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.