Wednesday, December 27, 2006

feverishly packing and cleaning

Quick blog update so that my blog doesn't sit lonely and collecting dust for the next two weeks:

Leaving a day early (tomorrow) for London in a desperate attempt to get the h-e-double-hockey-sticks outta here before we get dumped on with another massive amount of the white stuff that we lovingly call snow.

Had a wonderful Christmas with both families, although it was pretty much a blur. Got my new camera- very excited to inaugurate it in Europe. And the U.A.E.

Hopefully will have lots of stories and pho-tos (saying it Britishly) before MLK day in January.

My mind is going a mile a minute, but I am very sleepy, too. Better finish what I have to do and get to bed.

Cheerio!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

oy vey with the snow and the wind


This picture shows the snow on the ground outside my window, and the snow that has been caught by the trees, but unfortunately it does not catch the snowflakes that are whizzing by my window, completely horizontally.*

I may be stuck at work today if this keeps up, in which case I will have to eat paper, drink water from a device I fashion outside my window that will catch the melting snowflakes that may never melt at this rate, and contact Mike via morse code on an old transponder that I will find laying in some obscure storage closet. (I really have no idea what a transponder is or does, or if that is even a real thing.) Hopefully I will make it home safely, but the quietness at the office this time of year really does make my imagination go crazy. It happened last year too- I remember devising escape routes from the Union if any bad guys happened to show up to ruin our Christmas cheer.

*I apologize for the poor quality photo taken from my cell phone. In just a few short days I will hopefully have a Kodak Z612 digital camera in my possession, and my photos will be so beautiful that they will make you cry.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

christmas story

'Twas the Tuesday of the work week, and all through the office

Not a creature was stirring, not even a faculty member.

The files were hung in the file drawers with care,

In hopes that I would soon get the files there.

I was nestled all snug in my desk and wishing it were my bed

While visions of a new digital camera danced in my head.

Mike in his flannel shirt and I in my crocheted cap,

Were wishing we could settle down for a long winter's nap.


And so on and so forth.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

because hair is the thing that grows back

So. I got my hair cut at lunchtime today. And I went for it. I got the bangs. I have seen a lot of cute quasi-bangs lately, and I decided it was time for me to jump on the bandwagon. Normally I don't fret too much about making drastic changes to my hair, but when the bangs got cut, I felt myself getting a little short of breath. She asked me how much bangs I wanted, and what length I wanted. I really just made a complete guess, and they didn't turn out exactly as I had imagined. Of course, my haircuts never turn out the way I imagine, because I basically envision myself as an entirely different person, usually with dramatic eyebrows and a dramatic jawbone. Who knows why.

I'm a little nervous what Mike is going to think...he is not a fan of the bangs. But I think they are quasi enough that it will be ok...I hope. I am having a difficult time controlling them right now. I also decided to start parting my hair on the side, so I really just don't know what to do with my head right now. I keep trying to make sure that my bangs are ok, that they didn't wander over to some strange spot or fall completely into my eyes. Then I do the horribly annoying, 80's male pop star flick of the head to get them to go back. That is going to have to stop. Quickly.

And for anyone who has seen Dana Carvey's standup routine from about 10 years ago, all I have running through my head is his impression of Marcia Clark: "I'm gonna cut my bangs! I'm gonna cut my bangs!" So, if nothing else, at least my new bangs amuse me.

Monday, December 11, 2006

LiLo

Red pen corrections of a recent Lindsey Lohan email diatribe: http://gofugyourself.typepad.com/go_fug_yourself/2006/12/confessions_of_.html

I really don't know what she's talking about, but this was just too funny not to share.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

toxic accountants

What I just overheard one (male) professor say to another (male) professor right outside my office:

"You're like the Britney Spears of the Accounting department".

And no, he didn't mean that he married his backup dancer, or that he became a baby factory, or that he suddenly lost any speck of judgment he had left and started hanging out with Paris Hilton.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

sandy claws


Tomorrow is the feast of Saint Nicholas for both the Orthodox and Catholic Churches (and the nameday of my father-in-law). I thought it might be fitting in this season to remember where our "Santa Claus" comes from. Here is a little of what the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has to say about him:

This Saint lived during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, and reposed in 330. As a young man, he desired to espouse the solitary life. He made a pilgrimage to the holy city Jerusalem, where he found a place to withdraw to devote himself to prayer. It was made known to him, however, that this was not the will of God for him, but that he should return to his homeland to be a cause of salvation for many. He returned to Myra, and was ordained bishop. He became known for his abundant mercy, providing for the poor and needy, and delivering those who had been unjustly accused....

Legend has it that Saint Nicholas tossed bags of gold secretly into the house of three girls in the middle of the night, because their father could not afford a dowry for them to marry. When the girls discovered it, the story became widely known, and people everywhere began to thank Saint Nicholas when they received an unexpected or secret gift. Sound familiar?

I think it's nothing but beneficial to have a little more perspective on the traditions that seem to come to us so steadily and consistently, yet still change so drastically over time. I know that so many people try to sidestep the commercialism that has become part and parcel with Christmas, while others want it to simply be a time to buy presents without the religious undertones. The only way that either can achieve their goal is to learn the history. So I'm just doing my portion.

In any case, Happy Saint Nicholas Day.

p.s. He is also the patron saint of travelers, in case you're interested.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

bust a cap

Mike and I got a hand-me-down X-Box today. Normally I am not all that interested in video games, but the prospect of more free time on my hands, and a used copy of Tetris that just might be waiting for me at the local video store, is a little scary to think about. I may need a group for this one. "My name is Erin, and I am a tetris-aholic."

Plus, our once quiet and stable home is about to become rampant with violence and rap music, as Mike's favorite game is, ironically, GTA. (I can't even bring myself to spell out what that stands for.)

Lord help us all.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

fermentation

Random internet spotting: 50 weird uses for vinegar

My favorites from the list:

9. Keep chickens from pecking each other. Put a little in their drinking water.

Dem dang ol chickens. I ask you- what in the world does vinegar do that calms chickens to a mild, pacifist way of life? Do the Amish drink vinegar?

20. Feel good. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, with a bit of honey added for flavor, will take the edge off your appetite and give you an overall healthy feeling.

Your face may pucker up so tight that you cannot even see out of your eyes, but boy will you feel gooood.

38. Get rid of cooking smells. Let simmer a small pot of vinegar and water solution.

No longer will my house smell like garlic and herbs and other foods (that some would say are delicious), instead it will be filled with the delectable aroma of cooking vinegar. My husband has made sushi in our house, and I can certainly vouch for the fact that heated vinegar is not a pleasant smell.

45. Take grease off suede. Dip a toothbrush in vinegar and gently brush over grease spot.

The next time you go to the diner in your blue suede shoes and accidentally drop your 50-cent patty melt, remember- a little vinegar will do the trick.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

giving thanks


What a lovely holiday, Thanksgiving. We really enjoyed the day, as we were able to be with both of our families, and the whole day went very well. It was only made better when we decorated our Christmas tree on Friday night while we watched Family Man on TV. It's times like these that remind me how enchanted I was growing up with the thought of having my own family and starting our own holiday traditions. The romanticism that inevitably comes with this time of year always warms me right up. And to top it off, Mike bought me It's a Wonderful Life on DVD- does it get any better?
We're quickly approaching our trip to Europe, and it typically becomes a topic for discussion at dinner. We're both maddeningly excited for it, and thinking about everything we'll see makes me crazy with anticipation! I hope that everyone else had a great Thanksgiving and was able to take a rest from everyday concerns. Best wishes for the holiday season.

Friday, November 17, 2006

may i introduce you to the bookworm

In exactly two weeks from now, I will be almost finished with the Holiday Market (at which I am selling things of the crochet persuasion). Any free time that I've had in the last three months, I have tried to fill with some crochet project. I think every time our neighbor comes upstairs to visit, I am glued to the couch, surrounded by yarn and scissors and a pattern, practically making my eyes cross while staring at whatever I happen to be making. I hope she doesn't think I'm crazy. I decided last year around this time (when we were getting ready for the market over at the Union) that I wanted to make a bunch of stuff over the year and sell it this time around. And after finishing a blanket that took forever back in the early fall, I began to panic that I didn't have enough to sell, and I have been a machine ever since.

A few other aspects of my life have been somewhat neglected. Mike is even sad sometimes when I can't just sit and enjoy a movie, I have to have a light on and a project in hand. I do of course have to keep up with homework and house stuff, but some of my hobbies besides crochet (which has lately become a chore) have been completely overlooked, namely reading. I have not read one flipping book in months, and I am saddened by this.

