The Year 2009 in Review

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dear Family and Friends:

I’ve never been a fan of those hokey holiday letters— to be honest, they kinda make me gag. Maybe you feel the same. This isn’t one of those letters... not really. It’s just a summation of my year in review. Don't worry, I won't be offended if you stop reading now.

Countries/States visited: Colorado; Massachusetts; Washington; Illinois; Georgia; California; North Carolina; Utah(thrice); New York and Maryland; Dominican Republic.

Social Networks Joined: online dating site, twitter, flickr, and this blog.

Favorites: Trader Joe’s; Huntley Meadows; Glee; Crooked Fingers; the Moth; church on Tangier Island; caramel corn cupcakes; free gym membership (needed post cupcakes); The Art of Travel; pay-what-you-can theatre (best idea ever!); iPhone; pick-your-own farms; WeLoveDC blog; parking in a garage; and Dairy Godmother.

Not-So-Favorites: micro-managing boss; speeding tickets; commuting; cold sores; being towed; shoppers minus their carry-your-own bag(s); and Glenn Beck.

Dates: Some to be remembered, most to be forgotten...but in toto, more than 2008.

For the first time in several years this Christmas has been without incidence. No pregnant teen siblings. No dealing with a sibling's divorce heartache. No leaving the mission early. No quitting grad school. No cabin outing gone awry. In essence, NO drama. Call me crazy, but I like that. I adore my family and somehow I adore them more when I have a geographic buffer zone. I'm happy when they come to visit and I try my best not to take them for granted.

I'm grateful for this past year; for its adventures and for its vicissitudes. I appreciate the Savior in my life, He is my constant; and I enjoy my associations with dear friends, both old and new, both far and near. To be honest, I'm one lucky gal.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah!

Wishing you all a New Year of new possibilities.

What I Miss

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's only on these trips back, to a place once called home, that I pine a bit for:
  • Familiar faces of established friendships.
  • Free holiday parking downtown.
  • The Grid.
  • A bustling, bright Public Library.
  • Shoveling. (Snowpocalypse just doesn't cut it.)
  • Lunch for $3.99.
  • The Broadway theater.
That's all. Not a complaint, just a confession. On occasion, I miss pieces of this place.

Ps. Stay tuned for holiday pictures...

An Outing

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Remember when my blogger friend Laura shared a snippet of her travel diary? Well, the warriors have arrived! And I fully expect this will soak up the better part of a Saturday morning, sometime between now and March31. Care to join me?


Something about the start of a new decade that just makes you think. It's true. Somehow my 20s just slipped by me without a second thought. I look back and think, whoa, where did you go? And while the early parts were carefree and held the illusion of permanence, I found the middle parts more satisfying; after all, I was making grown-up decisions and moving my life to a City I loved. Inevitably my late 20s came, exposing raw, heartbreaking parts that I didn't know existed. I turned more introspective. In a way, I settled further into my mature spirit. But you know, I'm glad for those parts too. And now, well, now I've entered another turning point and while I'm uncertain exactly how to navigate these waters, I'm strengthened by what my mother said to me this past summer when I broached this bridge. She said, "30s are the best decade!" And you know what?, I believe her. Not because I know, but because I expect to know.

And for now, that's enough.

Liza with a Z

Friday, December 4, 2009

Remember clear back in June when I wrote this little piece? Well, since then I've been meaning to find new things to listen to. You know, like those informative TED talks. Or using LSAT logic on a daily basis. Or reliving moments you might just rather forget. You know important things. But sometimes I just need something frivolous. Enter: Steampunk Radio. More specifically, The Clockwork Cabaret. One of my twitter friends, I know, right, mentioned them awhile back and I filed it somewhere in the back of my you-should-really-look-into-that file. The episodes are two hours, and at first I was a tad skeptical. But I kept listening. And you know what?, I'm excited by vibes that don't seem like they should go together, but somehow do.

Maybe that's the brilliance of it.

(Okay, so I've only listened to one episode and maybe I should withhold judgment, but for now I'm delighted with this new find. I mean where else would I discover a missed Marx classic? Ahh, it takes me back to my college days and Irish Drinking parties. More on that later.)

