Friday, January 30, 2009

Playing tag!

I was tagged by my old friend Stephanie (déjà vu) and thought I would post something back. I have already tagged 10 people with this on facebook, so my list at the end only has 15 people on it.

Here are the rules:
Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

1. I tend to think I'm really witty and funny even though I'm really not. This makes for so very awkward moments in conversations when I think people should be laughing but really they're just very uncomfortable.

2. I am an obsessive reader. This might not seem like something random about me, but it is when the things I’m reading are ads on the Metro, the backs of cereal boxes, books in other people’s hands…

3. I hate driving or riding in cars in general. I hate the way stupid drivers make me so angry, I don’t trust my own driving and I can't stand having to park in teeny-tiny spaces. I would prefer to ride public transportation any day, even if it is unreliable and smells like pee.

4. I have always wanted to be a writer even though I’m not particularly funny, smart or good at spelling. I just get stories stuck in my head that drive me crazy with the talking and moving about that I have to get them out of there so other people don’t begin to think I’m a schizophrenic.

5. When I was in middle school, I met a boy online who started stalking me. He became obsessed with meeting me and even ran away from home when his mother told him he couldn’t fly out and meet me. His mom finally got my email address and told me I had to tell her son to back off and stop emailing me. It was the one and only time I broke someone’s heart.

6. I am embarrassed by the fact that I’m in love with Bon Jovi and Sugar Ray. I love music—especially good music—and have no idea how these two groups became a part of my otherwise non-conformist musical taste.

7. I’m having a hard time thinking of 10 random things let alone 25 of them. I have such a big mouth that nothing really seems random.

8. I am obsessed with the etymology and grammatical structure. I love looking up word origins and having discussions about why phrases are put together in particular ways and how language is used in general. The only problem is, I never remember what I read or the conclusions I come to, so my vocabulary and spelling never improve.

9. In elementary school I was obsessed with the name Sammy. In second grade I had a mealworm I named Sammy. In third grade I had a guppy named Sammy. In fourth grade I wanted to name the class pet Sammy. I think this might have been because I was a little bit in love with Sammy Davis Junior at the time, but it could also be that I was just as crazy then as I am now.

10. I have a tendency to come across sick people/accident victims on the road. I once helped a mother get to her three year old who had locked herself in the car. I gave a woman rescue breathing at a gas station in Wyoming. I was the first responder to a T-bone accident where a woman was hit on the way to her father’s funeral. I helped a family on the highway in Utah whose son was having a massive seizure.

11. I can’t stand the sight of blood, and the thought of visiting a sick person in the hospital gives me panic attaches. When I was thirteen, I had to sit on my dad’s lap when I had to get a tetanus shot, and once when I saw a woman with a broken finger that had gotten infected, I passed out.

12. I get peed on by dogs all the time. This has made me not like dogs or animals in general. When I tried to explain this to a friend of mine, she didn’t believe me until we saw two dogs in one day and they both peed on me.

13. I have the worst red-light luck of anyone I know. I have to leave ten minutes early for anything because I know I will hit 90 percent of the traffic lights red. But some of that time is made up when I park—I can get rock-star parking just about anywhere I go.

14. I love to move. I am a natural pack-rat, and moving helps me control the clutter. I always do one purge while packing and another while unpacking. It helps me know what’s really important.

15. I cannot help but buy books. While every once in awhile I buy books I have never read, the majority of the books I invest in are books that I love and want to share with others. Often times that means I loan out a book and never see it again, but I figure if I get one person to read a book I love, it’s worth the cost.

16. I hate swimming in the ocean, but I love the beach. I’m always afraid I’ll get salmonella or step on a stingray. I end up going into the water up to my waist, but I spend more time messing around in the sand. I’m okay with rivers, lakes, pools, ponds and streams, but I can’t do the ocean.

17. I have all kinds of plans to travel around the world, but I’ve never left the United States (Tijuana doesn’t count). I read about other cultures, have shelves full of travel books and talk about traveling all the time. But I never seem to have the money, time or energy to follow through on those plans. I always seem to get caught up by school, a move, a family emergency or a wedding and end up flying somewhere in the States instead.

