Monday, July 31, 2006

One Day At A Time

Yes, I am once again in post-breakup mode. And even though it’s hard, I think I have to admit that this breakup has actually been going on for the past six months. Anyway…

Although I was extremely tempted (after a heartbreaking phone conversation) to just stay home alone and wallow in my misery Friday night, I allowed Tracy and Eric to drag me out on the town. Trying not to let the tears constantly welling up in my eyes smear my makeup, I smiled through the pain and headed to the Capitol Hill Block Party, a.k.a. FREAK SHOW. It never ceases to amaze me what people are willing to strut around wearing in public. I’m not going to bother going into detail, because everyone can probably imagine what I saw… Let’s just title it “Drunk Emos on Parade.”

As for me, after paying a $12 cover charge, I followed Tracy and Eric through the crowd of black hair, piercings and skin-tight pants toward the Wild Rose. Tracy and I indulged ourselves in a couple Lemon Drops, and I tried desperately to keep my trembling hands from spilling the entire sticky thing all over myself. (I tend to shake when I’m really upset). I followed up the martini with an extremely strong vodka/diet, and found that the alcohol was beginning to calm me down. Another beer and I began to feel numb and forget how miserable I was, and the person who caused it. Almost, anyway.

We watched a pretty rad band perform near the beer garden, which inspired me and Tracy to start plans of our own all-girl band – she will be the lead singer, I will play keyboard. Auditions for a guitarist, bassist and drummer coming soon… Stay tuned for details. At this point I was feeling too tipsy to really care about much of anything, so I followed Tracy and Eric back to the car and we headed to a club in So-Do where PowerMan 5000 was playing. I ordered another well drink and stood in the upstairs balcony making a complete fool of myself dancing and attempting to sing along with the band. Whatever, I had a great time, and the lead singer was adorably cute.

After hanging out in the VIP lounge for a while, I began to come down from my beer-induced haze. I looked at the blank screen of my cell phone, which stared mockingly back at me: No Missed Calls. It suddenly became vividly clear that I would be going home alone. And that he wouldn't be calling me to say goodnight. As I stumbled to the car, it was hard to stop my lower lip from trembling. Trizzle and Bubba Poo tried to keep my spirits up, and although there was really nothing they could say to make things better, I was still reminded how lucky I am to have such amazing friends.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling incredibly sick, and I wasn’t sure how much of it was due to my hangover, and how much to the fact that he hadn’t called. I tend to react to emotional trauma very physically, so the rolling of my stomach could in fact be a symptom of my broken heart, and not the sampler platter of alcohol I had consumed the night before. As the reality of my loss continued to become more vivid, I gave up and allowed myself to sink into depression. I mean a girl has a right to grieve. I am effectively in the process of losing my best friend in the world, and it hurts. I might as well admit it and let the pain just consume me for a while…

Lucky for me, my mom arrived on Sunday afternoon and will be staying with me for the next two weeks. She’s a teacher and is taking a class in Seattle. Hopefully she will be able to distract me and help me get through this somehow. That’s what Mommies are for, right? To kiss it and make it better when you fall down. Let’s hope so…

This morning I woke up to day three of no contact. Each day I wake up and realize he didn’t call the night before is more painful than the last. I am torn in two. One half of me wants him to call, because I so desperately want to know that he misses me, that he is as miserable as I am. But my more rational half knows that I need to move on, and that if he calls I run the risk of being pulling back into the pattern where I was unhappy for so long. But I miss him – I miss my friend. I feel empty and lonely. But the truth of the situation is that I felt this way before. I always missed him, and I always felt alone, even when we were in constant contact. He was able to keep me interested – keep me hoping – with his constant phone calls, emails and text messages. With his promises that soon things would be different. But even still, I missed him. I longed for his kisses, to be held and cuddled. I wanted him to miss me too, for him to want to be with me.

Rejection is something I know all too well. And it’s hard for me not to blame myself, to wonder what I could have done differently, why I wasn’t enough. I know it’s not my fault, but it still hurts, and I still can’t help constantly analyzing the situation, wondering if I had only said this, or done that, if I could have made him love me. As I’m typing this I realize how sad and pathetic it sounds.

