1901 Empire Way Just Sold

The house on Empire Way was my high school house. It was 5 houses down the street and around the corner from the first house I lived in (6226 Oreana Drive). My parents bought it in 1988 and got a great deal. The previous owners (we were the second) had done all sorts of upgrades on the house that they knew they weren’t going to recoup when they sold. They had made their money in movie theater popcorn butter and the upper half of the house had a lot of fancy stuff. Let’s take a (very long tour) and see what’s changed since 1995, when my parents sold the house.

Very little has changed exterior-wise. In fact, I would say it’s been neglected. The tree in the middle of the yard was there when we lived there. When we moved in, the front door was entirely hidden by huge evergreen bushes. My parents got rid of those. Before they did, my brother had a habit of not closing the door when he left for school. I’d come to to a wide-open door. It was always fun to guess if I should enter or not.

The front door is different. When we lived there it was a single door with some of that 60s-style wavy brown glass on either side. The color of the house was always yellow. The previous owners chose it for their popcorn homage and we kept it going, as did the owners that followed us.

The tree next to the driveway was not there when we lived there. Nor were the cement blocks. In fact, when we moved in, the tree had railroad ties around the tree in the middle of the yard that we removed because the piled-up soil was killing the tree. The previous owners put in that bay window, which is not a thing that comes standard with split level houses. I always liked the bay window.

There used to be a basketball hoop next to the driveway and the fence was closer to the garage door. When I lived here that side yard eventually became a quasi herb garden. I think the area next to the driveway used to be grass.

The back yard still has the leveled deck that Bob John built, though subsequent owners painted it red.

The deck was built when I was either done with high school or nearly done with high school. I can recall lounging out there in the sun and going through my course catalog for my freshman year of college. It’s where I decided to take French. (Dumb idea, as it turned out.)

This house is a classic split level, which has yet to become a desired housing style again, unlike the midcentury ranch that made a great comeback in the new millennium. Spilt levels are weird in that you have to immediately make a decision once you come in the door. I always found that to be annoying.

When we lived here, the stairs perfectly encompassed the updating the previous owners did. The walls were papered with some expensive reedy wallpaper, but the stairs were still the original bright orange tile. I like the orange tile more in retrospect than I did then when living there. Plus, the tile was slippery when wet, and I fell down the stairs more than once when I tracked snow in. We also did not have that fan, but I’m pretty sure that is the same railing.

This room is very different. There used to be two entrances to the kitchen, and the one near the stairs had very late-60s-esque saloon-style doors, something that was fun for every teenager who visited. There was nothing more amusing than closing the doors, putting your thumbs in your pocket, doing the gunslinger walk (right shoulder with right foot, left shoulder with left foot) and bursting through the doors yelling “Put yer hands, up!”

This room is much lighter than it used to be. It had parquet flooring and wood paneling and it’s where our dining room table lived. We didn’t spend much time here, despite the bay window.

Here’s what the virtual stagers did with the space.

The kitchen is much changed, and not for the better.) As mentioned before, there used to be entrances on both sides. One has been closed off and there are presumably counters there now. (It’s one of the few angles of the house that is missing a picture) Where the stove is now used to be our telephone and message center. And what’s missing is the big island in the middle that had the range and the oven. It was under the skylight. I’m amused that the exact same lights in the ceiling, have survived. It also had wood flooring, possibly the same flooring that was in the living room?

In my mind, without the island this room feels much too large. The triangle between the sink, the refrigerator and the oven takes many steps to traverse. Also, our refrigerator was normal sized and my parents had some custom cabinetry installed next to it that was our pantry shelving. The cabinets on the left are totally the same cabinets, though.

One of the great losses is the kitchen counter tile. The butter popcorn people had a custom tile color made for the kitchen. It was a very cheery yellow. It has now been replaced by the very boring marble that every renovated kitchen installs.

Another thing that is missing is the very gorgeous wooden exterior wall. The window that is there now probably does let in more light, but I did like the warmth of the wood. Another change I find fascinating is that the doors and windows that shut off access to the sunroom have been removed. In certain times of the year we kept those shut because it was too expensive to heat and cool that room. I think the loss of those windows and doors is a mistake. They were nice too. Lots of glass.

And here is the gorgeous sunroom, the thing that sold everyone on this house. That woodstove is new. We used to put the Christmas tree in that corner. This is where we normally ate as a family. We had couches in this room, and I did a lot of reading and napping. It was also a great place to entertain. We had Jenn’s wedding shower in this room.

So very pretty. Aside from the blinds, it hasn’t changed at all.

Here’s the upstairs bathroom. Another fun aspect of split level houses that has probably kept the nostalgia from flowing: no primary suite bathrooms attached to the primary suite. The normal layout is two bedrooms up, two bedrooms down, and a bathroom on each level. All the rooms are the same size. It’s very egalitarian.

This room is very different! For most of the time I lived in the house, this had cartoony wallpaper and a shower with the built in sliding glass doors. This bathroom looks like it’s recently been renovated in a let’s-flip-the-house way. You can see that they haven’t yet installed the cover for the fan. This was more or less the layout. Counter, medicine cabinet instead of flat mirror (I think?), toilet, and shower.

Here’s another popcorn butter owner perk. They took the two bedrooms upstairs and made them into one giant bedroom with a vaulted ceiling and a walk-in closet. This bedroom had more of that expensive reedy wallpaper. Somewhere along the way, someone went with a bold paint color (that is not to my taste, but I do enjoy a good splash of bold paint.) When we lived here this corner had the TV and two armchairs. We did most of our TV watching as a family in this room. The lighted area was where the the dresser for my parents things was. The original owners built a huge oak wardrobe that fit in that space. Because the dresser was low, my mom put a ton of family pictures on the wall.

