Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Things are quiet here at the in-laws. The Cowboys are playing (you know . . . football, like the Steelers), which is occupying the rest of the household. I can't pretend to be bothered by that, so I thought I'd take a few moments and update here.

This trip home has us feeling incredibly blessed. Our first six months in Pittsburgh have been rough. We've cried plenty, cursed our lives, been lonely, wondered whether or not we were going to be able to make rent, and more. There have been moments when we wondered what on earth we were thinking, moving away from friends and family and starting a new life there. It has not always been glamourous.

"What an adventure!" they all said, when we were packing our lives up in the Camry.

We knew what they meant: "I'd never want to do that . . . but good luck to you."

Coming home has been a revelation. We realize how much we've learned, particularly about relationships. It's not as hard as we always thought.

We're grateful for family. We literally are who we are because of our families, and it has been wonderful to see everyone again. It's been interesting now that we've really established our own household, independent of our families, that we can now redefine those relationships. It now falls on our shoulders to maintain contact with our families--refreshing, in a way.

My heart is full. To end with a quote from our first grade musical production, "The Littlest Christmas Tree,":

Christmas is love
Christmas is caring
Christmas is joy
Christmas is sharing
Christmas is what our dreams are made of,
But more than anything,
Christmas is love.

May your day be filled with all the love you deserve.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bad Rachel Day

When I was in elementary school, I had a music teacher named Mrs. Gallian. When someone was misbehaving in class, she would send them to sit with the "Jaguar" (the Jaguar was our school mascot, although the "Jaguar" was actually a Garfield doll, wearing a school T-shirt) in the back corner of the room. After a certain time, the student could raise his or her hand, and ask, "Can the 'Good _______' come back?," the answer to which was almost certainly in the affirmative, and they were invited to return and sit with the rest of the class.

The Bad Rachel feels like the world owes her something. She feels like she's the exception to the rule. She feels like she's much better than she actually is, on all counts. She's a better employee, a better friend, and even better looking. She doesn't like other people very much--in fact, she often resents them, especially if they're happy and successful, or if they want something from her. She compensates for the fact that she feels they're all looking down at her by looking down at them. Sometimes she has to stretch a little, but she can almost always find some way to make herself superior to any other human being.

Can the "Good Rachel" come back?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kids (and adults with dementia) Say the Darnedest Things

A female dementia resident was lingering after lunch today, when one of the dietary aides came through to take the carts back to the kitchen. After making a few catcalls, she turned to me and said, "He's nice, isn't he?," then paused, and asked, "Who do you like?" I told her I was married, and she frowned, and said, "Oh, you're married? That's not too bad."

LATER . . .

I was teaching my seven year-old little student, and she messed up while we were playing "Jingle Bells." She turned to me and said, "Sorry. I was thinking about the color green." A few moments later, she messed up again, and said, "Ooops. This time I was thinking about a talking pumpkin." She then proceeded to shoo the talking pumpkin out of the room (but the darn pumpkin just wouldn't comply).

Lack of inhibition is one of the funniest things ever, isn't it?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Pizza Friday!

I'm glad it's Pizza Friday today. It's been snowing here in the 'burgh, and I've had my first week of working my PT job (that is, in addition to teaching three classes and my private students--for a total of six different work locations in the course of a week--yikes!), and I'm ready to kick it.

We are serious about our Pizza Friday. It's a challenge to come up with a delicious pizza every week, and we're not always successful (the week before Thanksgiving was a bust, for example, mostly because we were determined to use what we had on hand, which was a strange assortment of odds and ends). Here are some of our most delicious pies:

#1. Roasted peppers, onions, and ricotta, with homemade tomato sauce on sourdough crust. Slice some red and yellow bell peppers and red onions, drizzle with olive oil, a bit of balsamic vinegar, and liberal amounts of salt and pepper, roast in 400F oven until a bit blackened. Put tomato sauce and dollops of ricotta atop the crust, then spread the veggies over the top.

#2. Spinach white pizza. Starting again with our sourdough crust, we make a simple garlic béchamel sauce, mix in some frozen chopped spinach (thawed) and put that atop the pizza. Then, top with mozzarrella. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan, especially REALLY GOOD parm.

#3. I think this is my all-time favorite: pear, chevre (goat cheese), and caramelized onions, topped with baby arugula. First, caramelize some thinly sliced red onions in butter (melt butter over medium-low heat, add the onions and stir frequently until they've colored nicely). Thinly slice some pears (we used Bosc) and arrange them atop your crust, and then distribute the onions and crumbled chevre. When it comes out of the oven, cover it in arugula and drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, and some coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. In every bite, you get the sweet, juicy pear, the mildly sweet onions, the tangy goat cheese, and the spicy arugula--absolutely divine.

What should it be for this week??

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm a Mormon

I'm a Mormon.

I've been sitting on this profile for a while, and it's been "pending approval" for months. This made me feel uncomfortable, for several reasons:

1. Does that mean I'm not a good enough Mormon to go on display? They don't want to claim me??

2. What about me is wrong? Am I living a life inconsistent with what I believe without even knowing it?

3. Do I want to be a part of a church that doesn't think I'm worthy of their ad campaign?

I logged back on today, made a few minor adjustments, and it turns out that it's all okay. Hooray! Now, maybe I can go and add some more "interesting" bits in there . . .

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Crossing Guard

Look at this delightful lady, helping this sprightly young lass at a dangerous intersection! What a joyous life it must be, to be a protector of children!

When I was in elementary school, I recall that sixth graders were allowed to be crossing guards. Looking back, I wonder what my school administrators were thinking. Really? This 12-year-old is going to tell me when it's safe to cross the street? That doesn't seem a little . . . premature?

Here in Pittsburgh, our crossing guards are quite a bit more authoritative--or even authoritarian. I get the feeling that they flunked out of police academy, and are now trying to assert their authority over their precinct, even if that precinct is just an intersection. They spread their arms to stop traffic as though they were Moses parting the Red Sea. If their white gloves, police-style hats, and hi-liter colored trench coats (seriously) aren't enough to summon every bit of subservience in you, the fervor with which they wield their stop signs and blast their whistles will surely help you to find your way (when it is deemed safe). Actually, their role seems to have way less to do with keeping pedestrians safe than is has to do with showing those damn cars who's boss.

There are others, though. The crossing guards in my neighborhood are much gentler about it all. They don't leave their corner unless a bus is unloading, and they just give you a nod or a small hand gesture if it's your turn to go. I dig that.

Yesterday, I was sitting at a stoplight in a small suburb, and was approached by a crossing guard. He signaled for me to roll down my window.

