Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day Back

I'm only blogging to remind you guys that I'm alive. I'm quite possibly about to fall asleep at the computer simply because I had a long day. I have classes solidly from 9-5, which really isn't that bad, it was just stressful remembering to go back to school and all that entails. Does that make sense?

I can tell this semester is going to be tough -- all my classes are 200 or 300 level classes, except Chinese 101, which is going to be tough regardless, because it's learning a whole new language that's not even kind of related to English. But more on all that later.

For now, I'm just trying to remember to breathe. The rest can all come later.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Katrina and Michigan's Rule of Evidence

Today is the four year anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. It ranks at number three of the top five deadliest hurricanes in US history, the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, and the third strongest to make landfall in the US.

It formed in the Bahamas on the 23rd of August, crossed Florida as a category one, picked up speed and force and was briefly considered a category five before it slowed and landed in New Orleans as a category three. It may not have caused so much damage had the levees worked, but because of their massive failure, even hours after the hurricane had landed, New Orleans flooded under thousands of gallons of water. 1,833 lives (disputed, may be 1,825-1,850) were claimed in the aftermath that ensued when the levees failed. Katrina is estimated to be responsible for about $81.2 billion in damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in US history. The two storms more deadly? Lake Okeechobee in 1928 (2500 lives), and The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (8000 lives). So, today think of those that passed and their families as they still try to move on and bring New Orleans back to its former glory. (Also, watch out for Hurricane Danny as it moves north along the eastern coast.)

In other news, Michigan's new Rule of Evidence has got people talking (and me thinking). Basically, "the order allows courts 'reasonable control over the appearance of parties and witnesses' so as to 'ensure that the demeanor of such persons may be observed and assessed by the fact-finder and ensure the accurate identification of such person.'"

In English, please? It means that if anyone wears any kind of religious head covering (Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, etc.) the court can ask you to remove it, even though certain religions forbid removing them in public or in front of members of the opposite sex for religious reasons.

Huh. That sounds suspiciously like a violation of the First Amendment -- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This all started because a woman came to court wearing a niqab, which covers everything except the eyes (pictured left). She was asked to remove the niqab and when she said she couldn't because she was a practicing Muslim, the judge told her she could remove it or have her case dismissed. She chose the latter, probably because removing her niqab in front of men can be considered apostasy, the the rejection in word or action of one's religion. And in conservative Muslim circles, apostasy can be punishable by death. Is death worth the "$2,750 repair bill from a car rental company" she was contesting? Not so much.

She, of course, sued (it's the American way!), but the Federal District Court claimed it wasn't their jurisdiction. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is asking the Michigan court to "add a sentence to the rule saying "that no person shall be precluded from testifying on the basis of clothing worn because of a sincerely held belief,'" according to the Detroit Free Press, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is taking the judge to court over the incident.

The law goes into effect September 1.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

