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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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness

This is the part of my life I like to call overwhelming.

I'll be back to blogging as soon as I get my life back on track. (Please God let that be tomorrow.)

Love always, ~Heather

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Any Dream Will Do

One more day as the stage manager for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and then it is back to grad school normalcy.

I dream/wish that I could keep working on a show, but not actually have the performances or extended rehearsals until after school was over. I have been beyond frazzled lately, but have gotten so much work done it's unbelievable. Having a million things to do makes me work every available moment of the day. I love working that hard.

That being said, I am EXHAUSTED. It isn't horrible hard work to run a light board, be reposnsible for props and 53 elementary student cast members, and then clean up/set up for the next day. But it is more physically exhausting than you can imagine (unless you've done this) to stand for the two hours before, the hour and a half of, and at least an hour after the show; running like crazy during the breaks and standing as still as possible during the scenes.

I've never been a stage manager before, though I'd like to try it again under different circumstances to see if it gets easier. One thing I know for certain, I have never really given my stage managers enough credit for what they do. Never.

And for all my busy-ness, I like how my life has been lately. I like living on a schedule with places to be and times to be there. I like walking in, doing the work, and leaving without anything related to take home. And I love how being busy while at rehearsal gives me an escape from my life. The whole world might be a stage, but the whole world disappears when I'm on stage. (Or backstage, or in the house, or in the booth ...)

I'm closing my eyes now, and as the song goes, any dream will do until I wake tomorrow to the last day of Joseph and the return to a life I'm not sure I want to go back to.

Love always, ~Heather

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Monday, February 19, 2007

AMC Theatres

If you are an Oscar fanatic, but haven't had a chance to see all the Picture of the Year nominated films, AMC is giving you a chance. On Saturday they are letting people - for only $30 - see all five films back to back. You also get refillable popcorn and drinks in addition to a commemorative ticket.

AMC Theatres

I haven't seen any of the five nominated films, so this would be pretty exciting, except the musical has an afternoon performance. Bummer.

I might still try to go see some of the shows. Anyone interested in splitting a ticket (Lorien and Dana are planning on going too ... but none of us really plans on being there all day, so there could be some serious ticket trading if you're interested).

More work, less play. Love always, ~Heather

Life Imitating Art

Ecifircas. My life is completely full of ecifircas.

I never thought I would ... I hoped I'd be strong enough to ... but I never wanted ecifircas for myself. I wonder if this can be considered jinxing myself.

I am superbly lucky though. I have a fabulous friend who understands exactly what I mean. Who knows what I was thinking and told me exactly what I needed to hear.

I'm fairly certain she doesn't know the word ecifircas, but she knows me pretty well. And the best way to live is with friends who get you.

I don't think there will ever be enough ways to say thank you.

Love always, ~Heather

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Commander and Thief!

I was doing research for a speech I'm writing and was looking at some old manuscripts and speeches by Oliver Wendell Holmes. I came across the following passage in an essay on Memorial Day.

"For, stripped of the temporary associations which gave rise to it, it is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for our country in return."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
An Address Delivered May 30, 1884, at Keene, N.H., before John Sedgwick Post No.4, Grand Army of the Republic.

I hope that you noticed, as I did, the striking resemblance to one of the most repeated soundbite quotes of all time. In speechwriting class they keep telling us that using other peoples ideas, jokes, anecdotes, etc. is actually a best practice (so long as it isn't plagarism). I guess I never really thought about the idea that professionals have been doing that for such a long time.

So John F. Kennedy, shame on you (or your speechwriter) for taking a brilliant man's line and reshaping it with antithesis to be quoted for the rest of time. Shame or kudos ... I guess a little bit of both!

Love always, ~Heather

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No One's Perfect

I'm Catholic, I love Catholics (generally). But I think that doing everything in your power to get someone fired because they disagree with some of your principles is pretty ridiculous. It is reverse bigotry.

