Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Down south

I'm sitting in my mom's new store right now, which is called Duet. Half the floor displays my mom's jewelry, dresses and other pretty things, the other half is filled with my dad's music stuff. Thus the store's name. This place is huge. Only a third of the total area is retail space, the rest is storage, an office, a bathroom and lots of room to expand. It's in St. Pete Beach on an artsy-type street, across from an old-fashioned movie theater. Very cute.
This is my last day here. My dad and I fly back to Michigan later today. For the first time since I started coming here at the age of two to visit my aunt, my mom won't be on the flight back home with us. It's strange to think that she lives here now and I really don't know when I'll see her next. But she's happy and I know my dad will be, too, as soon as he's able to join her.
(See the photo of them in front of the new store)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I feel awful. Like Jo in "Little Women" after she turns down Laurie's marriage proposal. (Bear with me if you haven't read/seen it) Her response to a perfectly good proposal from a wealthy, good-looking boy: "I can't say 'yes' truly, so I won't say it at all. You'll see that I'm right, by-and-by, and thank me for it."
I did the same today to an offer for a well-paying job. It sounds good on paper, but I know I wouldn't be completely happy there. And I'm sure they don't want someone who doesn't want to be there. It's just extremely difficult to get the person offering the position to understand that.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

This is the story of seven strangers...

Have you heard about the next supposed location for "The Real World?" It's Detroit, or rather a high-class condo in downtown Royal Oak. I'm sure I'm the last person to hear about it, but rumors say the next season of roommates will work at the Superbowl. Which means the cast is here now. It's kind of a crazy thought. It'll be interesting to see how they portray the city. I bet they make it seem like Royal Oak is part of Detroit, completely avoiding the 30-minute plus drive that separates the two.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Taste of physics

Physics was my absolute least favorite science subject. I avoided taking the class in high school, opting for advanced chemistry instead. And I struggled in college when I had to take a whole year's worth of introductory physics to graduate. I always considered myself a biology girl. It just made sense to me. I could look at a picture of a heart in a textbook and then imagine the flow of the blood through the arteries and veins. I could memorize the muscles of the body by their function. Physics wasn't as easy. Yes, in a way you can see physics in action as well. Observe gravity when you drop a ball, set up experiments to show momentum, acceleration and force. But get much deeper than that, and I was lost. So when I accepted an internship at Fermilab, the idea of writing about particle physics scared me. Here are just a few of the things I've learned in the last few months during my crash course:
  • Quarks, neutinos and antimatter, oh my. I seriously couldn't have told you about these particles a few months ago. But after numerous tours, interviews and questions, I've figured them out. Did you know that if your particles met your antiparticles, they'd annihilate each other? So it's a good thing there's no longer any antimatter in the universe (at least none we can see).
  • NOvA. Not the TV station, but a possible new Fermilab experiment that would study neutrinos. While writing a long story about the project, I tackled physics concepts I knew little about. CP violation, neutrino oscillations, theta 13, go on, ask me about them.
  • Women still are a minority in the field. Only 18 percent of physics PhDs awarded in 2003 were earned by women. This was obvious to me at the lab; I was one of three girls in my dorm and sometimes I'd look around the cafeteria and see only tables of men. Research science continues to be a difficult subject for women to succeed in, especially for those with children. That needs to change.
  • Experiments are huge, in both scale and collaboration. You'd think that searching for such tiny things wouldn't require so much equipment. But the sheer size of magnets, detectors and buildings is very big. See the attached photo of me at the DZero detector. I'm sitting in just a fraction of one of the detectors used to study the miniscule collisions.
  • Physics is interesting. Seriously. Fermilab exposed me to a science quite different than the one Professor Benenson lectured about at MSU while I fought to keep my eyes open. I'm amazed at how little we know about what surrounds us, and the idea that a single event can rewrite the theories we thought to be true. Physics, at least particle physics, is the key to understanding the universe, and that's pretty cool.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

12 weeks

Three months can be a long time, a short time or somehow simultaneously both. I think of my life lately in those measures. In the last nine months, for example, I've lived in three different cities in two different states in an apartment, a house and a dorm, respectively. During that time, I've worked for three different publications. On some days it felt like the three months I'd committed to was flying by. On others, it felt as if it would never end.
Three months is short enough to feel like a just a visitor. Yet it's long enough to make a new set of friends just weeks before your last day. It's the friends I often find myself thinking about. Friends for three months; both sides know the situation when they enter the deal. What happens after the goodbyes?
With a very few people, you keep your promise to stay in touch. You write occasional emails, maybe hang out if you're ever in the same place at the same time again. With other friends, you slowly stop talking. There's no real reason for the cease, but as weeks go by, you realize that the only similarities you had were the place you worked or lived. You still keep tabs on them, but your friendship really doesn't exist anymore. Then there are the friends who completely disappear. Emails bounce back with errors. Voice mails aren't returned. No one knows where they are, what they're doing. I guess it's just difficult to make a three-month friendship longer.
I think of all the people I've met in the last year. Editors and interns, scientists and students, star reporters and not-so-star ones. People I'd talk to on a daily basis whose last names have vanished from my memory. Living life in three-month spans is an endless cycle: from lonely stranger to slightly adjusted newcomer to friend and then back to lonely. It's somewhat numbing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Two black eyes

What's with the hype about the panda? If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you obviously haven't read a newspaper, watched the news or stepped out from under your rock lately. The every move of Tai Shan, a 5-month-old giant panda at Washington's National Zoo, has been documented by the media. A story about his one-month birthday, about his first steps, and oh, look, he sneezed. (An exaggeration, but not far off?) Yesterday, more than 100 reporters gathered around his pen for a media day. I'll be the first to admit it, he's pretty darn cute. But seriously, can we at least find a different animal to stalk? Pandas are getting old.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Holiday update