This corner had the bed under the windows and a roll-top desk in between the closets. My dad put the shelves in the closets the weekend we moved in. I can tell you that school supplies were on the the third shelf in the right hand closet. I’m not sure what else was in there. Maybe some boardgames?

The wife of the butter popcorn owners loved shoes, and when she lived here these shelves were full of shoes. My dad displayed his much less extensive baseball cap collection, and then the rest were used for other normal things that live in closets.

The virtual stagers have put the bed under that niche, which okay. Sure.

Downstairs! This (aside from the kitchen and the sunroom) was where my brother and I did a lot of hanging out. When we moved in, this room had one wall of a wallpapered tropical sunset, orange striped wallpaper on the other walls, and red shag carpet. It was hideous, especially in 1988. Though I did grow to appreciate how nice shag carpet looked after it had been vacuumed. My parents changed it to a mauve color scheme that probably would look equally hideous today, but was very welcome then. This room also had an accordion-type door to a room we are going to see shortly. My family turned that into a solid wall.

Like the virtual stagers, this room had a couch and a loveseat, though ours took up the left corner of the room, and the TV was in the right-hand corner of the picture. We kept old sleeping bags behind the couches and would curl up in them on cold nights. Or we would take the cushions off the couch and put them right in front of the TV if we were going to watch it late at night with the sound low. I’d say 92% of my MTV viewing happened in this room.

Laundry room! Right off the downstairs family room. This looks exactly the same, though the tile used to go all the way to the wall and there used to be a set of cabinets on the floor. Why would they have removed those? That was where you folded your clothes as you pulled them out of the dryer. When we moved in, there was a huge dog door in that door. It was big enough for a person to easily crawl through.

This poor little room. Once it got closed off from the main family room it was the sad neglected room. There was a pre-dialup computer in this room and a daybed where we could sleep four friends if we pulled out the trundle, raised it up and slept perpendicular on the bed.

Here’s my room. That fan wasn’t there. Somewhere along the line an owner of the house was a fan of fans. I remember being salty about the breaker box being in my room. The carpet would also get damp if it rained too much. I learned this by storing my albums on the floor and ending up with damp album covers that dried and were very wavy. When we moved in, this had some really 70s metallic wall paper that was black and gold. My mom spend much more time than she wanted peeling it off and putting a creamy wallpaper with tiny flowers that I liked for about a year or so, then covered with as many posters as possible.

That’s what the closet looked like, though it had those folding doors that always fell off of the track. Funny that I can’t recall what the carpet was.

Here’s my brother’s room. When we moved in it still had the standard dark brown wood paneling that came with houses from the 60s and 70s and the room itself was very dark. He liked it that way, though. So the paneling stayed while we lived there.

Those shelves in the closet are new. I guess someone didn’t need to hang a lot of clothing.

I don’t even know what happened in this bathroom. It used to have a long counter with two sinks. One of the sinks was not in front of the medicine cabinet with the mirror, so we never used it, but still! Why would you eliminate all that counter space? And mirror space? The shower had custom tile when we lived here and a short toilet that was popular during 80s bathroom renovations. I think the terrible wallpaper in this bathroom also got replaced, but I think by paint? It’s funny what I remember and what I don’t.

Here are the details. The sales history is missing the 1995 sale, when we moved out. But my parents did get this house for a cool $71.5k in 1988. I think they sold it for $127K? It boggles my mind that it sold for as much as it did in July.

More details. At some point the street became South Empire Way and not Empire Way. I’ll have to ask a Boise friend when that transition happened.

Not shown in all these photos is the shop that was in the back part of the garage. An odd omission as it was a big selling point for my family. Also, these schemas are still using the term “master bedroom” rather than “primary suite.”

And that’s the tour of the high school house. Thank goodness for all these sale photos to let me peek behind the curtain.

I was thinking of how many of my friends grew up in split levels. Lori and Sara did. April and Laurie had the modified split level layout where the living room and kitchen were on the main level and then a split for the family room and bedrooms. That layout is one that seems much more functional.

Remembering Julie Powell

I was very sad to hear that Julie Powell is no longer with us. Back in the mid-aughts as I was sailing very close to my thirties, I was working in a job I was trying desperately to leave. The job provided me with gobs of time with nothing to do—a setup that isn’t good for my mental health. Aside from spending several hours a day looking for a better job, I also occupied my time by reading blogs. There was the Weight Watchers triathlon woman, the lose the buddha lady, there was Poundy and her hilarious Weight Watchers cards, there was the advice lady who was also a freelance editor,* and there was also Julie Powell.

*You will note by the lack of links in that above list how those things that kept me entertained for hours are no longer findable at least not with a quick 5-second search.

Julie Powell was also not having a great start at a career, and to distract herself she decided to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s original edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And she blogged about it.

I clued into this project after it was over but before the book and movie came out, and I found the original blog and started at the beginning. She was a solid writer—blogging really showed the world how many good writers were out there not being paid to write—and her humor and exasperation at this thing she had assigned to herself resonated with me, a person who often assigned (and still assigns) to myself projects that can become overwhelming.

It was fun to watch the blog entries start with a small smattering of comments that then became a torrent once the press caught wind of her work. Aside from reading every post, I read every comment too, at least until the comments got to be too many and, as goes with the internet, weren’t always supportive. I got to know some of the regular commenters too.

After reading the blog, I read the book. It was good, but did not, of course, include the encyclopedic details the blog did. I saw the movie and enjoyed it because Nora Ephron does good work, as do Amy Adams (Julie Powell) and Meryl Streep (Julia Child.)

