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Adopting in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Au-bummer

Tonight the Gamecocks were five yards away from taking a game from the number 2 team in the country. I don't care who you are, you have to be excited about that. Our defense stood up and held back for the entirety of the 3rd quarter. Our team deserves kudos all the way around.

It worked out okay that nobody wanted to come over for the game, because there was a storm and the satellite was pretty fuzzy for most of the first half. The second half was incredible and thank goodness the storm went away. Plus, Dana thought I was going crazy and actually asked me to calm down. Maybe it was a good thing some of my new friends weren't going to see me like this. I don't know if my older friends already have - I was pretty riled up - so, in general, it was a great way to spend the night.

I wrote a paper this morning, went to class, and firmly established another friendship. I made homemade french fries for dinner (total craving) with honey teriaki chicken and salad. Yum yum. Tomorrow I am going to return my books to the library, deposit my stipend into my bank account, read a bit for school, and if it turns out that I really don't need tickets, then I might try to catch one of the talks at Georgetown Law tomorrow.

I have been going to a few cool talks at the Washington College of Law and am hoping to hear a little more about the Supreme Court. The last session I went to at the WCL was about the upcoming environmental cases. The speaker was Chief Justice John Roberts' roommate at Harvard! That isn't what he talked about, but I figured you might like an interesting factoid.

I am excited about having a pretty open weekend to catch up on reading and get a headstart on a project. The National Book Festival is this weekend too ... I'm still recruiting if anyone else is interested. Since "the secret of all persuasion is to induce the person to persuade himself," [herself] I leave you with this:

Imagine yourself in a quiet place. A comfy chair. Bright yet soft lights. Stacks of youth literature on one side and adult fiction on the other. Don't you just love reading?

Then you should come to the book fair. Don't let me persuade you. Persuade yourself.

Talk to you later, ~Heather

P.S. Really liking the QOD, since I just traced a communications campaign backwards so I would understand how to put one together!
"Life must be understood backwards; but... it must be lived forward."
Soren Kierkegaard

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Insuperable

Sometimes I just can't think of a good title. Today was one of those times. So I pulled out my handy-dandy Websters and stuck my finger on a page. I got "insulate." I wasn't impressed. I wasn't to be overcome, so I scanned down three words.

Today, I was crowned queen of the apartment. However, the queen two days ago was Dana. [Insert picture here]

Today was an interesting and busy day. Up on time, I read the business section from Sunday (yes, it takes me all week to get through the 15+ section of the Washington Post). I decided I need to start saving for my retirement with my first job. If I save for even 6 years (assuming a 10% return) I'll have more money for retirement than someone who saved for fifteen years starting ten years from now. Mind you, I don't plan on retiring soon. I have a good amount of student loans to pay off first - and if I could just get rid of my credit card altogether, I would. Ah, finances. You should think about it too.

I went to school early because I wanted to listen to a talk a professor was giving. I was the only student who showed up, so it was cancelled. Instead, I talked to the advisor in the grad school about the leadership council. I think we have some good ideas cooked up. A chat with Erin later, and I was in Writing.

It went ... well. I was hoping to get a little more out of it than I did, but I am prepared to write my first official press release this week. It is still about that nuclear plant. Good thing I know alot about it.

[Tangent about getting to school early: I definitely had to walk a mile to Sibley Hospital because my bus came early and drove past me as I was 2 minutes early and 100 yards from the stop. Stupid bus. But it was a gorgeous day, and even the Beast isn't too daunting in fabulous weather.]

I multi-tasked making dinner with watching The Persuaders, another PBS Frontline special. I am really liking these. They introduce me to people in the industry I wouldn't otherwise have heard of, while further explicating (explaining, I just wanted to use that word) subjects I am already learning in my texts and in class. Then I quickly wrote a two page paper (45 minutes, go me) and actually ate. I ran out the door to go to another special talk.

The Chesapeke Club was explaining, supposedly through film, their message about saving the bay to save the crabs, then eat the crabs. I think this is a great way to target your audience. I think presenting it in Power Point and having the speaker - though well versed and intelligent - say he doesn't like Power Point at the beginning probably wasn't the best bet. And we have to work on the pacing. Does everyone have to pace to give an oral presentation. Stand still. Walking around doesn't make you sound, look, or actually BE any smarter. Play with the cards you have. So I left that early.

I had a good bonding moment with the guy in charge of the computer lab, and even though there were no computers left in there, he let me use his to print my articles for class. Nothing like malfunctioning office equipment will bring two kids who've worked in university offices together better (except an annoying boss).

I stopped by the Grad Council (university level) meeting to discover some fun new facts. Ugh. More information on that when I actually clarify it.

Theory class tonight was the absoute best it has ever been. I was engaged, I got tons out of it, and I felt like my professor had discovered his missing personality. It is amazing how much better class is when the professor is actually psyched about the material. Now all he has to do is try to actively engage others to get as excited about it as he is and that'll be that!

Okay, it is late now, and I have two long papers to write tomorrow and at least four hours of reading (happy to be doing it, strange huh?). But, Thursday is a Gamecock game for those interested in hitting up some evening football action. Saturday is the National Book Festival, for those of you interested in getting your recreational-read on. Sunday I am FOR REAL going to try another church in the area and see if there is a more inviting community. And the rest of my time between now and then will be spent with my studies and enjoying the absolutely wonderful fall weather. I'm loving autumn in the city.

Hugs all around! ~Heather

P.S. - Feel free to join me for any or all of the above listed events. I love company!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bienvenue au Monde!

Bienvenue au monde petit Paul! Felicitations a ma famille pour le nouveaux addition bien sur charmant, mignon, adorable ... super!

Merci pour le suprise sur mon portable! Ma tete, elle tourne toujours! Felicitations, je vous souhaite seulment les meilleurs choses! Un bon anniversaire a Paul! En fin, on n'attend pas plus!

For the English speakers:

My "family" in France had their second child today. His name is Paul and I was so excited that Hugues called me from France to tell me that I couldn't catch the numbers for height and weight (they would have been in centimeters and kilograms anyway). I am so happy for them and know that this little boy is going to be just as cute and charming as Martin! Prayers for a healthy and safe transition into the world. He'll be home on Thursday or Friday, so I should have a picture and more information then! Congratulations again! Love you, ~Heather

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Reflection Francaise

Ce soir, j'ai passe presque tous le temps en face de l'ecran de mon ordinateur. Mes devoirs n'etaient pas trop compliques: 1.000 mots sur l'histoire d'un plante nucleaire energie en Connecticut (un etat du nord-est). Sauf que, un moitie de l'essaie j'ai decouvree que j'avais deja 1.255 mots! Oh non! (Quand est-ce que j'utilise le "e" supplementaire parce que je suis feminine? Je vais jamais arriver ...)

Alors, reste-calme. J'ai appellee mes commarades de classe. Erin a dit, "Non, c'est bon comme ca, sauf je n'ai pas utilise ca ni ca ... et j'ai ajoute ..." Oh mon ... OK. "Shawn, salut, c'est Heather. J'avais besoin de ton conseil.... oui ... mais pas ca ... oh, franchement ... d'accord ... c'est 21h26, c'est obligatoire qu'il est envoye avant 22h, merci, merci a tout a l'heure."

Un course au fin. Ma colac, un experte d'anglais m'est corrigee. Juste a l'heure, 1.000 mots exacte, je l'envoye. Et c'est fini. Phew.

De temps en temps, les soirs comme ce soir, je me souviens les soirs, toutes ennuie (e?) avec l'ordinateur dans le salle des profs ou mon portable (est-ce qu'il y a un mot different pour un ordinateur portable qu'un telephone?). J'ai passe les heures sur les blogs d'amis ou avec un film. Maintenant ma vie est different: plus rapide, plus intense, plus plus.

Mais, je manque le reflection. Les promenades a Mont Olympe, les chocolats chauds a la Place Ducale. Je n'ai pas joue les sports ici (sauf une soiree). Je manque le badminton et le volley. Je ne manque pas trop tous les escaliers avec le 67 marches a mon apart, mais les diners avec tous les internes, toujours. J'adore les diners ici avec Dana, mai c'est toujours plus difficile quand c'est obligatoire que tu cuis.

On mange souvent le poulet et les pates. De temps en temps le boeuf. Mais elle ne mange pas vraiment les autres choses. Sauf, le quiche. N'importe quoi comme legumes ou epices - elle adore les quiches. Et moi aussi, donc tout va bien.