I give this movie two thumbs down. For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you probably saw my opinions of this movie at about 1 am CT this morning when it finally ended and I tried not to rip my eyes out and/or find Quinten Tarantino and punch him in the face. For those of you that don't know the plot, it's basically about a group of Jewish-American soldiers in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. They're sent over to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by brutally killing (and by their own accord, scalping) Nazis. There's also a story that eventually intertwines with theirs about a Jewish woman who escaped being massacred with her family and ends up owning a cinema that is forced to host a Nazi movie premiere (oh, sweet irony). It sounds like a decent enough plot, but having seen it, I'm finding myself asking (not for the first time) why Tarantino's so revered as a great movie-maker.
  • It's not funny. At all. One of the "funnier" characters, Col. Hans Landa (played by Christoph Waltz), is simply annoying. He doesn't make any sense as a character, one moment appearing slightly homosexual, the next a womanizer, the next a ruthless murder, the next a nice man that loves good French cuisine, and the next a babbling idiot. There's no continuity to his character and his lines that are supposed to be funny simply aren't.
  • Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) really grated on me the most, I think. He's supposed to be this American Hero from Tennessee, killing Nazis (or as he'd say nat-si's) and disturbing the order of the Third Reich. However, he comes across as a dumbass who's only interest in life is senseless killing. I understand that death is a necessary by-product of war, blah blah blah, but that doesn't mean that soldiers are bloodthirsty. Pitt's character certainly is violent and bloodthirsty, though, and it's to a point of being slightly disgusting. I mean, I can handle blood (I wanted to be a surgeon for a while) but parts of this movie that made me gag. On top of that, I was actually kind of insulted at the portrayal of American military men as all being bloodthirsty, not very intelligent, cruel, and so ethnocentric that they refuse to learn another language. His treatment of Diane Kruger's character was also less than wonderful, bordering on torturing her for something she couldn't have controlled. The only redeeming quality of this character had nothing to do with the movie -- instead, it proved once again that Brad Pitt is a great actor. If I didn't hope for better, I would be tempted to think that this movie was made entirely to show off Pitt's acting skills, and not to actually be worthwhile entertainment.
  • Also, I'm slightly disappointed in Diane Kruger's role in this movie. She seemed an utterly pointless character, serving only as a pretty face to differentiate from the endless supply of annoying men and a big name to draw more viewers in the US. If they wanted her for that that, they could have had her play Melanie Laurent's part (though Laurent is pretty enough to play Kruger's) and had her kill two (or three) birds with one stone -- being pretty, drawing viewers, and actually moving the plot along.
  • That reminds me -- this movie is painfully long. Length wouldn't be bad if it were like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which has an endless supply of explosions and running to keep you entertained for the 150 minutes it's playing. Inglourious Basterds though, even at a mere three minutes longer, felt hours longer because it's mostly people sitting around chatting. There's a lot of planning in this movie, which while it would have happened in real life (if this movie were remotely true to history), is incredibly boring to watch.
All this is to say -- please don't waste your money seeing it. Because I'm a student, I luckily only wasted $4, but I still wish I hadn't;I could have spent that $4 on a grande iced white chocolate mocha with soy from starbucks and read a good book for three hours (Freakonomics, Atlas Shrugged, This Child Will Be Great...), which would have been an infinitely better way to spend my time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why I Love TAMU

Today was the kind of day I needed here at the wonderful Texas A&M, especially now that all the sophomores-graduate students of TAMU are posting annoyed Facebook statuses about all the traffic now that the freshman have arrived and have no idea where they're going. (Really, it's awful. They should take the bus until they figure out where everything is.) Today made me laugh, which I definitely needed to remind me of how much I love A&M.

Classes start in one week, meaning this week is Howdy Week, aka the week of FREE STUFF here at Texas A&M. But instead of reveling in FREE STUFF, today my wonderful room mate and I decided to go hunt down the buildings our classes would be in because there were a building or two we'd never been to/heard of. If you know anything about TAMU, you probably know that former-President George Bush Sr.'s Presidential Library/Museum is housed here. One of my classes happens to be near it (which is unfortunate, because it's very far from main campus), over in the business school. Confused as to where this building was because it apparently has two names, we walked into a random building, hoping someone in there would be able to help us out.

Have I mentioned by the way that it's 100+ degrees out, we're dressed in oversized sunglasses, workout shorts, and t-shirts and I even have a tiny little stain on mine from some coffee I'd spilled earlier? No? Well, keep that in mind.

Again, we walk into this random building. It's surprisingly crowded. I glance down the hall to my left, and there are at least 30 students dressed very nicely holding folders and looking at Ayla and I rather curiously. Then, an even more nicely dressed (think very nice business suit) man looks at us and says "Howdy, are you here to register for the business convention?"

Ayla and I pause. I consider what I'm wearing versus what everyone else is wearing.

To be perfectly honest, I was tempted to say yes in a very serious voice. That moment passed and I was VERY tempted to say, "Really, dressed like this? Really? REALLY?"

Instead, our crafty response was: "If we are, do we get anything free?"

I think we said the right thing.

(If you're curious -- yes, the guy laughed. Yes, we found the building we were looking for. And yes, the picture is from a statue near the Presidential Library, and yes that is part of the Berlin Wall at the feet of the horses.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quotes and the like

(Yes, that photo IS mine. Ask permission before using.)

I found the quote in that picture in Travis' tumblr and liked it so much I decided to Picnik it (yeah, I used that as a verb, like Google; let it happen). I've realized how all-encompassing loss is recently now that I feel like I've really lost my hometown. I feel that that part of my life is over now, you know? That chapter is closed and done, and while I'll never be done wanting to go back and visit, I'd be okay never living there again. It makes me kind of sad though, it feels like I lost my childhood and all the illusions that come with it.

That's about all I've got to say today, but here are a few quotes I'd like to share (I'm kind of a quote-fanatic).

