Saturday, October 25, 2008

A win for simply failing to self-destruct.

I think this is a remarkably fitting photo.

At approximately 10:30pm last night, in the midst of gearing up for what we knew would likely be an all-nighter, I made a devastating discovery. Despite the fact that the local newspaper sent us a confirmation with all the correct info, and had charged us for the carefully constructed and strategically planned ad that was the backbone of our plans, they did not run it. In this town there is a veritable subculture of professional yardsailors, who scour the ads every week and fight it out early in order to snap up the best bargains, which are then turned around at the giant flealand complex out by the highway. We had been counting on this good exposure, and had based a lot of our pricing and how we ran the sale around the idea of it being heavily advertised. And here we sat, too far in to turn back, staring down this all nighter which suddenly felt pointless. But the signs were posted at the ends of the streets, and the ad had been blasted in the wku listerv and [the still-in-popular-infancy] craigslist...we had no choice but to press on, knowing that we were, officially, screwed.
As I went to bed at 6:10am, knowing that I had only exactly enough time to get everything done, I felt unrelenting relief sinking into the bed, and a quiet devastation at both the strict 7:40 wake up time, and the fact that this day we had been working towards for months and the exhaustion I was about to face were suddenly meaningless.
Waking up...well, at least i slept for a full 90 minute cycle and woke up, which ultimately really helped, but that first 10 or 15 minutes was one of the worst waking up experiences I've was like suddenly the last 15 and a half months had finally caught up with me, and my "mom-ness" and not being a college kid anymore were landing square on my head. and it was made of concrete. and iron. on my chest. with sand all over getting in my eyes and mouth.
Amazingly, though, I handled the sleeplessness surprisingly well, and for most of the day I didn't even really notice or think about it. And though I had to live through the devastation again in the morning when our start time came and went with nary a customer, [the pros usually show up early in hopes of beating each other out] and I had to break the news to the rest of the family, but I found a project to occupy myself with that ended up helping me feel better and also somewhat salvaging the day and our work.
I used to be a company member at Theater in the Open, a great little outfit in residence at the Maudslay state park in Newburyport, MA. All but their winter show is done outdoors in the park, and they often include a lot of Bread and Puppet -esque pageantry. I learned a lot from them, and my heart is still very much with them, (and in fact it was there that I began my study of Jerzy Grotowski's work, which I would continue and expand during my time at ETW). Anyway, the point being that I default to that sort of grittily-magical aesthetic, and as such, I happened to have a giant puppet hanging around, a relic from a truly terrible piece of theater I created during my second year at ETW. So, I figured, might as well give her a breath of the freedom and fresh air I expect such puppets to be meant for.
I found some scrap wood and made her a frame...due to time constraints, it was pretty shoddy, just a basic tripod that kind of made it look like she was walking..and falling over backwards. It felt really, really good to be working with my hands like that, out in the slightly crisp air.  And it ended up being pretty effective, to boot.  Within minutes, we had three cars stop. After a while, we hit a dry spell, and there were no customers. I went around to the front of the house, and she had fallen over! So, I picked her up, and BOOM, another rush of customers! And then a dry spell. Sure enough, she was down. And again, and again...The problem was that the wind was pretty blustery, and was going at just the right angle to catch her and lift her away. James and I tried several increasingly involved methods of securing her in place, ultimately digging holes in the ground for the legs of the tripod, then using big rocks from the dry riverbed to bolster them, and ultimately tying the frame down with some pretty big, ominous-looking stakes.

Anyway, my exhaustion is making me wander and lose track of what I'm trying to write...

The sale went surprisingly well for a sale at the end of october, not near any paydays, in the driveway behind the house...And really, we all ended up having a lot of fun. Cadence LOVED it...and what's not to love? Everyone in the family was hanging out,  OUTSIDE [her favorite place] all day, the puppy and kitty were going in and out, there were lots of interesting things to play with and explore, there were new people to meet, and there was music! Dad has decided to sell off a lot of the instruments he's accumulated through the years, and having them all out and displayed lead to a lot of really fun jam sessions. (I rediscovered my love for the hammer dulcimer which I really hope no one buys.)  And razor scooters zooming around, and the trampoline, and cookies and tea...

