laughing pear


running a marathon

Don’t you just hate listening to people talk about their dreams? The ones they have at night. My mom would make us stop telling her about them. Stop, stop, holding up her hands.

I dreamt once that I could run, that I enjoyed running. I jumped over a stump, and sprang along the path, and felt free. Free to go where I wanted when I wanted.

I just watched all of these inspiring videos of people running marathons; even a woman with cystic fibrosis. Click here to watch some of the videos.

Brent thinks that finishing a marathon is less impressive these days because anyone can do it. You don't have to be skinny, or look fit. You can take as long as you want to. Hell, you can even walk.

I have completed a mini-marathon. Maureen and I trained for it years ago, in college. Every morning she would pick me up, calling my dorm room to tell me to come down.

"Why are you calling me so early?"
"Get the hell up, you know why I am calling, we train EVERY DAY."
"Oh right."

Every day I was surprised she would show up. EVERY DAY.

For the last year I have been riding my bike to work most days, and working out with Sam twice a week. Yesterday, we climbed the stairwell, me carrying 15 pound weights in both hands, whining a lot. Sometimes, he makes me race him to the top…but only two flights or so. And he gives me a head start, he is only 23 for goodness sake. If I lose, I have to race him again. I have only lost once. Yesterday, he said I was super fast. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t…but maybe I could run a marathon. I definitely felt free as I bounded up the stairs yesterday.


interesting thought

I just read this book, Death Rites, by Alicia Giménez-Bartlett. A suspense novel placed in Barcelona, the book was a fine little read. Nothing earth shattering. I did find this one quote to be very illustrative of how I feel recently:

“As soon as I reach a static point where things begin to repeat themselves, I want to change. Not in a conscious, measured way, but by means of a great show of passion.”

This is maybe my problem: I subconsciously fear repetition.

Which is a funny post, as this is my 300th blog post! Can you believe it, my loving readers? :) I suppose what I post on is varied...

The original goal of the blog has been to practice my writing...and I think it has served its purpose. I feel like my writing continues to improve. So thanks for reading.


store review: j. chocolatier

Friday, we were walking around in Georgetown, going to the library and just having a grand old time, when we stumbled upon the cutest little new chocolate shop: J. Chocolatier. In we went and spent some time checking out the new store, and talking to the owner. She had previously had a 9-5 job and then decided to learn about chocolate. Selling chocolate online morphed into the new store.

We got one each, and then saw this little Buddha chocolate; we just had to have one! We shared him once we got home before taking his picture.

J. Chocolatier
1039 33rd St. NW
Georgetown, DC
(near Cady’s Alley.)
(Click here to go to the website.)


laws to live by

I really want to take each of these "laws" below and try to put them into action in my life. (You can click on the laws to head over to their creator, John Maeda's website.) I think they are all so true, but sometimes living a simple life is more difficult that it seems...There are some things I have been successful in simplifying in my life: I buy all of my undies at Victoria Secrets. It is just easier that way. I know my size and when I need new ones I just buzz in there and grab five for $25.

More simplicity and thoughts on the topic to come.

Law 1: Reduce
The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.

Law 2: Organize
Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.

Law 3: Time
Savings in time feel like simplicity.

Law 4: Learn
Knowledge makes everything simpler.

Law 5: Differences
Simplicity and complexity need each other.

Law 6: Context
What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral.

Law 7: Emotion
More emotions are better than less.

Law 8: Trust
In simplicity we trust.

Law 9: Failure
Some things can never be made simple.

Law 10: The One
Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.



i can't read what they are saying

the baby and the mama scooters

I stumbled across this blog by a person who loves analogue photography. I can't read a thing they have said, but I still feel like I somehow share their world view. Thanks Internets. Bring people together. (Click here to go to Snap With Film.)



What a few weeks. I knew when my best friend from grade school said she had to call me that sad stories were in the offing. So I did not call her, and she was too sad to call me. Nana died. Nana was Jodi's grandmother with whom I spent every other weekend with from 1st grade to 5th grade.

More on this as I process it. But what a bummer.


build a squid

Ok guys, how fun is this! You can go to this website, build a squid, and the come back in a few days to check on it!!! Do a little search for Olenic. She is sad and lonely...and looking for a t-shirt with ten arms...



more discussion of weight loss...

