Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Catching up

Boy oh boy, had lots going on in the last week. My sis and her boyfriend were here for 4 days, and we had a nice visit. Packed in a veritable ton of activities while they were here. We got to visit with all the grandparents, watch the sun set at the beach, and roast like little game hens at Knott's Berry Farm. I went to my first (and probably last) baseball game. I know plenty of people love the sport and would likely be excited by a game that remained scoreless until the end of the 8th inning. Those same people would be bored out of their skulls at a dressage competition. Me, I'll take the dressage. But whatever; I wasn't exactly on the edge of my seat with thrills and wonder, but I still had a nice time.

I'm working mostly full time now in my new job position. It's been...interesting. It is frustrating to have to start from scratch, learning what materials need to be ordered and when and how frequently and how much, etc. etc. etc. But it will definitely be a learning experience, which I'm willing to take on.

I've also had my first class session of grad school! The second one is just about to start, so I'll finish posting later.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Yes, I'm a slacker.

I realize I have been remiss in posting this week's book review of American Gods; this is partly because I haven't actually completely finished it (though I've read more than enough to write about), but mostly because I've been busily preparing for the arrival of my little sister! She and her boy will be getting into town this afternoon, so I'm going to skip out during my lunchtime to fetch them from the airport. They'll get to see the lovely place where I work, and then we're jaunting out to see how much Moorpark's been developed since we moved away from it 13 years ago. We'll check out the old house, see if any of our old neighbors still live there, and then stop by the grandparents' on our way back eastward. We have many exciting plans for the weekend (Knott's, Dodger game, tasty foods), so it oughta be a great visit. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

All About the Assonance

I've got a gripe with that Overstock [dot] Com know the one. There's a woman, dressed in white (when she's dressed at all), with a giant red O on the wall behind her.

Woman: At Overstock dot com, it's all about the O. And the all about the clothes!'s all about the outdoors. It's all about the office. It's all about the home, and books, music, and videos. And...on's all about the gold.

Now, I am irritated by the inclusion of "music" in this list of things "the O is all about." I know the u sounds like oo, which is close enough to o I guess, but I'm just not willing to make that leap. Even if I weren't annoyed by the commercial in and of itself, that hitch in the stride that comes along when spokeslady says "music" just bothers the hell out of me.

That's all. Just had to get that out there.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cuddle time

Leo can be the pill to end all pills. He knows he's not supposed to get on the counter (or go behind the stove, or open the cabinets, or chew on the mouse cable...), but if he decides you're not paying enough attention to him he will, like a neglected child, do every one of these forbidden things over and over, just to get yelled at/squirted with water or compressed air/beaned with a pen/etc. Even though he's never missed a meal in his life, I think he's pretty sure that we would forget to feed him if he didn't remind us, his plaintive (read: annoying) cries ringing through our small apartment, frequently before dawn. He'll chew on pretty much anything, knock items off tables or counters, jump in and out of the laundry basket, and dart for the closet every time it's opened (though he's been doing that less, lately); his mission in life seems to be making as much of a pest of himself as possible.

And yet...he is without doubt the most affectionate cat I've ever known. It doesn't take much at all to get him purring like a deisel tractor. Dumb as a post, but sweet as all get-out.

I had a somewhat discouraging day at work today, so I was grumpy and exhausted when I got home. The cats came out of the bedroom to greet me, as they always do, Loki looking for Tom behind me, Leo squinting and stretching as he slunk his way across the floor. I grabbed a snack and sat down on the couch to unwind, and there was Leo right up next to me, head-butting me and rubbing ecstatically against my arm, purring all the while. He eventually settled, half in my lap, for a little afternoon cuddle.

And slowly, the stress of my day melted away, put on a shelf somewhere until tomorrow (yes, I will mix metaphors however I please, and you will like it!). Amazing what the little furball can do to my mood - infuriate me beyond compare when he's mewling and knocking things off the nightstand at 5:00 on a Saturday morning, or de-grumpify me on a crummy Monday afternoon with his soft, warm body, his purrs, and his little head butting up against me (cat hugs, you know).

Now, if you'll excuse me, it seems the little bastard/angel wants to play fetch, so I think I shall oblige him a while.

