Thursday, June 30, 2011

Will Casey Take the Stand?

The Defense is supposedly close to wrapping up its case in the Casey Anthony trial. Will Casey take the stand, or will she not? My opinion is that she'd be very stupid to do so, but it would not be the first stupid thing she's done. She has a high opinion of herself and might possibly think she could go one-on-one with prosecutor Jeff Ashton and come out ahead. I personally think he'd make her lies so transparent that even she would know she was not winning that particular battle.

We probably won't see her on the stand, as her defense team almost certainly would have lain out the odds for her by now, but it's conceivable that she wouldn't be willing to listen. With her arguably narcissistic personality, she may think the only way of getting her story out is to tell it herself. It would certainly be a spectacle if she were to testify -- almost certainly more riveting than anything else on network or cable TV at the time -- but it won't bring back poor Caylee.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Food Network: My On-Again / Off-Again Relationship

I used to be addicted to the programming on Food Network. During my lengthy recovery time from my multiple fractures, related surgeries, and kidney infection a year or so ago, my television viewing time was not restricted. Normally at home my brother and I are limited to an hour a day on school days and two hours a day on non-school days, but since I couldn't even hold a book and turn the pages by myself during my recovery, the Nazis who call themselves my parents lifted a few of their draconian restrictions.

Bobby Flay was one of the featured stars of Food Network whose programming I watched. He was, and presumably still is, on "Grill It," which usually showed him cooking some food on the grill or watching an inferior amateur do the cooking. When the amateur cooks, he or she usually breaks at least one of Bobby Flay's cardinal rules of grilling, i.e. "put it on the grill and don't mess with it" or "don't ever use lighter fluid unless you want your food to taste like lighter fluid." Flay is gracious and keeps his mouth shut when his guests massacre food. On "Throwdown," Flay travels to compete against professionals or gifted amateurs who specialize in a particular food. Surprisingly, the competitors are often even more obnoxious than Bobby Flay. My suspicion is that the real purpose of "Throwdown" is to show the viewing public that there are people on the planet who are less likable than Bobby Flay. Flay also competes on Iron Chef America, helps to manage the competition on "The Next Food network Star," and appears on repeat episodes of "Boy Meets Grill." Grilling is Bobby Flay's signature method of cooking. If he were asked to prepare a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he would grill it, but only after liberally spicing it up with cilantro and chipotle, which he would pronounce chip - POH- tuh - lay; he always adds an extra schwa syllable when saying the word chipotle.

The show I probably enjoyed watching the most, primarily because of the sheer horror masquerading as food on a daily basis, was "Semi-Homemade." Its star, Sandra Lee, had a great rags-to-riches story, and is truly a shining example of self-sufficiency . . . that is, until it comes to cooking. Yet she hosted a cooking show on Food Network. I find the irony most uncanny. The premise of her show is cooking with seventy percent pre-packaged ingredients and thirty percent ingredients fresh or from scratch. The color scheme in Sandra Lee's set kitchen changes for each episode, and she dresses to match the kitchen. I've known some vapid individuals in my lifetime (my brother has dated approximately twenty-three cheerleaders, only two of whom could string a sentence together if two million dollars were wagered on it) but dressing to match one's kitchen out-vapids the most vapid cheerleader (even the one who worked part-time at a bank and gave away travelers cheques without requiring the customer to pay the face value of the traveler's cheques because the customer had a premium account that offered "free" traveler's cheques; this was a couple of years ago; I don't think traveler's cheques exist anymore) ever dated by my brother. Sandra Lee hasn't been on when I've channel-surfed to the Food Network lately. I heard she's in a semi-serious relationship with the governor of New York. I hope he has his own chef that comes with his position so that he doesn't have to eat semi-homemade cooking. If Sandra Lee had to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from scratch, I don't think she could manage it. Either the peanut butter and the jelly would have to be purchased mixed together in the jar, or the bread would need to be pre-sliced diagonally, or perhaps a knife would have to be pre-coated with the peanut butter/jelly mixture.

Another Food Network star is Paula Deen. Paula Deen is the reigning southern belle of the Food Network. If Scarlett O'Hara had been a real person and not a fictional character, her accent could not have come close to Paula Deen's in terms the intensity of her drawl. Paula Deen uses LOTS of butter in everything she cooks. I've heard rumors that her low-density-lipid levels, and those of her second husband, Michael Groover, are virtually off the charts. There was another husband -- Mr. Deen -- who is supposedly divorced from Paula and living elsewhere. I don't believe what they say about Mr. Deen. I think he's six feet under. Paula killed him off with a heart attack by serving him butter as a main course for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. If Paula Deen made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, she would add so much actual butter to the sandwich that one would be able to taste neither the peanut butter nor the jelly.

Almost evertime I surf past Food Network now, I see Guy Fieri's face prominently displayed. Fieri was the winner of (I think) season two of "The Next Food Network Star." It seems like his orignial show was "Guy Fieri's Big Bite." It may or may not still be on, but he seems to be on a host of other programs as well, most notably "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives." Fieri is a somewhat sloppy and larger-than-life guy with bleached spiky hair. If Guy Fieri made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it would probably be a perfectly normal sandwich, but I'd be scared to take a bite because I would suspect he forgot to wash his hands before he made it.

Rachael Ray is a hard-working and enterprising woman who somehow manages to be both likable and annoying at the same time. Ms. Ray has moved beyond the Food Network to a daytime talk show but, as far as I know, continues to film episodes of "30-Minute Meals." Unfortunately, the food usually looks like it was thrown together in three minutes or less. It might actually be fairly tasty for all I know, but it usually looks too mixed-together for my tastes. Call me OCD if you wish, but I don't like my food to touch. Rachael Ray's food always touches. If Rachael Ray made a peanut butter sandwich, she would probably liberally douse the bread with extra-virgin olive oil, which she would (DUH!) call EVOO. The sandwich, which Ms. Ray would refer to as a "sammy," would be prepared in one minute so that she could spend her remaining twenty-nine minutes concocting some meaty hash or something which she would serve on the same plate -- actually touching -- the otherwise edible peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Giada DeLourentis is a talented if slightly "precious" (thank you, Stephanie March, for the apt description, even though you would never in a million years admit that it was she to whom you made reference on Rachael Ray's talk show) chef who was born in Italy but has spent most of her life in the U. S. Nevertheless, she clings to the accent, particularly when pronouncing foods with Italian names. I don't expect her to speak in the manner of a ditch bank Okie, but the way she stretches out "parmigiano reggiano" is just a little too, well, precious. Based on observations, I would conclude that, Cordon Bleu-trained or not, Ms. DeLourentis is incapable of cooking without simultaneously displaying cleavage. If Ms. DeLourentis made a peanut butter sandwich, which would, I'm fairly certain, be made on ciabatta bread, every hormonal heterosexual male on the planet would want to watch her as she made it.

Alton Brown wouldn't actually make the sandwich, but he'd tell you all sorts of interesting scientific facts about peanut butter, jelly, and sandwiches in general. Alton Brown is my favorite on Food Network. Ina Garten, AKA "The Barefoot Contessa," would make lots of little sandwiches, PBJ or otherwise, for one of her little hoity-toity fake dinner parties, but she'd have to think long and hard before making one or doing anything else for a child through the "Make a Wish" Foundation. The Neeleys might manage to get a sandwich on a plate in the midst of their televised verbal love-making session.

The opinions expressed in this review of Food Network programming are just that -- opinions -- and as such are unimpeachable, or at least I think they are. Please don't sue me, Food Network. I'm not half as brutal as are the people who post on the "Television Without Pity" message boards. If you want to read some real snark about the Food Network, go there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What's happening with the Casey Anthony trial?

I have an important exam in one of my classes tomorrow, so I haven't spent the bulk of the weekend obsessing over what's happening with the Casey Anthony trial. Still, I did note that court was supposed to be in session on Saturday, but the jury never made it into the courtroom. The second chair on Casey's defense team, Cheney Mason, approached the bench and said that matters needed to be discussed. He and Casey disappeared inton the judge's chambers.

I have no idea who else was in or out of the judge's chambers. One talking head reported that Mason was heard shouting inside the judge's chambers at one point. Eventually the judge and whoever else was inside his chambers with him emerged. Judge Perry adjourned the trial for the day. the jurors were sent back to the hotels where they are being sequestered.

Various reasons for the delay are being floated. Judge Alex suggested that perhaps the defense was asking Judge perry to recuse himself. Others have suggested problems between members of casey's legal team, or between Casy and members of the defense team. (Casey was supposedly casting "if looks could kill"-style glares in the direction of Mason on Thursday.) An issue with a juror as been mentioned as a possible reason for the delay. serious attorney misconduct on either side has been thrown out as a possibility. a plea bargain in the works has been listed as a possible reason for the delay.

Infinite possibilities exist. Maybe the judge had indigestion. Perhaps another principal player was under the weather. We'll presumably find out in another ten hours or so unless the trial begins as if nothing out of the ordinary ever happened.

I can't possibly no any more than the next follower about what is the issue. still, I'll hazard a guess. My first choice is that the defense may have offered for Casey to plead guilty to a lesser charge. If such was the case and a meeting of the minds was not reached between the two sides, we may not learn of it until after the trial. Judge Ferrer's suggestion -- that possibly the defense wished to go judge-shopping -- would be my second choice. Supposedly once such a motion is filed, the trial cannot proceed until the motion is heard. I'm unsure as to why the defense would wait until now to make such a motion, unless they either had a reason to need to buy time or they wanted to see how the trial went for a few weeks, and reserved the right to make such a motion if things weren't going terribly well for them.

If I wake up at 5:30 a.m. I'll go to the hotel lobby. The tV there is usually tuned to a cable news channel. I can't turn on the tV when my parents are still asleep. I'm not allowed to set my wake-up call for earlier than 6:30. My dad will be awake before then, but my mom is a slug in the morning. There's not a chance she'll be awake at 5:30 a.m.
I'll try to use my computer to follow what's going on while I'm in class except during my test.

Bon semaine!

Pregnant!!! Not I !!!

A few nights ago, I finished all school-related work in time to join my fellow lunatics in watching tV. They were watching a TLC program known as
"Nineteen and Counting." This show, which I haven't seen a great deal of because if I watched it, my Roman Catholic yet pro-population control parents would have gone into full-blown grand mal seizures. (I'm not trying to poke fun at individuals who suffer from seizure disorders, but if either of my parents caught more than three minutes of the program, they'd likely be spasming uncontrollably and foaming at the mouth (which reminds me of a great practical joke my brother pulled that I must share soon now that we've acheived "graduate" status and are essentially untouchable by the school).

