Sunday, November 28

EEK! . . .

Julia Roberts gave birth to her twins two months early!
(I don't know why that is big news for me, but it is.)


SNORE . . .

I'm still pooped from Thanksgiving, and just when I thought I'd get a break from doing things ... well, just one more weekend to keep my chin up before I snooze down for a few ...



Screw dry cakes. Dry cakes are boring. Next up: cheesecake.

Friday, November 26


And despite extreme leftover food coma, my brain still seems to be functioning largely as normal, so here we go again ...

What is your favorite...
1. ...meal?
There's nothing better in the world than what you can get at home, if your mom can cook like my mom, but as far as home-cooking goes, I like to go old-style-Korean-ghetto. Hook me up with some steaming white rice, thick and spicy kimchi jigae with slices of juicy pork swimming around in it, and a fried egg with the yolks broken. OH YEAH.

2. ...dessert? I am not a big dessert fan, but if you were to twist my arm, I would offer up a close tie between C's ginger snap ice cream with humongous soft chunks of ginger snap cookies and crystallized ginger ... or a small, hot slab of syrupy pecan pie with a perfectly round scoop of cinnamon-vanilla ice cream on the side, melting all over the hot dessert plate.

3. ...vegetable or side dish? I love almost all vegetable side dishes ... Korean zucchini rounds, creamed spinach and steamed asparagus round out my top three.

4. ...comfort food? See #2. Then add Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, with chopped onions and peas and a generous dash of cracked black pepper, as a close second place.

5. ...cookie? Errrr ... can I say my own? Cranberry-toffee-chocolate-oatmeal. Soft and warm. Uh-huh.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Thanksgiving with the nuclear family rocked. As did the fact that we had no turkey on the table. Man, that made our lives SO much easier, and our mouths SO much less tired from chewing dry, tasteless, icky fowl. Why it took us almost thirty years to figure out that none of us enjoy turkey is utterly beyond me. However, lack of tryptophan made us no less sleepy after our Thanksgiving meal. We promptly washed the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, then changed into sweats to dive under big fluffy Korean blankets to watch hours and hours of bad television and doze. It was totally awesome, and everything I dreamed Thanksgiving with the family would be.

The cake, however, was another story. It looked like it should taste good; heck, it looked exactly like the magazine photo. But be ye warned: just because it looks like it should taste like heaven, doesn't mean that it does.

Exhibit A: note the perfect ring of drained and chilled mandarin oranges, formerly in light syrup. Note the meticulously removed pomegranate seeds (my lack of skill in removing them left all manner of trippy streaks all over my kitchen counters and cabinets, and yes, even my face). Note the perfect swirls of cream cheese-powdered sugar-orange zest frosting.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Exhibit B: then note the completely under-baked innards of the cake. Sigh. Note also that under-baking a dense cake such as this results in a strange, doughy, chewy, brick-like consistency that just makes you GAG. Finally, note that when following a recipe, do not be afraid to question authority. When some gut instinct tells you "add more cinnamon and nutmeg because it's just fun and will probably add more flava to the cake," FOLLOW IT. Bland, doughy, chewy bricks just don't taste good.

Rest in peace, pumpkin-nutmeg cake. See you never.

Nevertheless, yesterday, I was thankful for my family and for the abundant and delicious non-cake food on the table, for warm blankets and a pecan pie that turned out halfway decently.

Wednesday, November 24


Baking be done.

In the span of fifty-two minutes, I created the batter for a two-layer pumpkin-nutmeg cake; slid the two pumpkin-nutmeg cake pans in the oven; washed the dishes; de-seeded one very large and juicy pomegranate; drained a can of mandarin oranges in light syrup; baked the pie crust for the pecan pie; made the pecan pie filling; took the pie crust out of the oven to cool; washed the dishes; whipped up the cream cheese-orange zest frosting for the pumpkin-nutmeg cake; washed the dishes; took the pumpkin-nutmeg cakes out of the oven to cool; filled the cool pie crust with the pecan pie filling; slid the pie into the oven; washed the dishes; flipped the pumpkin-nutmeg cakes out of their pans to cool; washed the dishes.

After I watch the first half of "The West Wing," I shall frost the top only of one pumpkin-nutmeg layer cake; place the second layer on top; frost the top only of this layer; then top the frosting with a ring of mandarin oranges filled in with pomegranate seeds. I am this close to having my cake look exactly like the photograph in the magazine. AWESOME.

I feel very accomplished and good about myself tonight.

Cheech is right ... why should I reserve giving thanks for one measly day a year? Bah humbug to that! Today, despite my earlier grumpiness, I discovered that I have much to be thankful for and to celebrate ...

... I stayed safe on the slick and nasty roads today, despite some really bozo-ish drivers out there. GET OFF THE ROAD, YOUS.

... a J.Crew store manager (hey, retail therapy really works sometimes) assisted me after I expressed frustration at one of his saleswomen and her incompetency. As I thanked him profusely, he began to walk away, then turned back and said "you look like you could use one of these," and handed me a $50 gift card. FIFTY DOLLARS. I didn't even know how much he had given me until the cashier rung up my purchase. And then, when I tried to find him as I left, to thank him once more, he was nowhere to be found. For real.

... I went for my quarterly haircut, and said to my lovely Maria "you know what, you've been dying to hear these words come out of my mouth. Do with my hair WHATEVER YOU WANT to do with it, whatever you have wanted to do with it since you first set eyes on my head three and a half years ago. (Just make sure it's still shoulder-length.)" Maria clapped her hands in glee, gave me a high-five, and went at it. And she did WHATEVER SHE WANTED with my hair.

... I had a great workout, and thus, feel like a buff goddess. Sometimes, no matter what reality says, how you FEEL is what really matters.

