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From All&Sundry

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
Gave a talk at a research conference. Held a nurse shark in Belize. Went to the Pac10 Men’s Basketball Tourney. Completed a metric century on a bike.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t remember what my resolutions were last year. If I do make some for this year, they’ll probably be standard: lose more weight, save more money, drive safer, think of others first more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Nope.

5. What countries did you visit?
US of A (LA, San Diego, Iowa) and Belize

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
More patience. A publication. Better understanding of others. A certification as an Assistant Instructor. Better money management. Better time management. A dog.

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I can’t think of any. Maybe because nobody died or gave birth.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting selected to give a talk. Not ruining Christmas by arguing with my mom. Continuing to lose weight. No longer being considered pre-diabetic. Getting along well with John’s mom for 2 of the 4 times we saw her.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not checking the work of others, and just trusting that everything was A-OK until I was almost done with the work, then having to start over.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The plague. And ringworm just now, which I get every time I visit home, likely due to Amy’s dog. I’m horribly allergic to it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A heated mattress pad. Tickets home. Legos for John.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Those who gave selflessly and helped others without asking anything in return.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Those who didn’t.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent. Bills. Scuba gear. New road bikes.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to the Pac10 Basketball Tourney. Going home for Christmas. Becoming a Divemaster.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?

Ummm…Any that came out this year?
Actually, iTunes just played “Never is Enough” by Barenaked Ladies, and they line “You get your Ph.D. / How happy you will be / When you get a job at Wendy’s / And are honored with employee of the month” is a pretty good reflection of my frustration with my current career path and where I see it going.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
 a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer?

Happier, probably. Thinner by 13-15lbs, depending on the day. Richer, but probably not by much. 3 for 3!!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Relax. Scuba dive. Spend time with friends. Pay attention. Give.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worry. Work.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With the families, laughing and loving.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?
Every day.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
CSI. Jeopardy. My Boys.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope.

24. What was the best book you read?
Harry Potter #7

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That I don’t suck at Guitar Hero as much as I thought I would. Of course, a sense of rhythm would help.

26. What did you want and get?
Friendship. Love. Acceptance. A heated mattress pad. (Ahhhh, so warm!!) A relationship with my in-laws that seems to be moving into the positive spectrum of things.

27. What did you want and not get?
Understanding, at times. Acceptance, at times. A dog.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I don’t think I saw any that were particularly great. What with Netflix, I tend to see them later rather than sooner.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Went to dinner with many, many friends. Turned 25.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Success at work.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
Comfortable.

32. What kept you sane?
John. Diving. Reading. Computer games. Fred the bunny. Biking. Friends. Blogging.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
None, really. If I had to pick, George Clooney.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Those regarding of freedom.

35. Who did you miss?

My mom’s parents. My cousin.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Julie! (Okay, so we didn’t really meet, but I can’t think of any other new people who made as big of an impression, be they in person or out in the void, so it totally counts! She’s a great writer, and always there with the funny little comments to brighten my day.)

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
Let things go. Love people for who they are. Never forget to tell them that.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Everything is gonna be all right / Be strong / Believe” From Yellowcard’s Believe

Thanks, Lara!

*****

What did you do yesterday?
Got up, checked 6 days worth of email, wondered why my “t” key wouldn’t work without some vicious pounding, showered, went to Safeway to buy cream so I could have coffee, went to work, went to a meeting, came home, read 200+ blog entries (man, you people write a lot!), read a book that’s the prequel to one I got for Christmas so I’d remember where the story line was, made dinner with John, ate and watched TV, finished the book, went to bed.

What memory do you miss the most?
Times with my mom’s parents and my cousin. Being a kid.

What memory do you want to forget?
Times when I was too close to the edge and didn’t know where to turn.

Name something you regretted after it was done?
The times I’ve fought with my mom. The times I’ve said mean things about John’s mom, deserved though they may have felt at the time.

