It's kind of like a United Nations ambassador or Angelina Jolie. OK, not really. On both counts.

I just get to keep blogging about the 3-Day and add in some advice and tips. (Mom, don't laugh. Other people sometimes think I know what I'm talking about.)

To celebrate my new role, let me tell you a story about Susan G. Komen, which I lifted from the Breast Cancer 3-Day Ambassador Fact Sheet:

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure and the Breast Cancer 3-Days, the organization has invested more than $1.2 billion to fulfill its promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. For more information about Komen for the Cure, breast health or breast cancer, visit komen.org or call 800-Go-Komen.
Labels: 0 comments | Links to this post | edit post
When I grow up to be an amazing novelist, I want to be just like Jodi Picoult. I bought My Sister's Keeper years ago and never really read it. But I picked it up against after seeing previews for the movie. (As we all know, the book is generally better than the movie.)

And, OMG, excellent character development! She rotates the narration through several characters, using different fonts to help distinguish which was has the reigns. There's a surprise ending, so I won't discuss the book's message too much.

The basic premise of the book is that a 13-year-old girl, Anna, is suing for medical emancipation from her parents. Her parents genetically tailored her to be a good blood/bone marrow match for her sister, Kate, who is two years older than her, to help fight an aggressive form of leukemia. Well, the fight has gone on for years, and many procedures, longer than originally expected, and now she wants to own her own body, so to speak.

But of course it's much more complicated than that. All the characters are. An example that won't screw up the ending for you:

Jesse, the oldest of the three and the only boy, essentially becomes a juvenile delinquent -- setting things on fire, stealing a judge's Hummer, etc. Kate's has been in the hospital for a few days with severe hemorrhaging when Jesse stole a chemical from the science lab and blew up his school's septic system. His mom notices a bruise in the crook of his arm when she's yelling at him in the car:

It is telling, I suppose, that my mind immediately races to heroin, instead of leukemia, as it would with his sisters. "What's that?"

He folds his arm. "Nothing."

"What is it?"

"None of your business."

"It is my business." I pull down his forearm. "Is that from a needle?"

He lifts his head, eyes blazing. "Yeah, Ma. I shoot up every three days. Except I'm not doing smack, I'm getting blood taken out of me on the third floor here." He stares at me. "Didn't you wonder who else was keeping Kate in platelets?"

He gets out of the car before I can stop him, leaving me staring out a
windshield where nothing is clear anymore.

Walk up to them out of the blue. Declare their new hairstyle looks great. Tell them, no really, you always thought they looked nice, but WOW, their bangs are great. Seriously.

Because the best compliments are unscripted and spontaneous. A coworker (who always looks pretty nice herself) mentioned my new 'do yesterday, and it really lifted my spirits. Way more than a can of Mountain Dew did.

Now, if you really want to leave me speechless, tell me I'm smart ;)
The world order has been restored: Revolutionary Road (the book) is better than Revolutionary Road (the movie), even if one distinctly does not involve Leonardo Di Caprio. The novel, published in 1961, was Richard Yates' first and was nominated for some fancy award (the National Book Award).

Frank Wheeler (DiCaprio) got a job in a large "corporation" with the expressed goal of doing as little as possible when his girlfriend/soon-to-be-wife got pregnant. And, he does do as little as possible while complaining/entertaining his friends with long monologues on how "decadent" society (mainly, the suburbs) has become:

"It's as if everybody made this tactic agreement to live in a state of total self-deception. The hell with reality! Let's have a whole bunch of cute little houses painted white and pink and baby blue; let's all be good consumers and have tons of Togetherness and bring our children up in a bath of sentimentality - Daddy's a great man because he makes a great living; Mummy's a great woman because she stuck by Daddy all these years -

The movie portrays Frank in a less-than-flattering light: he skips an afternoon of work to start an affair with a secretary and he talks down to his wife when a new community theatre production falls flat. But we really discover in the book that he either doesn't know or just doesn't share his true feelings -- he mentally struggled with what to say to his wife when he knew she was upset about the play, so he blurted something out and then felt bad about it.

He doesn't mind his life as much as he makes it seem, and he's too terrified to actually make any major changes.

