Archives of Our Lives

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

Sunday, March 30, 2008

You Mean I'm Not Perfect??

As old as I keep getting, I never really seem to learn anything.

Why do I spout off hurtful vendettas without thinking things through first? I don't know, really. There are two sides to every story (sometimes three or four, if you're CSI: Miami), but I am the tunnel vision kind of girl who only sees my own misfortunes. Quite the victim, aren't I?

Tunnel vision kind of girl. That's the point, really. I'm still quite a little girl. It's true--I don't feel like a grown up at all, most days. I go on and on about how disappointed I am in people--in the state of the world these days. Yet sometimes, when I step back and look at my own life, I realise I'm quite the biggest disappointment of all.

It's all very distressing. I mean, think of it: imagine if you lived your life all day every day, thinking you knew exactly what people are going through and what they should do to fix themselves, and the whole world has major problems, and people just need to get over it. Then imagine that one evening as you're flossing your teeth (which everyone ought to be doing), it is called to your attention that maybe--just maybe--you might have some issues of your own. Maybe you're a big jerk when all is said and done...maybe you're all talk. Maybe you're 21 years old and still acting like a child.

Maybe you're too harsh on the seemingly incompetent clerks at the homogenise-the-world chain stores who wear blue vests with yellow smiley-faced pins; maybe they have lives and hate their jobs and don't really care whether or not you can't find strike-anywhere matches (which are not by the barbecue supplies, just for the record). Maybe people with children aren't the enemy, and they aren't judging you for not wanting any of your own. Maybe old ladies at church don't think they're being crotchety at all, and Becca Flunt* truly did think you stole her graphing calculator. Maybe the sky isn't intentionally pouring down powdery white stuff just to get even with you.

Maybe all the mean comments "anonymous" makes on your blog is exactly right: Maybe "anonymous" is much more clever than yourself.

And think what a shock it is to the system--to go from so right to totally, undeniably wrong.

I don't know quite what to make of it, actually.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hairway to Hell (Hairdos on Trial)

I've always had issues with my hair. From a very young age, my mother forced toxic chemicals on my otherwise-straight hair, with the hopes it my curl and bounce like Shirley Temples. It did neither, instead forging its way down a lonely lifelong path I like to call "Hairway to Hell."

Exhibit A--Two Years Old:

When we finally realised that perming my hair wasn't working for my disobedient locks, it became an uphill struggle to find a hairstyle that could handle my daily escapades without turning stringy (as stick-straight hair is wont to do). My mother was of the "Let's-Brush-it--and-Fluff-it-and-Tie-it-Back-Conservatively" school of thought.

Exhibit B--Neighborhood Preschool Class Photo:

During this period in my life, I was not the cutest girl in class--but I was at least presentable.

Exhibit C--1st Grade:

Then something terrible happened: I learned about independence. Somewhere along the lines, some teacher planted seeds of revolution into my already-impressionable mind. I grew, I learned, and I became sure that I knew better than everyone else--my mother included. Every outfit I wore had to be my own creation. Every extracurricular she signed me up for that didn't sound fun turned into a war zone. And you'd better believe that every school year on picture day, my hair became a battle of wills between my mother and me. Now, anyone who knows my mother can see that she is strong-willed. Probably the most strong-willed person I know. But she also knew to choose her battles. My guess is that she became so exhausted from forcing me to continue piano lessons and singing classes and dance and softball, she decided to let the hair issues...slide. I was that kind of kid. I give you...

Exhibit D--"The Scraggle-Haired Girl," or "How I thought I Could Do it Better:"

Exhibit E--"Seriously?" or "Seriously??" or "I Even Fought to Wear a Christmas Dress When School Pictures Were in the September:"

Finally, about the fifth grade (grade five, Canadians), I decided that brushing my hair might be a worthwhile activity. I got myself some bangs cut, found a can of hairspray, and got with it.

Exhibit F--Still-Not-as-Cute-as-Some-but-at-Least-Maintained:

Unfortunately, within a few months, those bangs grew out. Instead of getting them trimmed like any normal person would do, I took a page out of the oh-so popular Rebecca Donaldson-Katsopolis from the after school sitcom "Full House."

