Wednesday, December 31


Tonight, I take down my 2003 calendar(s), and put up the ones with "2004" emblazoned across the cover. Okay, that's after the effects of whatever I imbibed wear off and I clean myself up a little bit. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow morning. Or tomorrow afternoon, instead. And we all will face writing "03" on our checks and correspondence until about mid-April. How strange, the passage of time.

Normally, around this time of the year, I get a bit morose. As I see the new year rushing full-speed at me, I start to get heavy-hearted and teary-eyed thinking about things like "my parents are getting older" or "I'm still not married or anywhere close to it" or "what have I done with my life" or "when I was 8 years old -- now, those were the good old days." I lie in bed at night and deliberately conjure up memories from my past: moments that will never be recreated, times when I was completely happy and oblivious to the cares of the world, when I totally indulged myself and felt loved by everything and everyone around me. I let the waves of nostalgia wash over me, until I can feel my heart clench and the tears squeeze out the corners of my eyes as I long for those particular events and days, foolishly thinking that they were better than the days I'm having now.

That hasn't happened so much this year. Of course the morose thoughts still take a stroll through my brain every now and then, and various friends of mine, especially C and Hooch and my NHF goils have been on the receiving end of my "I wish I could see into the future and know that everything will work out somehow" rants. But this year has been a little different from all years past.

It was very full. A lot of stuff happened this year. From January 1, 2003, to today, my calendar (all my calendars) has been chock full of events, occurrences, big steps, and major changes. I went to more weddings than ever and ran around in high heels for more hours than I would have ever imagined in my worst nightmares. I ingested more ice cream in the span of one summer than I have in the past five years. I had consecutive late nights having the most fun ever. I had baseball games and dinners out and jaunts in the city and trips out of state and drives around the neighborhood and hikes in the woods. I had one speeding ticket, four parking tickets, two fender-benders, and one ripped-off front bumper. Poor Good Girl. I had two rounds of home renovation, both of which went (and are still going) weeks overdue! I had Sunday afternoons lying out on grass with my friends. I had cozy evenings in front of the TV with special friends, and early mornings rushing to work with my eyes barely open, but a smile on my face. I saw Foxwoods, Tampa, L.A. and Albany. Yay, Albany. I had a couple of trials at work and one major decision that took months to do, and for which I suffered a constant incoming barrage of indestructible candy corns from Hooch. I am now an auntie to seven babies (soon to be eight), and godmother to one. I was almost constantly tired, but so so happy and felt so so alive this year, surrounded by family and friends so precious to me.

This year was also one incredibly packed learning experience, more than twenty years of schooling combined. I learned about my work ethic: how I need to bone up on my weaknesses and ask for cultivation of my strengths. I learned how to be a friend and not take advantage of the fact that my friends love me and will forgive me for the wrongs that I do. I learned how to be patient and flexible when the hallways of the house are filled with dust and boxes and paint cans and ladders and I can barely walk to take a pee, much less cook myself or my family a meal in the non-existent kitchen. I learned how to support my friends through hard times and to listen to them and sympathize, even if I am unequipped to offer advice or a solution. I learned how to put aside a negative first impression and give someone a chance, just because it's the right thing to do, even if I am disappointed in the process. I learned how to love someone openly, honestly and with abandon, and the importance of communication (or trying to communicate) in maintaining a significant friendship. I learned how to laugh in all circumstances and in all rooms of the house, and that rehashed jokes are not always a bad thing. I learned that the past does come back to haunt you, or at least to visit for a short while, and that everyone knows everyone knows everyone, so it's important, like Dad says, to be me and to be real with all the people I meet. I learned that I need to be more generous, kinder, more compassionate, more patient, more diligent, more attentive, more selfish at times, less road-rage-y, more relaxed about certain things, more trusting in certain people, less fearful, more adventurous, less unreasonably cautious, more confident, less doormat, more encouraging, less judgmental, more discerning, less outspoken, more thoughtful, more faithful. I learned that being physically fit does make a huge difference. I learned that I am stronger than I thought and had more endurance than I thought and that my body can take me places I didn't think it could. I learned that I certainly do have friends who will stick by me through anything and everything, despite distance or differences in circumstance and philosophies. I learned that it is true that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. I learned that the best-laid plans don't always work out, but second-best-laid plans are good too. I learned that stepping off the edge and doing something slightly forbidden and slightly scary can be totally rewarding and worthwhile. I learned that putting on a smile even when I don't feel like it can make the smile soak through to the inside sometimes. I learned to drive manual. I learned to appreciate the outdoors more. I learned that having high expectations isn't always a good thing, but keeping high standards is.

See, I had a very busy year, and I am still trying to figure it all out.

I don't see how 2004 can bring anything that will top anything that I've lived in 2003. But of course, just when I think things can't get any better, they always do. And just when I think things can't any worse, they always do. Such is my life, such is all of our lives. And we keep chugging along, doing our thing, making the best of our circumstances, trusting in God to keep us going, praying for safety and for peace, relying on our friends and family to hold us up when we lag and to let go and applaud when we rise up.

I hope that if you choose to reflect on the last 365 days, your thoughts, like mine, are just as warm, happy, sad, confused and utterly, totally, completely, to-the-bones satisfying, and that when you lie in bed and look back, like I do, you squeeze out tears of gratitude and fulfillment, as I will.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 30

BOORISH = chuffy, churlish, loutish, vulgarian
I hate jerks.

Monday, December 29

WEIRD . . .

My personality has apparently changed. I am now an ISFJ, more "sensing" than "intuitive," whatever that means. Go check out the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, and have some fun yourself!

In light of discussion yesterday evening, here are some words of wisdom, courtesy of ML:

Those who know much speak little; those who speak much know little.

-- Chinese Proverb



For Christmas, Hooch gave me a gift to warm the hearts of nerds around the world: "The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate." This slim book is an absolute gold mine of words one would never really use in conversation -- or blogging -- but are fun to say anyway. They are words that make Hooch and I go "ooooh" in glee and awe whenever we hear them. Today, we have:

SOLICIT = importune; supplicate

Enjoy it and embrace it.


Finishing: Common Nonsense Addressed to the Reading Public, by Andy Rooney
Starting to read: Truman, by David McCullough
Listening to: Under Construction, Missy Elliott
Watched: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Saturday, December 27


1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year? I can't think of simply one that is special enough to stand on its own, so here's my list of things for which I am particularly thankful: maintaining my significant friendships with the likes of Ha, Hooch, JKA, Soy, Mrs.G, Banana, NRL and my ever-present L.O.L.'s ... developing a singularly true friendship with C ... running (and only a very little bit walking) the Komen 5k Race for the Cure ... achieving a level of fitness and health that I've never had before ... another year at home and still loving my parents ... handling a whole bunch of "grown-up" events, foreseen and unforeseen, on my own and with my own wits.

2. What was your biggest disappointment? The only true disappointment I can think of is a pretty common one: trusting and befriending a person, only to learn that s/he is not all that s/he was cracked up to be, that s/he is not the person s/he portrayed him/herself to be, that s/he is more fallible and less trustworthy than first appeared, that s/he is more willing to turn on me at the first sign of difficulty in the friendship than I was to turn on him/her, and most frustrating of all, being completely powerless to do anything about it or to protect myself from the hurt caused by this person.

3. What do you hope the new year brings? Here's my honest list: my true love, a 2-bedroom condo, an end to living in fear, medical school admission for Cheech, easy times for my parents, better health for Gran, a healthy baby fruit for the G's, smooth sailing for NHF, and more and more adventures in travel, work, love and friendship so that I don't regress into boredom or complacency, and so I continue to learn what this living-life-and-loving-it thing is all about.

4. Will you be making any New Year's resolutions? If yes, what will they be? No way! No restrictions, baby!

5. What are your plans for New Year's Eve? As discussed with Cheech, New Year's Eve is grotesquely overrated, and any grand plans never turn out to be as fantabulous as one would hope. As a result of no grand-planning in recent years, I've discovered that the best formula is relaxing in jeans and a sweater with my chill-and-groovy friends, chowing down on potluck-but-near-gourmet munchies, sipping (or gulping, whatever the case may be) ML's coquitos, playing silly games that get sillier as the night progresses, embracing my friends at midnight in appreciation of each other, then coming home to stay up chatting with my family until near-dawn ... and sipping more beverages. Hee hee! This no-fault formula will be re-enacted this year, courtesy of Chez Laboy. Looking forward to it ...

Wednesday, December 24

AN A.D.D. KIND O' DAY . . .

I was alone at the office today, holding down the fort for the half-day that chambers was open. After a month of feeling like I wasn't into the holiday spirit, I now am. PEK's sermon on Sunday helped to turn things around: keeping in mind that "the Christmas spirit" isn't something that I have to have to make people around me happy, or even to make myself happy, but something that should just be in me, knowing that the true celebration is Christ's birth, and thus the opportunity for everyone, including myself, to experience Perfect Friendship and unending grace and eternal life. So in that vein, I hope you all experience, this year and during this season, a deep peace and an honest significance.

