Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Day With the Babies

Today I had the great privilege of watching the babies so Todd & Lisa could go out for a while. We went to the park, had a picnic in the back yard, watched and acted out Cinderella, and just generally had a good time. One of the most fun things was watching Ian take his first series of multiple steps. He's been inches from walking for about a week now. The funny thing is that he'll be sitting down and then just stand up, but then he starts to congratulate himself with vigorous applause and knocks himself down before he can take a step. Sometimes he'll shuffle one foot forward, but that's about it. This time he stood there, bouncing up and down to a music video that was on, and then took about 5 steps and then dropped down. Very exciting.

That was, however, not the best thing. The best thing happened when Chloe and I were watching Cinderella and Ian was playing with his new basketball hoop. Without provocation, he monkey crawled over to me, climbed up my arm, and gave me a kiss and then just cuddled up for a hug. So cute! I think we've officially bonded. This visit has also seen a definite shift in my relationship with Chloe as well. Most of the time she wants to be with my mom and she includes me to a point. This time she's seeking me out and really into hanging out with me, which is great fun. The auntie gig is truly the way to go.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Interior: We open on Chloe and Auntie Tiffy shopping at our local Fry's, picking up a few things to get us ready for our baking day. Chloe notices that I'm wearing a sweatshirt around my waist, points to it quizzically and asks,

Chloe: Auntie Tiffy, why are you wearing that there?

Me: To cover up my big bootie

Chloe tilts her head and thoughtfully considers my bootie, as it is eye-level for her. After a pause, she says:

Chloe: It's not SO big. At least it's not way out there (at this, she bends forward at the waist, extending her arms behind her, palms up.)

Me: Thanks, sweetie. You can sit by me.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Fabulous

My obsession with shoes is well-documented and needs no further development. I give you my red Christmas shoes that worked the party circuit with me this year. While I would never preach in them, their fabulousness is of biblical proportion, n'est pas?

Winding Down

It's a chilly winter morning and I'm getting ready for the road trip home. I've completed my last day of work at the KK for 2007, and what a day it was. More on that in a moment. Tomorrow marks the annual road trip home. I drive every year b/c dad does maintenance stuff on my car. His preference is that no one touches it - ever - because auto maintenance is his love language. He's a bit concerned this year b/c I have a power steering fluid leak happening right now and he's afraid the whole thing will bust out on the road. That would suck, so here's hoping that doesn't happen. The sucky thing is that I have to drive it straight through after church on Sunday, so that will put me there about 3 AM on Christmas Eve. Awesome.

We do our Christmas on Christmas Eve, and have the great tradition of attending an early service, home for a supper of chili and tamales, a birthday cake for Jesus, and then gifts. Dad grew up opening gifts on Christmas Eve and is unable to open gifts in daylight. He feels it's wrong somehow and I'm inclined to agree. Then on Christmas Day, we pretty much do nothing. I got to a movie, usually, b/c a lot of stuff is released that day. This year, I'm feeling Charlie Wilson's War.

I'm very excited for New Years' Eve. I usually don't do much, because I think it's a crap holiday, but this year I'm going to be in San Diego with a dear college friend whom I've not seen in about 7 years. She lives in Alabama, but will be out west visiting family so I'm going to drive up on the 31st and spend the night with her there and then mosey on back to the Bay Area on the 1st. Then, it's back to work on the 2nd...

Work. We received some news yesterday at the KK that our department would be relocating from down the peninsula to the main offices in downtown SF. Obviously, that's brilliant for me. I have a ton of friends from my neighborhood who work down there and we can commute together, work out at lunch together, hang out after work - it's all good. The vibe down there is a lot of fun, high energy, lots to do, very cool. However, this was not good news for a lot of folks there and the day was filled with drama and emotion. Many of my co-workers live near work or farther south and this will add hours to their daily commute, not to mention the child care issues involved. The leadership has said that they will be creative and flexible in addressing people's needs and I believe that they will. My personal challenge is to let people be angry about it in the short term and not go on about how good it is for me so as to appear that I'm minimizing their legitimate complaints. They've set the move for the end of January.

When I get home, there will be family stuff to do, friends to see, dinners to attend. Mom is having surgery on her hand, and I'll be taking care of her as well, but before that, we'll be hitting the after-Christmas sales pretty hard. It will go quickly, but it will be fun. My January is already a whirlwind of activity with friends in town, the aforementioned office move and church stuff. The year is already promising to be one of significant movement, and, as always, change.

Today I have decided to have a day of preparation - getting ready for my trip, ready to preach on the 6th, ready for worship tomorrow, etc. This year I've been getting from activity to activity and not really in the Advent frame of mind, and so I'm taking today as a focused Advent day to read some of the devotions I've stockpiled, read scripture and focus on the season. And then I'll watch the Cowboys beat Carolina.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

She's one of us!

My little Chloe has a very vivid imagination and loves to play pretend. Often, she pretends to be Diego or his cousin Alicia. This past Sunday, Dad picked her up to take her to their church for their kids Christmas play. When he got there, he took her into the kitchen for some reason and some of his friends were in there. When they saw her, they all said, "Oh - is this Chloe?" Her response: "I'm Alicia." When they all were confused by her response, she looked at them and said, "That was a joke." They'd been had by a three-year-old. Love it.

Grocery Bag Day @ Glide Memorial

Today a group of us from the KK went to volunteer at Glide Memorial's Annual Grocery Bag Giveaway. It was one of the biggest of the program's eighteen-year history and a lot of folks received food. There were a lot of thoughts knocking around in my head as I processed what was going on. I was part of the Security team, you know, because I strike such an imposing figure.

1. The TL is a difficult place. At one point we were stationed along the line in front of a corner store. There was a sign posted near the door that stated that dealing drugs there would not be tolerated and would be reported. However, at the time we were standing there, the guy from Miller was unloading case after case of beer, Colt 45, Olde English, etc. Just because they're legal doesn't make them beneficial, and in that neighborhood it's feeding addictions the same way pushing heroine would be.

2. I wonder what happened to people to have them living like that. I saw people who were clearly on drugs, mentally ill, prostitutes, and one pregnant woman who was smoking and looked stoned. My parents have a friend who was on drugs for most of his life and his mother had been a dealer and he's always said that he never knew he could choose a different way. I wonder if that's the case in some of these situations. It makes me so sad and I want to fix it all, but I know that they have to have both the desire and the opportunity. But, I feel as Christians, we are all called to create the opportunities for people to step out into a better life, regardless of their response.

3. Because I was working security, I saw the side of the event where people were taking advantage. I saw people who would go through the line and get their food and then run around and go back and try to get more. Then, they would take their food right down the street, in full view, and sell the groceries to other people. Again, another situation where we have to do what we're told and not try to control the outcome, but that is so difficult. It is so natural for me to want to withhold from someone I believe won't appreciate my efforts, but it's not about that. It's about being who I'm called to be.

Monday, December 17, 2007

L'année du chapeau

I have decided to declare this the Year of the Hat.

The hat and I have a checkered past. I've always loved them and there are several style that I feel I can rock, primarily the cloche and the bucket. There's a very cute red hat at Gap right now that I simply must have. Unfortunately, they only had it in a small size and I have a huge head, so when I tried it on, it was so tight that I started wanting to vote for Mitt Romney.

My mother's favorite childhood humiliation story of mine (and there are several) is the infamous Hat Day incident of 1979. I was in the third grade. My brother was 3 and we were attending the Light & Life Christian School. The preschool where my brother was kept was a separate building at the other end of the parking lot, but they were always bringing the little ankle-biters over and foisting them on us older, and clearly more sophisticated elementary school types. One of the things we always did as a whole school is special emphasis days, spirit weeks, etc. This particular incident occurred when my brother brought home a colorful flyer announcing "Hat Day," detailing a contest with prizes for the most outrageous hats. In my third grade wisdom, I deduced that since it was Hat Day for the preschoolers, it must be Hat Day for us older kids as well. Makes sense, right? I urged my mom to help me create the most fantastic hat we could conjure from bits of kitsch around the house. The result was a white Gilligan hat festooned with souvenirs, pins, toys and pretty much anything we could affix to the sad little floppy hat. I was ready.