Je manque Martin aussi. Toujours un sourire pour moi. C'etait pas importante pourquoi j'etais la, il etait content a me voir. Pour la plupart de ma vie j'ai habite avec ma famille. Comme etudiante, les autres sur mon etage dans les dortoirs etaient ma famille. En France, j'avais deux familles: Alice et Hugues, bien sur; et mes eleves.

Peut-etre c'est trop tot, ou peut-etre apres un age c'est pas possible, mais je n'arrive pas a trouver une famille ici a DC. Je ne suis pas impatiente. Je rencontre les amis, mais on n'est pas proche comme en France.

C'est le faut de television, je pense. On regard les matchs de football americain ou un serie ou quelquechose, et on ne parle pas. C'etait jamais un probleme en France (sauf avec la langue au depart). On a parle tous le temps. J'ai retrouvee un ami, Jeff, ici avec qui je parle un peu. On a commence a regarde un film, mais on a discute pour 99%. C'etait plus comme "home" que tous les autres soirees j'ai passe dans mon apart. Mais, c'est pas comme en France ou c'est normal a parle comme ca. Et, l'etiquette (et les emplois de temps occupes) dit qu'on attend un peu avant on passe plus de temps ensemble.

Je cherche les amis comme Sonia ou Alice, qui a toujours demande "comment ca va?" et ecouter au reponse. Dana, elle fait ca - toujours congenial (c'est le meme mot?), mais on ne discute pas les choses de graves consequence. On parle des emotions, mais je suis toujours reserve (reserve - un mot qui est loin de moi, je sais, mais je ment pas). Je ne veux pas l'effraye. Je me cache. Je ne sais pas pourquoi.

Et voila, une autre soiree francaise devant l'ordinateur (avec un manuel des verbs). Je souhaite la vie interieur calme de France avec la vie exterieur complique et rapide des Etats-Unis. Pas vraiment possible, mais une fille comme moi, je peux rever. J'ai toujours les reves spectaculaires!

Je vous souhaite une journee/soiree amusant, reflective, et plein de conversation. A ma famille, je vous embrasse tres fort et j'attends les nouvelles excellent(e) tot. A "la reste" :), je vous manque aussi. Bises, ~Heather

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I really...

[On Friday]
...went to the Career Center and got advice on how to apply for internships at the Department of State.

...had curry for lunch with Erin and talked about framing, religion, surveys, and classes.

...went to a meeting for the School of Communication Graduate Student Leadership Council. The guy in charge is not particularly responsible and he has these very bizarre ideas about how to spend the $27,000 alotted to us. I think I am going to have to get involved just to make sure the money gets spent on the whole school (since every student has to contribute to the fund).

...met with Dr. Nisbet about all the things I wasn't getting in his class. We talked a little about work and I think we really got things worked out now. I am still slightly concerned about the human element, but I think this puts us on a better footing for work and for me really getting the most out of his class.

...learned how to read. At least the grad school way. It is called "triage." You know the term, it's from ER. I basically have to go through and find the case studies and journal articles that are the most important, in most need of my attention and attack those first - that way when I am assigned 500 pages for one week again I'll be able to get through the big stuff and still have time to breathe. Thank you Drs. Liu and Nisbet for that!

...talked to my fabulous Grandmother on the phone! She is in the picture there, can you figure out which one I am related to?

...interviewed the campaign manager from the Donna Frye 2004 mayoral race in San Diego. It was so cool to get an insider's view on the communication strategy behind a campaign, even if the strategy was "be different from the other guy." I just moved a branch of my network to the other side of the country. How cool is that?

...almost called an emotionally-detached person who usually throws me for a loop. Luckily I got rid of their phone number and so in the process of searching for it checked my email and ...

...got invited to a party!

...went to a party on a Friday night in DC. It was other people from my program. It was great to see them outside of school and really hang out. I tried to hide the mother-hen part of me, so it only came out when I drove a bunch of people home.

...got hit on by a rather stupid drunk guy. And, when he would not leave me alone in a spirit of masochistic fervor, I verbally abused him (in a joking way).

...invited someone out on the balcony to chat with me. I don't think I am usually this forward in party situations, so it was a nice little achievement - event though about ten people followed us out there and we really didn't get to talk.

[On Saturday]
...watched way too much Grey's Anatomy.

...did my homework sitting in a playground fort (and a little on the swings).

...learned an enormous amount about nuclear energy plants and southeastern Connecticut. (Paula, do you know that you reside in a location that falls in 2 overlappping 50 mile precautionary zones for emergency nuclear meltdown evacuation?)

...had excpetionally bizarre dreams.

...ate multi-colored, birthday cake flavored ice cream. The buttercream frosting part was not as good as the cake parts.

...was happy the Gamecocks defeated FAU. I love ESPN Gametracker. It makes being far away not seem that bad.

[On Sunday]
...enjoyed the paster's homily for the second week in a row.

...loved Lauren F.'s recipe, via Dana, for tuna-noodle salad.

Now I am going to go to Costco, write a paper on all that nuclear stuff I learned, take a voluntary online quiz, and read the rest of the Washington Post. I'll probably work too. I'm feeling motivated. What did you do this weekend? Love always, ~Heather

P.S. In searching for today's picture, I found this for you Napoleon:
Maybe you should get an interactive rosary for your car! Hugs, ~HB

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Still Catholic

I recently reported a temperature drop (Finally Fall), which anyone in DC would be hard pressed to deny. After reviewing the website for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I contributed this to the "Talk Like a Pirate Day" commentary.

"I would like to present data that the temperature in Washington, DC dropped considerably on Wednesday, September 20, 2006. I feel that the correlation between the 10 degree temperature drop and the incredible amount of pirate activity [the preceding day] did not just cause a momentary dip, but is actually still effecting the climate. Perhaps increased pirate activity will be able to counteract global warming!"

Now don't worry, I'm still Catholic. But, if they are going to teach intelligent design in schools, this is just as valid. To me, teaching ID is the equivalent of banning books. Then again, it is the same people doing it. Censorship in education is still censorship. Protection and pushing your agenda shouldn't be one-in-the-same.

Maybe I am just thinking like this because I've spent another two hours reading articles about global warming and hurricanes. I cannot believe some people's ignorance. Paraphrase: Global warming is only occurring because weather stations have been moved to airports or cities where there is more pavement that captures the heat, giving the impression it is unseasonably warm.

Now, I have always wondered why they gave you the weather at the airport when no one actually lives there; but I think claiming that global warming is a myth based on station locations is pushing it. Especially since the temperature measurements are based on the mean ocean temperature. If you don't know what you are talking about, please stop.

You should be more concerned about nuclear power plants in your area. This is based on another hour+ of research I'm doing on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I like that though, because I am in control of what I read and then use in my article. Writing class is so challenging - I love it.

I'm going to miss a session held by local police tomorrow on the trafficking of women in the DC area. I must say that since the issue was brought to my attention I have been reluctant to let it go. I think that issue alone may turn me into an outright feminist. Women and girls are not your slaves or a product for trade. I shouldn't have to say that. I know I am preaching to the choir, but for all of our singing, what are we doing about it? I am currently doing nothing. I really need to get on that.

So I am missing the session so I can meet with a professor. The one who has been the bane of my graduate academic experience thus far. I asked him to please set aside a good amount of time for our conversation tomorrow so we can maybe get things straightened out. Maybe I just need to understand him and his methods better so I can appreciate his teaching style. Regardless, I find myself being overwhelmed not by difficulty but frustration and over-work. (Over-work is NOT in reference to my actual employment, because I have been slacking something horrible. I am not a good "work from home" employee.) We can remedy this. I know it.

Wendy Melillo, a journalist who is currently employed by Adweek came and spoke to our class today about how to interact with journalists. This is the exact thing I needed - real advice from someone who does this everyday. Plus, she was a great speaker and realy enthusiastic.

After class I totally botched my first paid photoshoot. I have to re-shoot next Thursday. The batteries in my camera ran out, the back-ups I brought wouldn't work, and the portrait function on my camera did everything it was supposed to - but the shutter speed wasn't as fast as usual and lots of the edges were blurry in the most blown-up images. I hope this guy forgives me. I definitely will not be accepting the total sum he offered, because my work isn't worth it. I'll do better next week. Please God, let me do better next week.

