Sunday, June 25, 2006

I wasn't cool in high school

I wasn't really uncool, either, though. I was just kindof on the fringes. Some of my friends were cool, and some of the cool people were my friends. I was an actor, but never funny enough to be on the improv team; on the debate team, but I never won a trophy. I wasn't unhappy in high school, although I wrote my fair share of emo poetry. I was a good student, but never first in my class. I never cared enough about one thing to pour myself into it to the exclusion of everything else, so I ended up being spread moderately thin between several different activities, content to be somewhat involved, while always being jealous of those who knew what they wanted enough to just be a Rugby Player or a Singer.

I just finished reading this article on BlogHer, and it brought back all of those old feelings from high school. I'm really the same person on the internet that I was in high school, aren't I? I like to think about theology, but I don't want to have a religion blog. I dabble in crochet, coffee, reading, writing, cooking, politics, law, etc., but not enough to pour my blog into those topics to the exclusion of all others. And while I have met some great people through my blog, and there are a number of people who read my blog, I'm not exactly a "popular" blogger. And I doubt if I ever will be, because why should the internet judge me any differently than my classmates did? I know I'm not cool. I'm content to be on the fringe of the blogosphere. Or at least I will be as soon as I finish writing this emo poem about it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Random Observations that Don't Merit Full Entries of Their Own

1. A tall cup of coffee costs $1.59, which means that when someone hands me $2.00, they get a quarter, a dime, a nickel, and a penny as change.

2. The espresso shot to steamed milk ratio is the highest in a grande latte (1:7 vs. 1:11 in a tall and 1:9 in a venti).

3. If you place a one-pound bag of French Roast beans next to a one-pound bag of Breakfast Blend beans, it will be a couple inches taller (the beans are lighter, so it takes more to make a pound).

4. If you think I'm a geek, you should see the kinds of conversations my friends have. I love my geek friends.

5. Americans pretend to like soccer, but no one watches when it's not the World Cup. They really just like cheering for the USA against other countries. That's probably why there are so many wars.

6. Day camp employees are one of the few groups of people who will look at the weather forecast and say, "Oh, good! The thunderstorms are going to hold off until the weekend. I hope it will rain all weekend and be nice again for Monday!"

7. Kids get really excited about being allowed to ride the golf cart. Aw, who am I kidding, so do adults.

8. There is nothing like a sprinkler on a hot day.

9. As much fun as the Bollywood videos on channel 35 are, the commercials for online matrimonial services are even cooler.

P.S. My father-in-law saw a video online the other day in which a soccer player jumped in the air, flipped over, scissor-kicked in mid-air, and kicked the ball into the net behind him, scoring a goal. When he told us about it, we spent like an hour trying to find it again, but to no avail. Reward offered to the first person to find it for me.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Size Lize

I guess I don't buy new clothes very often. Usually I buy old clothes that other people have gotten rid of for one reason or another. I always assumed that everyone was getting rid of those clothes because they thought they were ugly, but now I know the real reason. They got rid of their old clothes because new clothes are smaller.

Well, okay, they're not really smaller. But the sizes are. I discovered this today after I tried on six pairs of shorts in the size I thought I wore, then several more in the size I used to wear, then several more in the size I vaguely remember wearing when I was in college, and finally, several more in a size that I'm pretty sure I wore in elementary school. That's right, I bought shorts today three sizes smaller than my regular size. (Or six sizes, if you want to count the in-between sizes that they don't actually make.)

Does this mean that my wonderful plans to exercise from Lent until Memorial Day were wildly successful and I lost 30 pounds and four inches off my waist? Yes, if "wildly successful" means "abandoned after about two weeks" and "30" means "3" and "four" means "zero". But what this really means is that Target has developed an amazing marketing strategy: sell to vanity. They know that the vanity of women runs deep, that women would rather buy a smaller size than a more comfortable dress, that we'll buy shorts with a smaller number on the tag just because it makes us feel skinny again.

But I'm onto them. I'm going to add a one to my lying single digit shorts, making them two sizes too big instead. Besides, I've seen myself naked; I know what size I really am.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This post is full of lines

I don't know what it is about me, but I always seem to have nothing to blog about, or too much to blog about. Today is another too much day. Enter horizontal reference number one:

Saturday morning, I was scheduled to present a seminar at the store as part of my coffee master training. Basically, my plan was to teach people how to recognize acidity and body in coffees, using lemonade and whole vs. skim milk to demonstrate the properties. It was a fairly simple plan, and a common device in coffee tasting, but I was unbelievably stressed about it. I guess because it was an unknown quantity; something I had never done before. And I felt really unqualified to be teaching people about tasting coffee because I don't feel like I'm all that good at it myself yet.