It also helps that I'm looking forward to having Cheech home so we can lounge in front of the TV sleepily in our pajamas, buried under heavy Korean blankets ... and on Thursday, we will again be mauled and harangued and beaten at Connect Four by our adorably precocious cousins ... and on Friday, I'll head to the depths of Joisey to spend a couple of days with my L.O.L.'s, with whom I have now been causing mischief for over seven -- that's right, count 'em, SEVEN -- years! Joisey will never be the same after we're through with it ...


Some more unfocused thoughts ...

... John Kerry took out a $6million mortgage on his house to try to continue to fund his presidential campaign. Yikes...

... UNICEF says that right now, at least 11 million children under the age of 15 in sub-Saharan Africa have lost at least one parent to AIDS. ELEVEN MILLION CHILDREN. How can I even fathom that? ...

... one of Queen Elizabeth II's corgis was killed by her daughter Princess Anne's English bull terriers. At the risk of being harassed by PETA, allow me to just confess that I find that hysterically (and concededly, inappropriately) funny ...

... Mrs.G is heading out to the Land O' Danger on Friday morning for a week. Uh, that would be California, home of the earthquake and the specified terrorist threat alerts. Godspeed, Mrs.G -- you bring yourself and the Little Melon home safely, please ...

... Camp Capio is heading south for the winter, or at least for two weeks. Mom, Dad, twin infants and a crazed Jack Russell terrier who insists on sitting in the front seat of the car at all times. GOOD LUCK and safe travel to yous also ... and I promise not to tamper with your mail ...

... flights from Paris to L.A. and L.A. to Paris have been cancelled because of red flags that appeared on passenger manifests. Surface-to-air missiles have been set up in certain areas. Warplanes are on random patrol in select cities. What a world we live in. People, please be careful, please be safe, please have a great Christmas, and please, let's stop hurting each other ...


I dreamt last night that I used the stairs to get to chambers instead of the elevator, as I usually do. However, the stairs were narrow, steep and made of steel tubing, so that I had to watch my step and not look over the railing lest I start to feel unstable and unwittingly slip. All of a sudden, I was struck with a bad case of vertigo, and though I tried to look up towards the doorway through which I needed to exit the stairway, my eyes kept being drawn to the railings around me, the steps underneath me and the floor below me. Somehow, Hong appeared and coached me up the stairs and when I exited the stairway into what should have been the courthouse lobby, I had to walk through a luxury shopping mall to get to chambers. The mall was full of Japanese tourists and blaring Christmas carols. The CSO's were going nuts trying to maintain crowd control. And the only two things I could think in my dream were (1) "Why the heck are there Japanese tourists in my courthouse and why are they all shopping at Louis Vuitton?!" and (2) "Don't throw up, don't throw up, don't throw up."


After opening our Christmas presents this evening, Omma engaged in a "look at the stretches I do before and after my daily walk on the treadmill" presentation. Calves, thighs, ankles, back, hips, arms, shoulders -- she showed us all of it, even getting down on the floor to show us her modified yoga moves. Her grand finale was a series of push-ups -- real push-ups, not the girlie on-your-knees push-ups that I can barely manage to do. Cheech and I stared agape, disbelieving that our mother was capable of such things. Appa, not to be outdone but also not ever having done a single moment of exercise in his life, got down on the floor himself and proceeded to do a few push-ups before mock-buckling to his knees and panting exaggeratedly. They both lay on the floor stretching -- or in Appa's case, pretending to stretch -- for the next ten minutes.

So let this be a lesson to all you grown children out there: do not allow your parents to imbibe more than two glasses of wine at dinner.


MERRY CHRISTMAS. God bless all of you, and may His peace and grace be with you tonight, tomorrow, and all your days.

Monday, December 22


Immediately after my last post, I leaned back in my chair to put some eyedrops in my eyeballs, looked up at the ceiling, and saw the juiciest spider evah -- yes, EVAH -- staring back at me, taunting me as if to say "I am going to stay here as long as you stare at me. I am going to out-stare you because eventually you will have to go to the bathroom. When you go to the bathroom, I am going to lower myself from this ceiling and (a) you will either walk right into me and freak out; or (b) you won't see me anymore and freak out because you will imagine me crawling through your clothes or into your purse or into your bed or around your bookshelves." Yes, the juicy spider said all of this, and was very vicious about it too.

What is a 20-something, post-graduate-educated, intelligent, ambitious, strong, stubborn, first-born woman to do? Remain seated and alternately feel panic, disgust and nausea, natch.

Finally, I had enough. I grabbed the heaviest magazine I could find in my room -- sorry, Real Simple, but as you are neither a light-weight magazine nor really simplifying, you were the chosen one. I hopped up onto my bed, took a deep fortifying breath, and horizontally SLAPPED Real Simple onto the ceiling as hard as I could manage, fully expecting that Juicy would be smooshed and stuck onto the magazine, which would fall flat onto the floor, from which I could gingerly pick it up with just two fingers and deposit it in the recycling bin downstairs. Most of that happened.

The violent horizontal slap worked out very well. It did indeed kill Juicy. Unfortunately, while Real Simple fell flat on the floor as intended, Juicy was left hanging onto the ceiling by one pathetic little leg. Also, Real Simple left a two-inch-long gouge/mark on my ceiling. Rats. As I hopped down from the bed and stared up -- open-mouthed, of course -- at the gouge and the stuck spider, it fell. Yes, the dead spider FELL. It missed my open mouth by mere centimeters. I, naturally, SCREAMED LIKE A BANSHEE. It was the most shrill, most spontaneous, most fearful scream ever to have been sent forth from my mouth.

And it was completely ignored by Omma and Gran, chatting in the room next door. Sheesh.

Well, long story short, after some verification as to Juicy's actual deceased state, I wadded up about three Kleenex and picked up his lifeless form, smooshed it some more for good measure and buried it in my trash can. The gut-smeared Real Simple, the heavy December volume, went into the recycling bin, cover facing down just in case. And I ... well, I laughed at myself and decided I just needed to share that with you all.

Don't you shudder to think that one of these days, I want to be out there fighting crime?!


Courtesy of the Chief of Staff, I give you the following latest-thing-being-passed-around-on-email. This is particularly meaningful to us given our residencies, our recent trip to balmy Florida, and our fanatical and irrational devotion to our Boys, the New York Yankees. Enjoy:

New England Temperature Conversion Chart
...60° F: Southern Californians shiver uncontrollably. People in New England sunbathe.
...50° F: New Yorkers try to turn on the heat. People in New England plant gardens.
...40° F: Italian & English cars won't start. People in New England drive with the windows down.
...32° F: Distilled water freezes. The water at Moosehead Lake in Maine starts getting cooler.
...20° F: Floridians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats. People in New England throw on a flannel shirt, buttons open.
...15° F: New York City landlords finally turn up the heat. People in New England have the last cookout before it gets cold.
...0° F: All the people in Miami die . New Englanders close the windows.
...10° below zero: Californians escape en masse to Mexico. Girl Scouts in New England sell cookies door to door.
... 25° below zero: Las Vegas disintegrates. People in New England rummage around the attic to find some winter coats.
...40° below zero: Washington DC runs out of hot air. People in New England let the dogs sleep indoors.
...100° below zero: Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. Some New Englanders are frustrated when they can't start their "kahs".
...460° below zero (absolute zero on the Kelvin Scale): All atomic motion stops. People in New England start saying "Cold 'nuff for ya?"
...500° below zero: Hell freezes over. Red Sox win World Series.

Bah-rum-bum. Thank you, thank you, the 10 o' clock will be different from the 8 o' clock.
SARAH . . .

My all-time favorite Sarah McLachlan song ... it's kind of morbid, I think, though one can never be sure, but the driving beat and the quality of her voice always gets me ... it's in Good Girl's CD player right now:

Hold on
Hold on to yourself
for this is gonna hurt like hell
Hold on
Hold on to yourself
you know that only time will tell
What is it in me that refuses to believe
this isn't easier than the real thing
My love
you know that you're my best friend
you know I'd do anything for you
my love
let nothing come between us
my love for you is strong and true

Am I in heaven here or am I...
at the crossroads I am standing
So now you're sleeping peaceful
I lie awake and pray
that you'll be strong tomorrow and we'll
see another day and we will praise it
and love the light that brings a smile
across your face

Oh god if you're out there won't you hear me
I know that we've never talked before
oh god the man I love is leaving
won't you take him when he comes to your door

Am I in heaven here or am I in hell
at the crossroads I am standing
So now you're sleeping peaceful
I lie awake and pray
that you'll be strong tomorrow and we'll
see another day and we will praise it
and love the light that brings a smile
across your face...

Hold on
hold on to yourself
for this is gonna hurt like hell

Ahhh, the Tampa Bay Area. It's such a weird place and we make fun of it all the time, yet we keep going back. Our second trip to the area in two years ... what exactly is the draw? Who knows, but there are highlights nonetheless ...

