Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Under Da Sea

I don’t know why so many of my dreams (both the REM kind and the daydream kind) revolve around underwater cities.  You know, lost cities. 
Maybe it is the historian in me combined with the Indiana-Jones-freak-romantic that thrives on the ocean, but these types of things have always appealed to me.
It is a major reason why I am so fascinated by the Titanic.
So you can imagine I am over the moon about the continued discovery underwater in Egypt

An Ancient Egyptian port city near Alexandria well-known for its monolithic chapel.

The city is called Thonis-Heracleion, named after the supposed temple that was built where Herakles first arrived in Egypt.
Herakles was the last mortal son of Zeus, the strongest of all humans. You may know him as Hercules.


Anyhow, this underwater discovery that has been excavated for the last 13 years has proved to be a historical goldmine; they even recovered an invaluable stele from this underwater treasure in 2001, that provides extensive information on the city and its time.

They have discovered an honest-to-goodness ship graveyard here.

Doesn’t this just sound like a thrilling book or some movie about Atlantis?


I suppose what really intrigues me about these mythical places that end up being real is how the peak of civilization can end up in the pit of the ocean.
This city was the port of entry for all ships coming into Egypt.  It was a major center or worship.  It was glorious and successful, estimated to have been founded in approximately 800 B.C., and completely submerged by 800 A.D.

Only via ancient texts and a few hieroglyphics found on land in nearby cities preserved the memory of this lost city.

Can you imagine going for a dive a couple miles out from shore and seeing gold sparkling up through the depths, and swimming up for a closer look to find a giant statue of a pharaoh?

<<< This ancient bronze oil lamp makes me think of Aladdin.

Places like this really do something for my imagination.  All that I’ve read about the downfall of this city says that several natural disasters are to blame for it ending up deep under the water.  But how??? I want specifics here.  Did the Nile flood?  Did the polar ice caps melt back then?  Was there a hurricane?
It makes you wonder what else is lurking in the ocean's depths, and 
makes me think about America’s coastal cities being discovered submerged by generations far into the future and what they will think of us.

Which modern cities could end up under the sea:

Sea Level Change This Century:

And because I am a nerd...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April is the cruellest month

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering        
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

Please tell me you recognize those words as I do.
I love T.S. Eliot. I still have my heavily annotated copy of The Waste Land that Eli bought me years and years ago, when we were dating and he knew just how to impress me.

Oh April. You've been pretty nifty.  You haven't been that cruel, though full of the wacko weather Utah is prone to in the spring (rain, sun, HAIL!, 70 degrees, snow) and some fun times.
I'm betting on you April--betting you will be the month in which we get our home.

We did a mad scramble last night, seeing 7 (or was it 9?) houses after work. Which is exhausting.  Especially when you see the creepy way that people live.  Let me show you some examples:

This beauty, of galloping wiener dogs, was BIG. And mounted above the bed in the master.
Nothing sets the mood like rabid, charging daschunds. Know what I'm sayin?

There are no words for this one.  It is so horrifying and nonsensical that I must have it.
They are spray painting a flamingo. SPRAY PAINTING A FLAMINGO PEOPLE!!! Painting his head white.  And then we have the grim reaper of birds, or a rat wearing a hangman's mask on the left.  Wowza.

This little boy ("Jason" on the door) had a lilac room COVERED in his collectibles. In boxes.
That plaque says Choose The Right.
I like that it is mounted below the Star Wars toys (there weren't any Star Trek toys here, so clearly he did choose the right. Oh snap).  I always feel sorry for kids that don't have the toys out of the box though, you know?

This house was literally the Last House On The Left.
Which is a horror movie that has been remade.
And this house was a horror movie.  The basement was a maze where they send people to go pee and then those people get lost and a clown comes from under the stairs with a butcher's knife.
And they had a "play house" (AKA death trap) in the back that was eerie.
Our agent mentioned seeing Chucky (the killer doll) back there and Eli was out of that house SO FAST it made my head spin (that is a childhood fear he never grew out of).

