Category Archives: Uncategorized

Remembrance in the 1920s Newspaper.

While my mind is still musing on the modern-day obits section of the newspaper, here are two obituaries from my Ohio side of the family. James A Graham (1855-1925) and Viola Alice (Allie) Kelly (1858-1923) are my great, great grandparents. They lived in Adams County, Ohio at the end of both of their lives.

The obits are actually pretty diverse. James’ spends a good deal of time detailing his last day of life, while Allie’s focuses primarily on her virtuousness. Could it be gender at play, or diversity in obit author styles?

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Obituaries for James A Graham (1855-1925) and Viola Alice (Allie) Kelly (1858-1923)


Trying something new by sticking to the old.

You can imbue all sorts of meaning into “Illuminated Past” as the title of a blog.

From time to time I’ve considered turning this into a more structured endeavor (see post here), but ultimately that starts to feel a little too much like work, and this is my playpen, not my paycheck. I threw a few categories up over the blog header so anyone wandering through and taking a gander can choose their poison (genealogists may be less interested in my rantings about TV and those who want to read self-absorbed posts about existence and identity might not have the faintest interest in my old dead family members – and then it’s all out there for those interested in reading general mental bric-a-brac).

This has pretty much been my lifelong writing/journaling strategy – write what I feel like when I feel like it.  I’ve hesitated to publicly claim my blog writing as I worry my slightly liberal leaning tendencies and/or rampant honesty might offend any potential future employers located in more conservative areas of the globe.

And as a human being my opinions are all subject to change over time. A post from 2010 might not accurately reflect my current 2014 attitudes.  You can learn and grow a lot in four years, but that old post will still be floating around the internet.  If someone lands on my 2010 post and reads it without noting the date they might judge my current self based on that.  I mean, it’s still me, but a younger less wise me (which is why my 10+ year old livejournal is all privacy blocked these days – I am no longer my 16 year old self, but it’s linked to my name and maybe someone would find my immature gushing over Legolas as a reason to not give me a job or be my adult friend?  I don’t know.  The world is full of judgy-mc-judgersons.).

On a personal level I’m proud to be myself at any age, but on a professional level I worry that written youthful folly might deter future potential job offers.  It’s silly really.  I’m a professional person at work and I don’t let any personal biases or opinions color the quality of what I do.  In this brave new internet era all I want is to continue to be myself in the online public in the same way I am myself in realtimes public, so I’m claiming Illuminated Past as my own.

It’s a space where I ask questions, where I muse about things, where I share stuff, and ultimately a place where I grow. (hearts and stars and rainbows sapfest time)  It’s all interests and all sides of me.  If you want to tag along put on your sweatpants and hop in – it’s like you’ve entered my living room and we’re gonna have a nice long chat over a cold beer.  Otherwise, ignore this and go find my LinkedIn profile or professional social media work and judge me as a workperson.  In this space, I’ve got my stretchpants on, Netflix is queued up, and I hear there’s a Dominos pizza on it’s way over.  Hope you like the Pacific Veggie.

LA in Museums

Current local exhibits about Los Angeles:

Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990, Getty, now through July 21, 2013

Becoming Los Angeles, LA County Natural History Museum, July 2013-permanent gallery?

Jews In The Los Angeles Mosaic, Autry National Center, now through January 5, 2014

Los Angeles has a rich history and it’s about time local museums started paying more attention to its value.  Maybe I was snoozing and missed some awesome and important LA history exhibits over the past decade, but to be honest, I can’t remember hearing much buzz about any exhibits on the city’s history, and now there are currently three exhibits at three different museums that tell stories about the city from various perspectives.

The Getty’s recent spearheading of the citywide Pacific Standard Time project was important and impressive, but it focused on art in a particular time period of Los Angeles and not on a historical interpretation of LA.  You could get nitpicky and argue about the intersections of art and history (and I would probably agree with a lot of your points), but I still think “history” is a bigger container in which “art” sits (and “art” sometimes seeps out through holes in the “history” container, but hey.)