And, of course, the seminar went really well. Which I should have expected, but didn't, because self-doubt makes very convincing arguments sometimes. It was slow starting off, but eventually, people starting coming over and listening to me and I surprised myself with how much I actually do know about coffee, and had fun sharing with people who were actually interested and not just stuck in the same car as me for a trip to the Jersey shore.

After my seminar, I went to a new Starbucks that has just opened up in a nearby town to be a part of their "Star team", which I guess means I supposedly know what I'm doing now. It was a fun day, and although I do like the layout of my home store better, it was neat to get a feel for how another store operates. I'd had a really long day, though, and I was tired, so my manager let me go home early. Then I got lost.

I didn't have my super-awesome map book with me, so when I decided to take a short-cut home from work, I just had to trust my gut. And actually, I wasn't that far off. The route I chose didn't do what I thought it was going to do, but it did bring me to an intersection that I recognized and knew how to get home from. Great, problem solved, I just need to turn left up there and I'll be home in a few minutes. Except that I couldn't just turn left there, because my alternate route was also the primary route for people who were leaving the air show, which I had completely forgotten about and seemed to have just finished a few minutes before I arrived in the vicinity. So when I got to the corner, I was waved to the right by the traffic cops, who were trying to bring some semblance of order to the situation, and I looked sadly in my rearview mirror at the direction I wanted to be going, and prepared myself to be patient until I could turn around.

Time moved onward, but my car did not. Forty-five minutes and barely a mile later, I found myself crying into my steering wheel and seriously contemplating stepping on the gas and smashing through the facing traffic just to get off the road and rest for a few minutes. I think I really lost it when I realized that all of the people walking back to their cars were still traveling in the opposite direction from me, which meant that for all my slow, patient driving, I still hadn't even reached the front gates, and there would be as many people again or more on the other side. Finally, I passed another set of traffic cops and asked them how long they thought it would be before I would be able to turn around, since I was headed the wrong way. They asked me if I was from New Jersey, which I probably would have laughed at if I had been in a better mood. Then they offered to stop traffic for me so I could do a U-turn, which I gratefully accepted and made my way home. Being stuck in traffic is slightly less maddening when you're at least heading in the right direction.

Sunday was Father's Day. As many of you know, my father died two years ago. He was never really one for making a big deal out of things like Father's Day, so I wasn't expecting to be affected by the holiday. But then, over my morning coffee, I read an article that Adam Sandler wrote about his father (who also died two years ago), and it made me cry. And then I made the rounds of my blog rolls, and read about Ryan's dad and Job's dad and Susie's dad, and I started to feel a little bit like a single person on Valentine's Day; no one is explicitly rubbing their romance in your face, but it feels like everyone has something to celebrate but you.

I loved my dad. And in certain contexts, memories of my dad wash over me, completely unannounced and overwhelming. Like when I see something that I know he would appreciate, and I think of how he taught me to see things with continual childlike wonder and amazement. Or when I see something that needs fixing, and I think of how he taught me to look at things with a mechanical mind and tighten what needs tightening, or, more often than not, take it apart and clean it so it will run smoothly again. But a holiday just didn't do that for me. The only memories that it stirred for me were of my father shrugging the holiday off and telling us not to bother making a big deal of it. So I guess I kindof honoured my father in my failure to do anything on Sunday, treating it pretty much like any other day. But I have enough of my mother in me to recognize the passing of the day as something important, and wish, maybe a little, that I had done something to show my appreciation for my dad.

What is Father's Day supposed to mean for me? I have no father or grandfathers of my own, and my husband is not yet a father. So I guess I'm in a Father's Day no man's land of sorts. I have a wonderful father-in-law, and I bought him water ice to celebrate today, but I don't have a lifetime of memories of him, so it's really not the same. And one day, Father's Day will take on an entirely new meaning for me, and I will honour my husband on that day. And maybe I will find myself mourning a little in the midst of my admiration, like Jana. But maybe I just shouldn't worry about it so much. Each day comes with a new set of things to celebrate and mourn, and really, what can we do but take each as it comes, and process it all as best we can.

Since I've already written more than most of you probably care to read, I thought I'd throw in a few spiritual thoughts that have been rolling around in my head for the past day or so. Feel free to skip to the next section if you aren't interested in my semi-conclusive ramblings.

"Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions." (Exodus 16:4)

Do I have the faith, the patience, the discipline to take each day as it comes? To follow one day's instructions and hope for the next day's provisions without trying to arrange everything myself? Or do I cling to yesterday's gift until it becomes maggoty, clinging so tightly to what is known that I miss out on the fresh gift for today?

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take [the thorn in my flesh] away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)

How often do we pray for things, only to become disappointed when our requests are not granted? And it seems almost like a cop-out to say that God must have a bigger, greater plan, and the bad things had to happen because they really are for the best in the long run. I wonder, though, if God might just want us to suffer a bit, to keep us humble, to keep us in our place, and to remind us of our utter dependence on him. Maybe God did answer our prayers by saying, "Yeah, I'll give you enough grace to deal with that," rather than just simply taking it away. Like a good father who gives his child the tools to accomplish a certain task so that she will learn it, rather than simply always doing it for her. But do I have to courage to accept sufficient grace instead of easy answers?

That was the last <HR>, I promise.

Today was my first day of Day Camp. I'm working as the assistant to the administrative director or something like that gofer. Basically, I run around a lot and make sure things that need doing get done. And I get to drive a golf cart. As with all of the new things I had on my plate in the past few days, it went really well, in spite of my getting all worked up about it ahead of time. It's a really fun job, and I'm glad I decided to do it, even if it does mean not really getting any time to myself until August between the two jobs. I think I'm going to have to go camping at least twice in August to make it up to myself, though!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

While we're on the topic...

This is something I wrote last year for a friend who asked how we usually celebrate our anniversary. Since there wasn't really a "usually", I wrote a story instead. How very like me - when I was in high school, I used to give essay answers on math exams. Is it any surprise I went into law? (Edited to include pictures.)

Story Time (June 10, 2005)

2001 - Honeymoon

So, we're married. We hopped into the car, leaving the clean-up to others, and took off for exotic Syracuse, New York. We had booked the Seneca room at the River Edge Mansion right on the Oneida river. It was beautiful, and had complimentary cheese and crackers and non-alcoholic champagne (oh, we crazy Wesleyans) waiting for us when we arrived. We are both bathtub people, and were quite happy to have a whirlpool tub in our suite.

We stayed two nights at the River Edge Mansion. We enjoyed gourmet breakfasts, a canoe trip on the Oneida river, and hiding away in our room watching videos. We also attended a lovely service at a local church, saw “Shrek” in the theatre, went to a Japanese hibachi restaurant, and ate at Arby's (Arby's was the unofficial food sponsor of our honeymoon).

From there, we headed to Herkimer, New York to camp and mine for Herkimer diamonds. Unfortunately, we realized at this time that our tent, and all our camping equipment, was currently housed at my in-laws' house in Philadelphia. Fortunately, I also remembered that my family had stayed at the Herkimer KOA once before, and there had been an extremely nasty storm at the time, so we had stayed in a Kamping Kabin. So, we booked ourselves into a Kabin, for very little more than we would have had to pay for a tent-site, and settled in.

We went diamond mining, which involved smashing rocks with chisels and hammers and digging through the debris for gems. It was a blast, and we actually found some pretty nice ones. We also took a side trip to Howe Caverns, where Jer had been before, but I had not. It was really neat.


Meanwhile, the worst storm in years hit Herkimer (the worst storm Herkimer had seen since I had last been there with my family, I believe.) So, we made an emergency trip into town for flashlights, and huddled in our cozy little cabin in the darkness of a power blackout.

Stop reading now if you like romance, and skip to next year.

We headed to Philadelphia to pick up our tenting equipment from my in-laws, stopping on the road to phone and give them a heads-up that we were coming. Timing-wise, it didn't make sense to try and find a campsite that late in the day, so we spent the next night of our honeymoon at my in-laws' house, sleeping on the pull-out couch.

We took our equipment, borrowing some other things that we might need, and headed for New Jersey. We were going to be camping in Belleplain State Forest, which looks really nice on paper. In real life, however, the sites were really close together, the bathrooms were nasty, and the weather was disgusting. 100 degrees with 100% humidity, which adds up to like 190 degrees on the humidex. We had chosen this location because it was close enough to stop in and visit Jer's extended family, who were vacationing in Ocean City, NJ, whilst we were honeymooning. So, we left our little campsite, and spent a gorgeous day on a breezy beach with the family.

