3. Our third Christmas as the Wests. (Also, our last Christmas before the Wests become a family of 3 and not 2.)
2. The second annual Christmas Eve family variety show.
Instead of drawing names to give presents to cousins, we put together a little talent show on Christmas Eve. I like this new tradition; instead of thinking about what everybody wants and what we have to buy, we get to appreciate who everybody is and what's been important to them in the last year.
This year, we listened to musical performances and written thoughts, saw artwork and fancy cupcakes, watched a yo-yo show, etc. I showed off some needle-felted crafts I made and C. showed off his muscles by doing push-ups.
1. One move, 35 miles up the road.
If you must move, I recommend doing so at Christmas time. We have boxes and boxes of books to open once we finally set up our bookshelves. We like the books we have, so opening them up later will feel like opening presents.
Also, if you must move at Christmas time, I recommend setting up decorations first—before unpacking anything else. Now, if I could only find some socks.
My finals this semester seem a little more reasonable than my husband's. I'll hand in a written portfolio at the end of the week while he'll have to regurgitate massive chunks of information—one of which is this little instruction I encountered on his study guide while quizzing him for his chemistry final:
"Know what hormones are and in general terms how they act."
Really? I can't help but feel that the study guide's a little vague. And absurd. Surely it can't mean ALL hormones? Especially when that's just a single bullet point on a three-page study guide. Right?
Personally, I think C. should receive 100% for that section of the test before he even shows up for the final tomorrow. I mean, he lives with a pregnant woman. He certainly knows what hormones are and EXACTLY how they act.
Six years ago, I thought I was moving away from Provo for good. I couldn't WAIT. I packed up fast and by the time I hit the freeway entrance, I was flying. I almost shouted out the window: see ya', suckas! And I was never coming back.
Then the universe laughed at me and sent me to Provo again two years later.
Good thing it did, too. When I lived here the first time, I worked and spent most of my free time in a different city, while spending the rest of my time rolling my eyes at Provo stereotypes.
Not until the second time around did I discover that this supposedly boring, stifling city is home to some of the most interesting, intelligent, wonderful people I've ever met. I know they didn't hide from me before; I just never bothered to look for them back in the day.
On Saturday, I'll move away from Provo again—this time, in a very different mood. I'm thrilled about our new place for so many reasons (can we say washer and dryer?). But I now know that I'll miss the apartment and the streets and the campus and especially the people who have made me feel so at home here.
Goodbye, Provo. Goodbye, little house under the stairs.
And to all you suckers who ARE sticking around this good little town: you can't get rid of me that easily. I'm not saying goodbye for good. I've made my peace with Provo and she says I can come to visit.
We have drinken (drunk. K goes crazy when I use that word) a lot of eggnog lately. I even put it on my cereal.
School ends next week. I haven't posted lately because of the craziness. But I want to wish you all a merry Christmas. Here is a card that I made from tomatoes from our farmer.
Today I had a Christmas Miracle. I accidentally deleted all of my iTunes music, because I'm kind of an idiot. I was making a picture in photoshop, and it said that I needed more room on my hard drive. So I started deleting things like crazy. The next time I turned on iTunes, all of my songs had !'s next to them.
I wrote Apple and begged for forgiveness. A girl named Sarah wrote back an hour later and said that I could download everything again. Hooray!
Which brings me to a thought: I think once you buy a song or a movie, you should own it forever. If a new form of holding the song or movie develops (blu-ray, laserdisk, etc.), then you shouldn't have to buy it again, you should just get it for free. Okay, maybe the company wouldn't be required to send you a brand new dvd, but you should forever have rights to the data, so you could burn a new copy on whatever newly developed format. A lot of companies keep track of your purchases for a long time, so if your kid decides to put your dvds in the oven, you should be able to just download it again. That would be a real Christmas miracle.
Well, that's enough for utopian dreams. Merry Christmas.
p.s., I made a Christmas playlist, you can find it on the sidebar.
Last night, I sat at a big conference table with three of my amazing professors and talked about the classes I've taken and the stories I've written.
