Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fun things part deux

Pretty, right?

Before going to Tahoe, we stopped in for a visit in the Bay Area for a few days. Ryan suggested that we drive down Highway 1 to Monterey and go to the aquarium, which sounded like a great idea to me, so off we went. Shortly after we stopped to take this picture by the ocean, Ryan announced that he was feeling a little queasy. Two hours later we stopped at Nob Hill Foods grocery, just a block or so away from the aquarium, to find something edible. While I went inside to get some sushi, Ryan remained in the car. I emerged from the store to see him puking all over the parking lot.

He was smitten BAD and, since he could no longer drive (or talk, really, we had to use the car's navigation system to get home which, incidentally, may be the only automotive bell-or-whistle I could ever really get excited about), I became the driver. Since driving well isn't among my most defining characteristics, I was not particularly thrilled to be piloting my in-laws' vehicle. The drive was grueling, but we made it and Ryan was better approximately 24 hours later. Glad we got the pretty picture, though. Hopefully next time we will get one with some of them sea turtles.

Why I don't like fun things

I have not posted in a long time because Ryan and I went on a fun-filled vacation. It was truly delightful to see the family, as always, but I was reminded why perhaps my observance of a life without fun activities has been wise.

Exhibit A: spine

I woke up in the wee hours last night to discover a pain near my right shoulder blade that would have been crippling had I been trying to do anything. Come to think of it, it was crippling my ability to sleep, so it does qualify as a crippling pain. I lay awake for as many hours as it took until the alarm went off at 7:30, when I alerted Ryan to my plight. I assumed a prostrate position and he performed a deft diagnosis.

"You have a rib out".

A rib out? I didn't know ribs were 'in'. Thanks to the above-pictured radiograph, we can all learn a bit about which prepositions can be accurately used to describe the position of one's ribs. As you can plainly see, the ribs highlighted by white arrows have joint articulations with the transverse process and the body of this thoracic vertebra. Ribs can be in, ribs can be out. When they're out, it hurts somethin' fierce.

I will never know how I managed to dislocate a rib while asleep.

Ryan popped the little vagrant back into place, but my back, thanks to a night of most-unpleasant spasm, is still in considerable pain. I blame the renegade rib on the whiplash-inducing spill I took after a long day poorly executed on a snowboard.

Exhibit B: armI know it's blurry, but I still think the huge tumoresque protrusion on my forearm is visible. Several years ago I wrecked my beloved minivan; all that remains is a small particle of windshield in my forearm. I never had it removed. I like to think it reminds me to wear my seatbelt. The glass-infused forearm has never given me any trouble, but I have never tested it as a braking mechanism at high speeds. Turns out, when your glass-filled arm hits the snow at a million uncontrolled miles per hour, your glass filled arm will get a glass-filled hematoma of disgusting proportion.

We had fun; it was beautiful. But I can't seem to narrow the gap between cost and benefit in the world of fun activities. Here is a picture of the mountain whose base nearly caused my untimely demise. I don't know if you can tell, but Ryan is singlehandedly keeping me stationary in this picture. Without him, I would have been sliding uncontrollably down the mountain or using my only defense against high speeds: falling on my derrière.

Did someone say derrière?

Because mine didn't quite fit into whichever adolescent brother's-in-law snow pants I ripped off, and Ryan thought that was pretty funny and worth archiving. Who cares that my face is shadowed? You can still see my best asset just fine.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bad People

In my childless housewifely way, today I made a trip to the post office. I had to send a ratty down vest to one of the delinquent teens I used to work with (he loved it and made me promise that I would never throw it out; I must bequeath it to him, and a promise is a promise, no matter how ratty the vest) (he is, incidentally, no longer a delinquent nor a teen, so I hope the vest still appeals), a knife that needed to be exchanged, a book I sold on, and my severed hair for locks of love (incidentally, I went in for a haircut yesterday, as mine was venturing into mullet territory, and the girl who cut it kept marveling at how fast it grew; she made me feel like it was a superpower, and that I should become a professional hair donor).