I’m going to try to hit up all these exhibits before they close.  I’ll be curious to see how their interpretations collide/intersect/are completely alienated from one another.

P.S. If you don’t already know who I am, I feel compelled to point out that I work at one of the above institutions, so there is probably some bias of some sort floating around in my subconscious.  People seem to disclaimer these sorts of things on blogs, so baa baa baa I am jumping in on that too.


I have an on-again-off-again relationship with coffee.  So far 2013 has been a weekday morning love affair with coffee, with weekends spent apart.

I had some business things to attend to after work today and felt tired before 5pm even rolled around,  so I broke from my recent caffeine only in the morning pattern and drank a Monster.  It’s not something I buy and I don’t think I’d even had one before.  I got it for free when I ran the OC half marathon the other week.  It definitely helped me focus on the task at hand, BUT HOLY CRAP I AM SO WIDE AWAKE NOW.  I probably should’ve just drank half.  Oops.

Hello Thursday morning!  (where did Wednesday evening go?)

The Monster also left a funny aftertaste – I’m not a fan.  Back in the day when I was pulling long hours for grad school or driving long distances my poison of choice was a Starbucks double shot.  Mmmm.  Those things actually taste good at least.  Monster just tastes like liquid chemical.

Tomorrow’s gonna hurt.  I’m gonna have to bust out the uber motivational tunes for all that data entry/descriptive work I have to do on the archives I’m working on.

Why write? Why not?

I have to admit, I’m kind of disgusted with myself for ending a blog post with “Next up: running nutrition!  I’m doing a little research and crafting a meal game plan that I’ll share in another post.”  I apologize, not to any imaginary readers, so much as I apologize to myself.

I’m still running, running is awesome.  I sorta eat better, except for the pizza I wolfed down yesterday and today.  I’d be a(n anorexic) twig if I just stopped eating cheese, bread, and beer.  So tasty.

Two comments from people this past weekend fueled my desire to post here again.  I went on a 10 mile run with my half marathon buddy.  She admitted she builds her dream house as she runs, and I admitted I write blog posts as I run.  Blog posts that will never see the light of day, but that are bounced around in my head until they have very specific points to make.  My friend asked why I never recorded my brain blogs (<—- my phrase)?

I don’t know.  Half the time I’m so high off running endorphins that I forget everything I was dreaming up as I ran.  It’s a blur of lower minutes per mile averages, people (and butterfly!) watching, and parsing out that day’s weather.

Then, at a birthday BBQ on Saturday evening somehow I got to talking about how I’ve tried writing fiction several times over the past year, but my writing engine only turns over and never catches.  The people there were very encouraging about JUST FUCKING DO IT ALREADY.  But you know, without the f-bomb and without the caps.  My brain added those parts.

So far I’ve started a Western themed zombie story, a fantasy yarn about a woman with magical ocean powers, a mystical tale about death and people interred in mountains, and then there was the one about self-centered indulgences set amidst a post-apocalyptic world.

So, I have something about death (zombies, dead people buried in mountains, post-apocalyptic world).  My protagonists are mostly female (except for the Western zombie story, which was going to be multiple perspective).

I even downloaded a local wiki program to start building a fantasy world for the ocean powers/connected to water story.  I don’t even like the ocean that much.  It’s pretty to look at, but I prefer forests.

Then there are also maybe half a dozen documents with a few paragraphs or a few lines.  One quirky handful of paragraphs about a woman becoming involved in her uncle’s mysterious train station death is alllllllmost long enough to be on the story attempt list.

The only writing I’ve done in the past few years that I’ve actually liked is some short stream of consciousness diarrhea and poetry.  I sort of like my post-apocalyptic story, but that’s because I really needed to get that one out of my system when I wrote it.  And now I’m good.