Exhibit G--My Hairdo Hero (circa 1996):

Unfortunately I could not find a photo from this tragic phase of my life. I know some exist, but I have an inkling they're back in Arizona with my family. Not to fear, though! My bangs are just long enough now to capture the general idea of my fifth grade hairstyle:

Exhibit F--How My Hair Looked [an Approximate Re-creation]:

And while the above photos are horrific (for I'd only just woken up [despite the fact I'm wearing pearls]), trust me when I say: my actual fifth-grade hair was much worse. The bangs were higher, my hair was swoopier, and it was truly a bad phase of my life.

Please...don't try this at home.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Called Him a Cutie on the Internet...

...because of his bad behaviour.

Did I forget to mention I am in Oregon this week? I'm in Oregon. Actually, our trip is almost over—it was just a short run down to Oregon to pick up trailers as part of Poor Kyle’s job. We left Monday at 4:30 a.m. and we’ll be back tomorrow night. This time, though, Poor Kyle’s parents wanted to come along (to get out of the winter, I presume [or else just to make sure Poor Kyle’s doing his job correctly?]). I was looking forward to having extra company.

I’ve often heard it said that a road trip has the potential to make or break a relationship. Many times in my family (at least when I was growing up), road trips were sources of great strife. Please don’t misunderstand me: I was blessed with parents who saw the value of giving their kids experiences, and we took family vacations at least once a year, if not more. I knew I loved to travel, and I enjoyed every bit of our trips…but, in a time before GPSs, cell phones, and On-Star, just trust me when I say: road trips were often a great source of strife.

But I digress. So readily did I believe the adage of road trips making or breaking relationships, that before I could ever consider marrying Poor Kyle, I insisted on taking at least one road trip with him [though when all was said and done, we took more like 10 before we were married]. Poor Kyle pulled out all the stops on these road trips, and I was fully impressed—he passed the test, and here we are married.

And let me just say that if Poor Kyle had, on any of those 10 trips, acted like he has this go-around, we would have never progressed past dinner and a movie. Never. Perhaps extended-length road trips with Poor Kyle and Camille and his parents are just too much to handle. Maybe he likes his peace and quiet. Or maybe, being the youngest child, road trips with his parents cause him to regress back to his inner three year-old. I don’t know. But whatever the reason for his bad behaviour, this toothless cutie...

...suddenly turned into the grouchiest mean old thing I’ve ever known. And I’m pretty sure it’s uncalled for.

He’d better be thankful he waited until after the wedding to let it all hang out like this…

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Monday, March 24, 2008

{Food Room}

I live in Canada. Up here, pretty much everyone who has a house also has a basement.

Basements are more rare in Arizona. In fact, growing up, I always dreamed of living in a house with stairs. That was my fondest wish (second only to an older brother for my sister and I [but imagine my despair when I discovered that no matter how many more children my mother bore, none of them—brother or sister—would ever be older than me]). Basements were so exotic…

…only now that I live in a house with one, I find them more than a little terrifying. Ours has a finished living room, bedroom, and bathroom, along with an unfinished other bedroom, laundry room, and food room.

It’s the food room I want to talk about today. When walking through the basement’s damp and musty hallway, one (well, probably only I) feel instantly unsettled. The cold tile flooring is uneven on account of whoever built our house was a crook who should have had his license revoked. The walls are lined with narrow wooden strips that could be cute…if they weren’t there. The basement is dark, chilly, and smells like produce and cardboard.

So it’s already creepy as it is, but somewhere along the line, the homeowners decided to up the creepy anti by, like, a thousand. With this door to the food room:

That’s right. Somewhere in the world, some hotel’s room #26 is missing a door. Can you imagine? I wish I could hunt down whoever built our house and force the story of this door out of them. Where did they swipe it? What is its history? And I know it was a hotel room door, because look at the plaque on the opposite side:

Anyway, I’m glad to have a food room at all. Inasmuch as I hoard food, it’s convenient to have it all in one place, organized in perfectly-faced rows just like in Safeway. See?

I have a canned vegetables section, canned soup section, a whole stockpile of canned mushrooms (we thank you, Aunt Linda!), a Mexican food area (because I don’t want to live in a world without El Pato Sauce [otherwise known as the stuff dreams are made of].