A special thanks to Dana for putting up with me. In true Heather fashion, I exhibited my least pleasant side this morning (if you have never witnessed this first hand, I wish you the best of chances to avoid it at all costs). I hope it is finally out of my system.

No review of Grey's Anatomy, because I haven't watched it yet (sarcastic "yay! work related reading!"). I did take a cupcake break and watch the "Complications of the Heart" segment they showed before the premiere (I love TiVo letting me buzz the commercials so I can get back to work).

Two quotes I really enjoyed this week:

"Nothing has greater power to alter our perspective of ourselves and our place in the cosmos than these images of Earth we collect from faraway places like Saturn," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
~In reference to the shots of Earth from 930 million miles away, CNN article
(Oh, and check out the NASA picture from yesterday)

Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2006

This is a lot harder than it was in the water.

— JOE TANNER
while hooking up a power cable in space, he referred to the swimming pool where he and his fellow astronauts from the Atlantis practice. The space shuttle will return to earth on September 20th.

It landed safely today. Good work pilot and crew.

I have to take the garbage out because I am not Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout. Goodnight. Love always, ~Heather

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Finally Fall

It was beautiful today! The weather was "flying- weather" (for friends who know). Perfect cool temperatures combined with clear skies and sunshine. To celebrate I cleaned the screen on my window, washed the glass inside and out and then masking-taped the screen so bugs couldn't come in around the edges. This is a celebration because now I can leave my bedroom window open as often as I like!

I spent my noon-time at the Washington College of Law, which is AU's law school. They were having a panel session about the upcoming Supreme Court oral argument season. The schedule this year has about 77 slots available and 29 cases on it already. The four professors outlined some of the cases they thought were interesting. Ever since Prof. Bockman's legal persuasion class I have LOVED studying Supreme Court cases and rulings. Because watching oral arguments is free and only one-two hours worth of your morning, I think I am going to try to stop in to some of the cases that are especially interesting to me.

The professors who spoke were all very interesting and explained the cases in fairly straight forward language, almost no legal jargon. Because the panel was for the law students, I was afraid I wouldn't understand too much - but I didn't find that to be the case at all. I was a littel too nervous to ask my question in front of the whole audience and on the podcast microphone, but Cynthia Jones, a panelist who specializes in criminal law answered it afterwards. Main point I learned today: The Fourth Amendment is slowly being chipped away by judicial precedent.

Then, during my reading for my annotated bibliography (fancy word for bibliography with summaries of the articles) I discovered why I did NOT get that fellowship last year. The articles I am reading now have tons of evidence and peer-reviewed theories on film and media on science. My subject was specifically space science, but if I knew then what I have learned in four weeks of classes, I would have stood a much better chance at writing an appropriate proposal.

Journeys with George ended on Inaguration Day. I was glad I watched the end, because it really had some inter-journalist information I didn't get in class. This is surprising since three of my four classes in the past week have been, at least in part, on how to work with and understand journalists and their world. I think I am going to try and job-shadow a political correspondent for a day and get a more personal perspective on how they operate.

I made chicken fingers, brocolli, french fries, and fruit salad for dinner. I also made cupcakes. Dana and I ate and then I headed off to class. I rode with Amanda and Traci. They are very nice girls who care about their school work. This seems like it would be a characteristic of all graduate students paying upwards of $30,000 a year to go to school, but it is surprisingly rare. We bonded over Project Runway a week or so ago. I think it is possible that for the first time ever, more of my friends are female than male. (With the exception of perhaps senior year at USC.)


Class was in the CBS Washington studio. Although we learned that the New York bureau has editorial control over the content of the Early Show and other projects coming out of the DC office, it was still pretty cool. We toured two control rooms and saw the editting rooms. We also got to spend five minutes on the set for the Sunday morning show Face the Nation. I really don't think I want to go into broadcast journalism, but after our lecture tonight, I am reconsidering doing something in the polling field. Being a pollster seems like it could be a pretty interesting job - and still let me use a broader base of knowledge. 11 more months until decision time ... this is just another idea.

This is the control room and my professor is on the Face the Nation set. This research class, though generic, is probably one of my favorite classes right now. Professor Lynch has been working for CBS for years and you can see her on the news desk on election night. Hopefully my Tuesday night teacher will be interested enough in the campaigns to let us watch!

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. Work and studying in the morning followed by class and then a photo shoot (I'm doing headshots for someone. My first paid photography job!). Then tomorrow night I have to buckle down with my writing and prepare interview questions! This week feels a heck of alot more like what I was expecting ... playing tourist, going to panels on interesting subjects, networking, getting behind-the-scenes looks at places I'll be working for/with. Washington, DC is a pretty great place to be right now!

Talk to you all soon. Love always, ~Heather

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pretty in Pink

En francais desous

I wrote two papers today. I finished my homework and went to two classes. I have determined that a good number of my classmates never actually left middle school. On this point, I should mention that teasing people is rude, even if they can't hear you. And huffing everytime they ask a question is almost as bad.

But there were some great things. Writing was fun. I got to rewrite a paper and had to shorten it by more than 50% of the words. I love that kind of challenge. If I was better at mechanics and grammar I think I would consider being an editor.

In my other class, I learned that people are sheep. We think the same, move the same, act the same, and otherwise have no distinguishing features. I don't believe a word of that. When sharing this idea with the class I was rebuked not by the annoying classmates but my professor as well. Proof that he really is an animal; and I mean a beast of burden.

I got to borrow a video from one of my professors too. It is a documentary film by Alexandra Pelosi (the NBC exec and daughter of minority House leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.). It is called Journeys with George and followed the Bush campaign through the 2000 primaries and to the general election (I presume that is where it ends, hence why I borrowed it to finish it). I like these kind of insider looks at a campaign - it feels like foreshadowing (I hope).

On a much more personal note, I wore pink today. I don't know why really, except that skirt is super comfortable and I'd already shaved my legs. But because at least one of you wanted proof of "pink," there it is. I also discovered an interesting truth about myself (not related to pastel). I think I have one of those weird obsessions with something I don't actually need but think I want because I am driven to belong. I guess I just keep hoping that someday I won't be the odd (wo)man out.

Special note: I worked my whole schedule today and am going to bed in time to successfully do it tomorrow too. And I have interviews set-up with the campaign people in San Diego. And Dana made some really good Shepherd's Pie. I think it is as good as Andrew K.'s (CMC potluck specialty).

Pour Hugues et les autres francais:

Tout va bien. Je n'aime pas de tout un prof, parce qu'il n'est pas tres bien comme prof ni comme boss. Alors, c'est la vie. Tous les autres sont super. Demain soir, ma classe est au studio de CBS. Ca c'est presque le meme chose do TF1 ou France2. La, on va ecouter des gens qui faire les infos et statistiques et faire production aussi. C'est cool. Je ne veux pas travailler pour le television, mais c'est unique une classe la-bas.

Pour la plupart je travaille, je fait mes etudes, je lis, et de temps en temps, regarde le television ou un film. Et, l'equipe de football americain qui j'adore a gagne ce weekend. C'etait bien passe - on a regarde le jeu avec quelques amis de ma colac, Dana, et Jeff, un ami de moi depuis mon universite en Caroline de sud.

Ma famille est bonne aussi. Mon pere cherche un nouveau emploi plus pres de moi ici a Washington (pas a cas de moi, seulement parce que les travails sont ici!). S'il change de travail, je sera hyper-content de passer plus de temps avec ma famille. Mon frere, ca va. Ma soeur aussi. Elle est tres occupe au moment avec ses courses au universite et ses deux emplois. Ma mere est ma mere comme normal; elle a toujours les questions pour moi!

J'attends les nouvelles de mes amis toujours en France. Joelle et sa vie ... je suis fier de toi! Les Chapoulets avec les deux petits trop mignon. Charlotte, je t'adore. Marc, est-ce que ton ordinateur est casser? Emeline, merci des penses ... je pense des elections aussi. Vraiment interessant. Et bien sur ma famille qui attend avec impatience. Alors, c'est tard. Je me couche. Vous aussi (si c'est tard). Bons reves.

Sweet dreams, love always, ~Heather

Monday, September 18, 2006

Daily News

Frustration ensues over people who refuse to try new things but expect the opposite of you. News at 11.

