Friday, December 4, 2009

To Do

Tis the Season. Bah Humbug.

1. Hang four strands of Christmas lights purchased a week ago
1a. Troubleshoot hanging lights on aluminum siding with no available wood to receive staples or other fasteners
2. Read Diaper Free Baby
2a. Have a nervous breakdown at the prospect of having a baby, diaper-free or otherwise
2b. Have second nervous breakdown at the prospect of NOT having a baby, diaper-free or otherwise
3. Publicly admit a newfound addiction to The Office (check)
3a. Flagellate self for choosing such a popular and often offensive recipient for my affections
3b. Flagellate self further for watching an entire season in one day
3c. Watch seasons 3-5 before Monday
4. Clean the house
4a. Go to IKEA to buy relevant shelving
4b. Beg little sister to do it for me
4c. Buy little sister lunch as payment for doing it for me.
5. Make dinner on Sunday. Feed to siblings.
5a. Contemplate creating an entirely raw meal
5b. Have panic attack at the prospect of going to the supermarket
5c. Fail to make raw meal. Make soup.
5d. Flagellate self for failing to make raw meal and making soup.
5e. Eat cookies.
6. Read book on therapeutic fasting and determine if therapeutic fasting can cure an allergy to avocados.
7. Find a month in which I am only required to sit on the couch. Drink only water during that month and eat no food. Self-test for allergy by scoring inner arm flesh with paring knife and rubbing open wound with avocado. Hope to avoid anaphylaxis.
8. See brother perform new songs. Could have checked this off tonight, but am functionally nailed to the couch. See #3 a-c.
9. Realize that finals are next week.
10. Read all articles and book chapters on syllabus for Substance Abuse Counseling class.
11. Purchase prints from Smitten Kitchen's Deb, frame, and hang in a visual celebration of produce.
12. Eat only produce.
13. Consider going raw.
14. Reject the idea in favor of eating only cinnamon rolls.
15. Find a pot of gold.
15 a. Buy a yoga pass.
15b. Go to yoga.
15c. Buy a food processor.
15d. Eat only produce with ease thanks to new food processor.
15e. Buy Christmas gifts for loved ones.
16. Complete all assignments for Group Counseling class.
17. Prepare presentation on Feminist Multicultural Therapy for Group Counseling Class
18. Prepare presentation of new anti-rape presentation for staff meeting
18a. graciously receive feedback on anti-rape presentation.
18b. Refrain from mentioning that 85% of presenting in a high school is classroom management and high school students won't notice semantic minutia.
18c. Obsess over semantic minutia.
19. Die hair with henna which arrived in the mail today.
20. Or not.
21. Take down birthday tree.
22. Put in basement or shed.
23. Clean out basement and shed.
24. Create food storage in basement in case of apocalypse.
25. Consider moving to California.
26. Or not.
27. Deal with sisal rug currently on front porch.
28. Make preparations for AWP conference in February.
29. Return defunct pumpkinphernelia to Target.
30. Contemplate the task of hosting Christmas in my tiny house.
30a. Hyperventilate. Possibly have nervous breakdown. Lay on floor and cry.
31. Despair about the tasks associated with adulthood.
32. Revamp filing system into something functional.
33. Learn to do a pull up.
34. Buy Vibram fivefingers
35. Learn to run with ease thanks to Vibram fivefingers.
36. Plant bulbs. Possibly missed the boat on this one. Tundra already in effect.
37. Change insurance.
38. Advise thesis adviser that according to current projections there will be no thesis.
38a. Investigate Participatory Action Research as a potential solution to thesislessness.
39. Mourn failed attempt to academicise.
39. Take comfort in wombos.
40. Validate self based on feminist socio-political analysis.
41. Discover win-win solution to an introvert-extrovert marriage.
42. Attend Beehive Bazaar in Provo.
43. Attend Salt Lake City Festival of Trees
44. Find decent Christmas Concert and attend it.
45. Attend Spring City Main Street Holiday Art Stroll
45a. Maybe buy Christmas presents there?
46. Update resume
47. Transfer photos to new computer.
47a. Print some and frame some.
47b. Develop new system for photos that works.
48. Apply for Costco AmEx card.
49. Deposit paychecks.
50. Write 50 page research precis for the Qualitative Research Methods class I took last year and got an incomplete in.
51. Take truck and car for 90k visits.
52. Figure out how to print from new computer.
53. Learn about vermicomposting.
54. Set up vermicomposting system in kitchen.
55. Learn to use new computer.
56. Rob a bank.
57. Transfer music to computer and phone
58. Learn to knit
59. Cross stitch pillow. Make mental note to learn embroidery, which is more appealing.
60. Call work answering service to figure out what's up with our bill from last month.
61. Create agenda for Hospital Response Team meeting.
62. Fix or replace our bed.
63. Send Christmas gift to grandmother.
64. Buy a purple pen.
65. Schedule anti-rape presentations for high schools.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reviews


Ryan and I have a small TV/VCR combo apparatus that we keep in the closet and pull out only to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which we have on videotape, every year. This often leaves me pretty out of the loop on what Mass Media has to offer.

The benefit of this is, of course, that I am spared a lot of wasted time watching TV. The cost is that I retain the level of TV-watching restraint that I possessed when I was eleven. That means that when I start, it's rather hard to stop. My green, soft brain just sucks up the entertainment like a sponge.

In my group counseling class this semester we watched a clip from The Office. Although I have heard fervent testimony of how funny the show is, the only clip I had ever seen on Hulu was wildly offensive, far too much so to be amusing, and I thought my inability to enjoy The Office was just another way my personal tastes depart from the norm. However, the clip my professor showed in class had me singing another tune. Being essentially unacquainted with the show, after just seven minutes I had laughed myself into an endorphin rush and become eternally invested in the eventual matrimony of Pam and Jim.

I have started obsessively watching the show on NetFlix. Several episodes a day, starting with Season One. Ryan has already seen many of them and has attempted to forcibly screen those episodes which he predicts will offend me beyond my ability to cope. The rest of the episodes are mine to enjoy with addictive abandon. As I said, I possess no restraint.

Yesterday, in addition to several episodes of The Office, I also watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was charming and delightful and a film called Crips and Bloods: Made in America, which was informative and thought-provoking and just depressing enough to make me want to work harder.

It was a real media success story kind of a day.

Someone please tell me to do my homework. I possess no restraint.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Big Lots


When Pumpkinfest came around, I needed a lot of pumpkin decorations and I didn't have any money to spend. Thankfully, my sister spent an entire evening with me, combing the streets on the prowl for pumpkinesque paraphernalia. Big Lots paid the highest dividend, being the only place in town with orange lights, and for two dollars a strand. I remembered the jackpot and have held it close to my heart in anticipation of the coming holidays.

I just got back from Big Lots again, with an equally excellent haul. I got a tree for twenty bucks (it looks emaciated, but serves its iconic function), four strands of Christmas lights, some red taper candles, a tree skirt and a package of ornaments for sixty three dollars. If I hadn't sworn to Ryan I would do my best to keep it under fifty, I would have also bought the miniature lavender tree with lavender lights, too.

In fact, I may go back and get it. Ten dollars isn't much to pay for a PURPLE CHRISTMAS TREE.

I love Big Lots.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

I had a rough night last night, woke up feeling queasy, and have a fridge full of ingredients that I am supposed to recipize. Naturally, I decided to use my blogger dashboard to check out of reality for a few minutes and several of you had posted things you are genuinely thankful for. I figure it won't hurt me to do the same.

I am thankful for:
  • a home that is only 800 square feet so the possibility exists that I will be able to keep it clean
  • a spouse who merely raises an eyebrow when I announce I will no longer be requiring shampoo
  • parents who I want to call, and not only on the holidays when I am expected to
  • siblings who know all my flaws and find most of them wildly entertaining
  • in-laws who make me wonder what is going on in other families where in-law jokes make sense
  • ingredients and enough know-how to reasonably expect the recipes to end up successful
  • a yard big enough for a garden
  • old friends I love so much that thinking about how they are reunionating this weekend without me causes actual physical pain
  • newer friends who the promise of spending time with gets me out of bed sometimes
  • the means to keep in touch with so many more friends than I could without a phone and internet
  • a body whose health makes me intolerant of even a belly ache
  • a job where I get paid to do something I would happily do for free
  • the books I've read and the people I've known without which I wouldn't be any fun at all

Thanks!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Solution: Eavesdropping

It seems there is a general cultural consensus that solution-focused is the way to be. Tragically, I am not solution-focused. I am process-focused, which means that I prefer talking about my problems rather than fixing them. In fact, when I meet people who are all solutioney, I end up thinking they are fun-haters. The whole point of having problems is so you can talk about them and make jokes about them and bond with other people. Duh.