I know she published a second memoir, but I did not read it, and after that, I lost track of her. I’m sorry another Julie Powell project in the future won’t bring us back together. But I’m thankful she helped me pass the time in my own boring job.

Seven Seasons (and One Revival) of Gilmore Girls Later…

I resisted Gilmore Girls for years. It was many seasons, they were hour-long episodes, I watched the pilot and wasn’t blown away. But then I ran out of things to watch and so started limping through season one, still not loving it. My friend Ariel encouraged me to keep going and at least make it to the second season so I could start listening to a fan podcast, the Gilmore Guys.

I almost didn’t make it to season two of the show, but then I did, and from there I kept going. Is it a show I love? Nope. My feelings about the Gilmore Girls are complex and kept evolving as I watched it. Here are various thoughts sorted into Red, Yellow, and Green categories.



Emily Gilmore, Lorelai’s mother and Rory’s grandmother, is a person I would move myself far away from, should I encounter her in real life. She’s wealthy and thinks that makes her better than other people, she can’t keep a maid, she treats anyone not of her class like they belong under her shoe, and she constantly is scheming, usually in ways I do not like.

None of this is a reflection on Kelly Bishop, who is absolutely amazing in every scene as Emily Gilmore. She’s incredibly fun to watch, and with the revival season she has the best arc of any of the Gilmore girls. But she was a reason I had trouble getting through the first few seasons. “I think Lorelai is selfish, and I think her mother is a completely horrible person,” I told Matt in one of the many monologues he listened to as I complained about the show. Kevin Porter, one of the Gilmore Guys, adores Kelly Bishop (“Bishop is Queen,” is one of the things he says about her and he’s not wrong). If not for his love of Emily Gilmore, I might not have stuck with the series.


Edward Herman is incredible as Richard, Rory’s grandfather and Lorelai’s father. He knows exactly what to bring to the role, mostly gravitas, but also humor when it is called for. Richard the character gets to spend the entire series as the good guy, but he does shady things I find unforgivable including throwing his business partner under the bus. He also, as many men of his generation did, overlooks the many contributions to the household his wife provides.


Amy Sherman-Palladino is a great observer of the small details of first loves and Dean starts off as a great first boyfriend. That goes south fairly early on when he shows his needy true colors. While the main Dean problem is that he gets pretty dumb once Jess comes on the scene, my biggest problem is that he’s full of all sorts of super controlling red flags, like breaking up with Rory when he tells her he loves her and she doesn’t say it back. And I’m not sure how I would handle the situation if my theoretical daughter’s boyfriend rebuilt a car for her and gave it to her as a present, but I would take it as a warning of not-great things to come. And that’s what we get with Dean.

Jared Padalecki was really young when he was cast—18 when filming began—and his acting chops were, shall we say, still in developing . He and Alexis Bledel had almost no chemistry, which made it that much harder to root for them. One of the things I find too crazy to be true is that Padalecki went from this show to Supernatural and that show just kept on running. He started with Gilmore Girls when he was still in his teens, and was on the air with a series until he was 38. That’s a crazy amount of longevity, and I’m guessing his acting got better as he went along.


By the time we got to Logan, the third of Rory’s three boyfriends, I was sick of Rory’s boyfriends (Jess had been particularly exhausting), and I wasn’t looking forward to meeting another one. When he first appears, Logan has a scene with Rory where I didn’t really catch his name and I thought to myself, “I really hope that blonde boy wasn’t Logan.” Alas, the Gilmore Guys confirmed that he was.

I’m not a fan of the super rich or their offspring, and Logan’s big-spending, reckless ways combined with his masterful gaslighting of Rory made their entire relationship torture, even in Season 7, when the writers were determined to make him as amiable as possible. It got so I wished Jess would come back to exhaust me.

The Not-Poverty of the Stars Hollow Gilmores

The Hartford Gilmores are wealthy, and that’s the premise the show is built on. Emily and Richard Gilmore do all the wealthy people things: go to the club, live in a massive house, employ people and treat them poorly, be overly concerned about everyone else’s wealth status, and vacation in Europe. The Stars Hollow Gilmores are, we’re repeatedly told, very poor. Lorelai left all that wealth behind.

Except they are not poor. They eat out nearly every meal (and yes, they seem not to pay for their food ever at Luke’s Diner, but surely they haven’t charmed all the other restaurant owners in Stars Hollow.) They shop a lot. They have many magazine subscriptions. They live in a big house. My guess is that Sherman-Palladino grew up fairly well off in a community where everyone else had much more money than her, so her idea of poverty is different than actual poverty. At one point, when their fortunes have turned, Rory says, “No more clipping coupons?” and I snorted. They’ve never clipped coupons in their life.

I won’t even get into the number of times they are rescued from their theoretical poverty by various wealthy people around them.

Cool Girl Feminism

In Gone Girl Gillian Flynn has a most excellent takedown of the idea of the “cool girl.” It says, in part:

Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer…and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. 

Lorelai Gilmore was invited long before Gillian Flynn wrote that passage, but she could have been thinking of Lorelai when she wrote it. And I think Amy Sherman-Palladino embodies a kind of Cool Girl Feminism. Lorelai and Rory eat whatever they want without gaining weight. They are kind to their female friends, but they don’t have many of them, and they don’t have anything nice to say about women who aren’t their friends. They actively body shame anyone who isn’t as thin as they are. They chart their own course and then have other people heavily subsidize it. Most of their relationships rotate around men.

I could probably do an entire series about Cool Girl feminism. Alas, it would mean rewatching the series.