18. I’d kind of like to try out for American Idol. I can’t sing, I’m not a bombshell and I don’t even watch the show, but I’d still like to go and audition just to see what Simon says to me.

19. I like to blog-stalk people. I read blogs compulsively and then tend to think I’m friends with people whose blogs I’ve read yet never actually met. I am well aware this makes me sound crazy, but I really do know the difference between a friend and stranger. I do, however, have a few legitimate friends whom I have met through blogging, so maybe this is just my way of hoping I can be friends with everyone I meet.

20. I have an aversion to contractions. I have to force myself to use them and often have to go back and re-write something so it flows more conversationally.

21. Sometimes I miss watching commercials on live TV. Because I watch everything online, I never hear about new movies or laugh at clever ads anymore.

22. I am always cold. Seriously, it can be 90 degrees in the shade and I’ll be cold. Sometimes I wonder if this is a sign of a rare medical condition that will bring me to my death bed and lead the writers of House to feature my story on prime-time television.

23. I like being alone in a crowd. I like living in the city and being all alone yet never being alone. I think this is also why I like the internet so much—you can stay connected to people without ever having to be with people.

24. I spent years studying journalism but I still can’t write a concise piece to save my life.

25. Writing all of this has made me realize just how delusional I am.

I'm tagging Corinna (Six Feet of Fire), Celeste (A day in the life of...), Kevin (Calling Captain Obvious), Lori (goadingthepen), Sara (sarazarr), Sarah (The words I say), Katie (I Keep Wondering), Brittany (Turning Leaves), Tammy (As I See It), Gwen (g-when), Camilla (The Taylors), Angie (Brown Town), Lisa (lisamcmann), Ann Dee (adellis) and of course, Stephanie (déjà vu).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ugh! This writing stuff is hard work!

I've now gotten corrections from all three people I sent my manuscript to--all amazing writers and editors in their own right. (Thanks Corinna, Sarah and Tammy!) But now this means I have to make all those corrections, and that's not an easy thing. In fact, I had been putting it off for awhile until I had a bit of a mental breakdown two nights ago. I couldn't stop thinking I was a wannabe poser who would never actually send my manuscript to agents or publishers or grant-givers.

Then my friend Sheri gave me a pep-talk and sent me to a couple of websites to help me snap out of my funk. (She’s such a great mom, and she’s not even old enough to be my mom!) Basically, she told me to get over myself and get to work, only she’s much nicer than me, so she said it in a much kinder way.

So last night I got back to work. I opened all three corrected files and went through them chapter by chapter, making corrections on my own draft and notes about where I need to fill out the story and where I can cut back. I’m about half-way finished, have two additional chapters to write and a month and a half to get it all done. Luckily I only have to submit my first two chapters to the SCBWI WIP grant committee, meaning I can work on the rest as I go.

Next month marks the first anniversary of the day I began writing this novel. It’s been a long process and a crazy year, but I have faith this is going to work.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rabbit is truly at rest

I just heard that John Updike died today of lung cancer.

My first exposure to John Updike came in a literature class my junior year of high school. While I’m sure I had heard of him before, I had never really paid any attention. We read “A&P” and I fell in love. I had never had a short story affect me so strongly. At the time, I had two best friends—on short and commanding, the other tall and graceful. I knew just what those girls were trying to do in that convenience store that day, and I knew the kind of power they held over that young cashier. In just 20 pages, I understood adolescence more completely than I had at another other time in my 16-year life.

I went on to read every other Updike short story and novel I could get my hands on that year. I was amazed by the transient quality of the characters in Brazil, I loved to hate Henry Bech, and I connected to the people that survived the wars of the past in a way that no history book or lesson had ever taught me. And for the first time, I could see why a movie version of a novel paled so greatly in comparison to the words of a writer when I read/watched The Witches of Eastwick.

I continued to love John Updike as I got to know of the man. The longevity and timelessness of his work amazed me. I couldn’t believe that his career spanned generations, and he continued to publish works and write even after falling ill. His newest collection of short stories—My Father’s Tears and Other Stories—is set for publication June 2 of this year by Knopf Press. But he was also a husband, father and artist.

