Archives of Our Lives

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

Friday, February 29, 2008

If We’re Going to Go Around Adding Days Like This…

Only in a lovely, divisible-by-four year like 2008 could such a good thing as Leap Year occur. Hey Big Sister, is "Leap Year" a proper noun? (She’s good for stuff like that.)

When I was in grade school and my teachers were trying to communicate the theory of the Leap Year [I say “they were trying to teach me” rather than “I was trying to learn,” because, well…that’s how it was], I remember being so angry about it:

“So, what you’re trying to tell me is that all of the months—of which there are twelve—either have 30 or 31 days, except February, which has not 29, but 28 days in it. Am I right? But then, every four years—not every other year, which seems more logical—we add another day to the calendar. To February. So one out of four years, February has 29 days instead of only 28? Well, why don’t we add another day to February that year, if we’re gonna go around adding days like this—that way February can have a nice round, matching number like the rest of the months? What? Why? Because that would screw up the old ‘Thirty days hath September’ adage? Oh. That makes sense…I guess.”

It was all very frustrating for pre-adolescent me. A bit too abstract for me to grasp.

Now that I’m older, though, everything has changed. Yes. It’s true. Not because I am better at abstract thinking—actually, I rather hate thinking outside the box [it seems very dangerous to me]. I do like Leap Years though. First of all, it’s because I grew up and realised how fantastic even years are. Something exciting is always seeming to happen on these years—like presidential elections and summer Olympics (anyone know if Ian Thorpe is coming back for another go? I’m a big fan). And secondly, because a childhood friend of mine was born on a Leap Year. Looking back, it was pretty cool to know such a uniquely-birthed individual. It was always so fun to tease her that she was only four years old when [giggle] actually she was [giggle] sixteen! Then she grew up, got married and had a kid…

...on a Leap Year.

It’s amazing, I know. According to my mom, the odds of that happening are 1 (one) in 800,000 (eight hundred thousand). And she swears that’s close to a real statistic—she’s not just making it up like I accused.

So happy birthday Rachel New-Married-Name and your kid. And happy Leap Year to anyone whose claim to fame isn't being younger than you really are. To celebrate the occasion, Kyle and I are taking a 24-hour drive down to home. Home for me, anyway.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Midst of Mediocrity

We're home from Idaho--just for tonight and tomorrow--and on Friday we'll be heading down to The Great State of AZ. All the time I've spent on the road lately has lent room in my head for Seriously Deep Thoughts. Thoughts like, "How many white reflector posts are between each mile marker sign?" and "Why don't 2008 Ford Super Duty tucks have 'objects in the mirror are closer than they appear' written in the mirrors?" and "What is my purpose in life?"

It's that last question I want to address here on my blog.

The first thing Poor Kyle and I did when we returned was watch last night's episode of American Idol. [Actually, the first thing we did was deal with a broken deep freezer--the second thing we did was watch A.I.] I've never watched a season--nary an episode--of American Idol before this month. And actually, I am quite impressed. Of course if I was the kind of person to actually vote, I would text in my choice for Little David. The 17 year old from Utah reminds me of the kind of guy I dreamed about in high school. He's cute in all the right ways, and my only fear is that if he wins, the world might corrupt him. Then again, if he doesn't win, he might become bitter and disillusioned, and then where would we be?

But I digress. Whether or not our Likeable David Archuleta wins the competition is beside the point. The point is, he knows what he's doing with his life--he's winning American Idol.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a mineral scientist. Nothing else would do. I was fascinated by caves and caverns, stalagmites and stalactites, obsidian and diamonds. I was mildly obsessed with rocks. I had a whole slew of them--a rock collection, if you will. In a way they were my buddies. I kept them on my closet shelf in a cardboard tomato flat, and pulled them out every day after school, just to look at them. I'm pretty sure I even had names for them--I played with rocks like some kids play with Barbies (or Bratz, since I'm keeping up with the times [I never said I was cool from birth, okay? It's only been a recent character development]). Anyway, I wanted to go to science camp and intern at archaeological digs--it was my passion.

Somewhere during my education, though, I decided I hated science. And that was the end of it.

It makes me wonder what I'm supposed to be achieving. You life. I don't want to live my entire 100 years in the midst of mediocrity. When all is said and done, when I'm dead and in Heaven (or Hell, depending on who you're commenting as!), I want to have passed some milestones--made my proverbial mark on the world. I don't want to die obscure.

The problem is...there's so much that needs changing; how am I supposed to do it all? Where does one even start? I wonder what David Archuleta would say about all this vagueness in my life.

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Mud Tastes Dirty

I have a newfound respect for truck drivers.

When I first met Poor Kyle, he was a semi truck driver. Clean shaven and hygienic though he was, I always felt like he could do so much more with his life than drive a truck around the country. I mean…any person over the age of 18 could drive a truck, right? [I was also slightly bitter that I only got to see him two days out of the week—that might have had something to do with my prejudice towards his profession.] A few months after we met, though, he quit his job on the road to work in what is now our lifeblood—The Family Business. His new job with The Family Business would still be dealing with semi trucks—just not driving them. And the hours there were 8-5, which was much more conducive to a newborn relationship. Needless to say, I supported the career change, and to this day, I silently cross my fingers that he will never go through a mid-life crisis, grow a crusty handlebar mustache and buy a $200,000 Peterbilt to go touring the world for some transport company. It’s one of my greatest fears [along with tile mosaics and the texture of raspberries].

Anyway, since then, we’ve taken countless—and I do mean countless—road trips together. There have been only two situations during all those trips that I’ve taken the wheel, and they were short-lived situations at that, because Poor Kyle likes to drive—he really does. He likes machines with wheels, and he likes things that go “vroom.” Stereotypical as it sounds, my husband is the spouse who deals with the vehicles. I’m okay with that; it means I get to play the alphabet game with myself, and hook up the MacBook to type my blog’s nightly post.

This past month, though, Poor Kyle got a new assignment at The Family Business. The company is dipping its proverbial toes into the pool of “buying and selling trailers of all shapes and sizes.” Poor Kyle is the one who gets to pick up the trailers from Oregon and Idaho, and haul them back to O, Canada. The GPS is the one who gets to navigate these excursions. And I am the one who gets to go along for the ride.

Yesterday marked the maiden voyage for the new shop truck (it’s a big white Ford Fsomething50), and we’ve been on the road for hours. And hours. Now that I’ve experienced firsthand what a truck driver’s job entails, I am eating mud. I would like to publicly announce on the World Wide Web for all to read:

I am sorry I ever considered truck driving to be a cop-out of a career. Do people need a degree to do it? No. Should they? Absolutely—it’s that complicated. Did you know that truck drivers have to account for every minute spent on the job—whether driving or not—in fifteen minute increments? I didn’t. They have to record their every waking moment in something called a “log book.” Log books are scary and involve carbon paper, and I try to stay far away from them. Also, trucks hauling stuff—depending on what kind of truck they are—are only allowed to carry 12,000 lbs. on the steer axles, 30,000 lbs. on the drive axles (of which there are two), and extra weight is a giant problem involving load shifting, axle lifting, and great big fines. Whatever an axle is…

On top of all that, the only commercial areas with parking lots big enough to accommodate semi trucks are, naturally, truck stops (Poor Kyle is partial to the Flying J). And though the selection of energy beverages is actually quite impressive at said truck stops, I’ve been hard-pressed to find food with any real nutritional value here. Strangely, though, the Flying J always seems to have a handy supply of hard-boiled eggs. I’m a poultry lover myself, but I would actually rather eat toilet paper from the Flying J than a package of under-refrigerated hard-boiled eggs that have been sitting there for who knows how long.