What was the last song you heard?
Surfin’ USA by the Beach Boys was the last to play last night. I just turned on iTunes and it flipped to Without You Here by Eve6.

What was the last CD you bought?
I can’t think of the last CD I bought. What with iTunes, it’s been awhile. Maybe Gutterflower by the Goo Goo Dolls? But that would have been before moving to CA. Wow.

What was the last time you cried?
Sometime the week before we left for IA.

What was the last movie you saw in a theater?
Quite possible Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer for James M’s birthday. I’m not sure I’d recommend wasting the money.

What was the last thing you ate?
Coffee. Oh, ate? Dinner was pasta, garlic bread, and a homemade truffle my mom sent home with us. We have no food other than boxed stuff right now.

Who was the last person you called?
James F to let him know we were at SFO and had our luggage. But my mom called me after that. And I’ve texted a whole mess of people.

What color nail polish do you wear?
None. Clear polish that supposedly strengthens nails sometimes. When I have a pedi or mani, I do French style.

Have you ever made a model volcano?
Nope. Ooooo, plan for today!

When was the last time you showered?
Yesterday morning. And about 30 minutes from now.

Who was the last person who complimented you?
John. Last night in bed, while we were both reading, he turned to me and said, “You’re beautiful. I haven’t told you that today, have I?” Any wonder why I keep him?

What are you listening to?
iTunes, now playing Collide by Howie Day. The whirrr of something in the kitchen, possibly the fridge.

What are you wearing?
Red flannel pants with pink and white snowflakes on the lower legs that were a gift for Christmas quite awhile ago. Blue underoos. A white camisol. Maroon-ish slippers.

What are you thinking?
Did I really just write “underoos”? That’s a fun word!

What are you scared of most?
Snakes. Very psycotic fear. I’m so afraid of them that I have intense panic attacks, hyperventilate, and react very, umm, wildly. To the point where I’m convinced that they’re going to crawl out of the TV or off the book page or the stuffed ones are going to come to life and come after me. And I’m going diving in Fiji in 10 months, where there are sea snakes. If anyone has any idea how to (a) cure this or (b) deal with a panic attack at 60 feet underwater, I’d love to hear it. I’ve come to the decision that there will be some therapy before we go. And no, I’ve never been attacked by one, so there’s no real reason for this.

How many people are on your buddy list?
29 on both of them. 17 of them that I occasionally talk to. 4 on a regular basis.

What is your occupation?
Slave to Grad student at Stanford.

What was your marriage site?
Chetzemoka Park in Port Townsend, WA, overlooking Puget Sound and the Cascades.

Where was your honeymoon?
Oahu and the Big Island, specifically as far as we could get from Honolulu, and then Kona.

What is your favorite place to live?
Tucson, AZ

Do you want/have kids?
Yes, though that’s up to the whims of nature, currently. Oh, and my ovaries. Good luck.

What kind of car do you drive?
Toyota 4Runner. I am the epitome of small little person in a big giant car, but it’s great for scuba diving and was the right price.

What are you doing tomorrow?
Working a bit, maybe, sitting around relaxing before getting into the swing of things Monday. Maybe I could make a model volcano…

Will there be a WW III?
Optimistically, nope. Pessimistically, yep. Practically, probably.

Will politics ever be truthful?
HA!

Will humanity snuff itself out?
See the answers to the WWIII question.

Can the government be changed?
HA!

Do you believe in the devil?
I believe in evil. And people who do it.

Do you believe in god?
I believe in the spirituality of all things, probably similar to what many Native Americans believe. I think it’s comforting to believe in a higher power, but sometimes my rationality gets in the way. And I’m not a huge fan of organized religion, although I do believe in something. So, maybe, yes.

Do you believe in aliens?
Yes.

Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes, especially if I’m alone and in the dark.

Do you believe in the spirit/soul?
Yes.

Do you believe in soulmates?
Yes, especially the plural.

Do you believe in reincarnation?
I believe that people live on in our memories and hearts, but I’m not sure about the actual reincarnation part.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Or do I need to walk by again?
Yes.

