Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Woes of Moving

Orientation is over, and I almost went the whole week without telling a boob story. But then high school nicknames arose. Not once, but twice! I refrained the first time, but the second, I had to tell the story of Nips Navs. I didn't drink any tequila, though, so I think I managed to maintain a small level of mystique.

Because I was focused on orientation, I failed to lament over the laborious process of moving. No worries, though, I haven't forgotten the pain.

If ever there is a time I 1) despise being independent and 2) wish I had a personal assistant, Johan, it is when moving. I have moved four times, and each time, my fifty year old mother and I are hauling boxes from apartment to apartment. Granted, she is in phenomenal shape, but hauling boxes across four states was a bit much to ask, so I hired movers. It was the best two grand I have ever spent; however, I still hate moving.

First, there is the packing process, during which I continuously ask myself how I accumulated so many clothes and kitchen appliances in two years. And whether or not I really need to save my college diploma. Of course, I need to save that red dress I wore to homecoming senior year, because there's a chance my thighs will one day return to their pre-squat girth. I use an entire week's worth of newspaper to ensure my two dollar plastic cup doesn't crack in transit and five rolls of packing tape to ensure not even the Rock could open my box.*

The moving men eased the pain of lifting boxes. In retrospect, I should have gone out to breakfast during the two hours they were packing, because I didn't know what to do with myself. After realizing that I was hindering any loading process more than helping, I just sat on the floor in my kitchen and pondered life.*

When we arrived in Ann Arbor, the unloading process was just as smooth, but this time, I could occupy myself by unpacking. A picture, of efficiency, I unpacked all boxes and even hung relatively level pictures within the first week. Assembling furniture is another story.

I bought a cheap patio set from Wayfair. The review read: "it took my husband five minutes to put it together." Not all of us have husbands to put it together in five minutes. My legs are currently strewn about the floor and the over/under on the assembly of the table is one month. I get intimidated by screws, and I imagine I will eventually acquiesce the help of others in exchange for food and drink.

The most frustrating part of any move for me is logistics. I don't know how I would have survived before the Internet, because every time I have to call an automated system, I end up yelling at the operator. After taking care of gas and electric, I called Comcast and got suckered into the cable package for $69. Then I decided I didn't need to pay for cable. Afterall, everyone tells me I'm going to have zero free time come September. I call Comcast, and our conversation goes something like this:

I would like to cancel my cable.


I don't want to pay for it.

Okay, Well, if you only have Internet, it will cost you the same. Actually, I can knock ten dollars off your current package and only charge you $59.

You confuse me. But okay.

For all the complaining I do about Comcast, I have had very good interactions with them. They were scheduled to come between 8:30 and 10:30. They arrived at 9 and were done within an hour - probably because I had already figured out the other wiring on my TV, one thing I have mastered in my independence. They also set up my WiFi username and password so I don't have to enter the ridiculous default. I wanted to tip them, but remembered I haven't had an income in months, so I just offered them some coffee.

Of course the process was not without caveat. My outlets are only two prong. It's okay, though, because I had to run to Target to pick up hooks for the new shower curtain because apparently buying a shower curtain requires three separate purchases - the curtain, the liner, and hooks. I quickly learned a surge protector with a two prong outlet and three prong inputs doesn't exist, so I need to purchase a cheat outlet, which is not available at Target.

But none of this compares to my general frustration with the bureau of motor vehicles, an entity with which I have not had to interact in my previous three moves.

Dear Presidential candidates: If one of you could nationalize the DMV/BMV, I will vote for you, regardless of your stance on other issues. If you could throw in a speed limit of 70 on all interstate highways, I will join the campaign trail.

My registration in Virginia expired July 31st. In order to renew again, I will need an eCheck from Virginia. I don't plan on taking my car back to Virginia any time soon, so I looked into getting Michigan plates, which requires me to transfer my title, insurance, and driver's license.* I don't know where my title is. Who knows where their title is? Of course, I need to transfer my license so I can register to vote in Michigan, but since neither of the candidates are promising to nationalize the system of motor vehicles, I may not vote, anyways. And my driving record transfers to Michigan, which is most annoying of all. What is the point of getting a new driver's license if the points remain? I may just risk being pulled over - I've been working on my "woo cops and get out of infractions" game, and I think it's getting stronger. If that fails, I'll get Geeves to take care of it.

