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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, November 30, 2006

Introverted

I think it is interesting how a person can seem so present and yet so absent simultaneously. I'm not saying I feel invisible. In fact, it is probably the opposite. I've been busy with planning and writing papers and just recently singing Christmas songs with my roommate (which, by the way is an incredible amount of fun).

I'm just kind of feeling ... introverted. (Feel free to laugh if you actually know me, chances are you don't believe this is possible.) In fact, tonight at dinner when describing myself, I actually was explaining to a friend that of the three kids in my family I am the most introverted or (perhaps better worded) the least social. I'm not sure she believed me (but you should, since I'm not lying and anyone in my family can attest to this truth).

Maybe I'm in a pensive mood? Who knows. I know that when my parents called tonight to make sure I was doing okay, I was really glad they called. And that I've been incredibly lucky to have had the chance to hang out with friends a little this week and hopefully a bunch more this weekend. Tomorrow is the holiday party, Saturday is the SEC championship game (anyone interested in catching that on CBS?) and then Sunday is advent dinner with friends.

All this, three major papers to write, a partner presentation to plan with an accompanying 12 page report, two minor papers, and a variety of tasky things I want to get done in the next week. I'm not stressed. I'm not lonely. I'm just ... introspective. I'm intro-something. And hungry. Ice cream (we finally went grocery shopping tonight), a letter of recommendation, a party CD to mix, and a flyer for a charity basketball game should round out this evening's activities.

Tomorrow I'll be writing. Feel free to break my concentration. Love always, ~Heather

**The pictures are one view from Heidelberg Castle and me at Frankenstein's Castle in Germany last February. The image below is a description of me based on a quiz I took a long time ago, but I always thought it was kind of sweet, even if not entirely true.**

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Support the Troops

As I was reading the Washington Post today, I noticed that there were a bunch of articles about the deterioration of the conditions in Iraq (as if they weren't bad before). Then, I was checking out one of my favorite blog sites, PostSecret and I found this link to AnySoldier.

I haven't finished reading the entire site, so forgive me if there is something tragically horrible on it, but I've read about 75% of it, including some of the requests from soldiers and I couldn't help but be moved by it.

I don't care what your political affiliation is, or what you think about war, or how you feel about the American administration. There are men and women dying every single day, and they are wearing American flags on their shoulders. Their burden is heavy and we get to live in glorious freedom because of it. So support the troops, even if you can't support what they are doing.

If you don't like the idea of sending a simple letter through this program this Christmas, I can get you the names and addresses of people I know there. You probably have a few acquaintainces somewhere out there too. Remember them when you are doing your holiday shopping. It'll cost you less than a dollar to send a letter, the cheapest present you could buy. And it will make someone's day.

As I sat in my car thinking about the articles I had read, I realized I didn't pray for the troops as much as I could. So if a letter isn't your thing, could you please send a message up to the big guy?

God Bless America and all those who have given their lives to make this dream of freedom come true. Love always, ~Heather

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Gamecock Glory

Also known as 365 days of bragging rights. A special thank you to Clemson's field goal kicker for making this rivalry Saturday a joyous one. I am rather glad we finally beat them. This was the first time since 1996 that we've beat the lousy Tigers on their home turf. Hooray, hooray.

Today was primarily spent watching college football. I was thrilled for Georgia, South Florida, Florida, slightly thrilled for Arkansas (not too much though), sad about Notre Dame, and generally encouraged by Wake Forest*.

*This is because Clemson beat them and Georgia Tech, which means if we face off with whoever wins that game when we play the bowl game this year, we stand an okay chance of winning!

And now bedtime beckons. Tomorrow is my last full day at home for awhile and I don't want to spend it yawning. Love always, ~Heather

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Bright Friday

My family doesn't really believe in Black Friday. First of all we have our own traditions. Second of all, it is a really stupid idea to go to a store and get trampled. Actually, I think anyone willing to go is really brave, so hooray for you if you went. I was otherwise occupied with the holiday spirit.

My idea of spending the Friday after Thanksgiving is on a ladder. We took all of the Christmas boxes and containers out of the attic. This doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, except we have three regular size tubs, one large box, and seven giant tubs (like the kind you or I could fit into). This is in addition to the big tin of ornaments, the huge computer box with my stuff in it, the dishes and such that were already on the top shelves of the kitchen cabinets and the two boxes of wrapping paper and the two boxes with the Christmas tree lights and ornaments in them that we left in the attic until later.

As I write the list, I feel a little awkward. It seems strange that we have almost as many boxes of Christmas decorations as I have boxes of stuff for my apartment. But it is this thing, it's our tradition. I'll take pictures and show you the house when it is all decorated - Mom finished the outside today. I'm actually not allowed to decorate here. There are rules about where everything goes, and each of us has our own traditional tasks. My tradition is the annual Christmas ball. (More about this later.)

Taking down the boxes didn't really take all day. It actually only took us about 45 minutes. Then I spent a majority of the afternoon doing homework (blah) and otherwise putzing around. Then this evening we went to the Dickens event downtown. It is basically a Christmas Carol kind of deal on Main Street downtown. There was a man with a funny English accent saying "You may cheer!" after all his announcements and people in costume partout and fireworks! It was quite an experience. If I'm here next year, I'm totally wearing a costume.

So my day was bright with twinkle lights and fireworks and homework. Maybe not so much on the homework, but it is about 40% done, so that's progress. I'm going to catch some z's now. A haircut, the Gamecocks kicking Tiger butt, more Thanksgiving leftovers, and hopefully the completion of another chunk of homework awaits me tomorrow. Love you much, ~Heather

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Shooting Stars

I just saw a shooting star, and I had to tell you about it. I was searching the sky for the dippers - which I couldn't find. But Orion was just as bright as I have ever seen him, even the distant stars were clear. What I am pretty sure was Saturn was hovering, blinkingly a little bit above the horizon. And then, there it was. It dove right across Orion's belt and disappeared.