... and of course, I still have the pie crust to pound away at, and the whirring of my Empire Red KitchenAid Artisan mixer to look forward to.

So, this evening, I am thankful to God for His providence, His angels expressed through the kindness of strangers, artists who are more creative and more talented than I, endorphins, and the generosity of friends who enable me to bake my heart out.

The holidays are hard, on many levels, and this year seems harder than years past ... living and being alone magnifies the difficulty sometimes, even while my family and closest friends are all within a thirty-mile radius ...

And as The Season (I don't mean baseball season) approaches, I have much on my mind ... my health, Gran's health, my financial health, the health of my friendships, the health of NHF ... I carry much anger and resentment for things that I should have let go of months ago and wounds that keep being reopened by insensitive folks around me who call themselves my friends ... I am burdened with anxiety about my future job, my future personal life, my future at NHF ... I am made curious by mixed signals, questioning glances, and impossible possibilities ... and Lord, I wish I could just get ONE good night's sleep ...

Thankfully, there's always the baking to be done. I'm gonna go home and pound me out some pie crust dough tonight and let the pulsating sounds of my Empire Red KitchenAid Artisan mixer melt my troubles away ...

Or else you'll get hit with a lawsuit as utterly frivolous as this one. First we had hot coffee ... then we had "wah, wah, wah, McDonald's makes me fat" ... and now we have flying shrimp.

Oh, give me a break. Stop wasting my tax money. I do enough of that on my own.

Tuesday, November 23

GULP . . .

Okay, so I just wrote about eleven pages worth of blog entry, complaining about everything I could think of to complain about, and criticizing everyone I could think of who existed for me to complain about, and exhorting people to behave better than they have been behaving.

But then I deleted it all because it was garbage. I'm just going to shut up and suck it up for now, because it's just the right thing to do at this time.


Monday, November 22


Well, yes, He probably did. He probably planned the whole darned three-year misery known as law school and Socratic training as one more way to put us mere mortals in our place ... or at least to teach us to think more logically and write more concisely, which is actually much harder than it seems like it should be. God created lawyers, and courtrooms, and judges, and yes, even the United States Constitution, and the men in powdered wigs who wrote the Constitution. And God probably even planned for those wise, powdered old men to establish the separation of church and state, for He in all His wisdom probably knew what would happen to people's relationships and to society overall if public life were to be governed by those of a religious Judeo-Christian majority, with a Judeo-Christian perspective, to the exclusion of all others.

But the question remains for me, and other Christian lawyers like me: what exactly does separation of church and state mean and how are we to work within it? If Jerry Falwell had his way, it would mean doing away with the "extreme rationalism that draws a strong distinction between faith and reason." Or so implieth Bruce W. Green, the dean of Liberty School of Law, the law school whose chancellor is, sigh, the Reverend Jerry Falwell. In a way, Dean Green (ok, that's just funny and it made me giggle) is correct, for many of the leading Christian -- and I'm NOT talking Falwell's followers -- writers and thinkers and apologists directly and unapologetically wove reason into their faith, and indeed made their faith so reasonable and logical, that no atheist could shake or refute it. Jonathan Edwards, J.I. Packer, C.S. Lewis -- now these were intellectual powerhouses who knew what they believed in. And that is as it should be, for we all who believe or proclaim to believe should be able to rationalize and explain our faith in a logical and infallible manner. There should be no distinction between faith and reason, for they are not mutually exclusive, and never were.

However, and there always is a however. I'm not against living and working with social and political conservatives -- such is the diversity of this country and idealistically speaking, I believe this social and political spectrum makes the cogs of America turn in the cycles that make life go 'round. But do we really want judges who will be "presiding under the Bible?" Do we really want attorneys who don't want to be committed to being good divorce laywers, but want to be "reconciliation lawyers" instead? Not that this is inherently wrong, for yes, I agree that murder = bad. Stealing = bad. Actions and hatred which turn human against human and create chaos and hurt and pain in society = bad. These things should be punished or redressed or healed, and prevented if at all possible. But the law is the law for a reason: it is evenhanded. (It can be made MORE evenhanded, but for now, it'll do until we can figure out a way to make it better, and until we can raise up officers of the court who will apply it more evenhandedly.) Despite what Christian law schools contend, I don't believe there is moral relativism in law school or in the law practice as we know it today. There are corrupt lawyers and scumbags among us, as there are in any profession or line of work, but the teaching of the law itself, I have never viewed to be morally relativistic. As my Contracts professor screamed into my brain (he evenhandedly screamed at every single student in the first semester class): "THE LAW IS THE LAW IS THE LAW. AND THAT'S IT."

I believe there is "a law that's fixed, that's uniform, that applies to everybody, everyplace, for all time." That is God's law, the law presented in the Bible, the law by which all believers abide or strive to abide. It is the law given to us by Christ who commands us first, to love our God, and second, to love others as we love ourselves. But Christ also commands us to submit to earthly government, to be in this world, though not of it. To contravene the law is the law is the law here on earth ... is that really that much of a service to God as much as it is a disservice to our earthly community?

