Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Error Rate of Online Surveys

I'm a sucker for online surveys. I know they're l-ame, but I'm thrilled when any survey result comes close to being right about me.

A friend inspired me to try the book survey. The result?

You're Hamlet!

by William Shakespeare

Something is rotten in your state. You don't know whether you would
rather live or die. And you keep speaking (unwittingly) in iambic pentameter. Even with
these setbacks, you have no idea just how awful life can get. With your whole family in
turmoil and your love interest soaked, there isn't exactly room for hope in your world.
No wonder you talk to yourself all the time!

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Huh? But I wanted to be Lizzie Bennet--from my imaginary epilogue to Pride and Prejudice. Or Don Quixote tipping windmills! Lucy in Narnia! Harry's Hermione! Anne of Green Gables! Jo March, or any of her sisters! Darn surveys...I vow I'll never take another one.

Ooo...this one looks solid...

Road-trip wonders, or 9 states in 9 days

Between Mr. Miller's last day at O'Melveny and our return to Brooklyn, we took a road-trip across the West. Our trip covered nine states in nine days. We did not see much of the terrain because we traveled 2/3 of the trip at night in order to maximize our time with visiting people.

Journey/Leg I: With the car weighed down by our many boxes and suitcases, we traveled from Orange County through California and Oregon to Kennewick, Washington. There, we spent five relaxing days with Keith's immediate family: Dennis, Christine, Annie, and Arthur. Chris and Dennis hosted a wedding reception where I met many of their old friends and neighbors. I also reconnected with the many members of Mr. Miller's extended family, including my cousin Jen.

Chris and Annie prepared quite a spread for the reception. It intimidated the crowd until a few brave souls ventured for it. The rest of the people followed like locust.

The cooks...the couple.

Sadly, I took no other pictures of the reception because I was too busy gabbing.

Mr. Miller's big project during our stay in Washington was going through fifteen boxes of his papers and treasures accumulated over the last 27 years. Going through the boxes triggered many special memories, which he shared with me. I learned so much more about his childhood. He had a hard time parting with anything, including these old newspapers reporting the 1987 world series and the cold war.

After toil and tears, he successfully winnowed fifteen boxes down to twelve. We packed as many of the boxes into our car as possible to store in Phoenix until our move to California next year.

Perhaps my favorite times were conversations with the family over meals.

Before we left, we attended the county fair. There, I tried funnel cake for the first time, and ate the famous "Beaver burrito."

We also had the opportunity to watch Uncle Craig and Uncle Brian perform with their respective bands.

Brian's BandThe FansBrothers Rock-out

Journey/Leg II: Another night of driving, this time through Oregon, Idaho (hello, Boise!), Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. We arrived at Michael and Christine Francisco's home shortly before dinner. Michael, Keith's best friend and best man at his wedding, greeted us at the door with a wary looking Geneva--his six-month old daughter. After a couple minutes, Geneva resumed her nearly perpetual state of smiling.

For the text 34 hours, we shared meals, talked, played cards, and smiled at the baby. Christina and I watched Becoming Jane, which was a disappointment. The film's Jane Austin is more akin to Lydia Bennet than Lizzie. The Rockies provided better entertainment that night with their come back to beat the Nationals in the ninth inning.

Journey/Leg III: We opted for a normal night's rest instead of driving. Rising early on Saturday, we drove through Colorado and New Mexico to Arizona. We had daydreams of a leisurely steak dinner at my parent's home in Gilbert but a three-plus hour traffic delay outside of Phoenix instead brought us home at midnight.

The next day, we began our journey back to New York City, thankful to not be driving. Not that we disliked the road-trip. We saw dear friends and family. We became acquainted with half of the gas stations in the West (an eventuality of pregnancy). And, we saw a lot of small town America and no-town America (i.e., most of southern Wyoming). Not bad for nine days.

A Final View of Phoenix

Monday, August 27, 2007

Brooklyn, Again

We took the red-eye from Phoenix to New York last night. Nothing has changed here it seems. The apartment glistens (thanks to our wonderful sub-letter). I open all the drawers, running my fingers over my silverware, admiring my pots and simple white dishes, and gripping the beloved Bunn coffee maker for an instant. Then, I take in the colors of the rooms—the warm hardwood floors, the black-and-white furniture, the green accent pillows and bedspread. It is all there, just as I remembered it in May.

That is not the end of my revelry. I pull on skinny jeans, a tank top, and ballet slippers, and skip down to the street corner to buy bagels and coffee from the sidewalk cart. The cart stands under the shadow of the hospital where I will deliver our little one in February. The shouts of children can be heard; they fill the nearby park with color and motion. Young women flit by in skirts and old men hobble along clutching sacks from the drug store. Here and there, a well-dressed professional walks by at a sharp clip.

Hours later, a trip to the OB/GYN takes me on a pleasant walk through the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn Heights. The doctor does an ultrasound of our baby. I thought motherhood would give me special eyes to distinguish the baby in the blurred picture. No such luck. I point to the head and spine on faith in the doctor’s identification of them.

With the first baby picture in hand, I return to the cobblestone streets and set off to buy food. The grocery store clerk is Muslim. As with all grocery store clerks here, she won’t talk to me. Yet, I take comfort in her silence; it’s the New York way. Next door at the produce stand, the Korean owner is all smiles and conversation. Gala apples are still $1.49/pound!