My distaste for mornings began early in my life and my morning tardiness has persisted for the whole of my life. I was always a few minutes late every morning for school and this particular morning was no exception. I remember this being a damp morning, and either it was raining or it had rained that night, so I was gingerly picking my way across the basketball court so as not to slip on the concrete, one had holding the atrocity on my head. I ran up the stairs into the classroom just making the bell so I wasn't technically tardy. As I eased into the bustle of children removing coats and backpacks, stowing lunch boxes, my keen powers of observation detected that there were no other hats in the room, whimsical or otherwise. I quickly swept the hat off my head, into my bag, and went on with my day. When mom came to pick me up, she asked me how it went and I told her. She's still laughing.

I made another foray into hat land in the eighth grade when I chose to wear a soft pink hat, that I can only describe as kind of a swinger but not totally. I was the only one wearing a hat, but I didn't care because I loved it. It was my last brave fashion act in a while. The rest of adolescence was spent in dutiful trend-following and primarily safe choices, with the possible exception of bright teal Converse high tops. It was the '80s, after all.

I have declared this the year of the hat, partly because I live in a cool, damp climate, but also because, I look good in some hats and, damnit, I'm 35. If I want to wear a hat, I'm wearing a hat. Welcome to the year of the hat.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Pot & The Kettle Go to Union Square

Last Sunday evening was The Rock, an annual Christmas carol singing event in Union Square. It was led by the Open Door band and they did a great job. The energy in the crowd was great. People were dancing, singing, sipping hot beverages, and generally having a good time. Of course, it wouldn't be a church-oriented event without a few complaints.

Let me begin with a qualifier: I am an imperfect person. I don't take criticism well, and I have a hard time disguising my disdain for hypocrites. The situation I am about to describe is one that I will not say that I handled perfectly, but I did handle it honestly. Not always the best policy, as it turns out, but gets the job done.

The e-mail comes from the chairperson of the board of trustees at a church where I used to be involved. For our purposes here, we'll call it Former Community Church (FCC). K, the chairperson, e-mailed me to let me know how disappointed she was in this year's event. Fair enough. There's just no way that with an event that size that everyone will be pleased. It was different from last year. We didn't read the Christmas story and we *gasp* sang secular songs. Her e-mail was long, well-thought-out and well-organized, with numbers. However, all of it boiled down to a couple of issues that I think the Church needs to examine.

K comes from a church that is what I affectionately call a toxic cesspool of dysfunction, and I told her as much in my response. Staff and church-goers alike have jumped ship. Those who have left have gone on to cause some mild havoc in the new communities they have joined because of the wounds inflicted on them at FCC. Those who have remained have scratched their heads in dismay, wondering what went wrong. Puzzled, they consulted an expert and had their church evaluated. In all areas but one, they scored in the extremely unhealthy range. Taking their advice on matters of ministry would be tantamount to me taking voice lessons from William Hung.

My point in bringing up FCC's record, is to show that it's so easy to sit in one's glass house and throw stones, and I could stand to work a little harder on that lesson. It's a good reminder that the right to speak truth is earned through mutually respectful relationship.

Another attitude reflected in this communication that irked me is that of consumerism. My particular needs and expectations were not met so you're going to hear about it. If you don't do what I want the way I want it, I'm going to make it an issue of theology so I don't look so shallow. Whatever. It's not about you.

My biggest issue comes from the fact that K was assuming that we all share the same definitions of "worship" and "outreach." From what she wrote in her e-mail, the terms "worship" and "music" are synonymous. Beyond that, "worship" is an event that you attend, rather than a life that you live. If I were to bring this to her, she would argue that she does in fact believe in the definition of worship as a lifestyle, but everything in her e-mail suggests the contrary.

Living a life of worship is outreach. Singing songs about Jesus around people who don't share your beliefs isn't. I'm always amazed at Christians who believe the Holy Grail of evangelism is getting someone to attend church. They eagerly squire their poor, sad non-believing friends around the sanctuary, introducing them to their church friends as, "This is Brenda, my friend from *wink* work." Everyone gives a knowing smile and then watches them with great anticipation, like middle school kids who eat Pop Rocks and drink Coke to see what will happen. I love the church, I work for one, and I still acknowledge that there is no other context where you are encouraged to gather in a room and sing without alcohol. It's weird. I get that.

What bothers me about this particular high horse is that what she's saying is that outreach is only her job to the extent that she gets the people to attend the event. After that, the people up front better make a good sales pitch, otherwise the people she brought are destined for hell and it's ALL THEIR FAULT. If K and the other Christian people were really doing their jobs and loving folks the way Jesus taught us, there would not be nearly so much weight put on those deal-closing gatherings.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Introducing Tarquin

Christmas Cheese

Ok - I'm choosing to out myself as one of Bruce's friends who is all about the cheese this time of year. I'm seriously on it. The house is decorated and I have a REAL tree. While there are exceptions, the fake tree is generally not ok, and if you choose to get one, I will judge you. One of my co-workers was looking for a fake tree on the interwebs and wasn't having much luck - I told her to Google, "the death of all Christmas spirit." I think she found it.

Following Bruce's lead, and because I generally have better taste in music than he does, here is my list of my favorite Christmas albums in no particular order:

1. James Taylor - At Christmas
2. Barenaked Ladies - Barenaked for the Holidays
3. Christmas by the Fireside - a best of with Nat, Bing, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, etc.
4. Christmas Songs - Diana Krall
5. George Winston - December
6. First Call - An Evening in December, vols. 1 & 2
7. Harry Connick, Jr. - Harry for the Holidays
8. Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration
9. Selah - Rose of Bethlehem
10. Sarah McLachlan - Wintersong
11. A Winter Night's Song - Various

UPDATE: On Ladyburg's recommendation, I purchased the Sufjan Stevens album. LOVE IT!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Apparently, the answer is "hot"

Your Score: Garlic

You scored 25% intoxication, 75% hotness, 75% complexity, and 0% craziness!

You are Garlic! No offence, but you stink. Pretty much everyone loves you, though. You're smart and pretty hot and you fit in with about any culture. You're a total cut-up; in fact, the more cut-up you get, the hotter you become. But be careful, when you get embarrassed, you turn really sweet.

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Hot or Not

There are some things that I don't like about being a girl, and that is the tendency to attach emotion to inocuous information. Most of the time I'm pretty good about that, but sometimes when I'm feeling less secure about myself things get blown up in my head that shouldn't. I recently went on Weight Watchers (again) and the initial weigh-in numbers were enough to cause me to hurl myself out of the sixth-story window where we have our meeting. Of course when I went to weigh in, the scale just shut itself off as I was approaching. When the sweet little retired school teacher who was supposed to weigh me wondered aloud about the inopportune shut-off, I assured her that it was because the scale saw me coming and powered-down in protest. The good news is that I have now lost 5.6 pounds with Thanksgiving all in the middle of that, so that's good.

What started the shame spiral was a very, VERY harmless comment made by a very kind person who had no idea that I'm a wreck. He made a comment about another person's girlfriend and that he would need to stay away from her because she's hot. What happens in my head - "Clearly, I'm not hot," I say. I know. I know. Normally, I don't care, but for some reason, I was in that place. I've never thought of myself as particularly "hot" and really never aspired to be so. Just had a moment. Turns out, he thinks I'm totally hot. Well played, sir.

In general, I do not respond well to hearing about my shortcomings. I'm so acutely aware of them that when someone else tells me that my flaws are showing I want to curl up and die. Case in point, I had a little family drama this weekend. Apparently, I wasn't as well behaved as I'd hoped over Thanksgiving and I heard about it from the parents. Some of what they said was fair, but some was completely unfounded and I was pretty furious. I had a good talk with my brother and then later with my mom, and we got things ironed out, but I was pretty much a wreck. I cried all morning on Monday, resulting in a very puffy afternoon.

Also just preached a sermon on inner peace and the importance of being anchored at the center. Yes - that was me. I don't know why they let me get up there and say that stuff.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I've only not been home at Thanksgiving one time and it was awful. I love it because of the food, more specifically, because I get to cook most of the food. Dad is a complete traditionalist when it comes to the turkey, the dressing, the mashed potatoes and the cranberry fluff. We have the recipes for the dressing and the fluff in Granny's handwriting that my mom keeps in a special place in the recipe drawer.

I also have The Fork. It's a fork that for some reason I associate with cooking with Granny. I don't really know where it came from. It's ginormous and it has notches on the sides just below the tines. I can't make Thanksgiving food without it. Mom has tried to substitute another large fork, but it's not The Fork. Someday I'll pass it on to Chloe.

