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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.

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* 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.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it marks the birthday of my favorite sweatshirt—the one I bought at the Duck Shop in Durham, NC when I was a junior in high school, which was 14 years ago. It’s a little shocking to me that it’s been that long; it seems like just yesterday that I was becoming a Duke basketball fan.

I’ve already told you the story of how I met Freshman Roomie, but let me tell you how she converted me to be a Duke Basketball Fan. Basically, she took me to a game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. This was back in the mid-90s, when you could still occasionally purchase tickets to a Duke game without being a multi-thousand dollar donor to the Iron Dukes. We had tickets for games around the Thanksgiving holiday, when the students would be out of town. That trip was mostly uneventful—it wasn’t until the next year that my obsession reached fever pitch, so I mostly just became interested in the university*.

That year, I also went to Freshman Roomie’s UNC vs Duke party in March, and watched us lose to Arkansas in the National Championship game (and was super-pissed that my boyfriend was cheering for Arkansas, no matter that he was from that state). All the other girls had their assigned players. Freshman Roomie loved Cherokee Parks. GinerG, her wild cheerleader friend, loved CHRIS COLLINS!!!!** I didn’t have an assigned player because it seemed like all the good ones were taken. That would change as the next season approached.

Freshman Roomie was such a fan that she actually subscribed to a magazine with scouting reports and such about the team. (I don’t even do that now!) That summer, she noticed a new player, one Steven Wojociechowski, who would be a freshman at Duke in the fall. She suggested that he become my favorite. (Read: Freshman Roomie assigned me this random kid we’d never seen play to be my favorite.)

I shrugged and accepted my assigned player. I really wanted Greg Newton, but one of the other girls had already claimed him. Looking at this through the lens of 14 years, boy did I luck out! The picture in the scouting magazine did not do this boy justice. He was adorable and scrappy, and the first time I saw him play, I was truly, madly, deeply in love with him***.

Senior year, we again went to a game during the Thanksgiving holiday, and also during the students’ winter break. We stood outside after the games so we could hopefully meet the players and take pictures with them. At the first game, I met Wojo, and I still have the picture of the two of us together. (Maybe I’ll scan it over Thanksgiving and post it.) By the time we came back for the second game, I was all a-twitter about this complete stranger. I even had plans to ask him to the prom. (I am SO glad that we somehow missed him and I did not have the chance. This time, we met Coach K and I actually really love the picture that resulted from that meeting.)

So that is the story of how I went from clueless about Duke and basketball (up until the time I visited, I thought Duke was in New Jersey**** and that was probably why my dad was having so much trouble getting me interested) to a full-fledged Cameron Crazie. It was all by luck and peer pressure, and it is sometimes amazing to me that my life’s course was forever altered by one silly basketball game.

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*When I got home and told my dad I wanted to go to Duke, he was so mad. He’d been trying to get me interested in it for years, and one weekend with Freshman Roomie had me convinced.

**I cannot express, in print, how enthusiastic this girl was about CC. But I can tell you that she stole a paper Gatorade cup from under the Duke bench because she was convinced it was his, and built a shrine to it in her bedroom.

***I maybe still kinda am… The other night at the game, he was wearing a navy suit with a pink tie. OOOOH the new hottness! (Yes, I know that’s not spelled right. He’s so hott he needs an extra T!)

****This is especially comical if you know anything about the Duke stereotypes.

I’ve been trying to do some “spring” cleaning around my place—nevermind the fact that it’s November. So, tonight I was going through my CDs and DVDs and deciding which ones I want to sell. As I went through them, so many memories came rushing back. There are some good stories in there, and since it’s NaBloPoMo, I thought, hey, I should post about this! So welcome to the first in what will hopefully be a series of posts called “Selling Memories”, and tonight’s topic will be The Best of Tom Jones.

I am (just barely) a child of the Seventies. My parents still love to listen to the music of the Sixties and Seventies, and did so throughout my childhood. So I was aware of Tom Jones. I even pretty much knew all the words to “It’s Not Unusual” when I was in high school. (And that was really rare, considering that nearly everyone I went to school with was a fan of country.) But I didn’t really know what Tom Jones was all about until a few years later.

