Friday, December 31, 2004

Welcoming 2005...

...with a good night's sleep. I think, rather than stay up to see the old year out, I'll hit the hay early. I've been driving most of the day, it feels like--two hours to my grandparents' house in middle GA, then back after midafternoon coffee. Then out on an unexpected evening jaunt with my mother and brother, which put the kibosh on my plans to attend the church's watch night service at seven, or the singles get-together that was planned afterwards. But I'll see the friend with whom I was planning to hang out tonight when she comes over tomorrow. Much safer than me being on the road now, what with all the bottle rockets, squibs and firecrackers being set off (and yes, they are illegal in GA, but it's one of those unenforcible laws).

I think I'll make a resolution this year! If I finish all my classwork successfully by the end of June, I'm going to buy myself a ring. A diamond ring. A solitaire. I know precisely the one I want at the jewelers where I used to work. It fits me perfectly. A thin carved yellow gold band, with a rectangular prong-set diamond, about 3/4 of a carat (or a bit more). It's not princess cut, nor emerald cut--the stone really is rectangular. And firey as all get-out. It's so lovely--and this from me, who really prefers channel-set rings! Of course, someone may have bought it--it arrived at the store two years ago, and since many of their pieces are handmade, I doubt there's another one like it. But if it's still there, and I've satisfied my own requirement, I shall get it. I would love to have a wonderful guy present it to me on bended knee...but we know how bloody likely that is to happen (if you'll pardon the language, and understanding that Divine Providence does not operate by probability tables). So, I shall [odds are] have to do it for myself! And maybe I'll take myself out to a nice dinner, too! Buying myself roses, though, might be going overboard. :-)

Have a wonderful, blessed 2005. To God Alone be Glory.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Shock and Paws

Disturbing discovery thanks to a random "met a person from church" chat of the children I used to babysit for is engaged. Well, he's an adult now, and employed as an assistant pastor of a small church up near Charlotte, NC, no less, but this is still a bit much. I mean, am I really that superannuated, that a child I was paid three bucks an hour to make grilled cheese for while his mother was out is old enough not only to be finished with college, and seminary, but to get married!?

Catnip is pot for cats. My father persuaded Mums they should go to the pet store Monday night and get Data toys. One of the things they picked out was a catnip mouse, which Data promptly went nuts over, chewing, rubbing his face on it. His eyes got all dilated and he obviously started seeing pink elephants or something when he was completely spaced out. Whether it had the marajuana effect of giving him the munchies we couldn't tell, because he ALWAYS has the munchies. My father, pushing drugs on an impressionable kitty. Oh, and he got Data a new bag of treats, too. The cat is definitely not going to want to leave when my brother and sister-in-law get back from Ireland.

On a much more serious note, I recommend MAP International, a Christian medical aid society, as a good vehicle for your donations to help the folks in south Asia affected by the tsunami. I think their website is, but you can double-check using Google.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Christmas Summary

Our "loaner" cat, Data, is mewed and mewing in the laundry room, where we're penning him every night at bedtime--last person downstairs has to "put up the cat." My brother and his wife (as of last Tuesday) are leaving him here to be cared for until they return from Ireland the second week in January. My father is besotted with Data--he coos at it, tells it what a good kitty it is, and so forth. It is very furry, very soft, with a tail like a raccoon's, and it purrs violently every time it is petted or stroked. It's a very sweet and potentially very porky little beast. It eats like a horse. But it meows so pitifully when its bowl is empty that my mother succumbs and gives it "just a little bit" more, which it wolfs down immediately. It's going to be wider than it is tall. My brother has been calling every night to make sure that his "baby" is alright. And, my other brother suggests, to make sure we haven't turned Data into a mitten. A VERY VERY LARGE mitten.

Christmas was wonderful. No presents were exchanged. Since we didn't have a tree, or even a wreath on the front door, this was par for the course, really. Last year our only decoration was a tinfoil star my brother made and put on top of a clear plastic rod and stuck in the middle of a large potted plant. This year we didn't even make that effort. I woke up at 1:30 PM, and then at around 5 PM we four members of the family who are actually in town (the newly-married brother and the married-since-June sister spent the holiday at their respective in-laws') drove over to the house of some old friends, where we ate a huge meal with them and another family. The more the merrier, I say. I much prefer this "method" of Christmas celebration to others. The first year we didn't exchange presents it was a bit hard, but since Mums and Daddy have decided to go the "large annual check route" I think everyone's more than happy with the change (pun inadvertent). I still like opening packages, though--hence an explanation for my eBay addiction.

