Cathedral of Stars


I’ve always loved looking up at the stars. I guess it’s odd that I never had a telescope.

Enjoy in full screen and let yourself marvel for a little while. I especially like the part where the radio telescopes look like they’re doing a little dance.

School Day


I just finished listening to a program on St. Louis’ NPR affiliate (@stlonair) where they talked about chronic absenteeism in public schools. The guests mentioned that most chronically absent students fall into three groups: The ones who can’t get to school (elder or family care keeps them away), those who won’t (kids who get bullied or feel unnoticed), and those who don’t (ones who feel like school isn’t for them). I listened and felt sad. I went to public school for all of my elementary and secondary education, and I always wanted to go to school (except for that bit in high school, but I think most people encounter mean folks at some point in their schooling, and mine wasn’t that bad). I can fully understand those who can’t make it to school, be it that they are helping care for family members, or they can’t find a ride, or they have to work to support their family. I understand those who feel the only way to avoid bullying is to just not show up. But school was always fun for me. I liked to learn. And I just wish that those who don’t want to go, who feel like they will never get anything out of education, that they would discover that one thing that makes school fun, whatever it is for them.

Of course, I realize that not everyone had the upbringing that I did–my parents cared about my education and did whatever they had to do to make sure I was doing well–and I was able to come home to a stable environment every night, and these are powerful tools in schooling. But what makes one person love learning, and another one shake it off? Sure there were boring days in history class, and trigonometry still gives me headaches. But for every unfathomable bit of esoteric and useless trivia I encountered, there was a new phrase in English class or a new artistic skill, or those silly clocks in Geometry class and the lathed chess pieces from Shop.

Education is so important. The folks on the program talked about the need for mentors, someone kids can go to if they have questions or to be the stable force to advocate for them. One of my biggest fears is that my future kid won’t want to read or learn, and there will be this great gap between what makes me indescribably happy and what makes him or her smile. I can only hope that I can be a mentor to my kid, and any that I come across. I benefited from my education, and I hope we as a culture can find a way to make sure that all kids enjoy (and are able to go to) school.

A horse, of course

Galloping Horse Lanterns #6

Galloping Horse Lanterns #6 (Photo credit: chooyutshing)

Gung hai fat choi! Welcome to the year of the horse!

Last night I conveniently remembered that I still have the t-shirt from the previous year of the Horse, in 2002. I participated in Wash U’s Chinese New Year Festival, singing the US national anthem with a fellow showchoir member, and presenting a fashion show of Chinese clothing. I wasn’t skinny enough to fit into any of the dresses, but I did get a nifty gold robe. And the t-shirt I’m wearing…bright red with a hand-drawn logo that wraps around to the back, where a horse leaps.

Hard to believe it’s been 12 years since I did that.

Anyway, the year of the Horse traditionally¬†an optimistic time, with opportunities for travel, surprises, and sudden victories, but it’s the year of the Wooden Horse, which could mean explosive events. I guess we’ll see…May your year be filled with happiness and optimism!

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I went out for a run the other day when it was kind of chilly, so I pulled on an old long-sleeved tee. It happened to be the shirt I got from the District cross-country meet in the fall of my freshman year of high school. It’s huge on me (what was with the XL phase we all went through in the early 90s?) and has lost all elasticity in the cuffs, but it’s soft and makes me laugh at its lovely navy-and-purple color scheme. It’s also nearly 20 years old.

I realized that I felt weird to wear a shirt that had seen almost two decades of use, when I was the original owner. I have a few vintage t-shirts my mother gave me (I’m wearing one today, natch) that are older than my high school shirts, of course, and probably some Goodwill shirts approaching that age, but my high school shirts are in remarkably good shape for workout clothes, and I will keep wearing them until I can’t (and then I’ll entertain ideas of making a quilt out of them). It’s just weird to think of wearing something I’ve owned for more than half my life.
Getting older doesn’t bother me, for the most part (except when I complain about aches and pains, and this stupid cough I’ve had for a week would have been gone by now if I was younger). I figure as I age the weird feeling will happen more often as I develop more nostalgia, as everyone does.
My friend Kate celebrated her birthday yesterday (and my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary!) and we had dinner. We had a good time, but I always forget I’m a year older than most of my core of friends. It’s not that big of a difference, it just sometimes makes me sad.
This website is now 11 years old. I know I haven’t kept it up, and I always intend to do more with it, but I just don’t have that much to say. There’s that meme for “Draw My Life” running around the viral video sites, and as much as I love them, I just don’t think my life would excite anyone. I’ll spare you my stick figures. Have a good one after the jump.