Of course, they didn't ask any of the questions I thought they might. And I didn't get to say most of the things I had hoped I would be able to. And when they asked how my reading influenced my writing, the mental list I'd made of books I wanted to talk about went entirely blank. But we had an interesting conversation, and they didn't hesitate to tell me that I passed my thesis defense. Perhaps they were swayed by the muhammara that I made them.
All growing up, I knew my dad was a good guy. He encouraged my writing, came to my ballet recitals, and on and on. But I don't think I really appreciated who he was until I grew up enough to move to another hemisphere by myself for a while.
For the first 21 years of my life, my dad was just my dad. He was just a guy who dropped anything to help me with my math and Spanish homework. And after high school, he was just a guy willing to stay up half the night to talk me out of marrying boys who weren't good for me (without letting on that he was doing just that).
Before I went away, I didn't know that so few men are as smart and dedicated and thoughtful as my dad. All the distance I got when I left helped me to understand.
Sometimes, after we leave my parents' house, C. teases me: "It really took you 21 years?" Yeah, I think it did. I'm glad I finally figured it out. Thanks, Dad, for being born and for being so much better than I understood you were for so long.
We can't wait for our little girl to come. With baby on the brain, guess how we interpreted this fortune cookie—
K is well, though she worries whether she's doing anything wrong. I asked her if she was drinking, smoking, or shooting up heroin.
"No." She said.
"Then you're probably not doing anything wrong."
Here's to 22 weeks.
Whew! Gummi Bear gave us a little scare this past week—appropriately timed for Halloween. We got a little worried that she was already trying to join us, and it's far too soon.
I went to the doctor, took my medicine, stayed in bed, flaked out on my classes, and told my students to not even think about asking me when I would finish grading their papers. I talked Baby Gummi into waiting until March. She seems cool with it.
I think she's just excited to get here. Let's hope she's equally excited to embrace sleeping through the night and potty training.
After reading about the ignored violinist, I decided to dedicate some of my time to show my appreciation for those who devote their lives to music. I made this:
It's sad that our system respects money over art. As Thomas Geoghegan of Harper's wrote:
"It's chilling to think that some young woman is putting down her viola and enrolling as a student trader even as I sip my Starbucks and listen to Vivaldi."
Our house doesn't have art on the walls typical of Mormon homes. There's a picture of me picking my nose next to K. There's a photo of two cupie dolls crossing the street, holding hands. I've printed some melancholy poetry and excerpts from anti-war essays to tack up next to engagement pictures and a map of Hawaii. And today this joined the collection:
Feel free to print one out for your kitchen.
I've thought that since "the sabbath was made for man," it is a great time for dusting off my atrophied creativity muscles.
Though the things I create will not likely end up in the Louvre, I sure do enjoy it. I hope K soon posts some of the things she's created lately. She's incroyable.
If you really felt as ill as you said you did to the person on the other end of your cell phone, while you walked up and down the literature section on the 5th floor (where I was), why didn't you stay home for a few days? Don't sniffle your way around the books anymore. Stop wiping your runny nose with the back of your hand and then running that hand along the shelf.
Your eyes looked so swollen and your nose so red. I'm sure some sleep and some soup would have done you good. It sure would have helped out the library patrons, too. Some of us are pregnant around here and really not looking forward to flu season.
A pregnant lady who is NOT happy to be home with a sore throat and burny eyes today
I thought I woke up inside a vacuum cleaner last night. I looked at the clock, it was 1am. A vacuum cleaner roared upstairs, in the room right above us. K woke and said, "Are you serious."
I went upstairs to talk to the guy. The vacuum was actually louder in our room than it was up here. The guy apologized quickly and turned off the vacuum.
I went back downstairs and lay down to sleep.
The floorboards kept creaking overhead. I think he would search for a creaky floorboard, and when he found one, he'd step all around it until all of the squeaks were out of it. I let him do this for about a half an hour.
Why did I wait so long? I thought it would end in just another minute. I thought I'd be able to sleep through it. I didn't want to be a bothersome neighbor.
I went back upstairs. I thought about going in my undies to make a greater impression, but I dressed first.
He apologized quickly. "Oh, is that loud?"
I went back downstairs and lay down to sleep. About a half-block away a car alarm went off.
I know a brilliant, multi-talented woman who shared one of her secrets with me yesterday. Because of her expert instruction, I made his adorable bear (and C. made the halloween pumpkin in his hand).
