Archives of Our Lives

{a narrow and broad look into the lives of people I love}

Saturday, December 29, 2007

{Controversial}

In one of my Art History classes at ASU, my professor forced us to watch a droning documentary about a deconstructionist philosopher who I considered to be a total idiot. [But then, I was the student and she was the professor and what did I know? I had to do a whole lot of conforming to land an "A" in that loathsome course.]

Anyway, I remember nothing--nothing--from ARS 451, save that documentary. Or more specifically, one line in the documentary. The French philosopher, in reference to his publications, said this: It is extremely difficult for me to allow any of my theories to be published. I feel I must always apologise for my words.

Afterwards, I questioned my professor as to the philosopher's meaning. "Didn't he believe in his life's work? Why should he apologise for his existence?"

She said [condescendingly, as though my very presence was irritating her], "It's not that he didn't believe in his theories; he simply wasn't brash enough to take time out of people's lives by publishing something they might happen to read."

Excuse me? Are you being serious with yourself? I could not--nor can I yet--grasp how someone could talk themselves into writing a work--any work--put all that effort into it, and then feel repentant for having bothered the world. I don't understand.

The reason I am taking this stroll down memory lane is because I have been faced with a similar decision: whether or not to publicise my thoughts on a certain issue, and if so, whether or not to apologise for writing it. I posted something not long ago--a post of which I was rather proud. It is not often that I can perfectly convey my meanings and ideas in words--they usually get lost in translation somewhere between my muddled brain to everyone else's. But that time I wrote about how hard it is for me to make good, quality friends, I pretty much nailed it. I wrote what I meant--what I'd pondered for months, or maybe years. I didn't intend that post to be insulting, or as a "hint" to people who would otherwise be my friends. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, I am friends with anyone who reads my blog.

Then, more than a week after I wrote it, someone commented anonymously, telling me I could go to Hell. Yes, Hell.

At first I was startled. I never imagined I could offend someone with that post--I didn't mean to, after all...The only woman I was talking about was the one I've been working with for the past three weeks, and I know she doesn't read my blog.

Then I got mad. It is a fool who takes offence where offence is not intended. Someone wise said that--I don't recall who. Anyone who wants to tell me to go to Hell anonymously, and not give any reasoning or rationale, well...that's just petty.

But then I got over both the shock and the anger, and have finally settled on being flattered. It means people actually read my blog! It means I stir up feelings--albeit negative feelings--in my "readers." And that is an honour.

I am controversial! I should write a book and apply to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

(P.S. Spell Check knows the word "Oprah." Maybe if my book is good enough, spell check will recognise my name!) And I will owe all my future success to my own writing--the post that made someone mad enough to tell me I could go to Hell.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tiggity Taggity...

...Isn't that a painfully cheesy title? All this stay-at-home (a.k.a. unemployed) wife stuff must be scrambling my already-fragile brain cells.

Anyway, I got tagged one time many months ago. Read about it here and here. Then again I got tagged by Molly, only it was while Kyle and I were honeymooning (the Caribbean seems a world away right now), and I never did get around to "doing" it (what is the verb that describes fulfilling the requirements of a tag? Taggerizing?). Anyway, I never taggerized in response to Molly's tag, and now, months later, I've been tagged again by Jami. One of the tags called for six random things about me, and another called for seven. So in combining the two tags, I have decided there is only one way to be truly fair: I will taggerize 6.5 interesting or random things about myself. Here...

That Time I Got Tagged Two More Times...

1. When I was young [so long ago] I could--and would--bite my toenails. Not clip with toenail clippers; bite. With my teeth. I don't know how I never caught an infectious disease from doing this. It's a miracle I am even alive to blog about it today. My immune system must be like granite--I should donate my body to science.

2. At one time I thought of myself as a musical prodigy, and would play the piano and violin at the same time. Then I learned the flute, and added that to my "one-kid spectacular." (Yes, playing the piano with my toes {nails all freshly bitten off} was involved.) Then I decided I could fit a harmonica in there, too. Then I realised I wasn't really a prodigy at all, but just a rather high-strung little girl. And that's how I've remained ever since.

