Thursday, January 29, 2009

The latest in a series of Embarrassing Moments

Last night's episode may take the cake-- at least for the week. Of course, this weekend I'm going to a "snow activity" which has wipe-outs and other such tragedies written all over it. But here you go-- it's good for a bit of a laugh.
So I was hanging out at choir last night, feeling pretty good about not crying or acting weird in the presence of my former, would-be mother-in-law (not that she ever really was, except I love this woman and would have married her son just to be part of her family), and just being my normal, talk-too-much self. My friend Michael came into the hallway, and I gave him my concerned, little sister look. Michael and his girlfriend had just broken up, as evidenced by his ex's new "single" status on Facebook. Things had been a little rocky for them for the last month or so, and the breakup wasn't really a huge surprise. But I was worried that Michael might be feeling a little down, so I asked him how he was doing since the demise of his relationship.
His response: "Oh, well, then I guess that makes it official. I didn't know."
That's what you call a big oops, my friends. I didn't think I'd be scooping him on the story, with the public declaration of singlehood from his lady friend, but I guess I did.
I really should have been a reporter. Or at least worked for a tabloid. I'm (unintentionally) cruel, but I'm good.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Has anyone ever told you that you look exactly like...?" A Photo Essay

Everyone wants a celebrity doppelganger. It's flattering to have someone stop you on the street and say, "Oh my gosh! You look exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger/Queen Elizabeth/Madonna!" We love our celebrities, and looking like them can be pretty cool. Heck, even sounding like them is cool. Our friend Terry sounds like Papa Smurf, and it's really endearing!
The most flattering time this happened to me was a couple years ago when my hair was still long. I'd gone to the movie by myself and was heading to a party afterwards. I didn't think I was looking particularly smashing, but a nice couple (two ladies) stopped me as I was about to walk out to the parking lot. The one with the mullet said, "Holy cow! You look just like the girl from Phantom of the Opera!" Now of course, I'd never been mistaken for Emmy Rossum, so at first I thought she was smoking something. But then she turned to her partner and said, "What's her name? Not the one from the movie... the one who used to be married to Andrew Lloyd Webber?" I incredulously supplied, "Sarah Brightman?" And she said, "Yes! That's the one! You could be her twin!" And let me tell ya, that was nice to hear. I don't really think it's true, but I'll take it. Maybe it's something to aspire to. Let's just say she looks pretty good for a woman her age.
Anyway, there are a lot of look-alikes out there. When I was younger, I used to wonder if God had a good number of basic models that he'd tweak so everyone was just different enough. Sometimes a resemblance is uncanny. And for some people, even the slightest familiarity is enough to inspire them.
Take my 12th grade English teacher, Mr. Peters, for example. My friend Melanie made him her authority-figure crush that year, and used to talk about how Mr. Peters looked exactly like Sting.
I'm sorry to say upon checking the yearbook recently, I discovered this was a gross exaggeration, and the foolish imaginations of a young girl. But I'm not condemning her-- she had us all convinced. Mr. Peters was one of my greatest high school teachers and I loved him dearly, but I can tell you it was much more exciting to go to his class and fantasize that Sting was discussing Kenneth Bragnah's interpretation of Hamlet than just some man who dated another English teacher down the hall.
Still, we let him in on it, and I think it really pleased him. When I ran into him at a basketball game a couple weeks ago, he'd grown out his hair into a little ponytail. He's retired from teaching now, and "focuses on his music." Here's his CD cover:

Sometimes the resemblances are a bit stronger. You'll recall my friend Andrew visited recently. Here he is doing dishes in my kitchen on a Saturday morning:

He's a handsome chap, I think we can all agree. But the summer he and I were students in Poland together, we had an occasion to pop over to Prague for a weekend. While we meandered cobblestone streets, I caught a glimpse of his passport picture. Oh, if only I had a scanner and access to it! He looked a lot like Matt Damon, and I told him so. It wasn't the first time he'd heard it:

I don't know if you can see it now. Andrew's grown-man look is more chiseled than his pre-mission passport picture, but it was enough that when we stayed with a friend's mother in Wroclaw, he insisted he would be just like Jason Bourne and fall immediately to sleep on the floor (he might have just been trying to keep me from feeling guilty about taking Michal's bed). He was grumpy when he woke up the next morning because he WASN'T Jason Bourne, but I recall him looking nice for church after I ironed his shirt to make it up to him.
Another friend who gets stopped on the street pretty frequently is Pauly, my bestie/fill-in little bro. Here we are on New Year's Eve:

Before I knew Paul, he actually WON a Napoleon Dynamite look-alike contest and had a little photo-opp with Jon Heder.

