Sunday, August 29


I am so, so, so tired right now.

What an invigorating and exhausting past five days I have had. Words cannot express the incredibly high highs I've hit, or the devastatingly crushing lows I've bottomed onto. I ate some of the most satisfying meals ever, as well as scrounged among the measliest pickings. I have felt cleansed and refreshed and loved, as well as dirty and sweaty and hopeless. And despite a few luxurious and cherished naps here and there, I've remained sleepless, tossing and turning, waking every hour on the hour for no apparent reason.

Dr.S says I'm fine. My cholesterol level is wonderfully low. My thyroid is as yet under control. There is no explanation for my nights of non-rest or the weight loss or the shakiness or the dizziness or the persistent thirst. Whatever ...

But in the midst of some of the uncertainty I struggle through, there is still humor: I stupidly ran up a steep mountain yesterday during the NHF retreat's team relay/faux-adventure race. For one thing, I really didn't think it would be that steep. I mean, it's a Christian retreat center, for crying out loud. Why would they want to crush your body? For another thing, I thought my team actually had a chance to win the faux adventure race. (Never mind that four of the six teams had gotten a head start on our team, a la "The Amazing Race.") So, I kind of got dizzy on my way up, and I thought I was going to break an ankle on the loose rocks on the way down. But I ran up that damn mountain and I'm paying for it today. Walking down a flight of stairs is particularly painful. Thighs of steel, my ass. I would even say that I need a massage, but I think it would hurt too much to have someone else press on my thigh muscles.

What was it DYC said again? The first shall be last and the last shall be first? Yeah, note to self: next time, WALK. Or better yet, send someone else up the damn mountain.

Thursday, August 26


The best things about being outside on a beautiful day ...
- spray-on sunscreen
- an easy stroll
- aerobic activity, refreshing sweat, toned calves
- learning to do something new outdoors, and feeling new muscles afterwards
- a cold beer

The best things about biking ...
- the Camelbak Siren
- learning to stand up while going over bumps (no sore butt today!)
- seeing cool streaks of dried mud on KitchenAid
- feeling the easing of muscles as you downshift gears going up a hill
- coasting and feeling cool breeze whistle through the holes in your helmet
- getting off KitchenAid and having my noodle thigh muscles tremble and wobble
- taking off the damn padded shorts

The best things about exercise ...
- lingering your way through a hot shower
- napping after the shower

The best things about praise team at NHF ...
- praying for each other, even when you can't pray for yourself
- learning new styles, new rhythms, new volumes, new lyrics
- being driven to the point of honesty and openness
- the jungle drum beat that JC whips out on certain songs
- the Captain strutting out a new riff -- it's HOT!
- leaving practice and having a great song run through your head for days afterwards


UPDATE . . .

Omma is home and Cheech is officially on his own. Sigh.

No call from Dr.S today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe good news. Maybe no news. Maybe bad news. Not my will, but Yours.

Weight holding steady, at least for one day. Exhaustion, sleeplessness, constant thirst and shakiness still stand. Mysterious.

Tuesday, August 24


I just discovered that one of my most favorite movies of all time is on VH-1.
"Moulin Rouge" beats out sleep any day ...
DOI . . .

I always end up reading fitness magazines at night, while I'm laying in bed. The articles and inspirational stories and healthy recipes make me want to get up out of bed at midnight and exercise and cook up a healthful meal. Then, since I don't, I lie awake for several minutes in the dark thinking, "I should eat better. I should run more. I should do more strength training. I should do yoga more than just once a week. I should center my core. I should drink more water. I should eat more fruit. I should buy a blender to make fruit smoothies. I should eat dinner at home more. I should use fresh, not dried, herbs. I should stretch longer." Of course, the smart thing would be to think "I should read fitness magazines in the daytime, so I can actually do something with this health advice." But no. That would be too easy.
WHAT THE . . .

At the end of this week's "Amazing Race 5," the twins, Kami and Karli (SOOOO annoying but not as evil as Colin) are told that although they are the last team to arrive at the Pit Stop, they may stay in the Race because this round was a non-elimination round. As punishment for arriving last, however, the twins must relinquish all of their money. When asked how they will survive in Dubai without any money, the twins answer: "We'll lie. That's the only way to survive."

How utterly sad.

The weight loss continues. I don't know why -- my diet, my exercise, my stress has not changed. Maybe Dr. S will have insight tomorrow morning ...

I'm watching a documentary about North Korea on The History Channel. (I'm a nerd. I love The History Channel.) I never knew ...

... Kim Il-Sung was the son of devout Christians. Ironic, really, for a man who claimed to be God himself ...
... Kim Jong-Il ordered the bombing of a South Korean airliner because he was pissed that South Korea was awarded the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, and the International Olympic Committee would not consent to hold some competitions in the North ...
... little nursery school children are taught, to this day, to sing songs with lyrics such as "If you feel enough hatred, you can shoot the Yankees in the chest" and "Shoot them between the eyes, between the eyes, shoot the Yankees between the eyes" ...
... 2,000,000 Koreans died in the three years of the Korean War. Yes, I said TWO MILLION KOREANS ...
... at the start of North Korea's economic crash and ensuing famine, the government told its own people, via newspaper and television commercials, to eat grass, that grass was good for them, that they could make rice cakes out of grass, all while eating the internationally donated food themselves ...
... the government turned its people into such scavengers that neighbors turned on each other for every great and small infractions, and when someone died of starvation -- sigh -- the dead were occasionally eaten ...
... it is a crime in North Korea to mention God ... one defector calls South Korea and the United States "God's paradises, where His name may be spoken freely" ...

And this I knew: the Korean War is not yet over. An armistice does not a peace treaty make.

It's totally fascinating to watch North Korean defectors interviewed, telling the stories of their lives in the North, reporting the cult of personality created and sustained by the "holy" Kims, drawing pictures of their days in jail, presenting their identification cards required to travel even to the next town or village, conveying the absolute hypocrisy and madness and brutality of the reigning regime. One former prison guard says it never occurred to him that beating his wards to death was wrong; he didn't think twice about it because he was instructed that prisoners are not humans. One woman tells how she was jailed and raped for humming a South Korean song heard in a North Korean movie. One man tells how Kim Jong-Il has a Hair Styling Consultant whose sole job is to make sure that Kim looks his best (I personally think the Consultant needs to be fired). Each defector uses the same words: "scared," "brutal," "pain," "hungry," "inhuman," "harsh."

And I think about my father ... and pray "but for the grace of God ..."



Yes, it's true.

I'm also watching "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" again. Soldier secretly returns from Iraq to help the crew remodel his house, and surprise his wife and kids. Sniffle, sniffle.

I love this stuff.