You can't keep amazing things like that to yourself - you have to share them. I made a wish as soon as it registered in my brain that I hadn't imagined it. (That I won't share.) But the thing I like about wishes, is that they are really prayers. You ask the light for something, just as it appears to be going out: shooting stars, birthday candles, and so on, and then you feel better inside. Even if you know that the wish seems completely unattainable, it sort of gives you this cheery feeling inside, a calm-happy feeling. I don't just wish into the dark. My whispered wishes are going to a higher source.

And speaking of good things, our Thanksgiving table was fabulously set. After some confusion about who would be here for the holiday meal, it was us and our four neighbors. I liked celebrating Thanksgiving with the two little boys and their parents. I babysat the kids all summer, so it was nice to have them back in my life for a day (especially since they were well behaved).

The food was delicious all day. From the first of the antipasta to the last fork scrape of cherry pie my tastebuds were absolutely delighted. And, because my mother is Italian, we'll be eating turkey until next Thursday. (This is not a problem for me at all!)

I have alot to be thankful for today. I am thankful for the wonderful people in the choir at church who all care about me and my family and make a tremendously joyful noise when we sing (like for mass this morning!). I am thankful for the people I have been blessed to share holidays with over the years, from the people who joined us at our table to the people who took me in when I couldn't get back to my family.

Perhaps I am thankful for this blog most of all. Maybe not this specifically, but all means of communication. No, probably the blog. This is where I get to post all sorts of things you may or may not care about, but you read anyway, because you're nice. And knowing I am sending my words out to someone makes me feel so much better. I am thankful for the people the blog has allowed me to "meet." I follow the lives of a number of people I have either vaguely met or that I now "know" through literal links on my friends pages.

The best thing about it is that I get to keep in touch with people all over the world. I called Alice in France today and we talked about life as if no time had past. We could, because they get to read about me and I get to see pictures and read about them - almost entirely online. How can you beat that?

Life is sort of like a shooting star. Really, it is just an ordinary space rock, plowing into the atmosphere and breaking up into tiny pieces, spreading itself out. From the ground we see, quickly, a little glow of light. Sometimes it is worth spotting, and other times you just stare and see an uninterpretable vastness. But whether you notice it or not, it is still there. Out there in the oblivion. There is a constancy to the uncertainty: you never know when you might see the tell-tale trail of light fly past, but you know that somewhere out there are little rocks hitting the atmosphere.

So I am thankful for life and shooting stars. I hope that one day my little glowing light will appear, as so many of yours have in my life. Thanks for reading. Love always, ~Heather

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Mercredi

I finally got some homework done! Hooray for me!!! I also had some particularly excellent pumpkin soup for dinner. Yum yum. I discovered the secret to good mushrooms is a little wine - all this time I've been wondering why mine don't taste as good as Mom's! I wrote to my French family and received some interesting advice about simplifying life. All in all, it was a good and productive day.

Tonight, we even went up to a neighbor's to have a little get-together. The hosts are members of our church choir. I love singing, and Becky is an incredible alto to sing with. I might even be taking care of their pets when I'm home for Christmas (even pets should have people around on the holidays!).

Speaking of pets, I walked Shadow three times today. I love walking the dog. I think I am most thankful for unconditional love today. Pets often love you unconditionally, parents try to (mine, I think, are successful), and most of all God loves me all the time. I'm pretty thrilled about that.

But now it is late. I watched the last bit of City of Angels on TV just now - I love that movie. It has multiple good parts, but my favorite is when she can't sleep and his just being there makes it better for her. I don't forsee having any trouble falling asleep, so I am off to my bed. I will either dream of turkey and stuffing and other great treats, or I will just wake up to them (after church of course). I'm still leaving my phone on for the last few of my straggling friends who haven't left their respective schools yet, but luckily the weather and roads have cleared up a bit.
For my friends and family who haven't yet departed or will read this before leaving to go back home, travel safely. I love you all and wish you a fabulous Thanksgiving. Hugs and kisses (as always), ~Heather

Joyeux fete de Thanksgiving a vous en France! Je sais que c'est pas votre fete, mais mange le dinde aujourd'hui - c'est un celebration de famille! Peut-etre l'esprit est different ... hmmm... d'accord, je vais vous envoyez les recettes et photos du repas. Vous me manque, ma famille francaise. Un jour on va faire Thanksgiving ensemble!!! Gros bisous, ~Heather

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Time Well Spent

Procrastination consistently gets me into trouble. I am, however sadly, addicted to it. I procrastinated a bunch today. I was relatively productive though. I'm finished with all the homework for one class, I went to four shoe stores all over town trying on an incredibly large number of shoes in sizes ranging from 9 to 11 and M to W. It wasn't terrible. But I still don't have dress shoes. If it ever stops raining here, I'll venture out again.

Speaking of the rain: If you are planning on driving tomorrow, please DRIVE CAREFULLY. I am not your mother or other annoying relative. I am a friend who has driven on the most travelled day of the year way too many times. I've also seen what flash flooding can do to the roads - particularly I-95 - and I just want all of you to be able to spend Thanksgiving safe and sound at your intended destinations. You've seen the storms over NC, watched the snow stories from SC and TN, and heard about the wind everywhere. I know you want to get there, but please do it safely. I'll have my phone on all day, so call if you need someone to keep you awake or anything.

In other Heather news, I walked the dog in the sleet earlier. This was highly unintentional. I looked outside, and it wasn't raining as hard as it had been, so I took the poor cooped up dog out on his leash. When I realized it was freezing rain instead, I just didn't have the heart to make him go back inside. It was a short and cold jaunt.