And this year for Halloween, I convinced him to dress up as Bob Ross from "The Joy of Painting." Guess who won the costume contest? That's right-- my little Paulo. Our friend Sev looks quite a bit like Steve Young as well, but Paul BECAME Bob Ross. It was super.
So what brought on this latest musing? Actually, it's my new nickname. A couple boys our circle has branched out to include now call me "Duchess."
It all started out with Luna and Felix's obsession with Lords and Ladies and what not (so they tell me), but I ran into them via Louise at Tresann's wedding reception. What can I say? I had really big hair that night, and the rest is history. No one thinks I look like Kiera Knightly, but I suppose I occasionally have her hair. Just hopefully not this style:

Actually, in this picture, I think she may bear shocking resemblance to Paul:

Just kidding, but are you all getting that Paul is bound to be a celebrity? He's kind of got that everyman (and woman) look about him. He'd be very versatile in Hollywood.
No, these days, this is what I really look like (well, at least, most of the time):
But in my day, I've been told I look a bit like a young Angela Lansbury (pre-"Murder, She Wrote")
And on occasion, people say Kate Winslet, to which I reply, "I wish!" (I think it's our lips)

The worst was my freshman year at BYU when I was still sporting a beret occasionally. I'd just gotten back to the dorms from a date with a much older, more-sophisticated man named Richard. He was 27 (don't ask me what business a 27-year-old man had going out with an 18-year-old girl... oops!), and very nice. But I think what sealed the evening for him was when a girl from another floor came through the lobby and said, "Hey! You look just like Monica Lewinsky!"

I'm pretty sure it was just the beret, but that's not flattering. I don't think I've worn one since.
Of course, I've gone through other celebrity incarnations. Remember the band "Flock of Seagulls" anyone?

Yes, they were the inspiration for this hairdo:

And everyone knows that when I cut off 14" of hair for Locks of Love...

... I suddenly turned into the "Berries and Cream" guy:

Still, it could be worse. I could just be plain delusional. I know I've told this story before, but I've got this sweet little friend named Judge. This picture is from our date to the State Fair a few years back:

I'd said to him, just as he was about to take a bite of his fried Snickers Bar (EW!), that he looked like a celebrity. He said, "Oh, I know, right? Matthew McConaughey?"

And I said, no. "I was thinking more along the lines of Christopher Lloyd."

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Touch of Whimsy

So last week I had a pleasant surprise: Nate and Kari Ward, two of my all-time favorite people, stopped in Albuquerque to a) eat dinner on their way from Mesa to Santa Rosa, and b) to see their old pal from the good old days in the BYU 151st Ward. I loved it! I hadn't seen them since Sean McKissick's Bachelor Party at the Golden Corral, nearly 3 years ago. Kari delivered Addie just a couple days later, and now look at that little charmer (she's the cute one with the impressive tongue)! She was really sweet, and obviously a smart little girl. That's the way I like children-- cute and precocious. We shared some Salt and Vinegar chips, and I was impressed she liked them all right.
Additionally, I met the adorable 7-month-old Molly Gug:

That picture totally cracks me up! Now, anyone who knows me understands I have a general fear of babies, and basically only want to have some so I can give them names like Jemima and Elaine Fairchild. My friend Jacob Hatch emailed me today (he's on the last stretch of his mission in South Africa-- I know, I know, I'm Mary Kay LaTourneau) and insists that we at least have a son named Joseph. I felt like this was always part of the plan, with him naming our sons after the 12 tribes of Israel. But, I digress.
Anyway, Molly won me over right away. She was really cool with me just holding her and talking to her about world events, the history of Quiznos Subs, and any other nonsense that just popped into my head. I like speaking to infants like they are little adults. It helps their vocabulary eventually, I am sure. And I liked the way she kept throwing napkins off the table. I think a little defiance is good. She's going to have to get tough to keep up with her older sister.

It was so good to see my adopted "nieces!" I love them, and don't even have to feel left out because I read about them all the time. Kari is a super blogger. It makes me feel like I'm there. And just in case the Chipman Girls and May Hall Men of yore don't believe we actually all got together (ie., that I just stole these pictures from Kari's blog), here is the proof:

Notice how I really have that, "It's the end of a very long day" look, while Kari and Nate still look amazing, despite a long car trip. I'm telling you-- they belong in a Gap ad. Or a Disneyland commercial. They're superhero parents!
Uh-oh. I just nearly became a gushing Mormon mom. I'm such a poser.
OK, anyway, my life remains luxurious in spite of the oppressive recession and the fact that I keep feeling the poverty crunch. I know. That sounds stupid, considering the fact that I'll be on a cruise in a couple weeks, but still. I'm poor, and I'm feeling it. But so is everyone else, and I'm still happy. Why?
Well, aside from the little spot of Ward sunshine last Thursday, life remains fun and funny. I like it when things turn out unexpectedly. I met up with Lou in town the other night and we had gelatto (this was not fiscally irresponsible... Amy gave me a give card months ago for my birthday; calorically speaking, it was very irresponsible) and I made up scenarios in my head about a couple at the table next to us. Over the weekend, I took some time to breathe and make Valentines for hours upon hours. When will I have another completely free Saturday? Honestly, I think it's gonna be April. This morning, I was working on some stressful profit-sharing and 401k administrative stuff when my mom came into my office and announced we were having Afternoon Tea (Herbal, of course) at 2 p.m. She just decided. She's in the kitchen now making fancy sandwiches and thawing out some scones. I love that we just do these things out of the blue.
Moreover, I feel pretty great about making an entirely Polish meal for friends last night (even though the nalesniki z serem turned out kinda nasty and the golabki were overcooked). I also like when the friends come over and we lounge around watching stupid movies and making up code names for people. I like that our FBI-agent friend showed us his gun last night. My favorite memory of summer boyfriend involved making a fort out of blankets, just because we both used to like that as children. I hate that it's going to get windy again, but that will be a good excuse to go fly my Sesame Street kite. I start every day reading the newspaper, end every day reading my scriptures, and enjoy a healthy dose of teen lit in between. I think every occasion calls for a party. I like dressing up in costume jewelry to stay home and write. I'm not afraid to wear galoshes with fancy skirts, and even though I AM afraid of water (I can't swim), I still join up with the white-water rafting contingencies. I don't have money but I'm going to enjoy my time in a little inside-passage room on the Mediterranean, hoping to meet a nice Norwegian boy to show off my most-excellent kissing skills. I know that I'm a little scary, but isn't it liberating? I'm not the crazy cat lady, and I'm not inappropriate (well, most of the time). I just think if you're going to feed someone cold cereal for breakfast, you might as well float a rubber ducky in the milk because life's too short to not play with your food.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

