Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Change you can believe in

Needed a new blog format. Maybe it'll help me keep the QQ from turning into a blaaahg.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Am I the only one not freaking out about the economic "crisis"? I just can't seem to muster up any concern. Maybe that's because I don't have a personal investment portfolio. But I'm not stupid enough to think it won't have any effect on me. I know this trickles down to everyone. I just don't have the energy to care...it seems like there are plenty of bigger problems out there than the stock market.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Convertible Thoughts

My mini was really dirty. Really, REALLY dirty. I had gone on a trip to the country and she got covered in bug guts. Then the hurricane hit town and I spent several days driving all over the place. She was dusty, grimy, sticky and awful. It got to the point where I didn't even enjoy seeing her or spending time with her. And then, without even realizing it, I started getting used to the dirt and not worrying about it as much. It became normal. I barely noticed the spots and splotches anymore.

This morning I took the mini to the carwash. I spent quite a lot of money to have her washed, detailed and freshened up. As I drove away, I realized my attitude toward her had changed. I suddenly enjoyed my car again.

I don't know if I'll be able to really explain this, but it made me think of how sin does the same thing in my life. At first it makes me feel dirty and in a bad mood. But if I let it go long enough, it builds up and coats everything and eventually I don't even notice it anymore. After a while it gets so bad that I have to do something about it. Getting rid of it is expensive. It usually costs me some pain and humiliation. But after I've released my hold on it, accepted God's grace and decided to finally let Him clean the grime away, I feel like everything is new and wonderful.

I shouldn't let so much time go between car-washings and heart-washings.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Instant (Message) Comedy

This might only be funny to me, but humor me.

A real im conversation:

me: i just blogged. there's a lot of sexual metaphor in this entry.


him: you would totally as a food network star
me: you left out the verb. i'm going to take that as a compliment
him: i sure did. it's like a mad lib
him: what would you put in the blank?
me: if i didn't already know the context of the convo i'd pick 'lunge'
me: but since i already know the sentence i pick 'rock'

You get the idea...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Eggs, Milk and Butter, Oh My!

I'm going to the grocery store tonight. I don't think I've ever been this excited about going grocery shopping. This will be the first time I've braved the aisles since Ike threw his little tantrum and ruined everyone's month.

I just haven't had the energy to fight for a loaf of bread or a carton of half & half. This isn't communist Russia. I shouldn't have to stand in line for hours, waiting for my turn to go inside the building and collect half a dozen pale vegetables into my cart under the sickly glow of generator-fed fluorescent lighting.

This is big, brawny, beautiful America! I expect my grocery store shelves to be lined with bags, boxes and bottles -- a mind-boggling array of dressings, cereals, sauces and soups! I want to fondle shiny, virile produce! I want gory rows of glistening meat! I want to flirt with sassy, plump olives, ogle decadent desserts and ravage crusty loaves of fresh-baked bread.

But mostly I just want this one little part of my life -- the comforting ritual of perusing the shelves, daydreaming about my future as a Food Network star, imagining concoctions that I'll never actually make -- to be part of my life again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Priceless Moments

Since Mindy already outed herself, I have no qualms about sharing this story.
We were texting last night and one of her messages seemed a little confusing at first. It read "I keep intending to email you back - hoping to get to it tomorrow-but i've been praying for you. hope you're doing well. if nothing else lance b" and that was the end of the message. Hmmm, ok.

Then a second text came through and I laughed out loud because it read "ass dancing should do your spirits some good."

Turns out my blackberry split her messages into two separate texts. It should have read "lance bass dancing" instead of "lance b" and "ass dancing." But it definitely did do my spirits some good.

And in another example of unfortunate typos, I saw a truck driving down the freeway with an advertisement for "Parking Lot Stripping." I'm pretty sure they meant striping, but maybe it's actually a kinky new form of entertainment that I haven't been...ahem...exposed to.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Letters Dept.

