Thursday, March 31

SHIVER . . .

Pope John Paul II was apparently given his last rites, even though doctors cautiously say he will recover from his high fever.

I'm not Catholic (probably never could be, even if I wanted), and I certainly disagree so often with the teachings and stances of the Catholic Church and the Vatican ... but I'm still chilled to the bone. I strangely do not doubt that the Pope is a faithful man who loves God and wants only peace to reign on this earth and among humanity. I just don't doubt this. I don't doubt that he is a strong man, able to withstand the ebb and flow of culture and society, and willing to stand against popular opinion on behalf of the tenets he holds to with all of his being. Who among the rest of us are so consistent and faithful to our beliefs? I don't doubt that he lived a life of sacrifice, and that he did much of it in private, not for show and not for public acclaim. I don't doubt that he spent hours a day praying for this world, praying for good health to come to the sick, prosperity to come to the poor, wisdom to come to nations' leaders, peace to come to those at war. I just don't doubt any of this.

Thus, though I might disagree -- and heartily so -- with his interpretations and applications of Scripture, though I might view his teachings and actions as divisive and exclusive ... I cannot turn away from this man, and be saddened at the thought that we as creation might be losing a human of faith, whose entire existence was for God at the expense of himself. Would that the Lord would call him homeward without pain or discomfort. Would that the Spirit would allow his legacy to be not only one of conservatism, but one of mercy, thoughtfulness, gentleness and humility.



And I hope you will too. Thirty days until the Revlon 5k Run/Walk for Women's Cancers ... don't forget to support me or my team.

Terry Schiavo, rest in peace. Or at least try to.



I'm having a discussion right now with Juice about what, exactly, I'll be doing come the fall season. What an idea ... I've never been in the position of "uh-oh, I have nothing to do."

I could, I tell Juice, work for a private law firm in either Manhattan or closer to home. I could take a huge pay cut and enter the non-profit sector, and scrimp in other areas of my life. I could pursue all my leads in the government sector, despite the harsh competition in the field. I could cut my losses and leave the industry completely and start something new (with capital I don't have right now, but that's an issue for another day).

But the most shocking realization for me is not that I have all these options and nowhere to run with them. It is that in thinking over these various paths, I end up at the same place: asking myself, "do I really want to keep on being a lawyer?"

I remember in late middle school, I wanted to be a Legal Aid attorney, defending the wrongly-accused (for I had somehow convinced myself that all defendants were wrongly accused and the police and the government were the bad guys), and bringing good tidings to the downtrodden everywhere. In high school, one day, I had miraculously changed course and determined that I would be a prosecutor, putting away the bad guys (for I had somehow convinced myself that all defendants were bad guys trying to get off the hook for the evil things they did), and bettering society with my bulldoggish ways. By the middle of my college years, I had become the broad-minded intellectual (hold your laughter, please) who wanted to work for the United Nations and bring entire peoples out of poverty via moral legislation and needful intervention. Post-college and throughout law school, I had finally focused myself and latched onto a nearly-achievable goal: I would work for the government, as a federal prosecutor. I would eliminate Asian gangs, stop the flow of illegal drugs into our communities, put the white-collar criminals in their place, and (ok, now I'm sheepish at confessing my deepest dreams) become the first Asian-American United States Attorney General. My path was set -- I just needed to keep stepping upon it.

Only, now that I actually need to start walking the walk, I find I am suffering from a touch of cowardice and self-doubt. I mean, practically, how the heck do I get there? How do I contribute meaningfully to society and make the most of the skills given and taught to me ... but also have time for myself, my family, my friends and my church? How do I serve my country and my community ... but also survive on a less-than-ideal paycheck? How do I do back-breaking work, burn the midnight oil and take my work home with me every night ... but also maintain my mental, emotional and physical health? How do I reconcile my chosen vocation with my inherent insecurities and laziness and fear of the unknown? Oh, forget all these deep questions: how the heck do I even GET a job when everyone asks for 5+ years of actual non-clerkship experience? STOP ASKING FOR EXPERIENCE, PEOPLE, AND JUST GIVE IT TO ME!!!

What if, I said to Juice, I went to work for some humongous midtown law firm (assuming, of course, that they would hire someone as unpretentious as myself)? There I'd be, the consummate non-schmoozer. I'd have to play office politics and butter up surly giant-corporation clients. I'd have to wear some smart outfit to work every day lest I look frumpy next to all the hardcore barracuda associates in my department. I'd have to do meaningless, mind-numbing work for a result that won't even have my name on it (yes, that's my ego speaking). I'd have to slave away for a cause in which I would have little to no belief. I'd have to work late hours just for the sake of face time. I'd have to hop a crowded train every morning for the 1.5-hour commute into the city, then squeeze onto another crowded train every night for the 1.5-hour ride back out. What if I go there and come out two years later totally evil and jaded and hardened and mean and materialistic?

What if, I said to Juice, I went to work for a non-profit organization, on behalf of women, or children, or immigrants, or the Korean community? There I'd be, bitter about my 50% pay-cut, the lack of free office supplies, and the burdensome bureaucracy that beleaguers the hard workers of non-profits everywhere. I'd have to fight for everything: a pen, a pad of paper, time in a congressperson's calendar, discounted rental fees for the fundraiser we hope will endow our next project. I'd have to do the work of five people in the time alloted to one. And knowing me, I'd have to lie awake in bed at night worrying about the people on whose behalf I work, wondering if I'm making an impact at all. What if I go there and come out five years later poor as all heck, disillusioned with society, and thinking, "I should've gone to a private firm and made loads of money instead?"

