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Thursday, October 31, 2013


I'm drawn emotionally to damaged characters 
because there is more to unlock.
~ Helena Bonham Carter
- - - - -

I am not sure why people like to be scared.  I don't particularly like it.  I like to be surprised in pleasant ways, but not startled.  I like to experience the unexpected, but not the unwanted.  I like to be caught off guard but not in a hostile way.

I think there is enough real terror in the world that we don't have to add to that through movies or books or other media.  In fact, we could tone that stuff down.  I have some ideas for less scary Halloween movies.

"Frank and Ben Stein"
"The Mummy Returns a Library Book"
"The Good Vampire Who Only Helped People"
"Witch Crafts: Popsicle Sticks, Googly Eyes and Paste"


Don't think any of these films will be good?  Well, you're wrong because Meryl Streep is in three of them and Tom Hanks is in the other one.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo flying
across in front of a beautiful sunset?  And he's carrying a beautiful rose
in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet?
And also, you're drunk.
~ Jack Handey
- - - - -

I love these flamingos.  I have posted several pictures of them.  I think they are hilarious.  I am drawn to them for some strange reason - just as I am drawn to all types of lawn flamingos.  I don't really want them in my yard, but I like seeing them around.

Now, I must admit that if my neighbor put out a pot full of skeleton-flamingos, I would have some concerns.  Why would they put out so many of them?  Why only skeleton flamingos?  What's going on there?

Would I be more or less disturbed if someone put a single skeleton flamingo in my yard?  Less.  If it was just one.  And just happened one time.  I would actually like it.  It would make me laugh.  But if there were a lot, I might wonder what was going on.  Or if it was several over the course of a week, I might be concerned.


Nah.  I wouldn't.  I would be curious as to who left them, but I probably wouldn't be too upset or concerned.  Of course, this is coming from someone who wasn't alarmed about received Barbie parts in the mail over the course of several weeks.  I am not always a good gauge of what ought to be concerning or alarming.

But a single clown...  I'd be addressing that immediately and with vigilance.

"But, Michelle," you might ask, "What about clown skeletons?  What would be your reaction to that?"

To which I would respond, "What is WRONG with you?"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.
You trade in your reality for a role.  You trade in your sense for an act.
You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.
~ Jim Morrison
- - - - -

I like Halloween well enough, I guess.  However, the idea of putting masks over the masks we wear with one another every day borders on the absurd.  Hiding the face that hides our true selves...  Just interesting.  There is something safe about disguise, I guess.  Walls.  Shelter.  Barriers.

When Erik was a little guy he was afraid of the people in masks who came to the door on Halloween.  My parents probably should have reinforced that.  How do you discern, as a toddler that someone wearing a mask of Frankenstein or Dracula or Oscar the Grouch is okay on October 31st but not okay in the middle of June.  Or that someone in a plain ski mask is scarier in a lot of ways than someone in witch makeup?

You know how some masks distort or limit your vision?  They also tend to limit our vision of ourselves.  I think we would be a healthier society if we gave each other the freedom to take off our masks and be our true selves.

I don't want to give people the freedom to take off their outfits / costumes, though.  Just the masks.  I don't need to see most people running around naked.  Or sitting around naked.  Or anything naked.  

Monday, October 28, 2013


I will, from this day strive to forge togetherness out of our differences.
~ Josefa Iloilo
- - - - - 

I think that togetherness is important.  Sometimes I think about the human race and community and the connections between us all.  I think connection requires risk.  I think that we have to show our true selves to be truly together.  

We have to give.  Just like in the days of yore when communities would give time and talent to raise barns for their neighbors, we have to be willing to give. 

But I'm talking about giving even more than that.  We have to show ourselves and be vulnerable with one another.  We have more things in common than we have differences.  But we can't know that unless we share.  Openly.  Honestly.  Frequently.

For example, raise your hand if yesterday you were chased down gravel roads and falsely accused of leaving a cat and litter of kittens in an old barn on private property which was not clearly marked, "No Trespassing."


No one?  Just me?  

Fine.  I guess we won't be togetherness, then. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013


The real world is where the monsters are.
~ Rick Riordan
- - - - -

I was thinking the other day about zombies.  Probably because of the dream I had.  It went like this...

There was a family and they were going to get eaten by zombies, but the boss zombie was protecting them because a storm was coming.  I was hiding on a school bus with someone (I don't know who it was).  The person on the bus with me turned off a light in the bus just as the zombies drove by in an old army Jeep.  The zombies backed the Jeep up slowly and then stormed onto the bus.  

I had an axe - like a big axe firefighters use - but they attacked from the front and back doors of the bus.  I don't think they killed me, but I got knocked out.