I also have a designated space for pasta and sauce, in which I include Kraft Dinner (Mac & Cheese for all you USA residents) and Ramen noodles. Because we’re cultured like that.

My food supply is not impressive by most people’s standards, but it’s nevertheless thrilling to me. Every time I go grocery shopping, I buy whatever stockpile-able food is on sale, as much as our budget allows—and it’s growing. Slowly, but definitely growing.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008


Something's going on between China and Tibet--I don't know what, exactly, but the Dalai Lama is involved, so I'm guessing it's big salami [do they have salami in Asia?].

Watching all of this political turbulence on the news (combined with the tumultuous and heart-wrenching music of The Beatles on American Idol) has moved me to the realisation of something very grave indeed:

I don't have a cause.

Oh, sure, I'm going green and all that, but really all I do is recycle, use fluorescent light bulbs and buy new appliances. I don't picket billion-dollar enterprises or attend conferences or raise my own free-range chickens. I don't take my own grocery bags to the market, buy organic anything, or store leftovers in glass containers.

In other words, I'm a farce.

I want to be passionate about something. Not anything annoying like timeshares or geneology (I hate getting accosted by timeshare people and genealogists), but...something. I want to wake up and hop out of bed ready to lobby--go to war, so to speak. I want to work hard and endlessly for a purpose, whether it be saving the seals and eels, liberalizing women of the third world, or protecting our rain forests. I need a cause.

Know what I crave? Upheaval. If I'd been born in the '60s or '70s, I'm sure I would have attended sit-ins, protests, marches and the like--I thrive on that kind of drama. I'd have likely been arrested...more than once. I wouldn't have done drugs, of course, but I would have surely acted high--high on the action.

The only problem is...there are so many problems--so many good causes. Which one is noblest? Which one is likely to be resolved? Onto which bandwagon can I hop?

And, most importantly...what will enrage me enough to keep up the motivation?

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Friday, March 21, 2008

{Great Many Sufferings}

*Preface: Inasmuch as Poor Kyle and I are married (i.e. legally lawfully husband and wife), we have, on occasion, been known to take our morning showers together. Might I add that this is not so much a sexual ritual, as it is economical. In fact, it's neither comfortable nor relaxing--as showers should be--because Poor Kyle likes his water warm, whereas I prefer mine nigh upon scalding. Also, this house's water pressure is moderate to poor, so there's really not even enough to go around. Only one of us can stand in the stream at any given time. Alas...such are the sacrifices we make to save the planet's dwindling fresh water reserves...

*Face: Sunday morning. Our church services begin at 11:00 a.m., so this would have been around 10. In the shower (which is a bathtub/shower combination) fully clothed (just trying to keep this G-rated). I was the lucky one under the spray of water. With my back to the faucet, I crouched down to scrub in between my toes. While there, I went ahead and scrubbed Poor Kyle's toes too (all in the name of efficiency, you see).

Upon returning to my full upright and standing position, I managed to catch my lower back on the bathtub's protruding faucet. Hard. Letting out a yelp of pain (okay, I screamed, and I might have even cursed), I swung my face around to see what sort of damage I'd done (to my body, not the !&#@^* faucet). It was bad. I couldn't see it very well, on account of not having a neck that rotates 180 degrees like that of an owl, but I saw red. I knew instantly that I'd drawn blood, and though the wound wasn't in an easy-to-diagnose location, I was sure there was a massive chunk of flesh--my flesh--careening through the sewage system beneath our house.

Meanwhile, Poor Kyle was asking, "Are you okay?" over and over, with no solid response from me. I couldn't answer questions, you see, because there was blood. I couldn't see it, but I knew it was there. Coming out of my body. Washing down the drain. I started to feel very dizzy, and told him so. How did Poor Kyle respond? He laughed. He didn't believe me, even though he knows how I handle blood [poorly].

No matter. I passed out anyway, to the sound of my husband's giggles, and when I came to, I was nearly on the floor of the tub, in the arms of my now-anxious Poor Kyle. The water was still streaming out of the shower head, and I was very disoriented, you see, because imagine how strange it would be to wake from a seemingly days-long slumber, naked--er...fully clothed--in the running shower. It was disorienting indeed. When finally I realised I'd fainted, I wanted nothing more than to remove myself from the scene of the crime. But Poor Kyle seemed to think it would be more effective for me to rinse the conditioner from my hair and then exit the shower.

