Thanks to my friend over at a2v for this cool little time-consumer!

I basically pasted a bunch of my old blog posts into it, and out came this very cool little word cloud…  Click on the picture to see the big version, and maybe make one of your own!

So, I know it’s been a while all around, but I’ll just stop making excuses…

I’ve made some progress on my 101 in 1001 list, though!

#2–Go on Weight Watchers and stick with it for at least 12 weeks.  I’m currently in week 5!

#28–Get a Kitchen Aid Mixer.  My mom got me one for my birthday back in April!  I used it to make Red Velvet cupcakes and it was AWESOME.

#45–Pay off all Credit Card debt.  I have paid off one, and should have the other paid off by the end of July!

#70–Make a new friend.  I’ve made several, but I’ve left it as “In Progress” because really, who wants to say they’re done making friends?!

Well, that’s all for now.  But I’m working on more posts that I’ll put up soon!

The view from Inspiration PointBut even then, it is my compulsion as a writer to use too many.  Here is the Bryce Canyon entry I mentioned a few weeks ago…

 

When I opened the car door at Fairview Point, I could hear the wind—a constant rushing through the trees—and it sounded more like the Pacific Ocean during winter swells.  The map had confused us, and we’d been planning for Inspiration Point.  In the truck parked next to us was a wiry and weathered park ranger, but when I looked closely, I saw she was quite beautiful.  We handed her the map and shared our confusion.  We’d overshot by eight miles, she said, and we were in awe.  It hadn’t seemed like we’d gone eight miles since we entered the park, let alone eight more miles than we should have.  But since we were there, we figured we’d take a look.  “It’s the windiest overlook in the park” she said.  “If you can survive this one, you’ll survive them all.”  We stood at the wooden railing and looked into the abyss.  Words seemed cheap, but we uttered all the standard phrases about the beauty of nature and feeling small.  I admired the way the white snow contrasted with the red rock, and took pictures that, even as I snapped them, I knew they would never come close to expressing the beauty I was seeing.

 

We hopped back into the car and coasted down the canyon until we reached the turnoff for Inspiration Point, and it was no wonder we’d missed it.  The signage was impossibly small.  Again we parked and stepped out of the car into strong winds, but this time there was a small hike up to the observation point.  If I’d thought the first overlook was spectacular, I’d been wrong.  This one lived up to its name.  The hoodoos—the rock formations that are the signature of Bryce Canyon—stood like army men waiting for their orders.  We walked along a trail that had no railings—just a few hundred yards or so—to view the natural amphitheater from another direction.  The wind whipped around me and I nervously stepped closer to the edge so that I could look over.  I laughed that we’d passed signs noting the “dangerous cliffs” and yet a bench was provided so that you could sit on the edge of it.  The ground seemed mushy and crumbly beneath my feet, and I thought of the unstable cliffs in Southern California.

 

I also thought of the conversation we’d had at dinner the night before.  We’d had a philosopher present, and had talked of disaster after disaster.  Fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, rare Central American snakes, swimming with alligators, being attacked by a baby shark, and Stephen Colbert’s personal nightmare—BEARS!  At one point, the conversation had turned to hiking in the canyons and the fear of falling from a great height.  Then the philosopher shared with us the thought of some old, dead, great one:  It is not the fear of falling, but the fear that you will not be able to prevent yourself from throwing your whole being into the abyss.  Around the warmly lit dinner table, it had seemed an interesting point, but a bit ridiculous.  Standing there, on the rim of Bryce Amphitheater, I understood it perfectly.  I edged closer to the chasm below, the wind rushing around me, and I felt deep down that maybe I could fly.  I’ve never wanted to fly so badly in my entire life.  To swoop like a hawk or even a flying squirrel, just a little closer to the hoodoos, I would have given anything. 

People love the 80s.  I’ll admit it, I like them quite a bit.  But sometimes I forget why.  I mean, the clothes were terrible, the hair was horrible, and technology was a joke.  And then I see this.

Go ahead, click it.  It’s the video for Cyndi Lauper’s “Goonies ‘R Good Enough” video–that’s right, the theme for one of my all-time favorite movies, “The Goonies.”  I discovered this incredible gem while watching the DVD tonight. 