I walked by someone the other day near my office who was sitting in a chair in the hallway, casually reading a novel, and my heart had pangs at the thought of being able to just sit and read. I am starting to twitch when I imagine picking up some fiction and just getting lost in it. I almost considered starting something now, but I told myself that I just need to crochet a little more, and then I'm home-free. But my mind whirls with the possibilities for what I might read first. I do have a bunch of non-fiction choices on my list, but I think those will be postponed until I can get a story-fix first. I know I will be starting the Harry Potter series in the next few months so I will be ready for number 7 on 7/7/07 (yes, let me just write that down with the pen that is in my pocket protector, because I am a NERD and I don't care), but in the meantime I have a few other options in mind. I haven't read any Jonathan Safran Foer yet, and I definitely intend to. I also want to read Anna Karenina and the Marcel Proust series, because they are both ones that I never finished, but they will be bigger projects at a later time. Goodness, my mind is reeling with the enchantment of a good book. Can you tell I am a little excited?

I'm also planning to bring something that will work well in conjunction with a trip to Europe, but I haven't decided what that will be yet. I considered Les Miserables, because it is the most beautiful piece of literature ever conceived by man, and what better time to read it than when you're in Europe?? But I think it might be a little much. I also think that I am wrong to assume that I will have much time to read on the plane. I am going to have to get some sleep in that time, or else I knowI will be a zombie when we get to London. Plus, I have all of the glorious in-flight movies to consider, too. As excited as I am to try and sell my crochet, it is becoming ever more obvious to me that it will be nice when I can do something else with my time.

Any book recommendations? Any overseas flight advice?

Monday, November 13, 2006

les reves

I ate a lot of food in Casper this past weekend. It was all absolutely delicious. My body punished me by waking me up at 5 this morning to barf my guts out. Lovely, huh. No more delicious food for me. And no work today, either. So a little while ago I sat on the couch and watched the only thing worth watching on the network stations in the middle of the day. Martha Stewart. Note, her competition was the news (which was scratchy and hard to hear), some educational children's show on PBS (mildly tempting), or a soap opera (I'd rather stare at the ceiling and hum to myself). The show was okay I guess. She did make a trip to Paris- where she used to be a model, which seemed a little strange to me. I mean, when she showed up on some agency's doorstep at the age of 19, didn't they say "Mais non! Tu es Martha Stewart! You make ze cookies, and ze holiday doilies!" I guess Martha Stewart wasn't such a "buzz" name back in the 60's.

But she toured a few "ateliers" in the beautiful city of Paris, which are the shops where seamstresses work on the elegant and extravagant pieces of clothing that are worn in the haute couture fashion shows of Le France. And I wondered to myself if I could ever enjoy/find my way into such a job. Mike and I love to throw around the idea of living abroad, and one option is France, where he could teach at the Orthodox institute there. I always characterize our future children as products of whatever place we may end up- in England, they will be pushed in a pram, and they will call me "mummy". In France, they would say "mais oui" a lot, and would prance around town in little jumpers, much like the title character of the Eloise books. But I truly love to wonder what such a life would be like, and imagining myself as a trendy seamstress, putting my work into gorgeous gowns made by top designers, is certainly a fantastic dream. My love for crochet and for trying different creations (even though my products now are FAR from those designs seen on the runways- I don't think they wear many wool hats with stripes in them) makes that dream a little closer to possible. I hope I never give up on dreams.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

glory to the newborn King

For about 3 hours this morning, I had "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" merrily playing over and over like a broken record in my head. The most wonderful time being the one where snow falls, and sleighbells ring (are ya listenin?), and Folgers still plays the commercial where the little girl discovers that her older brother Peter is home for the holidays, and they open the can of coffee and give it a marvelous sniff, and the whole family wakes up to the aroma of delicious brewing java. God, I love that commercial.

I've already got the bug. My biological clock must have aligned itself with that of the retailers, because I was ready for Christmas at about 10 p.m. on Halloween night. I have the insatiable urge to watch movies like Muppet's Christmas Carol and the Grinch, and cozy up to some hot chocolate (with peppermint schnapps, perhaps). I am desperately trying to hold out until a more reasonable time to break out the Sinata Christmas carols, but I am barely hanging on. Actually, the Nativity fast begins next Wednesday, so we may be putting up our Christmas tree quite soon. Glorious Christmas tree!

But I have to admit that most of my inclinations right now have to do with the typical, Americana version of Christmas, and unfortunately not the actual "reason for the season". This needs to change quickly, because I know that by about Dec 20th, I will be ready to tell Rudolph where he can stick his bright red nose.

Monday, November 06, 2006

brown bagging it

Work is slow enough today that I can take my lunch break, and print out a few online crossword puzzles to amuse myself for an hour. Nothing could make me happier right now, except maybe my couch, a blanket, and the movie Babe. For some odd reason I really enjoy a talking pig and his talking animal friends- especially the singing mice.

I think I'll go eat my lunch and do my crossword puzzle, but first I just have to make some small comments about the news of the weekend.

Ted Haggard- what a sad turn of events, for so many reasons. Is it possible to remain humble and true to yourself when you have thousands of followers and a fairly strong tie to the White House and politics in general? There has to be a better way to deal with these kinds of issues- they are rampant in the churches- pornography, secret homosexual lives, etc. Sexuality in general seems to be a massive problem. And it's not a bad thing in its essence. I wish I knew what had to be done, or how we could approach this without the stigma. I know that there are some Orthodox writings on all of this, and I intend to seek them out. Mr. Haggard started a church that was fairly instrumental in my becoming a Christian, and regardless how little of a connection that I have to it now, I am sad for this church. This is not the first spiritual leader I have seen experiencing such a downfall, and the last one was much closer to me. It's hard, but really not surprising in some ways.

Saddam Hussein- yeah, he's done some pretty crappy stuff. And I'm not one to try and compare numbers when it comes to death tolls, but there are some much bigger fish that we could be putting our money and energy into. Some of those bigger fish get our money and energy in the form of support, and that's no good.

Enough of this, time to work on something that I can solve.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

eventful tuesday

I can't even believe this...guess how many trick-or-treaters we had last night? ZERO. That's right, not even one. I bought a giant bag of Smarties, and they are still sitting in our house. Unopened. I was depressed. And to top it off, when we got home from dinner out our pumpkins, our beautiful, smelly pumpkins, were smashed. Right in front of our front door. Like someone stood 2 inches away from the entrance to our home and dashed all of our Halloween dreams, while we were gone and unable to protect our pumpkins, like impotent and unsuspecting pumpkin owners, leaving our little creations to fend for themselves.

I'm being dramatic. But I really was devastated to not see one single little costumed child come to our door for our free candy. And I completely expected the pumpkins to be smashed, but it didn't lessen my heartbreak one ounce.

Aside from these atrocities, our night was great actually. I did get to see a few kids in their costumes at the student union, where they put on a big event every year. (I think this is why we had no trick-or-treaters at our house, and I think the other reason is because it is a college town where many students will use any excuse to drink, and are probably out at the bars or going to each other's houses, and driving, and making neighborhoods generally a little unsafe.) And we went out for Taco Tuesday at the local Mexican restaurant. Then I bought a cheap bottle of vanilla-flavored vodka to put in Coke, because I am a girl and I like girly drinks. Then we rented The Crow, and although I fell asleep halfway through, it was a good choice for Halloween night.

And now I am eating leftover Halloween sweet-tarts, and they taste like chewable vitamins.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

punkin head

A word to the wise: unless you are still in high school, or unemployed, or work in a vintage record store, do NOT undergo the risk of dying your hair using a cheap K-Mart dye. It is just too much of a gamble. I speak from experience.

The last time I had my hair colored by professionals, I somehow allowed myself to be talked into spending $200 on a cut, color, and highlight session. Even when you are a nanny and making bank, it is still fairly unreasonable to spend this amount of money on your hair. Especially when you spend all of three hours of your week wearing cute, normal clothes, and not a sweatshirt that has baby boogers and dried milk all over one of its shoulders. Thus, after this very expensive episode, I repented and decided to not dye my hair in a salon.

For a while I just left my hair a natural color (which I have been told has natural highlights anyway)- until Sunday night. I decided to purchase a kit which involves both color and highlights, imagining how cute I would look, and how inexpensive the process would be. And then, after two rounds of piling goop on my hair and then rinsing it out, I dried it, only to discover that I was more ready for Halloween than I thought. I look like I either desperately wish it were summer again, or I am just incredibly festive for this October holiday. It's not bright orange, but it certainly has a tint to it.