We saw another house, the last one on our list, and it was adorable.
But it just wasn't right.  Kind of like a dress that is hot on the rack, you try it on and you look fabulous, but it is a little snug in the hips and the colors just don't rub you 100% rightly. 
If that makes sense.
We loved it-- it was cozy and decorated so nicely we would not have had to re-paint or re-carpet really.
But there was something just OFF.
It can all be summed up metaphorically by the dog.
If you know me or have read my blog a bit, you know the husband and I love dogs.  We are obsessed and cannot wait to get one. Particularly, a Bernese Mountain Dog,

They are INCREDIBLE animals.  A Bernese is our dream dog, but they are so hard to come by.
I went to college with one (no jokes) and he was brought home from Switzerland (where Bernese are native to, hence the fur).  My professor and boss had a neighbor with a Bernese named Einstein and he was in LOVE with her (the professor). She was his true Mama. And he would walk to class with her, and attend most of our history lectures (if anyone got in her face with Einstein around, they were sorry).  And after class we'd all go up to the office together for lunch.  He is the only Bernese I have ever known, and Eli knew him as well, and we have always wanted one.
There are only 2 breeders in Utah that offer Bernese and they are pricey and hard to get because the litters sell before the puppies even pop out. 
Anyhow, we desperately want one.

Yesterday we were touring this adorable house and I looked out of the window, seeing some movement, and BOOM. There in the yard is a Bernese.
I was like holy shiiiiiiit and screamed for Eli, and he saw the Bernese and freaked out. We were both like "they have our dog! Where did they get him from?! Oh my gosh it is a sign!"
But the longer we were in that house, the more I felt it was not right.
And I decided to go outside and see this amazing dog I dream about.
I approached the fenced in dog run and that dog started barking viciously at me.
He was intimidating and not friendly in the slightest and I was like "I love Bernese, but this dog is wrong."
And it is a metaphor for the house.
We love houses and dream about them, but just because it looks right appearance-wise does not mean it is a good fit.

Wow. I just compared a dog and a house.
I feel like both my imagination and writing skills have gone down the toileyyyy.But there you have it.
So we didn't make an offer.
And this stressed me out as we got home and I took a hot shower, feeling like maybe we were making the wrong decision, but as soon as Eli said "we can let that house go" I felt an immense sense of relief and stood there with conditioner in my hair smiling, realizing that yes that house was close,
but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
They say when you find the right house, you will know.

I pulled up my listings today and found Maybe-Our-House.
It just hit the market this morning, is in a perfect location, great yard with old shady trees, has a gorgeous wood floor in the entryway, a master with big closet and bath, and all around just looks like Our House.  Maybe.
My blood started pumping when I saw it and I was FREAKING OUT.
Which I have never done about a house before.  My heart was literally pounding and I told Eli "CALL OUR AGENT NOW! WE NEED TO SEE THIS ASAP."
And we are leaving work early for the day, in an hour, to go check it out.
It might be our house, it might not. 

But . . .  there is this horoscope website I love.
I probably shouldn't be admitting that, it is so fruit-loopy and I don't believe in all of that stuff, but they are interesting to read.
Anyway, this website is very in-depth and in my Leo's December horoscope last year mentioned bones breaking because of some-planet-being-all-up-in-another-planet's-grill, which apparently bakes you prone to fractures.
And my jaw broke in December.
So I decided to read it occasionally, and it said that on April 25 (tomorrow), a "home-related plan will come to fruition."  
SOUNDS GOOD TO ME!!! Eli and I are both Leos, and that is a Leo horoscope...


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

These Days

This post is not terribly exciting.
It is just an update of what has been going on in my life recently.

Lots of house hunting.  An exhausting roller coaster ride of emotions and time.
Eli and I both dedicate at least an hour of our work day to house hunting (interspersed throughout the day of course, and during lunches/breaks).  We'll message each other about house-hunting and if I find a gem that just hit the market I scribble the MLS down on a post-it and run down 2 flights of stairs to his desk (remember, we work at the same company) and go "look at this one!!!!"

We've put down offers on 3 houses and gotten outbid every time.
The last one was the hardest-- our agent talked to the seller who agreed to lower the price to compensate for things the house was lacking (needed a new furnace for example), and we had given them until 4pm.
Around 2pm the seller called our agent and said they were going to accept our offer and just had to get some things ready.
At 3pm someone called the seller and offered them list price and just like that, we were out of the deal.
It was like so much water running through our fingers.

Tonight we are going on a mad grand house hunting excursion with our agent and seeing 8-10 houses.
Then we'll rush by the grocery and grab something for dinner and hunker down, watch Django while I work from home (I'm on call tonight, of all things).

We've also been spring cleaning in a sense.  We are sick to death of our shoddy little apartment in the ghetto (it isn't really In. The. Ghetto, but the people that live there and the people that manage it are all awful.
And after 2 years of holing up in this little place we are both itching with angst to get out of it! We need a yard! We don't want to walk down 3 stories to take the trash out, or haul our laundry out every weekend because there aren't washing machines there.  Our dishwasher leaves everything looking filthier than when it went in, our oven has a mind of its own, and lately the bathwater has been running cold.
First World Problems, I know, but we have House Fever running high--both to get out of the apartment and get into a home and make it our own.  We enjoy that kind of fixing-up work.