He'd seen my license plates. "What part of Texas are you from?"
"Dallas area."
"Ohh, Dallas is alright. Lotta one-way streets."
"What brings you to Pennsylvania?"
"My husband's going to grad school."
"Oh. So you're here a while. You been through a winter here yet?"
"No, we're kind of scared."
"Well, you missed a good one last year. Maybe it won't be so bad this year. But you'll see snow, that's for sure."
"Yeah, I bet so."
"I'm going to Houston for Christmas. I like Houston. Dallas is alright."

May I remind you, this is all taking place at a stoplight. We had a whole conversation! He bid me have a nice day, the light changed to green, and I went on my way, smiling more than I had been. I guess they get bored, too.

I'm pretty sure, now that I think of it, that there must be a strict hierarchy for crossing guards. The best (meanest) ones go to the busy intersections, donning their uniforms with pride each day. They probably recite the Crossing Guard's Code before they step onto the curb. They use Stop signs passed down through generations of crossing guard royalty. The more lax ones go to the places like my neighborhood, or the stoplight where I had the conversation yesterday.

I like the second group much better.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Coming Out of Early Retirement

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their words of encouragement. I feel the love. Life's not bad at all, and I know it. We all have our moments of self-pity, and it's good to have caring friends who can shake you around a little bit and tell you it'll be okay.

Okay. Back to the point.

My lovely friend Tiffany alerted me about this movie that came out in July. A washed up conductor, trying to make his comeback with the help of an orchestra of misfits. Funny? Probably. True to life? A little bit too much so.

Granted, I'm not at "rock bottom," by any means. I'm not working as a custodian (that was a few summers ago!), and not trying to relive the glory days (mostly because I can't figure out which of my days those were). Nonetheless, there is something missing from my life right now, and I don't know how to work it back in. I used to be immersed in music, day in and day out, practicing until they kicked me out of the building and performing more than I really had time to do. These days, I hardly play at all. I teach a few private lessons every week, and I have my little preschool music classes, but that's about the extent of it.

A few weeks ago, I did something I never, never do: I listened to a recording of my playing. Listening to yourself play is like staring at yourself naked in the mirror: you focus so intently on the faults, and it all ends up disgusting you to the point that you essentially feel like a waste of space. Perhaps now you can see why I never listen to my recordings.

What I heard this time surprised me, though. It wasn't totally terrible. There were, in fact, some really lovely moments! More than anything, though, I remembered. I remembered what it felt like to play that piece at that moment, to feel those emotions so deeply that all I could do was to use my cello to express them. Then, I realized that it's been a really long time since I've had that compulsion to express. My music-making has suffered as a result, and now, I'm pretty well in a stage of dormancy (sorry, Gus).

When I hear a familiar piece on the radio, it's like seeing an old friend again. I'm instantly transported to where I was when I last played it. The feelings all come rushing back--including the frustration from never feeling like I was doing any piece of music justice (part, I believe, of why I haven't been playing much of late). As I reflect on all those memories, though, I realize how much of my life experience has been tied up in music, and that if I let that part of myself go, I also forgo many more experiences.

I need to get back into "fighting shape." I'm flirting with the idea of putting on a recital--the first recital of my life that will be just for me. I would revisit only my very favorite pieces, and play them like I want to play them . . . because I do. The only challenge after that, then, is to work up (and keep up) the motivation and the discipline to follow through. I've let it go because I never felt like I measured up, because I felt that the world would be alright if I didn't play. I've never been the best, but neither have I ever allowed myself to be even as good as I could be, whatever that is.

Maybe it's time to find out.

"The Glory Days?" This was in the BYU Phil, playing Shosty No. 5

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Getting to the Real

Being forthright with my emotions has never been one of my strong points. I suffer quietly, and I rejoice privately. It feels strange to do otherwise.

These habits make it very hard for me to ever feel comfortable around people, though. "Good behavior" Rachel doesn't ruffle any feathers, doesn't rock the boat, and essentially tries to be invisible most of the time. Unfortunately, I'm pretty good at being invisible.

Most of you, even my most dedicated of followers (add Reese's PB Cups to your Rachel Shrine to be moved higher on the list), will probably agree that you just don't know me very well. You may know facts about me: how many kids are in my family, where I grew up, what I studied in school, etc. Knowing about someone and knowing someone are very different feats. If you really know someone, it means you can fairly accurately predict how they'll react in a given situation. You say things like, "I think you'd like this movie," or "I saw this and thought you might like it." Andy and I have reached levels near telepathy in this regard. I have a really hard time with anyone else (which is why I suck at gift-giving--sorry).

Moving to a new place filled with new people means that I've built all kinds of impenetrable walls around myself. Social constructs are in my favor here: it takes a really long time to get past the pleasantries of chitchat that social norms require. Most of the people I know these days are through church, and because I don't go to the billions of activities that are held each week, my interaction with these individuals is limited to a few minutes a week at most. You can't move past "My week was fine," in that amount of time.

When we first came here, we had an onslaught of invitations. Every week, it seemed, we were off to a dinner appointment or a dessert, or more than one in a day. Social butterflies! I think we counted 30 or more people that we spent time with in the first month. We got a little further in our interactions, moving to, "What got you interested in that?," but that's it. There's only so far you can get in 2 hours.

Then it was our turn to invite back. We've been here now just about four months, and we have had ONE couple over for dinner. I have lots of excuses: our apartment is too small, we don't have anywhere to sit (just one uncomfortable couch and a chair whose seat is not attached to its frame), we don't have air-conditioning (that one worked better in the summer), we don't have a table, there's nothing to do, it's too cluttered, we're not child-proof . . .

Admittedly, most of these excuses have to do with my own personal pride. I'm very grateful for our apartment, especially now that it's getting colder, but it doesn't feel like a permanent home to me. We moved to Pittsburgh with nothing more than we could cram into our Camry or mail to ourselves, and since then, have acquired very little else--after all, with uncertain employment in a new place, living off our savings, spending rent and grocery money on furniture doesn't seem all that prudent. So, instead of a dresser, I have a suitcase. Instead of a table, we have two Rubbermaid bins stacked and covered with a bedsheet. Even our pencil cups are created from cardboard boxes. Improvisation: it makes us look like such a charity case.

I feel a twinge of jealousy each time I enter someone's home, with their family portraits hung on the wall, and am invited to sit on a chair. They turn off their TV, they apologize for the house being such a wreck (self-consciously picking up the two toys that are on the ground), they light their scented candles, adjust the centerpiece on the coffee table, and sink into their big, cozy sofa. My mind flashes back to our apartment: bare, unfurnished, and mismatched. This is, to me, a reflection on how everyone has it together but me.

So, I continue to keep my walls in good repair, fifty feet thick and one mile high.