What if, I said to Juice, I went to work for another arm of the federal government, say as a federal prosecutor? There I'd be, exhausted from the lengthy and cutthroat application and interview process (but at least I'd get a badge!). I'd have to run all over the courthouse as a scrub initiate, being yelled at by this and that judge. I'd have to be chained to a beeper, even on the weekends. I'd have to deal with chauvinistic and sometimes mysoginistic (yes, I know it's 2005, but not much has really changed) federal law enforcement agents who think, "ain't no way a 5'2" Asian girl can go up against this Colombian drug cartel." I'd have to jump-start myself with little or no honeymoon period, and little or no subsequent guidance and training -- America, be scared, for I will have been unleashed upon your legal system! What if I go there and come out ten years later ridden with chronic fatigue syndrome and plagued by stalkers hired by all the bad guys I will have sent to jail (because yes, I'd be THAT GOOD)?

What if, I said to Juice, I went to work for the FBI or the CIA (as if they would hire me after I've just blogged about it) or the DEA or Homeland Security? There I'd be, panting and wheezing my way through boot camp, packing heat (even more reason for America to be nervous) and hopefully graduating the training academies without too many visible bruises. I'd have to ... oh, forget that. What if I get shot?!

What if, I said to Juice, I went to work for some smaller, local private law firm? There I'd be, with more flexible work hours and a damned easier commute. I can't think of that many drawbacks to this scenario ... but I think my risks of getting lazy and pigeon-holed are greater in this environment. If I'm comfortable, why would I leave or seek something else? And if I don't seek something else, how will I achieve my end goal of representing right law and representing my people?

What if, I said to Juice, I left the law entirely and started something new? Perhaps an event-planning business with Ha and Soybean? Perhaps back to school for a Masters in Library Science, so I can spend my days with the books I love most? Perhaps a Ph.D. in British Literature, so I can go back to my collegiate stomping grounds and spend the rest of my days in nerdy academia? Perhaps I just need to fall passionately in love with a rich, rich man and have babies with him. Oh if only these things were so easy to determine ...

Headhunters' business cards litter my wallet. Contacts and people willing to stick their nose out for me constantly volunteer their time. Near-daily searches turn up new potential leads that depend solely on me selling myself adequately. But I remain troubled, for I feel that one of these days, I'm going to have to grit my teeth and lie as if my life depended on it, and say, "Yes, this is exactly what I want to do and I will give my all to this job." And one morning, some time into the future, I'm going to wake up and hate myself for having fallen off the path, having let go of my ideals, and having ended up as a materialistic, conforming, bored and uninterested advocate for ... well, for nothing.

Monday, March 28

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Y'all asked for them, so here they are: pics from Cali and my visit with my 'sister' and her family, Dr.Y, Cinderella (nearly three) and Sonic (just one). This is the interior of their awesome living room. Check out the 1950s detail, including the wood room separator, the wood-paneled ceiling (AWESOME) and the sexy curved walls and soffits. I love this house and this room in particular -- it's like a museum, but one that can be drooled on.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Sonic, on the occasion of her first birthday. Note, please, that her mouth is ALWAYS in this position. When she cries, when she laughs, when she sleeps, when she talks, when she walks, when she crawls. The only time her mouth is CLOSED, ironically, is when she eats. She takes in these humongous mouthfuls of food, and you're thinking, "ain't no way she can eat all that with her six and a half teeth," but then there she is, daintily chewing with her mouth closed until every last bit of food is gummed and gnawed into oblivion. Then she's screaming at you for more. Jeez.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
OK, OK. Dad let Cinderella do her own hair that morning. We were making breakfast in the kitchen, and when we turned around, BAM! There she was with THIS thing on her head (no, it's not a garter, although I DID think to ask, just in case). She was ever-so-proud of herself, we just couldn't bring ourselves to say anything other than, "WOW. You look ... STUNNING." I wish you all had been there to see the billowing mushroom that was her hair.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
The ladies at Descanso Gardens. I told you Sonic's mouth is always in that position. Must be the teething. (N.B.: it took, like, EIGHT tries to get this one halfway-decent photo.)

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
THIS, my friends, is what my trips to L.A. are all about. No, not really, but does this not look oh-so-tasty? Oh yes, it is!

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
All that deliciousness for a mere three bucks? Ain't nuthin' like it, AND you get a Bible verse on the wrappers. Bonus! If only L.A. were in NYC ...

Sunday, March 27


From last week's Friday Favorites:

What is your name? ChaEsq.

What is your best friend’s name? I don't feel equipped to answer this question or provide names without unnecessarily raising eyebrows. But among the viable candidates, suffice to say that Ha is like my twin sister.

What is your favorite boy’s name? OK, if you have yet to have children in the future, please please please don't steal my baby boy names! Unless you ask nicely, in which case I'll be too much of a sucker to say "no." Nathan and Micah.

What is your favorite girl’s name? Same warning/plea as above, please. Madeleine and Ella.

What are your parent’s names? "Snoopy" and "Tiger Woods."