Do you believe in karma?
Oh good grief YES!

Who and when was your first crush?
Umm. I can’t remember his name, Carl maybe. Sixth grade. I went to his soccer game, then we went to TGIFriday’s for lunch, while his dad sat in the bar.

Do you have a crush now?
John. Fred, my baby bunny boy.

Do you have a celebrity crush?
Not really. Though some of them are darn tasty looking!

Who do you want to be with right now?
John. My family.

Whose number do you want?
I have most of them.

What is something you don’t understand about the opposite sex?
Do I have to choose just one? Lots.

If you could go on a date with anybody, who would it be?
John.

On scale of one to ten, how romantic are you?
5ish, give or take. Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not. But I’d like to be more romantic. I think it’s why I read trashy romance novels.

First thing you notice about the opposite sex?
Eyes. Smile.

What do you look for personality-wise?
The ability to comfort, to make me laugh, to smile through adversity.

Happy 161th birthday!

We took off at the buttcrack of dawn on Saturday morning, heading for the wild, wild midwest. Despite various plane delays, we made it to Des Moines just after the storm hit, which resulting in some slipping and sliding down the runway (great fun) and a very slow and long drive to John’s family’s house. My parents were kind enough to pick us up and in theory get to spend the afternoon with us, but the weather being what it was, we headed straight north so that they could get home as soon as possible.

Upon arriving, John’s mom Pamela immediately offered us about 15 different kinds of Christmas candy. Now, normally, I may be prone to exaggeration. But here? Nope. Lots of candy. We had a good evening with his mom, grandma and oldest younger brother.

Sunday, we went with them to their big family Christmas. It was a lot of people that I’m now related to, but who I didn’t know beyond being able to sadly tick off in my head each family that never replied about the wedding. We weren’t big on their list, apparently. But they were all nice. We ate a lot of food, watched a lot of football, ate some more food, played a lot of Catch Phrase, had some snacks and talked. And ate more. Constant grazing, really.

Monday, Christmas Eve, we woke up and sat around most of the day. John’s sister and her current flame arrived, and we did presents. Then church (my first Lutheran service, too). Then more presents and dinner. John and I got clothes, cash, books, and all sorts of little random things. Good times.

Then it was off to my family’s celebration. We arrived just in time for dessert to be cleared away, which was good, as we’d been eating nonstop for two days. With the possible exception of when we were snacking. However, lest you worry that we starved, my mom had graciously cracked a bunch of crab for us, and provided it for our grazing contentment. Then church (Episcopal, this time) and home. We stayed up talking with my cousin for quite awhile before crashing.

Christmas day, the family all convened. It was my mom’s sister, my mom’s older brother and wife and daughter, and my mom’s younger brother and son. Two other sisters and their families didn’t come. Great time was had by all.

Though tradition states we do stockings, breakfast, presents, the degree of impending crabbiness from my mom was enough to make breakfast of great importance. And the homemade scones (pronounced “on” not “ohn”–Scottish aunt and all) were delicious. The stockings and family pictures were also good.

We’re also the family that does presents like this: everyone gets one, then we each unwrap, one at a time, with lots of ooohing and ahhhing. But with 11 people and the pile under the tree, I was vetoed it was decided that we’d just go at it. John and I made out like bandits: a griddle, a calphalon skille, a whustof knife, clothes, books, gift cards, towel sets, kitchen supplies, etc, etc, etc. Everybody got lots of kitchen loot, courtesy of Amy’s job in a cooking store and her subsequent 30% discount. It still took us about 2 hours. The presents we took were a great hit, especially the 6-pack of wine.

In the afternoon, we ran to John’s family’s house to do stockings and eat more. Then back home for some more food. Christmas cookies had to be decorated and eaten, ham made, potatoes, salad, the other salad, and Christmas pudding. Fully lit, of course. With brandy butter. We actually got the thing to stay afire for quite awhile, what with all the brandy.