Then I saw the family they were holding.  The little girl in the family had some special power, but I don't know what it was.  The zombies didn't either, but they had to wait for the storm to pass before they could eat the family.

Then there were two other people - a little boy and an older boy.  The little boy threw his shoe.  The zombies all sniffed the air and it went flying by (I guess because they like the smell of humans).  But they didn't smell anything.  Then they realized that if the little boy didn't smell like a human, he must be an android!  

The little boy and the older boy locked arms in a sort of mini-huddle and a timer went off because they were going to blow up the center of the zombie stronghold.  Their bomb timers were counting down.  The zombies were confused.  And then I woke up.

But my point is this: you do realize that really old people walk like zombies and mummies and Frankensteins, right?  What do you think about that?!

Be careful.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


There are basically two types of people.  People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things.  The first group is less crowded.
~ Mark Twain
- - - - -
This is a photo of a bunch of minnows in a creek / river in the town where I live.  The water is very low.  All these little fish are living together in a kind of small, shallow area. 
I started thinking about how we are like these minnows.  The world is getting smaller.  We have more access to others from all over.  Whether it is travel or electronic connections or the fact that the population is growing and the earth is not...  We are closer. 
But maybe we aren't.  Maybe the connections are superficial.  So superficial that we don't connect in meaningful ways even to the people about whom we care - families, loved ones, friends, colleagues...  Maybe we are even further apart and less together than we have ever been.
My main point is that I wouldn't want to be a minnow.

Friday, October 25, 2013


I was never more alive than when the Dark Passenger was driving.
~ Jeff Lindsay
- - - - -

Leslie and I seem to talk a lot when one or both of us is driving.  She says that I sound like I'm in a tin can when I talk on the hands-free system in my car.  (pause)  Technically, I suppose that I am in a tin can.  Sometimes her bluetooth acts up and I can't hear her well, either.

We usually figure out our way through it.  Probably because we are both persistent and we are both fascinating to listen to and we both have such interesting things to say.  Well, for me, it might be more the persistent thing than the fascinating and interesting thing.

Anyway, the other day we had this dialogue...

Me:  The reception on this call is really bad.

LL:  It is cloudy here.  Maybe that's it.

Me:  It sounds like you're in a swarm of bees.

LL:  Oh, and also I'm driving through a swarm of bees.


I really like her.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The thing about chameleoning your way through life 
is that it gets to where nothing is real.
~ John Green
- - - - -

I agree with the phrase that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  And I also agree with other ideas related to this - you shouldn't judge people or cars or food or boxes or anything based on what you see at first.

Like the other day when I was in the storage room and saw something labeled "prize box," but it was empty.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Not all who wander are lost.
~ J.R.R. Tolkein
- - - - -

Last weekend I went out for a drive.  I wanted to drive to the Missouri river to see the leaves in their colorful wonderfulness.  Unfortunately, as I drove east, I saw mostly green trees.  So I started driving northwest.  Still...  mostly green trees.  Don't misunderstand me.  I can appreciate a nice green tree.  I can even appreciate a tree with no leaves at all.  I just was expecting something else.

I did see some amazing things on my western Iowa tour, though.  Here is some of what I texted Leslie about my adventure.

Me:  Just saw a red tailed  hawk flying with a snake in its beak!!!

Leslie:  Whoa!!!!

Me:  I know.  And then right after that I saw a herd of buffalo.  And now I'm accidentally in South Dakota.

When I told people at work about my trip, Sara said, "'Not all who wander are lost!'  That's what you should post when you blog about this!"

So, I did.  

However, the truth is that I was lost - more than once - on that trip.

But not all who are lost worry about it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


He, who can not forgive a trespass of malice to his enemy,
has never yet tasted the most sublime enjoyment of love.
~ Johann Kaspar Lavater
- - - - -
I will admit that when I see a "No Trespassing" sign, I usually want to go there.  Wherever I'm not supposed to be.  I want to know why they want to keep me out.  What is there?  What is it that you don't want people to see or step on or fall into?
My completely untested theory is that this might be true for a lot of people.  I wonder if we put up more "No Trespassing" signs on schools if kids might like to go there more.  But then, what are we ACTUALLY teaching them?
Think before you post.  Before you post "No Trespassing" signs.
Also, the kids would probably vandalize the sign by blocking out the letters "No Tresp   ing."  'Cause kids are like that.  And so are adults.