* Perfect place for sexual innuendo, but I am refraining. I just want to acknowledge that I see the opportunity.
* As you can imagine, my thoughts were deep. Mostly, I thought about how the Olympic village was going to use 450,000, because I find that number to be absolutely fascinating.
* I also need to provide my birth certificate, social security card, and three people who can vouch for my legitimacy as a human.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Anna Preps for B School

Shortly after my first day at RKG, I was talking with a coworker, Brian. He said of meeting me: "At first I thought, 'man, she seems really classy - then you sent that email ranting about Cleveland sports.'"

Let me start by saying I don't know why classiness and ranting about Cleveland sports are mutually exclusive. Now...

Tomorrow is the first day of orientation. Alas, the late fall/winter/spring/most of summer of Anna is drawing to a close. Don't panic, I still have a bike trip through French wine country before the reality of grad school hits (which I still don't think will be a harsh reality).

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. Orientation. A chance to revamp my persona and define myself however I please. I could be the savvy, calculating tycoon. I could be the edgy chick with the leather coat and distant look in her eyes. I could be the quietly intelligent woman oozing sophistication. Guys - I could have mystique!*

What are the steps of preparation for such a pivotal point, the beginning of my MBA journey? We are all told to read inspirational books, map our strengths and weaknesses, write a statement of purpose, but there's so much more.

1. Wardrobe. You may not know this, but I won best dressed in high school. Of course, the organizer of senior superlatives was also in the running for the award and came in a distant (I assume) second. She decided that both first and second should be in the superlative pictures, clearly losing the essence of the word superlative, and conveniently forgot to tell me - and only me - the day of pictures. I was wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Joke's on her, though, because I rocked those sweatpants ironically and have clearly moved past the injustice.

Working as the only female at a tech company took a toll on my fashion output, so I reassessed my closet and added a few token pieces, including a blazer, a red dress, a couple pencil skirts and blouses that don't reveal pit stains, casually chic tanks, and a hot pink mini skirt because why not. No pants suits. I do not and will never believe in them.

2. Hair color. My hues have spanned the spectrum: auburn, bleach blonde, natural (for about a month when I was experimenting with fiscal responsibility), brunette, deep brunette, warm golden highlights. For years I have adhered to the theory that people take me more seriously as a brunette because the combination of the blonde and my laugh make for an overwhelming impression. However, I think I've reached a point in my career where I have proven my intellect beyond the color of my hair, and I've reached a point in my life where the perception of others is less burdensome. So the question becomes, in what color do I feel most like myself? Is there really any contest? Blonde. Bright, glorious blonde.

3. My part. Perhaps a bigger decision than the color of my hair was the decision to switch the part from right to left. My brother-in-law, Will, made me aware of valid research that concludes the side on which one parts his/her hair has the power to impact success. I've come this far with my hair parted on the wrong side - imagine the power and prestige that lies ahead!

Emanating power.

4. Phase defining scent. Another scientific theory. Smells trigger memory. Angel takes me back to the high school gym. Happy takes me back to summers teaching tennis. What will harken memories of grad school years from now?

This decision is not one to be taken lightly, and I have literally spent hours seeking phase defining scents with my sister, Lydia, who first introduced me to their importance. Unfortunately, when I walked into the Nordstrom fragrance section, the scents were behind counters, meaning my quest was dictated by another. Were these women capable of leading me to a scent that frolicked upon my nostrils, one that was neither too sweet nor too floral, nor too MBA*? I had no choice but to believe they were.

Twenty minutes and ten perfumes later, between which I profusely apologized for taking so long and secretly wished I could try fifty more, I had narrowed the choice to two. From there, I had to employ bipartisan expertise. I spritzed one on each arm, picked up two mascaras so I could get Lancome's free gift, and sought my mother and sister for a dual arm sniff test. They were torn. While the first had a better initial scent, the second lingered. In the end, I went with my gut and chose the "elegant" fragrance, apparently also just chosen by a woman who was about to get married. I don't know why the salesperson thought it necessary to tell me this, but I suppose that sounds more appealing than if it had been chosen by a woman who was about to work the street corner. When I asked the price, it was obviously the most expensive, but I plan to recoup those costs with whatever job this degree lands me. Clearly, this is an investment in my future.