3. I can bake bread. Nicely. Yes I can. My mom made me learn. Most Saturday mornings during my teenhood consisted of Adell and/or me stirring and mixing and kneading and baking. And then most Saturday afternoons one could see us peddling our wares throughout the neighborhood, Adell and me. We felt like urchin beggar children--well, beggar teens--at the time, because some people didn't want to buy our bread, and that, of course, can be quite a hard blow to the teenage-girl (read:self-conscious) ego. But that's how we would earn spending money for family vacations or Christmas presents. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to any and every person who ever bought bread from the little street urchins. And an extra big thank you to my mother who forced us to do it, because now I know how, and my husband thinks I'm quite a catch...

4. Even though I am a grown-up girl [some might say, "That's a woman"], I still have inner debates as to what kind of person I should be. I know, I know...most people have this figured out by now. But it's hard for me! I was raised in a middle-middle class family by very hardworking parents. My grandfather closest to me--and a very influencing factor on my life--was a crack-of-dawn kind of farmer. I grew up helping him decapitate chickens, and I thought it was cool to wear their (the dead poultry's) feet around my neck. So obviously, part of me glorifies hard work and rough hands (and a little bit of the macabre).

But somewhere along the line, I also learned how to read. And by reading, I learned about the world. I learned of a place called England, and governments called monarchies (with kings and queens, of course), and that well-known driving factor called "cold, hard cash." I discovered that I liked shiny things, and fancy things, and beautiful things. While part of me sneers at the ridiculous notion of anyone ruling by birth, the other part is mournful that I wasn't born into one of those crowns. And therein lies my eternal inner debate. (Just for the record, though, I do think I would make an excellent Queen. I always have thought so.)

5. I secretly--well, it's no secret anymore--am jealous of people like Keira Knightly. She's beautiful, of course, but moreover, she's played roles in fascinating movies--rolls that I really wanted to play! [I'm not a queen and I'm not a movie star. Woe is me.] Sometimes if I think about their lives too much, I almost talk myself into going to L.A. and auditioning for something--anything. I actually struggle with stuff like this a lot. I used to think I should try out to be the Olsen twins' long-lost triplet sister. For some reason, it's harder for me to deal with movie star success when they're my age. Older people, I just say, "Well of course, Camille. They can be famous because they're older and have had more time to work at it." But that dad-gum Keira was born only a year and a half before me, so that means we're on the same level (age-wise, that is). If the age difference thing doesn't work for to make me feel better about myself (as with other youngish actresses like Anne Hathaway), I used to think, "Well, she's probably slept with tons of filthy scumbag guys. She probably has herpes." But then my freshman year of college, I was diagnosed with the shingles (a form of herpes [a non-sexual form, but herpes nonetheless]) and that self-validation went out the window. Plus I got married, so glorifying my virginity over all the promiscuous Hollywood Starlets' doesn't really work either. Now I just watch the beautiful movie stars in their beautiful movies and think, "Maybe I could play an amazing old person on the big screen, like Angela Lansbury from Murder, She Wrote." {There I go idealising the British, once again...}

6. I once created a contraption that enabled me to urinate from a standing position. It worked. I {successfully} peed standing up. Just like men do all the time (well, sort of "just like" men do...)! Not only am I not embarrassed to publicise this to the world, but I look back on it as one of the high points of my life. A few of my friends joined me in this quest, but I won't mention any of their names or blogs here, in the name of privacy.

6 1/2. I really enjoy dreaming. It's almost a conscious level of enjoyment. For example, I can be asleep, caught up in little details of my dream, and will still think to myself, "This is a really powerful dream I'm having. I can't wait to see what happens in the end!" Just the other night I dreamed an entire story that could easily become a plot of a best-selling novel--- and maybe even a major motion picture (starring me, of course!)! It was about--

Hehehe...I said I was only going to do six and a half!


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Friday, December 21, 2007

Pre-Meditated...

I've been a frustration to my older sister pretty much all my life. I don't eat right; I don't exercise; I'm not motivated and am not fulfilling my *amazing* potential; I leave the same song on my blog for too long, and it drives her insane. I misspell words and can't remember the "punctuation before quotation" rule [or is it after the quotation mark???]. For these--and a myriad of other reasons---Adell gets on my case...constantly.

Of course it's because she loves me. Of course I know that. But the little sister inside me can't resist getting her goat every now and then. Purposely.