If the concern of Christian lawyers is not becoming one of the "nameless, facelss lawyers who populate the giant law firms in New York and Washington and Chicago, grinding out thousands upon thousands of billable hours, often toward no end other than getting rich and determining whether one huge insurance company will have to write out a check to another huge insurance company," then my answer to that is simply ... don't. Don't go there. Don't work for those law firms. If you believe in behaving 'morally,' then just do it. If you believe in treating your clients and adversaries as Christ treated you and as you would treat yourself, then just do it; behave thus. If you believe your calling is to transform lives by enacting social justice, then do it. For crying out loud, Jesus was all about social justice: don't forget that He fed the hungry, rescued the downtrodden, allowed His feet to be washed by a repentant prostitute, healed the untouchable by placing His very hands upon them, took precious time to speak and play with undervalued children, and forgave the sins of the unforgivable. But if you're going to take the oath of a lawyer, if you're going to sign that piece of paper that says you swear to uphold the Constitution and serve the needs of your clients zealously and honestly, then stand by your oath. Why is it okay to renege on these sworn promises, to tell your divorce clients that you will not zealously represent them in their divorce but will try to get them to reconcile perhaps against their wishes, to inject religion where it should not be? Why is it okay to say "well, God's judgment trumps civil judgment, so I'm not going to work within the existing framework, so there!"? Will God love you more and give you a better seat in heaven for breaking your oaths and fighting the system here on earth, the very system I believe He placed here as a method of keeping order and enacting justice as well as we mere humans can manage?

This is my constant struggle ... how do I be a Christian lawyer? What exactly do I have to do differently, or more, or less? It is my fervent belief, and I'm sticking to it, that God put me in law school, that God put me in this job, that God gave me a career to abide in at least for a short while. But does He want me to take the black-letter law that I've learned in the three years of training that He provided, and turn it about in His name? I don't know ... Am I alright with the fact that people can break oral contracts and get away with it, that people are discriminated against, that people are murdered and raped and abused, that people can find loopholes that enable them to fulfill their greediness, that people are hurt, that people spill coffee and themselves and get reimbursed for their own stupidity by the hundreds of thousands of dollars? No, of course not. But aside from applying the law as best as I can ... what is my further responsibility? How else does God call me to apply my skills and training? And is He really saying that I was trained incorrectly to begin with?

I guess it just comes down to this simplicity: if you are a Christian, you are a Christian. Doesn't matter if you're a lawyer, a doctor, a homemaker, a teacher, a pizza delivery person. God will judge you, people will judge you, based on how you act and live during your time here on earth, whatever your training, wherever your offices are located, whoever your clients. Have you done your job well and to the utmost of your ability? Have you loved others as you have been loved? Have you shown others what it is to love as Christ loves? Well, then ...



Sometimes, I think The New York Times does it on purpose, because it will take a juicy article about Liberty School of Law, and place it smack next to "Many Who Voted for 'Values' Still Like Their Television Sin". People don't want to separate faith and reason, but they will separate "entertainment versus politics."

The number one and two shows in the nation right now, according to this article, are "CSI:" and "Desperate Housewives." Now, you all know how much I absolutely adore "CSI:." But my undying love doesn't absolve the show of its 'sins': gore, guts, blood, 'adult content and themes'. I haven't watched "Desperate Housewives," partly because I'm usually never in a position to watch television on Sunday evenings, but mostly because I'm just not interested. I hear there's a lot of gratuitously naked people in it though. And just yesterday, PEK exhorted us in his sermon to not get sucked into television 'news' shows such as "Access: Hollywood" for they are not really so much NEWS as they are gossip and demeaning exposes meant to blow the lid off of people we look up to, in order to titillate the viewing public.

But the old adage holds so true, and Kevin Reilly, NBC Entertainment president, said it again: "We say one thing and do another." What we do and proclaim and accept as proper or improper public gets turned on its head once we are in the cozy and dark privacy of our own homes. This has always been the case, and probably always will be so. It just strikes me as highly amusing and more than just a little annoying to read about Falwell's constant blathering, then imagine him sitting in his living room watching "Entertainment Tonight" and being smugly satisfied at the fact that no, Britney is no longer a virgin.



It seems that when I find one thing in the morning news about which to get all jacked up, I find another, then another, then another. "Enforcement of Civil Rights Law Declined Since '99" didn't do much to calm me down.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University (whoever they are) conducted a study and found that:

* criminal charges of civil rights violations were brought against 84 defendants in 2003, down from 150 in 1999
* FBI and other federal investigative agency recommendations to prosecute civil rights cases occurred 1,900 times in 2003, down from 3,000 in 1999
* the number of complaints about possible civil rights violations received by the Justice Department has remained constant, at about 12,000, for each of the past five years

I'm not saying nuthin' but ... would Shrub and John "I'll Uphold the Constitution When I Feel Like It and Apply It Against Whomever, Whenever" Ashcroft have anything to do with this alarming trend? Can I get a whut, whut? It's hard to get an answer to the first question, because "[t]he Justice Department had no comment about the study." Dang, they didn't even take the time to refute it!

Alright, to be fair and evenhanded (for that's what I'm all about, you know, with my lawyerly training and all), I have to also include that the report merely "speculates that [the decline] could have resulted from federal prosecutors and investigators having spent far more time than in previous years on terrorism cases after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." But STILL. In the interest of being even more evenhanded, allow me to inform you that the article goes on to state that:

* only civil rights and environmental prosecutions declined from 1999 to 2003, even as the total Justice Department caseload rose by about 10%

Chew on THAT.



My morning rant winds up with a piece that brought a smile to my face. Normally, I shun human-interest stories that are supposed to warm the cockles of my heart (I always skip those pages in People Magazine), but when I hear that at least eight of the thirty-two newly-announced Rhodes Scholars are immigrants or children of immigrants, I am truly, deeply gratified and proud.

The face of America, presented unto the world, is swiftly changing. We're serving our nation well. We're educating and growing ourselves. We're seeking new experiences, more knowledge, greater scope. Our voices are getting louder, our faces less foreign. We're here; we're making it.