I addressed my envelopes, got everything nice and ready, except for the knife. Padded envelopes were disallowed by the knife company, so I had to find a corrugated cardboard receptacle. I arrived at the station of the postal worker who was to become my arch-nemesis, and asked him if they had any smaller boxes, since the knife would be free floating in the boxes I found. He said I should probably just go with the mailing tube. Great, I said. Can I have a piece of paper to scrunch up so it doesn't slam around?

Nemesis: "No."

Me: "Excuse me?"

Nemesis: "I don't have any."

Me: "You don't have any paper."

Nemesis: "No. We sell bubble wrap..."

Me: "All I need is one piece of paper...Do you have newspapers? Or Junk mail? Surely you have something..."

At this point one of the other workers said, loud enough to be heard, but without turning toward me "We sell bubble wrap". I hated him and gave him the worst look he has ever received. I promise.

Nemesis: "I just don't think I can help you."

Well, I am nothing if not at least moderately resourceful. So I looked around. Saw some newsprint type paper booklets stacked up in the lobby.

Me: "Hang on a sec"

I returned momentarily and began tearing pages out of the booklet, to the postal worker's horror--horror sufficient to warrant his grabbing the booklet out of my hands.

Me: "What are you doing?"

Nemesis: "You don't want to do that. that thar is a federal document, and this is a federal building" [laughs] "You don't want to do that!"

I looked at him, hatefully incredulous. "You are saying this booklet about how to fill out tax forms is sacrosanct?"

Nemesis: "Yes" (I sincerely doubt he knew what sacrosanct meant).

Me: "Wow." [Long pause] "The world is going to hell in a handbasket because of people like you."

I finished my purchase and went out, back to the stack of sacrosanct instruction booklets, took one out to the lobby, tore it up, stuffed it in the mailing tube with my knife, and used the machine to send it. I haven't been struck dead yet, though the feds may come after me. I won.

For a minute.

When I got out to the parking lot, I was greeted with a serious line to get to the ticket booth. When I finally arrived, the woman with a gleaming gold front tooth advised me that I owed her three dollars.

"But the line...I would have made it..." I was not as fiery as I had been with the postal worker. the parking booth operator was more intimidating by a long shot.

"All I can tell you is, you owe three dollars."

I sat there, enraged. Dumbfounded. I reached for my debit card.

Gold Toofus:"Sorry, darlin'. Cash or check only."

Me: "You have got to be kidding me."

Gold Toofus: "Not kidding you"

Me: "This is not my day. What am I supposed to do?"

She advised me that I could go get cash or a check, leaving my driver's license as collateral. So I did. I went home. I got a check, I came back. I was enraged. ENRAGED. I still am, judging by the all caps.

I hope whatever kid gets this pile o' hair thinks it was worth my trouble. Oh, yeah. And that no-longer-a-teen better wear that vest--summer or not.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The trauma continues...

Why oh why?

The Emperor

Indulge me, if you will, a lengthier post than usual. I have been up all night haunted by my thoughts and, worse, feelings and if I read one more thing before I write something, I may be sick.

The papers these past days have been flooded with accounts of the State Attorney General of New York's involvement in a high-cost (not high-end, as that is impossible) prostitution ring called the Emperor's Club (their website is shut down, or I would provide you a link so you could see the women, faces covered, whose prices were determined based on an evaluative system with one diamond being the least expensive and seven diamonds being the most). Everyone is freaking out. Good heaven's, they shriek, this man was nicknamed Mr. Clean! He campaigned against immorality, he made enemies on Wall Street under the guise of a crusade for integrity, he even shut down a prostitution ring himself in 2004. And how this?!? Unconscionable!

Prostitution is age-old and, to my mind, truly heinous. To read the news yesterday, initially, you would think I was not alone in my estimation. I have been told I hyperbolize the problem, and that I should not allow the crisis of sexual disparity to rock me as it does. I truly lay awake nights envisioning what, to me, is an exploitative, degrading, and wholly pervasive problem so huge it is invisible. I am instructed to settle down, realize that men will be men, and, besides, perhaps on occasion such a system will offer me a crumb of flattery, but I can't. The Emperor, you see, is naked, and I know it.