10 Things I L O V E December

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

1. Snowshoeing.2. Our traditional Christmas Eve Story, A Candle in the Forest.

3. Handel's Messiah.

4. Blue Christmas Lights.

5. Holiday Tea with my dearest kindred friend.

6. My two favorite holiday films.

7. Christmas Cards.
(Making. Sending. Receiving.)

8. Mint M&Ms.

9. A new tradition: making wreaths here.

10. Amaryllis.
(As opposed to that other holiday plant.)


Monday, November 30, 2009

Of all the savory, sweet, decedent food combinations I indulged in this past weekend, I seriously wanted to make love to the sauce served up in my grandmother's delicate depression glass china.

Ps. The secret, I understand, is adding the juice from one additional orange.

Botanic Wanderings

Pretty things found in the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Horizontally Speaking

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Sexuality is to feminism what work is to Marxism: that which is most one's own, yet most taken away."
Catherine MacKinnon

And so began Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's lecture to a packed room of 20+ women Saturday morning. I thank my forward thinking, social activist friend, Suzette, for organizing the event. Definitely not your typical enrichment (now RS) meeting, but rather a self-selecting group of marrieds and singles that came together to talk about one thing.

In sorting through my copious notes and discussing the issue at length with my roommate, and even coming across a perfectly timed four page passage from Rand's Atlas Shrugged (Philosophical Brilliance!), I've grappled with how this topic impacts me on a personal, and perhaps more important, social level. Essentially, I've been mentally oversexed.

A few things I came away with.
  • Claiming ones sexual identity as a member of a patriarchal church is not only possible, it's essential.
  • Desire and pleasure are gifts from a benevolent God.
  • Single LDS men, especially those older guys, have been cultured to rejected their sexual identity. Think about that.
  • Adolescent females are shaped by the interactions they have with their father. (Not a huge surprise.) But get this, studies have found that adolescent females who saw their fathers engage in domestic duties had an easier time embracing their sexual identity than those that did not.
Now I just need to finish reading her dissertation.


Okay, so maybe it's been awhile since I've been asked out.
Or maybe I've been crushing on the USBG security guard, say, all summer.
Maybe it's just a matter of his chocolate eyes and sexy, yet masculine lashes.
Or maybe I caught him engrossed in a good book in the break room. (Hot!)
Or perhaps African American males have an appeal entirely their own.

But for heaven's sake, did you have to accept his invitation for a date so hastily?


Man up, woman.

Life's Appetites

Monday, November 16, 2009

November officially marked the beginning of overindulgence and last week was an especially gluttonous week.

So, what have I been up to?

1. Pie filling and fulfilling my calling.
Upon discovering I had a budget to blow through by the end of the year, I decided it was high time to get my crafty on and send my fhe partner into the mission field with a bang. These little single-serving-pie-in-a-jar treats are just too adorable! I'm thinking I'll whip up a few more of these in the next few weeks, and this time I'll actually give them away.

2. Snacking and Serving.
Since learning about the Capitol Food Fight a few months back and scoffing at the $100 ticket price, I signed up to, what else, volunteer. The event took place at the Ronald Regan Building last Wednesday night and as the largest annual fundraiser for the DC Central Kitchen I was delighted to promote a mission I fully support by offering my services at the registration table. Top chefs, like Anthony Bourdain and Jose Andres, gathered to battle it out on the stage, followed by a live auction, and table after table of the most tempting tastings from 60 top-notch area restaurants. Um, yeah I was pretty much in food paradise.
New To Me gustatory flavors included: fois gras, caviar, pumpkin marshmallows, and pork salt.

3. Tweeting and Tasting.
Thursday evening I managed to make it just in time,
after an hour delay waiting for AAA to charge my car battery, to gather with fellow social media foodies at a swanky hotel in Old Town. It was a little different that I anticipated (read: we did not spend the entire two hours tweeting), but rather learning about the different savory and fruity qualities of extra virgin olive oil. Shot after shot of peppery pungent liquid left my throat a little shell shocked; fortunately, the balsamic vinegar melded into my palette sending me to another planet. Seriously. It took all my might to resisted imbibing directly from the display bottle.