Sunday, November 21


Ok, seriously, how cool is it that U2 is on "SNL" tonight ... and that they closed the show with yet another song ... and that everyone in the band but the drummer walked into the audience as far as their wires would let them ... and that when the song ended, Bono said "one more?" and huddled with his band to see what song they could sing next ... and that after that, he might say "one more" again?

SO cool.

These guys are well on their way to becoming living legends ... and with good reason. This ain't no freak show.

Saturday, November 20


This morning, I woke at the butt-crack of dawn -- no, for real -- to make the not-so-long trek to Hackeysack, New Joisey for my first visit to the Beyond Day Spa at the Hackeysack Medical Center. Side note: M informed us that all the maternity ward patients' gowns, and possibly all the gowns for all the patients in the hospital, were formerly designed by Cynthia Rowley, and are currently designed by Nicole Miller. And indeed, it is a lovely medical center. Back on track ... I give Beyond Day Spa a resounding B+.

I did not totally enjoy:
- that I had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to get there, though admittedly, we called to make appointments on Thursday, and thus had to be fit into their already packed schedule. But when you're in desperate need, a first-thing-in-the-morning massage doesn't sound too damn bad.
- that it's in Hackeysack. I mean, Soy is there, so it can't be all that bad, but it's just kind of far. Of course, when you're driving with JKA, everything is within thirty minutes, rain or shine, so perhaps this is not really a valid factor.
- the food selection, and I know JKA had something to say about that too. Last time we went on a group spa outing, she took the entire tray of cookies from the food cart, set it on her lap, and proceeded to eat the cookies, one by one. Hey, she was hungry. Now, I'm all for healthy food, but honestly, when it comes to that weird trail mix, I just pick out the dried fruit. Birdseed is too hard to chew, and it's just not that tasty if it's not lightly salted.
- the fact that it was FREEZING COLD throughout the spa. I put on my robe, see below, and sat inside the dry sauna just to warm up before my massage. And then the massage room was cold! Brisk, one might say. And then my masseuse's hands were cold! Icy, one might say. They warmed up later, but that first touch was painful, I tell you ...

I did totally enjoy:
- the really kind staff, from the front desk, to the locker room hostess, to the therapists. Non-fake but broad smiles, non-threatening and non-snooty body language, clear instructions and suggestions. It was just a very pleasant experience to interact with them.
- the dry sauna. Ok, I know I was a total dork and sat in there with my long, floor-length robe on, but I was cold! See above. Still, it was nice and smelled good.
- the hot towels laid on me during my massage. Oh MAN, that was nice. They made me downright snore! (I was also congested, so that might have had something to do with it, in addition to the fact that I had to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn.)
- the showers. I do believe this was the best spa shower I have ever stepped foot in. No mildew, no dampness, no water stains. It would appear that someone swoops into the shower stall / towelling area after each woman showers and wipes down the entire room -- awesome! I know, I know ... it's just a shower, but who doesn't love a hot shower after a wonderfully relaxing massage? I almost fell asleep standing up ...
- the ROBES. Oh, my good Lord, the robes ... heavy, thick terry-lined, luxuriously satiny cotton on the outside, floor-length, wraps allllll the way around your body. Oh man, it was nice. The best robe ever. Seriously.

AND they redeem your parking ticket.

If you're in the area, try it out. Prices are comparable to and very very slightly lower than New York City rates, but the staff and facilities are far nicer than your average NYC day spa. Ask for Erin for a cold-hands-that-become-warm deep tissue massage ...

And now, I eagerly await my next massage outing ... I mean, they SAY it's good to receive regular massages to maintain optimal health. Who am I to disagree?

Friday, November 19


Okay, so it ain't the sadly-defunct Friday Five, but it'll do. Thanks to Friday Favorites, we can have the tradition live on ... here's last and this week's:

What is your favorite...
1. ...currently airing television show?
Hands down, it has to be the original "CSI:." It is the one show that I MUST watch every week, no matter what, and it always, ALWAYS, holds my limited attention span to the fullest. (N.B.: "CSI: Miami," "The West Wing," "The Amazing Race," and "Without a Trace" follow VERY closely behind.)

2. ...television show of all time? Eeep, I might be really embarrassed admitting this, but it's gotta be "Little House on the Prairie."

3. ...television show that got cancelled? Cancelled? Ended? It's hard to tell the difference sometimes. I'm going to go with recent memory and say "Friends." Yes, its time had run, but still. It was a reliable Thursday night date.

4. that you wish would be made into a television series? "Pride and Prejudice", the BBC version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I would love, love, LOVE to see those folks on television every week.

5. ...television show that should be made into a feature movie? "Little House on the Prairie," and I'm not talking about those silly and vapid little made-for-TV movies either, like the one where the blind school blew up. Remember that? I know you do ...

What is your favorite...
1. ...classic (old) movie?
Errr ... I don't think I've watched enough "classic" movies to give an educated answer, but of my limited selection, I shall choose ... an even tie between "Roman Holiday" and "The Philadelphia Story."

2. ...comedy movie? "Bring It On." Do you even have to ask?

3. ...action movie? I can't remember the last 'action' movie I watched. Does the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy count?

4. ...drama movie? "The Godfather." Didn't even think about that one.

5. of all time? Okay, more embarrassment ... "The Sound of Music." It evokes memories of the holiday season, my family wrapped up in blankets in front of the TV, bad voice-overs done in the Korean version (with everything but the songs dubbed into Korean -- hilarious!), flannel pajamas, home-cooked meals, and a time when things were just ... simpler.
FOR REAL . . .

"Truman," by David McCullough, is the only non-fiction book to date that has made me cry. I cried throughout Harry S. Truman's last weeks, and throughout his funeral services. Read it. It's soooo good. And Truman was a very nice man.