One of our family traditions is that we do our Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. It started when Todd got married and we needed to figure out a time share with them. Lisa's family is bigger than ours, so they have more people to work around. I really love it and it's become way more normal to me than having it on Thursday. Here's why we do our dinner on Friday:

1. As I said, Todd can go to his in-laws
2. Most everyone works through Wednesday, so it's tough to pull off a big dinner in that amount of time. This way, we can do some cooking on Thursday and some on Friday and not be rushed
3. The stores are open, so if we need something we can go get it
4. We can invite other people, because they've already done their dinner
5. I can watch the Cowboys play on Thursday without interruption

The great thing is that we can even still go shopping on Black Friday, but we do it in the evening when everyone else has gone home. It's a win-win.

Another family tradition is pictured above - the littlest one crumbles the cornbread. I love how Chloe is sitting up on the kitchen counter and tucked under the cabinet. Alas, she will be too big this year to do that, but she is still going to be crumbling the cornbread. Next year Ian will be able to join her.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

No boys allowed!

Boys, you're going to want to go in the other room and watch the game about now.

Are they gone?


There's a website for our lady parts. Who knew? I clicked on this link on my gmail, because, well, I had to click on this link, and apparently we cannot be left with out uterus(i?) unsupervised. There is a website called that keeps track of everything from our, well, cycles, to our doctor's appointments and self breast exams. Couldn't we just put it in Outlook and synch it with our PDAs?

It's also possible that I find this curious because inside, I am a 13-year-old boy. To wit - there is an elevator in our building that is crying out for a remote-controlled whoopie cushion and it seems that I am the only one that can hear it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I've been tagged by LadyBurg

Tagged = someone challenges you to come up with 10 random things about yourself, then you have to tag 5 other bloggers.

Here goes:

1. I can only eat snack foods (i.e., peanuts, crackers, cookies, m & m's, etc.) in even numbers. However, this rule does not apply to chips, except Pringles.

2. I read magazines from front to back, but I read newspapers and peruse catalogs from back to front. Interesting side note: I found out only a couple of years ago that my dad does the exact same thing.

3. When reading a novel, I read about 1/3 of the way through and then I read the end. The interesting thing for me is how they get from where I am to where they end up.

4. I love fried chicken gizzards.

5. My family celebrates Thanksgiving on Friday. It's so we can have other people over, my brother can go to his in-laws, we have an extra day to prep, and I can watch the Cowboys play.

6. My pajamas have to match, and I can only wear them one night and then I have to wash them.

7. I don't have pierced ears.

8. I have never seen any of the Rocky, Godfather or James Bond movies.

9. I am a very good cook, fairly good at baking, but for some reason I am rubbish with making cookies.

10. I read Perez Hilton religiously, but am not proud of it.

Thanks, Ladyburg.

Now it's your turn:
Katherine @ Gleaming Lark
Kristen (Ft.) Rudd
Mrs. Donut
Two Worlds One

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Reluctant Dinosaur

Really, this is just an excuse to post pictures of my babies, since I am the most obnoxiously doting aunt in the free world. Here are a few gems from halloween

Chloe is Tinkerbell and Ian is a dinosaur, and he's so not into it.

Cheerios? Never mind. All is forgiven

The Trick or Treat crew - I don't know the Mickey baby, but I had to post b/c of the gloves and the shoes. Priceless!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Songs I Never Skip on the iPod

I use my iPod all the time and I'm a random girl - I rarely listen to one artist or one album. However, depending on the mood I'm in, I'll skip songs until I find one that fits my mood. Here is a list of songs that I love and NEVER skip, regardless of mood.

1. Don't Dream it's Over - Crowded House
2. Scratch - Kendall Payne
3. Book of Love - Peter Gabriel
4. Ain't No Sunshine - Lighthouse Family
5. Mating Game - Bitter:Sweet
6. If I Had a Boat - Lyle Lovett
7. Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leppard (shut up)
8. Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
9. Mystery - Indigo Girls
10. Schadenfreude - Avenue Q
11. Edge of the Ocean - Ivy
12. Power of Two - Indigo Girls
13. Old Apartment - Barenaked Ladies
14. The Road's My Middle Name - Bonnie Raitt (or anything from Nick of Time)
15. Any song from Come On, Come On by Mary Chapin Carpenter
16. Why - Annie Lennox
17. Venus - Bananarama
18. Slow Down - Ben Jelen
19. Where is the Love - Black-Eyed Peas
20. Life is Short - Butterfly Boucher
21. Lady Marmalade from Moulin Rouge
22. To the Only God - Dave Crowder & Shane Barnard
23. I Will Follow You Into the Dark - Death Cab for Cutie
24. Fields of Gold - Eva Cassidy
25. Let Go - Frou Frou
26. Gone Daddy Gone - Gnarls Barkley
27. I Need You to Survive - Hezekiah Walker
28. 24 - Jem
29. In the Air - Laurell Barker
30. Get Outta My Kitchen - Ledisi
31. You Are Mine - Mute Math
32. All Night - Sam Phillips
33. Dwelling Place - Tommy Walker
34. Moondance - Van Morrison
35. Bust A Move - Young MC

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

There comes a shaking...

I'm sitting on my couch, minding my own business, watching the pilot episode of Samantha Who? when there comes the sound of a freight train and the swaying of the house. We had ourselves a quake - a 5.6 quake. (Please note that the quality is "excellent.") Not the big one, but the moderate one. It would probably vote for John McCain. Apparently, there have been a number of aftershocks but I've only felt maybe one. Of course, I called my parents, which is comforting for me, but less so for them.

In addition to the ground, there has been some shaking of the public relations sort at the Khaki Khonglomerate (KK). This weekend there was a report in a UK newspaper claiming that some Kids Khakis were being made by, well, kids in India. Mad scramble to release statements, president and SVP of Social Responsibility on GMA, etc. Turns out, we have 2,000 factories worldwide, 10% of which are in India. The KK does extensive monitoring of all overseas operations and child labor is an absolute deal-breaker. Obviously, this situation was leaped upon and the facts came to light. One of our factories there subcontracted out to another factory, which is against our policy, and they didn't tell us. Our team went in, found out what was going on, and are evaluating next steps. The main factory that caused this employs 4,000 people and for it to be immediately shut down has a huge economic impact on the area, so the situation is being evaluated responsibly. The product made will not be sold. So feel free to use those Friends & Family cards, folks. No children were used to make the clothing you put on your children.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Two quotes diverged in a wood...

From Christianity Today, the following quotes:

"The righteous have dominion, but only through imprecatory prayer against the ungodly."

- Wiley S. Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California, urging Christians to pray against Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"The emphasis I tried to leave was love … that they need to have love for the people who were opposed to them."

- Billy Graham, on his relationship with 11 presidents.

The most shocking thing about that first quote? A Southern Baptist used the word "imprecatory." Unfortunately, old Wiley isn't up on his Baptist history. Separation of church and state is kind of a big deal for Baptists. Southern Baptists should never speak in public. Ever. Richard Land should speak for all of them - not because I agree with him, but because he is intelligent, well-spoken and thoughtful.

Billy Graham's quote is one of the main reasons he will be remembered for generations and Wiley will not, except maybe as a crazy person. Calling down curses on the "ungodly," and defining "ungodly" as anyone who disagrees with you is probably not the most effective evangelism tool out there. As Billy Graham's time on this earth draws to a close, we can all look to the example of his life as not perfect, but obedient. He used a method that was honest for him to communicate God's love to the world.

So, to all the Wileys of the world - sit down, shut up, and love your neighbor.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Isn't it Ironic?

Heidi Fleiss is a vegetarian. I'm just saying...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In the Valley of Elah

Paul Haggis is the man behind the film who has now come in front of the film and is making some of the most poignant films of our time. The writer/director of Crash and the writer of Million Dollar Baby has now brought us In the Valley of Elah, the story of a man investigating the murder of his son who has recently returned from a tour in Iraq.