"Nineteen and Counting" was formerly named both "Eighteen and Counting" and "Seventeen and Counting," I'm fairly certain. As far as "Sixteen and Counting" and below, I have no idea as I haven't been paying attention to the series for that long. It features a family, the Duggars, with --predictably-- nineteen children. Michelle Duggar, the mother of the clan, proudly proclaims in the intro to each episode that SHE delivered each of her children. She must believe that the viewing public would think less of her if she (GASP!) adopted a few of the nineteen offspring. I for one wouldn't judge her for taking in a few children in need of a good home as opposed to her and her husband breeding like head lice, but that's just my opinion, and others are certainly entitled to disagree.

The oldest Duggar, whose name I can never recall but but I know begins with the letter J (Jason? Joshu? Judas? it's something like that) has married and started his own family. He and his wife Anna have one little girl who is under two. Anna gave birth to her second child on the episode I watched.

The Duggar family adheres to the teachings of some sort of religious sect known as the "Gothardite" movement. All I really know about the Gothardites is what I've learned from watching the Duggars on their show, so I'm not entirely sure which rules by which the Duggars live are "Gothardite" in origin and which are uniquely Duggar. The females dress in very modest clothing. It's not "Little House on the Prairie"-style clothing, as worn by Warren Jeffs' polygamous women and women of othe religious groups; what the Duggar girls wear looks like regular clothing that just covers more of their bodies. I don't know where they find the clothing; I suspect they make it themselves. The men just look homespun, kind of like out of "The Waltons." The women wear long hair, but I suspect they're not forbidden from trimming it ever, because Michelle has some type of wings or feathered bangs on the sides of her head.

Early in the episode, the younger Duggar couple went to a childborth preparaation course refresher. They weren't required to attend the multi-week sessions of the course because they had fairly recently had a child. When couples around here attend childbirth preparation courses, they're usually Lamaze courses. The Duggars attend a Bradley Method course. I don't know if the Buggars' religious or family rules find Lamaze teachings abhorrent, or if the Bradley method, which I'd never hear of before watching the episode, is simply more popular in their area, or perhaps a bit cheaper (or perhaps even a rip off of Lamaze methods; it wouldn't be the first time some enterprising individual capitalized on the ideas and work of others). The session they attended dealt with exercise to do to prepare the body for labor and delivery and to be used in labor and delivery. I noted with ambivalence that Anna Duggar wore leggings under her dress: on one hand, I was glad that she wouldn't be flashing her underwear to the viewing public, but, on the other hand, I hated to see her go directly to Hell without passing Go and collecting two hundred dollars simply becaause she wore pants. Que sera, sera.

Weeks before the estimated day of confinement (referred commonly today as one's "due date," but in medical texts is still, I believe. the EDC), the younger Duggar couple was still debating the merits of a home birth versus a hospital birth. Mr. J. duggar was clearly in favor of a home birth, as it had worked out for them with their first child. Anna, on the other hand , was wavering a bit. If I were in her situation, this would be one area in which my husband had no vote, or certainly would not be permitted to cast the deciding ballot. I suppose if a husband wanted a hospital birth for safety reasons and felt he wouldn't be up to delivering the child with only amateur assistance, his vote would be more decisive. In terms of wanting her to go thrugh all the rigors of labor without the benefit or convenience of modern medicine, his vote would count for less than zero. One can argue that babies have been born for centuries without medical intervention, but a much larger percentage of the babies AND mothers from those days never made it out of the birthing room alive. The only way I would give birth outside of a hospital setting would be if labor was so quick that I didn't make it in time. My mom's best friend's sister-in-law was born on a hospital lawn for that reason. I, however, could never be so fortunate as to have labor proceed so quickly.

Eventually labor began. Those attending Anna throughout her labor were her Bradley Mothod instructor (I may be wrong about this; the woman might have been a doctor), Michelle, one of Anna's sister's I think, and a couple of the Duggar sisters (Jill, Janna, Jinger, or someone else; I cannot keep them straight), and Mr. J. Duggar, the father. Anna had wanted a birthing tub, though whether her intent was to give birth in it or to wallow her way through contractions in the water like a manatee, I don't know. The "birthing tub" was actually a blue plastic kiddie wading pool. I hope it had no leaks, as it was set up on carpet either in the bedroom or the living room - I could not tell for sure which. Michelle was shown dumping kettles of hot and cold water into it to achieve a suitable temperture.

Anna wandered from her bed to the birthing tub to the sofa, which someone had thoroughly covered so that no "baby juices" would stain it, to her bed, to her bathroom, and so forth. She was screaming as quietly as she could manage to keep her voice while moaning, "Please, Jesus, please." I know for certain that were I in her place, a few additional words would have been spoken. I would've been moaning, "Please, Jesus, get me some Demerol," or "Please, Jesus, I need an epidural RIGHT NOW. You turned water into wine, you walked on water, your father parted the Red Sea and took Jonah out of the belly of either a whale or a very large fish; surely between the two of you, you could come up with one measly epidural." That's not the Duggars' way of doing things, apparently. As Anna was screaming and moaning and generally looking as though death was imminent and certain, her mother-in-law wa mugging it for the camera and telling the world at large, "Anna is doing SO GREAT." I say this with no intended disrespect toward Anna, but if she was doing great, I would hate to ever see a woman in labor who was not doing great.

The others were assuring me that what we were seeing was pre-recorded and not live, and that the situation had already resolved itself one way or another, because I was threatening to pick up the phone, dial 911, and send the paramedics to Anna's home in Arkansas to save the poor woman.

Eventually the father became tired and went to lie down and sleep on his bed. I suppose that's one advantage to a home birth; when the father gets tired, he can have the comfort of his own bed while his laboring wife carries on with the work at hand. (If my husband did this, there would be hell to pay once I was in any position to demand payment.) After he had been asleep almost an hour, his younger sister came and dragged him out of bed so that he would be there to see the baby's head emerge. By this time, poor Anna was lying in what I believe was the bathtub, which had been cushioned with blankets and pillows. The baby was pulled from the birth canal and handed to her. Forgive my cynicism, but poor Anna looked at that baby as though she wouldn't have cared if it had been a raccoon as long as they got the damned thing out.

After I am married and am contemplating motherhood, I will visit an OBGYN. I will, upon examination, ask him if there is an anatomical reason that I can or should deliver by Caesarean section. If he or she says no, I'll get a second opinion. That one failing, I'll get a third opinion. If the third doctor doesn't agree to an automatic C-section for me, my fallopian tubes will soon be cauterized to within an inch of their lives. My husband will be offered the choice of adopting a child or children, getting a dog or two or three or maybe a cat, or even raising silkworns. No baby will be dragged out of me in such a fashion.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My First University Test / Casey Anthony Trial / Perverts/ "Suits"

I enjoy taking tests. That's probably stretching the truth a bit. I'd rather take a test than sit through a lecture. This is true even if I'm unprepared, but I'm ordinarily prepared for tests. Today I was prepared.

The course in which I took a test today concerns American literature from World War I until the present. The professor plans to give a little more emphasis to the work of E. E. Cummings (capitals intended) than is, in my opinion, fitting for a university-level course, but the last time I checked, professors were not consulting me before printing up their syllabi, so I'm stuck with Cummings.

Today's test focused primarily upon Ragtime, by E. L. Doctorow and Go Down, Moses, by Faulkner. The professor gave four essay questions and asked us to answer three of them. No extra credit would be awarded for answering the fourth. We signed statements agreeing not to post the content of tests on the Internet, so I cannot be too specific even in this semi-anonymous forum, but I will say that it is not beyond possibility that my professor is a pervert. There is only so much I can write about an imaginary menage a trois between Evelyn Nesbitt and any two other characters, in the process justifying why these two would be Nesbitt's co-lovers. Likewise, the subject of incest isn't all that interesting to me. If I want to hear about incest, real or imagined, I can just watch the Casey anthony Trial. I don't have any desire to read about it in Faulkner's works then rehash it. Apparently I need to do just that, though, if I intend to pass the course. Those McCaslins were some strange people.

I actually used up three blue books. Only one was needed for my test itself. I used the other two just to psych out the freak who tried to subtly warn (beg? threaten?) me yesterday not to do too well on today's test. After completing the test itself, I answered my three questions in Pig Latin. I was stuck there until the end of class time anyway, because that was when my ride was to arrive. I explained to the professor that I was just killing time with the last two blue books and that he shouldn't waste his time with them, but he took them anyway. I hope it doesn't hurt my grade.

It creeped me out a bit that the guy who asked me not to score too high was waiting outside the door for me, but so was my Uncle Xcott, so the guy didn't say a word to me. i still don't understand why the guy is concerned. i could be the single stupidest person on campus for all he knows. The first time I've spoken in the classroom, other than to answer "Here" when roll was taken, was when I explained to the professor that the extra two blue books were extraneous, and the concerned guy wasn't even in the room when I spoke to the professor.

The Casey Anthony trial took a strange turn today, with Casey's mother, Cindy, insisting that she was responsible for some of the seemingly incriminating searches. My gutut feeling is that she is not being turthful. Why would a registered nurse search for "internal injuries"? She would search under more specific terms, such as spleen or lung injuries. I don't think she's necessarily a habitual liar. It just seems like she's pulling out all the the stops in order to save Casey. She certainly has her work cut out for her.

I was so tired tonight that I fell asleep and missed the premiere of uSA network's "Suits." It's on again at sometime like right now, but I'd never be allowed to watch TV unless I was either sick or traumatized, and it's not quite worth it to me to fake either one; almost, but not quite. USA is known for replaying things a lot,so I'll hope to catch a rerun.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paternity

Who fathered Caylee Anthony? To me, she did not bear a strong resemblance to any of the principal players --George, Cindy, Casey, or Lee-- in the Anthony family. Casey has told someone that Caylee's father died, but Casey has said many things that have turned out to be untrue.

I wonder if Casey doesn't know which former lover fathered the child. She seems to have had enough money to live independently without working. Could the father have provided that money? I certainly don't blame the father for not wanting to be a part of this media circus, but I suspect that, whether or not he's providing financial support, he knows who he is. The child probably more closely resembled him and/or his family than she resembled the Anthonys.

My hypothesis is that he's a married man with a comfortable enough income that he is able to subsidize Casey without his wife becoming suspicious. He's not publicly acknowledging his paternity because, in addition to not wanting to be dragged into the whole mess and possibly even thrown under a bus, he doesn't want his wife to learn of his infidelity.