So this weekend we went through and pulled out our summer clothes, packed away the winter clothes, and donated 4 bags of them.  It always feels good to thread out what you don't need anymore and pass it off to someone you know will appreciate it.  I donated 2 gorgeous dresses that I don't have the occasion to wear, and I hope a less fortunate girl than me can wear them to the Prom, or something equally exciting and important, and show them the good time I rarely did.

We're going to start packing our stuff up bit by bit so we aren't overwhelmed by it at the end of July, when our lease is up...or, hopefully, if we get into a house sooner and can break our lease.

I've been exercising a bit.  Which I haven't done before, for various reasons (health problems).
My body likes it.  Does your body ever crave attention--a good stretch, a long walk? Mine does.
So jogging on the treadmill, even if only for a half mile helps me relax and I don't feel so restless.

We've been looking in a lot of animal shelters and pet shops lately because we are both dyyyyying to get a dog.  Once we get our house fixed up (carpet, paint, we don't know what to anticipate since we don't have a freakin house yet), that will be the first order of business.

We found a black cat with green eyes named Chief at the animal shelter on Saturday that was an absolute doll.  Eli is allergic to cats and we don't really plan on getting one, but he does love cats, and his brother who is also allergic got over it when he and his wife got a cat...and we both fell in love with Chief to the point that Eli was going "Damn it! If we had a house I would take this cat home right NOW!"
This cat literally stretched his paws up to hug me, then climbed onto my shoulder, nuzzled me under my chin, and reached his paws and face out to Eli for attention.  He was such a sweetheart, I hope he gets adopted soon, or I may find myself back at the animal shelter this weekend.

This weekend Eli and I are hoping to paint our bedside tables the same Tiffany blue as my dresser. We've wanted to for a while, but weather was not permitting.
The weather in Salt Lake hasn't been permitting at all lately. It has been a complete tease and torture.
We want to get out and go hiking! Play Frisbee (I'm terrible somehow) in the park!

In the meantime, we'll keep hunkering down dreaming of our future house, yard, and dog.

Now for some recent photos.

TRYING to FaceTime with my bestie.
She gets here in July !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Those little darlings turned their wheel into a nest.

Went to the zoo in the rain. We prefer going on those dreary, cooler days because the animals are more active! We learned this trick from my mom, who was a docent at Hogle Zoo for years.

BBQ Night.

With a decadent fruit salad as dessert.

Going through my brother's and my childhood stuffed animals. Oh the memories! We donated a bunch and tucked the rest away for posterity.

101 Dalmatians is my favorite movie (now and growing up) and we had dalmatian everything (we even had 2 dogs that were dals growing up!). Here is my Perdidah and his Patch.  We loved the noses (and in Patch's case, the ears) off these guys!

An improvised lemon chicken dish I made last week.  It turned out beautifully.

The amazing kitchen of the last house we put an offer in on and nearly got.  It was lovely.

We drowned our sorrows over losing the house in sushi.

Last Saturday we wandered the neat old houses of downtown. This one was perfect for a horror show, but could be absolutely gorgeous if it were given some major repairs and love!

Friday, April 19, 2013

KNOW YOUR HISTORY: Chechnya and al-Qaeda

This is going to blow up real quick-- so please make yourself acquainted with some history.

As you may have heard, we know more about those responsible for the acts of terrorism at the Boston Marathon.
They are two brothers that lived in or near Chechnya.  It is believed these brothers are ethnic Chechens.
It is also believed that they carried out this act of terror on behalf of al-Qaeda (they have yet to determine if they acted independently as al-Qaeda activists, or if a larger al-Qaeda directive is involved).
It doesn't appear they have links to any Chechen terrorist groups.

Chechens are an ethnic minority governed by Moscow.
When the Cold War ended, there was a massive movement for Chechen independence that did not go well. They had 2 wars and revolution is ongoing.
The history of the Chechens is similarly dark; for hundreds of years, they were a mountain-dwelling people that were mainly Muslim. Peter the Great ordered constant raids in Chechnya and they never really stopped.