Monday, October 21, 2013


People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -
I think something we often forget as we are going through the world placing quantitative value on things - dollar amounts, scores, ratings, "likes," and such...  That's all about counting.  How much?  How many?  We forget the human element of so many of those things.  The people whose stories we are adding up and reducing to totals and tally marks.  There is more to any score or measurement than a number.
People matter.
And also we sometimes forget that numbers are really, really hard.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


The life I lead is really really awesome. Not in a “I'm saving the world” way. But I get to really focus on art and what trips my trigger. As in sew/computer/tv/food/computer/snack - all in my pajamas.
~ Leslie Hall
- - - - -
I love seeing unusual things.  Sometimes usual things are pretty great, too.  Unusual things are less usual, though.
The other day I was going to visit Kipp and I saw this.  And I thought, "I need to get a photo of that.  It is unusual."  Another thing to add to my list of "brushes with fame."
Just so you know, the other things on that list include meeting Duane and Floppy, seeing Danny Bonaduce in an airport and being bumped into by Nicholas Cage in a Las Vegas gift store.
Yep.  I think that is the complete list.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
~ Albert Einstein
- - - - -
I like the concept of an "optical delusion."  Not so much that I like that they exist, but that someone has acknowledged that they might exist.  Too often we see what we want to see and forget how limited our individual perspectives are.  It's challenging to identify themes and patterns with a sample of one.
We are all connected to one another - whether we want to be or not.  Sometimes the bond is like grasping the hand of a friend or sharing an umbrella.
In other moments it's like wearing a giant "time out t-shirt" with someone you don't really like.

Friday, October 18, 2013


If only one could tell true love from false love as one can tell mushrooms from toadstools.
~ Katherine Mansfield
- - - - -
Well, Katherine Mansfield.  Maybe we can tell them apart just as easily.  But it requires a lot of time and reflection and critique and honesty.  Just like it takes time to look up that these are probably coprinus comatus (Shaggy Inkcap or Shaggy Mane).  It probably took me about four minutes to figure that out.
And most people aren't willing to invest that kind of time in love.  They want to just know or just feel or just fall.  Well, good luck with that. 
You might see this Shaggy Inkcap and thing that it is inedible.  I would have thought that.  I mean, coma is part of the name, right?  Well...  not so fast, my friend.  They are actually mushrooms and edible. 
Does this mean that you should get to know someone before you decide if you love them, yes.  Does it mean I am in love with Shaggy from Scooby Doo?  No.  Not at all.  I'm not really even sure why you would ask that.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
- - - - -
I love seeing signs or things with my friends' names on them.  When I see them, I take pictures and share them with people.  I like this probably because there aren't a lot of things with my last name on them. 
Anyway, the other day I was out driving and I saw this.  So I took a photo of the sign on my phone and sent it to my friend Catrina.  She wrote back, "Love it! :) except I'd NEVER live on a prairie. :)"  To which I responded, "Not even in a little house?"
She has yet to write back to me.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
- - - - -
I love that quote.  And I love those tile portrait things in the photo above.  I took individual photos of those individuals.  I may blog about each one of them.  Not sure yet.  Haven't written the blogs yet.  Haven't decided not to write those blogs yet.
They were fascinating, though.  I will add one or two to this blog.  So you can see them more closely. 
People's stories are the best stories.  I imagine the stories of puppies and trees would be better, but they can't talk to us in the ways that we are used to hearing stories.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.
 ~ Douglas Adams
- - - - -
It is not a surprise that I like rubber ducks.  Don't know why for sure.  I think it is because they represent a sort of playful innocence.  They are not generally dangerous or evil.  I know there are "Devil Duckies" and things like that.  I know a large dog or a small cow could probably choke to death on one.  I know that if you filled one with water, froze it and then threw dropped it on someone's head from 5 or more stories up that you could really hurt that person.
But I like them.  Well, the ones that aren't like the ones I just described.  Those other ones I just described are pretty dangerous.  But rubber ducks don't kill people.  People misusing rubber ducks kill people.  With rubber ducks.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets the more interesting it is. 
The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.
~ David Gerrold
- - - - -

I am befuddled.  And after doing some quick research, I realize that I am also fuddled.

Here is what is so [be]fuddling...  Why is it that some people are drawn to drama?  I have had some people very close to me who are like this.  I don't necessarily dislike those people, but I also don't understand them. 

To be drawn to emotion and hurt and anger and even extreme joy.  That is exhausting to me. 

I like quiet.  I sometimes get embroiled in drama - my own or the drama of others.  But I don't like it.  I like quiet.  Get it?  It is quiet I like.

That said, I know the movies of their lives are going to be much more intriguing than mine.  The movie of my life involves a lot of typing and driving around and taking photos.