So here's a bite-sized recap of my Thanksgiving weekend:
Thursday: Got on the road early with hopes of getting into town around noon. No one travels on the actual holiday, it's all the night before, right? Wrong. Traffic was really heavy. But that was probably because most of Michigan was hit with the first big snowfall of the year, which automatically decreases the speed limit on the highway from 70 mph to about 30. The result was about three extra hours spent sitting in my car. Is it spring yet?
Dinner that night was great, however. I ate at my aunt's house and got to see my cousin's baby for the first time. He's adorable.
Friday: I went grocery shopping for my dad, who for the first time in many decades isn't living with my mom. She recently opened up her own store in Florida and he's staying up north until our house is sold and he decides what to do with his music store. It could be a while and let's just say that housekeeping isn't his forte. That night, we went to a Pistons game, my first. It was a good game until the very end, when we lost in double overtime. I hate when that happens. It feels like such a waste of time.
Saturday: Saw RENT, the movie, with Amy. Being equally fanatical about the musical, we decided we had to see the film version together. So we mapped out the miles between East Lansing and St. Clair Shores and met at a movie theater in the middle, in Brighton. It was a pretty good adaption. Didn't quite meet the standards of the movie, but I didn't expect it to. All of the actors except two were from Broadway, so they actually could sing and it was cool to see them up close. Later, I went to Big Boy with Abbey, Adam and Ashley for desert. It's not the hot hangout I remember it as. At 11 p.m. on a Saturday night there were maybe three other tables of people, mostly old men sipping their coffee.
Sunday: Went to lunch with the newly engaged Lindsay and Trep and then headed back home. Once again, traffic was bad, but not because of snow this time. I was just part of the mass exodus back to the city after a long weekend of good food, friends and family.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


A traffic jam, an aggravating relative, writer's block. It's easy to get caught up in life's small details, especially when your life is so good. Like mine is. So here are just a few things I'm truly grateful for on this Thanksgiving and every other day of the year:
*Family: It's hard to think of life without them. They give me all the love and support I could ever want, spoil me (just before the rotten point), really listen and invite me to Thanksgiving dinners when there's nowhere else to go. I can't get used to the idea of living so far away from them, but I know they'll always be just a phone call or plane ride away.
*Friends: The real ones, the ones who matter, are always there to listen to my babbling when I'm bored and surrounded by strangers, there to take a road trip, pick out the next "hit" song before it hits the radio. I feel at home with them, even when we haven't seen or talked to each other in a while.
*My house: It'll soon be sold (we hope), but I'm thankful for the 22 years I've spent in it. I'm thankful for the neighborhood I grew up in, the people in it and and memories made here.
Among the many others: writing, newspapers, health, chocolate, photos, cell phones, my education, my life. I hope you all have something to be thankful for as well.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


It’s the third Wednesday in November. That time of the year when airports are packed, Jones Soda releases its line of disgusting flavors (eww, Brussel sprouts) and I get asked the same question over and over: “What do you eat for Thanksgiving?”
It’s always somewhat annoyed me, mostly because there’s not one answer. Yes, I’m a vegetarian. Therefore, no, I don’t eat turkey. But unlike the average American family, with their gravy, cranberries and stuffed bird, my family does it a little bit different every year. One Thanksgiving, my mom cooked spinach pie. On another, we ate at an Italian restaurant in Key West. Sometimes, it’s just everything but the gobbler.
We don’t have a tradition to replace the turkey, but that doesn’t mean the food doesn’t taste as good or that we’re going to melt away from food deprivation. (Believe me, we can eat.)
So now that you know, grant me one Thanksgiving wish: please don’t ask.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ashes to ashes

I managed to get to and from Chicago today all by myself without getting lost. Granted, I took the train, but still, no problems. It's so nice to be near a city that has such a great transportation system. My entire trip today cost $7 -- $5 for the Metra ride, $2 for parking my car at the station and a free trolley ride to the Field Museum. I'm sure the price of gas alone would have topped that. I met Alison at the museum to check out the Pompeii exhibit, where they have a collection of artifacts found from the volcano eruption that killed hundreds in the Italian city in 79 A.D. My favorite part, but also one of the most disturbing, was a series of casts made from the body imprints left in the hardened ash. They show women and children covering each other, men shielding their faces and skeletons huddled on top of one another. Pretty gruesome, but they tell the story. The downside of the exhibit was the huge crowd of people. It was difficult to see some of the displays without tip-toeing and weaving between elbows and lots of little kids. People crowded the streets outside as well. The lights parade was held on State Street tonight, when the Christmas lights strung on the city's lampposts are turned on as the procession passes. I didn't watch, but I can tell you that the turnout was huge.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Next vets

When I walk into the Public Affairs office every morning, there's a pile of six papers waiting for me on the coffee table. Part of my job is to sift through each one, look for any mention of Fermilab or particle physics and post what I find on a big bulletin board at the office's entrance. It takes a while, but I don't mind. In fact, I enjoy it. It gives me an excuse to read the stories I'd probably read on the Internet anyway, plus, I always come across something interesting. Like today.
I was flipping through the Chicago Sun-Times when a photo of a guy in a cowboy hat caught my attention. His ears missing, his face displayed next to a photo of a double amputee on one side and a woman with a melted face and hands on the other. It was a story about Veteran's Day, of those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, aka the Iraq war, aka put your choice name here. The guy in the cowboy hat had graduated from my high school the year after me. I didn't know him, but gossip travels quickly at home and I soon learned his story this summer when the Humvee he was driving through an Iraqi village ran over a bomb and was hit by a motar. He was lit on fire, burning almost all of his body, ruining most of the control of his hands and melting off his ears. Of the four soldiers in the car, he was the only survivor.
Stories like these don't seem real to me. War is something my grandpa experienced, those of the "Greatest Generation." Something that sent thousands, and almost my dad, to Vietnam years before I was born. It's those green screen shots I watched on TV as a kid. It's for the movies, the history books and the video games where if you know the secret code, you can take in a whole round of bullets without chipping even a square away from your lifebar. It's not for my generation. But obviously, it now is. The next generation of veterans are serving right now. At my age, and mostly younger, many have already completed their career as a soldier. Some come back melted, without limbs or movement and with mental images I can't begin to imagine. And those are the lucky ones.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I played on a volleyball team today for the first time since sixth grade. The only thing I really remember about that former stint is the time that Abbey gave a swift kick in the crotch to one of the girl bullies. I don't think she bugged her again. Anyway, I did halfway decent despite my lack of skills. My right index finger is hurting and my arms are starting to bruise, but all in all, it was a good effort. I decided to join a couple weeks ago when my co-worker's husband talked about needing more players for his team, mostly made up of DZero scientists and appropriately called D0h!. We went up against one of the best teams in the league today and actually won one of the three games. Quite a victory for my team, which seems to be used to losing. Unfortunately, games go through April and I'm only here for another month. It should be fun while it lasts.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween!