There have been alot of people posting on the Edwards campaign "scandal," where two of his bloggers resigned under fierce pressure from an ultra-conservative Catholic organization. As a woman, a moderate feminist, a Catholic, and an aspiring politico I feel the need to comment.

Everyone gets to have their own ideas. Although posting on a personal blog in a public domain is sort of counter-intuitive, there is a difference between writing for yourself and writing for others. These women resigned because they were put under intense scrutiny and pressure and were not allowed to respond lest their response be used to futher exacerbate the situation.

I know that there are alot of Catholics who are passionate about the right to life and preventing gay marriage. But, in the same way that we wouldn't like to be called cult members for saying the Nicene Creed altogether, we shouldn't judge others for their methods of communicating. If the two women who resigned DID write outrageous things like "women should have the right to choose" and "gay marriage is considered a sin by many Christians," I'd like to have somebody please tell me how this is incorrect (from a legal standpoint - not a values one).

They were singled out to ... what? Make a point? Prove that there are non-Catholics out there? There are people who disagree on certain moral issues? Political issues? Did they have to lose their jobs to do that?

I am advocating no point here except to say that I feel like if people want to take issue with people writing personal thoughts on personal pages, they should STOP reading them. And, if you are going to put pressure on others to follow your moral code and values, you darn well better be their parent or, perfect.

And if you were paying attention in church, you'd know you weren't perfect.

___

All of that being said, it makes it even more obvious that I have to be calculated in my posting. Which is kind of crummy because I like being able to write openly. But I need to get a job soon. And in communications, you get a little bit more spotlight attention than most. So I won't be "scrubbing" or taking down archives or doing any other ridiculous thing of the sort. But I'll be being more careful. Sorry about that.

Love always, ~Heather

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

"F"alliteration

Three things I could do without ...

1. Francis - who is quite possibly the bane of my AU existence and possibly a spawn of Satan. (Special note for Melissa: this makes him related to the annoying cousin of the spawn of Satan.)

2. Financial Aid (the office, not the actual monetary support) - who really have no idea what they are doing and send a secretary to answer questions for me that I am perfectly capable of asking myself. Oh, and who decide part way through EVERY SEMESTER to stop funding me, requiring me to spend hours figuring out where they made their gigantic, stupid, mistake.

3. Friendlessness - because everyone should have a friend. Period. (If you watched Grey's Anatomy tonight, this is mostly in reference to the "she's my person comment.")
**(I should note that I am not claiming to be friendless - not by any stretch of the imagination.)**

Unfortunately, I have little control over these features in my life (and the control I have is overpowered by masochism or an idiotic urge to make life better for others at the detriment of my mental health). So, for now, I am going to forget my "f" alliteration and work on some rhetorical devices in my homework. Ridiculous.

Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - Does anyone know a word that begins with "F" and rhymes with death? (I just figured out my sentence rhymed.) ~HB

P.P.S. - I actually am having a pretty good day. Dinner was fabulous ... I got to have mache and duck and calamari and good wine. Yum yum. Plus, I love having my parents around. Details of their trip and pictures tomorrow. Love and hugs, ~HB

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Fabulous Ice/Snowy Day

I finally got to sleep last night!! Hooray!! Today was half of a snow day really. I thought it was a snow day until I realized that classes at AU were only delayed in the morning and that evening classes were still on. Oh well, I like class.

This afternoon I had quite the adventure getting my poor little Focus out of the ice it seemed to be cemented it. I couldn't even get traction when the snow was out of the way because I was parked on gravel. Not the most ingeniuos thing ever. But no matter.



It was fun to shove the ice off of the top of my car in one giant sheet. Also, watching Dana try to make a snowman out of two inches of ice was pretty funny too. The best moment however was shoveling the driveway. We live on a cul de sac with six houses, but the main driveway isn't in front of a single one of the houses. I decided that this was, however, the best place to begin shoveling, because it was the most travelled location.