Friday, March 25

BE FRESH . . .

My goodness, how I adore shopping at Whole Foods.


MARCH 25th . . .

I need a job that starts in about seven months. Oy vey.

It's that time of year again, my friends: The Revlon 5k Run/Walk for Women is back on track for 2005. On Saturday, April 30, I and my team, "NHF Fights Cancer," will be hitting the pavement and running towards those brown-baggie lunches and souvenir t-shirts, all for the sake of saving lives and finding cures for women's cancers.

Please, if you care and if you dare, support me or my team.

And in honor of you generous givers and the cancer victims we will help together, I shall do the Fallopian Tube Dance daily, up to and including the day of the Run/Walk. You ain't seen nuthin' until you've seen the Fallopian Tube Dance, believe you me.

Oh, Terri Schiavo. I only have random, disjointed thoughts on this matter.

How come anti-abortion activists are involved in this issue? I don't see any fetuses anywhere.

How come Congress decided it could say who can and cannot take a case to federal court? No, no, legislative branch. You stay over there.

Good on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for saying "nuh-uh, get off my turf." There are laws and rules for bringing suit in federal court, and if you don't meet the criteria, you don't get to come in. It's called efficiency (I know, I know, don't laugh). It's called separation of powers. It's called 'if Republicans really champion federalism, they better stick to it.'

People are forgetting, as Hooch recently reminded me, that Michael Schiavo -- the much-vilified husband -- went and got a nursing degree after Terri fell into this persistent vegetative state so that he could care for her. And he never divorced her although he legally had grounds to. And he rejected two offers of one million dollars each to divorce Terri, for he said it was never about the money. Believe you me, if he wanted to be free of her, he could've been long, long ago.

It is possible, after all, that Terri said she wouldn't want this, and Michael is just trying to appease her. After all, he has been the one sitting by her bedside non-stop for the last seven days.

I would like to see an attorney get slapped with Rule 11 sanctions for bringing another appeal in this case. Just to show people (read: stupid Congress) once and for all: play by the rules. In the words of the infamous Napoleon Dynamite: "IDIOT!"

Side note: I learned that the 11th Circuit Court is open 24/7. YIKES.

Everyone has a right to live, I agree. The concept of right to die makes me nervous. But what -- we're all going to render living wills illegal and say that no adult can make up his or her own mind on the issue? Will our lives, will the livelihood of our nation, truly be made better by having Congress, or big Government, or even the Law of the Land decide these issues for us?

Terri's parents have had twenty-two -- TWENTY-TWO -- court decisions rendered against them. I'm sorry, I know I'm biased because I'm approaching the issue from within, but ... STOP CLOGGING THE COURT SYSTEM AND GET A CLUE. Sheesh. Even the Supreme Court, lately friend of the Republican administration (and some might say, even the Republican agenda) said "no thanks."

Terri's dad says people are on a "crusade to kill." Well, now. That's kind of strong language, don't you think? Would your daughter appreciate you being all inflammatory like that, Mr. Schindler?

The worst part is, whether Terri lives or dies, none of it will be in peace, none of it will be private. She has become an unwitting pawn, pulled between two forces, thrown into the political fray of this shameless nation. Her face is plastered all over the news. Her parents and sister weep and wail for the cameras. Michael is nowhere to be seen. Oh yes, that's right -- that's because he's by her bedside. Poor Terri. She has the right to life, I suppose, but no right to privacy.

The lesson to be learned, methinks, is this: write everything down. Then get it witnessed and notarized.

Oh, Terri Schiavo. How am I supposed to think about you from a human perspective, from a Christian perspective? If you had said to me, "don't keep me alive like this," would I have heeded your words? If I then let you die, would that bar the gates of Heaven to me? What about you? Is exercising the right to die really such a bad thing? And if so, why? And if not, how come? Is God crying because people want you to starve to death ... or because people are fighting over you like cats and dogs?

Thursday, March 24


Okay, I don't think jet-lag qualifies as a pet peeve because I exact it upon myself by traveling outside of my time zone in the first place. But does it not seem as though the effects of jet lag are always worse when you come home, no matter from whence you are returning? Why is that?

Side note: the worst was when my family returned from The Motherland in the summer of 1988. Cheech and I stayed up -- as in, totally, completely, utterly, 100% awake -- for about three or four days straight. At night, we would go outside and sit on our still-warm driveway pavement and look up at the stars. Or we would huddle in one of our rooms playing card games by flashlight and trying not to giggle too loudly. Or we would just sit there and stare groggily at each other until dawn broke. Then we would spend our daylight hours jittery and nervous and yes, severely constipated.

Back on track: last night, I slept like a baby. Two hours of circling in a hot airplane waiting to land on a snowy, crowded runway will do that to a person. Tonight, despite a big dinner, a watermelon mojito and a mellow evening watching "12 Angry Men" on Broadway (EXCELLENT; MUST SEE; RAVE RAVE RAVE), I am wide awake as midnight draws nigh. I knew, knew, knew this would happen. I just knew it. And the worst part is, I'm going to be like this for the next three or four days. I just know it. In the words of a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode: grrrr, argh.

Highlights and lowlights from five and a half days in Tarzana, California (and yes, it was named for "Tarzan," written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who lived in the area in the early 1900s) ...

... eating two bags of blue Terra Chips on the flight over to Long Beach. I love JetBlue.