Thursday, November 18

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Bill Clinton's presidential library opened today in the rain ... and these cute photo ops ensued ...

Bill Clinton: "Am I the only person in the entire United States of America who likes both President Bush and John Kerry?"

Originally uploaded by chaesq.

President Bush: "A fellow in Saline County was asked by his son why he liked Gov. Clinton so much. He said, 'Son, he'll look you in the eye, he'll shake your hand, he'll hold your baby, he'll pet your dog - all at the same time.'"

Tuesday, November 16


This, according to the New York Times:

[Condoleezza Rice] has told friends she looks forward to a period of diplomacy less clouded by memories of the Sept. 11 attacks. And on the weekend after Mr. Bush won re-election, Ms. Rice gave him a memo on how the United States might improve relationships with countries in Europe and the Middle East. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Bush announced that he intended to visit Europe "as soon as possible" after his inauguration.

Let's hope so.

Colin Powell is stepping down as Secretary of State. DON'T DO IT, MR. SECRETARY!!!!

The only voice of reason in Washington, D.C. is returning to private life. I guess he deserves it. He is -- or at least seems to be, by all accounts -- an honorable man unafraid to stick to his guns of integrity, a church-going man, a family man, a diplomat and a peace-maker, an intelligent man, a dignified man, a man who listens more than he speaks, a wise man, a man with whom you'd like to have a scotch on the rocks while discussing foreign policy, a man with whom you'd like to share a bag of chips while hooting and hollering at the contestants on the new season of "The Amazing Race" (which premieres tonight). Actually, no. I bet he doesn't hoot and holler much, or eat potato chips. But I bet he would enjoy "The Amazing Race."

He deserves private life. He deserves to spend some quality time with Alma and the three kids. He deserves to have some quiet inside his head, slippers on his feet, and a job he loves sauntering off to every morning. He did not deserve the last four years of bullshit that Shrub dished out to him every day on a silver platter, then instructed him to deliver unto the unknowing masses.

I know all that, and I know that having Condi Rice be the next Secretary of State will be an historic event: the first black woman to be the nation's top diplomat, and only the second woman ever to hold the post. But why do something for history's sake? For someone as accomplished and intelligent as she is, she has now turned into nothing more than a yes-woman. Images of her and Shrub's heads pressed together hatching another dastardly plot to rule the world make me nauseous still. She's the natural choice because we all know Shrub can't make any decisions on his own, and he loves to surround himself with people who will say "uh-huh, exactly, just go to war," but please. The next four years have to -- HAVE TO -- be different, and having Condi Rice be our Secretary of State will change the entire face of American diplomacy (or in Shrub's case, NON-diplomacy). God be with those in the State Department now; boy, am I ever glad I never passed THAT test. Incidentally, having Condi's Number 2 step in as the next National Security Advisor is merely a portent of our doom. We're screwed. As Hooch would say, "Second verse, same as the first." And it's not just me; a tried and true Washington insider speaks thusly:

Should Rice's nomination be approved, her top deputy, Stephen Hadley, will be promoted to national security adviser, the senior administration officials said.

The moves drew initial negative reaction from a former secretary of state who served Bush's father.

"I do not believe that you should have in the secretary of state someone who has spent their last four years in the White House next to the president," Lawrence Eagleburger told CNN's "Paula Zahn Now." "I do believe you need tension between the State Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Council.

"If the rumors prove correct and her deputy becomes national security adviser, everybody is going to speak the same language," he said. "Whatever influence, for instance, Colin Powell had is going to be much less under these new circumstances."

Uh-huh. You know it.

Saturday, November 13

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
A short while back, my sister-not-by-blood and her family came to visit and stay with me. Having her here with me was like she was never gone; having her gone back home is sadder than ever. As we do on all of our visits with each other, we stayed up all hours of the night guffawing, arguing political points, browing the Internet playing nerdy trivia games, reminiscing, hearing each other's life updates. This time, with her and hers on MY turf, we hit the city and the Central Park Zoo, where, naturally, we couldn't resist the temptation to stick our heads into some holes. Sigh. Some things never change ...

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
This is easily one of my favorite photographs to gaze upon, EVER. The grounds of Hyde Park were stunningly beautiful, and this picture captures it all. And of course, the brilliantly red fire hydrant. What a hoot!

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
I know, I'm a nerd. And if David McCullough is right (and of course, he always is), FDR was kind of an arrogant jerk anyway ... but they were just calling out to me to sit next to them and be cheesy. I couldn't resist.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Is this my inner desire coming out? Thanks to the game students at CIA (Culinary Institute of America) for tolerating our foolishness ... damn, I look good in a toque ...
UPDATE . . .

One pound of bay scallops is ... a LOT of scallops.
OH, NO, IT DI'IN'T . . .

It snowed last night. My car has a light dusting of WHITE SNOW on it.

Damn. There go my hopes for a balmy 65-degree winter.



I have never bought seafood from the seafood section of a grocery store or a fish market before. Today, I must buy bay scallops. I'm unsure of how I'm going to do this. Do I go up to the person behind the seafood counter at my local Super Stop & Shop and say "Hi, I'd like a pound of bay scallops, please"? Or is it self-serve, where I tear off a big plastic baggie and grab the scoop and pick out the best-looking scallops myself? Do I have to take a number, or will the seafood counter-person call out to me, "Can I help you, miss"? And what am I looking for anyway? Is there a difference between bay scallops and sea scallops ... other than that one apparently is from the sea and the other comes from a bay? What if the bay flows into a sea? Do I want the big plump scallops just because they look like they'd be really tasty and juicy, or do I want the little ones because they are actually what one would call 'bay scallops'?

Ugh. As a dear friend would say, I think too much. Let me hie myself to my snow-covered car and venture into the unknown.