Having done so, and growing tired of Poor Kyle's recount--amidst peals of laughter--of my pass-outage, I shakily announced I was getting out. Poor Kyle escorted me from the shower to the bedroom, where finally it hit me: I was bleeding from my back, I'd passed out like a wuss, Poor Kyle had to catch me, and he was laughing about it still, five minutes later.

I must have looked like an idiot. So to make it better, I started to cry. As if I really thought that would help.

It didn't.

"Stop laughing at me!" I whined through my crumpled face and streaming tears. "Stop it!" This was bad. I knew I'd looked foolish when I passed out, because Poor Kyle had reenacted the scene, and really: I looked foolish. But to be crying on top of that...I was so embarrassed of myself, that all I could do was cry harder.

My pleas fell on deaf ears, because, of course, I must have really looked a sight.

After ensuring that I was secure and safe, Poor Kyle meandered back down the hallway to finish his shower. Meanwhile I, having endured more than any person should have to suffer on a Sunday morning, put on my underwear and crawled mournfully back into bed...

...where I stayed for three minutes until Poor Kyle finished his shower and apologised (still giggling) for laughing at me in my time of travail.

I only forgave him because he'd shaved his face for me [actually he'd shaved his face because it was the Sabbath, but he told me it was for me].

*Post face: Upon recounting the sordid tale to Poor Kyle's parents, my father-in-law said curiously, "Camille, I know a lot of people who pass out at the sight of blood, but you're the only person I've ever met who passes out at the thought of the sight of blood."

Yes. That's my claim to fame.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Freshman Year in Review: Timing and Perspective

I had good grades in high school. Good enough to land myself a full-ride [+ some] scholarship to Arizona State University. I had good grades there, too.


...I took CIS 180 (Computer Information Systems or some blather). It was basically an introduction to computers. I tried to work through it on a PC, even though it was written for both PCs and Macs, and I was raised Mac.

"PCs are taking over the world," I reasoned archaically, "so I might as well jump on the bandwagon." [I have since learned the errors of my ways. Tenfold. I will never again turn away from the glory that is Mac--at least as long as Steve Jobs is alive and out of federal penitentiary.]

But besides that, my life was nevertheless askew. I was going through a very...shall we say...defining time. In other words, I was totally out of it. My life, that is. I was dating a guy who I knew was all wrong for me. I should say, though, that despite my life in limbo, I still made some wonderful memories that semester. Like skydiving. And wing nights at Native New Yorker. And playing Make Me Laugh for hours on end.

But I digress.

I took a class learning on different computers than I was used to, during the stupidest time in my life. Needless to say, I failed CIS 180--failed so badly they didn't even give me an "F." I got an "E" for whatever "E" stood for [it slips my mind]. I lost my scholarship. Lost it, and lost it good. I was going to quit college altogether. I loathed ASU, I'd distanced myself from my parents, and I really needed to gain perspective.

Someday I'll delve deeper into the perspective I eventually found. For now, I want to show you what I did do in my CIS 180 class, (when I decided to show up) since I clearly was determined not to learn anything:

Inspired by the girl doodling next to me, I took it upon myself to fill in the entire back cover of my steno notebook completely...with tiny circles. You have no idea how long and tedious a process this actually is; in time, my quest morphed into something different...something much more profound. Instead of filling in the entire back cover, I let my eyes glaze over, my mind wander off, and my hand toil away. Class after class I drew tiny circles, and before long I'd created the form of a being--a being that has been a cause of deep introspection in years since.

My steno person took on a life of its own. Soon, I jotted down a few choice words to spice up the doodle: "laugh," "golf," "becaSUE." Whether because I heard those words during class lectures, I thought they would add meaning to my creation, or I just figured they would be fun to write, I cannot recall.

Some more details:

I gave my creature eyes, but no mouth--maybe it was my outward depiction of how I was taking a spectator's stance on my own life (i.e. observing, but never speaking my mind). Or maybe I just liked the squiggle the "h" served for said purpose.