Every summer, my dad attends a conference for school administrators in Myrtle Beach, SC at the Kingston Plantation Resort. Kingston Plantation is super-nice, and so, even though it is only 45 minutes from my parents’ house, it was always a treat to be able to go stay with my parents in the hotel and hang out while my dad was at the conference. For many years, my brother and I had to stay at home with a babysitter for the first few days, and then a family friend would drive us down to the beach to be with our parents for the last few days. Once I got into high school and college, though, our parents would let us come down with them, and we would be left in the hotel room to order pizza and hang out with some of the other kids whose parents went off to drink wine and eat filet mignon with corporate sponsors who wanted to woo them.

Then, the summer after freshman year in college, I was working as a Charming Shark Jewelry Salesgirl (a whole other story in itself), which required me to travel around the Grand Strand area (Greater Myrtle Beach), so staying with my parents actually made my job a lot easier, and made it so that I had a lot more free time on my hands than I did most days that summer. Seeing I was bored, and sunburned, and almost an adult, my mom asked me to do something she’d never done before: go with her to the Spouses’ Brunch.* I reluctantly said yes, because I was convinced it was going to be so boring.

Oh, I was so wrong. First, I was introduced to the wonderful world of decoupage, which remains one of my favorite things to do. Second, I fell in love with Tom Jones. In Myrtle Beach, there are a lot of really hokey shows for the tourists to go and see at night. Things like the Dixie Stampede, the Carolina Opry, and Legends: In Concert. This last one features all kinds of different celebrity impersonators, from Elvis, to the Blues Brothers, to Marilyn Monroe, to—you guessed it—Tom Jones. So, the entertainment for the brunch that morning was the Tom Jones impersonator.

Oh My God. He was so dead-on Tom Jones. Skintight black pants, black shirt open halfway to his navel, that raspy-sexy voice. He burst into the room singing “What’s New, Pussycat” and flirted with every single woman in the room. Then, when he sang “Delilah”, I thought his bulging thighs were going to burst right through his pants like The Incredible Hulk—but so much hotter. He was like walking sex on a stick. I still get a little woozy when I think about it! And even better, they were giving away tickets to the Legends show for that night. To see more of this, I would have knocked over any of the 50ish ladies in the room. Alas, there was a raffle, and I didn’t win. My mom tried to make it up to me, by getting me invited to one of the corporate dinners with wine and filet, but it just wasn’t the same.

A few days later, I went right out and bought the Best of CD, and it was in my regular rotation for the rest of the summer, until I went back to college. I also forced my friends to go see Mars Attacks that fall because he was in it. And more than five years later, when I went to Vegas for the first time, I prayed I would run into Tom or at least a Tom impersonator. No such luck. But I am going back to Vegas this December, so here’s hopin’!

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*It had been called the Wives’ Brunch until a few years prior, when they got their sole male member. There weren’t many female school superintendents in South Carolina at the time, and even fewer of their spouses wanted to attend.

So, as I’ve said before, I have had a crazy crush on one “Lil’ Piece of Freckled Perfection” since I was in grad skool. I mean, crazy, love-knows-know-bounds, if-i-had-a-slightly-less-firm-grip-on-reality-i-might-be-his-stalker kind of crush. Like, up until about 2 years ago, I wanted to own a pair of Jack Russell Terriers* and name them Major and Wojo**.