I wonder why Casey or the defense hasn't outed him and blamed him as the killer. My guess is that Casey thinks she can beat these charges and continue collecting from him. This is only a stab in the dark. Only the killer and/or Casey really know(s) all of the answers to today's questions.
Casey herself seems so far removed from reality that I'm not entirely sure she can separate the truth from the lies anymore.

Intimidation/ Soap Operas /Casey Anthony Trial/ Coyotes

Today was my third day of summer school classes at the university. Immediately following my third and final class of the day, a guy who was maybe twenty or so commented to me that if one student scores far above the rest of the class on tests, it will adversely affect the grades of everyone else in the class. I've said nothing aloud in this class, and no assignments have been handed back. In any event, I certainly haven't been playing the Baby Genius card. I'm not sure where he got that idea, unless it could have been from the simple idea that I look even younger than I am, and I have to possess at least slightly higher than average intelligence for my perceived age to even be there.

I wasn't sure if a response was merited or not, so I nodded but said nothing. I don't know if it was a warning, a threat, or even a plea. I have no idea how to take it. It was good that it was a day that I was being picked up by hospital personnel instead of Jillian or Scott, because Jillian and Scott meet me at the perimeter of the campus in their car, but the hospital staff have to walk me to my first classroom and meet me outside the door of my last classroom.

It didn't help that the staff person was a bit late, and I really couldn't leave and risk missing my ride without getting into trouble, so I had little choice but to stand there and listen to him. When the staff person finally arrived and I could leave, it wasn't a staff person with whom I felt comfortable sharing the details of the incident. I texted Jillian. She told me not to worry about it ths once, but that she and Scott would pick me up after class tomorrow, because the first test is tomorrow, and that she would pick me up on Monday in case the tests are returned on that day.

I tweeted Judge Alex that most Internet sources acknowledge the presence of coyotes in all parts of Florida. He was uncharacteristically closed-minded: he's lived his entire life in Florida and hasn't seen one; therefore, there must not be any coyotes in Florida. A grad student in forensic biology at CFU read the tweet and tweeted to him and to me that they're not around much in south Florida, but that she's actually seen one in a yard in residential central Florida. He probably didn't believe her, either. I still don't want to be one of those "Internet trumps all other forms of information" people, but if enough credible sources say something is true . . . I've lived in California my entire life and have never seen a coyote, but I don't think anyone argues that there are no coyotes here.

I heard one of the talking heads mention that the Casey Anthony trial is heavily cutting into the ratings of daytime dramas. I can understand why. Soap operas don't move a whole lot faster than the snail'space at which the trials seems to be crawling. I never quite understood how people could be so caught up in soap operas, anyway. I suppose some people would wonder the same thing about how people can be caught up in the Casey Anthony trial.

Latest on Casey Anthony Trial : Coyotes in Florida?

While I like my university classes and like the idea of being a bona fide university student, I must admit that the humdrum routine of attending classes is seriously encroaching upon of my television viewing. Specifically, I'm finding it difficult to keep up with Casey Anthony's murder trial.

I don't return home from classes (wherever home is; some days it's with Scott and Jillian; other days it's at the looney bin) until well after three o'clock. Court is usually out of session by then. I'm forced to get my information from the recaps of Dr. Drew, Nancy Grace, Joy Behar, Jane Velez Mitchell, and Vin Politano. They do show some footage, but I'm required to rely on their interpretations of what was significant. It's possible that some small details occurring during the day that were either missed by the talking heads or considered unimportant to them might have seemed important to me, or, more importantly, to the jury. This frustrates me.

The talking heads are predictable. Unless the prosecution rolls over and plays dead, Nancy Grace will declare any given day in court a victory for the preosecution. She does bring other guests on her program to offer dissenting opinions, but she generally drowns them out. On a blog I read entitled Reluctant Whore, blogger Matt[surname unknown] refers to Ms. Grace as "professionally angry." I can't think of a more fitting description. The only thing that coaxes a smile from the woman is mention of her two miracle babies, John David and little Lucy Elizabeth.
In terms of the court cases I've seen her discuss, Nancy Grace has never met a defendant who wasn't, in her opinion, guilty until proven innocent. I recognize that she is not a judge or juror in a court of law, which therefore exempts her from the obligation of presumtion of innocense. Still, I wonder about her at times. If a crime heinous enough to receive coverage on her program lacked a defendant, and a person was chosen to be the defendant in the case by random selection from a telephone directory, I suspect she would verbally attack that defendant with the same venom she used in attacking Scott Peterson, brian David mitchell, or Richard Ricci, who was, ultimately after his death, found not to have had any connection with the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. The subject of coyotes, which I will address later in this blog, came up near the end of today's court session.

Ms. Grace, in my opinion, advertised her ignorance by mocking the idea that coyotes could be present in residential areas, particularly, "in a nice one," she stated. I live in California, where a booming population has caused subdivisions to be built further and further into what were formerly undeveloped areas. As humans encroach upon wilderness habitat, it's not uncommon for coyotes or even occasionally mountain lions to be found lurking around "nice" subdivisions, or on rare occasions even venturing into cities. As we have taken away their territory, they have wandered into ours in search of food.

Most talking heads, but not all, found Tuesday's court activity to, in general, favor the prosecution. The defense put several key winesses on the stand who were at times flustered. One defense witness faltered repeatedly under direct examination by Jose Baez long before the prosecution got a crack at him in cross examination.

Onee thing I found interesting if not highly relevant. A specialist of some sort was questioned about, among other things, one of little Caylee's bones that was found buried in four inches of dirt or mud. The expert witness was asked how that might have happened. She suggested a dog might have been the culprit. "Or a coyote," she added. "Do you all have coyotes in Florida?"

"No, we're not blessed with coyotes here," Prosecutor Ashton semi-quipped. I consulted several Internet sources. While I'm not of the "If you read it on the Internet, it has to be true" persuasion, sources seemed to fairly consistently indicate that coyotes inhabit Orange County, Florida. Will that be addressed, if not in court, at least by the talking heads? Time will tell. I'll probably Tweet Judge Alex, not that he relies on my research and input for his commentary.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gingers* Unite, or Don't: Myths Debunked

*Title editing courtesy of Uncle Scott


One of the courses I'm taking in summer school is human genetics. the professor is trying hard to keep lectures and discussions interesting for us. Today he addressed the topic of hair color in general, and red hair in particular.

A few times in the past ten years or so, rumors of the imminent extinction of red hair have circulated. One rumor predicted that the last natural redhead will be born in or near the year 2060. The rumors have been attributed to reliable sources such as National Geographic and the World Health Organization; incorrectly so, as it turned out. At least one of the publicized reports was linked to the Oxford Hair foundation, which is either owned or heavily supported by Proctor and Gamble corporation, which produces, among other things, hair coloring products/ This to me seems silly. The idea, even if it were true, of red hair dying out shouldn't make us go by up all the red hair dye on the shelves. Even if there were any substance to the reports, the ingredients that go into red hair coloring products are not reportedly in any danger of becoming extinct.

Red hair is caused by a mutation in the MC1R gene. It's also a recessive trait, so it takes both parents passing on a mutated version of the MC1R gene to produce a redheaded child. Because it's a recessive trait, red hair can easily skip a generation. It can then reappear after skipping one or more generations if both parents, no matter their hair color, carry the red hair gene.

Red hair has existed for centuries. It is believed that red hair was possessed by some Neanderthals, though the cause (MC1R genetic mutation) is not thought to be the cause. Queen Elizabeth I had red hair. Dark red hair was found in ancient Chinese tribes. Red hair is common in some Polynesian tribes. When forces from the roman empire first encountered people in Caledonia [Scotland], the Romans described the caledonis as having large lips and red hair. In fact, contrary to popular thought, Scotland has the largest concentration of natural redheads per capita (12%), with Ireland coming in second at 10%. Ireland does have the highest concentration of individuals possessing the MC1R genetic mutation. The U. S. has a percentage of 3-4 % natural redheads, but has the largest actual number of natural redheads. Northern and Western Europe's natural redhead population has been estimated at between 5 and 6%. Worldwide, the rate of natural redheads is well below 2%.

Red hair and the usually-accompanying fair skin were conducive to solar and ultraviolet absorption. This, at latitudes closer to polar regions, the trait would have been advantageous. Greater sun absorption would have adided in Vitamin D acquisition, preventing rickets. Likewise, heat absortion would have been maximized, which would have been an advantage in cold weather regions. On the other hand, in regions closer to the equator, the coloring associated with red hair would have been a decided disadvantage. Heat absorption would not have been a positive trait, and the tendencency toward skin cancer would have been great among those with red hair and fair skin.

Scientists have studied possible relationships between red hair and various physical and psychological characteristics. To date, there is no known study documenting the link between red hair and a fiery temperament. There is, on the other hand, scientific and medical documentation that natural redheads require greater amounts of general anaesthesia during surgical procedures. Strangely enough, natural redheads require smaller amounts of certain types of the narcotic painkiller morphine.

My uncle, who is a pediatrician, noted thaat nurses who have worked for him tell him that redheaded children often run higher fevers with a given illness than do children with hair of other colors. I asked my professor about this. He hadn't heard; he scanned his computer during a break, and found nothing either to support or to refute that hypothesis. I also told him that my mom had noted a higher incidence of left-handed redheads in her career. He said that has been noted but not studied sufficiently to be
established.

The bottom line here is that, even if we're worried about the extinction of natural red hair, we don't all have to be tested for the MC1R genetic mutation. Unless there were a holocaust to rid the world of all who possess the recessive trait, chances are that redheads will continue to pop out at about the same rate they are now appearing for the considerable future. if not, we'll always have Proctor and Gamble and other companies to help us recreate the look. And Prince Harry, let your heart guide your choice between Chelsy Davy and Pippa Middleton. You do not shoulder the responsibility to keep the world ginger for upcoming generations.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

It's Father's Day, but I'm not with my dad today. I'm at my mental health facility, AKA funny farm, loony bin, or whatever the nom du jour. I called my dad. He told me he'd skype with me just before bedtime.

Chairman Mao invited me to spend the day with his family, but I politely declined. This is a day for him to spend with his own offspring, and patients, however well-accquainted he may be with their parents he may be, do not belong at his home on Father's Day. Furthermore, it could cause my fellow inmates to resent me if I'm invited to The Chairman's house for anything resembling a special day. Even though I won't be here all that much longer, as i'll be moving out around the first of July and will see therapists or The chairman three times a week, i wish to remain on good terms with those who live around me right now.