Though I have moved on from my teenage obsession with Updike (let’s be honest, a lot of that obsession stemmed from the fact that he wrote about love and sex and war—all subjects that every teen wants to learn more about but are often considered too “adult” for that age group), but he will always hold a special place in my heart for the great influence he had on my literary development. We have lost a great writer today, and for that, I am deeply saddened.

A bunch of raging lunatics

I spent last night doing my taxes. I know—for those of you who take weeks to do you taxes and are in and out of accountants offices countless times between February and April, this might make you sick. But I'm single, own nothing of consequence and spent most of the year unemployed while I finished up school. I thought taxes this year would take about fifty seconds to say, "Hey, I made no money and dumped thousands of dollars into our failing economy because I paid out-of-pocket for school and my car died on me. I deserve a full refund on all $750 I paid in taxes."


I had to file taxes in two states, and I have decided the Virginia state tax form is the most insane document I have ever seen. It took me three hours to do all these calculations only to find out I could have skipped half of them and just applied for a full refund. There are 47 lines on the Virginia Part-Year Resident Income Tax Return form, and that doesn't include the 23 sub-lines, two columns and about 50 worksheets that all need to be filled out as well.

And I believe to Utah State Tax Commission is just as insane. They (seriously now) put a little frowny face on the form on the line if you owe taxes and a little smiley face on the form if you should get a refund. Emoticons on tax forms? What is this world coming to?

By the time I finished the two state forms, I was wishing I could just fill out the federal 1040EZ a hundred times over. Here's to not moving this year and only having to file in one state.

Remember how just yesterday I was saying the weather was supposed to get better any day now? Well, I should have looked at the forecast a little more closely and realized it was going to get a lot worse before it started getting better.

And don’t get me started on the snow-induced craziness of this morning’s commute. It took me an hour to go the four and a half miles to work this morning because people freak out when they see snow around here. The calm blanket of white that now covers the DC area might look lovely and serene, but I know it is really a wizard’s spell designed to make people drive like lunatics. Maybe it’s a GOP conspiracy to put off the vote on the economic stimulus package.

I guess I should give them a break—not everyone was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Chicago, went to school in Idaho and lived in Utah. I have a lot of snow-driving experience.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My nose is cold and my feet are too

Was it really just Friday that I went outside without my coat and still felt plenty warm? I don't know what world I woke up thinking I lived in, but the skirt and high heels I donned really weren't made for the snow that greeting me when I opened my front door this morning. I just keep reminding myself that I could be in Salt Lake City (25 degrees) or Chicago (17 degrees) or Rexburg, ID (13 degrees). The best news is that it's supposed to be up in the 40's again by the weekend.

Because I haven't posted in almost a week and the week before that all my posts were inauguration related, there is so much I could post about. I could write about how annoying Rod Blagojevich is or outline my picks for the Oscars or I could give my reaction to the numerous TV shows that have started up again (Lost, Bones, Burn Notice, Battlestar Galactica). I could even respond to the ALA literary awards.

What then, you ask, am I going to post about on this cold day?

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

American Idol news, of course.

I know I'm a couple days behind the times posting about that. But I have a very good reason for not posting about the Joanna Pacitti Contraversy until now. I haven't written about it before now because I didn't know about it before now. I don't watch American Idol, nor do I listen to songs by former Idol contestants. In fact, the one season I actually watched the show, at the encouragement of my former-roommate Tammy who is totally obsessed with Idol, I was so devastated that Melinda Doolittle didn't win that I have never bothered watching the show again.

But now, I am breaking my vow of Idol-silence and saying WTF? For a show that scouts out undiscovered talent, they sure do know how to unearth has-beens-who-never-should've-beens. I have now listened to one of Pacitti's songs, and I hope never to have to listen to another one again. Her first record crashed and burned, not because it wasn't pushed by the record label, but because it was a horrible record. What makes her and the Idol producers think she has a chance of making it a second (or is that fifth?) time around?