... after morning spa treatments, Wong, Hong and I hit the road and head into Tampa for a late lunch. The strip we hit, near the Yankees' spring training facility, reminds me a lot of Joisey: endless two-way mini-highway with lots of strip malls and restaurants on either side. In addition to the not-quite-warm weather, this gives us another reason to mutter "we could've stayed in the New York area for this ...." After lunch, we spend almost three hours in ... a Borders bookstore, reading magazines and sipping tea. Hey, don't make fun. "It's Tampa," we reason. "What the heck else is there to do?!"

... we pick up the Chief of Staff at the airport and head back to the Resort to lay around and do nothing of any significance. Everyone checks their email and surfs the Web. See -- you can tease me all you want for bringing Bob on vacation with me, but if I can't survive without the Internet, neither can you!

... cheap but delicious seafood dinner, and we all came back with a major case of gas and/or constipation. God bless vacations and the inability to use the bathroom with ease because it isn't our own.

... 9am Total Body Conditioning class? 2 miles on the treadmill starting at 10am? Breakfast? Yeah, right. We all lay abed until about 11 o' clock. I wake up just to take a phone call, and soaked in some warm morning rays on the balcony while chatting away. I come back inside -- Wong, Hong and the Chief are still sleeping. I crawl back into bed, too.

... I eat lunch in the Resort restaurant in a spa bathrobe, flip-flops, and nothing else. Interesting experience.

... after reconvening in the late afternoon, we decide to head out ... to Disney World. Ideally, we would have wanted to ride some rides at night, but it just wasn't worth it. So we brave the cold -- how does 35-degrees in South Florida sound to you? -- and stroll the Marketplace, picking up last-minute Christmas gifts, eating dinner at a chic-chic seafood place called Fulton's Crab House. You all must eat there. It is expensive, but utterly worth it.

... we continue to shiver and stroll through the park, stopping in at the Virgin Megastore (again, we could've stayed in the NY area for this, but why?) before hauling our aged, prematurely tired selves back to the car, and back to the Resort. Man, we are sleepy folks.

It was not an overly-packed weekend. In fact, the four of us did very little of anything. But for some reason, as always, it was totally fun, totally relaxing, totally worth the time and money. And, with most of the L.O.L.'s gathered in one location, it was a chance to plan our next vacation extravaganzas: sleepover and mama-kidnapping at KimKim's, Red Mountain revisited, Block Island when it's warm, Nantucket when it's cold, Boston to see the Chief's menagerie, and Tuscany when Hong buys her house there.

Friday, December 19


1. List your five favorite beverages. (a) Hazelnut coffee with Equal; (b) lukewarm water; (c) skim chai tea; (d) Killian's Red; (e) Rosemount Shiraz.

2. List your five favorite websites. (a); (b); (c); (d); (e)

3. List your five favorite snack foods. (a) salty potato chips; (b) salty french fries; (c) salty popcorn; (d) clementines; (e) ginger snap ice cream.

4. List your five favorite board and/or card games. (a) Cranium; (b) hearts; (c) Trivial Pursuit; (d) Taboo; (e) Monopoly.

5. List your five favorite computer and/or game system games. (a) Alchemy on Yahoo! Games; (b) old-school Super Mario Bros.; (c) traditional stand-by Solitaire; (d) Space Invaders; (e) Q-Bert.

Thursday, December 18


I like this being alone thing. It not only makes me super-prolific as a blogger (any therapist worth her salt would definitely tell me that Bob, my laptop, is a source of security, an outlet for my inner thoughts, and that I should really learn to communicate better face-to-face with people instead of conveying all my thoughts and feelings via a computer), but makes me think in general. Mostly about happy things -- how I would live my life, how I hope my life turns out, how I'm glad I am the way I am or how I should change certain not-so-great things about myself. My day has come full circle, and so, I believe, have my thoughts. I began my morning with a knot in the pit of my stomach watching a tired, haggard, end-of-her-rope mother try to deal unsuccessfully with her three small children, and began the end of my day with a serene and filling dinner, listening to murmured and intimate conversations undulate around me.

There were lots of pairs of friends in the dining room tonight, mostly gal pals. Myself and an older woman were the only singletons in the small room, all of us being served by just two waitpersons. At the far end of our row sat a woman in a spa robe, her hair still wet from something or other, laughingly declaring that she had to order from the special low-calorie "Spa Menu," but getting the crabcake appetizer, the steak dinner, and TWO mini-cheesecakes, as well as a milky-looking cocktail ... she was effervescent and brash-sounding, but cute nonetheless in the way she enjoyed her meal and carried on a hilarious conversation with her dinner mate. I could be friends with her ...

One table closer to me sat the other singleton -- an older woman, probably about 65 years old. She seemed ... bitter. And declared food allergies galore. Ultimately, she ordered the salmon, but indicated that she could not have certain shellfish, pork, certain vegetables, and a certain type of sauce base associated with her salmon. My prevailing thought: why even bother? The dish came back near-naked, but our waiter was more than gracious, even when she actually PICKED up a decorative piece of sundried tomato from the top of the salmon filet and FLUNG it off her plate. I could definitely not be friends with her ...

Next to me sat the loveliest couple-in-their-60s that I had ever laid eyes upon. The husband, 6 feet tall with a kind craggy face; the wife, 5 feet tall with a smooth face lined with 60 years' worth of laughs and giggles. They sat and murmured their way through the meal, and were just too cute for words. In fact, they ORDERED for each other! Normally, I think that would probably cause me to faux-gag, but in the moment, it showed me how they cared for each other, how they made the tiniest moves to display their continuing regard for each other. And the best part: they were asking each other trivia questions! Even while referring to their long life spent together, one would ask the other "so, what was your favorite book as a child?" or "what was your favorite toy and what happened to it?" or "what book are you reading now and what do you like about it?" To have been together for so long, apparently, and to still be discovering things about each other ... if I didn't have food in my mouth, I would have shed a smiley tear or two. As it was, I was listening too intently to their conversation and at the same time, was very focused on not showing that I was listening so intently ... my only thought was: I hope I grow old with someone about whom I will always continue to learn new things, for whom I will never run out of questions, whose food choices I can predict, whom I can trust with my own food choices. Those things sound so miniscule and insignificant in the grand scheme of a life-long relationship, and honestly, I can only think of one man in my entire life with whom I could even begin to live out any of those hopes, but ... I want to be them when I'm 60 ...

Another couple of hours and my vacation companions will join me, and my self-imposed silence will be over. I always enjoyed Retreats of Silence in my college Christian Fellowship days. Today was a lot -- me, alone with all my thoughts for almost an entire day. In fact, my voice is a bit hoarse from non-use. I spoke with C and M earlier, and I had to strain to make noise come out of my throat. I expect by tomorrow, I'll be back to my normal talkative self. Or I might sit back and listen to my friends instead and see what's going on inside their heads. Or maybe we'll all just sit quietly and listen to the conversations around us, thinking, thinking, thinking ...

I love surreal days like today.

I got up at 5:09 a.m., took a shower with my eyes closed the entire time, and I swear I was still half-asleep, and hit the road to get to the airport by 7:00 a.m.. I fell back asleep the moment I buckled my seat belt on the plane before take-off, and didn't even twitch until the wheels hit the runway at landing.

I took a leisurely shuttle bus to the resort here in Florida, checked in and explored every nook and cranny of our room. The bathroom is humongous and has three -- yes three -- doors, and you can enter it from two different sides. I shouldn't be so enthralled by a hotel bathroom, but I am.

I got my Ethernet connection hooked up because I truly am a nerd, and there just ain't no denying it. Then I hit the road to explore the tiny town of Safety Harbor. Florida is a weird place and I could never live here. Everything is flat and pink and palm tree-y. And random people on the street say "hello" to me. It scared me the first two times it happened; then I caught on and the reply smile came naturally to me as I felt myself begin to relax.

I came back to the resort and explored the hotel and spa, snooping in every room. I finally decided to get my lazy bum in gear, and hit the gym for an invigorating workout. On the way back to our room, I saw a lonely housekeeping cart, its owner nowhere in sight, so of course I nabbed some extra shampoo and lotion. They smell nice. A slow hot shower and a change of clothes, and here I am.

I'm totally relaxed. I haven't been this relaxed since ... well, since the last time I was this relaxed and at peace. My L.O.L.'s don't get in until tonight, so I have another 6 or so hours to myself, and I was tempted to turn on the television and truly veg out, but I realized: the quiet is soooo nice. From where I sit, nerding away on Bob, I can see straight out our balcony sliding doors; the glittering of Safety Harbor's waters is almost blinding, but the winter sun is still soothing down here. There are boats anchored against the docks, people strolling on the grounds of the resort, the distant whirring of car engines as they trundle through the town. The breeze is starting to get chilly; I'll slide the door shut soon, and continue to stare and think and unwind for another few hours before heading down to a quiet and thoughtful dinner by myself. My sleepy 5:09 a.m. shower seems so long ago.

There are lots of people I would want to share this quiet with; three of them will be joining me soon. Until then ... I'm just winding down.