5. Locate Crossfit, tennis courts, and radio presets. I'm about to encounter a lot of change. For starters, I have to wake up tomorrow at a specific time. I will need an aggressive, athletic outlet for any buildup of angst, and of course, I will need to be able to jam out in the car. Thankfully, there is no shortage of athletes in Ann Arbor, and since it's a Midwest town near Detroit, there is no shortage of country or hip hop radio stations. There's even a station dedicated to throw back tunes, playing Juvenile and NWA all day. Done and done.

6. Set some social ground rules. 1) Don't bring up embarrassing stories about bodily functions or boobs for at least six weeks. 2) Obey rule number one. Even if the story is really funny. 3. No tequila. Just. No. 4. Obey rule number three. Even if the tequila is really good and lime and salt are involved. 5. Smile.

I'm pretty confident I have covered all my bases. Now if you'll excuse me, I think have to read some case study for tomorrow.

*Or I could be the one giggling when the professor says, "The British currency has been falling since the Brexit. How do they get it up again?" because she definitely could have said that.

*my mother told me she didn't want me to get a scent that was too MBA, which Julie and I determined must mean musky.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Night I Decided to Leave Charlottesville

“How beautiful to dream. But dreams,” I tell Gil, in one of our quiet moments, “are so damned tiring.”
He laughed.
“I can't promise you that you won't be tired,” he says. “But please know this. There's a lot of good waiting for you on the other side of tired. Get yourself tired, Andre. That's where you're going to know yourself. On the other side of tired.”

- Open, the autobiography of Andre Agassi. Read it.

At the age of ten, I went to camp. I desperately wanted to leave on day four. I finished the week but was relieved to return to the comforts of my mom’s cooking and my dad’s hugs. Don’t be fooled by my boisterous laugh and big mouth. I am happiest at home, and I find it very hard to be away. When I moved to Charlottesville, I wasn’t sure what would become of our relationship, but I did know this – I was going to make it my home.

It was October 25th, 2011. I had lived in Charlottesville 14 months, and not a week passed that I didn’t break down. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. I wasn’t supposed to be this tired. Sure, the first months may have been lonely, but then I would have met kindred spirits, found a church, figured out my job, maybe dated a guy. Built a life.

Instead, I found myself swimming through tar. I tried a couple churches and Bible studies, but none seemed to fit. Maybe I didn’t fit them. I tried serving others but found I had very little energy to do so. I had been turned down for a promotion, which was not as crushing as the fact that I felt wasted in my current position. No one understood my quirks like my family and close friends had. I struggled with brokenness, shame, and rejection.

That night, two friends and I went to a cozy bar for the Tuesday drink special. I chose water, knowing alcohol was no good for my current state.

I told them how often I cried. “I cry, too,” one consoled me. “Just the other night I put on some mellow music and had a good cry. It was cathartic.”

“No,” I said. “I cry too much.“

I told them I had registered for a marathon that day. I was going to train for it, I was going to run it, and then, I was going to leave Charlottesville. I was going home, where I knew the love of family.

It felt good to get this off my chest, and I was ready for bed. Plus, the bar was full, people were clearly eying our seats, and we were drinking water. As we stood up to leave, I ran into a guy. I apologized: “We’re leaving; you can have our seats.”

“My friend and I came to talk to you,” he smiled. We stayed and chatted, covering the usual small talk topics: jobs, education, favorite music. He asked for my number and gave me his, which was instantly etched in my memory - it was a combination of two important jersey numbers. We said goodbye.

I left that night with a gut feeling – there was something in Charlottesville I had yet to find. Over the next few months, and even the next few years, that gut reminded me to never run from anything, but to always run toward something. It encouraged me to keep grinding. It demanded me to get myself tired.

I realize not everyone relates to my tennis metaphors, so I will break from routine and use my second favorite metaphor – food.

My sister, Lydia, loved my grandma’s cinnamon rolls*, and sometimes, she made her own. It was a huge undertaking. She had to first make the dough, then knead it and let it rise. After it rose, she folded it, punched it down and let it rise again. Then, a third time, she folded it, punched it down and let it rise. Finally, after a day’s work, the dough was ready to be rolled, sliced, baked, and frosted into a heavenly treat.

Yes, I am a cinnamon roll* in this metaphor, and like its dough, I was knocked down by the same challenges repeatedly: trusting in transition and confronting loneliness. Each time I rose, I learned something new, even though many times, those challenges began with me asking, “Why do I have to do this again?”

Charlottesville has taught me so much. It taught me to be vulnerable and to fight fear. It taught me to let go, look forward, and trust. It taught me that though circumstances may seem otherwise, I am never alone. It taught me my desperate need for grace.