Anyway, at this point I’m just trying to get through one day at a time with as much grace and dignity as possible. My heart is shattered into a million little pieces, and as each day passes, I try to glue them back together again. The great thing about time is that it can heal anything. The hardest part is waiting for it to pass. The minutes feel like hours, the hours feel like days. I wish I could fast-forward to tomorrow, next week, next year.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Give Me A Brake!

After being almost run over while walking to lunch today with my friend Zoe, I was reminded of all the idiotic things people do on the road, either as pedestrians, drivers, or bikers. Here are my top five annoyances, in no particular order…

People who do not understand the “Do Not Block Intersection” rule
OK, this actually may qualify as my top aggravation of all time. Now as for me, I remember going through Driver’s Ed, even though at this point it was almost 10 years ago. And I distinctly remember some of the cardinal rules: (a) never cross a double-yellow line, (b) the pedestrian always has the right of way, and (c) NEVER enter an intersection unless you have room to get all the way across! So what the hell are these people thinking, when in rush hour traffic, they try to zoom through an intersection with a yellow light, only to get halfway across? Then they sit there, blocking multiple lanes of traffic from moving, while pretending not to notice the screeching horns and bumpers threatening to bash into them. I saw one woman sit blocking two lanes of traffic in the middle of an intersection at the corner of 5th and Mercer while she calmly applied mascara. Fucking oblivious retard. I wish they would enforce that $100 fine thing.

Bikers, in general
Of course, I am all for saving the environment, and reducing gasoline consumption is one way to go about it. I even feel like I am helping in my own small way by carpooling to work every morning, therefore cutting my usage of fossil fuels roughly in half. So I agree – biking to work is a great way to save the earth. HOWEVER, I do not feel that other drivers should have to pay the price by being forced to risk their own lives.
Bicyclists act like they own the road. Although they are incapable of obeying the speed limit, bikers insist on riding with the flow of traffic. They won’t move to the sidewalk, or even remotely toward the side of the lane, so cars are required to arc around them, creating a high likelihood for fender benders. Bicycles are also known to zig and zag up through the cars lined up at a stoplight, and unless careful attention is paid, drivers are likely to hit one as it darts across a lane as the light turns green. Bicyclists also seem to be of the opinion that even if a light is red, they are not required to stop, as long as there is no traffic coming from the other direction. However, if a motor vehicle crossed through a red-lighted intersection, that driver would be sure to get a ticket. All of this is total bullshit, in my opinion. If bicycles expect to reap the benefits of the open road, they should be required to obey ALL traffic laws, including the speed limit. If you can’t make it up to 35 mph, get on the damn sidewalk.

The drive-by pickup
Oh God, this one drives me completely insane. I can't count how many times I have been stopped at a light while desperately trying to ignore some idiot guy next to me who is waving his arms, honking his horn and smiling a cheesy smile, all in an attempt to get me to roll down my window so he can shout, “Hey hottie, what’s your number?” Are you kidding me? Is this guy high or something? Not only would I never give my phone number to a perfect stranger, but I especially wouldn’t give it to someone stalking me from another vehicle!
Last summer I was almost run off the road by some guy attempting to pick up on me. I almost had to call the police. Another time when I was in high school, a few girlfriends and I were driving down a main drag in my hometown. Much to my annoyance, the girls in the back had attracted the attention of a car full of boys in the lane to the right. No one but me noticed that we were pulling up to an intersection. Fortunately for me, our car was turning left, and the left-turn arrow was green. Unfortunately for the car full of guys staring and waving like mentally challenged children, the light in their lane was red. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes as their car smashed directly into a minivan stopped at the light. I will never forget the looks on those guy’s faces after the whiplash subsided. Since no one was hurt, we naturally couldn’t help but laugh hysterically.
Traveling to the Gorge this past weekend was an adventure in itself, as far as drive-by pickup attempts are concerned. We were hit on by everyone from cute guys in SUV’s also headed to the concert, hicks in pickup trucks with farmer tans, to rich boys in sports cars – and this last group of idiots actually had a sign made up with their phone number to hold against the window! The desperation was really quite sad. I don’t know what it will take guys to learn that you are NEVER going to pick someone up while driving your car. We're always going to ignore your sad attempts at 60-mile-per-hour communication. Unless of course we catch you picking your nose, and then count on us to point and laugh.

