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Day 6, Thursday

Thursday dawned bright and clear, but with the knowledge that it was our second-to-last day of diving. The end of vacations are always so bittersweet, aren’t they?

After cramming our gullets with more toast and fruit and pancakes than a normal person needs in a week (hey, you need calories when diving!), it was off for the morning boat dives.

Sadly, there was no one left to get engaged. Although I suppose Rae and Aaron could have actually gotten married-they’ve only been engaged for 3 or so years. Not ones to hurry, those two.

Dive one was at a site called Circus Circus. We mostly circled one coral outcropping, and despite the name, it wasn’t necessarily the dive with the most stuff.

James F found his second tire of the trip and “rescued” it. A lot of the permanent buoys are chains around coral or rocks that are tied through a tire, and then a rope with a buoy marker on it. Saves wear and tear on the coral because the tire gives with each pull of the boat in the waves a bit, and means the boats aren’t dropping anchors. However, the tires eventually break. James found two, and lifted them both up to the surface to be taken to shore and tossed.

I also found a compass, which I passed off to one of the divemasters. I never saw it again, but he probably had more use for it than me. I can imagine new gear is hard to come by when you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

For creatures themselves, we saw a school of baracuda that we watched for quite awhile. They eyed us menacingly, but never came all that close. They were mostly silvery flashes out in the depths. There was also a lot of red sea anemones, a variation we hadn’t seen, or at least hadn’t noticed in such profusion, before. They contrasted nicely with all the orange clown fish. Awww, Nemo.

Our second dive was at Gee’s Rock, another large pinnacle. We found cleaner shrimp, and nearly everyone had their teeth cleaned. A couple people also had their masks cleaned–if you didn’t have your mouth open enough or close enough, but your mask was, they’d jump on that instead. There were two cleaner shrimp, and one usually found your mouth. It’s a really cool sensation. Right next door, there was a banded coral shrimp and two clear shrimp. I have no idea what the clear shrimp were, other than that they were shrimp shaped, but pretty much absolutely clear. John found a bluish eel in one of the coral outcroppings, but he never came out far enough for us to get a good look to try to identify him. There were also lobsters, more white and purple nudibranchs, and some beautiful juvenile longfin spadefish.

No tires, but a much better dive than the first one.

On the way back for lunch, we were all very mellow, laying in the sun on the deck and relaxing. James F and Cara were talking about how nice it would be to lay by the pool for the afternoon, and John and I agreed. Thus, we decided to bag the afternoon dive, despite having already paid for it. The point of vacation is to relax, right?

Thus, for us, lunch was a much more relaxed and slower affair than normal. Not that we were rushed normally, but there was usually an air of “gotta get going for that afternoon boat” feeling. Today, no such thing.

As Nate and Shelly and the others headed off to catch the little boat out to the big boat, the four of us migrated to the poolside, where we spent the afternoon reading, laying in the sun, drinking the occasional coke, and getting in the pool every now and then when it became too hot. There was a waterfall in the pool, and we played in that for quite awhile, as well as that age-old childhood tradition of chicken fighting. All in all, a beautiful afternoon.

There was an organized trip to tour the village, and Rae and Aaron wandered off to go do that at some point, but we were all pretty much little unmoving slugs by that point. Plus, having seen a lot of the village from afar during the school tour, we weren’t entirely up for the walk there and back.

When Nate and Shelly returned from the dive, they said it had had such a current that they’d spent most of the dive fighting it, and it had turned out to be not much fun. Shelly in particular was pretty disgusted after swimming hard to get where the divemaster was trying to show her something, only to find it was another white and purple nudibranch. I tell you, that particular kind must be the aquatic equivalent of rabbits based on how many we saw all over. We were very glad to have skipped the dive.

Happy hour came around, and we moved just enough to acquire drinks. There was talk of playing Killer Bunnies (after all, I’d carried the damn game how many thousands of miles?), but it turned out to be just that as we all sort of collapsed back by the pool.

Dinner time eventually arrived, putting is into a food coma eventually with more of LaLa’s incredible cooking, and as night settled in, there was a lot more sitting and talking and reflecting on all the diving.

It was one of those days that is just what you’re looking for on vacation–a bit of fun, and a whole lot of relaxation.