Charlottesville has given me so much: a very full resume, a host of friendships that I carry with me always, a church that pushed me, and a more seasoned palette. I am happy to call it home.

More than that, on the other side of tired - of that folding, punching, and rising - I know myself. I am ready to be rolled up, sliced, and put in the oven*. I am thankful to Charlottesville for so many things, but for this one thing, I am indebted.

*They were one of her many favorite desserts. Lydia doesn’t understand the superlative indication of the word favorite.

*Anytime I can compare myself to a baked good, I feel a certain level of success.

*One day, I will be ready to be frosted into a heavenly treat.

First St Patty's Day in Cville

RKG No Shoes Day! I forget why we weren't wearing shoes, but I don't like shoes anyways, so I joined.

Best. Costume. Ever. Cool Runnings!

RKG Christmas Party 2012

The people I laughed with the most.

Saying goodbye to Wayne, our favorite Citizen Burger bartender

Wineries are always so lovely.

Celebrating the birthday of Erin, one of the first people I met, and one of my closest friends.

Glad I joined Crossfit four years ago and met these fine people.

Dome. Out.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why I Can't Seem to Write About My Travels

I've started to recap my travel adventures dozens of times. I was on such a roll chronicling Vietnam. You were probably wondering if I had taken a Vietnamese lover, if I had gotten malaria, if I had indeed been kidnapped at the airport.

I had another post in the offing. It was going to be on weightroom stalking in Vietnam. The over/under on me being asked out by a fellow lifter was 28 days. I hope you picked the under, folks, because less than four weeks in, a young lad did indeed ask me to join him for dessert. I said I would think about it then changed my workout time. I was going to analyze why I seem to be asked out at gyms, but Crossfit has only prompted that on one occasion. My conclusion is: in a gym, I have an aura of mystique, but at Crossfit, I open my mouth, and everyone knows exactly what I'm thinking - all the time. No mystique = No dates. Perhaps I'll work on my mystique entering the next phase of life.

The thing is, every time I begin writing about travel, I think about family. I begin writing about the wonderful people I met in Vietnam, the cheap and delicious food, the sites, and then I remember that the moment I heard my sister had lost her baby, none of that mattered. I begin writing about the amazing sites of Southeast Asia and how to choose the perfect travel buddy - which I definitely did - and then I think about how special it was to show the pictures to my niece and nephews. And how blessed I am that the people I hold dearest and admire the most are my family.

As I was visiting each city, I asked myself, could I see myself living here, or more broadly, could I live abroad after school? And there were moments, mostly when drinking a good wine or eating a donut, that I thought it possible. Then I came home.

Maybe it's because I've spent the last month in Chardon, listening to country anthems and high school football strategy, not having a job and too much time on my hands, but I've been thinking a lot about ten year old Anna. She was definitely independent, creative, a hard worker. But she loved hugging her dad and Sunday dinners with her cousins. She wanted to get married, have kids, and give them the same thing, in the same town.

Seventeen years later, she is getting ready to embark on another adventure, once again on her own. I'm so grateful for the doors that have opened, but helping my sister move into her new house or sitting on my other sister's porch, watching boys jump off the swing set onto the trampoline - a move I suggested, probably to the dismay of their parents - it's hard not to feel a bit of longing for the same and fear of what lies ahead. Not fear about academics - I know I'll rock that - but about the other aspects. About starting over, building new relationships, navigating the job market, continuing to compete even when I'm tired. And what about after? What if God calls me to do something alone again? What if He calls me out of my comfort zone again? Dang it, will I ever know what the next year holds?

I was reminded this week of a few things. 1) God does not call us to convenience. He calls us to His purpose, and He equips us to do it. 2) Miracles do not occur within the comfortable. They occur when we need Him. 3) God is faithful. Always. Last year, I was applying to grad schools and wrote about the obsession over choice. All of the questions I asked about my future were answered so clearly, I didn't have to think twice about one decision. My future is not in my hands, but in the hands of one who plans to give me hope and a future. And finally, God hasn't forgotten about ten year old Anna. There is still time for those dreams to come true, too, even if it is not yet.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Anna Thinks about Guns

I don't own a gun. I envision a scene where I am humming about my apartment, looking for my keys, and accidentally shoot myself, so I haven't invested in one. I get gun ownership, though. I grew up in a town where the first day of hunting season was a holiday and a family friend dealt firearms. When there was a shooting at my high school, there was mourning, outpouring of support, and increased police force at the school, but I don't remember anyone picketing, demanding we ban guns.

