Friday, March 20, 2009

March Madness

It has started! Yesterday Mauri, Jen, Yvette, and I skipped work and drove through the rain to Philadelphia for the first round of the NCAA championship. We could feel the excitement as we drove into the parking lot (well, I could only feel it in half of my face because I had some darn dental work done previous to embarkation).

We saw BYU play Texas A&M, although they never really showed up for the game. It sort of felt like church ball, bless their hearts. It was fun, though, to be surrounded by BYU fans and to rise and shout. I even saw Brad Jones--a friend from Rock Canyon Elementary School days and seminary council days... ah, the trip down memory lane. The UConn game afterward was much more exciting--even if they beat Chattanoga by (yikes!) 57 points. Those boys can play some ball.

We also stopped for a Philly cheese steak at Gino's... sorry... coulnd't do the Cheese Whiz. I went with provolone...

So many memories of March Madness in years past. I loved watching with Grandad--or calling him to check up on his teams. I loved his opinion. After all, he was known as Buzz Bomb for the University of Arizona NIT championship team back in the day. He knew his ball.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Unexpected Surprises

That, my friends, is the story of my life.

So I've decided to train for the Charlottesville 1/2 marathon in April. The reasons are these: I loved feeling large and in charge when I trained for Richmond, it'll be springtime in Virginia, I ran 6 miles last week and felt that runner's charge--I ran like the wind, and I need some major physical outlet right now.

Yesterday I set out to run 8 miles on the W&OD trail (it wasn't until after that Lindi told me there have been quite a few rapes on the trail in broad daylight. Yikes! Anyone want to run with me? Luckily there are a few other trails in the area...). I parked at Columbia Pike and ran a little over 3 1/2 miles, almost ready to turn around, when I discovered that my car key had fallen out of my pocket. Gulp. What do you do?

I turned around and ran back, my eyes scouring the trail the whole way, stretching my brain to remember where I had readjusted my Ipod in the same pocket, where I stopped to take off my layers, where I ran past two bright red cardinals and, of course sketchy people (mixed in with a lot of normal people, too). No key.

My imagination started running away. Someone must have found a random Honda key in the middle of the path, and found a random lone Honda parked at the trailhead. Stolen car. (not as cool as Deana's car stolen out of her driveway by Nazi-terrorists in Sandy, Utah! The police recovered it and left the cds the skinheads left in her car. Lucky.) No... lucky me. My car was still there. A giant phew!

But now what to do? I had my Ipod and that's it. No phone, no house key, no water, nothing. I had no choice but to run home--another 3 miles. By this time I was beat. It was cold--37 degrees, and my sweat was freezing. Once I got home, I didn't have a key to get in. Again lucky--we have a spare in the shed, but I couldn't remember the combination. Lucky--I remembered the numbers, just not in the right order. My hands were a little shakey and I was cold, but finally I got in. I raced inside and called sweet Lindi who drove me to my car. Still there. Lucky that I have a spare key. Now I need to find a place to copy a car key. And hope that it's not a million dollars.

But wait! That's not all! A much more pleasant unexpected surprise... Randall and I stopped by the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center at Catholic University. I'd always wanted to go. Fascinating. Mostly photographs and sculpture and artifacts from the Pope, but also some interesting interactive exhibits about Catholicism and religion in general. The best part was that we walked in on the opening of an art exhibit, complete with a jazz concert in the rotunda and a deluctable spread of exhibit-opening food upstairs. Who knew? That chicken saute, shrimp, and mini key lime pies sure hit the spot on a rainy, exhausting afternoon.

That and Slumdog Millionaire. Complete despair, hard work and ingenuity and perseverance, and beautiful, life-changing hope. And amazing Indian dancing.
It's all about the surprise. Or tender mercies. However you look at it. But it's worth the look.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Soaring with the Eagles...

I seem to have a bird theme going.

I broke down and went to the dentist yesterday. I haven't had dental insurance since my NYU days but when I found this amazing promotional flier in the mail, offering a first-time visit, cleaning, and x-rays for only $59, I took it. It was regularly $400, and I'm all about a good deal. (Just on Monday I spent $17 at Giant and saved $10 on strawberries, kiwi, and those yummy SmartOnes frozen dinners. Yesterday I found this awesome 1950s wood captain-type chair at a thrift store for $9, and today I found Easter dark chocolate M&Ms at Rite Aid, buy one get one free, as well as some Retinol wrinkle cream buy one get one 50% off. And I'm headed to Gap Outlet with my 30% off coupon to see what they have on clearance.)

Of course they didn't tell me that the fluoride was an additional $40, or that it was really a promotion for their Invisiline treatment (which one day I would really really really like, because apparently I'm a prime candidate, and they can cut me a special deal without interest and the low monthly payment of $250 and are you serious? Do you really think I'm that gullible? After all, I'm a Ph.D. student on a budget, in this economy! I'm a thinker!).

But they also answered my question about my sometimes achy and poppy right jaw that sometimes doesn't like to open very wide. A careful examination of my panoramic x-ray revealed that I, my friends, have Eagle Syndrome.