It was actually a really fun day. Not necessarily the most lucrative, but definitely a good day for everyone. We figure, since we have already done all the work now, we might as well try again next week. On monday we'll begin an advertising campaign, and come saturday, we'll be able to just pull our still-organized shelves out again, and hopefully our work will pay off in the end.  So, for a day that could easily have just totally imploded and left us cold, angry, arguing and customerless, I'd say it was a rioting success.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Well, it's a funny thing. I'm a lot less sure now about whether I want to go to law school or not. Feeling more like not, honestly. But I just got my LSAT score... 172! Not bad, although I know I could've done better. But good enough, I guess. If I'm just taking it to prove to myself that I can do well, then that's not too shabby. Anyway, I must be getting back to pricing for tomorrow's yard sale.


As an addendum to my last post, here's one more song...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get On The Bus!!

Today was a bit of a crazy day here in Bowling Green, with reports of armed men entering the south campus of WKU this morning followed by shots fired on the main campus, resulting in an evacuation of the former and a lockdown of the latter...thankfully the worst injury reported was a broken arm suffered by a good samaritan trying to break up the fight, but it was pretty unnerving to be getting phone calls from my dad from inside the school, where he, some of his faculty, and their students were waiting to get word beyond "shots fired, take cover." He's home now, and said it was rather awkwardly boring, just waiting around on high alert, getting nothing done...waste of a day, but at least everyone is safe, and that is, ultimately, the most important thing.
But, this whole thing makes the event I was going to post about anyway seem all the more welcome.

As we've alluded to in the past, one of the great things we've gained by moving here is the opportunity for James to explore new avenues in the musical realm, and last night marked a milestone along that path. James has joined my dad's band, and last night was their first concert!  Dad has dubbed him the "fiddolin" player, and they seem to have a lot of fun, they both come home satisfied after rehearsals, which I can't see as a bad thing.  The rest of us (the girls, haha, since Dad and James are the only boys in our six-person, seven-critter household) were very excited to finally get to hear them play together.

The concert conditions were less than ideal, they were doing this particular gig, entitled "Get On The Bus!," as a favor for some students doing a senior seminar on political activism, (the song list was comprised of tunes composed about or during times of political unrest of one kind or another) and the kids just didn't know the ins and outs of the performance world...the late evening, outdoor concert was hampered a bit by the quickly setting sun, which left things cold, and well, dark, since the lights didn't come on until the one point, they were playing in pitch darkness!  But they handled it very gracefully, and we were proud of them.  And, now I'd like to share a snippit of it all with you!  Below is just one of the songs, written by John Prine...I'll probably have some more up on youtube later, but for now here's something to whet your appetites.  :-)

Vocals/Guitar - Scott Stroot (dad!)
Vocals/Keyboard - Forest Halford
Vocals - Lisa Van Wye
Bass  - Frank Lawrence
Fiddolin - James Yu

m 6n6

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Returning to the Concrete Nest

Hello readers!

Kate and I have some fun news: we will be visiting the New York metropolitan area in about a month. We'll be coming up to spend Thanksgiving with my family in CT - about 10 days - and we'll be taking time out of the trip to come into the city. We're flying in on 11/22, and going back on 12/1.

So, we'd like you to do us a favor. Let us know if you're going to be around for those dates. What we're thinking about doing is spending time in the city at the beginning and end of our trip. On that note, is there anyone who'd be up for letting a couple of happy-go-lucky Southern tourists and their soon-to-be-16-month-old cute monster (see below) crash at their place? Perhaps the most ideal situation would be someone who lives somewhere close-ish to JFK?

In any event, we're excited to be coming back and seeing everyone. Plus, we're compiling a list of places we want to eat!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Decisions, decisions.


I'd like to start off by thanking everyone for their good wishes with my LSAT last (hohoho, anagram!) Saturday. I'm of mixed feelings as to how I did, and it's taken me a while to get to a point where I can really talk about it. This is going to take a little while, and I've got more interesting (at least, I find it more interesting) stuff to talk about later in the post.


I got through the logical reasoning sections feeling pretty confident, and I think I did well on the reading comprehension. However, on the logic games, I made a stupid mistake on one of the games - and hadn't given myself enough time to go back and correct the error when I realized what I'd done. So, in other words, I'm pretty sure I did well, except that I may have gotten as much as a full game's worth of questions wrong.

