Monday, August 30, 2004

What's Big, Shiny, and Looks Really Good on My Left Ring Finger?

My brand new, super beautiful engagement ring, of course!

On Friday, Jeff managed to surprise me, Ms. Nosy, as I was referred to by both him and my mom in the planning stages of this event, with a proposal and the most gorgeous ring in the world. While I wasn't oblivious to the fact that a proposal was on the horizon, I had no idea it was going to happen Friday. Jeff apparently asked my parents two weeks prior and began planning with them. Right before it happened, Matthew was also pulled into the planning. It all unfolded as follows: Jeff flew into Louisville early Friday morning and was picked up at the airport by Matthew, who had conveniently taken Mark to school that morning and told me that he was then going to work for a bit. Together Matthew and Jeff had breakfast and then went to a florist to buy me a bunch of daisies (my favorite). After that, Matthew took Jeff up to St. A to get the car from my mom. While Jeff drove himself out to Bernheim Forest, an arboretum near my house that I have been a lover of since I was a little kid, Matthew came home. Having asked me the day before if I was interested in going to Bernheim on Friday, I was ready to go. There was nothing suspicious about this to me as we often go out there, especially when the weather is as nice as it was Friday. Once out there, Matthew says he wants to check out the big lake and I agree. Near the lake is a "Quiet Garden" full of flowers and lily pond. Jeff at this time was positioned behind the wood building in the center of the garden. I, of course, don't know this and not having any idea there is an agenda to my visit, I piddle around the lily pond, throwing berries from a bush at bugs in the water. Matthew lets me do this for a while, but knowing that Jeff is waiting, cajoles me into checking out a bunch of flowers. I look at them and then look up and see Jeff. Matthew disappears, and I ask, "What are you doing here?". He's all dressed up and holding flowers, so really it was pretty clear what he was doing, but all I could think was that he was supposed to be at work finishing up a really important paper he'd been busy with forever. Getting down on one knee, Jeff proceeded to propose, and did so in a very fine fashion, properly nervous and all. At the end, he gave me an antique style diamond ring, and I gladly accepted his proposal. It was perfect. He did a fabulous job with location, the proposal, the ring, everything. I could not have asked for more.

So yes, now I like to use my left hand a lot and I am easily distracted by the shimmering mass adorning my ring finger. It's very sparkly. I'm also trying to plan a wedding, although I'm not really sure how one goes about that. Just looking at magazines apparently doesn't allow it to magically happen. We're thinking late July or early August of next year, and we know it will be here in Louisville, but beyond that, we have nothing. Hopefully soon though since I move to DC a week from today.

Craziness. But good craziness. I'm sure you will all here more about it than you want to over the next year, but just deal with it. If you're good, I'll let you come to the wedding, and that, I promise, will be a really good time.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Some How, Some Way, Athens Got It Done

I've been watching the Olympics every evening since they began. It's interesting to see it all happen, having spent the last year watching the Greeks attempt to pull it all together. So far, I'm impressed. It's pretty miraculous to be honest. I only left Greece a little over a month ago, and at that point, I couldn't imagine them being ready. But in some way that I don't fully understand, the Greeks are charmed. And while you still couldn't pay me to be there in the middle of it all, I am enjoying watching it. Here are some of my observations so far.

*The Greeks obviously paid off the cameramen. Everything on the television makes Athens look sparkling. But really, it's not. I'd love to see the outside of the stadiums, because I know they are not at all landscaped and instead look eerily like alien landscapes. Also, I have yet to see a stray dog, although there is definitely a 1:1 ratio of people to dogs in Athens. And finally, the run-down and abandoned buildings surrounding the new Olympic Stadium have not once made it onto the television.

*I can tell you what the Greeks spent the past month doing. First, they took the scaffolding off the Parthenon and hid it. Then they went to work on Syntagma Square turning it from a dusty construction zone into a little garden oasis. Next they rounded up all the stray dogs and took them to a farm of sorts where they will be kept until the Games are over. (They will then be returned to the streets...I am not kidding.) Then they blocked off all of the roads so the millions of cars that jam them everyday disappear into side streets that aren't shown on television. Then they got rid of the gypsy camp surrounding the new stadium. And finally, they sent almost all Athenians packing to the islands. All this in one month...really I think it's more than I saw them do during the whole year I lived there.

*Has anyone else noticed that the stands are seriously empty? Where have all the people gone? The announcers the other day tried to tell me that the gymnastics event was empty because it was the Feast of the Assumption, and all the Greeks were busy with religious stuff. Riiiight. I was there on religious holidays before, and they never kept people from doing anything else. The Greeks are, as a whole, fairly religious people, but the Greek Orthodox Church suffers from the same dwindling attendance problems common to many other religions.

*Could the commentators please ask a local person how to pronounce the Greek words they have to say? I'll be the first to admit that for living in Greece in a year, I know pathetically little Greek, but I can pronounce the name of the main sites around the city and country. Lykavatos is not pronounced Lick-A-Vat-Os and Patras is not pronounced like Pat-Ross. Really, it's not that hard. It's not like they're asking them to read the Greek alphabet.

*I lived about a mile from the new stadium. If you see a big yellow building with a red roof, that's Athens College. Nike has taken it over for the duration of the Games, so maybe I'll get to see it on TV.

*It must be pretty cool to win an event and know that there is no one in the world better than you at that event.

*It's really sad that the Iranian guy withdrew rather than have an Israeli opponent. Kind of goes against the whole Olympic spirit.

*Iraq's soccer team seems to be the feel-good story of the Olympics. You can't help but cheer for them.