OK, here we go. Does this category really even warrant an explanation? If you’re going to visit Seattle and don’t have a clue in hell how to navigate the roads of an inner city, take a freaking cab! Better yet, get on the Duck Tour so the locals have something else to point and laugh at.
Every night on my way home from work I have to deal with tourists, because I am forced to drive right smack dab through the middle of the Seattle Center, the mother ship of Seattle tourist destinations. And let me tell you, I’m about at my wits end. Tourists in their huge soccer mom Suburbans cross back and forth between lanes in the middle of gridlock traffic as if it’s no big deal. “I think we need to be in this lane.” “No, it’s the other lane.” “But the Space Needle is to our right.” “But the parking lots are to our left.” HONK! HONK! Get the eff out of my way, I have a JOB and I WORKED all day, I just want to get home! If you don’t know where you’re going, pull over and look at a map, don’t sit there blocking traffic trying to decide which lane you need to be in to get to Pike Place Market. Get the hell outta my way!

Cars parked in the “No Parking after 6 p.m.” lanes
OK really, there is nothing more aggravating than zooming along toward your destination, when BAM, you almost rear-end a parked car in the right-hand lane. These zones come out of nowhere, and no one seems to understand the rules. Lucky for me, the ones around The Seattle Times are fairly well policed, and if you choose to take advantage of the free street parking during the day, you better remember to move your car at 6, because at 6:01 it’s already being hooked up to the tow truck.
However, the rules don’t seem to be as strict in other parts of town, and I can’t tell you how many times one single car has jammed up traffic for several blocks, causing rush hour traffic to death-merge into a single lane in order to avoid a single car illegally parked in a “Move Your Car Before This Time” zone. Many people are so irritated by this fiasco that they will cross the double-yellow line and risk a head-on collision in their rush to swoop around the offending vehicle. Sometimes I feel like sideswiping one of them on purpose.

Miscellaneous Rants
  • Cars that do not stop for pedestrians waiting at clearly marked crosswalks, just because there is no traffic light (for example, at the top of Queen Anne Avenue North).
  • People who think that 35 miles per hour is an acceptable speed at which to merge onto the interstate.
  • Cars that go only 60 miles per hour in the fast lane.
  • People who don’t pull their car up to the furthest pump at the gas station.
  • People who talk with hands-free devices in their car, and effectively just look insane, ranting to themselves while driving (actually, I find this kind of entertaining).
  • People too busy talking on their cell phones to notice that the light has turned green (or that an ambulance is coming up behind them).
  • Large SUV’s that park in the compact parking spaces.
    Motorcycles that zoom around you at 130 miles per hour on the freeway (this really freaks me out).
  • People who zoom past a line of cars patiently waiting, and then try to nonchalantly merge into the line (come on, would you just cut in line like that if you were say, at a bank?)
  • Cabs that think they can just stop and hang out in the middle of traffic, waiting for the old lady in the back to count out exact change.
  • And last but not least: Dirty, rude, inconsiderate people who have the audacity to throw trash out of their car windows.

Someone help me, I think I am developing a case of serious road rage.

Monday, July 24, 2006


After a frantic visit to the chiropractor on Friday after work, in an attempt to fix my incredibly sore back (see my previous blog for more info), I went to bed jittery with excitement. Pearl Jam baby!!! My alarm went off Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m., and the screeching from my clock radio didn't even bother me as I jumped out of bed to check the weather report. Partly cloudy, 106 degrees. Just as I suspected.

I showered, threw on shorts and a tank top, dried my hair (a pretty miserable experience, considering it was already about 85 degrees in my apartment), and began to pack the necessities: Swimsuit, sunscreen, jeans, sweatshirt, a couple skirts and tank tops, beach towel -- vodka, mixers, fruit, bagels, granola bars, and an entire case of frozen water bottles. Lacey arrived a little while later to help me pack up the car. I double-checked for the essentials: toothbrush, BC, cash, ID, and most importantly, my TICKET, which has been taped to my fridge for the past couple months.