Weekend o' Movies

Yesterday, after the usual weekend chores and a trip down to Yaya's to fetch her air mattress, we went to the theater to see The 40 Year Old Virgin. I don't think I've laughed quite so hard at a movie since Team America, and both were extremely dumb, disgusting at times, but damned hilarious. I think Tom summed it up best, upon exiting the theater - "Completely mindless, but very entertaining." Steve Carell's character ends up being more likeable than mockable, and everything turns out happily when all's said and done, so I liked that. And I laughed my ass off.

Today we switched gears entirely to watch The Watcher on DVD. It's a Silence of the Lambs-y type psychological thriller featuring Keanu Reeves (who does a surprisingly good job) as a serial killer, James Spader as the burned-out ex-FBI agent trying to catch him, and Marisa Tomei as the shrink trying to keep Spader's character from completely hitting bottom, emotionally and mentally. It was pretty intense, if somewhat improbable at times. ("What? There's no way he would have gotten by without some serious burns there. And how does she keep outrunning him?" etc.) For the genre though, it was pretty good.

We took a break in the afternoon to get off our lazy asses and go (try to) shoot some hoops at a park near Caltech. At first it was like middle school all over again ("Aaaiiiirbaaaaall!") but I eventually got the hang of the whole backspin thing and managed to sink some baskets. There was a boy there with his mom, and he played with us for a little while. He was pretty funny, keeping track of how many times each of us had made a basket - he beat us soundly, sinking 30 before either of us had much passed 20. Tom had to go find him a "magic leaf," as this had been the agreed-upon prize. It was quite warm out, so we didn't hang out for too long, but it was nice to get out and get some air. And, I'm gonna just go ahead and say "out" a few more times for good measure. Out out out...

Back home, where we decided to order Chinese food and watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That was an odd one. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are in it (interesting aside...Jim Carrey's character is named Joel, which is also the name of James Spader's character in The Watcher!) as this fairly mismatched couple - he's shy and introverted, and she's completely insane - who get together, then break up and decide to have their memories of each other erased. Most of the movie takes place inside Joel's head, during the erasure process, and it's very disjointed, very much like actual dreams/thoughts/etc. It was conceptually neat, I guess, and some of the effects were kind of cool, but overall it was somewhat depressing; you know at the end that if these two characters do end up getting back together, if they should happen to meet again as "strangers" after the procedure, that they'll probably just repeat the same ultimately unhappy relationship. I guess you can hope they'll do things differently the second time around, but it seems unlikely. So anyway, Eternal It was all right.

Now it's gettin' on near bedtime, since Monday will surely arrive all too soon. But before I sign off...Happy Birthday, Dad. :) Love you.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Song lyric of the day

These are the muddy waters I'm swimming in to make a living. That I might drown in them should come as no surprise.
-The Shins, "Mine's Not a High Horse"

It's been an odd week, trying to get everything set for my little job transition. In between making sure my replacement is properly trained to handle all the stuff I do without really thinking about anymore, finding new office space (it's a big company, and my new department is far enough away from my old department that I'll have to move to a new office), and just trying to wrap up the loose ends of all my current projects, I'm also attempting to ascertain exactly what my new responsibilities will be. Everything's still so murky at this point, and my new supervisor has been on business travel all week, so I haven't even been able to ask him for clarification.

Muddy waters, indeed. I'm hoping things will clear up next week.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Book Review: Freethinkers, by Susan Jacoby

I'm sittin' here and I'm fightin' this ferocious battle against people at this juncture who want to change America. Alright? They want to change it and de-emphasize religion. They want a country like Sweden, where less than 10% of the population goes to Church. [...] So, I'm fightin' against these secularists and they're slimin' me.

-Bill O'Reilly
Oh re-he-heally, Bill? You think that these slimy secularists have only recently begun trying to change your "Christian Nation" into some kind of society in which science and logic have more sway in our judicial and legislative systems than do theology and scripture? I'm afraid I have to disagree with you there. And so would Susan Jacoby, if her book Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism is any indication.

