Thursday, May 31


    * First job: mother's helper
    * First screen name: I don't recall
    * First funeral: Austin N.
    * First pet: short-lived goldfish
    * First piercing: ears
    * First tattoo: n/a (yet)
    * First credit card: Visa
    * First kiss: Leroy, in elementary school stairwell
    * First enemy: Linda D.

    * Last car ride: was 7 minutes long
    * Last kiss: how gauche to tell
    * Last movie watched: "Dreamgirls" on DVD (second time is still enjoyable)
    * Last beverage drank: bottle of Poland Spring
    * Last food consumed: strawberries
    * Last phone call: SS
    * Last time showered: this afternoon
    * Last CD played: Michael Hedges, "Beyond Boundaries"
    * Last website visited:

    * Single or taken: single?
    * Gender: female
    * Birthday: in autumn
    * Sign: Scorpio
    * Siblings: one
    * Hair color: dark brown
    * Eye color: dark brown
    * Shoe size: 5 1/2 - 6
    * Height: 5'2"
    * Wearing: a pair of shorts I'm trying to break in
    * Drinking: water
    * Thinking about: the Gospel of John
    * Listening to: the sound of me typing



I finished The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. I don't know why I didn't pick this book up earlier; had I known I would be gripped by it and zip through it in one and a half days, I would have done so months ago! I enjoyed it very much, was moved to deep sighs and some unshed but heavily-collected-in-the-corners-of-my-eyes tears, and am already on the waiting list at my local library to read Hosseini's next, A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Strangely, I think one of the qualities of The Kite Runner that really drew me in and kept my attention was the frequent appearance of delicious Afghan or otherwise Middle Eastern food on the pages. The kabobs, koftas, curries, yogurts, rice dishes, fresh pomegranates that the characters ate ... aside from giving me a serious jonesing for some kabobs of my own, these foods -- the descriptions of them, the appreciation of them, the creation of them -- really made me want to be IN the story, IN Afghanistan, IN these characters' lives and homes. (I wonder if Hosseini wrote those food-related words purposefully, or if they were just an elemental detail that did the fortunate work of hooking the reader.)

Imagine my deep disappointment when I came to the last page of the book. Not only was there nothing more to read of this smooth story, but the only decent food I had in the house was omelette makings. Sigh.

Friday, May 25


I almost forgot that this is Memorial Day weekend. I have a project due on Tuesday morning, so I'll be working through my "holiday." And besides, getting to work in my pajamas, on my deck, on a blanket in the grass, at a coffee shop ... the concept of "holiday" is sort of lost on me anyway.

But I thought it was important to mention ... I and others like myself, in my generation in this country (and those coming after) have no concept of war, suffering, deprivation, sacrifice, fighting for an ideal. We like to be sullen, argue, complain, turn away. And shamefully, we forget that there were those who, with honour and courage, followed our flag into situations we ourselves would flee from.

I don't have to agree with an administration, or like a policy, or desire to achieve a particular goal. But I do have to give proper remembrance to those who served and died. Whether we concede it or not, they died for this country, our country, and for this sacrifice and humility and for the sheer bravery of doing something I'm not brave enough to do, they deserve my thanks.

World War I: 116,708
World War II: 407,300
Korean War: 36,940
Vietnam War: 58,209
Gulf War (1991): 382
Gulf War (2003): 3,486 to date

Blessed Memorial Day.

I hate to be so vague, but for now, it's enough, even for me ... to reference back to my last post: the burden is still there, and there's still nothing I can do about it. I can't fix it, I can't make it go away, I can't talk about it, I can't give advice or a pill or money or anything like that.

But I can give rest in all of its forms: a hug, a quiet space, room to think and breathe, air-conditioning on a sweltering day, a firm bed to catch undisturbed sleep, a cup of sludgy coffee, a table at which to eat a slow and satisfying meal, a spot in the sun for catnaps, a short spoken prayer to represent all the long unspoken ones, a trove of funny and frivolous stories to rest and entertain the mind.

And when rest is given, I, too, can rest.



I'm reading like a fiend lately. Something about lying on a blanket in the warm sun, the bleating of newborn lambs in the background and a light iced coffee leaning against my arm, turns me into a voracious reader.

It dosn't bode well, though, for the sunburn on the backs of my legs.