If I could say that I hate anyone in this world -- I mean, REALLY hate -- I would have to say that the leadership of North Korean qualifies. The things they do to their own people, the things they do to keep themselves fat and happy and nuclear-armed, the things they tell people and reveal only when they want to reveal, the things they perpetrate upon the innocent and blind, the things they force women and small children and the elderly to suffer, the things they do to upset the precarious balance of this communal world, the things they do to suppress economic, social, financial, religious, academic, sexual freedom ... they make my stomach turn. They make me want to tear my hair out in mourning every time I see the emaciated face of a peasant and wonder if that is my aunt or my cousin or a member of my half-family. They make me want to go over there and drop-kick some sense into them, and no, I don't think I would feel any remorse if I had to use brute force and massive weaponry in the process. None at all. They make me want to smuggle in food and gas and oil and vegetables and computers and books and Bibles, even at the risk of dying myself. They make me want to ... I don't know. I am rendered speechless.

There's traffic in the sky
and it doesn't seem to be getting much better.
There's kids playing games on the pavement,
drawing waves on the pavement,
shadows of the planes on the pavement.
It's enough to make me cry,
but that don't seem like it would make it feel better.
Maybe it's a dream and if I scream,
it will burst at the seams.
This whole place will fall to pieces
and then they'd say ...

Well, how could we have known?
I'll tell them it's not so hard to tell.
If you keep on adding stones,
soon the water will be lost in the well.

Puzzle pieces in the ground
but no one ever seems to be digging.
Instead they're looking up towards the heavens
with their eyes on the heavens.
There are shadows on the way to the heavens.
It's enough to make me cry,
but that don't seem like it would make it feel better.
The answers could be found;
we could learn from digging down.
But no one ever seems to be digging.
Instead they'll say ...

Well, how could we have known?
I'll tell them it's not so hard to tell.
If you keep on adding stones,
soon the water will be lost in the well.

Words of wisdom all around
but no one ever seems to listen.
They're talking about their planes on paper,
building up from the pavement.
There are shadows from the scrapers on the pavement.
It's enough to make me sigh,
but that don't seem like it would make it feel better.
The words are still around,
but the words are only sounds,
and no one ever seems to listen.
Instead they'll say ...

Well, how could we have known?
I'll tell them it's not so hard to tell.
If you keep on adding stones,
soon the water will be lost in the well.

-- "Traffic in the Sky,"
Jack Johnson

Monday, August 23


There's something about this time of the year -- the downward swoop of summer, the onrush of autumn, my favorite season, the changing scent of the air, the coolness of the evening that isn't quite chilly, the increasing smokiness in the atmosphere -- that makes me turn back to those who tug at my heart strings: John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, Fiona Apple, Sarah McLachlan, after a summer of classic rock and R&B and hip-hop .... Each of these artists stir memories, smells, feelings, breezes, smiles, tears, precious precious moments I wish I could hold in my hand and gaze upon without end, without blinking. This sort of heavy-heartedness, I embrace completely, surrounding myself with it in the car, in a dimly-lit living room, even in bed at night, for there is a strange comfort to be found in recalling the best of times and the musical accompaniment thereof, even while mourning their passing ...

Sunday, August 22

WHAT IT IS . . .

The zap and the scent ... see me see ... the gaze is heavy ... the weight of realization ... staticky ... a sideways glance and smirkiness ... ton of bricks ... big pink elephant, gotta call it what it is ... a sideways glance the other way ... me too ... common ground stepped upon ... hear me under my breath ... a snort and a chuckle ... share it ... this could drag on forever ... let it.



This morning, I sat with my breakfast and coffee and watched the women's Olympic marathon. I mean, I WATCHED it. I watched a bunch of women run. A really long time. Actually, I had to hop in the shower around the third mile, but I still watched the entire first two-and-a-half miles of women simply running. They ran and ran and ran. Some women fell down at a water station, tripping all over each other. They threw their water cups to the side, considerately trying to avoid hitting another competitor. Women are nice like that. Then they ran and ran and ran some more. Some random folks along the sidelines ran with them (I always find that so stupid. It makes me want to heckle them.) And they ran and ran and ran. At least until I had to turn the television off.

What an interesting morning.


HIS LIFE . . .

One of the reasons I like my pastor so much is because he's just one of us. He's goofy, he cheats at Scrabble, he wolfs down food and he's late for appointments. But the fact remains that he's still my pastor, so of course I assume that he's still always weightier, more serious, and at least a touch holier than me and the rest of us. Sometimes I wonder if, in the privacy of his own home, he doesn't just sit around in his boxers not having showered all day, eat cereal dry right out of the box, and pick his nose. I mean, he must, right?

I'm never eating a meal late at night before I sleep again.

After some deeply unsatisfying pasta, I dreamt that I worked for the National Security Agency. I and my coworkers operated out of a nondescript office building in Connecticut, and set ourselves forth as office supply wholesalers. We wrote an anti-terrorist newsletter on the side. Al Qaeda somehow saw past our cover and discovered our true identities. Then, instead of coming to get us, they decided to target my father. I dreamt that I called my dad at work and told him not to leave work until I came to get him, but of course he wouldn't listen and told me he'd be leaving at the same time and would see me at home for dinner. I couldn't tell him that he'd probably be killed walking from work to his car. So I had to spend the entire day at my "office supply wholesaler" office fretting about how I would keep my father from getting shot to death by terrorists.

The even more awful thing was that unlike other nightmares, in which my conscious is somehow awake and able to reassure me that it's just a dream (albeit a bad one), this dream came with no such assurances -- my conscious and subconscious were one in the hellish world. I really thought my dream was real. And when my alarm clock rang this morning, I thought that was the dream. Weird.



The women Olympic marathon runners sure run fast.

Friday, August 20


A real sentence from a New York Times article today:

"But when freshman roommates don't get along, they may be stuck cheek-by-jowell for nine months."

Errrrr ... isn't it spelled "jowl?"

I keep forgetting to tell you ... I am currently reading a book (I know, I know, I haven't gotten through half of "Truman" yet, but I'm getting there!) entitled Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency From the Cold War Through the Dawn of a New Century," by James Bamford (also author of "The Puzzle Palace," which is next on my list, naturally).

People like me should not be reading books like this, because I believe everything I read. There are spies among us? I believe it. My government listens in on my telephone conversations? I believe it. Agents sit holed up in windowless cement rooms unencrypting international communications, at this very moment? I believe it. The United States spies on its allies? I believe it. Agents sit in hovering aircraft watching wars unfold and tape recording every moment? I believe it. Agents can't tell people what they do for a living and their only friends are other NSA employees who also can't tell people what they do for a living? I believe it. The United States and the Soviet Union came THIS CLOSE to World War III dozens of times? I believe it. The American government was going to unleash terror on its own people and blame it on Fidel Castro? I believe it.

