Saturday, December 31


For the last couple of years, I've written a sort of mega-essay on the last day of the year. Something that made me think back on the past 364 days, and look forward into the next 365. I don't know what it is about this year that I can't do that. For one thing, I'm busy. I had an amazing day of rest and silence and fasting and rejuvenation on Thursday, and now, I'm busy and tired again. (But in a good way. Friends don't turn 40 years old every day, you know, and if I do say so myself, Mabel and Cheese and I have put together quite a fete.) For another thing ... I think I'm avoiding reflection. Not because it's extremely painful or traumatic or anything like that, although this year, like any other, had its fair share of extreme moments. But there was just so much, and I'm not sure I want to reveal it all. Folks know bits and pieces. Some folks don't know anything and love me anyway ... and I am ever grateful and accepting of their love. Some folks know everything, and they too love me anyway ... and through them I understand what grace and friendship and Jesus is. So yes, I'm practicing a bit of avoidance. NOT denial, simply avoidance. It's too much and most of it, I've dealt with, and I don't feel that it would be right or honoring to myself or to God to dredge it all up again. Suffice to say ... this year has been without a doubt the utmost of almost everything good and bad imaginable. And I have grown immensely as a result, and I know I face many more growing pains to come ... and I'm not afraid.


The guys who work at my local liquor store -- is that strange that I have a "my" liquor store? -- are so cool, and they are happy all the time. I could walk in there feeling like a total grump and hatin' creation, and one look and smile from the dudes at the cashier, or a heads-up from the guy on the floor telling me that a new cool label came in (I know nothing about wine, and so I purchase bottles based on how cool and funky and odd their labels are, and embarrassingly, I admitted this to the guys there and now, they think I'm just ever so naive and adorable, which is an interesting thing to be viewed as at age thirty), and BAM! I'm cheered. I never fail to walk out of there with a goofy grin on my face.

"Happy New Year!" said the dude to me today. And I meant it when I said it back to him.


It's snowing. It's been a stinkin' fifty degrees all week long, and now, on the last day of the year, it's snowing. Seeing the big fat flakes drift slowly to the ground, the evergreens across the way as their lush backdrop, I am soothed. The rest of my day and night is going to be manic, hectic, annoying even, loud, crazed, frenetic, hilarious, fun-filled. But for now, I am calm, peaceful, hopeful, rested, feeling the blissful weight of His grace and presence like the warmest Korean mink blanket.


Now that I've hit my thirties, officially, it is ever clearer to me that I'm turning into my mother. And that, my friends, is an eminently great thing. Sure, she's got her weird hang-ups like everyone else, but overall, she rocks. She's largely emotionally stable, she's incredibly creative and soulful, she's down to earth and logical, she's a fantastic hostess and an even better cook, she's highly intelligent and thoughtful, and she drives like a maniac. I am not fully all of these things yet, but I certainly aspire to be just like her, even if it means suffering the same rheumatoid arthritis that becomes aggravated every time she has friends over and has to wash tons of dishes and platters and pots and pans after they leave. The pain is worth it to her, as I know and hope it will be to me.

But, feeling like I'm in the prime of my life right now, I see her in me, as a remembrance of her in the prime of her life. In her thirties, she was cooking, cleaning, running errands, planning events, going nutso for church. Y'all needed a place to gather? Come to our house. Y'all need someone to plan a major retreat? She did it. Y'all need to assemble gift boxes and roll bath towels and wrap toothpaste boxes for presents? She took care of all of it in record time. And last night, sitting with two ladies in their forties and my crony Mabel, it hit me: Mabel and I are my mom. We are now the ones coming up in leadership, taking care of things, never running out of energy or ideas or wacky creations, hokey or not. We are now the ones willing to shell out dough we don't really have for the benefit of others, just because we know it will make them happy. We are the ones who would rather cook for twenty people rather than order food in, just because home-cooking tastes better and is more fun.

It's funny to joke about us turning into the bad things about our moms -- being cheap about groceries, wearing chintzy clothing, complaining about the price of cabbage, moaning about how our beds are so much more comfortable than anyplace else in the world. It's an entirely different and heart-warming thing to see how I am turning into the very best of my mom, all those things that made me want to brag about her and shout her praises from the mountaintops. My one and only prayer is that these things in me would not die off and that my energy and desire would not fade until it absolutely has to.


Annie Dillard is something else. I know, I KNOW, that Flacon is going to say that HE introduced me to her, but that is NOT TRUE. I found her on my own and enjoyed her long before NHF came into my life. And I am enjoying her still. Her old book, Holy the Firm, is rocking my world ... will it rock yours too?


I can't end the year without doing another list, can I? Thanks to TinyCricket for the afternoon inspiration.

Four jobs you've had in your life: federal judicial law clerk ... intern with the United States Attorney's Office working on a major gang murder/drug case and being psuedo-protected by the FBI as a result ... babysitter for a two-and-a-half year old girl who was STILL breastfeeding and would ASK for a feeding by shouting, "BREAST! BREAST!" (True story, and the LOL's love this still: the first time I heard the girl shout this, we were in Gymboree in Manhattan, and I thought to myself, "Wow, what a bright and precocious two year old! She knows that she wants chicken breast for lunch and knows how to ask for it!" I figured things out when she started grabbing at MY CHEST. Talk about yucko.) ... administrative assistant in the admissions office of Boston University's School of Edjumacation.

Four movies you could watch over and over: "The Sound of Music" ... "Madagascar" ... "Pride & Prejudice" (BBC version) ... "Napoleon Dynamite" (yeah, I know, I know, I'm so high-brow, right?).

Four places you've lived: a NYC suburb, Manhattan, Brookline and Boston.

Four TV shows you love to watch: "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" ... "Lost" ... "Everyday Italian" ... "Divine Design."

Four places you've been on vacation: Block Island ... South Korea ... Whistler/Vancouver ... Los Angeles.

Four websites you visit daily: ... all my blogfriends ... ...

Four of your favorite foods: pad thai ... fried rice ... almost any Korean dish ... almost any pasta dish.

Four places you'd rather be: Block Island ... Los Angeles ... Block Island ... Block Island.


Sundays and Fridays have taken on new meaning for me this year, for a variety of positive and negative connotations and reasons. I am apprehensive and hopeful and curious and excited about how these two days will continue to morph and develop in significance in the new year.


I started with seven bamboo shoots. I am now down to four. Although, technically, one of the four shoots is completely brown at the stem and has drooped completely over such that the top of the shoot is touching the tabletop. So I'm really down to three; I'm just avoiding throwing out the dead stalk. TALK ABOUT SAD. What am I doing wrong? If you have bamboo shoots in water and rocks in a ceramic vase in an indoor environment, and yours are SURVIVING, you MUST tell me what you're doing right, and what I'm doing wrong. I am starting to believe it's because I stopped talking to them, but it freaked some people out and so I stopped. Should I start again?


Last night, Mabel and I stayed up until 3am talking with friends about all manner of bizarre and frivolous and serious things. We talked at length about our dream lives. Don't even get me started on dreams and how they function and are created and what they mean -- I'm still trying to figure out what the back of my eyelids actually looks like. But it was totally encouraging and interesting to talk about dreams in a Christian context, to wonder together if God speaks to us, teaches us, rebukes us, loves us, in our sleep.

I believe that He does. In fact, I believe He speaks to me -- yes, with His actual voice -- more loudly in my sleep than when I am awake. This both freaks me out and encourages me. On the one hand, I think, "if I am so vulnerable and open to God's voice when I am sleeping and not fully in control of what comes into me, then what else am I vulnerable to? Who else's voice, NOT God's, is entering into me?" SHUDDER. But on the other hand, I think, "thank GOODNESS that I am asleep and open to Him, because He certainly knows that during any given day, I have a hard time just sitting for a moment and taking the time to turn my ears toward His mouth."

I wonder about the state of Christian psychiatry. Not just psychiatrists or psychologists who happen to be Christians, but doctors and therapists who practice from a Biblical perspective. I wonder what they would say about my dreams. I have entire series of dreams where I am saving the world. These are so vivid and so real that Flacon has recommended that I write them down, to find a consistent theme, to pray over their significance. I have dreams that come true one, three, six months later, right down to the details of what people are wearing and the words they are using and even the titles of the books that are sitting on the table. Is this just magnified deja vu, but if not, what is it? I have dreams where I wake up with a burden lifted from me, or a burden placed on me, and I must revel in the freedom or carry the weight with me all day long. What has He taken from me into His own hands, and what concerns is He placing on my heart to consider?

And then there's just the fun stuff, too. Why is it that if I have a particularly nice dream one night, I can go to bed the next night and will myself to continue the story? Why is it that I speak not a LICK of French, but had an entire dream in French, and woke up KNOWING that it was real and not gibberish? Why is it that people are not supposed to dream about their own deaths, but I have not only died in some of my dreams, I've watched my own funerals? Why is it that we allegedly dream several dreams in a given night, but I only can remember one or two? Why is it that some people don't remember any? And if the back of our eyelids don't have moving images on them, then how is our brain able to "see" images? Forget that. That just opens up a whole can of worms that I can't even begin to think about.


Whoa. It's snowing more heavily now, but that's not what I'm "whoa"-ing about. The flakes are as big as cotton balls. No, bigger. COOL.