Friday night we went to a carol service at my parent's little PCA church, which was fun, despite somebody's idea of passing out unlit candles to the congregation (including small children), which were then to light said candles from the advent wreath in front of the pulpit. I was convinced some of the smaller people--especially those whose mothers were on the worship team and hence not within grabbing distance, whose fathers were standing next to them obliviously--were going to set themselves and their chairs on fire. Happily, this did not happen, although there were several near misses. The pastor's homily was good--he's not what you'd call a great speaker, but a solid one--you know, of the Paulinian type, not out to win people with "wise and pursuasive words" but with the Spirit and with power.

I still haven't finished my papers. Aack!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Have driven all the way down to GA, despite three papers hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles. Stopped off in NC last night, but so late that I didn't even get to see my dear hostess, as she was already in bed when I got into town, and at work when I emerged from slumber and returned to the road. Hope to retify this, and make up for my not getting to see DC friends, in 2005. Am deeply grateful to all of you--for the cards, the CDs (hooray, now I have something good to listen to on the 10 hour trip back!!), and the telephone calls. Hopefully, I'll be much less brain dead in the next couple of days and able to call you!

Blessings on your Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

To Russia with Love

I slept the latter half of the afternoon away on a butter-soft leather couch in the sixth-floor lobby outside the history department. Most of the undergraduates having left for the holidays, foot-traffic was low, and the only continuous noise was swish of wind through the three elevator shafts which service the front of the building.

When I woke up and returned my shoes and glasses to their accustomed positions, it was dark outside, and my computer, purse and so forth were still undisturbed in the conference room where I'd locked them. A middle-aged, querulous-voiced fellow history student named Renee offered to fix me a cup of tea, and minutes after I'd transfered myself and my baggage into the department I was sipping on a steaming mug and thinking about how to tackle my Russian Literature term paper.

Then Ben appeared.

"I thought you were in Russia."

"I'm leaving tomorrow," he explained. [He'll spend Christmas there with his wife. She doesn't have a US green card yet, and she's finishing up the equivalent of our MA degree, but they hope she'll be able to come over in the next few months.]

He noticed a half-covered bowl of flatbread on a coffee table: "Boy, am I hungry!"

Renee volunteered that there was lots more food in the refrigerator, leftovers from the departmental Christmas party on Thursday.

There was wine, too. Nine whole bottles of it.

A search was launched for a corkscrew.

No luck.

I darted to the front of the department and was contemplating rummaging in the secretary's desk when I noticed a passerby in the hall outside, whom I accosted: "Excuse me, miss, this may sound odd, but do you have a pocket knife?"

She looked startled.

I elaborated. "We need a corkscrew."

"I think there's one in the government department cabinet," she said, keying open a nearby office. Twenty seconds later, I was in possession of the appropriate implement.

Ben opened a bottle, and poured four full glasses. He disappeared momentarily to present one to the girl who'd lent us the corkscrew.

We toasted in Russian. "Za zdarovie."

"Not na zdarovie?"

"It's not good for you," Ben explained, gesturing with his cup. "The 'na' means 'for,' the 'za' 'to.' People always confuse them."

"Sounds like a good way to catch spies."

This sent him off into memories of Russian jokes, including one about an American spy named "Number 3" and 2 vodka drinkers, and another about a hedgehog swimming through a field of cannabis. Bizarrely funny.

I poured half my chardonnay into Ben's cup--I needed to get work done. But if they'd wait an hour or so for me to finish a draft of my paper, I'd take them home. Cheerful assent.

When the second bottle was produced, the government girl was long gone, and the corkscrew thus inaccessible. Though it had therefore to be opened less elegantly--with the stopper being pushed in rather than pulled out--this did not affect its charms. Ben started to sing snatches from "An American Tail" ("There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese..."), Renee to rant shrilly about sexism and to prophecy that "we would have slavery in the U.S. within the next fifty years." I printed out my paper.