Dana stood on the corner as I tried to get the large pile of crap shoved onto the driveway by the plow out of the way. Her job was to signal me when a car was coming so I could get away from the road. So she waved a shuttle and yelled "watch out" as a car came by. The poor driver probably thought she was hollering at him ... I couldn't stop laughing.

In the end, only the bottom third of the driveway got cleared, but my landlord and our next door neighbor came out and helped me which made it better. When I got in the apartment - for probably the first and last time ever - it felt like it was 100 degrees. Because I had only been wearing a windbreaker and a sweater outside in below freezing weather for 45 minutes, I was basically a popsicle. My pants were even frozen. My face didn't return to its normal color for two hours.

But it was fun and a great way to spend part of the afternoon. Class tonight wasn't bad. I had a meeting with the professor first, which went well and got me thinking (always a plus). We got out early since there were so few of us in class. Kristen had brought a bottle of really good Veuve-Clicquot (which is real champagne from Reims!!!!) that she, Liz, Colleen, and I drank in the classroom. Straight from the bottle, which was in a paper bag. We looked like hobos, except we were well dressed and in a computer lab. This rates right after the Valentine's I did VM and then went out with Caroline. It was definitely the way to end the day.


As for it being Valentine's Day - I didn't even notice the difference between yesterday and today. I'm not bitter about this romantic occassion at all - which has been rare these past few years. Today seemed like a perfectly good day. And even if I "had" somebody, I wouldn't have been able to get my car out anyway!

Hope you had a good one. Love always, ~Heather

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Exhaustion

This is the part of my life I call exhaustion.

On Sunday night, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to completely rewrite one of my three comprehensive exam essays. Unfortunately, Sunday night was technically Monday morning at 2am. Brilliant.

The good news is, that I know the second essay (which didn't include a single sentence from the first) was 150 times better. It is the only one of the three essays I feel like I could "pass with distinction" on. I think I needed to prove to myself that I could put in effort on the exam, and not just settle for knowing I was going to pass. (I hope confidently, since the results won't be in for a month or more.)

So I went to bet about 4:40am Monday. I was up before 9am to read over and edit the essays one last (millionth) time. I raced to school and turned the exam in about 2 minutes before the deadline. Phew.

I got home and was too awake to sleep. So I watched Brothers and Sisters online and then crashed. Thirty minutes later my mom called and I consequently got about 50 minutes of sleep before my alarm went off. Then I started reading for my Speechwriting class, since I had a quiz covering three chapters. I then split the reading up by going to rehearsal for the elementary school show I am stage managing. (More about that another time.)

I got home, made some really crap dinner and read and studied for the quiz. When I got to class the quiz was cancelled. I had to tell a joke in class and the professor didn't think it was funny and three people knew where I took it from. Oh, and I had wasted all the time studying for the quiz, because he didn't give it. Because I didn't need that time for anything else.

I got an assignment back without a grade because, "The subject matter was too trivial to warrant a grade." This was the escalator speech I posted. The good news is, he said it was structurally and linguistically perfect and true to the assignment. Why he couldn't have mentioned the subject matter was inappropriate when I turned in the draft last week, I'm not certain.

That was followed by him telling me my speech for this week was crap (which it sort of was). The comment he made though was what really threw me for a loop: "Your solution doesn't really seem to be right." I was writing a speech about gun crimes and violence in America. Do YOU have a solution for that? Frustration ...

I got home and was so emotionally obliterated from exhaustion that I was crying. I started consoling/chatting with a friend, which made me feel better. It's funny how not being able to worry about me because I'm concerned about others makes me feel better. Anyway, an hour later, at midnight, I got started on my homework.

I worked all night again, finishing the two assignments due this morning. One was a five-page Request for Proposal and the other was a presentation on an acadeic management article. I made this really cool class participation presentation with color-coded index cards for the class and everything. My lights went out at two minutes to 5.