We celebrated by demanding ice cream with multiplie toppings. We didn't actually "demand" it. We said that we need it and will get it one way or another. I'm capable of going out the recreational rapists's old office window and jumping to the balcony if necessary. i only mention that method of escape because the staff are already aware of it because I've successfully used it before. Suffice it to say there are many ways out of here. The ice cream and toppings were produced upon request. We were appropriately appreciative.

The others had a portrait drawing or painting contest of their fathers. I declined to compete because i can barely print, much less draw, but I did offer to help with the judging. it was a tough call, because one of the portratis looked really good, but it looked absolutely nothing like the girl's father, who has been here. Either she's not as good an artist as we think and lucked out on painting a from that looked human, or she is in on a secret her mom has been keeping from her dad for about seventeen years. Either way, since the other "portraits" looked like "Chalk Zone" drawings or Yoda, we awarded her the grand prize more or less by default.

We discussed the atupidest things our fathers had ever done. One guy said his dad got their entire family locked inside the Minnesota State Capitol back when Jesse "The Body" Ventura was governor. Some staff member told his dad that if the family just stood there and waited long enough, Jesse "The Body" would show up to greet them. He told them not to leave no matter what anyone said. Announcements kept coming up over the loudspeaker that the state captol would be closing in X number of minutes, but my friend's dad insisted that they stay put. Finally the builing was locked , and it took the family almost four hours to get out. they could have created havoc in a big way inside that building if they'd beedn so inclined.

I wasn't sure which of my father's actions would be considered the very stupidest, so I shared three. The first was when my parents sent me to stay with the incompetent relatives who kept me in their attic and made me use Pampers because I couldn't get myself to the bathroom from the attic because of multiple broken bones. All sorts of other bad things happened during my aunt's and uncle's stint at caring for me, which resulted in my being airlifted from one hospital to anotyher and the aunt and uncle losing custody of their kids, some of which they have yet to regain. My dad's second act of stupidity was to allow my Uncle Mahonri, who is known for being unable to steer a grocery cart, much less a car, to drive his two-week-old Lexus. He would've driven it into a canal iof my brother hadn't grabbed the steering wheel at a strategic moment. my dad's third act of stupidity was to serve a two-year mission in Argentina, paying for it with his own paper route savings, for a religion he didn't even believe in. The others thought that sending me with the idiot aunt and uncle was the worst, but the mission was probably the stupidest.

I probably should take this opportunity to thank a few men in my life besides my father who've been significant. My godfather, Uncle Ralph, though an uncle by marriage and not by blood, has been most generous throughout my life, and has uaully thought everything I did was either great or hilarious. I could never do anything really wrong as far as Uncle ralph was concerned.

I met my Uncle Steve when he came home from his mission around me second birthday. He left the family church shortly thereafter and ended up with my own nuclear family a lot. he lived with us for a few years, and now lives near us. He's moving to a place not too far from where my university will be. He's often been available when my own parents weren't, and, in addition to being my uncle, is also my pediatrician.He's saved my life literally more than once.

Chairman Mao has lately been a factor in my life recently. He was a friend of my dad's from medical school. he lloks a lot like my dad except he has brown eyes while my dad's are blue. They apparently looked even more alike in med school, but my dad has made some sort of deal with Satan that has allowed him not to age. Chairman Mao has taken my side in numerous conflicts with incompetent or uncaring staff since I've ben here. He's helped me keep in condition for diving and track seasons. I probably would not have placed as highly as I did in recent competitions were it not for his having gone out of his way to give me opportunities to train.

My Uncle Jerry, is neither a biological relative nor one by marriage. He's my dad's very best friend. They met when my dad was twelve and moved to Florida from Massachusetts. My dad spent time at Uncle Jerry's family's house to escape the craziness of his own home. Uncle Jerry, an obstetrician, was there for my birth. My dad delivered me and Uncle Jerry
delivered my brother. When I came home from the hospital at about eight weeks of age, Uncle Jerry's wife, who is an R. N., flew from Florida with one of her children, leaving the other three in the care of relatives and their father, to teach my mom how to take care of me. When I was six, I became very sick due largely to infections that set in because I was malnourished when a relative of a relative, who was paid to care for my brother and me, didn't pay any attention to what or if we ate. My mom was fighting leukemia and was hospitalized, and my dad needed to be with her. My Uncle Steve was in medical school and couldn't spend much time caring for me. my dad knew the one other person he could trust to keep me alive was Uncle Jerry. My Uncle Jerry flew across the country to get me. between Uncle Jerry and his wife, Aunt ilianna, I received what amounted to hospital care in their home. Every four weeks or so, my Aunt Ilianna flew to Los angeles with me so that I could see my mother. They went to great trouble and expense to make me healthy again. I was with them for almost seven months.

My Pseudouncle Scott is twenty-seven, which is young for a father, but he is like a father to me. I spent three summers with him and his wife when summer camp didn't work out. Last summer was a disaster because I was recovering from multiple broken bones and developed a really rampant infection under my cast at about the time I arrived at his home. If I'd been at summer camp and not with Pseudouncle Scott, I probably would've lost my leg. He and his wife have been here for me when I needed them throughout my stay in the loony bin. I've been to their home a couple of times since my incarceration began,and they've been here to visit me. I'm going to stay with them for about two months starting July 1.

To all the men who are fathers, and to those who act as fathers when they're not tecnically such, and even to mothers who must functiona as both mothers and fathers, Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just What Everyone Wants to Read: More Casey Anthony Info

I promise to eventually write about something bseides the trial of Casey Anthony. I have one question: I wonder if Jose Baez will eventually do something to create a mistrial? Since he's practically begging for comtempt of court sanctions, what's next?

By the way, I WAS Nancy Grace yesterday at our "Talking Heads Day" function. It was as though I channeled her all day and evening. I grew so weary of saying "Goodnight, friend" that I was seriously afraid I'd toss my cookies if I said it even one more time, but I did, of course, say it many more times. It's her signature line. Some of the staff nembers said I was almost as good at being Nancy Grace as Nancy Grace herself is, and that if she ever needed to stay home to take care of John David or little Lucy, I could probably fill in without the viewers being any the wiser. I hated myself all day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Casey Anthony Update

I grabbed a laptop from the nurse's station because I can't sleep.

I have to say from the outset that, despite not actually knowing her, I dislike Casey Anthony. I've known girls who seem to be like her: ones who are self-centered, ones who lie prolifically and sometimes just for practice, and ones who laugh in the face of somber moments. There cannot be anything so funny that it would make a moral person laugh at his or her own child's murder trial, whether or not he or she is the accused standing trial.

I also want to share that I don't get the "molester" vibe from George Anthony or from his son Lee. I don't know that I would get the vibe -- especially over TV -- even if they really did molest the child, but in any case I'm just not seeing it.

I'm far from an expert on molestation. No adult has ever come close to doing anything to me that could be classified as molestation. I have some mean relatives on one side, but at least they're not child molesters. Isn't it sad when the best thing you can say about a huge portion of your humongous family is that they're not child molesters? Maybe Uncle Mahonri's tombstone could be inscribed with the words, "Never sexually molested a single child." What an epitaph! Mahonri may have stolen everything that wasn't Krazy-glued down, and he once grabbed my foot so hard that he left a bruise when I was two, but he at least didn't sexually molest me or any other kids. He's so inept at just about everything he does that there's almost no way he could ever have done something like sexually molest a child without thoroughly bungling the act and getting caught. It's not the norm to have the open microphone thing at Mormon funerals, but if they break protocol and have that feature at Uncle Mahonri's funeral, presuming that I outlive him, I will approach the microphone, say, "Uncle Mahonri never sexually molested me even once." Then I'll sit down. The congregation will wonder what the hell that was all about, but what it would be about is that would be the nicest thing thing I could honestly say about Uncle Mahonri.

Regarding the Anthonys, what I'm feeling is sympathy for them, except for Casey. I suspect that if we could look back at random moments in their past family life, we would see some examples of enabling and defending Casey when she lied or acted out. I believe I shared in an earlier blog that my mom said if teachers were allowed to tell what they knew, we would see Casey gradually becoming the adult she grew to be. Still, it's highly unlikely that they ever did anything in their lives to deserve their presently suffering. This seems to be Karma gone awry.

Poor parenting of Casey, though, is not necessarily a given here. The Anthonys may have been textbook-perfect parents who just ended up with a rotten apple. Even if it's proven that she had nothing to do with her child's death, I feel justified in referring to Casey as a rotten apple just because of the way she behaved when her child was missing, whether or not she knew what happened, or especially if she DIDN'T know what happened. I understand that people both grieve and worry differently, but Casey's actions are so far removed from what the world observed with the Walshes, the Carringtons and Sunds, the Smarts, the Klasses, and the Rochas and Grantskis (Lacy Peterson's family; I can't say the same for Scott Peterson's family, obviously) that the idea that she deviates so far from the way any of the other immediate families handled themselves in the interval that the loved one was missing is indicative, at the very least, of everything always being about HER.

I've seen less footage of George Anthony with the little girl, though those in the know claim that he spent much time with her and was very doting. More footage has been shown of little Caylee with her grandmother, Cindy Anthony. She seemed such a loving, caring, and proud grandmother of the little girl. I suspect any child would be lucky to have her as a grandmother if the thousand words that those pictures speak are in any way indicative of reality. I know I'd trade her for my own grandmother in a heartbeat. For that matter, I'd trade George for my grandfather as well. Lee could replace any uncle on my dad's side except Uncle Steve, who has been my savior more than once. I'm not saying the Anthonys are perfect people, because I don't know them that well, but the angry, sometimes almost maniacal behavior we witnessed from George on occasion is what the public would probably witness from my dad if my brother or I ever disappeared inexplicably.

If it ever is proven that Casey's seemingly outrageous accusations of esxual molestation at the hands of her father and borhter are true, I'll take back everything I've said. I don't think that's very likely to happen, though. I can only hope the jury is seeing what I'm seeing, and that the one possible rogue juror, the one who was seated despite her claim that she has problems with judging anyone, isn't allowed to throw a wrench into the workings of justice. If her opinion truly does differ from those of her fellow jurors, she deserves to be heard, but if she refuses to deliberate because of her disinclination to judge another human being, she needs to be tossed once deliberations begin in place of a more qualified alternate juror.