Meanwhile, Jer had gotten sick. The humidity was too much for him. So, rather than leaving the nice, air-conditioned condo for our stuffy little tent, we spent the next night on the pull-out in the living room, where Jer's parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins were all also staying. We were given a wonderful early morning wake-up call the next day by Jer's cousins (our flower girls from the wedding).

We suffered through another night at the campsite, during which it poured rain. We skipped church, because it was so wet outside, and we didn't want to brave the trip to the car. Besides, at this point, our air mattress was floating in an inch or so of water, and everything we had in the tent was soaking wet. Interesting lesson learned: nylon tents are only waterproof if you spray them with waterproof spray. Reading the small print on the inside of a tent in the rainy morning light comes in handy.

The rain stopped, and we dragged everything outside of the tent to dry it out. In the process, we seem to have put a zillion tiny puncture holes in the air mattress, and no amount of patching has been able to make it usable since. Stupid pine forest. We left our stuff airing out and went to Millville, NJ, to visit the Wheaton Glassblowing Village. It was really fun, and I highly recommend it. Except for, maybe, on Father's Day, when it seemed that more than half of their volunteer staff had taken the day off to be with family. Even so, it was really neat.

We couldn't hack another night at the miserable camp site. The rain had not cooled things off, it had merely solidified the humidity. So, we packed up our gear and drove home. It was really late at night, so we had to stop in a rest station on the way and sleep in the car for a couple of hours. We then secretly settled into our new apartment, not telling anyone we were back for almost a week. Somewhere, I have a photo of our first dinner together in our new home. It was spaghetti, thanks to a creative relative who had given us a romantic dinner basket as a shower gift.

2002 – First Anniversary

We were living in Fillmore, New York, and took a trip to Toronto for a Barenaked Ladies concert. I have written extensively about this trip elsewhere, so won't be repeating the story here.

2003 – Second Anniversary

We had moved to Toronto, but were spending the summer at Jeremy's parents' house in Philadelphia. I was working two jobs, so there wasn't time for a trip. Instead, we spent an evening at Jillian's, playing arcade games and watching sports on the big screen TV. It was loads of fun.

2004 – Third Anniversary

Boy, these just keep getting more and more boring. We are in Toronto, now. The weekend before our anniversary was my law school graduation, which was very busy with my parents' visit (incidentally, this visit was the last time I saw my father alive.) I don't think Jer and I actually saw each other for more than a few minutes on our actual anniversary, since I had bar admission courses, and he was working evenings. So, the Saturday after our anniversary, we went to the St. Lawrence Market and had peameal sandwiches, then headed over to the Rainbow Cinema to watch Spiderman. Incidentally, the Rainbow Cinema is not a gay porn theatre, as I had suspected ever since I had first moved to Toronto. The show we wanted to see was sold out, so we bought tickets to a later show, bought a deck of cards, and sat down in the lobby and played euchre until it was our turn.

2005 – Fourth Anniversary

We are in Ottawa, now. Four anniversaries, four different cities. My mom stopped by this afternoon with a big basket of fruit. It turns out that fourth anniversary is actually fruit or flowers, not clean socks and tonic water. Oh well, I guess we can't all be gift gurus. I had never had a persimmon before. It was interesting. I think I will have to have another sometime in order to decide for sure whether I like it or not.

We went to The Works for dinner. They make gourmet burgers with fancy names. Jer had the Wild Western (with Canadian bacon and an omelette on it) and I had The Sweet Ride (with caramelized onions, baked Brie, and half a pear on it). I also had sweet potato spears, and we shared a tower of yummy, crispy onion rings. It was all wonderful.

Jer had figured out that my secret plan was to go to a museum, because one of my “friends” mentioned it on IM when Jer was reading over my shoulder. (Note to self: never have an affair over instant messenger. Jeremy will find out.) He didn't know which museum, though, and told me he at least knew that it couldn't be the war museum. Ha ha. At least I win points for picking the least predictable museum, even when the surprise was all but ruined.

We had a great time at the war museum. It was really well put-together, with a healthy mix of heroes and tragedies, and the occasional burst of comedy when it was most needed. Plus, Canada has Hitler's actual Mercedes Benz parade car. How cool is that?


We stopped at a grocery store on the way home for dessert. We couldn't agree on a dessert, so we bought two different ones. Jer had lemon meringue pie, and I had a Decadent Molten Chocolate Cake topped with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Then, we watched CSI, and Jer went to bed, since he has to work at 6:30 am. tomorrow.

Now, you go. Tell me about your own honeymoon/anniversary adventures/misadventures. Since Lisa mentioned her chicken pox honeymoon, I've been wondering what kinds of other unique experiences others might have had. I would love to hear about them!