I'm addicted. After we went home, I spent an hour—which I SHOULD have spent creating a lesson plan—looking on the internet for ideas of more cute, little felted things I could make. I'm pretty sure that's all I want to do for the next two months (thesis defense? pshaw!).
I'm not going to tell you how incredibly simple this is to do. I want you to be amazed. Isn't he cute?
In the neighborhood where I grew up, the "Great Pumpkin" would deliver Halloween treats to people's porches, with a poem that told them to put a pumpkin in their window and then pass the favor on by anonymously delivering treats to other neighbors.
I think my neighborhood now must have a Great Pumpkin, too—just a different kind—because a good deed showed up anonymously on my porch: yesterday, someone swept the stairs in front of my apartment. I thanked my husband, but he wouldn't claim responsibility.
So, dear pumpkin, if you read my blog, thanks for sweeping my porch. I think I'll pass a good deed along to another neighbor.
I edited the ultrasound down to one minute and added a song that K sings to her tummy.
I was going to make a dance club version, or do one with Black Sabbath's "Embryo." But I have homework to do.
Grandparents will get a DVD copy.
This video popped up as a related alternative to watch afterward.
A few months ago, we went to the emergency room (nothing major—just pain that made our midwife nervous, but turned out to be nothing). The visit was a joke. We waited 3 hours to talk to a goober of a doctor, who charged our insurance over 300 bucks for the 9 minutes he spent reciting to us everything he remembered from medical school about the third trimester of pregnancy (I was only 10 weeks along).
BUT. I'm not writing this post about him. I actually think the visit was worth every minute and penny spent. When I had an ultrasound that day, we saw a teeny, tiny little baby on the screen. The lab tech said it looked like a gummi bear.
picture from moist production dot com
And the name stuck. Maybe because of the accuracy of the description. Maybe because my relief that the ultrasound was our last step out of the ER made it sound cuter than it was. Or maybe because it made the baby feel more real. Whatever the reason, I've been calling the baby by my favorite gender-neutral name these last few weeks: Gummi Bear.
We took another look yesterday. And, wow. Little Gummi has grown quite a bit since that ER visit. Her (her!) head, brain, spine, heart, arms, legs, feet, and hands are all accounted for. She (she!) swats away ultrasound transducers when they get poked in her face. She (a little gummi girl!) is excited to meet all of you.
And I'm sure you want to meet her. So, here she is. Our little gummi bear:
K and I have been debating whether or not should teach our kid about Santa. We still have some time to think about it. K is about five months along. We find out the gender this Friday.
Here's a list of pros and cons. So far the cons outweigh.
You get to eat cookies on Christmas Eve.
Our kid won't be the jerk kid who tells all the other kids that "Santa ain't real."
You can use him as a boogey-man to scare your kids into being good.
". . .has belief in Santa Claus ever closed the door to knowledge as loyalty to a scientific credo so often has? Is it better for a child to believe in Santa Claus with the understanding that someday he is going to revise his views than for him to be taught what is scientifically correct . . . from infancy, so that he will never, never have to revise his views on anything and thus go through life always right about everything? Which course is more liable to lead to disaster, the open-ended Santa Claus, or the ingrained illusion of infallibility?"
When K was a child, she was so grateful for her Christmas presents that she looked up and said, "Santa, wherever you are, THANK YOU!"
Her mother was rather put off. She had stayed up most of the night wrapping and setting everything just so, after countless hours of shopping, after months of working at the ER so that she could afford everything. After all that her kids thought she had just gotten them a couple of things, but that Santa, what a guy.
Santa can cause your child to lose their faith in God. (That's right, I just used "their" as a third-person neuter. Take that, grammar Nazi).
For example, a friend of ours wrote recently:
"Last night when J was helping the kids with personal prayers he started with [our 3-year-old daughter], who looked up [at] him, thought for a minute, then said "Dad, Heavenly Father's not really real anyway." Oh man. Darn Santa Claus. Darn the Easter Bunny and curse the Tooth Fairy."