Too bad for me that keeping others out of my bubble also means that I'm all alone in there . . .

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dallas Sucks

Neither Rachel nor myself are what you'd call big sports enthusiasts. If we do watch a game, we're usually (but not always) likely to do so mainly for the social component. For example, I remember watching the Super Bowl this year at my in-laws house, but I don't remember who played or who won. What I do remember is having a good time with family and enjoying some delicious home-made pizza.

That said, you might wonder why, when I passed a guy on the street with a baseball cap that says "Dallas sucks" (referring the the football team the Cowboys) it hurt my feelings so much. I mean, despite not really caring about the football team, I haven't always had the kindest words about the city. I think the best analogy is a relationship with a sibling.

(Let me preface this by saying that I have a very positive, healthy relationship with my brother and only sibling.)

Despite the fact that deep down, you know you love your brother or sister, sooner or later you'll eventually get into arguments and call each other names. So, for example, you may call your brother or sister a jerk (or worse), and for a time, feel totally justified. The situation shifts when a third party enters the scene and utters the same insult at your sibling that you did a half an hour ago. They, unlike you, do not possess the same right to insult him or her that you do. And so, despite the fact that you may still harbor ill will toward your sibling, you will quickly come to his or her defense.

Thus is my relationship with both the Cowboys and the city of Dallas. I'm not particularly fond of either, but they both represent elements of my past. I can no more erase them from my history than I can change when or where I was born.

Dallas sucks?

No sir, you suck.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Autumn Leaves

C'est une chanson, qui nous ressemble
Toi tu m'aimais et je t'aimais
Nous vivions tous, les deux ensemble
Toi que m'aimais moi qui t'aimais

Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s'aiment

Tout doucement sans faire de bruit

Et la mer efface sur le sable les pas des amants désunis

(Okay, the above lyrics don't apply to my life exactly, but perhaps the sentiment does. And how could I resist "The Autumn Leaves?")

My life is in an autumn. The leaves are constantly changing color. Every time you drive on the same street, the trees look different. Fiery reds, vibrant yellows, robust oranges--the colors of autumn that fade into one another, become one another. Breezes that coax the leaves from their branches, sending them into the whirling winds. Every moment is a treasure, because the morning sunrise may never reflect off of the clouds in just that way again, casting the brightly colored leaves in soft pink light. There is no illusion of permanence in autumn.

Friday, October 22, 2010

In love

After I taught my class today, I decided to stop by the grocery store near the studio.

I have found my new Central Market.

The place was huge (it had separate entrances labeled "Health & Wellness", "Produce," and other such things. It possessed the mark of a great grocery store: a wall of cheese (this made me happy, since I went in there to find some chevre). It also had a charcuterie, which I'd never even heard of, right in the middle of the store. Meat hanging all around. Being a (now) pseudo-vegetarian, that wasn't of particular interest, but I was impressed nonetheless. This grocery store has made my day. The Giant Eagle by our house is convenient, but we've found that it's not really suited to our needs (they only have three kinds of chocolate chips, and don't sell Red Curry Paste, for example).

Sooo, this will be our destination for special ingredients. Hooray!

We've made it to another Pizza Friday. This week has flown by! Today's menu features a pear, chevre, and caramelized onion pizza topped with dressed arugula--a variation on a pizza we made for my parents for their Super Bowl party (okay, I admit we're pizza snobs). Unfortunately, this time we don't have access to the $20-a-pound double cream artisanal goat cheese from the fancy cheese store . . .

We do make our own crust. This week, we're using this dough recipe, although divided by 1/4. (Last time we did the full recipe for 2 pizzas, and I thought it was a bit too much crust. By the way, the pizza itself is also worth a try.)

In conclusion, I have been talking way too much about food. Where's my Andyface, so we can go make that pizza?!?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just Shy of Exhaustion

Life is hilarious, unexpected, and weird sometimes.

I got a call out of the blue offering an interview for a position that I didn't apply to. I'd interviewed for another position at the same facility, and my name was passed on to this other department (I guess I didn't get the first job . . . hrmmm). A week ago, I got another random call with a heads' up about another potential job opportunity from my sweet RS President. We'll see.

My teaching is going well, though I'm not so crazy about having to drive around everywhere all the time--just wears me out. I'm not really sure, considering opportunity cost, that I'm making the best use of my time and talents, but I guess the point is that I had to go any place that would have me at all. There will probably be some reevaluation of this approach as life goes on.

We got our new camera--Canon Powershot. This camera came highly recommended to us, and so far, we've been very pleased. Hopefully the weather will be nice this weekend so we can take some shots of the pretty changing colors on the trees! There are a lot of trees here.

I am super-tired, due to lack of sleep and a fair amount of stress this week. Definitely looking forward to pizza and a movie, or something equally "kick-back-and-relaxy." Heck yes.

That was last week's pizza. Tomato & yellow pepper with provolone and fresh mozzarella, homemade tomato sauce, real Parmigiano Reggiano and chopped fresh parsley. Yum. I love Pizza Fridays!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Has Fallen

This week's forecast here in PGH is definite evidence of the onset of fall. Sweaters, scarves, and coats are climbing out of hibernation [I can't remember the last time I wore the jacket I'm currently donning, but apparently, I was hanging out with a big, furry dog at the time], empty warehouses across the country are turning into HALLOWEEN SUPER STORES, and the air is twinged with the scent of pumpkin spice lattes. Most of all, I am happy--because I LOVE FALL. And I love calling it "Autumn."

Autumn carries with it an air of nostalgia. You reflect on the upcoming end of the cycle of the seasons, on the end of the year, and perhaps (for those of the Romantic persuasion) the end of life. In autumn, we have the beginning of the "holiday season," where many of us enjoy our happiest memories and traditions. There is something about the sound of the leaves crunching beneath your feet, the feel of the crisp air, the way the light hits everything, that evokes these rich emotions within me.

There are, however, other reasons that autumn is my favorite season.

Reason #1: Fall Comfort Food

Despite summer's colorful bounty of crops, there are precious few dishes that actually sound appetizing on a hot summer day--especially when you take into consideration that you have to heat up your whole kitchen (and, in the case of our teeny apartment, the whole house) even to turn a piece of raw chicken breast into a chicken Caesar salad. The onset of fall comes as a great relief to a girl who loves to eat soups, stews, baked pastas, things covered in cheese, and other such rich and delicious foods that I don't bother to feel guilty about loving. Yesterday, to complement the cold and rainy Sunday, Andy and I had Spicy Sweet Potato Coconut Soup and cheese toasts, with chocolate-cinnamon bread pudding for dessert. A menu like that will take the chill right off of you.