Remember I read that book by the woman who went to over-eaters anonymous? Then I looked up the diet...this is it, basically:

LOW-CARBOHYDRATE Sample Menu: (Suggested for losing weight)

1 Protein
1 Fruit

1 Protein
1 Vegetable
Finger Salad
(no dressing)

1 Protein
1 Vegetable

What do you notice? No carbohydrates or sugar right? Think Adkins Diet, or think Banting. Wait, who was Banting? Well given my recent question about how food becomes weight, I decided to jump back into Good Calories, Bad Calories. This is Gary Taubes’ book about weight loss.

He posits that obesity is not a behavioral problem, but is related to the types of food we are eating. Sugars and processed foods being the jumping off point. One of his favorite quotes: “To attribute obesity to ‘overeating’ is as meaningful as to account for alcoholism by ascribing it to ‘overdrinking.’” (Jean Mayer)

This makes so much sense to me. And because I believe in the European way of dealing with alcoholism, i.e. relearning how to drink responsibly, maybe I just need to relearn how to eat responsibly.

If you don’t have time to read the book, then watch the video (click here).

So back to the Banting diet; the first diet. Banting did the OA diet. He stopped eating sugars and carbohydrates and lost weight. He published a pamphlet about it, and well the first diet was born, in 1863.

What does this mean for me? I am not sure. I am still reading the book. More to come.


frank lloyd wright house

Last weekend I woke up on Saturday and said, "Let's go to the Pope-Leighy House." It is a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Alexandria, Virginia. For years we have driven by the sign for the house. It was built in 1940 for the Pope family. Later on the Leighy's moved in. Our tour guide had the greatest name: H. Fairfield Butt. He was a kick. Really into the house.

The house does not have insulation. Wood on the outside, then plywood center, and the same wood on the inside. And it seems to have held up well. (Laura, I took a picture of the wall model just for you!)

The house has been moved twice! The first time to make way for a highway, the second time to deal with a poor foundation.

I know this is sacrilege, but I was not impressed with the layout of the house. At 1200 square feet I expected it to feel bigger. But it was cute.

Click here to see the other pictures I took, with Brent's iphone.
I forgot the camera!!!


very fun idea to get people to use the stairs

brought to us by a reader! :) LOVE it.


question for the blog readers

I wish someone could explain to me how food becomes fuel which is either used or stored in your body.

I mean if I eat three pounds of food in one day (for example, I have no idea about the number), how does that translate into my body?

I would assume that if I ate 3 pounds of food that I could at most gain 3 pounds of weight. But I might be wrong. I don't really understand it. And I am having problems forumlating a set of search terms to figure out how it works.

Does that make sense? What is the relationship between the amount of food eaten and a body's weight?


truck farm

I ran across these videos a few months ago. I wish they would make another video about the truck farm. What a fun idea!



The second year I lived in Germany I found my dream pair of jeans. They were tight in all the right places and they fit. I wore them every day. Every day. I am not kidding. If they were not clean, well then I would stay home.

I love my jeans.

After a few months in Berlin I realized I needed another pair. It almost seemed like a fluke that I a. had found these jeans on sale and b. the jeans fit. I went back to the same store and found another similar pair, only these were slightly smaller. I was losing weight and figured that I would be wearing them in no time.

I am still not wearing those jeans, however they sit in my closet, even though I have a firm rule that clothing that looks bad, has not been worn, or is out dated be donated. Another pair sits in my closet too. These are from 10th grade however. When I bought them I thought I looked fat in them. I look back on that person with a hint of pity. What I would not give to have a 32 inch waist. Well, apparently, I would not give up food.

This year’s resolution was to get in shape and learn about health. I have a trainer I see twice a week, my knees feel great, I have recently joined Weight Watchers. I am doing this the slow way.

Doing what? Appeasing my Grandmother who constantly talks about “getting all that weight off?” Merely trying to get in shape, so I can ski and bike and do the things I like to? Trying to get my doctor to ask me how I lost weight if it was not via his just eat 1200 calories a day plan?

I have a job that is interesting, and has the potential to make the world a better place. There is only one problem with the job: I can’t wear jeans, ever. Every year we have an opportunity to tell the administrator of our agency what we would like to see done; a giant suggestion box if you will. I want to scream loud and clear: if I could wear jeans to work I would NEVER leave this job. Never.

But wait, I left a jeans job, to go to law school. Why did I do that again?