When the three of us emerged at midnight, it was bitterly cold outside. My little jacket didn't adequately compensate for my short-sleeved sweater, and as I shivered across Red Square uncomfortable memories returned of last week: bicycling home across the Key Bridge wearing a knee-length skirt and no hose. Brrr.

"It's just like Russia!" caroled Ben.

A little snow eddied on the bricks, and stiff gusts of wind froze us before we got to the car. But the streets were clear, and within a few minutes I'd gotten everyone safely to his or her house. Thank God for functional heat pumps. And for tea. How would I achieve coherent sobriety without it?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

An Un-Googlable Ex-Sweetie

It's compulsive, yes, but I'm in good company--for weeks after they broke up, Marianne kept checking the email of her ex-boyfriend (he's never bothered to change his password, which he'd told her, so she figured she was in the clear, ethics-wise), just to see what he was up to--and I haven't done this in years, literally...but I Googled my grad-school ex-boyfriend this evening.

It was highly frustrating.

You see, I dumped him (and have never regreted this, although I do wish I had been able to do so more painlessly), and not more than two years later (after spending a Fulbright year abroad doing research for his dissertation) he married a very sweet, bright girl who'd been in one of my classes.

I wasn't bummed by this--she loved him, I didn't.

But I do wish that he and I could have remained friends--he was a doctoral student in a similar field, and one of the most intelligent, and kind, people I have ever known. And if you know anything about doctoral students, or anyone in the upper echelons of academia, you know that kindness coupled with brains is not common.

I searched for him tonight because I wanted to see if I could find out whether he and his wife had any children yet--they've been married five years, which is a reasonable time in which to begin a family. They were both working at a small college in Georgia the last I heard. But tonight I found him teaching at an equally small school in New York state! He hated cold weather when I knew him. No mention of either spouse or offspring on his faculty page. Hope that all is well. I certainly shall not email him directly to ask!

Speaking of kindness, I need to think up something nice to do for my professors this term--they've been incredibly sweet and patient. Even Silverman, with whom I had a tremendous argument about Creationism v. Evolution the other day. We always battle it out on the big subjects, he and I.

Un Autre Livre Superb

Several years ago, British actor Peter O'Toole was awarded a special Oscar, in honor of his many fine cinematic performances. At the ceremony, he stepped neatly onto the stage from the wings, and walked carefully to the center front as if he were made of thinnest crystal, and a false move might shatter him completely. Then he spoke, in thanks, for not more than four minutes, a beautiful, cleverly-worded soliloquy which soared far above any of the scripted or unscripted dialogue produced by his fellow actors and actresses during the evening. I was enchanted. Physically, the man has not aged well--a lifetime of cigarettes and gin has mottled his skin and stretched it in odd places, so that he now reminds one more of a weatherbeaten scarecrow than a Brooks-Brothers-clad suitor for the hand of an Audrey Hepburn character. But mentally, skillfully, he was and is at the peak of his powers.

As O'Toole turned, and "toddled" (his words) back into the darkness of the wings, I decided that I must find whether he'd published anything--I was sure it would be worth reading. And last night, I finished Loitering With Intent: The Child, the first volume of his memoirs. The time was entirely well spent--both his in writing it, and mine in reading it. If you like John Dos Passos, Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, theology, gambling and/or histories of World War II, I recommend purchasing a copy. You shan't regret it.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Shame of Slavery

It’s midnight. I’m going to bed soon, although I have not yet finished the paper I had said I would have done by today. A regular schedule must be resumed, or my brain will dissolve completely.

I am so ashamed of complaining in the last entry. Here I am, a member of the tiny stratum of the most educated people on the planet, wailing that I haven’t had enough sleep, while most of the rest of the world toils dawn to dusk to get enough food to eat, not able even to think about the possibility of enjoying literature, traveling abroad, or participating in other pleasant intellectual activities.

Two books I’ve read since Wednesday afternoon have been particularly useful in the condemnation of my unwarranted selfishness and the imposition of appropriate humility: the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, and Slave, by Mende Nazer (co-written by Damien Lewis). I encourage folks to read both Douglass and Nazer. Douglass expresses himself with a facility far above most of us—the man was impressive not just for what he endured as an American slave, and the effort he poured into bettering his own lot and that of others, but also the tremendous energy he expended in self-education. We should all be so inexhaustible in working to use our God-given talents and in demanding that all people be allowed to enjoy their God-given human rights.