K knew a family who didn't celebrate Santa, because Santa is an anagram of Satan. Of course that line of logic can get you into trouble. For example:
Abraham Lincoln is an anagram of Banal Charm Loin. So apparently that great president was some sort of boring yet hypnotic sexual deviant. Better not teach your kids about him.
Latter-day Saints = A Startled Sanity. Therefore Mormons are crazy.
Anywho. Let us know what you think we should do. Otherwise we'll probably teach our children this. (on youtube)
More fun anagrams (I got carried away on the website):
Thomas S Monson = Most Hansom Son
George Bush = Be Gore's Ugh (Just ask Al Gore)
...if my favorite part of yoga is the part at the end, when we lie on the floor?
I like to think that I'm learning how to better appreciate the resting part of hard work. I mean, lying on the floor after my body works hard is more than just lying on the floor. It feels earned and lovely and necessary.
Or. It could just mean I'm a wimp.
I went on a bloggie fast this week (easier said than done). And when I opened up google reader today, I found a little surprise—584 new posts waiting for me to read. Feels like a fitting end to a week of some other surprises:
- I, um, really liked relief society enrichment this week. I have generally maintained my prejudice against it, due to a long line of awkward-bordering-on-catastrophic enrichment moments in a long line of awkward single adult wards. Thanks for converting me, Misti.
- I survived the week. Monday looked a little daunting with a 350-page book to read, two workshop pieces to finish writing and submit, 20 student papers to read, 20 student conferences to hold, the introduction to my thesis still unrevised, etc., etc., etc. It's Friday. I'm still here.
- A funny little feeling in my tummy. Yep. There's really a baby in there.
In the first week of this semester, my professor asked us to create an autobiographical map. He gave vague instructions about how we might construct one, and then asked us to bring whatever we came up with to class in a few days. When I mentioned my task to Christopher, he asked if my map would contain a river of tears (I was crying at the time—NOT because of the assignment).
When I considered his question, I imagined I might be more accurate if I just colored the paper blue, left off any hint of continent or island and handed in my map as a vast ocean.
I cry. Often, okay.
My map ended up looking less like a road (or ocean) map and more like a page of text—sort of in the spirit of John D'Agata's "Flat Earth Map," only shorter and less clever. I outlined some points of interest in the country of myself. And apparently, I charted them on a sad day because my map drew attention to my consistent experience of being talked over in large groups of people, moments in which my story trails off in the middle and nobody notices. That put a damper on the class-time show-and-tell.
But I included no river. And today, while thinking about maps yet again, I realized that my omission may have been a mistake. The river flows at a pretty constant rate around here. I might be sad. I might be happy. But the tear count remains steady. It is a permanent landmark.
I read the news today and noticed how many different ways people hurt or attempt to hurt one another: I cried.
I watched a video on my friend's blog of her wedding and remembered how good people can be to each other (and how fabulous her taste is): I cried.
I'm not going to create another map of me, but if I did, it might look something like this one, of the changes in the Mississippi River's course over time. The route or the reason might shift (can we say pregnancy?), but this river won't dry up anytime soon.
(Found this map at http://strangemaps.wordpress.com/)
Me: I tried so hard, but I didn't get everything done today.
Him: Everything? Even God didn't finish everything in one day.
My sister changed the address of her blog without telling anyone. So here it is for any of you who read it:
These days, my tummy feels a bit willing to re-open its culinary horizons. So, I baked some salmon, made some rice and took them to campus with me today.
I thought I'd have plenty of time in my office to eat lunch, but I didn't. So I pulled the food out of the microwave and ate it while I walked in the crowd of students that moves en masse across campus between classes.
I would tell you about the two guys walking right behind me, and how they must have been really hungry, because I heard one say to the other, "You know what sounds good right now? Chicken curry with couscous." And I would tell you that the other one said, "No," and offered some other protein/pasta variation as the ideal meal. And I would tell you that I almost felt guilty that my lunch smelled REALLY GOOD.
But I realized before I wrote it what a pointless story that would be. So I'll just say this: I was thinking today of how much cooler my lunch would be if I had a Remains of the Day lunchbox. Does anyone know where I might find one?
In the 3 weeks that our blog sat dormant, we've had plenty to write about—most importantly, our anniversary. We've been married for 730+ days, which simultaneously seems like no time at all and our whole lives.