That said, there are a few problems I wouldn't mind solving, and most of them involve changing things that are arguably out of my sphere of influence, such as other peoples' behavior and laws of physics.

Today I have stumbled upon a solution.

Ryan is, at this very moment, chatting on the phone with a cousin. I have no idea what precipitated a conversation about the Emerald Isle, but I heard him say "I saw online that the largest zucchini in the world is in Ireland, and it made me want to go there."

One of my grievances with Ryan is that he is less keen to fritter away our savings on world travel than I. He seems to think that money will be worth more in a brokerage account than BUYING ME A TICKET TO TIBET. While I submit he has a point, my caged-bird syndrome persists. Today, by a simple act of eavesdropping, I have discovered that all I need to do to con my financial comrade into travel abroad is promise him Very Large Vegetables. Awesome. I hear that Madagascar has Radishes of Unusual Size. Right?

Perhaps I will devote more blog posts to being solution-focused and see what all the hype is about.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Who needs it?

I am obsessed with this website, which makes me think I am only moments away from joining the John Birch Society.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Pudding*

Pumpkinbefore:
Pumpkinafter:
Pumpkinwhack:
Pumpkinleaves:
Pumpkinfriends:
Pumpkinlove:

*I hear that's where the proof is.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ode to Pumpkinfest

Ode to Pumpkinfest

When the season's coming cold
And you're starting to feel old
Cast your gaze into the West
Pumpkinfest

For there's fun yet to be had
There's a costume to be clad
Come and don your Pumpkin best
Pumpkinfest

In a circle of dear friends
There's a love that all wounds mends
Feel the swelling in your chest
Pumpkinfest

Feel the laughter, feel the love
Feels like angels from above
With each guest I am more blessed
Pumpkinfest

Each new friend a new gift shares
Stories, hugs, and pumpkin wares
And my joy swells to a crest
Pumpkinfest

Spending all night eating pie
Carving squash 'till dawn is nigh
I've nary felt more successed
Pumpkinfest

Still, the rub of every party,
Even when the fun is hearty
Is how bad the house gets messed
Pumpkinfest

If you saw the present state
of our home (it is not great)
I assure you'd be impressed
Pumpkinfest

So perhaps I should require
Ere you head home to retire
That you clean at my behest
Pumpkinfest

Many pumpkins to remove
From each cranny nook and groove
Of my well-beloved nest
Pumpkinfest

By tomorrow's coming eve
I shall have my clean reprieve
Every dirty wound redressed
Pumpkinfest

Now the holiday is done
And I've had a lot of fun
Soon I'll clean but now I'll rest
Pumpkinfest

So to bed I'll shortly go
And relax from head to toe
Till I've fully decompressed
Pumpkinfest

So when next year comes around
If you find you're in my town
I'll for sure keep you abreast
Pumpkinfest

Though so many more words rhyme
I feel that I've run out of time
I don't want to be a pest,
I refuse to say incest,
As I've made it my sole quest
Not to importunely jest,
But I mustn't lack for zest
Even though I'm feeling stressed,
So accept this palimpsest
Pumpkinfest

Friday, October 23, 2009

One person's trash bag

Is my traysure.

If you think I didn't drive around for hours tonight stealing orange trash bags full of leaves from the curbs in my neighborhood, think again.

If you think I won't be using said stolen garbage to decorate for Pumpkinfest, think again.

If you think Ryan will be anything but thrilled about what this newfound abundance of decomposing leaves will mean for our compost pile, think again.

If you think 90% of said compost will be going anywhere in the garden other than right where his giant pumpkin will be planted in the spring, think again.

If you are thinking of missing Pumpkinfest, think again. So far, I have four guests traveling in from other states for this party. I stole trash for it. It's gonna rock.

Anyone know where I can get an inflatable pumpkin lawn ornament? I used to have one, but it was stolen from me by my neurotic relatives who convinced me it was frivolous, and that the limited closet space in my then-apartment should be vacated of inflatable lawn ornaments to make room for my spouse-to-be's belongings. As you can see, said neurotic relatives LACK VISION.

I'm going to bed now.

Monday, October 19, 2009

You're Invited!!!


Hear ye, hear ye and TIS THE SEASON!

To start, a riddle.

What do you get when you marry this man:
To this woman:
And add fabulous, festive friends?:
You get a little fest, is what you get. You get a PUMPKINFEST.

I have a friend; her name is Katie. She lives in the Midwest. For our purposes here, her most resounding traits are her unmatched sense of humor and her unbridled love of pumpkin-flavored treats. Pumpkin pie was served at her wedding. In May. Girl don't mess around.

It was my incredible, undeserved good fortune to be her roommate in college. Pumpkinfest was her idea. And I have stolen it.

She doesn't seem to mind.

I had lots of fabulous roommates in college, but only two named Katie, and only two integral to making Pumpkinfest what it is today. Thankfully, for the sake of minimizing confusion, they are the same two Pumpkin-loving Kates.

Kate #2 is pictured above. With green hair.

K2 taught me to take things to the next level, to go big or go home. We hosted a Pumpkinfest together that involved her teenaged brother wrestling with his friends on a tarp covered with pumpkin guts. She hand-crafted a Pumpkin Princess costume. As you can see, I really like girls who don't mess around. This year, she's coming back.

AND YOU'RE INVITED.

Come celebrate the reason for the season!

October 30. 6 o'clock-tired o'clock (we start early so we have daylight by which to carve pumpkins)

Bring:
1) A Pumpkin to carve
2) A Pumpkin flavored/themed treat to share
3) Yourself, ideally dressed as a pumpkin, but at least paying tribute in the form of an orange T shirt or something
4) Your friends and families, similarly clad.
5) I hope my 800 square foot domicile is up to this kind of festivating.

Plan to:
1) Carve your pumpkin
2) Eat pumpkin flavored/themed treats
3) Get fawned over excessively for your compliance with the costume rule
4) Stop me from forcibly kissing your pumpkin-costumed loved ones on the mouth*

I hope you'll be there! K2 is flying in from DC, so you really have no excuse. If you need more info, like the address of said fest, please email me or send me a message on facebook.

*Just kidding, I left that habit behind when I graduated from BYU

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Indecision

I have several crippling character flaws, but lately the one that has been stuck most unrelentingly in my craw is my tendency to indecision.

This does not mean I lack for opinions; on the contrary, the indecision is borne of very strongly held, yet frustratingly contradictory, opinions. Let me illustrate with a few examples, many of which were provided by Facebook updates and my blogger dashboard.

1. Eat cookies vs. run a marathon. If you are thinking that these two options are not mutually exclusive, and that you might like to post in the comments about how you feast on snickerdoodles all day long and run six marathons a year, save your time. We are fundamentally different. When I decide I'm in the mood for health, I go to the gym like a rat for hours a day and eat only salad. When these paroxysms of vitality start to get old, typically after six to eight weeks of unmitigated raw vegetation, I go back over all the recipes my diabolical friends have been posting on their blogs and decide I really ought to learn to make cinnamon rolls because it's a life skill. Tragically, I never remain in either phase long enough to satisfyingly complete any of the related goals. And I usually only have one pair of decently-fitting pants.

2. Have fun vs. grow up. Again, if you are pushing thirty and don't, in any tiny recess of your nostalgic imagination, feel that sixteen was a more entertaining time of life, you have the right to remain silent. I, for one, earnestly enjoyed spending my parents money and getting drunk on the love only an adolescent girl can have for her 47 BFFs. Don't tell me you wouldn't rather sit by the river all day talking about your best friend's boy troubles and then stay up all night trying to figure out if your crush likes you back and occasionally behaving illicitly than doing whatever laundry and making whatever dinner captured your energy today. On the other hand, adulthood has its advantages. I am smarter than I was ten years ago, and more interesting. I have a deeper perspective on myself, the world, etc., which might make me a better conversationalist. I have an increased sense of self-efficacy. But I laugh far less.