Other Daily News bullets:

Last night I checked my bed, as I always do, for spiders. This started in the fifth grade when I watched a Discovery Channel video on black widows that should be forbidden before middle school. Since I moved here, I started checking around and behind the bed too (no reason to risk it with so many other bugs around). Last night I discovered a rather large spider of unknown species in the corner. Long story short. I killed it with spray and removed it from under my bed with a knitting needle. Interesting result: I realized that keeping my room clean and sprayed still wouldn't keep the bugs away - but at least it was helping.

My dental insurance people are pretty stupid.

Skimming an article for sections that are actually going to teach you something is fairly simple, and an effective way to save time. I still felt like I was cheating a little.

I was not as successful on my third writing assignment. The grades don't count yet, and although good, not where I want them. Rewriting is in the future.

The score today in sports: Away 0, Home 0.

(I think I am going to try to add a stock photo from my collection every day now. Makes it a little prettier.)

The Career Center helped me evaluate my resume today and find appropriate search engines for jobs and internships. It is a little scary to think that less than a year from now I will be out of school and on my way to my real life (as if this wasn't!).

I have a phone interview (or I will) with a staffer from the 2004 Donna Frye campaign. (San Diego mayoral where she won as a write-in candidate and then was passed over because too many constituents either spelled her name without the "e" or because they didn't fill in the bubble after writing her name on the line.) It is for a paper I am writing on the stategic communications of the campaign. I love how school is allowing me this opportunity to network from the opposite side of the country!

The sour cream and green olive sauce for the pork was not as thick as it was supposed to be. I need to work on that. The dijon-vinagrette however was excellent. I really like cooking. It is like practical chemistry.

Speaking of chemistry [tangent starting] I thought of a fabulous way to teach science in universities. A huge amount of undergrads are required to take one or two semesters of science with lab to meet basic liberal arts requirements. I think those survey courses should be combined and taught with the five most important principles from each subject. Labs should be practical uses of science in real life. Homework will be problems, of course, and papers. Papers should be one page (or more!) biographies of important scientists and the principle subjects they studied. I feel like doing it this way would be a great way to have people remember a little bit more about what they are being force-fed. Also, it would help the next generation of Americans feel better abotu science, because they will understand how it applies to practical, real-life situations. [/tangent]

I wanted to call my friends tonight. I felt like I needed to talk to someone. But I didn't want to have to dial. Phone telepathy, as it turns out, is lost on me.

Studio 60, the newest Aaron Sorkin show, was ... interesting. I don't think it was as dynamic a pilot as some of the other things I have seen, but he got all the info in there. He also nodded to some of the best elements of his other shows: chapter titles in West Wing font, characters like Cal (previously Danny Kincanin) and Danny (previously Josh); Matt (a Republican lawyer I've forgotten the name of, but also Chandler) and his Whole Nine Yards co-star Amanda as Jordan; and of course Felicity Huffman who appeared in both Sports Night and West Wing. There was also the dad from Independence Day. Lots of familiar faces.

The set and camera angles are all Sports Night relics and the co-exec is a West Wing all-star. It is cool how the show is set up to allow plenty of guest stars to play themselves, or others. It references existing stations while creating an entirely new broadcasting corporation. i think the thing I might like best is how they opened up the doors for entertainment industry jokes, writer plots, political satire, and blatant honesty.

Yes, it was too much at once for the non-intellectual TV viewing audience. If I didn't know it was going to get better, I might have turned it off fifteen minutes in. But towards the end you could see the slide to a more familiar pace and writing style; one I have sorely missed. Interesting note: pilots, as a rule, don't get to run their credits or any other "name of show" titles. Because of the layout of this show, it was possible to introduce not only the concept and attitude but the name of the show as well. I am prepped to see if it will take off. I hope so, I love to listen to the quick and witty dialogue.

And now my ramblings are done. I have work to do before tomorrow, clothes to fold before bed, and papers to recycle so I can save the world one tree at a time. It's gonna be a fun night. Love always, ~Heather

Quote of the day: L'espoir fair vivre. Hope keeps you alive.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pedal Boats

Today was a combination work, play, and study day. Because I was up inordinately late last night we would up going to 10:30 mass at Little Flower. This turned out to be a miraculous thing.

The priest who spoke today was incredible. He had a voice like a radio announcer – the good kind that is like James Earl Jones but not as deep. His homily was incredibly focused and insightful. I got so much out of the message. This particular passage is one we studied at Taize. We learned there that Jesus tells Peter to get back because no one should contradict the path that God had laid for him. Today there was a different spin. Jesus rebuked Peter because he did not want the temptation. Although he was not affected by sin, temptation was a human condition he couldn’t avoid. So he pushed away from Peter, trying to avoid temptation.

There were many other good sections about Jesus strategically planning his message, sharing it with small groups until they truly understood. He knew what would happen if there was mass confusion over his identity or if the truth about him came out too soon. It was a homily made for a communications major.

And my heart completely opened up. I haven’t felt that way since I left Taize. It was a miraculous thing. I love God.

Back to my day … I came home and did a quick peer review and rewrite for Writing. Lunch was yummy and then I cut coupons and did little chores around the apartment. A little after two, Dana and I drove down to the Tidal Basin; it was time to play tourist.




We rented a pedal-boat ($4/person) and cycled our way around the Tidal Basin. It was part of the Potomac until 1882 and from the water there are stunning views of: the Jefferson Memorial (built on land dug out from the basin), the Washington Monument (built with stones from a Virginia quarry and standing 95 feet short of its intended height of 600 feet), and the Capitol dome (I wish I knew who the man on top was – I’ll look it up). You can also check out the Inlet Bridge and a few others. We passed Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Memorial on the far side of the basin (from the boathouse). I would recommend this little hour excursion to anyone so long as you have enough leg power to share the pedals and it isn’t too windy (drifting can be an issue).

On the way home I took an alternate route I hadn’t previously checked out on a map and I didn’t even get lost. This was an exciting moment for me because it means I am learning my way around. I liked the feeling of driving through downtown (only one honk at me) and then through NW. It feels a heck of a lot more like home.

Grocery shopping (saved $20 with savings card and $17 with coupons – yay frugal us!), “Dana’s chicken” with Rice-a-roni dinner, and 3.75 hours of coding work later; Sunday is wrapping up quite nicely. The Washington Post is sitting on the floor for my reading pleasure and I have already finished all the homework for three of my four classes this week (one class requires internet, which is not working at the moment (writing in Word)).

This is a great city to go to school in. I love DC and its opportunities and all the cool things I am going to get to see if I can keep up with my schoolwork to allow for free days like today. I hope all of your Sundays were as blessed and fun as mine was. Love always, ~Heather

Here are the pictures from my trip to the Mall with Garrison:

This one I took just for Dad. I know there is a glare, but those happy puppets are singing for you.

And these pretty little shoes are one of many pairs in museums acorss the country. I took that one for you Gar.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Headline News

As part of my schoolwork, I watch the news everyday. (In addition to reading the paper.) Tonight I was watching Headline News and saw three stories that really affected me. They are in order of emotional significance.

Story One:
When discussing the current events in Afghanistan, they played a video of a man, another man with a religious name (which I won't use after the fire bombings over something the Pope said), who was planning on becoming a suicide bomber. It showed him getting ready for his mission. Packing his car with explosives. Talking about how Americans are dogs and basically worthy of extermination. Then the cameraman got in the car with him. He asked him questions.

How are you feeling? "Calm."
In your heart? "I am praying that Allah will accept me."

They spot their targets: two American vehicles. Then there is a break in the tape as the cameraman leaves the loaded car. You hear the camera operator encouraging the driver on a walkie-talkie, "Muslims are behind you. Go faster ahead. Think of paradise." Boom.

The anchor was saying how the US military wouldn't say it was an actual incident, and that the footage might just have been Al Quaeda propaganda.

Story Two:
Runway models in Madrid are now being held to BMI (body mass index) standards. Super skinny models will not be gracing the runway in Milan. The new policy was made to help encourage the idea that young girls need to see more than just one image of beauty. It was mentioned that parents should be encouraging this in their children, but the power of the media is growing ever stronger.

Story Three:
Three guys and a laptop made an 80 minute video about how September 11th was really a conspiracy; how the lack of remains from the aircraft is proof it was all done with missiles. At the end of the interview, on of the guys said, "To believe the government didn't know what was going on with 9/11 would mean believing that it was run by the three stooges." (Or something to that effect.)