So please: truck drivers of the world, accept my apology. Most of you are greasy because you have mean old dispatchers who push you to your limit of sanity, and you don’t have time to stop for a shower. Most of you have giant bellies because the only food that appeals to you while on the road are XXL cans of green flavoured (yes, they’re calling “green” a flavour now) Monster and a jumbo bag of David’s sunflower seeds. Most of you are angry with life because you don’t have your sweet wife sitting shotgun—in fact, she’s probably at home complaining to your best friend about how you miss all the kids’ hockey games, and your marriage is really taking a hard hit for it all.

I apologise for thinking ill of you.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Lucky for the World

It's lucky for the world that I am such a good person.

Because I have been met with many injustices--by a number of horrid people--throughout the course of my 21 years.

Like the time in my freshman year at ASU that Becca Flunt* accused me of stealing her TI-80something graphing calculator. I didn't do it, of course--I had a TI80something of my own, and simply borrowed hers for 30 seconds at the institute building the day I'd forgotten mine. The next day, though, when hers turned up missing, she confronted me about it in a most accusing manner.

I went home spewing mad that day. I wanted to call "Five on Your Side," the news station that confronts bad companies about shady deals they'd done. But Becca Flunt--though she was bad business indeed--was neither a company, franchise, nor corporation. Five on Your Side could do nothing for me. Then I wanted to slash all her tires and scrawl "WENCH!" along her car doors with a black Sharpie (TM). I wanted to punch out her living daylights, and I'm not even a violent person.

Instead, I drove down to the Super Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. and bought her a new, $95.00 TI-80whatever. I didn't have enough money to fuel my car and feed myself, but I bought her a new calculator.

Now, lest your opinion of me lower because of what a pushover I was...check that thought. I am not a pushover. I never have been and I doubt I ever will be. But my name is not mud, and I'm not one to let my reputation be soiled by petty so-and-sos. I handed over my life savings (in the form of that dad-gum calculator), along with a rather spiteful letter which, I hope made her feel guilty for being so accusatory. I stood up to her but still cleared my good name. I've always wondered if she ever found her original calculator.

Yesterday it happened again. Another cruel person; another injustice; another juicy post for my blog:

Kyle and I arrived at church early, which meant we got to sit on the padded pews rather than the hard metal chairs in the back row. More importantly, we were out of cheerio-chucking range of all the little hoodlums whose parents have the decency to sit in the back. I was thrilled. We settled in on a shorter side pew, right in front of the three widow ladies who take up permanent residence on the sixth row--it's the same row we always occupy when we get to church early enough (which has only happened once in four months). I turned around and smiled at Aunt Bea* (she's not my aunt but all of Mayberry calls her "Aunt Bea," so I do too), making casual small talk while we waited for church to start. I looked up and smiled as Old Widow #2 wriggled her way into the customary row next to Aunt Bea.

She gave me a stern look and said, jokingly, "Now, I don't want you two to be scratching each other's back like last time!"

"I'm getting sick of these corny newlywed witticisms," I thought, chuckling slightly so Old Widow #2 thought I enjoyed her joke.

Then she continued, still unsmiling, "It's inappropriate to be rubbing each others' shoulders they way you young kids carry on. There's enough time for that at home."

"Oh my gosh. She's not being witty. She's dead serious."

And she kept going...

"I come to church every week, and I like to pay attention. How can I focus on anything when you kids sit in front of me and scratch each others' back like you do? It aggravates me."

Finally, I overcame the shock and found my voice, meager though it was.

"Thank you for your opinion," I said, wishing it sounded more grown up than it actually did.

I turned to Poor Kyle, shocked and appalled, and he whispered smugly, "Don't you wish we'd sat in the back?"

No. I wish all the old hags in the world would die already so as to stop muddling the pool of sweet, grandmotherly figures whose company I usually enjoy. I am going to continue going to church, of course--it didn't shake my faith or offend me to the point of no return. But what if we were a young couple who were just visiting for the day, wanting to learn what the church was like? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't sing praises.

I've waited long and hard to finally be married so I could sit in church and get me back scratched by someone other than my mom or older sister. Getting one's back scratched during church--at least where I come from--is a status symbol. And it's nice. I can think of a hundred things more distracting than a quiet back scratch--they range between the ages of 1 to 12, and I'm never having any.

Because if I do, they'll grow up to be crotchety old crones with nothing better to do than criticise perfectly nice churchgoers.

*Names have been changed because it seemed like the right thing to do

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

You Wanna Read a Story?

Preface: Just for the record, I don't really feel like I've been married long enough to "look back" on this stuff--it wasn't that long ago. But in the name of tagging, I will rise to the clarion call. It's long. And detailed. Because that's how I roll.

1. Where did you meet?

Where we met is not nearly as exciting as how we met. We met in front of Flaude's* house. Flaude was the fellow I was thinking about perhaps liking at the time. {He spoke French. Need I say more, really?} Flaude--on a previous "hang out" had told me how he'd considered becoming a truck driver because he had a friend--Kyle--who was driving truck and making much money doing it. Since I am haughty and snotty, I strongly urged Flaude not to go truck driving, because, in my opinion, no amount of money could possibly be worth the crusty, greasy, dirty (or so I thought) nature of truck drivers. Flaude didn't go truck driving, but in the end, he still lost out on me. Because he introduced me to Kyle on a cold October night in 2005. Kyle drove a 2005 diesel Jetta that got 1,000 miles to the gallon. Kyle was wearing a black leather jacket that looked a lot classier than it sounds. And Kyle had this laugh--he made me never want to stop being funny, just so I could always hear that laugh. Flaude who...?

2. What was the first thing to you said to him?

I ran up to him and gave him a massive hug, exclaiming, "Oh my gosh! Kyle, right? Hi! It's so nice to meet you finally!" Pretty bold, even for me. But we'd just talked on the phone an hour earlier, and he sounded so nice... Plus, I was trying to convince him and Flaude to come save me from an awkward house party--I had to pull out all the stops, and it worked. Amazingly.

3. Where was your first date?

Without Flaude, you mean? I had to bust out the ol' 2005 journal for this one:

November 3, 2005
Went to [Mayberry]* tonight and spent several hours with Kyle. Met his parents, grandma, boss/friend's family, and had a nice time talking with all of them. Paper due tomorrow (not started yet,) and still need to read scriptures. Update later.