Douglass is an intellectual treat as well as a pivotal U.S. historical figure. Nazer’s work, though about events in Sudan, and produced in juvenile, journalistic prose, affected me with greater power. Mende is a Muslim woman from the Nuba people of northern Sudan. She was kidnapped at about age twelve along with many other children from her village by Arab raiders during the 1990s. She was sold into slavery in Khartoum, where she spent about eight years virtually confined to a single house, cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children of her abusive mistress. She was beaten often, once so brutally that she had to be hospitalized. Eventually, her mistress decided to "loan" her to the wife of a Sudanese diplomat living in London. Mende was dispatched to London, and eventually made contact with a Nuba there who helped her escape. In 2000. She was granted asylum in Britain just two years ago. Today, thousands more like her are still in slavery back in Sudan.

These personal accounts were the last reading two assignments for my independent study on Modern World Slavery, but I expect they are among the first of many books I’ll be reading in the next few years about this growing problem. People in the West need to get a clue—slavery may have “gone into remission” during the latter part of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, but it has come back with full force in our new millennium, and in forms far more brutal than in the past. This is a situation we CAN mitigate: beginning by knowing about it (modern slavery thrives in concealment and silence), then by bringing those great tools of democracy—negative publicity and financial sanctions—to bear on the perpetrators (both individuals and corporations).

Please, guys, start looking for opportunities to learn more about modern slavery—it’s not pleasant to discuss, but it does exist, and we who relish freedom (physical and spiritual) have a responsibility to do what we can to destroy bondage. Read Douglass, if you need encouragement--his book is all about the radical positive changes that a handful of folks can bring about. Another group of similar radicals "turned the world upside down" a couple of millennia ago. What are we waiting for?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Doing Poorly

I'm shaky. Profoundly tired--like there's a weight inside the middle of my chest, a plumbline hanging from the tip of my sternum and puncturing my diaphragm. Have two major assignments due tomorrow and haven't been able to finish them--panicked, in an abstract sort of way, with nobody to talk to. Lonely. Presentation on Monday went OK, but I'm close to physical collapse, and continue to be in tears at the drop of a hat. Finger is bleeding--Thank God, only one. Having weird dreams in my irregular sleep, and don't trust myself to drive right now, though I need to go to the library for a book tonight. I need a hug. Gosh, this is miserable. Feeling vague and repetively doing unnecessary things and depressed and worthless. And my parents are ticked because I've been spending too much money lately. Maybe if I cry some I'll be calmer and able to concentrate--either that or I'll fall asleep right here on my keyboard and sleep like the dead! But I still don't see how that's going to get me to GA by Tuesday for my brother's wedding. I'm so sick of missing out on fun because of fatigue--the story of my life lately. OCD sucks. But this much better than things could be--nowhere near as bad as my worst episodes, and yes, I have been getting work done and taking my medication faithfully. It's just that time doesn't seem to be cooperating. I'm getting really too tired to think. I'm going to go curl up in a corner now and read an autobiography of a woman who only recently was freed from slavery in north Africa. Oh, joy.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Prayer Requests

To my Wayfollower readers:

Please pray for me as I struggle to finish this semester. I have a major presentation later today (Monday), for which I am less-than-adequately prepared, plus final assignments for two other classes that are due within the week. I've worked hard all term, but find myself out of energy and time just when I need it the most.

Of course, the roommate problems you've been reading about haven't helped matters much, either.

But I need to finish well. Particularly in my classes with hostile and indifferent professors--it's easy for me to make an effort for profs I know genuinely like me, but for the others...well, it's just not quite the same when they seem to sap your energy just by being in the same room. And the presentation is for an actively hostile fellow. So, I'd appreciate your talking to our father about this situation. I sure have been!

Also, as many of you know, I have a chronic illness which has been flaring up of late, so if you'd pray for a return to remission, too, I'd really appreciate it.