We arrived at Jeanna's house promptly at 10 a.m., right on schedule. Kristen arrived soon after, and the four of us were on our way. ALMOST. Always the responsible one, I checked to make sure everyone had her ticket. Nope. Kristen had forgotten hers at her house on the Eastside, so we detoured before finally heading toward the mountains. On our way to the Gorge we met up with four more cars full of friends, and together caravanned to the campground.

At the gate, we were presented with a pretty lame dilemma: we were required to pay for TWO nights of camping, even though we were only camping overnight. Apparently the second night's fee would be refunded on our way out the next morning. We managed to scrape together $80 between the four of us, which unfortunately left us with zero cash. Great. We chose a campsite conveniently located near a garbage can and port-a-potties. (But obviously not TOO close!) We quickly set up our tents in the sweltering heat and mixed some drinks. Then there was nothing left to do but sit and wait. And drink. And smoke. And generally party like rock stars. The sweltering heat was miserable -- ice in drinks melted within five minutes. We were sweaty and sticky. The only thing to do was alternate between drinking vodka/diets and guzzling down water bottles.

Needless to say, we were all pretty tipsy by the time we decided to head to the concert. We had hiked about half way there when Lacey realized she had lost her ticket. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! The combination of heat, alcohol, and trudging through the grass was too much for me, so I sat down and waited for her to run back and find it. Luckily, she had printed out an extra copy and was back in no time, panting and covered in sweat from her sprint back to the campsite. We continued toward the concert gates until SMACK, we literally hit a wall of people and there we stopped. I felt way too much like those thousands of people who were crammed into train cars in 100-degree heat before being taken to concentration camps during the Holocaust. (Have you seen Schindler's List?)

FINALLY, we made it to the gate. Again, another roadblock: blankets/towels were not allowed into the concert, and we had brought one of each. More than a little pissed off, and armed with liquid courage, I tied the towel around myself as a "skirt," stuffed the blanket into my backpack, and headed through the gate. "You'll need to hang that on the fence, you can't bring it in," a gate-Nazi informed me. "OK, sure!" I replied, before strolling past the fence and into the concert, towel still securely around my waist. Whatever. Did they expect me to just sit on the grass? Funny that they spent so much time policing my towel that they failed to search my bag and find the fifth of vodka I had in there. Ha. Suckas!

We settled down to wait for "An Evening with Pearl Jam" to begin. I can't describe the concert to you in any other way but EUPHORIC. Pearl Jam is without a doubt one of the top five bands of all time! We stood up the entire time, screaming, clapping, singing, and generally trying to get Eddie Vedder to notice each one of us personally. (Yes, I realize we were at the very top of the hill and probably looked like tiny little ants to him). Quick concert recap: Although the band jammed for a little over three hours, I just plain felt I didn't get enough. Eddie didn't talk much to the crowd, and only played two songs off the new album, not including Track 12, "Come Back," which I really wanted to hear. However, they did play most of their old popular stuff, which is always amazing to hear live.

After two encores, we finally admitted that the concert was over. However, we weren't in a huge hurry to join the mass exodus of people headed back toward tent city, so we hung out on the hill and finished off the last of the vodka. Jeanna also decided it would be a fantastic idea to roll down the hill, now that it was clear of concert-goers, so we proceeded to tumble through the grass (and garbage) laughing hysterically all the way. I barely managed to control the vomit that threatened to spew from my mouth as I dizzily stood up and hiked back to the top. On our way out, Jeanna grabbed a PJ t-shirt and we trekked back to camp. I hung out for about an hour, and then crawled into my tent to pass out, already feeling a hangover coming on.

