Wednesday, October 31

Tweedle Twirp is giving me grief for not posting to this site. She needs a way to keep up on my life without actually speaking with me, so for Tweeds sake, here I am, even though I'm feeling sleepy. I know this is a common complaint, but Seattle after daylight savings is simply brutal. Dark when you wake; dark when you leave work. Tomorrow sunrise is at 6:51 a.m. and sunset at 4:53 p.m., and it's only going to get worse. Must move to a more southern state. And no, Peter, I won't move back to Florida.

Adam & I went to our marriage class tonight--The Aleph-Bets of Marriage--where we discussed my need for active listening. Apparently, just saying, "Hey, I stopped listening to you about five minutes ago. Can you repeat all that?" is not the most constructive way to have a conversation. The class is interesting: six couples (including our friends Alisa & Dave) lead by a social worker and a rabbi (does that sound like the beginning of a joke?). It's raising some interesting questions--the trick is in finding the answers.

We picked out our wedding cake over the weekend. It will be chocolate with raspberry curd. We might do a sheet cake of lemon sponge cake as well, but we're undecided on that. We also went to see the Dolphins play the Seahawks over the weekend. One of the sloppiest games I've ever seen and a little confusing--I had to call Peter to find out why they reversed a reversal. How did I ever watch live football before cell phones? Amazing how much I've grown to rely on that yellow line (and to think how much I hated it at first--thought it was distracting) and instant reply. Maybe it was the lack of beer. Husky stadium doesn't serve any alcohol.

Abba called me at work yesterday. Threw me for a loop, as the phone registered Peter's work number, so I assumed it was him. Luckily, I didn't say anything sarcastic when I answered. But Abba was just calling to say hi, which was unusual, as I generally don't hear from them much except around the holidays. I think he just checks in to make sure I haven't scared Adam off.

Two more days till Nanowrimo starts! I was thinking of doing a thinly veiled autobiographical novel, but then I thought, what the hell, why use the veil? Although who knows. I think I'll probably end up more or less as the main character and the rest I'll play with--compress time, compress characters, add in a few made up folks, whatever! I'm looking forward to starting--I'm much more centered and calm when I'm writing a lot. We had a kick-off gathering at the Nite Lite last Friday that was fun. Quite a diverse group. One of the women started a Seattle e-mail group, although it's a bit more than I can handle--it's inundated us with e-mail, and while some of it is interesting, some of these folks are taking themselves a bit more seriously than I am, to say the least. For the moment, my novel will be titled "A Starter Life," although I give myself the prerogative to change it many, many times.

Work has been difficult to concentrate on, as I'm waiting, waiting, waiting to figure out what I'll do next... Patience was never one of my strong suits. If I do one thing before I leave Amazon, though, it's to make sure everyone--I mean everyone (some editors still don't get this)--understands the difference between fewer and less. They'll all have to pass a test.

The following is actually over a month old, but if I'm keeping track of the wedding planning here, then I would be remiss in not posting Peter's Chuppah News. He wrote:


Volume 1, No. 1 September 24, 2001

Well, it’s still almost seven months until the wedding, but chuppah creators Carol Brown and Hester Kapelow have already logged almost 100 hours in their pursuit of the perfect canopy. The duo have already eclipsed Leah and Rachel’s mother’s 97 hours of labor in preparing the chuppah for the girls’ weddings to Jacob (They used the same chuppah twice. Nobody really noticed because the two events were seven years apart.). However, if you recall, Methuselah was supposed to have lived over 900 years and many scholars believe that the reckoning of years in those dates was more liberal than it is today. Thus, even the old chuppah record maybe suspect.

This reporter is betting that Carol and Hester haven’t yet begun to fight (figuratively) because the first stitch has yet to be sewn. It is his estimate that after all is said and done, in excess of 250 hours will have been invested in “project chuppah.” Where might you ask did all that time without a stitch fly? You can’t have a chuppah without fabric and you can’t have fabric without a fabric store (nobody’s into weaving these days). Eighteen hours (count them) were spent traveling to and at Joanne’s Fabrics. Thirty-seven hours were spent in discussions on such topics as “what is the true nature of a tulip,” “how do you define lavender,” and should we ship it or carry it on the plane. Fortunately, the family members in Seattle will deal with the poles. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a prayer of the project meeting its deadline. The rest of the time has been spent in constructing models and doing something with an iron. That’s all for this issue.