I am greedy by nature -- are we not all? -- and so here's my list of things I want in 2006:

*a job where I am serving the community and serving God and loving the fact that I'm a lawyer*

*a husband I will love with my whole heart and soul and with whom I will build a life that will bless God, my family and my friends*

*this one friendship to stablize and keep growing*

*another friendship to continue in its honesty and trust and deep care and hugs and 3am feedings*

*HaYoung and family to move to New York*

*gran to not slowly go deaf and to not slowly grow old*

*NHF to go ALL OUT for God*

*to play guitar like a crazy woman*

*new window treatments*

*to see the LOL more often*

*to visit London*

*to give Bob to Mabel and get Bobito with the Intel chip and thinner body*

*to start writing my book*

*to finish writing my book*

*to get more massages*

*to be more faithful and trusting and hopeful, and to finally understand "unfailing love"*

*to not lose anything I gained in 2005*


Yours truly is going to go through a change for the new year. A new format, a new picture, a new logo, maybe a new tagline. I might change up once or twice before I settle down. See, the life of a blogger is truly difficult, it really is. I mean, forget about what you WRITE. You gotta find the right blog TEMPLATE. I like the colors red, orange, pink and brown. But place those on a blog background and BLECH. Pink is hard -- most templates tend to verge on froufy and NOT me. Red and orange can be like a slap in the face and absolutely anxiety-producing. And brown ... sometimes I think I'm sick of brown, other times, it's the only color that soothes me. What is a blogger to do ...

And so, I will play around a bit. Glitches will ensue. None of you will agree on what you like looking at ... (but psst, I don't really care all that much, and I mean that in the nicest way possible!). And I will be on the everlasting search for the template that screams ME ME ME. I beg your patience and understanding and constructive criticism.

And as ever, I look forward to the New Year. I hope you all do. I appreciate the friends I've made via this site ... and if that sounds creepy and nerdy, then so be it. You know how I enjoy your writing and sharing whatever of your lives you share back with me, and you know that I think of you as fellow creators and commiseraters (that isn't a word, is it?) in this weirdo place known as The Internet. And you know, also, that I appreciate the friends that I know and love in the flesh, and that is something that is unchanging, no matter what the calendar says.

Happy New Year.
God's grace and providence upon all of you.

Monday, December 26

WHOA . . .

It's been a year, exactly, since The Tsunami in southeast Asia. Commemorative services and moments of silence abound ... I remember this time last year, the heaviness on my heart and the hearts of those around me, especially at church ... all of us monitoring the news headlines, waiting, dreading the death toll rising ... the special offering collection at NHF ... it's been a year, now. Incredible.

I wonder how things are getting along over there. Recovery is slow, I'm sure. So much can happen in a year ... and so little. It's mind-boggling sometimes.

A larger question is this: how did a year go by already? Everything seems like it just happened yesterday ... or at least just a couple of months ago. Weird.

It's still too soon to meditate on the year past -- I have five more days to do that. Actually, I wasn't really thinking about it, for I have much to look forward to in the new year and so I wasn't really considering the ending of this year. But I know I have to, and I will ... I'm just sort of afraid to, because there has been so much that mere words, a mere blog, even writing in my personal journal, just won't suffice ...

Anyhow, as I realize that it's been a year since The Tsunami, I realize something else: the obligation, the responsibility, the joy of helping people -- even those who are not suffering massively -- never ends. There is comfort in that, because that means that we are all, always, forever connected, and thus, we are never alone and never unloved and never left to our own devices. What an amazing thing, indeed.

Saturday, December 24

WHO KNEW? . . .

That Bonnie Hunt.
She's a funny lady.

Friday, December 23


I let some people down big-time yesterday. I was supposed to be somewhere -- somewhere important. Somewhere I told everyone I knew to be at. Somewhere I really wanted to be. Somewhere I really should have been.

And I didn't make it.

I had a good reason. That good reason was tough and long and heartbreaking, but also important and fulfilling and eye-opening and comforting. It's just that the good reason took hours. By the time all that was over, there was no going back to my original plan. I couldn't have made it anyway, emotionally, mentally or physically.

Still, I let some people down big-time. And the selfish agony is that after conveying my deepest apologies, I've heard nothing in return. I don't know if those people are mad at me ... or just busy ... or stewing in their disappointment ... or waiting to excoriate me or forgive me in person. I wish I knew.



For the first time evah, my family has a REAL Christmas tree!

Poor Omma, she claims hatred for the scent given off by evergreens ... but too bad. For a long time now, I'd been thinking ... I'm unemployed, I have no cash flow, I can't buy my family all the things they want this year. What could I do for them that would be even remotely special?

Well, in addition to the fine (I hope) dinner I'm planning on making for them on Christmas Eve, Cheech and I went out today to buy a REAL CHRISTMAS TREE, evergreen stink and all. A trip to the hardware store to buy a stand, a run to CVS to buy lights that we thought we already had, a couple of tip-overs and more than a few innovative and resourceful decorating tricks later, there it was: the family Christmas tree, all lit up and looking purdy, despite the "divot" on one side. We choose to ignore it.

I'm glad for this tree. So many things about the last few weeks have been unexpected for me, and not always in the best way, and I admit I'm a bit beat. To turn on the lights on the tree and feel a sharp but welcome twinge of Christmas cheer in some dimly-lit corner of my darkened heart was ... exactly what I needed. And my parents ... I've heard them say once so far that it doesn't feel like Christmas, and I hope that tonight, when they come home from work and see the smelly shenanigan that Cheech and I pulled, I hope they feel the same, that it is exactly what they needed. It's just a tree, I know, and one that I know Omma will sneeze at (literally), but still ... sometimes, things that are "just" things are still so much more than JUST.

I did not dare come into Christmas day without a spirit of celebration and thanksgiving in my heart. I did not dare feign joy in the face of Christ's birth and the manifestation of all things good and right. I did not dare come home to my family with a heavy heart and tiredness. I did not dare go before the altar on Sunday with falsity and a lack of understanding and an inability to receive grace.

Thanks to Cheech coming home and spending the afternoon with me, thanks to knowing that I have all my friends and family around me, thanks to CVS and the hardware store and the Methodist church's tree sale, and thanks to this slightly-lopsided, simply-decorated, fragrant and divoted tree ... I won't.
SNIP, SNIP . . .


Johnny Damon cut his hair.


*of course, for all my pooh-pooh-ing of this now dweeby-looking centerfielder, all i'm thinking right now is: "he better not pull a samson and lose all his powers along with his hair." sigh, such are the thoughts of a yankee fan. incorrigible.

Thursday, December 22

BOXED IN . . .

I, like most, have some weird hang-ups. Maybe not hang-ups, per se, but ... quirks. Weirdnesses. Odd behaviors and phobias. The strangest and most inexplicable of these things that I know in myself is, I think, this: I can't throw away boxes.

When I first moved to my own place over a year and a half ago, I bought an iron. I took the instruction booklet out and filed it in my Instruction Booklets file folder. I took all the protective wrapping off of the iron. I threw all the protective wrapping away. I used the iron. I store the iron in my closet, next to the mini-ironing board.

I still have the box the iron came in.

I don't really know why. Do I think I'll need the box for something? Maybe I can use it to pack things I'm going to mail later on, to somebody, sometime, somewhere. What if I move again -- I hate the thought of the iron just sitting loosely in some U-Haul cardboard box, along with other sundry items that have no proper home. Isn't it better to have put the iron back in its original box, so that I know exactly what it is, where it is, and so that it is easy to carry?

That's ridiculous, I know. As I take stock right now, I realize exactly what it is that I'm holding onto so unnecessarily. The box for my printer. Don't need it. The box that my spice rack came in. Don't need it. The boxes that once held my VCR and DVD players. Don't need them. The box that was the former home of my iPod. Don't need it. Shouldn't be keeping it. Can't get rid of it.

There is progress, though. At the start of autumn, I got rid of all of my commercial shoe boxes, and re-stored my shoes in the neatest little plastic shoe containers from, natch, The Container Store. And so my hall closet is so nice and clean and cardboard box-less.

If only I could say the same about my storage closet.

Wednesday, December 21

MY YEAR . . .

Thanks to The Unlimited Mood, et al., for the list ... here's my bloggified year-in-review:

Instructions: Go to the FIRST BLOG of each month for the past year. Copy and paste the LAST SENTENCE of each blog. That is your Year in Review.

Dec 2004: "Ouch."

Jan 2005: "Let us proceed!"

Feb 2005: "What's New York?"

Mar 2005: "That's funny."

Apr 2005: "Sigh."

May 2005: "Nights like tonight make me wish I never learned to talk ... or that others didn't have to listen to my stupidity."

June 2005: "Does this make me a nerd ... or a voyeur?"

July 2005: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Aug 2005: "Smooches, for I love you already."

Sep 2005: "Hard to figure if that's a good thing or not these days ..."

Oct 2005: "'Twill never happen, but ... dare to dream."

Nov 2005: "My heart is too full."

Dec 2005: "Check it out yourself and prepared to be shocked, moved, humbled, educated."