I've watched too much of this case and have too cloesly followed the proceedings. I tend to do that with true crime, particularly where children or pregnant women are involved. Upcoming classes will prevent me from maintaining such an over-the-top obsession.

I don't know how everyone else feels when a person says, "I believe everythng happens for a reason." If the person means simply that occurrences are not usually random and that every happening has an impetus of some sort . . . duh! What the people who say that usually seem to mean, on the other hand, is that every single occurrence, good or bad, is some part of a divine plan. How could anyone look at a situation such as the murder of a two-year-old and rationally believe that it was part of some grand scheme in the unfolding of life on this planet? I wish the people who use that expression -- both those in public life (I heard Tatum O'Neal say it tonight) and the people who spend time near me -- would view that particular sentiment in light of situations such as little Caylee's.

We can only hope for justice for the almost-baby (may she rest in peace in the arms of Jesus), whatever justice really means in this case.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nancy Grace

I was busy today registering for summer university courses, so I didn't have as much time as would've been ideal to prep for "Talking Heads Day."
Still, in addition to registering for twelve quarter units in the first session -- I'm taking the second session off because I need a break even though my dad says this entire year has been one long school break for me. Was it really my fault that if I was just required to do the readings, assignments, and projects for public school courses -- even AP courses-- and not to actually attend classes most of the time, it left me with a substantial amount of time off? For the most part I used the extra time productively rather than stirring up trouble. Beyond that, I was legitimately physically ill several times and would have missed enough school days to cost my school district major Avereage Daily Attendance funding. As an independent study student, my illnesses cost them nothing as long as I submitted the assigned work. I wish more than anyone that this school year had unfolded conventionally and that I had been able to attend my regular high school in a standard manner, but something happened to interfere with those plans. In my opinion, I made the best of a relatively horrible situation. I'm as entitled to a break as is any other high school graduate, and I'm only taking half the summer off to boot.

I could not justify spending any substantial sum of money on a wig that would make me look like Nancy Grace. If I am to be truthful, no amount of money spent on a wig would actually cause me to look like Nancy Grace. Still, if I can just get the hair right. If it were Halloween, I could probably find a specific wig designed to mimic Nancy Grace's hairstyle. it's June, not October, though, so I'm not so fortunate. I didn't want to go to a wig store, but we found a party goods store that still had some costume stuff in stock. I found a long blond wig for $3.99. My Auntie and her friend cut it to the right length. Cousin Peter (Auntie's cousin) was visiting, and he figured out that it could be styled with a hair straightener if the hair straightener was wrapped with a slightly damp cloth. (Without the damp cloth, the "hair" probably would've melted all over the hair straightener, ruining both the hair straightener and the wig in the process. Cousin Peter is very intelligent.

By the way, if anyone has suggestions as to how best to imitate Nancy Grace, please help me out here. I haven't watch her as much as some have.

I begin classes on Monday. I have classes Monday through Thursday for a good chunk of each day. At least I have long weekends. It lasts for about six weeks, after which I'll be off. The Pseudos will be in their condo by then, and Psuedo Uncle will be working a lot. Pseudo Auntie and I will hang out together and have fun while Uncle is toiling away. My parents are skiing in South America and possibly going to Australia. I'll see Chairman Mao or my therapist three times each week.

Aloha!

Talking Heads Day / Casey Anthony Trial

The Casey Anthony Trial has taken over most of daytime TV at the loony bin to the extent that many of the inmates moan and complain when they're pulled away from the TV for individual or group therapy. In group therapy, we use subterfugal tactics; we answer any question with a "Casey Anthony Trial"-related answer. How well our tacticss are received depends upon the skill or sense of humor of the therapist or psychological intern. Some storm off and get Chairman Mao to rebuke us. Others play along and try to get legitimate and pertinent dialogue going related to the topic on which we're insistent upon focusing.

I don't think anyone here thinks Ms. Anthony is guilt-free, although some think it was an accident, but that she's sufficiently without a conscience that she was able to carry on as though it was Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street while her tiny child lay dead in the trunk of her car or elsewhere.
No one seems to believe the "swimming pool drowning" theory, at least not the way it's portrayed, whereby the child's grandfather plucked a drowned child from the home swimming pool, then handed her off to Casey and basically said, "Deal with it." I hadn't really thought about it, but I don't suppose it's beyond possibility that if someone intended to murder the poor little girl, it could have been done by dropping her into the pool, then retrieving her hours later. Everyone here seems to doubt that the baby's grandfather had anything to do with either the child's death or with a cover-up.

Among the inmates -- and there are those among us here who have been sexually molested -- there is considerable skepticism regarding Casey's, or her attorney's, claims that she was ever sexually molested by either her father or her brother. From the mouths of those who have experience with such matters, it doesn't have the ring of truth. I would suppose that not all molestation victims react in the same way, much as not everyone grieves the loss of a loved one in the same way, but it does seem oddly coincidental that this is the time for Casey's alleged molestation to come to light.

I will admit that the trial is getting to me. I woke up a little over two hours ago screaming, "I didn't do it! I didn't do it!" A psychological intern on duty opened my door that I'm allowed to keep closed when I sleep because I'm not suicidal. He asked what was wrong from the doorway. He isn't allowed inside my room without another staff member for both our protection, so he had to talk to me from the doorway. I told him that I had just dreamt that a chapstick belonging to me was found at the crime scene of little Caylee Anthony, and that I was to be arrested for the murder.

"That's what you baboons get for obsessing over that trial," he said to me. I expected a bit more sympathy. I am , after all, suffering from PTSD. He told me to go back to sleep. No Klonopin, no Ativan, no consultations with any MDs. Just, "Go back to sleep." When I announced that I couldn't get back to sleep after about 45 minutes, he handed me a laptop to use. Mine is currently being debugged by the Geek Squad.

The "Talking Heads Day" was actually a compromise. Some people wanted to have a "Casey Anthony Trial Day," where we portrayed people from the trial. That seemed too morbid to me. At some point, I may become desensitized to the morbidity of it all and go along with "Casey Anthony Trial Day," but I'm not yet sufficiently callous for that.

My aunt is picking up a cheap short blonde wig for me so I can portray Nancy Grace. I've been standing in front of the mirror, practicing her mannerisms. I've got the "Goodnight, friends" down pat. If we ever become so desensitized to the horror of it all (a real little girl, almost a baby, was killed by somebody, even if it wasn't by her own mother), I would choose to portray Casey Anthony herself. Morbidity notwithstanding, I could do a great Casey Anthony imitation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fear of Rejection

My primary therapist here at the loony bin says I have major issues with rejection. The way things are set up here, I have one primary therapist who is a psychologist (Ph.D.), one primary psychiatrist (M.D.) and one psychological intern, who is doing his final internship for his PhD. Normally I would see my own therapist most frequently in official sessions (3-4 per week), see the intern an additional twice a week, and see the psychiatrist maybe once a week. Additionally, I would deal with other therapists and interns in group sessions or if situations arose when my regular practitioners were not on duty. The only real way in which my situation differs from the norm is that, because my psychiatrist is a friend of my dad's, I interact with him almost every day, though not always in the form of official exams and/or threapy sessions.

This morning I had a session with my regular psychologist. I wasn't totally ranting about it, but I mentioned that on a website I visit frequently, a comment I made was deleted or somehow disappeared and that it made me very angry. The comment later reappeared, so I was no longer angry. I have no idea if it was a technical glitch that cause the comment not to be there, or if it was a deliberate act by a moderator. I understand that technical errors occur, but if I am deleted for no good reason, I take it very personally.

My therpist says it's because I have serious issues with rejection with which I need to deal. She says it's probably as a result of my early relationship with my mom, who blatantly favored my brother over me until I was about six, when she was able to recognize it as a problem and do something about it. She says also that it was made worse over the prom date break-off from a year ago. She says that if I don't deal with my issues, I'll become the sort of person who totally falls apart and can't function if a guy takes my number and says he'll call, then doesn't, or that if someone with whom I'm in a serious relationship breaks it off, I'll become practically suicidal.

I'm not sure how much I agree with her assessment. I considered myself 100% over and moved on from the prom incident. I've been to two proms since then, and I consider the case closed. She said it's not that simple -- that I can say I'm over it, but if it makes me think two hundred times before accepting another date, I'm not as over it as I think. I think it's a crazy world out there and one must be cautious before agreeing to go anywhere alone with anyone one doesn't know well. In some ways it's a non-issue, because as a sixteen-year-old, my parents won't allow me to single date, so I'm not going alone anywhere with anyone anytime soon. The therapist says I still need to deal with it, because time will pass sooner than I think, and then I'll be eighteen and have the right to single date.
I'm still mulling over that.

Regarding issues with my mom, I asked my therapist what she thought I should do to resolve the situation. She didn't have any great solutions except that I should write a letter to my mom detailing my feelings, which I could then choose to give to her or to destroy. I told her that my mom already feels guilty about what happened, so why should I add to her guilt by rehashing things? She said that wasn't my real reason for avoiding the topic. She said I'm afraid of upsetting her and being rejected all over again. I think she's wrong.

I won't complain about her, per se, to my psychiatrist, who is the King of the Loony Bin (I wonder if inflates a person's ego to be the boss of a bunch of crazy people and those who directly supervise them) because I honestly think she's doing what she thinks is her job, but sometimes she has to make highly subjective interpretations, and I think she's wrong about this. I will seek out his opinion, though, under the condition that he say nothing to her about it. She'll be guarded to the point that she's totally ineffective with me if she thinks I'm sharing everything she says with her boss. I'm not saying early rejection from my mother didn't contribute to my situation, but I don't think writing my mom a letter, even if I tear it up before mailing it to her, will help anything. I know what my thoughts are on the matter. i don't need to put them on paper to know what they are. to me it would feel ridiculous to write a letter that I know I'm going to destroy. It would be different if I really needed to sort out my relationship with my mother, but we've done the counseling thing to death. There's nothing more to be analyzed.

Still, I understand to some degree where my therapist is coming from. I just don't agree with every aspect of her interpretation, nor do I agree with her take on how best to address the problem. On the other hand, I don't want to become a person who loses it because I guy no-shows for a date, or even if someone leaves me at the church by myself because he fails to appear for our wedding. I'd like to think I could deal with it if something like that happened. My therapist would say that the very idea that I'm considering being stood up at my own wedding indicates I have a problem with fear of rejection.