And, for just a second, I thought everyone else might have picked up on it, too. The media's rebuke of Spitzer has been harsh and extensive, and I was frankly shocked at the kinship I felt. Hooray, I thought. They are catching on. Sexual objectification and inevitable exploitation of women is evil, but not necessary, and folks are rallying to stop it.

But I kept reading, most profitably between the lines, and I realized that the intolerance for Spitzer's acts was not what it seemed; his acts were not considered problematic in their own right, but because they had been committed by a man who professed to eschew them. The General's hypocrisy brought about his downfall, not his lust.

Speaking of lust, I have a few thoughts on the topic. It seems a general consensus (especially in Mormon culture, so please excuse me if you are unfamiliar) that damnable lust is destructive when it is acted out. Soliciting a prostitute is thus damnable, while ogling women's bodies when those bodies have no relational meaning to one's own, is not. To lust after a stranger is a function of masculinity, to refrain from acting on that lust is a function of heroism.

I beg to differ. As I perceive it, the ignominy of lust exists in lustful acts, such as using a prostitute's (or any other woman's) body in an attempt at gratification, but is not restricted to such acts. To observe and objectify the body of another human being is to disqualify her as such, relegate her to another, lesser class, and perpetuate a culture generally inhospitable and violent to women.

Which brings me to my next topic: pornography. Had Spitzer spent those two and a half hours using pornography, would his crime have been worthy of mention? I ask, what is the difference? A female body used as a tool for the sexual arousal and the (likely impossible, given the cultural clime) sexual gratification of men, at the cost of her dignity. What's the difference? Yet, would using pornography incite a media riot, and cause all the Governor's aides to appear "visibly shaken" and one of them to weep outright? I somehow doubt it.

This man is a husband and father--of three teenage daughters. Perhaps the emphasis on Wall Street's celebration that the wicked old witch is dead should take a backseat to the responses of these young women. Did this information come as a true surprise to them, or do things make more sense now? Could they feel a change in their father's responses to them as their bodies became more like those he clandestinely used? Were they barely aware of an uncomfortable sensation when their teenaged friends came by their house? Perhaps one of them has a friend who is an "American, petite, very pretty brunete, five feet five inches and one hundred five pounds", like Kristen, Spitzer's escort. How do they feel about themselves and their bodies? What does this mean for their lives? Or mine?

No matter the damage done by their father, it is only of penultimate importance. Even if Spitzer's kids had an angelic father who had never thought of a female body as a commodity (good luck finding such a father, by the way), the rest of the world would make clear his disparity from the norm. They would still hear, though perhaps not quite so shrilly, the truth about what America thinks its women are good for.

Perhaps one day men will not be set up so badly, confused and deceived and told that some answer might lie in a an image on a computer screen, a body walking down the street, giving him a haircut, or knocking on the door of his hotel room; bodies without faces, people without souls. Perhaps. But, meanwhile, if you need me, because I can't help it, I will be lying awake in my bed crying.

Happy Women's History Month!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I like to read Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and I particularly liked this article, which I just finished reading.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Let them eat cake!

When there is a lot to celebrate, there's bound to be a lot of cake. It's just one of those basic laws of the universe. And this week, I was accepted to grad school and my little brother turns twenty three. Abundant cake was inevitable.

A few weeks ago, in anticipation of his birthday, I asked that little brother of mine if he had a favorite kind of cake (I tried to be real sly so it would be a surprise). He answered without even a slight hesitation: "red velvet".

Huh? I don't think I'd ever even had red velvet cake before, let alone had if often enough to trump all other cakes. If someone had asked my what my favorite kind of cake was, I would have said: "costco". I guess Dave is more of a gourmand than I.

So red velvet cupcakes we had in abundance and they were ok, though not good enough to warrant the seven (SEVEN!) sticks of butter (BUTTER!) that were required, so I will not include the recipe, but I will mention that is not always reliable.

They still made me happy, though. Somethin' about cupcakes...