My commentary: Story 3 is amusing. And a little disheartening that people would think that our government would attack its own people. But I thought it was a fabulous example of how both sides of the story can get representation on the news.

Story 2 makes me happy. It would make me less happy if it happened in the US (I am against the government regulating things that are none of their business). But, the idea that the conversation is starting - that people are recognizing that as the world is gaining weight (at least in western countries) its representatives are losing weight. Someone is paying attention to the way girls and women are being influenced to think about their bodies. Everyone is beautiful - not just skinny people. I like that.

That being said, BMI is the same test that was in the news earlier this week for considering one famous California governor overweight at the prime of his weightlifting career. Validity, credibility, reliability, universality; they might want to work on that.

Story 1. I couldn't stop crying. Then after some serious concerned remarks from Dana, I calmed down. Even if it wasn't real, the idea that that was the simulation ... I hate it. I don't even believe in hate and I hate it. I think that everyone, especially my family, with whom I have often had the "stop saying that conversation," would agree that I am all about peace. That propaganda worked in reverse. Carpet bomb the ____(imagine your own profanity)______. I am opposed to taking innocent lives. I wish it never, ever had to happen. But either get out or destroy them. Take our people out of harms way. Protect the homeland. Stop antagonizing the enemy. Even if you catch Osama Bin Laden, it will not end. Terrorism is as old as the Bible; and like the Bible it isn't going anywhere. I don't like it anymore than you do, but you just have to face reality sometimes.

In Heather news, much of my homework is done. I am catching up on reading I don't need to do for days. I woke up this morning with a sore throat from talking too much last night (thanks for the conversation Jeff). I got to reading a book that isn't required, just recommended. I worked out to Cherry Poppin' Daddies in the family room and even watched High School Musical. It was cute in a Disney Channel way. I am going to pick up my room a little more - motivated by actually getting stuff done ahead of schedule. Love that. Okay, off to pick up and then enjoy some football hopefully Clemson will be clobbered and Florida will pick off Tennessee (your roots don't ever entirely detach, no matter how tall you grow).

Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - Fabulous quote of the day.
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." ~Carl Sagan
and an even better quote from Melissa
Yes...if you use the elevator to go up one floor...I will judge you.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Schedule

I made a schedule today so I would be able to get all my work done in a systematic manner. Now I find myself doing nothing because I managed to do all my work plus 1.5 hours of Strategic research. Craziness.

I like making my life into a little boxes of things to do. That way I can be spontaneous during all the times that aren't scheduled! That being said, I am looking for entertaining things to fill some of the empty spaces with. Anyone want to join me as I explore the "secret treasures" discussed in my guide book?

Things to note:
Dana and I are, unfortunately, not soulmates. She requires that her soulmate lend her floss, and I was quite selfish in reserving my special flouride floss for myself. Bummer.

That random statistic about more people being killed by vending machines than shark attacks in the United States came in handy today; I actually successfully used it in a class discussion.

Advisor is spelled with an "e" instead of an "o" in AP language.

And that is all. Have a fun night/day! Love always, ~Heather

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

West Wing Wednesday?

Waaaaay back in the day, Wednesday evenings were dedicated to West Wing. I loved it. I mean, I absolutely still love it. Unconciously today, while searching for surveys on NASA to analyze for class, I ran across a survey for PBS. This made me think about doing something on television. So I looked up and saw the stack of six seasons of West Wing on my DVD shelf and thought, "What the heck?"

My goal was to find polls about the publics opinion of doing a political drama before the show was aired. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any of those either. I did find random polls done last year though. So I wrote a paper on two Zogby International polls in coordination with a Washington Post article. The main idea: West Wing followed quasi-reliable poll data that could have contributed to the ultimate demise of the series. I personally think losing Aaron Sorkin was a big part of that back in season 4. Anyway, if you are interested in it, I will try to learn how to do that jump thing (Gaurav, help!). In case I don't and you really want to read my paper (only 3 pages double spaced), let me know and I'll email it to you.

Speaking of Aaron Sorkin, I am going to try to watch his upcoming show. I loved Sports Night and The American President, both of which he wrote. I am wondering if Bradley Whitford is going to be able to actually put in a performance though. I hope so, for the sake of the show.

Also in television news, one of my favorite characters was eliminated from Project Runway tonight. He really didn't follow the instructions, so it was practical he got kicked off. I still dislike one guy though (names not here for fear of spoiling it), and hope he's next. And someone got robbed tonight in terms of winning. Just a thought.

Reading is my life, so I must get to it. I need to finish a bunch tonight and tomorrow morning so I can work on what I will call scan-coding about 300 articles for my assistantship. Guess what coding consists of? Scanning for content. More simply, reading. Speed reading yes, but reading and data entry. I swear to you, reading is slowly infiltrating every inch of my life. Good thing I like it.

Oooo, and before I go, happy news. In my classes yesterday and tonight I think I am slowly forming friendships with some of my classmates. And next Wednesday we are having class at the CBS studio downtown for a more hands-on approach. I can't wait. Have a wonderful Wednesday evening and I'll hopefully see you tomorrow! Love always, ~Heather

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Unanswered

I believe that God answers every prayer, even if it is not the response we want. This policy does not appear to apply to email.

I have sent out a bunch of emails in the past few weeks that people have not responded to. Now I know I have a bad tendency to take a week or more in responding IF I am doing something big, like say, moving. Otherwise, I am efficient - five day turn around? maybe six? If this is a lie, I'm sorry and please tell me.

Jason was kind enough to forgive my un-returned (though promised) phone call and even emailed me. Thank you.

I could name drop the four people who haven't responded to phone or email contacts and humiliate them, so instead I will do this. Write back and all will be forgiven. Especially if I stayed up an extra two hours late to make you some graphs about surveys that took forever to input. Or, if it is your birthday this week and I wanted to hang out with you to celebrate. Or if you are a family member or friend who just has been too busy.

[Amended: three to go, and have a happy birthday! Don't work too hard!]

Tonight another "unanswered" happened. I was in class and had a fabulous argument to make and was asked to table it until later in the class when it would be more relevant and then we never got to it. This was kind of bummy because I really had an excellent point and I wanted to share it. Plus, we got out 20 minutes early so it wasn't like we didn't hav time for it. My minority opinion gets shelved again. Ugh.

_____________________

Today was a good day. Class this morning went well and this evening wasn't half bad either. I caught all four buses that comprise my commute with minimal wait time, prepared a presentation on the bleachers by the baseball field and managed a paper in the hour I had before dinner. Tonight I am going to get a few pages in before bed and it can be considered productive. Oh, and my paper for writing was used as an example in class. Hoorah.

No other news, so in the interest of brevity, I'm off. Hope you are having a fantastic day. And please, send someone (not me, unless you are one of those people above) a return email today. You hate waiting, you know you do. So send back some love. Whoever it is deserves it. Love always, ~Heather

Monday, September 11, 2006

Manic

Reasons why today has quite possibly been the cruddiest day since I have moved here:

It rained.

My teacher made me feel stupid, obselete, juvenile, and uninformed.

He also made me spend $1.50 on parking to talk to me for ten minutes - which were obviously not well spent.

I did not get into the group I auditioned for. This was not actually upsetting so much as the idea that it has been something like 4 years since I auditioned and got something and 7 years since I competitively auditioned and got something.

Financial aid managed to screw me over to the tune of close to $1400. But "don't worry" because I can apply for loans to cover rent, food, and tuition for the summer in the spring.

The strawberries went moldy and one of the bananas is so bad it started dripping sticky juice which is now all over the top of the microwave.

Good things about today:

I got to hang out with Dad for a little while.

I got to meander around in Borders and finally picked up a book I have been looking for for weeks.

The couch was actually pretty comfortable to sleep on.

Talking to Garrison on the phone.

Two days in a row that a boy being inconsiderate hasn't made me sad.

Leftovers from the eggplant Mom made.

My reading assignments are only going to take about an hour.

Random things:

In the shower this morning I figured out that Lancelot from the King Arthur books is named as such because of his sword, which he uses well. His lance. Yes, it is sad it took me this long to figure that out.

My right leg is shorter than my left leg. Or, my right pant leg is longer than the left one. Or my right hip does not hold my jeans up the same as its counterpart. Maybe it is some sort of combination. But, however it works out, the right one kept dragging on the ground all day.