Why did I spell "because" incorrectly? Did I secretly wish I'd been named "Sue?" Was it merely an oversight? Is it actually an anagram for something else? Some secret code I've since forgotten? I might never know.

Whatever the reason for it and its nuances, I've come to view this doodle as a sort of abstract version of myself--my unreserved, "let-it-all-hang-out" self. I have long since tossed away the accompanying notes from CIS 180 [what sparse notes I took]. That class meant nothing to me. But I cannot bring myself to discard this doodle.

What should I do with it?

*p.s. I retook CIS 180 few semesters later, and scored a 99%, receiving the highest grade on the final exam out of the entire class. It was all a matter of timing, I suppose. Timing and perspective.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

The Big Day--Update #4

Poor Kyle met me in October of 2005. Two years later we fancied ourselves marrying types.

A recap, in photos:

We got married on a Saturday in October, along with a million other couples in the Mesa, Arizona LDS temple. I chose the 12:40 slot, which meant I only had to wake up at 7 in the morning [as opposed to that time my older sister got married at 10 a.m. which meant she awoke at 3 a.m. She's neurotic like that]. Poor Kyle was staying at my big sister's house and we all (me, Poor Kyle, big sister, and mother) carpooled to the temple a few hours early for photos. We forgot the bouquet. My brother in law brought it. It was too hot for October.

There was a great bit of drama about which photographer to choose. So many people had warned me that skimping on their wedding photography had been their biggest regret. I have mixed emotions about ours. She took a lot of photos from down below, pointing her camera up at us, which gave us all double chins the whole day...but she got some really poignant shots, too. I'm happy to have all the photos we did get.

We got into the temple and they almost didn't let me in on account of my recommend not being activated correctly. I was just about to call the whole thing off, thinking it was a terrible omen, and that my real purpose in life was to move to New York and get discovered in some fancy career that required me to own and wear shiny black stilettos, when the Temple President gave me the okay. [Still, though, there was such a long wait {probably only like 20 minutes, but it seemed like a lifetime} before we actually got married, I seriously did give it second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts. There were lots of short moments that I pretty much figured I'd never go through with it. Luckily I re-thought a sixth time, and by then the wedding had gotten under way, and here I am married.]

The actual ceremony was lovely, I'm sure. One of these days I need to get a recount of things that were said, because I certainly don't remember a word. I was having a major major overload.

It is both disrespectful and not allowed to take pictures inside the temple, but I like this one the photographer captured of us the moment we exited. Look at how timid we were...I really had no idea what to do with myself. I just couldn't get over the fact that I was married.

Here's most of the people at the wedding. Some were in the temple, and some were waiting for us outside. The big drama of the day was getting my grandpa to take off his baseball cap for the photos. He wouldn't. I didn't mind, not a bit--like I said, it was too hot for October. Can you find him?

All my aunts and uncles were there--I don't know why I only got photos with half of them. It was hectic, I suppose.

Most of my cousins were there, too (the older ones, anyway). It's funny--I never really thought my cousins liked me very much, but most of them showed up for the big day, even though it was so hot [for October]. I was touched. I should tell them sometime. Maybe at Christmas.

Some of my very dearest friends were there (with the exception of a few who were away at school, or off in Brazil on missions). Again: touched.

I never considered having flower girls on account of I don't like kids (and there weren't any aisles for them to walk down tossing petals), but Kyle's nieces were so excited to play the parts, I couldn't be the one to crush their dreams. I don't think these two girls know me very well, but they certainly are adorable. And they were passionate about flowers. More photos of them at the reception will follow.

This was the last picture taken of us at the Temple--afterwards, we were off to RigaTony's for lunch. But it's one of my favourites--it captures the real importance of the day: not baseball caps or soiled dress hems, but the fact we were able to get married in the temple. That means, should Poor Kyle have the strength to handle me for the rest of our lives, he'll be stuck with me throughout eternity, too. What's not to love about a promise like that?