I believe it, and I LOVE it. That sounds like a terrible thing to say, but it's not really. I thrill to the thought that technology is so advanced and so beyond my ken, that events occur or don't occur, and tragedies are averted, and world civilization lives on in tight equilibrium, thanks to those who are intelligent and learned enough to keep us going, in secret. I thrill to the idea that these agents have the world's very life in their hands, and they commit their lives to anonymous and dangerous and intense service, never being thanked or acknowledged or recognized. I am amazed that the nations of this world spy on each other, and in so doing, maintain a fragile peace driven mostly by deterrence. I chuckle nervously at how countries go around flicking each other in the forehead, back and forth and back and forth, and we are only just learning about all the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that prevents the flicking from turning into nuclear bombing. I marvel at those who dedicated years to breaking codes, winning wars, obtaining intelligence. I spit upon those who turn on their countries for financial gain. And of course, I question my role as a citizen of this world, where nothing can be taken at face value, where our reality is probably largely fabricated, and where asking questions creates even more questions.

I LOVE this book.

T minus twenty hours and thirty minutes until Cheech's plane to Phoenix takes him far far away from me.

Will he survive without kimchi and kalbi and tofu jigae? Will he survive without Omma and Appa (and me) nagging him all the time? Will he survive without the changing leaves as autumn comes, and the view of varied landscapes? Will he survive as gets thrown back into the life of a student, but not just any student -- one who is now being trained for a vocation and a lifestyle? Will he make friends who are good for him and to him? Will he find a church and attend regularly, to receive sustenance when his brain and body are weary? Will he study hard and do well and achieve his potential? Will he be safe as he travels back and forth?

Sigh. Not in my hands, but in Yours.


DOOFUS . . .

I didn't know there was major humanitarian crisis in Sudan. I'm such a jerk.


ACK! . . .

I just received the application package for a four-year fellowship in the city. I have to write an essay. Sheesh. I haven't written an essay since I was applying to law schools. And it has to be limited to 500 words. Sheesh. Don't these people know my penchant for verbosity? Sigh.


NO SHAME . . .

On permanent loop on the mp3 player inside my head:

I will dance, I will sing
to be mad for my King!
Nothing, Lord, is hindering this passion in my soul.
I will dance, I will sing
to be mad for my King!
Nothing, Lord, is hindering this passion in my soul!

And I'll become even more undignified than this!
Some may say it's foolishness,
But I'll become even more undignified than this!
Leave my pride by my side.

La la la la la la, HEY!

All for You, my Lord!

Thursday, August 19


So I was watching the end of a tight race for the gold medal in the women's all-around gymnastics competition on television. And of course, like a dolt, I simultaneously pulled Bob onto my lap, opened my Internet browser and read, as my home page came up on the screen, that Carly Patterson had won the gold medal, the first American woman's all-around gold medal in twenty years (remember Mary Lou Retton?). Sigh. I'm a dolt.

And then I read an article about Svetlana "Pissy-Pants" Khorkina, deprived of gold and relegated to silver in her last Olympic all-around competition. What a b*tch.

And then I watched Carly sing along to "The Star-Spangled Banner" (which, incidentally, is about a FLAG and that is just crazy to me. Would not "America the Beautiful" or "God Bless America" be more appropriate as a national anthem?), and realized: neither she nor other American winners really know the words to our national anthem. Me, I go to enough baseball games to know all the words. But I don't HAVE to -- my face isn't plastered by a zoom lens on every NBC channel during a medal ceremony. Carly et al., it's "and the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air." At one point, Carly even looked into the television camera trained on her face, as if to bashfully acknowledge that she was fudging her lip-synching. Sigh.

(Michael Phelps is standing on the gold medal podium now. He's not even trying. His lips are completely sealed together. That's a shame because if I had just won a gold medal for my country, I'd be shouting my anthem loud and proud, but I think I prefer he not sing it than that he sing it incorrectly. On television.)

And THEN. I listened to Carly's post-medal-ceremony interview. Not only is she monotone, but she (1) is extremely high-pitched, and (2) inserted "like" every third word. Alright, she's only sixteen, and it was strangely charming to see a pumped up little robot like her be a real teenager. But the high-pitched thing drives me nuts. COACHES, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let your athletes experience puberty! It's just better that way!

Okey-dokey. Enough Greek dramedy for tonight. Tomorrow is another time-delayed day.

(But wait! Bob Costas is interviewing Carly now! It's like a car wreck: I simply have to look and cringe.)

Wednesday, August 18


The Little Cheechster is leaving for Phoenix on Saturday. (Saturday morning at 4:15am to be precise, not that I'm already sleepy at the prospect.) WHAT THE!?!??!?!

When did he outgrow his perfectly round bowl cut? When did he lose his fangs and remove his dorky and supremely shiny braces? When did he grow taller than me? When did he achieve and do everything he has achieved and done? When did I say he was allowed to leave my 30-mile radius and fly four and a half hours across the country to some Godforsaken barren desert land that doesn't even have normal trees? Oh, for crying out loud. No one listens to me anyway.

But it's not all about me. I know that. Cheech heads out to begin his career as a potential pediatric surgeon. I can't imagine anyone better suited for the job. All you pediatric surgeons out there better watch out because Cheech just might put you out of a job (provided he studies hard and doesn't waste anymore brain cells). I just wish he would do his prep work closer to home ...



Mens' gymnastics just cracks me up. Like when they do their floor routine: they do their crazy flips across the diagonal line of the box, but since they never land perfectly in the opposite corner, they do this dorky wide step with their arms stretched overhead and wide. SO DORKY. Don't get me wrong. These guys get serious air. They are seriously buff. I bet their training is seriously hard and gut-wrenching. And I know they have worked their entire lives to get here, to achieve the pinnacle of their sport.

But I still giggle and imitate them dorkily at work, at church, at my friends' houses, in my parents' basement, anywhere where someone will giggle with me ...

(N.B.: what is up with the weirdly high-pitched and squeaky voices of male gymnasts? Is it a growth-stunted-wasn't-allowed-to-experience-full-puberty-because-of-serious-physical-training thing? It's soooo creepy.)


SAP-O-RAMA . . .

I knew what happened in the mens' individual gymnastics competition seven hours ago.

But of course, I still teared up when Paul Hamm, the American individual competitor, won the all-around by 0.012 points, the first gold individual medal for an American male gymnast.

I stopped tearing, however, when I saw the anguish on the Korean gymnast's face -- he who had been in first place until Paul Hamm stepped up to be the last man on the high bar. Sigh. Who do I root for? Dang ...



