Initiate Radio Silence

We are two days into the start of the fall 2010 semester.

Holy hell.

You would think at this point in my program that I would have it a little easier. And the reality is that I could have, but I needed some “professional development” that is not otherwise offered through what is required. So. Here’s what I’ll be doing this fall….

-Taking my last required class for my PhD (holler)

-Surviving my last required class for my PhD (because I will seriously have to know: This study published by these people looked at this. In what year was it published?)

-Forming my dissertation committee

-Taking prelims (basically a month long test to see how well I can write under pressure and then talk about what I wrote)

-Proposing my dissertation

-Working in the advising office

-Doing a practicum in the University Counseling Center (professional development and really (hopefully) good experience)

-Figuring out how to transport my child from home to Apex High to the Hill Center in Durham (12:00-3:00) and home again. It takes a village, people. Seriously.

-Trying to maintain my sanity and a workout routine

-Doing one more race this year (a nice, flat 10K)…although my dear friend Robin is trying to talk me into a half marathon in Novermber…

-Trying to still be a good wife, mother, daughter…and hopefully friend

-Celebrating my 5th anniversary (helloooooo Bob Timberlake Inn)

-State Fair, VA Beach for one race, the beach at Labor Day, probably heading south for Thanksgiving with a ton of people

And those are just the things off the top of my head.

So, dear readers, though I have other things about which I need and want to blog, if the blog is awfully quiet for a few months, you’ll know why.

And if you see my dead carcass lying around…well…just step over me and keep on going. At least I’ll be asleep.

The District

We took a little family vacation to DC this summer—mainly because Al and I think it’s a cool town and because Ryan loves history and he’s kinda interested in government. Dad came with the three of us as we did a quick trip through the District.

Monday we hit up the Newseum, which people highly recommended. I thought it was pretty cool at first glance, but I NEVER thought I’d get sucked in as much or as long as I did. A few of the temporary exhibits included the Berlin Wall (and they had a few slabs on display in addition to news coverage), photos of famous athletes, and an FBI exhibit (which made me feel better about not getting a tour there). The FBI exhibit included various forms of news media and artifacts from the Unibomber, Waco, Oklahoma City, and the DC Sniper. I rounded the corner at the sniper exhibit where they had a mock-up of the trunk of the car (used for the trial) and it. was. chilling. There was also a display of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs, and it was like walking through a gallery of recent history. And I was amazed at how much I recognized.

The Newseum also has a 9/11 exhibit that is pretty impressive with floor to ceiling displays of the headlines on 9/12—from around the world. There were other artifacts about that fateful day—and I had to wonder if people around me thought something was really wrong with the fact that here I was standing in the exhibit explaining what happened to my almost 16-year old son.

We really got sucked in to one exhibit which is basically newspapers and other news artifacts over time…and I usually think about how much occurred in history WELL before my time (seriously, I should have come of age in the 1940s or 1960s). But as I pulled drawer after drawer of significant headlines from 1979 to the present, I really HAVE been around for a lot of history.

We finally listened to our stomachs and got lunch in their food court (tasty, by the way). And then we headed over to the Spy Museum. I was hoping for a stop at the National Archives, but time didn’t permit…

And I have to say. I really like the Spy Museum. It starts out kinda cheesy, but it really is a cool place. And I highly recommend it.

Tuesday was the Holocaust Museum—something I’ve wanted to do since it opened my junior year in high school. And it didn’t disappoint. Going through the boxcar and coming out to see the suitcases on the ground next to it was the most haunting part to me.

And all along, one of us is taking the time to explain all of this to Ryan—who’d never learned about any of it. Which is surprising considering how much Ukraine took it in the neck from the Nazis. He was most captivated by the mock-up of the gas chamber and crematorium—and that was the part that stood out the most to him there. I am pleased to report that I wasn’t completely drained at the end like I thought I would be, either. It probably helped that I was hungry and Maslow kicked in…

And so we finally headed out for lunch at the Museum of the American Indian (part of the Smithsonian) at 4:00. We had plans for the Monuments by Moonlight tour that evening as well—and I HIGHLY recommend that one. Al and I did it several years ago and it was worth the repeat.