I like to wear jeans because they are comfortable, I look good in them, I feel good in them, and I notice when I gain or lose weight while wearing them. Other cloths are too forgiving. In other clothes, I can cover up problem sports, or just wear black for weeks on end. Jeans offer none of those comforts. Yet, it is to my jeans I turn to with excitement every Saturday morning.

So are the jeans really just a symbol of freedom? Of my ability to tell the Man that I don’t have to conform to his world, of my inability to not conform to his world.

The jeans worn daily in Berlin are too tight these days too. But they are zippable, which is more than they were at the beginning of the year.

Zippable: the act of being able to lay on your bed, with lungs empty, and zip up your pants. Said pants cannot be worn out of the house, or out of the bedroom really, because of problems with fainting.

I am working on zipping the jeans and wearing the jeans as part of this year’s resolution.

(I wrote this as part of my writing class.)


book review: passing for thin

Montana, Erin, and Ada came to visit us on Sunday. We had a lovely day of brunch and hanging out at our favorite bookstore. I got a few good books.

I just finished Passing for Thin, by Frances Kuffel. Turns out she is from MISSOULA. Another Montana writer. Who knew? In the late 90's she lost 170 pounds in two years. The book chronicles her journey to half of herself.

In a moment reminiscent to Eat, Pray, Love, Mrs. Kuffel hears God tell her to lose weight. So she goes to Over-eaters Anonymous. She has a sponsor and a special diet, the OA's diet. I looked online for it. (You can check it out by clicking this sentence.) OA is similar to AA. You must completely abstain from your addiction. So if you are in AA, no alcohol, if you are in OA, no food. Oh wait, that won't work. No sugar or carbohydrates. Protein, fruits, and veggies only.

The European view of alcoholism is different than our view. In Europe people re-learn how to interact with alcohol, rather than banning it for life. I think this is a better approach. There are always going to be tempting foods out there, but I need to learn how to not eat all of them like the rest of the world. Ok the skinny rest of the world.

My real problem with the book is really a problem with all so called diets: diets are unsustainable. You cannot live on a diet the rest of your life. I firmly believe you have to re-learn portion control and what is healthy. Our society sends out so many different messages about how to lose weight it is easy to get confused. And I am not so sure there is really a lot of science out there about losing weight. To almost quote Erin, 'Losing weight is not as linear as the eat less food and exercise.'

She apparently has another book coming out in a few months about re-losing the weight.

Life is a journey, not a destination, as someone says.


ted: elizabeth gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame

A friend emailed on Friday to say that she is getting a good review, but did not feel she really deserved it because all she really does is show up.

So, is showing up enough? Watch this TED video and let me know what you think.



Do you take the stairs? I was thinking about the stairs a few weeks ago, and realized that between my senior year in high school and first year of college I stopped using the stairs. Not only did I stop using the stairs, but I started planning ways to not take the stairs.

One of the books I read this year posits the theory that fat people are not lazy, their bodies are just better at naturally conserving calories. So while skinny people have an urge to exercise and move, fat people don’t. I don’t. If I am not meeting Sam in the gym, I am not going.

But I am trying to change that habit. Hence my thinking about stairs. How is it I cut out stairs? I mean, cut out in the way I cut out lima beans from my diet. I don’t care how you try to get me to eat them, it ain’t happening.

My friend and former boss John, who is of an undetermined age, was told to stop running so much by his physician a few years ago. He has to keep it to 3 miles a day. He emailed me to tell me, randomly, that he has reincorporated stairs into his life. “I'm trying to follow that advice and try to take the stairs exclusively, up and down in the office. After about a month, the 10 flights stairs have gotten easier, and I spend less time reading the floor numbers going up. Hopefully after 8 or 9 months I'll notice a difference.”

What am I doing bitching about a few flights up to our apartment, when he is doing 10 flights a day? Granted, I don’t think he goes out to lunch, but that is a lesson for another posting...but you see my point, I hope.

The article about stairs in the New York Magazine sealed the deal: “Stair-climbing is a more efficient form of exercise than walking: Two additional minutes of stair-climbing per day (approximately three floors) can burn more than enough calories to eliminate the average adult’s annual weight gain.” (You can read more about stairs by clicking this sentence.)

Needless to say I will be taking the stairs. (Be careful if you do the same in an office building, as some floors lock the stairwell doors!)


book review: German for Travelers

by Norah Labiner

German for Travelers, a book about Germany, Berlin no less. Was I going to read it? Yes. What were the odds that I would love the book? 20 to 1. Then why didn’t I?

