2011 in Review

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

Tamale Cooking Class!

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Family and Friends, Justice, Peace

Tamale Making Class

The link above is to a flyer about a unique opportunity coming up the week after Thanksgiving. Our new friends, Carmen and Patricia, are teaching an authentic tamale cooking class (where we also get to learn/practice Spanish!). Our good friend, Cindy Short, is making this happen, and you should contact Cindy directly if you want to sign up for the class (as explained on the flyer).

We recently hosted Carmen (from Peru) and Patricia (from Mexico) in our home for a similar class, and it was fantastic. We got to know these ladies through spending time at the Malibu Community Labor Exchange, where lots of interesting people hang out. Anyway, the idea of the tamale class emerged from that first class, but because it was anticipated that this one will be much bigger, Cindy secured the Malibu United Methodist Church as a venue for the event.

Please feel free to (a) attend yourself; (b) tell your friends about it; and/or (c) print off the flyer and post it at your work or school.


Posted: October 27, 2011 in Family and Friends, Justice, Lessons, Peace

A Better Life

Posted: October 13, 2011 in Justice, Peace


The hyperlink above is to a movie poster that I am super excited about!

Everyone is invited to a free movie screening on Thursday, October 20, at 7pm on the campus of Pepperdine University. The movie will be awesome, as will the panel discussion afterward featuring Judge Bruce Einhorn from Pepperdine Law and Oscar Mondragon from the Malibu Community Labor Exchange. Also, and importantly, everyone is invited to a reception before the movie (at 6pm) that will serve as a fundraiser for our work at the Labor Exchange. Tickets for the reception are advertised at $50 and up, but for those that can’t afford a $50 ticket, smaller donations will also be accepted.

1) Post a link to this blog post on your Facebook wall;
2) Email the movie poster by attachment to your friends;
3) Print the movie poster and post it in your school or office.

Thank you for your support!!!

Graduation Gifts

Posted: May 21, 2011 in Family and Friends

Quite often I am reminded that my wife is both too good for me and to me, but some times are particularly worth sharing.

So I graduated from law school yesterday. It was a great day. I’m not much into pomp and circumstance, but even I enjoyed most of the pompous circumstances. I felt important. (I may have even felt architechtonic, a word the keynote speaker used twice, but I do not know what it means.)

At the end of such a glorious day, all of the ladies in my life (my wife, two daughters, and mother who flew in for the occasion) presented me with a couple of gifts. Now admittedly, I chuckled a month or so back when I saw the email that told us how to order graduation announcements. I understand that many of my classmates are at an age where graduation announcements (and the returning gifts) are expected, but for an old man like me, graduation is a gift all by itself. Anyway, I thought it was sweet that these lovely ladies surprised me with some gifts.

I began by opening the gift from my mother, who used graduation as a sneaky way to give me money in our ongoing battle over who pays for things on our all too infrequent visits. I then opened sweet cards from my daughters. Next, I opened the large gift, which was a beautiful frame for my law school diploma.

There was one final gift to open, and inside I discovered a long-sleeved Navy Midshipmen Football t-shirt, a gift that requires an explanation.

My dad was born in 1920, and in 1937 or 1938 he was appointed to the Naval Academy. He turned it down. He was the oldest of six children (at the time), it was the Great Depression, and he was needed to work to support his family. My dad was a smart guy, and a great high school quarterback (back in the day when they used leather helmets and no facemasks). He could have done anything in the world, but as fate would have it, he ended up enlisting in the Navy for World War II (instead of serving as an officer) and returned to a career as a butcher. He also ended up being my dad.

I didn’t grow up with money, but I did grow up with a special relationship with my dad. Although he was fifty years older than me, we spent many hours in the backyard playing catch. And though we didn’t have much monetarily, I always felt somewhat privileged in the opportunities I have had to do all the things my dad never had the chance to do. Like graduate high school. Like graduate college. Like buy a house. And like now, graduate law school.

My dad died in 1994, and I can’t believe seventeen years have passed by since. But with each passing year, whenever I accomplish something where my full name — Albert Andrew Sturgeon, III — is called, I think about Albert Sturgeon, Jr. and try to appreciate it in his honor. And my wife knows this. Which is why the Navy Football t-shirt was such a thoughtful gift.

But she wasn’t finished.

After I opened what I thought was the final gift, my wife pulled out “her” card for me. And it didn’t take long to figure out that she had saved something for last. Turns out my sneaky, thoughtful wife, had tracked down my Sports Bucket List posted on my blog last summer. On that list, sitting at #14, was “Go to the Army-Navy football game and sit and imagine what it would have been like if my dad would have accepted the appointment in the late 1930s and played for the Midshipmen.” And in that graduation card was a ticket to see the Army-Navy game at FedEx Field this coming December.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time imagining what it would have been like if my dad had accepted that appointment. I’m convinced he would have been on the team — maybe even been the starting quarterback. I love to imagine my dad running out of that tunnel with his teammates for the big games in those 1939, 1940, 1941, and 1942 seasons (games Navy won by the way!). And this December, I will be there, all by myself, lost in a world of memories and dreams.

