Wednesday, March 21, 2007


My car's name is Golda, named after her color (a nice champagne) and the character on Fiddler on the Roof. She's great.

Well, was great. Last week Golda began sounding deep and throaty--you know--the good morning voice (thankfully without the breath), the congested feeling. I figured it was the muffler, but my pretend-mechanic friend figured it was the air filter. We tried all sorts of tricks, but nothing worked. He said not to worry about it, but poor Golda's voice haunted me.

Of course, I worried about money, how to find a trustworthy mechanic, and time. I discovered that another friend had a family friend from Vietnam who conveniently works at the Honda dealership. I took Golda in early this morning, and sure enough, Abee showed me the rusted out hole in the muffler. It looked horrible. I wonder if it's from all the road salt.

At any rate, within 45 minutes, Abee had replaced the muffler and given me his employee discount on parts, charging me only half for the labor. Bless his Vietnamese heart. I guess he only works one day a week now that he's back in school, and Wednesday just happens to be the only day I don't have class, so it worked out perfectly. I love that there are honest mechanics, that there are people eager to help and serve, and that I'm in the right place at the right time.

And Golda runs like butter now. Don't you all wish you could have a ride?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March Madness, or Spring Break JennyReeder style

I love filling out NCAA brackets. Every year I fill one out, and I don't really follow college basketball. I love choosing names and circling winners and striking losers. I love that it's all a game for me. My friend has two brackets: one by the head and the other by the heart. Another guy lets his son fill out a bracket according to mascots (who would win, a panther or a duck?). It's good times.

This week is my spring break. Instead of an exotic vacation to the beach somewhere, I decided (well, I like to think I decided when really it was more like a decision made for me in my graduate-ness--no money and the doom of 4 papers/projects due the first week in May) to stay here and work like a maniac. I did take a day off and went to Philadelphia with my friend Kelli. We hit the King Tut exhibit (definitely NOT worth $35, unless you count maybe $1 for every object you see!), then the small Rodin museum (which reminded us both of Paris--ah!), and up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Then we walked down to all the historic sites--Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, etc.

Being the week before St. Patrick's day, we encountered a strange phenomenon: random runners wearing green prom dresses. We had to snap some shots. When Kelli asked what they were running for, they looked at her like she was crazy for not knowing and said, "We're running for Green!" The security guard at the Liberty Bell shook his head and said "They'll be drinking all the way through St. Paddy's."

The highlight of the trip, and the TRUE March Madness for me, was the Philadelphia Flower Show. I cannot express how much I love flowers. I love the color, the smell, the design. This show was amazing--apparently it's on the list of 1,000 things to do in your lifetime. The theme was Ireland, so many of the displays revolved around quaint Irish gardens. Some were a little over the top (one had wacky glittery shoes hanging in a dead tree with a leprechaun poem and another had a wedding party in the middle of a pond). I loved the window boxes, the lamp flowers, the variety and texture. I felt alive--grateful for God's creations and for what people can do with those creations.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

2nd Grade Groundhogs Day

I have a very vivid memory of Groundhogs Day when I was in the second grade. My teacher announced that we would be making a little groundhog village out of paper. Being the little overachiever and perfectionist that I am, I immediately freaked out. I didn't know how to make a groundhog village! What was she thinking? I was only in the second grade, after all! How was I magically supposed to know how to actually create a groundhog, let alone a groundhog village? The audacity of it all! I believe tears were shed in my consternation.

My wise teacher kindly and patiently heard me out and quietly encouraged me to just try. Through my tears I scribbled out a little groundhog and then made a little house. Suddenly I realized that I could do better, and I added several features, like a mailbox and a windowbox. Before you can pause to see your shadow, I had caught fire. My groundhog village took off--I made a groundhog school, a groundhog hospital, a groundhog post office, a groundhog store, a groundhog library. By the end of the day, my teacher had to pry me away from my now expert groundhog village.

I've been feeling that same second grade panic again as of late. I have to create a website? I ask my digital history professor in sheer panic. But I don't know design! I don't know CSS! I don't know how to manipulate curves and levels in Photoshop! I just want to be a historian! How can you expect me to know what colors go together and how to create gradients and masks, how to use the right typeface to create an inviting ambiance and represent my time period?!? The audacity! I also have to write papers and read and complete assignments and maintain a busy social calendar and life a life of culture! How can you expect me to drop everything and EXPERIMENT? Who has that kind of time?

And yet there's a secret part of me that really does revel in color blending and texture--after all, isn't it like quilting? And I secretly could spend hours playing with fonts. So maybe my fear is really that I've found a new activity, one that I know I'm not very good at yet, but that I could be good. I'm afraid that I'll have to buy a new computer (no! not a Mac!) and the newest versions of Photoshop and Dreamweaver. I'm afraid that I will get sucked into hours spent hunched over my keyboard, digging through websites, creating digital groundhog hospitals and libraries. Who knows what this could start?

If only I had the energy of a second-grader... and my construction paper and crayons for tools...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Footloose, but not fancy free

After a restless night of tossing and turning (so many papers and readings and decisions running through my head), I finally got up this morning, anxious to get to work. I was planning on squeezing in time to go to the gym--at times like this I can be found with my latest reading, my head bobbing on the elliptical or the bike as I breeze through the pages and try to pump my body at the same time. But when I emerged from my basement room and saw such perfect running weather outside, I took off on foot.

It had rained all night and was supposed to rain all morning, but the sun was peaking through heavy gray clouds and warmed up the temperature all the way to 57 blessed degrees! Everything was wet--the trees glistened with tiny drops and I stomped through puddles in my old running shoes, the muddy water licking my lily-white legs. As I shed my long-sleeve T, I felt liberated and ran faster and harder. If only I could shed my other troubles... at least I got some great respite on the road.