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." -- Goethe

"Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring." -- Marilyn Monroe

"I cannot believe the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate. I think it is above all to count, to stand for something. To have it make some difference that you lived at all." -- Leo Rosten (I've quoted this one before.)

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

"Life is beauty, admire it. Life is bliss, taste it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it."
-Mother Teresa

"The supreme happiness of life is that conviction that we are loved for ourselves -- say, rather, loved in spite of ourselves." -- Victor Hugo

"Well-behaved women rarely make history." -- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Friday, August 21, 2009


Yesterday, my best guy-friend "Techie" (as I'll call him on here) got me thinking about how much I've changed in the past year. He's blogging on this subject today too as he drives back to college in Lubbock, and I thought I might reflect and write on it too as I get ready to start my second year at TAMU. After all, they (who the heck is "they"?) say that you change the most your first year of college. I mean, you're off on your own for the first time, all that jazz. I can see it in all my friends and it's only through major blessings that most of us have grown up in a way that we can all still be friends and not have major conflicts despite how much we've changed. But, I digress.

The truth of the matter is that I know I've changed. I know that I've changed a lot, probably the most of anyone in my group of friends. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm almost an entirely different person, except maybe my sense of humor. But because I can see that very broad view, I can't see the details of exactly how I changed. So I enlisted (yes, enlisted) a few friends to help me out with this examination of my former vs present self.

My best girl-friend Cyndi would like to tell you that I'm more organized now. I'll tell you that I've always been very organized, just in a very unconventional way. My bedroom was what I've always called "an organized mess" and it was true. Sure, I might occasionally discover furniture I didn't know I had (I have a specific memory of a time that I was forced to clean and found that a chair in my room that I didn't know was there), but I knew what was in each pile and could easily find anything I needed (well, except chairs, apparently).

Techie says that I'm more headstrong now after a year away at school. He says this is a compliment, and I entirely believe him, but let's dissect that. According to Google, headstrong means, among other things:
  • habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition (that doesn't sound too complimentary...)
  • stubbornness (better.)
  • Determined to do as one pleases, and not as others want (best.)
Okay, I can see that. I've always been fairly independent (my mother would be more than happy to confirm that -- and give you too many stories for my comfort to explain her point) but I definitely shed some people and some twisted idea that I had to let others make decisions for me. Granted, I still find myself tweeting "Hey, twitterverse: what should I have for lunch?" But, I suppose that's not quite the same as "Hey, random people I go to HS with that barely know me: should I go to college?" (No, that never actually happened. But it's an example.) I make decisions more, and sometimes I actually have a rationale behind them. Even further, I insist on them if I think they're right. For instance, I'm going to China in a few years. Everyone I've told this to has been like "Why China?" Because I have to, that's why. Simple as that. I know it's dangerous, but I'm going. So, yeah, headstrong sounds about right. [The photo is of Techie and I before leaving for freshman year last summer. My hair is so short because I donated it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Again, I digress...]

has been one of my closest friends for the longest period of time -- since seventh or eighth grade (wow, does he probably have a wealth of memories of embarassing things I've done for TAT). So, while he could probably tell me longer than just a year, he instead gave me a very long description of the past year, which I couldn't possibly paraphrase, so I'll just quote it here: "It is very clear that Christ is prevalent in you life. I knew He was a year ago, but its a big difference in a very good way. I don't know how to explain it, but you seem to just communicate love in how you carry yourself, how you converse, your countenance... a year of college and Christ has changed your perspective of people, and also yourself." He's entirely right -- God has been a big part of the growing up I've done in the past year. I see myself in a different light now, that's for sure -- I'm a small part of a bigger picture. As Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts..." I have my part to play, and I know that it is to attempt to love unconditionally and it's part of why I'm going to China. Sure I'm scared, and this was never part of my dream for my life (ask anyone -- a year ago I abhorred the idea of China; it was the one country I never wanted to visit) but hey, I don't get to pick anymore. Jeremiah 29:11 says "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" I try to remember that verse everyday, and apparently people (or Josh, as it were) noticed.

I think this entry ended up being a lot longer than I intended. But that's okay, I suppose. Maybe one of the other changed from the past year is that I'm much more verbose than I used to be. Oh, who am I kidding, I've always had a penchant for talking too much.