I think this is just another way for the Death Star of prime-time TV to keep viewers coming back. I may be opinionated on this subject, but you still aren't suckering me into watch your show again, Simon Cowell!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Was There, or How a Banana Peel, the Metro and Barack Obama Brought Together Six Strangers

Wow, I can't believe it is over. We have a new President and a new chapter in history has begun. Changes are already happening, and although I can't help but wonder how it will all work and if it will all last, in the words of William Hamrick, I remain "cautiously optimistic."

We got to the Metro station at 6:45 a.m. and waited for 45 minutes to catch a train downtown only to have them full up. I even tried just getting on one as really there was plenty of room if people in the middle would have been a little more willing to set aside their belief in personal space. The next thing I knew, someone had thrown a banana peel at me (no kidding, from a real banana) and someone else shoved me off the train. For a second I was so shocked I didn't know what to think, then the next second I couldn't stop laughing--someone had thrown a banana peel at me!

We ended up having to go out to go forward. By this I mean we hopped on an outbound train to a station that was almost empty so we could get on a train going in the right direction. And it worked! After an hour and a half, we had meet four new friends and were downtown. We buddied up with two local guys and a guy and girl who had driven in from Michigan, calling ourselves Team McPherson Square because we decided to stick together after agreeing the best place to get off the train was the McPherson Square Station. We all kept tabs on each other to make sure no one got lost/left behind and made decisions together.

After seeing the masses walking to the Mall, we figured it was too late to get into the inauguration, so we made plans just to get on the parade route and get decent seats. But we kept getting herded and sent in different directions by security. It was quite the sight to behold.

Before we knew it, we had crossed over the parade route and got spat out onto the Mall. We ended up about 50 yards in front of the Washington Monument. We were packed shoulder-to-shoulder, but we could see the jumbo-trons and hear the speakers, and if we shifted the right way to see between heads, we could make out the Capitol Building in the distance.

You may think you saw how many people were on the Mall yesterday, but let me assure you, the pictures were all taken around 11 a.m., well before people stopped flooding the mall. The crowd just kept growing, and the excitement grew exponentially with the numbers. We had all come to see history being made, and in that moment, we transcended cultural beliefs, places of origin, religion, creed. We were all there with a hope for something different, something more. While that may sound kinds of naive and hokey, that was truly the feeling in the crowd.

They only time I didn't feel unity among us was when former-President George W. Bush came on stage. In fact, I was a little disappointed in the spectators. While I don't agree with a lot of decisions Bush made during his administration, I understand that we all had a voice in putting him in office. We asked him to be our leader, and he took that burden upon himself for eight years. He also deserves the respect the office of the President of the United States deserves. While I believe in freedom of speech, I also believe in self-control and knowing the correct time and place to voice your opinion. And a ceremony celebrating the peaceable transfer of power from one President to the next is not the place to boo and sing "hey, hey, hey, good-bye." But after that, things calmed down and excitement returned.

Cheers echoed off the monuments that honor the leaders of the past when our leader of the present appeared on stage. The excitement of the moment settled over me more warmly than my winter clothing and the blanket I had wrapped around myself. I knew in that moment, in that place where history had been made time and time again, I was witnessing something great. Something bigger than the crowd that had gathered. And when Obama placed his hand on the Bible once used by Abraham Lincoln to take his oath of office, I suddenly became aware of something much different. We were placing a huge burden of expectation on this one man. We are expecting him to change the world--we were probably asking more of him than any president in living memory. And I think, as he fumbled over the words he was asked to say, our new President knew it as well.

His speech was powerful, probably made more powerful to me by knowing I was there when he spoke those words. He had the authority of the office he now held. And while I don't agree with everything he said or with all of the things he has promised, I know that he is now our President. He is the new face of our nation, and I pray that we will be able to live up to all of the faith we have put in him.

Spirits continued to run high as we made our way off the Mall. I was surprised by the patience of almost everyone (of course there were a few people who complained and a few others who were rude along the way), but we eventually made it to the White House where we saw the organizations lining up for the parade. By that time, the parade route was closed to any more pedestrians and we were popsicles, so we just kept walking until the feeling returned to our toes and the adrenaline wore off enough that we all became hungry.