Tuesday, December 20


This whole New York City transit strike thing is so interesting ... I confess I haven't followed all of the negotiations, and I don't know all that much about the precise details of each side's arguments. I'm more enthralled by the idea of all of the buses and subways in New York City coming to a halt; the streets empty of those huge, smoky lumbering machines; the tunnels quiet and subway platforms bare. Imagine? Fifth and Madison Avenues closed from 23rd Street to 96th Street to everything but emergency traffic. Imagine? No cars allowed below 96th Street unless there are four or more passengers in them, between 5:00 and 11:00 a.m., and police officers standing at checkpoints to make sure this rule is enforced. Imagine? No quick and easy way to get about town in the week before Christmas -- what will the shoppers, the merchants, the tourists, do? Imagine? The photos are stunning. I can't tell yet if I'm glad that I don't have to be within city limits in these days, or if I'm wishing I was there to see this spectacle, this bizarre sort of history in the making.

But as always, and I knew this would be the case despite all the doomsday warnings of the local newscasters, New Yorkers pull through for each other. It's high drama, and there ain't nothing New Yorkers love more than high drama and another opportunity to prove their mettle.



Here's one of the few things I, as a New Yorker, can't stomach: the New York Yankees in a preliminary deal with former Boston Red Sox Johnny Damon.


Hehehehe. I don't hate the Internet or email that much anymore. Depending on the co-communicator, it can be a very very good thing. Indeed.

And always, the ensuing face-to-face conversation is much more rewarding and fulfilling and satisfying and redeeming.

Redemption is an amazing thing. It's amazing to me that someone can love me and care for me enough to tell me nothing but good things about myself. It shouldn't amaze me; it shouldn't amaze any of us when this happens. We should be doing this all the time to each other, to our friends and our family and anyone we profess to care about. But we don't, and I don't, and I don't hear it often, and so when I do, it is like my heart is being pumped full of grace and care, it simply doesn't know what to do but overflow joy.

It's awkward, though, to be told nice things about yourself. Nice, but awkward. There are people I know who are comfortable with compliments, who are knowledgeable in a good secure way about their strengths and uniqueness and competency and wonderfulness. I wish I was one of those people, but I am yet not comfortable with knowing those things that might exist in me. So to be told them, over and over again, is ... well, frankly, it shuts my brain down because those words don't compute. But I was told, I need to turn my brain on again and start computing. That's nice, too.

I face an interesting two weeks. I know that I will be covered in prayer and grace and love; and I will be covering in prayer and grace and love. And after all that, I know that things will be new, different, better, incredible. A new year, for me, always means a new beginning, in myself, in my life, in my world. We can't help it, that's just how it is, no matter how humbug we might be about it. That's just how it is. I can't wait. There are so many things I need to change, so many relationships I need to repair, so many projects I need to start, so much energy I need refreshed, so much grace I need to receive and give away, so much discipline to be implemented, so much joy to be restored. Thanks to the spurring of one, I see now that all of these things are possible.

Monday, December 19


Gasp! Did I ever think those words would ever come out of my mouth? That I would ever think them? That I would ever publish them into the permanence of cyberspace?

But it's true. The worst part about the Internet is -- aside from the fact that it has no facial expressions or inflections, thus allowing the reader of anything to guess at the emotional intent behind a word, a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, an entire email, and further allowing that reader's human nature to become her own enemy and shout into the recesses of her brain every insecurity and untruth possibly known to her -- that once you send an email, you can't take it back. You just can't. And so you wait and wait and wait and refresh and refresh and refresh and check and check and check for that reply in your evil email inbox that you both need so much and dread more than the apocalypse itself.

The Internet sucks, it really does.

(Oh wait. I suck too, for throwing into the Internet things which I can't take back, and really, irrational, emotionally unstable and ever-reactive people like me just should not be allowed to email.)

Sunday, December 18


I detest Christmas carols (and yes, I'm going to call them CHRISTMAS carols, because that's what it IS -- it's CHRISTMAS. I respect that you believe a different god, or no god at all maybe, but Christmas is Christmas, and Jesus was still born and still saved the world, and thus Christmas means very very very much to me, and when I wish you a merry Christmas, it's not because I'm trying to diss you or make you feel marginalized by a major religion; it's because I'm just wanting to share with you the joy in my heart. So there! Joyful, aren't we?!)

I really do. That's so Scroogey, and I do apologize to all of my dearest who just love boogie-ing down to "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (you know who you are).

But I don't think it's because I actually hate the Christmas carols themselves. It's because I love the Christmas hymns so much more. O come, all ye faithful; joyful and triumphant! Joy to the world, the Lord is come. For unto us a Child is born. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel. Fall on your knees; oh hear the angel's voices! Hallelujah! Gloria!

Who needs the little drummer boy, really?

I think that this crotchety attitude towards Christmas carols (and why, oh why, do the malls always choose the worst versions of them to play over the loudspeakers?!), is just an additional sign of me, well, getting old. Not old, but older. And maybe I don't even mean aging, but just ... changing, growing, thinking more carefully. Cheech said it best in his most recent note to me: it's all about family, being home, being with loved ones, being with the Lord. The tree, the gifts, the parties, the stress -- sure, it has some meaning, somewhere, at some point. But not anymore.

When did this happen? I'm not entirely sure. But 2005 has definitely had something to do with it. War; heartbreak; change for the better; change for the worse; moving on; mass destruction; people I love touched by disease and death; politicians arguing all the time; stress and trauma ... it's such a morbid laundry list of life. Still, I am grateful for this year, because it has also been filled with loyalty, steadfastness, new discoveries, honesty, heart-cleansing weeping, generosity, hard work and the understanding and unconditional love of my dearest and most beloved friends and family. All of these things have added up to be the best gifts of the season, and I really do find that most other things are completely unnecessary, and even unwanted.

Alright, maybe with the exception of the new iPod, but I'm trying not to be greedy here.

I think that the other realization I have come to in my newfound, bizarr-o "maturity" is the realization that Christmas, like most other holidays now, is just waaaaay over-hyped. There are these huge expectations of roaring fires and glorious Christmas trees, luxurious meals, piles and piles of gifts of "things I've always wanted!", and yes, even visions of sleigh rides and mountains of fluffy snow. But no. After everything I've been through this year, after everything I've seen those around me go through, and after everything we have all learned together and apart, it is evermore clear to me that Christmas is simple and hype-less. God loved the world, so He sent His only Son, to show us what love is, and to die on the cross with the weight of the world on His shoulders, so that we might not have to live a meaningless life and suffer the same fate.

That's Christmas. No Scrooge included.

New Hope celebrated Christmas Sunday today, even though next Sunday actually is Christmas. That made some of us, myself included, a tad grumpy. It just messed up our inner calendars and played tricks with our senses of logic. But a good point was made today: starting the observance of Christmas in all its fullness a week early will, I know, I am confident, give me all the time I need to meditate upon the truth of it, to be thankful for the greatness of it, to revel in the love of Christ, family and friends, and to absorb the Spirit of it. Quite logical, after all.

Friday, December 16

SAD . . .

John Spencer, a/k/a Leo McGarry on "The West Wing," just died of a heart attack.


I love it when, for some reason, I'm up at four in the morning, and I send an email to Sun, forgetting that she's on the Wrong Coast and thus three hours behind me and thus still awake for a reasonable reason, and she writes back with just one arch question:

"up a bit late, are we?"

Oh, man.
Totally busted.

Thursday, December 15


David Crowder is genius. If you're a believer, check him out and give him a chance. He ain't your typical praise, but then God ain't your typical God. If you're not a believer, check him out anyway. Love the music, love the madness, and who knows where you might end up? See you in heaven, maybe? I hope?

(Sun, your girls might like rocking out to his latest CD!)


MONEY . . .

Alright, it's time to buckle down. I need income. But I also need -- not just "want," but need -- the perfect job, and my soul is willing to wait, even if my checkbook isn't. So ... do I bite the bullet and get a part-time job somewhere just for an income (and part-time, so I can continue my Perfect Job Search)? Or does six months at Borders Bookstores not look that great on a resume? (C'mon! Think of the discounts I can get on books! JUST THINK!)



Thanks to Sandra, et al. for blog fodder ... we introduce 15 Things About Books, a totally open-ended list of, well, bookish things. JKA, TinyCricket, and Sun, my fellow book-lovers, y'all should get on this too ...

1. is God's gift to me, personally. Oh yes, I could easily blow (if I haven't already this year) hundreds of dollars on books here, and the prices make it totally worth it. Yum.

2. I am currently reading: Atonement, by Ian McEwan, 1776, by David McCullough (and yes, Hooch, it's as gripping as you said it would be), The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (yes, still; it's a damn long book), and Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell. I don't know what it is in me that won't let me read just one book at a time.

3. The Little House on the Prairie series was a formative experience for me, in conjunction with the television series. In fact, dare I say that I was a bit disappointed in the television show, because it didn't follow the books word for word? I wanted to see Silver Lake and the winter cutter rides that Laura took with Almanzo and the Brewsters' cold and unloving boarding house. Alas, I had to settle for Mary waking up in the middle of the night, crying out, "Pa! Pa! I can't see!" (Nevertheless a gripping dramatic moment.)

4. I used to read a lot of women's fiction -- Jodi Picoult, Beth Gutcheon, books like that. Recently, though, I've gotten into the classics -- trying to remember everything I didn't pay attention to in high school and college -- and non-fiction books. John Adams and Truman were recent favorites, and I love immersing myself in the lush writing of old folks. People just don't write like they used to, you know?

5. Shopping for gifts for Sun's girls recently, I rediscovered some true favorites from my childhood: the Harry the Dirty Dog books, and the Corduroy books. Dang, they are so good, and the Harry the Dirty Dog illustrations are so breath-taking in their simple intricacy.