In the 1800s, a Russian General that perceived the Chechens as "savages" made it his goal in life to destroy them and burned their crops and villages, and killed all Chechens he could.
In return, the Chechens fought back guerrilla-style.  Doesn't this remind you of Native Americans and English settlers?
It only took about 20 years for the Chechen population to be cut in half, and they had to admit defeat.  And so, Chechnya was formally absorbed into the Russian Empire.
Lenin cut them some slack though, and basically told them to live their own life.  In 1922 Chechnya
became an autonomous republic of the Soviet Union.
But then... WWII, that crazy ass Stalin believed the Chechens were helping the Nazis, and deported to Siberia or Central Asia (estimates put the death rate for this relocation at approx. 30%).
Stalin died and Khrushchev finally allowed the Chechens to come back to their homeland 13 years later.
Too bad their property had been seized by others and they had nothing to return to.

In the early 1990s, national rights movements caught fire and Chechen General Dudayev became President of Chechnya and declared the country's independence from Russia.
As you can imagine, it did not go well.
Russia dropped bombs on Chechnya and sent in troops.  There was outright fighting, with Chechens huddled in high rise buildings with guns, trying to take out Russian soldiers in the streets.
This would have been highly influential on the Chechen brothers responsible for the Boston bombing, who are believed to have been among the 300,000 residents that fled as refugees during this war.

As far as al-Qaeda---the ongoing guerrilla warfare in Chechnya attracted quite a few Islamist combatants, some of whom had links to the al-Qaeda terrorist group.  These terrorists used Chechnya as a recruiting ground for their jihadist ideology.
What we are now trying to learn is if these brothers were radicalized through their experiences in Chechnya, or if they self-radicalized while living in the United States (via access to radical Islamist resources and propaganda).

It is important to note that the bombs they made using pressure cookers are a common practice of al-Qaeda (they put out an article on "Make this bomb in the kitchen of your Mom" a couple of years ago).

So it appears that we have Chechnya nradicals belonging to (or at least following the tenets of) al-Qaeda, that have resided in the United States (giving this incident a tinge of domestic terrorism). Some people just want to watch the world burn, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

What a mess.
What a tragic mess.
I shudder to think what implications this will hold internationally, especially for those that are not well-versed in their history.
Some of the older generation may point fingers at the "commies", while those who think all Muslims are terrorists will use this as support for their movement to deport/imprison Arabs.

Lets try not to get too ugly over this America, we've had enough pain this week.

The basics:


Photographs of the Chechen people:

More on Chechnyan history and struggle:

Chechnyan ties to Islam:

Current updates from Boston:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Be It Ever So Humble...

...There's No Place Like Home.

If we could just find one, that is.

We are still on the hunt.  We've put a few offers in and been outbid.  Which is disappointing.
We did research on the Utah housing market to see if it is just us, but it seems we are not alone-- Salt Lake City is in the top 10 cities with housing markets in short supply, and inventory is slim.
The housing market is rebounding so raters are great, there just aren't many houses to choose from, not to mention now that the weather is warming up, all the house-hunters are on the move!!

Every house we've seen has had multiple offers, and several people viewing it at the same time we are!
I can't help but give them the stink eye, trying to tell them get out my MY HOUSE with my face.
It hasn't worked, apparently.

But in the meantime, we're having fun dreaming about decorating and the options out there!
We both adore the fresh, New England Cape Cod style--both exterior and in.

So without further ado, let me turn temporarily turn my blog into an idea board!

There is something about that crisp white trim that is clean and welcoming.

Grey has really made a comeback, have you noticed?
People are pairing it with yellow, but that is just too retro and trendy for my taste.

I think grey with white/beige/blue is more timeless.

I'd pair it with a soft orange before I would put it with yellow.
  Light turquoise and white is such a classic, beachy look.
Perfect for a relaxing in a hot bath.

I can't wait to hit up some funky stores to search for unique drawer pulls and hardware of that sort--
Anthropologie has the best selection of this stuff.

Wood floors are theeeeeeee shit (in the best possible way).

They pop against the white in a way carpet never can.

So white white white is our foundation here (could you tell from these photos?).

For the smaller decorative touches, I love prints of maps and birds/plants.

And I am a complete freak for terrarium type accents.

I would plant fresh lavender in the garden... well, that is another story for another day.
Damn, I need a house as a creative outlet now. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Defining Moments in Europe : My Personal Memories

I've been missing Europe lately.
Not in the way that you miss the summer when everything crusts over with snow mold in February and you don't see the winter as beautiful anymore, or the way you miss that other high heel you lost at a rambunctious house party.

I miss Europe the way I miss my favorite dog that we put to sleep last year.

It feels more like a breathing, growing person to me than a country or a place.
Some places I visit, I feel like they are locked down that way--only existing when I am there.
But Europe... I know that Europe is going on without me, adapting heart beating on, and I want to serve as witness.