A couple hours later, Jeanna popped her head in. "Hey G, what's up?" I asked. Another face appeared next to her's. Jeanna made the introductions: "This is Prez. He's pretty cute! You're pretty cute, aren't ya Prez? Hey, do you guys have Prez's flashlight?" Obviously we did not, seeing as we had just met Prez, so off they went. I woke about an hour later as the sun started to come up. Looking out of the tent, I noticed Larisa crawling on her hands and knees to the backside of her tent. I don't think she felt very well, yuck. Jeanna stumbled past. Talk about a rock star, she was STILL drinking, and had not gone to bed at all.

I dug into the cooler for some water and fruit, ignoring Jeanna's insistence that beer would be a much better choice. As the sun continued its climb, people began groaning and crawling out of their tents, which were quickly becoming mini-saunas. Kristen made it halfway out of her tent before falling asleep again, mid-threshold. As Lacey and I began to pack up the campsite, anxious to get out of the dust bowl before it got any hotter, we noticed that Jeanna had become unusually quiet. Looking down, I saw that she had hit her limit, and passed out. This will forever be my favorite image from the weekend: Jeanna, passed out at 7 a.m. in the middle of the campsite, wearing her Pearl Jam t-shirt, one flip-flop, using a cottage cheese container as a pillow. She was snoring. Priceless.

The campsite was totally wrecked. I've never seen anything more disgusting. Lacey and I made a trip to the port-a-potties and only a couple of them were still in commission, the rest being in major disrepair -- one with vomit running out the door, another with the seat cover ripped off and flung toward someone's tent. After finding one that was reasonably usable, we wandered back toward the car, and I couldn't even count how many people I saw bend over puking their guts out. Thank God I stopped drinking early.

We packed up camp while the drunkards slept, and then forced them into the car. Our original plan had been to stop at Vantage and go swimming on the way home, but the girls in the back seat were in no condition for that. Instead, we went on a wild goose chase for a Denny's, were Kristen claimed they were having a $5.99 breakfast special. Unfortunately, there is no Denny's in Ellensburg, which I still find really unbelievable. How can a town contain every single fast food chain known to man, but not have a Denny's?!? Totally bizarre. Instead, we stopped at a random little diner in Cle Elum.

The girls went into a food coma on the way home, and I rocked out to some more Pearl Jam -- I swear, I just can't get enough! Back in Seattle, the temperature was still soaring, so there was nothing else to do but take a shower and sleep the afternoon away under my ceiling fan. My Pearl Jam weekend was everything I had expected it to be and more.

"And the days, they linger on -- And every night, what I'm waiting for -- Is the real possibility I may meet you in my dream -- I go to sleep -- If I don't fall apart, will the memories stay clear -- So you had to go, and I had to remain here."

Friday, July 21, 2006

No More MySpace

Since it's launch, MySpace's widespread popularity has grown to more than 87 million users. Admittedly, I too have fallen victim to the "black hole."

Yesterday I received some disturbing news over my work email: "Effective Friday, July 21, we will begin restricting access to" Employees will now be BLOCKED from using MySpace at work! Apparently, the web site has been introducing ongoing computer virus infections onto our company PCs that have become significant enough to be noticed by our tech support people. Hence, no more MySpace. Exceptions will only be made for employees that "need to access the site for news, marketing, and other business-related activity."

According to BBC News today, “more than one million MySpace users could have been caught by a banner advert that installs spyware via a Windows bug. Those who fell victim were bombarded with pop-up adverts and had their browsing habits monitored by the malicious software. Reports suggest the advert has been running on MySpace for about a week.”

Side note: I bet this problem did not affect Macintosh computers!! They’re the best, in case you were wondering.

After some thought, I decided the news that MySpace would not be accessible to me anymore at work was only mildly annoying. Since the first few months of obsession, my interest in the site tapered off substantially, although I admit to still logging on periodically throughout the day to check for messages, new friend requests, etc. But with the plethora of web sites available just a click away, I prefer not to waste all of my desk job down time on one site.

However, I am considerably worried about a few of my co-workers. When wandering around the office on a quiet afternoon, the screens that I walk past all contain telltale MySpace profile windows. Each time I log into MySpace at work, another one of my co-workers is bound to have posted a bulletin. I would honestly estimate that there are some people in my office who are surfing the site for more than 50% of the workday. As the "access denial" message popped into our Outlook mailboxes, I swear I heard simultaneous groans of dismay and outrage across the entire floor. Don’t these people have jobs to do?!?