I also thought that I could give myself some of those great, fatter highlights that look so cool and punky. Instead, I pretty much just dyed the top of my head a different color than the bottom of it. Ok, it's probably not as bad as I am making it sound. It's not like I refuse to go outside, or I have to go and get it fixed and make the entire thing costly anyway. But we have our advisory board coming at the end of this week, and I just don't feel very professional. I think I am going to just wait it out until it fades a little and begins to grow out, or else I may scrub my head with Lysol and see if that has any effect. Lesson learned, I guess.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

another weekend almost gone

Highlights of my weekend:

I carved my first pumpkin ever on Friday night. It was a fun experience, but I think I would have enjoyed it much more when I was younger. I went for a scary clown kind of look, but my artistic abilities only go so far. It looks more like I just closed my eyes and started sawing away. Mike did somewhat of a self-portrait- glasses, and even an attempt at a beard. But the holes that he made for the beard are too small for the light to shine through. I'm going to put them out tonight- I hope they don't get smashed before Tuesday. I got laughed at by our friends, because I actually googled "pumpkin carving" before we started so I would know what the heck I was doing. It's like Mike not having seen The Wizard of Oz- it's just not the same when you're not an 8-year-old.

Last night we ended up watching two movies- American Dreamz and The Family Stone. American Dreamz looked so good in the previews, and was a big disappointment. The humor could have been really great, but instead it was forced and immature. And I think it was from the creators of Love Actually, so I was really surprised that they couldn't do any better. The Family Stone was cute- not wonderful or amazing, but cute. The entire feeling of family and holidays combined is such a nice one, and I think that aspect, combined with the reality of family situations that aren't always perfect, made me like the movie a lot. I am certain now, though, that Sarah Jessica Parker is just not that great. I never liked Sex and the City, and I can't get past what Family Guy said about her- she looks like a foot. She really, really does.

I taught Sunday School today, and it went well. Sometimes I think that I want to work with kids again, and then I remember that the kids at my church are very hard to come by. That place has something magical to it (if I can describe a church in that way). The people are amazing, and the presence of God is always felt. For some reason that stands out to me, when really it should be the norm at most churches. I guess that people can sometimes forget how to imitate Christ by the way they treat others, but so many people at this church just get it.

This next week (next month, actually) is going to be rough. I feel myself taking lots more deep breaths, and I'm just trying to keep my eye on the Christmas and the trip that will come soon enough.

Friday, October 27, 2006

spamerific

In my inbox this morning:

"free lip kit with purchase of a sweater"

"podiatrist beginner"

"are we hooking up tonight?"

"area du dispersible griddle felicitous million chlordan"

"pong cat thru time"

"mmmmmmmm doughnuts"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

a better earth

Yesterday several groups on campus came together for a "campus sustainability day", and one of their events was to show the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. I went to see it, because I have been mildly interested in it since it was first released, and I was quite impressed. Yes, the movie is essentially Al Gore's slide presentation in the form of a theater movie. I have heard several people complain about this, but I think it is exactly the format that should be used. Enough of all the Hollywood glamour, jumpy edits, and energetic soundtracks- I truly believe that he is just a man who wants to get his message out. And plenty of people will pay up to $10 to see a movie whose premise is beer, or sawing one's legs off. Why not something that is informative and timely, if not exactly entertaining?

I tried to be as objective and critical as I could, because I tend to be easily persuaded. But it comes down to this: even if global warming, which seems to be a real and true problem that is being down-played in the same way that tobacco was, will not have any one of the effects that Gore warns of, or even if those effects are simply a part of the natural order (even when so much of our world today is "unnatural"), I still fully believe that we, especially as Americans, are called to be more responsible and respecful with the luxuries that we have. And that, my friends, was the longest sentence I have ever written in my entire life. But the fact that Americans consume more materials than many countries combined, makes me cringe. It makes us weak and scared, and unable to cope when we are faced with real, raw life. That may seem like a jump in logic, but just think about it a little bit. I know from my own experiences- I am chastising myself as much as anyone.

I, for one, want to change my habits. I have begun to do that in many ways, and I see how positive it can be, for myself and for others. I recommend the movie to anyone who is ready to be kicked in the butt and to think about something beyond the world of consumerism and terrorism. Wow, I have become such a hippie, but I think it's important to recognize how unnatural it sounds to us anymore to talk about being moderate or conservative (and I don't mean in the political sense).

Advancements are coming exponentially these days when it comes to technology, but we need to think twice about how we use the technology that is brought before us. I think it all comes back to humility, and a sense of respect for what we have been given.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

celebs in our midst

Last night while I was walking home, I walked by the tour buses of none other than Hootie and the Blowfish. Yes, they are still around, and yes, they were doing a show here on campus. In high school I probably would have gasped and frantically darted my head around to see any one of them in person. If I had been able to spot them last night, I'm sure it would have been exciting, but I guess as you get older the magic dies away a little bit. Although, the magic is still there for me if I happened to run into, say, Kevin Spacey or Debra Messing. They're my heroes.

But in honor of my Hootie tour bus sighting, my list of other sightings (which would be inordinately smaller if I hadn't lived in New York):

Eminem- at the Vans Warped Tour in Denver in '99 or 2000. Entirely unimpressed. He flipped the bird when a mom was taking a picture of him with her son (oohh wow Eminem, you're soo hot when you put up your middle finger). Plus he's short.

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen- while filming their Times Square scene in that New York movie they did. I didn't see them up close, but it was my first New York celebrity sighting, so that made it pretty swell. I think I got a picture of the top of their heads.

Bono, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Friday- at the premiere of In America in New York. I got to watch a movie with these people! No, I did not share popcorn with them or make random comments during the movie, but I think I might have breathed one of the same oxygen molecules as them. By the way, Gavin Friday did the music for this and several other movies, and he's gooood.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman- probably the coolest sighting of all of them, because he is an incredible actor, and because he was just chillin in Greenwich Village with his wife and son. That means he's real- I am baffled.

Ethan Hawke/Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray- still not sure which one it was, but I swear it was one of them. My stomach dropped when I saw him (near Grand Central), because I knew that I knew the face. I just didn't get a good enough look to figure out who it was, and of course I had to play it cool and only get a quick glance.

Mike Myers- crossing the street in Midtown. Another one that would have caused a heart attack had I seen him when I was in 6th grade and watching Wayne's World every single day. Of course then he would have had a mullet and a beer gut, but he was cool just the same.

Monday, October 23, 2006

internet infamy

A milestone has occurred in my life.

I am the first, second, and third result on Google when you search for my first and last name (no quotes needed!). I feel like a minor celebrity, like a C-list actor or something. Mike is jealous and bitter, because my first name, especially with an Arab last name, is not very common (but there is one in D.C. and one in the UAE). Michael, on the other hand, is much more common, and you have to be more creative to come up with my Michael on Google.

Nevertheless, I am basking in my minor glory. I never would have made the cut if it weren't for my new last name (my maiden name being very generic and also serving as the word for a person's emphasized study in college). So thank you, Mike, for helping me get where I am today!

P.S. For some reason, I can't see or say the word Google without wanting to say it in a fake Swedish accent...I have no idea why.

P.P.S. I have been sucked into the realms of another television show, and I never could have expected it. But last night Mike turned on the TV, and we discovered that the first three episodes of the new show Heroes were being replayed. Now, I have been making fun of the show because of their motto: "save the cheerleader, save the world". (It goes against years of diligent research proving that 99% of cheerleaders fulfill the stereotype that is put upon them.) And although I will wholeheartedly admit that I LOVED the movie Bring it On, I never thought I could praise a show with such a premise. But it had me within the first 10 minutes, I think. It's great, and it looks like SVU is going to be dropped off my list so that I don't turn into a complete couch potato. Some of these shows were great once, but really have just been on too long.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

something new

I want to be more diligent about writing on my blog, but I don't want to spend every post blathering on about what I ate for lunch or how difficult of a time I'm having concentrating on my work (which is obvious by the fact that I am blogging in the first place).

So, there's nothing all that grand going on in my life that I can discuss right now. I already covered our upcoming trip to Europe. Instead, I am going to borrow an idea from several of my grade school English teachers. I'm going to give myself a topic of discussion, and free-write, as they say.

Today's topic: "restaurants", inspired by a tag on del.icio.us (I'm scratching for something here, people).

And of course, the obvious place to start here is- my favorite restaurant. The obvious answer, for many years, has been Outback. But I think Outback, along with a fondue place in Mantiou Springs called Mona Lisa, has become reserved for very special occasions, when it is okay to gorge myself and eat more than I typically eat in an entire day. I love both restaurants, but they would not be my favorite in the sense that I would pick them more than once in a blue moon.

Here in Wyoming, the two restaurants that I would probably pick to eat at most often would be Lovejoy's and Sanford's. Both of them remind me how important a restaurant's atmosphere is- probably just as important as the actual food. I love Sanford's because it has license plates all over the wall and a roll of paper towels at every table in place of actual napkins. It's like Joe's Crab Shack, without the obnoxious picnic tables and birthday songs. And Lovejoy's is a great place to hang out with people and have a drink. Eating out at a restaurant is all about the social function.