We made pies here tonight. Well, Mom made them really. I watched and played cards with Dad for most of the process. (500 rummy is basically the only card game I ever stand a chance of winning at. My dad is an often willing victim. Tomorrow we'll play Gin though, and I'll lose terribly, so I don't feel bad.) Back to the pies. There are two pumpkin, one mountain of an apple, and one cherry. [Add pie picture later.] We (meaning Mom) started preparing the antipasta as well.

Thanksgiving is one of those eating holidays. My friend Frida from Sweden wrote me today asking what else we did in addition to eating. I think I'll reply tomorrow with something including naps, football watching, and spending time with family. In our house, which is usually full to the brim on turkey day, we start preparing food four days in advance. There is an Excel spreadsheet that outlines which tasks will be done on which day and by whom. It is color-coded by day and person. If you think this is so weird, don't eat here - you'll be missing out though.

Last year, my best friend Caroline celebrated with my family. I was in France, so she got to experience the chart first hand. My mother assigned her all of my usual tasks. I thought that was pretty funny. I usually chop vegetables two days out, help with the pies, and stuff celery with (*nasty) cream cheese stuff (other people like it) and peanut butter (which I like). I am generally relegated to tasks that do not include actual cooking. To the outside world, I can cook, and cook well. In my family however, I am generally forbidden from being near the stove.

This isn't warrantless. I have burned myself countless times. I have occassionally burned food. This summer I accidently set a pot on fire because I heated the oil and didn't add anything to it in time. I have a tendency to disregard recipes or use inappropriate substitute ingredients. My ice cream scoop has been used as a communal hammer. I am a menace to the kitchen.

When given some time and an unbusy kitchen, I can be a good cook. I make tasty basic things and sometimes random french, mexican, or italian dishes. I am an expert at quiche. Thanksgiving isn't really a time when the kitchen is empty or when I can take a little more time than planned. It is also not a time for quiche.

So tomorrow I'll be snapping green beans, mixing the ingredients for spinach dip, and stuffing celery. I'll have to check the spreadsheet and make sure though - I don't want to forget anything.

Travel safely and enjoy all the fabulous food. (1.5 days and counting until Thanksgiving dinner!) Love always, ~Heather

P.S. In keeping with my series, today I am thankful for time. I have had extra time to spend here with my family. I've been able to procrastinate a bit on my work to relax a little. I've even been able to sit down to meals without reading or watching the news. So I am grateful for time. The time God has already given me and the time that lies ahead. If time were to end for me in the near future, I would still be glad I got the time I've had so far, especially time spent with friends and family. I hope that you feel like your time on earth has been well spent too! ~HB

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Proclivity

Proclivity - a natural inclination or predisposition

This is yesterday's word of the day. Today's was exacerbate. I didn't really think it applied. Proclivity matches my thing I am thankful for.

[This message brought to you because I could seriously not think of a title for this post. The picture below is of the Taize monastery. I was reminded of my time there again today when Frida, a friend from Sweden, wrote me a message.]

I was significantly less productive today than I wanted to be - but I still have all day tomorrow to make up for it. I did find some great academic article and research search engines, got prepared and brainstormed on my Strategic paper, and I seriously considered doing my writing homework. I actually am three people shy of finishing my Research homework - and I only started about 5 hours ago. I feel like I should probably be done with that by tomorrow.

I want to really finish up the Lit Review before lunch tomorrow. Since I only have 2 of about 20 pages, I might not be able to swing it. But if I can intelligibly copy and paste all the hard work I put into my annotated, it shouldn't be a problem. Also, I technically only have to write 8 more pages, since the thing is supposed to be double spaced anyway. For a good page that is actually edited, it should take 25 minutes a page x 8 pages = 3.3 hours. I wonder if I could do it before lunch? That would be a cool challenge.

This leads me to my thankful thing of the day. I am thankful for my innate or "uncanny" ability to soak up information and be able to spit it back out in an intelligible format. I am superbly lucky to have inherited the useful gift of information retention. Sometimes I feel like my brain is really cluttered with things - but 99% of the time, I love it. And I am thankful for my ability to learn.

Nothing overly exciting going on in my life. Homework, work, movies on TV, procrastination, accidental dehydration (sometimes I just forget to drink water!), buffing up on ID "theory," and getting prepped for the holiday. Tomorrow I have to go shoe shopping too. I don't think I am really looking forward to that.

Shopping is quite possibly one of my least favorite activities - except when I know what I am going for. I know I am going for shoes. Except, I have put this off for so long that I need to look for brown dress shoes, black dress shoes, and probably some running shoes, since the soles are flapping off of these. Knowing that my powder-puff jersey read "Sus-Squash" on the back should give you some idea as to why shoe shopping isn't going to be the highlight of my Tuesday. But it must be done and I'll be happy when it's over. I might even be thankful for it. I guess we'll see tomorrow.

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BCS: Blowing College Sports

The BCS sucks and we need a playoff system now. If Florida beats Arkansas and doesn't get into the National Championship, there are serious problems in the world of college football.

In fact, I propose (idea from Dad) that all SEC schools boycott the bowl games if an SEC school isn't in one of the top two bowls. Looking at that last sentence makes me feel a little bratty. And, if USC doesn't play in a bowl this year after we made ourselves eligible, I think I would feel a little defeated.

I also have a theory that the ESPN people biased the voters because they bad-mouthed the SEC all day on Saturday. They are just cranky because their sister station ABC got beat out by CBS for all the SEC match-ups and so they are trying to punish the best division in college football. This is ludicrous when you consider that most other divisions have exactly 2-3 ranked teams. The SEC had 6 most weeks of the year.

I know you probably think I am just being biased towards Florida, but if Arkansas wins, I feel like it should be them up there. The only reason they are ranked as 6th is because they lost to what is now the number 3 USC (so cal) team in their first game of the season and were poorly ranked to begin with. They should have sky-rocketted after beating Auburn, and they didn't.