Blessings to all during this wonderful preparation-season for Christ's advent--both past and future!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Cameo Appearance

Evil roommate unlocked front door while I was typing that last entry. Came in dressed like a hip-hopper robbed of his chains. Marched over to the bulletin board without a word, thumb-tacked a few greenbacks to it. Turned around, walked out, not even looking at me. Locked the front door and I heard a car drive away seconds later.

At least she’s alive—as I told my father, there’s no love lost in our relationship, but I would prefer her not to end up (a-la-Levy) rotting in the bushes of some DC park.

I was considering her this afternoon—while unplugging the drain. She’s more like Uriah Heep than Becky Sharp (my initial impression). Becky was direct—ol’
“’umility” was manipulative, and dangerous.

But we have some money to pay the bills now, even if it was provided with poor grace.


Ok, now I know why plumbers are paid so much. It’s not necessarily their mad skills or expertise…it’s their willingness to endure the most repulsive smells this side of civilization.

Our toilet handle broke again. I went to the small hardware store down the street to get a replacement—three bucks. Asked the dough-faced fellow behind the counter if I could use my credit card (gotta scrounge to get every cent out of that 1% cash back). “On purchases over five dollars.” So, given that the tub drain was stopped up and the plumber I called last week hadn’t shown, I asked if they had metal
“snakes.” “Sure, all sizes.” They were only a few bucks—I got a twelve-foot one for six, and was soon on my way.

I replaced the toilet handle before the party last night—so simple.

I decided to “snake” the tub early this afternoon—not so simple.

Gahh-ha-ha-ly. Whatastench. Four people sharing one bathroom, and three of those people being (fairly) long-haired girls? That pipe was plugged with the nastiest wad of wet, filthy, matted hair I’ve had the wretched misfortune to deal with.

But at least we saved our landlord seventy-five bucks for the plumber.

And I have added yet another item to my Jill-of-all-trades repertoire. There’s little that can compare with having one’s own tools and being able to use them! Not that I'm volunteering for regular plumbing duty, mind you.


Marianne’s head was resting in the nape of the handsome fellow’s neck, one of his jeans-clad legs was looped over her bare leg, and his muscular left arm was around her shoulders, the picture of affection and comfort. He was talking about his lovers: “I like older men—forty-two is about my range…so delicious.” Marianne, her head still snuggled under his jaw, suggested he would be perfect for a “hot” male coworker of hers at the Pottery Barn. He agreed that this person sounded "delicious."

Only two other guests were left at 1:30 AM, both slightly dazed and full of references to others’ illicit affairs. I’d been cleaning up beer cans, bottles, greasy paper plates and crumpled napkins for most of the last three hours, so the four of them looked particularly disheveled amidst comparative neatness.

I met my new roommate last night—who’s to move in at the end of December when Marianne moves out. Nate. A sufficiently pleasant guy, I suppose, Slavic face, straight teeth, on a solid medium-sized physique. He’s from Baltimore. Showed up at the party and stood for a long time in our tiny kitchen talking to Kevin—joking about various types of inexpensive alcohol, and various drunken episodes—while I dodged around them filling the dishwasher and emptying the trash. If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d be a spinster at thirty, living with two, and possibly three unrelated twenty-something guys…

Happily, some folks from Intervarsity showed up among the more than fifty people who crowded our downstairs—turned out that a fellow named Ben was in graduate school with Marianne, and he brought two guests—one guy I knew, and one girl I didn’t. Joey, a tall, thin man with rimless glasses, has joined the navy, and is due to report to OCS just a few weeks after my submariner brother. The fun and wacky redhead Emily and I hit it off almost immediately. She was a drama person in college, and yes, she still is a drama person at heart. Her sister was married in Siberia two years ago to one of those rarest of creatures, a decent Russian man. The entire family went over to Irkutsk for the wedding. It was her mother’s first time abroad, and a good time was had by all—they were “adopted” by her sister’s host “grandparents” (the dedushka was a retired Aeroflot pilot who loved to feed them sweets, the babushka was a former home-ec teacher at a local high school), mugged by a street child, went camping in the forest, bathed in Lake Baikal, and relaxed at a Edenic-gardened dacha. And the wedding was a traditional village affair, complete with food-laden tables, dancing and lots of toasts. I look forward to hearing more of Emily’s stories tonight—at the Intervarsity party over on Capitol Hill.