4. Pre-Thanksgiving Baking.
And finally, a few weeks ago I got really brave and hauled myself out to a Midsies institute class. I figured how bad could it be? Crazy me, I even signed up to bring a dessert to the upcoming T-Day dinner. Yeah, this is what they call cushioning the blow, right? After receiving multiple reminders about my previous commitment I decided to dull the pain with sweet potato love. You can find the recipe here. (However since I have no clue why Southerners find it acceptable to pair sweet potato pie with a meringue topping, I concocted a pecan brown sugar creation of my own.) I even managed to have a really enjoyable time mingling with the Midsies Saturday night. All-in-all it wasn't bad. That is, after we ditched the Kenny G music.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Sometime ago I caught the last few moments of the Ken Burns documentary honoring the social activists, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her beloved friend, Susan B. Anthony. Mesmerized, I watched. Awed by poignant moments throughout the film, but the most salient pieces were reflected in Stanton's writing. They stood out, like celebratory beacons, expressing the heart of a woman who has altogether too often been lost to the annals of history.

Although I've no doubt to Stanton's feisty spirits
— indicated most brazenly by her demand that the word obey be removed from her marriage ceremony— there is a certain longing expressed in her writing; a desire for greater intellectual and social equality; a hope for a society that moves beyond relegating the definition of woman to the roles they sometimes assume. There is, too, an evident zeal, born from her own life experience and a sense of warm empathy that extends to all mankind. Together, these forces illustrates the imperative for self-dependence and the necessity of solitude.

Yesterday, in celebration of her birth, I obtained a copy of the brief booklet Solitude of Self; delivered
in January 1892 to the House Committee on the Judiciary, to the Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage, and to the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

I read it, then reread it.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite passages.

"But when all artificial trammels are removed, and women are recognized as individuals, responsible for their own environments, thoroughly educated for all positions in life they may be called to fill; with all the resources in themselves that liberal thought and broad culture can give; guided by their own conscience and judgment [then]... when women are trained in this way they will, in a measure, be fitted for those hours of solitude that come alike to all, whether prepared or otherwise."

What not to Say

I have an entire mental catalog of moronic statements men have uttered to me. These run the spectrum. Some occurred on a first date. Others, after a casual canoodling session. Some even from people I've dated.

"You know, I really dig red heads."
"Actually, I'm perfectly fine bringing polygamy back."
"It's okay. My Mom was overweight too."
"You're more like a sister to me."

But last night topped the cake.

Patting my midsection.
"And baby makes three."

Telling a woman she looks pregnant, even in jest, is BAD form. Proceeding to tell that woman she should have lots of babies, to make up for the offensive, is even worse!

Way to get my feminist ire up.
Thanks, jack a*%.

Your Love, My Love

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gets me through days like today.

10 Things I L O V E November

Sunday, November 1, 2009

1. How autumn lingers on the east coast.

2. Visiting family in Georgia for Thanksgiving.

3. Open Enrollment.
(Hey, at least I have insurance. Right?)
4. Sweet Potatoes.

(Confession: I buy these by the case load @ Costco.)

5. Seven fewer Metro stops.

6. Attending this woman's lecture.

(Seriously, I have her dissertation on order.)

7. The pungent aroma of wood burning stoves.

8. Soup, soup, and more soup. Specifically: Pho.

(Please begin an intervention.)

9. Memories of Pie Day.

(Invented and happily resurrected by a very smart friend.)

10. Returning to the lap of Queenland luxury.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My iPhone for a panic-stricken 10 minutes today.
It was gone.
Not in the car.
Not in my purse.
Not in my bathroom,

I was running late and I knew I had just put it in my purse.
How was it gone?
I needed the address to my appointment.
I needed to be on my way.
I needed to not have to deal with searching for a lost phone.

Aggravated, beyond rational belief, I barely heard the little prompting.

No way!, I thought.
This is ridiculous.
How will praying help?
I just had it.
I just finished checking my email.
I just slipped it inside the left pocket of my purse.
Then, all of the sudden, it's gone?
Was I hallucinating?


