Sunday, December 31, 2006


I was inspired to write this project as a blog by Tea, who said I "do too have something to say" and by KT, who enthusiastically said she would read it if I wrote a blog. Also by the wonderful Boegle, whose own blog helped me realize that I don't have to write on one subject.

I was also inspired by the ladies and staff at Letty Owings Center; by the aforementioned Ms. Johnson; and by the late great Herb Caen. I wanted to be a columnist like him when I was in grammar and high school. I didn't care so much for the gossip (though I recognized more than a few names, as I attended a fancy grammar school), but I loved the NamePhreaks, the overhears, the puns (of course), and his rhapsodies on the beauty of my home and his adopted home town.

I learned the phrase "nouveau riche" from him and got to use it in an essay on The Great Gatsby in eleventh grade. Mr. Silva wrote in the margin of my paper, "Been reading Herb Caen?"

Mr. Caen, my dot's off to you, wherever you are.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Another rubber tree plant...


A good word for today as I am ready for 2006 to be over and for 2007 to begin. I hope that 2007 will be a better year... 2006 didn't totally suck but very little of what I thought was going to happen happened. I don't know what I think will happen this year, but I hope it includes working with people who aren't mean and good solid health for myself and the people I love. Hopefully it will include figuring out what I'm going to do next, if not financial aid counseling anymore.

Zirpu just realized that he didn't check in when he had jury duty on December 6, so I also hope he doesn't go to jail. (-:

The main reason why I enjoy the social work I have done for the last twelve years is that I am all about the future, helping people heal their families or get an education. I hope that they will reach their goals - that their futures will look the way they hope they will.

Risk is hope. Starting anything is an expression of hope, a pact between the person who's starting and the future. By starting this project, with the plan to be working on it a year from now, I'm hoping for a vision I have of the future to come true.

Even if I don't know what else I'm hoping for, I'm hoping for that.

"'Cause he's got high hopes
He's got high hopes
High apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes..."

Friday, December 29, 2006


This isn't the word the Daemon provided but it's my project, I'll mess with it if I want to.

My brother and future sister-in-law gave me the first season of The Muppet Show for Christmas. I have long thought that Jim Henson and Company were a brilliant bunch of people, and talented. They invented the muppet, a combination puppet-marionette, and they acted, danced, and sang as those muppets. They wrote pun after pun after pun for The Muppet Show, as well as for The Muppet Movie, which includes my favorite joke of all time:

Kermit The Frog: At the fork in the road, bear left.
Fozzie The Bear: Right, frog.

The last time I saw Labyrinth I was impressed all over again that JH & Co. pulled that movie off without CGI. Think of the scene in which Sarah winds up with the orange creatures who toss their heads back and forth like basketballs. As difficult as writing CGI programs must be, while filming this scene the Muppeteers had to wear all black and be lintbrushed every few minutes - filming against a black cloth, not a green screen, and with film cameras, not video, let alone digital.

It turns out that Jim Henson's first TV project, Sam and Friends, premiered in 1955. How can Kermit be 50 years old? I always thought they debuted on Sesame Street, which premiered the same year I did, but Jim Henson Productions has produced some fascinating work in the last fifty years (besides muppets continuing to appear on Sesame Street). If you haven't seen MirrorMask, you should. Lots of CGI there, but a definite muppet-y feel to it - and you should especially see it if you like Cirque du Soleil shows.

The only bad thing about the Muppets is that I have never been able to take Yoda seriously. He sounds like Gonzo!

The most sensational
This is what we call The Muppet Show!


Gerald Ford died earlier this week. I was too young to have a polittical conciousness when he was president (my first political memory, in fact, is voting for John Anderson in my school's election in 1980) but I've always known who he was in relation to Richard Nixon.

I've been listening to NPR most of most weekdays for months now, "All Things Considered" and "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer," among other programs I really like, such as "Fresh Air," "The World," and "Marketplace." I find myself pretty attached to Jim Lehrer's voice, though I like Ray Suarez and Margaret Warner as well, who seem to have been doing a lot of the anchoring recently (well, Jim's 72, he can take as many breaks as he likes). The News Hour had excellent coverage on Ford and Nixon and Watergate.

Everything that I heard - I believe it was Wednesday - sounded like President Ford was a decent man. Over and over it was said that he was honest and straightforward, forthright, and courageous, and that with him the "imperial presidency" of Nixon was over. Many of the things said on both programs were sort of compare/contrast essays about Ford's and Nixon's administrations.

When I heard all this, I thought, "When they're describing what Ford wasn't, they are describing what Nixon was, and that sounds a lot like the current administration." "Secretive," "imperial presidency," "evasive" (though I have never heard Nixon described as "stupid"). And an unpopular war to boot.

I don't trust the president.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


First of all, regarding yesterday's post - I wrote it before I went to bed last night, but I went to bed after midnight. I'd planned to write it earlier in the day, but the Daemon had a late word delivery and then I was gone all of the rest of the day, with friends. Please count it as the word from 12/27, if you would.

I also realized that writing the same day as I receive the word isn't very easy. Yesterday's post was short, but I thought about it most of the day, until I found myself in the vicinity of the Campanile. Anyway, now I'm thinking I will get the word of the next day.

