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Wednesday May 26, 2004

Out of Town

I'm leaving for my Chicago trip in about 6 hours. I'll get a brand spankin' new layout up when I get back, I promise Steph!


Friday May 21, 2004

Unnatural disaster

Sarah's house caught fire. It was an electrical fire that started in the basement. She came home from a short shopping trip to find firemen kicking in all of her windows. While doing a little reading, I got this weird urge to just stop over her house... I didn't bother to call her cell (as I usually do). I just went. And when I got there, I found her standing by her house in the dark talking to the insurance reps on her phone. Broken glass littered her driveway... even on the street you could smell the smoke from her house.

Her clothes are all gone, her walls are black, and her windows have been boarded up. All she managed to escape with was some heavy duty furtniture and her life. Thank God... that's all I have to say.


Saturday May 15, 2004

Moving with the Cheese

Sarah and I stopped at the local library today in search of some good flicks to watch. We picked up Love, Actually and Something's Got to Give, both of which I really want to see. As we wandered the library, I also picked up a copy of Who Moved My Cheese --a book that so many have told me about and I always wanted to read. I saw it sitting on a random shelf in the inspirational section, so I checked it out and took it home.

Before I picked it up I had no idea it was such a short book. So short, in fact, that I just finished reading it... about 30 minutes after I started. The story follows four characters, two mice and two "littlepeople" as they run through a maze in search of cheese. After becoming comfortable in a cheese-filled section of the large, confusing maze, the characters find one day that their stockpile of cheese is gone. Actually, only the two littlepeople had become comfortable in their cheese station. The mice, on the other hand, had their running shoes on and bolted out the door in search of new cheese as soon as their station came up empty. Smart little mice.

The two littlepeople became angry and frustrated, and let their fear of the maze hold them to a cheese-less life. That is, until one of the littlepeople got the courage to step out into the unknown and leave the familiarity of the empty cheese station behind him. After experiencing some doubts and disappointments along the journey (this is where I give away the ending, be aware) he finally finds a glorious pile of brand new cheese some distance away from the old station. And this isn't all that he finds... his also discovers some bits of wisdom he picked up on the way.

It is safer to search the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation. The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese. And (my favorite) when you move beyond your fear, you feel free. The book was about changes... life changes, and how we must adapt to them. And how adapting to them leads us to better cheese, because the journey that brings us to the new cheese station helps us to grow and to enjoy the new cheese more graciously.

I'm so glad that I waited until now to read that book. It couldn't have come at a better time. I've gradutated from college and just wrapped up one awesome job. Now I'm looking for grad programs and an apartment (complete with uber-compatible new roomie, I hope). And being the rodent lover that I am, I'm taking a cue from the little mice in the story: I'm going to get ready and move with the cheese. I know it's out there.


Sunday May 09, 2004

Happy Endings

Friday was my last day working at the lab. In my year and a half as both a student assistant and the director, I worked on some hot research, made a few amazing friends, and learned more than I ever thought I could while get scratched up and peed on by legions of furry little rats.

Yes, peed on.

I've had lots of other jobs in my short lifetime. Most of them really sucked. Actually, all of them really sucked. I've folded clothes at Target, rung up toilet paper at Marc's, dealt with nasty monthly members at the YMCA, spackled and sanded walls at an art gallery, played lab monitor in a graphics classroom, shelved books at a library, taught private art lessons for little kids, and produced web sites for some small businesses and organizations. Seriously, all of my jobs have sucked (even that last one... clients can be a bitch). And in the tradition of having sucky jobs, I figure that my position as lab director would probably suck, too.

And the first few months really did.

I started out last year feeling anxious about my new responsibilities. The research we did provided me with more opporunities to screw up than I was comfortable with. There were so many things to know and remember, and I forgot them all right after my training period ended. It also didn't help much knowing my supervisor was none too thrilled to have me around. Every day gave me another reason to worry.

September was probably the worst month of my year at work. The most loyal of Sonafide readers might remember me writing about the evil lab experience that bummed me out more than watching my beloved pet rat deal with his urinary incontinence. A summer full of mistakes and anxiety climaxed in a single disastrous day.

Evil, evil September.

In the midst of that last panic I had no idea that things would get better. A lot better, actually. It may be because I figured that things could get no worse, and my futile attempts at giving a perfect performance had hopelessly backfired. I had left perfect behind long before then. Actually, I killed perfect, stuffed it in a trash bag and dumped in the Lake Erie gutter. It got pretty ugly, to be fully honest. But somewhere between September and May things changed. I'm not really sure how or why...

The many little things I had such a hard time remembering I finally remembered. Repetition works wonders for those kinds of things. And so all the details I worried myself over were no longer to be worried over, and I started focusing on other things. Bigger things. And in doing so, I started learning things. Important things. The kinds of things that change everything.