That's right, secularism has been around in America long enough for it to have a history - a relatively long (relative to America's own age of course, not to countries that are actually old like, say, France) and illustrious one at that. Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Philo D. Beckwith and Ernestine L. Rose are just a few of the prominant secularists (or freethinkers, as they were called) of the 18th and 19th centuries. The abolitionist and early feminist movements rebelled against the use of scripture to justify slavery and the subjugation of women. Secularism is not, as folks like Mr. O'Reilly would have you believe, a new phenomenon.
Today's Christian conservatives frequently use the slogan "Let's put God back into the Constitution," thereby implying that "secular humanists" have managed to overturn what was originally intended to be a marriage of church and state. Nineteenth-century clerics knew better and were honest about their desire to reverse what they regarded as the founders' erroneous decision to separate church and state.
The book is, not surprisingly, rather dry and dense at times, but it is nonetheless extremely interesting. Robert Ingersoll, for example, was a fascinating character. Born in 1833, he followed in the footsteps of Thomas Paine and became known as "The Great Agnostic" and the father of the "golden age of American freethought." He was an extraordinary orator - the "preeminent orator of his generation," in fact - who traveled hither and yon throughout the country, speaking not only in the standard metropolitan cities (New York, Boston, Washington) but also at various sites in rural Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, et al. The following is an excerpt from his speech "The Gods":
We are laying the foundations of the grand temple of the future - not the temple of all the gods, but of all the people - wherein, with appropriate rites, will be celebrated the religion of Humanity. We are doing what little we can to hasten the coming of the day when society shall cease producing millionaires and mendicants - gorged indolence and famished industry - truth in rags, and superstition robed and crowned. We are looking for the time when the useful shall be the honorable; and when REASON, throned upon the world's brain, shall be the King of Kings, and God of Gods.
I'd never heard of Ingersoll before reading Freethinkers.

A very worthwhile read...unless of course you're Bill O'Reilly. A.

Job change

So, in about a week I'm getting moved to another department where I will be a "sort-of supervisor type person who's not actually called the supervisor but serves a supervisory function." The actual job title is somewhat more official sounding, but that's the gist of it. Still not sure how I feel about the change. It's bound to be a learning experience, at any rate.

It's been pretty busy around here lately and I've been falling behind on my recreational reading, but I'll try to put up a book review this evening. Might do Freethinkers, even though it's been a few months since I finished it. We'll see.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Two Weeks

Two weeks from today I begin the first class of my master's program - Criminal Profiling. (I already read the textbook; it was badly written and all-around horrendous. Here's hoping the class is better than the book!) One online class per month until April, when I'll begin commuting to San Diego once a week for my lab classes. That'll But it's a ways off, at least.

I'm kind of excited and a little nervous to be getting back into school mode again. On the one hand, it's been nice to have a year without homework; I get up, I go to work, and then the evening is mine. If I want to sit and watch bad TV after dinner, by golly, I can. But soon, it'll be back to homework and studying and exams and reading and homework and homework... On the other hand, it'll be nice to start learning new things and actually be making some progress toward eventually being a forensic analyst. Too much bad TV can dull an otherwise sharp mind, so all that free TV time I've got now will instead be put to some good use. Maybe not as relaxing a use, but a better one overall, I think.

So here's to my last two weeks of "freedom." Academia shall have me back within its clutches soon enough. I just hope I'm ready.

Fifteen-minute thunderstorm

The first thunderclap woke me at 2:45. I lay awake a minute, my sleep-addled brain puzzling over whether it was actually storming outside or whether there had been some kind of explosion. Then I saw lightning flash through the blinds, so I figured we had just been blessed with a freak storm. Excellent.

Got up for a drink of water and the thunder rumbled again, this time rolling for a little while. I crawled back under the covers and started drifting off to sleep again when the rain began pattering against the window and the palm tree outside. It was ten to three. I listened as it built up to a rather enthusiastic downpour and wondered idly if I’d have to bust out my rain jacket in the morning for the first time in about 5 months.

Twas not to be, however. By 3:00 the rain had all but stopped. I could hear it sloshing through the rain gutters, but nothing new was falling. Ah well. The valley was cool and damp and gray this morning, a welcome change from the hot and muggy mornings of late.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Early morning mind games

Woke up this morning at 6:15 and thought, Crap! I'm late. Ugh...just another few minutes...