Tommy Lee Jones plays retired Sargent Deerfield, a Vietnam Vet who had worked CID for 30 years and now hauls gravel. He is awakened by a phone call from the base telling him that his son, who has just returned, is AWOL and has 48 hours to return to the base. Suspecting foul play, Jones heads out to Fort Rudd in New Mexico to check it out. Deerfield is a study in creases. His clothes are perfect. His bed is perfect. His shoes are perfectly shined and placed next to his bed at night. His life is a carefully crafted rhythm of habits intended to create the illusion that all is right with the world. He is stoic, forthright and abrupt. Life is a puzzle to be solved, and he always has the answer.

Deerfield arrives in New Mexico to a less than warm reception from the MP and the local police detective, played by Charlize Theron trying very hard not to be pretty. When unknown remains are found near a local road and jurisdiction is volleyed between local police and the MP, things get tricky as Deerfield's instincts kick in and he makes enemies on all sides. The remains are discovered to be those of Michael Deerfield and as the story unfolds, Deerfield begins to unravel.

Few actors can rival Morgan Freeman in the area of gravitas, but Jones gives him a run for his money in this role. He should teach a class in how to have your eyes well up without a single tear falling - ever. The downward spiral is subtle for most, but cataclysmic for a man whose life is so calculated. First, he is caught by Theron in the laundromat and is forced to wear an un-ironed, not-quite-dry shirt. Then he takes a sip of beer. Then a cigarette. Then a shot of JD. He begins to sleep later and later. The hotel bed once carefully made, now comes undone underneath the tossing and turning of his inner turmoil and it is of no interest to him.

This story is about fighting fear and defeating giants. The title of the film is a biblical reference to the valley where Goliath would come out and challenge the army of Israel to come and fight him and where he was ultimately defeated by David. What Haggis has done is take his typical style of weaving together many intersecting stories and created levels of symbol in one story. Jones' character descends from a place of solid, protective presence to one of unhinged chaos - a clear picture of the place of the United States in the world. But who is David and who is Goliath? In this story, we are all both.

As this film is set against the current war in Iraq, we can't help but see the obvious picture of the US as Goliath, but this film shows us both the internal and external Goliaths that loom equally large. Externally, Jones was up against the local police, the military police and his wife as he searched for what happened to his son. Internally, he was faced with his own fear, memories of his own war experience, and the knowledge that he could pinpoint the moment when his son needed him most and he wasn't there for him.

My major takeaway from this film is that things cannot continue as they are. A particularly heartbreaking moment in the film is when Jones is cleaning out his son's barracks and a young, still-pimpled recruit moves in to the space and Jones looks at him with abject pity for what he's about to experience. We are in a war that has no foreseeable end, is costing us billions of dollars but is costing us more in what damage is being done to those who are returning. We are creating a generation of men and women who have witnessed unspeakable tragedies and have no way to cope except by diminishing their own humanity and that of those around them. Ironic for an ardently pro-life administration. This has got to stop. We have a power-hungry, war-mongering administration and an impotent, non-binding-resolution-drafting Congress and people are dying in droves, and not just physically. When will it end?

Happiness is...

  • Sleeping late on Saturday morning
  • Coffee, coffee, coffee
  • Watching an absolutely riveting performance by George Clooney in the brilliant Michael Clayton (honorary Oscars go to the dark circles under Clooney's eyes and Tilda Swinton's Spanx)
  • A walk in Golden Gate Park on a warm, sunny October afternoon
  • Stumbling upon a showcase of local artists and being inspired
  • Coming up with a freaking GENIUS idea for the Advent Art Group
  • Walking into a neighborhood bar and watching the Cowboys beat the Vikings
  • Making a big dish of chicken enchiladas for dinner with a friend and having leftovers for the rest of the week
  • Near-full sign-up sheets for the kids in Africa
  • Having a deep conversation with a friend after seeing the amazing, stunningly well-done In the Valley of Elah (review to be posted)
  • Having great friends, co-ministers and family with me along the journey
  • My Monday morning ritual of waking up early, putting on the coffee and curling up to watch Brothers & Sisters on the interwebs

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Introversion and Independence

I am an introvert. Not a shrinking violet, but an introvert. I recharge by being alone. This morning, as I was walking in GG Park (alone) I was thinking about the difference between being an introvert and being independent. I think that most of my life I have erroneously believed that the combination of my introversion and my fairly strong independent streak makes me a self-contained unit. This is not the case. I am both an introvert and independent but that doesn't mean I am without dependence. I need the people of my community. I need to take breaks from them, to be sure, but I need them.

Bruce posted yesterday about what he's learned from his friends, and I want to say - Seriously? Get out of my brain! I was totally thinking something similar just this week. I have amazing people in my life and I'm so thankful for all we can be for each other and all we can learn from each other. I am, however, going to stop short of posting a cheesy song. Gratitude does not equal schmaltz.

This week I had the incredibly pleasant experience of having a flat tire on 280 while on my home from Trader Joe's. My friend Kenny helped me. A lot. Without my friend Gina, I would never go to the gym. My connection to the worship team folks motivates me to keep up my own spiritual practices. My fabulous co-workers motivate me to stay on top of my work load. Yesterday, my dad talked me through adding power steering fluid to my car.

As I get older and learn more I am increasingly comfortable relaxing into the space community provides. It's not the easiest thing for me, but I'm glad that those with whom I am in community are patient with my weirdness and community impairment.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Perhaps I'm not as cool as I think I am

Do you ever listen to/watch something that gets such amazing buzz and walk away saying, "Meh." The infotainment "journalists" have repeatedly told me that I am to like St. Vincent's debut album Marry Me. It's ok. I don't love it. In fact, every time a song from that album comes up on my Pandora, I think, "Sweet Jeebus, that's annoying - who is that?" And then I go check, and it's St. Vincent and I let it play because I've been told to love it, and I just don't. There are one or two songs, but overall, a bit whiny. Sorry, Entertainment Weekly. It's not you, it's me...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ian Tobias is one year old.

How the time flies. Today my nephew turns 1. He's the spitting image of his maternal grandfather, Gary, which is odd, b/c Chloe looks just like our side of the family, so the two of them bear little resemblance to one another. He chose not to crawl in the traditional way - clearly a visionary - and he motors about rather rapidly on his hands and feet, diapered bum up in the air. He's just begun to figure out the word thing and the other day said, "Hey, dad!" quite clearly for the first time. He also pulls himself up to the TV and chants, "did it! did it!" when Dora sings the "We Did It" song at the end of each adventure. Chloe loves him and resents him, which is normal. He worships her and most of the time if he's upset, she's the only one that can make him happy. She calls him "my little Ian To." I've called him Ito since he was in the womb and when I talk to him on the phone, my mom says he recognizes my voice.

I didn't fully bond with Chloe until she was nearly two. I went home for Thanksgiving and she and I were playing and occasionally I would give her a squeeze and say, "Auntie Tiffy loves Chloe!" We went to the park and she fell down and scraped her hand and she raised it up to me and said, "Auntie Tiffy kiss it!" At that point I was ready to buy her a car. When we got back to the house, she was having lunch in her high chair and she was eating and chatting and out of the blue said, "Auntie Tiffy loves Chloe." I was pretty much done. It was one of the only times it's been hard for me to come back from a trip home.

I don't know how it's all going to shake down with the boy. I've only seen him a few times in his one year of life and I have two more coming up. His personality is already very different from hers and he and I will learn to relate to each other on a very different level. I'm really excited to get to know him as he grows and speaks and becomes the person he was created to be. Happy birthday, little man!

UPDATE: Here's my favorite picture from his party. He's so not into the hat.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Note from the Global Aids Alliance

Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, will fast on Debt & AIDS Day, Wednesday, October 10 and he is asking you to join with him!

Many countries are paying $100 million a day in debt repayments. When debt cancellation happens funds that were normally used to pay back debt can instead be redirected to what really matters: free healthcare, education without user fees, retention of health care workers, and many other social services that the people of the Global South need.

Your member of Congress needs to hear from you! Global AIDS Alliance, Jubilee USA Network, and the Student Global AIDS Campaign have come together on October 10 for Debt & AIDS Day during the Cancel Debt Fast.

The Cancel Debt Fast is a 40-day rolling fast with more than 10,000 participants nationwide. Fasters are contacting their member of Congress and urging them to support the Jubilee Act HR 2634, which cancels the debts of 67 impoverished countries -without harmful economic conditionalities - in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The link between debt, health care and AIDS is a strong one.
In order for 67 impoverished countries to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 debt needs to be cancelled. One of those goals is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. With money freed from debt relief countries can redirect their spending toward:
canceling clinic fees and charges for much-need medications
expanding health facilities to rural areas
hiring more health care providers and
providing more direct care for women and children.