My family had our last dinner as a whole family unit tonight, at least until Thanksgiving, or maybe even Christmas. What a weird concept. My parents will have a truly empty nest ... my hope is that they maximize this opportunity and continue going on their little dates and drives. I hope they don't wallow, what with Cheech so far away and me out of the house for good. (Lord knows I do enough wallowing of my own ...)

Monday, August 16


I am a big Olympics sloot. Even this year, with the utter lack of interest and advertising and the spectre of terrorism looming large, I am quickly sucked in. The biased reporting bugs me still, and I wish I had the ability to access foreign media, as well as the knowledge to read other languages, so I could gain a better understanding of what's going on and how other countries are feeling. But some moments stand out after two evenings of watching the competitions ...

... what's with the 'roided-up women's gymnastics team? And are they REALLY women or just bulky little girls? One who shall remain unnamed closely resembles a troll: small head, no neck, abnormally large upper body. Her arms don't hit her sides when she walks. And what's the story with the glitter, glitter, everywhere? And the BAD eyeliner job. Sheesh.

... the women's floor routine is dorky. The men aren't much better, but at least they get some serious air.

... the men's gymnastics uniforms are dorky too. But at least they have serious speed and serious strength.

... I have to say, though, that I really shouldn't make fun of the girls' gymnastics team. We saw a clip of their training routine. It was scary. They could kick my butt for real and I wouldn't have rat's ass of a chance.

... Ian Thorpe is still a cutie.

... were we supposed to know that Japan had a hard-core gymnastics team? Well, I didn't know, but consider me duly impressed.

... it's interesting to see who we root for when there is no American or Korean in the race. Watching a women's swim competition last night, we rooted loudly and proudly for the Australian ... but only because the French contender was scary-looking.

... it's laughable watching 6'2" American women volleyball players tromping on 5'8" Japanese women volleyball players. Unfair!

... I think I find the swim competitions the most exciting and most interesting. Probably because I can't swim, so I must live vicariously.

Sad to say but all I really remember is eating a lot of grilled meat products.

No, no, I kid, I kid.
(But we did eat a lot of grilled meat products: Spam, hotdogs, Filipino barbecue pork, Korean barbecue pork and beef, steak and chicken tandoori.)

My borrowed tent was great, and since it did not rain, it did not leak -- praise the Lord! The best feature of this tent, aside from the little internal mesh pocket in which I could hold my little knick-knacks, were the outer flaps, which could be tied back to form little curtains. The inner mesh flaps, I kept closed in order to keep out vermin and creepy-crawlies, but with the outer curtains drawn, I could read my book about the National Security Agency (which conspiracy theorists like myself really should not be reading) and take a nap, and still feel connected to the rest of my fellow faux-campers. 'Twas my wee little refuge.

The early arrivers set up a massive tarp over the picnic table and firepit = BaseCamp. BaseCamp was great. 'Twas there that we cooked, ate, drank, mollified cranky babies and played SuperScrabble. "Unquilted" is not a word. Nor is "tif." Nor is "coam." But that doesn't stop people from trying, does it? Our conclusion is simply that we have to start playing faux-Scrabble, like our pastor. He cheats. He tried to spell "joke" as "jowk."

Soy and Jaime slept in the Taj Mahal, a/k/a The Borgata Resort and Spa. The couple occupied a four-person tent high enough for me to stand in. (No snickering permitted.) First, they laid down those foam/rubber mat that puzzle-piece together, like on the floors of children's playrooms. Then, they laid down a large Korean faux-mink blanket. It had designs of creepy-looking deer on it. Then, they placed mosquito coils around their tent and BaseCamp. Then, they sprayed area bug repellant around all of the tents and BaseCamp. Then, they returned to their car and pulled out all manner of goodies which one does not really require for faux-camping, but sure came in handy: a bottle of oil, which looked like pee; a portable propane grill in the style of the George Foreman, but bigger and better; countless retractable poles and tent stakes; small lap blankets; a beach umbrella; a large gas lantern; Korean snacks like Korean beef jerky, shrimp crackers and dried squid which would have been really great had someone remembered to bring beer; a double-seated lounge chair; jars of sliced jalapeno peppers, sour pickles, and onion relish; and ramen noodles in a cup. Note to self: travel with Soy and Jaime as often as possible.

C was not himself. Normally he is very prepared, nerdily setting out everything he needs for a trip several days in advance. But last week, his regular scheduling was thrown off course by an unexpected golf outing and the winning of several hundred dollars worth of luxurious golf gear. This severely impaired his ability to remember to bring the things he was assigned to bring. Halfway up the Bear Mountain Bridge: "Shoot! I left our share of the bottled water on the kitchen counter!" Just as we got on the Thruway: "Damnit! I didn't bring dry firewood!" In response to my question on Route 212 ("You brought corn, didn't you?"): "Oh my God. Corn." Three-quarters of the way down Route 212, we found the Hobo Deli and popped in to purchase firewood and water ... (and the bananas that I forgot to bring). But then right as we left the Hobo Deli, I ventured to ask: "You brought coffee, didn't you?", to which C replied, "SH*T. I NEED COFFEE." How fortuitous that there was a Stewart's Shop beckoning to us down the street. Of course, we had too much firewood, and the perfect amount of water, and no one ate that many bananas, nor did anyone miss the corn. But thank God for the coffee ... and C tells himself, "next time, I can't let my concentration be thrown off."

Saturday morning, my spirit was willing but my body was definitely unable. I ate a hearty breakfast: Spam and eggs and half a bagel and sludgy coffee. I had filled up my Camelbak (made for a woman's proportions, they say), double-knotted my hiking shoes, and was all set for some vigorous, mind-clearing, lung-enlivening climbing. I was going to kick Mt. Tremper's butt and take prisoners. But no. A little bit past the halfway point to our appointed destination, my knees gave out. Awful, awful, tear-inducing, gut-wrenching pain with each and every step. Every pause we took was agony because I knew that with each moment of rest, my damn knees would stiffen up and would eventually refuse to bend. Finally, we stopped for an extended break, but by then, I was inexplicably light-headed, nauseous, woozy. I looked at JKA's face and saw black spots all over her. I looked down at the ground and it spun. I looked up at the sky and couldn't see the ends of the trees. "How could this be?" I asked myself. "I run, I bike, I stretch, I am active, I eat well, I take vitamins, I ate breakfast. This is madness. I think I'm dying. What if I faint and they have to carry me down? What if I fall over the edge of the trail and they have to crawl down to retrieve my lifeless body? Madness, madness, madness." I scarfed down a s'mores granola bar -- damn, I hate those things. I swallowed a handful of almonds. I chugged from my Camelbak. I knelt on the ground because my legs wouldn't hold me up anymore. My poor compatriots, forced to turn back because of me and my failing body ... I don't know what I can do to prevent this from happening again next time. Heck, I don't know why it happened on Saturday -- I've lumbered up Cadillac Mountain in Maine on my hands and knees, acquiring all manner of scraped skin and thorn scratches and torn fingernails and never felt as crappy as I did this weekend. Maybe I needed more Spam.