I almost won a costume contest Friday night. I went to the Graduate Student Association Halloween party at a big barn near my dorm. I got beat out by a bunch of grapes. No hard feelings, they looked really good with price stickers and all. My outfit came together perfectly as did Siri's (a My Little Pony) and Leonardo's (a pizza dinner.) The three of us also went to a second party on Saturday night, attended mostly by physicists at Fermilab. It was a very surreal feeling because I couldn't tell who the people were behind the masks and face paint, although I'm sure I've interviewed some of them in the past.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dress up

I'm going to be the Corpse Bride for Halloween, inspired by the movie. I'm putting the finishing touches on my costume right now. I bought a long white dress at the Good Will for $6. They also had real wedding dresses. Poofy sleeves, long trains and tons of buttons, but they came with a $50 pricetag. As I sifted through them a couple people walked by pointing and cooing. I let them think I was soon-to-be married in one of the early 90s-influenced dresses and even tried one on. Despite its perfectness, I stuck with the thriftier version. It's six sizes too big, but I'm working on sewing the sides in and it should work. My stitching is really ugly, however, I figure that since the corpse bride was buried for a while, a ratty looking dress will just add to the character. I also bought some lace and made a veil. Tomorrow I'll spray everything with fake blood. I'll post pictures later.

Monday, October 24, 2005

On pointe

I realized this weekend that I've never seen a real ballet, not counting our annual family trips to the Nutcracker. I saw the Joffrey this weekend in Chicago with John and Alison, two friends from my internship in Erie who I haven't seen since that summer ended. The show was great. John is a ballet freak so I knew it wouldn't be disappointing. And it makes me want to see more. I should be taking advantage of what the city has to offer. Maybe not just ballet, but plays, museums, all that stuff. So for as long as my budget allows, I'll be there.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Letter from the past

Here's an email I received today:

When you were a freshman you did a story about a dear friend of mine and she was killed in an accident on this day in 2002! I wanted to thank you for making the story heard and that you have made me remember her forever. I did not go here at the time, but wanted to! I stayed at home and went to Community College where I pursued my dream of one day being a police officer. But also had the dream of coming to MSU to finish what I have always wanted to do and that is be a Spartan as well as a police officer! So here I am now at MSU when she would be alum. I was older than her, but she had big dreams and she is truly missed. But, thanks for letting us remember the life of a wonderful, beautiful young woman.

Talk about unexpected. I couldn't remember the story he was talking about until I looked it up on the State News archive. I guess it speaks to the number of deaths I've covered, or just the sheer number of stories I've written in the past few years. His friend was 19. She was walking along a road during the night in East Lansing when she struck by a car and killed. I feel horrible that I couldn't remember her when this guy can recall all the details, including the reporter who wrote about her death three years ago. Journalists go in and out of so many people's lives on a daily basis. We usually don't feel we have much of an effect. But maybe the impact is larger than we perceive.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Still alive

I had the scariest car ride of my life. I went along with a physicist to a local high school for a classroom visit today and the 20-minute ride was terrifying. Let's ignore the fact that he seemed to view stop signs as a mere suggestion. The worst was a right-hand turn from the left lane. The maneuver required us to swerve ahead of a car stopped beside us, all performed while the light was a deep shade of red. 'Sorry, I know that was bad,' he said. 'But that car was annoying me.' Don't mess with a physicist on the road.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sandbox lovers

One of my best friends got engaged today and I'm so excited for her.
I always knew Lindsay and Trep would get married, and when I say always, it's not that much of an exaggeration. I've been friends with Lindz since the second grade. Our brothers met in kindergarten, discovered they lived on the same street and our families have been friends ever since. We filled our summers playing kick the can and kickball, our winters spent ice skating and playing hide and go seek. The four of us really had a picture-perfect childhood. But we never let friendship get in the way of sibling taunting. One chant in particular, the start of many fights, began sometime in grade school from Lindsay's brother: "Trep and Lindsay sitting in a tree..."
For just about as long as I've known Lindsay, there's been Trep (known by some as Chris), a boy in one of Lindsay's classes who lived the next street over. That was the beginning of the game that would go on for years, and I mean years. It followed the same pattern that most childhood crushes take. Girl likes boy. Boy likes girl. Girl denies her crush because boys have cooties. Boy denies his crush because he doesn't want to make the first move. But unlike most sandbox crushes, theirs didn't fade.
By high school, it was common knowledge that Lindsay and Trep liked each other. But no one seemed to have let them in on the secret. Dances came and went without either making a move. Everyone smiled when Trep finally got the nerve to ask her to Homecoming. But it wasn't until their senior Prom that an actual relationship began. That night, they held hands as we sat by a campfire in Lindsay's backyard. Everyone sighed in relief. Years of whispering and frustration and they were finally a couple. They'd lived just a street away from each other for years, yet left for different colleges after dating for just three months. They survived. And today Trep proposed to Lindsay on a pumpkin patch, on his birthday.
Now, if that isn't a good love story, I don't know what is.
Congrats to my two great friends.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Birthday mag

There was food, champagne and even a cake. But it was the first birthday party I've attended where the guest of honor couldn't blow out the candles. On Wednesday we celebrated a year of "Symmetry," the particle physics magazine the Fermilab staff produces with the writers at SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center). It's a really cool magazine. It would be a little difficult to follow if you weren't up on physics lingo, but the design is big and bold, not what you'd expect from a scientific magazine. Look for my byline in November.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Time's a changing

It looks like my whole family is relocating to Florida afterall.
After being tricked into thinking she had the spot for her new store secured, my mom faced terrible disappointment when the owners shut her out of the space last month. Well, as she would say herself, maybe some things happen for a reason. While moving my brother to Orlando this week, she found another place, much cheaper and perfectly fit for what she needs. The crazy part: She's moving in on Nov. 1. As in less than a month. I had kind of given up on her move to Florida, at least for the immediate future. I imagined coming back home from my internship in December to spend the holiday season there with my family. A comforting thought. Obviously, things look very different now. I really don't know what to expect, but I'm excited to see what happens.
I talked to my brother last night, his first night by himself in his new Orlando apartment. "I could live here for the rest of my life," he said. I'm sure he'll change his mind after a while, but for now, he's completely content with the feeling of having a place of his own and as much freedom as he can handle. He beat me there. Sure, I've got freedom. But I'd hardly call the Fermilab dorms my own place. I can't wait to get a real job so I can have that. Who knows where that will be, Florida, Michigan, or anywhere else across the nation. I guess I'm just struck at all the changes going on right now, not just in my life, but to everyone in my family. I'm scared and at the same time excited at the idea of us spread across the country. Everyone is doing what they want most, satisfying their own goals. And that's important. But at the same, I feel a sense of homesickness. Where is home for me? In a few months, I'll probably feel like there isn't one. It's like they say in Garden State: "You won't ever have that feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself... Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Home on the range