Friday, November 12


White Bean and Cheddar Dip ... Toffee-Cranberry-Chocolate Cookies ... cakes ... wilted spinach with garlic and oil ... anything that causes my Empire Red KitchenAid Artisan mixer to whip egg whites and sugar until "stiff peaks form."



Magazine articles that tell me that merely stretching can "whittle my waist" and that 15 minutes of exercise a day can "make a difference" ... Scott Peterson found guilty of two counts of murder.



Scott Peterson found guilty of murdering an unborn child ... bad grammar and spelling in The New York Times, namely: "The remains of Ms. Peterson and her unborn sun, who the couple had planned to name Conner, washed ashore in April 2003, a few miles from where Mr. Peterson told the police he had gone fishing." I'm not kidding. That's a real sentence from one of today's New York Times cover stories, complete with the lack of "whom" AND the fact that Ms. Peterson was going to give birth to a very very very hot ball of fire.

Wednesday, November 10


Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has died. The times, they are a-changin' ... someone will peg me an anti-Semite for even saying this, but ... I am sad. Obviously not because I knew the man. Perhaps I didn't even WANT to know him. But I am sad because watershed moments such as these keep coming and coming, and I wonder at the world's ability to keep up. Who will negotiate for peace in the Middle East now? Will Palestinian loyalists rise up in rage or in peace? Will Israel strike back or reach out a hand to shake? Will the United States tread lightly and carefully?

And what about the man himself? Was he really as evil as he was portrayed by others, and so roundly vilified? Could one person really have that much hate inside of him, with not one other iota of charm and happiness and light and hope and good will towards humanity? Did he not have passions and goals and hopes for his people, and are they not valid? And when he was dying ... was he dying with regret or with vigor?

We'll never know, but I hope he is at peace. For such a tumultuous life deserves some succor at the end, don't you think?



Sometimes, I drift away from a beloved television program because it has become not as striking as it was when it first caught my affections and attention. "The West Wing" was one of those shows. But tonight, Claudia Jean brought me back. It was a cliche episode: person -- namely woman -- faces adversity in a male-dominated environment, but comes to hold her own and stand strong in the end. But I love cliches, and I love Claudia Jean and I love "The West Wing" once more.

The witty one-liners didn't hurt either. In particular, Toby referring to a senator thus: "He's a tool."

That's almost as good as calling someone a MO-RON, don't you think, Mrs.G? MO. RON.



No, I never watched the show much, but I must tell you that Appa writes the funniest emails. Today, he referred to our first golf outing together last Saturday morning:

Not only that,I will never forget this first rounding with my daughter, for sure it will be quite memorable.  And C was very amicable and was a gentleman. Quite a many times, I would have hard times for finding a ball provided he didn't help me with location.

And then he spoke of my golf skills:

Anyway,about your golf swing, I was totally surprised to see your standard and smooth swing. You ,of course, just started, and  didn't have chances to practise a lot, sometimes missed a good impact,but they are all controllable. Main thing is swing itself. All I can say is you have a good swing,like your Mom, particularly when you just look ball position straightly. I have no question you gonna be a good golfer later on.

Then he waxes poetic:

We all know that life is full of  ups and downs.When sun is bright,we prepare for rainy day, when night  darkens we  prepare for the dawn to come.

Then he reminds me that I'm still his kid:

Above all, I want you to take care of your coughing,and hoarse voice. You can't deny you're too busy with all kinds of events. Rest goes first for everything.

And finally, he makes me remember why I love him:

See you soon. With our hands clasped in prayer for you,for everything. I love you, from daddy

Tuesday, November 9


My least favorite part about getting sick (because I have so many favorite parts, right) is the part at the end of the sickness where the cough lingers. And lingers. And lingers. Like a bad stain of baby puke. Codeine helps, but I only take it at night, so during my waking (and working and driving) hours, I am alternately woozy from the lingering codeine and jolted awake by my dry hacking cough. Ick. Moments like these, I think that I will never get better and will never feel 100%. But then in a snap, I'm sure I'll feel better and won't even remember the last time I got sick. God bless the mysteries of the human mind. That is why women have more than one baby.



POISON! I have only met one person in my entire life whom I would describe as being a poison upon the earth. And she drives me nuts and fills me with rage and anger and bitterness. She fills my mind with all sorts of things that I would say to her if only I could. And she makes me want to smack her. There are very few people in the world I want to strike. Actually, there are less than very few people in the world I want to strike. Poison is one of them. Actually, Poison is the only one. Sigh. As I am an avowed pacifist, I can strike her only in my dreams. Damn, I hope I have some good dreams tonight.

But the thing is ... every poison has an antidote. I wonder what can vanquish Poison.



For all that everyone touts federal judicial clerkships as being the shining and much-envied star on any attorney's resume, I'm finding that people like looking at your star, but won't necessarily want your star to shine in his or her office. I am inundated yearly with letters from local (and not so local: thanks, Alabama, but I don't really want to work there) law firms, big and small, white-shoe and tennis-sneakerish, who want me because of where I work, for they are confident that I am smart, capable, intelligent, personable, and highly qualified. Which of course I am, naturally.

But when they ask what experience I have, they seem to overlook the last four years of my life. I have handled all manner of legal issues -- some better than others, and almost all, largely with great assistance and insight from Hooch, the Legal Beagle -- ranging from employment law, to insurance law, to criminal law, to constitutional law, to intellectual property law. I've worked on cases involving car accidents, double murders, unique machinery, the Post Office, large things falling on small people, discrimination, police brutality, employment disputes and jails, children and boxing matches. From watching tardy and unrepentant attorneys, I've learned to be on time and be respectful. From reading shoddy paperwork, I've learned to spell-check, then check again. From working with Hooch and the Judge, I've learned to be concise and clear. From answering the phones and opening the doors and responding to questions, I've learned to be courteous and polite and even firm. Heck, I've even learned in some situations, to control the contortions of my face -- I can scowl and laugh internally with the best of them. I've done this for four years and churned out a respectable amount of paperwork -- none of which has been overturned, knock on dark mahogany federal courtroom wood, but it still doesn't matter.