Something I realized about myself while living in Brooklyn: I'm not too concerned with how sanitary a restaurant is. There was a Chinese place a few blocks from my apartment, and it was certainly not the model of clean food service. I saw a bug or two on the walls, and the entire place just seemed to be caked in grease. But that is by far the best egg-drop soup I have ever had in my life.

What's your favorite restaurant? Are you picky about certain things like service or cleanliness?

Friday, October 13, 2006

from crumpets to gelato to kabobs

So really, nothing in my life is terribly exciting at the moment. Well, except for the fact that Mike and I purchased tickets the other night to go to London, Rome, and Abu Dhabi at the end of December. Quite the combination, eh? And yes, every time I think about it, my heart goes EEEK!! very loudly, so that you could almost hear it from the outside. But that's all the excitement so far- it will be much more exciting to recap what I'm sure will be an incredible trip, when I'm back at work in January, wishing I weren't back at work.

For now, we are just in the midst of our plans, making sure we get to do everything we want to do while we're there. We will be spending some time in Oxford also, and I really hope that I am able to drag Mike away from it to see the many other parts of Europe that we intend to see, because I think he could probably stay in Oxford for a very long time if I let him. We're also thinking about taking a train to Rome, and getting a pass that will allow us 4 days of travel, so we can visit Venice or Milan or (be still my beating heart) France. But I told Mike last night that I don't want us to spread ourselves too thin. I want to get to know Rome- you know, buy it a drink, maybe take it to dinner. This is what I said to Mike last night, and he didn't think I was all that funny. I thought I was funny. So much so that I repeated my joke on my blog the next day.

So, apparently, talking about our trip before we even go is more exciting than I thought. At least for me. This will be my first time overseas, and I am so grateful that we're able to do this before we get tied down by school, and money issues, and the rest of life. This is actually going to be a fairly cost-effective trip anyway, which is nice.

As Mike has been saying all week- LONDON, BABY! (How can I not love a man who quotes Friends??)

P.S. I am also managing to visit a Middle Eastern country, which makes me so glad, since Lebanon is not the best option right now. I will get to practice my Arabic, and have some authentic food (even though I do already when Mike's mom is around), and enjoy a few days of sun in January. I lied- life is very exciting right now!

Monday, October 09, 2006

unproductive

What I should be doing right now:

dishes
homework
yoga
crochet

What I am doing instead:

feeling grouchy and sicky
watching a TV show that I don't even like (apparently the guy on Two and a Half Men is going through his second divorce. dumb.)
type-typing away

Friday, October 06, 2006

girl talk

I miss having a girl best friend. It has been in the back of my mind for some time, and what a weird time for it to come out and be put into material thoughts. Mike took me to see the play "Dead Man Walking" tonight, we went for coffee afterward, and it was a really nice date night. I made tempura for dinner, and it was delicious, and now I am just hanging out and waiting for Mike to be ready go to to bed. I had a great Friday evening, and yet I'm thinking about how nice it would be if I had one girl friend that I could really connect with.

It has been quite a while since I've had a "best friend". Since high school, in fact. And this may only be in retrospect, but I don't think that I was very real or open with my close friends most of the time back then. It seems like I spent a majority of my time making sure that the people around me would like me, rather than simply being myself. That's not to say that those relationships weren't genuine, but I'm really not that surprised that things have changed. Time and life have just shifted everything around.

It would just be so nice to have that person that I could go shopping with, call at any hour of the day, confide in about my marriage or my job or whatever. I do have these things in different people, but I want it all combined into one perfect girl best friend (who has cute hair and the perfect taste in earrings). I think I'm worried that I won't ever know anyone like that, or I will be too closed off to be like that with anyone. I think that I purposefully don't get too close to people, because I have been moving around so much in the last few years, and will be doing that again soon probably. And then I'd have to keep up with my girl best friend by phone, and she of course would know how much I HATE the phone.

But I guess I am glad that this is the worst of my problems. I think I must be doing pretty well if the thing that concerns me most at midnight when I am left with my thoughts is wishing for a girl best friend.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

i'm not saying i would call anyone a flaming idiot with no sense of propriety

I have absolutely no intention of blogging for the purpose of standing on a platform and criticizing others, or pushing my political/religious/social ethics views. Mostly I just like to write, and keep up with myself, and try to be somewhat creative. Sometimes my views just end up being a part of what I feel like talking about. But I just have to get it out today.

I am SO TIRED of the 24-hour news networks, and the televised news media in general. Lord, even some of the newspapers are making me crazy.

There have been an inordinate number of acts of school violence in the last week, and it is my humble theory that the news frenzy caused by each one has managed to exacerbate the entire situation. I was checking out CNN's site (oh no, I'm not going to link that crap), and one of the new facts posted with the story is that KY jelly was found at the scene of the school shooting in Pennsylvania, pointing to the fact that the guy was going to molest the children if he had more time. Is this really appropriate/necessary news coverage?

I am also beginning to wonder, based on all of the similarities, if this guy was encouraged by all he heard about the shooter in Bailey, CO, and decided to become infamous as well. Hell, the guy in Colorado was an instant celebrity. Why not get your name on the news, and assure that half a million people across the country will have the chance to read your suicide note and know what anguish you were put through as a child? This irks me beyond reason.

I know how fascinating this stuff is- I get sucked in too. But it's become mere entertainment. How easy is it to distinguish an episode of CSI from a spot on Fox News? The only difference is the scroll bar (which allows us to know everything that is going on at any given time, something I would argue is not that important).

I could go on for a very long time, but I won't. All I will say is that I refuse to allow the people who create this kind of obsession (Journalists? Me? Hollywood? Rupert Murdoch?) to get my business anymore.

On a lighter note, the new show Studio 60 is BRILLIANT. It is dealing with a lot of these issues, albeit in a superficial way and under the guise of the typical sardonic television show that is popular these days. But it is saying something, and pushing some buttons, and I LOVE that. And Amanda Peet and Sarah Paulson are spectacular, too.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

pearly whites, good films, and mini vacations

Although life has been hectic and stressful since school started again, I am really enjoying my job, my class, and life in general. Today has been nice. It began with a visit to the dentist, which really should not be the start to a great day. But it went well, my teeth are shiny and new, and there were a lot less problems than what I had anticipated. The hygienist was a nice older lady, and she was very diligent in her hygiene duties. She gave me all of this advice for taking care of my teeth, and I love the feeling of a clean slate (quite literally).

Then, just a little while ago, I came across an announcement for the Laramie Film Society. Surely a small organization, but I was excited anyway. It's only $15 to join, and I get to watch movies and discuss them- which is like candy for me. It reminds me of New York (I know I bring up New York WAY too much), because I took a class that was involved with the Media Educators Association, and I got to see movies before they were released, in a midtown theater with snooty New Yorkers. Sweeet. It also gave me the opportunity to bring Mike to the premiere of the movie In America, and Bono (yes, that Bono) was there. I have pictures to prove it. I may even put the pictures on my new Flickr site (shameless plug).

But the best thing about today is that it is my Friday- I'm taking tomorrow off, and I am so glad that I am. I need a little bit of a break. Last week was one of the worst for me at work. But taking tomorrow off means that I need to get everything done today, which means that I should stop blogging...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

idol

One of my favorite blogs has a link to the ever-wonderful music video Step By Step by the ever-lovin New Kids on the Block (aka NKOTB, aka Old Men on the Porch to my dad who thinks he's hilarious). I watched it, and it wasn't just a memory coming back- it was an entire feeling. Suddenly that vest, those overalls, that feathery hair was all cool again, and it seemed entirely feasible that someone would mimic Michael Jackson's dance moves in complete seriousness. I remember how overwhelmed and excited I would get every time I saw them. I was the total stereotype.

Not only was I madly in love with almost every single band member at some point (except Donnie, never liked him), but I was completely OBSESSED. I had the earrings, the sleeping bag, the t-shirts, the school folders, the videos...everything. Actually, I remember a boy in my class liked them a lot too, and I vividly recall wondering in some abstract, elementary-aged way if he was gay.

I also remember imagining that I was married to Jordan Knight, and we had a daughter, and her and I had matching outfits. Seriously...what was wrong with me?? I can tell from my reaction to seeing them again that this was a huge part of my adolescence, but I wonder if it's healthy to have been like that. I guess most girls (how many guys?) go through that at some point- and I certainly had a strong imagination. Can't accuse me of not being creative.

Monday, September 18, 2006

why be athletic when you can watch athletes on tv?

I watched The Amazing Race for the first time in my entire life last night. Why is it that I had seen full episodes of brainless reality shows (The Swan -remember that gem?, or the one about the bachelor who was pretending to be a millionaire- I can't even remember the name of it- Joe Shmoe or something), and yet I had never seen this one? The only one with a plausible premise, and I skipped over it.