Reason #2: Autumnal Attire

Again, there is something about breaking out those long-sleeved shirts and sweaters that is just comforting. Unfortunately, not too much of our wardrobe (cold-weather or otherwise) survived the Great Purge that took place before our move, not to mention the fact that the fall weather wardrobe required in PA is quite different from that of TX . . . so it looks as though we may do some shopping pretty soon (feel free to send us cash or gift cards, we're ever so cold! *weak, sickly cough*).

Reason #3: Pumpkin
(comic courtesy of

Yes, pumpkin gets its own reason. What else can give so much? It can be muffins, jack-o-lanterns, scones, cookies, cakes, beverages, soups, stews, interior decoration, and, of course, the ubiquitous pie. I've already made pumpkin scones and pumpkin cupcakes (or "muffins," if you eat them before noon). I will continue to turn pumpkin into whatever I feel like, tinting my pancakes, my breads, and anything else I can think of a lovely orange color. And I will love it.

I could go on, but three is such a good bullet-point format! So, happy fall, everyone! Now . . . what should I be for Halloween??

Monday, September 13, 2010

Our New Faces

Well, we had a wonderful weekend to celebrate something that's happening on Tuesday. First, we ate at Pamela's, a favorite of the Obama family. There's usually a big line outside of this place, especially on the weekends. We were skeptical, as we often are of anything that is very widely popular, but it actually lived up to (and exceeded) our expectations. The thin, crispy-edged pancakes were borderline addictive (secret ingredient: crack?), and we discovered that Pittsburgh doesn't really wake up before 10AM on a Saturday morning, even when sweet, tasty hotcakes (generously doused with butter and syrup) are on the line.

We tried to go to Shakespeare in the Park, but couldn't find a place to park at the Park, so we left the Park without parking and had our picnic lunch at another Park.

Then, perhaps feeling a little homesick, we cut and pasted an Arts and Jazz fest, by going to the Fair in the Park (arts and crafts fair) and then to Jazz Day at Schenley Plaza. Good times! I love Pittsburgh's free festivals and so forth. Woohoo!

Unfortunately, while at Schenley, we lost our camera. Soo, thanks to Google Image Search, I have located the new and improved Andy & Rachel :

Pretty close, right? I like yoga. And Andy likes hoodies.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Red, Yellow, and Green

One of the biggest adjustments we have made since the move has to do with how we get around. Driving is a totally different experience here than in TX--much more interactive, and much less rule-bound.

Now, I'm pretty sure that many of the laws are the same--at least in the books. A simple example:

We all know that Green means Go, Yellow means Proceed with Caution, and Red means Stop.

If you ask someone in Texas what they do when they approach these lights, they'll probably tell you that, yes, Green means go, and Red means stop . . . but Yellow means "speed up so you make it through the light."

I think if you posed the same question here in Pittsburgh, your answer would be yet different. Here, Green means go, Yellow means go, and Red means look before you go. (As far as I can surmise, it's considered fair game to go on a red light, as long as you actually saw the light change to red. I think almost every single time I go through a yellow light that changed red while I was in the intersection, thinking, "I probably should have stopped," the car behind me also went right through it.)

Drivers also interact much more here. In Texas, if someone has started to make a turn they couldn't quite execute, leaving them sticking out in an awkward position, other drivers will curse this person, saying, "It's your own fault for trying to make that turn, skalliwag!" Here, someone will probably let you correct yourself, with a wave of their hand or a flash of their lights. The same goes for if you're trying to change lanes, parallel park, or do some other maneuver that requires you to hope for the good will of your fellow drivers.

Other things to watch out for include cars parked in the right lane, many right- and left- turn only lanes, cyclists, pedestrians, emergency vehicles (today, on my way to the library, I saw a caravan of 4 cop cars and an ambulance!), narrow streets, street-sweeping signs (restricting parking at certain hours of the week), etc.

We're adjusting, though, and learning how to make a left turn just when the light turns red or green in the absence of a left-turn arrow. (I have, on more than one occasion, been honked at for not making a left turn INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC when the light is green. I don't yet have that level of trust in my fellow drivers, but perhaps it comes with time.) We wonder how this will translate in our next visit to Texas. We're starting to drive like Yanks!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Never Park Your Car Without It . . .

Remember The Club? This handy device could prevent your car from being stolen by some scruffy looking guy with his shirt untucked. Even if you lived in a big city, they would see The Club and cower, knowing they were no match for its airtight engineering. I'm assuming this would-be criminal would then decide a life of crime was too challenging, and straighten up, eventually securing a job as an investment banker. This might jog your memory.

Anyway, since having come here to Pittsburgh, I've noticed that The Club hasn't quite died out around here. Just this morning I saw one latched onto the steering wheel of an Explorer. I hadn't seen one in years back in Texas. Maybe Pittsburgh is stuck in a time warp.

Other evidence of the time warp:
*the prominence of cash-only business establishments (if you're lucky, there may be an ATM [ca. 1990] in the shop)
*K-Mart. I know that K-Mart didn't die everywhere, but since it's been a while since there's been one near me, I associate it with a period of time gone by
*Kennywood Park , apparently where the movie Adventureland was filmed

Further research needed.

We love it here so far, though. We have an awesome new ward, full of a bunch of really smart (often nerdy and awkward) people. This ward has more advanced degrees (in pursuit or received) per capita than any ward I've ever attended. It's inspiring to hang out with people who use words like "nefarious" in regular conversation, and in a place where having a PhD is not exceptional. That aside, everyone's really nice, too. We counted last night, and in the two months that we've been here, we've had dinner, dessert, and / or game nights with no fewer than 14 couples--and all this with just invitations extended to us. This is good for a couple of introverts: people are making it really difficult for us to fade into the background. It's nice, for a change.

Andy got a job, and I had an interview. I'm on the fence as to whether or not I even want the position if they offer it to me. I guess we'll just wait and cross that bridge when / if we get there.

Another benefit of our new locale is that we have more blue-friends. In fact, we have hunches that a good proportion of our new ward may be democrats, including some of our clerical leaders. It's strange to go to church and not feel like The Enemy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Not quite Willy Wonka . . .

This weekend, Andy and I had the pleasure of going to Philadelphia, PA, to go to a wedding reception of my cousin. My dad grew up in the Philly area, and for all of my childhood, his parents lived there, so we would visit there in the summers. Shortly after my Mom-Mom passed away (almost 10 years ago), Pop-Pop moved to South Carolina, so we haven't had an excuse to go back there since. It was strange to be there, and not really have a place to report back . . .

