Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Is it a sign of mental instability when my spirits are lifted by rainy, dreary weather? It has been in the low 60's all day, and it just started to rain, and I feel like the happiest girl in the world. But really, I am wondering if those checklists that you find in magazines that are titled "are you depressed?" or "could you be suffering from borderline personality disorder?" would include the line "I enjoy bleak weather". It seems that the common sense of the world is that if you can actually say you like this weather to be the norm, then you must be a crazy person. (I actually looked up borderline personality disorder, and I doubt that enjoying rain has anything to do with fearing abandonment, but you just never know.)

Most people thought that I was going to become depressed when I moved to Seattle, but really the weather there just enhanced all of my favorite memories. I would love to end up in the Pacific Northwest just for this reason- or England. From what I hear, England is pretty great too. And this is the first and foremost reason that I married Mike, because he loves this weather too. I could not marry a man who enjoyed 100 degree heat and 100% humidity, or who loved it when it snowed for days and your nostrils froze together when you went outside. Sick, absolutely sick. The relationship would never work.

It's even more wonderful when we get rainy weather in a place that is known for its wind and brown-ness. It's like sunshine on a cloudy day...only...the opposite.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

This morning I learned about Butt Cap Stroke Style. No, I am not taking a Lap Dancing class. But I did take a class on Adobe In Design. It was pretty dry, as all computer classes are. (Is it a requirement for them to be so dry?) But it seems like a good program, and I am excited to try it out. I'm thinking about making a flyer that advertises Mike, as a practice run, if I have time. How does one go about advertising one's husband?

In July I will probably take Photoshop, and then I may put it on our home computer to use with my own stuff. Then I can make exciting forwards that have Bush's face pasted onto Britney Spears' body, and the caption will be something punny like "oops I did it again". Yeah, that will be cool. It is interesting how photoshop and google have become verbs in our language. As in, "I photoshopped this picture to look like I am the one eating a banana", or, "you should google my name and see how it comes up on a website in China about the communist party".

I have no idea what Butt Cap Stroke Style actually is. I probably should have listened more closely, rather than trying to think of the best innuendo associated with that term.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A trip to Denver this weekend brings glad tidings of Chipotle!!!

It has been 3 months since my last burrito. The shakes and sweats have subsided, but I still need another fix. Curse you Chipotle, why are you so delicious?? When I worked at the Empire State Building, they were in the process of opening a Chipotle in the building. I don't know what I would have done if I had stayed long enough to witness that glorious event. By now I would probably be rolling myself along the sidewalks, licking remnants of sour cream and shredded cheese out of the corners of my mouth, in a near-catatonic stupor. If Kentucky Fried Chicken has the Colonel (with his wee beady eyes) to put addictive substances in KFC products, then there must be something similar happening to the delicious Chipotle burritos. Maybe they put crack in the foil. Whatever they do, it works. I am not the only one with this problem. I know several people whose eyes twinkle at the mere sight of a lump of something wrapped in foil.

Speaking of blobs wrapped in foil, you know you've got a good product when all you need to do is put up a picture of a foil-wrapped blob on a billboard, and people will begin to salivate uncontrollably. Pavlov is probably turning in his grave. The typical fast food joints have to jazz up their food in ads- I have never seen a real-life Whopper look as good as its TV counterpart. But not Chipotle! That shiny wrapper is all it takes! Amazing, I tell you!

Here is my version of the perfect burrito: chicken, rice, no beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, and cheese. Oh my goodness, I can't wait. I know what you're thinking. "But Erin, guacamole is a gift from heaven. Shouldn't it be included in the perfect burrito?" No no, I understand where you're coming from, and even though Chipotle guacamole has been made by angels in white t-shirts, it in fact should not be included in the perfect burrito. I think it may be too much of a good thing at once. Your palate is not able to fully appreciate the guac when it is mixed into the burrito. What you really need to do, especially if you happen to live in NYC, is grab a good book, head to your nearest Chipotle, order some chips and guac, and savor the avocado goodness on its own, where it can be free to express itself. Heck, you can even take a friend, but make sure they're not the type to pile the guac 2 inches high on their chip. We call these people guaca-hogs.

Honestly, I should be paid for my shameless advertising. I feel like Tony Little in a Chipotle infomercial. But it is so good.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Several facts about my life make it impossible for me to deny the fact that I am getting older.

I am married, and I am settling into a "career path".

One of my favorite things to think about right now is how we will decorate our house once we move upstairs in a few weeks. I'm thinking thoughts like "Pier One" and "black and white photography", as opposed to my college-aged thoughts of decorating, which included "cinder blocks" and "couch from Salvation Army".

When I hear the song I'm in Love With a Stripper, I cringe, and wonder what is happening to today's youth and their sense of culture.

