Life at an Intersection

Chicago Phoenix, indemnity bonds, journaling, really really really want a zigazig ah, travel, books, travel books, relationships, values. It is hard to pinpoint precisely, but I'd say about 82% of what you read here is true. The rest is fictional nonfiction.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Christmas in Pictures

Santa found me in Virginia this Christmas, at the home of my sister's family. It was a good year to go to their place, because it was the very first Christmas for their daughter Ellie.

Mandatory Christmas Eve family photo:

Ellie 'n me posin' in front of the tree. She's almost 6 months now.

Her Christmas Eve present was a rattle (chin-chin) that I brought her from Guatemala:

She's teething, so everything goes in her mouth. Or she loves the taste of wrapping paper, maybe.

Dad and me working on the Christmas puzzle, something that my grandpa and I used to do years ago. It was a nice tradition to revive this year.

I tried to help her open her stocking on Christmas morning, but it was real slow going:

She usually cries when I hold her. I guess she can smell my fear.

Baby's first Christmas = Bow on head shot. She gave that idea a big raspberry, as you can see:

We managed to capture on film the moment when my parents officially, indisputably became OLD. They are happily modeling the presents they received from Ellie's other grandparents. Look for them to wear these sporty white sweatshirts to Wednesday night church, grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, on bingo night at the American Legion hall. If you are lucky, they'll be coming soon to a Florida R.V. park near you!

Gosh, that's a lot of pictures of my niece! Sorry to bury you in my newfound sentimentality. Hope you have a very happy New Year!!!

Currently reading :
Little Bear Treasury
By Else Holmelund Minarik
Release date: 31 January, 2003

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best of the Rest, 2007

I've already given you my picks for the five best albums of the year, and if you made it through that drivel, I've buried you in an avalanche of the books that I read this year. Next, here are my highlights, superlatives, and best of the rest of 2007.

*New Babies (Shout-outs to Ellie, Asher, Abe, and Emma!)
*Beef Noodle Soup and Taiwanese Tea
*Studying Chinese and Spanish
*Favorite Movies - Hairspray and Ratatouille
*New friends in Guatemala like Chris, Audrey, Amelie, Katie, Whitney, Magdalena, and Josefina
*Favorite Destinations - Singapore, Boracay, Vietnam, and Vancouver
*An October Evening with Sarah and Kati
*Favorite Places to Read, Relax, or Do Homework - Match Cafe, Bagels N Beans, Cafe Condesa
*Favorite Books - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and One Hundred Years of Solitude
*Favorite People - Barack Obama, Ariel Yang, Chris Hey, Andrew Sullivan, Katrina Chung

Currently listening :
Hairspray (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)
By Marc Shaiman
Release date: 10 July, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Book It, 2007

I had a lot of time for reading in 2007, and I took advantage of it. Here's what I read this year by genre but in no particular order. Titles that I would recommend are marked with an +.

By the way, have you seen this site, Good Reads? I just joined last week; it is some kind of social networking site (aaugghh!) for book reviews and reading recommendations. You can see what your friends are reading and post reviews of books you've read. Interesting!


+ The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
+ One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
+ A Series of Unfortunate Events Books 6-12 by Lemony Snicket
Libra by Don Delillo
+ Empire Falls by Richard Russo
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
+ The Known World by Edward P. Jones
+ Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
+ The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
+ Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
+ The Coma by Alex Garland
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
+ The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
+ The Helsinki Roccamations by Yann Martel
+ How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers
+ Maybe the Moon by Armistead Maupin
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


+ The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
+ The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
+ Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
+ Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
Queer Wars by Paul Robinson
Lonely Planet Taiwan; Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei; The Philippines; Vietnam; Hong Kong and Macau; and Guatemala

Tried and Failed:

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (I ran out of renews at the library!)
The March by E.L. Doctorow
The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke


Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish
Liza's Xanga Blog
Kevin's Blogger Blog
Asher's Bloggety Blog Blog
CNN World News
The Taipei Times
The Chicago Tribune

Currently listening :
My Holiday
By Mindy Smith
Release date: 09 October, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Best Music of 2007

I fancy myself a music lover, or at least a music strong-liker, so I enjoy making a list of my favorite songs each year. Part fun list-making exercise, part delusional project to create CDs for a comprehensive, mega soundtrack of my life. And then I like to post that list at the end of the year here on my blog so that you can read my choices and scoff at how poor my taste in music truly is. Whatever, ugh, I like what I like, OK? You probably bought Hootie and the Blowfish at some point, too, so no pointing fingers from you.