And I was already saddened by the fact that he was not going to be making an appearance in Wally Wade this fall (which I had been salivating over since, oh, last October–or really whenever it was that he was hired at Bama), because the home-and-home series with Bama is not immediate–it’s probably going to happen in 2009. (We are SO awesome at planning our schedule, I tell ya…) I had staked a lot of hope on that meeting, though now I suppose it’s all for the best…

Because today, I came to the saddest realization of all. I don’t know how I didn’t notice this before. The only way to explain it is sheer denial. (I mean seriously, look at my nickname for him. Obviously, I knew, but I didn’t know. You know?) But thanks to the kind folks over at Loser With Socks, I have been smacked in the face with the TRUTH. Major Applewhite, my little piece of freckled perfection, is a GINGER. HOLY CRAP. Yes, he is a GINGER. This is totally Karma*** for all those times I’ve made fun of Ginger kids at the mall, and especially the time I tried to surreptitiously shove one in front of a moving car at a small-town parade****. It’s payback for all the times my brother and I have poked fun at our cousin’s baby and for the time I yelled out “DON’T LET IT LOOK YOU IN THE EYES!!!” and ran away from one at the Farmer’s Market*****. This is what I get for being such an asshole.

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*That is, until I realized that they would tear me limb-from-limb the first time I tried to sleep in past 5AM. Seriously, those dogs are kinda psycho.

**Who, by the by, I saw at the press conference for Coach P on Friday. He was wearing a blue UnderArmor-type shirt. It was HOTT.

***Yeah, I watch Carson Daly, too.

****Ok, I didn’t really do this.

*****I totally did this. Last weekend. By the way, did I mention I’m 30?

Today has been a mostly wasted day at work. Mostly because the thing I need to do most–tell people they’re not going to get a job with us this year–is not the kind of thing you want to do on Valentine’s Day. Well, I’m not that big of a bitch, anyway. Also, there was the worst phone interview ever, where I still swear that the woman who filled out the application and the woman who answered the phone are not the same person. There is just no way. Afterward, I kept going, maybe we should call her references for more information!* Maybe we should call her back!! This can’t be happening!!! Basically, I was expecting a total ROCK STAR, and got William Hung. No, William Hung had personality. Sigh.

The worst part about that interview, though, was the fact that it made my entire department miss the February Birthday party.** It was a fondue party, which, because there were plenty of leftovers, we got to enjoy. However, there was some kind of mythically amazing cheese fondue that got eaten up before we got there. Mmm, gooey deliciousness. Of course, being the graceful and couth girl I am, I dropped chocolate fondue all down the front of my sweater on the first bite. I keep Shout Wipes in my desk drawer specifically for this reason. However, here’s the thing I didn’t know about Shout Wipes until today… While the get the stain out really well, they don’t get the scent out. So, hours later, I’m sitting at my desk getting nauseated at the smell of chocolate. Now I understand why most cocoa farmers in Ghana have never eaten chocolate.***

Anyway, since I spent the last 15 minutes staring out my office window****, I figured I’d just go ahead and post from work.

I’ve never***** been that big a fan of Valentine’s Day. I don’t despise it, as some do, but I don’t really care about it. I’ve broken up with guys in early February just to avoid celebrating it. I’ve had a couple relationships start just after (February 15th and 17th to be exact). I just don’t think it’s that big a deal, and I’d love to ignore it, if anyone would let me.

Like for instance today, when one of our temps, who has been sucking up to me lately****** asked me if I have any big plans for tonight. I said, “Basketball tonight–that’s always big plans!” and just kept walking. He responded with, “AWW, that’s just sad!” Which almost made me explode, but I took a deep breath and said, “Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m not sad. I love basketball.” He started backpedalling, saying, “Oh, I was just saying that there’s something wrong with the world when I a girl like you doesn’t have a date on Valentine’s Day.” Gag me.

Anyway, I thought I’d share 2 funny Valentine’s Day stories…  One about people in love, and the other about bitter people.

Funny Story #1:
When I was in grad school in Texas, I also worked as a live-in staff member in an all-female freshman residence hall.  I ended up getting assigned to be on duty on VD night because I was the only person on our side of campus who was not in a serious relationship.  So, I was sitting alone in my apartment, doing homework, and praying that the pager wouldn’t go off.  Suddenly, I heard a knock at my door.  It was odd, because I wasn’t expecting anyone.  All of a sudden, I had visions of my crush showing up with flowers to spend the evening with me.  (How would he get in to the secure building?  Well I didn’t have time to think about that.)  I opened the door, and a making-out couple nearly fell into my apartment!  Apparently, they weren’t knocking on my door, they were just humping!  They didn’t even detach themselves, but the guy mumbled “Sorry” (I think) and they just rolled themselves down the wall, away from my apartment.  EEEEWWWWWWW.  Still, good for a laugh.

