Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Did anyone else ever read Cosmo?  If not, then it's probably for the best 'cause I'm convinced now that all women are either too old or too young to read it.  It's like daisy dukes, or hot pants, or short shorts, or is she serious about those right now, or whatever you call them. It's all the same.  There really is no appropriate age.  Or maybe there is, but it happened on some random Wednesday night years ago and I slept through it.  I went to bed too young for such trash, and woke too old for that nonsense.  What I do remember, from when I was too young, was that they had a section about things that were alright to do, which I guess meant that even though they weren't really cool, you could still do it and be okay with yourself.  For that month, anyway.  It was always stuff like, "It's okay to secretly hate your boyfriend's sister," or "It's okay if you drink out of the milk carton when no one's looking."  There were a lot of implied winks and giggles which, at the time, I thought were pret-ty clever.  It was the part I could read and think, yeah, I'm totally like that.  It helps that it was sandwiched by articles about how to contort yourself like a sexual Gumby (albeit, not through walls) and others about outfits that were equally cute at the office and at the club.  Well, considering I was all of fifteen and stumbling on each awkward bump of adolescence, I found the list the easiest to relate to----that, and the "What Color is Your Essence" quizzes that I would take until I got the result I wanted.  I'm a red, but so, so badly wanted to be a yellow.  Anyway, I was killing time at Walgreens recently and was poking through a Cosmo.  I was interested because they had this article on the cover about what foods men really like, and I had to see because my husband likes whatever I cook, because he's a genius.  Not so long story, and not so short, I never read that article, but I did stumble onto the "It's Ok" list.  It wasn't very memorable, but I thought I'd start my very own list of not cool things to do, but that I still find unabashedly acceptable. I hope it will be added onto. 

It's Ok.... say neat, in public, with zero irony.  Zero. find your way to someone's facebook album who you don't know and keep on looking at strangers. get emotionally invested in the Real Housewives of...everywhere. talk to your dog, and love him, and kiss the top of his teeny head. rehash conversations in your mind and think of all the snappy remarks you should've said. weep cry during Father of the Bride (I and II) and Steal Magnolias even though you could recite each. have doubted all those bra color facebook statuses. I bet, red sparkles.  You know it was nude cotton. make huge life decisions three minutes before falling asleep and then never think about them again. quit your diet everyday at three o'clock. sing in the car, not like nobody's listening, but like everyone is. have just a touch of hypochondria, or mono, or a heart condition, or an impending aneurism, whatever. feel like a teachers' table dork in new social situations. pick a wedgie if you've got one, the dance is so much worse. talk to yourself for a good bit before you realize it (at least I hope this is ok??) cry when you're mad. change your clothes, you hair, your mind, and your life plan over an hour. change it all back before your husband knows what's hit him. play a little dumb sometimes.  I'm looking at you Autozone. blog about your personal thoughts and self-indugences without too much embarassment : )

P.S.  I realize I've been, um, prolific this month in the frequency of my posts.  I would fully understand if you'd like to hide me on Facebook so as not to be inundated by my activity.  Just don't tell me.  What else am I supposed to do, study?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Laws of Attraction*

Today in my bar review class our lecturer was this beautiful woman.  When I say beautiful, I mean breathtaking. She was truly lovely.  On top of that she's clearly quite the smarty.  Law professors don't come from slouch stock.  There's the expression about how those who can't do, teach.  Well, not only do I think that that's an incorrect statement in general, but I also know it to be false in the case of law schools.  You don't get to teach the law unless you yourself were at the top of your class and/or did some impressive things in practice.  Needless to say, she had the intellectual chops, too.  As all the guys grinned goofily during her lecture, which I assure you was no more interesting than the rest, I realized that they, and I, were impressed at the combination of her looks and intelligence more than by the substance of the class.  All of our speakers have been at the top of their field.  It's just that most of them have been older men telling stupid jokes and using outdated celebrities in their hypotheticals.  It's like we were all impressed that someone could have both good looks and brains, in spades.  I don't know in which direction it's more unfair.  Is it worse that the men in my class seemed to think that every word she said was made of pure gold because she was a young, beautiful woman, instead of someone who is isn't?  Is it worse that we might find it surprising that someone of her appearance would also be smart?  In either case, it made my self-esteem sag like a steamy diaper until I realized that it was me that was so full of shit (sorry Mom). 