Removing economic conditions from debt cancellation, such as those requiring impoverished countries to privatize much-needed resources or freeze all hiring and salaries for health care workers, would further enable these countries to channel resources toward poverty alleviation.

The Jubilee Act, HR2634, will improve lending behavior and expand debt cancellation, a proven means of fighting poverty, to all the impoverished countries that need it to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

This legislation calls for more transparent and responsible behavior by creditors as well as expended debt cancellation for all 67 countries that need it to meet the MDGs, without imposing harmful economic conditions. Only 40 countries are eligible under current debt relief schemes, and of those 40, only 20 have actually had their debts cancelled.

The Jubilee USA Network and its partner organizations are currently working to bring this bill to a hearing the House Financial Services Committee and to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

Burundi was able to eliminate school fees in 2005, allowing an additional 300,000 children to gain access to education. In Zambia, 4,500 new teachershave been hired and fees for rural health care have been abolished since 2006.

All of us in the social justice community know that when children are educated they have a better chance of protecting themselves against HIV/AIDS, especially girls. Education gives them tools they need to work against oppressive power dynamics in their everyday lives.

October 10, 2007 is the day of action; here is a short list of ideas on how to act!

1. Contact your Senator by phone, fax, or letter urging them to support the Jubilee Act. Scroll down for a call script.
2. Visit your Senator and discuss Global AIDS and Debt.
3. Send a letter to the editor of local papers about Debt & AIDS.
4. Fill out paper plates for Jubilee USA's paper plate campaign. Hundreds of paper plates are filling Jubilee's national office in Washington DC. Join the cause and click here for instructions!
5. Sign up to fast for a day or more from food, sweets, shopping, or any other luxury that you enjoy that our brothers and sisters in the global south are denied at

Calling Democrats:
I am calling today to urge Senator________ to help support and co-sponsor a senate version of the Jubilee Act HR. 2634, which will be introduced into the Senate very soon. This bill is important for people living with HIV/AIDS because when debt is canceled money becomes free to invest in resources in health care, education and other important social services and as a constituent this is important to me. Without debt cancellation 67 countries will not be able to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) one of which is to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Calling Republicans:(We need a Republican sponsor in the Senate - top priorities are: Senators Norman Coleman (R-MN), John Sununu (R-NH), and Richard Lugar (R-IN)
I am calling today to urge Senator ______ to help introduce a senate version of the Jubilee Act HR. 2634. This bill is important for people living with HIV/AIDS because when debt is canceled money becomes free to invest in resources such as health care, education and other important social services and as a constituent this is important to me. Without debt cancellation 67 countries will not be able to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) one of which is to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Thank you for all that you do,

Mary Peterson
Grassroots Coordinator
Global AIDS Alliance

Monday, October 08, 2007

People of Peace

I've been doing some research for our Advent series on becoming people of peace, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Last week was crazy scattered and I felt I had moved away from my center. It wasn't good. Fortunately, I was motivated by an assignment to do some biblical research on this topic and it's definitely helped me to return to a sense of calm.

I went to seminary with a bunch of missionary types and the concept of "person of peace" is huge in that community. The idea comes from Luke 10 where Jesus sends out the 70 and gives them instructions on travel etiquette. "Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you." (emphasis mine) Voila - the person of peace. I looked up some commentaries and notes on the verses and basically, a person of peace in the text not only means peaceable, quiet person, but one also of good report for their uprightness and benevolence. Another says it's a person who favors the doctrine of peace and embraces it. My favorite says that it is "one who is inwardly prepared to embrace your message of peace." Those all sound like not only a person I'd like to know, but also a person I'd like to become.

As I've researched the use of this idea, I've come across a lot of writing for missionaries instructing them to look for a person of peace. The idea has turned from a peaceful, hospitable person with a good reputation in the community, to someone who has wealth and power is to be used for their connections as an in to an otherwise hostile climate. To me, it's another example of the evangelical tendency to use people as a means to an end, the end being boosting their numbers. Why not be a person of peace first, and if you find them, enjoy them for who they are, rather than see what they can do for you and your parent company? I'm sure that's happening - I'm using broad strokes here. My experience is with one particular denomination that is not interested in actually helping people but rather is focusing on what they have historically called the "10-40 Window" because they actually think they can make the rapture happen faster. They're basically eating spicy foods to make the world go into labor.

When I'm trying to focus on an inner peacefulness, I always return to a quote from Thomas Kelly, a Quaker pastor and theologian from the first part of the last century. The final paragraph of his A Testament of Devotion reads thusly:

"Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the helm. And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well."

Peace to this house.

Happy Columbus Day

Today is the day we celebrate white guys who can't ask for directions. Apparently, Macy's celebrates by having a huge sale advertised by 3 models wearing read t-shirts with - you guessed it - Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria on the back. Seriously. I had a conversation with some work folks last week about what some folks are trying to do to make this holiday a bit more politically correct. On the one hand, I see their point. Columbus represents an oppressive colonialism that brought about some horrific ethnic cleansing on this continent. (Side note: a friend who works in disaster relief tells me that the most catastrophic act of bio-terrorism ever perpetuated was the colonists rubbing the small pox virus on blankets and then distributing them to the Native Americans). My co-workers, however, have a different take. While acknowledging the atrocities, the bottom line is that you can't change history. These were men, too, so they also had to point out that no matter what you think of Columbus, he was pretty badass to take off on 3 boats to the edge of what was thought to be a flat earth.

One of the proposed alternatives to Columbus Day is "Discoverers Day." That just seems kind of milquetoasty. I don't see anything wrong with having a Discoverers Day, but I would rather see that as a celebration of the courage and creativity of the human spirit rather than an attempt to cover of a piece of history of which we may be a little ashamed. Another alternative is to add on an "Indigenous People's Day" which I like better. I think it allows us to acknowledge Columbus' accomplishment as well as recognize where it went sideways and to see it as a cautionary tale. We have to remember that while for us this day marks a beginning, for the people who were here first, this day marks the end of a peaceful, long-term existence, and the beginning of pain, sorrow, and loss. Whatever you think of Columbus - badass or colonial oppressor - he's the reason we're here today, not getting mail and enjoying the freedom to bash his discovery of this continent.

New unattainable Hollywood crush alert

It seems that I have gotten behind in my actor-ogling. Sure, I'm still true to the old standards - Ben Affleck, John Cusack, Taye Diggs, etc., but there's someone I've overlooked - Timothy Olyphant. In addition to having a fairly cool name, he's damn sexy - who knew? Well, I guess on some level I did, but he's one of those chameleon-like actors whom I don't always recognize until the credits roll. He's known to Deawood devotees, but he's done a good job of branching out and working against type. This weekend, I watched Catch and Release for the first time, and I have to say - wowza. It's a chick movie, to be sure, but a fairly thoughtful one, and I really enjoyed it. Timothy outdid himself with the hotness and Kevin Smith was hilarious comic relief. Put this one in your Netflix, kids. It's worth a look.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sibling Rivalry

Normally, the babies play very well together. Chloe is quite protective of Ian and when Todd has given him a little swat for discipline, Chloe will fly across the room, pleading, "Don't smack my little Ian To!" She's quite a drama queen. Apparently, the shine of the baby sibling may be wearing thin, at least it was yesterday. My mom was watching them and she kept saying how she didn't want to have a baby brother because he "makes dumb baby noises and messes up my stuff."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Family Vehicle Woes

It seems that our family should divest ourselves of all automotive transportation and walk everywhere. Or get one of those Segway scooter things. My dad is developing way too close a relationship with Bob the Insurance Guy. First, last Thursday, Todd totaled my dad's truck. He's ok - banged up a bit, but ok. The airbags saved him. Chloe gave him her Mr. Strong gel pack, and that did wonders for him.

Then, last night my dad was visiting me on a road trip back home from Vancouver, BC and last night ON MY STREET someone broke the passenger-side window of his brand new Chrysler Crossfire. Awesome. So, I spent all morning helping him try to find a dealer between here and Bakersfield that could repair it. Guess what? There isn't one. So, he is winging his way through the Central Valley in this heat with no side window to a hotel in Bakersfield with hopes that he can get it fixed tomorrow. Oy vey.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall TV Report Card, part 2

As promised, I continue with my take on my favorite new and returning shows this fall. Please note that my comments contain spoilers, so if you haven't gotten around to cleaning out you TiVo just yet, stop reading.