Nevertheless, the reception was great--a very handsome couple, good food, dancing, and all the standard reception activities. The strange coincidence of it all is that the bride is the one for whom the reception was held in Philly (well, Valley Forge, really), because she is from there. So, it just happened to be a coincidence that the groom (my cousin) also had ties to that place.

Anyway, we lived it up while we were there. Andy had his first official cheesesteak from Pat's, the originator of the cheesesteak. This place is crazy--they can conduct an entire business transaction in probably one minute flat (order, pay, receive sandwich). Here's how this transaction might go forth in another shop:

"Hello, how are you today?"
"I'm fine, thanks. Yes, I'd like a cheesesteak, please."
"What kind of cheese?"
"Ahhhh, hmmmm, how about Provolone?"
"Would you like onions?"
"Okay, that will be $7.50."
*Customer hands clerk card*
"Okay, will that be debit or credit?"
"Debit, please."
"Enter your pin, please. Would you like a receipt?"
"No, thanks."
"Okay, have a nice day."
*Customer waits for sandwich.*

At Pat's, there is none of this. Cash only, first of all. The above transaction would read like this:

"One provolone with."
"(To cooks) Provolone with! $7.50."
*Customer hands clerk cash, and just about by the time they receive their change, they walk away with a hot sandwich*

Streamlined. Efficient. Low-tech! And they must make a killing, JUST SELLING SANDWICHES.

We also went to Hershey, PA, to visit the Chocolate World. We've just read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so I had high hopes to see some Oompa Loompas while riding around in a glass elevator. Unfortunately, the free tour of the factory ended up being a 10-minute commercial for Hershey's chocolate (and, as it turns out, a rather effective one). It was 9pm when we entered--an hour to closing--and it was packed. And when we stepped off the tour (which was complete with "chocolate smell" and all), we went downstairs to the madness of the gift shop. People were buying armfuls of chocolates as if they'd never seen the stuff before and expected to never see it again (or maybe they were all trying to get a Golden Ticket?). Nothing special about them, either--just regular old Hershey bars. Weird. Thanks to Andy's tenacity, we resisted the urge, and walked out unscathed.

Anyway, Andy's started classes today, so life is changing. I'll be starting my training later this week for Kindermusik, teaching music classes to little kids. Yippee! That will be fun. Still looking for another PT job, but there you have it . . .

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Today's Job Search

Imagine that you've finally been starting to have some success on the job search front. Imagine then, that you see a job that, while not absolutely perfect, would definitely be something you would like to do, and are well-qualified to do (i.e., the only thing that keeps it from being the perfect job is the fact that it is part-time, not full-time).

Now. Imagine that you saw the job posting two days after the prospective employers have closed the applications. AND that they have a rather annoying online application process that automatically removes job postings as they close, and expressly say, "No paper applications will be accepted, you must apply using our database."

I'm still trying to get in the back door, but MAN. This annoys me. How do I still get my application in, without it just ending up in the recycling bin??? Should I just mail it anyway??

Friday, July 30, 2010

Life in Pgh

It's a gorgeous day in the 'burgh. We're starting to love it here, and days like today make that pretty darn easy.

So, you ask, what have we been up to? (Or, if you're a grammar snob, "Up to what have we been?")Above is Frick Park. There are miles and miles of trails just like the one above--right at a city park. This is where we run. [Author's note: Admittedly, the move has caused a slackening of our regimen, but we still get out a couple times a week. These hills are pretty killer.] Complete with babbling brooks, dog play areas, and lots of trees, this has quickly become a haven for us.
The formidable building above is the majestic Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (one of nineteen branches throughout the city), which happens to be my current location. Andrew Carnegie, as I'm sure you all know, pioneered the idea of the public library (Wikipedia tells me that there are more than 2500 libraries funded by Mr. Carnegie worldwide). This particular library was established in 1895, as the architecture and some of the interior hints. This is love.

Above, we see a representation of two things important to Pittsburgh: Dinosaurs and Mr. Rogers. Again, I'm sure you're aware that Mr. Fred "Mister" Rogers was a Pittsburgher, so that explains the dino's vestiture. But why dinosaurs? Apparently, when dinosaur fossils were first being discovered, our friend Mr. Carnegie, being a man of considerable means, said to his staff, "I want one of those, somebody go find me one!" Which, of course, is exactly what happened. So, according to my retelling of a story that I half-listened to and didn't fact-check, Mr. Carnegie procured one of the first dino skeletons. There are statues of dinosaurs all over the city. One day, we'll do a blog just about those guys.

This little gem of a pizza place has melted our hearts like so much mozzarella cheese. It's tiny, they only take cash, and you may well hear a few f-bombs floating from behind the counter, but the pizza is divine. Sitting atop a crust that is at once chewy and crunchy is a generous portion of sweet tomato sauce, upon which rests a doubly generous portion of cheese. Their ovens must be about 7000 degrees, which creates a nice crisp layer of browned cheese to complement the gooey, melty, delicious goodness underneath. We got a spinach and artichoke pie. It was so hot that by the time we made the 10 minute walk back to our car and the fifteen minute drive back to our apartment, we could only just eat it. To die for.

But, you wouldn't know who was typing if it didn't include . . .

Dozen Bake Shop. A Pittsburgh institution! They have delicious cupcakes, and their other baked goods are probably okay, too . . . whatever. It is, dare I say it, better than Sprinkles. (For the record, I think the appeal of Sprinkles lies mostly in its branding, and the actual product is only "okay.") There's a tiny little storefront in Squirrel Hill, right across from the library that we most often frequent. Dangerous. Another one opening soon around the corner from the Main Library . . . and from the church / institute building. Yikes.

In Other News, our oven actually DOES work. Look out, Pittsburgh! We are going to be baking like maniacs soon . . .

Monday, July 19, 2010


Made it.

No internet. Using library. Library is awesome. Love.

Highlights: Carnegie Public Library System, Dozen Bake Shop, Frick Park, etc.

Lowlights: Loneliness, house unsettled, job search, etc.

7% Battery Power left on lappy.

But, we made it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

So Long . . .

So long to the red river valley,
My ropin' and wranglin' is through
And so farewell to the home corral
And all the old friends that I knew.

Goodbye to the old empty bunkhouse
Where I dreamed the hours away
Send my mail to the end of the trail
So long to the red river valley.

I'll roll up my beddin' and pack up my clothes
And lighten my heart with a song
For where I'll be travelin', nobody knows
So I'll have to be movin' a long.

Goodbye to the old empty bunkhouse
Where I dreamed the hours away
Send my mail to the end of the trail
So long to the red river valley.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

End Chapter

We're closing a chapter in our lives.

I have one day left at my workplace; my residents are crying and protesting my departure. (Said one, "Tell your husband I'm mad at him!")