Funny Story #2
Freshman year, I dated this guy we’ll call J.  (We’ll call him J because all the guys I’ve dated since high school have a first name that starts with J.  It’s kinda starting to bother me, actually.)  We dated for most of fall semester, until just before Thanksgiving, when he broke up with me on the off chance that he could hook up with his high school girlfriend while home for the holidays.  (Hey, at least he was honest.)  We ended up getting back together in mid-December, but in the meantime, I had started hanging out with a big crew of guys from another dorm.  (For the record, I remained friends with these guys all the way through graduation, and even a few years after.)  Getting back together with my lame boyfriend didn’t really fit into my new social life of playing hearts until 2am every night and sledding on cafeteria trays behind the dorm, especially since the new guys really, really didn’t like J.   By the end of January, I knew I had to GET OUT.  Of course, I was not so good at these things, and deep down in my soul I am a conflict-avoider.  (I have learned to battle this now, but hey, at the time I was 18.)  So, after a week or so of completely avoiding him (and also one of the new guys pulling J aside and telling him to just let go), he broke up with me about a week before VD.  One of the RAs in the building saw us breaking up and asked, “Aw, did you two get back together again?”  Apparently I was that giddy.  So, I was really shocked, when I came home from work on VD and my roommate said, “J stopped by.  He left a present on your desk.”  There, wrapped in printer paper with hearts drawn on it in red pen, was a mix-tape.  When I opened it, I totally cracked up.  On the actual mix-tape cover, amid the song titles, were this little broken hearts that were crying and possibly gnashing their teeth.  And the song choices were totally random, I mean, you would think he would have put some of “our songs” on there.  But there were songs by Weird Al, from the soundtrack of Annie, by Nine Inch Nails, and a handful by Liz Phair (this was the mid-nineties, when she was still all bitter and angsty).  Hello, bitter party of one?  I couldn’t even bring myself to listen to it, because it was SO weird, but I did hang on to it for several years (until I lost it in a move) because just looking at it made me laugh.

So, yeah.  VD=Good times.  🙂

*We don’t call references; we have them fill out an evaluation of the candidate.

**Our birthday parties must always occur on the second Wednesday of the month at either 10am or 2pm. It just happened to coincide with VD. What’s that Milton? Just pass.

***This is a fun fact I learned on NPR on my way to work this morning. Of course, they were saying this is because it’s so hot there and there’s not a lot of electricity for refrigerators and such. WHATEV. I ate plenty of melted candy bars left in the car during the summer as a child. They were still delicious.

****Thank goodness my office has a window. Otherwise, I’d just be sitting here Googling myself, and that seems extremely pathetic for VD.

*****Ok, when I was a little kid, I loved it because we did presents on VD in my family. This was because, when I was two, my grandma died a few days before Christmas and we had to fly to Illinois. My parents couldn’t pack up all the presents in their suitcases, so they saved it for VD. Thinking that a two year old would remember this when she was three (she wouldn’t) it started a tradition that is carried on today. Though it’s more like $20 in a card nowadays. (Hey, I’m not complaining!)

******Because I will be an official judge of the “Great Peanut Butter & Jelly Cook-off” next week, and he is a contestant.  (It was supposed to be this week, but half the office is sick, and there’s been a nasty outbreak of the norovirus at a nearby hospital.  Oooh, yum!)  Yes, I will post about the GPBJC when it happens.  Hopefully, with pictures.

As I mentioned in my first post, I am uploading some of my “best of” posts from other blogs.  This one was originally posted on Multiply, on May 20, 2006.

My friend M and I were discussing our marathons the other day at lunch. It’s a strange lunch conversation, marathoning. It turns out that not a lot of people have actually completed a marathon, and few of them can imagine a good reason for running twenty-six-point-two miles. Prior to that day in the office breakroom, when people would ask me, “Why? Why would you decide to run that far?” I would shrug my shoulders and say, “To prove that I could.” I thought it was very cavalier and amazing to say that. In truth, it takes a giant helping of bravado, a sprinkling of idiocy, and just a pinch of narcissism to say something that completely ridiculous.