Please, readers, do not misunderstanding my joy at returning to NYC as mere girlish melodrama. While my love for this place is surely related to the fact that this is the first home I made with my handsome, brilliant husband, it also has objective merits. The brownstone houses. The quaint parks. The grocery stores, banks, boutiques, and restaurants all in a row. The people filling the sidewalks. The Henry Street Burrow and all of my things.

I’m home, and it is splendid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Old Friends in a New Place

Newport Beach looks like paradise, but it lacks at least one essential element: "my people." More than once this summer, I longed for my family and my friends. Connecting with my people through facebook, cell phones, traditional mail, and e-mail helped abate the ache. Of course, the precious visits by some of them provided the most joyous remedy.

  • In June, Mr. Miller and I met my mom for lunch before she traveled north for work. A couple weeks later, we met David and Anna Talcott for tacos and a tour of David's old stompin' ground, San Clemente, CA.

  • In July, ADF's Litigation Academy put the Ventrella and Lorence families within driving distance. We supped one night with the Ventrella clan, and returned for Thai food with Marilyn and Jenna the following eve. Later, Keith connected with a number of Hillsdale friends at Aaron White's wedding.

  • After the bar exam, my life-long friend, Andrea, came to visit for several days. She was in need of a true vacation and I was still experiencing post-bar numbness. Thus, we did no more than shop, sleep, talk, and fry on the beach. In further laziness, I took zero photos of those relaxing days.
Thank you to those friends and my mom who visited us! Thank you to all our friends and family who have loved us from afar through caring e-mails, phone calls, and snail mail. Your presence, words, and gifts were vital encouragement to us in during this dry spell of fellowship in Newport Beach.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Books may not be "places" in the same sense as a corporate tower, laundry mat, or a beach, but we spent much of the summer in the intellectual and fictional destinations they provide. As children raised by book-lovin' parents who enrolled us in summer reading programs at the library, we cannot not resist the clarion call of the written word, even as busy adults. Here is some of what we read:

Of course, the vast majority of my time was occupied by these bar exam preparation materials:

The Beach

A summer in Newport Beach would not be right without visits to the beach. On several weekend afternoons, I'd pack lunch (turkey sandwiches, apples, baby carrots, chips and water bottles) and we'd drive down to the Corona Del Mar beach, just eight minutes from our home.
I spent most of the time studying legal outlines and answering multiple-choice bar exam questions. On occasion, I'd take a "break" and read a novel.

Mr. Miller liked reading too, mostly by stealing my novel. He also enjoyed diving into the waves--no matter how frigid the water or how chilly the breeze!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Laundry Day

We don't have a laundry machine. Periodically (or when Mr. Miller has absolutely no clean clothes left), I gather several bags of dirty garments and tromp down to the local laundry mat. The other people there are nice--mostly Spanish-speaking women with their young children. By the time I finish my devotional, the washing is done and its time to transfer to the dryers!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mr. Miller Goes to Work

Today begins our last week in Newport Beach. To commemorate a blessed summer, I thought I'd post about some of the places we regularly visit here.

Monday through Friday, at 8:30 am, I drop Mr. Miller at the O'Melveny & Myers Newport Beach office. His ocean view office is on the fifteenth floor.

The favorite part of my day is returning at 6 pm to pick him up. Here's the young lawyer-to-be in action:


Mr. Miller and I spent Friday running around Disneyland and the adjacent California Adventure. O'Melveny sent us for its annual Disneyland Ditch-Day. It had been over ten years since I'd visited Disneyland. Back then, there were fewer wigs, scarier rides, and longer walks between the rides. Ah! I've grown-up!

As an "expectant mother," I was precluded from going on most of the exiting rides, but Mr. Miller enjoyed a couple on my behalf. One of the new-to-him rides was Hollywood Tower Hotel. The ride dropped him straight down an elevator shaft.

Our main goal for the day was to find Peter Pan. My nephew, Xander, who turned three on Friday is currently enthralled with the boy-who-never-grew-up. Sadly, we failed to find Peter, but did run across Mater and Lighting McQueen. Happy Birthday Xander!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Maternity Shopping Syndrome

This is the story of my life:

Nonplussed, I had to go maternity shopping today. I plead the irresistible impulse of Maternity Shopping Syndrome common among first-time baby bearers.

Tops weren't a problem; most trendy shops seem to feature long, baby-doll shirts perfect for the pregnant women.

As for pants, though I don't fit them yet, I purchased maternity jeans. The panel waist is just so easy on the belly, if not flattering. Indeed, said elasticized stomach panel is all that separates maternity clothing from mainstream fashion. Mothers-to-be really can look couture all nine months. "O brave new world: That has such people in't!"

Baby Namers Need Not Apply

No need to send in baby name suggestions. Mr. Miller has already named our first ten children, which he accomplished before he even met me.


On January 31.

Last name: Miller
Type: brilliant firebrand and orthodox iconoclast
Mission: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.*
Status: Size of a lemon but growing.

*And vote conservative to make Mama and Papa happy. ::grin::

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pointing Out the Obvious

Ok, ok. I realize that Mr. Miller and I are no longer "new in Newport" yet this blog shows nothing for it. There is hope for the restless reader: the posts are coming. They may be short. They may be prosaic. But they will be.

And some day, I'll get my bloggin' groove back.