3. Invest in myself vs. procreate. I know that having children can be a wonderful experience, and optimally results in personal growth. I also know that some people manage to produce offspring while remaining fundamentally interesting human beings, as many of you have managed, fair readers. But I am pretty sure that my current schedule of working, bring a grad student, and having lots of friends, hobbies, and time to read bizarre things that catch my eye in the public library would be significantly hampered by children. And yet, my fertility, it wanes with each lunar cycle. I want to apply to PhD programs, but then who will I annoy when I am old and my body systems start to go? Who will owe me one when I am one day incontinent? Will I be irrevocably left in the dust of those who choose the sticky path of children?

4. Stay vs. leave. I have lived in Utah since I graduated high school, quite by accident. I never meant to stay, but I never had a reason to leave. Now, much to my chagrin, I am somewhat attached. I like that people always seem to be coming through town so I can stay in touch better. I like knowing my way around well enough that I don't have to figure out what I like and what to avoid. But middle America ain't my thing, and I keep fixin' to hit the road, but then I realize I am halfway through grad school and have no reason to pull me away. I bought a house, but I didn't think that meant I'd get stuck. But, sometimes, I feel as though perhaps I have. I had a genius idea, that Ryan and I could each choose five locations we had always wanted to see in the lower 48 and then plan a connect-the-dots road trip. On our way, we could take noted and photos to chronicle our journey and inform a decision about where to go next. But such trips are costly, which brings me to the next burr in my saddle.

5. Spend vs. save. A penny saved is a penny earned. Live like nobody else will so you can live like nobody else can. I've heard it. But what about this? And this? And a couple of these? How can this be a luxury when I am so convinced it's a necessity? And don't even get me started on this. I think I could decimate the IRA with a few swift clicks. This seems like it would be enriching. And I'll need this to go with this. You get the point.

6. Speak up vs. shut up. The other night, I was having a discussion with some friends. Wonderful friends. Open-minded friends, gifted with keen social skills and the ability to tolerate my presence despite my wildly flailing emotions. As I get older and my opinions grow stronger and better informed, I sense myself periodically, and increasingly, missing the forest for the trees. When a topic arises that I identify myself with, all bets for civility are off. My head threatens to explode. I can't listen. I leave feeling exposed and violated by MY OWN behavior, no matter how kind and gracious the witnesses. And, on the other hand, I like being a person of strong opinion, a person who cares about things. I like that I will say uncomfortable things sometimes for the sake of integrity and honesty. But I sense myself alienating myself from people after bursts of thinly, or un-, veiled rage over some topic, and this trend is neither advantageous to me, nor the causes which I have invited to become part of my identity.

7. Now vs. later. I'm a list-maker. I have post-its all over the place enumerating the tasks that need doing, groceries that need buying, projects I'd like to complete, activities I'd like to try. They remind me to visit the baby elephant at the Hogle zoo and to learn conversational Spanish. The trouble with my system is that it does not discriminate nor prioritize among tasks. There is nothing to indicate that sending out an invitation to Pumpkinfest (Oct. 30! Invite pending! Hope you'll be there! Bring a pumpkin to carve and a pumpkin-based/themed food item to share! Tell your friends as long as I like them!) is more urgent than learning how to create a strawberry barrel, and that studying for my Substance Abuse Counseling midterm requires attention sooner than my desire to learn to knit.

I thought identity crises were supposed to be an adolescent thing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Growing up


Fall is my favorite season. Summer this year has been less heinous than most, but still, I can't wait for fall. Labor day is always a happy day.

This Labor Day was particularly happy. I had an Illumination session with a Shamanic healer-in-training and then came home needing access to an open flame for my homework assignment. Lacking a gas stove or fireplace, I did what any reasonable person would do and dug a fire pit in my backyard.

Being as it was Labor Day, and being as I had a newly-dug fire pit, I decided that I had no option but to host a bonfire for the two of us and christen the pit. I went to the store and bought stuff for foil dinners and s'mores, and a pineapple to grill. We built a fire, cooked our food, and it was lovely.

I love campfires. Always have. My freshman year of college, building fires became something of a ritual, and a saving ritual at that. When the homesickness got too much, as it so often did, a group of girlfriends and I would often drive up into a canyon and build a fire. We'd stay up late, talking and laughing about how great all of our homes were. It was a rough year, but those nights out in the cold night around a fire kept me feeling alive, if only barely.

I remember one night in particular. It was late; we were tired. We had talked and laughed ourselves exhausted. Our spirits flagged, unfortunately, before our fire did and we had come unprepared with not a bottle of water among us. It's not responsible to leave a fire pit full of smoldering embers, this much we knew, but, for a moment, we were flummoxed as to how we could leave without potentially burning down all of Utah County.

Never one to shirk an opportunity for heroism, I stepped up to the plate or, in this case, the fire pit. I dropped my pants. And I peed that fire right out. It seemed the only solution.

Little did I know the impact this would have on my comrades. The hysteria that ensued was beyond anything I could have anticipated, to my great delight. The girls whipped themselves into a complete frenzy of gut-splitting laughter and, the greatest moment of all, one girl wet her pants. She just kept squawking about how the firelight was glinting off of the downy fuzz on my behind, and laughing even harder. Gales of laughter. Sobs of laughter. We went home completely rejuvenated, in a way only possible after a fit of hysterics intense enough to nearly hospitalize you.

Last night, as we watched the coals glowing, I thought back on the good old days. I stood up. I gathered my skirt. I looked at Ryan. And I let loose all over that fire.

Ryan didn't laugh until he wet his pants. He just looked on, mystified, and then stood up and gave me a high five.

I guess we are growing up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Again with the neighborhood

In my last post, I attempted an illustration of our new (neighbor) 'hood. Thankfully, this morning, Providence provided me with better illustration than I ever could have dreamed.

This weekend, Ryan's family is in California and they tasked us with taking their Very Fancy Car to be repaired while they were away. They dropped it off about three days ago and we left it parked across the street until we had a chance to take it to the shop, which turned out to be this morning. Imagine our delight to find this note, which I have transcribed as closely as possible for your enjoyment, written on the back of an envelope, tucked under the windshield wiper:

Please If ur visisting Across The Street please park there we don't take other peoples parking & we would Appreciate If u done the same (thanx) Our brother Died & we need all our parking space for family members That our coming In. From out of town. Please do not park Here. We do not park in There Front yard if we Did they would be complaining About our cars Its only Right u park were u live or visit we Have Family that live In these 2 Houses & the Red Apartment Building next 2 us & we don't Take each others parking
PS we Took ur licence Plate (number If we need it)

Pity they don't know that street parking is public parking. And ur welcome.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Won't you be my neighbor


Unwittingly, Ryan and I moved into the home that acts as a clear divider between a cute little neighborhood for Young Urban Professional types (the ones with macs and priuses) and a neighborhood that has a higher than average number of meth labs per square mile.

Our neighbors on the east side have lived there for eight years. They have two Schnauzer-mix mutts that they rescued from the pound and a three year old son with a squeaky little voice. They just had a baby. The first day we moved in, the husband came cheerily peeking around the fence to greet us and introduce himself. He was so nice it made me feel almost awkward, but mostly just really warm and cozy. He filled us in on some neighborhood gossip and offered to help if we ever needed anything.

When we discovered that our swamp cooler was non-functional, this dear man lent us his ladder and spent hours diagnosing the problem. He checked in with us the next day to make sure everything went ok. He is not messing around. The man is taking his neighbor-duties to the next level.

Two doors down to the west of our house, in stark contrast, there live eight hundred children between the ages of zero and ten. I can't tell them apart. They all look like Mowgli and run around, half-clad, waiting to be hit by cars.

One afternoon, we spied one of the littler Mowglis sauntering down our driveway, coming from the direction of the backyard, wearing nothing but a diaper. She is a cute little one, so we just said hi and didn't think much of it.

Two mornings later, there were some serious thunderstorms, so I went out in the morning to see what kind of toll had been taken on the vegetable garden. Things looked blown around a bit, so I set out picking up the wind-blown refuse, or so I thought. "Boy," I mused. "I wonder how this plastic vegetable start container managed to get itself wedged up here in the tomato plant! Furthermore, I've never seen a wind, myself, that could blow hedge trimmers to the other side of the patio!" As I continued my investigation, I discovered that the poppies Ryan had been painstakingly nurturing had been uprooted, as had a sugar snap pea plant.

When I alerted Ryan to the mayhem, first he spent twenty minutes spitting expletives over the lost poppies, and then proclaimed "That kid! That little girl! She must have been in the yard!"

