When $30 Feels Like $1 Million

I was feeling a little down on Thursday. It was so gloomy when I woke up at 8:30 that I thought it was 5 AM before I looked at the clock. It rained all day. I had work to do, plus I needed to finish cleaning my apartment because my mom and grandma were coming up the next day, but I couldn’t seem to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes, even if I played music from iTunes, which often helps me focus. Nothing was really wrong, but I just felt a little out of sorts and grumpy. I also needed to eat some lunch before I went to babysit in the afternoon, and I was struck by a sudden craving for Chipotle, but it’s the end of the month, and after a couple of unexpected expenses popped up over the last few weeks, my bank account is depressingly low until the start of June.

So I did what any frustrated millennial does: I wrote a whiny Facebook status. Specifically, it said, “Cannot concentrate on anything today for more than 10 minutes. Also craving Chipotle and have no money for it. Life is rough.” Really and truly, I was just venting a little bit. I wasn’t asking for anything. Continue reading “When $30 Feels Like $1 Million”

The Battle of Hogwarts

Today, May 2, 2017, is the nineteenth anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. Every year on this day, I think very seriously about the bravery and the sacrifices made by some of the greatest literary characters ever created, because the Harry Potter books are not just stories to me. Even today, when something in my life has got me feeling a lot like Harry when he found out how much information Dumbledore had been keeping from him, I think about the children who hadn’t yet graduated school who stood up against the ultimate evil to protect their friends and classmates and even people they didn’t know from prejudice and hatred and human rights abuses. I think about the adults who put themselves in harm’s way even if it meant losing their jobs or their dignity or even their families. I think about the power of love and truth and justice and how important it is for every one of us who believes in those things to never back down, never surrender as long as our fellow humans need our help. Continue reading “The Battle of Hogwarts”

Bill Nye Saves the World

I had heard a while ago that Bill Nye was going to be starring in a new Netflix series, but honestly, there’s so much going on in entertainment these days and in my life in general that I had pretty much forgotten about it. Then, on Sunday morning, Jeremy said, “Hey do you want to watch Bill Nye’s new Netflix series?” And, of course, I said, “Sure!”

When I was in elementary school, I watched PBS shows pretty much from the time I got home from school until the time dinner was ready, which usually coincided with the start of the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour and the end of more interesting shows such as Wishbone, Where In the World is Carmen San Diego?, and, of course, Bill Nye the Science Guy. IMDB says that the original Bill Nye show started in 1993, when I would have been in preschool, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t start airing on my local PBS station until I was in first or second grade. Continue reading “Bill Nye Saves the World”

Filming Jeopardy! and the Aftermath

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Note: If you’re interested in reading about my history with Jeopardy! and how I got to be on the show, that post is here.

As soon as Emlen and I were chosen to compete in the Wednesday game against returning champion Kevin, we had our makeup touched up, and we had a few minutes to use the bathroom and get a drink. Then we went back to the studio and out on the stage to our podiums (which are also randomly assigned, except for the returning champion, of course). The contestant coordinators came over and made sure we knew which camera to look at for the intros and had our names written on our screens. They asked if we had anyone in the audience, and they had our friends and family wave to us — Jeremy was a little salty that he hadn’t been allowed to look at or talk to me, and at first he didn’t believe that he was finally allowed to interact with me.

I don’t remember a whole lot about getting started. I know I was feeling really anxious, and I kept telling myself I was just on stage for a performance like I’d been zillions of times before. The stage manager called for quiet and started the show, and hearing the opening music while standing on the stage felt a whole lot more surreal than it had when I’d been sitting in the audience.  Continue reading “Filming Jeopardy! and the Aftermath”

How I Got to Be on Jeopardy!

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I’ve been a fan of Jeopardy! for literally longer than I can remember. When one of my former neighbors, who lived across the street from me for the first several years of my life, found out that I was going to be on the show, she said, “That’s been your dream since you were in a high chair!” My parents tell me that when I was a baby, I would get really excited and kick my feet when I heard the Jeopardy! theme music. Nerdery starts young in my family, for sure.

When I was in elementary school, I enjoyed watching the show, even though I could hardly answer any of the questions. I had a Jeopardy! computer game for Windows 95 with a digital Alex Trebek (still with the mustache and glasses), and I could hardly answer any of the questions even on the easy setting, but I still played it a lot. (I remember one particular game when I was actually certain about the Final Jeopardy answer – Giancarlo Menotti’s operetta Amahl and the Night Visitors – and I felt like I’d won the actual show!)

I didn’t watch the show much when I was in middle school and high school, because most evenings I was either at the dance studio or busy with homework, but I still caught it whenever I could. My Algebra 2 teacher would occasionally give us a break from regular classwork on Fridays and give us a fun math problem to solve, and once she had us figure out the maximum amount of money a contestant could win in a single Jeopardy! game. (I’ll post the answer in my next blog post, in case you’re interested in solving the problem on your own.) I had a bit of a leg up because I was already really familiar with the show, and I remember thinking it was pretty cool that this young, cool teacher whom I really liked was a self-professed fan of the nerdy show that I secretly wanted to go on someday. Continue reading “How I Got to Be on Jeopardy!”

Permission vs. Blessing

This blog post was supposed to go up on Friday, but I got a medium-bad migraine that day and couldn’t sit and type in front of a computer screen. 😦 But anyway, this week on one of the shows I watch (which is fairly progressive), a character asked his girlfriend to marry him, and when they announced their engagement to their friends and family, the girlfriend’s father (who’s a fairly progressive character) got really salty that the boyfriend hadn’t asked his “permission” first. I was rather annoyed by this, and I talked about it with a close friend. I would totally have been in favor of the boyfriend asking the father’s “blessing,” but I’m not okay with the word permission being tossed around like that, and I’m not okay with the writers making the father upset that he didn’t get asked. To my surprise, my friend basically said “Meh, permission and blessing are essentially the same thing.” To me, they are extremely different, and here’s why.

In many world cultures for many thousands of years, women were treated as property by men (and of course, this practice continues today in some places). Fathers controlled their daughters’ lives — their education, their opportunities, their money, and more — until those daughters got married, at which point their husbands began controlling their lives. Often, marriage was literally a business contract between father and future spouse: a man might refuse to marry a woman if he didn’t get enough money, land, livestock, or other possessions as part of the bargain. In any case, these sexist beliefs completely discounted a woman’s desires and her ability to make her own choices about how the rest of her life was going to go. Continue reading “Permission vs. Blessing”

That Time My Grandparents Went to Antarctica

Today would have been my grampy’s 100th birthday. I can just about hear him spouting off interesting facts about the number 100 and the etymology of the word “century.”

When I was helping my parents get ready to move a few weeks ago, my dad gave me a small stack of photographs from my grammy and grampy’s trip to Antarctica (fortunately labeled on the back in Grammy’s neat handwriting). I’ve been meaning to post them online for other family members to see, and I realized today would be a good day to do so.

We’re very fortunate that Grampy was working on an autobiography of sorts during his later years. I don’t think he had any serious plans to get it published, but he typed up numerous pages (on the computer, because he was hip like that) of memories in first person. In the last section my dad has, Grampy wrote about how the Antarctic trip came about, although it unfortunately stops before they actually went. My dad isn’t sure whether there’s more to the file and he just doesn’t have it, or if that’s where Grampy stopped writing. (Wilson family, if anyone has more of this document, please pass it along!)

But at any rate, my grandparents went on an Intourist/Linblad expedition to the Soviet Union in 1988, and they encountered several problems. Continue reading “That Time My Grandparents Went to Antarctica”