Deep down, I wasn't really upset about some gender inequality that makes pretty women get treated better and I wasn't really all that concerned that people might stereotype her because of her appearance.  No, in reality, I was jealous.  Like, bad.  I wanted it to be me to float in on a cloud of adoration and I was frustrated that I'll never be taller, thinner, tanner, ___fill in the blanks as you wish_____.  I've never been that threatened by pretty women that I felt lacked in substance because I think, you know, I've got something going for me that's more than just luck of the genetic draw.  I have to say though, the combination in some people can really bring out my worst insecurities.  I'll start thinking that there's some grand social heirarchy based on appearance where we each are treated according to our varying levels of attractiveness and, of course, I'm always the victim of my own homespun made for TV movie. 

As usually happens (I hope), I return to my rational mind and tell myself to get a grip.  If there is some heirarchy it's because of thoughts like my own.  I'm as big a part of it as anyone else by first, allowing myself to be sucked in by self-doubt and, second, by imposing that onto other people.  I mean really, good for her.  I think I need to remember that there are things that I have, and may too often take for granted, that someone else might feel they lack.  It all seems to be pretty relative.  I don't know that we ever get rid of our insecurities, but I'm pretty sure it's not healthy to give them a key to our house and keep their kind of milk in the fridge. 

*I may have topped my own cheeseball self on that title!  It was definitely uncalled for.  I'm sorry.

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Job!!

I've had a few people ask me what he's been promoted to, so I thought I'd explain.

I'm so proud of Craig for getting his promotion and it's so very much deserved by someone that works as hard as he does.  I'm also proud of the work he does.  I should say first, that I think most peoples' jobs are contributions to the greater good in some way.  I say that to point out that I don't think you have to do expressly charitable work to enhance the good of your community.  That being said, Craig's job is especially beneficial to our community and to the people he serves and I'm always impressed with how much it changes lives.

He works for an organization called United Housing.  Their mission is to buy foreclosed homes, rehab them, and then resell them to low-income families at affordable prices.  That's just the bones of the operation, though.  What you have to know is that Memphis has a foreclosure rate that is much higher than most of the country, and always has, even before the housing bubble burst.  We live in a city with a very high number of its citizens living well below the poverty line.  The number of high school graduates is extremely low, and the unemployment rate is astronomical.  Obviously, this creates a vast number of problems, but one is that most of the population is financially illiterate, which leads to the huge numbers of foreclosures.  Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of predatory lending here.  United Housing is able to get individuals and families into nice, safe homes that have been equipped with new and working amenities that are their own.  They do this through federal and state grant money, as well through traditional fundraising. 

In order to qualify, the buyer must be below a certain income level, have two years of employment, and meet some credit requirements (these aren't nearly the same as the bank standards).  Then, they're required to go through a process of credit counseling and home buyer education for first time home owners.  United Housing has a variety of ways to help people finance their homes and has an incredible success rate with the families they've helped.  They're able to get people into their own homes who wouldn't otherwise qualify for a mortgage, at a reduced monthly payment and with an education on financial responsibility.  Not only do the families get the satisfaction of homeownership, but they also are getting improved neighborhoods.  Through their work, United Housing has changed the face of some areas of Memphis by moving families in that are responsible and take pride in their homes and by improving the curb appeal of so many neglected houses. 

Craig started with UH as an intern while he was still in grad school until he was hired on full-time.  His job to this point has been to administer a federal grant called the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, or NSP.  UH received $4 million dollars and it has been Craig's job to administer that grant money and oversee the purchase of the houses bought.  It's never been done in Memphis before through that program, and United Housing has become one of the national models for successful administration of this particular federal program.  Craig even published a manual on its administration and learned at a conference in D.C. that it's being used around the country by other housing non-profits. 

His recent promotion is equally unchartered territory for United Housing.  He's now the Development Director.  While he'll continue to administer the NSP grant through September, he's now stepped into a role that requires a lot more. He'll be responsible for all the fund raising, programs, and the continued development of UH in Memphis.  He's hoping to expand their capabilities significantly by securing corporate sponsorship.  His ideas would bring more money to UH to help more neighborhoods and would also get the name out more in the community to get even great local support.  He has some great plans for a possible partnership with a bank to mutually benefit the bank through mortgages, while receiving their support from advertisement, etc.  He has essentially written his own job description and is venturing out into brand new territory in the area.

One of the best things about his job is his close relationship with his boss.  They're really in sync and Craig has learned so much from him.  His boss is entrusting Craig with a huge responsibility with this promotion, but he obviously has the utmost confidence in him, and so do I. 

I know this was long, but what they do is hard describe in one sentence.  It's also only my description.  I hope it's all accurate!  Maybe Craig can leave a comment if there are any corrections that need to be made.  A sincere thank you to everyone who's congratulated him and us on this new job.  We're so very excited!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Today starts day one of three in my Bar prep program dedicated to Contracts and Sales--not one of my favorite subjects in law school, or life.  Instead of moping, I'll share what I'm grateful for this morning. 