Despite a disappointing overtime loss to Michigan, again, I had a good time in East Lansing this weekend. Things were different from previous football seasons, as expected, most notably the absence of a common sleeping ground (11F), a regression back to the dorms (which Fermilab has gotten me used to) and the lack of a good bar night (the lines were longer than graduation weekend). But it still felt great to hang out with friends I haven't seen in a while. (See attached photo as evidence.)
Today, I witnessed the annual Fermilab buffalo inoculation. Yes, there are a herd of about 50 buffalo here on site. Don't worry, they're not used for any crazy physics experiments. The story is that they're kept here to symbolize the frontier, implying that Fermilab is on the edge of the high-energy physics frontier. Pretty clever, eh?
Well today's medical exam was quite a scene. I've never seen a buffalo up close, not even in a zoo. I've learned that they are one tough animal, and when they're scared, contained inside a small metal holding cell and poked with needles, they don't like it one bit. Some bucked, banging their horns against the metal bars. Others looked so helpless, hissing loudly through their nostrils. It took 17 guys to run the series of doors and corrals the buffalo were steered through. A veterinarian stabbed each one in the back with a cocktail of vaccines and two grounds members cleaned the tags in the animals' ears, holding their heads steady with a metal nose ring. Everything was so loud. People yelling "Here she comes," or "This one's a jumper."
But the hardest part for me to handle was the separation of the mother buffalo from their children. Each fall, the babies are auctioned off to local farmers. I'd rather not think about what they use them for. After the medical checkups, the moms are sent back to the pasture and the children are steered toward a holding pen, where they stay until auction day. The moms pace around the holding pens, looking unsuccessfully for their babies. They cry out to them with a noise I've never heard before. Very heartbreaking.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Go Green!

So if you're a 22-year-old girl, here some telltale signs that he's just not right for you:
1. He's divorced.
2. He served in Kuwait in 1991. (At which time, you were eight years old)
3. He says you remind him of Maggie Gyllenhaal in "The Secretary" and makes a comment about spanking.
So needless to say, I've decided that a second date just isn't a good idea.
On a better note, I'm driving to East Lansing this weekend for the Michigan/Michigan State game. It should be a good one, with a good possibility for a victory. And I can't wait to see my old friends, even if it's just for a couple days.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Photo update

Here's a photo of me, Siri and Leo in Chicago. I thought it would be nice to put faces with the names.
I'm getting into a regular routine here. Work until 5 p.m., gym, dinner, maybe a little TV or a couple phone calls and then reading a couple chapters of a book before I fall asleep. It's great to have time to read for fun, not because I have a test the next morning.
On top of writing my usual stories for the lab Web site, I'm starting to get some assignments for Symmetry, a magazine published jointly by Fermilab and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Today, I started working on my first piece, for a section of the magazine called "Deconstruction." The idea is to take a graphic of something, a map, an accelerator, a painting, and explain what parts of it do through breakout boxes. The November issue is all about super computing, so I was handed a flow chart of a computer program and asked to explain it. Now, I'm really no better at deciphering computer language, than I am at deciphering physics, so this was no easy task. The diagram itself is covered in arrows and colors and strange command code that you might have seen on the old Radio Shack computers with the green screens. Luckily, I was able to talk with a scientist pretty familiar with the program and he gave me the down-low. I won't bore you with the details, which there are a lot of, so just read it when it's published.
I need to do something exciting, preferably off of Fermilab's site, so I can write about it. Until then...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Learning ASAP

As if particle physics wasn't hard enough to understand, I've learned that the masters of the trade like to speak in acronyms.
Take, for instance, the ILC, or the International Linear Collider. It's the newest project that Fermilab, and the rest of the world, is backing as the next big thing in the field. The ILC would look into discoveries made at the LHC (Large Haldron Collider), which is at CERN (not sure what that stands for yet), and lead to SID (super important discoveries) by crashing electrons into positrons at 99 percent of the speed of light. OK, I made that last acronym up, but you get the idea.
That's where I'm at right now in deciphering the language of those I work with. Hopefully, I'll get the hang of it soon.
On another note, I visited the city on Saturday for the first time since I arrived. I went with Siri, who's technically my boss but also turning into a good friend, and Leonardo, a visiting scientist from Italy who just arrived on a one-year contract. We ate pizza: stuffed crust, of course, although Leonardo ordered a regular one because eating pizza that's more like a casserole would be a disgrace to his country. Plus, if an Italian friend saw him indulging in it, they'd never let him live it down, he says.
Then we stopped for a drink and walked around the lakefront. Chicago is such a great city, so active and exciting. It was a warm night, and people walked around everywhere, sipping martinis at restaurant windows (like Amy and I once tried to do), posing for wedding pictures at Navy Pier and drinking on bar patios. I'll definitely be making more visits there.
Tonight, Leonardo made Siri and I real Italian food: pasta with homemade tomato sauce, which was delicious, and ice cream, not necessarily Italian but good. It sure beats my version of the meal, made from a box and a glass jar.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The view

Here are some pictures from here. The first is the outside of my dorm. To me, the word "dorm" brings back memories of tall, drab buildings with highly condensed living quarters. So the sight of the Fermilab dorms was quite a surprise. The condensed living quarters part holds true, but my dorm has more of an up-north cottage feel to it.
The second is Wilson Hall, the building I work at. You can pretty much see it from anywhere on the Fermilab site.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


The red light on the government-issued emergency announcement box in my room is blinking. It's interesting that these rooms are equipped with the radio-like units, complete with a label warning against unplugging or altering the device. Yet, there's no handbook explaining what the signals mean. I'm assuming that because the red light has been blinking since I got home from work, and there haven't been any fires, explosions, terrorist threats, etc., I'm safe.
It's still a bit unnerving.
Today was my first day at work. I spent the first couple hours filling out emergency contact sheets, W-4 forms (which I hate, I never know whether to fill in a 1 or a 0), laboratory policy sheets and many others. I then had the quickest physical of my life. I sat in one of the lab's medical offices with a nurse for no longer than 2 minutes, while she scanned at the one-page medical history sheet I had filled out.
I met some of the people I'll be working with and got a short tour of the building and the immense amount of technology that surrounds it. From the top floor of Wilson Hall, named after the lab's founder Robert Wilson, you can see the Chicago skyline on a clear day. You also can see the facility's equipment, from the vats that store antimatter to the outline of the tevatron, a particle accelerator made up of underground tubes and magnets with a four-mile diameter.
I still don't understand how everything works. Today's quick tour was way over my head, but I hope to catch on soon.
Other than that, I've been pretty bored. I spent my weekend checking out the on-site marvels -- a herd of nearly 50 buffalo and beautiful bike and running trails -- as well as the off-site marvels -- the mall, and after days of searching for one, a video store.
But at $4.75 a DVD, I also learned that I won't be renting many more movies from that Blockbuster.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New home, for now