I was up at 8:15, saw the bathroom was occupied, went back to sleep for 15 minutes, got in the shower, got out and got ready. I parked in the lot at school because the snow and ice wasn't looking promising for the drive home. I got to class early enough to work on a third assignment I still hadn't completed.

Long story short, class was as interesting as it can be on around three hours of sleep and my professor, though I reminded him at the break, forgot to leave time for my presentation. I can go next week. I was so thrilled (sarcasm, sarcasm, sarcasm) that I almost cried. Luckily I managed to wait until I got in my ice covered car.

Home again ... and then the story gets MUCH better. The night class I had to prepare a powerpoint for was cancelled due to weather so I didn't have to work on it instead of eating lunch. I got to watch Studio 60 on TiVo (during lunch) - but it was exceptionally depressing. I went to rehearsal for the musical and got to do intense work on the entre-acte pantomime scene. Rehearsal really perked me up (as only musicals and volleyball can).

I came home, hung out with Dana and Lorien, had dinner and let my mind dissolve into nothingness. As you can imagine, I fell asleep in my chair. Now, I am getting ready to hop into bed and sleep in REALLY late. Tomorrow I have to catch up on mountains of work, schoolwork, and independent reading. And we have rehearsal (yay!). I'm not sure if I want class to be cancelled or not ... probably not, I'm beginning to favor my Wednesday night class over all my others.

I'm so glad to sleep and I hope the bad news is over for a bit. My parents are coming up Thursday-Saturday, which should be fun. More motivation to finish all my work tomorrow.

Hope everyone is having a good week and Happy Valentine's Day (to those who don't spurn the thought of: a. commercialized religious festivals or b. holidays designed to make people in relationships feel superior to the rest of the world (that was snarky - I'll express my valentine thoughts tomorrow)). Love always, ~Heather

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

God, Hell, & Ice Cream

I'm working on my take-home comprehensive exams this weekend. It is literally half way through my program and it seems like it is all going to pass very quickly after this.

To take a break though (because one cannot really concentrate for 72 straight hours and be productive), I went to a play with a friend. We saw God by Woody Allen and Hell by David Mamet. I like Hell better.

Both were really well performed. Special kudos to the guy who played the devil, because he was out of this world amazing. Also, if the devil's secretary really does have a voice like that, he should drop out of law school and become and announcer somewhere. His voice was both soothing and engaging. The most interesting part though was that the actors in both plays were all law students at Georgetown. Where they find time to rehearse and memorize lines is beyond me. Three cheers for y'all.

After the show we went out to ice cream in Cleveland Park. (Testing my ice cream theory.) The gelato place was closed, so Cold Stone got our business instead. My favorite concoction is cake batter ice cream with strawberries and cookie dough. I'm not sure why, but I love it. Regardless of what he might say about it though, my friend could not have invented the explosion of joy. He never tasted it. So, he therefore could not have invented it, regardless of Alexamder Graham Bell's achievements.

Anyway, the whole reason I was posting was to tell you about a smidget of our conversation. He said that all girl's like __holes. I said this wasn't really true when I started liking them, it just turned out that way. I feel like I go for the nice guys (they are just so often NOT nice). Anyway (again), I was thinking in the car on the way home about it and I decided that although I try for nice, most of my friends don't. The reason why, as far as I can gather, is that even the nice guys do obnoxious and horrible things to you (intentionally or not). So, the next time you have to make a decision between nice and not, you find yourself walking into a lose-lose situation.

If you choose nice and he's not, then you feel worse than ever because you thought he was nice. If you choose not nice, at least you knew it from the beginning. Since so few nice guys actually manage to be successfully nice all the time, they sort of ruin it for themselves.

Motto of the day: Be nice all the time.

[It should be mentioned that if you truly are nice but have to do something that is not nice, you will be considered not nice until you redeem yourself. I believe in redemption. I can't speak for girls everywhere though.]