Last night I got my hair cut short, and expected it to make me look younger like a short cut usually does. It didn't.

I know the next day is going to be rough if I go to bed after 10:30.

Irregardless of these undeniable facts, I am going to Six Flags on Saturday. And I will scream as loud as any 15-year-old on the roller coasters. And I will run-walk to the line for each ride, in the hopes that I can get there just a little faster than someone else and get a better spot in line. And I will sleep like nobody's business when the day is over.

Most of the getting older stuff is real good stuff, and I generally like it. All I need are the few things that keep me young, and I think I will be just fine.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I have been asked several times if I have read the Da Vinci Code, and what do I think about it. I thought, in honor of the movie's release tomorrow, I would devote some thoughts to this topic. I think I wrote about it in my old blog, but it's certainly a topic with a great deal of interest and controversy behind it.

My main beef with this book, besides the fact that it feeds into pre-existing negativity towards the Catholic Church and its impact on society, is that it is very poorly researched. The novel makes a great deal of claims about the "Vatican Power Base" (boy did I get sick of that phrase when I read it over and over again) and its attempts to stifle Jesus' true identity and heritage. There are way too many discrepancies in the novel to list or even remember, but a few have stuck out for me. The example that I always use when people ask me about the book is a passage where one character (Teabing) realizes that a code they are looking at is in English. Of course it is, he proclaims, because English is the only pure language that has not been influenced by Latin (the language of the Vatican Power Base).


Anyone who has taken any Latin at all, even if it is just the prefixes taught in high school Biology, would have enough sense to realize that English is heavily influenced by Latin. Yes, it is also derived from Germanic language, but there is a whole stinking lot of Latin in English. And this Teabing guy isn't some idiot- he's probably the most intelligent character in this book. I think he may need to go back for his GED.

Another one of my favorite oversights is the history given about the development of the Bible as we know it. According to the main characters, Jesus was simply a cool man, and the Catholic Church really wanted to make him more than that in order to boost their numbers as a religion (we'll call it primitive marketing techniques- celebrity endorsement at its best?). So a bunch of scripts that proved that Jesus was only a man were destroyed in order to make it seem that Jesus was God. This is a fairly common argument obviously- Christians believe that Jesus is God, and lots of other people don't. The part that was funny to me was that supposedly the good ol' Vatican Power Base influenced early councils in order to create a Bible in which Jesus is seen as divine. Funny- the Vatican wasn't even around then. At least refer to them as "the powers that be" or something like that, not an anachronistic name that makes the argument seem completely unfounded. It's like calling Elliott Ness and his posse "NYPD Blue".

All of that being said, I realized in a discussion we had with some friends last week that this book (hopefully) isn't as influential as I previously feared it might be. My experience so far has been that those who were angry with the book and didn't want to believe what it said before they read it, felt the same way after they read it. And those who already take issue with the Catholic Church, or Christianity, or any religious institution, will just feel a little more justified after reading the book. I haven't met anyone whose opinion has really changed, and I think it's because no one really thinks that Dan Brown or his characters have the authority to change a person's mind. Well, that's what I'm hoping for.

I still don't understand why people thought the book was a good read, though. I want to know if they've read classics like Hugo or Steinbeck or Austen, but I know that those books were written in a different time. Even so- have they read Harry Potter?? The literary quality of those books is so far above and beyond that of The Da Vinci Code, it's almost laughable.

One thing that does surprise me, though, is the Opus Dei. I know that the group was highly offended about their characterization in the book (and the subsequent movie). I just checked out their website, and a priest answered some questions regarding the accuracy of the book's portrayal. Much to my surprise, it turns out that the group does use the cilice belt and the "disciplines" described in the story (albeit to much less of an extent than the character in the book). It definitely bothers me that these practices would be turned into something grotesque and bloody by an author and a director, but I am very curious to try and understand why a group would use such practices. They even call it mortification, and it certainly seems a little extreme to me. But I won't be writing a sensationalist novel about it to get my point across, either.

I will probably be going to see the movie tomorrow. I told someone that I am curious about it, much in the same way I might be curious to look at a car accident. I hear it is very melodramatic and that Tom Hanks doesn't work very well as the main character. But I will see for myself, and I won't be left in the dark when everyone and their mother is talking about it in the months to come.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I have discovered how addicting some TV shows can be.

Who needs methamphetamine- heck, who needs caffeine or chocolate for that matter- when you can get high on Alias? Or 24? Or Lost, or West Wing, or Law and Order, or Quantum Leap? Yes, I know that Quantum Leap is quite the oldie, but Scott Bakula is a part of classic TV history! When Al shows up (beeping away on that little computer named Ziggy), you just know everything will turn out ok. Sure, Sam got stuck in the body of a 32-year-old woman who is being abused by her hick boyfriend, but as soon as he discovers that he's there to give the woman a sense of self-worth and to get her to break up with this hick boyfriend, he will be able to do it by the next commercial break.

