Friday, August 28, 2009

Why Roo Rules

This afternoon, I received this email at work. (For background, see the second half of the previous post below.)

Hi Annie,

I know that it was stupid of me to delete the photos without having backed them up first. I'm sorry. However, even though I am stupid often, I wanted to remind you that you are married to me, and with that comes some good things too. To illustrate I wrote a formula:
Nerd + Computer Geek + Don't Give Up Easily + Star Wars Rules = These attached (and 10,000 other recovered) pictures.

I love you!

He recovered all our pictures from the netherworld of cyber-limbo!

To sum up my response: cheering and smiling and love.

Lessons to be Learned

On my first day back to work, I was getting settled back into my workspace and but kept noticing an annoying smell that was difficult to locate. It smelled like pee—and as I looked around, I was mystified as to where the stench was coming from. Had a dog been in my office, or a drunk person, or did I have mice? Awhile later, in [what I thought was] an unrelated event, I looked at my shirt to find a large, light stain which I hadn’t noticed before. I was mildly annoyed to think I was wearing a dirty shirt. A few hours later, I was getting extremely frustrated by the stench. Where on earth was it coming from?! And then in a stroke of brilliance, I looked at the stain on my shirt and hesitantly held it up to sniff it. Yep, it was a pee stain courtesy of Chase the dog. I don’t know when he did it, probably at some point during the move when it was out…And so for the whole day, I reeked of urine.

Lesson 1: Don’t leave your clothes out where your potty-challenged dog can mar them with his urine unless you want your boss to think you are a slovenly, hygienically-inept bum.

Next, yesterday we decided to re-format our hard drive. We saved everything we thought mattered and erased everything else. And then we remembered we forgot to save our pictures…all of them. Except for some which had been saved in other locations, most of our pictures from the last five years were lost in the netherworld of cyber-limbo. To sum up my response: crying.

Lesson 2: Don’t forget to back-up your pictures somewhere else. Do it now! Stop reading this and go do it.

And be thankful you have me to teach you these lessons rather than learning them yourself the hard way.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Anniversary

"It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages."

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Today Roo and I shared an affectionate high five to congratulate ourselves because we have been married for five years. And for five years we have been happy because we are true friends. Of course we love each other very much, and all the roses and romance is wonderful, but besides all that, the best thing I have in life is a best friend--someone I can talk to about music and movies and dream vacations, someone who gets my jokes or will honestly tell me when he doesn't get my jokes, a good shopping companion and an astute co-heckler of various absurdities we see.

And then when we run out of things to talk about, we can just kiss. So, it really is the best kind of friendship.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Farewell Marin

Well, this is it--we've lived here in California for three great months, but it's finally time to go home. Our time here has been a nice break for me and good work experience for Roo, but we are anxious to get back into real life and gainful employment (in my case). There's a lot to be said for being unemployed, but believe it or not, you can only drive to the library so many times and watch so many re-runs of "America's Next Top Model" before developing a nasty case of cabin fever. Once getting the mail became an "event," I knew I had descended into hermit-ism. I'm ready to re-emerge into society.

However, there are certainly so many things I am going to miss about this unique place:

1. Being flirted with by the girl doing my SMOG check...

2. The mysterious, foreign man on the first floor who got busted because his call girl turned out to be a thief, stealing items of clothing from other tenants' balconies. That never happened once when we lived in Provo!

3. Waiting at the intersection late at night downtown while an obviously drunk woman stumbles out of her cab, kneels on the asphalt, and pukes her guts out for awhile.

4. The staggering number of Obama '08 bumper stickers and Toyota Prius Hybrids.

5. The local news is must-see TV: whereas in Utah, the top local news story is usually about something like third graders finding a beehive in their auditorium, but here in the Bay Area, you hear about two drive-by shootings, one abandoned baby, and a shark attack before the first commercial break.

6. Sleeping in a loft. One of life's simple pleasures is being able to hand Roo a pair of socks downstairs by just tossing them over the rail.

7. Everyone here likes dogs as much as I do. At the Mill Valley "Cutest Dog Competition" a 7-year-old looked at Lando and predicted that he was definitely a strong competitor to take the title. (We didn't enter our dogs in the contest, we just went to watch, but we did win a $50 raffle prize!)

8. The ocean. It always feels like I'm seeing it for the first time:

9. Living next door to an American Icon:

10. The way the fog looks like it is flooding the hills:

I have no doubt that once I am sitting back in an office in the desert, I will have a hard time not wishing I was relaxing on the balcony, watching the boats on the bay. I feel grateful to have been surrounded by such beauty and culture for the summer.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Cove

Last night Roo and I saw The Cove, and it was one of the most impacting and powerful films I've ever seen.

It tells the story of the secret, brutal slaughter every year of 23,000 dolphins in Taiji, Japan. The dolphins are herded by sound into a bay where the young females are captured and shipped off to live in captivity in aquariums and in Carribean resorts where honeymooning couples can swim with them, under the notion that they are somehow "communing with nature," when, in fact, they are encouraging a brutal, inhumane practice thousands of miles away. The Dolphins who do not get chosen to be the entertainers of people are herded into a cove and indiscriminately and brutally slaughtered. But it gets even more sinister--the meat that is sold is contaminated with lethal amounts of poisonous mercury and the Japanese government is covering it up, often selling the meat under another name, because the capture of dolphins is a multi-billion dollar business that they do not want to lose out on.

