books like "Photography For Dummies." Sit back and listen to the elderly folks fawn over what a brainchild you are.
d. Dress in a suit for work and bow prettily to the elderly folks as you leave in the morning. As you stroll to your car, listen to the eldery folks fawn over how professional and lawyerly you look.
e. Peel boatloads of assorted fruit in the family room after dinner, arrange them prettily on nice china and stick toothpicks in the fruit pieces. Sit back and listen to the eldery folks fawn over how marriageable and daughter-in-law-ish you are. For advanced players, sit back and listen to the grand-uncle declare once more that you had better get married and soon, then listen to the grand-aunts declare that you don't need to get married just yet. For truly expert players, sit back and listen to the grand-uncle and grand-aunts start debating each other until you are well and truly forgotten as the subject of their original fawning.

4. "The Camera Adds Ten Pounds": Send the elderly folks, back in the Motherland, a family portrait taken during the last semester of law school when you were barely going to class, barely waking up in the morning, drinking a lot of beer and eating a lot of junk food. Wait two years -- during which you exercise, get a stable job, eat a balanced diet and stop drinking so much beer -- then host them in your house for two weeks. Sit back and listen to descriptions of how you have the largest eyes they've ever seen on a Korean girl, how skinny you are and you really should eat more, how you have cheekbones they can see, how you're slightly taller than they'd thought you'd be, and how you DO have normal skin tone after all. It's so liberating, really.

Monday, August 11


The K-As and I visited M on Friday evening . . . given the circumstances, M looks fantastic. Despite her absolute lack of exposure to the sun for the past two and a half months, M has "that glow," and of course the glow is doubled accordingly. It's so fun referring to the Noodles by their names now . . . we can't wait until they come out and start doing fun human tricks for us to laugh at. Also, I am buying CC2 a convertible when she grows up and building her a first-floor bedroom, because every daughter should have the means with which to absolutely torment her father.


Friday night, I arrive home to find a veritable herd of elderly folks from the Motherland sitting in my living room: my mom's uncle, mom's aunt, and mom's aunt's cousin, who would be like a fourth-aunt-six-times-removed from me, or something utterly convoluted like that. They had all just returned from one of those groovy Korean tours, where they load a bunch of elderly-like folks on a charter bus and drive almost the entire length of the Eastern seaboard in five days and call it a sightseeing excursion. They, with my gran, had seen Washington, D.C., Quebec, Boston and Newport, before arriving back in NYC. Oy!

It was nice to see them, although they are such strangers to me that it was hard to feel a familial connection at first. Also, the granduncle had lived in NY when I was much younger and I remember being terrified of him, so seeing him lounging on our couches was a bit unnerving, and brought back some awful memories of severe cheek-pinching and orders to "Sing! Sing a song!" But they had had a few beers, so there was no cheek-pinching to be had, and my dad deflected the orders to "Sing! Sing a song for me!"

And then they got loud. First, they all tried to one-up each other as they told stories of what they had seen on their "tour." Then, my grand-aunt and her brother got into an argument about whether or not I should be married by now. Then, they started ranting about the rampant corruption in South Korean politics. And finally, everyone argued about where we would all sleep. This should have been a non-argument because of course I was going to sleep on the couch and give up my bed. Please.

Truly, the (facetiously) best part of having a whole bunch of Korean old folks in your house is that they ALL get out of bed at 6:00am on Saturday mornings, and they never go through a groggy, quiet waking-up transition period. They are FULL VOLUME from the moment they open their eyes. They clomp up to the couch upon which you were peacefully sleeping and loudly declare "Look at the poor thing! How can she sleep out here with all this noise?!" They sit next to your head and read the Korean newspaper . . . out loud to each other. They start to make breakfasts that involve many loud pots and pans, before debating the virtues of having a good ol' American breakfast at the local diner.

But the (really) best part of having a bunch of Korean old folks in your house is that before they leave for a good ol' American breakfast at the local diner at 8:00am on a Saturday morning, they pat your head and tell you how beautiful you are and how you should sleep until noon to catch up on the sleep you lost because of their early-morning chattering. Smile.


