Saturday, February 25, 2006

Feelin' smarter than somebody else

So, to round out this three-parter (hey, I'm a writer. Every writer needs to do a trilogy at some point), I would like to know if anybody sees anything wrong with this picture:


We found this in a shop in Chile. I think Ultimate Heroical Men Marvel is a much better title than the now-trite "superheroes," don't you? And I was rather surprised to see that Batman appears to have defected over to Marvel. Guess old DC wasn't treating him as well as he would like, eh? Or maybe they refused to call him an Ultimate Heroical Man. Heck, I know I'D consider that grounds for leaving.

Feelin' better

Good ol' Archie.

So, after the last post, I was flipping channels on TV and came across the end of "Sleepless in Seattle," where Meg Ryan gets up to the top of the Empire State Building by mentioning Cary Grant. And it occurred to me just how good Cary Grant is for making everything better. As if to prove my point, when the movie ended, the next one on was "North by Northwest." And after watching Cary Grant for awhile, I did feel much better.

Not that I feel any less decrepit or that my stomach's any happier, but at least I have a pleasant distraction.

Yes, everything is better with Cary Grant.

Feelin' decrepit

It's nice to look back over your week and feel like you accomplished something. Myself, I turned one year older. I won't say exactly how old that is, but let's just say that ten years ago I was still well short of "dating age" and still couldn't go to Stake dances. So I'm really not that old at all. But I'm feeling nice and decrepit at the moment.

This could partly be due to the stomach flu I've been fighting off for the past day or so, which hasn't exactly leant itself to feeling young and chipper. Of all types of illness, the one I detest the most is anything related to my stomach. Queasiness, nausea, anything that makes me feel like I've been on a boat and may require some Pepto Bismol (*shuuuuuuudder*), I'm just not that in to. Not that I like colds any better, but it's a lot easier to function and lead a normal life with a cold. Stomach stuff, shoot me now.

Or the decrepitness could be residual frustration from starting a new job. A new job in an industry in which I have absolutely no experience. Not only no experience but also a very, very tenuous grasp on any of the principles whereon said industry runs. Not that my job really requires extensive knowledge of the industry (I mostly write letters in response to client complaints), but it still is a good way to feel rather stupid and ignorant. Not the best for feeling young and chipper, either. (Although I am learning, which is something. But I'm still, in my second week, wandering around in a haze of confusion, blinking in semi-panic and mumbling about needing my blue blanket to calm my hysterics. ("It's only a minor compulsion. I can deal with it if I want to.") I'm hoping this will fade with time...

I think the best cause for decrepitness is my family, though. Specifically my little sisters.


Back up a bit. My big brother got married in January, to his high school sweetheart, the girl that my oldest little sister, Rachel, and I decided he should marry back when they first met seven years ago. (This also gave me a sense of accomplishment, although, strictly speaking, I didn't do much to bring them together because they were already doing such a good job themselves that it wasn't necessary.) Great fun was had by all and I thought how nice it was to have another married sibling. I was the first in the family to get married and, until January, was the only one. So it was nice to have another couple in the family. Plus I finally got a big sister. (Hooray!)

Fast forward to last week. Rachel calls me up at 11:00 p.m. to tell me that she is engaged to her boyfriend Daniel. This is not a surprise, really. In fact, we'd gotten a call earlier in the evening that I had thought was Daniel using a funny voice to tell us, causing me embarassment when I asked the caller (in confusion again, seems to be developing into a bad habit) point blank, "Are you sure this isn't Daniel?" It wasn't, but luckily for my sanity, Rachel and Daniel called about 30 minutes later with the real announcement. Initially I was very happy for her and quite excited. Daniel is a great guy and treats her well and is polite and funny and gets along well with the family. Not to mention that they love each other quite a bit and would be another married couple in the family. So I congratulated her and let her gush over the phone for a while and then I went to bed.

Lying in bed, it started to dawn on me that this is MY LITTLE SISTER getting married. (Reminder: I did not turn so very old this last week and she is as much younger than me as I was short of dating age ten years ago, if you follow that weird mathematical equation.) MY LITTLE SISTER. IS OLD ENOUGH. TO BE GETTING MARRIED. Well, I guess technically she's not really OLD enough, but she is definitely mature enough so it amounts to the same thing, and my brother and I always said she'd get snapped up pretty fast, seein' as how she's gorgeous. BUT SHE'S GETTING MARRIED.

