Archive for November, 2010

Dear Mazda

Dear Mazda,

Whatever I did, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I’ve only washed you three times in the past five years.  I’m also sorry that one of those times was only a carwash fundraiser.

I’m sorry that I let you get 4,000 miles overdue for an oil change – twice.  (In all fairness, I haven’t had my hair cut in five months, so I know how it feels.)

I’m sorry I let my youth group kids make fun of you.

I’m sorry my summer camp kids hit you with a basketball.

I’m sorry for trying to fix all your rattles by banging on the dashboard.  I’m also sorry I applied this technique to your CD player.

I’m sorry for that time I backed you into a shopping cart, and that other time I backed you into a tree.

I’m sorry for all the coffee I’ve spilled.

I’m sorry I made fun of your aspirations to become a minivan.  It’s a great dream, really – shoot for the stars!

I’m sorry I never gave you a proper name.  “Mini” just seemed like a good fit – I didn’t know you were so sensitive about it.

I’m sorry for making you drive down a rutted dirt road at 45 miles an hour.  Trust me, I didn’t enjoy it either.

I’m sorry for refusing to vacuum you, and for repeatedly hauling around absurdities such as tiki torches and packages of men’s underwear.

I’m sorry for letting my friends ride in your trunk.  I’m also sorry for storing a microwave in your trunk for three months.

I’m sorry for mocking the sweet bass in your sound system.  I know you’re a bad ass.

I’m sorry I let my roommate abuse your sound system by playing songs like “Baby Got Back” and “Oops I Did It Again”.

I’m sorry for driving you around with a broken CV joint/suspension system/out-of-round tires for two months.

I’m sorry for the time I dripped caramel empanada goo on your seat and said I was leaving it as a “memory”.  And I’m sorry for actually leaving it too.

I’m sorry for making you listen to all of “Shutter Island” on tape.  We didn’t really enjoy the 2,397 f-words or creepy sex scenes either.

I’m sorry for the scratch all the way down your back right door.  I’m probably the only person that’s ever keyed my own car (although actually it was the bolt on the lawnmower that did it.)

I’m sorry for driving you around icy Indiana roads on a tire that was 15 pounds low on air pressure.

And I’m really, really sorry for making you drive through Kansas three times.


I miss you.  I miss your 30 mpg gas mileage and your broken radio that allows me to set my iPod transmitter to any station I choose.  We’ve been spending a lot of time together lately.  Why didn’t you tell me you were so unhappy?  I knew things were getting rough when you started threatening to stall every time you shifted gears, but I didn’t know it would all end with you getting towed out of the Living Waters parking lot.

Can’t we just work this whole transmission thing out?  We’ve been together for five years.  I’m just not ready to say goodbye yet.  And let’s be honest, dear Mini – at this point, no one else will have you.


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Rain, cookies, and diplomacy

We’ve been having relentlessly perfect weather in Florida lately.  Cloudless blue skies, low humidity, 78 degrees.  The kids here don’t have to wear windbreakers and sweatpants under their Halloween costumes, and when I carved a pumpkin last week, outside, my hands didn’t go numb. People are out walking their dogs and riding their bikes.  Everyone’s driving around with the tops down on their cars and gleefully commenting on how cold it’s getting up north.  Instead of fall, Florida usually just gets another spring in between summer and Christmas.  But today, the universe took pity on me.  It’s cold, grey, and rainy.

Especially after living in Colorado, with “300 days of sunshine”, I love rainy days.  Let me clarify:  I do not love rainy days on college campuses in Indiana, which usually involve walking 15 minutes to class in 40 degree weather while wind gusts blow freezing rain in your face.  After living there for four years, I can tell you: rain boots go with everything.  And umbrellas are never made large enough.

But I do love rainy days as long as I don’t actually have to be outside.  They make me want to sit on the couch under a blanket and drink hot cider and eat a cookie and read a book.  Especially in my dad’s sun room with the soft, fluffy white rug and the couch with the feather pillows.  Unfortunately, the blanket/book/cider combo isn’t happening today.  I have quizzes and homework to grade before tomorrow.  I have to write Bible lessons and learn how to make mentos and diet coke explode before Sunday.  And when you’re stressed because you don’t have enough time to relax and de-stress, then taking time to relax and de-stress won’t actually de-stress you.   But the cookies, I can do.

One thing I love about my dad’s house is that I can pretty much count on him to have all the baking supplies I need in his pantry.  That’s because I’m the one that put them there, and I’m the only one that ever uses them.  He might not have any milk or butter or bread, but thanks to me, my dad has brown sugar and shortening on the shelf.  And peanut butter, as it turns out.  So I made peanut butter cookies.