Everyone wants me to have more experience.

Sigh. Maybe I'll ask my parents to support me while I go to cooking school.

If I could write any cover letter in the world, this is what it would look like:

Dear White Shoe/Tennis Sneaker:

My name is ChaEsq, and I'm not that interested in working for you unless you assign me to some interesting cases and let me do lots of pro bono work on the side and still pay me and respect me for it. After all, I have a mortgage to pay now.

I'm probably not all that qualified to do anything but prosecute, because that's just in my blood. But I am a quick learner, and I'm not just saying that. Ask my mom: when we go golfing, and I'm hitting some really bad shots, she tells me specifically what to do, and I do it, and my shots go far and straight, with that nice pinging noise as the club strikes the ball. I love that sound. Anyway, my point is that I can handle anything you throw at me, because I'll simply learn about it. I'm not kidding -- I will, and I'll do a good job for you.

Plus, I'm mostly a fun person. I make nice with almost everyone, and I'm not cutthroat or competitive. I don't bother people ... much. I coordinate events pretty well, and am all about bonding and relaxing. Trust me, relaxed employees are happy and productive employees. I'm not pretentious, and I don't strut around in really pointy high-heeled shoes that instantly scream "bitch from hell!" I eat almost everything and almost everywhere, although hoity-toity restaurants make me giggle. I don't take a lot of sick days, and I stock my drawers with lots of goodies so that my coworkers can share with me.

You should at least bring me in and talk to me. Let me charm you with my wit and humor, and show you that even if I don't know a lick about securities regulation, I am absolutely worth teaching.

Oh, and by the way, you have to let me leave at 5:00 every evening because I like to eat dinner in the comfort of my own home.

Thanks for your time.

Sunday, November 7

CROWN ME . . .

I know I'm a drama queen, more so than some, less so than others. But I'm still amazed at my own ability to fall into a tailspin, mentally, emotionally, physically, anytime something goes wrong, something goes awry, something falls off-kilter. A misplaced word, a misunderstanding, a moment of being ignored, a tiff, a turned-away shoulder, a word spoken with averted eyes, a deliberate indifference to my existence. I can't hug those I want to hug, I can't enjoy an evening out with friends, I can't swallow a meal without choking on the lump in my throat, I can't sleep for seeing images and visions beneath my eyelids that grow the boulder lying in the slowly-stretching pit of my stomach. The stress puts lines on my face, turns my lips downward, makes me stare into space like an unhappy zombie in a room full of bustling cheerful people, shakes my hands when I most want to give off the image of steadiness and self-control. The indigestion gives me diarrhea, the guilt gives me insomnia, and my damn memory and conscience give me bruises, kicking me again and again and saying "what the hell were you thinking? Couldn't you just have let sleeping dogs lie? Did you have to have the last word?" And mostly, the replay button in my mind and my ever-present pessimism gives me great amounts of fear ... wondering if forgiveness is real and if relationships really can ever be truly and completely repaired without condition and without scars. The worst part -- as if it could get any worse (says the drama queen) -- is that the most recent happiest of memories seem like they happened decades ago, and are already fraying at the edges like a beloved old photograph that is taken out of the album and gazed upon again and again.

Saturday, November 6

CUTE . . .

I find it strangely endearing that Brittany Murphy, the actress, lives with her mom.



If I could turn back time, I wouldn't do the big things over again. I wouldn't prevent war or famine or evil dictators. I wouldn't head off the Ice Age or stop the crucifixion of my Christ. I wouldn't try out a different college or law school or job experience. I wouldn't make different friends or travel to different places. I wouldn't even make Kerry President of the United States ... though I might be tempted.

I would, however, carefully and methodically undo every purposeful or inadvertent hurt I have ever imposed upon anyone. I would clear up every misunderstanding and ward off every potential misunderstanding. I would take back and choke down every word I spoke against a human being. I would bind my hands and shut my mouth and un-scowl my eyes so that I would never harm another person. I would anticipate every need and fill in every gap so that no one who comes into contact with me would leave me feeling empty or bereft. I would speak only kindness, do only good, meet every standard of trust, and live my life in a way that gave honor and shone light upon Christ and no one else.



Sometimes, a softly, privately spoken word of kindness, affection and congratulations is greater, weightier, more meaningful and more loving than a big to-do in front of everyone.

Don't you think?

Thanks to you, for I am much encouraged and vastly cheered.

Thursday, November 4


Okay, normally I rail against elitism ... but not this time. We (and every other cosmopolitan East or West Coast city) are right and you are wrong. From today's New York Times:


Striking a characteristic New York pose near Lincoln Center yesterday, Beverly Camhe clutched three morning newspapers to her chest while balancing a large latte and talked about how disconsolate she was to realize that not only had her candidate, John Kerry, lost but that she and her city were so out of step with the rest of the country.

"Do you know how I described New York to my European friends?" she said. "New York is an island off the coast of Europe."

Like Ms. Camhe, a film producer, three of every four voters in New York City gave Mr. Kerry their vote, a starkly different choice from the rest of the nation. So they awoke yesterday with something of a woozy existential hangover and had to confront once again how much of a 51st State they are, different in their sensibilities, lifestyles and polyglot texture from most of America. The election seemed to reverse the perspective of the famous Saul Steinberg cartoon, with much of the land mass of America now in the foreground and New York a tiny, distant and irrelevant dot.