And then there are times when I get her goat without really intending to at all. Like now. Nobody in my family would ever email me a decent photo of my nephew--you remember? The one who escaped that nasty womb just last week? My own flesh and blood, and I've only seen snapshots held up to a webcam... {Yes, that's right. My mom and dad can work a webcam but can't import photos to iPhoto, or email them any other way...good grief.}

So I am taking matters into my very own hands and being the first to debut his newborn photos (courtesy of Jenny Biggs, of course). I hope someday my big sister can find it in her heart to forgive me for what I am about to do...

Ladies and gentlemen of the blogging universe, please welcome to the world...Preston Durrant Atwood, fondly referred to as Gwidon (GWEE-DUHN):


I know. I can hardly contain myself either. If I could describe him in one word, it would be "serene." Don't you agree?

They all told me he looked like an Atwood, but now that I have seen a high-resolution photo of the little tyke for myself, I say he's got quite a lot of Adell in him. Maybe someday I'll find a baby photo of her to prove my point. But that's not the point--the point is, he floats my boat.

Every time I call to talk with her, she holds the phone up to Gwidon's ear so I can speak French to him (since we all know babies who hear French grow into adults who speak French...[and we want her kids to be better than everyone else's kids, so it's necessary for them to be bilingual.]) The only problem--and what we did not foresee--is that Gwidon doesn't like French at all. He scowls and pushes the phone away every time I try...little uncultured scoundrel. A week old, is all!

But he'll learn. They always do.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's Who I Am...

I have a confession. It goes like this:

Yesterday I was on my way home from running a few errands by myself. I was driving through a neighborhood only a street away from my own, and I noticed a shiny black car/truck on the right hand side of the street, struggling to get out of a snow drift. (It was one of those new Chevy vehicles that can't decide if it wants to be a car or a truck. Like this:)


There was a middle-aged woman driving, and as I passed by, I watched her switch the vehicle from Drive into Reverse, spinning her wheels more and more into the snow each time. I slowed down and thought, "I should get out and help her."

...and then I kept on driving...

The strange thing was, I didn't really have a reason not to stop. It's not like I thought, "Well, I'm wearing nice shoes today," (which I was) or "She'll probably get it figured out," or "She doesn't really need my help." I didn't think any of those things. I just...didn't stop.

In the time it took me to get to the end of the poor lady's street and turn left onto my own street, I had become exceedingly wracked with guilt--I'm talking, really seriously wracked...

"Random acts of kindness are seldom convenient," I thought, and "She would probably appreciate the help."

"It's Christmas time," and "What would Jesus do?" and the story of that Darn Good Samaritan all flooded into my brain before I could say "Scrooge". I knew very well I was not raised to be the kind of person who keeps on driving. There have been so many times I've seen people parked at the side of the highway and I've said to Kyle, "Should we help them?" He usually replies with something like, "I'm sure they're fine...everyone has cell phones these days. Plus, there's not even anyone by the car! If they needed help, they would be flagging us down."

I've filled my brain so full of similar excuses as to why I shouldn't be a helpful person, that I don't even need those excuses anymore--I just...don't help people.

All this was spinning around in my head like a flurry of snowflakes, and by that time I'd passed my house and made the necessary two turns to get back to the Damsel in Distress. (It had only been maybe 30 seconds since my initial drive-by.) But by the time I got there, two other vehicles had already stopped. There were now four adults pushing from the back, but they'd made no progress. I was so anxious to make up for what I'd done 30 seconds before that I rolled through a stop sign so I could hurry and park my car. I jumped out and plowed through the snowdrift (in my good shoes) to make it to the back of that black vehicle--I really thought that if I could inch my way in among the other four people at that bumper, and offer a good hard push, then I could forget about how I'd not stopped in the first place.

I was a few steps away--maybe three or four--when the good people pushing her truck gave one final heave and loosed her from the clutches of the ice and slush. I stood there, defeated, and as she drove away, she waved out the window, saying, "Thank you all so much! I really appreciate your help!"

But she wasn't talking to me...

I am not saying that it's Kyle's fault I didn't stop--he wasn't even there! He is a good person--a hard worker--and if he really saw a true need, he would do anything he could to help someone in despair. The fault is completely my own, and since yesterday afternoon, I have put a lot of thought into why I didn't stop that first time around. I still don't know the reason, but I can guarantee one thing: I will never again let myself be talked out of offering to help when I see a need for it. Because really, what's the harm in offering to help someone who might not need it? What would they say? "No thanks, I'm fine." Well, I can handle that. I can tolerate making a slight spectacle of myself if there is the potential of good to come of it.