We walked over to Union Station from the Museum of the American Indian—by way of the Capital—which is always impressive to me. Even if what they say about laws and sausages is true.

The Moonlight tour takes you all over the District—the part of the DC that is the Mall and monuments. The driver tells you lots of fun facts while taking you around and there are several stops of about 30 minutes each. We went to the FDR Memorial—which is A. MAZING. and one of my personal favorites. We stopped at Lincoln/Vietnam/Korean War Memorials—and Ryan loved Lincoln. It was also cool to locate a name on the Wall with my Dad, who is a Vietnam vet. And give thanks that his name isn’t carved in stone. And the last stop was Iwo Jima after a quick drive by Arlington. Finally, it was back to Union Station and a late dinner at Capitol City Brewery.

Wednesday was the Museum of American History (hellooo Ruby Slippers, Kermit the Frog and a GEORGEOUS group of Stradivarii instruments, and military history display) and the Air and Space Museum. Both were crawling with people and I wasn’t particularly interested in Air and Space…but I knew the boys were, so I went along with it.

After a late night fire alarm pull at the hotel, we finally got back to some much needed sleep and headed home on Thursday.

It was super fun, but I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation!

ALSO. If you’re in DC and need dessert, check out Red Velvet Cupcakery on 7th and Kramerbooks and Afterwords in Dupont Circle. Someone outside Miami actually knows how to make a key lime pie.

A Pelican for a Pelican

Dear BP,

I want to congratulate you on your successful capping of the oil well—and even getting a little cement in there. I just hate that it took so long the spill became five times that of Exxon Valdez.

I am encouraged by the dispersion of oil in the water and thankful that there are microbes to help you fix what you broke. And I am hopeful that what you say in your advertising these days is true—that you will be there to clean up the mess and restore the area.

Given the location, good luck with total restoration.

I’m not even sure how you put a price tag on all that. The US government certainly couldn’t post-Katrina—which people are still working to restore.

But perhaps a price tag—at least in some respects—isn’t what’s needed. How do you put a price tag on a pelican? A dolphin? Any number of fish? Shrimp? Other wildlife in the Gulf?

That’s almost like asking you to put a price tag on your own child.

You kinda can’t do it.

But what you can do, BP, is give us a pelican for a pelican. A dolphin for a dolphin. A one for one replacement into the ecosystem that you have destroyed for the foreseeable future. You’ll still come out all right in the end on that one—for the body count will likely never be exact. But replacing what we CAN count is a good faith start.

In addition to plugging the dang leak.

How To Get An iPod

Earlier this year, Ryan expressed interest in owning an iPod. Late in the spring, my seester-in-love worked out a trade with Al (who was divesting himself of all things Apple) to get his iTouch in return for her iPod. Al then brokered a deal with Ryan to be able to purchase that iPod if he was interested–and if he continued to do well (behavior-wise) in school. Once he had the money and the rest of the school year went well (especially after a setback at the beginning of May), Ryan would be able to purchase said iPod.

Then summer rolled around. And Ryan had to spend his mornings at the Hill Center for 5 weeks. And he wasn’t excited about having to spend part of his summer doing school. And the not so appropriate behavior started all over again. So we once again pushed back the eligibility criteria for purchasing the iPod. But he seemed motivated by that, and his time at Hill was productive and very helpful for him.

And so, during the last week of the 5 at Hill, Al and I had our parent-teacher conference to get a recap of the work Ryan did this summer. His teachers had very good things to say about him–both in terms of his personality and behavior as well as the kind of progress he made in such a short time. Ryan was a little nervous about the conference–he still associates parent-teacher communication with something he’s done wrong and nothing he’s done well. After we finished that meeting, we congratulated him on being able to become the proud owner of a sleek black iPod Nano.

And we went to lunch at one of his favorite places.

Good work, kiddo.