Saturday afternoon, we went to Canada. Well, not really, but it might as well have been. A whole bunch of New Hopers trooped up to Wappingers Falls -- The Wapp-with-a-hard-pp for you true gangstas -- to hang out at the Gs. Our original plan was to go hiking in the morning, then BBQ in the afternoon-into-the-night, but given the treacherous weather forecast, we opted for afternoon bowling instead. Of course, it was gorgeous and sunny all morning long. Of course.

The ride up only took 45 minutes, I dare say, but at a certain point, when you've driven through three counties, you kind of start to feel like there's no end in sight. Yukon Territory, here we come . . . exhausted and road-weary (what a bunch of wusses), we landed at the Gs, toured their spacious new home, then headed out for bowling. At The Hoe Bowl. Niiice.

Eh, I bowled like a fool, and only hit strikes when I had a nacho chip in my left hand. Something about balance. Tractor beam shut down for the day, though that didn't stop me from nearly sliding down the lane every other turn. Watched Terry Cloth's unusual style, watched JC try to imitate it, hammed for JKA's new camera, fell over laughing as MJ, The King of Pop launched his bowling ball down his lane -- it was airborne about three feet off the ground for almost the entire length of the lane. Thank you, HOE BOWL.

Then we all crammed into the Gs place and ate and drank up. Even surrounded by friends, the introvert in me roared up with a vengeance and I started to feel claustrophobic and exhausted, so I snuggled into a corner of the sofa and dozed for a bit while not-really-watching "Gladiator." Forty dull, dusty Roman minutes later, I crawled out of my hole and joined the rest of the world for some Speed Scrabble. I am really good at Speed Scrabble, I discovered. Of course, whatever skills I have with these word games is completely nullified by the fact that I can't add up my scores and need to turn to JW to make sure that 18 + 2 does indeed equal 20. Feh.

After a rude and crude game of Taboo, we all headed home, leaving Canada at least until a nice fall day when we really will go hiking.


Sunday, NHF took communion for the first time in a LONG time. Being without a pastor for a year brings all the expected hardships and uncertainties to a church, but for me, going without communion for so long was emotionally and spiritually draining.

Yesterday's communion service came at just the right time, not just for me, but -- I sense -- for NHF as a body. I feel like the past few months have been particularly painful -- a good pain -- for all of us, for a variety of reasons. Taking communion as a family yesterday afternoon was a helpful reminder of the good pain, as well as a much-needed rebuke and guide to moving past it into some real healing, unity and forward-thinking-ness. Not a dry eye in the house. Never have I participated in a more meaningful communion service.

No better way to start my week . . . .

Look at me, I'm a libertarian!

Sunday, August 10

1946-2003 . . .

Gregory Hines died today.

Friday, August 8


1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country? L.A., baby! Man, they are weird out there . . .

2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling? Well, there was that whole JetBlue experience, with the ridiculous people sitting across the row from me . . . then there was the time that I came down with acute appendicitis in Seoul, Korea, but my parents didn't want to put me in a Korean hospital so my uncle -- a doctor -- put me on an IV drip for 24-hours to get my fever down and reduce the infection until I could get back to the States . . . and then there was the time I was doing a cultural exchange in Moscow and I couldn't find the toilet paper dispenser in my host family's bathroom, so I sat there on the can for several minutes wondering what to wipe with . . .

3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go? I would like to spend as much time as possible -- before I get bored and/or homesick and/or desperately craving kimchi -- in the Pacific Northwest, hiking, learning to rock-climb, and basically strolling through nature and breathing in clean air and eating good food . . . and going for massages in the evenings. Then I want to head up to Alaska and do more of the same. I'm not a big, adventurous, go-somewhere-far-just-to-go-somewhere-far kind of gal. Close to home but still explorable is good enough for me.

4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car? Plane, because I love airports and almost everything about them. Train, because I can look out the window and actually see a view. Car, because I'm in control, baby! And I can stop for McDonald's french fries whenever I want.

5. What's the next place on your list to visit? Bahamas, baby! Even if it's just me and Mrs.G. All you other suckas better get your act together soon!