These Words are My Own

I know I'm a little early on the schmooze-fest we call Valentine's Day, but on February 14th I'll actually be skipping the country and who knows when I'll have Internet access? (PS. Would-be crooks beware: I've got some wicked-vicious house sitters scheduled to take care of my place!)
Anyway, I thought I'd start publicly listing some of the reasons I love the people I do... I'll likely not get to it all in one setting, nor will this be an exhaustive list. But I figured I love so many people, I'd better get started a few weeks in advance.
Perhaps I'll start with the girls in my posse:
Tresann, I love the way you threw dirty signs in your wedding pictures, but the way you are still such a good girl!
Lou, I love you for making me feel better when the man at the Pol-Art store made me feel like hud. And for the way you picked out just the right things for that Halloween Package. And your love for Jell-O shots.
Nashty-- you are one of a kind, and so much fun to talk to! It's nice that we have our own little bond. In other words, thanks for taking my phone calls.
I love Pam for helping through my recent wardrobe malfunction. Only a true friend will be honest with you and say, "Why yes, one of your boobs is significantly higher than the other" and then dig up a safety pin to fix your errant brassiere in the Ladies' Room.
Amy, I love your new sassiness. Your engagement pictures speak a thousand words. So did your dance moves on New Year's Eve. You've always shone, but now you sparkle too.
I love Karissa and her sweet Beyonce moves. I also love K for standing up for me when the mean boys thought it was funny that I don't know what male, um... parts, look like.
Meilea inspires love with the way she's always there for everyone and the big things in their lives. If I lived that far away, I doubt I'd make it to so many weddings!
And of course, that's just the beginning! But let's spread out the mush over several entries, shall we?

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Made an Old Man Cry... or Something Like That

So this was the magical weekend otherwise known as "Rachel's Polish-speaking Besties Come to Town!" On the whole, it was great. We went to perhaps the lamest of all local LDS dances, but we still had a good time. Andrew's moves were particularly surprising. I don't think I'd ever seen him in that kind of setting. Maybe he was channeling the power of New Mexico from his extra-special buckle:

A little note about the picture above-- people keep telling me how scandalous it is, but you try taking a picture of a belt-buckle on someone! I wanted to zoom in on the buckle, but I didn't want to get too close, you know? And then my battery died. Say what you will, but the buckle makes Andrzej even more powerful, dynamic and handsome than he already was. But most of all, very powerful. (That's from a cartoon my old boss used to make us watch-- I've adopted it as my personal catch-phrase.)

After some brief rockin' and rollin' with the good Mormon singles, we went to my house in Los Lunas, where the boys quickly felt at home. On Saturday night, in fact, I found Andrew eating ice cream right out of the carton in my kitchen. On Sunday as I was in my room changing clothes, I kept hearing someone going in and out of my garage. Turns out it was Nathan, replenishing the pellets for the stove (he's a real champ and the most thoughtful boy in the world, but I think this had more to do with stove fascination than chivalry). I half-expected to be woken up each morning to them jumping on my bed telling me they needed some breakfast so they could watch cartoons. Of course, this didn't happen as a) I get up much earlier than they do and b) I don't have television.

Some evidence of men in my house:

I joke a lot, but I loved having them in town. I kept feeling like the luckiest girl in the world-- who has random college friends just drop in for a weekend like that? Well, I mean, I know it happens, but considering our diversity in geography and given our genders, you just wouldn't expect it to happen. But happen it did, and it was delightful.

That is, until we went to Santa Fe. Now I'll just say for the record that I'm not a huge SF fan to begin with. The bypass/relief route is one of the best inventions ever. I am perfectly content to scoot around the whole blasted place. It is expensive and inefficient. There is only one store I'm ever interested in seeing on the Plaza, and that is the Polish Folk Art store. I have a real beef with the proprietor because he's always doggin' my favorite BYU professor (who just happens to have a folk art collection that would put this guy to shame), and I'd truly hoped he wouldn't be there. Well, I got my wish. The store was closed.

But not for long. We took this picture while we were waiting for the store to re-open. This was a happy time. We looked in the windows at the over-priced merchandise, pointing out the artists we all recognized (I wonder if Lou was impressed-- she came with us and was privy to my personal breakdown, which will happen in 3-2-1...). We laughed the rules posted near the door: No food or drink (understandable), No pictures (I get that), No gabbing on cell phones (Getting a little bossy here, aren't we?), etc., etc.

Anyway, grumpy Mr. Pol-Art had re-opened his store and the boys and I tried to go incognito. Unfortunately, I let my guard down while the sales assistant (who is very nice, by the way), tried to sell me some Boleslawiec pottery. I've already got quite a bit of it-- several cupboards full-- and he kept mispronouncing everything. I don't know if anyone noticed when I said something under my breath using the REAL pronunciation, but eyebrows were likely raised when I motioned the boys over to see some pieces by Sledz, an artist we all admire (Andrew commissioned two pieces from Sledz himself). Oops. Mistake No. 1.