It's so complicated.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time warp in the Loony Bin /Tennis/ Track vs. Hurdling

Anytime I leave my mental health facility, I return to find things almost exactly as I left them. It's odd. My shrink would say I'm being egocenntric as usual, but it's almost as though everyone is standing in the eact same place, holding the identical position he or she was when /i left, each time I am buzzed through the security door to return. Next time i leave, I am taking pictures and then taking htme again upon my return to prove my point.

I'm playing one set of tennis with PseudoAunt tomorrow. She is allowed to play a single set of tennis because her weight has reached the minimum poundage allowed for her to exercise again since she became critically ill six or so weeks ago. Even if she hasn't played in almost two months and is at her very weakest she could be while being allowed to play, she'll win esily She's good.

My dad is really good as well. My dad and Scott actually play Jillian and me fairly even in doubles. My dad's serve is overpowering, but Jillian and I are both counterpunchers who get much of our power from the strength of opponents' shots, so if we can get our racquets on his serves, the point is even from then on. The best part is that my dad has to play all-out to beat us, and even then there's no guarantee. He and Scott are probaly 555 to Jillian's and my 45%; it may be even slightly closer. When he and I play, it's competitively pointless because he's so much better. At least with Jillian, she can play me at her best and I can gauge how I'm doing by whether I get two games off of her. She is kind enough to not humor mwe by giving up points or games to me because she knows how much I hate that and that I can tell when she's doing it. If I play my dad, I'm lucky to win one point per game. He doesn't even double fault against me because there's no reason for him to try a risky-enough second serve to cause a double-fault. I like playing him because playing a superior player raises one's level, but he'll probably never be so old than I can beat him until he's actually dead.

It really doesn't matter, though. Tennis is just for fun where I'm concerned. My sports are track (hurdling) and diving. I must soon decide between them for competitive purposes at the university level. The choice is not going to be as easy as I thought. The act of diving itself is more fun than the practice aspect of track and field, which is largely drudgery. Still, head-to-head competition is more fun than doing my own dive and observing my score, then waiting around while others do the same thing. I still have to meet with that exercise physiologist, who will tell me to which sport I am more physically suited. I'm curious to see what he says, and the information he provides may actually impact my choice.

I suspect I would fare better against the competition in diving than in hurdling, but that by itself may not be sufficient reason to choose diving over hurdling. It's a tough choice. Additionally, I still need to meet coaches. that alone could make my decision for me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pre-Father's Day Sequel: the Wild Party I Almost Attended (Booze, Sex, and Drugs)

Last night was graduation for my brother and for me. it was a torturous affair, with nearly nine hundred students graduating, but we all survived. I felt more sorry for the audience than I did for us, the graduates. At least our chairs were padded and had backs. My brother did a fantastic job with the speech I wrote. His delivery was flawless -- nearly verbatim without reading it. We took a few shots at policies and oddities of the school system, which I'm sure were not appreciated by the administration and governing board, but the parents found it funny, as did our fellow raduates. I didn't know Matthew was that good.

The only conflict of the evening concerned the post-graduation celebration. There was an official school-santioned event held at a local recreation facility, with unlimited pizza and other foods, miniature golf, mini race cars, video games, pool, ping pong, basketball courts, a couple of lighted tennis courts, and other forms of entertainment, all to be enjoyed under the watchful eyes of parents and school personnel. Then there was a cool party, unsanctioned, to be held at the barn of one of the graduates' relatives somewhere out of the city limits.It was even in an adjacent county. (We have about ten county borders within less than an hour's drive of our home.) I don't know if the relative of the graduate even lived anywhere near the barn or knew anything about the party. I was invited presumably due to my relationship to Matthew, who is cool. I am decidedly uncool. Another option existed, of course, which was to participate in neither party.

Matthew and I had decided to accept the hospitality of the host of the cool party. He must have wanted to make the party large, because he dipped into the reserves of graduates whose qualifications of coolness were about as legitimate as were mine. All of my graduating friends were invited.
We paid the fees and were ready to go. (Being invited didn't mean it was free. As it turns out, booze costs money, and the kid hosting it didn't have the capital to provide what would be needed to make the party truly cool.

Then, of course my father found out. Matthew and I were heading out the door to the cool party at the same time he was leaving with my Uncle Scott, who graciously filled in for my mom, to do their chaperoning stint at the school-sanctioned party. When the car transporting us headed in the opposite direction, my dad followed us. He eventually got our driver's attention and got him to pull over. Daddy asked exactly where we were headed, and the foolish driver told him. (We would have been caught when we didn't show up at the official party, anyway. I hadn't counted on my parents signing up as chaperones; they usually are more sensitive than that.)

Dad asked everyone in the car if their parents were aware of their alternate party plans. Answers ranged from ambiguous to outrightly honest negatives. My dad told Matthew and me that we could come with Scott and him to the official school-sanctioned party or we could stay home. He told the others he didn't have the power to stop them from doing anything, but he would call my mom and have her telephone their parents to be sure they knew where their kids were if they chose to go to the cool party. One girl said she would like to go to the official party but she had already paid all her money to the host of the cool party. My dad said he would pay for any of us who didn't have enough cash to get in.

The six people originally in the auto with us (my dad made Matthew and me ride in his car) all showed up at the school-sanctioned party. I asked my dad if we could go back to our house for just a minute to get my racquet and tennis clothes because I wanted to play Uncle Scott. Dad got racquets for himself and Scott as well. They were already dressed in shorts and tennis shoes. I can't beat my dad on my best day possible, but I should beat Scott two times out of three. I admit to being not a very gracious winner when I beat him.

On the way, my dad suggested using our phones to let anyone we cared about know that even though he wouldn't rat out anyone who wasn't in the car with us who failed to show at the school-sanctioned party, chances are someone would or something else would go wrong. I called three people; two listened and one didn't. Matthew called about ten people; he was about fifty-fifty.

As much as it kills me to admit it, my dad was right. Someone who lived two miles down the road from the barn noticed unusual activity and called the sheriff of that county. Parents were called, and some people were arrested for underage drinking or possession of controlled substances (marijuana, I assume, but it could have been something worse for all I know), and the sheriff's deputies are still investigating where the booze and whatever else came from. The last kid was supposedly picked up from there by one-thirty. Twelve-thirty was the limit for entrance to the official event. So the cool people, in addition to whatever trouble they got from their parents and/or the law, got no party to speak of. There reportedly wasn't much to do there anyway besides drink and fraternize with members of the opposite sex in dark corners. There were many dark corners, as the place didn't even have electricity; the only light came from a few battery-operated lanterns.

In all honesty, I would've taken one look at the site and demanded to leave, but if the person who drove me there had refused to leave, I would've had to call for a ride and would have been busted by my parents anyway, unless I was lucky enough to reach my Aunt Heather, who's probably cool enough that she would've kept quiet about it.

You win, Daddy. I admit it. You're always right.

P.S. I wonder if the party was broken up in time, or if in about nine months some of our classmates will become parents. The whole thing was so ill-plannned that the hornier teens probably didn't plan for precautions, either.

P.P.S. I beat Uncle Scott 6-3, 6-2. The boys' tennis team's number one player challenged my dad. I told my dad that the kid is an insufferable bastard and that he should show little mercy. My forty-seven year-old father beat the jerk 6-0, 6-1. My dad gave him the one game, practically gift-wrapped with a card attached, but it was OK. The jerk's ego was properly recalibrated.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Daddy

Dear Daddy,

Father's Day is fast approaching, but so are many other momentous events. It would be an injustice for me to allow the day to pass without offering some sort of tribute to you. If I don't take care of this part of your gift now, it might not happen, so here's part of your early Father's Day gift, Daddy. Don't worry. I'm not a total cheapskate. I'll buy you something as well. You're a difficult person for whom to purchase a gift. You say you have everything you need.

At Christmas, Matthew and I are able to avoid the entire pas de deux of gift exchange (with your half of it, anyway; we still gladly accept any and all gifts from you; I wish to make that perfectly clear) by performing some act of service or kindness toward you or an act of charity on your behalf. This past Christmas, I allowed you to give me a flu vaccine without whining, crying, struggling, trying to run away, or threatening to call CPS. Even Judge Alex described me as practically Mother Theresa in terms of the generosity of my gift. I think his actual words were that I was "like Santa personified," but the sentiment was essentially the same. Still, I sensed that you felt was my gift was less than adequate. I'll try to do better with this gift-giving holiday, both in the words I write to you and the gift that I find to buy. (What does one buy for the man who thinks he has everything because he refuses to part with sweat pants that have holes in the knees or a pro-cut Giants' cap that has a worse case of "ring around the collar" than the shirt of the grimiest little first-grader at the school where I tutor when I'm home. The child's poor mom doesn't own a washer and has to carry her laundry three quarters of a mile to the nearest laundromat. If I owned a car and a held a valid driver's license, I'd drive her there myself.) My point is that the little boy has an excuse, but your excuse is frugality hiding behind sentimentality, which makes it incredibly hard to buy you a gift that you actually like.

You were the first person to actually touch me. The OB-GYN allowed you to lift me out of mom's midsection during the Caesarean delivery. While mom was able to lounge in her hospital bed, bonding with roly-poly six-pound-nine-ounce Matthew, I'm told that you spent a great deal of time in the NICU with me, the two-pound baby, give or take a few ounces. Mom tells me now that it made her very nervous to look at me, much less touch me through those rubber gloves extending into that incubator or isolette or whatever it was where I spent my initial weeks after being born. She said I reminded her so much of the premature twins she had lost at twenty-two weeks' gestation just short of two years earlier, and that she was afraid that as soon as she formed any sort of bond with me, I'd be gone as well. It probably made you nervous, too, but you overcame your unease and spent the time there with me anyway, and even at some point pushed my mother into the NICU in her wheelchair against her will and forced her to look at me and touch me. If you hadn't done that, who knows what might have happened? Mom and I might still be virtual strangers. I'm being silly, but what I'm trying to communicate is that dealing with and handling a micropreemie (I think we've finally agreed after years of arguing between mom and various doctors that Matthew and i were conceived in different cycles, accounting for the disparity in our sizes, and that I was technically a micropreemie) can't have been all that pleasant a task for you, because you'd watched micropreemie twins die two years earlier, too, but you forced yourself to do what was best for me no matter how it made you feel.

The psychology professor in the AP psychology class I took told me that it's utterly impossible for me to remember anything that happened during that period of my life. He was probably correct, but still, sometimes I think I can almost remember holding onto your finger through that rubber gloved-shaped extension into my isolette. Sometimes I'm sure I remember the feel of grasping your pinkie with my left hand.