I like that movie.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
~ William Blake
- - - - -

I'm not sure I agree with William Blake's comparisons above.  I think the point he is trying to make is that a nest is a place of safety and a home to a bird and a web is the same to a spider and friendship is the same to human beings.

But a nest is a home whereas a web is s trap.  And no one ever trapped someone into a relationship and then tried to keep them there and suck their blood out of them.


William Blake was a vampire.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


(During a trial in which she was accused of indecency on stage.)
Judge: Miss West, are you trying to show contempt for this court?
Mae West: On the contrary, your honor.  I was doin' my best to conceal it.
- - - - -

I love the Supreme Court.  I love the judicial process and the idea of review of law and the meaning-making process.  As in all areas, there are people who hold similar opinions to mine and those who are very different.  But I think that works well for our country.  Most of the time.  When people follow the law as it is outlined.

Sometimes people break the law.  And I know the court system is backed up.  I think it is good to have options for the accused when it comes to the legal process.  Well, I guess they don't actually get to make all the choices - like when they have to go to court.  And I know that can change a lot of times before a hearing actually takes place.

I wouldn't want to be responsible for scheduling hearings and stuff.  That isn't my strength.  It would be interesting to know how that works, though.  And how are decisions made about what goes to court when?

Court is like a battle over the ball of justice.  Each side taking its turn and making as many points as possible in order to win.  It's almost like a sport of some kind.


And the above is a different kind of night court.

Friday, October 11, 2013


A good companion shortens the longest road.
~ Turkish Proverb
- - - - -

I really like spending time with Leslie.  She is always giving me new things to think about or sharing amusing anecdotes.  She has lots of interesting stories.  She thinks creatively and tells me about her ideas.  We go on adventures and learn lots of things on our travels.  She is fascinating and I really like her.

It's okay to be quiet, too, though.  To be reflective and just enjoy the scenery or explore our own thoughts.  So sometimes we don't talk because sometimes she's on her phone.  And I'm supposed to be quiet then.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Not all readers become leaders, but all leaders must be readers.
~ Harry Truman
- - - - -

Leslie and I recently went to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library.  I learned a lot of things there.  One was that Truman was the person who came up with the idea of a presidential library.  Before that, people would often sell off presidential papers and other items.  I learned that President Truman walked to work at his library pretty much every day.  I learned that he lied about his eyesight to get into the military.  I learned the S. in Harry S. Truman was made up.

I think the best way to learn about a person, though - if the person isn't available - is through his or her words and the life he or she led.

In addition to the quote above, I learned a lot about Harry Truman - and about life - from this other quote of his, "Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Never mistake motion for action.
~ Ernest Hemingway
- - - - -

I really like the above quote.  There are lots of people in motion without really taking action.

Similarly, though, don't mistake stillness for inaction.  Sometimes being still is the most powerful action a person can make.

And don't mistake someone sitting on a swing as someone in motion, because they might not be swinging, they might just be sitting there.  And don't mistake them for someone not in motion because they could decide to swing right as you're walking behind them and you could chip a tooth.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I believe that dreams transport us through the underside of our days, and that if we wish to become acquainted with the dark side of what we are, the signposts are there, waiting for us to translate them.
~ Gail Godwin
- - - - -

I used to think that it would be great if you could drive on a street in one town and then be magically transported to that same street in another town.  For example, you could be driving on fourth street in Ames, IA and then - if you wanted - you could be driving instead on fourth street in Davis, CA or Pittsburgh, PA.  And it wouldn't just work in states that ended with an A.  You could also go to fourth street in South Portland, ME.  And it wouldn't just work for states that ended with vowels.  Or states in the continental U.S.  Or on "fourth street."  It would be any street.

It was all pretty simple when I used to think it.

Maybe life has just gotten more complex since then.

Or maybe it's you.  Maybe you are just teasing me or trying to be difficult.


Yes.  It's probably you.

Monday, October 7, 2013


I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
L. M. Montgomery

- - - - -

I love fall.  I LOVE IT!  Seriously, I really, really love it.  October maybe is my favorite month.  I like the way things smell and look and feel.  I like the weather.  I like the stuff going on in the fall.  I love it.

It is interesting because there is so much going on in the autumn.  Students have returned to school and are learning - in and out of the classrooms.  So it is a time of beginnings.  The harvest happens.  So it is a time of endings.  We change our clocks back an hour.  So it is a time of gains.  Leaves fall off the trees so it is a time of loss.  Squirrels stash nuts and other animals get ready for winter.  It is a time of preparation.  We carve pumpkins and dress up for Halloween.  It is a time of presentation.