Then, because I was curious, I asked the proprietor himself if he would open a triptych which was on display behind the counter. When I reverently whispered "Paraszon" to Nathan when he asked who did that-- before Grumpy Greg-- I knew I'd accidentally blown our cover. So I tried to go for nice instead. I wanted to ask the fellow about his store because I'm genuinely interested. He has beautiful things, and it does make me happy that they've found a place into the hearts of tourists who ambled past and got taken, but who nonetheless ended up introduced to the majesties of Polish Folk Art. Well, I guess my friendliness didn't really work for this guy. Andrew later gently suggested the man might have felt some some hostility enter the conversation when I pointed out we'd met half a dozen times before (it's true, but I did mean to bring it up in a joking way so he'd know that I knew and admired his store [by the way, bless Andrew for helping me see my flaws without coming across as critical-- he has a way of making me a lot better, in a "I'm-holding-your-hand-through-this-and-I-still-like-you-even-though-you're-a-nincompoop" sort of way]). Anyway, I just wanted to ask about his store and the artists we mutually know and when he was going to bring another artist to work there. I think it's all rather neat.

But our little friend instead went on the defensive. He accused Nathan and I of being reporters, trying to get a story out of him. And if you think about it, that's kind of stupid. Speaking as an erst-while journalist, why in the world would I ever go undercover to snag a story about a folk-art store? What I really think he meant by it (though sweet Nate took him at face-value) was he thought that we'd go reporting to Dr. Whipple. Or that we were looking to get into the business as well and were gathering intel on him. Of course neither were true, but he ran off in a huff, insisting that he had to go to the bathroom. It was the oddest thing.

Not wanting to stay where we clearly weren't welcome, Nate, Lou and I made a hasty retreat. Andrew stuck around to try to patch things up. The man, so far as I know, never made any explanation of his odd behavior, nor do I think Andrew tried to excuse mine. Andzej just knows I'm friendly and enthusiastic about everything, so he shrugged it all off. Meanwhile, I started to feel worse and worse about how uncomfortable I'd made the old crotchety dude, and cried myself to Albuquerque from the guilt. By the time we made it through the disappointing BYU game, I was hot and tired and had no makeup left, but felt better after our trip up the tram, to Chinese food with my parents, and to Circuit City to play Rock Band for a while (the boys were gems to distract me and praise me for my 94 percent singing score on "Eye of the Tiger"-- which, I would suggest, might have been better if I hadn't been laughing the whole time). We went back to my house, sprawled out on the floor, and I fell asleep between the boys while they watched "Groundhog Day." So it wasn't just the way I expected the weekend to turn out, but it was still pleasant.
All in all, it was good. Sunday was a blur of Nathan's pre-birthday celebrations, culminating with a posse of boys assembled in my kitchen to help make the birthday dinner:

And at the end of the day, that's all you can ask for anyway, right? Scary Santa Fean aside, I'm so happy I could just sigh contentedly for the next 72 hours at least. Maybe the best part was that most of the weekend wasn't about our Polish connection. We have that in common but it's not why we're friends now. Today, we're just friends who get together and wear matching shirts and stay at one another's houses. This afternoon, I'm just president of their fan clubs and content to keep them on the pedestals they deserve. At this moment, I remain their enthusiastic friend with a cute house and hospitality to match, and if ever another girl were half so grateful for the actualization of the purest platontic love, she'd be bursting with joy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Any Dream Will Do

Last night I had a couple of wicked dreams. I really don't know how the subconscious comes up with this stuff, but I was entertained.
First I dreamt that my friend Russell was over at my parents' house. My mom offered him coffee, which he did not accept. I think she did this to make him feel comfortable, but he got a little TOO comfortable. He stretched out on my mom's couch (with his shoes on! gasp!) and proceeded to cuddle with me in front of my parents (again, gasp! No PDA in front of the parentals, please!). It was really disturbing and captivating in a train-wreck sort of way. I don't think Russell is such a rebel in real life, so I don't feel the dream is prophetic. At least, let's hope not. No one wants their mom drinking coffee, but even worse no one wants shoes on their couch.
After waking up and realizing I had a bit more time in my cushy bed, I dozed off and was rewarded with weird dream No. 2. In it, I was trying to take my vehicle through an automatic car-wash/laundromat. Instead of a car, I was driving an over-sized laundry basket. I had a lot of problems, though. First, I forgot to put my code in the machine, and I couldn't back up because there was a huge line of cars behind me. A lady with huge blond hair who drove a red convertible was going to put my code in for me. I tried shouting the numbers at her, but she waved them off. She ran into the car wash and whispered that if I just push *39, I could get all my washes for free. I thanked her and she started the wash, but I had trouble maneuvering my car/basket into position. I ended up getting soaked and smelling like chlorine (no doubt this is a consequence of my recently chlorinated well water, which I'm having a bit of trouble with-- I was going to take a bath this morning, but the bubble bath solution turned the water a bilious green, which I don't think is a good sign), so I proceeded to the laundry portion of the wash, and took off my clothes to wring them out and put back on. It was all rather surprising, because I'm certainly not the type of person to just run around naked, nor would I ever get undressed in front of ANYONE, let alone a packed room, but my dreaming self was significantly less-inhibited. Anyway, as I was putting my dripping jeans back on, who should enter the car wash but Richard Kessler, a financial planner I worked with on our company's 401k and profit sharing. He was driving a golf cart. He pulled up next to me and said, "Fancy meeting you here." And then I woke up.
Again, I doubt there's much to this dream... I've just been annoyed that the automatic car wash at Phillips 66 is broken. And Richard doesn't even work with us anymore, so there's no chance of him ever seeing me naked. WAIT! That came out wrong. For the record, no one will see me naked in conjunction with work or any social function. In fact, I bathe fully clothed. I haven't been naked since I came out of the womb, and I was immediately dressed in a hippie dress and Rastafarian beret. Or a hospital gown with a pink bow glued to my forehead, whichever you prefer.
I may need to put more stock into the dreams of others. My friend and former seminary teacher sent me a Facebook wall post telling me she had a dream that I'd just gotten engaged to some tall blond guy. Though I'm not typically into blonds, I think I'd rather see that come true than Russell the Muscle up in my grill on my parents' couch or getting soaked at the Phillips 66 Car Wash. Plus also, I don't think a laundry basket would have much horsepower. My lovable and somewhat crazy uncle told me he had a vision of what my future fiance would say to me as he proposed. I think there are some things about my uncle that are completely whack-- like his fashion sense (white cowboy boots are never a good option)-- but I've never forgotten it. Yeah. Maybe I should save time and call Dionne Warwick and the Psychic Friends Network to get some real answers! ;)