Honeymoon Pajamas

I loved my wedding. It was a happy day, a fun day, an exhausting day. It was the point at which our separate lives became our life. But we didn't really get to start living that joint life until the honeymoon.

Honeymoons get a bad rap, I think. We refer to the first few weeks at a new school or a new job as the "honeymoon period", implying that our eyes are blinded by the glare of something fresh and new, and we don't really see the reality. Either that, or honeymoons are assumed to be all about sex, which is an exhausting and unrealistic assumption.

My honeymoon didn't fit the above stereotypes, and I doubt that many do. My honeymoon was special to me, though, because it was our first chance to live life as a married couple. I got to practice using the phrase, "my husband," on store clerks and waitresses, so that it wouldn't feel awkward anymore when I came home to people who knew the pre-married me. We got to find out which side of the bed we liked to sleep on, and whether or not we snored. (As an aside, even to this day, we keep switching sides of the bed. In fact, just last night, we switched again so that my husband could sleep by the open window.) It's when I realized that I can't wait for the date to end anymore to go to the bathroom, and you get to see the side of each other that you had remained blissfully ignorant of throughout the courtship.

My honeymoon was far from idyllic. We forgot to pack the tent, so we ended up detouring to a KOA so we could stay in a kabin. We forgot to pack sheets, so we ended up having to buy a set of cheap Wal-Mart sheets to use on the KOA bed. We lost power and had to buy some emergency flashlights and a fluorescent lantern. We tried to camp in Southern New Jersey during a heat wave, and ended up giving up and staying with all the cousins at the air-conditioned shore house instead. Jer got sick. We spent a night sleeping in a rest area parking lot.

But my honeymoon was when we set the groundwork for Being Married, and I think a less than idyllic experience might be the best possible way to do that. I have fond associations with everything that we acquired, or first started using, on our honeymoon. And I might not care about having nice things, but I have always cared deeply about keeping sentimental things.

So I mourned briefly when I used up the Honeymoon Hand Cream, and when I finished the Honeymoon Shampoo. When one of the youth left the Honeymoon Frisbee behind after a youth group cookout, I put on a brave face and said it was okay, because we still had the Honeymoon Folding Chairs and the Honeymoon Lantern. The Honeymoon Air Mattress didn't even survive the honeymoon (I know what you're thinking, but it was popped by PINE NEEDLES). The Honeymoon Sheets were cheap and quickly became pilled and uncomfortable, but I keep them around for those times when I am too lazy to wash the good sheets in time to put them back on the bed.

But of all my honeymoon memorabilia, my favourite was the Honeymoon Pajamas. My mom bought the Honeymoon Pajamas for me as a wedding gift. They were my favourite style of pajamas - stretchy, t-shirt fabric, cotton tank top; drawstring, dress-shirt fabric, cotton pants. Maybe it's because they were such a great pair of pajamas, and maybe it's because they were the first pajamas I ever wore as a married woman, but they were very favourite pair. There was a flower on the front of the shirt, which cracked and crumbled a little more every time I washed it, until one day, I sat in front of a movie and picked every last piece of the flower off, leaving a pile of plastic crumbs on the floor and a plain, flowerless pajama top. The pants became thinner and thinner, until you could almost see through them, but I kept them in the pajama rotation, because I loved them so much. Gradually, as I acquired more pajamas, I wore the Honeymoon Pajamas less and less often, in order to extend their life just a little more, but I knew that, inevitably, they would have to be phased out.

Last night, I decided to wear the Honeymoon Pajamas, and when I woke up this morning to take the dog outside, I felt an uncomfortable breeze on the back of my leg, and looked down to see an enormous tear all the way across the backside of those oh-so-comfortable Honeymoon Pajama bottoms, where the fabric had worn so thin that it finally, simply gave out.

Rest in peace, Honeymoon Pajamas.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Well, I received official confirmation in the mail today. My resignation application has been granted; I am no longer a lawyer in Ontario.

I surprised myself with my reaction to this particular piece of mail. I thought that I would get all sentimental, second guess my decision, go into a downward emotional spiral, and feel regretful. But honestly, all I felt was relief. I've been working on this resignation application for months - trying to make sure I crossed all my i's and dotted all my t's and filled out all the right forms so that I wouldn't have to pay two years worth of law society fees and malpractice insurance. The letter meant that it was finally done - no more paperwork, no more hoops to jump through; I was free. I breathed a sigh of relief, set the letter aside, and went back to what I had been doing before I collected the mail (writing checks for payments on my student loans, ironically enough).