Most of all, my urge to write again is being fueled by the intermittent melancholia of loneliness, and a realization that since I stopped writing lengthy research papers writing has slowly become more and more difficult.  I hate that thought even more than the thought of writing terrible stories with no middle or ending.  So I’ll keep turning the engine over and maybe something will catch.

Vroom.  Vroom.

Long Distance Relationship Club.

When I read blogs, regardless of their topic, I’m always curious about the personal life of the writer.  What kind of day job do they have?  How do they make their relationships work (significant other, friends, and family all included)?  Blogs often paint a picture of exciting, creative lives, and as I take it all in I always wonder, how the heck do you manage your life emotionally and financially to make all this work?  I don’t live a sparkly blog life, but I do live a real life, and so I’ll share the work-in-progress/figuring life out bit, as opposed to the polished everything-is-naturally-awesome bit.  Bloggers often make disclaimers that their lives aren’t so perfect, but it’s really hard to connect with that when their blogs are so shiny and their imperfections imperceptible.

So with that mission in mind:  Recently the bf and I joined the Long Distance Relationship Club.  He moved to Austin, TX for an awesome job in the video game industry, and I’m still out in Los Angeles, CA working my awesome job in the archives/museum world.  We are still very much together, but we’re both early on in our careers and need to take any opportunities to gain new experiences and grow in our professions.  This is the path we’re following for the time being.

One of my teammates at Wednesday night trivia is an experienced member of the Long Distance Relationship Club.  I asked him for advice on how he and his girlfriend make it work.  He said that he had one word for me: communication.

I’d say that so far Mr. H and I have the communication bases covered.  We’re big on texting, talking on the phone (which I generally hate, but here is an exception), and as soon as Mr. H has internet we’ll jump on board Skype.  Not too tough.

But trivia teammate then also mentioned that his girlfriend flies out to visit every two weeks or so.  EVERY TWO WEEKS?!  I’m plotting my first visit to Austin and anticipate heading out there maybe twice a year?  If I was more of a baller you’d bet I’d be flying out more often, but I’m small time peanuts.  So this small time peanutter is going to have a slightly different long distance relationship.

I still think if we want it to work we’ll find a way to make it work.  And I’m super looking forward to visiting him in Austin.  I’ve been there twice and already know I really like the place.

Looming Deadlines? Zoo Time.

I’m a lucky duck and can get into the LA Zoo for free since I work across the street.  Yesterday was sort of a rough-impending-deadline day, so I decided that the perfect stress release was a stroll around the zoo in the warm sun to say hey to the animals.

When I go to the zoo at lunch I almost always take a peek at the meerkats and the koalas and wallabies.  They’re all near the front of the park and fit into that small and fuzzy animal category that I appreciate (To give you some perspective, squirrels are one of my favorite animals.  Sure, they can be awfully pesky, but they are mostly awfully adorable to me).

The koalas are always sleeping in the afternoon, but they’re still fun to aww www at.  I spotted two in the trees, including this fuzzy guy (or gal).

Koala at the LA Zoo

Koala at the LA Zoo

Below the koalas the wallabies hang out in the enclosure’s floor space.  While I was checking them out a squirrel jumped into the enclosure and zig-zagged across it, heading straight for the wallaby food bowl.  The squirrel jumped right in and started chowing down.  The two wallabies nearby didn’t seem to care.  I found it amusing that I was there to see koalas and wallabies and ended up spending more time watching the squirrel.

Squirrel is in the food bowl, but the wallaby in the background could care less.  (Are wallabies related to honey badgers?)

Squirrel is in the food bowl, but the wallaby in the background could care less. (Are wallabies related to honey badgers?)

Also, this meerkat says hi:



There are probably some complex pro and con arguments that can be made about zoos, but I was just happy to catch some Vitamin D from the sun and get out of my cubical enclosure across the street.




So much for this being about my professional life.