Wednesday, May 23


There are burdens in my sphere that are not for me to carry. Really heavy, awful, sharp burdens that grow and spread like virulent tumors. They don't belong to me; have nothing to do with me, in fact. But that doesn't stop me from wishing with all my heart -- longing, even -- to take those burdens onto my own shoulders, just so those whom I love can take a break for a short while.

How much pain can one person handle? How much can despair and hopelessness, anger and frustration, devastation and helplessness build up in one person without causing some kind of scarring implosion? How much more can one person bear up?

It just doesn't seem right or fair, that the best ones among us would be the ones called to endure the worst that life can offer. There is little justice in beating down someone who will simply roll over and say, "beat me here, too."

I would give so much, all of what I have, to be able to push that best one aside and slide in there instead, saying, "beat ME."

Saturday, May 19


1. I am not a man. Adrenaline kept me going this evening, helping Soybean and her family move into their new home. But now that I'm sitting down and all my muscles are settling creakily and painfully back into their rightful places, I'm realizing that I probably should not have spent the whole time being the only one to climb into the moving truck to move all the boxes out to the front. I was bending at the knees and using my hips for leverage and all that. And the packing was so wisely done that most of the boxes were completely manageable. But the bottom line is, there were probably about 70-80 boxes. Some of them were heavy. And there was furniture too. Including a particularly stubborn and unwieldy office chair with a swivel bottom that kept swiveling. I should have let someone else -- a man, stronger and bigger than I, and with more capable lifting muscles -- climb into the truck. It's just that the inside of the truck looked so fun, and the guys looked like they were having a blast walking up and down the stairs carrying what I gave them ...

2. I cannot and should not do it all. Even if I can, even if I know how, even if I think (or even know) that I can do it better than anyone else, sometimes, I should just sit down, shut up and enjoy the ride, letting someone else drive for once. And underlying it all, I should take pride in the things in me that are worth taking pride in, and not let these things grow into unhealthy hubris and paralyzing sensitivity. Besides, I'm gettin' on in years; I should revel in letting others do the work!

3. Each baby smells different. I spent some time today with three babies under the age of 1. They all smell different! I thought there was only one 'baby smell.' Now, I know there are at least three. I don't know what creates the 'baby smell' (and I bet if I knew, I'd be grossed out, for I suspect it has something to do with body odor, breast milk, or some weird baby-dry-skin condition).

4. I am not a tall woman. This is a lesson I re-learn about twice a year. Sometimes, it's when I look at a group photograph and I see that I'm the shortest one in the picture. Other times, it's when I'm standing next to someone taller than I, and when I turn to look at them, I see that their eyes don't line up with mine. But sometimes, like today, it's when I try on an item of clothing and realize it just doesn't hang right: the tunic top looks like a dress; the shirt looks like a tunic; the mini-skirt appears to be tea-length; and the hip seams on the pants curve around my thighs.

Friday, May 18


I'm trying to decide these days what issues are important to me, as I look ahead to Election '08. The war in Iraq looms large, naturally, although even there, I straddle the line, hopping back and forth, on any given day saying "Pull out!" and the next given day saying "We can't BUT stay in!" Social issues demand my attention too: abortion, health care, civil rights, immigration, education and others. Issues that used to matter, no one really talks about anymore, and I wonder why: the death penalty, prison reform, affirmative action.

And over all of this, I'm trying to figure out one more thing: as a Christian, what am I supposed to be caring about? Granted, I live in a foregone-conclusion state, so my vote, realistically, doesn't matter. Don't even get me started on how sad that is to me, for I am one who takes my vote very, very seriously, and will often tear up with emotion at the magnitude and freedom of my act of voting while still inside the voting booth.

Folks are carping on Rudy Giuliani and his many divorces. Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton attend church, but who knows the state of anyone's heart by looking at their outward activities? There's the whole slew of Christian conservative right candidates, but they just make the acid in my stomach roil into overdrive. (And sadly, there's another whole slew of people who just don't have a chance of winning anything.)

I wonder if these people's personal morality and religous beliefs (or lack thereof) matters? I never thought that the American president was also a moral and religious authority. It would be NICE, of course, if that was the case, but realistically, it's not going to happen (and never did, despite our glamorizing and idealizing of presidential heroes past). The bottom line, I think (for now), is that our country needs a leader. Someone who can maneuver us wisely and carefully through our various diplomatic messes; someone who will be strong, but nice, to our international neighbours and try to build a global community (which is sort of inevitable at this point anyway); someone who will care about American students receiving excellent education; someone who will do their utmost to take care of those who need taking care of in this country; someone who will fight drugs, racism, violence, injustice; someone who will make retiring worth it for those who have worked hard all their lives; someone who will do something about the fact that the majority of Americans can't afford health insurance (hi, me); someone who will restore the image of the United States as a nation that can be looked to for guidance and hope and leadership and constancy.