I predict that Friendster is going to see a HUGE amount of activity next week.

Personally, I feel kind of relieved to not have the distraction of MySpace. The site really seems to cause more drama than it’s worth, especially for us people with desk jobs who have nothing better to do than dig up personal information about our friends (and enemies).

Goodbye MySpace, you will be missed. But I think I will get a lot more work done...

Monday, July 17, 2006

(Couples) Weekend at the Lake

When Vanessa sent out her Evite for "Weekend at the Lake," I think she should have been more specific. Let me explain.

Saturday morning I woke up at 10 a.m. in an attempt to meet my scheduled departure time of 11 a.m. I was headed to my friend Vanessa's cabin at Lake Limerick, and I was super excited for a relaxing weekend in the sun. After showering and packing, I swung by the liquor store for a bottle of Vodka before picking up two other girlfriends. By this time it was about 11:30 – not too badly off schedule, but we still had to stop at Safeway for mixers, and then Noah’s Bagels for breakfast. I think we were finally on the road a little after noon.

We arrived at the cabin about an hour and a half later. After being introduced to about 10 people I hadn’t meet before, we sat around on the beach playing cards for a few hours. They had already tapped the keg early that morning. The sun peeked out every now and then before shyly ducking back behind the clouds. It was nowhere near warm enough to swim, or every really sunbathe properly. Disappointing, but we did climb into the boat and watch Vanessa try to catch some air wakeboarding. I think she actually got about 3 inches at one point!

Later that evening we combined forces to make a really awesome dinner that included BBQ chicken, Asian chicken salad, fresh fruit, and sweet potatoes. (I still have no idea why someone brought a Thanksgiving dish to a summer BBQ, but it was pretty damn good!) After a rousing word game tournament, we mixed some drinks and headed down to sit by the fire pit and roast marshmallows.

Now, it had already become apparent that me and two other single ladies were the odd ones out. We had felt the exclusion before, but as the three of us huddled near the fire, we noticed that the other guests had paired off… Each couple was connected in a subtle but obvious way: A leg slung over a boyfriend's thigh, a head on a shoulder, fingers interlaced, a girlfriend on her guy’s knee. *gag*gag*gag* I had never felt so single in my life.

I tried to entertain myself by watching someone light marshmallows on fire and then consume the charred mess that was left. I also got to listen to a very amusing story about a guy who was arrested while naked and on mushrooms. But eventually the combination of watching the happy couples, and the smoke, was enough to drive us into the house, where we passed out on the most uncomfortable hide-a-bed in existence. And as if that weren’t enough, throughout the night I was forced to listen to one of the happy couples wake up every hour on the hour to give each other little smacking kisses as they slept in each other’s arms. Talk about aggravatingly disgusting.

I woke up the next morning determined to make the best of the day. After breakfast, we put on our bathing suits and I spent about an hour lying on the dock in the sun talking to the other girls, who were alone for the moment since the boys had taken a testosterone-only wakeboarding trip. Once the men returned with the boat, I was excited for my turn to try wakeboarding. But we were shoved aside as the boat quickly filled with girls anxious to go boating with their boyfriends. My single threesome, sadly without any male companionship, was pushed back to a later boat trip.

As the odd women out, us three single gals spent the rest of the afternoon by ourselves. Not that I really minded, because I could lie in the sun and chat with girlfriends for days on end. But it was still glaringly apparently why we were being excluded. So we floated on the water in the sun and talked to Vanessa’s dad about the fabulousness of being single. Once the couples boating party returned, we did make it out wakeboarding – well, one of us did, anyway. After a few sad attempts, I gave up and headed back to shore. It only took about 20 minutes before I realized that I had seriously injured my back. Today, I am still in pain. Serious, severe pain. I can’t even move without my eyes filling with tears. Great.