I'm sitting in the room I'll live in for the next three months.
I'm tired, both emotionally and physically. I'm lonely and already missing my parents who left less than 30 minutes ago. And I'm excited for the future and the possibilities.
My room is small to say the least. It's one of many dorms in "The Village" on the hundreds of acres of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. It smells like an up-north cottage, old and musty from sitting unused for the winter. It's one single room, with a community bathroom across the hall and a shared kitchen on the other side of the building.
I won't lie, it was a scary sight at first. The furniture, straight out of the 1970s or earlier decades, was covered with dust and and the bed sheets, which maids supposedly clean weekly, felt dingy with dirt you might find in a sleazy hotel. But after several hours of cleaning, rearranging and moving in my familiar "school" stuff with my mom, it feels a little more like home. But I still feel like I'm back in my freshman year of college.
The plus side to living on site is the possibility of making new friends. However, that seems more difficult by the second. Many of the others in the dorms are international students or visitors. I introduced myself to a couple of my neighbors in the kitchen today and started to ask them questions about the place. A girl concentrating on making lunch smiled slightly without a response and ducked her head back in the fridge. From the other side of the kitchen, a Japanese guy tried his hardest to answer my questions with really broken English. It's going to be a challenge.
I'm pretty close to Chicago, about 40 minutes west. I've got a pretty long weekend ahead of me and I'd love to make a visit to the windy city, but I don't want to go by myself. I guess my biggest fear during this internship is being alone. It's not like this is the first time I've been away from home. Quite the opposite, actually. But whether it's a fellow State Newser, a whole class of interns or other students, there's always been someone there with me. Not this time.
Who do I go to the movies with? Do I go to the museums by myself? You get the idea.
Now I'll reel myself back in. It is only my first night here, and I'm sure I'll meet someone to hang out with. I hope there are people at work who are close to my age. And maybe we'll speak the same language.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sneakers, pocketbooks and soda

I got to hang out with my best friend for two weekends in a row, an oddity now that there's more than 600 miles between us.
Last Friday, Amy and I packed my car and actually began our journey to New Jersey at our planned time -- 5 a.m. After numerous pit stops and one lousy meal (yes, Abbey, meal) at Friendly's, we were in Saddlebrook, where Abbey's lived since May. From there, we made her drive the rest of the way to the Jersey shore, partly because of driving exhaustion and partly because Abbey was made for traveling on New Jersey roads. You haven't experienced traffic congestion until you've driven during Jersey rush hour. Obscenities aren't an option, they're required. And Abbey held up her end nicely.
The three of us spent Friday night with Amy's Aunt Abbie, who has a beautiful house in Brick, N.J., with a widow's walk and ocean view. Like any true Bartner, Aunt Abbie greeted us with tons of food -- cookies, stuffed peppers, tabouli, fresh mozzarella and take-out Chinese. She is such a wonderful lady and I wish we could have spent more time with her.
On Saturday, we headed to Manasquan, where Abbey and Adam have a beach house they're renting for the summer. That town is like spring break, only for three months straight. We had a great time jumping in the massive waves, soaking up some much-needed sun and, in spring break fashion, drinking.
After spending all day at the house, we headed to a bar on the boardwalk, where I just might have been part of the duo that eventually got us kicked out.
Now, listen. If you know me at all, you know that I'm usually not the one responsible for things like that. So here's my side of the story as I remember it.
The place was packed, especially on the dance floor, where people crammed shoulder to shoulder attempted to dance and sing along with the band, a group of guys with black-rimmed glasses appropriately called The Nerds. We (and by we I mean at least 10 people from the house) swerve in and out of people until we're in the thick of it. Sometime during the night, a girl dancing behind Adam begins to repeatedly knock into him. Whether it was on purpose, I'm not sure, but it didn't please Adam, who'd already had enough alcohol to produce his signature drunken half-closed eyes and unsteady gait.
"Push me," he says to me, rocking back and forth.
"Just push me," he repeats.
I oblige, giving him a little shove at the collar bone. Adam pauses slightly and rams his back into the pushing girl. She turns around, looks for the culprit, and then goes back to dancing. Minutes pass and all is peaceful. Then Adam lurches forward, pushed again from behind, only this time much harder.
He whirls around and starts to yell at the girl, who yells back. Within seconds one of the security guards, who stood on the stage watching the crowd like a hawk, jumps to the floor. But instead of stopping Adam and pushy girl from killing each other, he turns to me.
"I saw what you did," he says.
I'm confused, not remembering my previous shove, and unable to connect it to the current events.
"Take your friends and go to the other side of the bar."
I stare at him and he repeats himself. Amy and I attempt to gather everyone and walk away, believing that the rest of the group is following.
Little do we know that Adam had begun to turn his anger for pushy girl toward the security guard. More guards jump off the stage and Adam and his friend Jason are put to the ground and dragged out of the bar.
By the time Amy and I get out, Abbey is crying hysterically and Adam is bragging about how he "took out four cops."
That, my friends, is how I got us kicked out of the bar with one little shove.
On Sunday, Amy and I left the drama behind and visited her grandma in Kearny. We ate authentic Jersey pizza with her before making the 10-hour night trip back to Michigan, which was one of the most challenging drives of my life.
It was great to see Abbey and Adam. I saw them both again when they flew into town this weekend for the annual draft party. I miss them both and the little things they do and say, whether it's Abbey asking why the techno CD is skipping or Adam pretending to hit his head on the wall to see if anyone is paying attention.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


My tooth came out easily. At least I think it did. There's no way of knowing how much cutting and pulling the doctor had to do while I lay unconscious.
In fact, I don't remember very much of the hours after surgery. They took off my glasses, put on an oxygen mask that partially obstructed my view and inserted the IV (didn't hurt as much as I was worried it would). Then, just like in the movies, I stared up at the oval shaped chair light, took two slow blinks while they asked me questions and I was out.
I don't remember the car ride home, although my mom says I was talkative. I crashed on our downstairs couch and filled the rest of the day with girlie movies and books. And so far, I've been in little pain. (knock on wood). My jaw's a little sore. There are stitches between four of my bottom teeth, which feel like floss that's permanently stuck there. But in general, I feel pretty good. I've only taken a couple painkillers since yesterday morning. I prefer to avoid those at all costs because they make me feel dizzy and tired.
I hope today is just as painless.
Then it's time to get ready for New Jersey!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Nervous smile