I wrote this email to a friend and then realized it could also serve as a good After-Ike wrap-up. Mindy, hope you don't mind me posting my letter that was intended to be just for you!

Hey Friend!
Whew...I made it! We're firmly in the period known as Post-Ike. Today is the first day I've had off in two weeks! Unreal. This week is nearly indescribable. But I'll try to describe it anyway. ;)

We got our power back on Monday night. Many, many of my friends still do not have power this weekend. That's really the hardest part for most people. It's not so bad for those of us who have plenty of money, transportation, family support etc. But all the people who live paycheck to paycheck, who rely on public transit, who can't afford to have their workplace shut down for a week or more -- they're the ones who are suffering right now. Not to mention the people who live in the coastal communities who lost nearly everything. My friend Jeanine has three feet of water in her apartment. She still has not been able to return to Galveston to see if anything is salvageable. We finally got word today that people can go back on Wednesday and assess the damage. My prayer is that our Bible study class would be supportive in her time of physical and emotional need.

Here in Houston, downed power lines and trees are the biggest problems. The city estimates 5,000 utility poles fell down. And that's not counting all the lines that came down as a result of tree branches that fell on them. I have driven all over the city this week. There is literally not one street in Houston that escaped damage. Things are slowly getting back to normal, but those first few days I couldn't even recognize my hometown. Even now I sit here at home with power and the people across the street don't have any. Most of the shops I usually go to are closed. I haven't even attempted visiting a grocery store yet because I know how much of a madhouse it will be. Plus I have no idea if they've even started stocking the dairy and meat sections. Most stores are only carrying produce, breads and shelf foods still...many are running on generator power and can't keep cold foods in stock.

Traffic lights are down on nearly every block. For the most part people are being patient and taking turns at the intersection. Every once in a while some jerk barrels through without stopping and the rest of us curse him. LL saw one guy give another guy the finger for bulldozing through an intersection. She cheered him on and said that was the first time in her life that she was proud of someone for flipping someone else off. :)

Of course with all the lights down and every intersection an automatic four-way stop, traffic is backed up like crazy. What should be a 20-minute drive home can take an hour because of all the slow-downs. But if these are the worst things we have to deal with, we are blessed.

The Lord has been gracious and merciful to us. I am amazed at the number of trees that fell down -- into yards and streets instead of into roofs and houses. Of course many people did have damage to their homes. But if you could see the sheer number of trees alone that fell...and then realize just how few of them caused any significant damage...it's incredible. Satellite images of Ike show how amazingly vast the storm was, but not as vast as our Heavenly Father. His power and magnificence were on display for all to see. It's as though He was saying to us "See how huge and mighty I am." Yet He shows His mercy by containing His power. He could have destroyed our entire city, but He chose to remind us that He has power to calm the wind and still the storm. It's as though Jesus stood again in the storm and said "Peace." I hope Houstonians tremble as the disciples did and ask themselves "who is this man who has power over the wind and the waves."

As you can imagine, along with the physical turmoil, emotions have been all over the place. I tallied up my work hours for Friday and Saturday alone. I worked 40 out of 48 hours. I put in an entire work week in two days! And still worked 12 hour days on Sunday and subsequent days. That led to stress and exhaustion which led to fragile emotions and sensitivity. I felt so alone this week. My friends had mostly left town when the power went out. I was working insane hours. My roommate was dealing with her own stresses and problems. I had no one to turn to. It's been a long time since I needed a hug that badly. I cried myself to sleep two nights in a row, just longing for someone to hold me and tell me things were going to be okay. I so wanted someone to be there with me through the storm, both literally and emotionally. Of course the Lord, in His gentle way, reminded me that I was looking to others for my comfort and security instead of to Him. It took having no power, bad food, no coffee, no friends, no hugs and unbelievable stress for me to jolt to the fact that I was, in fact, NOT alone and that Someone WAS there with me in the storm. I was reading Isaiah yesterday and the Spirit so sweetly convicted me that I was a lot like the nations who looked to Egypt for protection and sustenance...and in the end, Egypt is shamed and those nations realized they had nothing to trust in anymore. I don't want to let my friends and my comforts become my Egypt. I repented of my sin of faithlessness and told God I trust Him to be my strength. It is a lesson I have gone through before and will surely go through again. I pray I learn it quicker and better each time.