If this leader was a Christian, one who loved Jesus and wanted to obey Him, that would be so ... I can't even express in words how great that would be. Strong and humble. Loving and wise. Kind and compassionate. Fearless and bold. Open-minded and truth-knowing. Placing others above himself, not to his own detriment, but for the benefit of others. A model, a leader, a trailblazer, a deep well of thought and conviction.

Where is this guy?

Tuesday, May 15

Columbia University Commencement
Originally uploaded by chaesq.

I was on campus today for an interview and ran into the College's Class Day. Apparently, Matthew Fox of "Lost" and "Party of Five" fame spoke, as did John McCain. John McCain was booed; his graduating daughter was not. A perfect day for a graduation ceremony -- sunny, breezy, warm. Happiness, triumph, accomplishment floated through the air and I sucked it in, adopting it all as my own.

I love my alma mater. I really do. It's just different, better. It just is, and I'm a little bit sorry for anyone who has never and will never benefit from a Columbia education. I am different and better because of my college experience, all of it. I would not have had those experiences anywhere else in the world.

The interview, the rest of my afternoon, my evening was all perfect. All because of a perfect start to my perfect day, on a perfect campus.



Merritt Pkwy
Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Today's perfection just kept going and going. I drove about 150 miles today, and I loved every moment of it, even the slow trolling for parking in Manhattan. I knew where I was at every turn, I knew where I was going, the roads were clear and smooth, I found parking within 2 minutes at each stop, and with all four windows down and a sunny breeze blowing in and out of her, Good Girl was in a great mood too.

I love driving in any case. Whether stuck in traffic or on an empty road, whether coasting down a four-lane highway or winding my way with two hands down a suburban back-road, I love being behind the wheel of my car. I love having a destination, sometimes guided by my own hand-written directions, and seeing my starting point fade away behind me. I love when cars and drivers commune on the road and we all keep pace with each other, leaving just enough space for safety, but sticking close enough for companionship. I love letting someone merge in front of me, then having the favor returned by someone else; it's the ultimate in paying it forward. I love having my blood pressure rise at a jerk of a driver cutting me off, then taking deep breaths and focusing on blue sky and the smoothness of pavement in an effort to cool down. I love my left arm getting tanned by the sun from hanging out the window for too long, and the left side of my fair getting all tangled from blowing in the wind. I love navigating around an unfamiliar city, then getting lost on purpose, then choosing to take the long way home.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.

I could probably live out of my car and be perfectly happy. Sometimes, I berate my friend for doing things in behind the wheel that are totally inappropriate and dangerous: reading, jotting notes, typing on a laptop, even watching portions of DVDs. Today, I joined the Club of Inappropriate and Dangerous Driving Activities, and whipped out my camera. I couldn't resist witnessing actual sun-dappling and the sheer beauty of the road before me.


NEWS . . .

Jerry Falwell died today.

I guess I don't have much more to say about this. I think, in my heart of hearts, Rev. Falwell loved God. Just because someone stands up strongly, even antagonistically, for the Christianity he believes in, doesn't mean he doesn't love the Lord. Nor does it mean that he doesn't want others to know and love God, and be loved by Him. The only perfect, loving, completely compassionate evangelist was Jesus Christ, and even so, folks hated Him (and still do, to this day). Humans are imperfect, and the way we speak and preach and love is imperfect. So went Rev. Falwell. Despite all of his imperfections, I think he knew Jesus and loved God.

I didn't agree with all of his tactics and his rhetoric; I disagree in the same way with -- and stand against -- those like him, those in the so-called "Christian conservative right." I think there's got to be a better way to win souls to eternal life in the presence of a glorious and loving God. But I do agree with something Rev. Falwell said once: “We are born into a war zone where the forces of God do battle with the forces of evil. Sometimes we get trapped, pinned down in the crossfire. And in the heat of that noisy distracting battle, two voices call out for us to follow. Satan wants to lead us into death. God wants to lead us into life eternal.”