6. Browsing in a bookstore makes me need to poo also. There must be something scientific about this, because so many people I know experience the same sensation. I ascribe it to the feeling of complete comfort and relaxation that comes over me because of two things: (1) the order and cleanliness of most bookstores: everything is shelved, everything is in its place, and the order this creates is comforting to my type-A, obsessively alphabetizing personality; and (2) I feel at home among books for they have always been my refuge and the things that I turn to in order to escape and to be myself. Plus, I no longer have trouble pooing in public, so stopping into the 'loo at a commercial store is not an issue for me.

7. I hoard books like a madwoman. Cleaning my old room out before I moved into my own place was like cutting off all of my limbs without tourniquets handy. I believe I wept. Only recently have I developed the ability to lend books to friends, even. (Of course, I write my name prominently in them, and keep a list of who has what, so that I can be sure to ask for them back after a reasonable time has passed.) I know that this is very selfish of me; after all, books are meant to be shared and consumed by as many as possible, and I advocate reading as a means of saving the human race from itself. But still. I love my books, and especially the hardcover ones!

8. As a child, Omma or Appa would take me to the library once a week, with two duffel bags. At that time, the library had no restrictions on the number of books one could borrow at a time, so we would just start at one end of the children's books bookshelf, and fill the duffel bags to capacity. It honestly would only take me (or me and my parents) a week to get through all those books, and the next Saturday, we'd go back to the library and repeat the process. It was only after we went through the library's entire children's book inventory that my parents started buying me books. An addiction from which I am destined to never recover ...

9. Until I was old enough to drive myself places, I read in the car, even under the dire threat of "you're going to go bliiiiinnnndddd!" I would also read in bed, with a flashlight, waaaaay after my prescribed bedtime, and many was the night that one or the other parent would come into the bedroom to confiscate both book and flashlight. I don't think they were too mad about it, though, because I always managed to find the flashlight, back in the toolbox, the next day. It was just too easy.

10. I took a break from reading during law school -- the saddest years of my life. I just couldn't -- my brain and eyes were too worn out from reading law books. (But, I confess, even reading those sort of thrilled me. What a nerd.)

11. During my high school years, I would sit at my desk in our family's study, and perch a textbook on the desk top, as if I was reading it. However, my wily self was holding a novel inside the large textbook, hidden from view of the doorway, in case Omma walked by and decided to check to make sure I was doing my homework. I always did my homework at school before coming home, so that at home, I could just read with abandon. Omma never caught on, and to this day, I can't figure out why I didn't just say to her, "Look, I'm reading a book. You should be happy that I'm reading a book when the rest of my friends are lounging and wasting away in front of the television."

12. It took me the reading of three Danielle Steele novels in my early high school days before I realized that they are (1) not quality reading, (2) not that interesting, and (3) all the same. I regret the time I spent on those three books -- a few hours of my life that I'll never, ever get back.

13. Movies made from books ... what a dilemma they pose for me. Do I watch the movie based upon a book I've read, knowing that, if I really enjoyed the book, I may not really enjoy the movie as much? What if I didn't like the book -- do I then watch the movie in an effort to redeem the book in my mind, or at least have made its unenjoyable reading worth it? What about movies based on books that I have not yet read? Do I quickly rush out and read the book first (which only leads me back to the first two dilemmas), or do I forego the book entirely, knowing that by the time I finish it, the film version may not still be in theaters? Eh. But I just watched "Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe." A B- for directorship, a solid B+ for the film overall; A+ for story content and of course the perfect source material, thank you very much C.S. Lewis, we are forever indebted to you; and a screaming A+ for the little girl who plays Lucy Pevensey. When I have a daughter, I want her to come out of my womb all precocious and adorable and clever and charming and lisping in an English accent, just like Lucy.

14. I just read a headline that said that 11 million people in this country can't read. Ugh, that makes me so sad. It makes me want to go on a nationwide crusade and teaching engagement to teach folks how to read, and how to love it. It makes me want to go back to school and get a teaching degree so I can specialize in reading, like JKA, and she and I can travel the world bringing the wonder of books to all. That's not too idealistic, now, is it?

15. Alright, in the span of the couple of days that I have been coming in and out of this post, I have finished Atonement, and have moved on to The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. God bless Costco for cheap, current books. Totally non-fiction; totally gripping. I have noticed that I am on a reading kick lately. Sometimes I can go a couple of weeks without picking up a book, and this is often tied to my attention span during that time. But right now, my attention is able to focus on quiet, still things, and I've been reading much more, totally dropping into the books, the stories, the lives depicted by the words in front of me. I love when that happens ...

Saturday, December 10


Is "snarfing" the correct terminology? That just reminds me of all the times I regurgitated food through my nose. Ick. But thanks to The Unlimited Mood for some fun. (Speaking of fun, I just got back from helping my mom clean up during a get-together of my parents' dearest and oldest friends. Dang, they are a HOOT and a HALF! Ain't nuthin' like a house full of Korean folks who go waaaaay back, so far back that all pretense of honorific speech and boundaries of decency have long been tossed to the wayside, and everyone treats each other like brothers and sisters (sometimes even abusing each other as such). It's so joyful to watch!)

Two Names You Go By
1. Cha.
2. Is there any other? Occasionally, people will call me by my real name, or some variation thereof, but Cha really just says it all.

Two Parts of Your Heritage
1. Korean.
2. Spanish / Russian / American (I'm really only the American part, but something about the Spanish and the Russian really move my soul, and I hope they don't mind me adopting their culture and heritage).

Two Things That Scare You
1. Clowns.
2. The prospect, however unlikely, of being abandoned by loved ones.

Two Everyday Essentials
1. My Bible.
2. My eyelash curler.

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now
1. Knee-high wool argyle socks: soooo warm, but I think they're starting to cut off circulation at my knees.
2. The softest, most comfortable J.Crew corduroys.

Two of Your Favorite Bands or Musical Artists
1. David Crowder (and Band)
2. Jason Mraz

Two Things You Want in a Relationship
1. Honest laughter.
2. Honest everything else, too.

Two Truths
1. I'm nothing without Jesus, and I try to live every day for Him. I try.
2. I'm still discovering who I am, and I think -- I think -- I'm liking me.

Two Things You Hate (or at least really dislike)
1. Not being listened to, when I really need to be listened to.
2. Seeing evil manifest in humanity ... and myself.

Two Physical Features That Appeal to You
1. A warm smile.
2. Strong shoulders.

Two of Your Favorite Hobbies
1. Reading.
2. Cooking / baking.

Two Things You Want Really Badly
1. A fulfilling, meaningful, helpful, productive, conscientious, challenging, interesting career.
2. A loving, loyal, trustworthy, strong, intelligent, hilarious, faithful, never complacent husband.

Two Places You Want to Go on Vacation (other than visiting family)
1. Block Island.
2. London.

Two Things You Want to Do Before You Die
1. Write a book.
2. Enact meaningful change for the benefit of my community.

Two Ways That You Are Stereotypically a Chick
1. I try to have a bag / purse / tote for every occasion.
2. Does this count? I like to cook and feed my friends and family to show them I love them. Hmmm ... maybe that's just stereotypically "mom."

Two Things You Normally Wouldn’t Admit
1. I suffer incredibly severe bouts of insecurity and self-doubt.
2. Being independent is hard.
HUH? . . .

It's 1:34pm in suburban New York.

I'm sitting in my living room, finishing up some things before I head out for a busy afternoon and evening.

I just heard a rooster crow outside.

What the ....

Wednesday, December 7


I hit the New York Historical Society this afternoon to check out the "Slavery in New York" exhibit.

Slavery in New York.

Did you even think of such a thing? I never did. I never did. I just figured: New York, northern state, good, no slaves, abolition, gooooo New York.

Slap, slap, slap in the face!

In the 1700s, 42% -- forty-two percent -- of households in New York City held slaves. Yes, slaves. As in black citizens held captive and shipped over from Africa and other regions of the world (not just transported up from the South), and sold at the market upon arrival in the ports of Manhattan (what was then New Netherlands, then New York). New York slaves were treated just as badly and dehumanized just as severely as we all learn they were in the South. In those days, New York City was second only to Charleston, South Carolina in the number of slaveholdings. Incredible, isn't it? As in, not credible. But it's true. Stunning.

I learned so much via this exhibit. SO MUCH. I almost bought the book, but I think I'll just go back someday instead. Check it out yourself and prepared to be shocked, moved, humbled, educated.

Tuesday, December 6

AGAIN . . .

I must have done a gazillion of these. What's one more? Thanks, Sun.

1. Legal first name? I ain't telling. This is the crazy Internet, y'all!

2. Were you named after anyone? Yes, and I'm still getting over it.

3. Do you wish on falling stars? No, but when I see them, I am moved to tears.

4. When did you last cry? Last night, feeling the hurt and bearing the pain of a good friend.

5. What is your favorite lunch meat? Ew, the idea of loving just one lunch meat sort of grosses me out, but the combination on an Italian combo hero, with the works, is awfully tasty.

6. What is your birth date? Halloween, baby! (Bring it. I've heard all the jokes; you can't possibly have a new one.)

7. What is your most embarrassing CD? Sigh. I knew this moment would come. So few know about my ownership of this CD, and now all of you will know. Ugh. Hanson. The first album. Yes, the one with "MmmmmBop" on it.

8. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? Heck, yes.

9. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Heck, yes.

10. What are your nicknames? Cha, Cha-Cha, Cat (used by only one friend).

11. Would you bungee jump? In a heartbeat.

12. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? No.

13. Do you think that you are strong? Yes, in different ways, in different circumstances.

14. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Coffee.

15. Shoe size? 5 1/2 in dress shoes, 6 in everything else.

16. Red or pink? Definitely red.

17. Who do you miss most? Sun. Leaving my sister is like having a limb ripped off with no tourniquet at hand.

18. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? Blue Adidas fleece track pants; Asics trail runners in varying shades of blue.

19. What are you listening to right now? Carson Kressly's voice on the newest episode of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

20. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Brick red.

21. What is the weather like right now? Pretty damn cold. And I mean REAL cold, not like Los Angeles 65-degrees-and-balmy cold. Ha-ha!

22. Last person you talked to on the phone? Appa.

23. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? His eyes, and how he carries himself.

24. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Very much!

25. Favorite drink? Room temperature water, coffee or a Black Russian with Grey Goose.

26. Hair color? Dark brown, with some lighter brown and a tinge of white mixed in.

27. Do you wear contacts? Yes, and they're awfully dry and sticky right now.

28. Favorite food? I can't decide between Korean, Thai and Italian.

29. Last movie you watched? "The Italian Job." ("Bowling for Columbine" is next on the line-up.)

30. Favorite day of the year? Thanksgiving. It just says everything. And the first warm day of the spring or early summer that I can spend outdoors without being chilled to the bone, when my face is warmed by the sun, and I return home all invigorated.

31. Scary movies or happy endings? Oh, definitely happy endings, but it can't be too trite and contrived or else the whole movie is just ruined, don't you think?

32. Summer or winter? Winter. The heat and humidity of summer changes my personality -- not in a good way -- and I'm very heat-intolerant. Besides, winter clothing is more flattering.

33. Hugs or kisses? Both, please. Hee, I'm greedy. Actually, maybe I prefer hugs a wee bit more. Sometimes, they can say everything that kisses can, and more, and you have all that full-body contact as a bonus! From a child, a kiss is something they give me because I ask for it, but when they throw their arms around me and squeeze me into a wriggly little hug, it's so warm and happy and carefree, I feel like I'm a child again myself.

34. What is your favorite dessert? Warm pecan pie with vanilla ice cream; strawberry shortcake; carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. But sometimes, a simple sliced Asian pear also really hits the spot.

35. Living arrangements? 1.5-bedroom condo in a converted 1920s brick schoolhouse building.

36. What books are you reading? Atonement, by Ian McEwan; What's So Amazing About Grace?, by Philip Yancey; The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

37. What's on your mouse pad? No mouse pad -- I have a PowerBook trackpad, baby!

38. What did you watch last night on TV? "The Italian Job," via the DVD player.

39. Favorite smells? Fresh n' clean man; garlic cooking in a pan; kimchi jigae; the great outdoors.

40. Favorite junk food? Potato chips, or blue chips and fresh guacamole.

41. Rolling Stones or Beatles? The Who.

Monday, December 5

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
One of the coolest things about hanging with Sun is soaking in the delight of her home. Totally Brady Bunch, totally 50s, totally hip and cool.

This, my friends, is their ceiling. And yes, that curve in the wall is their living room wall. It's so cool, I just can't get enough of it.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
My third day there, we hit up the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library. Now, I'm no great fan of Reagan. I confess, he was the first President I even really knew, and even so, I had no inkling to follow him in the news or know more about him other than as the guy who hung with Gorbachev, who I thought was a more interesting character.

But I'm a big nerd and I love American history, and I especially love American history when I can remember seeing it happen with my own eyes.

Here, quotations referencing the coming of democracy to Germany, preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I love stuff like this. I just eat it up. Feed me, then feed me more! I don't care if all of these words have been scripted, rehearsed, edited, rehearsed again. They were spoken, they carried weight, they meant something and they had great impact.

All the more reason to believe in the power of words, and to believe in the need to use them for good, not evil.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
A chunk of the Berlin Wall stands to the rear of the main portion of the Reagan Library. It was so oddly moving to see this, to remember watching the fall of the Wall on television and thinking, surreally, "I'm seeing history in the making. I'm seeing history in the making. I am not appreciating this and soaking it in as much as I should be. I'm seeing history in the making."

Reagan being the first President that I can remember having any consciousness about, it was incredibly moving and weighty to move through his Library and see his hand and influence in the things I remember hearing, seeing, learning about throughout the early 80s.

Goodness, I love history ...

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
This is also on the grounds of the Reagan Library, mere seconds after I realized, "hey, I have different colour settings on this camera!" A bit of experimentation here and there, and out comes this valiant effort to be like Mabel in all of her photographic glory.

The views, vistas and scenery in the L.A. area still take my breath away. The unfamiliarity of the mountains and valleys renders them more exciting, but I don't think my own naive excitement detracts from their actual beauty and striking qualities. If I lived in the area, I would definitely get whatever membership I needed to get, just so I could grab a thermos of coffee, my Bible and a good book, and come up here to spend a sunny morning. What bliss.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
And no time spent with Sun would be complete without putting ourselves in the path of mortal danger. First it was the mountain lions; now it's rattlesnakes. It's so comforting to know that some things never change.

Sunday, December 4


It is good to be back.

Do I really care that it's below thirty degrees and that a snowstorm -- a real storm, thank you very much, Los Angeles -- is right around the corner? No. It's always good to be home.

I miss Sun though. My heart and mind are always a bit quieter -- not in the nice, warm, cozy alone-time way I normally crave -- when I leave her or she leaves me. It's like having a scab picked off to reveal raw flesh beneath. I told her in the car the other day that for the closeness that I felt towards her in our college days, I feel much closer to her now, after college, with these miles separating us. It is in the careful choosing of words over email and the cherished, packed hours spent catching up and growing together when we see each other once or twice a year, that our friendship has matured and become what it is now: a true sisterhood, a bond that ties tightly by faith and honesty and trust. There is no mincing of words, no hiding of motives, no holding back of ourselves (or our bodily functions, for that matter. How many friends do YOU fart in front of?).

So, my Sun-geared heart is back in California, while the rest of me is back home, thankful nonetheless. These five days of rejuvenation, reflection, rest and yes, sunshine, were so needed.

Tomorrow, my life begins again. People to see, things to do, places to go, issues to resolve, shenanigans which shall ensue, adventures upon which to embark, jobs to pursue, dreams to turn into reality. But for the rest of tonight, as much of it as remains, I think upon the past few days and remember how my soul was at rest and at my other home.

Update: sniffle, sniffle. I just got a message from Sun, saying how much she misses me already (as I miss her and have been missing her), and telling me that her first lady kept wanting to call some women at church by the special name she reserves for me. "Imo" ... "auntie." Wah. I am so sad all of a sudden. I sort of want to stay up all night, in the hopes that if I don't close my eyes and allow time to drift by, then it won't, and I can just pretend I'm back in Los Angeles, smothered in eleven years' worth of love and care and friendship and history. Wah. Ladies, Imo misses you!

Friday, December 2


Today, it rained in the Los Angeles area for the first time in months, allegedly.

Pardon me. By "rain," I mean to say that some small amount of moisture fell from the heavens onto the earth and caused the ground to become slightly damp, for about seventeen minutes, cumulatively, throughout the day. However, the East Coast weather snob in me is willing to concede that yes, it was grey and cloudy. First thing Sun says as we drive out to start our day: "It's good weather for a homicide."

(Lest you think we two are totally unhinged, there is context for this: we had just driven by a "CSI:" episode shoot, and we were wondering why on God's good earth, anyone would want to film anything in such horrid weather, much less in the middle of a random strip-mall parking lot in the middle of Sun's little suburb. But, as it turns out, such shoots are commonplace, and only dorks like myself are fascinated by the fact that yes, television shows and movies get filmed somewhere.)

Frankly, both Sun and I welcomed the "bad" weather. It reminded both of us -- even me, for everyday sunshine had become addictive and expected, even in the few short days I was out here -- of the East Coast, of New York, of our college days, of bundling up in coats and moving from chilly outdoors into warm and cozy indoors. The smell of musty rain in the air was somewhat refreshing. "The sun gets boring," Sun says.

It did not appear that the rest of the greater Los Angeles area shared our nostalgia. The 4 o'clock evening news was a lesson in exaggerated ridiculosity. "STORM TRACKER 2005" screamed the local ABC news outlet. Yes, of course it was the lead-off story (never minding that more American soldiers had been injured in Iraq and Alito's confirmation hearings loom around the corner). "Live from Sherman Oaks!" "Live from Pasadena!" "Live from the Hollywood Bowl!" "Live from Encino!" Dallas Raines -- yes, that's his name, but is New York Channel 2's Storm Field much better? -- was so happy to refer to "DOPPLER 7000!!!" and tell us that "our weekend might be ruined by the stormy weather!" Beat reporters tuned in to tell us that "shoppers were scrambling" to stock up on water and supplies to prepare for a weekend spent indoors. "Beware of the slick roads, commuters!" the desk anchors sagely and gravely intoned.

It rained for seventeen minutes.