*The Olympics brings out the patriot in all of least in me. Whether you mean to or not, you find yourself wanting the US to win every event you watched. I was watching swimming yesterday, not feeling any particular attachment to it, but as the race neared the end, I found myself yelling "Swim Faster! Swim Faster!" to the American.

So if you haven't watched yet, get to it...and let your inner patriot out for a little while.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Hopping Louisville

Last Friday, my mom and I went downtown for the Trolley Hop, an evening tour of art galleries held on the first Friday of every month. Although the Hop has been going on for a year or two now, neither of us had ever been. Having worked downtown last year, I had popped into a gallery or two, but I'd never really had time to explore all that Main and Market Streets had to offer, so I was excited about our adventure.

We started our tour at Glassworks, a one-of-a-kind facility that brings together glass artists of all sorts. The showroom was filled with vases, bowls, ornaments, jewelry, and a wide variety of other decorative and functional art. One of the most interesting pieces was a table whose entire top was glass. But this was no ordinary glass table where a sheet of clear glass is perched atop a frame. The glass was silver and very solid looking and it curved down around the round table as if it were a tablecloth. In fact, I originally thought it was just a table covered with an extremely starched tablecloth. It was really neat. If I were loaded, I would have bought it. If I were loaded, I would have bought a lot of things.

After Glassworks, we waited a minute for the trolley with a large group of other people, but not seeing it anywhere nearby, we just got in our car and moved down the street to the east end of Market near Clay and Shelby. In this area, the art galleries are really concentrated. We first went into PYRO, a new gallery whose name was inspired by the old fire station it resides in. There I was impressed with some black and white photos, some embroidery art, and the complimentary spread of yummy food. From there we went into Zephyr Gallery, Garden Wall, Flame Run Gallery, Swanson-Reed Gallery, Ray of Light, Towne House Antiques, and a slew of other places. The glassblowing going on at Flame Run was really interesting. Ray of Light had some neat glass lanterns. And the gardens behind Garden Wall and a number of other galleries were very relaxing.

We ended our tour on the west end of Main Street, visiting the Kentucky Museum of Arts + Design and the Chapman Friedman Gallery. We also checked out the Art Cars lining the street for the weekend's annual gathering. All in all, it was an excellent night, and I'm looking forward to making it a recurring event. With the galleries changing their exhibits frequently, it's an event that's always fresh. I highly recommend it.

I was impressed by the Trolley Hop. To be corny for a minute, it was really hopping. I don't know when the last time I saw so many people downtown was. By the time we left around 9:30pm, the streets were packed. People were downtown, enjoying the unique things that our city has to offer. While 4th Street Live does little but bring people to a select destination, the Trolley Hop gets people moving through over 30 blocks of downtown, discovering places they hadn't know about before. Not only did the art galleries get exposure, but so did all of the other businesses along the way and all of the restaurants who provided snacks at the galleries. The one thing that would make it better would be if the restaurants who serve the downtown lunch crowd stayed open for dinner on Trolley Hop nights. I guarantee they'd get a good deal of business.

If Louisville could put together more events like this, the city would really take off. It's things like this, and not things like 4th Street Live, that make Louisville a cool and interesting city. I don't think 4th Street Live is a bad idea...I just don't think it's the best direction for us to go. 4th Street Live is generic. There's nothing unique about Hard Rock Cafe, TGI Friday's or the other bars and shops that compose it. The Trolley Hop, on the other hand, is unique. Sure other cities have similar things, but they don't have our local galleries and our local restaurants. And it's these locally-owned and run places that gives Louisville it's flavor. It's these places that make Louisville somewhere I want to live. So keep 4th Street Live, but explore more unique opportunities for making Louisville into the city it can and should be. I don't want to be Baltimore or Houston or any other city. I want to be Louisville. Let's build on Louisville's strengths, not import other cities. Let's take ideas like the Trolley Hop and go from there. Let's make Louisville into the cool place that I already know it is.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

You Can't Fool Me

Are we really to believe that the recent raising of the terror alert level isn't a political move? The information is 3-4 years old for God's sake, and the most recent update to the information they can tell me about was in January...eight months ago! If the information is so accurate and important why in the hell weren't we made aware of it earlier? According to our highest and most trusted (note the sarcasm) officials, it's because Al Qaieda plans things way in advance and then acts. So really we shouldn't worry about anything new going on in the world...just things from years and years ago. Riiiiiight.

So, Tom Ridge make your announcements while praising "the President's leadership in the war on terror," and then go on to tell us the next day, after it comes out that the information is old news, that you "don't do politics in the Office of Homeland Security". Sure, we believe you.

Quit crying wolf. And quit trying to scare your electorate into voting for Bush. That's not the way democracies work. Terror is the work of dictators. And anyhow, aren't you supposed to be fighting terrorism, not inciting it?

Monday, August 02, 2004

Hold On...He's Coming

Yesterday (or maybe the night before) the local news was covering a Louisville homicide. They opened the piece with a woman neighbor/friend saying how "cool" the victim was. I think she was trying to convey that he was a good guy who would be missed, but I got lost in the number of times she said "cool". Murders are unnerving though, so I'll let it slide. The end piece was what was really interesting anyhow. Per usual, they were trying to make the beginning and end personal, with the middle giving the known info on the case. So at the end they interview another neighbor, a man probably in his late fifties, and perhaps a little crazy. This I gather from what he decided was the best thing to say about the man and the tragedy: "Well, when you wake up and find out something like this happened, you know the prophecy is coming true. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming home." (I'm paraphrasing from memory, but I think that's pretty close.)

Hmmm. I'm not sure what prophecy he's referring to, but sure sounds interesting. The victim must have been a pretty important guy for his death to be the pivotal point for the fulfillment of a prophecy. But anyhow, be on the lookout folks. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming home. Are you ready to invite him in?