I have mixed feelings about statistics. Sure, they can provide valuable insight, but they can also be manipulated to push an agenda. So when I see headlines like, "The States With The Most Gun Laws See The Fewest Gun-Related Deaths," I want to know the rest of the story.

But articles take a long time to read, and there are the NBA finals, the fourth season of House of Cards, the gym. Sometimes, I even have to work - not right now, though, and one consistent observation from traveling was that other Westernized countries - especially Australia - do not understand our cultural acceptance of guns. Most of my life, I have taken for granted my support of guns, but being met with such adamant opposition forced me to reevaluate.

Here's what I got:

First, some things I've learned from my semi-extensive Google searching.

The Second Amendment. The battle cry of pro-gunners. And a horrendously written sentence. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Are the "people" in the militia or private citizens? Is the Militia the subject of the sentence? Is the final comma superfluous? Mrs. Gilbert, my seventh grade English teacher, would slap me for writing such a sentence. There's no way it is grammatically correct unless "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" is a subordinate clause defining State or Militia.

It reminds me of Emperor's New Groove and the crucial conjunction.

Google search one led me to this article about the mysterious comma.

"Legal scholars do not agree about this comma.* Some have argued that it was intentional and that it was intended to make militia the subject of the sentence. According to these theorists, the operative words of the amendment are '[a] well regulated Militia … shall not be infringed.' Others have argued that the comma was a mistake, and that the operative words of the sentence are 'the right of the people to … bear arms … shall not be infringed.' Under this reading, the first part of the sentence is the rationale for the absolute, personal right of the people to own firearms." A Militia is necessary for the State's security, but individuals have the right to bear arms in order to regulate that Militia and resist a takeover.

Given that America was exiting the Revolutionary War and opposed invasive government and professional armies, as well as the convoluted nature of the sentence under the first interpretation, I support the second interpretation.

Speaking of the founding fathers, a common argument is that the founding fathers were talking about muskets, not guns that could unload at a rate of 100 rounds a minute. True. But could you also argue that the founding fathers believed citizens had a right to have the same weaponry as the federal government to keep the Militia regulated, which 200 years ago was a musket but now includes tanks? I tried half-heartedly to find if there were regulations in the 1700s against owning cannons, but I found none and gave up.

Back to law. Are background checks necessary? For a licensed dealer, background checks are in place and mandatory. This is the full text of what it entails, should you care to know:

It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person... yadayadayada... Don't give guns to people who shouldn't have them. * Actual full text below

Of course, there is the classic gun show loophole. This is not a gun show loophole, but a private seller loophole, wherein unlicensed sellers are not required to run background checks. A dealer is defined as “a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms." Excluded from this are individuals who "make occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms."

Some states have extended the law to apply to some, if not all, private sales.

Next. Guns. Bahhh so many things about guns! So I kept it simple.

The definition of assault rifle can be, as this California example shows, complicated, slightly nebulous, and confusing.

Fully automatic vs semi-automatic. The Firearms Owner Protection Act of 1986 banned private ownership of automatic weapons manufactured after 1986, and certain states have banned them completely, but by federal law, there is a process in which you can obtain a fully automatic manufactured prior to 1986. There is a lot of red tape, but it can be done.

Semi-automatic, such as the AR-15, fire one round per trigger pull, and when people say they shoot 800 rounds a minute, that is assuming you are pulling the trigger as fast as possible and not having to change magazines (which you do because a magazine only holds up to 30 rounds), so that number is not realistic. Still, you can shoot a crap ton of bullets.

Some questions:

1) Should every seller need to be licensed? Reasonable. However, 1) this can be a state by state decision rather than the federal government 2) it seems costly and difficult to regulate and 3) it will probably result in a stronger black market for guns.

2) Is security worth the small sacrifice of freedom - or the 9/11 argument, stated comedically and convincingly here. At first, this argument was appealing, however, there is a non-sequitur. (Check out my use of a big word. I hope I used it correctly.) Security measures in airports do not attack ownership. In this case, a similar measure would be tightening security to annoying degrees at night clubs, rather than banning ownership of guns.