Following Satan into death has got to suck a lot, I'd imagine. Given the choice, I would choose, and I have chosen life eternal with God. Better to be with Him than not with Him, methinks. I also think Rev. Falwell is there too, and maybe God's giving him a little introduction to heaven, accompanied by a small talking-to, a tiny bit of "Hey, it might have been nice if you had talked to people a little more nicely ..."

Still, I have to respect a man who was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in, however popular or unpopular the stance. That alone is a rare characteristic in these days.

Monday, May 14


It's not my place to begrudge.

My role is only to support, understand, listen, carry, accept, love.

... doesn't mean it's easy ...

Sunday, May 13

OMMA . . .

Happy Mother's Day, Omma.

Most of my friends are Omma's also. They are all great Omma's, whether they think so or not. They can compare themselves to each other all they want; they can read all the parenting magazines they want; they can agonize about their choices all they want; they can doubt themselves all they want; they can wish all they want to be like other Omma's. But in my eyes, they are each a unique, special, wonderful, imaginative, creative, energetic, loving, generous, wise, strong, humble and all-around excellent Omma.

Happy Mother's Day, Ommas.

Saturday, May 12


I have this thing ... I have this thing where I feel responsible for every bad thing that happens, every misunderstanding that transpires, every ill feeling that arises, every event that doesn't go just the way it's supposed to. At least in my sphere of people and occurrences. Not for things like the war in Iraq or the tornado in Kentucky, although those things are wretched and I wish for such pain and suffering to also disappear.

But it's just this: I hate seeing people sad, mad, upset, frustrated, unhappy, disappointed. I hate it even more when I know that one whom I love is sad because of, mad at, upset at, frustrated because of, unhappy about, disappointed in another one whom I love. When I see these things, I feel the desperate need to fix them. Or at least to apologize profusely for them, even though I personally have neither direct nor indirect involvement in causing them.

Some might call it compassion. But given the stomach ache roiling my gut, the anxious butterflies in my heart, and the furrow in my brow that even Omma's loving fingers could not smooth away, I'm wondering if it's a little less compassion and a little too much martyr/saviour complex. I hate the attitude of "I wash my hands of it" that plagues so many of us, but perhaps there is a time and a place for it ...


FANCY . . .

I went to the fanciest birthday party today. It topped any bat- or bar-mitzvah I ever attended (disclaimer: my bat- and bar-mitzvah attending days were yet in the 80s, when folks did not spend $50,000 on the party, which now might include a special appearance by Usher, aboard a luxury yacht that cruised around Manhattan island, with goodie bags containing platinum jewelry).

There were cotton tablecloths, real-not-paper linens, an ice sculpture, a three-tier birthday cake, heavy silverware, an open bar, floral centerpieces, a guestbook at the sign-in table at the entrance to the party hall, and a top-level buffet spread. About 70 adults (and a large smattering of children) really enjoyed ourselves; it was so great to just relax, eat, gossip, catch up, reunite with old friends, remark on how fast the kids were growing up, and to enjoy the generosity of our hosts.

In fact, it was all quite nice ... even if the birthday boy was just turning 1.

Dang, we don't do things like we used to, huh?

Friday, May 11


I am bleeding profusely from the outside crease of my right hand's index finger's middle knuckle. It doesn't hurt, but I can't even begin to figure out where I got this cut. And I'm not even going to start worrying about why it won't stop bleeding, 35 minutes after I discovered a fat rivulet of blood rolling down the outside of my wrist ...

Thursday, May 10

BURN . . .

Dang. Three NHF weddings so far this year, and I haven't been invited to a single one of them. As Mabel's former middle-school kids might say: "Buuuuuuurn!"

Frankly, I'm probably only 'entitled' to be included in one of the three celebrations. But I give good gifts ... folks are missing out!



Four and a half days of sunny days, inside and out. I could almost see my future ... (and yes, it was bright enough to wear shades).



I have a Bible study to prepare and put together, interviews to study for, and a pretrial brief to write. But I've fallen in love with reading again -- it helps to have such sunny skies and glad company to share the books with -- and I have a pile of four library books to get through. (Yes, I've finally caught on: I don't have to purchase every book I'm interested in. That's what my local library is for. Oh, happy day.)

Final Exam, by Pauline Chen
Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life, by Alison Weir
Cage of Stars, by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Insatiable, by Gael Greene

And I just finished Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, by Atul Gawande. Excellent!