I'm sure it sounds a bit cheesy, or deep, or like I'm "waxing too poetic," but this is what I've decided...and it's going to become part of what makes me me. Laugh if you want, but...

...I don't think I'll ever forget how it felt to stand there and know that woman wasn't talking to me.


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Saturday, December 15, 2007

...Pre-Wedding Photos...Update #3

Well. My big sister is in the process of having a baby** and since I live thousands of kilometers away, all I can do is wait nervously in this Vast Northern Country and wait. And make this pomegranate ice cream...

So here I am. I live in Canada now, as most of you may know. That's because I got married about two months ago. [Didn't you hear? All the married people are moving to Canada now.] Okay, not really. Actually, I live in Canada because I married a Canadian (otherwise they never would have let me in). And if you are a long-time reader of the Archives of Our Lives, you've probably already read updates #1 and #2. This is what I like to call Update #3...

...Part of the d├ęcor at our wedding reception called for photos of Kyle and me in our wedding garb. We needed them to be printed before the actual wedding day, obviously, so we had my friend--and amazing photographer--Jenny Biggs take them for us a few days before the wedding. It was a huge favor to us, because she actually prefers to photograph newborns, children, and families. So don't go bugging her to take your wedding pictures, because she might say "no."

Here are some of our favourites (she took tons, and they all turned out so well that it's hard to choose only a few. You'll just have to look at a whole bunch. If that irritates you, stop reading my blog...) :

I am obsessed with this photo because it reminds me of picture in a magazine. Advertising cologne or deodorant or maybe even asphalt...


These next few were some of the first we took:



All of our together days, Kyle has had a terrible phobia of public displays of anything remotely resembling affection, and so it was really quite awkward for us to be kissing in front of Jenny and Adell. This photo was what it looked like the first few times we tried. Embracing the double chins, because, of course, double chins are so jolly...

We got over it though...


Don't I look so cozy snuggled into Kyle? I was. Cozy, that is:


Jenny really liked this photo...


Another one that could have been in a magazine...



Remember always to embrace those double chins. They are so cheerful!


Thank you, Jami Parker Pitts, for letting me blatantly copy your wedding photo poses. I'm sure she had some that looked just like this, only with her face...

We didn't get tons done in black and white, but I the ones we did choose turned out so classy... {I thought...}


...and something about this photo reminds me of the painting American Gothic by Grant Wood. {You know the one...that famous pose of the farmer holding a pitchfork with the younger lady right next to him...}

Last and least, the flowers. (From the time we took these photos to the day of our actual wedding, my bouquet actually changed quite a lot. Thanks to everyone who helped!)


So there you have it. We're all married. Next update will be the actual wedding day.

**Since starting this post earlier this morning, my sister has had her baby!!! He was a few weeks early, but he came out rarin' to go. They are calling him Preston (fill in the blank) Atwood {still waiting on a middle name}, and he weighed somewhere around six pounds. [I never understood what the big deal was with the ounces...why does it matter so much? He weighed six or seven pounds, give or take a few ounces, and that's all we really need to know.] I hear he's got a bit of a cone head (and who wouldn't, after squeezing through such a tiny little opening), but is nevertheless rather dashing. I can't pass any judgments for myself, of course, because nobody in my family knows how to email photos. If I were there, I would email his little face to me...but then, if I were there, I wouldn't need to see photos of him. I'd get a good long look in the flesh. As it is, I won't get to meet the little buddy for about a month. Sad, but that's the way it goes.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD ANYWAY, "PRES!!" I already love you and can't wait to teach you French!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

{Relationship Struggles}

No, not me and Kyle...

I have met a woman who wants to be my friend. Does this shock you? It should.

Now, don't go thinking I have self-esteem problems--me and myself feel fine about us, really. I am a good person--better than most. I'd even venture to say that I am a great person. {See how fine I'm doing?} But I am not the kind of person who anxiously engages in making friends. I suppose I am nice enough to the people I meet, but when all is said and done, I prefer a few quality friends over a vast range of "so-so" ones. So it is beyond me why I keep meeting people who think I am friend material.

It's more complicated than it sounds. A lot of people would say, "Well, if you don't want to make friends, then stop being friendly!"

