Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

To anyone living in the DC area: Yes, I teach school in DC. No, school wasn't cancelled today. Yes, I'm being a little bitter/sarcastic with my post title here. No, no children actually came to school today.

To everyone:
After yesterday's snow and the freezing rain that followed, I was praying hard that the district would break their tradition of keeping schools open when everything around us shut down. As the ice thickened, I figured my chances of a snow day were getting better. I woke up this morning (three times, actually), to check the district and the WP websites only to discover that EVERY district for about 100 miles (maybe further, but they don't report those in the WP) was closed. Except mine, which had a "Two hour delay". We didn't have those back home, but the idea is to start school two hours late in order for the roads to clear enough to get kids safely to school.

After whining to my roommates and another friend, I finally accepted the fact that I'd have to go in to work, and turned to the first task at hand: De-icing my car. Walking down the front stairs was hard enough! This is what I found:

Maybe not that unusual for some of you, but I'm from Boise. We hardly even get snow, much less ice storms. It took about 20 minutes to actually get my car drive-able.

Once I actually got off of our street, the roads were fine (which is good, because I swore that if I started sliding at all on the ice, I was turning right around and spending the day at home). Upon getting to work, however, I discovered that my principal had sent us an email this morning saying that our school wouldn't be starting until 11:30. Which is lunchtime, meaning that I would really only be there to "teach" from 12:30 - 1:55. Lovely. We rounded up all the social studies classes (about 18 kids total from 5 combined classes) and showed a documentary on apartheid. Sure glad I went into work for that.

You could argue with me that the government stayed open (with liberal leave), that the roads were fine, etc. I agree- my commute could have been much worse, and I actually did get some things done today. But I'm still mourning my snow day.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Purchase of the week

I did it. Finally. I bought a piano. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to play the piano, and do so every chance I get, even if it means that I end up accompanying choirs/relief society/institute/whatever. But since I graduated from high school, I've never had one in any apartment/house that I've lived in. At BYU, there was always one nearby (usually in a practice room or a rec room at whatever complex I lived in), but it was always tricky to find time to use it when other people weren't also using the room. Since I've been in DC, I've relied on the church and the hospitality of friends when I want or need to play.

One of my favorite parts of spending time at home is my family's Sunday tradition of hanging out around the piano and singing. I'm not entirely sure when or how it started, but on Sunday afternoons someone inevitably starts playing something singable, and within a few minutes the whole family is there, singing along in pretty decent harmony. Les Miserables is a long-time favorite, but plenty of other music has been added along the way. Michael pretends he doesn't enjoy our sing-a-longs, but I know better. The rest of us have all sung in various choirs, but my brothers took /are taking voice lessons as well, and both sound really good.

I decided that it's probably a good thing that I get home from work an hour or so before my roommates, because I'll probably carry on the tradition all by myself. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"We Are One"

On Sunday after church, I went down to the mall to check out the "We Are One" concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Designed as a kick-off event to a week full of inauguration madness, the concert was a huge celebrity tribute to our new celebrity president. We didn't get there early enough to get inside the secured area, but we got to see people like Bon Jovi, Jamie Foxx, Stevie Wonder and Josh Groban on the jumbo-trons a mile (literally) away from the memorial. My favorites? U2 and the fact that my kids were up there singing with Beyonce, Garth Brooks and Springsteen. Pretty awesome. You should check it out:
On the way to the concert.
Just in case you were confused, the U.S. isn't a military state.

The crowds, just practicing for Tuesday

Jay and me, enjoying the crowds...i mean, the concert

Someone famous on stage. I'm still trying to figure out who it is.

The "O"-nauguration

I'm just going to assume that you all watched the inauguration and you don't need me to explain the process to you (plus I've done it in six different classes over the past 48 hours and the speech is worn a little thin). Before this year, I've never really watched an inauguration before. I just figured that the presidency would change hands (or not) at noon on January 20, and that things would eventually change a little bit. And also, last time we actually had a change in the president, I was 16.

I don't have a job that's cool enough to land me tickets to the inauguration itself, but I do have some friends that are willing to stay up all night and then stand all day in the cold to be a part of history. Louise, Emily and I started our inaugural adventure Monday night. Louise, who works at the National Academy of Science had been given permission to spend the night in her office in Chinatown in preparation for the inauguration, so of course we decided to make a night of it. After running into some friends on the metro (also heading in to sleep in Chinatown) and passing some vendors selling all sorts of crazy Obama gear (the weirdest thing I heard of: "Obama Scent". Whatever that is), we set up camp in her office.

Starting the trek to Louise's office. And looking like we're on our way camping.

Ok, maybe we were camping after all.