How did you guys change your first year of college (or your first year on your own)? If you're not there yet, how did you change in the past year?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Joseph Kony

I realized recently most of my entries in this blog have been falling more into the "Life" and "Happiness" categories than "Liberty," which is bad because when I started this I intended it to be a balance between the three, since liberty and freedom (or the lack thereof) around the world is really important to me. So that being said, here's a long over due post on a man named Joseph Kony and the horrific things he's putting the youth of Uganda through.

When you Google "Joseph Kony," a lot comes up. Wikipedia comes up first of course, informing you that he was born in Uganda circa 1962-5, and is head of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). At first glance, this seems okay. I mean, take the name "Lord's Resistance Army." Okay, that doesn't sound too bad; kind of sounds reminiscint of the Crusades or something, right? Like he's trying to be some ultra-good Chrisitan guy spreading the Word right?

Yeah, not so much. The LRA is a guerilla group that is responsible for one of African's longest running conflicts; it began it's violent rebellion in Uganda back in 1987. Since then, the LRA has commited horrific crimes against humanity (International Criminal Court's phrasing, not mine, though it's valid) including violent attacks on the people of Northern Uganda and abducting some 30,000 children and forcing them to fight in his army. It's been reported that he tells these children that he abducts that if the draw crosses on their chests made of oil, they will be protected from bullets when they fight. The kids are forced to abduct, rape, and kill anyone and everyone, sometimes their own friends and families. Despite the fact that Kony allegedly stopped attending church at the age of 15, he does think he's doing the good Christian thing -- in letters regarding peace talks, he mentions that he needs to consult the Holy Spirit before making decisions. The LRA also claims to be guided by the Ten Commandments and Scripture and during peace talks, Kony would be preceeded into the room by men in robes sprinkling holy water. “Yes, we are fighting for Ten Commandments,” “Is it bad? It is not against human rights. And that commandment was not given by Joseph. It was not given by LRA. No, that commandment was given by God.”

I'm not even going to try to conceal my disgust at that comment -- that doesn't sound like the God I know. I don't think there's a mainstream religion that has God saying "hey, go massacre hundreds, kidnap kids, abuse them, then force them to do the same thing to other kids, potentially kids they know." As for fighting for the Ten Commandments? I'm pretty sure (though, please, correct me if I'm wrong) the Ten Commandments don't command people to form armies and rape/massacre thousands. In fact, I'm pretty sure they say something along these lines:
  • Exodus 20:13: You shall not murder. Hmm, justify that one for me, Kony.
  • Exodus 20:15: You shall not steal. I'm pretty sure other people's children fall into that category.

In October of 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced arrest warrants for five members of the LRA -- Kony, his deputy Vincent Otti, and three generals of the army. Kony's indictment included three 33 charges: "12 counts are crimes against humanity, which include murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement and rape. There are another 21 counts of war crimes which include murder, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, inducing rape, and forced enlisting of children into the rebel ranks." ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Ocampo was quoted saying that "Kony was abducting girls to offer them as rewards to his commanders." The US declared Kony a terrorist after 9/11/01, and in 2008 put him on a list of "specially designated global terrorists," which carries some financial penalties. December 24, '08: The UN reported that members of the LRA massacred 189 people and abducted 20 children from a celebration sponsored by a Catholic Church (ironic much?).

So far, he's eluded arrest. But now, a group called The Rescue, part of Invisible Children, is lobbying to get Kony arrested and the thousands of children he has enslaved freed. If you have a Twitter, and have for more than six months, you probably remember the trending topic, #therescue. That's the group I'm talking about -- they did a symbolic "rescue" of cities across the US in April then lobbied in D.C. back in June and were noticed. I'm honestly not sure what they're doing now, if anything, since D.C. was titled "How It Ends" but the fight definitely isn't over -- Kony is still out there, still abducting and killing children. For more on it, go watch the video that started The Rescue and see the kids for yourself.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Totally Awkward Tuesday

So, in honor of having just moved back to the wonderful city of College Station, I'm going to tell you a totally awkward story about my first Midnight Yell. (As always, this is brought to you by Tova Darling -- her story today is one that we can all relate to, I promise.)

For those of you not lucky enough to be Aggies, Midnight Yell is a tradition at A&M: We gather in Kyle Field at midnight the Friday night before every football game (unless it's away) and do yells (not cheers!) to get pumped up for the next day's game. And after it's over, all the lights in the stadium turn off for a moment and you're supposed to mug down (make out/kiss) your date. And if you don't have a date, you're supposed to hold up a lighter, find someone else with a lighter and kiss them.