Monday, January 12, 2009

At my Hottest

Back at the Brigham, I had a professor tell us that people are most attractive right after they break up. Weird, right? He said that it did take a few days, but once your face wasn't all distorted and swollen from crying, your sudden availability makes you really interesting to everyone else. I don't really buy it, but it's a nice, comforting thought.
However, there may be a little truth to it, because lately I've been attracting my own special brand of admirers: namely, the ancient guys.
Oh, no, this isn't necessarily a dig at the 36-year-old guy my friends and I all call "Uncle," (though let's be honest, it is a little funny), but more a bit of commentary on how I manage to attract the truly old. On Saturday, I went to T's wedding reception. There were plenty of age-inappropriate men around-- mostly of the younger variety. There's the good-looking, not-my-type, friend of a friend who's perhaps 20. There's the brother of a friend who is 21. Heck, even T's little brother Q was super adorable for a high school boy. But who gave me the most (and creepiest) attention? A man I've known for years who is definitely in his 50s. Every time I see this guy, he's like, "Oh! Your hair is so beautiful! Call me Bry! You know, the temple is the most beautiful place on earth, but you've just managed to make it even more lovely!" and so on. I do take comfort knowing that he basically says these kinds of things to women everywhere (including my mom), but it is a little weird that less than a year ago, his 55-year-old best friend was also trying to put the hard-core moves on me. Darn it! If this reception had only been a week or so later, I probably wouldn't have the "I'm dumped, and I'm hot" vibe going on. The oldies can't resist me.
So let's see if I can carry on being hott for another week at least-- that would be ideal. My dear Nathan and Andrew fly in Friday night, and wouldn't it be nice for them to say, "Whoa! Who knew our Polish bestie was hott?" Ok, ok, I know that's not going to happen-- if there were ever two boys I'd marry at the drop of the hat without ever having had the least inappropriate thought about, it's these two. Hold on, let me think.... Nope. Can't go dirty with the thoughts! (Relax, I didn't really try, but I'm sure it'd be next to impossible!)
Anyway, if there is anything that will wear out the hottness, it's hard work, and I've got just short of a million things to do before they get here. Included in my Pre-Andrew and Nathan list:
* Clean garage (because there's no hiding it with me driving everywhere this weekend, and I just don't want them to say, "Why are there wood pellets all over your floor? Shouldn't they be in your stove? And hello, could you please take your recycling to the center instead of leaving it bagged in front of the door to your house?")
* Tubs (I doubt Aunt Susie left much of a ring around the bathtub, but you never know) and stock bathroom with supplies (no one wants to run out of toilet paper, and what if they forget their toothpaste?)
* Floors (self-explanatory)
* Install drape tie-backs in study (a project I've been planning on basically since I moved in nearly 2 years ago, but I'm afraid to use a drill on my beautiful, avocado-green walls)
* Fridge-- clean out and re-stock with stuff other than soy products
* Organize financial statements (these are in a neat pile in the closet of my study, but if Andrew needs to hang something up, I'd rather he not think I don't file things-- I do... just months' worth at a time)
* Finish craft projects (Again, this is so my craft closet doesn't look like an explosion of counted cross-stitch and crochet)
* Buy a birthday gift for Nathan's big 3-0
* Set menu
* Set agenda
* Clean out closet (just because I've been wanting to get that done anyway)
* Front and back porches
* Laundry
* Chlorinate water (because sometimes it smells like sulphur, and that's just unpleasant)
* Wash car
* Set wardrobe (remember, I'm trying to be "Hott Rachel"), and
* Manicure, pedicure, and rogue hair removal
And so, ok, maybe this is a little extreme, but I keep thinking of things I need and scenarios of what could go wrong. Why the winter pedicure, you ask? Well, if we wear out and the three of us end up chillin' on the couch with a Pauly Shore movie or two, what if my Sock Monkey slippers were to fall off. My feet are not disgusting, but people notice. Just ask Louise whose feet gross her out. On second thought, don't. They might just be yours.
I just want this to be a nice, fun weekend. I wish we could stretch it out a bit more, but I'm super grateful the boys are coming at all. And I'm glad they're hott without having recently broken up with anyone (that I know of-- it strikes me now that I know nothing about their respective social statuses). And I'm glad that they aren't in their 50s.