After discovering (thanks, Jay!) that we couldn't actually access the national mall from where we were, we joined thousands of other people in the 3rd street tunnel, passing under the mall to reach the south side, where the entrances were open.

How many of you can say that you walked through a freeway tunnel?

Then, after waiting around for several hours and allowing my feet to freeze completely, the program started, and you all know how that story ends.

Two million of my closest friends.

Marci, Lindsey, Alan and me, trying really hard not to freeze to death.

The man himself. Or rather, his image on the jumbo-tron since we were forever away from the Capitol.

I'm pretty excited about an Obama presidency. I mean, he definitely has some policies that I don't like (health care, for instance), but for the most part I think the hope he has brought to the country is a huge step. My biggest concern is this pervasive mentality that he is the Messiah. That all of the sudden, starting at noon on January 20, all the problems that this country faces are about to get better. I hate to break it to you, people, but he's still human. Give it some time. And take some responsibility for yourself. I think President Obama himself gets it, it's just everyone else that's a little off. Oh, and the Civil War? Yeah, that was over in 1865. Not 2 days ago.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

La Befana

In honor of Epiphany... (today, January 6)
One of the last weeks I was in Italy, I went with some friends to Bolzano and Trento, in the northeastern part of the country, to experience a European Christmas market. Not quite as ideal as a German Christmas market, perhaps, but close enough to Germany/Austria to have the same feeling. Walking in and out of the stalls, I saw some really beautiful things, but the one that really confused me was an ornament that looks (somewhat) like this:

La Befana, one of my new favorite Christmas symbols.

"As legend has it, the three Wise Men were in search of the Christ child when they decided to stop at a small house to ask for directions. Upon knocking, an old woman holding a broom opened the door slightly to see who was there. Standing at her doorstep were three colorfully dressed men who were in need of directions to find the Christ child. The old woman was unaware of who these three men were looking for and could not point them in the right direction. Prior to the three men leaving they kindly asked the old woman to join them on their journey. She declined because she had much housework to do. After they left she felt as though she had made a mistake and decided to go and catch up with the kind men. After many hours of searching she could not find them. Thinking of the opportunity she had missed the old woman stopped every child to give them a small treat in hopes that one was the Christ child. Each year on the eve of the Epiphany she sets out looking for the baby Jesus. She stops at each child's house to leave those who were good treats in their stockings and those who were bad a lump of coal. "


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Farewell, 2008!

New Years Eve has never been one of my favorite holidays, but this year I opted to come back to DC and see what the festivities here were all about. My flight got in around 5:00 pm on the 31st, so by the time I got home, I was rushing to shower and get ready to leave again. A group of us got all dressed up and headed to the Carlyle Grand for dinner. I always feel bad for our waiters, since none of us order alcohol, but this time our waiter was LDS too and our drink order made complete sense to him! Pictures of the dinner are forthcoming.

Post-dinner, we split up and I headed with Louise and Lindsay to a New Years party at the Melrose. A picture is worth a thousand words:

Adri & Quinn

Ashley & Louise

Sarah & Me

Auld Lang Syne

(does anyone actually know what that means?)

Happy New Year! I don't know about any of you, but 2008 wasn't a stellar year around here. It wasn't horrible, don't get me wrong; it just didn't stand out as anything special. A failing economy, a long and dragged out presidential race and nothing in my personal life worth mentioning. There have been some good things as well. I've been able to travel home several times and spend time with the fam, both immediate and extended. And both my little sister and little brother left on missions, which has definitely changed the family dynamic, but has been really neat as well. I've made some great friends out here in DC and reconnected with old ones back home. I have a job that I enjoy (most days) and that's fairly stable. Even so, I was pretty excited to see the year coming to a close. (Although it strikes me as funny that we all have this perception that 2009 is going to be completely different than 2008. Mere hours really won't make a huge difference. Interesting to see time as a purely human construct.)

I've never been good at New Year's Resolutions. I usually scribble a couple things down on the 1st or 2nd of January, promptly lose the paper and forget what I'd written down by February 1. But even with my track record, it always seems appropriate to get a fresh start and set some new goals. (And no, this isn't all of them. There are some that just don't need to be published!)

1. Leave the United States. It's been too long, and I need an adventure. Any suggestions?
2. Cook more and eat out less
3. Visit friends in Utah. I haven't been to Provo since I graduated!
4. Develop some new talents or improve at some old ones **drawing, cooking, playing the violin/piano**
5. Be better at staying in touch with family and friends
6. Practice my Italian **and maybe even find a way to use it - see #1**
7. Exercise at least 4 times a week
8. Become more organized **maybe cliche, I know, but necessary!**
9. Be more grateful for the things I have.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name...

The spellings of my name I have seen in grading papers today:


Really? Come on, guys.