Of course, after an experience such as Ike, we all marvel at the loveliness of the simple things in life. Electricity is the most popular celebrity in Houston right now. Sitting on the porch with friends...talking to neighbors and finding out their names for the first time...watching the kids play in the dusk while the parents sit around the radio...expressing incredulity at the only September cool front ever witnessed in Houston...sleeping with the windows open...all of these things are already fleeting and fading away.

Tomorrow, or the next day or maybe next week, Houston will be back to normal. And that will be bittersweet...we'll lose the little bits of wonderment that have come from turning away from the television set and toward one another. We'll forget what it felt like to make instant friends all over the city and the joy that came from sharing our lives and homes with our neighbors and friends and even strangers.

But we'll also have hot showers. :}

And I hope we'll not forget how to trust in our God instead of our comforts.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I worked 40 hours (a full work week) in a 48-hour period. And then I worked some more.

I got badly sunburned. People are not kind. I've been told I look more well done than a steak. I've also been told I match my (red) car. The jokes about how I must have spent my week kicking back on the beach are just not funny.

I went out to dinner with a guy last night and told him my uterus is dying. He asked me to put that on the blog.

I got an email from someone named Sparkle. It wasn't a joke, nor was it porn.

I've confirmed that being hugged, really truly hugged, is almost as necessary to my sanity as having food and water.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

From Our Moscow Bureau

It's been a while since I've written of any strange or interesting adventures that I've experienced while in Russia. To be honest, I think that I've become accustomed to the weirdness. I realize that I am a bit weird myself so a lot of times I let strange or odd situations pass by without noticing, or caring for that matter. A few interesting things that I have noticed recently…

1. I have found that nobody pays any attention to signs. Whether they are driving down the street or walking through the metro, people go wherever they want to go. More than once I have had to hug the sides of buildings as cars have pulled up onto the sidewalks of Moscow and treated those sidewalks as their own personal HOV lane. In many cases the cars just park on the sidewalks which force the pedestrians to have to walk on the street. I can tell you that walking on a busy street here is not for the faint of heart. It's like playing a Russian version of Frogger, only with your life!

In the metro, my biggest pet peeve is people walking out the entrance door and vice versa. It drives me crazy when I enter a busy subway station only to meet some old lady (babushka) going the wrong direction, pushing her way against the tide of people, to the wrong door. Or better yet, when we both arrive at the door at the same time and she then proceeds in slamming the door open in my face narrowly missing hitting me in the nose. Good times! I love you babushka, I truly do…

2. Dr. Pepper can now be bought on the open market here! In the past I had to sneak them into the country in my suitcase like some drug mule making his way from Colombia. The other option was to sweet talk someone into bringing me a case from the US Military Commissary. However, now that it can be found down the street from my flat, my dentist can stop worrying about his children's college fund. I've drank enough DP this month to keep him busy for years, or at least until my teeth fall out.

The downside is that they are $4 per can. With that sort of cost you would think it would slow me down…but it hasn't.

3. Pharmacies here are just like in Mexico. I wanted to stock up on a few antibiotics for an upcoming vacation that I am planning, but I didn't want to have to set up a doctor's appointment (unless the Dr's last name is Pepper) to get the prescription. So, I went to the European Medical Center and wrote on a Post-It Note the drug that I was looking for. The lady behind the counter read the prescription aloud and then filled it with no questions. It was at that point that my conscience started to work on me as I pondered the correct spelling of Marijuana and Codeine. I decided to go for Morphine instead…just kidding.