The Cove is the story of a team of people who cared about what was happening and their efforts to show the world. The movie is fantastic and horrific. Not only did I cry, I sobbed great shoulder heaving sobs as I watched it in the theater. What is going on there is immoral, and the world needs to know about it. Please go see this movie if you can!

You can go to or to learn more.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Is There Hope for the American Marriage?

Once again, Chase's various health problems have led me to the waiting room of the Corte Madera Animal Hospital. While the doctor was checking Chase, I opened this July 13 edition of Time Magazine and read an article by Caitlin Flanagan that made me want to punch both fists in the air and cry, "YES!" right there in the lobby.

I've decided to share a few portions of the article here. It makes for a lengthy post, but the work to get through it is worth it. Like marriage.

In the past 40 years, the face of the American family has changed profoundly. As sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin observes in a landmark new book called The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today, what is significant about contemporary American families, compared with those of other nations, is their combination of "frequent marriage, frequent divorce" and the high number of "short-term co-habiting relationships." Taken together, these forces "create a great turbulence in American family life, a family flux, a coming and going of partners on a scale seen nowhere else. There are more partners in the personal lives of Americans than in the lives of people of any other Western country."

An increasingly fragile construct depending less and less on notions of sacrifice and obligation than on the ephemera of romance and happiness as defined by and for its adult principals, the intact, two-parent family remains our cultural ideal, but it exists under constant assault. It is buffeted by affairs and ennui, subject to the eternal American hope for greater happiness, for changing the hand you dealt yourself. Getting married for life, having children and raising them with your partner — this is still the way most Americans are conducting adult life, but the numbers who are moving in a different direction continue to rise. Most notably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May that births to unmarried women have reached an astonishing 39.7%.

How much does this matter? More than words can say. There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage. It hurts children, it reduces mothers' financial security, and it has landed with particular devastation on those who can bear it least: the nation's underclass.

She goes on to discuss the devastating effects of children born to struggling mothers and absent fathers, as well as the deep and lasting effects of divorce on children of all socioeconomic statuses.

It's dismissive of the human experience, says Blankenhorn, to suggest that kids don't suffer, extraordinarily, from divorce: "Children have a primal need to know who they are, to love and be loved by the two people whose physical union brought them here. To lose that connection, that sense of identity, is to experience a wound that no child-support check or fancy school can ever heal."

The article turned next to the failure of fidelity-challenged, high-profile marriages which seem to captivate the blood-thirsty public. During an illness, the author had spent hours tuning into Jon & Kate Plus 8. She found herself caring for the family and all its small, everyday woes. Then the news of its disintegration broke:

I assumed it was a rumor, but it turned out to be true. Jon had gotten bored with being bossed around by Kate, he'd had a fling with a 23-year-old teacher, and the couple had filed for divorce. He still loved the kids, he said — with complete guilelessness, as though loving the kids and doing right by them were unrelated events: "I have a new chapter in my life. I'm only 32 years old. I really don't know what's going to happen." And of course, the Gosselins command more attention now that their union is broken than they did when it was intact.

America's obsession with high-profile marriage flameouts — the Gosselins and the Sanfords and the Edwardses — reflects a collective ambivalence toward the institution: our wish that we could land ourselves in a lasting union, mixed with our feeling of vindication, or even relief, when a standard bearer for the "traditional family" fails to pull it off. This is ultimately self-defeating. It is time instead to come to terms with both our unrealistic expectations for a happy marriage and our equally unrealistic beliefs about the consequences of walking away from the families we build.

The fundamental question we must ask ourselves at the beginning of the century is this: What is the purpose of marriage? Is it — given the game-changing realities of birth control, female equality and the fact that motherhood outside of marriage is no longer stigmatized — simply an institution that has the capacity to increase the pleasure of the adults who enter into it? If so, we might as well hold the wake now: there probably aren't many people whose idea of 24-hour-a-day good times consists of being yoked to the same romantic partner, through bouts of stomach flu and depression, financial setbacks and emotional upsets, until after many a long decade, one or the other eventually dies in harness.

Or is marriage an institution that still hews to its old intention and function — to raise the next generation, to protect and teach it, to instill in it the habits of conduct and character that will ensure the generation's own safe passage into adulthood? Think of it this way: the current generation of children, the one watching commitments between adults snap like dry twigs and observing parents who simply can't be bothered to marry each other and who hence drift in and out of their children's lives — that's the generation who will be taking care of us when we are old.

It is refreshing to be reminded by popular media that the breakup of a marriage is more than fodder for juicy gossip about which we shrug our shoulders and internalize as normal. It reminds us instead that, above all, the institution of marriage is undeniably fundamental for a profitable society, and thus its failure is fundamentally tragic. 

By the way, Chase is fine.

You can read the entire article here:,8599,1908243-1,00.html