Twenty-five cents for five minutes. That's what you had to pay to take a hot shower. It was worth every quarter. I had thought I could go the whole weekend without showering. That's what deodorant and baby wipes and smoky barbecue and baseball caps are for. But no. After Mt. Tremper kicked MY butt, I felt I deserved some pampering, if only for fifteen minutes standing in a rustic shower wearing flip-flops and hurriedly trying to wash the suds out of my hair with really really soft water. It was scrumptious. A hot shower surely does erase all ills. Well ... it doesn't take away knee pain, but it does wonders for a demoralized spirit and greasy hair.

There's nothing like being in the great outdoors to really bring out the animal in humans. As expected, about 22% of our conversation this weekend centered around bowel movements. Almost everyone had one. A select few were constipated. One person constipated him/herself, probably as a sort of defense mechanism against public bathrooms that don't have completely enclosed stalls. Stage fright, you know. I completely understand. For me, it's all about relaxation and focus: you eat breakfast and drink some coffee, then you relax. I sat in a camp chair, holding a Noodle on my lap, easily conversing with my campmates until it was time. When you gotta go, you gotta go. The Alien was constipated, but he's only a year old and everything he eats is mushy, so I don't know what his story was. The Boy Noodle seemed slightly constipated as well. He kept producing perfectly round and hard little turds every hour on the hour. It was amazing -- he's like a little turd dispenser.

I love sleeping in sleeping bags. It's like I'm in a little zipped-up pod, my own personal mini-furnace (and that's NOT because I farted in it, although if I did, it's no one's business but my own). Saturday night was a bit chilly and damp, so I put on my fleece jacket instead of using it as a pillow, slipped on some socks, and burrowed deep inside my flannel-lined sleeping bag. I even tucked my hair into the bag with me, so that no part of me would be cold, not even my split ends. It was fantastic. I felt invisible and safe, and not even the buzz-saw snoring from the other tents could disturb me.

Weekend getaways such as camping are interesting. On the one hand, you get a small glimpse into the workings of your friends. In my case, for example, one such glimpse would reveal that my knees don't work. And surely, being forced to live in close quarters with people for an extended period of time without a couch and a television and any food other than grillable meat has the potential to tingle some nerves. But for the most part, there is comfort to be taken in the quick establishment of a routine: start the fire, cook food, eat food, clean up, go do something, come back, start the fire, cook food, eat food, relax, play Super Scrabble, sit around and shoot the breeze, sleep. And being away from the real world (I didn't know Julia Child died! I missed the Opening Ceremonies! I didn't know all those people died in Hurricane Charley!) is surreal and creates a sense that we are in a mostly happy little bubble, with no cares but for "do we have enough meat to grill?" Returning from our trip, some of us felt a bit of withdrawal. No more cooking for gobs of people, no more mass hiking, no more giggling at each other's snores, heard through the skin of our tents in the dead of night. So of course, despite our raging exhaustion, we got together to order dinner and play another round of SuperScrabble. "Tippy," we did not believe was a word, but Merriam-Webster says it is. I still don't believe it.

Hmmm. Maybe "unquilted" IS a word. Can toilet paper be unquilted? I shall have to research this some more ...

I have resolutions for my next camping trip:
1. Spend more time alone. I cannot feel rejuvenated when constantly surrounded by people, even those most dear to me.
2. Eat less meat. This is difficult because really, there's nothing like meat on a grill that just satisfies the camping soul. But we can't forget the corn next time.
3. Wear my knee brace during physical activity. Even if I look like a big geek and get dorky tan lines.
4. Bring smelling salts or an epinephrine injection (just kidding). Never again will a group turn around because of me.
5. Pack more footgear. Hiking shoes will get wet and muddy. My toes will get cold in Tevas. Wearing the same t-shirt three days in a row is fine, but wet and dirty feet ... that's just not kosher.
6. Don't wear my shoes into the tent, even if there's plenty of room. Damn hard to shake out the dirt, even if I'm not the one doing the shaking.
7. Don't bring toiletries. I'm not really going to lotion my face or my body. I'm not really going to floss. And I can wash my hair with bar soap for one day. Even if it costs me (or rather, costs M 75 cents.)
8. Memorize all the words that begin with "q" but do not require a "u." And get the quadruple word score.
9. Bring more hotdogs and Spam. This does not necessarily conflict with Resolution #2 because as we all know, hotdogs and Spam might not really be meat.
10. Bring beer.

Next stop: Maine or Camp Smith.

Wednesday, August 11


My mom, my aunt ... then me?

The most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:
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-- Hand tremors; a rapid, pounding, and irregular heartbeat; and shortness of breath, even when resting.
-- Excessive sweating, and warm, flushed skin that may be itchy.
-- An increased number of soft stools.
-- Fine, soft hair and hair loss.
-- Loss of appetite.
-- Weight loss.



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When your body decides: "You know what, my uterine lining is thin enough this month, so I think I won't cause my owner to bleed even though it's time to menstruate, even if my owner feels bloated and nauseous and crampy and achy anyway, and even if my owner hates not bleeding because for some reason, it's just not natural."



"They" say it's supposed to rain almost the entire weekend. Perhaps rain and camping don't truly go together, but there's something cozy about the prospect of sleeping bags, fleece jackets, the steady hum of raindrops drumming on tarps and tents, warm fires, hot food, sludgy coffee, board games, beer and good friends that makes me welcome the rain with open arms.

An interesting article from The New York Times, at least for law nerds like me ... emphasis added.

Challenging Lawyers' Training, and Finding Some Ethics

In the Polish city of Radom, back before World War II, Norman Rosenbaum practiced law. Then the Germans invaded and under their statutes stripped Jews of their rights and ultimately shipped them to death camps. By the time Mr. Rosenbaum emerged from Bergen-Belsen and made his way to America, he had lost faith in two former certainties: God and the law.

So perhaps it was destined that his son, Thane, would grow into a very dissident sort of lawyer. At first, he did all the things an ambitious, aspiring lawyer was supposed to do - editing the law review in law school, clerking for a federal judge, winning an associate's position with the prestigious Manhattan firm of Debevoise Plimpton. After just three years, however, he quit.

He wrote several novels and collections of short stories, most recently "The Golems of Gotham," all of them shadowed by the Holocaust. He became a professor at Fordham University Law School, teaching courses not in evidence or contracts or the usual staples but human rights, law and literature, and legal humanities.