I made the decision not to practice law in Ontario almost a year ago. Since then, it's simply been a matter of going through the right motions to get to this place. It's nice to have a sense of closure so that I can get on with my life, and one less nagging, administrative detail to take care of.

Monday, June 12, 2006


In which I do that thing that everyone hates and try to apologize for not blogging recently

I've been a bad blogger lately. I have been busily accumulating content, but I haven't had the emotional energy to process it all into proper entries. I feel a little bit like I did at the end of college, when I graduated (but not quite, because I had a couple of incompletes to finish over the summer), went to Japan, moved to Colorado by myself for the summer to work at a lodge, and was accepted into law school, all in the span of about a month. I guess I just feel like I have a backlog of experiences to process. If you don't want to read all this, I won't be offended, but there are at least a dozen blog posts kicking around in my head that won't let any new ones out until I write them.

Chapter 1:
In which Jeremy's illness distracts me from planning a party

About two months ago, Jeremy came down with a low-grade flu. The flu seemed to think that it was duty-bound to make up for not being really serious by lasting for a really long time, so Jeremy stayed sick for six weeks or so. He would feel a little bit better for a couple of days, then he would feel icky again for a few days. It was a really frustrating time, but he only missed one day of work, and we never made it to the "this illness seems serious enough that we should go to the doctor without health insurance and swallow the bill" stage. We had talked to a couple of other people who had recently experienced a similar low-grade flu for over a month, so we didn't worry about it too much. It seemed like it was just a really mean bug.

And then, one day, Jeremy felt better. Actually good, and not just less bad. It was a happy day. And we were happy. And I began to think seriously about planning the big anniversary shindig that I had been planning on planning before he got sick, and I even went so far as to move the date on the family calendar to Sunday instead of Saturday, because I had failed to request Saturday off of work.

And then, a few days later, he was suddenly sick again, with all new symptoms. Symptoms that left him with a lot of discomfort and concerned me, the daughter of a nurse, a lot more than the never-ending flu had. So we called around and tried to figure out how poor, uninsured schmoes like ourselves could get medical care without having to sell our firstborn, and we found a clinic that was willing to take him, but they didn't have an appointment for a month, which my mother-in-law somehow managed to haggle down to a week.

Meanwhile, the day of the party arrived, and I had done zero planning for it. But I didn't want to do nothing at all, so I made some last minute calls and bought some last-minute groceries and I threw together a last-minute party. And we had a nice time, the six of us, in the backyard, while Jeremy lay down inside on the futon. Eventually, we even ate some of the cake that I had found in our wedding colours. It was a fun day, albeit nothing like the party I had originally envisioned. Someday, I will have a party where people dress up.

Chapter 2:
In which I am a terrible wife and abandon my sick husband and Dan is almost arrested at the Liberty Bell

My friend Dan is moving from Buffalo, New York to Los Angeles, California, and he's doing it in style. "In style" being a phrase that is here used to mean "with all his worldly possessions packed into his beat-up Jeep, staying with friends and relatives where they can be found, visiting the randomest roadside attractions, and sleeping in national parks." Maybe that's not in style to you, but I can't imagine a better way to move across the country.

Philadelphia isn't really on the way to California from Buffalo, but it can be if you're traveling In Style™. Dan had planned his arrival in the Philadelphia area to loosely coincide with the anniversary party I was theoretically going to be having, which is a big part of why I didn't want to just let the thing slide completely.

So on Monday, I was faced with a choice: Play nurse-maid to my sick husband, who had stayed home from work, or play tour guide to my house-guest who is moving across the country and I may never see again. Judge me all you want; I'm sure I deserve it. I went with the latter.

Rachel, Dan, and I headed into the city to see the closest thing to a roadside attraction that Philadelphia has to offer: the Mütter Museum, which is a collection of medical oddities (ranging from the bizarre, like a plaster cast of the bodies of siamese twins, to the "not for the faint of heart", like preserved slices of someone's face). We also took in a few of the "must sees" in the city, like the view from behind the Art Museum, Ben Franklin's glass armonica (which was being demonstrated for us when we were there - very cool), and the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell, which you used to be able to walk up and touch, even within my memory, is now protected by armed guards and metal detectors. Dan had a pocket knife that he didn't want confiscated, so he threw it in the trash outside, and we went back to retrieve it afterwards. It was at this point that we were informed by a security guard that there is a $500 fine for trash picking. Because people who take things out of trash cans are undoubtedly the biggest terror threat to America today. Even bigger than bears.