For some reason, only momentous things happening in the United States count as history for me.
And living in Utah, those moments are few and in-between in particular.
But every day feels like history in Europe, even when it is just your own personal history that is being added to as you sip the best cup of coffee you've ever had in your life in a sidewalk cafe and make a mental note--amending your life's chronicle: I had the best coffee of my life at the Cafe Latin.  I took the first sip as the bells of Notre Dame rung.

I have been to Europe 3 times.

I have not been there in 3 years.
But I'm having fun reminiscing about my favorite places there.  That you may not have heard of before, as they are not particularly mainstream.

St. Mary Abbot's -- London
The first time I went to London, I stayed on High Street in Kensington.
Everyone in my group was knackered with jet lag, but I caught one glimpse of those Mary Poppinsesque chimney silhouettes out of the window and grabbed my camera and a bottle of water and dashed out of the hotel on my own.
I didn't wander far, of course, being a girl alone, 16 years old, and never having had been to Europe, but I wandered deep.
Which means I didn't walk a terrible distance, but I wandered down alleyways and up ancient stone paths without using a map or noting markers to make my way back the same route;
 I firmly believe getting lost is the best way to enjoy a city.

And get lost I did.  A light rain started to sprinkle me.  This is SO London! I thought to myself.
I had entered a small stone courtyard full of arching old trees and I suddenly saw a spire and realized I had come upon a parish tucked into the city.  I was enthralled and began snapping away on my camera, fiddling with the knobs to turn the image to black and white to better capture the atmosphere.

There was a walkway with ancient graves, one of them nearly entirely enveloped in a tree, the name of its occupant long washed away by the weather and hands of the grieving.  As I rounded this tree I gasped, for there, sitting on a stone pile near the cemetery was a meditating monk.

I observed him for a moment, savoring the comradery of just the two of us in this secluded nook of London, in the rain.  It was so spiritual and so human at the same time.  Then I tucked my camera back into its pouch and left him to his solitude.

Sognefjord -- Norway

Nature in all of her beauty.  All of her overwhelming, pure, pre-human beauty.
That is the wonder that is Sognefjord.

We were staying in Olso with our delightful Norse relatives, who own a cabin perched on a small fjord off of Sognefjord.  So we took a boat up Sognefjord to get there.
We went early, to enjoy the area before boarding the boat.
There was that strange mist in the air that is like virtue itself (you know what I mean? The kind of fresh fog that you feel breathing in will make you healthier?).

The water is an indescribable color.  It is emerald green, then iridescent purple with sparkles of blue running through it.  It ripples like a cotton sheet on a clothesline, throwing off dazzling streams of sunlight.
It is glacially cold and glacially clean, so clean you can see more than twenty feet down.
I perched at the end of a dock by myself and slipped off my shoes (to the aghast stares of the few others sitting on a bench 40 feet away).  It was freezing but it felt so good.
The mountains of the fjord rose up around me and I hoped they would swallow me whole.
It felt so gloriously real to have the sun warming my upper body and the water like hands of ice massaging my feet.  I thought about my Viking ancestors and decided they probably did this sort of thing all. the. time.

The boat ride was beautiful, needless to say.  Waterfalls and wildlife, clapboard houses perched on the side of the water with painted little boats bobbing in the waves.  Picturesque, but also rugged.
You feel that you could close your eyes and open them to see a Viking longship sailing toward you.

The Pantheon -- Paris
 You can taste the particles of history in the air here. And feel them on your skin as the oooooold ceiling crumbles occasionally.
My mother took me here.  As a French teacher, she is always going on about Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.  The Pantheon was build to house her relics and later became the burial place of many a famous figure.  It was modeled after the Pantheon of Rome and its crypt holds the bones of Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Zola, Voltaire, and Rousseau, to name a few.  It is a jackpot.
Our hotel was just down the hill and around the corner, so we hiked up up up to get to it.
The inside has the most marvelous murals portraying St. Genevieve (a great story, you should look into it!!) and those soaring ceilings and columns that make you want to don a toga and lie on the old marble and gaze upward for the rest of forever.

I was impressed. I was awed.
And that was before we took these worn stone steps downstairs, into the old musky smell that you instinctively associate with adventure.

You feel like you've entered an ancient Egyptian tomb.  You become instantly reverent and silent as you peer down each hallway that holds the remains of so many magnificent people.