Meanwhile, his wife, April (Kate Winslet) just went with the flow as they married, had two children and moved to the suburbs. She's not happy but bought into the belief that they were somehow special: All the other suburbanites were happy to live half-lives while she and Frank were different, better. It's a myth that Frank perpetuates and that his wife seems to believe, despite yelling horrible things to the contrary when they fight.

That belief was the big mistake, in my opinion.

It's one thing to set personal goals and to have standards, but it's quite another to think yourself better than your peers. If you live in the suburbs, it's OK to decide not to have lawn ornaments and to make fun of your neighbors' who do, but if you constantly need to put others down, you're probably just covering up your own sense of inadequacy. You really need to put a little pride in your work, find things and people you're passionate about, and worry less about what all your "delusional" neighbors are doing.

I suppose that wouldn't make much of a book or a movie, though, would it?
I'm pretty sure Jon and Kate Gosselin face pressures that the average marriage doesn't, so maybe your average marital advice doesn't really apply. Maybe instead of beach getaways and televised vow-renewal ceremonies, they should have talked with a professional. But then again, maybe fixing their marriage would have required more compromise than either of them could stomach. If Kate wants to push forward full steam into a "reality television" empire and Jon doesn't, would compromise just make them both miserable?

Not that I really know anything about anything, but I kind of feel like their kids deserved a little more effort at maintaining the marriage. And like I said before, it seems like they reached a comfortable stage where all they needed to do was enjoy their successes. But what do I know?

They pretty much said what one expects any divorcing couple to say during their "interviews" on last night's "announcement." Kate just wants relief:

"I'm tired of smiling in the outside and crying on the inside. I've been doing
that for a long time," Kate said of their life and impending split. "I had a
half a day where I let myself fall apart and hyperventilate and sob harder than
I've ever sobbed in my life. By the time I woke up the next morning, I decided I
need relief." (quotes taken from here.)

And Jon seems to think he's standing up for himself:
"I was too passive, I let her rule the roost and went along with everything and now I stood up on my own two feet and I'm proud of myself," he said.

At least they didn't tell the kids on television.

I thought the best part of the whole episode, though, was when the kids lined up lawn chairs outside their new playhouses and told their parents to be quiet because they were doing "interviews." I imagine their parents have asked them to please be quiet several times over the past few years while they were taping their interviews from the tan loveseat thing.

I guess now there will be twice the number of interviews because they'll be doing them separately.
Once upon a time, I so badly burned a batch of brownies-from-a-box-mix that my brothers, thinking themselves to be too funny, played Frisbee with them in the backyard. I don't exactly remember if the single brick of brownie broke when it hit the ground, but I wouldn't have been surprised if it didn't. I really burned those things.

My cooking is somewhat better now.

So much so that I was willing to tackle pastichio (a Greek lasagna and one of my mom's specialties) for a special dinner with Aaron. I got the recipe, asked for details on how exactly one "scalds" milk (I would have thought that was a bad thing) and set about cooking Friday evening.

Then the power went out. We killed time for an hour or so, but the power didn't return, so we tried to make the best of things. Aaron lit the gas burners for me with a candle-starter and held a flashlight while I made the cream sauce and layered the meat, cream sauce and pasta in a baking pan. We gave up on eating Friday night, largely because Aaron suspected the gas oven's temperature controls were electric.

Thankfully, the power came back on about 6:30 a.m. Saturday ,and I popped the pastichio in the oven while we watched Pirates of the Carri bean (pause to pay homage to Johnny Depp, if you need to.)

Anyway, the results were OK. Some found the cream sauce to be a little bland; I thought maybe I should have let it thickened more. From the single beam of the flashlight, it looked plenty thick to me after stirring it for two minutes, but the recipe called for 10 minutes. Maybe the recipe was right.

(Sigh.) I do make an excellent macaroni and cheese. Not bland, and plenty thick.
This was one of the more depressing movies I've seen in awhile. At first I was afraid all the reality television I consume like a pop-culture-rabid teenager had rotted my brain beyond appreciating "films." But on second though, I still have to say it was a depressing portrayal of a marriage that went into cardiac arrest after one final attempt a resecciataion.