Thanks for all the twenty-four and thirty-six hour shifts you pulled at the hospital, sometimes managing to slip out for midnight mass with us, so you could be at home with us on Christmas morning to see all the exciting toys Santa left for us. You must have wanted more than anything to crawl in your bed and sleep uninterrupted for twenty-four hours, but instead, you played with us and watched us enjoy our new possessions. I remember the Christmas morning when a neighbor living across the street yelled at me to get out of the street while riding my Big Wheel because you had literally fallen asleep standing up, leaning against the garage wall. I can only imagine your level of exhaustion.

As painful as it is for me to say this, I thank you for taking me out of gymnastics. My degree of skill was exceeded by my level of common sense by a margin that made me truly a danger to myself both at the gym and anywhere else I chose to practice my stunts. You and mom had already paid my fees for half the year -- fees tha were non-refundable-- and it must have been difficult to give up over a thousand dollars' worth of free babysitting. As angry as I was at the time, I know now that I might now be brain-damaged (which some say I am, but that's another story), fully or partially paralyzed, or worse. You did what a good parent had to do. I couldn't admit it at the time, but I now can, and I thank you for it.

Thank you for not always taking Matthew's side in our disputes. I have friends whose dads always side with the brothers in brother-sister arguments. (Mom tended to as well.) You didn't. You listened to both sides and usually made a fair ruling.

Thank you for staying at the hospital for so many nights when I broke my leg and collarbone last spring. I know you and mom were tired, and the recliners the hospital provided were poor substitutes for your Sleep Number bed. I probably would have been OK without you or mom there, because there were nurses and a few resident physicians still on duty in the middle of the night, but I was a lot more OK with one or both of you there to get me anything I needed.

Thanks for getting up in the middle of the night and playing your guitar for me when I have bad dreams and can't go back to sleep. Thanks for putting a little extra sugar in the grape Koolaid when you make it for me when I'm hurt or sick. (You wouldn't believe the difference in taste just that tiny extra amount of sugar makes.) Thanks for letting me take up so much DVR space with Judge Alex episodes. Thanks for making me bank most of my earnings. Thanks for hiding the rainbow sherbet so that Matthew can't eat the entire carton in one sitting before I even get a single bite
of it. Thanks for saying no and standing your ground when I ask to do something that's really not a good thing for me to do.

I don't know yet what your real present will be. If you have a specific want, it wouldn't hurt to make it easier by telling me or telling Mom or at least hinting. In the meantime, I want you to know how much I love and appreciate you. You're the most wonderful dad in the world.

Love,
Alexis

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do awards really mean anything, or do they merely reward kiss-ups?

If the latter is true, my brother and I are the two biggest kiss-ups in the school. My parents said it got to the point where it was almost embarrassing. I did receive the honor of graduating number one. The district would have fought it, probably, but my brother would have been number one had it not been I, and the next person was clearly below either of us, so they gave in.

My brother is claiming the honor of delivering the valedictory address, which was very much a favor to me. A little more than a year ago, I might have felt comfortable speaking before my classmates and virtually everyone important in their lives, but things have changed since then, and I'm no longer the same person I was before my life-changing events of last summer and fall. My brother, while very happy to be in the spotlight, was equally happy to have me take on the task of composing his words. We're Moses and his brother Aaron. I'm the hare-lip (sorry for the lack of political correctness! I'm the one with the cleft lip and the resulting speech impediment.) My brother is the one with little to say yet who says it so well. The rhetoric on most occasions may have sprung from Moses' stone tablet, but it was Aaron's articulate and impassioned delivery that allowed listeners to focus upon the message for long enough to hear and comprehend, much less to remember, what was said. Without the aid of Aaron's speaking abilities, The Ten Commandments might very well have been disambiguated into "Thou shalt not commit adultery in vain on the Sabbath if doing so dishonors one's parents and results in murder or theft, and if one must bear false witness and/or covet someone or something belonging to one's neighbor in order to accomplish said adultery." The importance of the delivery cannot nor should not be understated. Someday -- ideally by the time I reach law school-- I hope to regain the ability to speak easily and argue persuasively before a group, but for now, I'll have to be content to be a writer, if I dare call myself even that.

The speech is a doozy. After all is said and done, I may be able to share it here, or I may not. In terms of maintiaining security and anonymity, I'll abide by my parents' wishes. Matthew ans I have prepared a fake speech for the rehearsal. It's so very generic that I doubt few who hear it will fall for it as being the actual speech. The real one's not so controversial that the administrators in charge will cut the power to my brother's microphone, but a few feathers may be ruffled. It's just as well that my mom is resigning from the district, that she has secured the part-time position she desires, and that everything connected to my assault has already been settled. In many ways it will be the typical reflective graduation speech, but as I'm the one who wrote it, it is, as I see it, the sort of candid, striahtforward, "calling a spade a spade" piece of work one who has read my writings would expect from me. I did not take shots at individuals for the sheer fun of being mean. For example, I did not mention Mrs. Ratzlaff's clothing and how she was nominatted for the television program "What Not to Wear." I see no point in aiming a barb in the direction of Mrs. Ratzlaff (not her real name, by the way)just to gain a few nervous laughs. Such an attack, however good-natured I might pretend it to be, would be personal. Furthermore, it still wouldn't change the manner in which Mrs. Ratzlaff dresses, which is in home-sewn clothing constructed from patterns that surely must date back to the 1960's, so what would be the point? My brother (who agrees with everything written, or it would not be in the address) and I intend to take on policies, not individuals. After the fact, even if I'm not able to share the speech in its entirety, which I very well may not, I'll let you know how it went.

I came out slightly ahead of my brother in scholarship offers. He came very close to me if one counts the obscure colleges who want him to play baseball dor which he has no intention whatsoever of attending, including some religious extremist college in eastern Virginia who is supposedly losing their starting rotation pitcher to the major league draft. I still came out slightly ahead.

Matthew had to decide whether to attend a prep school, then red-shirt at a regular college or university, then play his four years. Since he has no intention of turning professional and probably lacks the talent and size anyway, there's probably no point in a prep school. He'll red-shirt as a freshman wherever he goes because it's not fair to pit a guy who will be barely seventeen when the season starts against twenty-two-year-olds (and some even older if he goes Mountain West, where many players have served mormon missions). So he'll pick his univeristy based both on its academic status and its baseball program. After four years, he can shoose whether to graduate and go on to medical or dental school, or he can stick around one more year and play. In the event he turns into the college equivalent of Lincicum or whatever the guy's name is, he can enter the draft and see what happens, but it's unlikely because Tim Lincicum types don't come around very often. My parents have made it clear that he does not have to play baseball. if he starts it and finds that it interferes with his educational goals, he is free to quit and they will pick up the tab. Some of his scholarships are academic, anyway.

I thought the awards committee got it backwards. I got the math/science award, and Matt got the liberal arts award, when the reverse might have been more correct, although the liberal arts award is more subjective. We both received outstanding athlete for our gender. The rumor is that they already had a basketball/softball player's name on the plaque but almost had to give it to me when I placed 2nd overall in state in diving, and had a first and third finish in at the state track meet in hurdling, as well as an appearance (that went absolutely nowhere) on a relay team at state. My accomplishments were unprecedented at our school, and were, I have to admit, an element of dumb luck. Sometimes you just get lucky and thinga work in your favor. After my previous April through September, and then all the fallout, it was probably time for me to have a run of good luck. I don't feel guilty. We're an academic powerhouse, but not an athletic one. Still, I'm just humble enough to feel honored as opposed to feeling that I deserved it.

My parents won't get off scot-free on my college education, but their costs have been cut by about two-thirds, and slightly more when considering my godfather is paying my dorm fees for the first two years so that I can have a dorm room for day use but not stay in it most nights. My parents' new home is within easy commuting distance from the university. My second year, we'll re-think the dorm issue. When I'm seventenn-and-a-half, I may be ready for dorm life. There's a lot of time to rethink it.

My brother has his choice between a few prestigious institutions with decent baseball programs, plus a few less-than-prestigious institutions with reputable baseball programs. Not that he's been recruited at this specific school, but, for example, he won't go to Fresno State even though they were nCAA champs a few years ago because their academic reputation would hurt his chances of getting into medical school. My parents want him to stay on the west coast; he probably won't go anywhere outside of California. He could have a full-ride at a division IA UC, but he doesn't want it. He has to decide almost immediately . i feel sorry for him in that regard, because it's a tough choice. I've known where I wanted to go for about five years.

My parents put away sufficient funds to pay for each of our educations at a school comparable to a UC. Since I'm going to a UC, they can afford, to put the extra money that I earned in scholarship funds toward Matt's education if he goes to a private university, so it's a good deal for everyone.

I hope we didn't get what we got for being suck-ups.

Another Rough Night/Ativan /Favorite Songs

Things have gone very well for me lately. It's as though God is smiling down upon me for a change, or the universe just happened to align itself in a way that happens to be to my nemefit. Still, I get these pesky nightmar/flashbacks at the oddest of times, and there's no predicting when one will happen. I shouldn't have had one tonight, but I woken up thinking I was in a smoke filled room and couldn't escape. My head was actually just caught under the top sheet on my bed, but even after I freed myself, I was unable to regain my compusure.

The flashbacks were so vivid this time that Chairman Mao, AKA Dr. Jeff, was called and asked to come in.(I know. How rude of me! How dare I have a flashback or nightmare after 10:00 p.m.and before 7:00 a.m.?) He said he considered phoning Uncle Scott and Aunt Jillian to come to the hospital, but he decided it was unfair to ask them to take care of what he's paid to do. He showed up, looked at me, and said, "Yep. She's having a panic attack, alright." He needed a medical degree and a residency to make that diagnosis, which I myself could've made without benefit of a high school diploma. (I receive that on Friday night.)

Dr. Jeff decided to give Ativan a try instead of Klonopin this time. I just took one about five minutes ago, and we're waiting for it to kick in. He phoned my parents at home and dragged them out of bed (figuratively; he's hundreds of miles away) to have my dad skype with me so he could plat the guitar and sing to me. For awhile, my dad and UnclS scott were taking turns doing that for a few minutes each night before bedtime, but they'd gotten out of the habit because everyone has been so busy. I'm glad the Chairman woke up my dad and not Uncle Scott. I wouldn't have felt right about Scott's and Jillian's sleep being disturbed on my behalf.

