My new dining room!

A few days ago I discovered the store Amenity Home and I absolutely fell in love with one of their fabric prints. I just adored the organic, simple, and modern feel of this piece. The only problem? At a steep price of $330, I knew that my pocketbook was too slim to accomodate my tastes.

So my brain started turning and turning--I had to have this artwork in my home!--and I came to the conclusion that I could try to paint this pattern myself. Now, I'm not an artist by any means but I can (kind of) draw and (kind of) decorate. How hard could this project be?

Well, it turns out that my artistic talent is kind of rusty. I went to Michael's and bought all of the supplies I needed (a big canvas, paint, brushes) and everything started out pretty well. The branches looked decent enough and I was pretty proud of my choices of color. But then I tried to tackle the leaves and they looked just...awful. Like puffs of cotton balls or nastiness times five.

But I think I salvaged the project well. I even painted a second piece to go along with my first one. And now, I have a brand new dining room! (Which is kind of ironic since Justin and I will most likely be moving at the end of April since our rent is going up.)

This morning I actually re-painted the piece on the left. The branches weren't as dark as I wanted them so I painted them a slate gray. (The color gray is my new obsession.) I also want to remark on the clock in the picture. I got it on sale for only $20! Justin doesn't like it though because it's so big. He calls it Big Ben. But I don't let this bother me because a.) I LOVE big clocks and b.) I LOVE Big Ben.

How do I look?

So, how do you guys like the new blog look?

I've been meaning to change my blog template for awhile now but I wasn't sure how to do it. Sadly, I have stared at many web pages touting "free blogger templates" while in a midst of utter confusion.

But tonight I sat down at my computer and I told myself that I could do this. I even gave myself a little pep talk.

"Caroline!" my brain said, "you can figure this out. You're pretty smart. I mean, you're Asian after all. You have to be good at computers, right? Look at your cousins Ling Ling and Xing Xing. They invented Yahoo from a bag of bamboo sticks and old violin cases!"

And I did it! I changed my blog! And I like it!

Here's to you, Lizzie

"The best protection any woman can courage."
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Yesterday afternoon I asked Justin if he cared about the middle names of our future children.

He just shrugged. "Not really."

Then I asked if I could have the jurisdiction to choose the middle names for our kids.

"Well, what kind of names are you thinking about?" he asked, obviously curious.

"Elizabeth if we have a girl..." I paused. "After Elizabeth Cady Stanton."

Justin kind of chuckled. "Are you trying to pass on your radical feminist agenda onto our kids?" he joked.

This, of course, is only half true.

I recently watched Ken Burns' documentary "Not For Ourselves Alone," which chronicles the women's suffragist movement through the lives of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. These two women, who were friends for over fifty years, provided the fire and fuel for female suffrage in America. For five decades they worked tirelessly to give speeches, rally women, write books, and lobby Congress to give women the right to vote. Sadly, both women passed away before the 19th amendment was passed in 1920.

As I watched the documentary, I was struck at how different these two women were. On one hand there was Anthony---who never married and had no children, who was a Quaker and who traveled endlessly to further the cause of women. On the other hand was Stanton---who was married and had seven children, who was a gifted writer, who refuted Christianity and who was largely confined to her home while she raised her large brood. Yet their differences made for the perfect partnership. Stanton wrote the articles and speeches that Anthony went on to deliver across the country. Stanton was the brains of their operation while Anthony was the hands and feet.

While I admire both women profusely, I have a special place in my heart for Stanton (probably because I have a penchant for historical figures who have been largely forgotten by society). She was a woman who straddled both family life and political activism in a time when women were seen as secondary citizens. She was a woman who challenged popular notions of femininity and who fought against the injustices of her day. She was a woman who changed history because she wasn't afraid to speak her mind.

I can only hope that I can help carry the banner that Stanton herself created:

To promote equality in my community.
To fight against societal wrongs.
To speak my mind with courage.
And to pass along the message of feminism to my children.

To my future Elizabeth.

I am sad

Obama lost big tonight. His twelve-state winning streak has come to an end. I watched the primary results with a lot of disappointment. *Huge depressing sigh*

The only bright spot? Maybe the North Carolina primary will actually garner some interest! I was mad as hell when I discovered that I can't vote until May. May! I should have kept my voter registration in Maryland...

Hmmm. This could also mean that I could get involved with the Obama campaign here in Fayette-stan (that is if one exists). I don't think there are a lot of Democrats in this military town but there are probably a few liberals 'round these parts.

And I shall find them...

The Last of His Kind

In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles finally brought an end to World War I. Over two million Americans served in this War to End All Wars--and now only one of them remains. His name is Frank Woodruff Buckles and he is 107 years old. He is the last of his kind.

When Frank Buckles leaves this Earth, we will lose our final thread to the Great War. Yet the United States has no firm plans to honor the passing of its last WWI veteran. No ceremony. No state funeral. No words of commemoration. The memory of World War I seems to have been lost in our national history--eclipsed by the romanticism surrounding WWII or the controversies of Vietnam. There is not even a WWI memorial on the Washington Mall.

Americans have largely forgotten WWI, which was fought between 1914-1918. There are various explanations for this lapse in our memory: the war was mostly a European conflict, the war was fought for nonsensical reasons, the war leaves no iconic images, etc. Indeed, it is easy to forget a war that seems like it was fought long, long ago. After all, WWI stems from an imperialistic world where czars still ruled Russia and where the Ottoman empire stood on its last legs.

But the impact of WWI cannot be erased. The world today is built upon a war that was fought nearly a hundred years ago. The Great War set off a chain of events that reverberates into our own time: The Roaring Twenties and the break from Victorian propriety. The Great Depression. World War II. The Cold War. Vietnam. Even the conflict in Iraq bears seeds from the WWI era. "Most of the problems we're grappling with in the Middle East are legacies of the great military binge of 1914–1918," says Niall Ferguson, a revisionist British historian.

For now, Frank Buckles remains surprisingly healthy and robust despite his 107 years. For now, Americans still have a human connection to an event that changed our world completely. Yet sometime soon Frank too will pass away and join his fellow comrades on the other side. And at that point the Great War will finally become something of the past and something of history books.

Something to be forgotten.

*Note: After writing this entry, I discovered that the World War I Museum in Kansas City recently announced that it will honor Frank Buckles once he dies. This is a small step forward to better incorporate WWI into our national narrative but I can't help but think that WWI history will continue to gather dust. Kind of like the War of 1812 or the Spanish-American War.