Again, pray.

So I threw myself to the floor
mumbled a short angry prayer
and went back to the parking lot.

Within a minute I had found my phone.

No matter how hard I try to run
He keeps calling me back.
I wonder, will He be as patient with me next time?

Etched in Stone

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On the exterior edifice of one of my favorite buildings this Aboriginal saying has lodged itself into my pretty little brain.

"The more you know the less you need."

I'd like to understand it better, or at least be able to live more fully in harmony with its meaning.

Prepare Thyself For...

Monday, October 26, 2009


How have I not experienced this before? Lucky for me I scooped up a last minute $5 ticket (beating the regular $18 rate) and mucked around in the mud, merrily checking off item number three from my ever shrinking list.
Next time I'll remember to bring my real camera to capture snippets of sword swallowing (not for the faint of heart), leather steins (who knew they even made such a thing?), chain mail and pewter brassières (no joke!). The best part? Undoubtedly the jousting match; or more specifically, the hunk of eye candy that was working as a crowd control/bouncer lad. Huzzah!! All of which, I might add, melded into the ideal people watching prescription.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

" Everyone Needs Beauty as well as Bread." JM

Monday, October 19, 2009

The shear magnitude of these trees can't be contained in a single image or a collection of verse (although Ansel Adams and John Muir have made a fine attempt). While not as tall as their towering cousin, the Redwoods, these trees exude a strength that can last over three millennia. Can you believe that? Three Millennia. And while entrepreneurial exploits plagued their serene existence the last half of the 19th century, modern conservation and preservation efforts (including this simple sign post) and brilliant documentaries have begun to restore a habitat that once flourished without human interference. It's reassuring to be reminded how magnanimous these Sequoias are to us, mere mortals.

We kept remarking how incredible it was to experience the Park in an off-season sort of way. It was busy, but not overwhelming. Upon our arrival, after checking into our little camp spot, we drove to capture some twilight images of Half Dome and the Arches. My meander across the boardwalk revealed an entire graveyard of spent coreopsis stalks lingered amongst the dried autumn grass. It made me wonder: just how lovely would you be, in the height of a Californian summer?

The dear friends that moved across the country and inspired my visit.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

...was not my forte today.

However, 15 minutes at lunch unearthed this morsel.

"...and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands."
Alma 24:18

It seemed to be a continuation of the themes I heard this past weekend.


And the greatest of these? Well, I'm still working on that one.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Working with the public can be, well, interesting. I suppose summer's lull has simply heightened my attention to the humor of my day-to-day.

1. Anyone that starts a conversation with the salutation Greetings is bound to be a little touched.

3. LOLing in a public space, make that a traditionally quiet public space, is frowned upon.
(I choose to take the non-enforcer approach when it comes to occasional outbursts...however that benevolence does not extend to include cell phone conversations. Yeah, that means you.)

4. If the printer doesn't have an OUT OF ORDER sign slapped to its front assume it is working. In which case, please don't bother asking me if it works.

5. If it looks like I'm just typing away and not paying attention to you it does not mean I'm writing an email. That, my friend, is called virtual reference. Which can be tricky when the phone is ringing and you see a high maintenance faculty member walk right into your peripheral.

Ps. The only thing getting me through this shift is the magic of a can-almost-make-me-forget stick on heating pad.

10 Things I L O V E October

Thursday, October 1, 2009

1. Return of hipster boots.
2. Piling on layers.

3. Crunching through intoxicating color. (Quaking Aspen, Japanese Maple, or Sumac.)

4. Not the holiday per se, rather the plush dangling decoration of my childhood.

5. Semiannual General Conference of my church.

6. Pumpkin cranberry bread. (Recipe found
7. A northern California vacation.

8. Herbal and hot.
9. Brilliantly colored/patterned scarves.

10. These little guys.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

My brother called me this evening at work. It was time for a break, so I stepped into the fading sun (which, to my dismay, keeps happening earlier) and talked with him.
We talked for a good half-hour.
I relished his voice.