I guess I was busy or something. Things I remember about that first date, despite not recording it in my journal like a good Young Single Adult, were meeting his parents--his mom was so nice and friendly, but his dad was sitting on the couch watching the news, and only grunted a hello to me, without looking up [I'd heard his dad had disliked some of Kyle's previous girlfriends, so I was certain I'd made the black list]; we went to his grandma's house and she asked Kyle why he needed to go deer hunting, when he had all the "dear" he needed right next to him; I'd driven myself thirty minutes to Mayberry* even though I was so poor and could hardly afford the gas, but I didn't really care.

4. Where was your first kiss?

The same place that Kyle probably kissed all his flavours of the week--his parents' green leather couches, sadly to say. But I will give him this--he kept his mouth closed on our first several kisses, which none of my previous boys-who-were-friends had the dignity to do. It was pretty much an answer to prayers (not really, but you'd better believe I noticed the amazingness of it all).

5. How long did you date?

It was two years--almost exactly--from the day we met to the day we married. October 13th 2005, to October 20th, 2007. I really didn't fancy the idea of getting married during an odd year, and I actually wanted to wait until October 20th of 2008 [so every number of the date would be even, you see,] but Kyle was getting pretty pouty about it. So '07 it was.

6. Where did you get engaged?

In the middle of freaking nowhere, Canada. A few days after my 20th birthday (I was dead set against getting engaged while I was still 19). I had no idea it was coming--in fact, I was kind of looking into dating my high school boy-who-was-a-friend, who'd recently returned from his mission. Things were really complicated that fall, and I went to Canada to see if I should continue to court Kyle, or...what. And he was getting anxious about little RM down there in Mesa, so he went out and bought a house and a ring, and drove me--on the back of his quad--out to a clearing in Southern Alberta. He parked under an outcropping of trees, and behind the trees was a pasture of cows, who promptly meandered their way over to us. It was kind of awkward, having an audience of cattle watching while we kissed an hugged and all that blather.

7. When were you married?

October 20th, 2007. Four months ago.

8. How did your reception go?

You know, it was fantastic. We spent a lot of our budget on these two amazing wedding decorators--and it was truly lovely. It was in my grandparents' large backyard, and my favourite part about it was how the decorators rigged up those big circular white party lights all across the entire yard--just like on Big Fish. It was fancy. We had a baked potato bar, Cesar salad, a chocolate fountain, and caramel apples. I don't think there was a member of my family who wasn't involved majorly in making the night a success. The only thing I wish we'd done differently is not having the line go for the entire two hours. But people just kept coming, and I kept wanting to see was fun, and I hear the food was good.

9. How was your honeymoon?

Traumatizing. Well, just that first night. [And the ensuing 10 nights.] Luckily we stayed at a fancy schmancy hotel in Scottsdale, and the satin sheets were un*real. I mean--if bedding were heaven, that room was celestial. The next day we hopped on a plane to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and stayed in another fancy-pants hotel. The day after that we hopped on a giant ship and cruised ourselves to the Caribbean. We stopped on three islands and came away from the experience having learned a lot about marriage. Again, luckily, we were in a room with a balcony and luxurious bedding, which made a world of difference. It was fantastic. I even shaved my legs. Someday I'll post pictures.

10. I'd like to hear other people's stories, so I will go ahead and continue the tag, despite feeling like a bit of a nuisance. Aimee and Joel, Kathryn, and Lindsay.

*Names have been changed because it seemed like the right thing to do.

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Friday, February 22, 2008


I was going to wait until Monday to announce the winners of the Great AOOL Giveaway, but I won't keep people waiting that long.

Firstly, the winner of the random giveaway (using the random integer generator at [ sounds like a good name for a new blog by me...too bad it's already taken]):

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-02-22 16:38:04 UTC

The ninth commenter just happened to be my older sister, Adell. Which means I have to give her a $15.00 gift card to wherever she chooses. Which makes me bitter because she didn't even try to be clever, and I know she is a clever person in all actuality. And moreover, she was kind of bugging me with all the begging and pleading not to re-post "Mayberry." But anyway, congratulations, sis. Let me know to which establishment you prefer your gift card.

And now, the moment we've all (well, maybe just me) been waiting for (okay, I've kind of been dreading it...this was hard!)...

The winner of the $25.00 gift card is...

Well, it would have been LettertoKayleen, because hers was really nice. But she didn't follow all the rules, and other people kept commenting, and she got beat out. Sorry.

Other contenders were Holly Janeen (the poem! Whoo-hooo!), and Kathryn, because she was amusing. I also liked Supercoolmom's reference to Emma by Jane Austen, which had been floating around in my mind ever since I deemed you all should try and make me laugh. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to check Holly Janeen's blog to see if she followed rule #2, and Kathryn didn't post about the giveaway either. So, oh well for you guys.

In the end, the comment that made me laugh the most was my mother's--all three of hers. However, she made it clear she was not interested in any prizes, and I didn't want to keep it all in the family anyway--too many people would accuse me of playing favourites. Therefore, the $25.00 gift card is being awarded to second-place, one Joel from Yates Forever.

Congratulations Joel! You can comment or email me at Let me know your gift card request, and your address, and I'll get it sent.

Thanks to all who commented and "played" to win--I think I have an inkling of how Oprah feels when she does a giveaway and only the people in the audience win, not all her viewers at home...I would love to be a millionaire and give something cool to every single person who validates this blog (i.e. reads and comments). But that won't happen until I sell my first book, I suppose. We'll just have to do another giveaway soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We're Expecting...

All right. I've kept my secret long enough, I think. My mother-in-law spilled the beans anyway, in her comment on my previous post; I might as well get out with the news.

A while back, Kyle and I drove three hours south to meet with several different specialists. We'd been doing our research for a few weeks, and finally decided to take the plunge. Our lives, though exciting and joyful already, just seemed to be missing something--we were incomplete.

Since then, everything has changed around here--we've embarked on a journey that I never thought I would take. So new, so exciting...and honestly, I don't know how we didn't do it sooner.

No, I'm not with child.

Any guesses?

Here are a few hints:

Still confused about what has made my life complete?

How about now?

Ahh...laundry has never been so thrilling. When we got them home and installed them (anyone in need of two cardboard boxes the size of a small palace?), it was like the whole world stopped. We plugged in the washer, turned it on, and a quietness washed over our house. Suddenly, nothing else mattered.

Slowly, Kyle reached out and pressed the play button (that's right--our new washer and dryer don't "start," they "play." Because it's such an amazing experience to watch--way better than any sci-fi I've ever seen.). We froze, entranced by its back-lit LED lights and sing-song chirp of turning on.

As it sprang into action, I could tell my life was about to change forever. "Ooh," I squealed with delight, "look what it's doing! There goes the water--oh my gosh, the steam! It really works..."

"It's amazing," Kyle said, awestruck. Then, like a proud new father, he made a show of filling up the soap compartment with our new liquid detergent and waiting as the washer decided what type of cycle we'd be using. That's right--it has a sensor. For sensing that sort of thing.

Seriously, I don't think any baby we could possibly produce would measure up to the twins.