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

{A Stench So Horrid}

When I was in the sixth grade (Grade 6 if you're Canadian,) my teacher, Mrs. Lewis, had us do a science experiment. We were divided into teams, and each of us needed to bring something different to make slides of, so we could then look at them under the microscope. On the list of items to choose from, there were all kinds of things like apples, leaves, and stool samples. [Just kidding about the stool samples.] I chose to bring an onion, because it was on the list and I knew we had a 20 lb. bag of yellow onions at home.

I was so excited. (Remember: back in the ol' elementary school days, I thought my calling in life was to be a scientist. Anything science was, for me, quite a thrill.) The night before experiment day, I sat at the counter and watched as my mom made my lunch--I'm pretty sure I got a Lunchable and a Capri Sun in my brown paper bag, which was, you know, the coolest. I was jittery and giddy to boot--I even placed my offering (the onion) in my backpack that evening, ready and waiting for all the scientific fun the next day.

I threw up (vomited) three or four times that night, and when the fortuitous morning arrived, my mom forced me to stay home from school. I was too sick to go. No amount of begging or pleading would change her mind, and I tried both. I was convinced she was ruining my life. [I really hope I am not given the responsibility to raise girls when--and if--I have children. There's just so much drama involved.]

I spent a semi-miserable day home from school {I say "semi-," because really--who can be fully miserable when skipping school?} and the next day was a weekend, so there were two more days off school before I got to go back. When I finally did return, all the talk of slides and science and everything I missed made me very sad indeed, but I got over it eventually.

A month or so later, I continued to wake up and go to school, donning my sloppy, unkempt black generic-brand backpack as any good middle class student should do. I noticed, though, that something about me sort of smelled, well, odd. Thinking little of the smell, I carried on through the day and the week, but soon, I became really worried: the smell was getting worse. I showered [almost] daily, and I could tell it wasn't my self that stank. I thought that maybe my mom had gotten a different brand of laundry detergent, but some minor research disproved that theory. One day in class, I could bear the stench no longer. Sniffing all up and down my clothes, my desk and my chair, I noticed the stench becoming more pronounced as I moved closer to my backpack. Unzipping the offending knapsack, the stench grew overwhelming. I dug through my disheveled mess of homework, report cards, and long-forgotten unsigned permission slips, all the while holding my breath for fear of vomiting from the smell.

And then, I caught a glimpse of a thin orangish flake that looked suspiciously familiar. Suddenly I had a flashback--almost in slow motion--to that day, so many weeks ago, when I missed the science experiment.

"Nooooo," my mind screamed in protest, silently pleading with the Powers That Be, "say it isn't truuuuuuueeeeeee...."

How humiliating a discovery to make right there at my desk, during the middle of class time. There, at the bottom of my backpack, rotting away as it had been for the past many weeks, lay a giant black decayed...onion.

Sometimes even today, when I go without showering for a very long time, I catch a whiff of stench...a stench so horrid, it instantly transports me back to that time: the time when a stringy-haired little girl sat at her desk, trying...trying in pretend it wasn't she who smelled like rotten onion.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008


I can't eat. [Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I can eat--I can always eat.] What I mean to say is, I can't enjoy what I eat. I am unable to relax. Food has lost its flavour; salt has lost its savour.

I can't sleep, either. [Okay, I can sleep. I can always sleep.] But my sleep is not peaceful and deep like usual. It is constantly being interrupted by nightmares and hideous hallucination-like episodes. I wake up in cold sweats. Not even the thick luxurious bedding of our Holiday Inn Suites in Great Falls, Montana can keep me sedated.

I'm in a bad way.

I've been married almost five months to the day, and I haven't written a single thank-you note. Not one.

I haven't even gotten them printed.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Unarguable Truths of Road Trips in the Company of Poor Kyle and Camille

In the two and a half years of our relationship, Poor Kyle and I have taken more road trips together than I can feasibly count. And since the new duty of “trailer fetcher” at the shop has fallen upon him, the number of our road trips together is increasing exponentially. Even as I type this on the stark white MacBook ™ my parents gave me for Christmas last year, we are trekking our way through the plains and grains of northern Nebraska.

We’ve nearly talked about everything there is to talk about (lasting an eternity together beyond this point will take a miracle [or a lot more birth control]), and consequently I’ve had a lot of quiet, contemplative time on my hands. Of course any time I have any time at all, I can’t seem to help but write a blog in my head. It gets annoying, but at least it’s something to do—I’d rather read my own words than some of those trashy tabloids they sell at the Flying J for two dollars apiece.