Sun related to me a story of her friend, another New York transplant, who, a while back, was dropping her son off at school during a similar "storm." She arrived at school with her kid, both of them in regular street clothes, covered only by a single umbrella, which the friend had even contemplated leaving at home, the rain was so light. Walking across the school parking lot, the friend noticed other mothers and children in FULL RAIN GEAR: hats, parkas, galoshes. Yes, galoshes. "It was like Halloween," the friend told Sun. "Everyone waits for the one day a year they can wear their raincoats and galoshes, and then they get all decked out." She wasn't kidding.

Sun also tells me that sometimes, she waits for rain so that she can run her errands without traffic or human congestion issues. Apparently, when it rains, drizzles, mists, whatever, people stay home. Sun, on the other hand, fears neither water nor mist, so she bundles up the ladies and heads out to hit the empty stores. Smart lady living in an idiotic town.

Don't even get me started on the traffic. All you in Boston and Manhattan and the greater tri-State area who think you are surrounded by incompetent and senseless drivers, thank your lucky stars that you don't have to drive in the Los Angeles area. For all the people who stay home to prevent the "I'm meeeelllllting" effect, there seem to be double the number who suddenly become blind, deaf and intellectually dumb when the pavement darkens from precipitation. It's agony, I tell you.

God bless Los Angeles and grant it many, many more days of sunshine. Those folks really can't deal with anything else.

Update: Saturday shone bright and sunny, a balmy -- nay, hot -- 70-degrees. I was perspiring at 10 o'clock in the morning. I'm so glad, really, that the storm did not ruin Los Angeles's weekend.

Thursday, December 1


One of the many, many, innumerably wonderful things about being with Sun and Mr. Sun is the conversation. We can sit around, pinching ourselves awake until the wee hours of the morning -- less wee now, now that we are older and ... older -- yammering about everything under the sun. These conversations inevitably range from the utterly stupid and hilarious, to the tense and nearly argumentative, to the deep and soul-searching, often in the span of mere minutes. And then, they can start all over again the next day.

So far this week, we have covered:
- the L.A. school system
- private schools
- God
- the point of the IQ test
- rubber vaginas
- male-female relationships
- why I don't like to talk on the phone
- Sun's mother-in-law
- Mr. Sun's medical practice
- God
- housing costs in L.A.
- housing costs in New York
- why New York is better than L.A.
- 4" pile shag rugs
- women who are dumb, vapid, shallow, materialistic and don't like to sweat, run, go for walks, or go camping
- men who are afraid of commitment
- God
- gay marriage
- church life
- dysfunctional families
- living a life of faith
- God
- the countless virtues of Costco
- mean girls
- North Korea
- the Supreme Court
- God
- why New York is still better than L.A.
- taking sunlight for granted
- flattering haircuts
- why we are elitist and proud of it
- why Sun can only play Scrabble with certain people at her church
- God
- why, when confronted with a sale, we are obligated to buy something
- Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey
- why organic is better
- how Oprah makes us cry every time, but we are still scared of her cult of personality
- how we hope Conan O'Brien doesn't change even after he takes over "The Tonight Show"
- God

So there. With one-and-a-half days to go, we have already covered anything and everything. And as you can see, we talked of God, our faith, our souls, our hearts, a lot. It was refreshing and freeing and liberating. Even across three thousand miles, He is great and He binds us together.

That He gives us airplanes to use to see each other and to share in each other's lives even more closely is just a bonus.

Wednesday, November 30


The thing I love most about visiting Sun and seeing her in action in her own home and environs is seeing what a great woman she has become. This girl's got it all, I'm telling you.

She can corral two temper-tantrum-y ladies and placate them with a word and a kiss, and nothing more.

She can cook up a massive Korean home-style dinner (with flavors learned from her mother, which taste exactly like the flavors used by my own Omma, and you tell me that doesn't mean that we are truly sisters in some way) in a matter of minutes, and the only pitfall is that she forgets to plug in the rice cooker.

She can shop and not drop, with two ladies, a stroller, a backpack, a cooler bag, and an arm full of clothes to try on in tow.

She can wrap a birthday gift, make a homemade birthday card, cook a hot breakfast, all with the two ladies involved, and still have a non-frazzled, unforced smile on her face at the end of it all.

She can take classes and do homework and compile portfolio projects and complete take-home final exams, and have humongous dreams for her professional life, even as her personal life becomes more and more plump.

She can look objectively at the people around her and wish herself to be like them or not be like them, and strive to make herself better and better at an age when most people start to not care how they continue to change and grow (or not grow).

She can do all this and still throw a good spazz, zing a sharp one-liner, and discuss a major social phenomenon (while quite effectively blocking out the "mommymommymommymommymommymommy" from the back seat of the minivan).

I know who I want to be like when I grow up.

Tuesday, November 29


There are, shamefully, times when I forget how vast and varied and gorgeous this country of mine is.

Leaving for L.A., I was so exhausted that I fell asleep as soon as I buckled myself into my window seat, a good twenty minutes before takeoff. I didn't even feel the plane leave the tarmac. I missed the first and second beverage service, although my seatmate had kindly saved me a snack-pak (I love the crackers and faux cheese -- how did he know?) and a small bottle of water. I didn't watch "March of the Penguins." I didn't go to the bathroom, not once.

I didn't open my eyes until the jet's wheels hit the landing strip as we arrived at the airport at Salt Lake City. What a sight to behold! Mountains -- snow-capped -- all around, in every direction I turned my head. Clouds and fog and snowflakes fluttering about. Sunlight streaming in ribbons through slender openings in the sky. Crystal blue heavens peeking through wider openings. I had initially been thankful to God for giving me much-needed rest. My thanksgiving turned to praise upon viewing clear and convincing evidence of the beauty and wonder and breath-taking reality of Creation.

My need for sleep was not yet sated; I fell asleep again at the gate as soon as I buckled myself in for the leg to Los Angeles. Again, I felt nothing, knew nothing, ate nothing, spoke nothing. Again, my eyes snapped open as soon as the plane -- very violently, by the way, and that totally freaked my freak, you know what I'm saying, Ellen Degeneres? -- landed at LAX. And again, I peered out the window and this time ... different mountains, different sun, more trees, same glory, same thanksgiving, same praise, same wondering, "how do I forget that this exists? How do I forget that this too is my country? How do I forget that He made this also and this also is good?"

I need to not forget so much. I need to travel more. I need to travel to my sister more. Dang, this place is starting to grow on me. Too bad it's 3000 miles away from my life ... and too bad about the three-day state Bar exam.


I'M IN . . .

My first meal upon landing in Los Angeles -- within an HOUR of landing in Los Angeles -- was In-n-Out Burger, natch.

Our order was messed up, but that did not lessen the beauty of the In-n-Out Burger experience. YUM-O-LA.

If future employment opportunities don't work out, I might have to be the first franchisee to bring this wonderment to New York.


FROM "LOST" TO L.A. . . .

It wasn't until she told me that someone pointed it out to her that it hit me: my sister looks like Sun, the Korean female character from "Lost."

Resolved: always leery of using people's real names on this big bad place known as the Internet, I shall now refer to my sister as Sun, her husband as Mr. Sun, and the ladies as ... I dunno. The ladies, for now. For that is what they are quickly -- far too quickly, for our taste -- becoming. Sigh.

Monday, November 28

GO BLUE . . .

This is the lamest post ever, I think, if only because I'm lifting my idea not even from another original-idea-ed blogger, but from an American Express print advertisement. I have sunken to new lows, but I am too exhausted to even try to plumb the depths of my brain for the things that come from me. So thanks, Blue, for the uninspired inspiration, and for the added opportunity to answer simple questionnaire questions with lengthy, multi-part answers because I'm unable to winnow down my answers to just one ... or two ... or however many I'm supposed to winnow my answers down to.

My name: MC Estoppel

My childhood ambition: at age 7, to be an astronaut; at age 12, to be a physician; at age 15, to be a United Nations ambassador; at age 18, to be a journalist; at age 21, to be in full-time college ministry; at age 26, to be a federal prosecutor; at age 30, to write a book and bring justice and freedom to all. Oh, I'm sorry, am I supposed to have grown up by now?

My fondest memory: every good thing; I am physically and psychically unable to cling to the bad things, thank God. Honourable special mentions go to Schapiro 12, Legal Follies, adventures with Cheezer, romps in the city and camp, and all things involving Omma, Appa and Cheech (especially the U-Haul snot-flicking moment, and any evening many glasses of red wine were consumed).

My soundtrack: everything on Herb, and lately, especially, Shane and Shane, David Crowder, Franz Ferdinand, David Gray, Jason Mraz, the Rent Broadway soundtrack, Fiona Apple and Beethoven's piano concertos.

My retreat: Block Island ... or anywhere He is.

My wildest dream: professionally: opening a New York City branch office of International Justice Mission, to which hundreds and thousands of professional from the tri-state region can be brought to be trained to perform Christian justice and legal rescue work around the globe, and from which these professionals can be sent out to restore His kingdom and those He created so that they can live in peace and liberty and in the fullness of all they were created to live; personally: finding, marrying and loving The One, with whom I will have many babies, live in a small and cozy home, cook up a storm of meals every day, laugh my brains out, stay up late every night talking and discovering more and more about each other, and for whom I will always be thankful.

My proudest moment: and also my most humbling ... the times I heard or was told, over the past few years, that younger girls at NHF want to be like me when they grew up.

My biggest challenge: living What and How and Who I believe.