That's fine, only what do I do when I have to spend five hours several days a week working with the same one lady? Ignore her? Belittle her? I could pinch her, I guess. Only that would make me less than the great person I am. So instead, I treat her with kindness and respect--in other words, I lead her on. How can I be nice at work, yet leave it at that? She gave me her card--with her phone number--yesterday. I didn't volunteer mine--not at all. "After the Christmas season is over," she said, "let's still be friends! We have so much in common..."

"Well, no. I mean, not really. Actually, I don't like you at all...as a person. You have too many dogs. And cats."

I can't say that. How can I let her down gently?

"Oh...well, unfortunately, I just got out of a bad friendship and I'm not really ready to start up again." Somehow I don't think that is going to cut it.

I don't think simple avoidance would do the trick either. (Immature though it may be, it actually is my first choice. But Lethbridge is a smallish place, and I'm sure I'd run into her sooner or later. And there's always excuses to be made for such bad behaviour. "Why don't you ever call," she'll ask, "I thought we were friends." Avoiding confrontation usually lands me smack in the middle of a bigger confrontation.)

So you see, I'm in a tight spot.

What would you do?

At least there's always Cat Stevens to make my life a delight...but I'll write more on that later.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

{dadgummit}

I have been eyeing up this amazing blog for more than just a little while.

Here is a photo of the good baker's chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting:



*Photo courtesy of cupcakeblog.com*

Here's mine:



The recipe even called for homemade caramel, which I failed once and quasi-failed the second time.

Bah.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

...Pre-Reception...Update #2

I haven't forgotten that I have a lot more wedding-ish stuff to blog. I will do it now.


Shortly after Kyle and I got engaged, we decided to have two wedding receptions; one in Canada and one in Arizona. It wasn't long before we had to settle on a date for the respective affairs to be held. Because I intended to marry a foreigner and we wanted to forgo any hassles with The Border People, we decided to hold the Canadian reception a week before our actual wedding date. (The reasons why are long and complicated, so just trust that it was a good idea.)


Five hours after the end of bridal shower #2, (without sleeping much) I caught a flight up to Calgary to meet my fiance.


Kyle picked me up and we proceeded to get various things ready for a houseful of people. The next day, my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, aunt Linda, and uncle Steve arrived in Calgary. They rented a couple vans and drove down to Lethbridge, dropping off Aunt Linda and Uncle Steve to stay at relatives' house in Lethbridge. Then my immediate family continued on to Raymond to set up camp in what was then Kyle's (now our) house. There are two extra rooms with beds at his house, so the married couples claimed them. Kyle kept his own bed, and I camped in the basement...all alone...until the three driving friends arrived--Allison, Derrick, and Lindsey.


*Can you believe I have six family members and three friends in the world who love me enough to fly and drive so far just to come to one of my wedding receptions?? Most people should be so blessed...*

So the Mesa constituency was accounted for. Kyle's parents hosted a smashing family dinner at The Dynasty's banquet room. All Kyle's family--aunts, uncles, grandmas, etc.--were there, along with my gang. Just to spice things up, we made our families intermingle and sit together at the different tables--to get to know one another. At first people seemed a little self-conscious, but I've since heard that everyone loved it.

The next day was a laid-back blend of friends, family, fun, and Hutterites.



That night, October 13 2007, we threw a soiree the likes of which the town of Raymond had never before seen. [Actually, maybe the town of Raymond had seen the likes of our reception before. I'm an immigrant--I don't know.] But I digress. The colors were red and black, and for our guest's gastronomic pleasure was a delicious medley of cupcakes and cream puffs, and ice cream to beat. Everyone who came did their part to help set up and get things ready, and many hands make light work, so everything went smoothly. (What do I know? I had nothing to do with it...) Kyle's Aunt LuAnne toiled endlessly on decorating and fooding and making our reception a delight. Lindsey did my hair (and spruced up Kyle's), and all "the girls" helped me into my dress. Allison held my dress and anything else I couldn't deal with, Adell continually reminded me to suck in, which was more helpful than one might think, while my mom provided encouraging words and smoothed over some rough nerves...



...There was a receiving line, once the party started. Kyle and I were the only ones receiving anyone, inasmuch as both our sets of parents opted to go Absent Without Leave, instead mingling around the various guest tables...

...It was fine though. Kyle introduced me to everyone. We had a lovely time talking with people, and even though it was exhausting to smile so much, I'm very glad we did it.

Two hours later, we all pitched in to provide the fastest clean up of any shindig I've ever witnessed.
Total success.

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