I am this much of a nerd: I'm sitting in front of my departure gate at LaGuardia Airport at 7:15 in the morning, sipping coffee, munching a bran muffin, people-watching as usual. I'm surrounded by the usual crowd of suits: the guy across from me looks a bit like a cleaner, smarter Jean-Claude Van Damme and he's on his way to Washington, D.C. to "close the deal up." The guy two seats over from him looks like a lawyer -- we can spot each other anywhere -- and he's desperately trying to catch some zzz's, even while sitting up. But he's aggravated by the lady sitting next to me.

She is a tall, big-boned woman with curly, dyed-carrot-colored hair. She's wearing a pink baby-T shirt that is about four sizes too small and has a messy tattoo emblazoned on her left bicep, the name of one of the three children she is trying to corral around her. She's also cursing a blue streak and slapping her kids around. Ouch.

The baby's milk bottle seems to have leaked through the woman's backpack. "FUCK!" she yells. The middle child, a girl about 4 years old, whispers "fuck." The lady starts whining to her 4-year-old about the leaky and messy milk bottle; the 4-year-old turns to her 8-year-old brother for comfort, hugging him from behind. He turns, pushes her away so that she falls and says "shit." The lady is haphazardly unpacking her backpack in an effort to find the troublesome bottle. "Who the fuck did this? Shit, shit, shit. The fucking bottle. Now the baby has no fucking milk. Shit, this is the last thing I need today." The little girl and little boy just stand off to the side, watching their mother have a mini-meltdown. The boy approaches his mother, almost gingerly, as if to say "can I help?" Instead, she turns, glares at him, growls "what the fuck are you looking at?" and smacks him upside the head. For no apparent reason. His jaw clenches and he turns away, extending a hand to his little sister so they can take a few steps away and play by themselves.

The lady continues her meltdown. Something has dropped from her backpack onto the ground and her middle daughter points it out. "I don't fucking care about that right now," she states. "I don't care either," says the little girl, rolling her eyes but turning away with a frown on her face. Finally, the lady has sat down and composed herself. She looks so, so weary; so, so unhappy. As her children go up to the window to watch the airplanes, she stays in her seat, supervising -- or rather, screaming -- from afar. "Do not fucking push the baby!" she scolds her older daughter. Her son points to a plane, declares "I want to be there." "Fucking get on it then and see what happens to you," his mother replies with a glare. God, sometimes I hate people-watching.

The poor lawyer, trying to sleep -- he has given up and is now reading his newspaper with a sleepy look on his face. The guy flying to D.C. is watching the scene with as much uncertainty and near-disdain as I am. And me ... well, I'm horrified. I know it's hard raising children, much less caring for them even for a few hours by yourself. I know it's hard to always be patient. I know that parenting classes are few and far-between. I know that traveling with three young children must be stressful and hectic. I know that sometimes, there is a temptation to lash out, yell a "shut up" just to get some temporary relief, push someone -- even a child -- away just so you have a few seconds to yourself.

But I also know that I would be embarrassed to treat anyone, especially my own children, like this, especially in public. At least in public, I would control myself. At least in public, I would not curse in front of my children, or curse at all -- it's so tasteless and loses its effect and meaning when over-used anyway. At least in public, I would not smack my children -- I sit here now helpless, wondering what, if anything, I should do or say, but nothing stops another, bolder, braver person from speaking up to defend these small children, if only for the 15 minutes that they are in each other's lives.

I don't know what's going on in this lady's life. I don't know why she's alone with her three kids at an airport at 7:15 a.m. on a Thursday. I don't know anything about her. But I feel for her; I feel for her kids. And I just hope and pray that their day gets better ...

Wednesday, December 17

IT'S OVER . . .

The saga has ended and I'm exhausted. We finished "All In" last night in one mega-four-hour session, punctuated by Indian food, pasta and fussy vaccinated babies. Episodes 21, 22 and 23 -- the episodes leading up to the grand finale -- were excellent, totally full of everything that makes a cheesy Korean drama miniseries perfection. Lots of pensively looking out the window holding a snifter of liquor, lots of flashbacks and rehashed conversations, lots of neatly choreographed fighting and a really cool dude with a Kendo stick, lots of "I'm so heartsick and pale, look at me, I'm not even wearing lipstick for this scene." It was awesome.

And then came the finale. It sucked. How can you wrap up 23 hours of drama, enmity, true love and criminal Mafia connections in one hour-long episode? You can't, and apparently neither can SBS, the Korean channel which produced "All In." Waaaah. It's never a good sign when the viewers are having conversations separate and distinct from the action on the TV screen, when Kwon is using C's laptop to IM with his friends, when C is desperately trying not to fall asleep and I am coddling one of the fussy Noodles on my lap while trying to avoid the spot on her leg where she received multiple vaccination shots. Never a good sign.

So, it ended. Our it's-so-bad-it's-good-television addiction has been broken for now. (Of course, we're already on the hunt for the next senseless program in which to immerse ourselves, and a BIG THANK YOU to Camp Capio for always opening their resort to us!) I didn't get home until right before 1:00a.m. and today, I'm looking forward to another long evening ... with Legolas. YUM. Then early tomorrow morning, I embark on my much-needed vacay and downtime with my L.O.L.'s. I expect to spend much of it napping and wondering why the finale episode of something is never as good as it should be.

Tuesday, December 16


Many of my friends and family members have been asking me "What do you want for Christmas?" My answer is always "nothing." I guess that's not the complete truth, and I shouldn't be surprised that no one believes me. Of course, there's always stuff I want for no important reason: more books, more clothes, a condo. But when I stop to think about it, what the heck am I going to do with all this stuff? (Aside from the condo, that is.) I don't need anything more, not with the limited space I have at home now anyway, and certainly not with me buying all this stuff for myself all the time! And besides, I really should learn to use my library card more, and not buy the same sweater in three different colors (although I still believe that is a cost-efficient way of maximizing one's wardrobe).

Luckily, there exists, which enables those who love me to give charitably in my name on special occasions, or just because. The site allows one to set up a list of organizations she supports, and her friends and family members can check the site, look her up, review her list, and see which group -- if any -- they want to donate to.

This works out better for everyone, I think. For the giver, there's no pressure to try to telepathically divine what the receiver would really like to have -- especially if the receiver's answer is going to be something like "a 2-bedroom condo in a good school district with hardwood floors, parking and laundry in the unit." For the receiver who needs and wants nothing, it is the perfect diversion for the affection of those who who need and want to give a gift. For the benefiting organization, it is just a few more much-needed dollars it can use to enrich the lives and improve the healths of our neighbors.

Everyone should join up, especially those of us who already have everything I need to survive, and more. Knock on wood, my house hasn't been burned by forest fires, I haven't been stricken by a life-threatening illness, I eat 3 (or more) full and balanced meals a day, I can wear what I want and read what I want and don't have to work two or more jobs to support myself. I need nothing; some need everything. So whatever you think you want to give me, give to a worthy organization instead, and we'll all have a very lovely Christmas.

Yesterday in the mail, I received a gift for American Express Blue members: a set of appointment calendars -- a little pocket one and a big desktop version. They are NICE. Smooth suede-ish light grey covers with my monogram printed in the lower right-hand corner. Groovy and shimmery swirly-blue inside covers. Chock-full of random information like time zones, Western and Eastern zodiacs, weights & measures, airplane flight times between major cities, average temperatures in world cities, currency conversions, beer and wine definitions. Nice big spaces in which to write the day's appointments.

I love this stuff.

I love new calendars. Breaking the bindings, flipping through the clean, as-yet-unmarked pages, seeing what days holidays and birthday fall upon (Christmas is on a Saturday in 2004, meaning no extra day off for us working schlubs!). Writing my vital information (name and cell phone number only, thanks, although there are spaces for my SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER ... as if!) on the first page. Filling in my family and friends' birthdays and anniversaries, and marking court closures, all in different colored ink, natch. Entering my important anniversaries and friends' phone numbers in the back. When I go home this evening, I'll do the same in my large desktop version.

Seriously. Nothing satisfies a busy type-A soul like a new calendar. Thank you, American Express Blue.

Monday, December 15


Today was a rough day, and I needed a brainless evening. But it didn't turn out quite as I intended. Instead of zoning out to some senseless sit-com and being embarrassed about laughing at the canned jokes, I found myself thoroughly immersed in ... drumoll, please ... "Maternity Ward" and the evening lineup on HGTV: "Designers' Challenge," "Design on a Dime" and "House Hunters." Am I weird, or am I weird?

"Maternity Ward" always makes me cry. Now knowing so many women friends who have had babies or who are pregnant, and especially thinking of M, who could have been an episode of "Maternity Ward" all by herself, tonight's viewing was particularly weep-inducing. There was a twin born with his intestines completely developed outside his body; the pediatric surgeon had to cut a tiny hole in his abdomen and gently push it all back in where it belonged. There was a woman with triplets who had to be cut open early because the middle baby wasn't growing enough; that made me laugh actually because C is always joking that I'm going to have triplets so that he and M can come visit me in the hospital and bring me snacks. (I AM the queen of inappropriate laughter, after all.) There was a woman who delivered a premature baby ... and the baby weighed over NINE POUNDS. Yikes. Talk about intense ...