Part 6

So I’ve signed up again this year. Somewhat foolishly, perhaps, but as the saying goes, I’ll try anything twice.

Hey, last year I made it all the way through 1/3 of the month! Then, I just forgot to post. So this year, while the overall goal may be to post every day (and we all know how well that’s gone in the last two weeks), my perhaps more realistic goal is to post for at least 20 days straight.

Work my way up to 30, you know?

I’m guessing there may be a certain number of posts containing pointless drivel or small random observances, but I’ll do my best to be entertaining.

I can pull off “entertaining” for 30 days, right?

So, how was your Halloween? Ours was pretty good.

We went to Shelly and Nate’s house, and actually got to help hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Okay, fine, we missed the trick-or-treaters, but we did try to give candy to the Chinese food delivery man. Sadly, he refused any.

Shelly, Cara (dressed as Princess Leia in her pajamas) and I (dressed as a cat disguised as a human–I had cat ears and plenty of cat hair, so it seemed natural and required little work) also went and toured Shelly’s neighborhood, where a bunch of people had decorated their houses up for Halloween the same way some people do for Christmas. It was pretty cool, and there were a lot of cute kids out and about. Our respective boys stayed back at the house, lounging.

We spent the rest of the evening playing Guitar Hero World Tour (I officially have no rhythm, and thus having me play drums was a baaaad idea) and Killer Bunnies. Guitar Hero never sounded like all that much fun to me, but it’s growing on me–I think it’s mostly the time with friends and the laughing that ensues, but I’m beginning to see the appeal. Granted, I should never be allowed to do anything but Bass Guitar, and only on Easy, but still. And Killer Bunnies was as fun as ever. Crack, I tell you.

Also, for the first time in a week, I managed to eat a complete meal without gagging and leaving to go to bed. Whoohoo!! Still not feeling completely normal, but I’m on my way back.

After a long night’s sleep, the plan was work for a bit, then tailgating and then the Stanford football game. Of course, my stomach rejected coffee, so the plan was changed to couch for a bit, make it to the tailgate just in time to walk to the stadium, and then the Stanford football game.

Where it rained like cats and dogs. Stupid rain. I’m not even all that excited about football, and the tickets were free. Don’t ask me why I went, I didn’t have a good reason. Rhiannon and Sam bailed at halftime, and as the score was 31-0 to us, I was sopping wet (Cabela’s jackets are apparently only waterproof until they get wet), and still had to go into work to check on plates, I bailed with them.

I just checked to score upon returning home, and it’s now 51-0. I’m glad I left. So not worth it.

So now I’m going to sit here on the couch with some hot chocolate, thawing, and waiting for John to get home. We’ve decided the ending to this day should involve chili and cornbread.

It’s definitely now the time of year for cosy sweatpants, fleece jackets and warm comfort foods.

How goes your November first?

It’s not as if I’ve fallen off the planet (although if the Republicans win the election or Prop 8 or 4 passes, I may try), but more just been sucked into the vortex that is work, and every time I manage to climb out for a reasonable amount of time, I use that time to lay down.

Le Sigh.

I will return you to Fiji stories soon, I promise, and I will be back more often soon (I signed up for NaBloPoMo AGAIN, WTF was I thinking?!?!?).

In the meantime, here’s a smattering of my random thoughts lately.

*****

My childhood best friend got married two weeks ago. Financially, I couldn’t go to her wedding. She understood. It was the same reason she couldn’t come to mine. But when she posted pictures on Facebook for all to see, I felt a sense of nostalgia for the two little girls who planned to be each other’s maids of honor, live next door to one another, raise their children together, and live happily ever after with our guys-of-the-moment. I wish I’d been there. Damn plane ticket prices. Damn economy.

Speaking of Facebook, Sydney has gone AWOL. When I got back from Fiji, we exchanged emails along the lines of planning to get together, then suddenly Facebook announced to the world that she was no longer in a relationship, and as far as I can tell, she’s now gone underground. Or is avoiding me. Or is on her nursing mission in Mexico. I’m hoping it’s the last one, since I can’t remember the dates, but I’m a bit worried. Break ups suck. Poor girl.

Fall is officially here in the bay area. It has been for awhile, maybe, but between the few trees turning colors, the brisk mornings, and the RAIN today, it’s definitely here. In all it’s BRRRRness. I do not appreciate this.