The real problem with these addictive shows is that they can now be rented on DVD at your local video store (or online, if you're a Netflix junkie like me). Last summer, 24 was my drug of choice, but I only got through the first season before things like wedding plans, a new husband, and a new job forced me into TV rehab. Recently, though, our neighbor introduced me to Alias, and we are now halfway through season 2 (much to Mike's chagrin). Some friends of ours just yesterday told us that they really enjoy Lost, and that there is actually a lot of meaning behind each episode, so it looks like that is next on our list.

Didn't have time to keep up with these shows when they were actually broadcast on TV? No worries- you can sit through 3 or 4 hours' worth when you rent just one DVD! And every episode will leave you wanting more, so there is no way that you are going to be able to stop.

With the summer approaching (very slowly here in Laramie), I have some tough choices to make. Sit in our house with the lights off, watching Jennifer Garner in a blond wig pretending to be a Southern belle, or actually go outside and get some sun and maybe even some exercise.

I'll have to get back to you on that.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I think that I might be a hypopregnanciac. This is a condition that is similar to hypochondria, according to the Encyclopedia Erinnica. I think I have about a 1% chance of getting pregnant, but I consider the possibility of getting pregnant way more than that 1% should require.

I recently read on WebMD (yes, I went to WebMD and looked up pregnancy) that the earliest signs of pregnancy are fatigue and the need to pee a lot (because of the hormone that is being released in the body when you get pregnant). I can experience either of those signs fairly often, for any number of reasons. Drinking tea does make you need to pee, amazingly enough. And not getting enough sleep at night can make you feel tired! Imagine that! But of course my thoughts now go to this other possibility. My first worry is that somehow I will get pregnant, and continuing to take the pill will cause me to kill this little life inside of me. Part of me wants to take a pregnancy test like once a week just to make sure that I am not in danger of killing my unborn child. I don't even know if it's possible to do that by continuing to take the pill- I should probably ask a doctor or something.

I think there is a possibility that I am being somewhat irrational.

It doesn't help that, now that I am married, I get lots of comments about pregnancy. Every time I feel a little ill in the morning, I am told that I am probably pregnant. This does not bode well for a girl who is already well on her way to the Land of the Loony Toons. It is also not good for me to toy with this possibility, because it puts me on an emotional roller coaster every time about our future and finances and being a family and how will I be as a mother and will I still be able to have a job outside the home and OH MY GOD. Yes, my biological clock is ticking, but my career clock is ticking too. I now fully appreciate the dilemma that women face when trying to balance career and family. I want to continue to work after I have children, but I have also worked in daycares, and after seeing the kinds of things that go on in those places I would be very apprehensive to take my children to one.

We are planning to wait a while to have kids (just to remind any family member who may be reading this and getting their own biological clock ticking in honor of me). But every time I wonder why I might have to go to the bathroom again already or why I might be yawning, I am again faced with all of these life decisions, and all of my maternal instincts, and the roller coaster plummets again.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Currently listening:

"Fall to Pieces" by Avril Lavigne (Under My Skin). I don't claim to be proud of this choice. But I have my mp3 player on, set to genres-->pop and rock. I do regret buying the Avril Lavigne CD, because really there are only about 3 songs on it that I like (Fall to Pieces being one of them). But it was a rough time in my life- I was working at a camp for the summer, with an average of 10 minutes of break time per week, and 90% of the people that surrounded me were 16 or younger (of the remaining 10%, 9% acted like they were 16 or younger). So, Avril Lavigne seemed like a reasonable choice. But I really admire Avril's song "Don't Tell Me". Finally, when a girl gets pressured into sex, she's like "pssh, ya right".

Currently watching:

Mission Impossible:III. Ok, I saw it yesterday. I'm not actually currently watching it, but it fits the theme. I was actually pleasantly surprised, it was a lot better than I expected it to be. It was almost as unrealistic as the first two, but some of it was so cool that I just didn't care that it could never actually happen. I won't mention anything specific and risk spoiling it for anyone, but I recommend it. It makes me want to see the Kill Bill movies again (which are so amazing that they don't even fall in the same plane as the MI movies). I need to work on my 5-finger exploding heart technique (that's SO cool!!).

Currently feeling:

A little sheepish, considering that I asked someone at work to help me figure out what was wrong with my Tablet PC (my work laptop), and I discovered that I had been trying to charge it with my mp3 player charger instead of its own charger. I am really lucky that I didn't fry the thing. But I'm feeling better, now that it is raining outside a little bit, and I can smell it.