Well, not all by myself. My dad will be with me in spirit. As will my wonderful wife.

Minutes to Memories (The Song!)

Posted: January 3, 2011 in Music

So I’ve had this blog I call “Minutes to Memories” for going on five years now, and it just dawned on me that I have never posted the song behind the name. Problem corrected.

An Open Holiday Letter

Posted: December 23, 2010 in Family and Friends

Dear World,

2010 has been quite a year for the Sturgeon family, if for no other reason than all four of us are now living under one—small, sometimes leaky—roof. And we are happy.

Erica made the bold decision to become a Californian this year. I flew to Memphis in May (sounds like a festival!), jumped in the driver’s seat of Erica’s loaded-down car, and the two of us traveled the modern interstate-highway version of Route 66, spending a night at the Wigwam Hotel in Nowhere, Arizona, stopping at the Grand Canyon, and listening to a whole lot of the musical stylings of Florence and the Machine. We arrived safely, and her car promptly gave out! So Erica got a new car in 2010. By summer’s end, Erica had obtained her California teaching credential and snagged a job teaching four-year-olds at Calvary Christian School in the swanky Pacific Palisades (to wit, one of her kiddos has Uncle Arnold Schwarzenegger on the “can check the kid out of school” list). Erica has become of a part of the University Church of Christ with us and is especially smitten with the Hung & Corinne Le family. Corinne already has Erica teaching kiddos at church on Sunday mornings.

Hillary has had quite a year, too. After completing the 7th grade with super high grades, she spent a majority of her summer vacation in the South, seeing friends and family in Mississippi and Arkansas. Now, she is off to another terrific start in 8th grade at Malibu High. She has an amazing set of girlfriends at school, all of which are so sweet and so talented. She is once again in the Girls’ Select Choir—and sang a solo in “Hallelujah” in their recent Cabaret performance. She is once again in the Middle School Musical—this time as Mrs. Greer in the upcoming performance of “Annie.” But her biggest event in 2010 came when her crazy parents drove her to LAX, stuck her on a plane by herself to fly to London to spend a week with her good friend, Sarah! There, she hit all the tourist sites, saw a couple of awesome musicals (Les Miserables & Wicked), and sat out all day to see the Harry Potter stars arrive on the red carpet at the World Premiere.

Jody has had a terrific year, too. She continues to love her job, now in her third year working as the Student Services Coordinator at Pepperdine University. She is certain she has the best boss ever in Kimberly Hogan and loves working with college students. Jody surprised herself by not following her own advice when she made the move to Malibu: she had decided that she wouldn’t get close to people here so that it would be easy to move (if we did) after law school. Instead, she has formed deep relationships both at church and in the Pepperdine community. Along with those relationships, Jody has become a fitness nut and continues to amaze us all with her health consciousness. She is a regular at spin classes, and she repeatedly returns to the aptly-named “Insanity” workout. Jody ran two (count ‘em, two!) different 5k races this year—the first to fulfill a promise to herself, and the second during the MLB All-Star Weekend in Anaheim. And most recently, she snagged a couple of tickets to the season finale of her favorite television show—The Biggest Loser! She is looking great, but more importantly, is feeling great, too.

I turned the big 4-0 this year (Jody may or may not have, we’re not sure). Unbelievably, I am within one semester of graduating from law school. In the summer, I had the opportunity to work at the Lanier Law Firm in Houston, Texas—and hang out at Andy & Jennifer Dunham’s house. While in Houston, I caught the fitness bug, too, and started running again. In September, I ran a 5k in Santa Monica, and in December, my first ever 10k in Santa Monica-Venice, surprising myself with a time of 42:06. And 2010 was my best year ever as a baseball spectator: I watched the Cardinals play twice in Dodger Stadium; saw them again at AT&T Park in San Francisco; saw them yet again (three times!) at Minute Maid Park in Houston; got to go on the field and sit in the press box at Angels Stadium thanks to Bobby Ross; and saw two other (non-Cardinal) games at Minute Maid Park, including the mind-boggling “Lanier Law Firm” seats behind home plate.

Here are a few other of my personal “bests” from 2010:
* Best family road trip (tie): San Francisco with Jody & Hillary; Cross-Country with Erica;
* Best novel read: “Hannah Coulter” by Wendell Berry;
* Best non-fiction book read: “Leaving Church” by Barbara Brown Taylor;
* Best song heard: “Dela” by Johnny Clegg & the Soweto Gospel Choir;
* Best family moments: Watching “Psych” together;
* Best sports moments (tie): Razorback football; Saints Super Bowl;
* Best celebrity moment: Asking Emilio Estevez to take a picture with Hillary (& Flat Stanley);
* Best house guest: Connor Hayes’s Thanksgiving visit from Mississippi.

So, what does 2011 have in store? Apparently, a lot.

For starters, I plan to run a marathon. I am now a member of the Los Angeles Running Club, and I have my sights set on the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in early June. Jody is toying with the idea of a half-marathon; specifically, the Great Race of Agoura Hills in late March.