Anyway, last night happened to be the first episode of a new season- I think. And I really enjoyed watching it- I even thought about signing Mike and I up for it the next time they are casting. That's an amusing thought: Mike and I on a reality show. As fun as it would be, I'm guessing neither of us would enjoy being on TV too much, if we ever even had the chance. But I bet we would fit some stereotype enough to be considered. (The casting directors are obviously looking for stereotypes: this season they've got the Muslims, the Indians, the gays, the cheerleaders, and the Kentuckians. Oh yes, the Kentuckians.)

I think we could have a chance to be on the show based on the fact that we are religious, or maybe because we're both scrawny, fairly unathletic people. I'm sure our attempts to scale a wall would boost ratings.

In any case, there are way too many good (or maybe not good, but addicting) shows on TV these days. Tonight is the first episode of that new show Studio 60, and I am way too excited to see it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

the school experiment

The best thing about Mondays and Wednesdays for me is the fact that when I walk to my class in the afternoon, the kids from the lab school are just getting out for the day. (Lab school: the university's own grade school, where education students can essentially practice their teaching skills. The idea is a good one, but the name is just terrible- I imagine mice in pinafores, taking apples to their teachers.)

Although the name could use a revamp, I love getting to see all the little elementary-aged kids at the end of their day, telling their moms or dads about what they did, sometimes trucking home some project they worked on, usually hefting around a backpack that is almost bigger than them. I miss those days, when I would get home at 3, and eat a snack and watch cartoons. But I am excited that someday I will be the mom with the snack, asking how the day went.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A guest post

Last Sunday, Mike gave the sermon in church. Some people who heard it thought that it should be distributed to a wider audience. Since a sermon might be difficult to publish in the paper, we thought it might be nice to post it here. It's still in rough form, as these are Mike's notes. I hope you like it.


September 10, 2006

John 3.13-17 and Galatians 6.11-18

Tomorrow, we commemorate the fifth anniversary of the WTC and Pentagon attacks

I am sure most of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news

As Americans, we rightly mourn the loss of life on September 11 in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC

But, as Christians, we are called to something far beyond only mourning the loss of life on American soil

As Christians, we are called to mourn the losses of our enemies as well, and the harm brought upon their families and properties

As Americans, our loss may be greater, but as Christians, the loss of every life is the same

“For God so loved the world….” And we must do the same.

As Americans, or any other nationality, we tend to root for the home team, so to speak—we rejoice in our national victories, and we are sad for our losses

And rightly so

But both the Gospel and the Epistle today call us to something more, something far beyond our identities as American citizens

Both readings remind us of our identity as Christians:

The Gospel reading and the words of St. Paul today set up an image by which Christians must now live their lives—it is the image at the front of every Orthodox Church on the other side of the altar: it is the image of the Jesus on the Cross

It is the image of one who forgives rather than rebuke

Of one who accepts what he does not deserve

Of one who chooses self-sacrifice instead of anger and retaliation

Both St. Paul and the Gospel set up this image of the Crucified Jesus as the image we must imitate as Christians, but more than that, Paul even tells us that we have nothing to boast of except the Cross of Christ

As citizens of the world, we are usually inclined to boast of our achievements, and of our victory and strength—two things which the Cross does not seem to offer

For example,

We have seen terrorist groups and the enemies of this country boast of the victory of September 11

We have seen our commanders boast of victory in Afghanistan: the Taliban was quickly routed and free elections soon followed

We have seen our president boast of victory in Iraq: “Mission Accomplished”

We have seen Israel boast of its victories over the Palestinians and the Lebanese

We have seen Hamas and Hezbollah boast of their victories against Israel

In all of this, we see people boasting of victory, of military might, of destruction, of conquering of enemies

But Paul offers us strong words today, the day before our five-year anniversary:

In his words,

“May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

For us, as Christians, because this image of Christ Crucified is our paradigm, is our concise picture of God and his work for this world,

We must redefine the things of which we boast

Like Paul, we must boast of victory, yes, but our victory has been wrought through Christ giving himself up for us and for the life of the world

Victory has been brought through peaceful self-sacrifice

Yes, we must boast in power, but specifically the power of God, the power of God that has been most fully revealed in his ability to be crucified

Yes, we must boast in the destruction and conquering of our enemies, but our enemy is death and the consequences of sin

Most prefer to boast of strength, whether it be military or political strength

But we ourselves must boast—as odd as it sounds—we must boast of our weaknesses, as St. Paul says

But why should we boast of our weakness when everyone around us boasts of strength?

Where is it that we pray the most to God? In times of certainty in which we are in control, or in times of uncertainty in which we are not in control?

I would guess we usually pray to God the most when we feel lost and do not know what to do

And that is why Paul says we must boast in our weaknesses, in our weakest moments—because it is in our weakest moments that we tend to leave the most room for God to work

And for Paul, that is worth boasting of

This is how Paul puts it at the end of his Second Letter to the Corinthians,

“So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

So as Christians, our standard of conduct is the Cross and nothing else

The model set up for us at the front of the church is a model of forgiveness, mercy, and a God who “so loved the world,” that the world may “have life”

For he came to “save the world and not to condemn the world,” as the Gospel today says

And as such—as people whose standard is the Cross and everything that it entails—we are to define ourselves as Christians, disciples of the Crucified Jesus, before we define ourselves as Americans or any other nationality

Thus, as our God “so loved the world,” so we must also mourn the loss of life everywhere, and then, perhaps, as Americans, we may rejoice in our own national victories

As Christians, we have the chance to be the best and most faithful of American citizens, but as Christians, we must be something so much more

There is an early Christian document, a letter written to the Roman Emperor Diognetus not more than 100 years after Jesus, that makes this last point very clear

The author of this letter is on the defensive, answering the charge that Christians were bad citizens, and therefore bad for the Roman Empire

Describing Christians everywhere, this is what he says:

“Christians live in their own countries, but only as aliens. They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their homeland, and yet, for them, every homeland is a foreign land…. They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, but in their own lives they go far beyond what the laws require. They love all men, and by all men they are persecuted…. They are put to death, and yet they are brought to life. They are poor, and yet they make many rich… They are dishonored, and in their very dishonor they are glorified; they are defamed, and are vindicated. They are reviled, and yet they bless.” (Diognetus 5.5-15)

As these words described Christians of the ancient world, I hope they will continue to describe Christians of the modern world as well.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An unexpected reflection

With the imminent 5th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon comes much remembrance, documentation, and even speculation in the media. News groups are interviewing small towns who lost members of their community in the tragedy, email forwards on the topic are becoming more frequent again, and even PBS had a special last night about the structural engineering of the twin towers.

I wouldn't have expected to write about this topic- what more can be said? It was certainly horrific, and no words really do it justice. I would argue that words like freedom, hero, and terror have changed forever, and that to me these words mean nothing anymore, now that they have become so hackeneyed and manipulated, especially by our government. I would argue that point, if I were in the mood to talk politics. But I'm not.

Last Friday night, Mike and I watched a special on Dan Rather for a little while. Of course, the coverage of September 11th, 2001 is a giant notch in his journalistic belt, and when they replayed the familiar footage of people gaping back at the burning buildings while simultaneously running in the other direction, that horrible feeling of despair filled my stomach again. But it was different this time- as I pointed out to Mike. This time I saw the Empire State Building, my own office building for a time, engulfed by smoke, smoke that came from 30 blocks away. And now I see New York City as my city, and I remember the streets, and I know the people, and the attacks feel so much closer. I can imagine the people of New York, bustling through the subways, just trying to get to their offices, maybe holding a door open for someone, or maybe giving someone the finger- and in a split second all attention was directed to this one place, where something horrible was happening. And for a very short time, everyone felt bonded. The entire country clung together, trying to make sense of what had just happened.

But soon the reaction became angry. I remember a friend of mine saying that the U.S. should just not allow anyone in its borders anymore. I remember the relatively quick path to war with a country that our president has now admitted had nothing to do with these attacks. I remember the arguments about racial profiling in the airports, and the fear that began to grip everyone, constantly. In a way that is not morbid, I long for the time right after those attacks, when Americans, and those visiting America, and the rest of the world watching, came together to mourn and to care for each other.

There are a few conversations that I had with New Yorkers in my time there that stand out in my head. I remember when the attacks on the twin towers would somehow come up in conversation, and suddenly anyone who was in New York that day wanted to remember their story and tell me about it. And there was always this tone of humility and sadness in their voice, much like the tone of the entire country in those few moments before we went ballistic.