Currently dreaming:

Again, not actually current, but early this morning: I had a dream that I had a baby, and it was the size of my hands. I was holding it up to my face inside my hands, and I decided to name it Mischievous Energy. Don't ask me where this came from- I become a lunatic in dreamland.

Currently needing to confess:

We have a huge copier at work. It has a touch screen and everything. And if paper gets jammed somewhere inside it, then fixing it is fairly easy, because the screen will give a number for a location where the paper needs to be fixed. I secretly love when paper gets jammed, because I love looking through the different gears and finding the paper and figuring out how to get it out. Mike mentioned the idea of me learning how to work on cars, and I told him that I've always been interested in doing that. So maybe I will take a class, and when the car breaks down, I will be able to get under the hood and figure it out!

But even if we didn't have a sweet copier here at work, I would still love my new job. It is going well, and I am very thankful for that.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I began working out at the gym consistently (well, er, mostly consistently) back in October or November of last year. I try to go about 3 times a week, and I guess this is about the amount of exercise that would be required in order to maintain a certain weight. Because my weight has been the same the whole time, with two exceptions. One: I went to Virginia in February for my grandfather's funeral. I ate everything that was placed in front of me (and some things that were not). When I weighed myself the next week, in that gym that had become such a foreign and unloving place in only a week's time, I had gained 2 pounds. In a WEEK. I know that weight fluctuates (especially for a woman), but I also know that those 2 pounds definitely consisted of Mexican food and chocolate cheesecake from Olive Garden. I could see a triangle of dessert attached to one thigh, and a big bowl of guacamole attached to the other.

The second exception to my weight came just this last week. I have one of the weakest stomachs in the free world, and I was very much reminded of this fact when I tried to reintroduce meat and dairy into my diet after more than 40 days without either of them. I spent two nights last weekend hovering over the toilet bowl, and boy was that fun. I did feel a little thinner by the end of the weekend, and Mike and I joked about how throwing up may just be a great way to keep in shape. I found the truth in that statement when I weighed myself on Tuesday afternoon: sure enough, I had lost two pounds. I have to say, it's a good thing that I hate to throw up so much, because barfing really does the trick. I certainly don't mean to make light of the problem of bulimia, I'm just saying, I get it.

And really, I would be missing out on so much fun if I didn't work out at the gym. The other day I overheard these two (college) girls talking about their stamp collection. Not the kind of stamps that you lick and put on an envelope, but the rubber kind, with a little ink pad accessory. Now, I will support quirky hobbies- I have to. Two of my favorite leisurely activities are crochet and crossword puzzles- I'm like an 85-year-old woman. The truly funny thing about the conversation was the way that these girls talked, like most regular college-aged girls do. the word "like" was involved way more than it ever should be in any one conversation, and swear words were also included. But they were talking about stamps, and then the conversation moved to pink chalk. It reminded me of the conversation that Lewis Black overheard at the IHOP: "if it weren't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college" (as in, a degree-granting institution).

If that is my only reason for getting to the gym and at least maintaining my weight, then I will take it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

You see this picture? You know where it is? Yeah, it's Lebanon. And yeah, I get to go there in December, God-willing. Now, from recent experience, I know that some people will experience immediate concern for the safety of a white girl (or anyone for that matter) in a Middle Eastern country (perish the thought!). But I guarantee, not all Middle Eastern countries are horrifically violent- as in, a car bombing every ten minutes, or terrorist snipers on roofs just waiting to hit innocent bystanders. That's only the countries that the U.S. decides to invade.

Ok ok, granted, Lebanon does have a violent past. And there certainly are problems in many of the countries in the Middle East. But, if I remember correctly, even in the height of the Lebanese civil war (back in the '80s), less people were dying per day due to violence than in New York City. And the U.S. has a violent past also (speaking in terms of war), it just hasn't taken place on our land in many many years. I swear, people tend to forget certain facts about this country. We have craploads of nuclear bombs, we are the first and only country to ever have actually used them, and we have an extremely high rate of crime here. But I am getting off the subject at hand.

I get to go to Lebanon! I get to eat this:

and this:

And of course I will meet family, see the sights, and maybe even get to stop in a few other places along the way. Talk about an incredible Christmas present. I have always wanted to travel, but it is even more exciting when there is such a personal connection involved. This is my husband's family and background, and in turn this is my family and background. This is important to me, not only for knowing my husband, but for passing onto our future kids. Now I have a specific goal that will motivate me to work on my Arabic, something that is also important to me in raising children. And I am so grateful for the opportunity to know this culture intimately, especially at a time when the Middle East has such a stigma surrounding it. That, by itself, is enough reason for anyone and everyone to spend some time traveling, or at least getting to know the myriad of cultures that exist in the United States.