I mean, they just don’t make stuff like this anymore.  I know that I can’t catalogue all of the amazing things about the video, but I have to try…  Maybe I’ll do a Top 10 list…

The Top Ten Most Awesome Things about the “Goonies ‘R Good Enough” Video

10.  The terribly spliced clips from the movie that are apparently supposed to look like part of the “action” in the video–even though they’re in two different formats and the colors are completely different.

9.  The fact that Cyndi and her family just happen to be in the same situation as the kids in the movie–they’re being foreclosed on by developers.  Huh, weird how that happens.

8.  Cyndi’s hair, which is almost as amazing as her acting skills!

7.  Cyndi’s outfit, which consists of a checkered shirt, plaid capris, and possibly men’s garters.  (She moves so fast, it’s hard to tell.

6.  Cameos by, like, every single important WWF wrestler of the day.  Including my favorite, Rowdy Roddy Piper!  (Come on, the dude wore a kilt, you know that’s awesome.)

5.  That there’s a hibachi grill in the caves.

4.  That the video was originally a two-parter, with a cliffhanger!

3.  Steven Spielberg’s cameo, where he appears to be dressed as one of the government agents from ET.

2.  The sign at Cyndi’s family’s gas station, that says, “You haven’t had GAS until you’ve had Mom and Pop’s.”  Classy.

And finally, the #1 most awesome thing about the “Goonies ‘R Good Enough” video is…

Andre the Giant (aka Fezzik) saves the day and everyone lives happily ever after!

Oh jeez…  So I see that it’s been nearly two months since I last posted.  I can’t believe it’s been that long.  I could make a lot of excuses about why, but I think the thing that best illustrates how busy I’ve been is that I moved into my new apartment a few days before that last post, and I still haven’t finished unpacking!  Yikes!

So, here are some other things I’ve been up to…

1.  I am so amused by this.  It totally reminds me of my old job, and the kids I worked with there.

2.  I’ve been to Colorado, Nevada, and Utah (twice).  I’ve taken lots of pictures; I just need to unpack the CD of drivers for my camera so I can upload them!

3.  I survived total craziness.  Seriously, that thing went right past my apartment!  Some of the worst damage is just 3 or so blocks from my house.  Here’s a map of the path.  See that “10″ in a white circle–the one under where it says “Highland Ave NE”?  Yeah, that’s exactly where my apartment is.

4.  I updated my 101 in 1001 list, just a little.  The only thing I’ve really accomplished is that I bought a DVD player.  I decided that I wanted to watch all of Sex and the City on DVD prior to the movie coming out in May.  I’m about halfway done!

5.  I just went to Bryce Canyon, which inspired me to write again, so I have a post waiting the wings, but I think it needs photos!  I also won $100 at the casinos in Vegas on the same trip…  It was awesome.

Ok, I’ll post more soon…  But first I have to do my taxes!

Every time I move, or am spending several nights in a new place, I dream more (or, at the very least, I tend to remember my dreams more).  Saturday night, during my move to Atlanta, I had the craziest dream! 
So, here’s the story…  One of my former RAs (we’ll call him WackyMac) was apparently a volunteer for the Bonaroo concert festival, and as a part of his volunteer duties, he was assigned to assist and escort Bruce Springsteen.  This, somehow, involved WackyMac driving Bruce around in his own personal car.  And for some reason, WackyMac had me and 3 other people in the car, too.  So, WackyMac was driving, I was in the middle, and Bruce was in the front passenger seat.  Then, there were 3 other people (I don’t remember who, but they were friends of ours, possibly one of them was another former RA, the Geologist) in the back seat.  We were driving on a really bumpy dirt or gravel road, and at the same time, WackyMac and I bust out singing, “oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road” and then start laughing hysterically.  Bruce laughed, too, and apparently thought it was awesome that we started singing his song, because then he started trying to hold my hand and hit on me in a Joey-from-Friends, how-you-doin’ kind of way.  I was like “Heck yes, Bruce Springsteen!” because, come on, it was BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, but the 3 people in the back seat were making snide comments the whole time.
Then we dropped Bruce off, said we would see him when the concert started, and then we went back to WackyMac’s house to get ready for the concert.  Then some girl–I knew her, I think, and it’s possible she was an RA from another building the same year WackyMac was an RA in my building–came over and for some reason she wasn’t allowed to know where we were going so I had to try to block her from seeing the concert tickets so she wouldn’t try to come hang out with us and Bruce Springsteen later…  And then I woke up. 
So weird, right?

