Barbara's Random Thoughts

Friday, July 28, 2006

A week ago...

Originally uploaded by bjhillaker.

Kristy was up in SF last week, and we met up for dinner at Brindisi. This was my second visit to Belden Place for dinner with a Biola friend. I love the little European restaurants tucked away in this small alley. It was a wonderful place to sit outside and chat over good food. And, a great place to play with our cameras, taking pictures of each other.

| posted by Barbara | 1:37 AM |

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dates to remember

There are several dates that stick in my head, ones that I remember no matter what. July 25th is one of those dates.

Today is the birthday of my childhood best friend, Frances. It's also the day my family left England to move to California. Yes, I had to move away on my best friend's birthday. It's been 19 years, and that still bothers me.
| posted by Barbara | 1:25 AM |

You are old, Father William

I have encountered one of the signs that I am getting old. (Cue the inevitable T.S. Eliot reference.) I'm getting reluctant to admit my age.

I've never been sensitive about my age, at least not in the "I'm old" sense. For most of my life, people have assumed that I'm younger than I am. I was offered under-12 discounts well into jr. high and even high school. I got mistaken for a freshman several times during grad school.

I'm also used to being the youngest one. I'm the youngest child in my family, in every sense of the word. My closest sibling is 6 1/2 years older than I am. My mother is the youngest of 4, and my dad is the youngest but one of 5, so all of my cousins are older by quite a bit. As in: some of my cousins have kids that are older than I am.

I was one of those annoying home-schooled kids who graduated from high school early. As a result, all through college, my friends were mostly older. Same thing with my classmates in grad school.

But it seems that the average age of my friends has shifted in the past few years. My roommate Julie and I had a running joke a while back that everyone was 24. Except for us. That year we had a combined birthday party and titled the Evite "Not 24 Anymore." It was my 27th birthday. And now I'm 28, and I'm noticing that I'm in more and more groups where I am on the older end of things. In the past couple months, there have been occasions when people have asked me how old I am, and it's made me uncomfortable to admit it.

I remember getting my sister a birthday card that I thought was hilarious—she was probably in her mid-20s at the time. It listed several signs of growing old, among them:

-Your first car dies. (My first car died during my junior year of college. Check.)
-Retail employees start calling you "ma'am" instead of "miss." (Check.)
-You stop getting carded. (Check.)

(Add to this: coworkers assume that you are married when you are not.)

However, all is not lost. For dinner last night, I had chips & salsa followed by a bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream. Anyone who thinks this is an acceptable dinner can't be old yet. Right? I'm 28 and I eat junk for dinner! And I am proud!

Maybe I should grow my hair out long again and wear it in a ponytail. That used to make me look about 14. Think it would still work?
| posted by Barbara | 1:13 AM |

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


(Like paint-by-numbers, only not.)

1. I received a mysterious box in the mail yesterday, containing an iPod nano of my very own. A gift from the best manager ever! (Giving your employee an iPod automatically results in this categorization.)

2. I don't quite understand it when the person who is going away gives going-away presents. But I won't argue. I have an iPod. (But I don't have a manager. And that is sad.)

3. Related to the above: It's high time I spent that bonus money from months back and got myself a new computer. To go with the iPod.

4. Last night, I had to take back my rash statement that I was boycotting pants because there was no pair of jeans in the entire Bay area that would fit me. I bought three pairs of jeans last night. And they sort of fit. Well, two of the pairs would fit perfectly if my legs were 4 inches longer, and the other pair would fit perfectly if my stomach were a bit smaller. But let's not quibble. They were all on sale.

5. A coworker asked me this morning what I did for my wedding. I was understandably confused. She thought I was married. Upon consulting with others, she found that she was not alone in thinking this. Apparently, I send out "married vibes." I will try to believe that's the reason, rather than a perception of "Aren't you married by now? How old are you anyway?"

6. I have been a lazy blogger lately. It's not just the blog, though. I got an email from the parents this morning that began with "Haven't heard in a while…" Similar email from the best friend. I'd better get on that whole correspondence thing.

7. In contrast to my recent blogging habits, I’ve been rather productive with the reading. I finished Love in the Time of Cholera over the weekend (had to, for book club), and tore through Blankets on Friday (while procrastinating on my reading of Love in the Time of Cholera). I just finished Atwood’s The Tent, and am finishing up a collection of poetry. Go me.

8. Came across this today. I’m skeptical. But the idea is intriguing.
| posted by Barbara | 8:28 PM |

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Super burritos and shovels

The winner of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest was announced today.

Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.

The full results are here.

I'm somewhat fond of one of the Dishonorable Mentions:

The cold, cynical wind molested the auburn tresses of the fair damsel clinging to the steel of the rail trestle, from which vantage point she could see that it was a long way down to where she would land if she fell, which, given the velocity she would attain and the unfriendly pavement leering up at her, added to soft tissue's low tolerance for sudden impacts, would be a very bad thing.
| posted by Barbara | 1:33 AM |

Monday, July 10, 2006

Italy and First Sundays

This afternoon, when I discovered that Italy had won the World Cup, I called Melinda and said "We have to go to Italy!!!!" Melinda was my roommate during the semester I studied in Florence. At the end of the semester, all of the flatmates made plans to meet up in Rome in ten years. October 3rd, Trevi Fountain, 12 noon. And this, my friends, this is the year. (Now is the time for Google searches to find the rest of the girls...)