So, because we all know the movie rarely does the book justice, I went and got the book from the library. I'll let you know if the printed word is as depressing as the visual product.
Thanks to one of my grandma's dear friends, I recently jumped over the $1,000 mark in fundraising for the 3-Day. I don't believe I've ever met her, but she's donated both in 2007 and this year (and obviously, I really appreciate it.)

And there's $1,300 to go with 113 days left until the walk.

But, before you ask how the heck I'm going to raise $1,300 in four months in a horrible economy, let's pause and reflect on I got here:

* I made hundreds of (in my mind) cute and funny note cards with breast cancer slogans and a few scarves and sold them at three craft shows this fall. I left the first one early because there were NO customers whatsoever and sitting there was only inspiring me to buy things from other vendors. I missed a good portion of another one I did with my mom because she slid on some black ice going to it and totaled her car (although my dad was in denial for several weeks that the car was, in fact, totaled. It was.)

* I organized a wine tasting and raffled off a ton of handmade purses and whatnots, including several that my mom made and a few "brassiere" purses that I and Danielle made. The best part was informing menfolk that they had won handmade purses, including a rather intoxicated friend of the wine shop owner who just wandered into the event.

* I found a Thorlos promotion in which they would donate almost half the cost of their socks to me if I provided a certain number of orders. I was planning to restock anyway because I love their super-padded socks, so in the end, I sent a few e-mails to other 3-Day participants and ended up with almost $100 in donations.

* And, of course, I sent the usual round of fundraising letters and e-mails.

So what am I going to do now, you wonder? I will be standing outside at least one local Walmart asking for donations and hosting a charity garage sale. And fervently praying that both are rousing successes ;)
Labels: 0 comments | Links to this post | edit post
So, I know I'm a few months behind on this, but I just stumbled across this online a few days ago. Apparently, some teenagers (and older people) think Rihanna "provoked" Chris Brown into (allegedly) hitting her enough times to leave her face puffy and purple.

Really? Really?

There is nothing that can justify leaving those kind of marks on the face of someone with whom you were/are in a close relationship.
Yes. It is.

It's also crazy to bake dog treats more often than human cookies. Or to coo nicknames at your dog so much that he not only responds to BlackJack, but also to "little guy," "jackers" and "cook-a-chew." And sometimes "bugaboo," but that's more of a winter nickname.

But Tweet BlackJack does. And, I was amazed, so do lots of other critters. BlackJack is following 23 dogs and cats, a bird and Ashton Kutcher. And he has 14 followers, which at this point is more than I have. If you are hankering to know what the little guy is up to, all you have to do is look to your right, just below the donation widget.

(For those who are wondering, I have two Twitter accounts, a blog, a Facebook account complete with a new nickname, a LinkedIn account, an Etsy account and a MySpace account. Although the MySpace account is solely there for journalistic purposes. No wonder I don't have a social life...)
Labels: , 0 comments | Links to this post | edit post
Yes, I officially am back on my training schedule for the 3-Day. (I have to earn the tiara that comes with being Ms. Americas Tatas Illinois.)

Life has thrown me curveballs (and plenty of laziness) lately. But I dragged myself to the gym Tuesday after I got stuck late at work and did 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer and walked three miles in just under an hour.

On Wednesday, I trekked five miles around Emricson Park (my new favorite place to walk) with my 3-Day buddy, Suzanne. On Thursday, I again got stuck late at work and fell asleep shortly after getting home. On Friday, I made myself get up at 6:30 a.m. to put in 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer at the gym before heading to work.

On Saturday, it rained. I got a little damp walking 5K (that's just over 3 miles) in Walk 5K for Caitlin since I was about 70 percent under Aaron's umbrella. Speaking of amazing boyfriends, BlackJack and Aaron accompanied me for another 3 miles Saturday at Emricson AND seven miles there Sunday.

I have to say, my fancy, expensive, extra-wide/clod-hopper walking shoes are doing an excellent job. My feet ached after seven miles but no blisters. I think I met dehydration for the first time this time around on Sunday, so I'm chugging non-sweetened ice tea for all its worth today.