Friday, January 9, 2009

How to Throw a Rave

This new year is bringing all kinds of new discoveries. I didn't know that I liked strawberry ice cream, for example. Actually, I'm not really into ice cream at all. It's all right occasionally, but it's really rare for me to say, "Ooh, I need some ice cream." But because I'm trying to manage the amount of chocolate anything I eat these days (which effort included throwing away 90 percent of the world's largest Cadburry Dairy Milk bar after FHE a few weeks ago because I knew the temptation would be too great), I tried something strawberry ice cream and thought to myself, "Has this always been here, waiting for my discovery and acknowledgment? Oh, how I love you! Strawberry flavor, will you marry me?" It was a pleasant surprise.
And not to be up in everybody's grill about food, but let me just say again that garlic is the best thing ever. I've been eating these garlic-infused veggies recently (carefully, of course, and with a healthy amount of tooth brushing and Listerine-gargling afterwards to avoid killing off my social life) and it feels luxurious. Add the Boca Burger and you're in fiber and flavor heaven. I don't have plans tonight, except to maybe catch a movie with my mom and then clean house (Saturday is booked solid, so I have to do my Saturday chores this evening), but I'm thinking of having such a veggie and soy feast tonight. Maybe this just goes to show I'm not as young and fun as I once was, but I think it will be delightful.
But guess what, guess what! I am still fun, only in new ways. While I haven't had the urge to go toilet-paper any houses recently, I am finding some good new adventures. On Wednesday, the girls and I went to Rudy's. I've been hearing about it for ages, so that's where we ended up. I must say, the food was good but the company was great. By the way, did you know that Rudy doesn't exist? I called one of the employees Rudy. I'm not sure he appreciated it. Whatever.
Anyway, during the course of the evening, Pammy and Lou and I discussed what one would need to host a rave. I don't think I've ever known anyone who's actually attended one-- though one of my old crazy roommates was an extra on "Touched by An Angel" and was in the rave scenes. That made me the resident expert. The girls and I feel the essential elements include blacklights and strobes, a secret location, glowsticks (by the way, I think we can safely add "Glowstick Dancer" to my list of immediate and inexplicable buttons-- like a boy with Chuck Taylors or a social cause, I dig the weirdos with the glowsticks-- go figure), candy necklaces and pacifiers (though I don't really know why), and Jell-O shots. Being nice Mormon girls, we figured we could make them with ginger ale instead of vodka, and we'd just all-out skip the ecstasy. And let's be honest-- who needs stimulants when you've got synth-popcore pumping, right? So that's in the works. It's odd, sure, but can you think of a better way to fill my time than planning such a shindig?
Oh, there might be one way. I logged some time at Borders with my new friend WJD (who I now suddenly wish had a second middle name, also beginning with a "W"), and having found a clearance pop-up book of celebrity scandals, I felt the evening was not a waste. Oh, also the company was excellent. Poor J, though. I was so immediately comfortable that I was even more talkative than usual, so he is likely planning on telling his friends, "What a loser!" Just kidding. Like I said, this was such a fun, comfortable evening. People should be friends like this. I didn't have time to get gussied up (which, I would like to mention, wouldn't have been for his sake, but for the sake of all the fancy-pants who have time and large discretionary incomes and mull around the Albuquerque Uptown), so I came as I was. Well, almost. I changed out of my homespun skirt (my sister told me that I was looking particularly like the Berries-and-Cream guy yesterday) and into warmer clothes. But I had so much fun discussing Steinbeck v. Hemingway, learning why I should give Sci-Fi a try, and getting suggestions about desirable music that I didn't have time to obsess. I didn't run into the typical terror, wondering "does he think of me as voluptuous or verbose? Interesting or inebriating? Riveting or revolting?" kind of analysis. I just had fun. Again, I think that's what friends are for. Hooray, J. You've made the cut. Hope I made his as well. It was refreshing to feel like myself without apology. I think I need more people in my life like that. Plus, it's always good for the self-esteem to hang out with someone cool.
Yes, yes, life is good. I wore a hat today because I didn't want to style my hair. And you know what? It's cute enough (goes very well with the aforementioned Amish shirt). I'm finding joy in planning a picnic on the plaza with the Polski fellas next week. I wake up happy every morning because I feel like I'm livin' right. And I get to eat garlic whenever I want. It's like I'm a backstage aristocrat. I do what I want, but get the perks of fine living. I'm glad I've chosen happiness.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The media made me do it