Here is an article that doesn't express my point of view exactly, but it's pretty close:
Meyer rails on the BCS

Also, from ESPN, Spurrier says South Carolina is looking for an SEC Championship starting next year. With challenges from young teams like Arkansas, Georgia, and Florida - not to mention other SEC powerhouses like Tennessee and LSU, it will be a challenge.

Okay, back to work. Spiritedly, ~Heather

Sunday, November 19, 2006

St. Catherine

I looked this up for Grandmother - who was reciting a poem about St. Catherine to me. We were trying to figure out what she was known for, and here it is. St. Catherine is the patron saint of young maidens and female students. In life she was known for her eloquent speech and persuasiveness. She was a student of the sciences who, knowing that Christians were being killed for their beliefs, was audacious enough to tell the king what she thought. Also, she was one of the chief spiritual counselor's of Joan of Arc. I think I'll pray to her more often - I think we would have gotten along pretty well!

(Note: I am home in Fayetteville for the next week.)

Today has been good. I sang with the choir at church this morning. It was nice to sing with a choir again. Then we went grocery shopping, got a fireplace kit (so we can finally have a fire in the apartment), and then did some gardening. I read a little for one of my classes and fell asleep on the sofa for a bit. I taught the little boy next door sort-of how to roll his tongue and then enjoyed sangria, steak, mushrooms, and artichokes for dinner. Tonight, I am uncertain as to my official plans, but I think I will only work a little and then actually work all day tomorrow to get things done. Since both my parents will be at work, it should be productive.

Thanks to my neighbors, I have wireless in the house (they gave me the passkey - I'm not just stealing it) which will make it easier to work from my room and the kitchen. (One should really be mobile when working on the same projects all day - it makes it more entertaining!)

OKay, family time, Harry Potter time, homework time ... etc. I am loving being home for Thanksgiving! Speaking of which, I'm starting a series for the rest of the week: things I'm thankful for! I invite each of you to add a comment on something you are thankful for everyday as well.

Today's thankfullness: I am thankful I was raised in a loving, caring family - especially one that fed me well and taught me the importance of family.

Love always, ~Heather

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gundabar

Big event of the day: I discovered the truth.




(The "you" should be "I") (Thanks to G for the link to the Quiz page)

Otherwise, I:
  • Slept in.
  • Had a meeting about my graduate program.
  • Put flyers in student mailboxes.
  • Printed out about 75 pages of stuff I need to read over vacation (in addition to the other things I already have.)
  • Cleaned up the kitchen.
  • Shredded cheese and hung out with Dana (who made me some awesome cookies for my car ride home tomorrow!).
  • Briefly listened to Christmas music, breaking a rule I have followed since I was in kindergarten.
  • Vacuumed and tidied my room while starting laundry.
  • Talked to Grandmother.
  • Watched basically all of the original Star Wars series - except they weren't actually in the original format. (And yay for Dana's friend who came over to watch some of it with me! Also, I had no idea we had Cinemax.)

**Note on how crappy it is that they "made the movies better" by changing the music and adding digital imagery. I vote that it totally blows. Give me the originals! (Who knew I was a traditionalist?)**

  • Slight bit more of cleaning. Seriously slight.
  • Blogging and bedtime.
I would write you a nice little narrative, but there was nothing explicitly descriptive about today except my detour home. Which basically took me about a mile out of my way, but I found another cool park to hang out and study in - so all is well! Tomorrow I'm driving home to spend a week with my family and have a home cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

I'll chat with you again from there. In the mean time, please keep G's dad in your prayers (and G too, since he is flying home to India) and also great-Aunt Betty, Mr. Nye, and Grandmother's friend from church. May God look out for the sick and make them better, watch over the deceased as they make their way home to him, and take care of the families affected. Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - Safe travels everyone!!!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Cache en francais

Ce soir, j'ai etudie chez un ami. C'est un situation unique. On est les amis de universite. On nous a retrouve sur l'internet pendant mon temps en France. Quand j'ai decouvree qu'il habite a Washington aussi, on a commence de passer de temps ensemble. C'etait super bien passe, parce qu'on aime les memes choses, on entendre (tense?) tres bien ... Un soir, c'etait evident qu'on n'a parle pas de quelquechose. Et enfin, il me plait, je le plait ... super! Mais, c'est impossible a cause d'un probleme (comme normal) de choix.

Il l'envie de voir plusiers filles au meme temps. Pas exactement plusiers petites amies ... mon traduction j'ai peur n'est pas juste ... mais, simplement il n'est pas pret pour une liason serieuse au moment. On a passe le weekend (apres le soir) plus des amis, moins des copains. Maintenant, on est, encore, seulment les amis. C'est difficile parce que lui me manque. Peut-etre c'est bizarre, car on se voit toujours et barvade toujours ...

Je me connais, et lui me connais aussi. Il a me dit qu'il etait certain que c'etait pas possible pour moi de reste avec lui s'il etait proche avec les autres au meme temps (il n'est pas maintenant, mais il ne veux pas me blessera). C'est correct, bien sur. Sans doute, c'est le bon choix - de reste comme les amis. Je me trouve souvent dans les situations comme ci, et c'est jamais plus facile.

J'espere toujours pour un solution different. Mais c'est pas la peine. Je ne change pas, et lui non plus. Je ne vais pas attendre quelqu'un qui ne m'envie pas. En plus, je suis occupe avec l'ecole, mon boulot, les devoirs, mes amis, ma famille, les fetes de fin annee ... beaucoup des choses. Cependant, ma tete ne le laisse pas.