If she's old enough to be getting married, how old does that make me?

Add to this the fact that my next-oldest little sister, MeeAnne (no, my parents aren't that cruel; that's just my nickname for her), is, at the very moment that I am writing this, out on her first-date-ever. IF SHE'S OLD ENOUGH TO DATE AND RACHEL'S OLD ENOUGH TO GET MARRIED....


At least my youngest sister isn't making me feel old. Just short. She's not quite as old as I would have been ten years ago and already she's only half an inch or so shy of MeeAnne. Who is only an inch or two shorter than Rachel. Who is only barely maintaining a respectful height difference between her older sister, namely me. I'm still the tallest by maybe an inch, maybe only half an inch. But enough that I'm still definitely taller, if not by much. Teeny, however (again, just my nickname for her, although it's becoming less accurate by the day), has definitely not finished growing. You can tell she's just getting started, respectful height differences in regard to older sisters (who are more than ten years older!) be hanged. She's just going to be tall, try and stop her.

But at least she's not making me feel decrepit yet, which is more than can be said for our two other sisters. Disrespectful children, all of them! Getting married, getting dates, getting tall... where do they get the nerve?

And yet, in spite of all that I'm terribly fond of all of them and wouldn't have them any other way. So I guess I deserve to feel decrepit, eh? Maybe, like the confusion, it will all pass with time...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ah, the romance...

Ah, Paris. The most romantic city in the world. The place where young couples in love dream of going just so they can stand on the plaza in front of the Eiffel Tower and kiss in the rain. Just like in that movie. And that other movie.

So when our first Valentine's day as a married couple found us in Paris, you would expect that the day would be triply or quadruply romantic. You know, first big romantic holiday, big romantic city, big romantic radio antenna, gazillions of patisseries and chocolate shops and flower shops on every corner... Oh baby, we had struck the V-day jackpot. How could we ever top this in Valentine's days to come?

Pretty easily, as it turns out.

Back up a few months.

My DH is, for reasons which are beyond me, a political science major. (No offense to any other PoliSci majors out there. I just don't understand the appeal.) As with English majors, upon finding out that you're studying political science, the first question everyone asks is, "What are you going to do with that?" Shallow Man wants to go the State Department route so he can live overseas for the rest of his life. (He loves his country and wants to work for it, but apparently living here bores him to death.) So, in September 2004 he decided to apply for a summer internship with the State Department, to see what he thought and maybe get his foot in the door.

During the application process, they informed him that if he was accepted, they would notify him in November or December, and if he was not accepted he would find out in December or January.

In January we left for Paris for a three-month Study Abroad program. By that time we had still not heard anything back from the S.D., so we figured it was probably a no. On January 31st, when we still hadn't heard anything, including a refusal, Shallow Man emailed to see what was up, just to make sure.

Still no reply. Then, after coming back from group trip to Geneva on February 6, I got an email from my parents. We had forwarded all our mail to their house while we were out of the country. My mom said that they had gotten a letter from the State Department three days before (while we had been in Geneva so she couldn't contact us) saying Congratulations, you've been selected for an internship this summer in Chile, hooray! There were a bunch of forms that needed to be filled out and returned to DC by Feb. 16th. That's returned; not postmarked. Mom had sent the letter and forms to us via Priority mail, marked URGENT.

Fast forward to Valentine's day. Two days until the forms have to arrive at DC. The letter and forms still has not arrived at our place in Paris. Shallow Man had downloaded most of the forms online and started filling them out so we could FedEx overnight them (Paris to DC, pricy...). But he still needed to get fingerprinted.

That meant that he spent all day on Valentines day in a last-minute effort to get this job done, standing in line at various places around Paris to get the forms, the prints, etc. He was bounced around several times between the Paris police, the American Embassy, the American Consulate, and then running back to the Institute building where we had classes to take our History of Religion Midterm. (My Valentine's day wasn't much better. I spent it taking notes in Political Science classes and then taking a midterm. Ew.)

So by the time we finally met up and could acknowledge each others' presence, he was absolutely exhausted. I had a cold starting (which ended up settling in as full-blown flu five days later on the Chunnel on our way to spend a weekend in London with Kat, but that's another story for another time), so I was pretty tired as well.

