Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The wonderful speech

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

The inauguration!

`The day had finally come.

The excitement in the air is tangible. People are flocking to the nations capital from across these United States and from around the globe. Obama is in the house. The White House.

What started as a nine hour trip from Oxford to DC got extended to 11 hours by a wicked snow storm somewhere half way through. We arrived in the city about 5am exhausted but glad to have avoided the wretched traffic. Agent Ashley and Holly are on a new road trip. We packed cookies and fruit snacks, Gatorade and water and stopped for coffee in Columbus (double short caramel macchiato). We had made several song mixes and sang for hours. After two hours in blinding snow, a 30 minute nap in a bank parking lot and approximately 937 songs, we arrived in DC around 5am. We parked the car and carted our mountain of luggage into the apartment and were sleeping about 7 minutes later. It helps to arrive in your PJs.

We slept until noon and lazily moved about Chris' apartment making french toast and coffee. We felt able to function as human beings after eating and meandered out of the apartment around 2. We walked to the National Cathedral for a celebration for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It was an interesting and moving collection of of poetry, singing and speaking. The most moving was the violin solo by a high-school aged young man who paired his music with orchestra music and clips from MLK's 'I had a Dream Speech'. The music was so full of energy and emotion that he got a standing ovation half-way through the music. I was moved to happy tears. Everyone was glowing.

Agent Ashley, my brother Chris, several friends and I enjoyed an extended lunch at a French cafe and made plans for inauguration day. Since they involved getting up at 3:30 in the morning, we didn't stay up late.

3:30am. The multiple alarms we set go off. Sleep is inhibiting excitement for the time being, but that will change soon enough. We munch on some hard boiled eggs and coffee strong enough to chew (minimal liquids = minimal peeing) and put on our millions of layers. It is going to be a high in the mid 20's and we're going to be out in the cold for hours. By the time I'm finished with my layers, it is going to take any toots 30 minutes to emerge.

We call a cab to take us part way and they estimate 30-40 minutes. Five minutes later the cab arrives and we're not ready. We try to get them to bargain and start the meter and wait for us, but he refuses. We call the cab company and are on hold long enough for Chris to figure out how to play the jingle on his piano. Poor neighbors. The woman scolds Chris for not taking the first taxi "You should have been very happy to have that cab!". She promised to send another, but as he hangs up the phone, we can hear our order ticket being ripped to shreds, even from miles away. We call a second cab company and are also promised a cab. We're still waiting for both of them, two days later. After my second or third trip out to the balcony to cool off, we decide to head out on our own. We drive as far as Chris can and still use his parking pass, walk to the international spy museum to meet the rest of our group and march to the mall. It is dark, but we're moving fast and not feeling the cold. We pass army men and women in pairs of many of the street corners and the crowd gets more dense the closer we get to the mall. It is still in the dark of night, but the city is alive with the excitement of new years eve, mardi gras and christmas all rolled into one; there are folks selling t-shirts and buttons, corn dogs and bottled water. Part of our journey was along a underground bridge that is usually chock full of cars zooming along at 45 mph. Just before the mall, we follow a crowd squeezing through a small aisle between a fence and a church and several people begin mooing. We're a happy crowd.

We get to the mall expecting to go through a metal detector but weren't. I kind of wish I had been scanned. I guess I'll have to trust all of the snipers on the roofs. We stake out some ground behind one of the many jumbotrons and sit down to rest our legs after the hour hike across the city. We chat with the guys behind us from Wisconsin and could tell that the folks in front of us are from England. The world is watching as a beautiful sunrise unveils itself behind the white house. The stage has been set. We're ready.

At 9:00 am, a concert taking place on the Lincoln memorial is piped to the jumbotrons and we are all excited to have some music for entertainment and to dance to warm ourselves up a little. We've been outside for over four hours. Ashley and I try to get to the refreshment stands for some warm drinks. After fighting through the crowds for ever, we realize that there aren't even lines in front of the stands: it is a mob. We realize the futility of our goals and try to hike back to our little group. We wander through the crowd, some people letting us through, others not, but we can't find the group. Big shock, we're in the middle of millions of folks. I text my brother, but it takes several minutes to send "can't find u". When garth brooks begins to sing "shout", I think we'll be saved bacause the crowd should go down during the "little bit lower" part of the song, but garth skips it and we still can't see our group. Eventually the text goes through and I see a hat from our group perched high above the crowd on an american flag. We're saved. We sing. We dance. We eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

A little after 11:30 the band strikes up several marches and I march in a circle to stay warm. The moment is almost here. The invocation is punctuated by moments of standing up and sitting down. The first time the speaker instructs the crowd to take a seat, all of us standing offer a loud groan. Aretha sings and looks like a big happy present with the giant bow on her head and Biden takes the oath of office for vice-president. Obama, who has gained the trust and faith of millions has reached higher than super star status. He also stumbled a bit on his oath, which we all loved because he seemed so much more human. And then his speech.