Rory’s arc is that she starts out kind of cool in a nerdy way and gradually becomes insufferable. I can’t say I blame her. Something has to be sacrificed when a mother and daughter are best friends and it’s usually the daughter. Alexis Bledel is incredibly pretty and she does a great job, especially given this was her first acting gig and had a dialog-heavy script that she was responsible for large chunks of. But boy, I do not enjoy Rory, especially once she goes off to college.

The not-Poor Start Hollow Gilmore Girls party line centers the scrimping, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at Rory’s path. Private high school education. A new car when she graduates high school. Yale, paid for by her grandparents, with the promise of also paying for graduate school. A summer in Europe with her grandmother because she doesn’t want to deal with her mother’s anger over dropping out of Yale. A free place to live (her grandparents’ pool house that her grandmother redecorates for her) when she drops out. Yale, junior and senior year paid for by her father so she doesn’t have to “be under her grandparents’ thumb” anymore. A passing reference to a trust fund established by her grandmother. And through all those things, Rory continues to act as though she is so very different from her classmates.

It’s also interesting that she’s billed as a girl who is more into books than boys, but then most of the show revolves her story around the boys in her life. And my goodness do they stand in line for her. One of my favorite comments from fans of the Gilmore Guys podcasts was “Who is this girl whose greatest pleasure is spending Friday night alone folding laundry, and why do so many guys like her?”

Plus! (I have a lot of thoughts about Rory) She’s one of those characters that we’re told is super smart and amazing and seems, well, normal? She likes to read. Cool. That doesn’t make her smart. She’s good at being good at school. That’s not the same thing as being amazing or even someone who is very good at life, as we find out in the revival. Overall, she seems like a nice, quiet girl who likes to read and is pretty good at planning parties. Nothing to write home about.


She’s not my favorite character, Lorelai. She’s great with the quips, but I found her parenting style (especially in the first three seasons) to be annoying. I think it’s possible for a mom to be best friends with her daughter, but I don’t think it’s advisable and I don’t think it’s great for the daughter. I don’t think it’s possible for daughters to be best friends with their moms, especially when still growing up. The power differential is too much and there’s all sorts of weird enmeshment issues. Go find best friends your own age, Lorelai!

I also think Lorelai isn’t happy unless the spotlight is on her. I think she is selfish and self centered in a way that had me groaning aloud multiple times during the series.

However, is Lauren Graham brilliant at being Lorelai? Yes. Yes she is. She’s very fun to watch and I think Lorelai could have been so much worse without Graham’s skill as an actor.


Man did I hate Jess from the moment he showed up. Full of dumb anger and no where to go with it and why exactly did Rory like him again? Ariel received more than one postcard that gushed, “A Jess-free episode!” When I asked her how she felt about Jess, she told me that because she’d already seen his whole arc, she had trouble putting herself back in the place where she didn’t know how he turned out.

I did enjoy his needling of Luke, though. And now that I’ve gone through the Jess arc, I can remember how much I hated him, but he somehow managed to redeem himself. Maybe partially because Logan was so bad?


Melissa McCarthy is the best, and she’s delightful as Sookie. However, Sookie’s plot arcs aren’t great. With a few exceptions, she exists to (1) listen to Lorelai (2) be surprised every single time she gets pregnant.


Like Richard Gilmore, Christopher is a man who escapes a lot of aggro that should probably come his way. As the father of Rory, he’s not around when she’s growing up. There’s no mention of him paying child support. And yet he waltzes in when Rory is sixteen and all is forgiven. Not to mention that there’s a plot arc later in the season where he tells Lorelai and Rory he does want them to be a family and just as Lorelai comes around to the idea he pulls the rug out from both of them and switches tracks. And yet this also does not follow him.

David Sutcliff is an adequate actor, but really what makes Christopher fun to watch is the A-plus chemistry he has with Lauren Graham. It’s probably that chemistry that makes him so easy to forgive.


Gilmore Guys

I had a hard time getting through the first season. When I slogged into the second season I queued up the podcast with a skeptical eye. Why should I listen to two guys talk about a show that was famously created by a woman and about women? But the Gilmore Guys won me over. It helped that I had a mirror in Demi, the host who had never watched the show. He said he liked it, but it didn’t feel like he was bowled over by it. And Demi’s underwhelm combined with Kevin’s encyclopedic knowledge was a great combo. I was never going to love it anywhere as much as Kevin, but at least I got insight into why it was popular.

Gilmore Guys built a great following, had interesting guests, and gave me something to talk back to after each episode. Did I love that there was seemingly no editing and the episodes eventually dwarfed the 90-minute to 2-hour Filmspotting podcasts I used to complain about? I did not. But I enjoyed their homespun segments (Fa-fa-fa Fa-fa-fa-fa Fa-fa-fa-fa Fashion!) and their amusing asides. They were people I could interact with in real time (usually by shouting at the podcast) even though the episodes were more than six years old.

Writing postcards after every episode

“HE MADE HER A CHUPPA????!!!!???!?!?!?” was on the first postcard I wrote to my friend Ariel. That was the third episode of the second season when Luke passed off an intricately carved chuppa as something he just whipped up for Lorelai’s wedding to a guy who wasn’t Luke. From that point, Ariel got a postcard after every episode that included my reaction to the episode and my agreements and disagreements with the Gilmore Guys as I listened. I’m not sure she could read everything I wrote (oh, my terrible handwriting) but I had fun writing them. The Season 2 finale had so much happening, I had to switch to a letter, but other than that, it was my chicken scrawl on postcard after postcard.