All we really had energy for was a quick dinner and a metro ride back to our apartment so we could crash. The nearest food to hand was that American Institution so dear to my southern husband's heart.

Oh yes, you guessed it. KFC, baby.

A Valentine's Day in Paris and we got KFC.

What does that say about our relationship? I hope it doesn't mean that we're doomed or hopelessly unromantic or anything like that. I kind of like my husband, if truth be told...

Oh, well. At least it won't be a challenge to top every year. This year he gave me flowers and enough chocolate to feed a small army. ("Because chocolate is better than chicken," he says. Gosh darn it, that guy is cute.)

I can't wait to see what happens for V-day next year...

(Oh, and yes, he did get the forms in on time. Two days after we overnighted them the letter arrived from my parents. Three days after that he got an email from the State Department saying that they had extended the deadline till the end of the month. Prompt notification as always! What gets me is that if they had notified us when they were supposed to to begin with, the V-day catastrophe would not have happened... It turned out to be typical of State's treatment of us. But again, that is another story to be told another time.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Scientific Progress...

So. I have this husband, see. And he likes gadgets. Usually gadgets related to either cameras (a toss-up between Nikon and Cannon) or Apple.

About a year and a half ago I got a new laptop. My DH persuaded me to go the Apple route, which meant that we also got a rebate for a free iPod at the same time. My husband got a regular iPod and I chose the blue Mini, which has to be one of the cuter gadgets I've seen out there. My husband's iPod subsequently goes kaput, meaning that he has now "inherited" my Mini. I have limited visitation rights on weekends.

A couple of weeks ago, Shallow Man came home from class with that "Please don't hurt me for my stupid mistakes" look on his face. I asked him what was wrong.

"Well, I have good news and I have bad news," he said. "The good news is, your iPod still works just fine. The bad news..."

At this point he pulled my iPod out of his backpack and showed me the damage. I don't know how well you can tell from the picture (my husband would say it's the fault of our camera and we need a much nicer one; nice try, hon), but it is no longer the sleek cute blue thing that it once was. It now has scratches and dings all over the place, not to mention a couple of healthy-sized dents in it.

I stared at it, shocked. "What happened? It's not cute anymore!" (Note: My liking for gadgets is pretty much strictly aesthetic in nature -- if it's cute, it's good. If it's ugly, I'm not that interested. It doesn't matter so much what it actually does.)

"But it works still!" He gives me a hopeful grin.

"What did you DO to it?"

Well, it's like this. Shallow Man's story (and he's sticking to it) is that while he was walking along, listening to happy tunes, his hand caught the earphone cord. This pulled the iPod out of his pocket and launched it into the street, where it was promptly run over by a car. (I think he said it was a Nissan, but I wasn't paying attention at that point.) He ran out and grabbed it, thinking, "She's going to kill me," and noticed that not only is it still on, but it's still playing happy tunes -- it didn't even skip a beat.

Now, as happy as I am to see that all is well in Apple-land and they've managed to break the car barrier, I am still rather upset that my cute iPod is now decidedly beat up and non-cute. (Yes, yes, yes, I am shallow in that respect.)

Here's what I think REALLY happened:

Scene: A sidewalk in Provo. Shallow Man is walking down the street, listening to happy tunes. He stops suddenly as a look of ponderment crosses his face. We hear his thoughts as he contemplates the iPod.

SM: Hmm. I know their laptops are nice and durable (note from me: they are. We accidentally dropped one once and it still works fine. It's still cute, too). I wonder how the iPods hold up? For example, what would happen if it got run over by a car?

A look of diabolical cunning crosses his face. He smiles a nasty smile.

SM: This isn't MY iPod, after all...

He runs into the middle of the street, pausing to look both ways -- he may be scheming diabolically, but safety always comes first! -- and drops the iPod on the road. He retreats to the safety of the sidewalk to await results. An incoming Nissan Altima sees the iPod in the road and accelerates directly towards it.

NISSAN ALTIMA: Vrooooommmmmm!

DRIVER: Yeee-hawwwww!

iPOD: Crunch!

SM: A direct hit! Scientific progress moves forward once again!!!

Once again looking both ways, he does a celebratory dance out into the street and picks up the iPod.

SM: (examining iPod carefully) Good thing it's still working. Otherwise I would have to walk home sans happy tunage.