We hit 18th and M only to realize we were not getting on the Metro any time soon, especially when we received a text about a woman who was trapped under a train on the red line and the stop was shut down until she could be rescued (on a side note, she was later freed and only had minor injuries). So we just kept walking all the way into Georgetown. We finally found an Italian place that had less than an hour wait, and six strangers who had become friends in one morning, sat down to eat and watch the parade and news on the bar television.

We continued out walk through Georgetown and finally crossed over Francis Scott Key Bridge into Roslyn. A quick stop at the Metro information booth revealed that the trains were still incredibly full and delayed, so we just kept walking until we got back to my car. So 12 hours and 5.88 miles of walking, we ended up back at the beginning.

That is a day I will always remember. Now I just need to get back to work and wait another four years until we can do it all over again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We Are One!

I am flying high today. This has been just about the best week ever, and it's not done yet. To catch up a little bit, here are some pictures from my adventures with my sister in Washington, DC, for the 2009 Inauguration.

We started off at Mt. Vernon Saturday where I tried to make like Nicolas Cage and sneak into the secret passageways.

When that didn't really work out, I compared my teeth to those of our first president. I couldn't take a picture of the dentures themselves, but trust me, they look painful enough to make anyone dread the dentist.

I guess I just don't have that leader's smile, me having good, modern dental hygiene and all. So my sister tried to make friends with Martha.

And of course, after about five minutes, they were the best of chums.

Day two was devoted to the Inaugural Welcome Concert. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. and got great seats. We were halfway up the reflection pool by the Lincoln Memorial.

(Give me a break--I was really cold.) You might not think these were great seats, but we were in front of about 3/4th of all the other people who were sitting behind us. So you can ask one of the 100,000 people sitting on the lawn of the Washington Monument, and they will agree that we had great seats.

The music was also fantastic. As many of my friends know, I am obsessed with Bon Jovi, and when Jon Bon Jovi came out and sang with Bettye LaVette (another of my favorites), I was in heaven.

So maybe I got a little too excited and ended up looking like a complete dork and my sister will never let me live this down. But come on, it was Jon Bon Jovi!!!

But by far the best performance was by someone who totally surprised me but Sara will say "I told you so," and Celeste will laugh, and Corinna already said "I told you so."

I freakin' loved Garth Brooks. He had the crowd dancing and singing, which granted wasn't very hard because we were all dancing and singing long before the show even started. But he made the crowd go crazy, and I would have been happy to watch him for another hour.

I also loved that this concert wasn't just about big-names putting on a show--it was about honoring the people who had gathered along the reflecting pool in generations before. It was about Marian Anderson singing there for President Roosevelt because she was black and not allowed to perform at Constitution Hall. It was about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington that brought thousands of people together to fight for a freedom that should never have to be fought for. And it was about the soldiers who are honored in the memorials that surrounded us, who fought for freedom and who gave their lives to give us the America we believe in.

But if I cried, I'll never tell.

Of course, it was really to hear president-elect Barack Obama speak that we all turned up. And speak he did.

I could even see him, kind of. To help you out, he's the blob the big red arrow is pointing at.

Obama gave the most wonderful speech about change and unity and all the things he has said since the beginning of his campaign. He encouraged us all to take responsibility and do our part to make this nation a better union. I still can't believe I was there to actually hear him speak on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I'd ask you to pinch me, but that might be a little hard over the internet.

Today my sister and I got to participate in one of the service project that took place around the city. We went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library downtown and helped serve food to the homeless and hungry. We worked alongside a great family, the Gadsons, who came out to get involved as a family.

Cameron is nine, and Ethan is only seven, but they worked like pros. Because they were at the end of the table and such a great looking family, reporters wouldn't leave them along--local Channel 4, a major Canadian network, reporters from Korea. Cameron blew me away because every reporter would stick a camera in his face and he would give them the most amazing responses, never once stopping his careful placement of food on a homeless person's plate. And look at those smiles? How could you not love this family?