We have two weeks left at church--and this coming Sunday we'll be giving our "farewell talks." My Primary kids are protesting, too. One girl in particular has been asking for weeks, "Why are you leeeeeaving us???"

It feels good to be loved.

Makes me wish I'd kept up better with all my friends. Or, really, with ANY of you. I'm such a terrible long-distance friend. And by "long-distance," I really mean anything that doesn't have us in the same room for hours at a time several times a week. I feel like I can quietly walk away from my friends and acquaintances and have my absence unnoticed because my presence has been so sporadic (to the point of being almost nonexistent). My residents and my Primary kids see me regularly. They will miss me, at least temporarily. (The residents may be very temporary . . . many of them may forget by Monday.)

We can certainly chalk it up to being "busy," but you and I both know that "busy" is just a more efficient (and more tactful) way of saying that we don't have time for one another, and that we'd rather be doing other things than hanging out. I guess that's been my fatal flaw all along--not wanting to sacrifice to maintain friendships. I realize now, as I sort through the back corners of my closets, shelves, and cabinets, that friendships can just as easily be forgotten. And just like that "lost" favorite sweater, you love it when you remember that you have it. And when push comes to shove, you just don't really want to throw it away, even if you've only worn it once in the past year.

The benefit lost friendships have over sweaters is that they don't take up extra closet space.

So, I'll pack them all. Unlike all my other possessions, which are in the midst of being evaluated for their utility, you are all coming with me. No questions asked.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Blogging Paradox

If there's something to write about, you probably don't have the time to write about it. If you've got the time to write, you probably don't have anything to write about.

I was shocked to see that the last post was very nearly a month ago. What has happened in the past month??

-Andy finished his semester at UNT. (All A's! Go Mr. Smartypants!)
-My brother and S-I-L have moved back to Texas. (He got a job! Go Mr. Productive-Member-Of-Society!)
-Seminary has finished! Yippeeeee!!!
-We baked 150 mini-cupcakes for a friend's wedding.
-Andy went to P-burgh, where he found and secured our apartment!
-We're still running--just three weeks away (hopefully) from running a full 30 minutes at a time. Many of you may not be impressed by this, but I could barely run for one minute when we started. Now we're up to 14 minutes in a set (two sets per run). I feel awesome!
-In conjunction with my running, I have lost 2 inches from my waist. Unfortunately, the redistribution of fat and muscle to my lower half (i.e., less body fat, more muscle) has left my overall volume in said lower half generally the same as it was. The result is that I am now two sizes smaller on top than on bottom. So now you all know it: I'm a pear.
-We discovered that our ward in P-burgh is also housing an enclave of Spanish-speakers.

Blah, blah, blah.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Remember this post?

Well, we just got back in from a lovely Saturday morning run, on a perfect running day (sunny, 67 degrees, breezy).

Now, I feel the need to set the record straight a bit here. We are baby runners. Our 10k was completed mostly walking--thanks to the one of us whose longer hair weighs us down (wind resistance, you know). In preparation for the 10k, we "trained," which consisted mostly of me complaining and Andy trying to get me to run.

Things have gotten better, though, ever since we started on one of those walk-to-run plans. I've never been a runner, nor have I been athletically inclined in the faintest, so this seemed just at my threshold of ability. We started on Week 1 running just one minute at a time, and now it's Week 7, and we're doing six! For me, that is huge. By the end of June, we should be running a full 30 minutes, which would be monumental. As I said, I've never been a good runner.

So, this is the blessing of setting goals. We were talking about it a few days ago, and our whole running stint started on somewhat of a whim, with an UNrealistic goal to run a half-marathon in a few short months. However, in setting that goal, we landed on an ACHIEVABLE goal. As the cliché goes, "Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." We're still gonna do those 13.1 miles, but it may take us a little longer--and that's okay. I'm just proud for having made the progress we have. :-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sometimes . . .

. . . I update just because I want to write something.

Since I've been out of school, I have many fewer opportunities to write. Nerd that I am, I miss it. I've considered writing the next Great American Novel, but haven't known where to start. Apparently, America likes novels about vampires and semi-tragic (so I hear) books to be made into movies starring Miley Cyrus. I don't have any ideas about things like that. The elitist in me rebels against popular culture anyway, so my hope would never be to land on the NY Times Bestseller list. Ignorant proles!

Alas, I can't even think of what to write on a blog read by a small (yet very important) handful of people. I feel best blogging when I have some insightful thought, or some horrible injustice, or some funny story bouncing around in my mind. In the absence of these, plagued only by the monsters of day-to-day living (laundry! errands! work! oh, my!), I find myself struggling to put . . . key to . . . screen . . . (oh, it's so much easier to say "pen to paper!").

So, I sit here and try to come up with something deep.


Nope, still nothing. I might as well go in the opposite direction, then. Here is something completely trivial:

A comprehensive list of the contents of my purse.

In case you're wondering, I don't have a Louis Vuitton handbag. Mine is a Fossil, but only because my mom gave it to me after my old one broke. Yes, it's a hand-me-down from my mother.

-one package of facial tissue (Kroger brand, pocket pack)
-one CelloPhant
-one tube of hand cream (Neutrogena Norwegian formula, fragrance free)
-$67.58 cash (wow, I'm rich!)
-one wallet (red, with hearts on it)
-one bottle of hand sanitizer (compliments of Senior Care Center)
-one receipt from OfficeMax (printer cartridges and CD labels)
-one tube of lip gloss (Clinique Longlast Glosswear, #21 [Bamboo Pink])
-one tube of Carmex
-four pens (three ballpoint, one gel)
-chewing gum (Ice Breakers Ice Cubes White, Wintergreen Splash)
-two receipts from Albertson's (sugar and lilies; water, club soda, and ice cream)
-one cake of rosin (Lizbenzeller Merall-Koluphonlum, Gold III)
-one bar of soap (wrapped)
-four Multi-Symptom Day Time Softgels
-one magnet from Hot Box Pizza
-one of these (sweet mint)
-one tube of Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
-five tampons (Kroger brand, two Super, two Light)
-several checks that need to be deposited
-$4 in coupons for the Good Samaritan store
-work keys (8) and name badge
-one facial tissue (used)
-one ticket stub (Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott at Bass Performance Hall, 3/16/2010)
-one cough drop wrapper (CVS brand, Cherry)
-one tin of Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme

I wonder if this says anything about me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Plans for this weekend

If you're in the area this weekend, we highly suggest you go. Here's the website:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Notes to Self:

*3:00 on a Sunday morning is not an appropriate time to "plan" for Primary music time.

*Do not get Botox.

*In most cases, it is not actually necessary to burn yourself with hot oil to be cast as the Phantom of the Opera.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Texas Bucket List

In no particular order...