Chapter 3:
In which we celebrate our anniversary in a hospital and I am a terrible wife again and abandon my sick husband again so that I can meet a baby and a lion

Inevitably, whenever I probably should be staying at home, irresistible social opportunities start to crop up all over the place. Almost exactly one year ago, some friends of ours had a baby at 24 weeks gestation. Noah was less than 2 pounds when he was born, and the first year of his life has been, basically, one big miracle. I had not seen these friends in a year and a half, and had never met their son. In fact, Brian and Emily haven't been able to travel at all since Noah was born, so you can imagine my surprise when Brian called me up out of the blue to tell me they were planning on coming to the Philadelphia area this weekend, would we be able to meet up with them? Of course, I said yes.

But Jeremy's pain kept getting worse, until it became apparent that he just wouldn't be able to make it until Monday's appointment. On Friday morning, the day of our actual anniversary, Jeremy woke me up to tell me that it was time to go to the ER.

So, we spent the morning of our anniversary in the emergency room, trying to figure out what was wrong with Jeremy. And they ran some tests and sent us home with antibiotics and pain killers. Fortunately, we are poor enough that we didn't have to pay an emergency room bill, but we still have to deal with whatever bills the doctor might send us, including the bill for the CAT scan which seemed extravagant to me when he suggested it, but who can argue with a doctor when your husband is in agony and he suggests something that might possibly help him? (And naturally, the CAT scan showed nothing.)

But, because I am a terrible wife, I left my husband at home sleeping on Saturday so that I could meet up with Phil and Rachel and Jon to drive down to the Cape May Zoo, where we would be meeting Brian and Emily and Noah.

We had a great time at the zoo. It's a surprisingly good zoo, especially considering that it was free. They even have a lion, which was hiding when we walked by, but I detoured back to his cage when I heard him roaring, and got to see him right up close, roaring in my face. It was so cool. Unless you thought about how unhappy the lion must be to be roaring at us like that. Poor, cool lion.


Noah is doing really well. He is so big now (roughly ten times his birth weight, I believe), and he looks like a normal baby now, not a preemie. He's such a pleasant, cheerful kid, and he has overcome most of his major health issues. I was so glad I finally got to see him!

After the zoo, we went to Wildwood so Noah could dip his feet in the ocean (his first time!).

noah in the ocean

We played in the sand and I taught Noah how to karate chop walls of sand. It was a blast. Then we walked on the boardwalk for a while, and bought funnel cakes and soft serve ice cream (truly, you have not tasted funnel cake until you have dipped it into ice cream), then headed back to Maple Shade (where Jon lives and my car was parked) for dinner. After dinner, we shuffled back to our respective cars, and Brian and Emily said goodbye to Jon and Phil and Rachel. I didn't say goodbye, though, because I had convinced Brian and Emily that we really didn't mind them staying the night at our place, even if Noah does have a tendency to throw up entire feedings on the floor.

I was especially glad that Brian and Emily and Noah stayed with us because it meant that they got to see Jeremy, and Jeremy got to meet Noah. And we had a really nice visit, even if Noah did throw up an entire feeding on our floor. That's what towels are for.

In which I don't really draw any conclusions

Jeremy had his doctor's appointment today, and the doctor offered no further insights into his condition. She basically agreed that there was an infection, but didn't seem to be able to discern any cause. He has a follow-up appointment scheduled for after the antibiotics run out, and hopefully that will be the end of it. Thanks to everyone who has been praying for him, and I'll keep you posted if anything changes.

The End.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I was wearing my husband's wedding ring while they did the cat scan. When they wheeled him back in, he held his hand out for me, and I slipped his ring back onto his ring finger. "Appropriate, isn't it?" he laughed. I smiled back, impressed that he had remembered today's date in the midst of the pain.

Happy fifth anniversary, beloved.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I'm gonna be rich!

What an amazing coincidence! In the past week, I have received emails from three different people informing me that someone died and left me a whole lot of money in their will. Three inheritances! One of them worth over $5 million dollars! All for me! And just because these people apparently met me once upon a time in their travels and decided to write me into their wills. Am I lucky or what?

P.S. Yes, of course, I am extremely saddened by the passing of these people, and I feel terribly guilty that they remembered me so well and I can't seem to place their names. But, duuuude, it's MONEY!