The story, told via various German lessons follows the tale of one family, from the point of view of two spoiled brats/great grandchildren living in LA. We walk down the streets of Berlin today and yesterday. We learn about living in Germany during the war and before the war. We learn all of the family secrets. But we just don’t care. I just did not care about the protagonists and I am not sure that I cared to know what the family secret was.

Which bummed me out because I really wanted to like the book. The cover of the book is great. Although no one goes to the sea in the book, and there are not two children in the time period of the photo on the cover.

One other thing that drove me crazy was that the German lessons were not all correct. I am sure this was done on purpose, but it drove me crazy.

Maybe I should re-read it. I don’t know. I sound so cranky. All the other book reviewers loved it. Hump.


book review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
So it has come to this: we now have a quaint best seller of a book about World War 2. And the story, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is touching. Set on a real island off the coast of France, but a part of England, the island was English territory that Germany invaded. (A little known fact is that Japan also invaded some US islands off the coast of Alaska during the war. Read more by clicking this sentence.)

I read the story a few months ago and really enjoyed it. The story is told through letters sent back and forth between the members of the society and an author with writer’s block.

After 9/11 happened I wondered when we would have assimilated the event in our psyches enough to allow us to write or talk about what happened lightheartedly. I suppose this is one thing I find interesting about this book. The author grew up during the war and wrote this book towards the end of her life. So I suppose it took her 50 years or more to get to that point.


Have you ever heard of the American Stonehenge?

(Image from Wired.)
Outside of my cube a director keeps all of these magazines. There is Wired, Science, and Scientific American. Sometimes I grab one to take to lunch. One article I recently read was about the American Stonehenge. It is located in northeastern Georgia and called the Georgia Guidestones. The five slabs of granite each weigh 20 tons! The most interesting part about them is that the people who funded the project in 1979 are secret! No one knows who they were or are. 12 languages are used on the giant stones, which happen to be aligned like a calendar. Apparently you can tell the time from the stones, and the directions too. Engraved in the stones are instructions to the world. For example one says, “Rule Passion, Faith, Tradition, and all things with Tempered Reason.” Sounds like good advice right?

But a lot of controversy surrounds the mystery of the stones because one guy, not Dan Brown, thinks that a group of devil worshipers paid for the guidestones. The theory begins with the instruction to “Unite Humanity with A Living New Language.” Anyone who has read the Bible, knows what happens to humanity when that happens right?

As an intellectual experiment, I find it interesting that a group of people would want to spend the time and effort needed to have this monument built. What would drive you to do that? Strongly held convictions. What was going on in the world in 1979? Did these people really think the end was that near?

I would love to see these things. Anyone been there?


funny video...maybe

We were driving home yesterday and this guy had a full grown tree in the back of his truck...so I had Brent video it...but you can barely see the tree and then the video camera ran out of juice...funny or not?


the last wedding of the season: Nicole and Bob Sullivan

What a wedding it was! The wedding itself took place in White Plains next to our law school. Then we drove north to Garrison, New York to The Garrison country club. What an awesome setting! And the view and weather were wonderful.

I was in the wedding and therefore have no pictures of the bride and groom on the wedding day...but lots of the bride. (Click here to see the whole group of them.)

We drove up on Friday for the rehearsal. Pizza and beer afterwards at an old law school haunt really hit the spot. (You can find pictures of that event by clicking this sentence.)

I am really looking forward to seeing what their photographer does with his pictures!

On a final note, I almost ruined Nicole's day and bore all of the bad luck on my shoulders. The morning of the wedding, we walked out to a beautiful day. The sun was shining, after raining for days. I had coffee and good hair. And then the car was missing. To keep everything ready I had left the brides maid dress in the car. And the city had no record of my car. I lost my shit. But luckily a cop told us a few minutes later that the car had not been towed, but RELOCATED. Nice. New word. RELOCATED. Two blocks down. Crisis over. :)


photo club

So my friends Danni, Pam, and I have batted around the idea of starting a photography club for years...and finally Pam took action. It is an online club which I am pretty excited about. Pam is a professional photographer always at the ready with good ideas. Danni is definitely a "prosumer" and she takes a ton of pictures. Each week we will have an assignment.

Any of you regular readers want to join? Click here to check out the blog where the assignments will be placed. I think this will be a great opportunity to grow and learn more about photography.

Pam's pictures can be seen by clicking this sentence.

Danni's pictures can be seen by clicking this sentence.