J'ai arrive que c'est un de deux choses. Un: il est vraiment parfait pour moi at je besoin un peu de patience pendant il pense et s'occupe. Deux: je suis un fille avec trop des emotions, facilement attache, et il faut que j'oublie les possibilites romantic et m'occupe seulement avec les choses d'amitie. Tous les deux sont difficile. Peut-etre avec tous mes examens et essaies pour mes courses je peut l'oublie jusqu'a il me plait pas.

Jeudi prochain c'est le fete de Thanksgiving. C'est mon prefere! Je vais vous envoyer les recettes de dinde et cranberges et les autres trucs de fete. J'attends avec impatience le celebration avec ma famille. L'annee passe c'etait super de passe le fete avec les profs, l'intendant, et le proviseur ... mais il n'y a pas rien comme le repas de maman pour les grands fete de famille. Aussi, peut-etre j'avais besoin d'un peu de temps loin de ville et les gens qui habite ici.

D'accord, c'est super tard. Je vais me coucher. Mais je vous adore et vous me manque beaucoup beaucoup. Desolee que le blog ce soir etait un peu "girly" (vraiment comme une fille) - mais je ne partage pas ma vie prive avec ma famille ni avec les autres ici qui connais le garcon. (Oui, oui, je triche d'ecrire en francais pour garder mes secrets ... mais c'est plus simple pour vous, n'est-ce pas?)

Encore je vous adore. Gros gros bisous (a tous les bebes aussi ... Martin, Paul, Etienne, Sidonie). A la prochaine! Toujours, ~Heather

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Magnificent Desolation

This morning I got up and again headed down to the National Air and Space Museum. I had a ticket to go and see Magnificent Desolation, the new-ish IMAX 3D film narrated by Tom Hanks. It basically told the story of how people trained for, worked, and walked on the moon. In the six missions to the moon, 12 men left their footprints there. The landscapes were beautiful, the perspectives great, the story fulfilling.

I love space. The film was primarily about the Apollo missions, which I have studied since middle school. Listening to actors reading quotes from these brilliant and brave men, watching images of their time on the lunar surface, hearing the *bleep* so often associated with the space race Mission Control room ... it was hard not to be intoxicated by all of it.

You can laugh if you want, but I was crying by the end. There was a little sub-story about a girl who wanted to go to the moon. She was sure she was going to get to go. I think I saw myself in her. I wish I was better at the physics and calculus stuff so I could go for it. An astronaut is one of the first things I can remember seriously wanting to be when I grew up. I don't think that passion ever left me.

Afterwards, tears dried, I had lunch with Derek in the Hirshorn sculpture garden and then came back and took care of business on the computer for a bit. I cooked dinner and studied before heading in to take my Research Methods final exam. I think I might have killed my pen. Also, I think as much as 5% of the total ink that made it into my blue book made it onto my hand.

Three hours later I came home from the exam. I got to catch up with quite a few people tonight - online and otherwise and this resulted in two fabulous quotes:

"And then we gave them malaria." - Jeff, on the reason why he thinks Thanksgiving is a weird holiday (originally it was polio).

"I think that is just a trick to get people to pee on children." - Unattributed to the only boy who was in the apartment tonight (We were discussing techniques for getting rid of warts in combination with a conversation about flossing in public.)

So, I would like to invite those who could care less about my strange internal mindsettings to stop reading now, since that is pretty much all that is coming next. Have a great day/night!

The weirdness ...
So I've been thinking too much for my own good. I was lucky enough to find the blog of a long lost friend this past week. I liked reading it and seeing a completely different side to this person I had known. I found it particularly interesting, because there were so many new things I discovered. Usually, when you think you know someone, you would be familiar with them - but that wasn't the case.

The thing I liked best about reading it though, was that I didn't have the emotional turmoil I expected. Not that I was expecting it actually, Dana was. She warned that this could be bad. It wasn't "bad." Because it was marvelous the friendly nature that seemed to pop up from it all. It was the rocket-like blast my mind took in an opposing direction that seemed frightening.

There is nothing like a dying ember to light a fire. And when faced with alternatives, it is surprising how quickly I was able to dismiss things. My choice shocked me. It shouldn't have, it was mine. But I knew, inately, right then, what my option was. Of all the available ones - one stuck out like a phosphorescent path.

Then tonight, things were - busy again. It was like the decision I made two days ago was suddenly super important and then quickly unimportant. I had new alternatives. I think I am sticking with the one from before, but some of the new ones were interesting at least. Interesting enough to make me consider loosening the ferocity of my previous selection.

I'm sure you know I am not talking about paint colors, but to be honest, I'm really internalizing two pretty big concepts using one story line there. If you're confused, just imagine what is going on between my ears!

Sometimes writing it down makes it easier. I should probably do this in a space where I won't be boring people, but something about this medium is attractive to me. I guess I feel like I'm really talking to someone - even if all of you stopped reading a few paragraphs ago.

But now I am getting sleepy, and I don't think I've actually learned anything that is going to make it all better or easier or anymore in my control than it is right now. I'm working on letting go of the whole control thing a little. I'm practicing on friends (who have no idea ... which is probably better, because they would both probably tease me about it). We'll see how it goes. Love always and goodnight, ~Heather

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Today is Tuesday

Highlights from today:
  • Breakfast and the Washington Post
  • Going for a walk with Dana on the Crescent City Trail near the house (this thing is beautiful with tunnels and bridges and woods all around).
  • Cleaning up the apartment a bit - mostly sorting through all the newspapers from the days I wasn't here and getting them into the recycling bin.
  • Lunch
  • Writing class
  • Graduate Leadership Council Meeting (thank you everyone who came!)
  • Focus Group for Lindsay. This was also dinner, since they served us pizza. Shawn and Adrian walked me to my car afterwards since it was dark and then I drove them home. Note to anyone interested: driving north on Massachusetts in the evening can take a long time - 10 minutes for two blocks!
  • American Forum on the mid-term elections. It will be airing on WAMU on Thursday evening for those interested. The panelists were quite good!
  • Theory class, where we discussed infotainment and films as a means of communicating ideas. I should note here that I made class a little long, because my teacher, in his INFINITE wisdom, again assigned us readings that had bad data with high margins of error. He really needs to work on that. So basically, in true Heather fashion, I pointed out all of the reasons why the results were skewed. I feel like I am doing a service to the people in the class who don't realize that they are getting boased information. I'm not sure they care.
  • Light snack and conversation about the existence of God.
  • We discovered the flue has been open a bit - this could explain some of the chilliness in the apartment.
  • Talked to Derek about the picnic tomorrow.
  • Blogging ...
And that about sums it up. It was weird leaving for school at 1:30 and not getting home until 11pm. It wasn't a problem while I was at school, it just seems strange that I spent so much time there.