Oh Lane Kim, the great tragic character of Gilmore Girls. She’s so very cool, what with her love of music and her tricky ways of hiding that love from her disapproving mother. She’s much more interesting than Rory. And like most interesting girls in high school, the boys did not flock to her. She had a brief moment of perfect boyfriend in Dave Ragowski, but Adam Brody went off to do the OC and never came back. She also was on a great trajectory as a drummer. But then came lunkhead boyfriend Zack, a very early marriage, a very early pregnancy (that the real Lane Kim probably would have aborted), twins, and stagnating in her small town forever.

Keiko Agena was always cheerily up for anything and I’m sorry she didn’t get a better character.

Luke (though season 5) (then he turns yellow)

As we have established, I’m not much of a fan of Lorelai or Rory and I’m not a fan of Dean, Jess, or Logan. But I am a fan of Luke. Does he overly involve himself in solving problems for other people? Sure. That’s not great. But other than that, he’s the kind of solid guy everyone should have in their lives. Small business owner, hard worker, grumbles a lot, but does so while donating his time and skills for causes.

When Luke and Lorelai finally got together, they had terrible communication and it wasn’t great. Plus, Luke got all weird about introducing his teenage daughter that he never knew about to Lorelai and it messed up their relationship. That was dumb.

But other than the April Nardini wrinkle, I always loved plots that involved Luke. Except for the ones where Emily and Richard Gilmore treated him like crap because he owned a diner.


Before Gilmore Girls, I knew Sean Gunn as a minor character in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. After Gilmore Girls, I know him only as Kirk, the guy in the town who had every single job. His odd, deadpan delivery and earnest nature perked up my viewing and distracted me from the many things I didn’t love about the show. I think the Kirk apex is him playing Teyve in a production of Fiddler on the Roof that otherwise starred children (and culminated in a performance of “Do You Love Me” with a tiny Broadway Baby that helped bring Luke and Lorelai back together), but anyone watching Gilmore Girls has their own favorite Kirk moment.


When Luke’s nephew Jess showed up in town, his mother eventually made an appearance. And with her came TJ, her eventual husband. TJ is played by Michael DeLuise, and as someone who Michael’s older brother Peter DeLuise imprinted on early thanks to 21 Jump Street, I was on board for TJ’s New York-accented idiocy. (This is not generally a popular opinion among Gilmore Girls fans)

Various Townies

Around Season 3, I was all in and probably this had to do with the townies. Babette, Morey, Miss Patty, Gypsy, Kirk, Grant, the Troubadour, and even Andrew all brought a lot of fun to the series. EW has even ranked them for your enjoyment.

Daniel Episodes

Daniel episodes are written by Daniel Palladino, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s husband. He’s not great a female characters (his Emily scenes are incredibly shrill), but he does like a weird plot. And I liked his weird plots. My favorite was when the hermit came to protest. The town of troubadours was also quite fun, and includes a Daniel cameo.

Gilmore Girls Promos

Partway through the Gilmore Guys podcast Kevin asked for and received audio of the original WB (and then CW) promos for each episode. And let me tell you, those promo people did not at all care about spoilers. We listened to them during the podcast episodes, after we’d presumably watched the episode in question. But real-time viewers had to contend with them before they had watched the promoted episode. The marketing people resorted to not only spoilers, but all sorts of trickery like cutting a tiny part of an episode and making it look like a big thing, or stealing scenes from future episodes and making them look like they belonged in the upcoming episode. Shame on them! But very hilarious to listen to after the fact.

TWOP comments

TWOP sounds vaguely dirty (“Dirty!” as Lorelai would say.) but it stands for Television Without Pity, the most wonderful website for early-in-the-millennium TV commentary. Aside from TV recaps, they had a robust group of smart, witty, and sometimes very angry commenters who liked to give their own takes about each episode. And Gilmore Guys liked to read some of those comments aloud. And some of those real-time comments from back in the day were written by Gilmore Guys host Kevin T. Porter when he was sixteen. Aside from being a fun time capsule, it was interesting to see the clever wordplay and the rage. So much rage.

Singing along to the theme song

Famously, Carol King rerecorded the theme song with her daughter. I say famously, because that was one of the press things when the show originally aired that I remember all these years later. It’s a bit of the song “Where You Lead.” The title credits are terrible, though, and since Netflix gives me the option to skip them, I do. The credits are bad enough that I would probably fast-forward if Netflix didn’t have that handy skip option. But, but, but! The Gilmore Guys end every episode by singing along to the theme song and I’m totally on board for that. Especially the part where Kevin throws in a “choo-choo” when the train is mentioned.

My ranking of seasons (original) and parts (of the revival)


  • Season 5
  • Season 4
  • Season 3
  • Season 2
  • Season 1
  • Season 6
  • Season 7


  • Winter
  • Fall
  • Spring
  • Summer

Roe is No More

Protest art in St. Johns. It’s not hitting my feelings exactly (it doesn’t jibe with the UU first principle), but it does capture the zeitgeist.

The draft opinion of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization dropped right when I was smack in the middle of the longest period of my life. For 15 straight days I bled, a marker of my waning theoretical fertility.

I’d love to say that the decision took me by surprise, but it was more like my approaching menopause. I knew the end of Roe v. Wade was out there, but I didn’t know when it would happen. In my mind, the last wall fell when Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, but the chipping away has gone on for years. It was happening when I was in high school and Roe hadn’t yet turned 20.

I wept when Ginsberg died. When the official decision came down, I’d already done my mourning.

My fertility remains a theoretical thing because I’ve never been pregnant. I’ve never wanted to be, I’ve worked very hard not to be, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the means to suppress that egg from starting it’s monthly journey and lucky enough to live in a time when I was allowed to do that. I’ve also been lucky enough that my various forms of birth control (there have been many) have worked and I’ve never had to go through the steps to get an abortion. Steps that have been relatively easy in all the states I’ve lived in, at least at the time I lived in them.