Next ISSUE: History of the chuppah plus an important progress report.

Sunday, October 28

A sign in Bellevue Square Mall: "Absolutely, no one over the age of 13 is allowed to wear a mask."

Monday, October 22

Ultimately, we went with the Egalitarian Hebrew and English on the ketubah. We ordered it this morning. After much thought, I figured it was bad luck to go into marriage with a religous contract (legally binding) that so blatantly misrepresented me. The one we chose is quite beautiful, Persian Columns by Micki Caspi, and it doesn't once refer to my virginity or lack thereof.

Sunday, October 21

Met with the florist this afternoon. She's a nice, if slightly wacky, woman. Obsessed with the Mariners (who were playing against the Yankees on the radio in the background). Her shop is new in Ballard, a small flower shop called The Plaid Dahlia, that has a small wedding chapel in the back. The chapel has two backgrounds to choose from--a Las Vegas scene or a tropical scene. My coworker Sam actually got married there a few months ago; he and his wife chose the Las Vegas background. Sam recommends her highly. We went through a whole thing about what Adam and I are envisioning, and really, I have no idea. She kept throwing out flower names, and I wasn't sure what most of them are. In talking about the bridal bouquet and the bridesmaids' bouquets, she asked what I thought. I shrugged and said, "Make them just like mine, but littler." Adam said, "And Melissa's should be littlest one of all." She is the littlest Brown, after all. We came up with a few options, nothing too elaborate. Trying to keep the flowers really on the simple side. When she sends the bid, we'll have a better idea of what we spoke about, because at this point, I really don't remember.

Amos Oz
We went to hear Amos Oz lecture tonight at a local synagogue. He's an amazing speaker. First, he spoke about his new book, The Same Sea, and then he spoke about what he calls the root of all the world problem's today: fanaticism. He was both humorous and serious, and one of his main points was warning Americans not to become fanatical about being anti-fanatical. I heard him speak a couple of years ago at the Seattle Arts & Lectures program, but this time, I believe, the talk was geared more toward a Jewish audience, or perhaps not so much that as there's so much more going on now than the last time he spoke. When I heard him last, there was almost peace in the Middle East. He did tell one story then that he repeated tonight. He tells how his grandmother always told him the only difference between the Jews and the Christians was the Christians believed the Messiah had already come and the Jews believe that he has yet to come. She told him, "Look, we should just let things be. One day, the Messiah will come, and he'll settle the issue for himself. If he says, 'Hello, it's good to see you again,' then the Jews will have to admit the Christians were right and apologize. If he says, 'Hello, it's nice to meet you,' then the Christians will have to admit the Jews were right and apologize to us. Until then, there's nothing to be done about it." After the reading, I asked him to sign my copy of My Michael, which is one of my favorite books of all time. He laughed when he saw it and said, "I wrote this when I was 24. When I was 24, I thought I knew how to write from a women's voice. Today, I wouldn't have the chuzpah."

Plot Ideas
Still thinking about my novel. Here are some of my ideas:
--My six months on the kibbutz. There's a definite story in there: my going, breaking up with Matt, my experiences there. I could create conflict in there, with a romance, with the decision on whether or not to come back.
--Chronicle life at an Internet company. Again, somewhat autobiographical. Contrast work life with training for the STP, and have the conflict be the various work conflicts and the challenges of the road. Of course at the end of that one, I wouldn't go back to the job.
--Still like the idea of a high-tech bodice ripper.
Not too crazy about any of those. I've got just over a week to come up with something solid.

Tuesday, October 16

We met with the rabbi today, and we told him about the Ketubah we like. It only comes with the Orthodox text in Hebrew, and I asked him if we would find the translation offensive. He laughed, and said, "Yes." He found a translation of it for us, and we read it over. Adam put it best when he said, "It's not so much that they call you a virgin in here. It's that they call you a virgin repeatedly." We'll have to think about that one.