We headed home Sunday evening with full bellies and sun-bronzed noses (mine complete with raccoon-like lines from my sunglasses). We thought we were being incredibly clever by leaving early in the evening so we could get back to Seattle fairly early. Everyone else in Western Washington thought the exact same thing. It took us twice as long at a crawling pace to get back to the city, but music and girlfriends tend to make the time fly.

Once home, I crawled happily (and glaringly alone) into bed, exhausted from a weekend of sun, swimming and liquor. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to sleep more than a few hours because my pulled back muscles made it impossible to get comfortable for more than 10 minutes. Which means today I am cranky, sleep-deprived and sore.

Overall, I would give my weekend at the lake a B-. I had a great time hanging out with my girlfriends, but it would have been nice not to feel like such a misfit. Boo on sappy, love struck couples. And my back still hurts. Ouch.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Weekend with Brooke!

On the first day of seventh grade, I felt scared and alone. I was going to a new school where I didn’t really know anyone, and back then I was painfully shy. That afternoon, I wandered into my home economics class and looked around for a seat. I sat next to a skinny blonde girl with glasses and a green silk shirt. Her name was Brooke. We were 12. That was the beginning.

More than a decade later, we are grown women and have managed to keep in touch. It’s somewhat of a miracle, considering the major turns our lives have taken since that first day of middle school. I went away to college, Brooke moved to California and then Alabama, where she has been for three years. But this past weekend she came for a visit, the first time that I had seen her in person since about 2002.

I picked up Brooke at the airport at 6 p.m. on Saturday, feeling a little nervous since so much time had passed since the last time we had seen each other. I should have known how easily we would fall back into our normal patterns. I think it’s always like that with the people you grew up with – things just naturally fall back into place, no matter how many years go by.

We drove back to my apartment as Brooke ooh’ed and ahh’ed over the sight of the city skyline on a beautiful Northwest evening. She met my kitty Jasmine and we relaxed for a minute looking at old pictures and reminiscing about high school. Then we headed up the street for a quick dinner at Gorditos. Full of nachos, we wandered back to my house, but first made a pit stop at Kerry Park so Brooke could take pictures of the city, which looked absolutely gorgeous in the setting sun. Then back to my apartment to get ready for a night on the town!

After meeting up with a couple of my girlfriends, we decided to check out a new bar called Amber in Belltown. It’s a pretty upscale, classy bar cleverly lit by amber lights hung from the ceiling. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, since it was very crowded, with poor service, and got a very bad review on CitySearch. We had a few drinks on the patio while we entertained ourselves by making fun of the truly outrageous and hideous things people are willing to wear out in public. I think I saw a girl wearing a gold silk nitie from a ‘70s porn flick. Since the bar seemed to be filling to the brim with snobby girls and frat guys, we moved next door to Tia Lou’s, which has a fantastic outdoor patio upstairs, complete with its own private bar. We proceeded to down a few Red Headed Sluts in between laughing, taking pictures, dancing and talking.

For some reason I can’t remember anymore, we decided to walk back to Queen Anne, but only got about half way there before we gave up and hailed a cab. Brooke and I then planted ourselves on my kitchen floor, where we could open the oven door every five minutes to see if our gourmet DiGiorno pizza was ready. I remember it being pretty doughy when we ate it… I wonder if that’s why I felt sick the next morning…

Maybe not, because when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed Sunday morning, we were hungry and hung over enough to reheat the pizza. Mmm… half-cooked pizza and Dr. Pepper for breakfast, yum! Since Brooke said she had never really been to Seattle, despite growing up only an hour south in Olympia, I decided to take her to a common tourist location, the Pike Place Market. We wandered around for a couple hours and Brooke was able to find a couple cool presents for her boyfriend. Tired out from being hung over and walking around in the sun, we grabbed a couple McDonald’s cheeseburgers to settle our stomachs and headed to the viewpoint in West Seattle. Sitting in the grass, we took pictures of the city and watched a couple play fetch in the water with their very cute black lab, which was kind enough to come over and say hello, as well as shake dirty salt water all over me. Nice.