For the first Midnight Yell, a girl I was friends with set me and her suite-mate (who is now incidentally my new room mate -- check out our new apartment!) up on blind dates with some Corps of Cadets boys she knew. The guy I went with was a sweet guy named Dan -- really fun, strong faith, easy to talk to -- who I met once at the library the day before our date. We went out with his entire outfit and Ayla (which made it a little less awkward), had dinner, hung out for a while, then went on to yell practice. As you probably know by now (or don't if you're not a regular reader... hmmm...) I'm a naturally awkward person, so I didn't exactly make it easy on the poor guy but the whole night was just awkward. Let's face it, it was a blind date -- there was no way in heck it was going to go well. But this went awfully -- we forgot each other's name more than once, he was off talking to one of his friends and forgot about me for like forty-five minutes, Ayla's date's room mate was flirting with me more than Dan was, all his other corps buddies were making stupid jokes and talking about the corps and things we didn't understand, Ayla's date was also being kind of rude and stand-offish, so she and I spent more time alone in the stands talking to each other than with our dates.

And then, as if this would cure all the awkwardness at the end of the night, when the lights went out, Dan and I kissed. As if that would make the fifteen-minute walk back to his car, over to his brother's apartment to watch movies, and then our final good night at about 3 am totally normal.

But, luckily, I got a lot out of that night. I don't know if Ayla and I would have been friends if it weren't for that bonding night and Dan and I are actually pretty good friends now and I can't wait for him to move back to CS (he lives in DC -- lucky him!). So, over all, it was a good night, but easily the most awkward way to start two very good friendships.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Long time no post

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted everyone, but I've been moving into my new apartment! It's been a crazy hectic week/weekend, starting on Thursday.

Thursday: There was a "party" at my place. Close to twenty people were there -- there was movie "watching" galore (we didn't finish a single one) and lots of talking and having fun. It was great to see everyone one last time before I left for TAMU, where I am now. Stupidly though, I didn't take a single picture that night.

Friday: Commence moving in extravaganza! I drove down, got here by about 4, got the key, and when Ayla and I walked in to our brand new apartment (new to us... not so new in real life) it was 95 degrees inside and looked like the picture below. Now, that's just my bedroom, but still. I didn't take a lot of before pictures because it was too hot and we wanted to get out of there and let it cool down ASAP. My parents arrived that night, Ayla and I crashed on the floor in what is now the dining room and good times were had (but not really, because it was still really hot).
Saturday: This was when the real moving in started. I had moved some stuff that was in my car in already, but that was mostly clothes. Saturday though, Kevin arrived and he and my dad unloaded my truck and the real moving in got started. Again, not many pictures were taken because my dad looked like he would kill me if I took a lot, but here's a picture of Kevin helping me finish painting my room. :] Doesn't he look so excited?
Yesterday was mostly just decorating, putting books in place, etc. So now, here are the final pictures of my bedroom/bathroom and the dining room (the living room/kitchen aren't quite done...almost there).

And there's all the pictures I have so far. Once the living room and dining room are done, I'll show you those. So, how was your weekend? Anyone else moving or doing decorating-type things?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Totally Awkward Tuesday

Once again, I am participating in this week's Totally Awkward Tuesday, hosted (as always) by Tova Darling. Her story for today is hilarious (and possibly the cliff-notes story of my life from ages 7 - 17) so go check it out.

My story for today is about ex-boyfriends. You'll find that most of my Totally Awkward stories are about ex-boys or room mates (or maybe you won't if you're not a regular reader. hmm...)

As you know (or may not, first time reader) I'm one of my boss's favorites at work, which somehow gets twisted into having to work a lot more than the other swim instructors, ie whenever he/the managers can't/don't want to work. The night of this story, I'm home for the weekend from my first semester of college and there is a swim meet at the pool I work at. Neither my boss nor any of the other managers can make it in, so I'm sitting in the office, attempting to tell the lifeguards (who are all older than me at this point, I might add) what to do, when who should I see but one of my exes walking around on the pool deck. (That's the pool I'm talking about to the left -- with a mechanical shark fin in the water! Not at a swim meet, though. I digress..)

We'll call this one Boy C (yes, there are Boys A & B). Boy C is not technically an ex as much as he is someone I went on a few dates with the summer after my senior year of high school. He decided we should see other people through an email while he was at work one day -- as you can tell, it was love at first sight.