1. Ugly Betty - muy bien!

I love this show and the season premier did not disappoint. Our heroine is struggling to keep everything together as she deals with her family, her job, and her disappointment with the outcome of her relationship with Henry. She's burning the candle at both ends in order to avoid her feelings and everything is unraveling. Wilhelmina is acting as editor-in-chief as Daniel and Alexis are recovering from the car crash and reveling in her new-found power. Amanda has ballooned with her stress eating because of her discovery that Fey Sommers was her mother. Justin sneaked into the Mode offices, quoted Coco Chanel and got himself a summer internship.

The story that was the cheesiest was also the best because I chose not to try to predict it. When I watch the Betty, it's total brain candy. I turn off the brain. I watch other shows, like the procedurals, to engage my brain, but this is the opposite. So, I chose to go along for the ride, and while somewhere I always knew that Santos was gone, I let myself be taken along for the ride that he was holed up in Hilda's room talking about their future. Then, in a Sixth Sense-meets-Telemundo twist, we learn the truth. A

2. Grey's Anatomy

Meh. But not as meh as Private Practice. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to Shona Rimes as she cleans up the mess of last season. I watched it twice just to make sure my initial reaction was right, and it was. There were good things and not good things.

Starting with the not good thing: Izzie working on a deer. Mercy, that was lame. As my favorite EW reviewer said, "Excuse me, Doctor. Can you help me? I've been hit over the head by the personal resonance of this story." Her speech to her interns at the end was pretty good, though. George declaring his love for Izzie at the end. I realize this season needs a triangle - that one's just not believable. It's not b/c T.R. Knight is gay, either. I can buy him in a straight role. Those two just don't have any romantic chemistry.

Good things: Meredith & Derek's breakup scene. Break up sex? Seems like a good idea. George's fledgling relationship with Lexie Grey, also good. Alex and Cristina's moment at the end with the bag of coins from Pica man's stomach and they declare how much they miss Rebecca and Burke. Bailey taking the high road with Callie. B-

3. Dirty Sexy Money

Surprisingly good. I've enjoyed Peter Krause since his days on Sports Night and he seems to get better with age. His character grew up with his father being the family lawyer for the richest family in the universe, the Darlings (natch). He hated that he was always second to their whims and so he grew being a poor lawyer for the less fortunate. The show opens with the death of his father and the Darling family patriarch (Donald Sutherland) offering him the job. Of course he first turns it down, but then accept as information comes to light regarding the death of his father, not the least of which being the tasty tidbit that his father carried on a 40-year affair with Mrs. Darling. The best performance came from the self-absorbed older daughter who is engaged to be married a fourth time, but who has never gotten over her crush on Peter Krause. She's brilliant. I look forward to seeing more of her. The son who's a priest is particularly vile, which is fun to watch as well. Another great show from Peter Horton and Greg Berlanti. A

4. Bionic Woman

Another great one. I was a huge fan of of the original with Lindsay Wagner. I used to watch it on Sunday afternoons between church services. This one is decidedly more badass and angst-ridden. Turns out, Jaime becomes bionic b/c she's in a bad accident and almost dies and her boyfriend just happens to be the scientist son of the man who invented bionics. This show also has and anti-Jaime, however - the first bionic woman, and she's pissed. She's slowly having all her body parts replaced so she can be entirely bionic, which is slightly crazy, but I can understand the appeal. Another difference is what happens when there's some damage to the bionic parts. Remember how in the old one, if something happened to her, she'd be all smoke and wires and have to go in for repairs? Not so with the new bionic woman. She regenerates. It's pretty cool. Unfortunately, the boyfriend was killed by the former boyfriend of Sara, the pissed girl, so Jaime is on her own to figure this out on her own. So far, there's no Oscar Goldman character, the kindly father figure who mentors her through her assignments. I'm looking forward to following this one. A

Next time: 30 Rock and Pushing Daisies

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fall TV Report Card, part 1

So far, I'm thorougly enjoying the beginning of the fall TV season. I've been anxiously awaiting both the new shows and the return of my favorites and so far, it's been a good week. Here are my ratings and re-caps for the week so far.

1. Heroes

A-maz-ing! I love me some Heroes already, and the season 2 premier did not disappoint. As many questions cropped up as were answered. We're beginning to discover the meaning of the ubiquious double helix-ish symbol from last season. What happened to Peter Petrelli and how can we get in to see his hair stylist? Why has Nathan checked out of his life? What happened with Matt's marriage? What's the deal with the white guy in 17th century Japan? It's going to be a great season! A+

2. Chuck - a keeper!

New show that I wasn't going to watch but was pressured into it by all of my favorite pop culture publications on the interwebs. The pre-show buzz was great, although the trailers didn't thrill me. Surprisingly, I actually liked it. Chuck plays the supervisor of the Nerd Herd, the computer repair division of electronic superstore Buy More. Through a series of events, he has goverment secrets downloaded into his brain and is hunted by both NSA and CIA agents. He doesn't know who he can trust, but at this point he's picked the hot blonde. Big shock. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. B+

3. House

He's back, baby! The biggest jerk in the medical field has returned. In one of the better moments of Tuesday's premier, when asked by Dr. Cuddy where he's come from, House quips, "Apes, if you believe the Democrats." House is now without a team and is determined not to hire one, but through a series of unfortunate diagnoses, he grudgingly acquieses to Cuddy and Wilson and goes about hiring a team. Unfortunately, he was told he could do it however he wanted, so he has chosen a six-week-long, Survivor-type method where he has 30-s0me candidates and will be eliminating several per week. Should be fun! A

4. Private Practice

Meh. I'm underwhelmed. The boys are pretty and the characters are ok, but the premier was pretty much Grey's Lite. It was the same type of stories you'd see on Grey's, just not in a hospital. A patient of the psychiatrist had a psychotic break in a department store. A woman tried to get the sperm of her dead, married boyfriend in a nearby hospital, but not in their central medical clinic. A girl almost died giving birth in the super nice birthing center. It may be that Addison may have to take the chief up on his offer to keep her job open as long as he can. She may be winging her way back up to the Emerald City. C

Next time....Bionic Woman, Dirty Sexy Money, Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I have a new addiction

Baked Lay's Cheddar & Sour Cream chips. Damn you, Office Vending Machine! Damn you!

Monday, September 24, 2007

What could have been but shouldn't have been, so I'm glad it wasn't

Last week marked the birthday of my high school boyfriend, Robert. If memory serves, and let's face it - it does - he is 38. To my knowledge, he's married and I think has a couple of kids. As it turns out, he was almost married to me. When I was entering my senior year of high school he was finishing his last year of school for his chosen career and was pretty determined that we would get married right after high school. At first, I didn't give it much thought, because that's what my parents had done, and while it didn't seem "normal," it wasn't totally nuts either. However, I got caught up in the going-to-college conversations with my friends and decided that I wanted to do that instead. Robert and I had many conversations and after a few weeks, ended our two-year relationship. It was difficult but the right decision.

Had I gotten married at the ridiculous age of 18, I would probably have had an ok life, not gone to school, not worked, been a stay-at-home mom, etc. Certainly not a bad life at all. I don't think it would have been the right life for me. I've had the great privilege of education, travel, friends and a generally great life that I would not have had if I had gotten married. Yes, this is the person about which I have the recurring nightmare, but I'm proud of myself for making the right choice and, should that dream ever come true, I could do it again.

One of my favorite albums of all time is Come On, Come On by Mary Chapin Carpenter. It's one of those rare situations where I love every song on it. There's one in particular that applies to this situation and I think that making the choice to not get married helped me avoid this. Here are the lyrics:

He Thinks He'll Keep Her

She makes his coffee, she makes his bed
She does the laundry, she keeps him fed
When she was 21 she wore her mother's lace
She said "Forever" with a smile upon her face

She does the carpool, she PTA's
Doctors and dentists, she drives all day
When she was 29 she delivered number 3
And every Christmas card showed a perfect family

Everything runs right on time
Years of practice and design
Spit and polish 'till it shines
He thinks he'll keep her

Everything is so benign
Safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind
He thinks he'll keep her

She packs his suitcase, she sits and waits
With no expression on her face
When she was 36 she met him at the door
She said, "I'm sorry. I don't love you anymore."