Last Thursday, we spent the day in Las Vegas at a scuba trade show, DEMA. It was a lot more interesting for John, but we both schmoozed away and came home laden with a ridiculous amount of brochures. Plus we saw the guys from Fiji, which was awesome.

On the way home from DEMA (we flew there at 6:30am and flew home at 9pm), disaster struck. The flight didn’t go so well for me, but I made it off the plane with my cookies intact. Then came the bus ride to the car park. Again, I made it off the bus with my cookies intact. I made it into the car, John backed up about a foot, and then I made it right back out of the car. And lost said cookies. First motion sickness I’ve had in many a year. Famous following words were, “I believe, for the second time in my life, I’m no longer eating shrimp.”

Or is it motion sickness? Ever since then, I’ve had vague rumblings of nausea creep up on me almost daily. It sucks. I’ve basically stopped eating, since smells make it worse. I pointed out to John that an unintended side effect of this was to lose about three pounds in only a couple of days. He pointed out that they have a name for that–bulemia. I pointed right back out that it would probably be considered anorexia, since it was “not eating” and not “inducing nausea”. We joke, but never fear, I love bacon too much to ever be one, and hate throwing up enough to never be the other. That said, this feeling can go away right damn now.

John’s birthday was Monday, and we had a party for him Saturday night, with all sorts of assorted scuba people over: James and Cara, James M, Rae and Aaron, Nate and Shelly, Greg, etc, etc. Killer Bunnies was enjoyed by all. It was a blast, aside from the food smells and nausea. And this was his Golden Birthday–27 on the 27th. Happy Birthday, love!

For his birthday evening, I met him at the door when he got home with a candle in a Fig Newton. This goes back 10-15 years when my mom didn’t have time to make me a cake (I think, due to a track meet or choir concert of mine), and thus my birthday was celebrated with a table candle (not a birthday candle, a table candle) in a Fig Newton. I’m trying to start a tradition here, people. I also made him Chicken Parmesan, served him his dinner, and promptly went to bed. Stupid sick. Alas, there was no celebrating in the vein that Brat mentioned…

We had a potluck on Tuesday with all the people who’d gone to Fiji with us. It. Was. Awesome. I’ll tell that story at the end of the Fiji stories.

We also had dinner last night with Elizabeth and Mark last night. We took them to a restaurant near our house to repay them for taking care of the cats while we were gone. We had a blast catching up with them, and hearing all about their wedding plans. Can’t wait to celebrate that one!

I met with Dr. M on Monday, and we’ve set tentative deadlines for Paper 1 submission, Paper 2 submission, Last Committee Meeting, and Thesis Defense. AHHHHHH!!! WHEEEE!!!! Graduation is theoretically… Nope, not jinxing myself here. Sometime. Within reason. WHEEEE!!!! In the meantime, I’m working my buns off to meet those deadlines. And this does not allow for nausea. Sorry, it’s a common theme the last couple of days.

Last, if I’m feeling up to it, what should I dress up for for Halloween tomorrow? Got two parties to go to, one with Nate and Shelly, and one with the nursing folk that Sydney has introduced me to (I’m hoping she’ll be there and I can see for myself she’s doing okay). Both require costumes. I don’t particularly believe in Halloween costumes that require work.

*****

And now my timer has gone off at work, so I’m off to play Mad Scientist again for an hour or so, then drive home just in time to eat a piece of toast (maybe) and go to bed, then get up and do it all over again.

Bula! Fijian for Welcome! Pronounced Boo-La.

I’m safely home with tons of stories and pictures, but I’m going to parcel it out a bit. If I write all of it at once, it’ll be way too long. And I don’t have the pictures yet, so we’ll just have to string out the story a bit, eh? All the pictures below are random ones from the internet, but I’ll post some of the ones from our group as soon as possible–John and I hardly took any pictures, but James M and Cara took millions and have said they’ll give me copies. Besides, the both have super awesome cameras compared to my little point-and-shoot.

First of all, this was easily the most amazing trip I’ve ever taken. In terms of the people we went with, the place we stayed, the diving we did, the memories we made. Incredible, all of of it.

Life may be about the journey, but this trip was all about the destination.