After his school updates and humorous temping experience, he stopped.
I just wanted to say, I've been thinking about your example.
I stopped.

He caught me off-guard like this— mentioning specific life decisions (hardly noteworthy) that have touched a chord in him. Decisions, I admit, that seemed and dare I say seem so solitary.
I forget these spheres of influence and he jolts me back to reality. He rambles on about his new found motivation and ambition to complete two worth-while goals in the coming months. And my heart swells, pleased for his decisions.

But the pleasure in his voice was all the reward I needed.

Something's Coming...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It is.
I feel it.
And because sometimes other people have already articulated exactly what I'm feeling. (Well, that, and I think Stephen Soundheim is a genuis.)

"Could be! Who knows?
There's something due any day;
I will know right away,
Soon as it shows.
It may come cannon-balling down thru the sky,
Gleam in its eye,
Bright as a rose!

Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Under a tree...
I got a feeling there's a miracle due,
Gonna come true,
Coming to me!

Could it be? Yes it could.
Something's coming, something good,
If I can wait!
Something's coming,
I don't know what it is,
But it is
Gonna be great!

With a click, with a shock,
Phone'll jingle, door'll knock,
Open the latch!
Something's coming, don't know when--
but it's soon;
Catch the moon,
One-handed catch!

Around the corner,
Or whistling down the river,
Come on, deliever
To me.

Will it be? Yes, it will.
Maybe just by holding still,
It'll be there!

Come on something, come on in,
don't be shy,
Meet a guy,
Pull up a chair!

The air is humming,
And something great is coming!

Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Maybe tonight...."

On Principle

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This seemingly insignificant decision has occupied my mind for at least a month. I made the phone call this morning. It seemed like the right (for me) thing to do.



Toddlers & Tiaras Tribute...

Friday, September 11, 2009

It may just be their new theme song.

(Thanks to fellow blogger cousin for capturing this moment.)

Mundane Made Interesting

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Isn't that the beauty of radio? Maybe it's just the skill of a good journalist. Either way, I love the concept of turning something one might ordinarily consider mundane, and flipping it into a story. It also happened to be impeccable timing, as I spent a good portion of my weekend on the road.

What about you, any memorable rest stop memories?

In __________ I Trust.

Friends and finances don't mix.

Somehow I knew this, and yet and yet and yet.

A) Waiting to bring up a financial matter, after being stuck in traffic for four hours, is unwise; B) Discussing any to-be-resolved-roommate/housemate/partner/spouse-issue, financial or not, late at night, usually isn't the brightest idea; and C) Recanting on your word, late at night, is the most offensive of all. *

It reminds me of the conversation I had with a friend of mine, while strolling (more like trying to navigate our lost sorry asses) through the streets of Boston. His comment was something to the effect of saying, "I only trust one person." To which I snidely remarked, "Yourself?" His affirmative response seemed like such a jaded thing to say, at the time... but his words have resonated within me all weekend. Do we only trust ourselves? If that's true, what about all those moment of self-doubt, of not truly trusting ourselves? Furthermore, is it even possible to fully trust another human being? Perhaps this conundrum is really just a reflection of the demise of modern society? After last night's encounter I'm inclined to agree with him. Not because I genuinely believe him, but because this is, perhaps, how we've conditioned ourselves to behave towards one another.

It saddens me. Yet I don't know how to reconcile the facts.

*Note: I am not a late night person. Those that crave nocturnal lucubration may need to take that into consideration.

10 Things I L O V E September

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In all honesty, this is my favorite season. Here are a few reasons why...

1. This shade of autumn.

2. Pick-your-own orchards, followed by a golden caramel crisp.

3. Jewel tones and seasonal purse swap.

4. Listening over and over to this haunting melody.

5. Anticipating author signings and other bookish goodness.

(Thanks Michelle for keeping Laura's legacy alive.)

6. Cabin camping and feeding 100+ people at my bon voyage SW retreat.

(Convincing myself...)
7. Return of cider.

8. Paid farewell-to-summer holiday.

9. Inhaling deeply. (Especially the season's last few lawn clippings.)

10. Warming up with my favorite burnt orange REI zip-up.

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