But, here's an excuse: I've had a weird year in lots of ways, and it has kind of been typified by my consumption of music. Because I was living or travelling abroad for something like 11/12ths of the year I haven't been continually connected to radio, a serious source of digital streaming music, or any other fount of new, happening, and/or interesting music (music videos, Paste, other media). So my favorite song list for 2007 is, um, weird. It includes Taiwanese and Latin pop, Regaeton, a traditional Chinese New Year song, and no less than two commercial jingles. It is the kind of list that would be completely inaccessible to anyone but myself and therefore ridiculous to post, so I'm not going to.

The music that I have enjoyed this year has been albums that I've bought off iTunes or managed to score in the import sections of Taiwanese record stores by artists that I have been enamored with in the past. In other words, I expanded my library this year with new records but really no new artists.

Here then, are my top 5 albums of 2007. If you know me well, you will be surprised by exactly none of these choices.

1 - Bright Eyes, Cassadega - Tune for tune, this CD had the most songs that stuck in my head with no hope of banishment in 2007. The only cure is another listen. Sweeping, discouraging, romantic, countrified, strange, brilliant.

2 - Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way - As it turns out, they were way right about President Bush anyway, so if you haven't gotten over that yet, the joke is certainly on you. A brave album, full of difficult sentiments, somtimes bitter truths, a little dish on the dirty South, and that's not to mention beautiful harmonies. "Everybody Knows" is my anthem of the year, a song about living up to the truth and the life that you've created for yourself in less than pleasant circumstances.

3 - Mindy Smith, Long Island Shores - Both soft and striking, the perfect voice on some imperfect songs about love, the meaning of home, Jesus, and the turning of the world. No one else could make such a heartbreaking, tear-inducing song about a family reunion sound so sweet, and "Tennessee" made me feel homesick for a home that I continually take for granted.

4 - Rufus Wainwright, Release the Stars - Bombast is the key; nothing is ever understated with Rufus. He's tired of America, and he isn't afraid to say it (gofuckyourselffoxnews). It's a randy album ("Between My Legs," "Slideshow"), but there's lots of those slow, drawn-out opera-ballady things that he does so well here too. My second favorite vocal question of the year: "Do I dissapoint you in just being human, and not one of the elements that you can light your cigar on?"

5 - Lucinda Williams, West - My first favorite vocal question of the year, much more simply put: "Are you alright?" I've had nearly a year to live with this album, and I'm still torn by it. About half of the tracks here are perfect in every way, and they will stand up with her best songs from Car Wheels on a Gravel Road even. "Learning How to Live," "Rescue," "Everything Has Changed," and "West" are highlights. But those chewing-on-gravel spoken rock things that she does, I just hate those so much. "Unsuffer Me" and "Wrap My Head Around That" are my picks for the two worst songs of the year; "What If" is just a bad take on John Lennon's "Imagine"; and "Words" is a little too self-congratulatory for my taste. But I guess I'm probably just bitter because I was expecting a 2CD set.

Honorable Mentions:
Radiohead, In Rainbows; Hairspray Soundtrack; Whiskeytown, Pneumonia

What music did you like in 2007? Let me know, 'cause I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Twitter / Davie_St

Words That I'm Living By - 5/2/2010

Time, as I've known it
Doesn't take much time to pass by me
Minutes into days, turn into months
Turn into years, they hurry by me
But still I love to see the sun go down
And the world go around

Dreams full of promises
Hopes for the future, I've had many
Dreams I can't remember now
Hopes that I've forgotten,
faded memories
But still I love to see the sun go down
And the world go around

And I love to see the morning
as it steals across the sky
I love to remember and
I love to wonder why
And I hope that I'm around
so I can be there when I die
When I'm gone

I hope that you will think of me
In moments when you're happy and you're smiling
That the thought will comfort you
On cold and cloudy days
if you are crying
And that you'll love to see
the sun go down
And the world go around
And around and around

"Around and Around" by Mark Kozelek

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