Day 1, Thursday-Saturday

To get there involved a shuttle van, a plane, another shuttle bus, the LAX international terminal (thank all deities that we weren’t flying Air China or Air Philippines–we never would have made it given the lines at check-in) another plane, customs and immigration, a bus, and a boat. It took, all told, from 3pm Thursday the 2nd to about noon on Saturday the 4th. Keep in mind, though, that we crossed the international dateline, and thus Friday the 4th never existed.

One of the guys on the trip had a birthday on the 4th–he didn’t age this year, we decided. All told, we had 4 birthdays and an anniversary along with us. And a new one created, but that’s a later story.

The resort, Bega Lagoon Resort, was amazing. Their website isn’t the most informative one out there, but figured I’d give you guys the link if you wanted it. Take a look at the Gallery pics. All I can say is, they don’t do it justice. And Bega is pronounced bane-ga.

They have a big open-air bure (pronounced Boo-Ray…sort of, but with a bit of a rolling of the “r”, and I guess a bit of a “u” sound in there.) for meals and get-togethers, with dining tables, the Bula Bar, and smaller and larger seating areas. Nearby is the pool and lounging area, and beyond that is a big grassy field and all the individual bures that we stayed in. John and I had our own beachfront bure with a plunge pool, hammock, and beach access. It was one of the nicest places, altogether, that I’ve ever stayed in.

And if the place was nice, the people were incredible. I’ve never been somewhere where the people were so friendly and welcoming, from the manager and his wife all the way down to kitchen and grounds staff. You couldn’t walk anywhere without a friendly “Bula!” greeting. The manager welcomed us, and then we all relaxed a bit before lunch. The food there was so amazing, it was often ridiculously hard to choose between the two lunch or dinner options. Soup, yes. Dessert, for sure. Diet, what diet?

And yes, I know I’ve got a lot of “incredibles” and “wonderfuls” and “amazings” in there, and I apologize, but I can’t think of better words. You’ll all just have to either take my word for it, or go yourselves. I encourage the latter.

The first afternoon, we went on a check-out dive on the house reef. I don’t think any of us got below 16 feet, but we saw so much that it was amazing. Christmas tree worms, anemone fish, a cowry, billions of brightly colored fish, coral of all sorts. We were out for over an hour, and although the water was a balmy 79°F, it got a bit chilly. Probably the lack of energy/sleep/food/whatever, but it was still a damn good dive. And that was just the house reef!

We spent the rest of the day lazing around by the pool, watching the sun set behind the clouds, and after dinner, most of us beat a hasty retreat to bed. Fiji is 19 hours ahead of California, or 5 hours behind it on the next day. Thus, the 7pm dinner drums? Came at midnight. And we’d all been up since 3am local time.

Day 2, Sunday

Waking up normally at 8 or so isn’t a big deal. Waking up at 6am? While on vacation? On purpose? Was actually rather nice. We weren’t facing the sunrise, but we got to watch the sky lighten over the ocean, which was amazing. The breakfast drums (yes, drums) came at 7am, providing a spread of fruit, toast, jam, juice, coffee, eggs made to your liking and either french toast or raisin pancakes. Afterwards, we loaded onto the dive boats and made for open water. Or at least, the reef in the middle of the open water. With partly sunny skies and a bit of wind, the boat was rocking around a bit and it was a relief to get off and descend into the relative calmness of the water.

Our first dive was at Shark Reef, where we were guaranteed no sharks by the divemasters. Instead, we saw cowrys, large clams, many (many) purple and white nudibranchs, crown-of-thorns starfish (a horrible creature that is destroying reef life wherever it invades), a common lionfish (I was super excited about actually seeing one, until I realized they really were fairly commonly seen), a blue ribbon eel (also fairly common, but never enough to get tired of them), and all sorts of nudibranchs and fish. After Monterey, which is fairly sparsely populated in comparison, this was like a feast for the eyes.

Next it was on to Pearl Reef. Alas, no pearls, but we did see a white tip shark and our first turtle. We also saw a swimming crinoid. These guys seem to be just little mouths and a whole bunch of legs/tentacles/appendages. They’re pretty cool to watch when they’re swimming–they sort of paddle around with all appendages at once and are very graceful. Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of this dive, after the shark, was the current–we spent a great deal of time swimming but going no where. Suddenly, the comments of the two guys who’d visited before but mentioned never gaining weight made a great deal more sense. We were definitely working for our dinners.