I seriously have to finish three essays and a speech now. Have a good night. Love always, ~Heather

P.S. I wore girl shoes the entire night, didn't take them off, trip, get stuck, or fall down. Quite an achievement. ~HB

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Not why, just what

I hate that I can't tell you what's going on. I know you don't all believe in it, but those who do, please pray that it gets better. I really don't like asking for help but the list of worries seems to be getting longer. Don't you stress though. I like the idea that everyone else is super happy, it gives me something to look forward to.

Exciting thing of the day: Went to a ridiculous class this morning, then took care of emails and homework. Lorien and I went to see Because I Said So. It was incredibly good. Very realistic. We stopped for chinese food in Chinatown and then watch much more television then I'd like to admit to.

Have a great day/night! Love always, ~Heather

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Gelee

Il etait HYPER froid ici aujourd'hui. Moins de zero fahrenheit (souviens que 32 est le meme chose de zero celcius) avec les vents.

Desolee que je n'ai pas ecris avant maintenant (en francais). J'ai plein devoirs a faire et c'est deja tard mais tout de suite ...

Mes cours sont super. J'adore "speechwriting" c'est les discours, principalment. Je joue bien aven les mots! Mon these c'est un petit livre de "Comment faire les communications scientifique." Aussi, je travail pour deux profs. Un est un peu comme une dinde; l'autre est super! Plus des detailes plus tard.

Ma soeur habite avec moi au moment. Elle est gentille et cool ... tous les bons choses. Nous prions qu'elle trouve un job bientot.

Pas des choses interessant avec ma vie vraiment. Je suis super fatigue mais je vous promis plus des mots en francais bientot. Franchement, j'ai regarde les photos de Charleville aujourd'hui et la ville me manque, mes amis me manque, et la France je manque aussi. Vous etes definitivement chers a moi, si j'ecris en francais ou non. (Et, c'est certain que j'ai besoin des repetitions!)

Gros gros bisous, ~Heather

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Escalators

This is a speech I wrote for this week's speechwriting assignment. I thought it was funny enough to warrant a blog post.

_________________
Whenever I’m rushing, I think about how much faster I could get to the bottom of the Metro escalators if they were slides instead.

Like at the slides in the park, I often lose time waiting for others so I can go. Since escalators aren’t going to magically turn into slides, the next best solution is to eliminate the human blockades. When people stand on the right, others can pass and arrive at their destinations more quickly.

Imagine getting to the train on time; not having to mumble under your breath or shove past people. Imagine a world where people stood to the right and walked to the left.

So the next time you’re on the Metro escalators envisioning the fun you’d have if only the stairs would morph, stand to the right. The person passing you might be on their way to inventing the escalator slide of your dreams.
______________________

I know the grammar isn't perfect (come to think of it, I don't think my posts ever are), but I wrote it for performance, not an essay. I'll let you know what my teacher thought of it. (He used to write for Al Gore when he was Vice President, so he's written a few speeches in his time.)

***

This weekend seems to be flying by. Yesterday we celebrated Dave's birthday downtown. It was fun to be out with a ton of people. Theresa spent the night and we stayed up talking for hours ... I'm a little exhausted after just a few hours of sleep, but it was worth the experience.

This coming week will be my first full week of classes. I'm really looking forward to getting into the swing of things now that I have my thesis topic picked out, a potential job to apply for, a middle school musical to help with, two professors to work for, and not to mention all the regular homework I have. My life is incredibly full. The more things to do, the better - it keeps me focused.

I'm off to clean up and then get some sleep. Hope all is well with you. Love always, ~Heather

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

What's wrong?

Pain and missing always seems to go away. Things you think are the defining moments of your life - the events you worry about so intensely - end and change and cease to be important. What I fail to grasp is how to keep that relevant in my daily struggles.