Melinda pointed out to me that if we time it right, we can repeat our ten-years-ago visit to the Capuchini Crypt and again receive a free indulgence. Here I must include an explanatory journal quote: "Highlight of the visit, though--if you visit on the first Sunday of the month, such as today, you receive some sort of indulgence! So--all my sins were forgiven for free this morning!" What a deal! And so different from PBC's First Sunday events. Hmm.
| posted by Barbara | 6:02 AM |

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Margin quote of the day

"May you live in interesting times."
--Chinese proverb/curse

This seems particularly appropriate for almost every area of my life right now.


| posted by Barbara | 7:46 PM |

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Fourth

Today I am sad that another Fourth of July has arrived, and I am again not attending the July 4th Fireworks Spectacular at the Hollywood Bowl.

This is for the memories (and for Sarah):

[fireworks display set to Sousa marches]
[music ends; fireworks end]
(Brad, standing up, with fists in air): BLOW UP MORE STUFF!!!!!
[fireworks resume in a grand finale]
(All, including Brad, are mystified at Brad's impeccable timing and fall about in laughter.)

Happy Independence Day, for you Americans out there. Hope you'll be watching lots of fireworks. And, of course, celebrating independence and freedom and all that.
| posted by Barbara | 3:07 AM |

Monday, July 03, 2006


Before church this morning, I was talking with a friend about my time in South Africa. She asked me if the racial tension there is still fairly visible. That would be a yes. The effects of apartheid definitely still linger, though the desire for reconciliation and the hope of moving forward is just as evident. She got me thinking again about these issues that I'm still processing--and this post that's still unfinished. And dangit, I'm going to post this tonight, scattered or no.

During my last week in South Africa, we spent a morning at the Apartheid Museum in Jo'burg, then the following afternoon in Soweto and Kliptown. The whole day was overwhelming, but I found the museum especially so. It's organized fairly chronologically, covering some background on the history of the country leading up to apartheid, documenting the years of struggle under the system, and its eventual abolishment in 1991. There was so much intense, difficult information to take in that I didn't make it through everything before it was time to leave. Because time was short, I stuck to reading the short descriptions in each section and moving on. But even if we'd spent the whole day there, and I had fulfilled my usual museum-practice of taking in absolutely everything, I don't think I could have absorbed all that was presented. It was just too much.

I'm the kind of person who wants to know everything, to feel like I have an at least adequate understanding from which to speak before I start to express an opinion. I don't like to talk about things I don't know about. And so when we were asked at lunch what we thought of the museum, I found it difficult to answer. Did I like the museum? Saying I liked the Apartheid Museum is kind of like saying I enjoyed Lord of the Flies. These are not things one enjoys. There was so much there: so much history, so much struggle, so many effects that continue to be felt in the life of the country. And who am I to know what these things mean or to talk about them? I want to understand more; but I know that will take time, and not just more time in a museum.

One thing that blew me away as I watched footage of the protests against apartheid policies in the '80s was how recent these events are. This is history that has taken place during my lifetime. And it's history I know so little about. Admittedly, I was all of 13 when apartheid was officially abolished. I can't quite be faulted for not being up on my international politics at that point in time. But still. These are years I remember, this is history that's tangible. The recent nature of these struggles is difficult for me to take in, I think partly because I can't imagine the policies of apartheid being conceivable during my lifetime. The idea that anyone could continue enforcing these kinds of attitudes in the world I've lived in is mind-boggling. But when I think about it--that we could treat each other this way at any time should be unthinkable.

After our time at the museum, we headed to Soweto for lunch at a local restaurant. (Here, we'd probably call it a hole-in-the-wall place, but things fall into different categories when you're in a township.) One of the black women who was hosting us around Soweto that day spoke to us at lunch--about Soweto, about the struggles people there have faced in the past and the issues they continue to face. She talked a little about the Apartheid Museum; how Americans visit it and talk about how they enjoyed it--and how that mystifies her. Like I said, the museum isn't the kind of thing you "enjoy."

She went on to make some rather pointed comments about the way white South Africans seem to deny a lot of the racial issues that still need to be dealt with. I grew increasingly more conscious of the two white South Africans in our group, and wondered about their thoughts on what she had to say. Her comments did make me feel a bit uncomfortable, and a lot ignorant. She was talking about issues that she faces every day, and these things are something I'm only now considering. But this is a good discomfort, I think. It grows in me a desire to understand, to know more, to hear from both sides. A process that I will definitely continue.

Postlude: Some reflections from Roger, who tagged along with our group for the day. (Discovered on an idle afternoon through a friend's MySpace and the wonders of webstalking...)
Part One
Part Two


| posted by Barbara | 8:36 AM |