Random side question: I imagine a lot of anti-gunners are also anti-Trumpers (don't worry, I'm not saying that all pro-gunners are pro-Trumpers). I wonder though, if he were elected and moved to limit gun ownership, if it would be seen as a tyrannical move from an aspiring dictator by those same people. No idea, but a thought - and a reason that the founding fathers protected the right to bear arms.

3) Would enforcing tighter gun laws even make a difference? And would it be worth it?

The US is exempt from this chart because it is an outlier, but the stats show that tighter gun control is not correlated, positively or negatively, with gun related homicides. The chart is from this website, and if you have fifty minutes to listen to this man's podcast while pretending to do work, it's worth the time.

One of his points is how much it would cost to pass and enforce stricter gun control at a federal level, and whether or not the ROI would be worth it. Yes, human life is a return on investment. Seemingly cold, but a necessary calculation when you are dealing with a finite resource - money.

4) What weapons should be legal/illegal? I understand the argument for making assault weapons - whatever falls under that category - illegal, and having no strong desire to have one myself, it wouldn't affect me.

So then I ask, even if banning certain guns was guaranteed to reduce the number of gun fatalities and have a positive ROI*, would I support it?

This is tricky. There's a sliding scale of weaponry, so where do we draw the line? But is that even the question we should be asking? I keep coming back to alcohol, rape, DUIs, and freedom.

Another story that generated immense outrage recently involved university rape. If neither of those individuals had been drinking, would that rape have happened? No. No question - that rape wouldn't have happened if neither of them had access to alcohol, mainly because they probably would have never met.

How many rapes are influenced by alcohol on university campuses? My mental estimates from anecdotal evidence say a lot. A simple way to decrease the number of college rapes - make every campus dry.* It wouldn't solve the whole problem, but it would solve rape influenced by alcohol problem... possibly.

How many drunk driving accidents result in death? There is a simple way to decrease the number of accidents: Tighten drinking laws. Mandate that every manufactured vehicle have a breathalizer that will not allow the car to start if you blow above a .08. Limit drinks/person at a bar to two. Only allow people to drink alcohol in their homes. Only allow people to purchase alcohol at bars or restaurants. Only allow alcohol below a certain percent to be sold. O wait, we tried that.

There is nothing in the Constitution that defends the right to drink alcohol.* While there are tangible benefits of gun ownership (protection), it is hard to find an actual benefit of alcohol, except for the occasional article that touts wine as healthy for the heart, which I tell myself every time I drink a couple glasses. And yet, when you hear of another rape case at a campus party, a girl being killed when she was blackout drunk, or another victim of a DUI, no one is crying, "When are we going to draw the line? When are we going to impose a law because people can't drink responsibly?" Why do we not demand alcohol be banned or tightly restricted?

There's money - there's always money. Just like the gun industry, alcohol generates a whole lot of revenue for a whole lot of people, and putting regulations in place that threaten that revenue stream would be very difficult.

But more than that, culturally, we understand alcohol. Many of us have participated in college parties. Many are able to drink alcohol responsibly (at least we think we can); we see infringement on that right as government overstepping its boundaries.

So no, I don't see why it's necessary to own a collection of AR-15s, just like I don't see why it's necessary to own a wine cellar or a fine bottle of scotch. I don't see why it's necessary to chug a bottle of Jack Daniels, but it's not my place to impose that limit on others, and it's certainly not the government's place.

As an American, I hold strongly to the responsibility and power of the individual. Fundamentally, I, not the government*, am responsible for my safety and the safety of those I love, and, yes, that freedom comes at the cost of idiots who abuse that freedom. But I would rather that than not have freedom.

5) Finally, are these the questions we should be asking? No. The question we should be asking is how do we get our crap together and think differently as a culture. This is an issue I am not qualified to discuss at an expert level, but of course, I still have some quick, non-exhaustive, thoughts.*

Entitlement. Across races, genders, and social classes. Looking to the government to fix our problems is another example of a generation that assumes we are owed something.

Desensitization. The rise of Internet and social media has created a platform where we are able to say what we think without having to deal with real consequences face to face, making it easier for some to dehumanize and devalue life.

Discipline. Among many of their valuable lessons, my parents emphasized that ideas have consequences. That meant I couldn't think and act however I wanted, even if it was within my "right" to do so. This is active, not passive, and it's hard, because my natural inclination is not good - it's evil.* We readily embrace the "freedom" of binge drinking, one night stands, and violence, and then we're surprised by the consequences of not controlling that freedom.