My other missions for the moment include finding people to carpool with for the Thanksgiving drive south, completing all the GLC tasks I said I would do, actually working, and finishing my papers before Thanksgiving break so I can really enjoy myself. I guess we'll see how that goes.

I have some other things to talk about, but I'm tired. Maybe tomorrow. Goodnight for now! Love, ~Heather

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Monday, November 13, 2006

The Wood

[Read the previous post first]

Just an update on the wood in my trunk. Now it is outside my trunk on the ground, pushed over by a wall so I will still be able to parallel park. Bill was kind enough to help me get it out. Then the wheelbarrow broke. And when I told Dad the story, he informed me the wood wasn't going to be able to be used this season anyway. All that work, a dirty trunk, a broken wheelbarrow, and I'm going to have to buy wood anyway.

Sometimes my frugality is my own worst enemy.

Love always, ~Heather

Five days in brief

What a wish-wash of things to talk to you about! This is a long one. I think you can make it through though ... it is (biased, yes) entertaining.

First and foremost, I hope everyone had an excellent Veteran's Day. Let us never forget the amazing men and women who fight for the freedom we enjoy every day. Pour mes amis francais, Veteran's Day = Journee d'Armistice.

Thursday I had an incredibly busy day, starting with an early start down at the National Air and Space Museum. I watched the new planetarium show Cosmic Collisions and interviewed other audience members and museum staff. This was all for a feature story I'm writing for homework. In the end, I needed to talk to some other staff people because the story I went there to write was not the most interesting one. As soon as I'm finished with it, I'll post it here so you can see it.

I ran home to have lunch and scoot out the door in time for Strategic (class). After class I had an audition for the Vagina Monologues. I found out today I didn't get cast, but I've done it twice before and there were 76 women interested - so I'll help out backstage or something. If you haven't seen the show, then I encourage you to come out in February to see it - it is truly an amazing thing.

Then I drove home, packed a bag, watched the news, cleaned the apartment, had dinner, left my room in ruins, and got on the road to drive to NC. It went surprisingly quickly considering the traffic on 495 and in the HOV. My parents welcomed me home after midnight, I talked to Mom for a bit and slept. (Oh yes, and I got to see my gargantuan puppy Shadow. Here he is in the backyard with a chew toy!)

Up early for breakfast and a car trip to Florida. 7.5 hours later we arrived in Gainesville, site of the Gamecock - Gator faceoff. I got to spend time with my brother and some family friends for the weekend. A short interlude on Friday night ...

I stayed with Travis in his apartment. What a joy. I love my brother, but Friday was an insomniacs enemy. We got back to his place a little before 1am to find all sorts of drunk people loitering outside his apartment (which is more like a townhouse, really). There was a "4-kegger" next door and not a parking spot to be found. I cleared the road of drunk people so Katie could park her car (roommate's girlfriend) and then went with Trav to park his about 8 buildings away. I called the police when we got back because there were people walking around in Trav's backyard and trying to hear yourself think in the living room was closer to impossible than one enjoys that late at night.

Well one of Trav's roommates was hammered and came back and got in a fistfight with him in the living room (there was some beer throwing and eye punching) because they were underage and the police were out front and they wanted to come in the back door .... long story short, she and her little 18 year old brother stayed in for the rest of the night.

The place quieted down a bit after that. Then around 2, the party next door got rowdy and there were people on the porch outside the sliding glass door ... it was a college party scene. Unfortunately, it was three feet from where I was trying to sleep and precariously close to tipping over the grill my dinner was supposed to be cooked on the next night. So we called the "party patrol" again (this is a special unit of police officers who specialize in quieting down loud parties in Gainesville). I should mention they took all my information.

Which is why at 3:30am when they called and woke me up to get it, I was unhappy. Especially since they had just recently got the party quiet enough that I could TRY to sleep. Luckily, the loser host got a noise fine. This, with T's girlfriend drama and the brother of the drunk roommate saying that his "getting through high school" makes him legal to drink (slap-slap in imaginary land) made for a sleepless and interesting evening.

Up early again, Mom and Dad came and got me to help set up for the tailgating. We hung out for a bit and I did homework (which is lame, but necessary). I had my first strawberry daquiri ever and thought it was quite good.

The game was exciting and fun. We sat in good seats, and I was the only Gamecock fan for like two sections. I know I am not supposed to be satisfied with "moral victories," but there is nothing like watching 90,000 people get all excited about beating an unranked team in the last 8 seconds of the game. It makes me hopeful for the future - which is a much stronger and positive feeling than a Gamecock fan usually gets to partake in. If you are interested in other things that happened during the game, please don't make me relive it - just read ESPN.com.

Saturday night, Travis and Kevin (the other roommate) played for everyone in the RV lot, which was good. (Guitars and singing) We cooked out, played a little toss football, and enjoyed the company of others. I slept at the hotel with my parents to avoid another sleepless night.