Abbreviations exist mostly because Western Union charged by the letter on telegraphs back in the day and editors didn't want to be charged for the extra letters when stories were being sent in from other places. Also, a telegraph operator would shorten your message for you if you couldn't afford to send it as it was. Alas, abbreviations.

__________________________

Sorry for the randomness. Writing is my kind of therapy and I was feeling so lazy I couldn't even go get my journal to do it in, but the computer was at my feet. I swear I want to be happy. I do. Things just aren't working out yet. Yet is the operative term. I have to go and do my homework. Unlikely, but maybe that will cheer me up.

Love always, ~Heather

Amendment:
Adam came over for dinner. This is a guy who I did not get along with at all in college, but we decided to spend some time together and be civil and see what happened. It went really well and we are going to go out and get thai food sometime soon. Bill also had dinner with us. Then his friend Henry popped by for brownies. Adam, good law student that he is, headed home to do homework. Dana insisted I come along to cosmic bowling to counteract the bad day I had been having. It worked. I was much more relaxed after dinner.

My goal was to break 75. First game: 82. Second Game: 123. Third Game: 77. I think I had five strikes and three spares. Plus I had a great time. I also managed to bowl at least three of the balls over 15 mph. I like that I can get that much speed on it. Thank you volleyball.

Tonight I tried to read again, but couldn't. So I watched a PBS special called, The Merchants of Cool. It was pretty interesting. It was a 53 minute segment on how marketting to teens works, changes culture, and effects young people. I think it was made in the late 90's or near 2000, because many of the trends they cite are now gone. But it is worth a look if you have teenagers or are interested in marketting or entertainment PR. I am going to bed now so I can get up at a good hour and work out my homework before I have to leave for class after lunch. I figure I can read thirty some odd pages and write a one page description of an article in that time.

I guess it is twice this week I thought I was having a bad day. Today, while making dinner, I thought about how in comparison to five years ago, today's bad day was nothing. So I wanted to take this moment to say how much I love America. How much I adore my freedoms and safety. I don't think anyone on the planet can say they feel completely secure, but I love how even though terror has struck our country we are able to rebound, rebuild, and really live our lives. I got to live my life today because of God and the soldiers who have given their lives for the American cause throughout history.

So what if I had a bad day. I got to live. And how great is that? Love always, ~Heather

Sunday, September 10, 2006

One Fine Day

Today:
Church at Little Flower - 9am mass is better than 10:30. Part of the homily was about waiting for our calling. In the middle of the homily I figured out what my religious calling might be. I think I am going to work for the Cardinal responsible for the US and get paid to go to every seminary and diocese and give classes on how to give homilies. Not necessarily content so much as performance. I think a few tips would have parishoners much more involved in the message and therefore the church. Stand up straight. Don't lean on the podium. Make sure the crowd can hear you. Occassionally make a facial expression that gives the impression YOU might care about what you are saying. Try multiple tones in your voice. These are easy things that would make church MUCH better. I am serious, I might do this.

Newspaper and nap time.
Lunch.

PC Writing assignment: Simplify a biology article written for college seniors to a ninth grade reading level. 6 rewrites, two editors (thanks Dana and Dad), and it is at 9.0 grade level and 50.4 Flesch reading ease. Also, thvisiloav is not a word. In case you were wondering.

HOBY survey evaluations. Thanks again to Dana for her assistance. There were winners and losers among our esteemed panelists and speakers. Let's just say not everyone should be invited back next year.

Dinner. Mom sent delicious eggplant parmagianna (amongst other things including floss :) ).

Third thank you to Dana for playing my audition piece a couple of times for me and warming me up before my audition.

Audition. I am not a big fan of Tangueray (since the application asked). I started on the wrong note during my piece, but managed the sight reading fairly well and could do the listen-sing back part really well. If I get it, cool. If not, I understand. I have never been great at auditioning.

Football: Eli vs. Peyton. I really like Eli. He is the first quarterback I ever watched and thought to myself, "Wow, this guy is really good." Then I found out he was up for the Heisman. The game isn't over yet, but things weren't good when we clicked it off.

Dad is sleeping in my room tonight and I have the couch. It's going to be fun. Tomorrow AM I am going to head into the city with him and just take the metro home afterwards. Having him here makes me miss my family a little more than usual. But since yesterday (not long, I know) I feel a little more like me here. I am settling in. Heather is starting to show up. I like that. Especially since my sarcasm seems to be coming back. Gotta love that.

However I am off to enjoy a little DVD time with Dana before hitting my pillow for the night. Much love to my friends around the world, ~Heather

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bittersweet

Tonight was not a good night for the Gamecocks. In fact, it was pretty awful after halftime. If you want highlights look elsewhere, because I am not up for that.

The night was not a bust though. I got to hang out with Napoleon, Gashwin, and Tom; all USC alums. It was so much better to suffer this defeat with them here. They were perfect first unrelated guests. There was screaming, yelling, jumping up, and certainly some cursing. That was just at the television though. The banter was a little witty combined with funny. It was great to listen to the guys argue about things that were, in my opinion, inconsequential. But it was all in good fun. I felt at home not just because I was actually in my apartment but because I was surrounded by people who came to see me there. It was the first time I ever felt ownership over my space.

And what a cool space we have. The apartment looks nice. In honor of the guys and Dad coming tomorrow I cleaned the entire place (Dana superbly managed the bathroom and helped with the kitchen). The path to the door is cleaned off again (thanks Hurricane Ernesto), the dead plants and weeds have been cleared from most of the "garden" in the back (thanks neighbor), I dumped out the mosquito-inviting buckets full of kindling and rainwater and bagged the stuff from the wheelbarrow. I even washed it off afterwards. Let us say that gardening replaced my workout for the day.

I managed to sneak in working on an assignment for PC Writing and the AP Style Quiz online. This leaves me some room to read another chapter of a library book I checked out yesterday, Forty Years of High Risk Television: Presidential Debates. The opening chapter was good - but something I already knew about. I'm hoping the other chapters will be equally intriguing and teach me some new things. Tomorrow morning we are going to try a different mass at the church near us. Then it is fun times with Dad and my acapella audition. I still haven't chosen my piece. I guess I'll get to that.

Okay, there are dishes to be done and dreams to be dreamt so this little girl is going right off to bed. Better luck next week Gamecock fans. Love always, ~Heather

Applause

Breaking my one post promise ...

I just won a game of 40 Theives. It is an incredibly difficult card game (to me) and I won. For about the third time ever. Usually I ignore it, or walk away, but tonight that applause when the little "Congratulations, Play Again?" sign came up, it really did it for me. Take a bow, you won a card game.

It is certainly the little things in life, and I can deal with that. Love always, ~Heather

Friday, September 08, 2006

Whoosh. Better.

I got so much accomplished today. Up at my regular hour and well rested for the first time in days. I met with Professor Steinhorn to discuss viable options for my paper and my thesis. I felt better about my prospects but I still feel like I am in that transition year. The one where everyone knows you were qualified to get there but still doesn't think you are good enough to do it. I'm so used to being able to prove people wrong immediately. I kind of like this new challenge.

I got 75% of my financial aid troubles squared away. I finally deposited my refund check in the bank so I can pay my rent. I mailed a package to some very special friends. I renewed my stuff at the library and checked out some books that are going to be "fun" reading but will eventually help me with my classes too. I went to an acapella concert for a group I'm auditioning for Sunday evening. I had eggs-with-a-hole-in-the-middle for dinner. I worked for three hours and finished an entire project, convincing my boss to give me slightly more stimulating work. Mind you, it has the same strategic vantage-point as filing, but it is going to result in "research" or so he says.

Tomorrow I am going to clean the apartment like a madwoman so that it'll be nice when one (or more?) of my friends shows up for the USC/Georgia showdown. There will be shouting involved, I am sure of it. I am going to work on my HOBY project tomorrow for at least two hours and finish my writing homework and read for theory. I cannot wait to do it. But tonight, I am watching Grey's Anatomy. Dana ordered Netflix and it came today so while she goes to hang out with Bill, I am letting my brain take a break. It needs a break. And I don't feel guilty.

Love always, ~Heather

Thursday, September 07, 2006

One of those days

Did you ever have one of those days? Of course you have, who am I kidding. Good, then perhaps you'll get this.