You know what they say...firstborns are forever favoured. [I made that up.]

p.s. The twins are so beautiful that I've been inspired to make laundry day the highlight of my week. Hence the dryer sheets removed from the tacky bright orange Costco package and displayed lovingly in a wire basket. It's such a brilliant idea, I almost didn't share it.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

{Celebrate Good Times}

Guess what? You'll never guess, so I'll spit it out. This is my 100th post on Archives of Our Lives. (Every time I write "Archives of Our Lives," I feel like the word "our" should not be capitalised, because it's so short. It doesn't seem important enough to get its own upper-case "O." [Being six feet tall, I am occasionally prone to further demoting short things in my life--it makes me feel good about myself.] But "our" is not an article, so I guess it deserves its rightful capitalisation. But I'll never be happy about it.)

I have been wanting to do a blog giveaway for a long time, but haven't found a good enough reason to. My 100th post seems like as good a time as any. It's only fair to try and reward people-who-read-my-blog [I can't call you "my readers," because that makes me sound a lot fancier than I really am], for providing me with feedback and validation. If I thought nobody ever read Archives of Our Lives, I wouldn't continue with it--I write so people will tell me I'm a good writer, not just to vent like our friend Emily Dickinson did. I think it's really exciting that real, live people might actually want to read something I write. (Also, in an attempt to gain further validation, I am hoping a giveaway will make people come out of the woodworks and comment, perhaps congratulating me on my hundredth post...or just saying "hello.")

So here's how it works:

1) Comment on this post. Make it clever, witty, or at least interesting to read. I will choose the cleverest, wittiest, or funniest commenter and reward said commenter with a $25.00 gift card to said commenter's choice of establishment (i.e., iTunes, Best Buy, or a lunch-y place like Applebee's).

2) Commenter ought to then mention this giveaway somewhere on their own blog, because that seems like a nice thing to do. And being nice is what I'm all about... If any commenter doesn't have a blog of their own, then obviously, it isn't necessary to mention the giveaway. They could write about it in their journal, if they wanted to, but that doesn't really do me any good. Nevertheless, anyone witty can win, blog-keeper or not.

3) That's it!

If anyone is worried that he or she is too boring to possibly win the clever comment contest, he or she ought to still comment, because I am also giving away a $15.00 gift card to one lucky random winner--boring or not. Same guidelines apply.

So, comment. Just do it. What have you got to lose?

p.s. Though my blog archives may only read "99 Posts," I am counting the little gem I wrote and subsequently deleted last month whilst visiting my family in Arizona. It was all about keeping Mayberry...Mayberry; it may well have been one of my best works. If there are two things I regret about my life, they are playing the piano instead of the flute for Junior Miss during my senior year of high school, and deleting the "Mayberry" post from my blog.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

{Moving On With My Life}

Oh, all right. I'll get off my dadgum high horse already: Reproduce! Have kids--have a million if you want. As long as I don't have to deal with them, I don't care.

What I do care about is the new arrival in my life as of late.

It's beautiful. We thought long and hard about whether we needed one--whether we could give it the attention it would require. There were heated debates if we should get a brand new piece, or one that had already been broken in by someone else. Selecting a style and type was difficult as well--since it's going to be with us for so long, it would be tragic to choose poorly.

In the end, everything worked out for the very very best. We could not be happier with the choice we made. Thank you to everyone who made it possible:

We love our new piano.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

No, I Won't. Please Stop Asking.

Some ladies in the blogging world are feeling very anxious to produce children as of late, I've noticed. "It's all I think about," they write, "I can hardly stand seeing all the other pregnant ladies around me all day!" I am the polar opposite. When I wake up in the morning, it is to an alarm clock, not a screaming child--and I am aware of that. When I cook dinner, it is dinner for two. Made by one--not one mother and five whiny children--and I notice. My life is calm, for the most part. My time is mine. I am young. My biological clock is not least not very loudly. I am not ready to have children.

Now, lest you think otherwise, please know: I am a good person. I've said it before, and I'll continue saying it until--should it ever happen--I no longer feel worthy of the sentiment.

I help people--I do. Okay, sometimes I don't [I always feel bad in such instances], but usually I do. I like elderly citizens; I value their knowledge, wisdom and experience. I almost always put my shopping cart in the corral when I'm through buying groceries. I wipe down sinks in public restrooms with paper towels, and dad gummit, people like me!

I'm good.

But I don't like children. Does that lower my rating on the goodpersonometer? Does it mean I might not make it into heaven? Listen--I would do anything for anyone in a pinch. One time I was at the Home Depot and there was this crazy woman who had seven children with her (two in wheelchairs) and she was trying to navigate them through the store with 20-foot lengths of crown molding and a cart full of pillars for a banister. I offered to push one of her carts, while herding four of the children to the checkout aisle, keeping them entertained all the while. She was in a pinch, and I helped her. Because I'm good. But if we had become friends and she called me up one day, asking me to babysit even one of her children while she went to get a manicure, I would flatly refuse. You know? I don't like children.

And I've learned a little something about small-town people since moving to Mayberry: they have lots of children. For some reason, my status as a newly-married stay-at-home wife who isn't legal to work or go to school *yet*, gives Mayberrians the idea that during all my free time, I'd fancy tending their little angels. Yes, I spent five months working as a nanny--but that was exotic. I lived in Europe. I ate, drove, learned French, and traveled the continent and got paid to do it, with two days off per week, and a Mercedes Benz at my disposal. Sure, I grew to love my charge, and hope to see them again someday soon. But a temporary nanny does not a child-lover make.

I've learned that when people here in Mayberry find out my time is actually my own, they automatically assume I don't like it that way. People jump at the opportunity to fill my time for me, and more often than not, their "solutions" to my "woes" involve children. I've decided to get that one thing clear with people as soon as I meet them.

Lady in line ahead of me at the funeral viewing last week: So, Camille...are you working right now?
Me: No, I'm getting my paperwork filled out to become a permanent resident, which will allow me to work legally and attend University for half-price tuition. It's actually a lot of fun! I'm spending loads of time around the house. I don't babysit, though.
Lady (chuckling): Oh, really? Well, do you volunteer anywhere?
Me: Yeah, definitely. For sure. Since I'm such a good person, I'm always looking to get involved in the community. In fact, I've just started volunteering at the town museum and another one in Lethbridge. It's really fun. Why, what do you have in mind?
Lady: Well, the reason I ask is because I run the Parent Link program at the elementary school, and we sure could use an extra set of hands on Fridays.
Me (my eyes reflecting, I'm sure, the sheer dread in my heart I felt at the mention of the words "elementary school"): Oh? Well that sounds...interesting. I've never heard of the Parent Link program. What does it involve?
Lady: Oh, you's really easy, and fun, too! You would basically just...hold babies...set out there in case of emergencies...provide an extra set of eyes...get CPR certified...of course you'd need your flu shots and lots of hand sanitizer...some of those parents come with three or four children, and it's our job to care for each and every child.