Final thought: I was recently reading about William Wilberforce, the British man who led the abolition of the slave trade in the early 1800s. When he began his "Reformation of Manners," he recognized that, "British culture did not have a biblical worldview and did not regard human beings as being made in God's image and therefore worthy of dignity and respect. This unbiblical view led to every kind of evil," slave trade being the worst. Christians aren't perfect, but Christ's worldview is. He looks through a lens of love and grace, and he sees value in every life. A law cannot force us to do the same.

* Shocker.

* Full text. It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person— (1) is under indictment for, or has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year; (2) is a fugitive from justice; (3) is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)); (4) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution; (5) who, being an alien— (A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or (B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(26))); (6) who [2] has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions; (7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship; (8) is subject to a court order that restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child, except that this paragraph shall only apply to a court order that— (A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had the opportunity to participate; and (B) (i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or (ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or (9) has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

* or actually enforce the underage drinking law

* The first time it appears is when it is banned, a ban that was repealed, essentially because Americans were determined to drink, and banning it led to more violence.

* The government is responsible for the nation's safety from outside forces.

* Mental illness is here, but I don't know where to begin to talk about that with any level of coherence.

* I know, it's hard to think I'm capable of every evil.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dear God. Love, a Cleveland Fan.

You've got a lot going on right now. I know. The world is full of evil, hatred, death and violence. There's poverty and sickness. I also know you are all powerful, so you can juggle multiple requests.

I don't ask for much. And by not asking for much, I mean, I ask for a lot. I'm not sure if you intervene in sports. I've always prayed that everyone plays to the best of their abilities and no one gets hurt. But just this once, I'm asking you to give Cleveland the W. Then give them the W on Thursday. And Sunday.

You see, I was watching game four with my niece and nephew the other night. They are eight and nine, that innocent age full of hope, excitement, and unbridled enthusiasm. Both of them went to bed before the game ended, because 1) the games start at an ungodly hour to accommodate the west coast, and 2) the agony of defeat is, o, so real.

It's been real for so long, and I understand why they didn't want to stay until the bitter end. I remember when I was their age. I grew up on Cleveland sports. Televised baseball may seem boring to some, but while other kids watched Nickelodeon, I watched every Indians game I could from '94 - '99. Hot summer nights were spent at my grandparents, marveling at the Vizquel/Baerga double plays. My heart jumped when Ramirez, mouth full of tobacco, made contact and dropped his bat as if to say, "No need to look. It's outta here."

Some girls had folders with the Spice Girls, NSync or Backstreet Boys. I had a folder with the Indians all-stars, including Jose Mesa, whose arm nearly hit the ground from the mound, and whose effortless pitching saved so many games. I lived for the sacrifice bunts, the walk off home runs, and the diving outfield catches.

My dad had a chief wahoo etched on the back of his head. He took me to a game after church a time or two, and wasn't that the order of life? God, family, then Cleveland sports.* But it wasn't just sports. Any diehard fan gets that.* Sports represent the fight. They represent grit, discipline, and sacrifice. They are an untainted picture of passion and resolute will. Even as a child, I appreciated that the will to win in sports is the same will needed to succeed in life.

But isn't that will supposed to lead to victory? At least eventually. Every season, I, along with the Cleveland faithful, clung to that belief, trying to balance hopeless optimism with resigned realism. And over the years, I've watched with butterflies racing around my stomach, as we have approached elusive victory, only to be thrown into the precipices of defeat.

I watched from our basement as we lost in game seven to the Marlins.* I watched in disbelief as the Red Sox stormed back from a 3-0 deficit en route a World Series title.* I've watched the Browns find every way to lose possible, which, admittedly, at this point, is mostly entertaining. And I've watched the Cavs, coming so close to greatness in an era among legends.

I don't want the same for my niece and nephew. And I get it. There are more important things than a championship. Winning isn't everything.* The agony of defeat has defined a generation of Northeast Ohioans. It has bred a hearty bunch. But we won't lose our grit if we win. I promise.

Maybe you want something from me in return for a victory. For starters, I'm writing this instead of applying to an internship. If I had to choose between a Cleveland championship and becoming a nun or no championship, I could make the sacrifice. Of course, you don't work that way. I know there's no bargaining. So I'm just asking - for the sake of my sweet niece and nephew. And for a city that has poured their heart and soul into supporting their teams.

I'll understand if you don't intervene. Again, I know you have a lot going on. Besides, the Indians are looking pretty solid this year, and there's always next year for the Cavs.