I have a third tooth.
Actually a set of third teeth. Most people have their baby teeth, followed by their permanent teeth. I have one more level. Two mutants floating in my lower jaw. But this spring, one of them started to emerge out of my gum, right under my normal teeth.
So tomorrow, it’s coming out.
I’m a wimp when it comes to doctors, surgeries and the like. Needless to say, I’m less than thrilled to for tomorrow to come. More than anything, I’m scared about the IV. I hate needles and that will go in before I’m knocked out. I was through the same thing last year when I had my wisdom teeth out, but I’m still nervous about the ordeal.
In other news, Friday was my last day at The Detroit News. It was a really good summer. Looking back, it’s hard to believe all the stories I covered. Land disputes, rich people buying designer dogs, a family fight over a Marine’s remains, study abroad students in London during the bombings and an explosion at a chemical plant to name a few. It also was a good summer for internal news, from switching to new presses to a corporate switchup that’s bound to drastically change Detroit’s newspapers. They offered me an extension, which I would have gladly taken if it weren’t for a pre-planned trip to New Jersey and this tooth.
Butterflies in my stomach again. Wish me luck, and hope that the other floater doesn’t pop up next summer.

Monday, August 08, 2005

And eat it, too

For the first time in my 22 years of life, my aunt didn't make my birthday cake.
The tradition began with a cake in the shape of a turtle. Then a Cookie Monster cake for my second birthday. Followed by carnival scenes, ballerinas, unicorns and other fantastical themes during my single digits. Then the cakes started to highlight parts of my life that were important at the time of each passing year: a dance recital, marching band, books, journalism, a trip to London and even a cake splattered with Cs, Hs and Os during the summer I took organic chemistry (even though I don't think that class was that important to me).
Every cake was a surprise, something my aunt thought about and planned for weeks ahead of time. Relatives crowded around the door every year to get a glimpse of her masterpiece. A birthday wasn't a birthday until "Auntie" and her cake had arrived. But this day came and went without one.
The deal is over. Twenty one cakes in 21 years, that was the arrangement. I'm not sure who made the rules, I've just always known them. A cake each year until after I'm 21, until I'm grown up.
So it was strange today to open the door to see my aunt with presents in hand, but no cake. Maybe even more strange to think about what that means. I'm grown up. It's true that you always think an age is old until you're there.
Don't worry, it wasn't a cakeless birthday. My mom took over the duties rather well with a tropical ice cream cake. No decorations, just frosting and coconut shavings.
So here's to a life of "grown-up" cakes, wishes come true and life at 22.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Neighborhood war

I was dreaming that I was pregnant, but my belly was no bigger than it is now. My friends already had showered me with baby gifts, and I was in the middle of explaining to my parents that I couldn't possibly be pregnant and thinking of a way to return all the bottles, onesies and stuffed animals. Then, I heard this deep loud noise, and woke up. I turned over and shut my eyes, trying to salvage the ten minutes or so until my alarm went off.
There it was again. The sound of a horn. Not a horn from a regular car, but a low sound that kids on school buses beckon for when they pass a semi truck on the road. Five minutes later, the horn sounded again. Only this time it was longer, sending vibrations through our house. Then yelling. And although I couldn't make out the words being exchanged, I knew what it was about.
It was Brad, our neighbor two houses down the street. Our next-door neighbors, who include about 12 people in a two-bedroom house, have clashed with Brad ever since they moved in last winter. Especially the teenage boys and their friends, who start their games of two-on-two basketball no earlier than 11 p.m. on the weekdays. There are many nights when Brad can be seen outdoors in his bath robe, yelling at the kids to "shut the fuck up. Some people have to get up at 4 a.m."
Sometimes, he'll call over my brother for backup. There's something about him that scares those kids. Whether it's his motorcycle or hot temper, I can't be sure. But it works, and the boys usually retreat inside shortly after Jesse's had a word with them.
Last night's fight, however, must have been a doozy. Brad was a crazed man this morning, doing everything in his power to wake up the teens who've regularly disturbed his sleeping pattern. So there he was, at 7:30 a.m., sitting inside his massive RV (think "Meet the Fockers") laying on his horn for minutes at a time. Then, just after 8 a.m., so as not to violate the St. Clair Shores noise ordinance, he pulled out his weed wacker, revving its engine as loudly as possible.
I left for work before the matter was resolved. But my parents say it ended with a boom box, the police and a series of tickets.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

You mean I need a job?

Three weeks left in my internship and no job. That's where I find myself.
Although, to be honest, I haven't been trying very hard to find one. OK, hardly trying at all. I don't really know what's stopping me. For instance, why am I wasting my time writing this instead of searching or putting together some clips?
I think I just am really unsure about what I want to do. Or I know what I want to do and it doesn't look possible.
My goal always has been to be a medical or health writer, not necessarily for a newspaper, but for a magazine or journal, or better yet, for a medical organization that works to find a cure for AIDS or cancer. I didn't study structures of compounds or the bones of the body for nothing in school, and I really want to have a career that helps others in some way. Sometimes I feel like journalism is selfish. I write a story and I doubt anyone will really care about it, except for me, when my byline appears by it the next day.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a strong believer in the importance of the newspaper to its community. It's the watchdog, the record-keeper, the informer and entertainer. I'm just not sure that working for a daily paper is something I want to do for the rest of my life.
So that brings me back to my job search, or lack thereof. Do I apply for the entry-level reporting positions posted all over the Internet, that I know I have a decent chance of getting? A job is a job, isn't it? And it doesn't have to be forever.
But then again, I'm scared of getting stuck. Once I get settled in somewhere, I know it would be hard to leave. Happiness is really most important to me, even if it means being without income for a bit. So maybe there's no better time than now to find a job I'm really excited about, while my parents are still willing to foot the bill for room and board.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Random update