First of all, I'm too easily influenced by media. Oh, not in the ways that would matter all that much-- for example, I am so glad to not have television for no other reason than I avoid a good chunk of political ads each year. If I were to have to listen to one candidate blast the other every 30 seconds for months at a time, I'd likely defect to Europe and start my life as an expatriate. And I don't really feel that tuning into edited Eminem periodically is going to make me drink a fifth of vodka (what does that even mean? I have no concept of alcohol or its measurements). However, there are some ways that other media suck me in and don't let go.
For example, books. Even children's literature. About a week ago, I reread a sub-par retelling of "Rumplestiltskin." I thought the book was lame, and a little waste of time, but yesterday at Wal-Mart I found myself in the crafting department. I didn't plan on spinning straw into gold, but this version of the book had the young maiden working for the textile industry. So I bought some outrageous fabric and sewed myself a skirt before work this morning. I'm wearing it now. And don't think I fancy myself any kind of seamstress. It was that fabric that's gathered on top you basically just cut enough to go around your midsection, sew one seam, and pop it on. Mine is green with black polka dots. With my opaque tights and beribboned flats, I look like a little girl. I'm down with that.
And speaking of Wal-Mart, that brings up another medium that gets me much of the time-- advertising (truthfully, that might be the reason I went into PR and communications in general-- writing is fun, but writing something powerful enough to change behavior is intoxicating). Specifically, I fall prey to the attractive way stores display their goods. I went to Wal-Mart with my mom yesterday, mostly to get Zoey out of the house. That little monster wore me out yesterday! I didn't need anything, and I'm trying to save the little bit of money I have toward riding camels in Egypt and a shopping spree at H&M in Barcelona. But I got a cart to hold my heavy, Mary-Poppins-style bag (read: I carry the world in that purse, and it gets heavy). The Zo-Meister had fallen asleep, so I was carrying her on my shoulder, and I couldn't handle a purse as well. So I meandered, following my mom through the aisles as she picked up fire starters and doormats. Pretty soon I was confronted with the wall of humidifiers. And then I remembered, "I NEED one of those." Truthfully, I could justify that, because mine broke a couple weeks ago, and my skin is so darned dry that introducing moisture into my environment is a good idea. But did I really NEED the green fabric? I was proud of myself putting away a handful of $5 DVDs, but then I faltered when I found what I thought was a cute shirt (My sister's reaction? "Maybe if you're Amish!"). I bought it thinking, "Hey, it's from Wal-Mart. It speaks to the world and tells the good people I don't take myself so seriously that I can't look good in a $12 shirt. I can live without sales at Anthropologie." Long story short? The girl who walked into the evil empire with no intention of buying anything walked out with nearly a hundred dollars worth of merchandise (at least most of it was Lean Cuisine entrees and vegetables to steam). I am weak, and a shop-a-holic.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kickin' it Gansta

So I just spent the last hour reading a blog a friend recommended to me. My conclusions:
1) I am a crap writer.
2) My blog is sooo boring!
Therefore, I apologize. Grant once said that single people spend most of their writing time worrying about how they aren't in relationships. At the time I could have countered that married people could try to be a little more interesting and that no one really cares when children start using their own potty chairs effectively, but that wouldn't have been true. Both broad generalizations are incorrect, aren't they? Regarding the second point, I DO care. Especially if it's about Zoey, or about Nate and Kari's fam. Seriously, the Wards are the best looking family ever-- no one should be that attractive. They belong in an ad campaign for Ralph Lauren or the Children's Place. As for the first, well, I'll try to be less boring, because believe it or not, my life is more than my dramatic love issues.
But, let's not be hasty and quit cold turkey, shall we? I'm happy to report there was a headline on the Comcast homepage today that said something about the New Year being the best possible time to break up with someone. Ta-Da! Maybe that's why after the initial theatrics, I feel better than I have in ages. I mean, if you're going to get stomped (and with hindsight already coming into play, this never should have felt like the end of the world), at least it comes at a good time of year. I'm always sad when I see people break up in October. The initial back-to-school infatuation seems to dwindle about midterms, and then they are depressed for the rest of the year. So many thanks, former love. Your timing is excellent. Dancing around my house to Beyonce singing "If you like it then you should have put a ring on it" also helps. But don't worry-- I'm not losing my edge. I'm mostly still jammin to Wolf Parade.
Other therapeutic stuff-- the reinvention of the Van Time Girls. VT has kind of dwindled, unfortunately. It started off with Amanda going to BYU. Then at an ever-alarming pace, other people got lives and moved on. Meilea is in Deming, planning wedded bliss with charming Terry. Tresann is now a Van Drawson, Amy will soon be a Call, and Audrey ditched us to play softball in Virginia. Lou and Pam and I have been a bit at a loss, and the fact that I now drive the Chrysler 300 C instead of the Towne and Country LE is also a bit of a drag. Don't get me wrong. My new car is HOTT, but it lacks a few things the Limited Edition, egg-shaped minivan had-- like room (not a huge problem now that there aren't as many of us, though I've gotta say making out in the van was a hundred percent easier than kissing in the car[though that really doesn't have any bearing on VT]) and headrests that come all the way out of the seats-- those of us sitting in the front can't even see the people in the back.
But the VT girls are nothing if not resourceful. We're going through metamorphosis, and adapting. Knowing we had to recruit was a little overwhelming until we decided we wouldn't have to discriminate based on gender. Of course, there will be times men will not be welcome. The boys seem to get a little bent out of shape when we talk about the fellas we're actually into, as opposed to worshipping them and showering them with brotherly love. Plus also, it's a completely matriarchal government, so there will be times when Y Chromosomes will be excluded. Still, most of the time we will allow the boys in. And here comes the mafia again. I think it started with my car-- it just looks cool. Plus, most everyone has been able to come up with a gangster alter-ego. Paul is Pauly or Paulo, Louise got shorted to Lou, Pam got lengthened to Pamela. We need to work on Sev, because his fake Italian accent is kind of a downer after a while. Little Anthony is now Fat Tony (very ironic if you know the guy) and we've retained Russell the Love Muscle to act as our bouncer/bodyguard. I imagine Trevor can be phased back in so long as he doesn't go around writing "Big Sexy" on fogged up windows anymore. Adam and Brandon (aka "Goonie") are locked in as well. I'm still searching for my gangsta name, but I don't think it's right to ignore the Russian mafia. After all, we don't want to be racially insensitive or limiting, now do we? Or maybe it's my Slavic pride. I don't know. I just like the idea of being "Natasha." Oh, who am I kidding? We're a bunch of dumb kids who like to get together and drink sparkling cider out of red plastic cups. See? I'm still boring, even when I try to be edgy.