What part of "I don't babysit" is so difficult to comprehend?

p.s. I think I might start boycotting any and all blogs with those nasty little "45 Days Until Baby" countdowns. Have you seen those? They have animated embryo bouncing around in what I assume is an e-womb. All balled up in the fetal position, the little buggers look every bit as much like a rat as they did in 9th Grade Biology. I'm very happy for people who are having children and fulfilling their life goals, but...can't they count down to the blessed occasion with...just a number? Why do they have to flash alien-looking fetuses in my face? Good grief. Whoever thought that was a good idea...


Friday, February 15, 2008

The Doctor is {IN}

In Arizona, spring has already sprung. We're a whole month behind here in Canada, and it's not looking hopeful. Oh, sure, the sky is bright cheerful blue today, but I've played this game--it's called Spring Hasn't Really Sprung and You're a Sucker for Thinking Otherwise. I'm not keen on playing it again. I always lose.

It seems like everyone I know is sick, whether from Arizona's Springtime allergies, or Canada's Wintertime coldness (and by "coldness" I do mean sub-freezing).

"It's that bug that's going around," or so I'm told. What is with this rationalisation? Why do people feel the need to make excuses for their poor health? Why can't we just take responsibility for our actions? If I get sick, it's because I washed my hair and left home without drying it--or without wearing a hat. If I catch a cold, it's because I haven't kept myself warm enough. If I get the flu, I need to pay more attention to the germy surfaces I'm touching, and disinfect accordingly. There is no good reason why we all can't come out of winter without becoming ill. Take vitamins! Drink Airborne! Wear socks! Eat three round meals a day! Own your life!

Of course most kids don't have the capacity to consciously maintain their good health on their own--that's what their parents are for. [And that's one of the main reasons I don't have kids.] Also, I don't mean that I think people can avoid all illnesses whatsoever. Some just *pop* up--like the chicken pox (chicken pocks? hmmm...), or shingles, or the bird know...cancer. But those minor colds should be a no-brainer by now. Don't catch a cold, for heavens' sake, and if you do, own up to it--nobody really buys it when you defend yourself with the old "It's going around" line. As if it was completely out of your control.

If you have neglected your health and are under the weather, here is a list of must-haves to make your time in bed as pleasant as possible (and I do mean pleasant).

1. 3-Ply Kleenex infused with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. "Pure Heaven for Your Nose," they claim, and I believe that. [Though a more preventative choice would be Kleenex Anti-Viral. But it's too late for that by now, I presume.]

2. Vitamins E, C, and D, for various scientific reasons I don't feel like explaining. And Calcium Citrate [it has to be Calcium Citrate, not the kind from oysters or horse hooves], for women between the age of 13 and Still Alive. Protect your bones, ladies...protect your bones. I prefer Citrical.

3. Gatorade, if you've been throwing up. Something about the electrolytes and mega-goodness in Gatorade is supposed to re-hydrate the dehydrated. [Though if I was ever sick enough to stay home from school, whether or not I was actually throwing up and dehydrated, my dad always brought me fancy tissues and purple Gatorade. It heals all wounds, truly.]

4. Airborne. It might be a hoax--it might not. But why risk it? As for me and my self, we will buy into anything Oprah endorses. You should, too. Oprah for President 2012!

5. Pillow, blanket, mattress, and blackout curtains. If you don't have blackout curtains, bury your head in your pillow, blanket, and mattress (leaving a peep-hole for breathing) and pretend. Sleep will come. And it will be very healing when it does.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

To My Lover

I know. Love, right? I'm sick of it. I've always sworn that anything I write should be for entertainment purposes--I have very little interest in writing words that aren't funny. Believe it or not. I've just posted two serious love letters right in a row, and understandably, nobody's liked them. I need to stick with humour. Don't know why I forgot that.

Unfortunately, I have to write just one more love letter; it would be very rude to write a series of love letters right before St. Valentine's Day and not include one to my husband of four months [especially since I've spent too much money on groceries this month, and this post is going to be the only valentine he gets from me]. But tomorrow, it's back to funny business.

Dear Poor Kyle,

I love your face. Especially when it's shaved--all the way. Come to think of it, I love your face while you're shaving it. I've always wondered if you make those ridiculous faces only when I'm watching, or if they really are necessary in order to get all the nooks and crannies.

In fact, your face has a lot of nooks and crannies. I am fascinated by your smile--the way your face etches deep lines from the edge of your nose to the corners of your mouth. Everybody who doesn't get Botox has the same lines, but I like yours best. I wish I could number the crinkly eye wrinkles you get when you really, truly smile; I would count them if you would ever sit still long enough.

I love almost everything about you {I'm not one of those e-Harmony girls who will daftly say "I love absolutely everything about you." That's not even possible. It's not how I roll}. I don't love when you get mad at me for trying to warm up my feet by wedging them under your legs at night--it's cold in Canada, for goodness' sake. I don't love that you won't run the 5K with me--it's only five Ks. And I don't love thinking about the time you wouldn't hold my hand at that yard sale we went to last summer. Yes, I still remember it--I almost broke off our engagement because of it. I remember most things.

But...I do love you--I'm pretty sure marrying you was the right choice (okay...I'm 100% sure). Happy St. Valentine's Day, Poor Kyle.



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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blood is Thicker than Water

**Warning: This post may cause bile to rise in throats of less-sentimental readers. Immense tenderness ahead. Do not read if prone to illness or reactions against tenderness. This post may not be suited for adults who are not directly related to me. Read at your own risk**

Dear Immediate Blood Relatives [Mom, Dad, and Big Sis],

Over the past two years it seems I've been away from home more often than not. I wonder, if I'd realised my time with you was short-lived, I would've stopped leaving. Even though I've been to interesting places and accomplished some of my lifetime goals, I sometimes feel a twinge of remorse thinking about how I spent my last days as a Strate. Maybe instead of being so determined to learn French, I should have focused on bonding a little more. Perhaps rather than traveling the world and spending all those weekends in Canada with a guy who'd soon have me for the rest of his life, I could have embraced every spare minute I had with you.

I always have a clearer perspective of my experiences after I've already lived through them {and when I am thousands of miles away}.

Do you remember the time Mom and Adell went to a conference in Tucson and I was so disappointed I didn't get to go? I'm pretty sure I was eight years old; you took me to the Compass Room restaurant at the Hyatt Regency in Phoenix. I'd always dreamed of going there. To this day, I don't think I've eaten at a fancier restaurant.

I remember I got some kind of bisque--I'd never had bisque before, but the waitress told me it was soup (and I like soup), so I ordered it. I was turned off when I found out it was cold--it reminded me of V8, and I don't like V8. But I ate it anyway--all of it, I think. I was so excited. That was the last father-daughter date we ever took, just you and me. Why don't we do that more often?