Gen X follows the coming of legalized abortion. The youngest ones were prepubescent when Roe came down. We’ve hit menopause or are wrapping up our ability to conceive just as six people on the Supreme Court decided we aren’t the people who get to decide what to do with that fertility.

Because I’d never wanted children, the ability to have an abortion was paramount. I educated myself about birth control (Thanks, Our Bodies, Ourselves and Sassy Magazine!) got on regular birth control once I became sexually active, and was rigid about contraception. Still, I always made sure I had at least $600 in my checking account, and always knew where the nearest clinic was.

People have abortions for a variety of reasons. Some are selfish, some are logical, some are an act of mercy, some are well through through, some are not thought through at all. A lot of people have opinions about that particular medical procedure. But does that mean they get to say? It does not.

In high school, I wore a brass cuff engraved with Becky Bell’s name and her birth and death dates. When people would ask me what was the meaning of the bracelet, I would explain that Bell had died in 1988 from complications due to an illegal’s abortion she sought because of parental consent laws. I lived in the (very) slightly liberal city of Boise in a very conservative state, so a lot of time that information would be met with silence or a quick change of subject. But a lot of women, hearing about a young woman died from an illegal abortion, would tell me about how scary it was before abortion was legal and the friends they lost, or the stories of their friends who were grossly affected by illegal abortions. But I think I was the only one hearing those stories. To hear everyday women speak about abortion was never a thing. As with so many things, we don’t listen to women’s stories. We don’t even ask them what their stories are.

And that, for me, is what this comes down to. There are two pillars of my fundamental belief in a person’s right to choose abortion. The first: abortion is a medical procedure that should be decided on by the patient with input from the doctor treating the patient. The second: women and other pregnant people have always sought abortions, no matter what the law says. When they can’t access them legally, they find a way.

There shouldn’t have to be a way to be found. Just as every person in the United States should have access to healthcare, so should part of that healthcare include deciding for yourself, if a pregnancy should continue.

I’d like to think that this is the issue that causes an uproar across the nation and a blue tide in November. But I don’t think it will be. We will need to have another generation see what it’s like when a bunch of people get to make choices for other people and see the fallout before we can find a new path.

Winco Discovery: A Rough Draft of a Short Story

At the last minute of her Business 101 class, the teacher assigned Greta to bring iced animal crackers. On her way home, she stopped at the big grocery store that reminded her of her mother frowning at every price, she headed to the cookie aisle and grabbed three bags. Her eyes shifted to the left as she calculated the cost. It looked like she would be air drying her laundry again this week.

She headed to the produce section to grab the scallions her mother had asked her to buy and as she cut through the bulk department, something caught her eye. In the white bin were the very same animal crackers she was holding. Her eyes shifted to the left again as she calculated the bulk price.

She set down her three bags and grabbed one of the industrial-strength bulk bags and started scooping, imagining the hug of warm, clean pajamas.


1994. I was a freshman, settling in to my second semester. It was an optimistic time. I felt at home in college, Hillary Clinton was going to make sure everyone in the US had access to healthcare before I graduated from college—Time had even published a mockup of the national health insurance card—and women were ascendant, something that made choosing a women’s college seem like a brilliant decision.

My government professor had everyone pick a special project for the semester. Mine was to keep up with the doings of the Supreme Court. There was some end-of-semester assignment, now long forgotten, but I what I do remember is that I needed to read the New York Times and other publications like Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, to keep track of what SCOTUS was up to.

I liked this assignment. In my picture of my impending adulthood, I saw myself always making time to sit down and scour the news, keeping up on current events, informing myself about the issues, and being able to talk intelligently about not only the Supreme Court but also state and local issues. I would for-sure be a person who always had a subscription to not only my local newspaper, but also the New York Times.

I loved following the Supreme Court. Rehnquist, Blackmun, Stevens, O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg. Blackmun was the key to the reason I’d grown up in a country where abortion was legal. He would retire that year, making way for Breyer, and that court would stay the same until 2005, when I was well into my imagined adulthood with no national healthcare and no subscription to the New York Times.

One of the things I loved about the Supreme Court was that it stood above politics. We said that all the time then, and talked about how the Founding Fathers (we used that term without much comment) designed the Constitution so that the Supreme Court was above the fray. The justices were appointed for life! They often went off in different directions than the presidents who appointed them!

And Ruth Bader Ginsburg was my favorite. A tiny woman with a big brain who wore lace collars on her robe, I took her nomination as one of the many signs the country was shaking off the conservative shackles I’d come of age chafing under. Her appointment and confirmation meant we were moving to a brighter future where women could finally fulfill their potential, and the idiotic notions of supply-side economics and shaming people who needed help were finally behind us.

It was so important to have more than one woman on the court. I’d watched with worry as several big decisions about abortion rolled through the court in the 80s and early 90s. It seemed ridiculous that eight men could properly put the importance of access to that procedure in context. Ginsburg was smart, and as I listed to Mara Liasson’s NPR stories about the Supreme Court I always held still to make sure I could feel the weight of Ginsburg’s words.

And now it’s many decades later, and I woke to the news she is gone. I’m no longer a college freshman optimistic about my future. I watched a talented, competent woman with clear platforms and tons of experience lose an election to a man with no plans, no respect for the people he supposedly serves, and no real desire to do the job. The healthcare system is a mess, the problems of systemic racism seem insurmountable, and the Supreme Court is not far above the fray, it’s right in swamp throwing elbows with the other two branches. My life is not what I planned it to be; it’s far from the rosy picture my nineteen-year-old-self envisioned.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life didn’t run its course as she planned. When I think of her, graduating at the top of her class, taking the hits of overt sexism, and interviewing with law firm after law firm, it’s hard to think about. She was sidelined, like so many women and people of color, and we lost years of her (and so many others) contributions.