My alarm clock: is masochistically set to the morning news.

My perfect day: an early morning, a hearty workout, a hot shower, a sludgy cup of coffee, a quiet time, a companionable lunch and productive session of work and reading, a satisfying dinner, a good film, a bad hand of 5-card-draw, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, a snowy night.

My first job: mother's helper for my high school Russian teacher.

My indulgence: The Container Store, Whole Foods Market, cooking and baking, a deep tissue massage, standing still for way too long in the hot shower, all things Apple, staying up with those I love even if I'm sleepy beyond measure, coffee from Papua New Guinea, J.Crew jeans, burning up ever-so-precious gas driving around and around and around craning my neck upwards to look at the wide blue sky.

My last purchase: boring: groceries; not boring: "things I need" from The Container Store.

My favorite movie: there are so many for so many different reasons -- "Pride & Prejudice" (the BBC version, natch), "The Usual Suspects," "Schindler's List," "Moulin Rouge," "House of Flying Daggers," "Bring It On," "The Godfather," "Roman Holiday," "Swingers," "Strictly Ballroom," "Elizabeth" ... but "The Sound of Music" has its very own special nook in my heart, it really does.

My inspiration: the Lord.

My life: is too joyful, too upsetting, too dramatic, too full, too blessed, too meaningful, too insignificant, too full of potential still, for me to totally comprehend.

My card: let me redeem points to head to Los Angeles for a much-needed getaway and reunion for a fraction of what it's supposed to cost!


I really do apologize for being so lame and list-y lately. I blog for myself, largely to express the things that take too long for me to write long-hand, and believe me, there's plenty that I write long-hand, even more than I blog, if you can believe it. But still, I know there are a tiny number of you out there who actually read this to READ this, and to know me, and to love me, and I'm sorry that all I'm giving you lately are lists and regurgitations.

It's just that ... it's just that I am thoughtful lately, and I don't know how to express these thoughts, except on paper, and those words you will never ever see. Sorry, but that's the plain truth.

It is my greatest hope, and my assurance, actually, that my time in L.A. will be fruitful. That it will loose something in me that I have bound up for a few days, weeks now. That being with my sister and her family, that basking in sunlight and being wrapped in warmth, that being with those who have loved me for over a decade will be healing for all that ails me, and that being attacked by two rambunctious and preternaturally precocious little girls will provide me plenty of laughter and revelation and peace and yes, fodder for blogging. Heck, I should be able to cull a good story or two out of the airplane flight alone!

So stay tuned, my trusty friends. L.A. beckons; I can't wait. And neither can you?

Saturday, November 26

1,000,000 IN 100 . . .

Almost 1,000,000 people murdered in 100 days.
That is what I learned from watching "Hotel Rwanda" tonight.

I am so ashamed. I am so woefully embarrassed that eleven years ago, when I was a college student old enough to know and to be aware and to care, I didn't. I am so ashamed that I didn't read past the newspaper headlines. I am so ashamed that I didn't pause in my dinner, my classes, my daily activities, my glasses of wine and mornings slept in, to take notice of what was happening in Rwanda. I am so embarrassed that I didn't consider what it meant for citizen to kill citizen, for a person to be drunk with hatred and prejudice, for a world to ignore truth, for humanity to be rendered totally inhumane. I am so ashamed that my heart is breaking and my mind is reeling with disbelief now, a stupid and meaningless eleven years later. I am embarrassed to confess that I don't know what's happening, fully, around the world in these days, even.

I am glad that I am alone tonight, that a cold has forced me to stay in and be still. I am glad that I have the rest of the night to think and to pray and to consider the world that is so much larger and more important than I am by myself.

It is easy for me to ridicule movies for being senseless and insignificant. It is difficult for me to watch films like "Schindler's List" and now, "Hotel Rwanda." These two films, I know, are life- and heart-changing, not just for me, but perhaps for you as well. Still, I am glad to have seen both now, even if it means nights of nightmares and days of never feeling like I'm doing enough.

After all, I see that it is good to be reminded that there is always room.

Friday, November 25


... for which I am thankful.

1. Salvation.
2. Never having to worry about what to eat, what to wear, where to live.
3. Excellently comfortable jeans that make me feel like a hot mama.
4. Learning new things about myself and my family.
5. Conversations in which my parents and I speak to each other like adults and friends.
6. Conversations in which Cheech and I either (a) are not fighting; or (2) are not talking about bowel movements.
7. Heat.
8. Robert Downey, Jr.
9. Pecan pie and vanilla bean ice cream.
10. The first snow of the season.
11. Staying up late and not letting go because heck, you just don't have to.
12. The Container Store.
13. Redefining friendship and realizing that family is still family, no matter what.
14. Chief Justice Roberts not being a total wacko.
15. The fact that several good movies are on the horizon after what seems an eternity of crap-o-la films.
16. Coffee.
17. Airplanes and the ability to fly on them to see loved ones.
18. JetBlue and their enormous tray of endless snacks.
19. Wool socks.
20. An honourable father.
21. Eyelash curlers.
22. Books.
23. David Crowder.
24. Burt's Bees lip balm.
25. Satisfying poos.
26. The Noodles running into my arms, crying out my name and giggling.
27. That I have the mouth and heart with which to pray for the ones I love.
28. The slow but sure recovery of the Gulf Coast.
29. The inability to forget.
30. Salt.
31. Mittens.
32. "Lost."
33. The colour red.
34. Trust, and that He helps me to do it.
35. Leftovers, which always taste better the next day.
36. Friends who remind me that I don't have to be alone, even when I didn't anticipate being lonely.
37. Sudafed.
38. Reminders and heart pangs that tell me that I haven't gone totally cynical and jaded yet.
39. Anticipation.
40. The fact that it's in the 70s on the Wrong Coast and I will be there soon.
41. That crepes are so easy to make and taste oh-so-heavenly.
42. My imagination and that it is understood by the select few who matter.
43. High ceilings.
44. Home Depot.
45. Hearing a friend's voice and feeling the love as strong as ever.
46. That my girls and I can speak volumes to each other with a simple raise of the eyebrow or twitch of the lips.
47. That a huge favor is not a favor at all but a pleasure.
48. Will Ferrell.
49. The generosity of strangers.
50. That I am alive and breathing now, in these times, in this place, with these people.

Thursday, November 24


This year, in particular, I am thankful for my friends.

I really thought about this a lot yesterday. Sitting in a cafe near Columbia, looking out at the familiar sights and even the familiar-looking people strolling by on the sidewalk, I was totally transported back in time to the days when some of my most key friendships were forming. Ha, the C.o.S., Janey, Wonger, Yang, Snoozy. We see each other as often as we can and it's still never enough, but there are ties that bind sisterhood together. Even those with whom I don't keep in touch anymore: the fact of our having drifted apart over the years doesn't lessen the impact that they had in my life, the lessons they taught me, the way they were used of God to grow me and teach me and mold me.

It occurred to me more strongly yesterday than ever, that no friendship is possible without God. I can think that any friendship, any relationship, I am a part of is because of common interests, compatible temperaments, mutually enjoyable personalities. And yes, partly friendships are all of these things, and all of these things are also God-given and Christ-grown. But without God, without Him actually being the center of each relationship, without Him being the filter through which all things are spoken and done and given and received, without Him being the one to winnow out all the potential pitfalls between people and replace it all with grace, there is no such thing as friendship. And I don't just speak of my friendships with other Christians. Some of the people dearest to my heart are non-believers. But this does not mean that I don't view and love them -- always at least try to view and love them -- with God's heart and vision. Any kindness, good time, point of laughter, deep sharing, commonality that I try to achieve on my own is weak, easily faltering, sometimes misunderstood, occasionally rejected. Any of these things that pass through Him, I can fall back upon trust that He is growing the friendship and sustaining it in the fullness of Him.

I am by no means a perfect friend to my friends. I become easily distracted and busy, and forget to send an email or return a phone call or mail off that letter that was written weeks ago. I write post-it notes to myself to ask someone about something, then lose the post-it note. I am inadvertently hurtful, idiotically thick-headed, often ignorant, unintentionally insensitive, unnecessarily busy, stupidly outspoken, inopportunely silent. But even through all my shortcomings, my friends stick by me, and His grace covers all of us, drawing us closer to each other in spite of me and who and how I am.

For all of these things, for all of you -- Flacon, J2, the Noodle Family, Hooch, the Aliens, my L.O.Ls, my sister, Soybean et al., the Gs, my beloveds on the Wrong Coast, Banana and DYC, JC, Kwon, NHF PT, and my bestest and most unconditionally loving friends of all, Omma, Appa and Cheech -- today, I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 23


Sometimes, a lot of times, we, I, use words without really considering what they mean. Take "remarkable," for instance. It means "worthy of attention." Remarkable. Able to be remarked upon. This word just is not used as much as it should be. I cloud my own perception with descriptives like "cool," "awesome," "amazing" (used far too much because most things actually are not amazing), "interesting" (once again, really, how many things actually are interesting?). But clarity comes with realizing that some things are remarkable.