... listening to two teenage girls on the plane giggle at the thought of having Chris Martin of Coldplay as their father: "That would be soooo cool. He's sooooo cute," and thinking to myself, "Ew, why would you ever think your own father was sooooo cute?"

... checking out Ha's sleek new Honda Odyssey minivan, which doesn't quite look like a minivan because it's a dark metallic gunmetal grey and shaped like the lead car of a Japanese bullet train, and has seventeen cupholders (six of which have yet to be discovered by the family).

... adoring nearly-three-year-old Abby, who reminds me so much of myself as a little girl running around with pigtails and big bangs covering my eyes, and yammering nonstop about every important detail of every minute of every day, and shouting loudly at the top of her lungs when no one is listening to her.

... being heavily drooled upon by newly-one-year-old Sonic, who very closely resembles a cute cartoon hedgehog and who eats as ravenously as a wild boar and who graciously and slowly spits out food in which she is no longer interested.

... listening to Dr.Y tell the story about how for ten minutes, he put his nose to the house's gas valve and sniffed heavily, inhaling gas fumes, because Ha didn't believe there was actually gas leaking into the house, then standing up and saying, "I think there is a gas leak because one, I can smell it even if you can't, and two, I have a severe headache right now."

... being instructed by Abby to watch her poo on the potty because she was bored sitting there by herself and wanted someone to have a conversation with.

... admiring the wide-planked wood-paneled ceiling and the curving walls in the living room, the sloping beamed ceiling in the family room, the granite countertops in the kitchen, and the plantation window shutters in the guest bedroom of their new 1950s-style home. It's "The Brady Bunch" all over again.

... driving Dr.Y's itty-bitty ancient Honda Civic (yes, the same vehicle with the leaky oil, the cranky gaskets, the driver's side window that doesn't close unless you push it up with your hand, and the faulty brakes) along Highway 101 into downtown L.A. to have dinner with my relatives, and realizing that every single car on the freeway is taller than the one I'm driving.

... going to Century Sports Club & Day Spa with Ha, getting naked and sweating. Eh, check out the website before you jump to any conclusions ...

... hanging with the family as they purchased a new Audi A4, then hitting Saladang Song for some of the best non-home-cooked Thai I've ever had.

... In-n-Out Burger. 'Nuff said.

... watching the underdog hit, "Napoleon Dynamite", on Saturday, then quoting the movie and imitating its lame-o underdog protagonist every minute of every day for the next four and a half days. GOSH.

... strolling through Descanso Gardens on a balmy Sunday afternoon, admiring the freshly blooming camellias and tulips, and watching Abby's cheesy grins as she squatted amongst the blooms for photo ops.

... debating with Dr.Y, while watching a Discovery Channel documentary on North Korea's nuclear threat, the issue of whether Kim Jong-Il is a nutcase or a rational military and political actor. I still think I'm right: I vote nutcase.

... eating two scoops of Double Rainbow chocolate ice cream every day, even though I don't like chocolate or ice cream. But Double Rainbow is soooo good. I have to find it here on the East Coast and share it with all of you.

... taking a leisurely walk through the neighborhood with the kids, breathing in the warm spring air and anticipating the warm weather and accompanying shenanigans in New York to come.

... planning a longer -- perhaps month-long -- trip in the fall (when I'm most likely going to be out of a job and in denial of that fact) to be punctuated by road trips to see JWu in Oakland, wineries in Napa Valley, the coast in Santa Barbara, the ritsy-titsy in Palm Springs and the zoo in San Diego.

... repeatedly glancing at a seatmate on the return flight -- a 30-ish looking Korean-American man -- who is watching the Cartoon Network for the entire length of the five-hour trip back to the East Coast (lengthened to seven hours by bad weather and the ensuing holding patterns) with his mouth hanging open and giggling intermittently at the antics of Porky Pig. Sigh.

... emerging from the nauseating holding pattern to see my bag be the first one on the conveyor belt (exceedingly good) and feel slushy yet icy snow hit my cheeks (exceedingly bad). Talk about surreal ...

Wednesday, March 16


It's the good, the bad, and the downright strange today, punctuated by the fact that Shrub is on TV blabbing his mouth about the "in-ter-resting" Social Security debate. His speech is always so well-peppered with "the, the, the" and "uh, uh, uh" and smarmy snickers. I hate those smarmy snickers. And he's also about to announce Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank. Wolfowitz. What an appropriate name. What a harbinger of doom for poor and needy nations around this globe ... but I digress.


FIFTEEN MINUTES . . . All Elizabeth Ashley Smith did was be held hostage by Brian Nichols, the bad, bad dude who shot a Fulton County judge and others in Atlanta last week. But now, she gets to play the starring role in news stories that bear the headline, "Hostage's Past May Have Helped Win Captor's Trust," and the opening paragraph, "Elizabeth Ashley Smith's encounter with the fugitive in Atlanta has made her story an instant classic of sin, redemption and grace." Oh puh-leeze. I am instantly torn, for one side of me is extremely cynical and declares that such stories are rubbish, and the reporters drafting these vapid heartstring-tuggers should be fired or sent back to journalism school. On the other hand, seeing the public suck up these stories like cool water on a hot day remind me that there are so many people out there searching for a hero, someone to admire, and unable to fine one. If they only knew ...