... but that was interspersed with "before" and "after" shots of one family's 20-year-old kitchen on "Designers' Challenge." It looked a lot like what our kitchen will look like ... if these guys ever decide to finish it. Sheesh. I have all these nice things from Williams-Sonoma ready to be used, guys! "Design on a Dime" transformed one dude's guest bedroom into something that now looks like a W Hotel room, complete with the mod bedding, monochromatic themes and floating shelves. Those floating shelves are cool in theory and look, but I just don't trust that they'll hold up. Also, I tend to break things that don't normally break, but that's a story for another day. The next episode revamped a woman's living room into a 'tropical paradise' but the bright blue walls were blinding. I had to switch back to "Maternity Ward" for a moment. And finally, "House Hunters" followed a young Korean-American couple as they found their PERFECT home ... which they then gutted and totally remodeled. I was also perturbed that they were so bland and boring. I hope I don't turn out like them.

And soon, I shall prepare for bed, and turn my mind to more scholarly pursuits. I am torn: do I fall asleep while reading a trashy romance, David McCullough's Truman, Motley Fool's Guide to Investing, last week's Sports Illustrated or browsing my mortgage application? Choices, choices ...

All I know is, tomorrow is a new day, and by the grace of God, I will live to see it and appreciate it's newness and not have to watch schizo TV again ...
Today is a shitty day.

Friday, December 12


This has been an extra-long week, recovering from the snow-storm, enduring the driving rain and flooding, trying to plan for Christmas, trying to maximize hanging out with my friends before I and they separate to do our own holiday things ... Today's Friday is extra-welcome, so here's my Friday Five:

1. Do you enjoy the cold weather and snow for the holidays? Yes. Winter is only my third favorite season of the year, but around the holidays, I'd much rather be cold and bundled in a warm sweater and blankets, hanging out with my family and friends in a cozy home full of food and drink and laughter, than muddle through a bizarrely warm Christmas like we had a few years ago. And at the risk of appearing extremely trite, I'm a sucker for white Christmases. Only because we strangely have so few.

2. What is your ideal holiday celebration? How, where, with whom would you celebrate to make things perfect? I much prefer low-key celebrations, whatever the occasion. For the holidays -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's -- the highlights are always food, food and FOOD. Korean food whipped up by the miracle-making hands of my mom and gran; an assortment of cuisines and tidbits meticulously created by friends; mouth-watering pastries bought at a favorite bakery; crates and crates of fresh fruit received as gifts. Gather a bunch of little piggies around, throw in some beer or wine or coquitos, a few games or an it's-so-bad-it's good movie or a friendly gamble around yut-nori or hwat-do, and it's juuuuust perfect.

3. Do you do have any holiday traditions? Not so much for Christmas, but on New Year's Day, we get up early, perform the traditional low bow to Gran and to Mom and Dad (and get money!), eat dduk-guk, spend the day mixing and frying bin-dae-dduk, then spend the evening gambling on Korean games (if you'll recall, this is where Cheech and I lose massive amounts of cash to our unscrupulous elders). It's soooo fun and we gain an average of 7 lbs per person in the span of 24 hours.

4. Do you do anything to help the needy? Yes, but I don't do it just around the holidays. That's just plain silly.

5. What one gift would you like for yourself? A condo.

Thursday, December 11


Dear Mr. Steinbrenner,

I am a New York Yankee fan, and have been since the age of 2, when my dad took me to my first Yankee game. In fact, my dad was a Yankee fan before he even immigrated to this country, following the team by reading the stories printed in the Korean newspapers in Seoul, where he grew up. My whole family, even my mom, supports the Yankees, year-round. Heck, my girlfriends and I have even traveled to Tampa to stalk ... I mean, watch, the team during Spring Training.

That is why it pains me to see what you're doing to the team now. Mr. Steinbrenner, I hate to say it, but ... you are not a very smart man. In fact, you're an idiot, you are selfish, you are greedy, you are thoughtless, you are a bad businessman, you waste money, and you have no baseball foresight whatsoever. You demand instant gratification to the detriment of team-building and fans' loyalty. Frankly, you annoy me.

Why did you sacrifice Andy Pettitte -- a young, loyal and eminently capable pitcher -- and spend all your time negotiating a piddly one-year deal with David Wells? In case you haven't noticed, Wells is a crybaby -- remember "Oh, my back hurts and I don't feel like pitching in the World Series anymore!" -- and a bully who likes to pitch big games hungover. He also just had back surgery, for crying out loud! And as if all that isn't bad enough, his uniform is always baggy and untucked! What the heck kind of Yankee is he?!

Why did you sacrifice Andy Pettitte -- a valuable, humble and respected team-member -- for Gary Sheffield, an aging pissy-pants? Sheff is going to be more headache than he's worth -- he's causing you and all of us agita even now, and he's not even IN pinstripes yet! If he ever ends up on the team, he could be our equivalent of that evil Manny Ramirez, but without the hitting power. Bad move, Mr. Steinbrenner, baaad move.

Why did you sacrifice Andy Pettitte -- a gentle and steady guy who uncomplainingly gave you the first nine years of his life in the major leagues -- with an eye on Kevin Brown? Please, could that guy be more injured at any given moment? And no offense to anyone above a certain age, but ... he's OLD. In baseball years, Brown is about 83. Did you even think about that, or about the long-term health and goals of this team you own but apparently care so little about? I mean, you practically drove Pettitte to Houston yourself, you silly little twit!

Yankee fans are becoming disgruntled and very, very displeased with you, Mr. Steinbrenner. It's one thing when we go up against a really good team and have to fight to the bitter end, only to lose a championship. It's a whole different story when you CREATE a bad team, when you CONTRIBUTE to the discontent among the teammates, when you DRIVE AWAY the loyal-to-the-death fans with your unwise and rash decisions. If you care about us fans at all, if you are able to look above your mock turtleneck and consider the overall atmosphere of the clubhouse and the mesh-ablity of the team at all, if you claim to have any baseball knowledge or sense or hope for future World Series rings, then I plead you to rethink your ways.

In fact, Mr. Steinbrenner, I have an astonishing proposition for you. BUILD A TEAM. Don't just take all your pens and sign off on humongous checks to a bunch of people with big names but lessening skills and increasing injuries. I never thought I would ever, ever say this, but ... I am willing to sacrifice a year or two of championship rings, if it means that we'll be building an EXCELLENT team, one that will roar back with a vengeance, chock full of young, but trained and capable players. Go after those young players, you fool! You can't stock the Yankees with 38-year-olds forever. There is true value in taking some green guys, pulling them up through the farm system, spending time and money on them and focusing on their development, teaching them to play major league baseball, training them to play under pressure in the greatest baseball city in the country. So what if you don't win a couple of World Series rings? Give it a few years, and once again, you will have a dynasty of players worthy of comparison to the championship teams of the late 1990s, players who are pumped and excited to play Yankee baseball ... not a bunch of jaded has-beens crying about their entitlements and flashing their overrated selves about town. So take your greed and overwhelmingly selfish desire for a pennant, Mr. Steinbrenner, and channel it wisely. Think AHEAD, and stop trying to instantly gratify yourself.

Vasquez, Mussina, Contreras, Wells, Lieber ... eh, they'll suffice. Will they get you that Ultimate Win that you so covet year after year? Next year, I don't think so. And before you call me a nay-sayer, a pessimist, a disloyal fan, consider your own actions first. You, Mr. Steinbrenner, had a real chance to maintain a worthy and formidable line-up, and you basically cut that worthiness and formidability in half by ignoring Andy Pettitte and giving him a wide-open door through which to hie himself back to Houston. Yes, Andy wanted to be with his family and he could have trotted out of New York DAYS ago, but he waited -- WAITED -- for you to ask him to stay, and you flaked on him. In fact, in all your off-season choices, you had the opportunity to make some wise long-term investments and show your commitment to baseball, to the Yankees, to the fans. In addition to soooo wanting (and needing!) Pettitte to stay with us, we also would have been willing to be patient with fresh young blood: kids who are fired up to play ball and who are passionate about learning how to play it well and who are open to being trained and cultivated and molded into a true Yankee, without whining or complaining or throwing big-name-type hissy fits. But you chucked Mr. Reliable and all that potential for I don't know what -- your own vanity? Your own misguided sense of wise business decision-making? Your own bizarre desire to play stupid games with the Boston organization?

Eh, this is useless. Your reputation precedes you, and I know that even if you read this letter, you wouldn't care. That makes me sad -- what fan wants to think that his or her loyalty to the team is for naught? But that's how you are, that's who you are. I don't have to like you, but I suppose I can't judge you either. Your tiny little brain probably thinks you are doing the right thing, and you just don't know any better. However, I would just encourage you to be mindful of your attitude right now, your misplaced priorities, your actions in recent days, and remember all this next year when our team isn't doing as well as you'd hoped, when we're getting spanked by the Red Sox, when Sheff is throwing another hissy and Wells is taking another nap to soothe his bad back. I'll be there. I'll be at those games because Bernie, Derek, Jorge and the other true Yankee gentlemen will be drawing me back. And I will soooo look forward to the moment when you wake up and smell the chewing tobacco and realize that you should have listened to me all along.