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Say yes to the dress.

Detail of a Vera Wang wedding dress.

Detail of a Vera Wang wedding dress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m somewhat at loose ends, now. I picked a wedding dress over the weekend, and it seems like I don’t have anything to do for a while, wedding planning wise. Now it’s just save, save, save, since I have to pay for the dress, and put down another deposit on the venue, and book all the vendors…but that’s for later. The wedding is still nearly a year away, so I have a little time to catch my breath before the next big thing.

(The picture isn’t of my dress, by the way. My fiance doesn’t want to even hear me talk about it, much less see it on the blog! I could never afford a Vera Wang dress anyway.)
I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t have that magical moment when I knew I had on THE dress. Honestly, I don’t really like trying on clothes (though I don’t mind buying them. I certainly have enough) and I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with a pair of shoes, much less a dress. I think I’d be pretty happy with whatever I found, and I’m lucky to have somewhat of a nice shape so most things look okay on me. I tried a few, figured out pretty quickly what looked good and what didn’t, and even gave my mom’s picks a chance. I’m glad I did, because it turned out that the last dress I tried was her choice, and  that was the winner. It took a while and listing the pros and cons of other ones I liked, and a discussion about price and alterations. This dress was on clearance, so the store couldn’t order a different size. Luckily the dress fit, but with a few additions, it could turn into the perfect dress, AND save me some money since I don’t have to search for one with every single specification. It’s not super fancy, it’s not designer, but it looks good on me and turned out to be even less expensive than we thought. SCORE. The alterations won’t add too much to the price, and I’ll end up with a dress I like when I walk down the aisle. I might even look a little like a princess.
That teary-eyed moment may not have happened, but thinking about the dress kept me up last night. I usually wake up during the night, and I couldn’t keep myself from thinking about wedding things. Every time I’d get frustrated with that, I’d tell myself to quit and just get back to sleep, but I suck at Zen. I’m excited about the wedding, of course, but I’d rather have my sleep, thankyouverymuch. I hope now that I have some time when I don’t have to think about weddings I’ll relax (she says, with NaNoWriMo looming). I’m really glad I got the dress out of the way now. I can concentrate on NaNo and enjoy myself for a while, without spending money. Next up, in a few months: creativity with pictures, I think.
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I haven’t blogged all that much lately, and hopefully that will change, since I have to get myself writing more. It’s been a month and change since Mike asked me marry him (and I said yes, of course!) so sharing wedding plans with you all seems like a good way to get back into it. This time next year I’ll probably be freaking out because we’ll be just days away from our wedding!

(Before I do that, let me tout our NaNoWriMo region’s massive planning spree and our relationship with 7 library branches around town! And we got all this figured out in August!)
Being the somewhat obsessive person that I am, I have a bunch of wedding magazines and a couple of wedding books (aside: a few of these are a decade old, and the information is still pertinent, if some of the styles are terribly out of fashion and the prices are surely too low) and everything says the first step is to find a venue. The venue determines more than you think: how many people you can invite (though you have to have an idea of how many people you want to invite to pick a venue), what kind of dress to get, what sort of decorations work with the venue, how much extra you’ll have to do (does the venue cater? Will you have to decorate the place yourself?), how far will people have to go to get from ceremony to reception, where your wedding photos will be taken, &c. It also seems to determine the overall budget. You can go low and rent a location only, and DIY that thing to high heaven. Or you can blow the biggest wad you’ve ever seen with a massive ballroom and a steak and lobster course.
It happened, though. We picked a place, and I can’t say I wasn’t stressed before and after we did. Writing that check for a deposit on our chosen date made me sick–it’s so much money. Everyone says weddings will cost more than you think. That’s scary when you’re the ones picking up the tab. As much as my parents love me, there’s no way my dad’s going to hand someone a huge check at the end of the day. That’s fine–I don’t mind, and I always sort of figured that I’d have a DIY wedding. But this is one of those moments when I wish I had a trust fund.
We’re going to be very poor for a while. Planning a wedding is exciting, but not when you have to pay for it. But that’s okay. We have a budget, we know what we can spend, and we’ll try our hardest to make it a great party. I just want to have fun. And if that means we spend the whole time in half-lit hotel lighting, that’ll be okay. We’ll save, save, save, and hopefully not go insane between now and next October.
If you’ve got any wedding related advice or vendors you love, please leave a comment!
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