On a sad note, the days are getting shorter. The temperature is starting to drop to uncomfortable levels. And the girls are starting to wear long coats again. I can't tell you how sad all of this makes me, especially the last part. I'm not looking forward to the snow, the sleet, and the loss of feeling in my nose, toes, and fingers on my commute to work… This is Russia.

~The Moscow Correspondent

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Emotional Fatigue

There are some days when it's just harder to take disappointment. This is one of those days.

I'm a Star!

Man, I sound like I really know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

After Ike

Today was the first day that felt anywhere remotely close to normal:

I slept through the entire night.

My Starbucks is open (although they don't have cream or milk).

Our station is back to regular programming.

We have power and water at our house.

Meanwhile, on the abnormal side of things:

A tipsy man kissed me.

A happy man hugged me.

A woman asked me if I was the "real Laurie Johnson."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We're back

We managed to get back on the air at about 9am. We're still in wall-to-wall coverage after being off the air for about six hours. I'm told the station sustained some roof damage and there are a number of leaks, but otherwise everything and everyone is ok.

Here at Transtar there was also roof damage and we lost power for about 15 minutes. They say that's the first time this facility has lost power in several years. Usually the generators kick in immediately. But this time they couldn't get the generators to start. But we're operational again.

Cell phone signals are spotty. So far I'm one of the only reporters who consistently can get through to the outside.

We're all exhausted. Most of us are working on two or three hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. I'm one of the lucky ones. Because our station was off the air, I was able to nap from 5:30 until 7:30. I also slept for a few hours in the middle of the night.

All in all, I'm better off here than I would be at home. We have AC, running water, hot food and wireless. Maybe I'll shelter here for the next couple of weeks until Houston returns to normal...

The Waiting Game

I'm sitting in the media room at Transtar and I'm right by a window. I can hear the wind roaring outside and see the rain coming nearly straight across in sheets. A transformer just blew a few moments ago with a loud pop. We're on generator power here at Transtar. I can't believe I still have wireless and cell phone. One thing I don't have is radio...our station went off the air about an hour ago. Our antenna must be down at the transmitter site. So for now I have nothing official to do. I already called in a report to the NPR newsdesk and will update them again later. I really should get some sleep...but while we were still on the air I loaned my air mattress to another reporter and he's fast asleep. I think it might be a bit awkward to join him.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Every word is true

Slate has the most brilliant assessment of Houston waiting out the hurricane.

Celebrity Sighting

It's true. I was on Channel 11 tonight. Ok, really I was just in the background interviewing someone. But two friends have already notified me that they saw me and according to both of them I was looking cute. That's truly a miracle, considering I've been up since 3:15 this morning, haven't fixed my hair and have certainly rubbed off most of my make-up. Thanks for all the encouragement everyone! I need it. This is stressful, exhausting and emotional. Pray for me.


We just went to round the clock coverage for the afternoon. Welcome to the part of the weekend where we start to sound stupid and unimaginative. That is, if we didn't already.

Boredom sets in

It's getting a little slow here this afternoon. We're in that weird period when the evacuation frenzy is over but the storm isn't here yet. All the reporters are kinda lounging around, snacking on hurricane supplies, watching YouTube videos and griping about the lack of updates from local officials.

Various people have staked out their claim on territory for cots and air mattresses. I figure I want to find the spot with the least snorers in the vicinity.

They served us Jason's Deli for lunch. Makes me wonder which store was still open and providing catering this afternoon. Odd. The one thing we're lacking at this point is coffee and I'm fairly certain if they don't bring some in by tomorrow morning there will be a mob of very angry journalists breaking down the Mayor's door. It's a widely known fact that journalists subsist primarily on coffee and bourbon (although not necessarily at the same time).

We don't have any bourbon either, in case anyone was wondering.