Now, Boy C was very clearly out of place. Mostly because he was wearing a sweater in a sweltering hot indoor pool (there's no air conditioning so the swimmers don't freeze), but also because he was carrying a really nice Nikon or Canon camera near a giant body of water. So, being suspicious of what exactly is going on, I walk out on deck to question him. He commences to tell me that he's snapping photos for the yearbook. We make small talk for a few moments and I inform him that a ceremony honoring the senior swimmers will start soon and he probably wants to get out of the way -- it's not exactly photo-worthy anyways.

So, taking me up on my offer (maybe, I don't remember if I actually told him to join me in the office) he follows me into the office, sits across from me and we start to talk about how his senior year is going. Then, a lifeguard that works there walks into the office. I never really went on a date with this one, but he liked me a lot and had made that very clear on more than one occasion. He also knows who Boy C is (though Boy C doesn't know this when they're introduced.) So he's kind of flirting with me when all of sudden there's a knock on the window to the office. Who should be there but Boy A? Of course.

(For those who don't know, Boy A and I dated for a year and a half in high school and basically broke up because I was going off to college. I began dating Boy C soon after.)

So, now I have Boy A -- the ex that at that point I would have still gotten back together with --, Boy C -- who to this day I like the idea of, but was over him by the time he sat in my office --, and Lifeguard all sitting in the office with me and I have no way to escape because I'm required to be in there and I'm not mean enough to kick them out. Boy C and Boy A know who the other is and when they're introduced there's a very obvious though brief moment of sizing each other up. Lifeguard has realized what's going on by this point and is either openly amused or competitive, I've never really been able to tell, and I'm sinking down slowly in my chair as they start to talk to each other, then all turn to me at the same time and ask who I'm now dating.

Commence sinking lower in my chair (thankfully, I've never really been a blusher). I must have mumbled something about the 23-year-old ex-Marine I actually was dating because I'm asked about him occasionally to this day, but the rest of that conversation was a blur except the moment when another lifeguard (a girl this time, and a friend of mine) walked in, recognized every person in that room and their relation to me, looked at me and said, "Well...this is awkward..." and very quickly fled from the room. I could have pummeled her for not at least taking Lifeguard with her so I could maybe at least one of the ex-boy's to leave based on "needing to do work" but no such luck. She later laughed at me and asked how my evening had gone.

Needless to say, I've since worked up the courage to kick people out of the office when necessary.

6:50 am

Yes, that IS what time it is as I write this. I wish I could say it's because I was somewhere east of me and my body was still mentally in that time zone, but no, it's because I had crazy nightmares and my mind forced me to wake up to escape the torture of my dreams.

Unfortunately, I'm back from San Diego. This means lots of real-world-type things like work and packing to move on August 15th; the latter sounds much more exciting. I've bought some art for the walls in my bedroom and I think I'm going to start shopping for living room art soon -- Ayla has apparently decided to leave most of the decorating up to me, which while I think is a bad idea (I will have too much fun with it) I also appreciate that she trusts me with that kind of an undertaking. :] But anyways, I'm actually leaving home this Friday afternoon and start moving in at 9 am Saturday morning. That's going to be a LONG day. But there will be pictures. Oh, lots and lots of pictures. Speaking of pictures, I uploaded the ones from San Diego, CA, so go mosey on over and look at those. They're cool. :]

Quick follow-up: In my last In The News post, I talked briefly about pro-democracy voice Aung San Suu Kyi and the whole hearing thing. Well, early this morning she was convicted of violating state security laws by allowing that American into her house after she swam there. Her sentence? 18 more months of house arrest (aka: Don't take part in the 2010 elections).

Here, to tide me over to your next post (it's possible that they'll be sporadic now that I'm moving), here's a little movie trailer that I only discovered thanks to Accidentally, Kle. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

San Diego, CA

I love the city of San Diego. I flew in Friday night and have been having a blast since. My cousin Jackie (pictured, left) lives here and as soon as she picked me up at the airport, it was just go, go, go. After a late lunch at CPK, we went to the Padres game. It was pretty touch and go for a while, but they won with a grand slam in the last inning. That night we rented movies -- The Sweetest Thing (hilarious) and He's Just Not That Into You (even more hilarious).