I was drawn to the tomb of Victor Hugo, which he shares with Zola and Dumas.  I touched my hand to the cold stone and cried.
I cried for how France treated him as a traitor, I cried for his exile, I remembered how he had to eat animals from the Paris Zoo during the Prussian Siege. I remembered his last words, from his will: "I leave 50 000 francs to the poor. I want to be buried in their hearse. I refuse [funeral] orations of all churches. I beg a prayer to all souls. I believe in God."
Then I smacked the stone and exclaimed "how COULD you Victor?! How COULD you??"
This pertains to my issue with him and Les Miserables. 
I read it once (right before this trip) and never got over it.  It did something to me.  To say it upset me is to say an amputation is a scratch.
I never read it again. I never saw it on the stage or watched a film adaptation or listened to the music.
I've been girding my loins--I want to re-read it and see the new film out. We'll see.
Seeing the other tombs were all moving in their own regard.  It was incredible.
And so lonely down there! There was no one else down there and I thought of how important these people were to the world, and now they lie there turning to dust with only one another for company.

Sorrento -- Italy

This place is a real doozy.  On the Italian coastline, its name is derived from the Odyssey, as they believe this is where the sirens (or mermaids, as locals call them) dwelled.
Where limoncello was invented, and where Dickens, Nietzsche, and Goethe vacationed (the latter probably due to the former  :) ), this city perched along the sea is truly unique.
It smells like lemons and salt water there, and everyone waves or calls out "ciao!" with a smile as you pass.
We only stopped here for a night, but it was a definitive moment for me.
Once I'd dumped my stuff at the hotel, I threw on my bikini and ran down the winding roads to the water.  There is a small sliver of beach below the towering cliffs and I only stopped jogging when I hit the sand.

Then I dove.  The water wasn't too cold and I must have stayed in for five hours.

I skipped afternoon tea and floated until the sun began to set.
I had brought my goggles, and diving down, I realized that the beach used to be much further out, and there must have been some kind of cotillion patio, restaurant, or dock road now covered by ten feet of water, because there are the most beautiful handmade patterned tiles under that water.
Apparently there are all kind of dives off the coast here, and entire villas and archaeological masterpieces that have been found under the water.

As I dove down, I recovered tiles and old shards of pottery.  It blew my mind.
As a history nerd obsessed with the ocean, this was a merging of two worlds that before this moment had been completely separate in my mind.

I snatched giant hermit crabs off the bottom and let them crawl in my hand as I bicycled in the waves, treading water, before diving back down and placing them back on the floor.
When I had exhausted myself from diving, I floated on my back, looking up at the cliffs and colorful villas, the sun bathing everything in bright brilliance, and I thought this is the most perfect moment of my life.
I only got out of the water as the sun set, and wandered slowly back up to the hotel in my bikini, dripping wet, freckled from the sun, my goggles dangling at my side and my pockets bulging with the ocean tiles I had collected (I still have them).  When I got back to my room I threw on a sundress and drank a cold glass of white wine on the patio, trying to comprehend the revelation I had experienced in the bay.
 I cannot wait to return and share that miracle of a place with my husband and make new memories.

So that's it.  Those are my personal favorite places in Europe. I experienced something special in each place that I will never forget.   Isn't it fascinating the way places factor into memories?

Monday, April 15, 2013


I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.
-William F. Buckley, Jr.

Well, terrorism strikes again.
And there is no better word for it.
I am at work with my headphones in, listening to live feeds, and as the bombs go off and you can hear the screams, my insides twist and the hairs everywhere on my body stand up and I am filled with terror.
"Terrorism" may be a simple term that has spawned stereotypes, but it does not get much more descriptive: that is their goal. 

Sitting here at my computer working on documents in safe Salt Lake City, I am filled with terror just hearing and imagining what is going on there, on the other side of the country.

I cannot fathom what the actual witnesses and citizens of Boston are feeling right now, but I am sending as many good vibes as I can muster their way.

Boston is an old city.  It is a stronghold. It is the City on a Hill.
It was the site of a massacre and the famous ride of one Paul Revere. Not to mention the world's biggest Tea Party in the harbor.
It is the home of Fenway Park, Hawthorne, Longfellow, and Adams. And the Kennedys, of course.

Bolyston Street, the site of the explosions, has archaeological sites of Native Americans that inhabited the peninsula more than 7,000 years ago.

It has survived worse, and it will survive this.
We can all survive the inhumanity of the world.

Live feed I have been listening tohttp://www.cbsnews.com/liveFeed/widget.shtml

And I will say this, offensive and brash as it may be...
If you've ever met a Bostonian, you know that 
Boston hits back.  With baseball bats.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Some Retro Sexism

You guys, I had the best time in Moab!
I still need to post about that, with the fabulous photos I took.
Until then, let us all relish in a time not-so-long-gone in these vintage advertisements that make me grateful to live in the time that I do.