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009-- So far, so good

I went to the singles' dance the other night... and it was, um, well... interesting. No, that's not the word. It might be better to say it invoked several reactions. As I recall, they included:
* Mild mortification-- All the kids from West Mesa were dressed up to the nines (except Brett E., who I find mildly entertaining, though frustrating as he gets socially awkward at the drop of a hat) and none of the Uni kids got the memo. So when I first arrived, I looked at myself in my dark jeans and sparkly cardigan and felt under-dressed and sad. But then I figured, who cares? I'm cute, and I don't need a ballgown to prove it to anyone.
* Disbelief-- In an effort to not be trampled by the line-dancers (I've always found it a little scary), I positioned myself next to the jaded clique of too-cool-for-school WM kids. I timidly asked, "May I stand here so I don't get kicked?" Rosie S. then told me she might just kick me anyway.
* Sadness-- I missed my girls. It just wasn't the same drinking sparkling cider in the 300 with the boys.
* Warm fuzzies-- The above-mentioned boys DID a very fine job of dancing. It was a little odd that they danced together and with me the majority of the night, but it was fun. Onlookers who did not know better might have thought I was the luckiest girl in the room, having nearly undivided attention from half a dozen boys. And you know what? I probably was. They're all like little brothers, but I love them and it made me more comfortable.
* Discomfort-- Ben G. told me about his recent nervous breakdown. I guess he thought I looked sad while I stood next to a very loud speaker listening to the first song I ever danced with Ray to (good thing Garth Brooks isn't all that popular anymore). We discussed medication.
* Confusion-- We all sort of missed the changing of the year as we watched the line snap for the balloon drop. The malfunction distracted everyone for about 10 minutes. When the confetti finally started floating down, it felt a little stupid to go around kissing. Oops, a missed opportunity. But again, who is there to kiss? My little brothers probably wouldn't have appreciated it.
Still, I don't mean to sound like a complainer. It was a nice night. More people showed up in slightly casual clothing, so I didn't feel like I stood out. I danced and danced. Adding that to bopping around my house getting ready to "Shoop" and "Whatta Man" and "Dirty" (what can I say? Old school junk with heavy bass or attitude-y ladies taking charge puts me in a feisty mood), I got some good exercise. And earlier, as I shimmied around my bedroom, I caught a glance of myself in the mirror and realized I could be a lot worse dancer. So that was a nice revelation.
Another bonus of the evening? A possible new friend to eventually add to the posse. I saw a friend of a friend I'd met a couple of years before. Because he looks interesting, I decided to be bold and actually talk to someone outside my comfort zone. The payoff was really big-- what a surprisingly fascinating chap! I was greatly impressed. It struck me that Jacob is probably what a lot of people pretend to be or aspire to be... just nice and smart and looking to make the world a better place, all whilst marching to the beat of his own drum. I like it.
Likewise, I ran into a girl I knew a decade ago. She's led an interesting life, and it felt good to be reunited. I hadn't thought about her in years, and life has dealt her some difficult blows recently, but she is weathering the storm beautifully. I feel like just seeing her was a tender mercy... she gave me something to aspire to.
It was a good dance. I'm glad I went.
Of course, there is so much more to my year than dancing and um, sleeping. I HAVE slept quite a bit, but it feels heavenly.
Yesterday I had one of those nice, easy days. I went to Wal-Mart, and there were hardly any people there. I had time to speak to TWO cashiers because neither were busy, and they were the most pleasant ladies. I found all kinds of exciting things to buy-- some new workout clothes (you can laugh, but it does make it easier to get to the gym) and a little package of cheese and apple slices. I love this time of year because stores really try to accommodate those of us trying to lead healthy lifestyles. If only they'd keep such products out for more than two weeks!
Later, I attended Zoey's first birthday party, which was brilliant and fun, but draining with all the children running around like maniacs. Afterwards, Paul (now Paulo as we are all trying to go a little more mafia with the names) and Lou came over for a living-room picnic and some movies. I fell asleep in "Talladega Nights" and awoke to find Louise cleaning my living room. I love that woman!
This morning, I took down my mother's Christmas tree, and I'm trying to work up the gumption to go take care of my own. I may hit the movies later. I also have some projects to tackle-- like finally working on fixing those chairs I bought six months ago, or making that lamp out of a gourd. I feel like I should put on some kind of do-rag or a smock and commune with my inner artist. Or I might just dance around my house a bit more. Dancing, resting, doing things to nurture my spirit-- yeah, I like 2009.