Yesterday evening, on the way to JKA's place for our Thursday-night gab-fest, I decided to drive the long way through town. I hadn't been through town in a long while, so I took my time, rolling along at exactly the posted speed limit, glancing left and right to see who was strolling around, what was going on at the library, who was stepping out for dinner at the local restaurants. As I approached a particularly dangerous intersection on the main drag, I slowed down; there were pedestrians everywhere, and a bit of leftover rush-hour traffic, so I didn't want to just drive on through, even though it was my right-of-way.

This intersection is where a feeder road off the highway bisects into the main drag. A prominent stop sign greets anyone who wants to get onto the main strip. Even after the stop sign is fully observed, it can often take several seconds for traffic to clear up enough for the cars to get onto the main drag. I always slow down as I approach this intersection because inevitably, some stupid high school kid with a death wish and/or a bizarre sense of entitlement (not unheard of in my white-shoe town) is going to slide through the stop sign expecting all other vehicles to yield to him. Imagine my surprise when instead of being cut-off by a teenager in a new Acura, I am almost clipped by a series of two of the largest black SUVs I've ever seen, both sporting numerous antennas and massively tinted windows, followed by a sleek black Town Car, also sporting antennas and dark windows.

In a second, it occurred to me. I just got cut off by a Clinton mini-motorcade!!

Either Hillary or Bill must have been coming home for the evening. That's fine. I have no issues with them living in my town. I don't care that they used to shut down the local Starbucks just so Bill could have a cuppa. I don't care that you can't get decent service at the local deli when they're stopping in for lunch. But I DO care when they ignore THEIR stop sign and almost hit MY car with their ENORMOUS vehicles, the likes of which I've never seen. C'mon guys, slow down a little . . .

But then in the next second, it occurred to me. I just got cut off by a Clinton mini-motorcade!! And it was kind of thrilling, this pseudo-brush with celebrity. Jeez, I'm such a sucker.


I hate being humbled. Many things tie into my desire to never be humbled: I don't like people telling me I'm wrong, I don't like realizing that I am wrong, I don't like the possibility of people gloating as they watch me change my behavior according to the way in which they corrected me.

But it's different when the humbling is done with love and care and an eye towards the general good, not just towards correcting ME. That's what Thursdays with JW and JKA are like. I can whine and complain about whatever and whoever I want; they will listen to me. I can bitch and snipe and bad-mouth whatever and whoever I want; they will listen to me. I can proclaim that my heart is forever hardened and I am never going to forgive and I am DONE with being the nice girl; they will listen to me.

And then they will forgive me and encourage me to not whine, complain, bitch, snipe, bad-mouth, harden my heart, be unforgiving or mean. Not in an arrogant or holier-than-thou tone, but in an "I feel you, man, but it ain't right" commiseration. Not with the intent to try to change me overnight, but to urge me to take baby steps towards being a more gracious and open-hearted person. Not to create a 180-degree change in the circumstances, from bad to gloriously wonderful, but to show me that even a 5-degree thaw is better than a continuous freeze.

So, I still hate being humbled. But it's better when it's not so painful. And if it doesn't hurt, I'm willing to give it another shot . . . and another shot . . . and another shot.


I subscribe to Real Simple magazine. In my several months of being a loyal reader, I have come to realize one very interesting and important thing: Real Simple does not simplify my life at all. All the tips, ideas, recipes, suggestions offered to simplify and streamline my diet, my workout, my physical, emotional and mental life, my closet, my car, my kitchen, my desk, don't do that at all. Rather, they stress me out!

To follow their closet-organization tips means that I have to go out and purchase closet organizers. To follow their "easy" recipes means that I have to go out and do some grocery shopping of items I wouldn't normally buy. To follow their simple all-in-one workout means that I have to go out and acquire some sort of large rubber ball -- where the heck would I store that thing?! To follow their car-cleanliness suggestions means that I would have to spend a whole day detailing my vehicle.

I just don't have the time, energy or money to squeeze my own fruit juices; search out the local organic grocery; create a bedroom sanctuary using candles, drapes and throw pillows; sit in silence and meditate for half an hour every day; transform my home office into a hooked-up, technologically-advanced, media-laden outlet.