Ok, I'll just say it:
 that pink and white Betty Thorton is a slut.

Isn't it interesting, this notion of women being responsible for their man's wandering eye?
I feel like we still do this nowadays-- when a guy cheats, women often love to attack the other woman, rather than realizing it takes two to tango. . .

Also, who knew gingerbread could salvage a marriage?!


Just . . . WOW.

Because we're all bad cooks.

But as long as he comes home to a cold one, it works out !!

These ads make me want to read The Women's Room again. And Peyton Place.
Once I'm finished (again) with Revolutionary Road!

Happy Monday morning ya'll.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What's the deal with Korea?

I've been hearing that a lot lately, what with the current tensions and threats and bullshit going back and forth.

Boy, is this a whopper of a history story!
People think Vietnam was bad, but in a lot of ways the Korean conflict was worst.
In 3 years approximately 5 MILLION people were killed (soldiers and civilians) in the Korean War.

How possession has changed . . .

And all for what? We're still struggling with the same issues in a country divided.

It all went down during the Cold War (in its simplest form: post-WWII tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Russia), and is commonly known as the first troop actions of the Cold War.

Since 1910, Korea was a colony of Japan's Empire.  But because Japan was the enemy of the U.S. and Russia in WWII, it was a case of to the victor go the spoils, so after the war these two countries were like "gee, what should we do with this country..?"

At the Cairo Conference they decided to "free" the people of Korea (from Japan's rulership)
via a trusteeship, which is this weird theory the UN came up with after WWII ensuring (in theory) that countries once ruled by other countries were taken care of in a way considerate to their population and world peace at large.
In Korea this trusteeship meant getting the country ready for a provisional government, and eventually on the road to independence.
Russia got to handle North Korea and the U.S. got the South, because when the Russians arrive in Korea they only occupied the Northern section, so the Americans were like
"cool, we got the South yo."

There wasn't an official division yet, so a couple young aides working for the U.S. State Department checked out a National Geographic map of the country and noticed the 38th parallel divided the country neatly in half, while leaving the capital (Seoul) on the American side.
No one with a brain in their head or anyone knowing that historically this is the exact location that Japan and Russia had previously discussed dividing the country was consulted.

They had elections set up but the Russians didn't dig the idea of having elections for both sections of the country and thus this epic division began.
The Koreans didn't really like it either, and protested the trusteeship in the South.
The military in the South responded with destruction (killing protesters and burning villages).
These people's uprisings were going on the entire time the Korean War was happening.

In the South, the dictator was Rhee.  He was an anti-Communist that converted to Christianity while in prison (for protesting the Japanese occupation of Korea), hung out with Teddy Roosevelt once, and got degrees from George Washington University, Harvard, and Princeton.
In other words, he was super-Westernized and America was like "ok, we'll put up with him."
He was the secretary in charge of the YMCA at one point for crying out loud.
But... he also repressed people and was a pretty corrupt little bastard.
Korea from space (2012).
You can see how different the countries are.

The North had Kim Il Sung, a Communist dictator, one of those cult-of-personality leaders.
He was also involved in actively protesting the Japanese.  People have alleged he was a pretty big guerrilla fighter, and he ended up joining the Red Army to finish out WWII.

Although these two dictators had different supporters and motives, they both wanted to keep the Korean peninsula together (though each still have their own governments).
At this point, North Korea was heavily armed by the Soviets, but the U.S. refused to bulk up the abilities of South Korea's army because they thought they were playing it safe and maintaining order.

As you can imagine, this happy-go-lucky idea of "if you don't give them more guns, everyone will be friends!" did not work.

Before the war even really started, it is estimated that 10,000 people had already been killed because of Northerners going over the border and starting it up with Southerners, and vice-versa.

Tension was running high.
In the summer of 1950, the South Koreans could not hold the North Koreans at the 38th parallel, and the next day Rhee was going "shit! The Korean People's Army of the North is going to make it to Seoul and wreck it. I'm getting the hell out of Dodge..erm, I mean Seoul!" So he tried to hide the fact that the KPA was invading, and he jetted.
As soon as he got out, the South Korean military blew up the main bridge, essentially trapping Seoul's citizens from fleeing the oncoming army from the North.
So the KPA occupied Seoul and Rhee was like "well Busan is the new Seoul! I'll just start my dictatorship over from down here..."