My dad is playing and singing a few melow songs. Now my mom is there with him. My dad is in his PJ's, and my mom is wearing her robe. They're singing the song uncle scott usually sings to me, which is James Taylor's "You Can Close Your Eyes." Uncle scot sings it slightly better, but my dad is betterr than Uncle Scott at the guitar parts. Now they've moved on to "American Tune" by Paul Simon. I admit that my parents are better singers than most people's parents are.

Chairman Mao is allowing me to sue my laptop (they're skyping on his because he has a bigger monitor) while the Ativan takes effect. I packed a few minutes ago, as I will fly home tomorrow for my school senior awards assembly tomorrow night, and for graduation rehearsal and graduation on Friday. We have Thursday off from school because it's tradtional that pn the day the other high school that shares our graduation facility has their rehearsal and graduation, the seniors from our school get the day off.

I should use this time semi=productively, so I will list my top ten or fifteen (or however many come up with right now)very favorite songs. (making lists has a calming effect on me; Chairman Mao said it's an OCD thing. I'm leaving instrumentals and classics out. If I tries to make the list again tomorro, the same songs might not appear on the list. It is what it is tonight. Here it goes:

Alexis' Favorite Songs Tonight, Junr 8, in the Wee Hours of the A.M.


15, "God Only Knows' by the Beach Boys

14. "Summer at Highland Falls" by Billy Joel

13. "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter (trite and shallow, but I like it
anyway and the video's radically good)

12 "When I'm Alone" by Nevertheless

11. "Castles in the Air" by Don McLean

10. "Gira Con Me" by Josh Groban

9. "Wild Horses" by Natasha Bedingfield

8. "Mother's Little Helper" by the Kinks

7. "Iris" by Goo Goo Dolls

6. "Taylor the Latte Boy" by Kristen Chenoweth (very popular and
overdone a year or two ago, but I still love it)

5. "Amazed" by Lonestar

4. "American Tune" by Paul Simon (I actually like theConcert in
Central Park version that he performs with Garfunkel best)

3. "100 Years" by Five for Fighting (great song even if it was used
for an insurance commercial)

2. "Blackbird" by the Beatles

1. "House at Pooh Corner" or "Return to Pooh Corner" by Kenny Loggins
(my mom and dad sing it better IMO)

Post your own list in the comments section if you're so inspired.

The Ativan is working, but I'm not knocked out yet, so Chairman Mao is taking me to his house to spend what's left of the night in his guest room or in the extra bed in his daughter's room, depending upon how much stuff his wife has piled on the bed in the guest room because she's in the midst of going through stuff to donate to a charity yard sale. He's driving me to the airport in the morning before work.

Guten Nacht!

Alexis

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Eye of the M************ Tiger

I won the damn event! I haven't come down yet. Pardon my insanity. It's temporary, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

p. S. hEADING WAS EDITED AT MOM'S INSISTENCE.

White Girls Can't Jump? Maybe Not, but Some of Us CAN Hurdle!

Note: I wrote about last night as though nothing yet had happened at the track meet. My parents encourage me to take such steps to preserve anonymity, my location, and other security measures. I'm fairly anonymous here, but I worry about some of the things about which my parents worry, and I'm willing tp accommodate them by occasionally leading any potention evil-doers in the wrong direction.


Most white girls aren't exactly kangaroos. On the other hand, some of us can hurdle. My track coach and I have been arguing over the etymology of it for four years. I say I jump over hurdles. He says one does not jump over hurdles, or at least does not if one is employing the proper hurdling techniques. One hurdles over hurdles. Jumping is an entirely different motor skill, to which I usually respond, "Whatever!"

I hurdled yesterday for what I thought might very well have been the final hurdling event of my high school career, and possibly of my athletic career. As it turned out, my high school hurdling career was extended for one more day. I qualified for the finals in my two individual events and in a relay. The relay went nowhere fast, or more precisely, slowly, but considering that it's an honor just to have been extended the opportunity to participate in the state meet, it was far from a waste of time for all of us. I ran the second leg of the relay. I don't have the long legs best suited to anchor the relay, though I can usually gain on the competition in my leg pf the race. I did, but it wasn't enough. We didn't make the finals, although I'm proud to say we were not dead last.

The qualifying rounds were an eye-opening experience. My coach said I probably would've qualified for state finals last year had it not been for the unfortunate [ahem] incident. This year was, then, my novice experience at a state meet. The girls were taller, more muscled, and generally more formidable in appearance than anything for which I had been prepared. I've run against African-American girls before, but not ones that looked like the ones I saw yesterday and today. They greatly resembled skin-covered versions of the muscled bodies minus skin pictured in my dad's copy of Gray's Anatomy. The cauacasian girls I encountered looked different than the caucasian girls I had faced in earlier competitions as well. They were almost universally blonde, Nprdic in appearance, and had legs that seemed to me to be at least the length of my entire height.

A family friend (Kristeen's ne[hew) was a track meet official. Sinc I had only one coach present, and we had six competitors from my high school, he was able to come up with field "coaching" privileges for another person. He let me choose, and I chose my Uncle Scott, who had run track in high school and one year of college.

My primary event, the 300-meter hurdles, did not go well for me in my preliminary run. I got off to a mediocre start and never quite found my mojo. Fortunately for me, others' mojos were even more elusive, so I eked into the finals.

Uncle Scott told me prior to my heat of the preliminaries in the 100-meter hurdles that 100-meter hurdles were and should have been my optimal event all along. He said that the longer-legged and larger-muscles girls needed more time to get their legs in hurdling order than I needed. All I had to do was to go out there and do what I always do, and I'd find my way into the finals. Before the start of the race, the competitors were looking at me as though they were wondering what in the hell I was even doing there.nThey probably thought i was some track coach's child or some compettitor's younger sibling who was allowed onto the track because she was "special." When I finished first in my heat, their looks were even more puzzled.

I had my doctor-precribed controversial "medicine" with ice cream between doses, and slept on it quite well. We reported for the early testing; random drug testing can be done, and I was even randmonly selected once. They officials must have been looking for amphetmines in my system, because any idiot could take one look at me and correctly pronounce that I'm not on steroids. The remainder of my down-time was spent at the hotel and at Kristeen's sister's house. where I played the piano for awhile, which is relaxing to me. I wish I had the opportunity to play the piano before every track or diving competition; I suspect the piano playing heightened my performance.

I had my own cheering section this time, which I've never had. In previous years even my parents didn't make it to my meets. At tonight's final competition, I had watching and cheering for me my brother, my parents, my Aunt Victoria and Uncle Ralph, my cousins Philip and Michael and Michael's girlfriend, my Uncle Ralph's brother, Kristeen and her husband, Kristeen's sister, who is widowed, and her boyfriend, Kristeen's sister's son's girlfriend (whose boyfirend was a meet official), one of Kristeen's sister's boyfriend's sons, another of Kristeen's sisters who is really loud, another one of Kristeen's sisters and her husband, my three relay teammates and the parents of one of them, who decided to stay for tonight's final, one guy who also made it to the final and his parents, my coach, his wife, and my Aunt Jillian and Uncle Scott, who was on the field because he had credentials to be there as my other coach.

It was raining tonight. The school district had a machine that was similar to a Zamboni to clear water off the track after each race. Still, the rains slowed times. which didn't matter all that much except for those who were record seekers, because the conditions were the same for all competitors. I must admit that, after last year's hurdling injury, even though that accident had nothing to do with rain or water, I was nervous about slipping (even by other runners) and resu;ting injuries. It ended up not being a factor. Weather conditions slowed times, but the effect was the same for everyone. I suppose it may have been worse in a practical sense for thos counting on fast times to increase scholarship chances, but c'est la vie. Weather happens.

I was relatively loose for my three-hundred-meter hurdle event. My goal was to npt finish last and to use the race as a warm-up for the 1100-meter event, which was ironic in that it reviously was my premiere event. At that level of competition, the other girls wer simply too tall and/or strong. I managed to finish third. If I had needed to leave the meet right at that point for some reason, i would've left thoroughly happy.

I wasn't so loose for the 100-meter hurdles, but one does not necessarily want to be too loose for that race. It's a fast and furious event. Technique is comtroversial. You're supposed to make it to the first hurdle in eight steps. Most people my size would not be able to do this, but I have gymnastics training to thank for my leg extension. Between hurdles the preferred number of steps is three. Most hurdlers have a definitely preferred lead leg. Gymnastics has caused me to have ambidextrous legs, and I have practiced so that I can lead equally well with either leg. This avoids any shuffling or short-stepping if I for some reason can only manage to reach hurdle two through ten in four steps. It's rarely an issue to the extent that my coach has questioned the efficacy of my leading a hurdle with both legs in practice in order to be equally facile in using either leg as a lead leg. Tonight it came in handy. I had to four-step it to hurdle number ten, and I led with my left leg with ease.

I cannot give enough credit to my past gymnastics coaches, who, in doing just their basic jobs, taught me maximum leg extension. This essentially eliminated any leg length advantage that the taller girls had over me. I'm fast but not as fast as the very speediest girls with longer or more muscled legs, but I can hurdle right along with them. In tonight's case I hurdled ahead of them.

So I am a state champion hurdler. I'm not so petty as to need to compete with my brother's athletic accomplishments, but this probably surpasses any of his achievements thus far. He'll go on to much greater glory as a baseball player. I've probably hurdled my final event. I'll most likely choose diving over hurdling as my college sport, because diving in and of itself is more fun and more exhilarating. Hurdling is fun when I win. Diving is fun just for the sake of diving. I haven't made my final choice yet, but I'm leaning toward diving.

The tour guide told me about club sports at the university, where one competes against others from the university and even occasionally from other unniversities, but it's take much less seriously. I may consider hurdling in that capacity. Or I may do it as an official sport. It could even depend upon which coach I like better. Since I'm a walk-on in either sport, both of which are spring sports, I have time to make up my mind.

For tonight I'm resting on my laurels and being happy that for at least once in my life, I did the very best I could possibly have done. I will sleep well in my hotel bed. i should already be asleep, but I'm sitting on the bathroom of Scott and Jillian's hotel room, and no one is hassling me about typing here.

This experience, just like all other good and bad experience in my life, will fade, but I'll always have the memory upon which to call when I need to remind myself that I am not mediocre at best.

p. S. I was remiss in failing to include that Dr. Jeff, AKA Chairman Mao, dragged his wife and daughter a distance that took longer than three-and-one-half hours just to see me compete in the finals last night. His presence there meant a great deal to me. I don't know how I could have failed to include their family with the remainder of my cheering section. Thanks, Chairman!