The next evening we set up the sprinkler in the front yard and went for a little walk. When we returned we found the sprinkler moved and the grass mangled like a dog had been having a good roll around. More tragically, our potted tomato on the front porch had suffered an amputation of the limb with all the baby tomatoes on it. Still more tragic, the perpetrator had left behind a full diaper in the middle of the lawn, as a token to remember her by.

It was the final straw. We were banking on those tomatoes--they were our first of the season! So we picked up the broken tomato branch, the full diaper, and marched down two doors.

An eleven-year-old Mowgli opened the door.

"Can I talk to your mom or dad?"

Mowgli looked perplexed, but went and alerted the woman sitting at the kitchen table in front of the computer that there were visitors.

I started things off. "Hi! We're your neighbors!"

Her sullen face beckoned me on.

"Um. We have noticed that your daughter likes to play in our backyard..."

Sullen-face perked up. "You need to talk to the mom. I'm the Grandma."

"Oh, ok. Can we talk to the mom then?"

Sullen face retreated and returned with a woman who was her exact replica, save a few gray hairs.

"Hi, are you the mom?"

Sullen face Jr. just stared at me.

"Well, we have noticed that your daughter [gestures to diapered child in the next room] has been getting into our backyard..." I proffered the branch, Ryan the diaper, as evidence.

Sullen face retorted, "He's a BOY."

Evidently she didn't know how difficult it can be to accurately ascertain the gender of a child who never wears clothing and has never had a haircut.

"Oh, sorry. My mistake. Your son, then. I think he ripped this branch off of our tomato plant. And he left this [gestures to full diaper in hand of unlucky spouse] in the middle of the yard."

"He don't wear diapers."

I was flummoxed. The child before me was wearing a diaper.

She continued, "Mowgli, do you go into their yard?"

Mowgli piped up, "Yeah! Into the garden!"

Finally, victory was in sight.

I, with all the gentleness I could muster, said, "Could you ask Mowgli to stop playing in our yard? He has done quite a bit of damage already."

Sullen face stared back. We just backed away slowly and decided to take matters into our own hands.

We have started keeping the trash cans in front of the gate, but if we catch that kid in our yard once more, I'm getting an electric fence.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The New Me

The title of this post and accompanying picture may have you thinking that "The New Me" plans to eat a lot of what you see above. On the contrary. Allow me to explain.

Saturday evening, I returned from a nine day sojourn to the land of my birth and childhood, The District, The Nation's Capital, Washington DC, loveliest city I know. I had a visit with my parents and wish I lived nearer to them. How strange to be separated by thousands of miles from our families, as many of us are. I wonder if it is right sometimes.

But this is not a post about my visit home. It is about the first few hours I was back in Utah. I flew in, discovered my unsurpassable friend Jami and her children were in town, and got into the car to go visit them before I even got the suitcases into the bedroom. When I arrived at her parents' place, they were having a Peachfest, all of them eagerly diving into a box of peaces purchased from a roadside stand. Never having been one to decline any sort of Fest, especially one centered around the High Empress of summer produce, I dove right in and ate a couple of peaches. I love peaches the most.

We all sat around visiting and catching up, the kids singing and dancing around like they were in a movie, eating peaches, blueberries, chips and guacamole and any number of other summer delights, when I noticed my throat felt itchy. Moments later, my eyes did, too, and my eustachian tubes. My stomach began churning, and my face turned red and I started to sweat. I decided to go into the bathroom and hang out in there until I felt better.

The bathroom proved no relief, but was at least useful. Let's say, for the sake of decency, that my primary decision was whether to sit on the toilet or bow in front of it, and I did a fair amount of both. It was by far the most pain I have ever experienced. If any of you have ever felt that I sympathized inadequately with you in any of your abdominal crises, please accept my apologies. I now know the meaning of the word cramp.

When I emerged (crawled) out of the bathroom, Jami and her mom were waiting for me and looked horrified. Evidently, I looked pretty horrible. I proceeded to moan and write around on the floor until I noticed I was having trouble breathing and my hands and arms were tingling. They called 911.

The paramedics came and did helpful things like ask me if I knew why I was having trouble breathing. I managed to muster a look of at least mild incredulity between moans. They also took my blood pressure, I suppose to make sure I was not bound for anaphylactic shock. I wasn't, and I don't have health insurance, so they left. I continued to thrash around like a caught carp on the driveway for another half hour or so, and then the pain began to subside. Another half hour later, I was completely back to normal, just exhausted.

I have one thing to say: I will more vigorously than ever refuse to judge any woman who finds herself requesting an epidural in labor. Potential drawbacks though there may be, I would never begrudge a woman experiencing anything remotely akin to what I experienced relief. In fact, if I had been able to articulate a sentence, I may have asked the paramedics if they had an anesthesiologist on hand. Jami, mother of two, assured me that labor was different. All I'm sayin' is if I want to escape epiduralized births, I now know I will have to deliver a minimum of one thousand miles from where one is accessible.

The other thing to say is that I am now pretty scared to eat anything, and even scareder about the impending reality that my life may soon be decidedly sans peaches (awful!), avocados (worse!), or both (no longer worth living). Maybe it was the pesticides?

If anyone is an expert on diagnosing severe allergies, your advice is welcome. In the meantime, I'll be clutching an epipen and eating only rice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lucky Duck


We let our vehicle registration expire. Happens every time. The only way I ever discover this unfortunate annual act of negligence is that I receive a gift under my windshield wiper from the city police, requesting a sum to the tune of thirty dollars. That's sixty bucks a year I pay for being irresponsible.

The truck got ticketed in May. I went to contest the ticket (I've got this system down to a science) and they knocked off ten conciliatory dollars--better than nothing. Yesterday the car got ticketed. I felt like an idiot but commenced the routine. Go to the court, contest the ticket. Take a number.

The woman who helped me was a sour-face. She wouldn't make eye-contact, or laugh at my jokes--can you imagine? My jokes are so funny! Anyway, imagine my shock when she told me she had waived my ticket. I gave Ryan a high-five and kind of hopped a little. I didn't know they could just dismiss the tickets, because in the past, they have merely reduced the fee. Wahoo!

The traffic court was not the only piper to pay today, however. There was another score to be settled. Two words: library.

Ryan has a little habit of checking out large amounts of library materials. He gets really excited. The CDs! Audiobooks! DVDs! AND BOOKSBOOKSBOOKS! The man can't be stopped and, really, it't not a bad problem to have. Some husbands watch ESPN.

It would be a perfectly fine habit if it weren't occasionally challenging to keep track of bulk library checked-outs. From time to time they get forgotten, lost in the trunk, or simply remain on the to-read shelf past their expiration date. To get to the point, the man has racked up a serious fine.

Not that I can't relate. Ever since we got married, we have used only Ryan's card because I used to have a little fine-racking habit of my own. His fines were lower, so we used his card. But then, somehow (maybe the lost library books stole it) Ryan misplaced his wallet. With his library card in it. Meaning the only remaining card was mine. The card with the epic fee, the fee so large we forgot what it was and spoke of it only in hushed tones. So, we figured, we got to play with that money for a few years, and we need library books for the plane tomorrow. It's time to pay up.

We went to the library, picked up our loot, and, tails betwixt legs, went to the counter, muttering excuses for the fine so long unpaid. "There is no fine on this card," said the woman behind the counter. For a minute my brain choked. How could there be no fine? The fine was so monstrous, so overwhelming, that I have not used my own library card in three years! Seriously?

"When you don't use your library card for several years, eventually, they just erase the fine. You'll have to apply for a new card."

Hallelujah.

It takes some special moments to make a person feel like she won the lottery when all she did was spend two hundred bucks on safety and emissions testing and run some errands.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Underemployed

In a recent post I claimed I was unemployed. An observant friend reminded me that I am actually just underemployed, which is very true. The issue, now, is whether to remain underemployed.

Today I received an email from my boss that Salt Lake County's police department has a position open for a part time Victim Advocate (domenstic and sexual abuse, I think). I currently work as a victim advocate for a local non-profit, but it is an on-call position so the schedule is very unpredictable and the hours are few (except for this weekend when I did five cases in eighteen hours. Sheesh, Salt Lake.) Beginning the first of September, I will become the Hospital Response Team Leader, meaning I will take on some additional responsibilities and hours, but nothing overwhelming. When I saw the position at the police department available, I was intrigued because I have only seen the realities of sexual violence through the Feminist paradigm employed at Rape Recovery Center. I have a feeling that participating in this system through the avenue of Law Enforcement would be pretty interesting and informative. I think I could learn a lot, and that having multiple perspectives would ultimately benefit my clients both places.

