Monday, September 26, 2016

Wknd Pics

It's here!!!!
We made lab t shirts because we are awesome
A beer and a toy
My 80s attire
Pretty view from my hotel
Monterey Bay
Building a tall tower

Shall we catch up?

  • Seriously, you's down to bullet points this week. This is the best I can do
  • I went to my departmental retreat last week, Wed-Fri. It was in Monterey, literally on the beach. It was so nice to look out at the ocean. We partied like rock stars, for some reason. Wed night was 80s night, so I dressed like a fool and danced till 2AM. Thursday, I played beach volleyball (what? you might say :), starred in an award-winning video, presented my poster and danced the night away. I got in at 1:30am. Then on Friday, I returned to the land of reality
  • It's been real, real hot.
  • I'm planning D's 3rd birthday party! Crazy! I got a party planner. I know, I know. I sound crazy. But you try to entertain 14 toddlers at once. It's actually one of D's teachers who is trying to start her own business. I think it will go brilliantly well. Fingers crossed. 
  • I got a new planner. I am planning my life away. Setting goals. Reaching some of them. Striving to meet more goals, etc. We shall see how this goes. 
  • My in-laws arrive tomorrow for a one week visit. D is so excited he literally jumped up and down this morning asking if they were coming today.
  • On Thursday, we leave for Lousiville, KY for a wedding in Indiana. We are celebrating our 5 year anniversary, sans toddler. Should be a good time, reunion with grad school friends and a nice trip together to remember why we like each other
  • I'll try to upload a pic or two.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Money Money Money Haiku Friday

I've been selling stuff
Mostly old toys, baby clothes
Stuff we have outgrown


I've made one hundred
forty eight dollars so far
Saving for party.


D turns three in Oct
A big birthday bash. Bounce house
and eleven kids

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Movie Review: Spotlight

I'm a big fan of the library - in fact, they just moved it to an area right next to the farmer's market in Half Moon Bay, so it's easier to get to and visit. I could spend hours there, but usually I have an impatient toddler so I just run through and grab some books. We usually read a couple while we are there and then we are on our merry way. One awesome thing about this library is the DVD collection. While they are not the latest and greatest, they do have a fun collection and all the kids' DVDs are separated. We recently rented Spotlight, the story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the systematic cover up of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. This movie starred Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo as some of the team that uncovered this story. This movie was really well done, I thought. The movie is called Spotlight because that's the name of the in depth investigative report published in the Globe. The story begins with a new editor, (they make a note that he's Jewish) pushing for this story. The editor noticed these stories of sex abuse in the Church and that nothing ever came of them. So the team undertakes investigating all of these incidences and basically uncovers the cover-up in Boston that most likely goes all the way to the Vatican. The movie was very intellectually well done. It's upsetting, but it presents more of the investigation by the newspaper and very few of the people who were impacted (although it does portray a few). The movie has no satisfactory ending (obviously) but shows the value of independent investigations done by journalists. It's very deserving of the accolades it received when it came out and it's pretty fun to see familiar Boston in a movie.

Monday, September 12, 2016


It's funny the things you remember. Some things are seared into your mind. Other things, I can't seem to remember, although I thought I would remember things always. 15 years later, here is what I recall.