So I browse Real Simple every month, imagining all the wild and crazy and not-so-simple things I would do with my life, my house and my car if I were a Lady of Leisure and Means. Maybe one of these days. Dare to dream . . .

Thursday, August 7


Is it better to know things or to not know them?

For example, is the quality of my heart made any better by knowing that someone I don't like doesn't like me in return? Do the mutual dislikes cancel each other out, thus creating a mutual like, or at least a healthy mutual respect? Or does the mutual disliking strengthen the originally individual and discrete dislikes, to transform them into festering anger and hatred? Or does it cause me to become self-righteous: after all, I have a legitimate reason -- of course -- to dislike the other party but what have I done to offend him or her to make him/her dislike me in return? Or does it cause me to disdain the other person even more, for disliking me without (apparent) reason? Is my sadness at realizing that someone dislikes me -- even someone I dislike -- going to make me more self-aware and willing to change the not-so-great parts of my character, and cause me to alter my behavior so I am not so dislikable?

Or for example, is my life enriched by knowing that someone strongly disagrees with the way I live my life and conduct myself or my business (and I'm not talking about obviously disagreeable stuff, like criminal activity)? Will I become more defensive and blatant about continuing to live in this offensive manner, just to spite the other person? Will I be humble and see the errors of my ways, even if the errors never would have occurred to me otherwise? Will I take constructive criticism with an open mind or will I react and overreact and become angry? How afraid of change am I, and will I be able and willing to modify my conduct at all?

Or for example, should I just chalk it up to adventure when I learn of lost opportunities? Can I just say "Oh, it wasn't meant to be" or "It wasn't in God's plan for me," or is that a cop-out to justify me not being proactive? Or would it have been foolish and thoughtless to have pursued an opportunity that would not have panned out in the end? And for lost chances in matters of the heart, at what point should I stop guarding myself and let go with abandon to see what, if anything, will happen, or do I keep a steady heart so that I won't be hurt?

Or for example, should the whispered hints of ends justify the beginnings? Should I strive for something even if I know I probably won't achieve it in the end? Should I continue to do something even though I have an inkling that it's all for naught? Should I hope and pray for something even though I sense that it's not coming my way? Should I work hard and bear it out even if I can just coast and still reap the benefits? Should I expend blood, sweat and tears for things or people who don't do the same for me?

Wednesday, August 6


Things I need to do but don't want to do today:

1. Finish up the draft of a large decision I'm working on: The case has been around longer than smallpox and is as much -- if not more -- of a pain in the arse. It's not that it's difficult per se. I'm just not motivated enough to even open it up on my computer this morning and LOOK at it.

2. Revise my resume and cover letter and start sending out job applications: I am notoriously bad at selling myself. I'm even worse at it when my confidence is flagging because I'm convinced I'm not knowledgeable or smart enough for the position, when there are really only four places I want to work after my clerkship and all four positions are super-competitive, and when I'm sleepy. Also, I think I'm absolutely unwilling to relocate out of the metro-NYC area, but as I have no job offer yet, we'll revisit that issue if and when it actually becomes an issue.

3. Work out: I'm just tired. Took a Thai cooking class last night (with C because he and Mrs.G ambushed me, but I had a knife in my hands almost the entire evening, so C behaved) and got home at midnight. Slept a fitful sleep, dreaming of mixing red curry paste, waking up constantly to go to the bathroom or to untangle myself from the blanket, falling out of bed this morning (which I haven't done in several weeks). Morning coffee isn't kicking in AND I think I'm carbed out from yesterday evening's noodle-and-rice fest. I don't anticipate that I'll be raring to hop on the treadmill or lift any weights after work this evening, but if I don't I will feel like ass. Days like this, I wonder: would an amphetamine addiction really be that bad for me? Oh, I know the answer, but I wonder nonetheless.

4. Clean my room: In the last couple of weeks, my normally over-meticulous ways have given in to the stronger, more evil and enticing pull of sheer laziness. The piles of belongings arranged around my bedroom -- clothes, papers, articles I pulled out of magazines, magazines, books, bills, clean and folded laundry, miscellany -- are neat, but I've never even had piles before! I am chagrined. This is not me. Where have I gone? I should just put the piles into the closet and forget they exist.