That day, one of our colleagues asked M that dreaded question: “WHY?” And she answered, “For love.” My jaw dropped, and for just a moment, I almost reverted back to my racing days, where I planned my life around the long runs and obsessed over which Gu packet tasted best and made sure I’d worn my socks well before I put them on for an important race. I was almost appalled. I almost responded with self-righteous indignation. And then, I realized, I was relieved. Because in the end, I’d run the marathon for love, even though I didn’t want to admit it.

Both M and I have since learned the error of our ways; we would never run a marathon for love again. We’d both like to run a half marathon, and we’d like to do it for our own reasons, and not to make some stupid boy think we’re awesome. Because the finish line did not bring us love, not even for a short time. She has remained friends with the man who met her at the finish (with his new girlfriend in tow)—though he’s married with kids today. I have no idea what has happened to the man whose the love I hoped to gain by punishing my body in such an extreme way; I haven’t seen him since a month after the race.

And that conversation led me to think about this: What are some of the other ridiculous things that I’ve done for love? What skills or interests did I pick up because I wanted someone to think I was amazing? And I realized that even though the love affairs didn’t last, many of my current hobbies and interests came about from my need to be a silly straight girl and convince some guy that I was worthy of his affection by joining in one of his favorite activities.

There are some disasters in the list, starting with the marathon. Though I finished, I was woefully underprepared. I finished in an abysmal 7 hours, 31 minutes, and 34 seconds. My post-race flip-flops and warm clothing, which I’d dropped at the starting line, had been packed up with the lost and found items because the race director had assumed I wasn’t going to finish within the 8 hour time limit. I haven’t run consistently since because I couldn’t seem to enjoy the act of running for so long. Right now I am sitting in a coffee shop, writing this, and staring at the gravel path that encircles Duke’s East Campus. I’m longing to be out there, pounding the ground on this humid May evening, feeling the damp gravel dust as it sprays onto the back of my calves with every step. But my body’s not there anymore, and the frustration of being back at square one is almost more than I can bear when I do try to get out there.

There were other, smaller debacles, too. I toyed with the idea of converting to Catholicism, and later, Judaism. I considered becoming a Republican. I learned more about comic book characters than I ever thought possible. I spent several nights shivering in a tent and listening to the stories and snoring of the object of that week’s affection. I got lost on more than one hike with no food and not enough water. I had plenty of blisters because I was afraid to complain when I’d worn impractical shoes for an impromptu trek. I smoked cigarettes and got myself a couple of good cases of alcohol poisoning. I made out with my girlfriends in public places.

But if I’m honest with myself, I realize that there are so many good things I owe to loves that would not be. I learned how to kayak and rock climb. I started listening to Pearl Jam and the Barenaked Ladies and Dashboard Confessional. I went to Duke and I moved to Austin. I played a LOT of Texas Hold ‘Em. I can shag and salsa and swing. I volunteered for the political campaigns of some truly amazing and inspiring people. I got involved with HRC and learned to be a better ally to the LGBTQIA community. (Ha, isn’t that funny, the straight girl, chasing the straight boy, gets herself into the HRC? Well, as they say, the truth is stranger than fiction.)

The girl I used to be would end this post by saying, “And now that I’m all grown up, I’ll never get myself dragged into one of those disasters again.” I used to like to tie things up in neat little packages. Now I’m ok with things being a little messy (and yes, I have another failed romance to thank for that), so I know that I’ll probably take up something ridiculous, like archery or Motocross before all is said and done. And you know what? I’ll get some fabulous stories out of those experiences.

Since I can’t tie a pretty bow on the end of this post, I’ll just say this: I’m looking for a little adventure in my life these days. So if any of you know a cute boy who would like to go skydiving or climb Mt. Kilamanjaro or something, please send him my way and I’ll begin developing a crush on him right away.