*And Chardon football.
*And anyone who isn't a diehard fan is rolling their eyes, thinking, "She's crazy."
*The Marlins!! No one in Florida even cared.
*Because that's what Boston needed - another championship.
*Or so I'm told.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Anna Eats a Donut. Part Two.

Alright, little dudes. We're off.

It's 4:30, which means we should barely beat rush hour.

I open the box to waft the scent.

Ahhh. Taunting. We're on the freeway now. I realize it's nearly a five hour drive, I've been up since five because the conference facilitators thought a five o'clock wakeup call was necessary for a seven o'clock breakfast - who the heck needs that much time?- and I haven't had an afternoon cup of coffee. Doesn't matter, I can wait no longer.

I need to be strategic though. I can't waste bites on the doughnut's perimeter; perhaps I'll just try a bit of each and share with the Crossfit class or Commonwealth tomorrow.

Alright. Round one begins with you, peanut butter creme. I wish I had a knife so I could cut you cleanly, but alas, I shall have to rip. Watch the road, Anna. Now, to find the perfect first bite ratio. One part frosting, two parts donut, three parts creme. Sometimes that means not eating the bottom of the doughnut, either. O yes, this peanut butter creme is amazing. Subtle, perfectly whipped, not too sweet. And the doughnut is as amazing as I remembered - the perfect explosion of flavor without being overwhelming. How do they do it? One more bite, then onward.

Elvis doughnut seems an appropriate segue. Banana creme - not quite as good as the peanut butter, but I love what they're doing with its consistency, the bacon flavor and added texture. Let's stick with the bacon theme and transition to maple bacon.

O, sweet white creme, I remember how delicious you are. I may convert to Mennonitism just to acquire these skills.

The taste explosion continued with maple walnut, the only doughnut that did not blow me away. I consider the value of having a palette cleanser between each doughnut so I can approach the flavor with fresh buds... Next time.

Salted caramel. I remember you. Still amazing. The caramel frosting is dense, accentuating the flavor and complimenting the white creme and sea salt perfectly. And this one appears to be extra creamy - I would say an 80% fill ratio. I just want to lick it. I'm going to. I'think it's safe to say these doughnuts are not being shared with anyone. It's crazy - I don't even feel full. It's like eating air. Maybe I'll blog about this.

I'm getting too excited. I need to cut myself off - put the box of doughnuts in the back seat - and get some protein in me - stat. Ahhh beef brisket sandwich, you are clutch. Maybe I'm able to eat so much because my brain has been working so hard the past two days.

Traffic continues to be smooth, and I stop to get gas, some hydration, and caffeine. I vacillate between five hour energy and regular coffee, but choose the five hour energy because a) it's right by the register and 2) the liquid will inhabit less real estate in my stomach.

Should I change from my dress into comfy clothes? Nahh. Not yet.

I pass through Dover and Baltimore with relative ease and a few tasty donut/beef brisket burps. The time is 7:30 as I approach DC, and inevitably, there is a slowdown.

Well, Anna, nearly perfect timing, but you couldn't expect to make it all the way down 95 without traffic. I wonder why there are two spellings of doughnut. Speaking of donut... You know what this you should do? More doughnut. Before doing so, though, let's do a quick wardrobe change into stretchy pants and loose fitting tank top. Thank you, sixteen year old Anna, for becoming a pro at changing in the car.

I first revisit the peanut butter, my second fave behind the salted caramel. After consuming all creamy bites and discarding the doughnut perimeter, I move through the others, eating the best of each. Then, I look at the pumpkin donut.

I probably owe it to you to take a bite. But I know what I'm going to think - this should be filled with creme - and at this point, you're a sunk cost. And the salted caramel is so good. Screw it. I'm eating the salted caramel - perimeter and all. Definitely the better decision.

With round two finished, I assess the damage. Quantitatively, I probably ate 45% of the 6 doughnuts and consumed 60% of the doughnut's calories because every bite contained cream and frosting. Respectable.

I wish I could say I finished them all, but I didn't. I stopped at a gas station and threw the ravaged remains out so they didn't tempt me the remainder of my journey. I had a bite more of my sandwich to end on a salty note, arrived home at 9:30, and passed out. I was awakened Wednesday morning by a bacon forward burp with hints of sea salt, peanut butter, and whipped creme.

Ahhh. Perfection.