Yesterday we were part of one of the most out of control things I think I've ever seen. See, a year or two ago they passed a law in all of California saying that you can't drink of the beach, but drinking in the water (like, in a boat) is okay. So naturally, Californians have found a way to get around this: Intertubapalooza. Once or twice a year, a giant party is thrown in one of the bays where everyone brings intertubes or any kind of floatation device and beer into the bay. The law says that as long as your feet aren't touching sand, you're okay to drink. So, yesterday, about 500+ people got together in the bay at Pacific Beach (PB), tied their tubes/homemade rafts/inflatable dolls (yeah, really) to each other and to boats and commenced to party. It was out of control, the type of thing you really only see happening in movies. It was craziness. Jackie and I were so beat though by like 8 pm that we went to her house, got an obscene amount of food and just ate and watched Friends until like 2 am.

Today, Jackie's younger brother Jonathan and even younger sister Jovanna drove down from their parents house like an hour and a half north of SD to hang out. We got In-N-Out (best fastfood ever) then went back to PB and have been hanging there ever since. Blogging on the beach is possibly one of my favorite things ever. Though I'm getting kind of hungry... Maybe time for another In-N-Out run?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Totally Awkward Tuesday

I know I haven't posted a TAT in a while, but I have recently thought of a few really awkward situations I've been in in the past and thought I'd share at least one today. :] As always, this is hosted by the ever-wonderful Tova.

So, my first room mate was a great girl. Really funny, laid-back, wonderful. We fought like once the entire year we lived together (though I'm sure there were more times than that that we wanted to kill each other) and it was just easy and awesome. Now, there was one thing that made our relationship awkward occasionally. Before I explain, I'd like to remind you all that I'm very open-minded and was totally cool with this whole thing, it really honestly didn't bother me at all. My wonderful room mate was gay. Like I said, it was fine. It only ever caused a problem once and a half-ish. This is the story of that half-ish.

One day, my new room mate, Ayla, stopped by my old room mate and I's room to kick me awake to go to our Phi Lamb meeting and, naturally, saw my room mate. They made small talk while I got ready and it turned out my room mate was on Skype with her girlfriend. I'd never seen the girl before but I'd heard a lot about her so when Ayla told me that my room mate and the GF had been talking, I wasn't surprised. But then when we left, Ayla did tell me something surprising:

"Valorie, her girlfriend could be your twin."

This didn't really bother me that much. I mean, it was kind of awkward, you know the same way it's awkward when you find out that a co-worker has a little crush on you but you so don't have a crush on them. I mean, apparently I was kind of physically attractive to her. Not so bad, I've been told worse (and been in more awkward situations), so I just kind of ignored it. However, Ayla wasted no time telling all of our guy friends (who are big macho men that are not so comfortable with their sexuality) about this new development in what I've come to call the Room Mate Files (after the X-Files. I don't know, I'm lame.)

They made fun of me incessantly. "Valorie, I bet she takes picture of you while you sleep." "I bet she watches you change." I knew none of this was true because she always fell asleep before me and because we never really had the same schedule so we never had to change in front of one another. That got awkward because they'd stop by the room on our way somewhere and make weird faces at me about it and annoy me about it in very loud voices about it on the most conservative campus in the nation.

She, of course, knew none of this. And, eventually, the girl and her broke up. But to this day, my friends are like "Remember that time your room mate was in love with you, so she dated a girl that looked just like you?"

Monday, August 3, 2009

In the news...

So, I've been really really bad at doing this newsworthy blogpost once a week like I said I would. I know, I'm sorry. But I'm trying, really! Anyways, here are some things that have happened in the past two weeks.

Erin Andrews, a female sports journalist, has been all over the news recently because someone decided to horribly invade her privacy and shoot a video of her alone in her hotel room. We can only assume what she was doing. As if female sports journalists didn't have enough issues with people doubting their credibility, they're being judged by their looks as well, which is pretty unfair. (Image cred: Chicago Sun Times & Google)

Chris Brown recently tried out an apology to the public in relation to his severe and cruel beating of then-girlfriend Rihanna. However, judging by how long it took him to apologize and his means of doing so (YouTube, man? Really?) it's doubtful whether or not his apology is actually sincere. I'll leave it to you to decide for sure. As for me, I think it sounds pretty scripted.

Internationally, three American hikers are being detained in Iran. Apparently they accidentally stumbled across the border and are now being charged with entering the country illegally. They had a fourth friend who stayed behind and is hopefully helping them and the US government get them safely out.