And several months ago, the lawyer and the author in him collaborated on a jeremiad against the legal profession titled "The Myth of Moral Justice."

The book contends that from law school on through their careers, lawyers are so imbued with the concepts of serving a client in an adversarial arena ("zealous advocacy," in legal parlance) and unemotionally evaluating facts and rules ("thinking like a lawyer," as the phrase goes) that they fail to answer to any overarching sense of right and wrong.

"These ideas are very foreign to lawyers," Mr. Rosenbaum put it in a recent interview. "They haven't been trained to think in moral terms. Starting in law school, they learn the conventional paradigm in which the legal profession is detached and withdrawn. It's the cold, rigid, mechanical application of rules. The legal profession is about functioning as the reasonable, objective man, as opposed to asking what is just."

Any accredited law school must provide instruction in ethics, most often in a stand-alone course. These classes typically explore issues such as lawyer-client privilege, confidentiality, conflict of interest and obstruction of justice.

Mr. Rosenbaum, in contrast, wants to remake the very essence of the profession and its education system. Lawyers would seek reconciliation rather than conquest, and courtrooms would serve as forums for aggrieved parties cathartically to tell their stories rather than pursue monetary settlements.

With that sweeping critique, more in the style of Old Testament prophet than a contemporary reformer, Mr. Rosenbaum has accomplished what multitudes of professors long for and so rarely achieve: He has set the terms of public debate.

Reviewers in both The Washington Post and The New York Times, while disputing a number of Mr. Rosenbaum's proposals for change, recommended that "The Myth of Moral Justice" be taught in every law school in the country.

Both the American Bar Association Journal and Legal Affairs magazine devoted lengthy essays to wrestling with Mr. Rosenbaum's thesis.

And at lunchtime one Wednesday in late July, Mr. Rosenbaum appeared amid the deli delivery men 10 floors above Park Avenue at the reception desk of Pryor Cashman Sherman & Flynn. Like several other firms in New York and Washington, this one had asked Mr. Rosenbaum to address its lawyers.

However radical his position, however long his cascading brown locks, he remained part of the tribe, with an insider's acute sense of exactly where to find the vulnerable part of the lawyer's psyche.

Mr. Rosenbaum took his seat at the cherry-wood table of Pryor Cashman's conference room, a place designed for civility with its Japanese woodcuts and sound-absorbent wall fabric. Around him, in cufflinks and cravats or dress-down oxford shirts, there gathered 15 lawyers, more than a tenth of the firm's complement. The next hour and a half was not going to be billed to any client.

"We're here to ask whether there is a spiritual void in this law firm," said Selig D. Sacks, a member of the firm's executive committee, who had arranged the session. When the laughter quieted, he went on more seriously. "What does the way law is administered in this country say about us? What does it say about the way justice is dispensed?" For his part, Mr. Rosenbaum invited the assemblage "to challenge the book's claims and presumptions."

They did something more fascinating and complex than that. For the next 90 minutes, the Pryor Cashman people spoke not only as the lawyers they are but as the comparative literature professors and concert pianists they had been, and as closet idealists prodded into inquiry. Amid knowing references to Moses and Jonathan Swift, they revealed their own moral dilemmas.

Bill Levine, a partner, recalled his experience in a previous firm of having resigned the assignment of representing a pajamas manufacturer that used flammable fabric. "I was severely chastised by several partners," he added.

Richard Frazier, a partner in corporate law, remembered his unease in an earlier job representing Swiss banks against the claims of Holocaust survivors. Ira Goldstein, a senior lawyer in the corporate department, talked about his former specialty in helping "highly profitable corporations become more highly profitable" by laying off workers. He tried to take solace in asking his client to offer ample severance pay.

"But what are we going to say to the client who says, 'Let me get this straight? I'm paying you $450 an hour to have a debate over the morality of what I do?'" asked Steve Goodman, a partner and the most skeptical listener in the room. "Should I say, 'Raise my rate to $750 an hour and we can drop the morality?'"

Mr. Rosenbaum did not expect instant conversions, much less wholesale reform of the profession or legal education.

"If any individual at any time of the day asks how they stand against the moral criteria of the book," he said later, "it's a huge achievement."

He got just such an achievement from Mr. Frazier near the end of the session. "When I went to law school, I didn't intend to have 'lawyer' on my tombstone someday," he said. "Because I knew what I was leaving behind - the ethics class in my philosophy major."

Tuesday, August 10

$ .02 . . .

I do not think Kobe Bryant raped that woman in Colorado. I think she had consensual sex with him. I think she even liked it kinda rough, maybe, and got some bruises as a result. I think she went and had sex with someone else afterwards, thus the "other man's semen" in her panties. I think she thought she could get some bucks outta Kobe. I do not think Kobe is necessarily a great guy, but I do not see evidence that he is a date-rapist. The woman just filed a civil suit against Kobe, a mere 17 days before her criminal trial was supposed to start. I think the woman still thinks she can get money outta Kobe, and she probably will, because most civil suits -- particularly those against famous people who need to go to basketball camp soon -- reach settlement before they reach trial. God bless the law.


It's weird to me that two people can be the same age and have lived basically the same kinds of lives from birth to age 18, but still be so far apart in terms of emotional maturity, mental and social awareness, and basic life status. What happens along the way? So weird ...


I wish people would just TALK to each other. It's just easier.


Another marathon -- or maybe half-marathon -- practice session coming up. I might be in the minority on this stance, but ... I'M PSYCHED!!!!!


Cooking for one is tough. Nevertheless, I am intrepid. Therefore, I am making normal portions of anything I cook, and freezing what is not eaten. In this way, I shall discover, for better or for worse, what foods may properly be frozen and reheated later ... and which may not. I fear Korean food may not fare so well, but I've always been a risk-taker in secret ...


Dammit. I missed "The Amazing Race" this evening. Now there's really nothing to watch on television. Grrrrr.


I'm going to Nerd Camp this weekend. We're taking SuperScrabble, a deck of cards, Buh-Bo, and apparently also Lord of the Rings Monopoly to the Kennth Wilson State Park campground. We're also taking all manner of foods which might be too complicated for a campfire but who are we to turn down a culinary challenge? It's just not camping until you have tandoori chicken, rice, 2 kinds of Korean barbecue, lettuce and Kirby cukes dipped in spicy sauce, Spam and eggs and bagels. Yeah, I know. We're soooo weird.

Monday, August 9

DA LAW, DA LAW! . . .

Sometimes, in my line of work, we find ourselves spending hours, days, nights, long moments in the shower letting the hot water dribble down our bodies as we stare aimlessly at the opposite wall, thinking about ... the law.