Thank you for your consideration, and Happy Holidays.

A Yankee F��

Wednesday, December 10


All of you who think you know me ... you don't know me. You don't know me when I leave work, or church, or any other public domain. You don't know what I do with my time, with whom I spend my time, and what the heck I'm wearing. You don't know what I think or what I feel or what the look on my face is. You just don't know.

So let me tell you.

I'm sitting on our downstairs couch, under a heavy Korean dam-nyo -- a faux mink blanket that weighs about as much as a small but well-fed elephant. I am wearing a really sexy -- in a ratty kind of way -- dark blue sweatshirt dating from my college intramural indoor soccer days and a pair of grey sweatpants with "COLUMBIA" printed down the left leg. I have yet to clean off the makeup from the work day or take out my contact lenses, but my hair is up in a ponytail, and my feet are safely ensconced in a pair of fluffy white slippers. I have an uneaten clementine on the coffee table in front of me, a bottle of water next to me, and Bob (my computer) on my lap.

And here's the true confession: I'm watching "Trista and Ryan's Wedding". And I'm not totally horrified.

I did not watch the original "Bachelorette" so I don't know anything about Trista and/or Ryan, except what I have read about them in the bible of entertainment and the source of all accurate news: People Magazine. They seem like nice people. She's a bit bubbly, isn't she? But as I don't have to associate with her 24/7, I don't find that too annoying. He seems like a nice guy, with an easy smile and a laid-back attitude. They seem to truly like -- and perhaps even LOVE -- each other, which I hope is the case, because they both seem pretty sweet.

But this wedding thing ... it's SO bizarre and gripping! I just can't look away, although every intelligent bone in my body is telling me -- nay, PLEADING with me -- to do so. First of all, pink is Trista's favorite color, apparently, so everything is pink. As one who has only recently started acquiring pink articles of clothing (and then, only in a dusky, heather-y sort of pink), I am appalled and partially blinded. I mean, everyone looks nice, and aside from the overflow of frilly flowers attacking me from the television set, it looks quite lovely wherever they are/were. But the pink ... it's driving me crazy.

In addition, there are three "hosts" -- one main host who constantly interjects with a softly whispered "and after this message, Trista walks down the aisle ... and the wedding of the decade begins." Oh, puh-leeze. This is, of course, alternated with his shooting the camera to his two co-hosts, a female loitering around Trista and her bridesmaids, and a male wandering amidst Ryan and his groomsmen. "How does Trista feel, knowing that she's leaving her bachelorette days behind in just a few moments?" "Great -- she looks radiant!" GAG.

Moreover, there are helicopters wagging about above the wedding site ... and they're LOUD. You can see the guests occasionally looking up into the night sky with annoyed and pursed looks on their faces. Ryan's parents, walking down the aisle with him, looked up and said "Oh my God, check out the helicopters!" And Trista, upon her exit onto the garden ceremony, exclaimed to her father "Are those HELICOPTERS?!" And now, I am watching as they exchange their vows -- personal letters they wrote to each other -- and all you can hear are the helicopters. Grrrrr. I'd be annoyed. Well, first of all, I guess I wouldn't have the ABC Network pay for and dictate my wedding ... but if I did, the helicopters would really annoy me.

And finally, the whole shindig is simply overdone. I mean, this event cost ABC over $3million. Come ON. Who really needs $83,000 worth of printed products? Heck, everyone should be spending agonizing hours accurately folding the invitations and horribly mangling the calligraphy while addressing the envelopes (hi, JKA), or staying up until 2:00 a.m. the night before the wedding hand-making the programs and obtaining multiple papercuts in the process (thanks, Soy). For free! (The helicopters are so RUDE!) Okay, okay, I'd swoon for a Badgley-Mischka couture wedding gown when my turn rolls around, but ... And again, everything is PINK. Not only is it driving me crazy ... I think it's making me itch now.

Well, enough griping. To tell the truth, I'm thoroughly entertained. The presider -- I'm assuming he's a minister -- is pretty hilarious, with his "hold his hand and look deep into his eyes" instructions and slicked-back hair. And Trista just LEAPT into Ryan's arms after their "I do's." Wow ... scary. The microphones reverberated really loudly. (I hope the reception is as much of a spectacle, because it's only 10:49 p.m. ...) And the best part: People Magazine is profiling the wedding in this week's issue, with an "inside look behind the scenes." AWESOME.

I don't know these people, but I hope they had fun at their $3million+ wedding. I hope Ryan wasn't too mad about all that pink stuff. And of course, I hope they have a happy and long life together. I hope they get to live lives away from the cameras and be real with each other.

And when my turn comes up, do remind me: no pink, no greasy ministers, and please, no helicopters.
BULLY . . .

We are such bullies. And crybabies. Wah, wah, wah. Just because a couple of nations -- alleged allies -- didn't support the (stupid and ineffectual and groundless) war in Iraq, now the U.S. is preventing them from bidding for reconstruction efforts in that country.

Grow up, America, and stop acting like a child. And someone get the Shrub out of office NOW.

Tuesday, December 9


I marvel at myself for admitting this, but ... there's just nothing in the world that compares to the Korean soap opera/miniseries. All the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy viewings, all the reality shows, all the talk shows and game shows and TLC quality programming simply cannot compete with the non-quality quality of the programming put out by Korean television studios.

Currently, I -- along with the residents of Camp Capio (yes, including the 8-week old Noodles), J2 and the Laboys -- am utterly and irrevocably sucked into "All In," a 24-episode miniseries about a good-hearted ggang-pae (gangster) whose expertise is in martial arts and gambling/cheating, his best friend/sidekick -- another ggang-pae, the love of his life -- a beautiful, innocent and compassionate young woman, and the overly-dramatic lives that they live, enduring every single hard knock that could possibly come anyone's way. I can't explain why I'm so sucked in. In fact, for about a month, I thoroughly teased C about his addiction to "All In," even though he's not even Korean and has to make do with the sub-par subtitles ... of course, as he likes to say, what goes around comes around, and now it's ME on the couch next to him, weeping at the injustice of unrequited love and laughing at the not-quite-Oscar-worthy performances.

One of the best things about these Korean miniseries is their consistency. For a while, the big thing in Korea was the traditional love triangle: girl likes boy who likes another girl. Then there was the historical Korean phase, where dynastic dramas about the royal Korean court abounded and all the actors wore lush traditional Korean outfits. More recently came the ggang-pae and girl-power fascination, with gambling, strong & sassy women who beat up on men, and street gangs were popular miniseries subjects -- "All In" was created during this phase. Right now, the big thing in Korea is a drama, again set in dynastic Korea, focused on the competition to produce the most elaborate culinary creations for the royal court -- kind of a glorified and Asian "Like Water For Chocolate."

No matter what the subject or era covered, they are all the same. There is always unrequited love. The main female protagonist is always beleaguered, always abused, always humble and never speaking out totally against the wrongs done against her, but still always kind and quiet and gentle, often seen staring into space daydreaming about her love or better days, with welling eyes and a tear perched JUST so on the swell of her cheek. The main male protagonist is always a bad guy with a good heart, whom you just can't HELP but adore. Sometimes, he too is beleaguered and encounters every imaginable bad luck; other times, he fights his way out of a bad situation to become uber-successful and triumph above his enemies who tried to lie and maneuver to bring him down. There is always a male sidekick, mainly present for humor value, even in the midst of the darkest drama. There is always a jealous woman who loves the Main Man and schemes against the Main Woman to get him; she never does, but she is treated kindly at the end by the Main Woman anyway. There is often a set of benevolent parents, as well as a corresponding set of vacuous, shallow and/or downright evil parents. In some, there is a doting and wise grandparent (usually a grandmother). And of course, the usual assortment of friends, business partners and random police officers ...

Trademark in these shows -- it would be SACRILEGE to not have such events -- is the "I can't BELIEVE it, this is making me SCREAM" coincidence. For example, Main Woman and Main Man break up their relationship for some stupid reason, then pass each other on the street in some random foreign country seven years later, but don't look in each other's directions. Talk about deep, heavy sigh! We also see the oft-used "Misunderstanding For Five Episodes" plot line ... five episodes of stagnant misunderstanding is about as much as I can take. After that, there just has to be resolution or I'll stop watching. Then there is the totally gut-wrenching "I Don't Want to See You Ever Again" episode, which is later nullified by the "I Always Loved You and Want to Spend the Rest of My Life With You" episode ... but it's truly agony until you get there. And of course, the chaste Korean kiss: no tongue as far as anyone can see. Just two sets of lips pressing up against each other in such a way as to imply impending sexual relations, but not too much so that the general, still-slightly-Confucian viewing public will be offended by tongue. In addition, if you are fortunate enough to be viewing a series with this option, you will experience the subtitles. Sometimes, the subtitles are more entertaining than the show itself. I don't know WHO they get to translate these subtitles ... they should hire ME. At least I wouldn't spell "bastard" as "bastarad," or "Baccarat" as "Bakara," or "bury" as (my favorite so far) "BURRY." Eh, you're better off just learning Korean and listening to the actors speak -- Korean is much more expressive than English in almost every instance anyway. And finally, there is the freeze-frame. This comes at the end of every episode, at some crazy pivotal moment, at the height of emotion and action, at the moment where you think you can't live without knowing what happens next. The theme music builds and BAM! The scene freezes and you are left whining "Noooooo!" and wringing your hands as you wonder "do I have time to watch another episode, or can I actually sleep and wake up and live another day and wait until I come home from work?" Sad, but true.