Some New Yorkers, like Meredith Hackett, a 25-year-old barmaid in Brooklyn, said they didn't even know any people who had voted for President Bush. (In both Manhattan and the Bronx, Mr. Bush received 16.7 percent of the vote.) Others spoke of a feeling of isolation from their fellow Americans, a sense that perhaps Middle America doesn't care as much about New York and its animating concerns as it seemed to in the weeks immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center.

"Everybody seems to hate us these days," said Zito Joseph, a 63-year-old retired psychiatrist. "None of the people who are likely to be hit by a terrorist attack voted for Bush. But the heartland people seemed to be saying, 'We're not affected by it if there would be another terrorist attack.'"

City residents talked about this chasm between outlooks with characteristic New York bluntness.

Dr. Joseph, a bearded, broad-shouldered man with silken gray hair, was sharing coffee and cigarettes with his fellow dog walker, Roberta Kimmel Cohn, at an outdoor table outside the hole-in-the-wall Breadsoul Cafe near Lincoln Center. The site was almost a cliché corner of cosmopolitan Manhattan, with a newsstand next door selling French and Italian newspapers and, a bit farther down, the Lincoln Plaza theater showing foreign movies.

"I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland," Dr. Joseph said. "This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland."

"New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what's going to injure masses of people is not good for us," he said.

His friend, Ms. Cohn, a native of Wisconsin who deals in art, contended that New Yorkers were not as fooled by Mr. Bush's statements as other Americans might be. "New Yorkers are savvy," she said. "We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say."

"They're very 1950's," she said of Midwesterners. "When I go back there, I feel I'm in a time warp."

Dr. Joseph acknowledged that such attitudes could feed into the perception that New Yorkers are cultural elitists, but he didn't apologize for it.

"People who are more competitive and proficient at what they do tend to gravitate toward cities," he said.

Like those in the rest of the country, New Yorkers stayed up late watching the results, and some went to bed with a glimmer of hope that Mr. Kerry might yet find victory in some fortuitous combination of battleground states. But they awoke to reality. Some politically conscious children were disheartened - or sleepy - enough to ask parents if they could stay home. But even grownups were unnerved.

"To paraphrase our current president, I'm in shock and awe," said Keithe Sales, a 58-year-old former publishing administrator walking a dog near Central Park. He said he and friends shared a feeling of "disempowerment" as a result of the country's choice of President Bush. "There is a feeling of 'What do I have to do to get this man out of office?'"

In downtown Brooklyn, J. J. Murphy, 34, a teacher, said that Mr. Kerry's loss underscored the geographic divide between the Northeast and the rest of the country. He harked back to Reconstruction to help explain his point.

"One thing Clinton and Gore had going for them was they were from the South," he said. "There's a lot of resentment toward the Northeast carpetbagger stereotype, and Kerry fit right in to that."

Mr. Murphy said he understood why Mr. Bush appealed to Southerners in a way that he did not appeal to New Yorkers.

"Even though Bush isn't one of them - he's a son of privilege - he comes off as just a good old boy," Mr. Murphy said.

Pondering the disparity, Bret Adams, a 33-year-old computer network administrator in Rego Park, Queens, said, "I think a lot of the country sees New York as a wild and crazy place, where these things like the war protests happen."

Ms. Camhe, the film producer, frequents Elaine's restaurant with friends and spends many mornings on a bench in Central Park talking politics with homeless people with whom she's become acquainted. She spent part of Tuesday knocking on doors in Pennsylvania to rustle up Kerry votes then returned to Manhattan to attend an election-night party thrown by Miramax's chairman, Harvey Weinstein, at The Palm. Ms. Camhe was also up much of the night talking to a son in California who was depressed at the election results.

When it became clear yesterday morning that the outlook for a Kerry squeaker was a mirage, she was unable to eat breakfast. Her doorman on Central Park West gave her a consoling hug. Then a friend buying coffee along with her said she had just heard a report on television that Mr. Kerry had conceded and tears welled in Ms. Camhe's eyes.

Ms. Camhe explained the habits and beliefs of those dwelling in the heartland like an anthropologist.

"What's different about New York City is it tends to bring people together and so we can't ignore each others' dreams and values and it creates a much more inclusive consciousness," she said. "When you're in a more isolated environment, you're more susceptible to some ideology that's imposed on you."

As an example, Ms. Camhe offered the different attitudes New Yorkers may have about social issues like gay marriage.

"We live in this marvelous diversity where we actually have gay neighbors," she said. "They're not some vilified unknown. They're our neighbors."

But she said that a dichotomy of outlooks was bad for the country.

"If the heartland feels so alienated from us, then it behooves us to wrap our arms around the heartland," she said. "We need to bring our way of life, which is honoring diversity and having compassion for people with different lifestyles, on a trip around the country."

(Michael Brick and Brian McDonald contributed reporting for this article.)

Wednesday, November 3


... why I wanted Shrub not to be POTUS for another term ... THE SUPREME COURT!

Oh, a wacky bunch they are, and how I do love teasing them behind their backs. But they've grown on me, the whole lot of them (except for Clarence Thomas, who I hope never comes near enough to me to grow on me), and all I can say now is ... HANG IN THERE, BILLY REHNQUIST! FOUR MORE YEARS ... just HANG IN THERE!

Tuesday, November 2


Sixty years of Korean cinema, presented at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center ...

"Southerners/Northerners" book launch and reading at the Korean Cultre Service ...
DO IT. DO IT. DO IT. . . .

I voted.
Did you?
Did you???

Didn't you????