My first year at ASU was so miserable. Almost all of my near-and-dear friends had gone away, and I was really in a funk (as you would say). I was so oblivious to the world around me that the day before classes started, I had a nervous breakdown--I didn't even know where my classrooms were, or where I could park. I hadn't even bought paper. You insisted on driving me around campus after church that Sunday--Dad and Allison came, too. You taught me how to get to the Institute building. "If you can get yourself here, you'll be okay," was your calm, seasoned assurance. There, I'd be able to park for free, store my lunch, and hide out in between classes. I drove the same way to campus every day--the way you taught--just me and Beulah (and sometimes Adell).

During the second semester, when Valentine's Day rolled around, I became so fed up with ASU and its lousy boys, that I declined all dates for the entire month. I left you a Valentine (on your pillow, maybe?) and I think it made your day--we were each others' valentines. Later on that year we had quite a few disagreements about my life, but you never stopped supporting me. The next Valentine's Day, I found a letter from you in my Canadian mailbox--you'd sent me a valentine. I felt so bad I'd forgotten to do the same for you. And the next year I was in Belgium, and never did get around to sending you one. Now I'm back in Canada and I don't have any stamps. I'm sorry.

Remember how viciously we used to fight? Not argue or quarrel--we'd punch, bite, and pull hair. You were so much stronger than me, but if you backed me into a corner, I could kick really hard--my legs were longer than your arms. In a strange way, those fights brought us closer as sisters. They always ended in us laughing together, or trying to disguise the holes in the wall--together. That time you sat on our wobbly piano bench and it broke to pieces, I teased you endlessly. I think it made you feel bad--I'm so sorry. It was going to happen, no matter who sat on it. But I know if I'd been the one to break it, you would not have laughed at me. You have always been a better sister to me than I was to you.

Like how you were my strongest support system throughout my entire engagement and wedding...but I just moped all the way through yours. I was so sad to see you go--but that's no excuse.

I've just bawled through this entire post. If I wanted to make it extra sad and sappy, I would talk about Sampson. [Our poor dead dog--he was a Strate, too, even though he wasn't very obedient.] I won't do that, though.

To my family, still living in the place I can't stop calling "home..."

I love you all. Very much.

Just thought you should know.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Letter to My Life

I am stingy with the word "love." Real stingy. It took me so long (and so many boyfriends) to come to my own conclusion about the meaning of "love" that I don't just toss the word around like pretzels. I try to cherish it--reserve it for the real deal, if you will.

In honour of St. Valentine's Day (a holiday I struggle with normally), I've decided to conquer my petty misgivings by writing a series of love letters. To institutions, things, and people that I really do love. Today's is about life.

Dear My Life,

I love you. I love the direction you've taken over the past 12 months. I love where you and I have ended up. We're in the right place for us right now.

It's been hard, to be sure. I miss home. I miss family. I miss The Familiar. The Comfort Zone. The carne asadas and QTs. Every time I go back, it gets harder to leave.

Sometimes I complain about you, My Life. I get disgruntled with the sky. I get frustrated with my husband--nobody ever warned me how hard it would be to communicate with the testosterone of it all. Sometimes I get so discouraged about where I am and who I'm with that all I can do is curse you, My Life. It doesn't really make me feel better. Not when I know the good in you outweighs the bad, one hundred to one...

How many women are free to do what they want, when they want? Not many. I love that I'm young and (for the most part) still energetic. I love that my time is my own--not my kid's. I love that I have so much: so much much to be thankful for. I love that I can afford to shop at Costco; it's my very favourite.

But my love for you goes deeper, Life. I love that you've taught me to have compassion over the years. Good heavens, how I worried as a teenager that I'd never be able to feel compassion. It was a hard lesson to teach me, I'm sure; presenting me with a grandfather who grew slowly more feeble--did you have to stoop so low?

He meant so much to me; I miss him every day. Couldn't you have taught me compassion some other way? Probably not.

I love that you've grown with me--it takes more to fulfill you than it did a few years ago, but I've tried to pack you with good experiences.

In our travels about the world, I've learned so much about you, My Life; and so much about other peoples' lives.

I guess this is overly-optimistic (which I generally try to avoid being, because of the guaranteed disappointments), and totally cheesy, but I'm not naive. I know you are going to become more difficult--more complicated. It's a fact of you.

But I'm looking forward to the challenges you will bring, and I hope I can rise to meet them. I can't wait to spend the rest of you with you. Does that make any sense?

My Life is good.

I love Life.



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Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Me in Me

In honour (or maybe a better term would be "begrudging acknowledgment") of St. Valentine's Day this week, I am going to write a series of love letters.

But first, a tangent:

Perhaps people may be wondering why I don't seem to care much for St. Valentine's Day. "What has she got to whine about? She's newly married and brimming with bliss. This should be her best St. Valentine's Day ever." Yes. It should. But. I still cringe when I think back to the fifth grade when I had to give everyone a Scooby Doo valentine, even Evelyn who brought her mom to the "Talk About our Bodies" day at school [and "talk about our bodies" they did {I've hated "the awkward" for as long as I can remember}]. Of course there were the insecurities that maybe I wouldn't get valentines from everyone, which would be the ultimate disgrace, since it would mean the other kids would be going out of their way to snub me. And then there was the sting of disappointment when, really, none of those valentines were at all juicy or exciting. No budding romances to be had.

Then in junior high and high school, I suffered through the oh-so-common indignities of not receiving any Cuddle Bugs or Cootie Cuties or whatever it was that, like, the Pom & Cheer club totally sold for, like, only a dollar, right? Y'know? Pom & Cheer girls got out of homeroom to deliver these secret admirer valentines. I remember Jazlee and Lorna and Rachel and the gang would always get gaggles of goodies, whereas I really...didn't. It was fine, though, because I was raised by clever parents who taught me that literacy was a Great and Natural Escape. So I wrote poems--bitter diatribes for me and my fellow "slighted" girls. Bitterness works wonders; it heals all wounds. I really believe that.

If Lindsey would ever get her act together and clean out the shed and find for me "Ode to St. Valentine's Day," I would gladly post it here for all to read. It was a real masterpiece. I think it started out:

Pain, misery, squalor and muck,
All of these qualities prove that boys suck.

Or something. Later on, it seemed that no matter how many dates I accepted or boys I kissed, I always ended up "between relationships" on the 14th of February. Which is no fun at all, for a young adult who otherwise dated often enough. The more thought I gave it, the more it bothered me that the world would have the nerve to announce a holiday in honour of love. Why was it necessary to give flowers on a holiday? Being the exact same thing all the lovers worldwide are doing, I soon came to think of the tradition as cliché, blasé, and a variety of other chic-sounding French words. And two years ago, four months after meeting Kyle, we got into one of the biggest fights of our relationship of St. Valentine's Day, because of my forward-thinking ideas and notions. It was wretched.

This year, though, I am married {weird}. High on love and drowning in all my newlywed bliss, right? It should be the best St. Valentine's Day of my life. But the me in me won't get my hopes up. I'm almost more married to the bitterness than I am to Poor Kyle--let's face it: I've known it longer and more intimately.

So that's it. All the gory details of why I struggle with the holiday that we all know

In the end, it wasn't a tangent at all, but my entire post.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Anger Management Issues

I flipped off the sky today. Gave it the good ol' middle finger.