In the grand scheme of things, it could've been a lot worse, and I probably did better than a lot of people (although, just wait and see me tanking and getting a 120 just for typing that). Nevertheless, my expectations and - perhaps more to the point - what I think I'm capable of is pretty high and it was disappointing verging on heartbreaking when I realized that F>G when I had written G>F with only about 90 seconds left to finish the section. This when I haven't made a serious error on a logic game in over a week of daily tests. So, that really sucked, but I think I'm doing an okay job of not beating myself up. I've also more or less decided that if I score under a 170, I'm going to retake the test in December.

I feel a little weird setting my bar so high, and admitting that I'd be disappointed with a score below 170 (honestly, I think I'm going to feel a little down with even something under 175). Maybe it's an Asian thing. Whatever. I just want to do as well as I know I can - before I started prepping, that number was anywhere between 150 and 170, but now that I've put in the time and work I know I can do so much better and I'm pissed at myself for screwing it up with something dumb. I'm tempted to say it puts all that preparation to waste, but I know that's not the case, because if I hadn't done the work, I would've made a stupid mistake and done poorly on the rest of it.

What I'm designating this post as actually being about

So, over the last several months my life - and more importantly I - have undergone many change: I've gone from being gainfully employed to employmently-challenged; according to Wii Fit, I've gained around 10 lbs; on a possibly related note, I'm now a resident of Kentucky; I can now do cartwheels!; I'm being driven further and further into madness by a very old, very small Yorkshire Terrier who I just gave an obscene amount of cheese to; I am no longer the father of a little baby but rather an amazing little lady (see Kate's beautiful post for more elaboration); I think I may be a better cook; I've started playing violin again; and I am tanner as demonstrated by this crude graphic I've put together:

Most importantly, though, I can honestly say that I am so much happier. Of only slightly less import, is a rather obvious omission to my excessively long sentence: the HAIR.

Thus, we finally come to why I started writing this post in the first place. Much to my surprise, I have grown a rather prodigious amount of hair on my head, and I'm not really sure what to do with it... Well, I should clarify. For the stuff on the top of my head, I have a vague idea strongly supported by Ben, Leonard and Erik.

...Which leaves me with the facial hair. Frankly, I had serious doubts that I was physically capable of producing a beard such as the one I find on my face, and I'm still getting used to it. As a result of my lack of faith, I never took the time to learn anything about the care and grooming of such things, and that is why I find myself in my current predicament. As you can see below, my beard is decidedly unsymmetrical and has a tendency to flow to the right.

The way I see it, if I'm going to go with the facial hair, I'd like to do it right. So, what should and what can I do about this? Do I just let it grow out and hope it sorts itself out? Kate and her family have made mention of some sort of beard comb... do I acquire one and start brushing it until it comes out straight? If you're reading this, I am seeking your advice. Please share your wisdom.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New Adventures In Growing Up. (Dear Cadence, Month 15)

In the delivery room; our first family photo

Dear Cadence,

Cadence and Mama less than 1 day

I am writing this to you for the last day of your fifteenth month. Why this day is significant brings with it so many memories I will never be able to put them all down. I first got the idea of writing to you at the end of each month back when you were only three months old, and already I was afraid that I was irreparably behind.

Cadence at less than 1 week

Cadence at 1 month

Cadence at 2 months

Cadence at 3 months

There are a lot of intricacies to the human psyche and relations that I know you will become all to familiar with as you get older, and sometimes we can get mired in issues we can't even define. This past year has been a rough one for me, and for your father, and much to my shock and dismay I watched as month after month went by and each letter I began sat unfinished, a testament to the breached state of my life. You, my lady, were my earth that year. The steady, powerful, unstoppable, life giving force of nature that knocked loose every false mask I had ever put in place to hide from the inaccuracies in what I thought my life to be. I won't lie: it was awful. Unbelievably painful. Horrid. But, you know what else it was? Quite simply, quite truthfully put, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Cadence at 4 months