They made me a surprise cake, too, decorated punnily, which I always enjoy.

A couple hours post dinner-and-cupcakes, my siblings located some broccoli and homemade hummus in my fridge...I guess they was caked out.

Once a little brother, always a little brother.

Ryan decorated Dave's birthday present; didn't he do a nice job?

I love a good birthday, and I love a good sibling. Happy Birthday Hosen!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I love freaks

I even love freaky tubers. This, friends, is a yam--a yam that is bigger than my head. I found it at Ream's and was so delighted with it that I tried to brag to the cashier about how amazing I thought it was (she was not amused, which I thought was weird).

Such a yam, of course, calls for yamrittos (a very large quantity of yamrritos) and once Ryan got in on the action we got pretty worked up about how huge the yam was. We were compelled to document thoroughly as perhaps we would never again see such a yam.

It filled up the whole bowl!

It filled the entire pan!

Look how big it is compared to my hand!

I fear all future yams will seem inadequate.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Important announcement

Take this test!
You're green, the color of growth and vigor. Good-hearted and giving, you have a knack for finding and bringing out the best in people. Green is the most down-to-earth color in the spectrum — reliable and trustworthy. People know they can count on you to be around in times of need, since your concern for people is genuine and sincere. You take pride in being a good friend. For you, success is measured in terms of personal achievement and growth, not by status or position. Rare as emeralds, greens are wonderful, natural people. It truly is your color!

I guess this is a true quiz, because green is also my favorite color.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I got into grad school. If you need a therapist, I will be with you in just a few years.

Swivel Sweeper: Object of my Affection

Anyone want to split the cost and each get one of these? I have it on good authority that they are a dream come true and I hate my vacuum.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Standing Corrected

I have long maintained that there have been no real hippies since the sixties and, even if there were a few quasi-nouveau-hippies lurking in buses somewhere in Northern California or Vermont, the term gets thrown around way too liberally. If I were going to have a kid, I wouldn't amputate any functional body parts and I'd try to breastfeed him real good, because I think littles should be treated nicely, but that doesn't make me a hippie. I avoid animal products almost entirely, because I think there's really no good reason to eat them and a million good reasons not to, but that doesn't make me a hippie. I like nice long road trips through the countryside, singing songs with friends, and prefer lakes and oceans to pools and hot tubs, but I am not a hippie.

I am too uptight to be a hippie. I have never made a single article of clothing, and I don't smoke pot. Free love? No thanks, I like mine bought and paid for. I have been accused of being a hippie lots of times in my life, I think, erroneously.

However, to be fair, this is what I ate for breakfast today:

I could go on about how I only bought the hemp milk because I read this book and am now paranoid about consuming soy products. I could wax eloquent about the alleged benefits of flax and pumpkin seeds and try to convince you that since the friend who gave me the granola recipe was the secretary of the BYU College Republicans, making my own granola don't mean nothin'. But, let's get real, I made granola, ate it with hemp milk, and thought it was mighty fine. I'm not gonna call myself a hippie, but if you want to, I'll try to understand.

Hippie or not, this granola recipe turned out to be terrif. Here, have a closer look:

This is the original (or Jen's adaptation of the Better Homes and Gardens original) , and here is the recipe with my modifications:

Preheat oven to 300

2 C rolled oats
3/4 C dried cocount (I used the sweetened [delicious] very un-hippie kind)
1/2 C punkin seeds
1/2 C almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 C pecans, coarsley chopped
1/4 C wheat germ
1/4 C dried cranberries
1/4 C dried apricots
1/4 C flax seeds

Mix in bowl

1/2 C maple syrup (the good kind, otherwise, you'd probably be better off with honey)
2 Tbs canola oil
1/2 tsp coconut extract (almond extract might also be nice, but I wanted tropical granola)

Mix and pour over dry ingredients and stir to coat

Spread in greased jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with a rim to keep renegade flax seeds from escaping) (I forgot to grease mine, and I think it mattered a little)
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring at 20 minutes

Evidently this stuff will keep for awhile, but mine never got the chance.