His speech was powerful, inspirational, wonderful. He was brave, he spoke as though he could have been talking to each person individually. He spoke of our past, of our future, and they way we must join together and work for the common good. He spoke to the leaders of countries rich and poor, peaceful and at war. He spoke to the world and the world was listening. How fantastic to be a present at this moment in history. It was amazing to consider this is the 44th change of power conducted in a peaceful manner. I have so much hope for the future of our nation.

We left the mall after Obama lifted our hearts. We were immediately stopped by the crush of folks trying to do exactly the same. Partway through the crush as we're inching forward, a woman begins to sing a hymn about not being able to turn back. As this is true both literally and figuratively and the crowd offers an appreciative giggle.

It takes two hours to hike through the crush to our friends apartment. My whole body and my mind is exhausted. It is a happy exhausted; the kind you might experience after a long day of skiing compined with four hours of dancing. We appreciatively chow down on hot soup and sandwiches and drink hot cocoa. About 17 seconds after sitting on the couch I fall asleep. I sleep through most of the televised parade and eventually we trek home to order pizza and sleep. What a happy, wonderful, fantastic day.

What a wonderful country.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Top twelve: How things are done (and not done) here in Argentina

1. Refrigeration: many things we refrigerate in america are simply left out including raw eggs, ham sandwiches, leftovers, jelly and cheeses
2. Windows: almost every window here is equipped with a storm shutter something to slide down and block out all light. It is possible to have a very sunny day going on outside and feel like the bat cave in your room. The argentines like to sleep in-my host here one came into my room with a quizzical look on his face. He asked if I knew that I could pull down the shutters to shut out the light, wondering why I hadn't done so already. I replied that I actually like the light. We agreed to disagree.
3. Dulce de leche: This is a wonderful argentine treat; a smooth, delicious caramel spread that can really go on anything-cookies, cakes, toast for breakfast, stirred into espresso or swirled into ice-cream. I'm going to be stuffing as many jars into my suitcase as possible.
4. Restaurants: argentines are terrible tippers, and so the servers have no sense of urgency when taking orders, bringing out food, checking on the tables or bringing the check. Meals are an extended operation here. Ditto for coffee-there are limited opportunities for coffee to go here. 
5. Straws: anytime you buy a bottle of water or pop, it comes with a straw. I feel alright drinking straight from the bottle, most argentines do not. 
6. Change: there is a severe shortage of change-everyone begs and pleads for you to pay for exact change, and you need change to take the bus. Sometimes people simply won't sell you something unless you have change. How are you supposed to have change if no one gives it to you?
7. Bread plates: most restaurants give you a selection of bread and crackers when you sit down, and through out the meal, you'll have individual dishes for the butter, the jelly, your espresso cup, and whatever else you happen to order. Except for the bread; I have seen no more than two bread plates in my entire month here. You simply make a crumby mess at your place at the beginning of each meal.
8. Whole grains: they're not done here. Period. White rice, white bread, white toast. When our host finally bought wheat bread for our toast in the morning, I was actually excited enough to wake my roomie up and bring her to the kitchen and show her. Whole grains are newsworthy.
9. Plastic bags: every single thing you buy, even the diet coke and straw combo, is put into a plastic bag. They think you're really weird when you try to take something out of the store before being safely tucked into a bag. 
10. Recycling: it is sort of done here; usually you buy a glass bottles of pop or beer and they're returned to be refilled by the manufacturer. Sometimes you pay a deposit on your glass bottle. Everything else is thrown away. Later, people on the streets go through the garbage and fill giant bins with plastic bottles and other recyclables. I heard the government pays them. I think it is kind of a sucky job. 
11. The sofa: Our hosts here in BA are quite formal. I was gently told to take better care of the common areas of the apartment after leaving my book on the coffee table one afternoon. The carelessness! This morning my roomie spent a lazy morning reading on the couch and fell asleep. Inez later pulled me aside and asked me to tell her that is not how things are done here-there is no sleeping on the couch!
12. Mate: this is a strong but tasty drink that has a nice social ritual around it. A gourd, usually decorated with silver feet, is filled with the crushed dried mate leaves. A metal straw is in the leaves and the host of the circle fills the gourd with hot water. The first person in the circle sips the water until its gone and the gourd is returned to the host to be refilled. The gourd is passed around the circle until the mate flavor is gone and can be refilled with fresh leaves. It is a great circle for conversation and laughter and the gesture of sharing is really nice. You never really see mate on a menu, it is only something to be shared among friends. 