I am an extremely lucky girl - I couldn't ask for much more than I have already been given. Yet in a homily I heard recently the priest explained that we shouldn't fail to go to God with even the smallest problems. I sometimes feel like that is "taking up all the tape on the answering machine" for a really busy person. I think it may be the restriction of my little human brain. This is probably the reason I don't lean on my friends or family too much either (or I try not to).

I seem to scuttle into a corner, revert to silence, and entertain myself with an abundance of unthought-provoking menial tasks. Or I dive into a season of West Wing.

* * *

One thing I like about being left alone in the apartment for long stretches of time is that no one asks what's wrong. I can just sit here and not think about what is wrong (or think about it quietly) and not have to talk about it (whatever it is). It seems like more often than not I can't even figure out what it is that seems to be bothering me.

I think that is one thing I really liked about being an RA. I could leave my door open and not have to be bothered by someone else in my space while simultaneously feeling connected to my rather noisy residents out in the hall. Plus, I always had someone else's problem to solve. Procrastination by helpfulness. That and few of them ever peppered me with the "what's wrong" question.

I think I am going to make it a new policy of mine to not ask that question. I'm going to try to be more creative instead.

I'd love to tell you that the rather somber blogs are just rants in a series of otherwise excessively happy days. However, it seems as if I am sort of going through a dry spell of happiness right now. It is sucked out of me by mental exhaustion.

This weekend is jam-packed with a birthday party, (potentially) a Wii party (I'm debating), and a Superbowl party. I'm sure I'd have fun once I got there, but it seems like alot of work just to get out to the parties. And I don't like the stress of big social events. I always feel the need to take care of everyone else (because it is absolutely certain that the volunteer list to take care of me is non-existent). Most everyone is okay with my quasi-anti-drinking policy, yet they constantly offer me alcohol. I could probably do without that.

The idea of being drunk doesn't really do much for me. I've never done it, and feel like I could hold off awhile longer quite contently. Like a few other things in my life, I feel like losing control/my inhibitions is something best reserved for specific company, pre-planned timing, and a really trustworthy person to make sure I'm okay.

This seems to be going on and on though, so I'll let you be. I hope you are having a good week and enjoying this second month of 2007. I'm working on being happy. Hope you are too! Love always, ~Heather

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Philosopher Me

I have a theory that ...

  • eating ice cream in the cold makes you feel warmer because your internal body temperature decreases.
  • negative thoughts beget negative actions.
  • the roaches visible at night on the USC campus turn into squirrels in the daytime (you never see squirrels at night and rarely see roaches in the day).
  • living in the now (instead of the past or potential future) will eleviate much stress and emotional drama.
  • pizza places in suburban neighborhoods are counter-intuitively decreasing profits by not delivering to homes (or even being open) after 11pm. I should add this also applies to restaurants who are open later than 11pm but who have a delivery area the size of an olympic swimming pool.
  • if the window and cabinet in my apartment were not open in such a fashion as to let in the outside air, it would stay significantly warmer in here.
  • some people, no matter how hard you or they try, will always be stupid. (The same theory applies to intelligence, though some waste that by acting stupid.)
  • all good people go to heaven.
  • as soon as you stop caring about something, that's when it will happen. (However, it is no good to try to stop thinking/caring about something because then the act of forgetting is related to the task of acknowledging the existence of the thing you are trying to forget.)
  • most people really don't have it all together - even if they look like they do.
  • one day I'll be president. (I'm too young for 2008 though.)
I have alot of theories, as many of my close friends will tell you (and some of my estranged friends too!). They could be right. They could be wrong. They may be technically, chemically, or physically impossible. They may be matters of faith, hope, and dreams. But I don't like philosophy because it tries to place intangible concepts into realistic experience. Also because I find it innately boring.

Tonight however, I was feeling philosophical. My current theory is that I need sleep. Some theories are quite effectively based in reality. Maybe I'll have to give philosophy a second chance.

But not tonight.

Love always, ~Heather

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