But she kept going. She stayed with her love of the law however she could and eventually was appointed to a position only 113 other people have ever held, becoming one of six people to ever serve on the court who weren’t white men.

I’m pretty sure Ginsburg was set to retire once Clinton was elected president. She was already very old, and her health was turning. Her husband had died, and she had served for more than two decades. But when the election fell out a different way, she just kept going.

I was going to have a lazy day today. I’m tired from more than a week of wildfire smoke, worn down by this pandemic, beyond feeling anything about the current administration, sick at the amount of hatred and willful ignorance displayed by so many, and forever worried about how my health will affect my finances, now and in the future. The best course of action seemed to be to sink into my bed and my couch and let this day pass.

But Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead, and she worked so long against such long odds for so many things that have made my life better, either overtly or tangentially. So I’m going to make my bed and get dressed. What I do today won’t matter much in the world, but it will matter in my life. If I don’t take care of my needs, I can’t do the work I need to do to make a better life for myself and my community. Today is the first day without RBG and it’s another one of the many days in my life where what I do makes a difference.

I thank Ginsburg for her service. And I will do my best to make my own service ongoing.

Trucks. 90% not needed

Reading all of Mr. Money Mustache’s posts has changed me in several ways, but profoundly when looking at what cars Americans choose to drive. And while sometimes Mr. Money Mustache can seem a bit blame-y when it comes to haranguing people about their debt and lifestyle choices, I’m totally there with him re: cars. And I’m completely there regarding trucks.

I love a good truck. When my parents inherited money while I was in my teens they paid off the mortgage and my dad bought a truck. I loved driving it. It was driving stripped down to the basics: standard transmission, rough cloth upholstery. To this day, something about a bench seat still gets me. Trucks are handy for hauling things, and they’re big, without being as asshole-ish as large SUVs.

However, I think in 99% of the cases, they are completely unnecessary. The above three trucks are parked in these spaces every day that I walk this way to work. I’m guessing they belong to the construction workers who are building the big tower down the block. But these trucks aren’t used for construction. They’re used to get the construction workers to their job.

As Mr. Money Mustache points out in this post, the two things to worry about  with vehicles are fuel economy and passenger/cargo space. These two trucks fail on both counts. Assuming the construction workers are driving themselves to work, they could be doing so in a much smaller car, even something as small as a Smart Car. (Which cost a lot of money, now that I’m looking at the price.)

Yes, these construction workers may use their trucks for other things like hauling things on the weekend, or an after-hours job. But they probably do not. Like most cars in the USA, they drive us to work and back home again.

And do these construction workers own these trucks free and clear, with no car loan? Possibly, but not probably. If there’s one thing all the Financial Independence reading has reminded me, it’s that car loans should be avoided at all costs. If the people who drive these cars are paying loans plus interest, that makes them even more inefficient choices.

I don’t currently own a car, though I do pay for the use of one. I take public transportation to work and use it to get me to other places when the car isn’t available. It’s easy to say that I’m lucky–that I’ve got it easy, with a quick commute downtown. Not everybody has that option.

But I would also say that I arranged my life in this fashion. When I last looked for work, I applied for jobs that were close to my house, at least via public transportation. If the job hunt hadn’t turned up anything, I would have expanded my search, but I’ve done the hour-commute-each-way-via-public-transportation thing, and I don’t want to experience that again, if I can help it.

These trucks may make their owners very happy. But they also might be inflicting needless financial pain. At any rate, they aren’t a good choice for the planet. I’d like to see us, as a country, move away from big vehicles.

Essay: On being excited for once-in-a-lifetime expereinces

There’s a total solar eclipse happening soon, I don’t know if you’ve heard.

If you haven’t heard, I guarantee that you do not live anywhere near Portland, Oregon, because right now the eclipse has popped right to the top of general conversation topics, sometimes even outranking discussions of the weather, and the continually perplexing antics of the occupant of the White House.

I’ve backed away from these solar eclipse conversations because a lot of them go like this:

Someone:  So what are you doing for the eclipse?
Me:  I’m excited to go to Salem to watch it, ideally from the park in front of the State Capitol building.
Someone: When are you leaving?
Me: I am committed to getting up as early as I need to, in order to get myself to Salem.
Someone: That’s not going to work.

They don’t always say it straight out.  Sometimes it’s a series of follow up questions, each in a tone that says I’m an idiot for thinking my plan will work. Sometimes they lead with it, as in the phone conversation I had last night where the first thing caller said was, “You don’t think you’re actually going to drive to Salem, do you?”  Sometimes it’s a shake of the head and a doubtful lip purse as I outline my plans.

It’s frustrating.  It’s frustrating especially coming from people who know me, and who should know me well enough that “plans” means “detailed itinerary with many options, including multiple backup plans.”  Those same people who know me should also know that when I’m firmly committed to fun and excitement, that I will find it whether or not those plans will come to pass.

What really bugs me people’s inability to see anything but trouble in my excitement. This has lead to more than one frustrated rant on my part.

“When people tell me they are engaged, do I point out to them that statistically, their impending wedding is likely to be a costly endeavor that will end in divorce?” I said to a friend at lunch the other day.  “No, I do not, I congratulate them, because they are excited, and thus, I will be excited with them.”