Fall is a lot of times.  Mostly good times, if you ask me.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Be pleasant until ten o'clock in the morning 
and the rest of the day will take care of itself.
~ Elbert Hubbard
- - - - -

I completely agree with the quote above.  I think that is such a great philosophy.  Unfortunately, I cannot abide by it.  It's not that I don't want, too.  It's not even that I don't try.  I just don't like to engage in small talk in the mornings.  I'm not good at it.  I haven't warmed up, yet.

I have found that it is best for me to either go off by myself OR to close my door at work in the mornings sometimes.  It's best for me and best for others.  I do immensely appreciate the fact that my colleagues engage in morning chit-chat and small talk and kindnesses to one another.  I just am kind of sucky at it.

There are exceptions.  There are days I wake up ready to talk and listen and laugh.  It's not that I'm usually cranky in the mornings, I just need quiet time to get going.  Truth be told, I am happy most every morning when I wake up.  I'm just not ready to spread happiness to others.  

On the weekends, when I'm often by myself in the morning that works out just fine.  I respect my own need for quiet and don't even talk to myself until later in the day.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.
~ Steven Wright
- - - - -

Not too long ago I was fishing.  I found a pretty good spot - well, a good spot to sit, I don't think I actually caught anything that day.  Anyway, I was fishing and enjoying the weather and watching a turtle on a log.  Then I looked up and saw this tree.  I saw one bobber hanging from a tree and it made me chuckle.  Then I saw another and another and another.

Can you find all four bobbers hidden in this picture?

It was kind of like living in a Highlights for Children magazine.  Which, to be honest, is not the magazine I ever imagined myself living in.  I would rather live in Architectural Digest.  Or Dwell.  Or The Oxford American.

But I think living in Highlights for Children is probably better than living in a lot of other magazines.  For me, personally, living in Modern Cat or Practical Reptile Keeping would not be all that enjoyable.  Nor would living in Vegetarian Times, Teddy Bear Review, Doll Advertiser, International Figure Skating, or J-14 be pleasant for me.

And, yes, I did learn about a lot of magazines writing this post.  More, truth be told, than maybe I would have liked to know.  And, yes, I might be inclined to go to a movie about a person who got trapped in different magazines.  Especially if Meryl Streep was in it.  (pause)  Though I doubt she'd make that movie.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Look within.  Within is the fountain of good and 
it will ever bubble up if thou wilt ever dig.
~ Marcus Aurelius
- - - - -

I do think that most people are good and that we are good by nature.  I think that it is easy to be mad or sad or bad and more challenging to be glad.  But it is worth the effort.

I also think most fountains are good.  I really like fountains in public spaces where little kids can play in the water during the summer.  Kids love fountains.  Even though, as my mother would say, "You can't love inanimate objects."

Nice, Mom.  Way to ruin the kids' fun playing in the fountain.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


If it looks like a duck, it's a duck.
~ Sara Kellogg
- - - - -
I like working with Sara.  She doesn't think she's funny, but she is.  She makes observations and sees things in ways that most of the rest of us do not.  She can be very serious and focused, but also does not take herself too seriously.  I really appreciate that.
Most importantly, though, she thinks I'M funny.  That is one of the things I like most about her sense of humor.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


At the center of your being you have the answer; 
you know who you are and you know what you want.
~ Lao Tzu
- - - - -

Most of the time we are so caught up in the doing of the moment that we miss out on the knowing and the being of our true selves.  We don't slow down.  We don't disconnect from electronic and other distractions.  We don't prioritize time for ourselves to think and reflect or even just to sit and be quiet somewhere.  We console ourselves with noise because then we don't have to do the hard work of becoming the people we are meant to be.

And then there are moments when we do sit and quietly reflect or read or watch or breathe.  When we let our minds go where they want.  When we see a deer or a hummingbird or a flower or a dragonfly.  When we appreciate that we are a part of something, but just a part.  But a very important part.

But we can't stay there forever.  It's not practical.  Eventually, someone is going to say, "Are you paying attention?!" in that meeting.  And then it's all wrecked.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.
~ Calvin Coolidge
- - - - -
I believe that if you want opportunities - they are there for you.  You have to work hard and they might not come along exactly as you pictured them.  For example, you might want a baseball career and by circumstance that might mean that you coach a little kids' t-ball team instead of playing pro ball.  You might want to be a famous thespian and you do community theater.  Or a rock star and you start your own band.  You might want to be President of the United States and you end up serving as president of something else.
For example, I'm not President of the United States.  I was, however, President of Snoopy's #1 Fan Club.  Well, I was co-president.  And there were no members besides me and the other co-president.  But that's okay?  You see, I didn't ever want to be President of the United States.  I wanted to be on the Supreme Court.
And now I work in Judicial Affairs.