Back to shore for a shower and lunch, and then it was off to the afternoon dive at Carpet Cove, both a lovely spot for anemones and for a good wreck–a Japanese fishing trawler that sank in a storm a couple years ago. More sharks, more nudibranchs, many more fish. The low point was when James F and Cara had to call the dive–her mask strap failed, and it was her first underwater gear failure. By the time she and James had ascended and switched masks, her ears wouldn’t clear and she just couldn’t descend. It was too bad that they missed the dive, but the boat crew was made up of some really lovely guys, so I’m sure they had fun talking with them while we were all down below making bubbles.

Back on shore, there was more showering (we learned quickly to hurry back to the bure, as 17 people all showering upon the return of the dive boat took the water pressure away pretty darn quick), and more lounging by the pool. Happy hour was from 5 to 6, and there was a tasty “Firewalker” calling my name. Before dinner, we watched the sun set (again into the clouds) and listened to the Bula Band–a group of 3 or 4 (depending on the night) guitar players and singers who were wonderful. The local choir also came and sang–they recently placed 4th in a nationwide competition, and were quite good. After dinner, there was theoretically going to be a game of Killer Bunnies (see the sidebar link if you’re interested), but internal clocks began to suggest it was bedtime and most of the people in our group folded quickly. That, and we spent a lot of energy diving. And we had another 6am wake-up coming our way.

But a 6am wake isn’t so bad when you’re going to bed at 9pm, is it?

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Lego Star Wars is an awesome and wonderful thing for getting out aggression.

Blowing shit up with The Force? Or purple lightsabers?

Building the Rebel Blockade Runner out of Legos?

And just generally bonding with the 6-year-old inside your husband?

A lovely thing.

I’m not usually so gung-ho about computer or video games, but I can highly recommend this one. It might just be enough to convince me that we really should get an X-Box 360, since you can only get the full story (as opposed to Episodes I-III) for the newer version.

Maybe. Who knows what will happen when we get our economic stimulus packages.

Wheee!

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.

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Oh, wait, no, that’s just snow.

Snow? Ahhhhhhh!

Yep, it’s a toasty 27 degress here, and in another hour or so, we’ll have about an inch of snow on the ground.

Note to self: Bring more than 4 California-type jackets for Christmas. Or did out your old midwest jacket. Brrrrr.

Driving between towns was fun this morning, especially in a minivan with little to no traction in the snow, and no sandbags in the back to put weight on the rear-wheel drive. But we made it safe and sound, and no one needs to know if we slipped or slid a little bit.

We’re officially back at my parent’s place now, waiting for them to get home from work so we can start cooking and baking, and possibly shopping for us girls. Woohoo! And potential going out and playing in the snow with Amy’s dog, Pearson.

John and I spent the afternoon yesterday playing Gin Rummy with his grandmother and a family friend. In the second game, I skunked everyone, winning all but two hands, and ending up with 10 points total. I felt kind of guilty, but hey, as his grandmother said, you can’t win if you don’t have the cards, and I damn well had the cards!

My parents came up to John’s family’s house last night for dinner. It’s always a bit awkward when we all get together, I think because there’s a bit of a history of unwelcomeness, and also because our families don’t have much in common besides us. Well, at least not on a meaningful level. But we all socialized and had fun.

This morning we all woke up late, and kind of rushed around having breakfast and getting ready before we headed down here. We probably should have left earlier, but we didn’t realize how bad the roads might be. They got worse as we came south, and there are plows out that are both plowing and salting/sanding the roads.

The weather people all said this storm would go south of us, and the ground wasn’t cold enough for snow to stick. Boy, were they wrong! But now we’ll get a White Thanksgiving, and we just have to hope it clears up enough for us to get to the Des Moines airport by 4-fricking-am on Friday.

Hope you’re all toasty warm somewhere. Apparently, it’s 65 and sunny in Palo Alto.

I used to clean when I was upset. Argument with my mom? With John? Bad day at school? Bad hair day? My room would be so clean you could eat off the floor. (Ignoring, of course, my dog and the fact you could NEVER get all the dog hair out of the carpet.)