Look it up your own selves. I did. It's true. Some ligament has completely calcified in my right jaw. Most side effects include popping jaw (yes), chronic sore throat (no), neck pain (no, but I do love me a good neck massage), and fainting (yes--come to think of it, I have fainted 3 times in the past 8 months). Apparently it can cut into the carotid artery if you turn quickly at the right angle. Who knew?!?

There's nothing really you can do--if it gets really bad, then maybe surgery, but there are a lot of crazy side effects.

In the meanwhile, I found some real neat eagle quotes:
  • You can't soar with the eagles unless you're willing to take some risks
  • If you stay up with the owls, you can't soar with the eagles
  • You can't soar with the eagles if you're hooting with the owls
  • You can't soar with the eagles if you're flapping with the turkeys
  • If you can't soar with the eagles, you might as well root around with the pigs
I prefer these myself:
  • Ye have seen... how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself (Ex. 19:4)
  • They that wait upon the strength of the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31)
  • He shall fly as an eagle (Jer. 48:40)
I'm counting on those promises. I've got much to do and miles to go and it seems to go so much more smoothly if you can fly...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Song of the Swallows

Yesterday morning I got up in time for a quick run before the day's activities. I ran to the tune of spring birds.

Then I judged the local National History Day competition (junior high kids' websites... hilarious... and so fun to help them think of ways to make their sites really pop and really be history... and now I can tell you all about Harriet Beecher Stowe, the little lady who "started" the Civil War; David Axelrod, whose legacy of running the Obama campaign really is too current to be history; Jonas Salk, who discovered the polio vaccine; John Muir, who apparently is an individual in history, according to this year's theme; Julia Child, who taught Americans to love French food; and some American lady from Wisconsin who led some spy revolt against Hitler but was killed by the guillotine--the facts are a little fuzzy). Then I went to the National Postal Museum with Robin.

And then I came home and sat on my back patio and spraypainted a big poster frame bright red because these are the things I do on the Saturday before spring break and I'm completely frustrated with school. Ready to throw in the towel. And the Ph.D. Who needs it? Seriously, people.

As I sat there, contemplating the ensuing battle that has been going on between my head and my heart for some months now (now the head is ahead with some great logic! now the heart has felt some pretty intense hope! ah, now the head takes over, castigating that hope with pure reason! but the heart feels a piece of patience! what will ever happen?!?), I heard this sound overtake the skies, right in the helicopter path to the Pentagon over my house. It was a flock of birds, obviously heading north. Obviously spring. Obviously. This was no normal bunch of birds. They were obviously a flock, obviously on a mission for a distinct destination. And they were making a lot of noise about the whole deal.

All of a sudden, I remembered a book way back from days of childhood yore. (is that a word?) Song of the Swallows. I don't even remember much about it--other than it was a Caldecott and it was about the birds that return to that California mission every year. On the same day. Without fail. Even when it seemed like it was too late or the conditions weren't just right, those birds came.

And I remembered one of my favorite all-time phrases in all of scripture: "He had also verified his word unto them in every particular" (Alma 25:17). Just like phrases like "And God remembered Rachel," and "Sunday will come." (Name those tunes your own self.)

Spring IS coming. It's at the gates. The swallows are on their way. There is hope. I can't tell you what will come out of the battle of my heart, nor how I will ever advance to candidacy (or when for that matter!), but I know that every word, every promise, every hope will be verified.

And I ordered the book. Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi, out of print. I found it on bookfinder for $2.80. It better be as good as I remember.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Spring Fling

It really is coming. I think. I mean, it always does, right? The forecast calls for 65 on Saturday. My daffodil stems are poking up. The snow is melting... slowly under that East Coast icy crust.Last Saturday dear Rachel hosted the first annual Fabulous Hat Bruncheon. And it was fabulous. Swankified, even, to borrow a phrase from Galinda.
Fabulous hat winners, as voted upon by the Carlyle staff

It did good for the soul to dress up and hit the roads of Shirlington. Heads turned everywhere as we paraded up the street to the Carlyle.Everything from Dorian's New Mexico cowboy hat to Marni's tiara to Alica's vintage pillbox hat...

And oh! The Carlyle! Grand, indeed. I had eggs benedict over crab cakes. Had to take a picture, which doesn't do justice to the deliciousness that ensued. Oh my!

I haven't really been a hat person (except for when JB and I used to do yard work in sunny AZ. That in and of itself almost required that we wear big floppy hats, not so much for the sun, but just for the experience.). I've converted. Anything to march out those winter doldrums!Thanks to Robin for loaning us these two beauties...

Yes, we did listen to My Fair Lady in the car on the way. It was the perfect Fabulous Hat music. Who dons a hat better than Audrey Hepburn? (although Julie Andrews was singing in this version, but just imagine... that horse race...)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Day!

My goodness... can you possibly know the delight of waking up on an early Monday morning to this:Perfect delight! A tender mercy! Delayed start of school/work until 12:30! And it's still coming down!I think I'll do some yoga from home, then work on my minor field statements. Ah, bliss! Spring, I know I've begged and pleaded for you, but winter, you are blessed! Thank you for showing me your beauty and love one more time!