Last night we watched the movie Gangs of New York, which I believe was in many ways Martin Scorcese's response to 9/11. The entire movie draws out plots of anger, hatred, and revenge, until the end when there is a split second in which you realize how silly the conflicts are in the face of much greater danger. The last scene of the movie shows the evolution of New York City in the last 100 or so years, coming to a final shot of the twin towers, and to me this shot is a call for peace. All of these fights that we face, or provoke as the case may be, are nothing in the grand scheme of things. Are these the kinds of causes that we really want to die for?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Crap on a stick

Why is it that every evening this week has slipped away, with almost nothing getting done? Thank the Lord that tomorrow is Friday, but really I should have more to show for it. I think that work is busting my butt so badly that I am getting nothing done at home. And right now I am sleepy and completely uninterested in the cleaning list that I just made. Guess what I'll be doing with my Friday night?

I found out that I have to take some time off work soon, because I have accrued too much overtime (our overtime gets paid in time off). Nothing would gladden my heart more than taking tomorrow off, but alas there is WAY too much going on at work for me to ditch out. I wonder if I sound as whiny and poopy as I feel.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ohhh, back to school

This is certainly a first day of school.

Last night I bought school snacks at the grocery store, even though I'm not really a student.

I woke up on time today- as I always used to one day out of every school year (the first day).

The level of noise outside of my office has drastically increased because of all of the students milling around.

Someone made some kind of food for lunch that caused the entire area near my office to smell like a school cafeteria. Jealous?

In ten minutes I will head to my one and only class- Arabic. This may be like most other classes in my life: I will be enthusiastic about it for approximately one week, then I will just do whatever I can to skate by with a B. (this is not something I'm proud of.) Although this class may prove to be different. The subject matter is different, and I have always enjoyed studying languages. And of course this one will have immediate effects on my life. Now Mike can't ask his mom in Arabic how to make me creme brulee on our anniversary. I will know what he's saying.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Let me take you to the gun show

I've had this picture of myself on my cell phone for the last 3 years:



One of my fellow nanny friends took it for me- we were hanging out in Central Park near a playground in the early stages of summer, when it was just barely nice enough to wear a tank top. (Now I have to wonder why we were hanging out near a playground during our time off from being nannies, but I also wonder why we went to 3 different Mexican restaurants that day, namely to visit Mr. Corona and Ms. Margarita.)

The thing I can't get over is how muscular my arms were! I can't stop staring at them and drooling. I am so jealous of my three-years-ago self. This is my goal- I need to somehow fashion a device that will hang this picture in front of me when I work out so I can get back to sexy muscular arms. The three-years-ago poofy humidity hair can stay in the past where it belongs. But the arms? They're coming with me.

One problem- the arms are mostly due to not eating well, feeling horrible about my life, and lifting a toddler approximately 437 times a day. I usually hung out with my nanny friends on Friday nights, and I can't even count how many times they pointed out to me that I was looking thinner. It was nice to hear, but the road getting there is one I never want to take again. I am so much happier in my life (namely my job) now, and I am happy with my body the way it is. But I do like to stay fit and see results, that's for sure.

I feel no nostalgia for the situation that I was in when this picture was taken, but I always miss New York a little bit. It is like the crackhead loser of a boyfriend that so many girls stay with for no good reason. I love New York, but it used me and took my money and was completely ungrateful. Why do I love you New York? I'm even hoping that we will be near you again next year- what's wrong with me?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hunchy McSloucherson

Life is full of so many mysteries. For instance, I can't understand why people go to the gym to work out, and think that they are doing themselves a service when they hunch over the machine like they are a cat that's about to cough up a hairball. Seriously, I wish I had a picture of this phenomenon, because it really happens all the time.

Of course, I am no expert when it comes to physical training. I'm sure I have my own bad habits. And I have terrible posture most of the time- but I have the wherewithal to keep my back straight when I am working out! It is the most sensible time to be completely aware of your body and really control what it is doing. This is just my humble opinion, but when you work out on a machine you should look like this:

Not this:


Granted, these are only general suggestions- I personally would have to have my hair pulled back when it is as long as that chick's, and I certainly don't look as perky and chipper as her when I work out. But the hunching over the bike or treadmill seems so, oh, I don't know...counterproductive? And so many people do it! They are going to have strong legs and broken backs. So this is my message to America- stop slouching when you are at the gym.

On a side note, my workouts have been really great lately. I have been all motivated...weird, I know. And I saw a guy last night who bore a striking resemblance to Mr. Dewey from Saved by the Bell. What more could I ask?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Things that go bump in the night




One of my favorite stories about my grandpa: he was grinding his teeth in his sleep while he was stationed God-knows-where during WWII. He actually woke up some of the other guys in his tent with the horrible sound, and the next morning when they were trying to figure out amongst themselves what the racket was, my grandpa offered up the opinion that it must have been the palm trees rubbing together, knowing in his mind that it was his teeth mercilessly pushing against each other. And this was a plausible explanation- that's how bad his grinding was.

Is teeth-grinding (or bruxism, as it is scientifically called, which I learned in my recent research) a genetic problem? Because I have had the problem for many years now, and it seems like it might be getting worse. Generally, wearing a "nightguard" while you sleep at night should protect your teeth, and some people even say it curbs the problem. But I think I might enjoy (in some sick subconscious part of my brain) having something to mash my teeth into, and I think it is adding to the problem. Plus, now I am waking up in the morning with a sore jaw, and sometimes even a headache.

It's sure pleasant for Mike too. One time he even compared the sound to a dog chewing a frisbee. Mmm...attractive.

I think a lot of it has to do with stress and with holding in anger or frustration. This is apparently my release for all of it. Except it's not helping. I would like to figure this problem out. Last night I tried a "relaxation technique" before I fell asleep, and I actually slept terribly and still ground away. Now if only I could find some palm trees to blame it on....

Monday, August 21, 2006

Happy one year!



Here's to a very good year.

I've been known to make bad decisions in my life, especially in the relationship department, but this one is proving to be one of the best of my life. I hate to be cheesy, but I (we) have been very blessed. I love my boy.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

How low can you go?

I am ashamed to say that I just watched over half an hour of the Teen Choice Awards. But I can't tell if I am more ashamed that I didn't know half of the celebrities on it, or that I knew the relationship status of the other half.

After seeing this spectacle of materialism and shameless marketing and thinness, I feel sorry for teenagers nowadays. And it's probably just going to get worse. And I am probably going to sound like even more of an old dork as the years go by.

Although Dane Cook was a host, and that was cool....

I am in age limbo! I still want to be a kid and get excited about all of the guys who show up on the cover of Teen Beat (does that magazine even exist anymore??), but now I have a conscience and I think about how easily kids are sucked into this whole pop culture. Maybe it is more of a philosophy limbo, and part of me wishes that I just didn't think about it so much....

Friday, August 18, 2006

If only the rest of the world were as smart as me

I can't help but think, after the last several weeks of conflict in the Middle East, that Israel's government is just a big group of whiny babies. Even now, they are hindering efforts for peace and resolution in Lebanon.

The latest bout of whining is coming from their desire to prevent the inclusion of any UN troops who come from countries that do not recognize Israel's right to exist. Seriously, how logical is it for a group of UN peacekeepers working within a larger organization to start something with a country that just demolished enother entire country? One of the countries that is being mentioned in this argument is Indonesia, and after the last couple of years they've had, I doubt they want to be getting into any wars.

And during the conflict, the reports coming from Israel were often about children suffering from heightened stress because of the bomb sirens. Keeping in mind that almost 1/3 of the victims in Lebanon were children, I don't feel too bad for Israel's stressed-out kids.

And the U.S. administration is full of illogical, backwards-thinking crazy people. They sped up weapons delivery in Israel and vetoed several attempts at a ceasefire resolution for the first several weeks, and now they will not provide any troops in Lebanon. A major reason for this is that there are already way too many troops in Iraq who have been there way too long. And don't even get me started on Iraq. The U.S. has been at least the indirect cause (and direct cause in many cases) of 50,000 deaths there. Our global reputation is becoming more and more of a joke every day, as we try to strike out fascist freedom-haters and spread the contagion of democracy one Middle East country at a time.

You know, if they would just let me do all the work, everything would be fine.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ode to Saturdays

If today were Saturday instead of Thursday, this is what I would be doing:

Just now waking up and rolling out of bed. Then making a big breakfast with fried potatoes, bacon, eggs with cheese and vegetables, maybe even muffins, and coffee. Then curling up on the couch with a crossword puzzle, a good book, or a movie. Then maybe thinking about getting going for the day.

But instead it is Thursday, and I am at work, fearfully glancing at my to-do list, which has become more of a collage of scribbled notes than an actual formulated list. And I am wishing that the loud trucks outside my window would please go away. And it is going to be a few Saturdays before I can make my big breakfast and be lazy, but that's alright. Students will be back in town soon, which is something I am actually looking forward to, because then the school routine will be back, and we can eagerly await the coming of fall, with the chilly weather, and the fallen leaves.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Surprisingly boring

Things to do when you're home alone on a Monday night, loosely based on my recent experience:

1. Sit in front of your movie collection for 10 minutes and try to decide what to watch, because there is nothing good on TV.

