Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christopher Hitchens and Mark Daily

What if someone were to die, someone you never personally met, and then you found out that you had somehow influenced this person on their path, that eventually ended in their death?

In January of 2007, a young officer from Irvine, CA was killed in Iraq by and I.E.D. The day before he deployed, he wrote an essay on his MySpace page: "Why I joined." After his death this essay spread like wild fire on the internet, and was even eventually read on the Senate floor by Sen. John Cornyn mere weeks later.

An article about his life and death was published in the LA Times in February 2007. In it the journalist explains how Daily's views about the war in Iraq changed from someone who was sympathetic to the anti-war rhetorics, to someone who decided to join the Army to go "over there.":

Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him. A 2003 phone conversation with a UCLA ROTC officer on the ideals of commitment and service impressed him.

A friend of Christopher Hitchens forwarded him the article. Hitchens in turn wrote an article in in Vanity Fair about his guilt that he helped persuade a soldier to start on a path that eventually lead him to his death and Hitchens describes his subsequent relationship with that soldier's family. It's a beautifully written story about Hitchens' emotions, Mark Daily's life and legacy, and his family and their graciousness.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Without further ado...

...I present the wedding pics:

My absolutely adorable nieces serving as flower girls.

My parents and me before the ceremony.

Echanging vows.

Our Harlequin romance novel cover.

The photographer took about 50 shots of me in various poses, which all looked really nice, but they didn't look like me. This one of me brushing the hair out of my face (it was unbelievably windy, my veil was like a helicopter blade, whirling around in circles) looked pretty natural.

Cupcakes instead of cake: when doing the wedding planning I was lamenting the price of cake cutting service from the caterers: it was going to be something like $2.50 a person. So my then fiance just said: "well, why don't we have cupcakes then?" See, those great ideas are why I married him...;-)

A friend from inside the computer and friends from "real life": Sarah and two of my "real life" friends.

I wanted the decorations to reflect a wedding in Hawaii, so the florist came up with this great idea: giant leaves as place settings. I loved it.

We had a tiny cake to cut on top of the cupcake pyramid (which I made and upholstered myself I will have you know...the pyramid, not the cake). My husband doesn't much like sweets, but he really liked this cake, which is a real tribute to the baker. She made it with a mango coconut filling. And it wasn't overly sweet.

This was one of the entrees. I wish I had more photos of the food. There were a few things that were really important for me while planning the wedding: good wedding cake, a great bar, and amazing food. And wow, the caterers really did well. Everything was amazing.

Our first dance.

So there we go, folks. That was the wedding. Great fun, but married life has been even better.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I didn't marry a girly-man

Update: Apparently I am super clueless: my husband found this post and said: "you thought that was a bb-gun? That was a real gun." My bad...

I guess you could call our marriage a magenta (not enough blue to be purple, but a sprinkle of it) marriage; he is very red-state, while although conservative, I grew up in Los Angeles, so a lot of blue-ness rubbed off on me.

Guns are an interesting issue in our household. I grew up in a barrio, which is literally just a few levels above a ghetto safety-wise. We still hear gunshots regularly, and police helicopters with spotlights hover over our neighborhood often. We have had a getaway car abandoned in front of our house, and a suspect run through our backyard while being pursued by the police. I have seen drugs dealt, and prostitutes strutting their stuff on our block.

Now having said that, I feel really safe in my parents' neighborhood. My parents have lived there almost 40 years, and never once experienced a break-in. They don't even lock their back door. We also know our neighbors and wave to them as they walk by our kitchen window when they accompany their kids to school. The neighborhood is experiencing a revival of sorts: for years it was rented houses, and now they are owner occupied and you can see a lot of house-pride. One thing we never experience in our neighborhood are drive-bys. The violence isn't random. It seems very much tit for tat. So I have never felt the need for a gun. I have never felt unsafe.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in suburbia in Kentucky, where kids could ride their bikes and roam free all day long without much fear of any harm. Despite this idyllic upbringing, he fully exercises his constitutional right to bear arms. And he thinks that I am nuts to have never felt the need for a gun while living in LA. (Now, I have to once again specify, we live in a lower-socioeconomic neighborhood, which I believe makes us less of a target for home invasion and robbery than living in a more prosperous neighborhood).

I view his gun ownership just like I view his predilection for Skyline Chili and chicken pot pie: it’s a cultural thing, and although I can eat Skyline Chili occasionally, it’s not something I crave, and I don’t think I ever will. However, after last night I have renewed respect for my husband and his guns.

We live in a pretty safe neighborhood in the South. We were suddenly awoken at about 2am by the sound of breaking glass. While I was still processing the noise, my husband was miles ahead of me. He jumped out of bed, turned on the light and before I knew it he was walking towards where the noise came with a gun in his hand. Now, I didn’t feel particularly threatened about the sound. But I thought this was all very exciting: my husband, walking towards the sound of danger, with his gun (albeit, it was just his bee-bee gun as the “real” gun was in another room, but man it looks menacing). I snuggled a little deeper into the covers of the bed and watched while he turned off the light in the bathroom and peered outside, checking to see if the window had been broken.

He quickly discovered that it was just the glass covering from a light fixture that must have been blown down by the wind (it was extremely windy and rainy that night…which was adding to the whole drama).

He walked back into the bedroom and put the gun back into its case, and put it back in its place, turned off the light and got back into bed. And promptly fell back asleep.

I, on the other hand, was pumped. I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. “That was sooo hawt,” was all I could think. What a turn on! It took a lot of self-control not to start pawing my sleeping husband. And I realized: “this man is ready and willing to protect his family.” He was so calm and collected in his actions, so confident. I knew that if anyone would be trying to break-in, they would be meeting some serious resistance, and this was highly comforting.

It was a real eye opener to see what properly exercising your Second Amendment right looks like. And having seen it in action, I can honestly say, I like the fact that we have that right.