SUSPICIOUS, ALWAYS . . . A "power failure" renders the Lexington Ave subway line useless this morning? Sorry. I don't think so. I don't believe in simple power failures debilitating the busiest commuter subway line during the morning rush hour anymore. If the FBI and CIA and the entire NYPD is not on this case behind the scenes right now, I'm going to be extremely annoyed. No, we shouldn't live in fear, but neither should we bury our heads in the sand, afraid to face the reality of this world in this day ...


FINALLY ... I THINK . . . The new National Assembly of Iraq convened for the first time today -- the first freely-elected parliament in fifty years -- amid explosions around the convention hall. 275 folks, committed to "national unity" have so much to do now: elect a president, form a presidency council, pick a prime minister, acknowledge Kurdish minority standing as Iraqi citizens. By all accounts, the meeting lasted only about an hour today and they didn't accomplish overly much ... but I can't help hope that they are on the right road towards governing their nation in peace ... so that perhaps the past two and a half years of death, destruction, blood and guts will not have been in vain.


WHERE IS THE RINGMASTER . . . The Michael Jackson trial continues (I'm already bored of it, and can't bear the thought that it might last until Christmas), and Scott Peterson is sentenced today. Blah blah blah.


TRIVIA . . . Did you know that before Princess Diana and Dodi (that name always causes me a small giggle or two) got into their car to flee the throngs gathered in front of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, they had planned to get into a different car? HMMMMMMMMM.


Of late, the only thing I can do when I read or listen to the news is pray. So much going on around me, so much going on in the far reaches of the world that I won't ever hear about. So much pain and joy and excitement and confusion that no human can appreciate or alleviate. What else can I do but give this world back to He who created it and ask for continued mercy and grace ...

Tuesday, March 15

SNOOPY . . .

I just read this book, "Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy," by Lindsay Moran. Everything about this book crushed any fantastical dreams I might have possessed of becoming a CIA agent myself, from the application process to the training to the faux-hostage situations to the bureaucracy to the overseas assignments to the rigid leadership to the myopic global vision to the utter lack of a personal life or human autonomy.

And I wondered, as I read Ms. Moran's in-depth discussions of intra-Agency happenings, whether she had obtained permission to write everything she wrote, or whether she would be strangely 'eliminated' upon the widespread publication of her just-released book. I have my answer now ... as well as a list of more books to read about this Agency that I will never join but will enjoy reading about ...

Monday, March 14


I have many character defects ... but in fairness, so do a lot of other people. And I just feel like getting harsh on people today, for I have spent the last few months mulling and pondering the virtues and lack of virtues in myself and those around me, and I need to let off some steam ...

I enjoy discretion. I am sometimes not the epitome of it, but I was raised with the knowledge of its importance. Therefore, I am often stunned and shocked into silence by others' lack of it. People around me, especially women (and I don't really know why this seems to be the case) love to talk about things that, in my humble and perhaps repressed opinion, they shouldn't be talking about. I do not advocate secrecy, for as a human and as a Christian, I know that hiding and secrets are not always healthy. But on a purely social level, I find something inherently wrong with criticizing your spouse in public, or calling your parents crazy when describing them to your friends, or harshing on loved ones to your friends, or retelling in detail every fight and argument you ever had in the confines of your home. There is a fine line between sharing for the sake of receiving comfort and prayer and support, and blabbing for the sake of conversation or even -- and I shudder in my shoes whenever I see this happening -- for the sake of bragging about how insane or defective or deficient or lacking someone in your life may be. I am completely and utterly yours if you need comfort, prayer, support, a quiet ear to hear. But when you are indiscreet and exhibiting a total lack of sensitivity, not just to the subject of the conversation but to the tolerance level of the listener as well, my abiility to sympathize is radically lessened, for it almost becomes a contest of "this person in my life is soooo awful because s/he does this," which prompts another to trump up a horrid story about his or her own. Or what about when spouses 'tell on each other' with the expectation of hearing "oh no, YOU were in the right. Your spouse is TOTALLY wrong." Ugh. How distasteful. Even worse is the implication that if you are willing to be so open with your disregard for your closest loved ones in public, then what might you be saying about me, with whom you are not so closely-tied? Are you telling all of my secrets, airing all of the things with which I have entrusted you, breezily criticizing me for things of which you have no knowledge or understanding? The more indiscretion I witness, the less I am able to trust and confide, even within the Christian community. It's so sad when the walls that I am personally trying to break down are being built up for me by someone else's actions.

I enjoy silence. I am surprised by how many people don't enjoy it, and in fact, are completely incapacitated by it. I recall one occasion, during dinner with a friend who asked me, "Do you always eat in silence?" I replied, "No, but if I don't have anything to say, I'm not going to speak just to fill the air." "Oh," he stated. We chomped on our respective salads and smiled goofily at each other across the table. I continued, "Besides, I am totally comfortable sitting in silence with you, so you shoudn't feel bad that I have nothing to say to YOU. It's totally not personal." He stated, "Oh, I feel better then. I dislike having to fill dead space for no reason." And THAT is precisely it, my friends. Why waste your words? Why fill dead space for no reason? Why be so uncomfortable with something that can be so peaceful and meaningful and refreshing? Why chatter incessantly? And another thing ... silence is NICE. There is so much noise in the world, why add to it? If there is something valuable that need be said, then by all means, say it. But don't just chatter. It's so ... annoying. And as a final matter, I find that most unnecessary chatter directly correlates to the lack of discretion. When there is a lack of substantive conversation, the talk inevitably turns into indiscreet chatter. And that makes me uncomfortable.