From La Professor…

“Liberal is not a bad word.  Would you complain if they gave you a liberal amount of fries at Five Guys?  Of course not, because they’re awesome.”

Never a dull moment around here.

So, I’m not sure if I mentioned this in my last post about my new job, but I got it really quickly and had to move to Atlanta very quickly.  Which is awesome, but also stressful.  Luckily, I have a very wonderful and kind friend who already lives near Atlanta (we’ll call her La Professor) and is letting me stay with her.  This story is about her townhome, and the adventure we had after work one day…

So, I pulled up in the driveway and saw La Professor wandering around in the yard talking on her cell phone.  That was pretty strange, but I thought maybe she’d just gotten home a few minutes before me and hadn’t made it inside yet.  I got out and found out that there was a potential gas leak in LP’s house.  Here’s what transpired before I arrived: La Professor arrived home and caught a whiff of gas in her house.  She went next door and knocked on her neighbor’s door to ask him to come next door and see if he could smell gas as well, but there was no need because in his apartment, the gas scent was so strong it would knock you down.  So they called the gas company and stood outside in the chilly twilight until he arrived to check it out.

So by the time I got there, Fernando the Gas Man was walking around the townhouses with his little gas detecting machine, trying to find the source of the leak, and also finding dangerous/not up to code conditions in both houses.  When he came back outside and saw us standing in the yard, he said, “What are you doing?  Do not be afraid of the gas!”  La Professor told him that when she called the emergency line for the gas company, they told her to stay outside the house.  He thought that was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard!  “Do not be afraid of the gas!” he kept saying, with his Spanish accent.  “Power is far more deadly!”

Fernando then proceded to show La Professor how to light her pilot light and how to light her gas stove when the lights were off.  He was the nicest and most helpful utility person I’ve ever seen.  But when we went in the kitchen, Fernando got very interested in the bread* that was rising in the oven, almost ready to bake.  “How long does this take?” he asked, pointing at the pale loaves.  “Only about 35 minutes,” La Professor replied.  “Well…  What else can I do that takes 35 minutes?” Fernando asked, and winked.  LP told him he was welcome to stay and she would happily give him a loaf, or that he could go somewhere else and come back when it was ready.  He laughed and said no, no, he was just kidding.  Then he went off to help the neighbor with his not-up-to-code issues. 

Twenty minutes or so later, there was loud banging at the patio door.  “Has it been 35 minutes yet?”  Fernando yelled through the window.  Sadly, he had to leave before the bread was done, because we gladly would have sent him off with a loaf or two.

Oh, and it turns out that the third townhome over from LP’s was the source of the leak.  It is unoccupied, up for sale, and no one could contact the owner, but Fernando turned off the gas to make sure that we would all be safe!

************

*It must be said that La Professor (and her mom, from whom she gets the recipe and approximately 30-year-old bread starter) makes the BEST sourdough bread EVER.  Seriously.

So, I know I was supposed to be updating here about my 101 in 1001 list every two weeks.  Sigh.  This has not happened, but I have a really good reason for that!  Drumroll, please…

I have completed #51–get a new first job.  In fact, I was offered the job on January 4, and after a whirlwind month of January, I have just finished my first week of work at that new job, which is also in a new city and a new state.  Good times!  More on that later, but I’ve got to get on with the 101 in 1001 updates.

#14 & #15–Daily photos.  Put on hold due to the move.  But I will complete these before the end of the 1001 days!
#36–Sell Old TV.  Done and done!
#37–Sell big stereo.  No one would buy it, so I donated it to charity.
#67–Writing handwritten notes once a month…  Not done.  I sent a crapload of thank you notes, but I said from the beginning those wouldn’t count.  So, I will write two in February.
#68–I did manage to play the lottery this month, but didn’t win anything.
#69–I’ve gone lots of new places considering that I’m living in a new city!

Ok, well, it’s nearly 2am, and I’m exhausted, but I promise I’ll write more later.

So, I know I’m way behind on posting things about my cross-country trip. I promise more stories are coming, but this one is more timely… So we’ll start here.

“Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans fall in line.” The first time I ever heard that, I probably laughed. When I heard some blowhard pundit say that on CNN during the Iowa Caucuses, I definitely laughed. And now I find myself doing the same thing.

Ok, so I definitely supported John Edwards in the last election and early on in this election because he’s HOTT. I mean, have you seen that Newsweek cover*?? Holy crap. Pure hotness. But I also consider myself a populist, so I could pass off my choice as an academic one. But now I’ve found myself falling head over heels with Hillary, and even more shockingly, it has nothing to do with Bill.

As previously chronicled, I have been obsessed with Bill Clinton for many years. At least since high school. I love him. So when my friend and I were passing through Little Rock on our cross-country trip, I demanded that we make a stop at the Clinton Library. We got there a little late, and only got to spend an hour inside, but that was probably as much as I could take. We were barely into the exhibit areas before I started bawling like a baby.

The first thing that set me off was a big exhibit about the first election in ’92. Of course, no one expected the governor of Arkansas to be a contender. Most people don’t even know where Arkansas is. But Bill had a special something (the same special something that gets him in trouble, I think) that made people believe in him, want to elect him, and love him. There were lots of old pictures from his first time on the campaign trail—pictures of a very young George Stephenopolis celebrating Clinton’s performance in a debate, of Bill wiping barbeque off Al Gore’s chin while they ate lunch on the bus, and of Bill and Hillary taking a moment to relax between stops on the bus. Looking at those pictures, I started to sob. My traveling partner looked at me like I had three heads. “Look at them!” I exclaimed. “They look so young. They look like REAL PEOPLE.”

And it was true. Hillary had frizzy hair, big shoulder pads, dark eyebrows. She was a political neophyte. She was a far cry from the poised, posh, and polished (read: calculated) image of her we now have.

Next, we moved on to the year-by-year and “themed” areas. By “themed” I mean they were little cubbies dealing with different aspects of his presidency, like the economy, foreign policy, youth outreach and volunteerism (specifically the AmeriCorps program), diversity, and of course, the Monica/Whitewater stuff. The very first cubbie had a comparison list of different statistics, with a figure from his first day in office and his last. They were things like the unemployment rate, homelessness, people on welfare, and the national debt. It was a really amazing thing to see how the economy and the quality of life for the middle class rose so drastically during his eight years as the president. Thinking of the disaster that all of these statistics have become recently, I started crying again. This time, I looked over at my traveling partner, and she seemed to understand.

A few cubbies later, we got to the one on foreign policy. There, they displayed a letter that a little Kenyan boy (who was living in the UK) wrote to Clinton about his trip to Africa. I never realized this, but Clinton was the first US President to visit Africa. The little boy wrote about how he felt proud to be an African because Bill Clinton had visited the continent. He also said that Bill and Hillary looked good in the Kente cloth (I have no doubt that’s true for Bill) and that he would feel like the luckiest boy on earth if he got a response to his letter. Of course, they also had a copy of the letter that had been sent to the little boy. And also of course, I started bawling again.

I continued to tear up as I went through the rest of the exhibit (we didn’t get to go upstairs to see the personal things, like Hillary’s gown from the second inaugural ball), but those are the things that most affected me. But as I said, my falling for Hillary has nothing to do with Bill. But it has everything to do with the things I saw about Hillary in that museum.

Like when Hillary went to Africa to speak about women’s rights and demanding that they be considered human rights. And that picture of her, in a relaxed moment, looking so real. And then there was New Hampshire. I know much has been said about Hillary’s “crying” moment. Which I think is ridiculous because she didn’t cry. But man, did she look human. I felt my heart go out to her, and worried about what the Republicans would say. I could just imagine her being picked apart for being an “emotional woman.” Hell, John Edwards has already commented on her fashion sense and Barack Obama unleashed that probably-harsher-than-he-intended line about how she’s “likeable enough.”

But in the lead-up to the New Hampshire primary, I finally got what I needed from Hillary—the old Hillary, the human Hillary. And I’ll admit, I am really happy that she won New Hampshire. Now, I’m not saying I’m about to go volunteer for her campaign, or donate, or even vote for her. But I’m definitely starting to fall in love with Hillary.

******************

* I wanted to link it here, but I can’t. However, if you go to the newsweek site, click on the Magazine Tab, and then “Browse recent issues”–go to the December 24th issue. Wow.

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