Even though this position doesn't exactly command a princely wage, ever since BOTH Ryan and I quit our jobs the thought of a steady anything seems appealing. Especially with all the recent IHOP visits to pay for.

However, last year I worked two jobs and was EXHAUSTED. My brain couldn't keep up. I stopped working out, I didn't cook food, my house was a mess, I neglected all my relationships. I was completely overwhelmed. And profoundly cranky.

This year, I will be taking fewer classes, but I will also be working on my thesis. I want to say that I can find twenty extra hours in there, but I'm scared that I will hate my life again. This summer has been so happy and carefree. Ryan and I have been the BFFs we were meant to be, and I have reconnected other important relationships, too. And I ate some peaches.

What would you do?

A letter

Dear Summer,

You have always been my least favorite season because you are so freaking hot. However, this year I think I have finally come to love you more than I hate you. I consider this an act of heroism on my part.

You have been redeemed by the food you make possible. Last night I served a plate of tomatoes as a side dish and it was the most delicious thing ever. All I had to do was slice the tomatoes. That's all. It took five seconds. It was amazing. Today I ate a strawberry that grew in my back yard. Summer, you took sunlight and dirt and concocted something so delicious it was worth the million dollars we spent getting that garden working. I also ate three peaches today, maybe four. I lost count. They were so good. So, thanks, Summer.

Placated by a functioning swamp cooler,

Amy

Friday, July 31, 2009

Unemployment

Hello dear friends, stalwarts of the blogosphere. If you are reading this, clearly you are committed to staying on top of your friends' blogs, no matter how delinquent your friends may be. I compliment you.

Last year, I claimed I was too busy to blog. I think I was just too cranky. Now, as I bask in Summer Vacation (you're never too old!!!), busyness is no longer an excuse, so I present you with another: Unemployment.

I have decided not to return to working two jobs next year as I finish my graduate coursework (see above paragraph regarding crankiness). Consequently, I am working one very part-time job and waiting for school to start. Those of you who fantastize about having free time, perhaps a few hours absent the din of your squalling rugrats or crushing pressure of imminent work-related deadlines, may think that this is a prime opportunity to Get Things Done. You might be organizing your photos! Calling your Grandmother! Planning vacations with a humanitarian focus! Researching how to maximize your strawberry yield and perhaps make jam!

Let me tell you what I have been doing: eating out. And let me tell you why.

Ryan is also unemployed. He quit his job about a month ago and, although he spends considerable time brainstorming the next chapter in his professional development, he also spends considerable time suggesting we go out for pancakes.

At first it was innocent enough. He just quit his job, we figured, and deserved a little R&R. What says R&R like going out for breakfast after staying in bed until ten? Admittedly, it was blissful at first. But eating out is only fun once or twice--like anything, we quickly habituate to the new behavior and before long it seems as routine as its predecessor. Now, we are eating out like it's an acceptable way to feed ourselves. Like we're on vacation forever.

I tremble to think of looking at our credit card statement. Surely hundreds have been spent. In self-preservation, I have also hidden the scale in the linen closet.

Today Ryan is golfing and I am on call, which means I am sitting around in case my pager goes off. I really ought to go organize those pictures.

If you need me, I'll be at IHOP.

I hope school starts soon.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gender Bender

I read this post and thought I would come clean to the world myself. I'm not the girl you might have thought...

1) I LOVE lifting weights. Until I'm gonna puke. Or pass out.
2) I don't shave my legs or armpits.
3) I hate shopping.
4) I like watching mixed martial arts a.k.a. "Ultimate Fighting".
5) I hate Jane Austen. Hate.
6)I can sing the tenor line better than the soprano.
7) Babies creep me out quite a bit.
8) I think the best hair cut is a buzz and, if there weren't serious social consequences, I would buy some clippers and get on with my life.
9) I like how women look naked.
10) I think bridal and baby showers are bor-ing.
11) I never remember to send Thank You notes.

I do plenty of womanly things, too, but, sometimes, it's fun to tabulate all the ways one is just a little different. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find some brownies and chat on the phone while listening to Joni Mitchell.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This week

This week...

I decided to copy this man, whose life is exciting and worth reading about every single week. He is a funny man.

We went to a wedding here. Ryan was the best man. The lady running the reception place said his was the best toast she had ever heard. I think his secret weapon was wearing these:

If I had a brain, I would have pictures of the event. Sadly, I DO NOT HAVE A BRAIN. Picture takers, what's your secret?

When we got home, we went to Ikea immediately and bought this:
It has saved my sanity and possibly my life. The purchase of this item has set my settling process in motion and soon all will be done. Still need to hang the pictures and the mirror.

Discovered these. Ate four, all delicious. Need to figure out how to make them at home. Planning to try these. Embracing a future as a social outcast, but with flexible arteries and low blood pressure.

Couldn't believe this. Rejoiced much. Still rejoicing. When it ends, all I have to look forward to is this:
which feels like this:which is what Google Image Search thinks hell looks like, apparently.

Once it feels like that, I will need to do this. Home ownership involves a lot of doing things. Also on the list is this, this, and possibly this. In my dreams, this would also happen.

Participated in a Safe Zone training, which you can read about here, and studied about this theory for a test. Preferred the Safe Zone training by a landslide.

Read this. Felt sad for all women everywhere.

Watched the beginnings of one of these emerge from our garden. Come visit in October. We're having pie.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Survival Mode


Moving isn't really my thing. My basic disposition is pretty uptight and I tend to overwhelm easily. Change makes me panic, and projects take me forever. For the last two weeks I have been sitting in our new house eating snap peas out of a bag and staring blankly at our mountains of belongings. Help?

We don't have a dishwasher, a commodity upon which I have grown dependent. In fact, I think I've completely forgotten how to live without one. For the last almost three week Ryan and I have subsisted on smoothies, canned soup, nuts and fruit. Oh, and the snap peas. Oh, and Thai food. I don't dare make a mess of the kitchen for fear I won't be able to clean it up. The recent demise of our microwave has made this packaged-food-lifestyle more of a challenge, but we press on.

The bedroom is the most put-together of all the rooms, except that nothing has been hung on the walls, including our only mirror. The resulting lack of feedback on my appearance has only caused minor trouble as far as I know. For example, last weekend, Ryan and I went to a wedding and I figured I would curl my hair for the event (I am convinced that curling my hair makes up for a pretty wide range of hair neglect consequences. I curl my hair less often than you might expect for someone whose hair looks like it was cut with a weed-wacker). I ended up scorching my neck pretty badly. Thankfully, since we have no mirror, I couldn't see the disgusting, leaky, dime-sized lesion that developed on a highly-visible spot on my neck. My heart goes out to those I've encountered during the healing process who felt like they should pretend they didn't notice. Sorry, guys. That must have been awkward.

The day after we moved Ryan and my brother spent all day tilling up a huge patch of the yard for a garden. Tragically, we discovered that most of the yard is shaded for much of the day. Anyone know a tree surgeon? Because we have a Box Elder that is getting offed. In general, Ryan has been taking great initiative with the yardwork which delights me to no end. As part of his initiative, he pruned the large rosebush in the front yard. Unfortunately, he was not aware that this bush, the most beautiful of all plants I have ever laid eyes on, brought me peace in my moving-trauma. I would stand outside and look at all the beautiful, fat, red roses and smell them and feel like we had bought the right house after all. When I came home after a long night at work to discover my precious roses had been, shall we say, aggressively pruned I had a meltdown. I have since recovered but I still wish I had at least gotten a picture of the thing in full resplendence to show you people. I have been assured repeatedly that it will be back, so I guess we shall all have to wait until then. With the exception of the Rose Incident, I am thrilled with the grounds and love them nearly as much as the groundskeeper. The garden, seems to be getting off to a reasonably good start and in the fall, with a little luck, we should have one of these to show you, also courtesy of Ryan's great enthusiasm. He's really, really excited about it.

Beyond the slow, painstaking process of finding places to stash all our stuff, and the general increased workload, home ownership is also downright scary. What if the grass dies? What if we get a termite infestation? Why does the dyer only work occasionally? How does one install a dishwasher? What about swamp coolers? What's up with those? What if the garden dies and we wasted our money? What if the whole thing burns down? Then what? Huh? Then what?