Alright. Looking at this wretched List O'Whining has actually made me determined to at least do ONE thing on it. I suppose the right thing to do would be to get to work . . . off I go. Wish me luck.

Note: Thanks to all who gave input on The Great Laptop Search of 2003. In the spirit of the NHF Polling System, here are the results: Apple = 2; Dell = .5 (only because the half-hearted voter owns stock in Dell); IBM = 1; Hewlett-Packard = 1. I'm still researching and mulling and unreasonably agonizing, so keep your opinions rolling in . . .

Tuesday, August 5


My Dell Inspiron laptop, purchased in preparation for law school seven years ago, is defunct. I have to press hard on the left side of the machine, right above the hard-drive, in order to get the drive to run. Even then, the system is slower than me getting up in the morning, and makes this horribly painful clacking and grating noise as it takes its time turning. The hard drive has been replaced twice, the modem replaced once. Oh, then I stepped on the modem wire and broke off the teeth, so I had to get a new wire. And there's a bit of permanent schmutz in the middle of the screen -- I can't imagine where that came from, but it's kind of gross, even by my low standards. So in human years, my computer is about 204 years old and acts like it. (Is that still true, that after about 3 years, a PC computer is an antique?)

So all of you must help me -- I'm totally serious right now -- in my research and purchase of a new laptop. I'm a big fan of Dell -- mainly because I've become dear friends with most of their Technical Support department over the years -- but am open (kind of) to other brands. Friends have extolled the virtues of Hewlett-Packard, Gateway and Apple. I have browsed the websites of almost all of the above, and have come away no better informed than I was before I browsed, mostly because I don't understand what I'm reading. Is it English?

I'm not even clear on what I am looking for in a computer. I suppose I would mainly be using it for word-processing and Internet-browsing purposes. And after spending a week with Ha's wireless-but-still-connected laptop, walking all over the house and surfing the Web at the same time, I'm pretty addicted to the concept of NOT being hooked up to a wall every time I want to check my email. Do I need CDRW/DVD capabilities? Probably not, but it would be fun, right? Do I need that much memory? Probably not, but I never know, right? Do I care how heavy it is? Probably not, but I might have to take it on the road with me one day, right? Do I care how expensive it is? Probably not, but who doesn't love a great value? Do I need to have Korean-language packs installed on it? Probably not, but why shouldn't my parents get in on a great computer and use it too?

So, tell me what you're using. Tell me why you love it. Tell me why you want something else and will never go back to the laptop you're on now. Tell me where I should go and what I should look for and who I should talk to. Tell me all the tricks of the trade in customizing a laptop and getting the best price for it. Tell me why I should not be afraid of all the numbers that appear on computer spec sheets. And finally, tell me that buying a computer is not such a big deal and I shouldn't develop a bad case of agita over it. Thank you in advance for your kind and helpful words . . .

Monday, August 4


I hear it's supposed to rain all week. How is it possible that I'm not totally dismayed by this news? In fact, this week, I think I will find the rain to be comforting and cozy.


How is it that it takes several happy words and/or events to cheer someone out of a slight funk, but only one word or minor occurrence to drop someone into a wretchedly horrible mood? Similarly, isn't it sad that most humans' nature dictates that we are quick to anger and slow to chill out?


Why do people meddle unproductively in other people's lives? It's one thing if you are asked to meddle, or need to do so for the protection of someone's physical or emotional safety. It's another thing if you're getting into a private issue that stands between a husband and a wife. And then on top of that, it's another thing if you have no idea what the heck you're talking about as you meddle. AND you're loud about it.


How is it that flamingly gay men always make me happy? Mrs.G and I took the Greenmarket class on Saturday morning. (1) I was blown away by the Greenmarket. I could just spend hours eating my way through it. (2) I loved cooking. (3) I loved people-watching, even in the midst of chopping, sauteeing, blending, and stirring. (4) I loved eating what we cooked. (5) I loved the flamingly gay man banter that our instructor exchanged with us. Sharp, but funny and kind. It's all in the inflection. I alternated between chewing and laughing hysterically.