Here’s what I’ve decided while driving through Nebraska:

The Unarguable Truths of Road Trips in the Company of Poor Kyle and Camille
(in no particular order)

-I can be right in the middle of recounting a fascinating tale to Poor Kyle, but if he sees an interesting truck or trailer on the same road we’re traveling, he will—without fail—whip his head around and gawk as it rolls by, completely losing focus on my story. I have come to accept this as fact. Usually I react by continuing the story (in turn forcing Poor Kyle to pretend he’d been listening all along).

-If Poor Kyle is writing in his logbook, keeping track of mileage or even simply fiddling with the GPS, he will not listen to a word I say, should I attempt to snare his attention. It is physically impossible for him to multi-task. I’ve never seen it done; he has never done it.

-Poor Kyle is a faithful—faithful—keeper of the windshield:

Case in point.

-I have, on occasion, been known to suggest interesting topics of conversation on our road trips together. Rather, I consider them to be interesting topics of conversation. Poor Kyle, on the other hand, views this as “picking fights.” He may be correct in this assessment, but in my defense...he is lugging me all about the country in a baby-poop coloured Carhartt ™ hoodie. And he didn’t necessarily set out any ground rules ahead of time.

-Poor Kyle and I will never agree on what constitutes “good music.”

-Poor Kyle will always trust the GPS (he calls her “Tips”) more than he will trust me. Sometimes I hate that little British snob.

-There are nineteen white reflector poles in between each green mile marker on the highway (give or take a few on account of drunk drivers running them over). I can count miles with my eyes closed, shutting them right after seeing “MILE 258” flash by, and opening them precisely as we approach “MILE 259.” Sometimes I do this for so long that I cannot stop unless the vehicle does; it makes my head hurt.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days

My grandfather died a year ago yesterday. One of his favourite songs was "I Am a Happy Wanderer," so even though you may think it's a bit hokey, I'm playing it on my blog all day today, and maybe even tomorrow if I feel like it.

I remember it so clearly. I was nannying in Brussels, Belgium. My grandpa's health had taken a turn for the worse. Back in January, the day before I moved to Belgium, I went to visit him--to say my goodbyes. I remember crying almost uncontrollably; he'd become so feeble, and there was a very real possibility that I'd never see him alive again.

I was just barely adjusting to my life as a nanny in Europe when my sister signed on to an iChat on March 6th of 2007. It was morning in Phoenix, but nighttime in Brussels.

"Grandpa's doing really bad," she typed. "Everyone in the family has canceled their spring break plans. Hospice has come in. He's probably going to die soon. Even Grandma's not sounding very optimistic."

It was that last line that made my heart stop--if Grandma had lost hope, the situation was bleak.

"Can you come home," she asked. "We need you."

Whether or not my family really needed me remains to be seen. But I knew I would always regret not getting to see him again. I pulled some strings--many amazing strings. I broke the news to my employers: I had to go home, but if they still wanted me, I'd leave my belongings and come back soon. [They still wanted me.] I prayed so fervently to God--if I was meant to get home, to please give me the strength and the means to make it. I got a train ticket from Brussels to Paris--it should have cost $100.00 or so, but I got it for $15.00. I hopped on a standby flight from Paris to Phoenix--it was booked to capacity, and there were many other standbys. Some people got denied, but I was given the last seat on the plane.

After traveling for 24 solid hours, I got to Mesa on March 7th, and Grandpa died the next night. I spent all day (minus four hours) at his house. It was a time of reflection, and a time of unification. I don't know if I've ever felt so close to my family--aunts, uncles, everyone--as I did those few days.

My relationship with Poor Kyle was in a strange place--I debated whether I should ask him to come down. The night my grandpa died, Kyle was not with me. His presence--which he volunteered readily and willingly--was sorely missed. I called him sobbing that night [selfish, I know] and he drove 20 hours straight to be with me. It was a turning point in our engagement, which might have never progressed otherwise.

Grandpa's death also reminded my older sister how short life is. She'd planned on waiting a few more years to have children, but two months later she announced she was pregnant.