I was then overcome with joy when I realized that it was Saturday and that I didn't have to get up after all. ;)

Friday, August 12, 2005


Wow, things sure seem bleak at work on Friday afternoons when I'm in the midst of them. ;) Home now, having finally finished shopping for my dad's birthday presents, which I will mail off tomorrow. Have done some lounging and reading, had a snack, and am feeling up to hitting the gym in a little while before picking up my poor, overworked man from school. Perhaps it's the knowledge that it is now the weekend that fills me with optimism and a renewed sense of energy. I'm not really sure. I do know that it's supposed to be cooler here over the next few days than it has been, and that will certainly be welcome!

Happy weekend, all.

It's Friday again, which means I'm tired

I feel like I should subtitle this post "Why I'm a pansy weakling who desperately requires recuperation after 40 measly hours of work."

I know people who work 60, 70, even 80+ hour weeks. Tom leaves for work most days at 6:30 when I do, and he isn't done until 8:30 or later some nights. People who work that hard are allowed to be exhausted. Yet here I am, working my little 8-hour days at a job that isn't all that physically taxing (not like building fences on a horse farm 12 hours a day, which I actually enjoyed a lot), and I come home completely drained. By Friday I'm waving my little white flag - "Please! I give up! Not another day; I can't take it!" - and I end up spending the weekend reverting to what is apparently my natural state of near total sloth.

I'm young. I take my vitamins. I should have more energy than this.

[Edit: I had some more stuff here, but in the interest of financial security I opted to take it out. I didn't think it was all that out of line, but Tom pointed out that in today's climate it doesn't take much for employers to get cranky about their blogging employees. And since I make damn near zero attempt to keep my identity secret here, I ought to blog with caution, which of course he's right about. An anonymous alter-ego is sounding pretty enticing right about now...]

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

It's catblogging time again...

Boy, don't mess with a cat trying to catch a nap. The claws, the icy away!

Leo kind of reminds me of an aligator, here.
Last night I was getting ready to to pick up Tom, and when I turned toward the door, this is what I saw...

I am Yoga Cat! You shall not pass!

Needless to say, I had to stop and take a picture before I continued on my way. Hehe. ;)

Book Review: Little Children, by Tom Perrotta

People who like Desperate Housewives will probably like Little Children. It's got clique-y suburban moms, it's got marital strife, it's got scandal. Todd and Sarah are 30-something parents (each married to other people) of young children who meet while taking their kids to the neighborhood park. They start talking, they feel some sort of connection, they kiss, they say "Good heavens, what have we done?", and then a few weeks later they begin a sordid affair upon which the rest of the book is based.

Sarah doesn't really love her husband, and he doesn't really love her either, so I can sort of see her motivation for skipping off into the arms of another man once she finds said husband sniffing a woman's panties, which he bought online. Not a fan of infidelity in any event, but I can at least see her motivation. Todd, on the other hand, seems to have gotten into this affair partly out of boredom (he's a stay-at-home dad) and partly out of jealousy over his wife's connection with their son. I mean, I get it, he's unhappy, but these are things you work out; you don't just up and decide to start sleeping with someone else out of revenge. So that bothered me.

There was also a whole other storyline involving a sex-offender/pedophile/possible murderer who has moved into the neighborhood to live with his mother. People want him out, he wants to be left alone, his mom wants him to find a nice girl to date (which works out about as well as you might predict), and while I won't give away the ultimate resolution to his storyline on the off-chance somebody may actually want to read this book, I will say that I found it completely unsatisfying and anticlimactic.

Basically, I kept waiting for this book to get better, and it kept disappointing me all the way to the end. Maybe it's too "real" of a book for me, but just because life sucks and people make stupid choices, that doesn't mean I want to spend my time reading about it. Ultimately, not one I'd recommend. C-/D+

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Homemade calzones are tasty

Tom's really the one with the chefly tendencies in this relationship, but I'm picking up a few mad kitchen skills here and there. One thing I make really well (if I do say so, myself) is the calzone. From scratch, baby! And if I can do it, anyone can, so here's how:

(for 4 calzones)
1/4 cup warm water - about 110 degrees F
1 packet (or 2.25 tsp) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups bread flour
(or just regular flour...I'm not really sure what the difference is)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1.25 cups cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Various calzone guts, sauces, etc.