Because it's perfectly gray--so much so that it completely devours the horizon. Does that even register in your heads, my Arizona friends? Imagine if you can: snow on the ground, thickly blanketing every other colour in the world with white. Then, take your bright blue cheerful sky and turn it the exact same hue as the stark white ground. Now get in your imaginary car (make it a Benz--no...better make it something with 4 wheel drive), and travel as far as it takes for the buildings and mountains to disappear. Go somewhere flat. Somewhere where the line between the sky and the ground is perfectly straight. Only instead of seeing bright cheerful blue on top and brown scrubby desert dirt on bottom...all you see is a drab, grayish white.

You never can know how much a horizon means to you until it gets taken.

Flipping off the sky didn't change my situation. It didn't change the fact that it's 22 degrees below freezing. It didn't stop the snow from flurrying into my car as soon as I opened the door in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Giving the sky the finger didn't help at all. But short of screaming every foul, explicit word I know--with my head thrown back, eyes squeezed shut, arms raised and fists clenched into threatening fists--it's all I could do.

It made me feel better.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

This Might Be a Controversy

My mom was so right about so many things...

"Friends will come and go, but your family is forever. So you'd better learn to love us." This was mainly in reference to my big sister, with whom I would fight, bicker, quarrel, and argue almost constantly until we both got into junior high.

"You don't have to want to, just do it." This was in reference to chores, homework, and anything else not fun but nevertheless good for me. My dad also really enjoyed busting out this saying. It really got on my nerves as a kid.

"Oh, the places you'll go." Well there's some situational irony...she swiped this line from Dr. Seuss. She was so determined that I would be the best I could be, and really go places in life, and now I have gone somewhere [far far away from Mesa, Arizona 85201] and she's miserable that I'm gone. Such is life, I suppose.

Of course there were several things she was wrong about, too. Like the time she was convinced that Summertime Boy would brainwash me to fall in love with him and sweep me off my feet and then marry me and become an abusive husband and I'd completely lose my sense of self and who was I kidding I didn't even have a sense of self yet I was only 18 for Heaven's sake and did I know what I was doing and was I behaving myself and why did she have such a sick feeling all the time? She was wrong about all that, certainly, but it worked out for the best. You see, because my mom disliked Summertime Boy so intensely, she funded my two semesters in Canada, that year when I first met Poor Kyle. (I bet she wishes I'd stuck with Summertime Boy. At least he lived in Arizona.)

She was also very, very wrong about me being friends with The First Canadian [not Poor Kyle], the one I met while I was dating Summertime Boy. Either she wanted me to get away from Summertime boy so vehemently that anyone seemed a better option...or she was just way, way off. The First Canadian (sounds like a credit union) was bad news all around; from top to bottom, front to back, that boy was trouble. Deciding to completely renounce The First Canadian was one of the few decisions in my life that 1) I made wholly on my own, and 2) over which I have never felt any remorse.

Otherwise, though, my mom is usually spot-on.

"You can run, Camille...but you can't hide," she would tell me forebodingly, back when I used to complain about how people always asked me to accompany their songs on the piano or flute. It happened a lot during high school, and it always stressed me out. I like playing the piano, but it can be a curse sometimes. Mom told me I could run far away, but as long as I was going to church, I would never be able to hide from my "gift" (it's not a gift if anyone can do it).

It proved true when I visited England the summer after graduation. How exotic it felt to be able to play the piano at church in London!

It proved true that first time I moved to Canada. I just couldn't seem to keep quiet when the question, "Can anyone here play the piano?" was raised. The only thing more painful than my accompanying is none at all.

It proved true when I lived in Belgium, and the congregation was practically doubled when the BYU interns and I showed up.

And it has proven itself to be very true now that I've settled down in Canada, for temporary permanence.

Any time someone asks me to accompany a song they're singing, I try very hard to graciously accept. Which, quite frequently leads someone to approach me afterwards, saying, "I didn't know you played the piano! What are you doing next Wednesday night?"

I am so okay with that. I will help someone "in a pinch" by playing the piano any time I can.

But please...please...don't ask me to watch your kids**. Because I'm really bad at saying no. If I wanted to watch kids during my free time, I'd make a baby of my own [I'm allowed to do that now].


**Kathryn, this does not apply to you and your twins. I'd have gladly taken that deal if I could have made it work. Also, Big Sister, go ahead and disregard that part. You know I love That Baby more than any human child on earth. And since we're disclaiming, I might as well add that anyone who is a friend or a family member is allowed to ask, too. Rachel, that goes for you, too. Jack really was a gem, and I bet Baby #2 will be equally swell. Jeff and Carmen, if you ever need a hand, give me a call. Anyone else who reads this blog...please know that I don't particularly like kids, and I'm not great with them, but if you need me to...I'd help you out in a pinch.

So, in other any stranger who doesn't read this blog...don't ask me to watch your kids. I don't want to. Offering me money doesn't change it, either. My time is more valuable to me than anything you could afford to pay. Babysitting, to me, is a pure act of love. No amount of money is worth it to me. Probably.**

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Paid For by the *Canadians for French Singers* Association

Archives of Our Lives endorses Yael Naim.

Here's why:

1. Yael Naim is shy. How many celebrities or rock stars have the decency to be shy about themselves anymore? Very few, I submit.

2. Listen to the amazing song playing through the computer speakers right now. If the speakers are turned to low volume, crank those suckers up! Not only does "New Soul" have a catchy tune and surprisingly universal lyrics, but that actually is a real trombone you're hearing in the background.

3. If you are enjoying the song, click here and enjoy the even more free-spirited music video. That old-school piano? Those front doors? The round-bulbed party lights? Everything I ever wanted in a music video, all in one place.

4. The first time I ever saw the video, or heard the song for that matter, was right here on this blog. And within the first few words she sang, even before I knew Yael Naim's background, I could tell she was French-speaking. I will always love her for boosting my confidence in my accent-pegging skills.

What's not to endorse? Yes, she sounds kind of like Regina Spektor. And I know...everyone likes Regina Spektor right now--but so do I. I'll jump on any bandwagon that changes my life the way this musician has.

In closing, might I please remind you to get a load of what she's saying in this very good song:

I'm a new soul
I came into this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit 'bout how to give and take
But since I came here
Felt the joy and the fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake

Those lines perfectly...perfectly...describe every major decision I've made in my life to date.

And that is why this blog endorses Yael Naim.

Why isn't her blurb on Wikipedia more detailed?

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

{"Poor Kyle" Uncovered}

Why "Poor Kyle?" It all started during our engagement, when he was often the unfortunate outlet for all my pent-up pre-wedding stresses. Now that the wedding is over, the name has continued to seem...fitting. Because, of course, he's married to yours truly, which means he has to put up with me for the rest of his life, and the rest of eternity after that (God willing). When I say, "Poor Kyle," I don't mean that Kyle is financially poor since marrying me--in fact, I spend less money than he does at Costco, and on more practical products. When I go to Costco, for example, I usually come away with boneless skinless chicken breasts, fresh produce, some bulk canned goods (building up that years' supply), dryer sheets, and perhaps a treat like pot stickers. For a total of [usually] right around $100.00. When Kyle goes to Costco, he fancies buying thousand-dollar tool boxes and thousand-dollar tools to go in them. Financially, I may very well be the best thing that ever happened to Poor Kyle.