Grandpa inspired all of us, however differently we reflect that inspiration. He didn't care for travel. He didn't pine after fancy food or shiny cars. He valued hard, hard work and hard, hard workers. He valued his Savior, Jesus Christ. He valued his family--his sweet wife, his children and grand children and the few great-grands. He was mighty in body and spirit, but not known to the world beyond Arizona, Utah and Idaho...not really. He never won a Nobel Prize, a Grammy, or even a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

His legacy is us. I can't wait to see him again.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

I've Dropped the Ball...

I've not been irate about anything lately. My best posts happen when I'm irate, and so I've hesitated to post anything new. We're headed off to the sand dunes this weekend, where I'm sure there won't be internet connections, so I'll just have to take this time to really reflect--hopefully there will be something new and exciting to read by next week.

Until then, entertain yourself by looking at these photos of my nephew. He's cute--and that's a fact, not an opinion. See for yourself:

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

The 5 (Five) Cs

Here in Arizona, we don't have many bragging rights.

It's hot, to be sure. But really, is that something to be proud of? We mostly just brag about the heat so outsiders will think we're tough for being able to survive it [though actually, it probably just makes us look a little loco for not getting the hell (and I do mean hell) out of here. That's what smart people would do].

But other than the heat, we are hard-pressed to find something impressive about Arizona. The east coast has its history, the west coast has its sense of cool [which is innate in any region that comes with a beach], and the central states have their giant rolls of string.

So Arizona officials got together...oh...fifty years ago...and decided we needed a little more than a giant hole in the dirt to give us an identity. I can picture it now, how all the greatest Arizonan minds assembled, putting their heads together to revamp the state's image. It must have been a long meeting. Finally, though, they settled on a catchy little motto some of us know as "The Five Cs of Historic Arizona," or simply, "The Five Cs."

Copper. Cotton. Cattle. Citrus. Climate. That's right, friends. The brightest minds of Arizona, and those five Cs were all they could come up with. I think it's somewhat of a cop out, myself. I mean, "climate" was already a given. And "cotton" might be abundant here, but the deep South had staked its claim on this country's cotton long before we ever made it into the union {and honestly, who would want to sleep in sheets of Arizonan Cotton when there's all this Egyptian goodness floating around department stores?}. "Copper"--that might be something to brag about, but I'm not convinced; take me on a tour of a real, live copper mine, and then I'll tell you how I feel. Cattle--seriously? Oh sure, because Arizona is just...hopping with cattle. I see them all the time here, in the middle of all the dirt roads, munching on tumbleweed and palo verde twigs.

Our only real source of pride lies within our citrus--Arizona's one redeeming quality. From germination to the harvest, every aspect of our citrus is a sensory delight. If you've never had a chance to visit Arizona (and I don't really blame you if this is the case,) you should make a concentrated effort to roll through here in mid to late March. You will not regret it. That is when orange blossoms are on the trees, and a drive through town with the windows down will solve any problem you may have. Stub your toe? Smell the orange blossoms. Lose your job? Smell the blossoms. Suicidal? One whiff of those orange blossoms is enough to convince you that life truly is worth living. (On a side note, if you are suicidal, please seriously consider seeking out help. I don't think it's something to joke about. And then, come visit Arizona in the spring. It will probably cheer you up.)

After the springtime blossoms wither, the summer heat ensues and little oranges start their process of whatever it is they have to do. It's not until November or December that they actually ripen, and then...what a prosperous harvest it is. I was well into my teens before I realised that some people actually paid for oranges at the grocery store. Every person in my circle of acquaintance has at least one citrus tree--be it orange, lemon, or grapefruit--on their property. Most have more...

...And we are passionate about it. Tell us you prefer the gritty flavour of Tang™ to freshly squeezed orange juice, and we will lynch you. Tang is only a half-step up from Sunny D™, and nothing could save you from our bad graces if you drink Sunny D™ and like it. Nothing. As far as store-bought orange juice goes, stay away from Topica™--and anything generic. If you want quality, Minute Maid™ will do as a concentrate, but Tropicana™ is really the the only brand Archives of Our Lives can endorse in good conscience.

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