Monday, October 15

The Tweedle Twirp discovered her picture (which, I should add, was taken by her to be clever, when I went to the bathroom at a brewery in the Czech Republic, and she and Barb grabbed my camera to take pictures I would discover later). As she said, "You better watch out. You've got a lot of public exposure coming up." At the same time, Adam was bemoaning that our wedding is turning into an event for people to exact their revenge. Well, we'd been looking for a way to make the wedding more personal...

Wedding Work
Speaking of our wedding, Tweeds did pick out her bridesmaid dress. Adam and I also picked out our ketubah today. We'd been looking a lot on the Web (believe it or not, there are lots of buy these online, including and we'd been into Tree of Life, so it took us about 10 minutes to pick the final one we wanted. After a while, they start to blend together, but the one we chose (no, we're not telling) was one we could instantly agree on. At first, we had thought about getting one custom designed for us, but we realized we had absolutely not a clue as to what we wanted, so the whole thing would have been torturous. I'm really pleased with the one we picked. We also bought two Polaroid cameras and film, as Polaroid is going Chapter 11, and we wanted to make sure we had cameras and film for the guest book.

Work Work
I've made a conscious decision to not write about work at all in this as you never know who might read this. But I think Scott Adams summed up my work life best with this Dilbert cartoon.

Sunday, October 14

A Younger Self
About a year and a half ago Mom shipped me a trunk filled with my old crap. It's getting really musty in there, and I need to really clean it out and throw out the old notes I kept from high school. I did find in there my Betamax video tapes from Sight & Sound: Video, from my sophmore year at NYU. I took them in last week to get them transferred to VHS, because I haven't seen these tapes since class back in 1988. One project--do a portrait of someone--focused on my roommate Jackie. My video was "Portrait of a J.A.P." and I remember when I showed it to my class, the teacher, Julia, said that she had just read about this new thing called "political correctness" and that perhaps the video wasn't appropriate. The whole class disagreed with her, and she said it was fine, she just wanted to bring it up. After class we laughed at the stupidity of the thing. Anyway, the video is hilarious, Jackie with her big hair, talking about how she had to marry a Jew otherwise they couldn't belong to her country club and she wouldn't be able to lunch with her mother. The next project was to film a group relationship, so I did a piece on my friendship with Jackie. My how startling it is to see myself at 19, with my heavier New York accent, my bangs in my eyes (now I understand why my grandmother was always on my case to get my hair out of my face), make-up and gold jewelry. I don't have the finished piece on that, but I have a lot of raw footage and Jackie and me talking about what we thought of each other and how we got along. I really was a pretentious film snot back then. We all were--we used to love sitting around at 7Bs or Sophies, two of the bars who didn't care how old we were, talking about film in the most annoying of ways. Everything we did was film. You'd have conversations about anything and then discuss how you would then edit it and what angles you'd use when shooting it. Looking back on the video is cringe-worthy, but it's great to have. I haven't sat down and watched the whole thing, but I will soon.

Dawg Dash
Adam and I ran a 10k yesterday. He always gets screwed on his scores, because he insists on running with me. My goal for yesterday was to do better than a 10-minute mile, and I did. Our times were:

351.Adam Medros2421:00:5891 / 92351 / 400237 / 2509:491:01:24
352.Jenny Brown2411:00:5926 / 36352 / 400115 / 1509:491:01:25

Interestingly, before the race, they had a trumpter play the National Anthem. I've never seen that done before at a race, and I imagine it's a new thing. Felt somewhat emotional when they played it, which surprised me. Maybe it was just the beginnings of my cold going to my head. I definitely wasn't in top form. Of course, now even a cold takes on ominous overtones and I look at the zit on my head and wonder if it's a rash and if I've encountered any strange white powder lately. But back to the race. The run was quite nice, through campus, with a few hills. I need to work on speed training, running more intervals. The next 10k I do, I'd like to do better than a 9:45-minute mile.