1. Combine the sugar, yeast and warm water in a small bowl or cup, and stir. I find that a chopstick works quite well for this, but a spoon's fine too.
2. Combine flour, salt and garlic powder in a large bowl, and stir.
3. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil to the flour mixture, stir, then add the water 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until it's all pretty well mixed together and looking nice & doughy.
4. Put a bunch of flour on your hands and scrape the dough out on to a floured board. Knead until smooth, adding more flour as necessary until the dough isn't sticking to everything.
5. Place the dough back in the large bowl and let it rise, covered with a towel, at room temperature for an hour.
6. Go check email/update the blog/watch TV/read a book while the dough is rising.
7. When the hour's up, punch the dough down (this is particularly satisfying if you've had a rough day), divide into 4 balls, and let it rise again for 30 minutes.
8. Chop veggies, prep meat, etc. and pre-heat the oven to 500F.
9. Roll out the dough balls to about 9-inch rounds. Slather on the sauce, spread the fillings on half of each round. Fold the plain dough half over the filled half and pinch the edges together to make bulging little pockets of goodness.
10. Cut 3-4 slits on the top of each calzone to let the steam escape. Otherwise they will explode! (Well, probably not, but I don't like to leave such things to chance.)
11. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on the outside, gooey on the inside. Have a care when eating them, because the innards will be molten.

All righty. My dough's almost done with its first rise, so it's nearly punching time! Wahoo! Later, folks.

More fun at the Caltech gym

As per usual, I went to the gym after work to do some sweating, burn some calories, yada yada yada. All the cardio machines are on the second floor, and the elliptical machines are all lined up in front of a window overlooking the basketball court. The court was empty when I started my workout, so I just kind of stared blankly at the window, listening to Caviar on the iPod. And then, about 5 minutes into the workout, I saw it.

A.....huge....spider. Just chilling on the other side of the window. The thing was big enough that even from three feet away, I could see that its big back legs were striped. Which was kind of cool, actually. The rest of the legs and the body were all dark brown, but those back legs had little barber-pole stripes of tan on them.

Anyway, when some basketballers did eventually show up to play, I kept waiting for the spider to leap off the window in search of red meat or something, but it never did. Which makes the end of my story pretty boring. So, yeah, sorry about that.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Blog-less weekend

Another nice, restful weekend. We had a good time Friday night at the going-away party. Several people in our circle of acquaintances were in Brazil a week or so ago for a wedding, so we got to hear all sorts of neat stories. It'd sure be nice to have some time to just go somewhere. Ah well, someday...

Got most of the big chores out of the way on Saturday (cleaned the apartment, did laundry) and spent the rest of the weekend working our way through the first season of Scrubs. It'd been a while since I'd watched the show, and I'd forgotten just how funny it is.

Sunday afternoon my search for shorts led us to Old Navy, where I found some satisfactory ones in the men's section. And they were cheap! About half the price of any of the women's shorts we found (which is odd, since they contained more fabric...). The men's section had a much better selection, too. I guess I should have been looking for shorts in January, since here it is, the dead of summer, and all the stores are already plugging their "Back to School/Fall Fashions!", and apparently, men still wear shorts in the fall while women wear jeans, slacks and long skirts. (Even in southern California, where there isn't really any fall to speak of, or winter for that matter.) But anyway, I got my shorts in the end, and I got 'em on the cheap, so thanks Old Navy.

That about wraps up the weekend. Back to the grind. I'll try to come up with something more insightful than a play-by-play of chores and shopping for next time. ;)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday at last!

Man, what a week. There must have been some kind of sedative in the water here, or something in the ventilation system. Everyone was draggy all week long. To make matters worse, today just crawled, slogging along like a tortoise pulling a tractor-trailer.

However, I am now eight glorious minutes from freedom. Tonight we're going to Agnes's going away party, as she leaves for med school next week. Ought to be fun; I'm sure there will be plenty of folks there we haven't seen in a while.

Happy Friday!

Don't call me Daisy!

What is it with all the tiny little Daisy Duke shorts?! I'm a somewhat modest girl. I have no desire to conduct myself in public with my ass hanging out the bottom of my shorts. All I'm asking is for a pair I don't have to feel mortified wearing. I'm not ashamed of my body, but good gravy would I not mind more than a tiny scrap of coverage.