Emotionally, however, I suspect I am quite draining on my significant other. I have feelings, after all...and on both deeper and broader levels than Poor Kyle's. When he thinks something is sad, I find that same something to be heart wrenching. If he thinks something is cool, I likely think that same something is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. If we disagree, he gets over it, because that's how he was raised. If I am unhappy for any reason, I dwell on it (thus making me exponentially more unhappy, and--I know it's pointless, okay?). I'm a dweller. I stew, brood, and dwell until it physically hurts, and then I blow up and start the whole process over again.

It's a lot to keep up with, for a guy who likes "things that go vroom" as much as he does (like them, that is. Poor Kyle doesn't "go vroom." Very often.). I mean, here's a guy who once bought his mom chocolates for St. Valentine's Day--and charged them on her account at the pharmacy [I know. They still use the Honor System here in Mayberry]. Here is a guy who, despite receiving links, emails, and phone calls with specific items I'd love as a wedding gift, nevertheless found nothing to get me [maybe he forgot we were getting married?]. It's okay, of course, because he was gift enough.

Poor, poor "Poor Kyle."

As an aside, the song playing--"New Soul" by Yael Naim--is the best tune I've heard since Regina Spektor made her way into my life. Listen closely. I'm blogging about it tomorrow.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

He Loves; He Loves Not

Poor Kyle does not care for mushrooms. To say that he "does not care for mushrooms" is putting it mildly. In fact he hates them.

I like mushrooms. I like cream of mushroom soup, both in casseroles and just plain. (Kyle also cringes at the word "casserole.") I like mushrooms, both uncooked and cooked, fried, baked, stuffed, and fresh. In Chinese food, on a pizza, or sauteed as a side dish with fancy steak dinners. I like mushrooms.

I do. I like them. I buy them. I cook with them.

Today, however, I made the tragic error of not chopping them up finely enough to disguise the fact they were in my salad. That was the first time I'd done that--maybe subconsciously I assumed Poor Kyle was learning to like them, since he still ate my spring rolls with mushrooms ground up so small they could have been anything.

The first time I made this mistake incidentally happened to be the first time Poor Kyle refused to eat even a bite of the dish I prepared. At first he attempted to pick the offending fungi out of the green salad. Moments later, however, he declared, "They are everywhere. I can't even find one scoop without them!" Throwing the tongs down on the table, he moved on to eat the rice, chicken, and overcooked green beans.

Just like that, I suddenly felt I'd become the wife of a child.

He regretted it immediately; I could tell. He tried to lighten up the conversation, and complimented me heavily on my Caribbean Jerk Chicken. I was almost ready to forgive his tantrum, but then I remembered how he threw those stainless steel tongs with such fervor, and I re-committed myself to the cause of not smiling.

I still love him, to be sure. After dinner he cleared the table, rinsed his dishes *and* put them in a dishwasher, and gave me a giant hug from behind as I stood at the sink [that's very "I Love Lucy," isn't it?]. But I knew that was all the apology I was going to get, so I turned around and hugged him back.

(As I type this post, he is reading over my shoulder and denying he ever felt any remorse.)

But the point is, we are married. Like, totally.

I love Poor Kyle. There is something about him, when he's really excited about...oh, I don't know...Christmas, or a new X-Box controller...that reminds me of Ren and Stimpy--or is it SpongeBob? I can tell when he's in a good mood because he'll drum his hands as fast as he can on the nearest surface--sometimes the kitchen counter; sometimes his stomach. Often, when we get to watch a new DVD together after work and dinner, he's so excited just to be lounging that he does this goofy little dance--he stands pigeon-toed, tosses his head back, and swings his arms back and forth. It looks strangely like an Aristocat's dance, and it's completely contagious. He teaches me to let go of dramas on which I would normally dwell. He forgives my trespasses much sooner than I forgive his--or my own.

Poor Kyle and I--we can [and sometimes do] communicate wholly in one-syllable words and grunts:

Me: How was your day?
P.K.: Meh.
Me: That bad, eh?
P.K.: Yup.
Me: Guh.
P.K.: I know.
Me: I love you, too.

See? We just do.

My conclusion of this in-depth study? I like mushrooms--but I love him.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Worlds Apart

I imagine Canadian children get a very different education than those of the Arizonan school systems.

I remember when my 5th grade class was learning about precipitation during Science Time. Precipitation, condensation, all that good stuff. My frizzy-haired teacher, Mrs. Jerrald, got distracted somehow (probably by that punk kid Ivan who always sat in the back. He was the class heckler) and tried to explain how moisture freezes when it reaches a certain temperature. Ice cubes were an easy enough concept to grasp, but we could not fathom how air coming out of our mouths could freeze into fog. (She should have used this link to explain it.)

We were so baffled:

"You mean we could really see our breath if it got cold enough?"


"Could we blow smoke rings like on Alice in Wonderland?"

"Could we make smoke signals?"

"If we all did it at the same time, would it make one big cloud and start raining?"

So intrigued were we by the idea that somewhere in the world, kids were playing with their very own breath-clouds at recess, instead of trying to catch the geckos that darted in and out of our sand forts--sand forts that would never hold together because...let's face it: you can't build anything out of sand without at least a little bit of water. (I actually remember running to the drinking fountain during recess, filling my mouth with as much water as it could possible carry, and hauling it back to the playground, spitting it in the arid dirt and hoping in vain it would help to concrete my masterpiece. It never did.)

I was always really excited by the notion that licking a metal pole might possibly get my tongue stuck to it. I tried. Lots of times. All I ever got was a gritty tongue that tasted like dirt and metal. The poles could have been made of lead, for all I knew--I was just bummed that my tongue wouldn't stick.

The first time I really saw snow was when my family went to Flagstaff to support my mom as she walked through the line to accept her Masters Degree in Education (go, Mom!). I was twelve, I think. I tried making snowballs, but I didn't realise that there are different kinds of snow, and some snow doesn't hold itself in ball form. Instead, I felt gypped that the first time I consciously got to play in was broken.

It's strange for me to think of raising my children (if, in fact, I do prove to be fertile [and if, thereafter, Poor Kyle and I do choose to reproduce]) in such a different environment than I was.

I didn't grow up here. I don't know why air comes out of our mouths and freezes. I don't know why some people plug in their cars at night. I can't explain which snow is the kind that sticks together decently--I don't even know the basics of building a snowman.

How am I supposed to explain that where I come from, dirt can get so dry it will actually crack? That some plants soak up all the water they will need for a year at one time, and thrive? How will they possibly learn to pronounce terms like "Palo Verde," "Casa Grande," and "Carne Asada?"

Will they grow to crave the smell of rain like I sometimes do, or simply view it as pure, comprehendable, scientific precipitation?

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