Funnel Cakes and Fahrenheit 451

I won an essay contest!

It's really not a huge deal, but I was pretty excited nonetheless. (Haha. Only 17 people entered the thing.) The county libraries here sponsored an essay contest about Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. As one of two winners of this contest, I won a new copy of the book as well as a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. And I'll also be published in the local paper! This makes me very happy since I can add another clip to my portfolio.

Anyway, Justin and I headed down to the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival on Friday night to retrieve my gift certificate (and ironically we did not see any dogwood flowers). Along the way we chatted with a Vietnam vet, gawked at the sheer size of the Budweiser Clydesdales, and ate a funnel cake. Oh, and I saw a middle-aged woman with no teeth. No dentures. No fake chompers. Just gums and a lot of pride. I was a little afraid she would berate us for being a "mixed-breed" couple.

Gotta love the South.

President McCain 2008?

For the past year, Justin and I have been glued to Meet the Press, Face the Nation, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and basically anything else politically oriented. Frankly, we can't wait until ol' Dubya vacates the White House and we've been so excited about the Democratic primaries.

Yet to be even more frank, I'm getting sick of it all. At first I was happy that the Democratic Party had such a diverse list of candidates. An African-American! A Latino! A woman! And a populist! (I still love John Edwards.) All seemed bright in the land of the donkey and I was sure that the Democrats would sweep the elections come November. But now I'm not so sure.

I'm really tired of all the badgering between Obama and Clinton. I'm tired of the negativity. Tired of word "superdelegate." And tired of realizing that we're practically giving away the presidency to John McCain. The longer this Democratic primary is prolonged, the more divided this party becomes. Hatred is brewing between the two candidate's supporters--and I admit it. I'm beginning to hate Hillary Clinton.

I'm beginning to hate Hillary! Me! A feminist! I have defended her in the past against people who dislike her for seemingly no reason, but I'm getting to the point where if she wins the nomination over Obama I don't know if I could vote for her. (Which leaves me with only two options: don't vote or go Nader. I refuse to support McCain on the issue of Iraq.)

And this is ludicrous! This is so incredibly stupid. As a staunch Democrat, I should be happy if either Obama or Clinton clinches the nomination. I should be happy to vote for either of them. I should...I should...but I don't know if I can anymore.

Please, Nancy Pelosi. Please, Howard Dean. If you can do anything, please do something. This drawn-out race is killing us. If we end up with a brokered convention in August then we can kiss the White House goodbye. And is this something the Democrats want?

I don't think so.

Marriage: One year older and wiser

I first met Justin when I was nineteen years old and a sophomore at college. At the time I was a little too giggly, a little too boy-crazy, a little too chubby from Wendy's and Taco Bell---and a little too lost when it came to my dreams and goals. But I didn't care. I was nineteen! I had my twenties to figure out this thing called "life."

I remember the day that we met. Not the exact date but I know it was sunny and it was warm. I was probably wearing my favorite Gap denim skirt with my platform flip-flops from Old Navy. (Ugh...I shudder at my wardrobe choices back then.) I thought I looked pretty cool with that combination on.

My friend Miranda was at my apartment and she had invited her new boyfriend over so we could all meet him. She told us his name was Justin and he was taking a year off from Duke to work on a book. Of course, I was intrigued. A boy from Duke! He must be smart, right? After all, he was able to get into Duke when all I got was a thin rejection letter from that university.

And I remember watching him walk through my apartment complex---a strong-looking guy with big arms and a baseball cap. He strolled through my front door with no anxiety and no shyness. He shook hands and he smiled and he made jokes right off of the bat. I asked him about Duke and we talked for a couple minutes. I was definitely intrigued by him---he was so different from the stereotypical Mormon boys I met at school. He was a little too crazy, a little too outspoken, and a whole lot more liberal than the BYU standard.

Admittedly, I was a little smitten with this Justin Richmond character. I barely saw him after our first meeting but I would try to fish information from Miranda. My silly little crush was, well, silly. He had a girlfriend. That girlfriend was my friend. He lived on the other side of the country. I would never see him again.

Or so I thought.

On Sunday, Justin and I celebrated our one year anniversary. In the morning he smiled at me and sang a little "Happy Anniversary" song as I rubbed my eyes and yawned. We marveled at how quickly a year had passed and how wonderful a year it was indeed. We had a couple of downs but mostly ups. A few lows, but predominantly highs. And through it all we've grown closer and stronger and watched as our marriage soldified. We are so happy.

At times I find myself looking at my husband and my breath catches in my throat. I'm hit with the realization that I am married and that my soul mate is sitting next to me. For a long time I didn't think I would find him---or at least so early in my life. For a long time I thought I would wander this world by myself because I didn't think someone could really truly love me. Yet here he sits besides to me and we've been together for nearly two years and he tells me he loves me more each day. And I know I don't really deserve it.

And I know that dreams do come true.

The Real Genius Behind "21"

Over the weekend Justin and I watched "21," which we both found entertaining and worth our $7.50. (Movie tickets here in Fayetteville are still relatively cheap.) The film, which is loosely based on a true story, follows an MIT undergrad named Ben who stumbles into a secret blackjack club run by one of his professors.

Due to his uncanny ability at math, Ben wins hundreds of thousands of dollars during the team's weekend jaunts to Las Vegas. Ben keeps telling himself that he will use the money to pay for medical school--but the flasy lights of Vegas quickly get to his head.

I was intrigued by the movie so I started to do some research about the people who inspired this film. Turns out there really was a blackjack club at MIT (it's been around for a long time) and the members of this team made a lot of money by counting cards at the gambling tables.

And then I found something really interesting--the character Ben is based off of an Asian American student named Jeff Ma. Hmmm...Ben is very much a white boy in the movie with his mop of dark brown hair and pale, pale skin. Nope. He definitely isn't Chinese.

So what gives about this blatant racial mix-up? Supposedly, the studio executives decided that "most of the film's actors would be white, with perhaps an Asian female." The underlying assumption here is that the movie-making industry doesn't believe an Asian actor can carry a movie like "21." A karate flick? Sure. But a hip #1 boxseller? Probably not.

(Above: Jeff Ma)

A small part of me understands where these Hollywood types are coming from. They feel the need to "whitewash" a movie because most people in America are white. From a business point-of-view, I can kind of see things from their side.

Yet a large part of me is frustrated, sad, and disappointed. Frustrated that Asian actors (and most actors of color) are routinely cut out of the "meatiest" roles in Hollywood. Sad that I don't see more Asian-American actors that go beyond the "nerdy geek" or "Triad mafia" stereotype in films. And disappointed that a movie has to be whitewashed to be viable for success.

Overall "21" is a good film, but it's also a movie that shows how Hollywood isn't so color-blind after all.

My Grandma would be proud

I made wontons for dinner tonight! I grabbed a recipe off of the Food Network and I rummaged through my rusty memory to remember when my grandma taught me how to fold wontons and dumplings. (Note: dumplings require circle-shaped dough while wontons need square-shaped.)

With my new dining room combined with my new wonton-making skills, you'd think I'm entering the world of the domestic goddess. But never fear---my feminist roarings are never far from view!