happy thanks, ya'll

My family has a series of Thanksgiving traditions, which include 120 orange rolls, and a screening of Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation. Nothing beats watching my dad try to edit the inappropriate parts (which includes the moments that talk about Santa not being real: for the kids).

But some of my most memorable Thanksgivings include those when tradition got tossed out the window--mostly because I was far away.

My Thanksgiving in Hawaii involved a room full of 30 or so Mongolians, eating turkey and laughing at jokes I couldn't understand, and then a drive back home along a beach.

My Thanksgiving in Brazil included an odd, stringy pumpkin pie which a member made FROM ACTUAL PUMPKIN. She probably bought the pumpkin, baked it, and did something magic to it. I say magic because I don't know how to make pumpkin pie from anything but a can.

And that's why I think that my brother's Thanksgiving this year will probably be pretty memorable. He emailed us this week from India to say that he's thankful for carpet. I'm thankful he's not going to be there forever.

you know you've played too long when...

I don't really like video games much; they're generally too violent for my taste and they stress me out. But Christopher bought this lovely little game called World of Goo, which is the first video game EVER that I have plans to beat.

If you mess something up in the game, you can click on a little bug, the screen flashes, and you go back to your previous turn. When the little goo structures you create collapse or fall down, you can just go back in time and try it again. Apparently, my hour tonight with the game (and its you-can-go-back-one-turn policy) made me forget reality.

While moving some things on top of the fridge just now, I knocked over some dishes. They clattered all over the floor. Nothing broke, but the whole thing startled me. My instant reaction in that moment? Click on a little do-over flash bug. I tried to press my thumb down on the game controller I didn't have in my hand, and it actually took me an entire second to realize that I had to pick the dishes up. Maybe I won't play video games again for a little while.

she's almost old, too.

People seem to get older all at once at my house. My sister's almost old enough to drive a car, to date, and to realize she's cooler than I am (nobody let her in on the secret). Her birthday reminds me of some angst I actually had about her being born.

I had BEGGED my mom for a sister for a decade. And when I found out that a sister was finally coming, I actually didn't want her anymore. I wasn't a jerk. It was just that my mom had an antique tea set that she always pulled out to use special on my birthday. The plates and saucers were hand-painted, and each one was unique. And my 11-year-old mind saw another girl in the house as competition for the tea set inheritance.

As soon as my mom reassured me that I could have the tea set, I accepted the idea of my sister's inevitable entrance into the world. My mom started collecting more tea cups—I think so her new little girl wouldn't feel gypped. I feel kind of silly about the whole thing now. So, Anne: I'm glad you were born. You're way better than a set of heirloom tea cups any day.

Here's to you. Happy Birthday!

i think he's old now

I swear my brother's not old enough to be old now, but he is. He drives a car and goes to high school and is strong enough to take most of the people I know in an arm wrestle. He's pretty much a good guy. I don't have space here to list everything amazing about him, but here are three reasons I look up to him:

1. He'll drop mostly anything—especially homework—to help anyone in the family. The things he's willing to do include (but are not limited to) running errands, giving rides, working in the yard, moving heavy objects and watching Star Wars with anyone who needs an emergency movie fix.

2. He puts up with two older brothers who like to punch him and boss him around. His patience stretched longer than a decade, until he was strong enough to pin them (or sly enough to tickle them out of pinning him).

3. He's still never sought revenge for all the times we teased him about watching animé cartoons in junior high. We hope it stays that way.

Here's to you, Steve. Happy Birthday!

Another email to a professor

Dr. Steele teaches Food Microbiology. This week we learned about microbes that cause food poisoning. I got food poisoning this same week, and sent him this email on Saturday:

Dr. Steele,

I think I should get a little extra credit for an out-of-class activity I'm doing right now. I'm experiencing a case of food poisoning.

I'm guessing it's foodborne intoxication, most likely Staphylococcus aureus, because it was quick onset, with mostly upper digestive tract symptoms, i.e. vomiting.

Christopher West

He replied:

Sorry to hear of your extracurricular experiences. Isn’t it great to be educated in your illnesses!

cozy up

A few years ago, I lived with a very cool girl, who once made me the most divine hot chocolate I've ever tasted. I forgot I still had the recipe before Christopher and I bought some Stephen's hot chocolate mix. As soon as it runs out, I think I might just have to whip us up some of this. Try it:

2 cups hot water
1 Tb cocoa
½ tsp vanilla
1 can evaporated milk
¼ cup sugar
dash of salt

It's a lot of sugar, so snuggle up and share with a friend. That's the best way to spend a cold day anyway.

My Friendsh

God smote me Monday for being such fervent Obama supporter, by giving me empathy for John McCain.

I hadn't worked out my upper body for a good two years, since the last time my tennis elbow flared up really bad. Monday I went to the gym with my cousin Mike, and pushed myself until it hurt.

And it was a good hurt, until later that night. I woke up at 3am, in too much pain to sleep. My arms killed. The next night I downed some NyQuil to help me get to sleep. Kathy got upset, but I argued that though I wasn't "sniffly, sneezing, aching, sore throat," I was definitely aching. But I gave in and didn't take any the next day. I did argue with Kath that we should keep an emergency bottle of whiskey around for situations like this. She disagreed.

The next day I couldn't put my arms all the way down, and I couldn't reach them up very high. I basically had them pointed forward like John McCain does when he's making a point.
When I would reach to get my coat off of the hanger, or to get my toothbrush off of the shelf behind the mirror, I would have to stand on my tiptoes and angle my body funny, because I couldn't raise my arms above my shoulders.

Kathy commented that I looked like a T-rex.
I thought I looked more like an extra on Michael Jackson's
I slept well last night without any whiskey or NyQuil, and I am feeling much better, my friendsh.

Celebrating Dentist Style

We have an old dentist chair stored in our garage waiting to go to the D.I. I got it from Dave, my father-in-law, and thought I could look commanding while playing video games.
Our friend (and landlord) Janel spotted it and asked if we were keeping it for some sort of Obama victory celebration. I'm assuming she thought it was a sacrificial altar (watch your back, Mike).

Great idea:


I felt like a hobbit with a tall person from Gondor. His head scraped the ceiling. Welcome to our rabbit-hole.
Dave gets told he's tall. A lot.

People ask him: "You're tall, do you play basketball?"

He prefers to respond: "You're short, are you a horse jockey?"

happy election day

Well, folks, this is it. After today—November 4th—we can all stop yelling at each other. Christopher and I voted last week, so today feels a little anticlimactic.

If you vote, you are entitled to two of the following:
a. bragging rights because your candidate won.
b. whining rights because your candidate lost.
c. a sticker.

If you don't vote, you are banned from any and all of the following:
a. wearing an "I voted" sticker.
b. griping about the new president.
c. arguing with me about my politics. I mean, really. If we disagree, but you don't spend the time to voice your opinion when it counts...

If your candidate doesn't win, you have a few options:
a. Move to Finland.
b. Hyperventilate, then resign yourself to 4 years of the candidate that terrifies you, as soon as you regain consciousness.
c. Shrug and think,
Meh. President, shmesident. Local politics are where it's at anyway.

Happy voting.

Dear world,

Let it be proclaimed to the internet that I am not pregnant, and should not be assumed as such, until further personal notification as I will initiate if and when my pregnancy status changes.

Please supress your urge to ask my due date, congratulate me, or pat my tummy knowingly. I have a hormone imbalance that makes me fat; I'm taking medicine (to balance the hormones) that makes me throw up. Believe me: when I'm finally pregnant, I will let you know.

And yes, I need to exercise more. I plan to do so every SINGLE day next week.