Anyway. I just pontificated for several paragraphs about Korean miniseries. I do apologize for that. But I just have to plug "All In." You all need to rent it and become addicted to it as we all have. Then go rent some more. You will wonder where the days have gone, and why you are still wearing your pajamas at 4 in the afternoon. And you will fall asleep thinking, "I wonder what happens next ..."

Monday, December 8

FORWARD, HO! . . .

Yesterday, a quorum of 49 NHF congregants voted overwhelmingly (47 to 2!!) to invite PEK to be our pastor, beginning January 1, 2004. He accepted ... and now, we have a pastor.

I should probably be jumping for joy. After all, it has been a really really difficult year and three months for the NHF family. At first, we were sad to see PK go and we drifted aimlessly for a couple of weeks. Then we kicked ourselves in the collective arse and flew into high gear, getting our services together, getting the children's programs moving, recruiting Sunday School teachers, organizing social events, and encouraging previously anonymous members to join in and DO something with us. In fact, socially speaking, my sense is that NHF truly came together as a family, especially the younger, under-40 folks. I certainly know that most of my weekends (and even most of my weeknights) were spent hanging out with these chuckleheads, doing nothing in particular, but enjoying every moment of it.

But even all this fun and sense of self-capability runs its course eventually, and in the late summer/early fall, I felt that our adrenaline had started to peter out. We needed a leader. Not someone to tell us what to do; not someone to dictate to us; not even someone to be a figurehead. We simply needed a pastor to shepherd us as good pastors do, and to teach us as learned pastors do, and to become part of our family as beloved pastors do. And with all the babies being born, we needed someone to love them enough to baptize them. It was a need we had denied, but was itching towards the surface.

And now, after months of searching, interviewing, praying, waiting, wondering ... PEK will be here with us. And it feels weird. As Mrs.G put it, it's like the parents have come home while we were in the middle of a 1.5-year-long house party, and now we have to shape up again. I am a bit anxious: did we as a family make the right decision? Did we all pray long enough and fervently enough? Did we all open our hearts enough to make sure this is what God wants for NHF? Or were we just so desperate for a pastor that when PEK came along, as great and educated and faithful and caring and capable as he seems to be, we just leapt at him like hungry wolves? We'll never know.

We have much work ahead of us. We must increase our financial offerings in order to support PEK. We must budget ourselves carefully. We have to find housing and insurance for PEK. We have to get used to having the same speaker every week. We have to learn to work with a "leader," instead of leading and regulating and directing ourselves. We have to learn to submit to teaching, instead of groping blindly by ourselves. I expect the next year will be just as up-and-down, just as emotionally draining and just as rewarding as this past year was for NHF ... we'll simply have to wait and see.



Most of my friends and I have no qualms about saying to each other, "Can I come over to your house and play this weekend?" The answer is almost always "of course, and bring your own food" and sometimes "no, but come by the next night." That is why we all get along so well: the normal rules of etiquette don't apply amongst us and we prefer it that way.

In the same vein, three NHF buddies suggested to me that I open my house again for New Year's Eve. Last year's mini-shindig was fun: chill, not that quiet, full of food and drink and a couple of bottles of coquitos, thanks to ML and his wily drink-mixing ways. We played Guesstures, and really, there is no sight like seeing JJ recreate his impression of the clue "Revolving Door" while buzzing off the coquito. Then there was JKA's first foray into the world of Absolut Citron and cranberry juice, after walking into the house at the same time our new fridge was being delivered -- now THAT was a fiasco. And of course, given who we are, the karaoke machine was busted out momentarily. (This year, I predict a mass viewing of cheesy Korean videos ... we'll need ML's coquitos to dull the pain of the extreme cheese oozing from the television set.)

Who knows if the shindig will be recreated at Chez Moi this year -- I'm flattered that folks had a good time last year -- but should arm-twisting be done, I will cry "uncle" immediately. (Saves ME from driving home at 3 in the morning!) Mom will probably have a minor hissy about people traipsing around her "new" home, but I say "new stainless steel appliances were MEANT to be cooked on and $7000 rugs were MEANT to be trod upon!" Heck, once she sees all my friends there, she'll probably insist they all stay over for the traditional mandoo-guk and yut-no-ri the next morning. (Cheech and I always lose massive amounts of bills to my parents, who have NO QUALMS WHATSOEVER about taking money from their children, so you all better watch out ... and bring lots of cash.) In any event, my party people know my home is their home, and they say don't cook, so I say, "Bring your own food!"

Friday, December 5


A series of conversations and moments of self-observation recently have led me to the stunning conclusion: I've changed in the past few years. A lot. I don't know what stupidity inside me found this stunning; after all, what a boring, one-dimensional, essentially silly and useless ignoramus I would be if I did not change at all in the course of several years. And I'm not even talking major changes, like I now have green hair or have turned Republican or something crazy like that. Besides, sometimes the more minor, seemingly insignificant changes have more impact and mean a little more about one's character. Por ejemplo ...

THEN: I used to be a real TV hog. From the moment I left home for college (Cheech and I "weren't allowed" to watch TV that much while growing up ... I put "weren't allowed" in quotes because of course we sneaked in some quality boob-tube time when the parents weren't home), every night of the week had an assigned show or series of shows that I had to watch. We'd sit in the dorm lounge watching our shows even on weekend nights, sipping wine or brewskies as we prepared to hit the town later on. I'd put aside all my schoolwork, and even show up late to meetings so that I could watch my programs. Even in law school, those drat outlines and all-important first-year grades took second chair to "Friends," "Law & Order," "The West Wing," and a whole slew of far less compelling programming. NOW: I'm hardly ever in front of the tube. Even when I'm home sick, I'd rather be catching up on sleep, or -- gasp! I'm a nerd! -- catching up on reading, or going out to meet friends for shopping trips or coffee or socializing. I still tune in for "The West Wing." Occasionally I'll catch "Law & Order" and I'm still kind of a sucker for the home-design shows like "While You Were Out" and "Trading Spaces" and "Designers' Challenge." But overall, my amazing ability to sit for hours in front of the TV and watch raptly has faded. I'm past my prime. Give me a few more years and I'll be one of those half-Mennonites listening to public radio only. Sigh.

THEN: I used to not care that much about personal hygiene. Don't get me wrong -- I wasn't a slob. I showered every day, and I tried to make myself semi-presentable to the viewing public. But I never plucked my eyebrows; I never took time to file my fingernails; and -- don't gag -- sometimes I wouldn't even shower after working out. And, if for some reason, we didn't have hot water in the house, not bathing was okay by me -- it simply meant more hours I could lay about on the couch, watching hours of stupid television. NOW: I need to bathe. I bring this up because our water heater is on the fritz, thanks to the chumps renovating our kitchen right now. For whatever Godforsaken reason, they tinkered with our boilers and now, we have officially run out of hot water. But no more going two days in a row without bathing for me. I'm going to shower tomorrow morning if I have to hop around in the shower screaming like a crazed woman and jump out with still-kind-of-soapy hair to rub myself raw with a towel and then blow-dry my body to restore normal internal temperature to do so. Damn it. And then I'll pluck my eyebrows, even though my pores will not have been opened by the steam from the shower. Ouch.

THEN: I used to think there was nothing as peachy and kind of retro-cool as living at home with the parents after a certain age. "Hey," I'd tell myself, "I'm saving money, I'm eating well, I'm helping my parents out with household stuff, I'm seeing them grow old, I'm spending quality time with them, and my parents are cool! I like living with them!" I even had romanticized notions of the eve of my marriage, and spending my last night as a single woman in my childhood bed in my childhood home, and perhaps even jumping into bed with my parents to cry a little bit before we let each other go. NOW: nothing about my parents have changed -- they are still ultra-cool and waaaay cooler than your parents. I still eat well, I'm still saving money, I'm still helping my parents out with household stuff, I'm still seeing them grow old. I'm not spending as much quality time with them, though, because I'm always going out to live my life. And the romanticized notions ... eh, that was cheesy and too "Little House on the Prairie" anyway. I need to move out, start my own life, get out on my own two feet even if I have to eat Spam and fried eggs every night to survive. My parents are great and they've been nothing but perfection to me ... but every girl has her day.