I look at where I am right now --grad school shopping, looking forward to presenting research at conferences, having a ball while being loaded with responsibilities... and I think about how much this (now completed) job of mine has completely changed everything.

On Friday, the lab group had a little going-away party (did I mention how much I love the labbies?) which made me feel so appreciated. Even the big kahuna, who came ohsoclose to not even hiring me in the first place, gave me the greatest words of encouragement. And a really nice gift. I wasn't really sure how to respond to all of that (as I suck at those kinds of things) but I knew what I wanted to say... the gift in the gold-wrapped box was very nice, and I really loved it. But the best gift I've been given was the opportunity to work in the lab. It's been the greatest experience I've ever had, and I'm so appreciative that he invested so much in me.

How kick-ass.

So Friday was the last day. I dropped off my keys, felt a little bummed going home, but woke up the next morning excited that I had finished what I started... in spite of the difficulties I had all the way through the year. And tomorrow morning I'll wake up on my first official work day away from the lab feeling no less than utterly grateful for the last year I've had. But my first lab retirement day won't be spent in leisure...

I've got some grad schools to look for.


Monday May 03, 2004

The view from up here

I thought I would add another picture of my beautiful Fat Bastard, because I don't think there are enough pictures of him on sonafide.com (please people, tame your shameless heckling). He's almost two years old, so he's bound to kick the bucket any day now. Might as well immortalize him while I can. Sleepyhead:



Saturday May 01, 2004

Heads in the sand

I read an article in the Plain Dealer today that sums up my thoughts on a current issue - war. Actually, the article was an editorial from a writer at the Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom. And I've decided instead of writing yet another inadequate, crappy blog entry to include the text of his editorial here. Mr. Albom, please forgive my plagiarism, but you've laid out my thoughts so flawlessly, I couldn't possible have done this on my own.

Americans can handle the truth


There was a popular song during the first World War. Its title was "Over There." It encouraged young men to "get your gun" and "make your mother proud of you." It told the world "the Yanks are coming" and we won't come back "until it's over, over there."

Today, for most of us, war is indeed, "over there." It arrives only in green-screen TV reports and controlled press briefings and presidential photo ops that say "Mission Accomplished." Some of us would like to keep it that way.

So this week, when images of flag-draped coffins appeared on the Internet, many complained.

And when USA Today ran photos of 116 U.S. soldiers who died last month in Iraq, many complained again.

When Ted Koppel, host of "Nightline," announced he was devoting his program Friday to simply listing names of all U.S. soldiers killed in this conflict, critics screamed he was a lefty.

And when photos emerged of naked Iraqi detainees, bent in horrible, sexually suggestive poses, while a U.S. soldier smiled and pointed nearby, critics yelled this was undermining our national interest.

Really? Since when was our national interest to stick our heads in the sand?

The first rule of war is young people die. As we coddle ourselves more and more in this country, we seem to believe that, through enough talk or "American Idol" distraction, we can make death go away.

We can't. When I hear people compare this war to Vietnam, I shudder, not because both didn't have some misguided perceptions, but because in that war, everyone's son was a potential soldier. We had a draft. If you were 18, you could be going - no matter what you thought.

Today, we scream louder and have less on the line. Who's really fighting this war for us? Young men and women, mostly poor to middle class, largely mi norities. We're very quick to urge they go over there and stick a boot in some Arab's behind, but we don't want to know when they come back in a body bag.

I remember once hearing of some students who decided, on a Friday night, to begin counting the Jews killed in the Holocaust. Not their names. Just counting, one number for every victim, from one to six million. They stopped on Sunday night - and hadn't even reached 300,000.

That's when you start to realize what "over there" is really about.

Shame on anyone who hides behind "national security" or "respect to the families" as reasons for shielding the real costs of war - namely, human life. Most military families I know want the world to know of their loss, and the pride they have in their fallen loved ones. Just as most of them want atrocities brought to light. And when our people - be they soldiers, intelligence, FBI, CIA or whatever - start torturing and humiliating Iraqis in the same building that Saddam Hussein used to do it, they are no better than him. And they deserve no protection.

Sy Hersh, the investigative reporter who broke the My Lai massacre story four decades ago - another ugly incident no one initially wanted to hear - was asked what should be done about this latest apparent transgression.

"Exposure," he said.

That may be a dirty word to the current administration. It isn't to real Americans. It is the essence of who we are. We can face the truth. We believe in the truth. And the truth is our kids are dying in this war and so are a lot of other people. They have faces. They have families. And now, some have coffins.

Those are facts. Not right or left. Facts. Do with them what you will. But until we stop thinking of war as "over there," we will never take full ownership of who we are over here.


Condensed biography

Drina What I love:
2. Psychology
3. Gilmore Girls
4. Maria
5. Chin's Pagoda
6. Target
7. Rats
8. Emo/screamo
9. Jim Wallis
10. More...

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