But more importantly, we have made the decision to do what we can to stay in the Malibu area following graduation in May (and taking the California bar exam in late July). There are several reasons behind this decision: 1) Jody absolutely loves her job; 2) Erica also enjoys her job and doesn’t (yet) make enough money to strike out on her own in SoCal; 3) Hillary loves her school, her friends, and her youth group—and would love to stay; 4) we are interested in the future of the University Church of Christ and being a part of its developing story; and 5) we have fallen in love with the Malibu Community Labor Exchange and want to be a part of its future, too.

As a result, my Plan A in the job search department is to explore the possibility of working in an administrative capacity at Pepperdine—a search process that has already been initiated to some extent. Plan B is to work as an attorney at a private firm in this geographic area. If we get to Plan C, we’ll figure out what it is then. 🙂

Well, this is kind of a long holiday letter, but I have felt a little guilty what with my drop off in blogging and Facebook and such. I suspect my future in those departments will continue to be sporadic, but I hope not to fall of the face of the earth completely (although we are dangling off a mountain on the edge of the continent here!).

We miss and treasure memories of family and friends from years gone by, and think of you all often. But we continue to form new relationships and, as always, are surrounded with love.

Life is good. And when it is bad, there is hope.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy/Merry (?) Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year to all!


Bittersweet Sixteen

Posted: November 3, 2010 in Family and Friends, Music

Every year, on November 3rd, I specifically think about my dad. This year marks sixteeen since he passed away, and it is weird to consider that he hasn’t been around for 40% of my entire life now.

Couple of years ago I stumbled across this Chet Atkins song that I thought was just perfect, and I thought I would replay it today. The original YouTube video I used has been removed, and the only one available now has these weird foreign subtitles. But that’s okay. Doesn’t keep me from seeing my dad in the old man version of Chet Atkins. And it sure doesn’t distract from this beautiful song. Hope you guys enjoy it, too.

Ten New Questions

Posted: October 6, 2010 in Ten Questions

A few years back, I came up with ten questions that I wanted to use to govern my life. Answering them literally (via my blog) didn’t last long, but I think the effort was worthwhile and had its effect. Still, I have long ago forgotten the specific questions.

Recently, I have struggled through redefining “meaning of life” stuff once again, and when my efforts unexpectedly resulted in ten questions, I thought I should compare the two lists. In so doing, I was interested to discover how different the two lists were! Just goes to show me how much my life perspective can shift in a few short years.

For what it’s worth, here are my new ten questions:

1. Am I providing a happy life for those who depend on me?
2. Am I compromising social walls and making friends I’m not supposed to make?
3. Am I resisting the urge to love and focus on institutions/ideas instead of people?
4. Am I living a simple life and resisting the urge to always have or do or be involved in “more?”
5. Am I living a healthy life?
6. Am I finding joy in everyday life?
7. Am I working hard and being a productive member of society?
8. Am I taking time to relax, remembering that the world doesn’t revolve around me?
9. Am I dreaming about healthy things to dream about?
10. Am I regularly spending time with a close friend(s) who share(s) my outlook on life?

Integrity & Moral Cautiousness

Posted: October 2, 2010 in Lessons, Peace

One of the more intriguing course titles in my law school career is my current “Law & Morality” class. This seminar is taught by the highly-esteemed visiting professor, Ellen Pryor. Professor Pryor has showered us with interesting readings throughout the semester. Recently, we read large chunks of Sissela Bok’s classic book, “Lying.” Me, the smart aleck, thought it would be great fun to go out to some public place to read this book, and when an astute observer would undoubtedly ask why I was reading a book on lying, I would respond, “Oh, it’s for law school.” 🙂 My follow-up line would be, “I took Cheating last semester, and Stealing is on tap next.”

This week, we’re reading Stephen Carter’s excellent book, “Integrity.” Which, if nothing else, is better PR for the legal profession should I choose to read it in public. But there was one passage that really struck me as profound, so I thought I would share it with the world via blogging/Facebook. As one who has from time to time been accused of moral relativism, this passage really resonates with me.

Your comments would be interesting and welcomed, but honestly, my motivation in sharing this is to provoke reflection more than to inspire conversation. Here goes (from pages 59-61):

“. . . we Americans do public dialogue badly. I suspect that the principal psychological difficulty that frustrates our national efforts to conduct public moral dialogues is not, as is sometimes asserted, that nobody believes that there are right answers to our moral dilemmas; no, the American problem is that we all believe that our own answers are the right ones. In this sense, we are a land not of moral relativists, as is often charged, but of moral objectivists: people who believe that there are universal, moral truths. Our necessary if sometimes uncomfortable celebration of moral tolerance is a mark not of our relativism but of our objectivism; having learned the lessons of history, we are trying in America to be morally cautious. It is not that there are no right answers, but that, given human fallibility, we need to be careful in assuming that we have found them. This point was made famously by John Stuart Mill, and today the very variety of moral truths in which different Americans wholeheartedly believe is proof of the wisdom of tolerance. Tolerance is the reason that the most liberal Americans must accept hateful speech and the most conservative Americans must accept homosexuality. It is not that nobody could hold the view that one or the other is morally wrong; it is rather that history has taught us to be careful about enforcing our moral views as law.”