I enjoy introspection. It's not always the most fun thing I ever do in a day, but I do it all the time anyway. I look at myself, my inner-most thoughts and feelings, my gravest judgments and darkest criticisms of others. And then I think about their roots. Why do I dislike certain action in others? Is it because I see it in myself and dislike it there too? Or is it because of how I was raised? Is it my professional training, or my religious upbringing, or my worldly experiences? My introspection and discovery of who I am on a daily basis comprise probably all of those things and more ... but certainly I am convinced that I should think before I speak, and reserve criticism and judgment of others, at least publicly, until I am sure that I can speak from a blameless and pure position. Why criticize someone for being inattentive, when my own attention is limited and pulled in every direction imaginable? Why rebuke someone for being late, if I am also chronically tardy? Why judge someone else's opinion or expressed thought, when I have no assurance that my own is the correct one? Why roll my eyes in disrespect and dismissal, when my own behavior doesn't merit respect or adherence? Why speak with hubris and presumed authority, when nothing about me renders me greater or more knowledgeable or more authoritative or more worthy of reverence than anyone else? Why nod my head in frantic agreement with someone I assume I should be agreeing with, when I have not yet taken the quiet time to form an opinion of my own? Or even worse, am I so needing to have everyone else be aware of me (rather than being aware of myself) that I nod my head and act in ways so that others can observe me, rather than taking the time to observe myself? I have done that before, and been horribly ashamed afterwards. But then again, perhaps I think too hard ... or others think hardly at all.

I enjoy coherence. This, I suppose, ties in with everything else: thinking before speaking, or not speaking at all when unnecessary. I like to use words that really mean what they mean, and do not act simply as filler. I try not to be trite because frankly, I disdain triteness, and don't want to have to disdain myself any more than I already do. I try to prepare my words, my outwardly expressed thoughts, so that I can communicate effectively. Yes, I am the Queen of the 18k Email, and I readily concede that succinctness is not at all something about which I know anything. But at least my sentences are real sentences, and my paragraphs flow in logical thought patterns. I use punctuation (though I have been much criticized for my lack of salutations), and mostly correct grammar. I steer away from oft-used colloquialisms, for they tend in any writing to lessen the import of the original message. And I try not to babble when speaking. Dang, people really babble a lot, and honestly, after the fourth or fifth verbal comma, I'm gone. I'm not suggesting that one should compulsively edit his or her speech just to make it palatable to my (and I'm sure, others') snobby tastes. Nay, I'm all for freedom of speech in every sense of the phrase, and I'm all for open communication, however it is to be achieved. I just wish we all thought about how our words were being received, and how best to deliver them. From experience, I know that when certain people speak, I tend to listen with only one ear, for I know there is much extraneous matter to be culled from the real meat of the communication. But when others speak, I am at full attention, for I am able to implicitly trust that they have been careful in preparing their thoughts and tongues before speaking. Perhaps that is unfair, for speaking, even in a small conversation, is in many ways an art form that is difficult to learn. But difficult doesn't mean impossible, and one should never stop learning useful skills.

I enjoy growing. Even if it hurts. I think I've achieved a place in my life and in my heart where I can rely on my most beloved friends and family to lovingly criticize me and they can securely know that I will take their care to heart. I consciously try -- not always with one-hundred percent success -- to apply what I have been advised or have learned to my behavior. I try to understand my criticisms of others and see if I can't apply those same negative thoughts to myself, so that at least I can criticize with a clean conscience. But it's difficult to have this forward-thinking attitude when people around me seem to not care much about their own growth. Everything is someone else's fault, every problem can be fixed by someone else, every wrong has been done against me, and I wash my hands of it all for I am not at fault; I am the victim. Were I to truly think that, I would be rendered a child for the rest of my life. And ICK on that.

I enjoy being unlazy (although, ironically, I am feeling prodigiously lazy right now). You know what I mean, though -- I don't speak of the occasional desire to loll about in sweats and eat potato chips all afternoon long. I'm talking about chipping in to do your part. I look upon our church activity as an example: the same people -- men and women -- help with the breakdown of chairs and tables after our post-service snack, be they tired, sick, pregnant, not entirely young. And the same people don't. The same people help with cleaning up the devoured food, throwing away garbage, washing dishes. The same people don't. The same people gravitate towards the more 'demeaning' tasks, lifting the heavier items, performing more of the perceived drudgery. The same people don't. Now, I know I open myself up to criticism of having Martha Syndrome, being she who would rather cook and clean and whine about it, than sit at the feet of Jesus and spend time with Him. But you know what? I DO spend time with Him, and I am NOT whining. I am simply suggesting that laziness disguised as "fellowship" or "conversation" is still laziness. If people cook for me and set up chairs for me to sit on to enjoy the meal, I consider myself seriously deficient in character and manners to not return the graciousness by assisting in the cleanup and breakdown. I am filled with pity for those to whom those thoughts do not occur.