Sunday was early again, and we said our goodbyes and got on the road. Back in Fayetteville, we lounged while I sent out the homework I wrote in the car. We had some yummy scallops for dinner, watched football and Brothers & Sisters and went to bed. (That is the sunset reflecting off the porch windows.)

Morning came all too early and I was on the road again (this is 25+ hours in the car for the weekend). I got great gas mileage and made it back in time for study group. But before that, I drove past a house that had free wood. I drove out to get some after I emptied my trunk.

So yeah, they were a little big for me to pick up by myself. I found the two smallest "logs" and managed to heave them in my trunk. Upon my arrival back home, I realized that I could not dead-lift these things out of my trunk into the wheelbarrow. In fact, I couldn't roll, hoist, finagle, or drag them out either. So Bill, who is coming over later, will probably have to help me extricate the wood from my car. Otherwise, I estimate my gas mileage will be rather crappy for the rest of the week.

Caroline and I studied for research and Dana is making her super special stir fry, and I am looking forward to an evening of work, laundry, homework, and perhaps a little mindless entertainment.

Thanks for sticking with me. See you next time. Love always, ~Heather

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Survey

For my Research Methods class, I wrote a survey about catholicism. I called some people around the country to get results to the survey. It was only a class assignment, but I think the results could be very interesting (they already are to me, I'm just assuming you'll be interested too).

The survey is for people who are Catholic now or have, at one time, considered themselves Catholic. (Respondents must be at least 16 years old.) The results of the survey are completely anonymous. If I get at least 25 respondents, then I'll analyze the results and post them. Please pass this along to others.

Click here to take survey

Thank you so much for your help! ~Heather

Election Day!

The past few days have been full with election-style activities. Sunday I got to work a phone bank for way too long, and meet/see the first lady and governor of Maryland along with Rudy Guiliani and then this morning I stood out at a poll in Virginia to encourage people to vote for a bond referendum. Tonight, I went to a results watching party with my theory class. All rather exciting election things. Oh yeah - and I voted in a voting booth for the first time today. (That my vote counted anyway.) And I also got accused of electioneering for wearing a t-shirt.

That's all on top of a marvelous weekend, a fantastic Monday, and a Tuesday worth remembering. But for the moment, I'm still not going to tell you about it. Besides the fact that anticipation is a great way to keep you coming back, I am particularly concerned with a Maryland Senate race I think was called incorrectly by the television stations. All stations seem to be reporting that Michael Steele is up by 4-5% and yet they have called the race for Cardin. This is frustrating, because they are not considering that the democratic districts they are calling prospectively for Cardin include a number of African-American communities that will probably vote for Steele.

So I'll be watching this until my 2am cut-off. Then tomorrow I'll give you all the juicy details, which may or may not include which types of juice I've had in the past few days. Tomorrow, tomorrow. Love always, ~Heather

P.S. I hope George Allen loses. The end.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thump to Singing

There is something that goes *thump* in the morning. Once every 30 seconds for a half an hour. Then, the 3-year-old decided to run a mini-marathon in the playroom above my bed. And the little girl threw a tantrum. And I finally got back to sleep an hour later. Not thrilled.

But aside from the rocky start, today has shaped up nicely. I got done with all my writing homework, some of my research homework, and I responded to an online thing for theory. I cleaned up from the party, doing my half of the dishes and vacuuming the random popcorn kernels that missed people's mouths. I also did my dark laundry and fixed a problem with my computer. Oh yeah, and Florida beat Vandy and LSU is standing up to Tennessee ... for the moment.

Church was really good. The music was good, the pastor a little too southern baptist style but had a nice message, and I felt ... peaceful and happy. I was so moved, I volunteered to start singing with one of the groups there. Luckily I was able to meet up with the contemporary mass director and she likes that I sing harmony - which makes me extremely happy. I really need to settle into a parish family. It isn't my ideal church, but it is the closest, the most open, and I'll probably only be living up here for another nine months anyway.

So tonight I am going to be out and about and having a marvelous time. And if not, then I'll duck out of wherever I am and find the nearest place where I can watch my beloved Gamecocks take on Arkansas (if I had known it was on ESPN ... socialize Heather, socialize). Okay. You go do your Saturday night, I'll go do mine, and we'll catch up tomorrow night. Love always, ~Heather

Moo-V-Nite

We watched V for Vendetta at tonight's movie extravaganza. As usual, way too many leftover goodies in the house, but for the many who graced our apartment, I am truly grateful.

I love having people over. It makes everything more cheerful. It also gets me to clean up, which I don't do enough.

I swallowed my fear of spiders this morning and moved a scary wood pile. I was successful and did not encounter an eight-legged scary thing.

I absolutely have to go to bed now, because I have been a busy bee all day with work and cleaning and gardening. Now, I need to dream so I can wake up and be super productive on my homework until I (so excited) get to go out with Lindsey and whomever else tomorrow night. As this will be my first official night out on the town, I am thrilled with the idea and excitement. Then I will be crashing to get enough sleep before going out to do some last minute campaigning. I hope we get to go to Maryland, because I'm not sure I support any of the major GOP candidates in Virginia.

Speaking of which, I am looking for volunteers to help work the polls Tuesday, anytime. Let me know if you are interested. For real, I'm sleeping now. Love always, ~Heather

Et pour les francais ... je vous adore! Bisous! ~Heather

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Walk it Back

Today I had to do my future job for the first time since I started grad school. I was recruited by a dear friend to help her father (another wonderful person) campaign for better roads in the 5th most congested county in the country. Now, I believe in the cause. I believe that the roads need to be taken care of and that the state has been hedging forever and probably won't ever fix the real problems that cause deaths and injuries every year. And I'm not talking a few, I'm saying that in 2003, 5 students in one high school died on these roads, because of the condition of the roads.