It is easy to believe that one can shop one's way out of one's misery. By some miracle of illogic, I am convinced that I can ameliorate the stress of owning more than I know what to do with only by purchasing MORE stuff. Here, for example, is the current object of my affections. But, Amy! You already own THIS bookshelf! But, you see, I need another. The larger one lives in the living room next to the reading chair. It is where I put books for reading. The new desk/shelf configuration would provide a place to put textbooks, file boxes, binders, photos, CDS, etc. Books NOT for reading. See? I need a new shelf. My hands are tied.

Moving is expensive and stressful. I'd love to have you all over for a barbeque, but for the time being all I can really offer is eating snap peas on the nearly-dead lawn. Any takers?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

To Do X 60

1. Launder all the clothing in the house
2. Study for a psychometric measurements exam
3. Accompany Somali refugee family on a bus tour of Salt Lake City
4. Find others who may want to accompany refugee families on bus tours of Salt Lake City
5. Purchase a bicycle and see if I still know how to ride it
6. Attend fundraiser
7. Learn about permaculture
8. Help Jacki move
9. Collect boxes
10. Purge unnecessary belongings
11. Pack necessary belongings
12. Give 30 days notice to the ousting land-people
13. Tidy the house
14. Sell a pile of comic books Ryan purchased with his paper route money in the early nineties
15. Write self-reflections about various issues pertinent to my multicultural competency level
16. Evaluate my performance in multicultural counseling class. Choose the high road of honesty. 17. Cry.
18. Meet with real estate agent and do as I am told
19. Take car to the shop for repairs required after being smashed into while parked in a driveway
20. Get gas in the truck
21. Buy soymilk
22. Plan Sunday dinner
23. Return (unworn) underwear to Target
24. Clean out files
25. Figure out what books I need for summer term
26. Purchase books for Summer term
27. Read Chapters 1-17 in my multicultural counseling textbook so I can say I did it on my self-evaluation
28. Review Qualitative article on traumatic birth
29. Turn in article review to professor
30. Write paper about a fake psychopathology of my invention (suggestions welcome)
31. Fantasize about Ikea
32. Ruminate on the possibility of earthquake
33. Make mental game plans for how to survive earthquake
34. Print new fertility chart
35. Write a report on panel discussion I attended about Black Masculinity
36. Wax legs and underarms. Maybe.
37. Investigate stacked washer/dryer units
38. Sell non-stacked washer and dryer on craigslist
39. Learn to make bread
40. Fix brakes on the truck
41. Call Qwest and have a hissy fit because they have charged me $55 a month when the rate we agreed upon was $15, be on hold for three hours, use all cell phone minutes for lack of alternative, march angry self to Qwest location downtown and chain angry self to a pole and refuse to stop screaming until issued a refund, BASTARDS
42. Pay summer tuition
43. Cry
44. Create a summer calendar
45. Contact neglected friends because I still love them
46. Purchase one of these and one of these and rid self of all other floor-cleaning apparati
47. Learn to make household cleaner (find the recipe Adriana sent me years ago involving Borax)
48. Run a marathon
49. Convince Ryan we need a Macbook and rid self of all other spontaneously-combusting computing apparati
50. Learn about diaper-free babies
51. Buy art
52. Learn about home maintenance including but not limited to evaporative cooling systems, furnaces and the servicing thereof, water heaters, roofs and rain gutters, etc. (suggestions welcome)
53. Call Chris and ask about his shingles (roof, not viral)
54. Buy caracara oranges
55. Teach a lesson about sexual assault to teenagers, attempt to remain composed when they ask who goes to jail if both people were too drunk to consent
56. Work on lit review for thesis
57. Call doula instructor to see if she has any ideas about how I can recruit participants
58. Plan Ryan's birthday (his preference not to acknowledge it will not be honored)
59. Eat a mango
60. Wash sheets

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Of Money Pits Etc.


When we went back to Vlad's, he had clearly been instructed by his real estate agent to keep a lid on it. His behavior was exactly what you would expect of a Labrador who has recently learned the command 'stay' and is expected to remain still despite the hunk of cheese just inches from his nose. The man was having a hard time. He was obviously trying to leave us alone, but instead of just going out on the porch and having a much-needed cigarette, he tried to look nonchalant as he awkwardly followed eight feet behind us. A few times when he was trying to keep it real, I think he actually squeaked. Poor guy.

We placed an offer on his house.

It was accepted.

The inspection was scheduled. When we arrived, the inspector was in the basement. First thing out of his mouth was "Have you guys MET THE OWNER?" We nodded knowingly. "Yes, we have. Has he been following you around, too?"

"He was, and he was talking so much I couldn't do the inspection. Finally I had to tell him straight out that I needed him to leave me completely alone so I could do what I was hired to do." Poor Vlad. It's hard to sit on the porch with hunks of cheese walking around inside the house.

The inspector advised us of his concerns with the house. They were extensive and expensive. He used the term "money pit," which is not music to the ears of a first time home-buyer. At one point he started a sentence with, "I just know if you were my kids..." and then trailed off. I guess he decided he may have crossed one of those subtle-yet-palpable inspector/home-buyer boundaries, but we got the point. We bailed. Sorry Vlad. Might want to replace that furnace. Oh, and insulate the attic while you're at it. And shut the merciful H up.

Even after making the offer, the truth was I never felt fully comfortable with Vlad's place. I mean, the peach tree was a major selling point, but in truth it just didn't ring my bell. As a wise friend told me on g-chat, a person should buy a house that speaks to them. Vlad's didn't. But there was another one that did. This was the great tragedy.

As I stewed and festered about Vlad's, never comfortable even though I had signed the contract, there was another place I couldn't get out of my head. The yard was larger and would need more maintaining...the location wasn't quite as prime...but it had a really cool bathtub. A really, really cool bathtub. So I called our agent again. I know, we put an offer on that one house, and I know it was accepted, but I just can't get that bathtub out of my head--is it too late to go see it again?

A paragon of patience, our merciful agent called. The House of the Beautiful Bath was under contract. Someone else's contract. Our contract was with Vlad.

My heart sank, but I tried to be strong. "What's for you won't go by you," my Scottish great-grandmother used to say. But I was disappointed. Even moreso once I found out we wasted our contractual moment on the hoar frost of Vlad's.

It was back to the house hunt for us. The emailed lists of dismal properties (only dismal properties are generally available in our price range), the visiting abominable little houses waiting to blow down with one huff-and-puff. But, with no other options, a-hunting we did go. While we were touring a house that my sister-in-law called the Alice in Wonderland house for its nausea-inducing tippiness, the agent's phone rang.

"The contract on the house with the tub fell through! How much time do you have?"

My heart skipped a beat and then it sang. I pumped my fist in the air like an idiot. I told her I would risk failing my measurements class to see that bathtub just once more, and we went right over.

The tub was even lovelier than I remembered. So was everything else. The house, it spoke to me! Glory, glory! We put in our offer the next morning and it was accepted.

The inspection is tomorrow. Pray hard that the guy doesn't say "money pit" again. I can't take much more of this.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chateau Vlad


Uncle Sam has decided to kick us to the curb; starting June 1 there will be no apartment subsidy for us. Goodbye $578 a month. I will never forget you. I will love you forever.

The upside of this fiasco is that the lack of reasonably priced rental properties in desirable locations has driven us into the home-buyers market. With so many incentives to buy we could honestly lose 15% of the purchase price and still come out ahead if we sell the place in two years when I finish school, per the five year plan. So it's house hunting for us.

The process has been a whirlwind. We decided just a week ago that we'd like to consider buying a home and are now in the final throes of selection and settling. It is insane. We have held it together relatively well, all things considered, though it would be unfair to fail to report that last night I broke down in a hysterical fit of laughing/crying and actually speaking in tongues. Ryan is faring better. I have mostly recovered.

The best part of buying a house is getting to break into strangers houses, with or without them present. Yesterday we went into a home that had a post-it written on a side door telling us to simply say "kennel" if we wanted to check out the laundry room on the other side. The "friendly dog", we were promised, would hasten to his kennel. Against our better judgment we tried it out and the well-trained beast did in fact obey us, his unexpected and unfamiliar masters. Still, I consider it one of life's little adventures.