As I mentioned earlier, I am working on a Statute of Frauds issue. Or I was. Eh, don't ask. It bites. I have spent the last three weeks trying to wrap the synapses in my simple little lump of gray matter around this seemingly very easy issue. And of course, as often happens in this industry, right as I understand the issue, right as I understand the law, right as I understand how to apply it ... I discover that I never needed it in the first place.

Now I have all this language, all this law, all this research, sitting in the middle of my document, and it serves no purpose whatsoever. That bugs the bejesus out of me. The fruit of my labors, the sweat of my fingertips, the damn law that has kept me up nights and made cameo appearances in my dreams ... for nothing, you say? NAY! Never say for nothing!

Drumroll please ... I present to you now ... THE NEW YORK STATUTE OF FRAUDS.

Under the New York Statute of Frauds,

Every agreement, promise or undertaking is void, unless it or some note or memorandum thereof be in writing, and subscribed by the party to be charged ... if such agreement, promise or undertaking ... [b]y its terms is not to be performed within one year from the making thereof ....

N.Y. Gen. Obl. Law § 5-701(a)(1) (McKinney 1989). An agreement is not void under this provision of the Statute "unless there is not ... the slightest possibility that it can be fully performed within one year." Ohanian v. Avis Rent a Car System, Inc., 779 F.2d 101, 106 (2d Cir. 1985); see also Riley v. N.F.S. Services, Inc., 891 F. Supp. 972, 975 (S.D.N.Y. 1995). "The critical test ... is whether 'by its terms' the agreement is not to be performed within a year." Freedman v. Chemical Constr. Corp., 43 N.Y.2d 260, 265 (1977); see also Klagsbrun v. Ross, 1995 WL 43664, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 3, 1995). In the absence of a written agreement setting forth all of its terms, the Statute of Frauds "voids an agreement which by its terms cannot be performed within one year." R.G. Group, Inc. v. Horn & Hardart Co., 751 F.2d 69, 77 (2d Cir. 1984); see also Jabara v. Songs of Manhattan Island Music Co., 1989 WL 16614, at *12 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 24, 1989); City of Yonkers v. Otis Elevator Co., 649 F. Supp. 716, 726-27 (S.D.N.Y. 1986). In addition, "it is equally clear that the Statute of Frauds forbids the imposition of a performance obligation on a [party] necessarily extending beyond one year, in the absence of a writing(s) which sets forth all of the essential terms of the agreement imposing that performance obligation." City of Yonkers, 649 F. Supp. at 727. Thus, the Statute applies where "no provision of the agreement alleged permits the [party] to discharge that performance obligation in less than a year." Id.

However, even if a contract cannot be performed within one year, partial performance may render the contract enforceable if that partial performance is "unequivocally referable to that agreement." Romano v. MTI/The Image Group, Inc., 2003 WL 22203735, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 2003).

Sunday, August 8

SUCKAH . . .

Do you ever feel like you give and you give, but you never really quite get back?

I hate feeling like a doormat and a sucker, someone always apologizing and never demanding apologies in return, always caring for someone and never being cared for in return.

Saturday, August 7


Dang, practice was soooooooo gooooooood tonight. Seven hours of patience, eye contact, humor, patience, open-mindedness, refining, paying attention, tasty pizza, and really really good riffs ... priceless. My back is sore, my eyes are droopy, my calves are swollen, my hips are stiff, my shoulders are achy, my voice is raw, but man, I FEEL AMAZING.



I really like them.


CREEPY? NO . . .

Is it weird that sometimes I feel that my friends' babies are my own? Not like in a creepy "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" kind of way. But in a "they're so cute and hilarious, they are better than television as a form of entertainment" and "of course you can step out and rely on me to watch your child like a hawk, and let them bump into things to experience bumps but I won't let them bleed" and "if necessary, I would take a bullet for the Noodles, the Alien, the Melon and little Chai Tea latte, and not simply because they will be far smarter, far nicer, far more productive citizens than I could ever hope to be" kind of way.

Hanging out with my friends who have babies, I am very conscious of feeling like this. None of these children are tied to me by blood, and certainly none of them squeezed out of belly, but ... well, they're just great and I just love them a lot.

You can check back with me about my affection for these ankle-biters in about a year, when they're all actually running around screaming like babies and throwing shrieking Terrible Two tantrums on the floor.

Thursday, August 5

DANG . . .

These sure are some goofy-looking dudes ...

Wednesday, August 4


Remember when you were in high school, or even college? It was soooo cool to declare to anyone who would listen: "Oh, I didn't read the book at all!" or "I am sooo unprepared for this test!" or "I totally didn't study!" or some other similar silliness. Sometimes, we were telling the truth and were utterly dismayed, and we were totally unprepared for what that school day would hold for us. Sometimes, we had stayed up the whole night studying, but didn't want to be viewed as nerds who might actually study for a good grade, much less desire a good grade. And sometimes, we were telling the truth, but proud of it; proud of the fact that we were too busy, too cool, too occupied with other things, too "above" the bourgeoisie who studied or read a book or worked hard at something The Man required of us.

Why did we do this?

I see versions of this behavior manifesting itself in adults around me, and I'm sure I indulge in such stupidity myself. "Oh, I totally don't read the newspaper!" or "I don't read; I'm far too busy!" or "Haha, I have no idea what Kerry and Bush are about." The strange thing is, while the speakers of such declarations seem to be telling the truth, I can't fathom three things: (1) why they would confess these realities; (2) why they seem to be so proud of their statements; and (3) their motive in informing people of their apparent and proud ignorance.

If I read the newspaper, are you telling me that I am some kind of sucker, being manipulated by the damn liberal media? You're probably correct, but is this really a reason to be uninformed? If I read a book, are you telling me that that make me a lazy member of some academic elite who finds pleasure in literature? Maybe you're right again, but does being non-literate and unimaginative really make one a better person? If I keep up with politics and try to educate myself about the upcoming election, are you telling me I am feeding into the messy political circus of this nation, and heading towards simply choosing the lesser of two evils? You are most likely correct once more, but in a world where people are dying to be able to vote in a free election, wouldn't I simply be self-indulgent and irresponsible to ignore my right to know and right to vote? And what is the big whoop about not keeping up with current events anyway? I'd be downright embarrassed if I didn't know certain things at my age or didn't care about certain things given my station in life ...

I just don't get it. Most of the people I know have busted their behinds for most of their lives trying to attain higher and higher levels of education. In fact, it has been absolutely required of most of us. Yet we are always saying "Oh, I don't know anything about that" and being proud of it. When is it going to stop being cool to NOT know and start being damn awesome to KNOW? Rise up, my people! Do not be afraid of information and knowledge and complex political systems and (as applied to me) articles about the economy, which are filled with numbers and percentages and -- zzzz. Get informed and get knowledge and read the paper and learn about how this country and this world operate, and be proud of that!