2. Watch Ocean's Eleven.

3. Try to think of old friends to look for on MySpace.

4. Lock all of the windows.

5. Look at your arms in the mirror to see if they are muscular.

6. Go to bed early.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Le Cinema

I have a feeling that the new movie, World Trade Center, is a bust. I just checked out some of the critics' reviews, and they are all lukewarm. It would be my guess that the movie really isn't too great, but no one wants to pan a movie that's about such a sensitive subject in Americana.

I only found out yesterday that the film was directed by Oliver Stone, which sparked mild interest for me. I really enjoyed JFK and Natural Born Killers, even if they do make me feel like I'm watching the artistic spawn of a paranoid schizophrenic. But ultimately I don't want to see how Hollywood can make money off of one of America's darkest days in recent history. Nicholas Cage? I like him, but come on- how much more stereotypical can you get- Nicholas Cage as a New York firefighter hero. Stone should have used actors who have yet to make a name for themselves, in my opinion.

I did just find out that Over the Hedge is in the cheap seats here- I might try to talk Mike into going to see that. It looks like a pretty humorous kids movie. Is it just me, or has the quality of movies lowered a few notches in the last few years? I think it might just be me- I am just more picky. I doubt that Ace Ventura, one of my favorites when I was younger, is really more of a comic gem than Talladega Nights. It just happened to come out at the right time in my life. But I need another movie like The Matrix or Kill Bill to really knock my socks off.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Some stats

Deaths: 998 Lebanese; 102 Israelis

Injured: 3,493 Lebanese; 690 Israelis (not counting over 1,000 who were treated for shock- I'm guessing the number of Lebanese injured does not include this stat)

Damage:

Lebanese- 6,900 houses/apartments, 160 factories/markets/farms/commercial buildings, 29 airports/ports/water- or sewage-treament plants/dams/electrical plants, 23 fuel stations, 145 bridges and over-passes, 600km of roads (373 miles)

Israeli- 300+ buildings


The sheer numbers are horrific, ludicrous, mind-boggling. All because of 3 soldiers. 64 Israeli soldiers have died in an attack that began to save 3. In whose mind does this make sense?

And looking at the numbers more closely, it becomes impossible to argue that this is a proportional battle, or that Israel is defending itself. In fact, Hezbollah has been the only group so far to be willing to move towards a ceasefire. Why is it necessary to defend oneself against a group that has shown an interest in peace?

I don't understand how people can go so far to justify such horrible acts. Is this kind of political lunacy ever going to end?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Looking forward, and back again

Did you know that you can get a certificate in fund-raising? You can. And I am on the lookout for a program that I can apply to for this certificate (preferably wherever we end up for Mike's PhD). International Orthodox Christian Charities has a job posted on their site for a Development Officer. I am not looking for a job right now, but when I noticed that they prefer applicants to be certified in fund raising, I thought it might be good for me to think about jumping into this development thing with both feet.

It is a wonderful feeling to have some direction in terms of a career. After getting an abstract, head-in-the-clouds kind of degree, I never thought I would be able to decide on one thing and pursue it. And actually make a decent salary. Money was typically not part of my vocational pursuits, but it has become more important to me now that I am married and intending on having a family someday. And now that I have a passport. I can travel internationally if I want to- I just need money. And professors don't tend to bring in much in the way of dough, so it will be nice if I am able to provide some stability and support.

The only thing that makes me nervous is the potential for jumping in with both feet and then realizing that I don't like the water I'm in. As far as I can tell, this work seems really enjoyable, but there are certain things about it that are a stretch for my personality. But I guess it will be that much more enjoyable when I can look back on hard work and difficult situations and feel like I truly accomplished something.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Probably the most round-about way to accomplish our task

Mike and I have had some not-so-welcome guests come to stay at our home this whole summer. They refuse to leave, even when we spray poison on them or try to burn them out. No, I'm not talking about in-laws or some hippy friend who avoids getting a job and just lives on our couch. We have a hornets' nest underneath the back stairs outside our house. At least we think it's a hornets' nest. All we know is that we want it gone.

Last week we bought some spray to try and kill the hornets chemically. It is supposed to be best to do this in the evening when they are all there (probably spending time with their kids, reading to them and making sure they brush their teeth- I know we are horrible, inhumane people). But when you try to spray a nest with clear liquid when it is dark outside, it's difficult to know how effective you're being, or how many hornets you are angering. Unfortunately, we could tell the next day that our efforts had been quite fruitless. There were still dozens of hornets swarming around outside the nest at any given time.

So today, my brother-in-law Roy decided that we needed to try something else. He and Mike got the lighter fluid and some matches. They doused the ground under the nest with lighter fluid. They weighed down a paper towel with a rubber band, lit it on fire, and threw it to the doused ground from the safety of the kitchen window. They added more lighter fluid. Hornets began flying everywhere, and some could only crawl on the ground. I finally went outside to make sure that the house was not on fire. Roy came out to check too. Mike added more lighter fluid. The nest was charred black but it had not fallen yet. I decided that it was time to try to spray the nest down with water. I sprayed for a minute, then Roy took over, trying to defend himself from the hornets that were still able to fly by attacking them with a stream of water. The nest still didn't drop. Finally Roy hit it with a shovel while I continued to fend off angry hornets with water, and a giant chunk came down. We lit the whole thing on fire again. Then I took a couple of pictures, knowing I was going to want to write a blog about our adventures in extermination. This is what I got:




























All you can really see of the hornets are little black dots, and in the second picture you can see the remnant of the nest behind the brick. There was no way I was getting closer to get more detail. It turns out that it didn't matter. About 3 minutes after I took these, as we were all standing there in our glory as nest conquerors and destroyers, I felt a sharp pain in my pinky finger and looked down in time to swat away a hornet that had just proceeded to sting me. OW. This was my first time to be stung by anything, and I think I panicked a little. I was so worried that I was going to have this horrible allergic reaction and die within the next 5 and a half minutes, that I wanted to go to the hospital right then and there. But Mike got on the internet to see what we should do, and I spent about an hour with ice on the wound and keeping it lower than the rest of my body (to keep the venom from spreading- boy did I enjoy seeing the word venom on the website that Mike found). Luckily, I am not allergic. My finger swelled and it is still a little sore, but amazingly I am still alive. The stinger didn't even get stuck, at least not that I could find. All in all, it's just another war story for me.

Oh yeah, and there are still dozens of hornets swarming around what used to be their home.

Friday, August 04, 2006

NYC is not the only place with quotable people

Recently overheard on campus at the University of Wyoming:

"It's the, uh...'oh no I'm a samurai and I lost. Son of a b*&%h'."

This is what we in the industry call "Dingus"

I just got an email from my husband:

"I just realized that my wedding ring fits very nicely into my ear."

Yes folks, he is an aspiring college professor.

Don't worry, I asked, and the ring is not stuck.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mmm...music

A few months ago my hubby discovered a great music website called Pandora. It is similar to the system that Yahoo uses, only better. You can create stations based on what you like, and they will play that and music that is similar. From what I can tell, they have a really great expanse of different kinds of music, both mainstream and more independent (although I tend to stick to mainstream, so I am probably not the best judge of the indie stuff).

Today I have been sticking with my White Stripes station (named obviously after the first band that I added to the station), and I have been enjoying it immensely. At first my list of bands only included the White Stripes, Jet, and The Darkness, but then I added bands like The Strokes, The Killers, Weezer, and Radiohead. It's a good thing I have The Darkness on here, because it turns out that the only song I like of theirs is the one that became popular first, and the rest of their stuff makes me want to stab them in the throat a little. Glad I didn't go buy the album.

I'm realizing that I haven't been anywhere near as up to snuff with the music scene as I used to be. I never listen to the radio, mainly because the only pop station we get here is a mix that usually only plays mildly popular songs from the late 90's. And we get no alternative. I love that music has become so accessible on the web, because I don't know what I would do otherwise.

I haven't gotten into the whole scene of Death Cab and Postal Service and all of those bands- most of what I've heard is too mellow and makes me want to fall asleep. But I do really enjoy The Killers and The Strokes- good stuff. I also just discovered that I like Ok Go- I even found a video of them dancing on treadmills that cracks me up, and the more of their stuff that I listen to the more I like. If anyone has any other recommendations for me...please, do tell.

This blog is probably horribly boring for anyone who isn't me.

P.S. You can search for my stations on Pandora via my email address.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I need some wheels

It is certain now: I am unequivocally, without a doubt, way too dependent upon having a car.