I don’t have much to say, but I feel the need to update this once in a while. Otherwise, I fear that no one will know what’s going on in my life. Or maybe just Abbey, since she’s probably the only one who consistently reads this like I constantly checks hers.
So here's the cliffs notes edition, if you will, of the last few days.
Friday: Drove to East Lansing to meet up with Amy, Chris and Kris to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you haven't seen it, you should. It fell flat in some areas, but Johnny Depp pulled off a great performance once again, with what I think was a little inspiration from Michael Jackson.
Saturday: Threw a "pool party" at my house, which because of an afternoon of flash floods and gray skies, turned out to be a "sit around and stare at the pool party." It was still a good time. Kris had a couple mojitos, six actually, and it was nice to talk with old friends.
Sunday: Went shopping with my mom, so she could destress from spending so much time lately with my grandma. Yes, sometimes staring at clothes and buying way more than you can afford is the best way to get your mind off of problems.
Monday: Spent my first day reporting downtown. I miss the Oakland bureau. Even though there are what seem like hundreds of people in the main office, it's much more lonely. People don't really talk to me there, besides the editors, who have that task in their job description.
Today: We had a family get together to celebrate my brother's birthday. Inspired by my mojito experiment this weekend, my mom decided to make the drink for the party, finished off quite a few glasses so she could handle talking with my aunt and ended up having to go to my grandma's apartment drunk because of problems she's having keeping in fluids (from the caudal end of the body). Yum.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Teen no more

Today is my brother's 20th birthday, and the time of the year when for less than a month, he can brag that he's just a year younger than me.
My mom, being the sentimental person she is, has his baby picture out on the kitchen table, propped up next to his presents. It makes me think, not just about what an ugly baby he was (well, not hideous, just not cute), but about if my brother is the person I thought he'd become years ago.
When I was younger, I used to wonder what he'd be like in middle school, in high school, as an adult. Would my kid brother, who harassed me and my friends like he was an older brother, be in the popular crowd at school? Would he get good grades? Would he continue to be obsessed with remote control cars, bicycles, Mickey Mouse and video games? What would he look like? Tall like me? Short like my mom? What would he be?
Twenty years down the road, there's really no clear answer. Although the brother I see now might be completely different from the brother I saw as a 2-year-old, 10-year-old or 18-year-old, I just see him as Jesse.
Yes, the Mickey Mouse dolls have been given to charity and his fixation with bicycles has transformed to motorcycles, but to me he's not much different than the day he was born.
Just maybe not as ugly.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Babies on the way

Two baby showers in one weekend.
The first was for Tara May. I hadn’t seen her since she graduated more than a year ago, so seeing her seven and a half months pregnant was quite a surprise. I can’t believe she’s having a baby. The party was a nice twist on the conventional baby shower. It was in the family’s backyard in Lowell, with hot dogs, beautiful (and illegal) fireworks and the biggest bonfire I’ve ever seen. The kind that makes you worry that the brush will catch fire and engulf the backyard in flames.
My cousin Nikki’s shower on the other hand was the traditional type, which means on the boring side. We played ever-so-exciting games such as baby bingo. And I won the Q-tip guessing contest. There were 818 of them in a glass bowl, which I estimated to be 500.
For that I won a pasta and green bean strainer.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Death wish

What makes people lose the will to live?
Sickness, depression, frustration, stress?
I don't know what it is, but I do know that once you've lost it, it's hard to get it back.
I've seen it happen to my grandpa, who after forgetting directions, how to cook, the day of the week, the pills he took, and even me, refused to eat anymore. We took turns, forcing one, maybe two spoonfuls of mushed-up food into his mouth before he'd shake his head and clamp his teeth shut. The doctors told us his body was shutting down, and he was only listening to what it told him.
He died soon after.
Now I'm afraid my grandma is doing the same thing.
When my parents went to visit Tuesday, they found her on the couch, ready to die.
"This is it," she told my mom.
Inside her bedroom, she had written a note to my dad with instructions about what to do with her body. And she refuses to eat.
But my grandma isn't sick. She doesn't have Alzheimer's like gramps did. Her back injury has progressively gotten worse during the years and she refuses to see a doctor for it. She's eating pain killers instead of food. But she's a relatively healthy 83-year-old.
She's not dying from any natural cause.
I'm just afraid that she'll make herself.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Blue Men

It was a really fun holiday weekend.
On Friday, I drove to East Lansing right after work to meet up with Amy. We hung out with her new boyfriend, at least I think I can safely call him that, and his friends and headed over to Rick's. The boys live in Treehouse apartments, only a block down the street from Evergreen Arms, so both to and from the bar Amy and I did our share of looking up at 11F's balcony and feeling sad.
Rick's was fun as usual, and we didn't even get the chance to play photo hunt this time. I don't clearly remember much more, except for what Amy and I were able to piece together the next day. People were running and wrestling and a toe nail was torn off. Chris, Amy's boyfriend, had one too many Sparks and was dancing, no bouncing, all over the walls, the ceiling and a small table in the living room. It was a good night.
The next day, Amy and I drove to Chicago. We did well navigating ourselves to the city, until we got close. When we reached downtown, we somehow headed south, instead of north, and ended up asking for directions from an assisted living security guard in not-the-best area of town. He tried to point us in the right direction and told us repeatedly to "look for the men in blue. Don't ask directions from just anybody. You look for the men in blue." We must have looked pretty helpless.
We didn't need to ask for further directions. We found our hotel, the Beldon Stratford, just fine from there. It was a pretty fancy place, chandeliers, extravagant carpet and valet-only parking (no other choice, we asked). Our room could have comfortably served as an apartment with its full-size fridge, stove and microwave. I definitely felt out of place there.
Amy went star-crazy, convinced that since some celebrities live/visit Chicago, we were destined to them all in our night there. As we ate dinner at a restaurant down the street from our hotel, she stared almost nonstop at a girl she swore was Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina, or better yet Clarissa for those not in the know.) I looked, and although I admit there was a resemblance, it definitely was not her. Amy continued to stare, was tempted to snap a picture with her camera phone and screamed "Melissa" as we left to see if she'd look our way. She didn't.
We also spotted, actually Amy spotted, Hugh Grant, Rubin Stoddard and Demi Moore, among others.
We walked to the theater, which was only about a mile from our hotel. Blue Man Group was amazing. We were front row, center, and they were right in our faces. We had to wear ponchos to fend off the chewed up Captin' Crunch cereal and Twinkie vomit propelled off the stage. Afterward, we took pictures with the blue men and stopped for a martini before heading to bed. We felt sophisticated sipping on our ritzy drinks, and tried hold back the shudders we had every time we took a sip of the Manhattan.
We got an early start Sunday and got back to East Lansing in good time. Then we drove to Chris' cottage in New Baltimore for a day on the lake. However, when we got there Chris was no where to be found. His family, on the other hand, was everywhere, and drunk. Parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, including one who called us whores. It was a little awkward, to say the least, until Chris finally arrived from his friend's boat an hour later. Then he felt bad, and drunk, and entertained us the rest of the evening with golf cart rides, his dad's dancing and a pool party at his friend's house.
Overall, it was a great weekend. Three nights in three cities and I still had Monday to relax.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Almost the weekend