Children whom I've known since birth -- since the day of birth -- speaking in full sentences now is remarkable. I visited the Noodles this morning, and I practically had a conversation with them. Nay, scratch that. I did have conversations with them. Girl Noodle told me that she was eating raisins; I asked her if they were delicious; she said "yeah." Boy Noodle toddled up to me and said "excuse me;" I offered him a slice of clementine that I had just peeled; he said "thank you" before stuffing the whole fat slice into his mischievous little mouth. Where did the time go? Will they love me as much next year as they do this year? Will they think I'm cool enough to hang out with when they're teenagers? Will they still call me "Aunt" and run headlong into my legs with abandon?


The fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same, is remarkable. Sitting on the UWS, my old stomping grounds, in some new-fangled Starbucks near Columbia (one of two, I must sort of disdainfully mention, even though I do love the Starbucks Evil Empire), staring across at the new student center, watching UWSiders and students and professors and homeless folks rush by with their collars upturned against the bitter cold, it occurs to me strongly and poignantly that nothing has changed in the last ten years. Oh sure, you can tear down some legendary locales and put up fancy shiny new storefronts and bring in Starbucks and overpriced "Asian fusion" eateries and install college students who don't know what a typewriter is. But it's still all the same. The life, the vitality, the grittiness, the supremely high times and the distraughtfully low periods, the necessity of coffee and friendship and communication and learning and co-existing and learning to be independent. These things, and more, are all the same.


The emotional ties that I have to Columbia and the UWS are remarkable. I am sentimental and nostalgic by nature. I can be in the middle of an experience and already feeling nostalgic for the future, how I will feel when I look back upon what I am currently living. But still. To be so tied to a school? A neighborhood? How could I not ... this is where I grew up. This is where I learned the meanings of home, friendship, love, faith, vanilla lattes, commitment, responsibility, wisdom, financial security, thick-and-thin, devotion, independence, self-awareness, humility, generosity, family, food. This is where I learned it all. My heart swells now, looking out onto the sidewalk at 114th Street and Broadway, to look upon the brick and cement that nurtured me. To consider the all the things that formed me into the woman I am now, and to think upon all the other formations that are occurring right now. All of these students, so much potential ... do they know how lucky they have it? Do they have any appreciation for where they are, why they are here, and how they must learn to live their lives?


The power of words is remarkable. Last night, I had to choose my words carefully, restraining myself as with a real live muzzle, so as not to wound somebody else just to gratify myself. This morning, words cut me to the quick and deflated my entire day. This afternoon, words soothed as though a balm upon an open and raw wound and served to pump life back into the rest of the impending evening. As Flacon insightfully stated the other night, words can separate people as well as, if not better than, a brick wall; words can also build bridges where no other foundation could or would have been laid. That we do not all choose and think upon the words we use more carefully is also remarkable.


God is remarkable. He has no need to make me feel bad about myself to make Himself grand. He lays no guilt trips, asks for no recompense, offers free and unconditional love and grace, provides everything I need and then some, carries me when I can't move myself, sustains my breath and biorhythms, moves mountains and oceans, works miracles and withholds them wisely, and changes people and then changes them some more. He looks upon Creation as something to be infintely loved and gingerly cared for in the palm of His hands, not scorned or hated or disdained or discriminated against or destroyed or ignored. How unlike us He is. Thank goodness.


UPDATE: sometimes, lots of times, my own idiocy is also remarkable. I sit now, watching an NYPD officer patrol down Broadway right in front of me, writing parking tickets with glee. Yes, I promise he has a look of glee upon his face. I know that in two blocks, a matter of minutes, he is going to happen upon Good Girl. Good Girl, who is a good girl, but whose owner and driver is a bad, bad girl who doesn't believe in paying for parking, unless she puts Good Girl in an underground garage, in which case, she has to pay for parking because otherwise, she's not going home with the car in which she came. I also know that the po-po is going to slap a bad boy upon Good Girl. I also know, I think, that I will consider not paying this bad boy for as long as possible ... perhaps forever. Alright, that's not entirely true, because I'm far too afraid of jail to not pay a stupid parking ticket. And finally, I know that by now, enough time has passed that the po-po has found Good Girl and I am going to be out $100. Dang. How remarkably dumb.

Thus, I am going to say the following two things. Sprinkle grains of salt as necessary, and check back with me later, when my hormones have stopped doing their I'm-going-to-turn-you-into-not-you-for-a-little-bit-just-to-make-you-and-everyone-around-you-crazy-and-yes-you're-going-to-cry-over-everything-and-make-a-big-deal-over-totally-inconsequential-things thing.

1. I feel like the clock is taunting me. Do you ever feel like the clock is taunting you, either in how excruciatingly sloooooow it moves, or how head-spinningly fast it ticks? Yeah, I'm totally being taunted by time.

2. For the first time in my life, I am dreading Thanksgiving because I feel like The Family Failure. I am yet unmarried, I am still unemployed, I have no grand prospects for either on the near horizon, I am not even at home to help Omma prep for our turkey-less meal (did I tell you about the day we discovered -- over thirty years into my parents' life here in the States -- that nobody in our family likes turkey so why the hell were we slaving over it every year if no one actually wanted to eat it?) although I will be heading over plenty early with armfuls of desserts and side dishes. And on top of all that, I am planning on not staying over Thursday night at home because I made tentative plans with a close friend to meet up after our respective family dinners. That's going to go over real big at home. Baa, baa, black sheep.

Sunday, November 20


It's a little bit funny this feeling inside
I'm not one of those who can easily hide
I don't have much money but boy if I did
I'd buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, but then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show
I know it's not much but it's the best I can do
My gift is my song and this one's for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well a few of the verses well they've got me quite cross
But the sun's been quite kind while I wrote this song
It's for people like you that keep it turned on

So excuse me forgetting but these things I do
You see I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue
Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world

"Your Song," by Elton John / Bernie Taupin

I can't sleep. I've been up since 7:45 a.m., had an intense hour-long workout, ate mostly balanced meals, drank no coffee, had only one mugful of English Breakfast tea, powered my way through a four-hour worship team rehearsal and two-hour-long praise night. I am tired, and my eyes are droopy, and my body is weary, but my brain, my thoughts, my heart -- they are all in overdrive, and I cannot rest. Dang, the worst part is that I don't even want to step into the bedroom to lay down and let my body sink. I don't even want to be there anymore.

And so, I resort to another list. I realize these are unoriginal things. I realize I am not creating anything of any value by perpetuating these lists. I realize they are senseless, self-indulgent, silly. But maybe the mundaneness of thinking of myself and realizing exactly how unremarkable and boring I am will lull me to sleep ...

5 Snacks I Enjoy:
1. Smart Food White Cheddar Cheese popcorn
2. Lays plain potato chips ... dipped in ketchup
3. rugelach from Whole Foods Market
4. baby carrots dipped in just about anything that baby carrots are supposed to be dipped in
5. bite-sized fruit: grapes, canteloupe cubes, strawberries

5 Songs I Know All the Words To:
1. We Fall Down
2. The Star-Spangled Banner
3. Still
4. In Christ Alone
5. Sleeping to Dream

5 Places I Would Run Away To:
1. Block Island
2. Ha's place in L.A.
3. Red Mountain Spa
4. Banff (alright, I've never actually been there, but I imagine that once I go, I will want to run away to there often)
5. Tranquility Spa with Mabel

5 Things I Would Never Wear:
1. fur
2. something completely yellow
3. animal prints
4. puffy sleeves
5. non-baseball-cap hats, not because I don't want to, but because I always look like a 12-year-old wanna-be poseur in them

5 Favorite TV Shows:
1. "Lost" (for the record, Hooch and I were on the bandwagon before anyone else was. Heck, we started the engine!)
2. "The Ellen Degeneres Show" (dude, she's just fun and her guests like her)
3. "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (in reruns, but still remarkable and occasionally hysterically hilarious)
4. "Will & Grace" (Jack and Karen are the best characters on television in a long, long time)
5. "Exteme Makeover: Home Edition" (why yes, I do have "sucker" written all over my forehead)

5 Bad Habits:
1. picking my lower lip until it bleeds
2. talking, bopping, dancing, swaying to and with myself ... in public ... when there are other people around
3. speaking before I think
4. jumping to conclusions about everything
5. keeping myself busy when I just don't need to be

5 Biggest Joys:
1. Jesus
2. my family and friends
3. New Hope Fellowship
4. my hobbies: reading, cooking, organizing
5. the special moments: camp, Starbucks, walking, napping

5 Favorite Toys:
1. Bob
2. Herb
3. my mom's digital camera
4. the Buh-Bo cards
5. newborn babies: I can move them around and make them "talk" and basically do whatever I want them to do, except when they flop over because they can't hold their heads up yet

5 Fictional Characters I Would Date:
1. Mr. Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice (the book, and alright, you can throw in Colin Firth, too)
2. Sawyer, from "Lost"
3. Almanzo Wilder, from Little House on the Prairie (the book series, not the television show)
4. Mr. Knightley, from Emma (the book, but I'm not turning Jeremy Northam away!)
5. Vaughn, from "Alias"

10 Years Ago, I was experiencing: true friendship, a budding romance, a strong Christian fellowship, Schapiro 12, senioritis, career angst, constant hilarity, anxiety about impending adulthood, sisterhood.

5 Years Ago, I was experiencing: 3L-itis, another budding romance, assistant-director angst, torture at the lashing tongue of my favorite law school professor, another brutal Boston late-autumn, homesickness, career angst.

1 Year Ago, I was experiencing: the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, the stirrings of a new and true friendship, being on the verge of a new beginning, career satisfaction, my first winter in my own home.