Saturday, October 13

I find myself unable to stop reading the stories in the New York Times about the individual folks who died in the World Trade Centers. Every week, the publish more stories and more photos, and each time I read some, I tell myself it's too depressing, I'm not going to read them again. This morning I read about a woman, Alisha Levin, and I can't help but think she's the type of person I would have hung out with in my New York days; she could have been one of my uptown friends who occasionally slummed it with me in the East Village or would perhaps try to drag me to a place like Au Bar for $20 beers and older men looking for trophy girlfriends. Thirty-three, single, I'm guessing Jewish, much like my life had been until relatively recently. It makes me think of people I haven't thought of in years, makes me wonder about certain friends. Where are they? What are they doing? Are they still here? These little bios are surreal--just a tiny snapshot of the person, a single story to illuminate who that person was, what made her tick. If I were to have my life summed up in 150 words, what would it say? Anyway, this is Alisa Levin:

Alisha Levin lived alone in her own apartment and loved New York -- the lifestyle, the rhythms of the city. She loved her job as vice president for human resources at Fuji Bank. Loved working at the World Trade Center and looking out the window on a clear day. "She hated it when it rained because she couldn't see through the windows," said her aunt Marlene Roseman, who lives in Philadelphia. "She just enjoyed getting up every day and going to work."

She worked very hard, sometimes seven days a week. But every other week, Ms. Levin, 33 and single, would go home to Philadelphia to spend time with her parents, Audrey and Marvin; her sister, Mindy Gottenberg; and her adored nephews, Jacob, 5, and Alex, 2.

"There was a special bond between Alisha and those boys," her aunt said. "She never came home without bringing them toys. She spoiled them rotten, and they loved her."

Wednesday, October 10

Grant does not have Anthrax. Well, at least he's not sick from anything. As he wrote in an e-mail, "My nose was swabbed and I didn't even get a lollipop. Got a fistful of Cipro, though." Who knew that working at The Sun would be such a dangerous thing? But the disease has made him famous. He got a mention in an article in Salon. When I first heard the news of the two cases, it made me think about those early "mystery" diseases--GRID, they were calling it at first, Gay Related Immune Deficiency. I can't help but wonder if this is the beginning of something much bigger that we just can't see right now. Is this as bad as in the early '80s when there were reports in magazines such as Time that AIDS could possibly be spread on toilet seats or through mosquitos (a scary thought when you live in South Florida)? Everyone was paranoid. Even after, there was always that fear--no matter how remote a possibility--and all of us were going in droves to get tested. That time between when you took a test and the time you got the results where your mind would just lead you to the most horrendous places was excruciating. There was such complete relief when you found out you were negative, and such overwhelming pity and horror for those who tested positive, even though you weren't supposed to feel pity for them, you were supposed to help them feel empowered. That must be what Grant's going through now, as he doesn't get his test results back till Friday.

Saturday, October 6

This morning, on my run, I became plagued by the "what ifs." The first two laps were great--I ran with the gang and the chit chat kept me from thinking too much. But I was the only one game for that third lap, and my thoughts kept drifting back to what if I had gone back to grad school? Did I make a huge mistake? And of course, the answer is no, I didn't make a mistake, because in the words of Chico Escuela, has been berry berry good to me. This is avoiding the big obvious that if I had gone to grad school, I wouldn't be getting married to Adam next April, and that of course is worth it. But the mind is fickle and I play back the choices I made that first week when I was at Amazon, working as a copy editor, and I got my acceptance from the Jackson Institute at the University of Washington to study Middle Eastern studies. At the time, that was a little strange. But now, well, now, Middle Eastern students are in high demand, and if I had gone and followed my plan of study--Islam, Arabic, Jewish studies--I'd have a much more interesting career right now. Somehow, managing a team of editors and getting content up on a retail site feels a little insignificant compared to the work I could have been doing. Writing e-mails to buyers or translating Arabic documents for the government? Approving co-op placements or working for the State Department for the office of counterterrorism? Creating bargain boutiques or working in an embassy in an Arabic country? Which do you think would be more fullfilling?