[I would like to preface this with the thought that in all of my suffering, I have food, shelter, a fabulous family, and I don't have to wear a gas mask to go out the door. I am not a starving child in Africa, nor am I an exploited female sex worker in Asia or Europe. I know I am one lucky girl.]

I couldn't sleep again last night. So I woke up and went directly back to bed. When I did get up I managed to watch part of the president's speech before falling asleep on the couch. This was followed by my landlord slamming the door. For the first time it was a good thing. I got up and showered and ready for school. I finished my reading and did my online stuff. Seems like an ordinary day.

The bus trip went well. They gave me my refund check at school. Class wasn't bad and I have an appointment for tomorrow with my professor. Then things started turning funky (though I have to say a good portion of the day really was good. This is cheering me up). The bus was twenty minutes late. This did however result in me not having to sit and wait for my connection. I got my mail.

I found a bug on the table by the window. It would not die. There is spray on the table and the carpet now. The answering machine was flashing and I was so excited to get a mesage. It was Financial Aid saying they over awarded me and from which of my loans would I like to send money back? Now I have been stressing about money for days ... I hate money ... and I have been trying out how I am going to scrape by and pay off my credit cards which took a huge hit with really unexpected move-in costs, and now I am not getting as much financial aid as I thought. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I forgot I was supposed to babysit tonight, so I made a really crappy snack version of a quesidilla (spelled wrong, I know). The oil from which (I feel so disgusting for even eating it) spilled on the tablecloth. Fun. {BREAK}

Babysitting was fun and I made a little money too. Then I came home and watched shows wiothout commercials due to my excellent ability to control a TiVo remote. Really I guess the day wasn't "one of those." I was having a bad hour, and that was the one I decided to sit down and write during. Speaking of bad hours....

Je me deteste un peu. C'est pas grand - mais au meme temps... Mon situation au moment c'est pas tragique ... seulment que je n'etais pas pret pour ma vie comme une etudiante (est-ce qu ca vraiment feminine?). Ce n'est pas comme en France ... en anglais je suis beaucoup trop fort (mon personalite). Je ne trouve pas les amis rapidement ici. En francais, j'etais timide au debut, parce que j'etais nulle (pour le plupart). Apres le premier weekend avec les Champagnules, j'ai grandi. Mais en anglais il n'y a pas un excuse. Regardez, maintenant j'ecris en francais parce que j'ai peur que ma famille ou mes amis anciens vont lire que j'ai peur. C'est bete, je sais. Mais je veux les autres penser que je suis plus sur de moi que le verite.

{BREAK}

Dana and I just had a little heart to heart. This time it was me who needed to kind of work things out. The truth is that I don't have it all together. I was just writing about how scared of telling people that I was. But then I remembered what I learned at Taize about God entering your heart through your vulnerabilities. Here is the truth.

I am often scared. I get upset, angry, confused, befuddled, jealous, and nervous. I make mistakes. Lots of them. I trip over those stupid sidewalk sections that are uneven. And even though it is sort of a new thing, I even have to study to learn things. I am not as smart as I put on.

I am honest though. I feel bad about feeling bad because I feel like lots of other people have it so much harder than I do. If God only gives you what you can handle than what amazing hearts and souls some people have. I am lucky, blessed, and surrounded by good people. That being said, I have the right to feel bad sometimes. I am allowed to be jealous. I am absolutely, positively entitled to my feelings.

So you should know that. I mean, I don't think I'm as secretive about my inner workings as I would like to imagine, so you probably already knew all of that. But I needed to say it. For me. Because I don't have to be perfect. More than that, I don't have to pretend to be perfect or pretend to have faults I don't so that I can fit in. To paraphrase a line from a cheesy teeny-bopper movie, I shouldn't try to fit in - I was born different. I know it was mostly my hair, but the curls are a sign of how wickedly wacky I am.

I'm preaching to the choir, you know how strange I am. But I know you've had one of those days at some point. Those days when you feel really crappy about yourself, or think that everything has gone wrong. Maybe it was even a whole week. The thing is, you are worth so much. You are a valuable human being. Your quirks (those things about yourself you don't like all that much), I love them (well, maybe not all of them for all of you ... but at least one per person), other people love them, they are part of what defines you. And we can all agree that changing ourselves is a bad plan. So stay you (as the song says). BE you. You are a person of great worth.

I wish I could see you all right now and tell you that to your faces. Just know I am thinking it. Missing the hugs I can't give you, love always, ~Heather

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Single Post

This is the only post I am going to make today - because apparently one of my loyal readers has found that reading my posts everyday can be a little much. I agree that I write alot. I just figure this gives you so much more of me to love. Hehehe ... (evil little laugh).

Last night I couldn't fall asleep. Then I woke up tired because I hadn't slept enough. So I woke up, watched 20 minutes of TV and had cereal, did some homework, folded laundry, read some more, and then I took a nap. Ah the joys of napping. It was only an hour - but it was well deserved.

This afternoon I tackled the rest of the reading I had to do from last weeks assignments. I looked up some research from PEW (polling) and checked email. Then I made dinner. This was very cool. I made chicken vegetable casserole. Opposed to the advice of my sister, I did not use a recipe. This was mostly because I had no cream-of-anything soup, so I made the cream sauce myself (merci Alice pour tous que tu es m'enseigne) and then added the leftover green beans and Jersey corn. I also was concerned about making the topping out of flour, so I used the Bisquick box recipe for the top layer of chicken pot pie - basically biscuit mix poured on top. Except I jazzed it up with spices. Yum yum.

See, now I am sure you didn't really care about all that. Here is some other stuff you might find uninteresting...

Dana and I had a bunch of girl talks today. I think three. This is a new record for us. I have decided that living vicariously through the love-lives of friends leaves me alot of room to not actually feel bad. Which is stunningly fabulous - not feeling bad. I imagine there is a downside, but I prefer not to dwell on it.

There is an acapella group at school having auditions this weekend. I'll be choosing an audition piece sometime in the next day or so ... it will definitely be in alto range. I am debating whether or not to do something showtune-y or to do a more jazz choir thing. So far I am hovering on the opening to Under the Boardwalk which I sang a million times acapella in high school. I know I probably won't have a ton of time to do recreational activities, but if there is only one rehearsal a week, or even two shorter ones, it'll be something nice that isn't reading to do.

If I don't get that (based on my inability to sing solos - basically every audition procedure) intramural volleyball starts in October. I am going to just wander from volleyball open gym to volleyball open gym when time permits, because I need physical activity, but I don't want to have to schedule another thing into my life right now.

My teacher tonight ... I love her. She really rocks and she knows her stuff. I am glad to be learning from her. This is a drastic change from last night. But, I can get engaged in all of my classes, which is really good. Some of the other students are obviously not into the "engaged part" because they sigh everytime one of us interested people ask a question. I figure, if you are upset about the class getting out 20 minutes early instead of 50 minutes early, don't take a class that is supposed to end at 10:40. That isn't practical. And the rest of us would like to learn, thank you very much.

I wore pink tonight (highly unusual) in an effort to "soften my image." I decided that since I don't really have any friends yet,I should try to do something that will imply openness. I am already diving into this communication thing: find the problem (coming off too independent), adjust for the problem to achieve the desired goal - without losing the truth of the matter (wearing a pastel color to make myself appear more approachable). I was only slightly successful, but the difference was good. Hopefully I won't have to wear pink everyday to make that happen.

Going to bed soon. Hugs and kisses, ~Heather

P.S. Was that short enough for you? Probably not. Interesting, also maybe not. I tricked you into reading about my benign life again Marco. Haha (evil laugh). Thanks for calling today, you always make me feel better. ~HB

Return of the Rat

The random rat is back. I think he is drunk - guy can't walk in a straight line at all. At least we were inside when we spotted him this time.

I resumed classes today. Not much better, but I certainly held my own in Theory. The veela thing has worn off entirely now. So has some of the professor's nervousness. There was significantly less pacing tonight, which was good.

I met with the guy I'll be working for to talk about the project. Seems like the most basic work a girl could ask for - looking through a database that has a search page and then typing the number of articles into a spreadsheet. It isn't the greatest challenge of my life really, but I am relieved I won't have to read it all. I don't think that my supervisor really understands me. He is a social "scientist." I feel like these liberal artsy people use that term way too liberally. I tried to explain the differences I saw between his "experiements" and the scientific research I had done. He rambled on a bit about how he could give me some books to read on understanding social science research (which I am already learning in all my classes, including his .. so, no, thanks). I asked about his background in science and he doesn't have one - though he says he has studied the philosophy of science. This is not really a substitute to me.