In the meantime, today's word is honesty.

Honesty is about taking risks and saying what is true for me when people don't ask, but need to know. It's a little different than telling the truth, though the two are very close. The former doesn't require a prompt, while the latter does most of the time.

Honesty: "I stayed out until two in the morning."
Telling the truth: "When did you get in?" "Two AM."

It seems to me - and this is just on the edge of my mind, so I'm not sure I can articulate it very well - that one can not be honest and tell the truth about many many things. There are people who I know won't cheat me, or lie to me, but there's still "something" about them that makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps it all comes down to the lie of omission. Honesty doesn't use lies at all (unless they're of the "this cake is - *choke* - delicious" to your friend's grandmother variety), and sometimes requires some risk. It's a state of being, not an action.


I wish this had gone differently than it did.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mrs. Lujan

When I graduated from eighth grade, my homeroom teacher wrote in my yearbook, “The day you stop learning is the day you die.” For twenty-five years I've wondered if she meant that you learn right up through your last breath, or if she meant that if you stop learning you die a figurative death.

My sense is that I will be learning through my last breath.

I know you're thinking, "You hung onto your yearbooks from grammar school?"

The First Word

The last time I did something like this I made my own word stones out of home-made playdough and ink. I thought about doing that this time, but I'm married to a geek now. I asked if he could write a script that would daily send me a randomly selected word from a list I'll provide. That way, the trigger will arrive daily and (I'm hoping) sort of force me into working on this project even on days I would make an excuse for not reaching into the bag for a word stone (such as, “I don't know where it is”).

Writing a script like that is as easy for Zirpu as washing his hands. He wrote it this morning and when I opened my email, there was today's word - the first word of at least 365 words (though in the spirit of things I should probably say "the first word of 372"). The words will repeat, but he wrote the script so that it won't repeat any words until it's gone through all of them - something I know a bag of stones would not be able to guarantee.

372. Hmm. I might need to add more words to my list. Anyway...


NPR has been playing short pieces called "This I Believe."

People write short essays about what they believe in, principles, values, whatever they live their lives by. It's based on a 1950s Edward Murrow radio program and it is one of my favorite things on radio (and I listen to a lot of NPR). When I first heard this program I started thinking, if I were to submit an essay, what would it say? What do I believe?

I believe in friendship. I believe in being a good friend, and I believe in maintaining good frendships, ones that are good for me as well as ones with good friends, if that makes sense. I have let go of the idea that a good friendship must last forever - that's for you, Wendy and Dave, and for you, Sam-O. It took me a while to understand that some friendships are attached to a particular moment... and yet I have several friendships that I'm surprised have lasted as long as they have, through inter-state moves, totally different family statuses, different values and lifestyles.

I've moved away from using the phrase "best friend." I'm lucky in that I have a circle, several circles in fact, of close friends (I'm lucky because I need them and I have them) and some I would call on for one thing, others for another. Likewise, I'm pretty sure that people call on me for one thing and someone else for another. I have been the right person for one job while recognizing that someone else is the right person for another job. I've dropped everything to help a friend and a friend has dropped everything to help me. I've done nothing with friends, and I've done boring things with friends, like cleaning the house and running errands. Everything is better with friendship in it.

The more friendship in the world, the lighter the world. By being a friend, I create comfort and love and connection between myself and my friends and my friends' friends, as well as my community.

Cherish friendship in your breast -

New is good, but old is best;

Make new friends but keep the old,

Those are silver, these are gold.

- Joseph Parry

Friends in 1976, whom I still know:

New friend, 2006, whom I met last summer:

Monday, December 25, 2006

Who needs...?

I've never been much good at resolutions, if only because I make them before or after January 1, or I change the rules. So it's only the next day, not next Monday, and I'm here again.


Who needs to dig through boxes when the internet is right there to answer when I figure out what my question is? I typed in “word stones” as a search and got a bunch of sites selling these stones, the first of which was clearly aimed at people in recovery. Because the Letty Owings Center is a residential drug treatment program, I clicked there and found many images of these stones, and I have my word list. I should be able to write at least a few words about any of these words at any time. When I was in tenth grade Ms. Johnson always had a word on the overhead projector on which we had to write five paragraphs every week. Well, we didn't have to write on the word but we had to use the word in context in our essays. I specifically remember “bucolic” on the overhead. I've done it before, I can do it again.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's a start

Aren't all beginnings new?

I usually associate the new year with September, as it includes my birthday and I've been on an academic calendar most of my life. Plus, Rosh Hashanah is in September, so I'm not the only one who treats it as the beginning of the year. But it's the end of December 2006 and I thought, after looking at the Flickr 365 project, that I could try that, only in words: Write something - at least a few words - each day of 2007. I may even post a photo each day, if I can figure out how to do that.

This week I plan to learn how to post photos to Blogger and to find that list of words we used at the Letty Owings Center to set myself up with some writing triggers. I consider this post to be analogous to setting my toes against the starting block, before the race begins. Next Monday I will start at whatever pace I feel, and hopefully continue through this week next year.