Friday, October 5

Web Journaling
There's too much pressure to having a journal on the Web. It makes me self-conscious, knowing that others could read this, but then isn't that the point of putting it on the Web? I'm not brave enough to have it out there for the world to read, like some of my friends do with their Web logs. So for now, I'll keep it hidden here in the back of our wedding Web site, and I won't tell many about it.

I'm preparing for the NaNoWriMo by trying to write more. I sat down for half an hour the other night and churned out a free association, and found that just be typing (no thinking involved, thank you) that I could produce 1800 words. So if I can dedicate some time to it each night, I should be able to walk away at the end of the month with a novel. Adam signed up to do it as well, which will be a real help if we're both working on it at the same time--I won't be tempted away from my computer. Downside, of course, is that in this household, there's only one laptop and it's his. He insists on owning two computers, although I think his dream is to have a household full of computers. I was talking about buying a new computer and he was very excited at the idea of turning my old one into a server. He was disappointed when I decided to hold off--saving up for too many other things at the moment. One thing I need is a quieter keyboard. He complains mine makes too much noise. I can't wait till we can afford a house with two offices in it.

I'm debating whether or not I want to try the Seattle Half Marathon this year. I haven't been focused on running lately. We still wake up at 5:30 every morning, but since Adam is busy working on grad school applications, I tend to have to exercise by myself, which makes it more boring. My workouts tend to be harder, but shorter, although I am swimming about once a week, which feels great. Being in the pool is incredibly soothing, and usually after about a 1/2 mile swim, I feel human. Swimming is the only sport where I sometimes think I could fall asleep in the middle of it. With work the way it is, exercise has become that much more important to my life. But the Seattle Half Marathon (and no way would I consider the marathon--way too many hills for a first marathon. If I do get the urge, I'd need to start on a "fast" course) is really hilly, and without enough practice, it would be torture. It's the weekend after Thanksgiving so I still have time to get myself moving.

You Know, Down There
Last night we went to see The Vagina Monologues. Really incredible piece with three women reading monologues about (is it that obvious?) vaginas. Whenever I see shows like that or David Sedaris (one of the best books of last year was Me Talk Pretty One Day; a must-read), it motivates me to write, but also depresses me because I wonder if I'll ever be able to devote myself to writing the way I'd like to be writing. Writing squeezed in--while trying also to get myself in shape and hold down a stressful job and be on the YLD board and participate in my writing group and my now apparently defunct book group and a social life--doesn't always seem to work (which is why this novel in a month is such a fantastic idea for me). I know I need to prioritize writing more, but it's hard. It's similar to exercise: When you're on a roll, you just keep the momentum going. But if you stop for any reason, that's it your screwed and it's hard to work up the energy to get back to it. Anyway, the show itself, for the most part, was hilarious, although some were hard to take (one about a woman who was raped in Kosovo). Two of the women were fantastic--when they put on their accents, they transformed themselves without props or scenery or anything into these other women. The third was Anne Wilson (of the singing group Heart), and I'm not sure why she was there unless it was to have a name on the program or to allow the other two to make a couple of Heart jokes, but I think the program would have been better withouther. She wasn't any good at the accents and when she read, it was, as Adam put it, in an almost condescending tone. But as detrimental to the piece as she was, the show was still worth the trip. Adam was a trouper for going--he was definitely outnumbered. If 10% of the audience was male, I'd be surprised. Went we most of the girl group--Julie, Juliewa, Plauer, and Sandra, and of course, where there's Sandra, there's the Love Muscle. He seemed to do pretty well too amidst the estrofest. I know Adam will make up for the evening with his testosterone overload this weekend with the boys in Vegas. This will be his bachelor party weekend more or less. He knows the rules--he can look but he can't touch. And he better not gamble away the wedding fund.

Tuesday, October 2

Okay, so if Adam can have a Weblog, so can I. Although I'm not sure what I should be writing in it. On the wedding front, we addressed and stamped our save-the-date cards for out-of-town guests (and when I say "we," I mean "me") . On the writing front, I think I may try the write a novel in a month thing. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) sponsors a contest of sorts, where between November 1 and November 30 you have to write a 50,000 word novel. Doesn't have to be good. Just has to be 50,000 words. I could do it--I think.