Time does weird stuff. I've tried to reflect on the previous year, to bring images and moments together into some sort of conclusive statement about what the 2nd year of marriage is like. But I can only think of rather current moments. Most of them involve food. I don't know if I should go with food as a 2nd-year-of-marriage metaphor or not.
Here are a few happy, recent, marriage-defining moments that stand out in my mind (which should not stand in for a mushier and more endearing post, but will anyway):
- My husband has boosted Papa Murphy's profits this quarter because he buys me their gourmet chicken garlic pizza nearly once a week. He hopes not to maintain this habit. But for now, he values the pizza for its unique property of remaining in my queasy tummy after eating.
- He told me to buy the maternity dress of my dreams, even though it was full price (which I am opposed to) and I haven't started sporting a poochy tummy yet.
- When our car was in the shop, he walked to the grocery store to buy milk, which I just HAD to have. And when I insisted on going with him, he stopped to hug me for ages when I cried on the side of the road, because I imagined that our children might like him more and think I was the boring, ugly parent of the pair. What a trip to the store THAT was.
Something tells me that, while the scenery might change and some additional children will pop in for a visit, we'll still do what we always do: read lots of books, work on projects, spend time together. He'll consistently take out the garbage and water the plants. I'll be as erratic as ever with laundry and vacuuming (though I'll continue to claim that keeping up dependably on both are important to me).
And we'll eat. Maybe I'll cook up something better for us than Papa Murphy's.
Last night our car broke down on the Provo exit. We called our amazing neighbor who came and towed our car home with his truck.
When we got home our neighbor found out that I had to get to work by 8 am. He helped me fix my bike so that I could ride it in the next day. He fixed the brakes, the tires, and the handlebars, then he greased the chain and wiped it down. I kept on expecting him to say "That will be $29.99," but he apparently works for saint points.
The next morning I woke up an hour and a half late because my alarm didn't go off (or didn't wake me). I dressed and hopped on the bike, and tucked my pant leg into my sock so it wouldn't get stuck in the bike chain.
So it's been an amazing day.
On the bright side, we found out that our neighbors are still awesome. And I got to ride my bike to work - which I've planned on doing for a while - to get into shape, save on gas, help the environment, and prevent foreign wars.
1. HOW does the world contain SO MANY people? The number of people driving around my little city or walking around in the grocery store blows me away. How many women had to throw up for months at a time just to make enough people to populate this single town? And how many of those women volunteered for this process multiple times? That's a lot of barf, people.
2. Why on EARTH does war even exist? If all those women had to barf up their guts and then go through labor and spend years and years putting care and love into little people until those people got big enough to defend themselves, doesn't it seem an immense waste to blow said people up?
If women ruled the world (and in order to become president or queen of any country, a woman was required to bear at least one child), I'm pretty sure we'd get rid of war altogether. The women in charge would know what sort of energy (and endless nausea) their population required to create and bear. And if anyone so much as whispered war from the other side of an ocean, the rest of the presidents would say, "No way, sister. We know what your women went through to make those people. We've been there. We're not about to blow anybody up."
This is Christopher, I'd like to add something to Kathy's last post.
The night we found out, Kathy came out of the bathroom and said "I know why I've been acting crazy."
We laughed and celebrated and looked up names in the Oxford English Dictionary, which shows what kind of nerds we are. We've had over a year to think of names, because we've been trying for a while. If we have a girl, we'll name her Ermenie, and if a boy, Truman.
Ermenie is my grandmother's name and etymologically related (in my mind, at least) to Hermes, the god of writing. We'd call her Emmie.
If you steal our names, I'll curse you (with cuss words, not voodoo).
I still can't believe it's true, but Kathy throws up a lot to prove it to me.
My sister started a blog where she deals with the issues and thoughts she has from her experience of being raped as a child.
Check it out.
Anyone who knows someone who has been abused should recommend them to this blog.
My sister is there to help and comfort other victims, as well as to give an inside perspective to those who have friends or family members dealing with these same issues.
She welcomes feedback.