We also went to an art museum and the National Archives today, but that was nothing compared to the time we spent working with and in the community. Although I did buy a bunch of buttons today only to look more closely and realize that I bought a grammatically incorrect button! I can't believe I spent an entire 80 cents on a button that doesn't know the difference between and adjective and a noun, which made me wonder about the authenticity of DC street vendors.

A funny side note, we couldn't seem to get away from Josh Groban in the past two days. Not only did he sing at the welcome concert, but he was at the library as well. And as we were getting on the Metro to come home, he was giving an interview for MSNBC right next to us. I think he was stalking us, which I might think was cooler if I actually liked Josh Groban.

So in honor of Tammy, I am posting this video of my stalker Josh. This one's for you, Tammy!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

I can't believe I was there!

It's late and I've had a long day--of seeing the Inauguration Welcome Concert! I seriously cannot believe I was there and could actually see the stage and hear the speeches and dance to the music. Yes, I saw Jon Bon Jovi sing with Bettye LaVette, and Usher perform with Stevie Wonder, and Garth Brooks and U2 and Tom Hanks and Jack Black, and too many others to list here.

But most amazing of all, I was there to hear Barack Obama speak to the crowd that stretched from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial all the way pas the Washington Monument and into the homes of countless more Americans. I was a little part of history today, and really, that rocks more than any music I heard.

I'll post pictures as soon as I can, but right now, I'm going to bed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Up close and personal with Mo Willems

So I and about 200 of my closest friends whom I have never met got up close and personal with Mo Willems this weekend. I got there about ten minutes late because who knew it would take me 15 minutes to walk across the mall after parking on the wrong side. (No kidding, I was in the back of the parking structure on the opposite side of the mall.) So I had to dodge heads to see Mo read.

Seriously, can you even see him in this picture? It could have been some crazy homeless person pretending to be Mo and I wouldn't have known the difference.

Then there was a little problem with the signing line. I had called almost a week before the event to find out if I needed a ticket, and I was told I didn't. So, shocker, I didn't pre-order a book or get a ticket. Come to find out, I did need a ticket, which meant I was number 110 by the time I got there. And seeing those stacks of books moms and kids brought in wheelbarrows, I thought I wouldn't be able to get my books signed before they had to take Mo to the hospital with acute author-signing-itous.

No fear, I finally made it to the front of the line. I had four books to get signed, including Mo's newest, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Because I didn't have any kids with me, Mo asked, "Oh, are these books for your nieces?" I thought about telling him yes. Then I though about being honest and saying, "No, I'm just totally obsessed with you and a little in love with you even though you're married and we've never met but I couldn't wait to meet you and will you sign my arm because I will never wash it and treasure it more than anything." I figured that might freak him out a little, so I settled for, "No, I just love your work, and one of the books is for a little girl who couldn't be here today."

Then I got a lot closer to Mo than I even imaged. For a second, I thought I might need to get a restraining order. But I realized he just wanted to send a personal message to the little girl who couldn't be there. Funny guy, that Mo.

The signed copy of Leonardo the Terrible Monster and DVD that includes a personal message from Mo will be very loved by a certain family in Boise who can no longer travel because of a sick little girl.

Seriously, Mo, you made my day. I know you were signing books for hours and probably miss your family while you are away on tour, but it was nice to meet you.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stress and worries and anxiety...

After finishing my manuscript, I sent it out to a few close friends who are fantastic editors. I have gotten a lot of their edits and comments back now, which means I start on my second draft of my novel.

I already know that I am going to have to make some major changes to the novel—like the fact that the two main characters don't interact enough, and I need to get ride of some of the colloquialisms I use in dialogue. These are big projects, and they make me nervous.

I’m also applying for the SCBWI Work In-Progress Grant next month. I’ll be submitting the first two chapters of my bayou book. If I get the grant, I want to use it towards a trip down to Louisiana to do some research. No matter how wonderful local libraries, the internet, the Library of Congress Archives and phone interviews are, they can’t beat talking to people face to face and getting dirty with the local historical societies. Wish me luck!