I like natural foods stores. They kind of scare me, with all their wheat germ and vitamins and vegan food products and grey "hot dogs" and industrial cardboard packaging. But I like having the option to eat just a touch healthier: less salt, fewer calories, fresher ingredients, less meat, more vegetables. I like that I pay slightly more for food products that are crunchier, more flavorful, less greasy or more perfectly al dente. I enjoy trying to find a perfect fruit among a pile of perfect fruits. I like being faced with the prospect that I can live a more healthful life, eating more natural ingredients, and figuring out how to make my meals tasty without soaking them with oil, salt, and other things that are bad for me in excess.

As a slight tangent ... I'm glad I'm Korean. Being Korean makes eating well and being healthy slightly easier, I think. Korean cuisine is chock-full of fresh and semi-raw, if not totally raw, vegetables, leafy greens, heart-healthy onions and garlic and ginger. Koreans don't eat that much meat, but when we do, it's all lean meat. No fatty chunks or swirls for us. (And yes, the expensive fat-free meat IS worth it!) We eat lots of fish and tofu and beans. We have low-fat, low-calorie seasonings: some salt and pepper here, some hot pepper paste there, and of course a splash of sesame oil. Our food has always been historically steamed or blanched or broiled, and served with light garnishes of flavor -- frying and extreme sauces are, I'm sorry, a Western demand. We've got your folic acid, your vitamins A, B and E, your omega-3 fatty acids, your protein, your fiber.

And the best part is: you can get everything you want and more at a Korean grocery store ... for more than half the price offered at Mrs. Green's or Whole Foods. Which still won't stop me from gawking up and down their aisles and wondering what exactly arginine and naringin would do for me ...

Tuesday, August 3

JERK . . .

Someone had the gall to ask me tonight, in the context of a political discussion, "Don't you remember 9/11?"


Never, EVER ask me again.

Borrowed extra tent that "only leaks when it rains" ... CHECK.
Favorite old-school too-big-and-bulky-to-be-cool red plaid sleeping bag ... CHECK.
Trekking shorts and hiking shoes ... CHECK.
KitchenAid, ruby red helmet and Camelbak ... CHECK.
Dorky headlamp essential for late-night rounds of SuperScrabble ... CHECK.
Assigned food shopping and provisions list ... CHECK.
Alleged ownership of a sleepmat/flexi-chair, tin plate and quick-dry microfiber towel ... CHECK.
SuperScrabble and Buh-Bo ... CHECK.
Three humongous campsite reservations, with fire pits and proximity to toilets, hot water and hot showers ... CHECK.
Nerdy friend who has all sorts of faux and real camping gear, a/k/a nerdy gadgets ... CHECK.
Bug spray, sunscreen, travel-size toiletries, delicious and NOT BLAND Tom's of Maine Toothpaste for everyone to try ... CHECK.

I'm all ready for faux-camping.



Without fail, I start bawling uncontrollably while watching shows such as "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." I know they are just television shows, and I know that I'm the big sucker sitting there watching them, but my heart does become very full when I see people getting something really big and really great that they could never imagine ever getting, or seeing people's lives changed in small but significant ways, for the better. I always thought I wept because I was a big sap, easily susceptible to tugging of the heartstrings, with the capital letters "S U C K E R" written in permanent marker across my forehead.

But no. I have identified why I cry. I cry because I wish I could do something that great and meaningful for people. I wish I could boost someone's confidence, impart good advice, teach someone a minor but still useful skill. I wish I could create something beautiful for someone with my sweat and muscles and hands and imagination. I wish I had the ability to bring comfort to someone who needed cheering up and provide for someone in need. I wish I had the talent and widsom to make someone's life better, either by giving them a new outlook on life, or by changing their environment into a pleasing, energizing one.

I cry because I don't feel I can do these things yet, if ever, and in a way, that makes me feel very sad and bittersweet inside. I hate to think that I might live my whole life doing nothing of consequence for anyone else in the world, and my presence, my meaning in this world will have been wasted, selfishly and stupidly wasted. I shudder at the thought that I might be so myopic and so self-absorbed that I might one day lose the ability to look outside myself and at the needs and hearts of others. I become weary at the prospect that I might be too busy to or not physically capable of volunteering my time and energy to make someone else's life better. And then, of course, in the same way that I am a sympathetic puker, I cry because I see people on the television screen crying. Maybe I am simply a sap after all ...



Must hit up some more Dostoyevsky and initiate another reading of The Aeneid ... you know, just some light beach reading. Am making excellent headway through "Truman" -- excellent and VERY interesting read. Ignore the fact that it weighs as much as your SUV and give it a shot ... Just finished "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life." We all know the guy was a jerk so I was annoyed that Walter Isaacson fawned over him and badmouthed my beloved John Adams, but oh well. Bygones.

Sunday, August 1


I'm so scared right now. What else am I supposed to feel when I wake up to headlines that say "NEW YORK CITED IN TERROR ATTACK PLANS"? What else am I supposed to feel when news cameras follow construction crews setting up concrete barricades around metropolitan-area financial institutions allegedly cited in these plans? What else am I supposed to feel when all I can see when I close my eyes are the planes flying into the World Trade Center towers over and over and over again? What else am I supposed to feel when I know that my friends who work in the city, my parents who work in the city, my friends who live in the city, are going to be in the city? What else am I supposed to feel when the power goes out in my courthouse for no apparent reason?

I am shuddering in abject fear, and it sits like a boulder in the pit of my stomach. This fear prevents me from digesting my food correctly, from relaxing my shoulders and laughing at a funny joke with abandon, from easily letting my friends and family members travel or even leave my sight, from sleeping a night without dim, shadowy, frightening nightmares. This fear makes me read a terrorist plot into everything that goes awry, want to tell my loved ones that I love them over and over and over again just in case, want to not go to sleep so I can watch CNN non-stop in case something happens, want to not wake up in case something did happen while I was lazily sleeping.

I know I am not to live in fear, to not fear death, to not fear anything this world can throw at me. I know that God will not put anything in my path, in our paths, that we cannot handle. I know that God is merciful and gracious and all-powerful and all-knowing. I know that anything a bunch of thug terrorists can do to me, I can overcome. I know that God loves even them. I know that our police and security are dedicated and single-minded in providing protection and aid. I know that right now, at this moment, they are doing all they can, even in the 100% humidity, 80-degree nighttime heat. I know all this ...

But I still shed a tear or two because I'm scared and there's nothing anyone can do about that.