For 15 years she had a job, but not one raise in pay
Now she's in the typing pool at minimum wage

Everything runs right on time
Years of practice and design
Spit and polish 'till it shines
He thinks he'll keep her

Everything is so benign
Safest place you'll ever find
At least until you change your mind
He thinks he'll keep her

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's not you, it's me...

Dear ER,

I've been doing a lot of thinking since last we saw each other and I've come to the conclusion that I think I need to see other TV shows. It's not you - you're great. It's me. I feel like the last year or two of our relationship I've just been going through the motions. I've recorded you, kept up with you, watched you, but I've not felt like it's been an entirely reciprocal relationship. I'm tired of always being the stable, grounded one, while you're constantly being blown up, shot up, lit on fire or taken hostage. A lot of my friends left you when you cut off Dr. Romano's arm with a helicopter. I've stood by you as interns and residents have come and gone, their storylines being written into corners so there was nothing left for them except to take a job in another country or be hit by a bus. Now I see in this year's premier, you're going to have some sort of terrible tragedy befall Neela. I'm afraid I'm going to have to set a boundary. We've had some great times, but all good things have to come to an end at some point. I know you'll carry on without me. Be strong. We'll always have Clooney. Can we at least be friends? Friends with syndication benefits?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beyond Wrong

Whale Speaking Yoga Instructor teaches Naked Yoga once a month. That, my friends, is bad naked.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lilyan!

Today is the birthday of my oldest friend. Not oldest in age, but been around the longest. We've known each other since the 6th grade and were inseparable in high school. We went to the same church, sang in choir together, took some college classes together, and are always returning to each other no matter how much time passes.

Lilyan was born in Ft. Worth, Texas, and has always been proud to share her birthday with Tom Landry. Later, she was elated to discover that she also shares it with Harry Connick, Jr. She is smart, tough, creative, loyal, and pretty freaking hilarious. There are many moments of my life that I could not have endured had she not been here. She moved to L.A. 10 years ago, and then a year later I moved to S.F. We're in the same state, but geographically the distance is the same as when I was in Phx.

She's been through a lot, has a completely crazy family, but navigates it all with great style and grace. Welcome to 35, my friend. I've been keeping it warm for you.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It's fall. Well, starting to be on the calendar anyway. I love fall - it's my favorite time of year, and here's why:

1. FOOTBALL, baby! Sunday night I got to watch the Cowboys (aka God's Team) beat the Giants. It was great. The Cowboys' defense didn't look great, but fortunately the Giants' looked worse. Great way to start the season - let's keep it up! The Giants were riddled with injuries, including a partially separated shoulder for Eli Manning which should keep him off the field for at least a month. It was so great to hear Al and John give the commentary. That John Madden slays me. Particularly funny was an exchange following a teaser for this weeks' guests on Jay Leno. Madden went off on how they get footage of the guests on the show for the promos if they've never been on before. He was baffled. Al didn't know either. They spent some time in conjecture, but never ended up with anything that satisfied them. Hilarious.

Last night, I watched the Cardinals lose unjustifiably to the 49ers in what ESPN's 3 Mikes called an "ugly game." It was ugly. The Cardinals led the whole time and then the 49ers scored with :26 left and then in the Cardinals' last possession, Leinart threw an interception. Awesome. So, the new head coach of the Cardinals goes down in history with the last 9 head coaches who have all lost their first regular season game. That Eric Green is a man to be watched - he and Leinart have the potential to be a great quarterback/receiver team.

On a sad football note, this weekend Kevin Everett of the Buffalo Bills suffered what doctors call a "catastrophic" spinal cord injury and is unlikely to walk again. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

2. COLORS - I love the warm colors typically associated with fall - reds, browns, deep greens, etc. I love going to BeneFit and getting a new fall color makeover. This year will be particularly fun, because after next week, I will no longer need the eyeglasses, and I will be able to rock my full fabulousness. Along with the colors goes the wardrobe. New sweaters, comfy jeans, hoodies, sassy skimmers or trainers - big fan.

3. FOOD - we begin a season of candy, treats, dinners, parties, etc. I'm so excited! Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday and try to cook a big dinner whenever I can. Candy time starts now and goes through Easter, with colorful M&Ms for every occasion.

4. WEATHER - here in the Bay Area, September & October are our warm sunny months, and it couldn't be nicer! There are all kinds of outdoor concerts, movies, and great things to do. If the evening gets a bit chilly, I can light a fire in the fireplace and curl up with my favorite snack - hot chocolate and cinnamon toast. When I get home for Thanksgiving, it will be sunny, mild, and beautiful. Love it!

5. TV - This Sunday is the Emmys, which kicks off the new TV season. I'm anxious to get back to the happenings on House, Heroes, Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty & Brothers & Sisters. I'm also really stoked for new shows Bionic Woman, Private Practice and Pushing Daisies. Love that DVR.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

State of the Worship Music Union

I've been shopping for worship music because I'm really tired of the same stuff. A lot of things have come out and I've been scouring websites and magazines to find some new stuff. I don't want to find new stuff, though - I want good stuff. Believe me - there's not a lot of that out there. Case in point: One of the CDs I bought was from the C3 Worship Project in Atlanta. It has some good things on it, but there is one absolutely abominable song on there that is called Like a River and it sounds like a Jesus bootycall. It's awful. You can listen to it here. I realize it's tacky to call them out like that, but this must be heard to be believed.

I read a blog post the other day on The Search about what's wrong with modern worship music. I agreed with most of what the writer said regarding the contemporary music's lack of theological depth or musical creativity. He also dealt with the whole sacred/secular divide and how we should get rid of it. All great things. It was well-written, theologically eloquent and there were a number of comments supporting and expanding his ideas.

That's all well and good, but there was absolutely no addressing of practical issues. As a person who leads worship nearly every Sunday, I have many other things to consider alongside the theological and creative issues. First is singability. I'm dealing with a generation that has little or no music education. As music and arts education is the first to go in tough times, many folks didn't have any musical training, and they're used to singing along with the radio, which results in a very limited vocal range. Compare this to Martin Luther's time when he commanded the entire congregation to attend singing practices mid-week so they would sound good on Sunday. Popular music is simple and repetitive. That doesn't mean it can't be interesting, but let's face it: if I want people to participate in the singing in church I have to come to them to a great extent.

Second is the instrumentalists. I'm glad to be in a church that has a good number of very competent musicians, but that's not always the case. The musicians who volunteer in church are just that - volunteers. They're not professional, they don't have a lot of time to devote to rehearsal and study. They are good people who are offering the best they have as gift in the worship service and I would do them a disservice by presenting them with music that is beyond their capacity just for the sake of showing my artistic superiority.

In my opinion, the writer of the Search post, while making valid points, failed a bit in the logic department. He began with assailing the popular worship music styles and services and ended with the idea that valid worship experiences can be had anywhere, regardless of the "Christian" nature of the music or musician. If worship experiences can be anywhere at anytime with any kind of impetus, then who cares if the music at the central gathering is necessarily the most challenging, artistic, flawlessly performed, etc.? I would rather have my people present the best that they have (which they do) and also encourage the people in our community to seek to experience God everywhere in their lives. It seems to be the best way to teach people to live lives of worship.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I Love the Interwebs

Eureka...I have found it!

I have spent the majority of my 35 years looking for the right facial moisturizer. I have ginormous pores and extremely oily skin (thanks Dad). I've looked everywhere, tried many things, and have been content to live with the shine. Those days, however, are over. Enter the Gotu Kola Soothing Eye & Face Gel from Body Time.

Body Time is a local outfit based in Berkeley with shops in Marin, San Francisco and the East Bay. I was first introduced to them by my friend Lilyan who actually lives in L.A. who has a friend there who is into their stuff. Their most popular scent is called China Rain, and I used it for years, but have recently discovered one of the winners of an employee contest - Summer Sunset, so that is my scent du jour. But, back to the Gotu Kola.

I went in to the shop on Haight Street on Labor Day to get a re-fill on my Body Shampoo when I decided to check out the face stuff, I went with the Gotu, just to try, as it was recommended for my skin type. I have been pleasantly surprised all week as I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror to see a very nice matte finish. Seriously. Most of the time I'm all a-shine the moment I apply the makeup. No more. I'm now as dull on the outside as I am on the inside! Well done, Body Time!