Remember that one time when I waited too long to buy the rug I liked that would match my house? When it went out of stock, I searched online and spent ages on the phone with a pleasant but thoroughly unhelpful young man. Well, I sent my complaint off into the internet and someone decided to do something about it:
Meet my super cousin, who does not give up in the face of discouragement, or even downright rejection—and who whipped out some pretty superhuman perseverance to send me a rug.
She had no idea her power would be so thoroughly tested. The rug was lost twice in transit and reshipped three times. Every time it was, she had to find the same rug in a different store, which led her to call both coasts and everywhere in between. She probably should have told me to forget it—that's what I got for delayed rug-buying. But she didn't. And yesterday, the rug arrived.
Thanks, Laur. Our apartment looks super.
My sister is staying with us this week and she's learning how to get used to her brother-in-law's constant teasing. Most of the time, she picks up on the tone in his voice and says, "You're silly!" But sometimes, she doesn't have enough context to know quite how to react.
Like this afternoon. We saw someone carrying a tape player like this:
Christopher said, "Wow. Look at that guy's iPod." My sister stared without cracking a smile. She'd never seen an iPod quite like that before.
While buying pretty board books and egg-cup pin cushions and other local goodies today, a good friend and I talked about how all families are crazy in their own ways, and that we should just try the best we can to pass on what we know without inflicting too much psychological damage on our children. She sent me here for a bloggy example of a mother trying to pass on important advice to her daughter.
I don't have a daughter yet (and, no, internet—this is not an announcement that I will anytime soon), but I can imagine the stress involved in showing your kids how to watch out for things/people/places that will hurt them. Which is part of the reason I like the board book we found:
Seahorses, fish, shells, and boats: all standard characters in an ocean. But urchins are often overlooked—even though they're ubiquitous in the part of the ocean that a baby might become acquainted with.
This page reminds me of the time my husband and I went swimming in a little ocean cove, without realizing that the tide was going out of shallow water. So many urchins had set up camp in that cove that we couldn't just stand up and walk out of the water without cutting up our feet. So we had to make little swimmy breaks for shore when a wave came in. We were so very, dangerously close to those urchins.
When I DO have kids, I want them to know about urchins from the time they chew on their books. You know, so they can watch out.
I felt really sick yesterday, but thought nothing of it, until I read my cousin's blog. He's a doctor, and he and his son got swine flu. I planned on babysitting my nephew visiting my grandma on Friday, and I didn't want to accidentally kill them.
I called the health center to make an appointment, they told me to just come in. It was closing soon so I hurried in. The receptionist said that they're closed. I told them that I was going to babysit my nephew, and wanted to find out if I had swine flu. She smiled but just wanted me to go away. Instead of being assertive and saying, "So you'd rather have my nephew die from swine flu than be inconvenienced?" I just walked away.
Rant: If health care were a local issue, instead of a federal issue, if you knew your doctor, he wouldn't turn you away at the door. But the health care system has little incentive to care about you because the majority of their money comes from insurance companies.
I stopped by the health center for a swine flu test. The nurse stuck a half a foot of q-tip up my nose. I'd never had anything go up that far into my nostril. It brought tears to my eyes. She scrapped the back of my brain and brought the q-tip back out.
It came back negative. Hurray. I just have normal flu. I posted on my other blog about the origins of swine flu.
Kathy has taken really good care of me.
How convenient that we finally replaced our broken camera less than a week before my brother and his girlfriend got engaged. On the night he proposed, we took lots of pretty pictures of her—which isn't tough because she's gorgeous. She's also a lovely human being, but I don't know how to take a picture of that.
Remember that chick we found on Easter morning? We went to visit the farm he's staying on.
I'm not sure which one he is.
This is where we buy our eggs, honey, and sometimes our leafy greens.
She recycles leaves into compost.
The Llama scares away raccoons.
This is the biggest turkey I've ever seen.
Here's Julie, our farmer.
Anyone is welcome to walk around the farm—just let her know you'd like to come. It's just 3 well-managed acres. I recommend you buy some eggs. She has chicken or duck eggs.
You have to eat three apples today to get the same nutrients that one apple would have given you 50 years ago. This is because agribusinesses have increased yield at the expense of nutrition. Chemical fertilizers make the plants grow, but they don't give them nutrition that healthy soil used to.
Eating is a political act.