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I was about to compose an entertaining piece about our frustrating multiple trips to the DMV this morning ending in neither one of us successfully obtaining a Pennsylvania driver's licence. But stories of bureaucratic inefficiency are so cliché. When I go to a government office, am told that all my paperwork is in order, and leave a few minutes later with the desired object of my visit in my hand, I'll write about it. That would be a story worth telling.

Rambling Thoughts and Lousy Pictures

There are so many blog entries rolling around in my head, I've been putting off writing anything because I just don't know where to start. I just spent I'm not sure how long putting the pictures I just got developed into albums, and I was planning on uploading a few, but now I don't feel motivated for that. I think I need to get some thoughts out, even if they are in no semblance of order. The pictures will still be there tomorrow.

Yesterday, I didn't get on my computer all day. I went to New Jersey to spend the day with a friend who has been feeling down lately. Highlights of the day included going to see "Over the Hedge" with our pockets full of contraband bulk candy and laughing so hard that I forgot to feel silly for seeing a children's movie without bothering to bring along any children, then having a mediocre movie on DVD interrupted by a power outage and being treated to the most incredible lightning display ever. Wow. That thunderstorm was intensely beautiful. Lighting was all around us, in sheets and forks, thunder so loud it set off car alarms, and rain driving with such force that it was splashing up to my knees even though we were under an awning on the back porch. Yes, on the back porch. You can't sit inside during a storm like that. At least we couldn't. When the rain let up a bit, we walked several loops around the housing development, me with no shoes, feeling the coolness of the gathering rain water rush around my feet.

One of the things that struck me when I was in New York City was the security measures that you see on every corner. We didn't even bother going to the Statue of Liberty, because they don't let you up past her feet anymore, and I saw at least three NSA guys in the terminal on our way to the Staten Island Ferry (which drives right past the Statue of Liberty, so you can get your pictures of her without having to pay for it - Liberty should be free!). It made me sad that we have to be so extremely protective now, although I completely understand why that came to be. I couldn't help but think, however, that if the goal of terrorism is to make us live in fear, then in many ways, the terrorists are winning.

But the answer to terrorism can't be turning a blind eye to the threat, either. I was reading an article today about a recent Homeland Security report that basically denies that there is anything in NYC that the terrorists would want to bomb. (In the report, next to the category "National Monuments and Icons" is a big, fat zero.) I'm not sure how much I can add to the article. And I seem to be fumbling with my words right now, so I won't even try. It just really got me thinking, and wondering: How can we be cautious without being afraid?

When I got home from work tonight, I was hungry, so I decided to make eggs. I also decided to call a friend at the exact same time. Note to self: Cooking soft-boiled eggs with only one hand is relatively easy. Getting them out of the shell with only one hand is nigh impossible.

Back to the pictures. I decided to splurge and spend the extra $2.60 per roll to get photo CDs. I figured it would save me having to scan every picture I wanted to post, and my photos would already be saved in an external location so I wouldn't have to worry as much about my hard drive crashing. Which means I can post my pictures here without a whole lot of trouble. So why am I dilly dallying?

I guess because I am a little disappointed with my pictures. I am still learning to use my camera, and I tell myself that I should be happy if there are two pictures on every roll that turn out well. And I am, to an extent. But I am also sad about the 10 pictures on every roll that really suck. And I feel sad about the missed opportunities, and I feel guilty for not getting it right, and I contemplate throwing in the towel completely and giving up on my fully manual SLR camera. I feel like I should be getting better at it by now, but then again, it's not like I'm getting any kind of professional instruction, so whatever improvement I experience will be through trial and error. And part of the reason my newest pictures are less great than my Ireland pictures from last August is that I'm pushing myself to try new things and sometimes, you can only learn those kind of lessons by getting the prints and seeing what didn't work.

Here are some of the lessons I will be learning from my most recent batch of photos:

Lesson #1: Don't be lazy. I know that camera strap is a really convenient, straight line to focus on, but wouldn't you rather be able to see the face?

elsa laughing

Lesson #2: When you focus on something or someone, practically nothing in front of your subject will be in focus, including that other person who is so conveniently in the frame. Ugly doorknobs and coverless light switches behind her, however, will be perfectly clear. Next time, focus on the woman in front, okay?

monica and kerry

Lesson #3: Sometimes, even when a picture turns out exactly how it was planned, you realize later that any scrap of artistic talent you might at other times possess must have been taking a bathroom break when you decided this would look good. Just don't take a picture like this again, okay?

blurry white flowers

Lesson #4: Break the rules sometimes. Take a picture directly into the sun on a dreary day as the sun is going down. My favourite pictures are often total flukes.

experimental farm sunset