So I was going to try and help find more people to help out at the polls, handing out information to constituents who would be voting on the issue. I am trying up here at school, and thought, after a conversation with my parents, that tapping resources in the county would be a good idea.

Long story short, I asked a man I really respect for assistance recruiting people, only to find out he didn't believe in the cause. In fact, I found out that about as many people oppose it as are for it. He said that he would allow someone to come in and pitch the need for volunteers in his classes though. Since I live pretty far away, I called my friend and asked her to make the pitch. That would not/could not happen. So, I had to reconsider and then walk back my request.

I know this isn't the same as putting out a story and then having to take parts back, but I had to consider that I had not had all the information when formulating my plan, didn't have the other support I might need to implement the plan, hadn't really asked enough questions to prepare myself for this type of situation ... I basically broke every rule of communication engagement because I felt emotionally tied to the people who supported the idea and to the idea itself.

I had to do my future job tonight for about two hours, and I already learned about ten things. The most prominent among those though, was how this really feels. Having to tell someone one thing and then call back and take it back - not because you want to, but because you have to for reasons that are out of your control is, well, uncomfortable. I think I could have done it better, but I was partly to blame for the set-up since I hadn't been prepared enough to make good judgements. Those two things, how it feels and being prepared enough to use my judgement, are pretty strong lessons to learn on a Thursday night.

My future job is pretty scary. I mean, I love it, I really, really do. But it terrifies me too. I know I am in school to learn how to do these things better. I think I might take out one of my spare spiral notebooks and make a list of do's and don'ts. Everytime I walk into one of these new and exciting experiences, I have to learn and remember for next time. It seems strange a little that how to do it raced through my head and the logistics of it didn't come until too late. But the HOW. I knew exactly how to do it, how I wanted to do it. Three months ago I might not have.

They say there is a learning curve, where in the beginning you learn things at this incredibly fast rate and then over time, you slow down. I keep thinking that I am so far down on that curve ... nowhere near that settling point. And I love it.

I love that I am learning everyday. I love that doing a favor for a friend was easy and hard simultaneously. I love that I thought about audience, message, approach, vehicle ... I guess I should have sat down and remembered step 8 though. Implementation is key. You can't jump there without everything else, and I skipped the research step. But I am learning. And next time I'll forget something else and I'll learn something else. And isn't that incredibly exciting?

How many people get to spend their days taking in entirely new things all the time? What an amazing thing this is. I would have been upset about making such big mistakes not even two weeks ago. Then a friend sat me down and told me I needed to look at myself a different way. I think I am trying that now. I may not be successful at changing the part of me that rails on my every mistake, but it will come one day. I think.

Wes Roberts once said, "If you aren't making any mistakes, you aren't trying hard enough." This is sooooo the time in my life to be going out there and making mistakes, cleaning them up, and learning from them. I don't think I could get a better education than that.

Love always, ~Heather

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hey, you guys!

I'm watching the Goonies. If you haven't seen it, then you need to send me a message and I will make appropriate arrangements, because it is required viewing. Anyway.

Today I got up and did a little work (not much, honestly) and then went over to the Washington College of Law to watch a documentary on disappeared and murdered Mexican girls and women. Many of them worked in the maquiladoras, and their disappearances, murders, and rapes have gone uninvestigated. It caught my attention since it was the subject of a monologue my second year in VM. It wasn't as powerful as I thought it would be, but it was an incredible story. I want you to remember one thing: we are incredibly lucky to live in a place where we don't have to be scared to walk to work, or go out and get a haircut, or to the grocery store. And if we were to disappear in the middle of broad daylight, the police would look for us. We are lucky people.

I did my SPSS homework in the Social Science Lab - love it! All schools should adapt a program where your student ID lets you pay for your printer copies ... life is good.

Lunch, a book chapter, a newspaper section, and some tidying later it was time to get back to school. I went to a seminar on how to get a job in the federal government (led by current employees). It was interesting to hear what they had to say - and I believe that the approaches they recommended were true, but I don't think I could go in and be a typist just to eventually move up. I don't think that is really for me. That isn't the only approach they suggested, but it was the dominant one. Maybe they said more, but I ducked out early.

I left to go to All Saint's Day services at the spiritual life center. Since all the masses at local churches were being held at 7pm and my class started at 8pm and I still needed dinner, I went to the earliest service I could find, an Episcopal prayer reading (it is a holy day of obligation friends). The people were pretty nice and although not an actual service, the evening prayers were alot like what I imagine vespers to be. I copied a prayer out of their prayer book and felt as if I, more or less, fulfilled my obligation. This is probably the first time I have ever gone to church for All Saint's when it wasn't on a Sunday, so maybe this is a good first step. (I've been really into the whole being there for required holidays since France.)

Okay, then I had Chick-fil-a and Research Methods class. Class was SOOOO exciting. We learned about qualitative research including ethnographics (immersion into culture), personal in-depth interviews, and focus groups. The guest professor was really engaging and, since this is her specialty, knew basically everything there was to know. Wow, it was so cool. (And I am such a nerd.)

Caroline H. and I talked in the parking lot afterwards, which was fun and then I came home to tell you all about my day. Don't you feel special? I had to tell someone ... it was so full and fun. Two specialty conferences, prayer services, SPSS, and an awesome class. What a life. I'm so lucky.

Okay, I'm having a snack now and then I'm going to get a bit more homework done before bed. My little insight for the day is that, like in this classic film, life is more about friendship than the "rich stuff." Keep that in mind. And pray for all the saints who have come before us, they made the path that we follow today. See you later. Love always, ~Heather

In case you were wondering about the pictures: The cross is from the top of the hill in Park Guell, Barcelona. (A hill on a hill, which I climbed, and then as usual, needed help getting back down from.) The sunset is on the highway in Belgium or Luxembourg (can't remember) last March when Caroline and I were driving home from Strasbourg.

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