1. Beth Marie's Ice Cream
2. The Greenhouse
3. Recycled Books
4. Denton Arts and Jazz Festival
5. I Heart Sushi
6. El Guapo's
7. Mr. Chopsticks
8. Thai Ocha
9. Disc Golf at Northlakes
10. Dallas Shakespeare Festival
11. Zaguan Cafe and Bakery
12. Good Records
13. The Angelika Theater (Dallas)
14. Blue Mesa
15. Cosmic Cafe
16. The Modern
17. Dallas Museum of Art
18. Fuzzy's Tacos
19. Bochy's Bistro
20. Hannah's Off the Square
21. Ravelin Bakery
22. Downtown Mini-malls 1&2
23. Chef Point Cafe
24. Cafe Brazil
25. Mia's Tex-Mex

Yes, I realize that most of this list consists of North Texas restaurants. Your point?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I'm not sure how much time (if any) we've dedicated to our semi-recent foray into the running world. It all started back in October. We got a mailer from Team In Training, a program that raises funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. On a whim, Rachel and I went to an information session, and that same night, enrolled in a half marathon that would take place in Dallas this April.

We didn't end up doing the half marathon due to schedule conflicts, so we opted for a 10K in Fort Worth instead. To date we've participated in three races since December, with plans for another at the end of April.

The goal is to do one each month. So far, we haven't gone above a 10K, but my hope is that we'll be ready for a half in the next year or so.

It's been a really fun experience so far. The running culture is pretty laid back. I think what I like about it is the low barriers to entry (physical, financial, etc). Basically, if you can get a hold of a good pair of shoes, you're good to go.

Right now we're sporting Oasics, but so far we haven't gotten any advertising deals. Maybe after a couple more races...

But seriously, we're having a good time, and I hope that running serves as a gateway to other outdoor activities. It's great timing for a move to Pittsburgh. It looks like there's a lot to do in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states.

Oh yeah. On that note, we've decided to accept Pitt's offer. PA, here we come!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Grad School Admissions: The Results

After months of waiting, we finally have all six admission decisions. I've been checking my e-mail inbox incessantly for the past week in anticipation for the final notice. It came in the mail yesterday.

So, what are our options? Well, it's come down to two:

1) The University of Pittsburgh School of Public and International Affairs
2) The University of North Texas Public Administration Program

In either case, I'd be going for a terminal Master's in Public Administration with a focus on nonprofit management.

Right now, it seems all but certain that Pittsburgh will win out. Though the programs are generally similar, U-Pitt (unfortunate nickname, I know) would put me a lot closer to the DC/NYC international aid and development scene.

If this becomes official, we'll most likely be relocating to the Keystone State around mid-July.

I have until April 15 to accept my scholarship package from Pittsburgh. We'll post our decision prior to that date.


Andy (yeah, I know I said I gave up blogging. I lied.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Special Witness of Christ

We had the wonderful blessing this weekend to see a prophet of God in person, and to shake his hand. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to visit us right here in Denton (the last time we've had an Apostle come through to our Stake was in 1981, I am told).

Yes, in our Church we believe that there are living prophets and apostles on the earth today. In fact, "We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so forth" (Article of Faith 1:6). We hear from our Prophet and the Twelve Apostles every six months at General Conference, where there is a huge gathering at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, that is broadcast to our meetinghouses worldwide. Because it is such a worldwide church, though, we rarely get visits here. This was a special treat!

I was impressed with his joyful spirit as he entered the room. He began quickly shaking the hands of the congregation--and when I say "the congregation," I mean that he walked through every pew and shook the hands of each of the (1000? or more?) people present. He had time enough for all of us, young and old alike, just like the Christ of whom he is a special witness. It brought tears to my eyes.

One of the parts of his address that struck me the most was about this principle, of standing as a witness. We covenant at baptism to "stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places," (Mosiah 18:9), but do we really do this? I get "witnessed" to on almost a daily basis at my place of work, yet I am incredibly shy about my own faith. I read devotionals daily, but am afraid to pray--even though I've been saying prayers in public as long as I can remember. I am a terrible witness.

My goal is to reunite the temporal and spiritual sectors of my life, so that there is not any occasion of distinction between the two. Incidentally, one of my favorite talks by Elder Oaks, "The Challenge To Become" relates to this topic. If we are true disciples of Christ, it will show in how we live our lives each day, not just on Sunday.

I know that Christ lives and that He loves me. I know that because He loves me, He gave His life so that I might repent and return to live with our Father in Heaven. I know that He sends his prophets to the earth to guide us and lead us back to Him when we stray, and that there are such prophets on the earth today! I know that we are called to love and serve one another as Christ would, which means loving without question. I know our Father in Heaven sent the scriptures so that we could learn of Him, and that in their pages are the things that will lead us closer to Him.

I'm grateful for the gospel light in my life.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Silver, gold.

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other is gold.

This weekend has been one of the busiest I can recall. Also, it has been one of the best I have had in recent memory.

It started out by having dinner with the ol' quartet on Friday evening. I haven't kept in touch with those guys since having finished at UNT. It's amazing how quickly you forget how much you enjoy being around a person if you haven't seen them in a while! Luckily for me, Colin is better at maintaining friendships than I am, and lets me know when he's in town. We invited him for dinner, and decided to invite the other guys while we were at it, for a little reunion of sorts. Having a good friend is like riding a bike--it just comes right back to you.

Today began at the nursing home, singing primary songs with the kiddos. It was a wonderful experience to see the residents beaming, and to see the kids just singing their little hearts out. I'm proud of those little guys!

After that experience, we had lunch with the Hartfields, eating some excellent pizza (Hot Box, yes!) and enjoying still more excellent company. It's crazy--I've known those guys since we were in Chem-nasty together in high school! Now they have a little baby girl who is so ridiculously adorable. She has two really good parents--warm, kind, and just . . . sparkly. I don't know. They're good people.

As if that's not enough fun, then I got to go to a wedding reception of two more high school friends. It was a mini high school reunion in its own rite. I haven't seen most of these people since I graduated in '03. Yikes.

The thing that has gotten me about this weekend, though, is that people do change, but they stay the same, too. I guess there are characteristics that are inherent in us, and we will always be who we are at the core. There is something comforting about that. We grow, and we progress, but we will always be the same collection of traits, of characteristics that make us unique.

Let the fun continue.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My "Mormon Mommy" Blog

No, dears. This is not an announcement.

There is an interesting phenomenon known as the "Mormon Mommy" blog. I am not a participant in this phenomenon, but others are interesting to read. In the semi-anonymous way that blogging allows, women talk about their family, their church callings, their favorite recipes, etc. Basically, it all makes you feel like nothing you're doing in your life is enough. It's a myth, of course, that these women have it all figured out, but doesn't it always look like that to the outsider?