Alright, alright, enough with the harshness. I'm actually in a perfectly elated mood, and am probably dredging up memories from days long past in compiling my Harsh-On List. I also recognize the inherent conflict in my writings and my thoughts, for who am I to suggest anyone should listen and heed anything I have to say? People are people, and people are different, and blah blah blah, that's what makes the world go 'round (trite). But still. I'm entitled to harsh on people, and so it is done.

Thursday, March 10


Sandra Oh, of "Sideways" and "Under the Tuscan Sun" fame, is starring in a new movie about a Korean woman of a certain age sent to Korea by her parents to find a nice Korean husband. Due out in 2006 ...


The International Asian Art Fair kicks off on April 1st, at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Ave ... art works start at $1,000 (OUCH), but it might still be fun to ogle, and imagine what could be done in my home if I had tons of fluid capital lying around ...

Tuesday, March 8


I'm no Mario Batali, but I didn't do too badly tonight, if I do say so myself. Culled from my memory of other similar dishes I've had in the past and thoroughly enjoyed, I rustled up:

farfalle pasta, boiling away in salt water ... sliced and halved turkey sausage, sauteed with diced onions in olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper ... later joined by baby spinach leaves, left to wilt with minced garlic and even more olive oil ... and finally blended with the cooked farfalle and topped off with more olive oil, fresh ground black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, sauteed until the flavors are fully baked and caked onto the pasta.

Yum. I stink to high heaven right now, but who cares? I just carbo-loaded!



There's just something so lovable about the photos of Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe scarfing down humongous burgers and french fries dipped in ketchup, and drinking soda out of bright red Coca-Cola cups through straws, at the Astro Burger on Santa Monica Boulevard after their round of Oscar parties.

I love it.

And it's making me crave an In n' Out burger. We might have to make a special stop on our way out of the airport when I land in L.A. in a couple of weeks ...



I hate this, the kind of cold that settles in my bones and makes them more painful, more grating, more stiff than they already are ...

Saturday, March 5


My office is finally clean. I can see the surface of my desk. The extra books are off the floor and piled neatly -- studiously, one might even say -- on top of my low bookcase. I look like a book collector -- thrill! My files are organized and put away in crisp new file folders ... this despite the fact that a wheel snapped off my filing cabinet, and it's now precariously propped up until I can find the exact same filing cabinet somewhere. I even bought a dorky wrapping paper holder, and it's now hanging nicely behind my closet door. Lord, I love The Container Store. Pictures are neatly displayed, mail is sorted, bills are ready to be paid, and I can finally sit in here and work on Bob without feeling like I need to flee to the comfort of the couch in the other room.

Chick music is playing in the background, and I'm taking just a moment to rest and relax before some lady friends come over for a foodfest. The quiet is scary sometimes. Not because I don't enjoy it -- I love the quiet, and crave it more often than not. But the thoughts that I'm allowed to think now ... the good, the bad and the really bad.

I suppose I could think about the art pieces I want to acquire and hang on my living room walls. Big, solid, abstract splashes of color and shapes by Paul Klee and Kandinsky, and perhaps a pencil sketch of pigs by Picasso. I love pigs. A panoramic blue-toned photograph of the lower New York City skyline, taken from across the Brooklyn Bridge and seen through some old wooden pilings on the waterfront. And I have to get that watercolor painting of Red Square matted and framed so I can finally hang it in my kitchen. Thirteen years ago, I picked it up for a pittance of rubles on the streets of Moscow -- I'm surprised it has survived so long with nary a smudge on it.

I suppose I could think about when I'm going to bake the Mexican pecan bars, or when to start cooking the medium-spicy curry, borrowed from Mrs.G's collection of, like, 500 curry boxes. What up with DAT? Vegetables need to be chopped, meat needs to be seared, chocolate needs to be melted, oven needs to be preheated. I can't wait to inhale the craziness that's going to ensue inside my house. Soooo delicious.

I suppose I could think about the strange harmonies spewing forth from the Indigo Girls' "Rites of Passage." I remember trying to emulate these tones, these chords, this spirit in my high school a cappella group. Naturally, we hit it all together my senior year, the last concert of the year, my final hurrah. Go figure. Law school a cappella groups weren't quite the same, preparing a mere four weeks for three nights of shows, never to sing together again. The harmonies were simple, the words were trite, no personality or character was necessary. Those moments fulfilled a momentary craving, but I wonder when I'll be able to sing like I used to again.

I suppose I could think about people. Do you need me to tell you that there are lots of different kinds of people in this world? Lately, I've been thinking a lot about people who think they know others so well, who assume a closeness and intimacy, and even exhibit it physically. Meanwhile, the other party is sitting there thinking "you don't know me. You don't know anything about me, yet there you are thinking you do, thinking you can read me, thinking you can gauge my level of return affection for you. And by the way, why are you hugging me so closely, as if we are related?" It's strange. We all want intimacy and closeness with other human beings. Or maybe even just one other human being would suffice. But the artificial creations of relationships inside our own minds are so different from what is actually out there. Me, I veer towards the opposite extreme: I assume a distance until the other party reaches toward me first. Then I allow myself to believe in friendship and love and accountability. But I see others offering hugs, arms around the shoulders, familiar touches, knowing looks or nods after the first, second, even third acquaintance. To be truthful, it annoys me. I feel possessive of my friends and jealous for them and for the personal space that is being trod upon. I feel annoyed that this person is so familiar and knowing towards those she knows not at all. But I also see that she has little else in her life, and if this is her way of connecting with people, or even just one person, I suppose I can't denigrate her for being insecure, for aren't we all -- aren't I -- largely driven and motivated by our insecurities? Strange, the needs of people.