And, it's only 17 weeks until the event. When I'll walk 20 miles a day for three days in a row while Aaron is tooling around in an air conditioned van picking up women - I mean, distressed walkers.
Labels: 1 comments | Links to this post | edit post
Yep, we just got a $30 clipper set at Wal-Mart (sorry, mom) and started buzzing the little guy in the garage. There was enough loose fluff when it was over that Aaron cleaned it up with a rake.



(If you look really closely, you can see the left leg is fluffier than the right. In real life, that makes my dog look like he has a clubbed foot. hehe.)

As for my own hair, I dyed it red myself but made two trips to different hairstylists before I got it the length I wanted....
... but seriously, Aaron and I spent a good part of last weekend painting my roommate's bathroom, patching the wall where water from the shower had splashed onto the drywall, and installing a curved shower rod (which really does make the shower seem roomier...)

The during:

The after:

Oh, and by Aaron and I, I mean Aaron did all the hard parts. Thanks you, Aaron ;)
When you love something, you worry. Sometimes, you worry a lot.

But here's something encouraging in the journalism world. The Ann Arbor News (for which I interned in the Summer of 2000) is closing in July.

That's not the encouraging part.

The cool thing is the company is launching a new online news product that will include a twice weekly print version. Supposedly, there will be a social networking component, tons of interactive and multimedia factors and the (potentially vague) goal of building a news organization of, for and by the community.

At least they're trying something new. It doesn't launch until July, but you can read about their efforts here.
So, I was working myself into writing a rant about Barbara Ehrenreich, who suggested in a commencement speech that a journalism degree was a "license to fight" because, you know, we will work as long as there is a story to be told, an injustice to be exposed, even if it means trying to carve a meager living in an industry that seems to be dying. I enjoyed the humor in her speech, but the more I thought about it, some of her underlying premises irked me.

But, I mostly let it out on my roommate (sorry, Crystal). So, instead, here are a few thoughts:

• The best journalists are "guerrillas," as Ehrenreich says these times demand. They fight with the tools they have, whether it be the mass publication of their words, FOIA, gumption or persuasion. I do worry, though, that the infiltration of social networking, video, and the 24-hour news cycle of the Internet is encouraging more noise - more gossip - than thoughtful discussion or well-researched enterprise articles. Perhaps editors will spend more time worrying about Twittering breaking news than applying resources to investigative projects or series or to mentoring young reporters. In tough economic times such as these, choices have to be made.

• I suspect many people who are prone to afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted, if necessary, would be willing to do so from another profession that could produce a similar altruistic feeling but offer more job security and better benefits. (Attorneys, teachers, NGO, other non-profits, government, etc.)

• Although I'm young and have relatively little experience upon which to build my opinions, I feel like something is being lost. Every time a newspaper, whether it be the underdog in a two-newspaper town or not, is lost, the community loses something. Unlike many blogs and other Internet mechanisms that are draining advertising dollars from newspapers, true journalists have bosses, mentors, people who hold them accountable. They see firsthand the people who are hurt by their stories and the people who are helped. They put their phone number in the paper for readers to call them, and they are pretty sure thousands (if not more) are reading what they write. And, generally, they know the difference between reporting and editorializing.

• I also know that journalism gives you a view of the human condition unlike any other. It's one thing to read compelling journalism; it's quite another to see and question and process and write and to do it all within a deadline. I, personally, would feel I had lost something if I didn't get to do that on a regular basis anymore.

• I have a sinking feeling journalism's plight is going to get worse before it gets better. And the people who are going to suffer the most for it are journalists.

• On a lighter note, I read Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America" years ago and enjoyed it. She sends herself on a series of experiments to try to make enough for next month's rent working minimum-wage jobs. Her work is funny, thoughtful, and well-researched, but I wish she did more to write about the people who are actually trying to live with minimum-wage jobs than writing about a middle-class, middle-aged woman taking herself on a bare-bones vacation. I might suggest Frank McCourt's "Teacher Man," Ken Fortenberry's "Kill the Messenger," or Leon Dash's "Rosa Lee: A Mother and her Family in Urban America" - or any other of Dash's books.