It's garnered such a following that it has even inspired some satire, which I follow much more religiously than any of the original blogs. Lurve you, TAMNers!

I am not at all one of these women, but it occurred to me that I don't really talk about my "home life" very much here. Nor my church life. So, I guess I'll remedy this.

First, home. No children, of course. I like having a clean house, but our apartment rarely fits that bill. We get busy. We may be doing too much, and I don't say this as a call for a badge of courage. I think doing too much is stupid, actually. I wish I had the guts to say "no" more often. I do enjoy cooking and baking, probably more than I should. This is the reason for our burgeoning home bakery business. We make stuff like this:

Yum! Mint chocolate chunk cookies!

We are attending church in a growing Spanish branch. Andy lived in Argentina for two years while on his mission, and I took Spanish in high school . . . that's why. We just like it. I love being able to hear Spanish on a regular basis, and the branch socials are always full of Mexican food and dancing. Yippee!!! Because this branch is small, though, we have our work cut out for us. We serve as Young Single Adult (YSA) advisers, which is a calling we both kind of forget about sometimes, and don't really know what we're supposed to do as such, to be honest. He's also the Elder's Quorum Secretary, and I'm the Primary Chorister (lead music for kids from ages 3-12) as well as the Home-Study Seminary teacher (teaching religious education classes weekly for high school age kids).

I love my callings. The primary kids are so adorable, and they always make me laugh. I'm not so good at keeping their attention or motivation all the time, but I try. I love seminary, too, even though I don't feel like I have the time to plan my lessons like I should. I'll be honest, this is something that usually happens the day-of. I wonder how I seemed to be able to do it so much easier when I was in school. Graduate school, that is. Hrmm. I guess I didn't have a semi-grown-up job then. More disposable time? More flexible schedule? Something to do with that, I suppose.

So, that's about it.

My feet are cold.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Balentimes Day!

Today was one for the books.

Woke up for work. Delayed departure due to adverse driving conditions. Departure further delayed by a car that wouldn't start. Dug the "other" car out from under the snow, took the bumpy, icy back roads to work.

At work, attempted to make two days' worth of visits in one day. Discovered that Bingo chips were missing--had to improvise another solution. Day was made more interesting by a woman who seemed to think we were still in the Cold War, a child who seemed to think that I was her babysitter, a fire drill, and (later in the day) an actual fire. This amounted to me leaving work at about 5:40 instead of 4:00, which is my usual time of departure on a Saturday.

Little did I know that in the midst of all of this, my sweet Andy was outside with a tuba-euphonium ensemble, waiting graciously for me to arrive. He actually managed to surprise me this time, and I started cracking up as soon as I saw the four of them in the driveway, and began crying as they started to play. This was the result of an off-hand comment made a couple years ago-- Andy's a really good listener. Cute, too. :-)

Went grocery shopping, which wouldn't make the blog except for the Blue Bell being on sale for $2.99. Then returned home to eat dinner, bake a cheesecake, and prepare some dough for homemade cinnamon swirl bread. It's now 2:00am and sleep is close around the corner. Thankfully.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let it Snow x3

We arise this morning to a beautiful, white blanket of snow covering all of the land around our apartment. It is one of those mornings that can only be made more beautiful by the addition of those two little words:


Andy was supposed to have class today, as well as a work meeting on campus, but thanks to the snow, he was relieved of those responsibilities.

This has been the snowiest winter I have ever seen in Texas. We actually had enough snow to make a snowman, without using any snow from the car, or anything that had grass in it, AND we still had plenty leftover. Here's what we made:

Unfortunately, in order to see our awesome snowman, the camera operator had to step wayyyy back, so you can't really tell it's us. I assure you, it is.

The other news from ol' D-town is that Dr. Gretchen Bataille, President of the University of North Texas, is resigning. Suddenly. In the middle of the semester. And no one is saying why--at least anyone who knows anything. All's I know is: somethin' ain't right.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pleasant Origin Day

Andy and I have spent last week re-discovering the wonder of Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show. It is incomparably silly, unrelentingly formulaic, and side-splittingly hilarious--if you're in the mood. As yesterday was my father's birthday, we decided to share a bit of fun with him:

It should be noted that some episodes of GTCMS are decidedly less innocent. Read the plot synopses before clicking "play" if you're sensitive to that kind of thing.

We also took the opportunity to wax creative. Around the time of the presidential election, my father came up with the idea for Cheerios to market a chocolate Cheerios cereal, and call it the Obama-O (in jest--please don't be offended). So, when we saw a box of chocolate Cheerios at Kroger, we had to show him his dream come to fruition.

He loved it, which made our day. This just goes to show you that sometimes, it really is just the little things in life.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Here's the deal about blogging: if you don't update regularly, then people will lose interest in your blog. If you feel like your audience has lost interest, then what's the point of blogging? Andy and I were having this discussion, and he wants to quit. "I don't see what the point is," he says. Well, I have been faithfully blogging since blogging was on xanga and livejournal. And never, EVER, have I had a faithful audience of readers. Does that stop me?! NO!

I blog for my own self-satisfaction. I have always been a writer, since before I could actually write, when I remember narrating my life in my head ("Rachel walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. She waited for her friend Tami to answer"). Part of the reason blogging is so appealing to me is the mere possibility that my voice might be heard. I keep personal journals, too, and copious notes on random scraps of paper, but unlike those media, a blog has the possibility of publicity. The moment I click "Publish Post," I allow myself a vulnerability that isn't included in my personal journal. This vulnerability causes me to write very differently than I would in my own personal notes--in voice, structure, content, vocabulary, and many other ways. Whether or not my work is actually read is secondary to the fact that it might be.

The challenge comes when one tries to make an exceptional blog about a seemingly unexceptional life. I am CERTAIN none of you care that my Vietnamese noodle salad tonight was a bust (failed nuoc chom), or that my car stalled out five times on the way home from work today, or that my residents were happy to see me today--the first day after my vacation--or any of the other mundane details of my life. That challenge, of trying to make interesting what is inherently uninteresting, is what makes it exciting. If I can draw your attention as a reader while talking about something that in and of itself doesn't merit your attention, I feel accomplished.

Most blogs are just people who are writing about their "boring," daily lives. The events are not at all compelling, but the thoughts and feelings behind them are. So to resign, saying "I just don't have anything to say," is only to say that (a) you don't want to share what's going on inside of you, or (b) there isn't anything going on inside of you.

In conclusion, Andy is wrong. Blogging is AWESOME.