I get that not everyone thinks experiencing a total eclipse is super cool. I get that not everyone is excited about the influx of people. I get that there might be terrible traffic, clouds, or any number of unknowns that might get in the way of my path to totality.  But when people tell me they don’t like crowds, do I tell them they should suck it up and wade into the crowds for this amazing experience? I do not, because I accept that they will not enjoy an experience with crowds.  I let them be them.  

They need to let me be me, which means not getting in the way of my excitement.

With that out of the way, here’s the plan:

Route option #1.  Portland to Salem via I-5
Route option #2. Portland to Salem following the same route we did when we rode the Oregon Scenic Bikeway.  It’s all back roads straight to the capitol.
Route option #3.  Portland to Salem via a different bike route to Salem, but this one on the west side.


The radio and internet are important supplies.  I will be monitoring the traffic conditions throughout the weekend.  If I’m hearing reports that absolutely no one is getting through to Salem or anywhere in the path of totality, not via any roads, not even those traveling through the night, well then, we will be experiencing the near-total eclipse from Kenton Park, and I will be happy to have the day off, and greatly enjoy 99% of the super cool experience.  

Note that I don’t count the internet as something that will be available during the navigation to the event, as it is possible that the grid will be at capacity and internet will not be something to be relied on.

Maps.  Big state map of Oregon. Pages of relevant maps of the area copied from maps at the library.

Water.  Several gallons, in case we end up spending the day with no access to water.

Food.  In case there is no food to be had.

Full tank of gas. I’m thinking it’s wisest to not count on getting gas anywhere in the path of totality

Books and games.  Things to do when we are waiting, either in standstill traffic, or at the capitol hanging out before or after the eclipse.

Blankets and pillows.  If we’re leaving at 3 am, 1 am, the day of, or 11 pm or 9 pm the night before,  I’m going to need to nap, and I want to be comfortable during that nap.

Toilet paper. Because you never know when you will need toilet paper.

Eclipse glasses.  No eclipse blindness for us.

Phone chargers.  Even if the grid is at capacity, we don’t want to inadvertently cut ourselves off of potential communication because our phones have died.

The most important thing I’m bringing:

A sense of adventure and a sense of fun.  Because even with all my plans, it might not work out.  I might experience the eclipse from the park seven blocks from my house, or from standstill traffic outside the path of totality.  We might run into all sorts of things not anticipated or thought of that mean that we don’t get the unique opportunity of totality.  But when people ask me, “What did you do for the eclipse?” or “Have you ever seen a total solar eclipse?” I’ll have a story to tell. And it won’t be one of how I got up like I do nearly every Monday and went to work, because the obstacles of getting to the unique experience 60 miles away were too high and it seemed like too much of a pain.

It shouldn’t be a matter of charity

The fatal stabbings on the Max were terrible.  Girls harassed for their appearance, good people dead, a person who was quite possibly mentally incompetent taken into custody. And don’t forget the guy who robbed the dead guy of his wallet, backpack and wedding ring.

Here’s a follow-up story that is ostensibly good news.  The person who stepped in, got stabbed and survived will not have to pay out of pocket injuries incurred while doing the right thing.  But this article mostly makes me mad.

“Fletcher briefly choked up as he told [Legacy CEO Dr. George] Brown how much the waiver meant to him and his family.” I’ll bet it did.

As someone (with insurance that my company pays $485/month) who just paid $2,700 for a diagnostic mammogram, I can imagine just how much the medical care Fletcher received cost.

When I read a report of cost of care being waived, I’m happy for the person who receives this charity.  But the US needs to move to a system where everyone is covered for everything and no one has to worry about if they can afford what they need to live.

Articles like this remind me of the DJ, visiting Portland from elsewhere, who went to sleep at the Jupiter Hotel, and woke up to a cab driving through the wall of his motel, causing horrific injuries.  The cab was driven by a guy who went into a diabetic coma (something that probably would have a good chance of not happening with a functioning healthcare system) and that diabetic coma put a working member of society into our medical system through no fault of his own.  His life was changed forever.  I’m sure the bills on top of that were crushing.

We need to find a way to cover all people.  People who step up in tense situations, people who find automobiles on top of them in their hotel rooms, people who make bad choices and end up with preventable diseases, and people who are just stuck with what they are stuck with due to genetics, chemicals in the environment, what have you. We’re all Americans, and we all deserve care.

Essay: Piano

I wrote this in response to Carrie Mesrobian’s Tiny Letter about her piano experiences. Which I cannot find online.  It came to my mailbox, it doesn’t seem to be in her archive.

I played piano starting in second grade, and quit by fourth. I also hated to practice.  That hatred of practice followed me to other instruments: flute, oboe, saxophone, guitar.

My mother sold our piano when I was in seventh grade.  I hadn’t touched it in years.  My grandmother objected.  “Every house should have a piano,” she said “just in case someone might want to play it.” I was relieved it was gone, then wanted that piano back a few years later, even while avoiding practicing my concert band music.
I started playing again two years ago.  I play about five minutes a day and have made minuscule progress. I play on a keyboard my friend bought for her daughter, before her daughter aged up to a real piano.  It doesn’t have all 88 keys, and the keys it has aren’t weighted.  I want a decent electronic piano (my boyfriend doesn’t think our house is big enough for a real piano) but haven’t saved the money, and am partially worried once I invested any sum of cash I would lose all interest and there the piano would sit, with the guilt rolling off of me when I dusted it.
When I play, I feel connected to that theoretical musician I once was.  I think of an ex-boyfriend, who makes his living as a musician.  I imagine futures when I will find people to blues jam with, or have people over to play and sing.  The piano seems to transport me to the past or the future, with very little progress made in the present.