A full fruit bowl makes me happy for several reasons, but mostly because it means the grocery shopping is done

A window to look out of while I study at the table

My favorite mug with tea...

and then the hard stuff to keep me going

Clean laundry and a clean house

Being able to see progess made and an end in sight

Shared spaces

Wishing everyone a happy and productive Monday!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nice Little Saturday

     Many months ago (or ten) Craig and I got married.  My life has changed in more wonderful ways than I can count and my memories of our wedding are of the warmest and fuzziest variety, but that's not what this post is about.  This is about one of our wedding gifts.  I'll be honest, it was what got Craig through the parts of our engagement when all I was thinking about was color combinations and dress alterations.  The fact that we got gifts for getting married, something we were already excited about, and got to drink whiskey in front of our priest at the reception, well, that did it for him.  When I first explained to him what registering was he acted like we were gonna be in on the greatest scheme of all time before the rest of the world found out.  Every time we pass a Bed, Bath, and Beyond I remember daydreaming about flatware and bed linens as Craig wielded the scanner like a domesticated Jedi knight.  As an aside, I showed this to him before I published it to make sure he didn't mind my depiction of him. He couldn't have cared less about that, but he did insist that I capitalize Jedi because it was written incorrectly in lower case. Noted.
     The gift at the center of this post wasn't one that we registered for and isn't one of those things that I don't know how I ever lived without.  In fact, it's been living in the corner of the dining room behind a chest since the wedding.  The hibernation was definitely not by my choosing, though.  All through the fall and winter I would make comments about the ice cream maker and how good homemade ice cream is.  Gradually, I started talking about how much fun it would be to make some and how I was looking forward to trying it out.  By Spring I was pointing out the necessary ingredients as we passed them in the grocery store.  Last weekend I told Craig that we were making ice cream, damn it. I try not to be a pushy wife.  It's my preference and my intention for Craig to be the leader in our family.  He always weighs my opinion and concerns and makes the final call on all the important issues and that works for us.

Today, though, ice cream was made.

It begins on the stove

The world's tiniest sous-chef

Next step, the fridge (with adult supervision by Max)

The three hour wait


Craig and Max took a World Cup break during the freezing stage

Also during the freeze, Max got really quiet.  Now, when this happens it means that we've either forgotten that he's outside, OR he's found something on the floor or gotten into the cabinets.  I checked under the bed and the latter was definitely true.  Apparently, he had secreted away a bag of taco seasoning, his toy, and a sock under the bed.  Also, I guess he had been working on some craft projects because there was also a cardboard toilet paper roll shredded up.

His handiwork


He liked it too--the picture snapping all day, not so much.

So, it ended up being delicious.  Craig even said, "Good idea, Bug," which is a compliment, I promise. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Nat King Cole Stay As Sweet As You Are

 This is one of my favorite happy songs.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bar Blues

     Tonight I'm studying for the bar exam and obsessing over my percentage points, hoping to do well enough just to pass. Tonight Craig is working until nine o'clock (for a grand total of an 11 hour day) because he's taken a second job to support us while I study for the bar and obsess over my percentage points, hoping to do well enough just to pass. Repetitive--yes, but these are my thoughts for the next 59 days little while.  I'm grateful for all the people who've said they're sure I'll do fine.  I can only take a little comfort in that, though.  It's a hard test, harder than most others and smart people fail it all. the. time.  Granted, not so smart people also pass it.  The point is, there are people that work hard in law school and study just as hard for the bar and don't pass.
    Most of the time I've got a positive attitude and I believe in my ability to pass and blah blah blah, but this is my blog and I'll cry if I want to.  I hate that Craig is working more hours in a week than I can count without getting teary.  It's mostly today that's gotten me down.  I'm actually really proud of us both for working so hard.  I love how close we are because of all of this.  I feel sometimes like if you don't go through times like these in your marriage, you might be getting cheated because it's shown me how rock-solid we are. In fact, I think it's more normal than not to struggle at the outset.  BUT leaving aside all perspective and maturity, I will issue a preemptory warning apology:  if you talk to me about your fifteen vacations taken this year, or tell me that I just HAVE to try some new thing, or that we should make an impromptu plan for something that costs only $(insert whatever dollar amount) I may stick out my tongue at you.  I may even do a little wave under my chin to seal the deal.  I'm not mad at anyone and I am, in all seriousness, happy for anyone's success, I'm just feeling that childish at the moment.  In fact, I would love to see photos from your vacation and I do want to hear the pros and cons of a recent purchase and please, please, please allow me to take a rain check for the fun plans.  I plan on having some big fun when this is over and will be thrilled to receive the invite. Just not today (x 59).  I do, however, predict a swift and complete return to normalcy, relative though it may be.