Boats, beaches and butts

I am officially a TEFL graduate! I finished the program yesterday and went out with all of my classmates and teachers for a nice dinner complete with lots of wine and laughter. It is nice to be done. I can't believe my three months of traveling is nearing a close. The TEFL school has certainly kept me busy, but I've had time for some fun.

Two weekends ago I went to a nearby boating town called Tigre. We traveled by train, but it felt like we traveled by oven- the train had no open windows and we were standing up and sweating for an hour. Gross. When we arrived, we headed towards the Puerta de la Fruta-the fruit port-expecting to find some lovely fruits to quench our thirst. Turns out the port was misnamed because they were selling things for your home-the only fruit was chocolate covered strawberries. So I ate those. We had a leisurely lunch under sun umbrellas and bought a bottle of wine to have next to the river. Also lovely. We bought tickets to go on a cute little boat tour and were given a group discount for being lovely ladies. How nice. The tour went through the maze of seven rivers and was really beautiful. The river must have been really high because peoples lush green lawns simply dove right into the rivers. I love boats. We passed many people simply lounging on their docks, wine glass or mate gourds in hand. Argentines know how to relax.

In one of many parks in Buenos Aires, there is a giant metal flower that opens and closes each day with the sun. I have spent two afternoons laying und
er the trees and enjoying the sunshine. On one such occasion, we were wishing for water when a guy with a cooler of water walked by and sold us some. Ask and you shall receive, eh? 

Last weekend I spend a lovely time in another river town three hours from buenos aires. I went with my american roommate and three argentine girls. We stayed in this super cute cabin and spend the whole weekend by the pool, in the pool or in a restaurant eating. We also used one of the row boats that the hotel had and apparently all those weeks of summer camp paid off because I could row our boat just fine as could my roommate, whereas the three argentine girls could only row us in circles. So while they were trying to figure out the paddles and never quite did, we all got to see the sunset again, and again, and again. :) 

Thong bathing suit are the norm here for the ladies, although I stuck with my american "full coverage" bottoms that I brought we me. Seeing so many butts in one afternoon makes an earlier experience make more sense; I had dinner with an argentine family a two weeks ago and they had on the argentine equivalent to skating with the stars on the TV while we were eating. I wasn't paying much attention to it until I noticed that every lady dancer was wearing scandalous costumes; a few of them had on a half attempt at a skirt, most were simply wearing sequenced and bedazzled thongs. Butts are a public matter here. My american roommate and I are suppressing giggles and trying not to act like we're five, the argentines don't even flinch. I wonder if the skating ladies were cold. So back at the pool, I am realizing that this is simply how things are done here. I wasn't prepared for when one girl told her friend that her rear was getting quite sunburned and simply started putting on sun screen on her friends bum. It isn't like she couldn't reach!

Most of my time has been spent in TEFL school planning lessons, trying to figure out english grammar, observing my peers and reflecting on my own growth as a teacher. Two of the teachers have really constructive advice, two don't. I am proud of my teaching skills that I've been honing these past weeks, and I know that I'll be using them in the future. Someday I will be a nutrition professor, probably I'll be teaching english somewhere too. I'm still figuring that out. 

Tonight is an annual event known as "the night of the museums". Most of the museums in the city are all open tonight until really late and are free. I am excited to go touring tonight. This afternoon will be spent reading and relaxing; I've earned it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Self portrait

I went to a museum on friday and saw lots of interesting paintings and sculptures. My favorite, however, was a portrait of me when I'm hungry.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lesson Plans and Life Plans

As someone who has had the blessing of knowing exactly what she wants, I have been overly frustrated with not knowing what my best path for myself once I return to Ohio in a few short weeks. I have had many options floating around in my head, along with their pro and con lists and the exhausting attempt to find a happy medium between too many factors (time, visiting family, money, the family reunion, what I really want, etc, etc, etc). I have been in kind of a funk because of this mental marathon and some extra chocolate has been in order. 