Most interesting, though, are the visits where the current tenants are present for the tour. At one home, an entire family lounged around watching TV while we attempted to make ourselves scarce and still get a good look a the place. Tragically, what I most recall getting a good look at was the underpants-clad gentleman reclining on the sofa in the front room who first welcomed us. Although a concerned woman, presumably his wife, hastily covered him with a blanket, we retained a fairly good view of most of him for most of the visit.

My personal favorite, though, has been Vladimir. Bless his heart, the man wants to sell. Most of the property details online describe the sellers as "motivated" but they really ought to have added a superlative for Vlad. When we arrived he was waiting on the front porch, eager to guide us into the parking space out front. He ushered us in, advising us that his wife, who works nights, was asleep, only to then open the bedroom door and turn on the light, revealing a bedroom whose only memorable trait was a wifely lump in the bed. He spared no detail. The bed containing his wife, he assured us, could be included with the house, no problem I'm thinking sans the wife, but you can neve be sure.) Or his kids bunk beds, for that matter, we could have those, too. The circa 1988 blue sofas a la Sears could be ours if we needed them--they were old, sure, but could serve the new tenants until they could be replaced. Cooling the place should be no problem. There was an evaporative cooler, so nice in the summer because not only does it cool the air but also imparts moisture! In our dry desert clime! Relief sublime! Or, if we preferred, he also had an a/c window unit he'd be happy to leave behind. Whatever we like! The attic was in good condition, perhaps we might like to put a bedroom or two atop the little bungalow? It could be done with ease! All we would need was to place a spiral staircase in the middle of the tiny living room. It would be a piece of cake! In the back yard stood a tiny peach tree that, he delighted to tell us, would give fruit in the summer. The fruit was small, but sweet and delicious! The basement! Did we need his tools? BECAUSE WE COULD HAVE THEM!! WE COULD HAVE ANY DAMN THING WE WANTED! WOULD WE LIKE TO HAVE HIS FIRSTBORN SON? HE COULD BE OURS IF WE WOULD BUY HIS HOUSE!!!!

All the caps lock in the kingdom cannot approach justice to Vladimir's enthusiasm about his house. Bless his heart, his strategy is not well-suited to the real estate market. We ran out of there as fast as we could, and, after we recollected our exhausted brains, all we could remember about the experience was his yammering.

We decided on another house. This morning we were set to make an offer. The plan was to meet the realtor this morning at 8:15.

Last night I lay awake thinking. The house we'd picked--was it the best choice? Would Ryan be happy there? Would I? Was there lead paint? Could we rent it or resell it when the time came? Thoughts of other houses floated through my mind as I prepared to kiss the other options goodbye...but I kept thinking of Vladimir and his little peach tree.

We woke up and went to the realtor's. The first words wout of her mouth were "What about that place with the loud guy? Have you given it any more thought?" Strangely, I had! As we talked more Ryan discovered that in his last-minute farewell searches last night he had landed on Vlad's place and wondered why we hadn't visited it (understandably he didn't remember the house, only its owner.) We decided to go back.

In the final hours of our house hunt we just have to see it again, just in case. But I'm prepared to hit Vlad with a tranquilizer dart if he doesn't shut up and leave us alone. If we want his weed wacker, we will ask for it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ditto

This is one of the best things I've read in awhile.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bummer

Today Ryan got some sushi at the grocery store. He chose the roll that had been drizzled with a benign looking brown sauce; the alternatives were all drizzled with some kind of pink mayo (Utahns love their pink mayo condiments; see here). When he got home he discovered that the brown sauce which was presumed to have been inspired by Asian cuisine was BARBEQUE sauce.

We need to move. STAT.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

ironic

Read this today:

"The action orientation is particularly important in offsetting claims that
some feminist theories have become so esoteric, jargonistic and elitist
(Hemmings, 2007), that they are no longer relevant and may even be harmful if
applied in colonizing and patronizing ways (McEwan, 2001; Williams & Lykes,
2003)."

The action orientation may be offsetting these claims, but this sentence sure as H isn't. I think academia needs to take itself more seriously.

NOT!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The time has come



Ok, maybe it hasn't quite come, but if there is a more compelling reason to buy a TV than more of this, please let me know. I'm thinking about saving up my allowance to get more Jon Stewart into my life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Everybody needs a hero

In college I had several professors who made an impact on my life, but one stands above as having been transformational. I still think she is terrific. I linked awhile back to her project, WomanStats, but thought I would also include a link here to an article about the project. It is fascinating.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Early morning meeting

I am a teacher. Before becoming a teacher I was not aware that people could be conscripted into professions outside the armed services, but I learned last fall that one of the rare exceptions is to ill-conceived teaching positions. I was hired without my permission and have been struggling to stay afloat ever since.

I like the students fine. And the curriculum I teach, it's ok. Nothing special. But I just can't seem to get my professional mojo working for me. When the kids ask a question, I tend to answer it rather than call my attorney. This has evidently been an error in judgment.

Coupla weeks ago I taught a lesson on nutrition. I stuck to the script for the most part, but I threw in an extra bit about eating lots of fruits and veggies, you know, for good measure. Lo and behold, a few days later my supervisor calls to tell me that two kids with eating disorders went home and promptly off the deep end. One threw away all the animal products in her house; the other announced she would henceforth be eating kidney beans. Only. Imagine my surprise. As you may suspect, even mojo-less I did not advocate either of these dietary strategies, and certainly not in class. I said eating plants was healthy, yes I did. But that was it. For once in my life I didn't say anything freaky (at least I thought I didn't; perhaps I need more regular consultation with non-freak to help me identify when I have headed off into freak-territory.)

Tomorrow morning I will meet with my supervisor, her supervisor, the vice-principal and principal, not to mention the health teacher with whom I am expected to co-teach. Each one of these individuals is at least twenty years my senior and has a graduate degree in education. I got nothin'. It doesn't look promising.

My strategy is to lay low and hope to get fired, which seems a much fairer alternative to continue teaching as a publicly-shamed pariah. If I can't manage to get canned right away, I may have to drop a few "well, those kids should have known better" or "Well, I'm not going to teach the curriculum--I'm a gonna teach the truth!" and see where they get me. I'm hoping for the unemployment office.

Turns out teaching isn't for me.

*Meeting over. Cried in front of everyone. Wasn't fired. Disappointed. Counting down until May.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Big News (not pregnant)


Can you tell what my big news is based on the picture? MY HAIR FINALLY GOT LONG ENOUGH FOR A PONY TAIL! A real, live ponytail! How thrilling! It took one and one third years, but it happened.

I was feeling real proud and things were going along fine when I noticed that I was putting off showering for way too long (for the sake of my mother I will refrain from specifying how long I consider way too long.) My reason? Too much hair. Takes forever to dry it; who's got the time? So I started germinating an idea that I would cut my hair, just a little to thin it out, maybe save myself fifteen or twenty minutes in dry-time. A couple weekends ago I went to a conference and during the keynote address I was sitting behind a lady with great hair. It was long enough to tuck behind her ears and looked like she could probably skip blow-drying altogether. I scoped her out, trying to notice all the details but when it became apparent that I did not have the vocabulary to provide an adequate description to a hypothetical stylist, I decided a papparazzi approach would be simpler. Out came my phone and I faked texting while I took picture after picture. Every time she moved her head I took another one. Doesn't she have nice hair?
Looks like the other lady at the table figured out I wasn't texting, but it seems like she's cool with it.

After snapping several pictures and feeling like I doing something illegal, or at least impolite, I decided to just ask her where she got her hair cut. I followed her out of the conference and disclosed my surreptitious picture taking (It's all about disclosure.) She was very nice about it and gave me her stylist's name. I was tickled pink and scheduled an appointment as soon as I could.

After years of ownership of my hair you would think I would know that haircuts that make others look like J Crew models have a more helmet-like quality on my own head. My grandmother assures me I will be grateful for my sturdy hair when I'm in my eighties; I'm not so sure I'll care. Here's the new hair, the moment you've all been waiting for.

While I am discussing my hair (watch me act like 90% of the posts on this blog aren't about my hair...) I thought you might like to know that I found my favorite. My favorite individual hair. It's gray, see?Also, as of now I am aware that I kind of have freckles.

Back to the hair. I found it when I was twenty three and then misplaced it. I'm happy to have found it again. I have always thought gray hair was very elegant and buys one some extra credibility, so I'm all for this little silverino multiplying. When I have a whole bunch, I'll get working on that long gray braid I've had my heart set on since high school.