And a note to one particular reader: I'm allowed to post stuff like this. I AM a girl.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

She Speaks Whale

Our regular Yoga instructor is on vacation, so we have a substitute for the next couple of weeks. She's very nice and has rockin' abs, but seriously - she speaks whale. There's no other way to describe it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

You know you're in an upscale grocery store when...

they have saffron threads for sale at the cash register next to the gift cards and magazines.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

God on TV

There are many wonderful things about summer. I love going to farmers' markets and getting fresh fruit. Going to the beach - not here, of course, but maybe in Marin. The one thing that isn't great is the TV. There is a lot of time between mid-May and the end of September to ponder the goings on at a certain Seattle McHospital, or with people with extraordinary powers scattered all over the world. Some networks, like HBO, TNT and TBS, have gotten wise and have new summer series. I also use it as a chance to catch up on shows that I would like to watch in the regular season but have already committed myself to too many shows.

I started watching The Closer last year because it's a new series in the summer. It's not a great show. It's entirely predictable, but it's something new to watch and I generally enjoy the procedurals. When TNT started showing previews for the new Holly Hunter show called Saving Grace, I was intrigued by the concept and decided to set my DVR.

Here's the premise: Holly Hunter (Grace - naturally) is a hard-working, hard-living Oklahoma City police detective. She's from a large Catholic family, and lost one of her sisters in the bombing. She's long since rejected God and church, drinks a lot, is sleeping with her married partner, among others, and is generally morally bankrupt. One night as she drives home from a bar, completely drunk, she hits and kills a pedestrian. As she stumbles out of the car and realizes what she's done, she mutters for God to help her. Lo and behold, who should appear but Earl (EARL) her last-chance angel. He encourages her to change her ways and to give God a chance. She reluctantly agrees, and so the show continues with Grace puzzled by questions of faith, stumbling in her personal life, all the while fighting crime in the OKC.

It's not a bad show, but more importantly, it's not a very good show. It's fraught with stereotypes, predictable outcomes and plot holes. The thing I like least about it is the fact that they use a lot of profanity, but it makes no sense. They say shit all the time, just because they can. Half the time it doesn't make any sense. It's as though the show runner came from a meeting with Standards and Practices and said, "Well, folks, they're giving us the s-word, so let's use it as much as possible!" Now, we all know that I'm prone to let fly when the mood strikes, and the s-bomb is one of my favorites. However, it has purpose - I've missed my exit, smashed my finger, seen a picture of George Bush. These uses make sense. But all the time? Ok. I get it. you're on cable, so you can cuss. Good for you.

Another show that I watch in the summer time to catch up is The New Adventures of Old Christine. I've been a fan of Julia Louis-Dreyfus since her time on Day by Day. You heard me. Day by freaking Day. It's generally hilarious - well written and well acted. Last week's episode was entitled Oh God, Yes, and I have to tell you, it was a riot. Christine's ex-husband and New Christine took their son Richie to church, and he was begging to go back. Christine then has to explore her personal objection to organized religion and it is rooted in some childhood experiences. She decides to face her fears and take Richie to church - comedy commences. While hilarious, it's a great picture of how people who don't go to church see church. Unfortunately, CBS isn't showing it online and I can't find that particular episode on other sites. If anyone out there finds it, please send me a link. Until then, it's saved on my DVR and anyone who wants to can come over and watch it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Death at a Funeral

Yes, I really am on a mini-break. Two movies in one day. Tonight my friend Annelies called and invited me to go with her to see Death at a Funeral @ the Bridge Theater. I love British films and this one was not a disappointment. It was full of "what was he/she in?" actors, which I love.

The film stars Matthew Macfayden (Mr. Darcy of the latest Pride and Prejudice incarnation) as Daniel and Rupert Graves (V for Vendetta and Damage - one of my all time faves)as Robert. They are two brothers whose father has passed and they are faced with the task of bringing together family, friends and random people to give their father a dignified send-off at their family's home. Wackiness ensues. What I loved about it, however, was that it was not easy, predictable wackiness. It was over-the-top without losing the dignity of the characters, but there was a P.G. Wodehouse feel to it.

Andy Nyman played Norman, a very George Costanza character. He had a small discoloration on his wrist, with which he was completely obsessed and he kept getting saddled with the care and grooming of old Uncle Alby, played to curmudgeonly perfection by Peter Vaughan. It must be very cathartic to play such a nasty bastard. Also loved Kris Marshall (of Love Actually fame) playing the slacker nephew of the deceased who was studying to be a "pharmacist." Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) also gives a great performance as a mysterious stranger who shows up with some unwelcome information and attempts to blackmail the family.

The film was absolutely stolen, lock, stock and barrel by Alan Tudyk as the trepidatious fiance of the niece of the deceased. Because of his nerves at encountering his future father-in-law, he takes what he believes to be a Valium, but it turns out to be acid.

It's a really fun film. Check out the trailer here:


Today, as I thoroughly enjoyed day 2 of my days off from work, I went to an early showing of Bourne Ultimatum. Brilliant. Loved it. Although, I do want to make some introductions: Paul Greengrass, this is a camera dolly. Camera Dolly, Paul Greengrass. I hope you two will become great friends. Knowing that Doug Liman was an exec producer makes the jerky, hand-held camera thing make sense. That's a big part of his film-making aesthetic - he directed Swingers, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity. But I digress.

I was a bit early to the theater and I was the first person in that showing. To my great delight, they chose to forgo the irritating music/advertisement slideshow that usually precedes movie showings, so I had a bit of time for silence. I decided to spend the time resting and as I rested I began to pray. After reciting some familiar prayers, I began some time of intercession. I have always appreciated the definition of intercession as "holding someone up into the light of God's love" rather than reciting a list of things I think that person needs. So, I went through a list of a lot of people - friends, family, enemies, co-workers, church members, college friends, etc. It was odd b/c people whom I haven't seen or even thought of popped into my head. Praying for the enemies was the best part. When they popped into my head, I didn't shrink away from the (mental) sight of them, but held them up with everyone else. I still don't know that I want to encounter any of them in the flesh, but it was a good step toward healing for me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Two blissful days

I gotta say, this two days off for the office move thing is making me deliriously happy. This morning, I slept in a bit, had some coffee and a lovely breakfast and then went and ran some errands. This afternoon, I'm doing some house cleaning and then I'm going to have a couple of friends over for dinner. Tomorrow it's a few more errands, getting the toes done, and then I'm going to see the Bourne Ultimatum (because SOMEONE saw it without me even though we had a pact. I don't like to name names, but her initials are ANNI MINGIN). After the movie, I'm going to wander around the DeYoung Museum. In the midst of all this I'll be working on some church stuff, preparing for a worship leaders' retreat in a few weeks and a sermon on Ephesians 2 that's on the horizon (added that in b/c I know Bruce reads this - Hi Bruce).

This morning when I was running the errands, I stopped in to the new DSW Shoe store at the Westlake Village in Daly City. It's very nice - I recommend. I cannot stress this enough: I love shoes. Seriously. Shoes. I love everything about them. I love shoe shopping. If I had unlimited resources, I would have unlimited shoes. I love the smell of a shoe store. I love finding a good deal on shoes. I love everything about them. I wish I had this kind of passion for more important things, and I do in some cases. But I know that I really am this shallow. I love shoes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Type

For the MBCC Steering Committee we have to do take personality tests, because apparently, according to Bruce's personality test, he likes personality tests. Let's see if this works.

INTJ - "Mastermind". Introverted intellectual with a preference for finding certainty. A builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. 2.1% of total population.
Main type

Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism 76%
Type 2 Helpfulness 60%
Type 3 Image Awareness 43%
Type 4 Sensitivity 16%
Type 5 Detachment 80%
Type 6 Anxiety 30%
Type 7 Adventurousness 16%
Type 8 Aggressiveness 50%
Type 9 Calmness 70%
Your main type is 5
Your variant is social
Take'>">Take Free Enneagram Personality Test
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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Urban Situation

Ever have one of those nights where there's a neighbor who is clearly having a very loud birthday party, but you need to go to sleep, and on one hand you're hoping someone calls the police to have it shut down but on the other hand you don't want to be that person b/c the music is really good?