Why do people like THIS exist: A lady at church gave my contact info to someone to whom she is related to by marriage. She thought we would hit it off, and could start chatting over email to see if we wanted to meet up later on. Fine, I'm open, although a little wary because Church Lady doesn't know me all that well, and I'm not so looking for a relationship that I feel the need for the indiscriminate set-up . . .

Well, lo and behold, I get an email from the lad. He spells my NAME wrong. He uses bad grammar and misspells words. And instead of striking up a general "Who are you" conversation, he wants to meet up. Soon. Ehhhh.... I'm not that invested, thus not that enthused about the immediate meet-for-drinks, so I try to slow him down in my response.

He still wants to meet up, so we throw a few days around. Nothing is set in stone. Meanwhile, I have learned some things about him and his family that turn me off even more, so now I'm even less enthused. But then I do a sort of bad, not-nice and not-clean thing: I don't get back to him about a day we vaguely decided upon, and I go to L.A., not communicating with the boy for over a week.

Yesterday at church, I receive a mini-scolding from Church Lady about "standing him up" and "leading him on." Church Lady tells me that if I want to make a clean break, I just should, and that she won't be offended. I grin and bear it.

This morning, I send the boy an email apologizing for not getting back to him in a timely manner, and in effect telling him that I'm not really all that interested in meeting him (but I do this as gracefully as I can, I promise). He shoots me back a response. Here it is verbatim: "You should be sorry - try being honest next time."

EXCUSE ME?!?!?!?! What is the sudden slur on my character? Just because you are a pathetic mama's boy who communicates with a girl who is not impressed by you and doesn't want to have a drink with you, you think you can lash out and be a complete ASSHOLE?! Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Finance Guy, are you just so used to getting everything you want and having everything done your way, and playing women however you want, that you just don't know how to behave or just bow out gracefully when you get a clue? Or can you NOT get a clue? Back off, Louis. You don't know who you're messing with.


OK, now I'm in a royally foul mood. Someone say several cheery words to make me happy again!!!!

Friday, August 1


Sometimes, Hooch and I have down-time. Sometimes, we make our own down-time. In any event, during one of these intervals, a few months back, Hooch helped me plan an element of a bridal shower that I was co-throwing. We compiled a list of items that a guest might have in her purse or handbag at the shower for a kind of handbag bingo game.

I found this list while going through my emails. I share it with you. Your tax dollars hard at work:

hair dryer
pair of scissors
the yellow pages
a 2-liter bottle of soda
box of tissues
a ream of paper
picture frame
coffee maker
a change of long underwear
coffee mug
pair of boots
giant jar of unsalted peanuts
a purse
8 empty beer bottles
linguini with clam sauce

Eh, it was funny. I guess you had to be there . . .
TGIF . . .

1. What time do you wake up on weekday mornings? First alarm goes at 7:00am, snooze till 7:09am, snooze again till 7:18am, snooze again till 7:27am, and finally roll myself off the bed onto the floor. I might lie there with my arm covering my eyes for a few more moments before heaving myself up and starting my day. Or I might fall asleep again.

2. Do you sleep in on the weekends? How late? Not since March, it seems. I need to stop filling my calendar, and the ICE needs to stop having 9am classes. However, since NHF moved to 2:30pm, I've been able to catch up by lolling in bed until noon on Sundays. Although lying in bed after 9am makes my back hurt . . .

3. Aside from waking up, what is the first thing you do in the morning? Make my bed. I always make my bed. If I don't, I can't go to bed at night.

4. How long does it take to get ready for your day? From the moment I step into the bathroom to the moment I step into my car . . . at regular pace: 35 minutes; at hyper-speed: 17 minutes; at I'm-going-to-be-late-today-and-I-love-it pace: 48 minutes.

5. When possible, what is your favorite place to go for breakfast? I'm a big sucker for the local diner on any random weekend. If I feel like upgrading the dining experience, I quite enjoy French Roast in Manhattan. S&S Deli in Somerville, MA was memorable during my Boston years.