We have been without a car for the last week and a half, and it is going to be another week and a half before we have one again. We decided to fix the car that we have now, and shell over a hefty sum to replace the transmission. Partly because we didn't find anyone who was very interested in buying a '95 Grand Prix sans transmission for a price that we found high enough. Also partly because the car we are most interested in getting next is the new Honda Fit, and it turns out that due to popularity and scarcity, we could be on a waiting list until January for one of those. So, the old car is getting picked up tomorrow, but will probably not be fixed until the weekend after next. Suck a duck.

For the most part, I am getting around perfectly well without a car. Work is close by, the grocery store is within walking distance (we just can't get much at once), and I can even go downtown if I want. But we have to get a ride to church, and anywhere else that we might need or want to go that just isn't close enough. And I think that I really don't like having to get rides from other people. In fact, I think I hate it. I don't like to have to ask for things from other people, I like to be independent, and I like to control my schedule. I think I also just feel bad, like I must be putting people out by having to ask for their help.

I can already feel myself over-analyzing this part of me, so I will just stop now. I guess I either need to live in a place where the public transportation is fantastic, or always have a car, or let this be a learning experience for me. I know that I can be pretty self-centered sometimes, and self-deprecating other times, and I guess this forces me to pull out of myself a little bit. Either that, or it's time to take a class on how to fix cars.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hey flowers, you're real subtle.

So, I am looking at floral arrangements in order to send something for my boss' mom's funeral, and I come across this one:





















At first I didn't realize what it was, until I read the description, and found out that it is actually called a "broken heart". Call me crazy, but it just seems a little too obvious, or tacky, or something. I'm still trying to figure out what the green leaves might signify. "When you died, you broke my heart, and then ripped it out of my chest and threw it in the grass!"

I think I will keep looking....

Monday, July 31, 2006

I See You

What I do love about Laramie is that the stretch of hot weather that we've been having (meaning 3 consecutive days that were above 85 degrees) has given way to cool, mild, even rainy weather. It is currently below 70, and sprinkly.

What I do not love about Laramie is that so many people here feel that it is a source of pride to have a car (sorry- vehicle) that is loud and obnoxious. I have lost count of how many times Mike and I have had to yell for a few moments while we sat at a light next to Captain McHummer and his brand new hemi, or we had to rewind a movie because someone driving by our house was able to drown it out with their absence of a muffler. Yes, congratulations to you and your ability to drive loudly. Now please stop ruining my eardrums and my environment.

But please do check out my picture with my pretty new glasses. I am adding it to my profile right....now.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I consider myself a fairly normal person, but I do have a few habits that could be considered a little on the crazy side. One in particular, that I am sure has to either be the result of some traumatic childhood experience that I have since repressed, or the beginnings of a very serious compulsion, has to do with checking my zipper. Every single time I go to the bathroom, I have to check my zipper at least twice to make sure that it is zipped when I leave the bathroom. I can be wearing clothes that don't even have the slightest chance of having a zipper, and I will still check to make sure that my zipper is zipped.

Like I said, this may be the result of some horrible instance of a downed zipper in my past, but I doubt it. I can vaguely remember someone telling me to "XYZ PDQ" (examine your zipper pretty darn quick!), but it's unlikely that any such instance was a scarring, emotional, life-changing moment. Granted, all embarrassing experiences are scarring, emotional, life-changing moments when you're going through puberty and desperately trying to be cool. But I still think that maybe I am just crazy.

The funny thing is, usually I will check to make sure that my zipper is up as I am walking out of the bathroom. So, theoretically, someone could see me with my hand in a weird spot and think much odder thoughts than "oh, she must be checking her zipper". If I am trying to cover up some possible future embarrassment of being caught with my zipper down, I am only trumping it with another situation that is potentially much more embarrassing. If only I could think so logically as I am leaving the bathroom.

This is where my mind wanders to on a Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

So, I just stumbled upon another blog through a link from one of my favorite blogs. It's www.shapeofamother.blogspot.com.

I had no idea....

For as many children and moms I have been around in my life, I had no idea the kind of havoc that having a child wreaks on your belly. I guess I just assumed that with a little exercise, the body snaps back into normalcy and life goes on. I mean, you see actresses and models out on the beach in bikinis just months after having a child. At least I think you do- now I'm not so sure how that's possible. The women featured in this blog go through some serious changes in their bodies when they are pregnant. Most of the photos of bellies somehow remind me of jellyfish.

It all makes me a little nervous about the whole pregnancy thing. Maybe we should just have a dog and be done with it. Ok, so I'm not even close to half serious about that. I have always known that I wanted kids, and the way that it affects my body is nothing to consider when stacked up against the thought of creating life and raising a child. Heck, I will just be grateful to know that my body is capable of carrying a child- that's something to worry about more than the effects of pregnancy.

Something else I liked about the site was that someone posted a music video from Pink, called Stupid Girl I think. I didn't really know the song and had never seen the video, but it's good. It's nice that some of the female artists at least try to be the voice of reason in the midst of so much concern over weight and clothes and tan and all that. I think she even makes a jab directly at Jessica Simpson, and that was pretty amusing.

Considering how often I am inclined to write about pregnancy or having kids on here, I think my blog may be much more interesting when I do have kids- there are always plenty of stories to tell then.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nothing like stale chow mein noodles for an afternoon snack.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mike just found an article on BBC's website about a woman who is taking refugees into her home in Lebanon. Her name is Nadya Azar, or Mrs. Azar. Heh, I am a Mrs. Azar too. Weird. Apparently Azar is like the Smith of Lebanon. I've got a big family.

Last week our car's transmission broke, and we are still trying to decide whether we should fix it and use the car for another year, or buy something new now. I think it depends whether or not we find someone who will buy a car without a functional transmission for a reasonable price. Luckily we can take our time on this since we can walk to work and get around to most places on foot. The only problem is that I still haven't seen Pirates of the Caribbean, dangit. And the theater is too far to walk to.

We will probably get a Honda whenever we do get something. I used to have a Honda and I took it for granted- then it got crunched up in an accident and I got a Saturn to replace it, and the Saturn was a P.O.S. Hondas are great cars once you have something to compare them to.

Right now we have no idea what we will be doing next year- we don't even know for sure that we will still be in the U.S. This is why it is difficult to get a car or a dog right now. In some ways it's a bummer, but on the other hand it is very exciting to wonder where we will be next. I don't like leaving good people, good jobs, and good neighborhoods behind, but I love getting to know new places.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I feel like I need to acknowledge the conflict that is going on in the Middle East. For posterity- I want to be able to look back and see how I felt about it and what Mike and I went through. For catharsis- maybe if I try to formulate my thoughts then I will feel better about things. But I feel like if I start to talk about it, my thoughts will go on for pages and pages.

I am coming to believe more and more strongly that my own beliefs and ideals and hopes will never ever fit into any kind of political or international relations philosophy. I am personally a pacifist to the extreme- I don't want my kids to have toy guns or make gun noises, and violence of any kind just cuts me to the core (except in movies- for the most part I can separate that into the make-believe category and I can appreciate things like martial arts or tactical strategies or whatever). But I am hoping that what is going on right now in Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza will begin to make everyone think twice about the way certain countries are handling terrorism (and all of the other agendas that they have in going to war).

I am so tired of hearing the broken-record cliche that "Israel has a right to defend itself". Is this becoming comical to anyone besides me? Can you really characterize what they are doing as defense anymore when it is so clearly an unbalanced fight? If military force really is the only option for maintaining peace, then it's just going to go on forever and ever. Israel (and the U.S.) are just making more and more people angry, and it's only a matter of time before there is more retaliation. Unless these powerful countries gain control of all of their enemies and subdue them completely, they are just going to have to continue to fight. It's a lose-lose situation.

I would really love to see some leadership with integrity around these parts. It doesn't seem like Bush can talk without sounding defensive, maybe because he knows how asinine his actions have been. I don't know. And it scares me how leaders can justify all of these actions with religion (some say that what is happening right now is fulfilling prophecy). It scares me because I've been in that camp before, and it's not exactly intellectual.

Mike's family in Lebanon decided to move north in the last few days to get out of the worst of it. This time around, I feel all of this so much more closely because of the family that I am worrying about and the people that I feel close to just by proxy. But I do think that the Israelis are victims also- everyone in that area seems to be victims of rage, extremism, and pride. It's hard to watch.

This week has been pretty awful for many reasons. I wanted to write a blog about our trip to SLC last weekend, but I don't feel like it. I will say that the hotel we stayed in was amazing, and we had a grand piano made out of chocolate waiting for us when we got to the room. I am trying to include the picture of it, but I'm having issues.

Unfortunately, no Sundance goodies for me. But we had a great time, and I got better at "networking", which was my big accomplishment for the weekend. The Mormon Temple is a pretty impressive piece of architecture, but it had walls around it, which seemed weird to me. But it's another city to add to my list.