An 89-year-old survivor of three Nazi concentration camps was found strangled in his New York apartment last Thursday. On Saturday, an arrest was made in relation to the murder/robbery, but police are still searching for a man who was apparently the woman's accomplice.

The verdict for Aung San Suu Kyi, a Myanmar opposition leader on trial for subversion, was expected Friday but was delayed until August 11. She has been on house arrest since 1989 after she rose to fame as the face of democracy for Myanmar during the national uprising of August 8, 1988 (dubbed '8888'). She and her two housekeepers are now being charged with illegally allowing an American man to stay in her home. She's a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and if convicted could spent up to five years in prison.

China, which is often criticized for its (extremely) liberal use of the death penalty, is promising to (try to) reduce it's numbers of executions. "As it is impossible for the country to abolish capital punishment under current realities and social security conditions, it is an important effort to strictly control the application of the penalty by judicial organs," Zhang Jun, vice president of the Supreme People's Court, said. Of course, because the official paperwork basically says it's on a case-by-case basis and can be subjectively judged, this may just be a political stunt to look better, but nothing at all may change. Human rights groups estimate that somewhere between 1,700 and 5,000 people were executed in China last year for crimes as small as drug traffiking. I guess we'll see if that number drops at all in the next year.

As if Michael Phelps needed another record to boast about, he set the world record in the 200 m butterfly on Wednesday, shattering his own previous world record. Of course, this made up for the extremely shocking loss he experienced in the 200 m freestyle to German swimmer Paul Biedermann on Tuesday. Until then, he hadn't lost the 200 m freestyle event since 2004 in Athens. But I guess there's a first time for everything, huh, Michael? This has sparked what is being dubbed The Great Swimsuit Debate, which basically asks if new polyeurathane suits are acceptable to compete in since they create an obvious advantage for the wearer but are too expensive for every team to afford. We'll see if they get banned before the 2012 Olympics.

An 8-year-old girl in Phoenix was lured into a shed, pinned down, and sexually assaulted by four boys, all 14 or younger. The family was described as "ashamed of her" because the crime made the family look bad. As shocking as this is to Americans, people who know Liberian culture know this is typical. After 14 years of civil war in which rape was one of the tactics used by fighters, groups like Amnesty International have estimated that 60-70% of women in Liberia have been sexually assaulted. A government report in '06 said that have 1,600 women surveyed, 92% reported some kind of sexual assualt, including rape. In Liberian communities, rape victims are often ostracized because of the crime, so many keep it quiet, and it's not because they think rape is okay, but because it's considered part of everyday life. In 2005, after Liberia's first woman was elected president, rape was finally made a crime. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had this to say about the crime: "Those parents should know that things have changed in Liberia," she told CNN last week. "No longer do we tolerate this. This is not a question of shame on the family. It's a question of the assault of a young child, and that cannot be tolerated."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jesse McCartney Concert :]

On Friday, Cyndi and I spent the day in Arlington. We drove to Six Flags of Texas in the morning, picked up our tickets for the Jesse McCartney concert that night, left Six Flags, then spent the day partly with Kevin in a Barnes and Noble drinking coffee and writing (hey, at least we weren’t wearing berets and being snobby too). It was great; I definitely got a lot of writing done AND finally got a picture of Kevin and I where neither of us are being too conceited and/or looking really mad.

But, that’s not what I’m here to tell you about. I am here to tall you about the glory that was the Jesse McCartney concert that night.

So, I’m going to be honest. If a week ago, you would have asked me what I thought of Jesse McCartney, I would have told you he’s a pretty boy with an acceptable amount of talent, that sings a lot of pop with a few good hits, and it really only famous because of his ultra-talented father. Now I’d tell you that he’s a very pretty boy with a crazy amount of talent, who is doing awesome and original things with music, has a lot of really great honest songs, and would have been famous no matter who his family was.

Seeing him perform live was epic. That’s the only way to put it. He quite simply puts on a great show that entertains and excites. I could rave for hours, so here are few more pictures instead.
By the way, we were really close to the stage. :]

look at those moves :3

That was supposed to be me. Except, really. She was jail bait; I'm at least his age (which I shouted when he picked her -- the back up dancer on the right laughed).

my favorite picture from the concert. :]

The storm that made the concert end early and the park close. LAME.