It feels as though I have been working on this novel forever, but it hasn't even been a year since I sat down and first met Bea and the other people on the bayou. Sometimes I don't know if this book is really mine anymore. So many people have had a hand in creating it that I feel like it is a community project.

Within the next month, my bayou book won't be my primary project anymore. I've been working on another novel about the Reconstruction Era in Louisiana, but I realized that isn't working out like it should. I think I'm going to have to scrap what I have and start over—the setting and characters will generally stay the same, but the plot is going to be vastly different. I can't believe I am now committing to scrap almost 200 pages worth of writing. C'est la vive! (At least for a writer.)

I will also have a new writers' group beginning this month who will be my guinea pigs for this project. They will be a part of this new novel basically from start to finish, and I hope they’re up for the challenge. I’m also working on a few other books that take place in Chicago after WWII, Idaho during the Korean War and Bea’s next book. There are so many ideas floating around in my head that I can’t wait to get on paper.

I guess that means I should stop blogging and get to work!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pictures, pictures, pictures and a few more pictures just for luck

Here are a bunch of pictures that I keep saying I will post but haven't yet. This first bunch is from when my friend Jackie came to look at grad school in Chicago.

Left: Here we are at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago where my sister attempted to strike me down in front of a reproduction of Hammurabi's Code.

Right: Everybody loves the Bean. I don't get it. It's a hunk of reflective metal in the middle of Millennium Park that is really called “Cloud Gate.” It's shiny and huge and odd shaped and doesn't look anything like a cloud. Maybe if I was from Seattle I'd find it more interesting.

They were having this Prop 8 protest at Daley Plaza while Jackie was visiting as well. I don't know if I had ever seen protesters of a protest before, but there were people on both sides of the street, police all around and a lot of heated opinions.

Left: Here we are with our good friend Sue who lives at the Field Museum. We got to know Sue pretty well, like that she is 67 million years old, is 13 feet tall, had a bone disease and might not have actually been female. This also isn’t really Sue’s head--the real one is displayed on the second floor but was too heavy to put on the skeleton.

Right: This is just a cute picture of me. I never like pictures of me, so I want to show off this one, at least until I stop liking it.

The next set of pictures is from my road trip to Washington, DC. We got a later start than I had hoped, so it was dark by the time we got to all of the pretty stuff in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Pretty much all I saw was this...

(the back of the trailer loaded with all my stuff) and this...
(way too many tollbooths) and this...

(it being a holiday weekend, the police were out in force). Not very exciting, I know.

Then the next day we unloaded and my roommate’s boyfriend (fiance as of last week) helped put all my furniture together. Go Kevin!

The final set of pictures is from New Years.

Left: This is my new haircut that only the stylist will ever get to look this good. I can’t figure out how she did it, and I was watching her and she was explaining what she was doing to me the entire time. I just don’t get it.

Right: Celeste, Corinna and I went up to Maryland to see our old roommate Kit who is serving a mission in Baltimore. Kit was singing with a bunch of missionaries for the Festival of Lights at the Washington DC LDS Temple, and since that is only about half an hour from where we live, we snuck up and saw her. We dragged Kevin with us as well so he could take pictures.

Sometimes I’d just like to capture a moment in time and never let it go--this was one of those moments. What a way to start the New Year off right.

So now I am caught up. Hopefully I will be able to buy a new camera next month so I can take my own pictures and not fall so far behind again. While this was fun, editing, uploading and captioning all these pictures takes way too long.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Watch for the Naked Mole Rat in your neighborhood

Mo Willems is coming to Washington, DC! I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to see the Great Mo Willems. I have wanted to go to one of his signings for a couple years, and now I actually get to do it. The only thing that could make this any more exciting would be for Brian Selznick to come as well, but that's just the selfish me talking.

Another amazing person coming to DC is my sister. The good Illinoisians that we are, we want to support Obama at the inauguration. She's driving down to spend the week stalking Obama. My friends and coworkers all think we're nuts, but who wants to miss this kind of history? So we'll brave the crowds and maybe in a couple weeks I'll have some fuzzy President Obama pictures for you.