I'm glad it's Thursday.
Thursday night is practically Friday morning, which is only hours away from Friday evening, at which point I can officially stop thinking for a couple days.
It's been a busy week at work and today was especially stressful.
I walked in the office to find multiple messages on my voicemail from grumpy old men scolding me for using the word "elected" instead of "appointed" in a recent article. I admit, appointed is the proper word to describe how the board members I was describing were chosen, but I don't think it made the sentence wrong. I used the phrase "elected by the governor." Doesn't that imply that the governor choose the members? I don't think that phrase means that they were chosen through an election, like the men screamed through the phone. Anyway, I hate when people call for picky things like that. It makes me feel like someone is sitting out there with a magnifying glass on my work, just waiting for me to mess up. It's upsetting that most people don't take the time to send a compliment when they like something, but they're more than eager to pounce on you when they don't like it.
But that's not what made it such a stressful day. My introduction to more corporate policies at the paper can be blamed for that. Especially the one about not letting interns have front-page stories when corporate high-ups come to town.

Friday, June 24, 2005


This day feels like it will never end. Or never began. It’s one of those days where things that happened early this morning feel like they happened yesterday. Or didn’t happen at all. Maybe that’s because I should have been dreaming when they happened.
After resetting my alarm a couple different times to get every minute of sleep possible, I woke up at 3:30 a.m., two hours after I went to bed. If the final score from last night’s game was reversed, I would have been excited to get up. Or I might not have gone to bed in the first place. But the Pistons lost. Therefore, getting up in the middle of the night to drive 40 minutes to Oakland County Airport to watch the team exit its plane from San Antonio was not high on my list of priorities.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love the Pistons. They made it all the way to game 7 of the finals when most didn’t expect them to reach the first game. I was thrilled that I’d be home this summer, instead of in Erie, to watch Detroit fight for another championship. The energy has been incredible. It was crazy last night at the Palace, which was sold out even though the players were thousands of miles away. People screaming and pounding thundersticks like we could give our team a home court advantage away from home. Everyone felt so confident. So sure that we could defy all odds and bring it home. And that’s why the loss was so depressing.
In less than five minutes, the energy was transformed to sadness and disbelief. That cloud has stuck with me through today. I didn’t get much of a chance to sleep it off and pulling into the airport driveway to find more members of the media than fans didn’t help.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I almost got sent to Lansing for a story today and I was so excited. Unfortunately, 10 minutes later, my editor told me to stay in the bureau instead. But during those minutes, I painted the trip in my head. A familiar cruise down I-96. Interviewing people on the Capitol steps, a place where I covered rallies about issues ranging from gay rights to abortion when I still carried the State News title. And best of all, a stop in the newsroom to surprise Amy and the few other staffers I still know there.
I miss that place.
I miss a lot of people.
But this weekend helped a bit, as each day brought some sort of reunion. On Friday, Abbey and Adam flew in from New Jersey for her sister's graduation party. Abbey left in May, two weeks after we graduated, and being away from her for this short amount of time has been rough. She's my best friend, has pretty much has held that title since third grade, and it's difficult not having her on call when I just need someone to hang out with. You take people for granted when they're around and realize how much it meant to just have them there for the little things: watching cheezy rental movies or driving around town with no destination in mind. Anyway, it was great to see her, and Adam, this weekend. I miss both of them and want to visit them on the "shore" as soon as possible.
The second part of my reunion weekend came on Sunday. Pat was in town, and I met up with him and some of the other guys to watch the Pistons game. I still can't believe how Pat's life has changed in four years. He was in my dorm during first year at MSU. After that year, he joined the Army and has since been to training camps across the country, South Korea, and possibly Iraq in the near future. It's always good to see him, and he's the same old Pat, only with a little bit (OK, maybe a lot bit) more muscle.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The recital

I went to Kelly's dance recital tonight and it brought back lots of memories. Plastering my face with blue eyeshadow, black eyeliner complete with cat eye lines and red lipstick. Walking into the studio every week hoping that our costumes would be sitting in a box in the corner. Finally trying them on and worrying about what my parents would say about the midriff-baring, skintight outfits. I miss it, somewhat.
But it also made me realize how silly recitals really are. What's the point of putting on a white one-piece uniform with flared legs and a sailor cap and moving to the beat of a techno rendition of "In the Navy?" Or paying $50 for a costume that makes you look like a fluff ball? It's strange, yet somewhat endearing. And I'm sure when I have a daughter, I'll be watching her do the same thing, and loving it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The first one

I had never considered starting a blog before. And I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it was lack of time. Or it could have been the desire to spend the spare time I had doing something that required as few brain cells as possible. But, most likely, it was because of privacy, or lack thereof. I'm a quiet person and I've always valued physically writing down my thoughts.
Well, maybe not always.
My grandma gave me my first diary when I was 9 or 10 years old. It was pretty high quality on the diary scale, with a page for every day of the year and a lock that really didn't matter when my mischievous brother was around. But by the end of that year, I hadn't filled in more than two or three pages.
My grandma nagged me every time she visited: "Have you been using your diary?" I always told her yes and then worried that she'd run upstairs to my room, grab my diary from its hiding spot beneath a pile of Beverly Cleary books, open to its blank pages and discover I was lying. Of course, my Christmas gift from her the following year was another diary, to replace the one that I'd so anxiously filled the previous year.
But something strange happened in the next couple years -- I started to take my grandma's advice. During my transition from sixth grade to seventh, I started to write down my fears, loves and general thoughts in a looseleaf notebook, much less constricting than the predated paper I was used to. I've been keeping some sort of a journal ever since. Writing down my thoughts helps me think, if that makes sense. It takes time, a millisecond, maybe more, for your pen to write the word your brain comes up with. And that time helps me slow down and filter my thoughts when there are too many to comprehend.
But in the 10 or so years since I've been in sixth grade, the definition of writing has changed. Now, "writing" a paper, report, letter, etc. usually doesn't mean that a pen will be involved.
So maybe more than anything else this blog is a surrender to technology.
It could be a sign of the free time I've had since graduation.
Or maybe my boredom with VH1, MTV, reality TV and other mindless entertainment.
Whatever the reason, I can tell you one thing the birth of this blog doesn't signal: the end of my journal. You know, the one that needs a pen.