About the shortening: I’m pretty sure that whoever invented it should be tried for crimes against humanity.  What is it, exactly?  How does it help make my baking shorter, and why do I want my baking to be shorter?  What plant/animal does it come from?  The only greasy white mounds of goo I’ve ever seen in nature were definitely not things I wanted to touch, much less put into my body.  It doesn’t even have to be refrigerated.  Who decided it was a good idea to eat this?  And to make things even worse, mine was butter-flavored.  Southerners out there, explain this to me.  And while you’re at it, what’s the deal with lard?

But regardless of the other shortcomings of shortening – wait, really?  Did I really just say that?

Regardless of the other faults of shortening (thank you, thesaurus.com), it does make good cookies.  I don’t want to know why anymore, because these are yummy.

These aren't really gargantuan cookies the way they appear to be. The hershey kisses on the top are actually chocolate chips.


A food photographer, I am not.  And if I wanted to be, I’d probably need to invest in something other than a point-and-shoot digital camera.

all of my assignments would probably end up looking like this anyway.

So the bad news is, I still have papers to grade and diet coke and mentos to explode.  But the good news is, I’ve decided that all of the world’s problems can be fixed with cookies.  I’d be the worst diplomat ever.  Or maybe the best…


[note: this was really written November 4 and published today.  Which doesn’t matter at all, except that it didn’t rain in Florida today and I’m OCD and half of the cookies are already gone.]

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It’s 12:30 am on November 3, which means that in my world, it’s still November 2 because I haven’t gone to bed yet.  I’m drinking a cup of coffee and editing a paper, and my roommate (my sister) just went to bed.  And I’m watching the election coverage on CNN.


This time two years ago, I was at an Election Party at the Grey Barn, watching Barack Obama win the presidency.  The party was hosted by the History department and was open to the student body, meaning that in attendance were some history students, all the poli-sci majors, and the few students who weren’t put off by our somewhat-bluer-than-average political climate.  Dr. Rousellow had been wearing her Obama button for at least two weeks.  As educators, our profs were supposed to foster independent thinking and offer unbiased coverage of the subject matter, but they couldn’t quite hide their liberal leanings.  I loved that about them.  In a way, they did more to broaden the perspective of their students than they would have had they stuck to textbook impartiality.  Open-mindedness is not best learned through agreement.


This time four years ago, I was in the Student Union, watching the election coverage on a projector screen and trying to hear the results over the noise of all the non-politics geeks in the Union.  I was supposed to be writing a literary criticism paper, but was instead providing my own running commentary on the elections to my boyfriend, who was an English writing major and probably didn’t need to hear my detailed explanation of a filibuster.


Now I’m here again.  The paper I’m editing is actually a program application essay for a friend, and the coffee is meant to keep me up so I can finish my lesson plans, not write literary critiques.  (My lesson for tomorrow includes using Skittles as a visual aide.  I’m pretty much the best teacher ever.)  But I’m facing the same dilemma I’ve had every election since I started college.


I’ve always emphasized my love of politics by saying that I watch the national election coverage like it’s the Superbowl.  I shake my head at bad plays, yell at the TV screen occasionally, and shout the score down the stairs.  (“The Republicans took back the House this year, but the Democrats still have control of the Senate.  That means… two years of gridlock!  Yippee…”) The problem with this analogy is that I don’t really get football, and I only watch the Superbowl for the commercials.  So every election, I remind myself that I’m a poli-sci student and I need to thoroughly study the issues and candidates so that I can make an educated vote.  I did this year.  Anna and I researched the major candidates and talked over the pros and cons of each one’s platform.  But I also did what most Americans do when they go to vote.  I blindly marked “yes” to every judicial seat in Florida’s court system because I knew nothing about any of the judges and decided they should all get a fighting chance – besides, I’ve seen a picture of one of them and he looked really nice.  I voted along party lines when I didn’t know anything about either candidate.  I chose candidates based on whose name I liked better.  (Don’t even tell me you’ve never done that.)  Poli-sci student or not, does it really matter who the agricultural commissioner is anyway?  I guess the analogy holds true.  As excited as my inner politics geek gets around election season, I’m also reminded of how great a task civic responsibility really is.


PS – I learned today – after being interested in politics for years – after completing four years of college education as a political science student – what GOP means.  I finally gave up trying to pretend I understood what people were talking about and googled it.  It’s an acronym, and it stands for “Grand Old Party”, which is the nickname of the Republican Party.  So GOP just means Republican.  It does not, as I thought before, mean “the party which is currently not in control of the House/Senate/governor’s seat”.  Although in all fairness, that was a reasonable guess given the political climate of the last few years.  Is this new information to anyone else?

I think this officially makes me a bad poli-sci student.

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