In the early stages of planning for this big adventure, the two main goals were clear; to learn spanish well enough to apply for RD jobs when I returned and to make the world a better place. I was dismayed to find that the volunteering options I could find on the internet were more interested in my wallet than my person being there. That wasn't what I had in mind at all! Teaching English became a means to achieve the first two goals as well as preparation for my future dreams of being a dietetics professor. Now that I'm here getting my TEFL certificate, I have learned that most jobs are in language institutes teaching adults; so much for the crazy classroom of hooligans I was looking forward to. I was also hoping to get a teaching contract that included reimbursement for my plane ticket and that may not be possible for South America like it is for Asia. 

So right now, I am currently considering (in no particular order) volunteering in an orphanage in Peru that also teaches Spanish and is affordable, being a nanny somewhere spanish speaking, being a dietitian, working at starbucks, working at a language institute, running away, adopting a sugar daddy, working on an organic farm abroad, climbing in a hole. Whew. 

I am trying to remember that it is a good thing to have options. 

As far as my TEFL, I am almost done with my third out of four weeks. I have taught four lessons and three went well. My other lesson, to the beginner speakers of English was pretty rough; I planned way too much and wasn't in the groove of explaining things well. I finished my lesson with my heart pounding like I had just finished running a race! My mentor teased me afterwards; "Holly, what was the thing about your lesson? That it is over?". Luckily, he is a talented teacher and had lots of constructive feedback for how to have turned my lesson around. Lots of tools for the future! Overall I am enjoying teaching the adults a lot more than expected, but I am not sure if it is what I want to do for a long period of time. For a while I was worried that I was wasting my money on this TEFL course if I didn't use it right away, but I've changed my tune. It can't hurt to have education abroad in the 'ole resume, nor will it hurt being a professor in the future. Plus, I can always work part time giving lessons. 

So that's about it. I am just mulling though things trying to figure it out. I can't believe I'll be back in the US in just over two weeks!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Holly Larson: Super Solid

I have always been a very solid build. I'm not fat, I am just really strong and muscular. I have never been able to float in pools well, or even swim well, for that matter. I was the crying kid in swim class that the instructor carried across the pool while the others did their best front crawl. When I was a wee thing, by father used to throw me up in the air and catch me like all fathers do. One time, when another girl my age was over, my dad threw me up in the air first and then gave the other girl a turn. Turns out he almost threw this visiting girl through the ceiling because he was used to me being like a bag of bricks. Recently, a massage therapist was working on my neck and shoulders and asked if I my job involved physical labor; nope, I'm just super solid. Being super solid has come in handy. For example, when defending my siblings on the bus, I arm wrestled this guy who was picking on my sister. I pinned his arm down in front of all his friends and totally embarrassed him. It is also useful when I can carry all of my groceries form the car in one trip or can carry six or seven gallons of milk from the back of Starbucks to the front. Apparently, I am also able to fend of bicycles. 

Walking to school last week, I was waiting to cross a street. The cross traffic had a green light, but the cars closest to me weren't entering the intersection because the cars across the intersection weren't able to move forward. Seeing the opportunity to cross, I looked left to make sure the cars were staying put and then checked the right to make sure they were still stopped too. I then stepped a single step into the street.


A man on a bicycle ran right into my leg, bounced off and landed on his side in the street. Holy crap! Barely able to register what had just happened, I asked the guy if he was ok, if he was hurt, and apologizing profusely. I am pretty sure it was my fault because the light was green. I also felt bad because he was on the ground and I was still standing up. As an after though, he asked me if I was ok too, but he didn't actually care. I quickly left the scene of the crash. 

With tears gathering behind my sunglasses, I turn to Sara and ask her what happened. Apparently the biker had been behind a bus so I couldn't see him when I looked left and then he flew around like a bat out of hell when I looked right. It didn't really hurt that badly, it just scared me because it happened so fast and I didn't know what was hitting me. I didn't see the bicycle until the guy was on the ground already. It could have been a car for all I had known, but thankfully it wasn't. A quick wash of my leg and some tylenol and I was right as rain. 

Look both ways twice before crossing the street. 

Super solid strikes again.