When you were born, - no, even before you were born, really, it began when you began seemingly so long ago now - you brought with you the gift of true self-confidence. I had believed, in years past, that I possessed the self-confidence any strong independent woman of this age needs, but you showed me that what I believed I had was a well meant mask. You gave me a true power. Because I knew, beyond any possible, even theoretical doubt, and with my whole being, that you were unspeakably wonderful, amazing, beautiful, and so, incredibly, worth everything. I finally understood that this must mean that I am worth it, too. Because, if I'm not, if I'm worth nothing, then how the hell could you believe me when I tell you that you are? If I was nothing, then 'nothing' would be telling you that you were worth it, you would have come from 'nothing', you would have 'nothing' to help you along this journey that is life. And since your worth and wonder wasn't even a question, that must mean that I am worth it, too.

Cadence at 5 months

That gift made me open my eyes. Suddenly, I wasn't willing to put up with injustices I had allowed close to my heart, turned a blind eye to. Suddenly, I was fighting for the respect I had deserved all along but never felt entitled to. Suddenly, I tore down the masks I'd hung over those holes, and found myself standing in a ruin. It was devastating and freeing and terrifying and angering to find what I had been living in...and the thought of moving on, building new, strong, solid walls was daunting at best, but I had you, and your wonderful gift, and thus I knew that, this time, I was up to the task.

Cadence at 6 months

I won't go into too much about how your father was affected, since that is his journey to share with you on his own time, but I will say that I know that you are the reason he is who he is today. And let me say, beyond any doubt, he is a wonderful person, who had been on a dangerously troubled path before your gift hit our worlds like a ton of golden bricks. He went from being a father figure like a silhouette in a doorway, to being your Baba.

Cadence at 7 months

So here we are today, a year after my first attempt at reaching out to you, the foundation of our new lives still damp but set, able to breathe in a way I never could before, and my sudden inspiration to write fueled by growth I knew would come but could never have fully imagined.

Cadence at 8 months

You, Cadence, are a paradigm shift I so needed and so deeply love. You are my greatest work of art, the best thing I have ever created or experienced, and yet there is a spirit in you that I know I didn't fabricate, you brought the spark of life to the table all on your own, and you do it wonderfully, with poise, grace, and a perfectly mischievous grin.

Cadence at 9 months

Now, I sit here writing to the tune of you singing gleefully from the other room as Baba shows you again how to write your name, and I know that you are a baby no more.

Cadence at 10 months

I'm not sure when that happened exactly, but it is pretty undeniable. Was it when, at 9 months, you figured out how to walk? Was it when, at 12 months, we switched you to your big girl bed?Was it when, at 13 months, you started dancing in circles for fun? Was it when, at 14 months, you used the toilet for the first (and second...) time? Was it when you learned how to use simple sign language in place of words just a little too complicated to sound out? Was it when you started playing robin hood to the dogs, taking food to sneak to them in the solitude of the other room? Was it when you realized the mouth shape for the word "out", and found that you didn't even have to voice it to get your point across? When you learned how to climb? When I finally gave in and pulled all the baby food from the cupboard, to be donated to charity? When your teeth came in and those gummy baby smiles turned into big toothy grins?

Cadence at 11 months

If there was any moment in time when your babyhood ended and you toddled into the world of small child-dom, I'd have to say it was when you discovered that you have control over what you give your attention to. That you could interrupt our activities to demand to go for walks, and could take us by the hand, direct us to the parmesan cheese in the fridge, reject distractions we attempted to catch your attention with, go on kitty-seeking adventures, and create your very own systems of organization.

Cadence at 12 months

Of course, this means that you are prematurely turning into a terrible two, throwing tantrums when our plans don't mesh with your desires, beating down the door if our realities aren't fast enough to compete with your imagination, defying our limits while looking us in the eye.

Cadence at 13 months

But, even as the days get more exhausting, they get more exciting to experience. Getting to see what you will come up with, which patterns have been juiced for all their worth, and which ones will yield a plentiful harvest. Seeing how the effects of what we've done the day, month-and now, even year-before have manifested in your psyche, your perception of your word, your opinions.

Cadence at 14 months

You have more to say, and more intricate, varied, surprisingly poignant ways to say it in than most of the college educated 'adults' I have encountered. You may not have many actual bits of vocabulary to work with just yet, but you certainly don't let that stand in your way, and I am so glad for that. Your ability to problem solve disproves half of the child development experts out there, and your myriad accomplishments have taught me to ignore the books.