I don't think I've ever written about 9/11. I was 23. It seems odd that my recollections of that day would now be a part of history. But I think it's fair to say that 9/11 changed my life and my perspective and basically changed my world. I was living with a boyfriend at the time, K, in the Valley. I worked at Baxter, manufacturing Factor VIII for hemophiliacs. It was a good job, with good people, but a bit boring. I worked noon-10pm, Sunday -Wednesday so my schedule was a little odd. 9/11 was a Tuesday, so I had worked the night before and had probably come home around 10:30-11pm. I usually went to bed around 12 or 1am. It was hard to wind down after a long day at work. K woke me up around 6:30am, CA time (9:30am NY time). He worked an 8-5 job, and I can't really remember where he was working. I have a feeling it was in this somewhat tall building in Woodland Hills, right off the 101. It was the only high rise for miles. I remember being confused, concerned. He told me there was a terrorist attack. My Dad called. He was really worried. He told me there were lots of planes unaccounted for and they thought they were headed to LA next. He wanted me to leave. I don't know why I didn't. I think maybe even then I thought my Dad was over-reacting. I mean, things were happening 3000 miles away, it would be at least 5 hrs till they got here, right? I remember being so confused. Confusion would be the main feeling I felt for a long time. Until the sadness. I don't know if I saw people jump. I do remember the towers collapsing, live on TV. They didn't think they would collapse. The TV anchors at a loss for words. But down they went. I remember asking K if it was safe for him to go to work in the high rise. I think his work was cancelled. I must have gotten a phone call from my shift lead, Nicky. He told me to come in to work. Things were so uncertain, but drug manufacturing stops for no one. It was good, better to be with people. We worked in this place we called the "area". It was actually really awesome. You had to gown in to come into the manufacturing area so our mangers hardly ever came to see us. It was like our own private club with funny bunny suits. Since we were deep inside this building, we got no radio signal. Except for the local Thousand Oaks radio station, it played soft rock/pop and had terrible DJs. When I got to work, the radio was on, but it was playing NPR. Probably the first time I had ever heard NPR, or really listened to it. They were reporting on the WTC, and also the Pentagon and the plane that went down in PA (although no one knew why that one went down at the time). We were glued to the radio, but not much information came out. We were all shell shocked. But we spent so much time together that it was a little bit like being with your family. Everyone was gentle with each other that day. The rivalries were gone for a minute. I don't remember leaving or coming home that night. I have one other distinct memory. K and I were driving and I'm not sure why. It must have been that weekend after 9/11. We were in the Valley, and every street corner had people on it, holding candles, hugging, crying. There were people everywhere. It was very odd. There are never people walking it the Valley. It's just too hot. And people in LA are too busy to walk. It was an odd event. It was lovely to see, but also odd to take in. Like I was witnessing something I shouldn't have. Something I wasn't necessarily included in.
In the following weeks, we listened to NPR more and more. The radio station took forever to switch back to it's terrible music. But eventually it did. And eventually we got back to dancing around to the silly music. Or making fun of the DJs. Eventually, we got back to our own lives.
I remember seeing lists of people missing. Families posting pictures of their loved ones, and all the smiling faces all over downtown NYC. All the victims were young - my age. Just going to work. A regular day. The stories emerged. About the guy taking his kid to kindergarten, so he was late. The other guy who was sick that day. The one who survived out of the many. The first responders. The people leading each other down the stairwells. The acts of heroics. The downing of the plane by the passengers. "Let's Roll". The estimates that tens of thousands of people had died. The reality that many more would have died had the planes been just a little bit later.
After I moved to Philly, I met lots of people who had "just missed" stories. A friend's Dad was on the last train through the WTC before the planes hit. Another friend worked at Columbia (Harlem) and lived in Brooklyn. She had to walk over 100 blocks home since they closed the subways and stopped traffic. So many stories. So many lives changed forever.
I'd like to think that 9/11 inspired me to go to grad school. To expand my horizons. To chase my dreams. But I was already looking forward to grad school. I was already planning to apply. I was already planning my escape, both from drug manufacturing and from my boyfriend, K. I left for Philadelphia in Jun 2003, and I tried really hard not to look back. But I do have to say, even to this day, I look around at my fellow passengers on a plane and I wonder if any could be hijackers. If any want to bring down the plane. I usually don't dwell on that thought. And my flights are so packed that anyone would have a time trying to hijack one, that's for sure.
I'm not sure what the legacy of 9/11 is, other than saying I have lived and grieved through a national tragedy. I remember being a teenager, listening to my family talk about tragedy. Talk about JFK's assassination, about plane crashes or automobile accidents. Crazy stories told from eyewitnesses. "Where were you when....". Those stories always had somewhat of a romantic feel to them. They were far removed from my life, this time. I already knew how they turned out. I wanted to know the gory details, not really thinking how my questions were hurting those I was talking to. Now I know. 9/11 is a scar. It's not always visible. But it's there. And, even now, on the 15th anniversary, the tears for those people are fresh. #neverforget

Thursday, September 8, 2016

D's latest story

One time when I was a baby I went to the forest by myself with my tent and my sleeping bag and my pillow. I heard a mountain lion ROAR and I didn't run away. I followed him to the store and he put on some clothes. And then we ate chocolate ice cream.

Book review: A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown

I borrowed this book from Randi a few weeks ago. I've heard her talk about this book and I've seen it on several "must read" book lists, so I dug right in. This book is insane. This woman's life is insane. There are not words to do this justice, trust me. The book begins with Cupcake finding her mother dead in their house. Prior to this, it sounds like she had a pretty normal life - it all changes with her mother's death. She quickly find out that her father is not her father - he's her stepfather. Her real father wants the money associated with her mother's death but does not want her. So, she ends up in a foster home where the foster mother beats her and just basically wants the money for raising her. She ends up running away (at age 11), hitchhiking around town and prostituting herself. Oh, this is after she is raped by her foster mom's nephew. The story gets worse and worse - she ends up in a gang, doing drive-by shootings, robbing people, sometimes having a job, sometimes not. She gets heavily into alcohol and drugs, gets shot, moves from place to place scamming people and living in filth. About 500 pages into this book, she ends up living behind a dumpster, turning tricks and smoking crack. She eventually sees herself in the window of a shop and can't believe what she sees. She decides to pray and ask for help and the little voice in her head says to her to go to her boss (somehow she did have a job - a pretty good one, too) and ask for help. Her journey out of the pits of hell is a memorable one. She goes to rehab, joins AA, gets a sponsor and asks for help. Lots and lots of help. She goes back to school, takes 5 years to get her AA, then goes to state school to get her bachelor's degree. Her dream is to apply to law school and she works her butt off to get into law school. The end of the book, she is graduating from law school, surrounded by the people who love and support her through it all. This book is stunning. Unbelievable. Inspirational. Heartbreaking. I highly, highly recommend it.
As an aside, this book also appealed to my teacher side: Cup talk about getting into law school (just one) because the school decided to look at her WHOLE application instead of just the numbers from a test or her GPA. I found this incredibly informative - perhaps one of the reasons we are losing non-traditional students and minorities in school is because of this absurd system of blanket tests with required scores. Maybe we should open up a little more, let a few more people in, and then we might be aiding someone like Cupcake Brown who is now serving her community as a lawyer.