I have to admit I'm a bit jealous. Most of my friends are planning semi-impromptu hurricane parties today. Meanwhile, I'm at Transtar preparing for a live shot. It sounds glamorous. It isn't. I'd much rather be hanging out with my friends, eating the perishables and playing wii while we wait for the storm.

But instead I'm munching on granola bars and hanging out with cranky reporters, waiting for updates from local officials.

Enjoy your hurrication while it lasts. And eat some melting ice cream in honor of me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hatin' on Ike

I'm at Transtar and it looks like this may be my new home for the next two or three days. The storm isn't even here yet and I'm already exhausted.

They're going to lock down this facility at noon tomorrow. That means no one gets in and no one gets out until after the hurricane has fully passed. Which also means your friendly neighborhood reporter will be stuck here and at the mercy of Harris County officials.

I have my air mattress, sleeping bag, clothes and toiletries with me. But they don't have showers here, so we're all going to be a bit aromatic by the time this is all over. I'm not looking forward to my sponge bath in the restroom sink.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From the Management

Dear QQ Readers,

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience our absence may have caused you. The QQ was closed for two days for training and maintenance purposes. Our aim is to make your visit here as enjoyable and interesting as possible. We regret our lapse in service and will do our utmost to restore this location to its former glory. Please direct all questions or concerns to our comments section. A member of our management team will be in touch with you to resolve any complaints you may have. Thank you for your continued support and patronage of the QQ.

QQ Inc.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Because it's Friday

Here's a round-up of some links I've enjoyed this week.

Check out Lexi's blog, Inkslinging in Africa. Alexis was a writer for the Houston Chronicle, but decided she wanted to pursue some dreams of seeing the world. She's spent the past few months traveling through French-speaking Africa. Her blog is pretty incredible.

Another current favorite is Mo Rocca's blog. Very witty and intelligent. His entry about the Evil Chinese Gymnasts had me cracking up.

And, courtesy of my brother, a video to ease you into the weekend. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


I needed to find the website for a specific organization.
I typed "nameoforganization.org" into my browser.
I was told by the website to "F**k off and die."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Surreal Life

Yesterday was the weirdest day. I'll give you three examples how so.

I went to the ladies room at the office (nothing odd about that). After I did what I came to do, I washed my hands and headed to the door. I opened the door and nearly screamed because all I saw was a huge man looming in the doorway with his arms outstretched.

I quickly recovered once I realized it was a colleague from downstairs in the TV station. He was cracking up laughing and I managed to gather that he was waiting for one of his female co-workers to come out of the restroom and had no idea he would end up frightening me instead. As soon as my heart returned to a normal pace it was actually quite funny.

Later in the day I was out on an assignment. I was standing there waiting to interview this one man. He was chatting with some other people and I didn't want to interrupt. Just as he was wrapping up his conversation, I distinctly heard him let out a big fart! What the?!

After work I headed home for the evening. I got in my car and turned on the radio only to discover that all my radio pre-set buttons had been changed. Ok, this is getting freaky. Am I in some sort of twilight zone? I have no idea if someone pranked me (don't know how they'd get into the car) or if something weird happened and my car reset itself.

All I know is the weirdness continues today. This morning I stopped by Starbucks (my Wednesday ritual) and forgot to bring in my wallet or any money. As if that wasn't bad enough, as I walked back inside I looked down and realized with horror that I was wearing a dress and had forgotten to shave my legs! What in the world??

I'm hoping the weirdness ends here.
And in case anyone is worried, I went back home and changed into pants. Hairy legs are not acceptable. I'll shave tonight.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Reverse Psychology

I'm having a rough day. I just want to list out my complaints. But instead I am going to list out good things about this day.

It's a beautiful day
My morning commute through the park was lovely
I already have some of my work for next week accomplished
Two friends have instant messaged me
Another friend might be coming to Houston soon
I'm wearing new earrings from Brazil
Hurricane Gustav didn't hit us
I just ate a sweet, juicy peach