I am sure he didn't find me very amusing and he didn't seem to grasp any of the points I was making about his article either. I feel like people who write about science should have to understand it first. His article is all about journalists who don't report science properly - focusing too often on disputes and people instead of issues. I feel like if you took one step outside the two scientific/policy issues he likes he wouldn't be able to tell you a thing. And I don't think he wants my particular talent in understanding it anywhere near his communication research. I wanted it to be a learning opportunity and a job. I think it will just be a job. Bummer, yes. Do I think I'll be learning TONS in my classes anyway? Absolutely.

I wrote back to the new girl who will be an assistant at Chanzy next year tonight. I tried to curb in some of my overwhelming urge to share everything with her. I loved working there and being in France ... it was cool to be able to share it with someone just starting out. But, part of the wonder was knowing I could do it, and do it myself. Of course I'll answer all her questions though, because I wish someone had been able to answer some of my questions.

Tomorrow brings more reading and my favorite class (so far). Two more of my books came in the mail today which was fabulous. I had a sourdough and cheddar grilled cheese sandwich for lunch that was stupendous. I felt so guilty about watching House tonight (TiVo-ed for after class convenience) that I read a chapter afterwards even though I said I was taking tonight off. I guess it means my nerdy self is taking over again. I love it. School is pretty good. Life is good. And I am ... happy. Goodnight.

Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - The "lead me not into temptation" thing finally made sense to me yesterday. Isn't it strange how a prayer I've said a thousand or more times didn't make excellent sense to me until I really needed it to? Temptation is so tempting though. I hope thinking about tempting things, even if you know you'll avoid them isn't too bad. Maybe the game Saturday will be a distraction!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Reading day

"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."
Gertrude Stein

I think this happened to me today. I got up and got ready for church. I read the Washington Post (Section A). I came home from church and got another two sections of the paper read. Then I started in on my packet reading. This was followed by a nap. Two more hours of reading in my PC Writing textbook. This book is a great relief to me as it explains the outlines of the business, which is something I've never really encountered before. More than that, it is the easiest reading textbook I think I have ever had.

I called home, finished the Business section, had dinner, started reading for Theory, got some online articles finished, wrote my assignment bio for Tuesday, picked up the textbook again and then just crashed. I have watched a good amount of random television, checked up on some other internet articles, and then scanned email.

My friend Malise is in the Peace Corps. She told a fascinating story about her life in Moldova that made me cry. I am so proud of her. (I'm going to get permission to reprint her post before telling you more about it.) Please keep her and the efforts of the Peace Corps everywhere in your prayers tonight.

Anyway, you probably have alot of other reading to do. Have fun with that. My brain is stuffed. Tomorrow is finish up day ... I love reading! (no sarcasm) Love always, ~Heather

Saturday, September 02, 2006

(Biased?) News

I love musicals and musical theater. I am particularly attached to a number of songs from musicals ranging from the 30's to now. However, when the Stephen Shwartz Project tortured "Defying Gravity" from Wicked tonight I was really disappointed. I was also disappointed (though it is only more proof I have to get into this world and correct these instances) that they advertized him as being the creator of the musical Wicked and yet they only did one song from it. Moreover, they had a girl who had no business singing the song sing it.

But the entire show at the Kennedy Center Metrostage was not a bust. "It's an art" from Working was hysterical. The girl singing the waitress' part was a Kristen Chenowith in training. Unfortunately (still harping) they cut that duet section from "Defying Gravity," so I never got to hear her go for it. I was surprised to learn that Stephen Shwartz also wrote; in addition to Pippin, Children of Eden, and Godspell; "When you believe" from the Dreamworks picture Prince of Egypt.

I got to share this fabulous experience with Garrison who fought some serious traffic to get up here today. We popped into the American History Museum and spotted a few classics among the "This Exhibition is Closed" signs. I took a picture of the Muppets for Dad and got some great shots of the Capitol building and the Washington Monument with brooding and wispy (respectively) clouds behind them.

Tonight I spent most of the evening reading the news online. After going over my syllabi before my little jaunt, I discovered that basically all of my teachers expect me to be fluent in current events. I also had to bone up on important figures, particularly Democrats.

All of my teachers are liberals. This does not discourage me in anyway, I just wish I had more of a balance. Now you are going to say, "But you went to American University." Which is true. But then again, I had no idea that this one was so left-leaning. I actually figured that since universities tend to be liberal but you have to have alot of money to go to school at AU and more rich people are Republicans, that I would get a blend. Oops. Plus, I discovered the slightly leftist tint to the Washington Post recently since I have been reading the Daily Express. I might have to pick up a Wall Street Journal or something else that is more conservatively inclined so I can keep myself from being disproportionately persuaded. I won't switch to Fox news or anything, I just want to maintain a little equilibrium.

Re-reading I am now thinking that before making my school selection I actually gave no thought to its possible political inclination. My writing professor would say this means that I am not cut out to work anywhere near politics, since I am not diligent enough to know what is going on. I cling to the optimistic hope that my faithfullness to being an Independent is not considered indecisiveness. Because truly, it is much thought out and has been repeatedly deliberated. I even asked people to try and convince me one way or another at one point. I like my position. But I am going to read up on my news until I am fluent enough to defend it with irrefutable examples.

[For those who are interested in the articles that just "made" me want to write about them in my search for news, check out the "More of Me" link.]

For now though, I am going to bed. I need to haul myself to church tomorrow morning and then come home and do at least 100 pages of reading before I break for an outdoor activity (crossed fingers for a pleasant predicted 80 degrees). And thanks to babysitting tonight, it doesn't necessarily have to be free!

Love always, ~Heather

God or Country?

Do you consider yourself first an American or a Christian? (Ponder this, then read on)

I had a little difficulty answering this question. I mean, I have an answer now that I logically approached it, but when it was just posed to me I thought, "Why should I have to choose?" In the end, God won out. [Only] because if someone told me I had to stop being one or the other I would choose to stop being an American. But short of that I am perfectly happy with my multiple personalities!

Read more at www.time.com/time/natio...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Winning Day

"If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun."
Katherine Hepburn

I don't know if I agree with this QOD. I think I obey the rules and I have alot of fun. This subject may be debatable I suppose. Your comments are welcome on this subject.

______________________________

The GAMECOCKS won 15 - 0. That is right ladies and gentlemen, a shut out. There were some seriously spectacular plays and then alot of evidence that we are going to need to beef up our tactics a little more before Georgia next week. We ended the 2005 season second in the SEC East and will be #1 until there is another SEC match-up. It may just be statistics, but it sounds good. I hope we can stay up there this year!

I had my final class of the week today. This is going to be the most time consuming of my classes I think, but I am truly looking forward to the work. We read chapters from our multiple texts, then 7-10 articles off of Lexus-Nexus and Blackboard, and we wrap it up with 3-5 documents from corporate, government, and non-profit organizations. Then class time is devoted to discussion, not even necessarily of the texts. I like the idea that my "homework" is not just a repetition of material. I have the opportunity to be my own teacher.

Since tomorrow is a day off for me I am going to head into town and make photocopies of the approximately 500 page document pack and get some spiral notebooks for class. I am also going to get to the post office to mail some stuff that I couldn't get sent out today. (Apparently the post office and UPS have two shipping options right now: Expensive delivered sometime this week and Not Expensive delivered sometime as far away as November. I was kind of hoping for a two week option. Here's to finiding a happy medium.)

Then I found some really great stuff to do Saturday! Daytime will definitely be spent at the National American History Museum as it closes in just a few days for renovation (until 2008). Then, there is a Stephen Shwartz medley (Godspell, Wicked) for FREE on the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center. I am very excited. Hurray for free entertainment. Anyone interested in joining me is more than welcome.

All this and I managed to finally organize my filing cabinet with labels and everything. Oh, and I made my Excel budget sheets and ordered my textbooks. Not overly adventureous but at least it is good news. I did get brave and open my window (since it is not sealed against the every swarming insect community outdoors). Okay, that is a stretch.

I hope all is well with you my faithful readers! Love always, ~Heather

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