I suppose I could think about the fact that my feet are cold, but I'm too lazy to walk all the way to my room to get a pair of socks. I suppose I could think about what to eat for brunch, but I'm too comfortable right now to rustle through my kitchen. I suppose I could read a book, but I'm kind of tired and might fall asleep in the middle of a really good chapter, and then I'd have to read it all over again just to get back into the swing of the story. I suppose I could think about my health, but ... I don't want to.

But how opportune: a large piece of lint has stuck itself to my contact lens, so I must move myself forth, lest I go blind.

Thursday, March 3


A federal judge in Chicago comes home from work one day to find her husband and mother shot to death execution-style in the basement of their home ... all arrows -- the only arrows right now -- point towards a controversial case that the Judge Lefkow tried, rendering rulings against white supremacist and erstwhile attorney (I get nauseous at the thought that I might have shared a vocation with this poor excuse for a man) Matthew Hale. He was ultimately sentenced to prison for plotting to murder Judge Lefkow, but authorities are wondering if he ordered her hit, in code, from behind prison walls ...

What kind of world do we live in? What kind of unfairness must we wrestle against? What sort of recompense is it for a woman who dedicated her career to public service and doing justice, only to discover that her very vocation might have caused others to turn against her and lash out at her family members -- a man on crutches and an 89-year-old woman who can't move around without a walker? What is the meaning of the law and what is the purpose of those who strive to uphold it justly and fairly, if at whim and will, people can just overturn order and authority? Where is the fairness and justice within the rampant administration of unfair and unjust actions? And, having been violated and robbed from within, how will someone like Judge Lefkow now reseat herself on the bench and continue to serve the public with a clear conscience?

By all accounts, she was an excellent and prudent judge ... to have injected fear and insecurity into her rational mind is to have done a grave injustice to all like-minded individuals who, naively or not, used to believe in the inherent good value of the ideal of justice.

I know this will never happen, but I can't wait to get to heaven, look out the porthole of my little heavenly dorm room, look down on scum who fought against justice in this life, and laugh.
I AM VAPID . . .

I am rendered momentarily insipid and stupid, so let me share with you my utter shock and disbelief at the facts that Chris Klein and Katie Holmes have broken up, AND that Denise Richards has filed for divorce from Charlie Sheen, citing irreconcilable differences. Denise Richards is currently six months pregnant with their second child, but is seeking FULL LEGAL AND PHYSICAL CUSTODY of both kids. INteresting ... I'd love to know what's going on behind the scenes THERE ...

OK, I have to go find my brain now ...

Wednesday, March 2


This morning, I was driving down a major three-lane thoroughfare on the way to work. The light was green, so I proceeded forward, when a male pedestrian -- let's call him "Jackass" -- stepped off the sidewalk into the street to cross it. There was a crosswalk about 50 feet to either side of him, but NO. He chose to cross the major thoroughfare in the middle, despite the fact that he had turned his head to look at the traffic light and had seen it turn green for us vehicular commuters.

Jackass strolled across the thoroughfare and when my car got close to him, he was in my lane. So I had to roll my car to a stop (else, HIT HIM), and I waved my arms at him to suggest that he move it along more quickly. He STOPPED WALKING, STOMPED UP TO MY CAR, KICKED IT WITH HIS LEFT FOOT, THEN SWUNG HIS BIG BLACK BRIEFCASE AT MY CAR, HITTING IT WITH A LOUD AND VIGOROUS "THUNK." Then, Jackass skirted the other cars in the lanes next to me and crossed to the other side.

By this time, my light had turned red, so I turned my head to stare angrily at him out my window in utter disbelief and shock. I dared not open the window for fear of what manner of unprintable obscenities might stream out. Jackass had the BALLS to stare right back at me and shout at me as he continued to walk towards his destination.

My only consolation about this incident: Jackass walked backwards right into a tree branch laden with snow. I, of course, covered my mouth and snickered at him. I hope he saw me.

I also hope something awful happens to him today, and that it makes him think, "Huh. I probably should not have kicked that lady's car, then swung my briefcase into it, leaving a big swipe mark."

I swear I'm going to hunt him down if I can't get rid of the big black swipe mark on Good Girl. I swear it.


LAW GEEK . . .

SCOTUS yesterday proclaimed that juveniles under the age of 18 can never be subject to the death penalty in this country.

Regardless of what my as-yet-not-firmly-formed views on the death penalty are ... I think this is a wild and crazy decision. Y'all should read it, and tell me what you think about the majority's sorta-weak-but-sorta-correct decision.

And THEN, read Justice Scalia's dissent, and tell me this is NOT the BEST thing EVER written in a Supreme Court decision: "Consulting States that bar the death penalty concerning the necessity of making an exception to the penalty for offenders under 18 is rather like including old-order Amishmen in a consumer-preference poll on the electric car."

I don't always agree with the man, but I'll definitely read anything he writes, and I shall always aspire to write as he does ...

Tuesday, March 1


I used to pronounce the word "aspertame," as as-PER-tah-mee.

That's funny.