All in all, a very lovely day.

Wednesday, my mom’s younger brother and his son left, which meant we all woke up even earlier than on Christmas, as they had a very long drive. After waving goodbye, we went on a long walk through the neighborhood. This is actually one of my favorite holiday traditions: my family always goes on a long walk. We did at Thanksgiving, we did Christmas day, we did the day after Christmas.

After showering and sitting around for quite awhile, we then went shopping, as all good Americans do. John got a bunch of clothes that he desperately needed, I got some pants and shirts, and we contributed to the local economy. Very thoughtful of us, eh?

Then it was home to steaks. One of my great aunts usually sends a giant box of the Hickory Farm-type stuff: summer sausage, cheese, crackers, dried fruit, chocolate. This year, instead, she sent a GIANT box of Omaha steaks. And pork chops. And fish. And more steak. And stuffed potatoes. And since there’s 6 siblings in my mom’s family, she sent a lot of all of it. Funny thing is, she usually sends the entire thing just to our family, so no one else gets any. This year, it was even better stuff, and we got to share it. Good timing and delicious!

Thursday morning, we all went out to breakfast, where we convinced Amy to write her name and number on a sugar packet and leave it for the cute waiter who’d been giving her Looks. We’re all waiting with baited breathe to see if he calls. No bets have been placed.

Then it was decided that the remaining brother/wife/daughter should leave, as they also had a long drive and there was snow predicted for today (Friday). John and I had to catch a plane in late afternoon, so we packed up, realized there was NO FRICKIN’ WAY we were getting it all in carry on, and ended up checking two bags and two boxes. Lots. Of. Loot.

We got delayed again leaving Des Moines (lack of a plane will do that), but luckily our flight in Chicago was also delayed. Otherwise we’d have had 6 minutes to make it. But we got home safe and sound, with all our luggage, and James and Cara were kind enough to come get us.

And that was our trip. Yay Christmas!

Ahh, pillows!

May your hearts be full, your loved ones near, and your life full of things that make you happy.

You would think, with the holidays fast approaching and our travel home to be with families, this week would have been good, despite the work load. But I’ve been feeling down and melancholy and lacking in words for a few days now. And today I realized why.

Three years ago today, my oldest cousin was killed in a car accident. Kind of took the fun out of the holidays, and missing him at this time each year, a time for family and togetherness and love, is always hard.

I hope he knows how much he is loved and missed down here.

Hug your loved ones extra hard today. And if you’re driving, please be extra safe.

Dear Self,

If you think eating nothing but garlic fries (oh the loveliness!) for dinner is a good idea ever again, you may want to brush your teeth better or eat something else as well. Otherwise, you’ll be tasting garlic until at least lunch the next day.

On the other hand, nothing goes with Stanford basketball quite like garlic fries, so have at it! Mmmmm, tasty!

Love,
Me

I’m working hard, in preparation for taking a whole freakin six days off.

Nothing exciting is happening.

Talk amongst yourselves. Hopefully you’ll be more entertained that way.

Sorry.

As in, the Coyotes.  Thus, the Yo-tes.

The team Stanford played tonight. From the darkest depths of Idaho, apparently.

Except when you see “Yotes”, you probably think rhymes with “votes”. Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Wrong. Bah.

It’s rather sad when your team is pretty much all taller and more muscular than their team, but at least our student fan section didn’t jeer (too much) and actually cheered for them occasionally.

I do have to say, my favorite part of the whole game, was this:

*****

Coyotes Coach: Open toe!!! Open toe!!!

[I assume this is a basketball play? Or code for a play? Maybe?]

Some Stanford student: Closed toe!!! Closed toe!!!

Rhiannon: Clogs!

Me: Sneakers!

Rhiannon: Sensible pumps!

Me: Low-heeled slippers!

John: Fuck-me boots!!

*****

Classy, all around, that boy!

They played well, we played better, Rhiannon liked her Christmas present of basketball tickets, and great fun was had by all.

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