THEN: I hated learning. I always did reasonably well in school -- enough to move up to the next educational level or land a great job (praises only to God!) -- but I had no appreciation for the things I was learning or the fabulous teachers who were busting their butts to teach me. I went to school because I had to. And when school was over for the day or the year, or the moment I got my diploma, I shut down. No reading anything but books I wanted to read, no sitting in classrooms, no listening to lectures, no self-edification until the next time it was forced upon me. NOW: I am a big nerd. I devour non-fiction books, like biographies or social/demographic studies. I scour magazines and newspapers for local book readings or panel discussions or lectures on interesting topics. Heck, I read the newspaper ... no, I read four! I sign up for cooking classes and meekly do as the chef instructors lead me to do, even though I know how to julienne carrots already! I subscribe to Consumer Reports and heavily research every slightly-more-than-minor to major purchase I am about to make. I read the fine print. And the biggest change of all: I miss school. I miss learning, and being tested, and studying, and waking up in the morning realizing that I have used my brain and that I know something I did not know the morning before. It sounds so trite and insignificant, but in hindsight, that realization truly made me feel useful and capable. I need to recapture that, become a career student if necessary, or enter a PhD program, lest my brain atrophy and I return to my TV-glutton days ...

THEN: I used to love love love home accessories and decorations. All my dorm rooms and post-college apartments were simply cluttered with votive candles, picture frames, knick-knacks and tchotchkes ... and other random stuff. For some bizarre reason, I felt incomplete without every single one of my friends' faces grinning back at me from the confines of a picture frame; I needed dozens of tiny candles flickering around me to feel at-home; I needed to display all the little souvenirs and mini-gifts that meant anything to me, no matter how much dust they collected and how annoying it was to remove said dust. NOW: my tastes have simply changed, and it all needs to go away. All of it. The tiny votives are out; big pillar candles -- just one or two, thanks -- are in. The gazillion individual photo frames have got to go; the gallery frames have got to come in. The knick-knacks and tchotchkes need to be safely ensconced in a memory box or a display case; no more micro-scale dusting for me. When I set up my own home, I want everything out of sight, everything in a cabinet or bookcase or in a box, everything the same monotone color. I'm going to swing to the far end of the spectrum and go minimalist, minimalist, minimalist. And in case I don't live up to this proclamation, I'm going to recruit Soybean, my aspiring and all-knowing interior designer friend, to hold me to it.

THEN: I was really, overly idealistic. For the longest time, I thought that I could single-handedly change the world ... seriously. I thought I could be the President of the United States. I thought I could be the first Korean-American female astronaut to be shot up into space and be a stellar role model for Asian-American girls across the country. For several years, I wanted to be a defense attorney, helping to keep the wrongly-accused out of prison. I thought I could lead a team to Africa -- the whole continent, that is -- and eliminate hunger throughout the land. I thought I could sneak into North Korea, chat with Kim Jong-Il and convince him to give freedom and opportunity to his people and my family there. NOW: it's not that I don't want to do any of those things anymore. Of course, in my la-la-land musings, I think how cool it would be to be any of the above. But I'm also realizing ... none of those things are my calling. Ain't no way in hell I'd want to be President of this country -- too much pressure and noise, and too little leeway to actually do anything useful. The space program is shut down for now, and I'd have to learn physics and math (a true impossibility for me) to be shot up into space, so being an astronaut is out. I now think I could work more passionately for the public good as a prosecutor, so the whole defense thing probably wouldn't work out ... conflict of interest and all that. Going to Africa and solving their problems seems a selfish and lofty goal when there are so many more things that need to be done here. And Kim Jong-Il ... well, ain't no way of getting through to THAT lunatic, so I'm not even going to waste my time. No ... I won't do any of those, and I'm still refining what my calling is. I know that I still have somewhat idealistic goals: I want to be a good wife and mother and have a passionate marriage; I want to be active and loving and devoted in the lives of my family and friends; I want to do good work in the public service that makes my superiors, colleagues, underlings, mentees and others in my industry proud; I want to make small but consistent and constant moves to better the lives of strangers around me, whether through donating money or time, building a house, caring for children, being nice to them on the phone when they call chambers looking for help, letting their cars in front of me during gridlock traffic. But now, the goals are more realistic, more achievable. As with anything, it's baby steps, I'm just taking baby steps ...

Wednesday, December 3


You know when your lips are really dry and chapped, so you slap on some Burt's Bees lip balm and all the herbs and medication start soaking into your lips, and your lips get all tingly and the sensation starts to verge on painful, but you know that "it's working" so you stick it out until you hit the point where your lips feel calm and satisfied? I love that.


Some medical professional out there, please tell me why I get sooooo sleepy during the first two days of my period. I'm talking needing-to-take-a-nap-every-two-hours-unable-to-keep-my-eyes-open-all-I-want-is-my-bed-and-heavy-comforter-and-two-big-fluffy-pillows-no-matter-how-much-I-sleep-I-never-get-the-too-much-sleep-headache kind of sleepy. Thank you.


It's supposed to snow a lot this weekend, the first Nor'easter of the season. I'm supposed to go out on Friday night and run lots of errands on Saturday morning. I'm also supposed to drive up a very steep, very long driveway on Saturday afternoon, to attend M's post-natal-baby shower. I wanted to wear heels to church on Sunday. And C has threatened to make me practice snowboarding on his lawn after the first major snowfall. Grrrr. This should be fun ...

Tuesday, December 2

IT'S DECEMBER WHAT?!?!?! . . .

When did July end, and why is it now only 23 days until Christmas?

While I was off gallivanting about town, going on hikes and non-sailing sailing trips, fervently attending baseball games, being kidnapped for ice cream, flying off to L.A., spending long nights and early mornings with the best of friends doing the funnest things in the world, autumn ended, I digested the turkey, we had our first snowfall, and now I have to buy Christmas presents.

It should be sooo easy. I only have to consider a few family members, a couple of kids, a handful of babies, a small bunch of friends and three coworkers. Simple, right? But noooo, it's never so simple. Because, you see, instead of being observant year-round of each giftee's every comment, every wish, every longing, every long pause by a store window, every expression of "I want," every repeated color or pattern in their wardrobe, I was ... well, I was doing all those things I said I was doing before I realized it was only 23 days until Christmas! And now, my weak powers of observation are kicking me in the butt.

I, like most people, want to give meaningful gifts to those I love. Sure, if you tell me you really need a pair of white tube socks, I will be MORE than happy to give them to you, but barring such an expressed desire, I like to be the giver of gifts of significance, something I can share with the receiver, something that binds us together in friendship or love, something that he or she will look upon or use or read or eat and think of me and our relationship fondly. Something like the Snoopy mousepad I received from Hooch that still makes me crack up everytime I look at it; or the annual dinner the ladies at NHF and I indulge in for hours of drinking, eating, laughing and sharing sex advice ... I mean, household cleaning tips; or the ceramic blue pig C gave me that is waaaay cuter than the blue pig I slapped -- errr, painted -- on his kids' nursery wall (it came out looking kind of Asian, but hey, that's me); or the Tiffany necklace I wear around my neck 24/7 since the moment my parents placed it in my hands.

I'm not concerned with cost. I will eat ramen noodles for the next 17 months if that's how long it takes for me to pay off a worthy gift. Or I will pour my whole heart into the inscription I pen into the front flap of a $10 novel before wrapping it up and handing it over. Or I will speak words of love and happiness to a batch of homemade cookies as they cool, then pat them gently in their containers knowing they will be gulped down appreciatively. No, cost doesn't matter and cost doesn't stress me out.

But I'm stressed out anyway!!! This year, in particular, I am stressed out for three reasons. First, time has flown and now I have no time. That is bad, even by Internet mail-order standards. My personality must be changing because I'm usually first or early for everything: free food samples, doctor's appointments, oil changes, completion of Christmas shopping. This year, I have not been the typical type-A nerd I have been in the past. What does this mean?! Who am I?! But before I delve into the wonders of my ever-changing cosmic makeup ... Second, because I have edited and edited and edited and pared down my Christmas list to the people I REALLY want to give to, the pressure is truly on to give truly amazing gifts to these few. I know THEY don't think this. But I do, and it's bugging me. Third, for some people, I feel a bizarre pressure to find THE most unique gifts in the world. So unique, in fact, that those who are not myself or the giftee will not know of the gift's significance, or even of the gift's existence. Where does such a thing exist? Can someone tell me? Rather, it's getting late, so can someone just tell me where I can order it from?!

So. Let the madness begin. I have mere days to delve into the dark depths of my ever-flagging memory to try to recall the special moments I have shared with people; to try to divine, using some weird little magic power hidden deep within me (and which I don't know about yet), what would make my beloveds the happiest, what would warm their hearts the most, what would make them never forget the times we shared together, what would emphasize for them my love and affection and devotion to the relationship, what they could actually use, what they would actually read, what would cause them to laugh, what would keep their interest, what would have them look fondly upon us.

And I'm telling you right now: doesn't have it.