The hunt for shorts continues...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Book Review: The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, while not exactly mind-blowing, is an interesting collection of anecdotes supporting Gladwell's assertion that there are certain elements required to bring something out of a small subculture and explode it into the mainstream. The book itself is about a mile wide and two inches deep, content-wise (fortunately not size-wise, as that would make it fairly unpleasant to read), with all sorts of random digressions from the actual point, but I didn't mind too much.

The very first example Gladwell illustrates (and one of the many to which he keeps returning throughout the book) has to do with Hush Puppies shoes. Nobody was wearing them, sales were extremely low (about 30,000 pairs per year prior to late 1994), and their patent uncoolness suddenly spurred a handful of kids in the Manhattan's East Village to start wearing them to clubs - "They were wearing them precisely because no one else would wear them." Well, wouldn't ya know it, the very people deliberately trying not to be trendy frequently end up being the ones who spark the new trends.
In 1995, the company sold 430,000 pairs of the classic Hush Puppies, and the next year it sold four times that, and the year after that still more, until Hush Puppies were once again a staple of the wardrobe of the young American male.
Gladwell goes on to outline his Three Rules of Epidemics: The Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.

The first rule states that there are three types of people (Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen) who are required in order to build a following in any sort of trend. Mavens are the innovators, the ones who are constantly seeking the latest thing and who tend to soak up tons of information for later assimilation. Connectors are the people who belong to many different types of communities, who have more than an average number of acquaintances, and who you might say are hyper-sociable. Salesmen are the persuaders, the ones who can sell anyone on any idea and can translate something that's maybe a little obscure into something with which the general populus can identify. Trends begin on the backs of these few unusual individuals.

The Stickiness Factor (which Gladwell apparently tries himself to invoke throughout his book by repeating and reiterating his messages at every opportunity) is the jingle or slogan that makes you remember a product or the gratification you get from participating in a trend - whatever is going to keep you coming back for more. The last rule, the Power of Context, has to do with the fact that a trend might not take off in one environment, but if things are slightly different, it can explode almost overnight. Gladwell applies these three rules to a wide range of situations beyond his initial shoe example: the syphilis epidemic of the mid-90s in Baltimore, Paul Revere's midnight ride, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, crime, business, cigarettes, Sesame Street and Blue's Clues, bestselling books, suicide, and fashion, to name a few. ;)

Interesting in its variety, though not terribly enlightening overall. The meat of the book could probably be expressed in about 100 pages, but between the various digressions and repetition of ideas, Gladwell manages to drag it on for nearly three times that. Still, the fact that I didn't really mind the extraneous length speaks to my level of amusement with the various examples, and while I wouldn't recommend The Tipping Point as a book that will 'totally blow your mind, dude!', it serves as light weekend reading just fine. B+

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Counting Quantum Leaps

Sometime last year, we started catching episodes of Quantum Leap on the SciFi Channel late at night. Tom was somewhat horrified that I hadn't seen much of what he considered a classic television show (I knew the general premise, but that was about it), but before too long I was basically up to speed. When Christmas rolled around, I bought the first season of the show on DVD, almost as much for myself as for Tom. It's a silly show, but it has its clever moments, and even though the plot is essentially the same in every episode, there's still something enjoyable about the concept.

Occasionally, if I'm having trouble falling asleep, I'll think about what I would do if I were to "leap" into my own body at some earlier point in my life, knowing everything I know now. What would be the best point? As hideous as reliving high school would be, I've come to the conclusion that I could make the most positive changes if I were to leap into my 14 year-old self. I could warn friends about future boyfriends/girlfriends ("Trust me, stay away from that guy! He's going to treat you like crap!"), I could adopt better physical fitness habits (thus avoiding the pudgy stage of my later high school years), I could try to develop more enthusiasm for math (perhaps by recruiting as a tutor a certain brilliant, varsity-soccer-playing sophomore who doesn't yet know I'm destined to become his one true love), and I could return to the years when my horseback-riding skills were at their peak. The opportunities would be boundless!

Of course, if I set myself along even a slightly a different path, no matter what my intentions, would I still end up where I am now? Would Tom & I have worked as a couple if we'd begun dating in high school? (I'd like to think so, but you know how these things go.) Would my friends heed my relationship "premonitions" and be happier for them, or do we need to go through a certain amount of hardship sometimes to realize how great we've got it later? I don't know the answers to these questions. But usually I only manage to ponder a few of them before falling fast asleep. ;)