I doubt the language at the IV get-together will deteriorate to the repetitions of “fuck it” that were being shouted after midnight at our house party. By that time, I had removed myself upstairs to write: I spent a good half-hour typing impressions of the party guests (a mixture of State Department people—yes, folks, these are our nation’s diplomats—Pottery Barn people and random ex-classmates of Marianne’s), hit the “send” key, and the whole account disappeared entirely. At which point I went downstairs for consolation milk and cookies and was party to the sexually-precocious ruminations aforementioned.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Eviler and Eviler

Landlord finally sent "Notice to Vacate Tenancy" or somesuch to Alissa via registered mail. We thought our troubles were at an end. Not so. One of her paramours, apparently, is a lawyer, and she is resisting her expulsion. This is a grand mess. If the girl weren't already loathsome enough (no, she has not yet paid bills for this month), her ungraciousness in introducing a bloodsucking ambulance-chaser to the mix would have decided the question. [Apologies to the B.A.C.s out there who don't consort with manipulative beauty queens]. What crust!

Friday, December 03, 2004

How'd they lose that?

To my left loomed an elderly wall with bits of lichen crumbling the mortar between the large grey stones. To my right, the curbside ribbon of short winter-ready grass had been swept free of leaves. And just ahead, a white brassiere was hanging eight or nine feet up on a twig in one of the naked trees. The presence of this item near the Georgetown campus is more explicable than the pair of abandoned men’s jeans my friends and I spotted lying in a ditch at the corner of the parking lot behind a Chapel Hill Cracker Barrel. They were crumpled like someone shucked them off and crawled into the culvert that went underneath an adjacent property, only the concrete pipe was too small to admit even a completely unclothed man of his size. Has anyone else run across really odd lost objects “in the wild” like this? I know employees of airports and malls find everything from false teeth to wedding rings in a day’s work, but how about you “normal” people?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

It's About Time. And CAN READERS HELP?

My sister called a few minutes ago and said she would no longer be reading this blog, as I had been "thirty for a week" and haven't updated. Apologies tendered, reformation sworn. I assure you, dear readers, as I told her, I've been up to my eyeballs in work--academic and extra-curricular.

Yesterday and today, my friend Hannah and I put on a jewelry and pottery show as a fundraiser for a nonprofit campus society, which was to get 30% of the gross. We pulled in over $1600 total. Serious rejoicing. The club should be tickled with its several-hundred-dollar cut, and we can afford to pay bills this next month. As part of the "event," I wore an antebellum gown all day today, an outfit complete with heavily-boned corset and huge crinolined hoopskirt. Lots of compliments and attention. Guess I'm just a showoff at heart! Guys in my department were kidding me about my hourglass figure. Fun!

Last two weeks of class/exams are upon me, and I haven’t a hope of finishing things without miraculous intervention. Have been in tears a lot, unable to sleep, and highly tempted to chuck it all. But I won’t—this is where I’m supposed to be. At least for now.

I’m reading a Stephen King book. No, not one of his fiction terror tales—I avoid them like the plague. I’m moving through his autobiographical complement to Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, On Writing. I got the audiobook so’s to be able to absorb it in the car, and listened to half of it on the way back from NC Monday. Great stuff. King himself does the recording, and—do you guys remember that cartoon many years ago? The one where some children are begging their mom, “Please DON’T let dad read us a bedtime story,” and the caption under the picture says “Stephen King’s Kids”?—well, I love hearing him read, and I’m sure, situational humor aside, he was a great bedtime story reader—he mimics voices eerily well, and has an obvious sense of fun. The language is often raw, but the story sails on deep reservoir of practicality, and the person who wants to improve his or her literary efforts will find this spicy dish nourishing and encouraging.

***READER HELP NEEDED*** Would like to hear readers’ responses to the following questions (this is for a term paper due Monday): 1. When I think of Cracker Barrel, I think…. 2. Why do I go to (or avoid) Cracker Barrel? 3. If I were to describe a Cracker Barrel to a person who’d never heard about it, how would I? 4. Any other stories about Cracker Barrel, or other similar establishments, would be gratefully received. Like I said, I’m writing a term paper on this, believe it or not, so any and all help would be lovely!! Thanks!