Whatever. YOU'RE the freak around here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wombo

I only pretend to know what's going on most of the time. For instance, my novice participation with Facebook led me today to discover a word where I wasn't sure if it was a real word with unique meaning or a simple wombo. The word was netbook. So I went to wikipedia who not only informed me that netbook both has discrete meaning and etymology as a wombo, but also informed me that there is a nice, pretentious word for wombo. This word in portmanteau. You may repay me for this update in cash or in kind.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Study Break

Due to the plague, I am behind in school, but school waits for no woman. I am supposed to give a 3-hour presentation on mood disorders and hand in a 5 page reflection paper on a conference I attended last weekend on Tuesday and also turn in the introduction and guiding paradigms sections of my research precis on Wednesday. Yikes.

At the moment I'm writing the outline for the mood disorder presentation and I came across a little tidbit that I thought the internet might appreciate. Did you know that, when referring to age cohorts, the technical term for those aged 85+ years is the old old? That's right. The old old. You heard me. As you might suspect, this got me laughing. But then it got me thinking.

Perhaps most traits, such as age, occur along some type of spectrum. Take height for example. At 5'3" I am short, but not exactly short short. At 6'1" Ryan is tall indeed, but tall tall? I think you'd have to be 6'3" or taller.

The textbook that opened my eyes to the possibility of being old old also referred to "the two genders", which is a notion I am about to contend. Me, I wear skirts a lot. And mascara almost always. I have probably skipped mascara less than once a week for the last fifteen or so years (with a couple of phases skipping it for a few weeks, or maybe a month or two, at a time, but I always come back.) I don't however, shower more than a couple times a week, and never have. Each shower takes about five minutes. While I'm in there I use no products that require a pouf or smell like gum, and I don't own a razor. So, while you could definitely say I identify as gender-female, I wouldn't say I make the cut for female female. You hear me?

As I delivered this insight to Ryan he paused for a minute and then said "...kind of like when you like 'em like 'em."

Exactly.

Feel free to list your own descriptors in the comments. I think this has potential to be pretty funny.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Trollsta

Ryan has a chair in the corner of the living room where he does his reading and computering. Unfortunately, this means that the computer is always laying around on the floor looking slovenly. I decided that we should go to Ikea, the happiest place on earth, to get a tiny table to live next to the chair and be a home for the computer.

So we went today, to Ikea, and strolled around keeping our eyes peeled for a table smaller than 16"X16". And we found the Trollsta, pictured above, whose dimensions are 15 3/4" X15 3/4". Such a cute little Trollsta. Like the tabley offspring of a gangsta and a troll.

IT COST $79.99. Did Ikea forget that it's job was to make things CHEAP? Who told Ikea that it was ok for them to charge nearly a hundred smackers for a table that would fit in a doll house? What the h?

I still wish little Trollsta were mine. But I suppose I'll have to wait until I win the lotto.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Hard Stuff

For those who may have been concerned that I have neglected to post about my illness because I am sipping Jack Daniels in the closet while weeping about how much I love my high school friends, put your minds at ease.

I switched to opiates and they work even better than booze!

After spending all of Sunday night hacking up "a lung" (code for gross lungey particulate matter in colorful gak-like suspension) I called the student health center at 7:30 a.m., when they, mercifully, open for business. I plead my case. I told them they already knew everything they needed to know and that I couldn't afford to come in for another appointment (don't tell my mom, I don't have insurance.) FIX IT!, I cried. And the kind doctor lady took ten minutes to explain all about my sickness to me and all about the medicines I had been taking and all about the new medicines I would soon be taking and, well, she made me feel like a real expert. If any of all y'all get sick, call me. I am newly certified in treating upper respiratory infections on a budget.

End of story, the new (code for opiate-laden) cough syrup worked like a charm and I am on the road to recovery which I have celebrated by purchasing a single serving key lime pie from the local fake-mex place and doing my homework. Hopefully this weekend I will learn to sleep unassisted again.

But I think I'll cash in on the refill, just in case I need it.

Codeine, I love you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Update on my lungs

It is 5:30 a.m. as I write this and I have been awake for several hours. I have come to the conclusion that medicine does not work.

For the first few weeks of this bug I tried to avoid the drugs, per my usual preference, but once I started, as my brother quipped last night, "hittin' the sauce" I have been breaching all kinds of generally held rules of conduct. Last night Ryan noticed that my homemade medicinal brew was nothing more than extra-strength half-price Nyquil: two tablespoons of grain alcohol, two generic brand Benadryl, and a heaping teaspoon of Buckley's "tastes bad, works great" cough syrup. In other words alcohol, antihistamine, and cough suppressant. Check the back of your Nyquil. It's identical. I guess I'm not as inventive as I thought I was.

Also, thanks for all the comments, concerns, and advice. If anyone would like to donate a lung, I'd appreciate that, too. Mine's broke.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Scandal and a Wombo

Two years ago, Ryan and I spent Christmas with his family in Northern California. While we were there we visited with a few of my friends from high school. They are hilarious folks who make me proud of where I came from and I was also proud to introduce them to Ryan, in other words, where I am going. We spent a long evening together in their bachelor pad in Oakland, talking about potential band names and the night was full of revelry. However, one subject of conversation captivated me more than the others. It was on that fateful night that I was introduced to a new favorite among creative pursuits: the WOMBO. It is a contraction of "word" and "combo" and means what you'd think. Sometimes wombos can be really funny (runny?). I encourage you to start looking for them in your day to day, or making them up when the mood strikes. It will make you giggle.

Unrelatedly, or so you might think, my difficulty sleeping has driven me to desperation. I took Nyquil for a week or two of this impertinent virus, and it worked moderately well. But this last weekend I threw out my back while attempting to physically harangue my two year old niece and this has complicated the sleep issue further. Few positions are comfortable, and when I do manage one, racking coughs send my whole backarratus into a spasm. Thus, the nights have been long and sleepless (leepless!). As exhaustion has driven me to my last shred of dignity (shignity!), I found myself searching for home remedies for coughs on the internet. I googled and googled and found in the end that there was one remedy that trumped the others: the dreaded alchobooze.

I am not a drinking woman. Probably most of you are as confident in this fact about me as I. But last night, through a fit of hacking, a facking if you will, I pitifully requested that Ryan walk to the liquor store and see if they had any alcohol I could drink. He was confused and apprehensive. Alcoholism runs in my family, he postulated, what if I found a fondness for the stuff? Perhaps, dear, but if I don't sleep again tonight I'm going to find a fondness for cutting my face with butter knives. GET ME SOME BOOZE.

And so he dutifully went and retuned home with a brown paper bag containing a three dollar plastic bottle of rum.

I filled the Nyquil measuring cup to the 1 oz. mark, tried to remember what little I knew of painlessly imbibing alcohol (something about not tasting it by "throwing it back"; I wondered how that might be best achieved), plugged my nose, and swilled it down. It burned. It tasted awful. I gagged.

BUT I DIDN'T COUGH. For the first time in a month, my bronchioles were quiet. I laid down in bed and slept for nine hours.

The next day the coughing resumed in full force. All day, the exhausting misery of involuntary, violent abdominal contractions. And then the burned pan. When Ryan got home from work at 10:15, I was at the end of my rope, standing at attention with the plastic bottle of foul-tasting relief.

Again, I faced the conundrum of making the process a little less punishing. I desired to avoid the gagging, in particular. But we don't have soda or juice. I thought and thought. I thunk, even.

And then it hit me! There was one sweet liquid in the house! MAPLE SYRUP! And so I skipped off to the kitchen to retrieve the spoonful of sugar intended to help the medicine go down. I poured the maple into the cup. I added a tablespoon of rum. I tried to mix them with my pinky finger. Tragically, the discrepant viscosities of the two fluids made them inharmonious. They were oil and water, Jekyll and Hyde. They were not made to marry.

Deeming the unmixed brew still more appetizing than the rum alone (good heavens, you'll have to trust me) I closed my eyes and I drank it.

I wouldn't be a woman of my word if I told you it wasn't gross. But it went down and made my limbs feel a little heavy and I got into bed. As I lay there, I had a stroke of genius, a stroke that made drinking maple-rum terrine worth it. This is where our conversation today comes fircle.

"Ryan?" I mumbled as I drifted into a coughless sleep "We should tell everyone we know about rumple syrup. It really, really helps you sleep when you have a bad cough..."

He laughed. And I slept for the next twelve hours.