1. Studying for Archival Certification exam.  Drank a beer and then dropped (too much) money on books (the beer softened the financial blow) for book order part one (it’s like being in college, except you don’t get student loans, instead you are simultaneous trying to pay the undergrad and grad loans back while becoming an employable professional, hah, oh life). I already have a handful of books from grad school and there are a few places around town where I can read the older ones, but nearby libraries don’t have the newer archival books – too expensive and specialized I guess?

2. Nothing makes me feel more feminist than insurance companies and the way they handle birth control in the U.S.  I’ve had four different health insurance companies over the past three years (both PPO and HMO) and none of these companies will let me pick up more than one month’s worth of birth control at a time, even if the doctor’s prescription specifies 3 pack pick up at a time.  Ridiculous.  What am I going to do, OD on hormones?  Give them out to teenage girls with disapproving parents?  All it does is cause me extra hassle and trips to the pharmacy for the same exact number of pills I would get whether or not I picked them up every month or every three months.

My friend who recently returned from studying and living in Germany for two years told her German doctor that she would be without health insurance for a few months once she got back to the U.S.  The doctor prescribed a year’s worth of birth control (like in the U.S.), and then my friend went to the pharmacy and picked up the year’s worth of birth control (not like in the U.S.).  Why can’t it be that simple here?

3. Game of Thrones is over for another season, sigh. But True Blood is coming back next week, hooray!

4. I’ve decided to write a fictional horror western story.  I have some ideas floating around, should be fun.

5. I’m going to Oklahoma and Texas in a few weeks for family time vacation.  I can’t wait for these next weeks to go by.

6. I feel like I’m treading water at work, treading in a sea of newspaper clippings.  I never thought I’d look forward to rehousing sheet music, but I sure am!

7. I’ve become addicted to a 2.5 mile loop at Griffith Park and the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook stairs by Culver City

8. Visited Amir’s Garden in Griffith Park last weekend.  It was lovely!  Sadly I hiked up without a camera.

This is the only recent picture I’ve taken:


Mr. H made Aloo Gobi from scratch lastlast weekend. It was delicious! This weekend I made blackened chicken again and a chopped salad, but didn’t take pictures. Tonight I discovered how simple it is to jazz up couscous from the bulk bins instead of buying the boxed stuff with the powder flavorings. Winwinwin.

Random Recent Happenings

Lately I have:

Dug into my Mom’s genealogy

Geared up for the return of True Blood!


Family time with boyfriend’s family

Various and sundry adventures and relaxations

Here is some photographic evidence:

Penne pasta with ricotta, almost-carmelized-onions, swiss chard, & mushrooms – topped with parmesean and popped in the broiler.

A not-very-appealing picture of the chicken I made the same night as the pasta – blackened chicken, made with a rub, a jump in a cast iron skillet, and then baking in the oven (though it sort of looks like a chicken was struck by a lightning bolt and then died on the spot – meat is still a wishy washy thing for me, though I can manage to cook raw chicken without feeling ill, so that’s something!)

Beer at one of my favorite places – and the beginnings of a genealogy chart for Mr. H (talk about perfect evening, haha!)

A gallery of items from the past that reflect old interpretations of the future. This is me through a 1980s videophone. The evening was made more exciting by unlimited free cocktails and appetizers (!).

This is me nerding out at the film location Melody Ranch. I went to the Cowboy Festival thanks to a lovely volunteer at work who had tickets to the Fest that she couldn’t use. This is the staircase that the character Nathan from the TV show version of The Magnificent Seven walked on to get to his Dr. office. I loved that show back in the day and still have a soft spot for it.

I’ve started running outside again and it is absolutely the best feeling ever! Now when I don’t run for too many consecutive days my body gets cravings for the exercise. It’s a good feeling to have.

I’m still getting around to taking apartment pictures.  I’ve done a lot of updates/rearranging since I first moved in so I’ll have to do some before and afters.

Mostly tonight I’m really happy to hear that my brother made it back from Afghanistan ok, and is now back in the states!  I think I’ve been nervously holding my breath since he left a year ago, so I’m so very glad to have him back on U.S. soil and out of a volatile area in the Middle East.