Thoroughly sun stroked and exhausted, we went back to my apartment for a nap. That’s what lazy Sunday’s are for, right? However, we passed up precious beauty sleep in favor of watching an old home video of Brooke’s fourteenth birthday party, which was at the time dubbed the “Clueless Party.” I don’t remember laughing so hard in a long time. The video brought up many memories of our days at NTHS, and we spent the rest of the afternoon giggling and reminiscing about the good old days, before we became grown ups and had to face the real world.

For dinner, Brooke decided Thai food sounded good, so we headed to the Thai Kitchen in upper Queen Anne, one of my favorites. By the time we were done the sun was starting to set, so I figured I simply must expose Brooke to beautiful Golden Gardens park to watch the sunset. We sat on a log and took photos of the water and sky, which literally looked like a masterpiece painted by God. A young couple that had just gotten married wandered on the beach, it was completely adorable.

Since by this time Brooke and I really felt like we were on a date, we decided we might as well finish it off with a movie in Ballard. The Devil Wears Prada was playing, and since we had both been dying to see it, we bought tickets, some ice cream, and headed in. Although the movie was not nearly as good as the book, I would still recommend seeing it.

We crashed hard when we got home, and on Monday morning it was time to take Brooke down to Olympia so she could spend the rest of her vacation with her family. I said hello to her mom and was on my way.

It was so fabulous to spend the weekend with Brookie Cookie, it has been far too long. Like I’ve said in a previous blog, it’s so comforting that longstanding friendships can stand the test of time, no matter what the circumstances. Speaking of which, I absolutely cannot wait to go to London and Paris in October with Brooke and Jamie – talk about a high school reunion!

When I was a little girl, my mom used to sing this song to me: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver but the other’s gold.” How cheesy, but so true.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Freedom of the Press?

Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This is common knowledge to every schoolchild in America, and especially to those of us who seek higher education in the field of journalism. Hence why a recent article in The Washington Post was of particular interest to me.

Last week, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times reported on a banking surveillance program used by the Treasury Department to bypass traditional banking privacy protection in a bid to identify terrorist funding operations. The Washington Post quickly matched reports. But according to a June 29 article, President Bush was “genuinely outraged by the news stories in The New York Times and other newspapers about the surveillance program, in which the U.S. government has tapped international banking records for information about terrorist financing.”

Debate has grown about whether the disclosures actually aided terrorists or made the government’s burden more difficult. I would have to agree with Victor Comras, a retired diplomat and consultant on terror financing, who said he “finds it doubtful that the disclosure had much impact because many terrorists have taken steps in recent years to mask their transactions, aware that they might be under surveillance.” I have a feeling that hundreds of terrorists didn’t pick up the newspaper last week and gasp in amazement, “Oh no, we’re being watched by the US government!!!” Duh.

It’s no secret to any of you reading this blog that I am a supporter of the President, and the Republican Party. But President Bush called the conduct of the New York Times “disgraceful,” and on this point I have to disagree. A Republican congressman wants the Times prosecuted, and National Review says its press credentials should be yanked. Are you kidding me? As a journalist, it is my opinion that not only was it the right of these newspapers to publish information that would be of interest to the American public, but it was their responsibility.

Clashes between the government and the press are not new news. Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan are all known to have deliberately withheld details of government activity from the press, and therefore the American public. But newspapers, by default, tend to be a fairly liberal form of media. And it’s no surprise that the Times, with its national prominence and liberal editorial page opposed to the war in Iraq, is proving to be an increasingly irresistible target for many Republicans. But this time I think they’ve gone too far.

Publishing information is the responsibility of any news media outlet, and the question is, when is there a reason to withhold information? To some extent, journalists and newspapers should stop and think before rushing stories to the presses. But in most cases, the media reports on news that has proved important to the general public. Which is their obligation to American citizens, as long as the publication of this information does not threaten national security.

As a democracy, we are meant to continually question and examine the decisions of our leaders. Newspapers provide us the means to read about, discuss and even publish our opinions on increasingly difficult subjects. This is the power of the press, the core of which is deeply rooted in the establishment of our nation – our right to freedom.

I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone of the Bill of Rights/Amendment I: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

If this subject interested you at all, check out another article by Howard Kurtz that was published in The Washington Post last week.