Cadence at 15 months

You are amazing, but it isn't because you can build huge towers of blocks or harvest basil from the garden, or even because you can feed the cats on your own or designate a drawer for dog toys and matchbox cars. And it isn't because you're still just as mind bogglingly, brain-meltingly cute as you used to be, either, even though your personality and sweet nature just compound it.

Rather, it's the spirit that underlies all of that, the curious, willing, loving, cautious, thoughtful, witty, goofy, stubborn...I could go on and on here and never be able to peg it down, it's the soul of you, the part of you that makes you, you...the part of you that didn't diminish when your tough-as-nails, new york city bravery failed you at the children's theater, leaving you with a lasting fear of the dark that makes you cautious to venture out under the stars.

The part of you that is ever present through your most glowing giggles and your deepest tantrums. The part of you that loves curried spinach and chocolate in nearly equal measure. The part of you that makes you squeal at cute things and give me incredulous looks when I do something silly.

Hey Cadence - guess what?


Love Always,

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Time of Reckoning Nears

Well, my big day is coming up. Which big day, you may ask? The LSATs of course! After having spent the last month studying almost every day, and having spent most of May studying as well, I am gearing up to put myself to the test. I've set myself pretty high expectations, having scored 3 or 4 179s, and a few 178's, in my practice tests - but that 180 has still managed to elude me. But I figure that just means I have room to improve tomorrow morning. In some ways, my current status as one of the employment-challenged, has been a boon for getting ready for this test since I've had the luxury to spend my mornings taking practice tests around the same time I would actually be taking it. Anyway, it's almost time for my game face. >:-(

Accidental Accomplishment

Yesterday, my mom made a passing comment about wanting chocolate cake.  Concurrently,  I decided to take a look around for a new recipe.  I found one that piqued my interest, and almost absent mindedly printed it out.  Fast forward to today, when, as I chased Cadence around the house keeping one ear on the vice presidential debate, I somehow thought it would be a prefect time to try it out.

Because we have a household of 6, food goes very quickly around here.  To fix this, we've taken to doubling any recipe we make.  We've been cooking a lot, -and were this a food blog, we would have had so much fodder that we might actually have followers that don't know us directly-and so far this has served us very well.  But, dear readers, this is not merely an issue of a larger pot.  This is a cake.  A layer cake.  Which means there will be two.  Layer cakes.  That's a lot of cake pans. 

So, as Palin and Biden alternately angered, relieved, and baffled me, and as Cadence zoomed around my legs, I undertook one of the oddest cake batters I've ever faced.  The result was the consistency of water, and I was convinced that I'd totally screwed the whole thing up, but as time wore on and our poor oven tug-tug-tugged along filled to the brim with cake pans, it turned to a nice cakey black sponge.  mmmmm.  

While they cooled, I sent James and Cadence to bed and began work on the frosting.  Wow, that's a lot of butter, I thought.  followed, sometime after, by the stupidly stunning realization that this was not your ordinary home recipe. (something about double boiling chopped chocolate should have tipped me off, I suppose...did I mention all the above stuff about how I never reallly looked at the recipe?  yeah, about that...) I glanced at my recipe once more and noticed a line of small text that had been forgotten by the formatting and got lumped into a large paragraph instead of being the heading it was meant to be.  Evidently I had decided to undertake the creation of two chocolate buttercream layer cakes in the midst of the chaos of my usual life, smack in the middle of bedtime.  Who's paying attention, huh?

Amazingly, this isn't a disaster story, rather, I am writing this from a feeling of quiet entire family (critters included) is asleep, but I just finished my ill advised cakes and they both came out beautifully.  Hooray for accidental accomplishments!  I didn't really mean to put myself up to this challenge, but I feel very gratified for having completed it without a single major disaster, and I dare say it all worked out just as it should have.
Here's a sloppy and can-I-go-to-bed-yet photo of one of my cakes.  (My shadow got in the way of the other one.  It looks just like this, but it's square.)

That's all for tonight, folks.  For now, I'm going to take my tired and triumphant little butt to join my husband in that nice warm bed.