But most of the people did not like this notion, because as I mentioned before, Rhee wasn't the best guy.  Plus he left his peeps behind to flee to safety on the coast and then still expected to be re-elected.
So guess what he did?  He had a mass arrest carried out and nabbed all of the officials opposing him.
So he did get re-elected, though for the wrong reasons.

When the North Koreans crossed the border in force, the United States had freaaaaaaaaked out and did the same nervous chant that they used again during the Vietnam War:
(you have to say this the same way Chicken Little says "the sky is falling!!!!")
"They're going to come to South Korea, and then they'll hook up with the Chinese, and we all know about those Russians, and then India and Pakistan and Iran and Turkey and Europe and then they'll get in a damn rowboat and cross the Atlantic and then.... THEY'LL BE IN AMERICA. And we will be DONE FOR.  Pinko Commi BASTARDS!!"

That Truman Doctrine, I tell ya...
This is the speech (below) where Truman summed up how America is the policeman of the world.
And we've been suffering for it ever since.

Truman actually though about dropping an atomic bomb on Korea. He loved those things.
The reason America got so involved was because of the position of Korea--in between Russia in China.
They thought a democratic, anti-Communist stronghold would be a protection against the spread of Communism, and who else to ensure this stronghold remained shored up than the good ole' U.S. of A??
Korea was a big stand, in other words.
A last stand, in the view of some.

Plus, this was in the wake of WWII and a lot of the bigwigs involved in the handling of Korea were nervous about letting any army invade any other country (even if it was their other half), because they let Hitler get away with it for a while in Europe and by the time they stepped in, shit was BAD.
They didn't want to let the mistake of appeasement happen again, and result in WWIII in less than a decade after WWII ended.
So Truman raised his voice against "this SERIOUS breach of peace!"

And then a whole lotta fighting went down.
The KPA from the North murdered the Intelligensia of South Korea and
General MacArthur (the American General of the Korean War)
was all "Kim Il Sung, WTF?? This is your fault!"

Then the Battle of Inchon, which is another story in itself... and the South Koreans got Seoul back.
The KPA withdrew into the North and Stalin went "DUDE, YOU GUYS SUCK!"
MacArthur was like "Let's get those Commi bastards!!" and wanted to go into China to destroy the supplies the Chinese were giving to the North Koreans, but Truman sent him a memo that basically said "too damn bad, don't you dare cross that 38th parallel."

MacArthur KNEW that if we didn't cross the 38th parallel then, we'd be back.
We would end up fighting the Koreans again.
And he was right--look where we are today.

Truman fired MacArthur by the way.

And the war never really ended (no peace treaty, just a vague cease-fire), we just pretended to end our direct involvement with it.
The U.S. is still ever-present in Korea, and in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South.
Tensions are high.
Remind me why the U.S. is there again..???

Oh yeah, policing the world. Thanks Truman.

This is the DMZ today.  Guarded ALL.THE.TIME.


And THIS is the famous 38th parallel.
Who knew crossing one line of cement could warrant such intense international implications???
And I'm sure you've heard of how differently people live from North to South.
North Korea's economy is underdeveloped, their people malnourished, and they won't accept aid from anyone. They are incredibly secretive and paranoid.
Only 150 Westerners are allowed in the country every year. Journalists are not allowed and even if you go in on a tourist visa, they assign you "minders" that they call "guides" who are actually body guards on behalf of the country and watch you every minute.
They have electric fences on the beaches, 3 newspapers, and 1 radio, and 1 TV station for the whole country.  As you can imagine, all forms of communication are restricted and whatever they churn out is propaganda-oriented.
In Korean movies, the antagonists are Americans, and there are towering statues of their Shining Leader everywhere. They are taught (and then preach) that North Korea is the best at everything.
They look down on anything they deem "reactionary."
And they sure hate the West, America especially.
And now, for a second time, North Korea has declared active war.
That said, they do enjoy their warmongering.
That that said, the U.S. has the right to operational control of South Korea's military in event of war.
Not exactly a recipe for success.
Especially when you consider the nuclear weapons.
 Yesterday they made a formal announcement:
"We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK (North Korea) and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means of the DPRK and that the merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified."
You cannot deny this is kind of terrifying, even knowing that warmongering is a beloved past time of North Korean politicians.
They don't have much of a nuclear arsenal, but I'm not sure how concerned they are with consequences.  Intimidation is a priority for sure.
Anyhow, this post is already far too long. But when someone asked me "dude, what is up with Korea?!" I had to provide a decent answer.
Here's hoping we survive the year--2013 is shaping up to be pretty alright!