So today I cleaned house, which I have to say I wasn’t really upset enough to do, but it needed doing and it helped with the whole cleansing process anyway. It was sort of cathartic to scrub the shower, I’ll admit.

I also went shopping with John, who isn’t quite as fun as Amelia in that he tends to lean towards the don’t-spend-money end of the spectrum, but still nice. I ended up getting another pair of size 4 jeans. If this is a fluke, Gap and Anne Taylor are in on it together, and I’m really okay with that. Macy’s is too, but not for the same price. I also got new bras to (finally) replace the ones that were stolen from our laundry room awhile back.

Steven, a post-doc in the lab, called me a slacker for not coming in, and then offered to set up some cultures for me so I didn’t have to. Go figure. But it was a really nice gesture, and one which I appreciate a lot.

I’ve also played a lot of dominoes with John this weekend. Mexican Train Dominoes isn’t quite the same with only two people, and the game goes pretty fast, but we’ve had fun. It’s been nice to just sort of laze around or do the errands that need to get done without worrying about work.

I think my new policy will be No Work On Weekends until I get my head on straight. Unless it’s setting up overnight cultures or something. (And we’ll ignore the fact that we’ve got Open Water scuba class the next two weekends, so I couldn’t work even if I wanted to.)

Stanford spectacularly lost the football game last night, but we played well in the first half, after letting Oregon score 14 point sin the first 3 and 1/2 minutes. We were actually up at half-time. Of course, we then let them continue to score in the second half without actually doing so ourselves.

All the undergrads are back on campus, as classes start Monday (I think). I will never understand the concept of wearing a miniskirt to a football game, or taking a gigantic purse. Or having a blackberry as an UNDERGRAD. Geez, I wish my parents loved me that much. But noooo, they had to go teach me the value of earning money on my own to buy myself stuff. Stupid life lessons. Hrmpf.

Let’s see… What else can I ramble about?

Oh, yes. Food. We had salmon for dinner, in a tasty honey soy teriyaki glaze. Now I just have to hope I still fit into those size 4s in the morning.

But you know what? I think this whole weekend has done me a lot of good. I think I’ve pretty much come to terms with trashing the last 2.5 years worth of work and starting over.

And if I haven’t, there’s always the kitchen floor to scrub.

Things are going wrong-er again. Like how we established this morning that pretty much all the research I’ve done in the last two and a half years needs to be redone, only correctly. We will ignore the slight monkeywrench this throws into my plans.

So.

Things that have gone well lately or that have made me happy or that I am grateful for, because I need some reminding that life is generally good, even when lots of things go wrong:

1. I got flowers.

2. My new haircut is lovely.

3. I managed to re-do what the stylist did to my hair fairly well this morning.

4. I’m starting to lose weight again. Just a pound or two so far, but after hovering for so long, it’s something. (Please, please, don’t let me have just jinxed myself!!)

5. I have a brand new North Face fleece that I love and got for only $9 at REI.

6. I should maybe actually be done with Assisstant Instructor training by the time Open Water class starts in two weeks.

7. Basketball season starts in less than two months.

8. I managed to do a couple of the super-duper hard Sudoku after getting stuck on one a couple nights ago.

9. I get paid in a week or so. This means we made it through another budget crunch quarter.

10. The weekend is almost here and I’m NOT coming in to work AT ALL.

11. I finally talked with Amelia about how I’m kind of feeling left out due to the presence of someone who seems to be her new best friend over me.

12. We got approved for a mega-gigantic-are-they-crazy loan and might actually be able to buy something out here that’s nice to live in.

13. Amy is in a relationship and happy.

14. My parents are thinking of retiring soon. This means I/we didn’t completely bankrupt them with college.

15. I’m going home to visit in a couple months for Thanksgiving, and the tickets were free. Or, at least, we didn’t pay for them.

16. It hasn’t been insanely hot lately.

17. We have Discover Scuba tomorrow night, which is always a fun class.

18. John’s birthday is coming up, so I get to plan a fun party or something, which is always good.

19. The recent discovery of the gyro place down the road, and our subsequent food budget being spent ENTIRELY on gyros. And they make good pizza, too, according to John. I have yet to give up the gyros long enough to be willing to order pizza.

20. Birthdays of lots of friends are coming up, and that’s just fun.

21. Nate and Shelly get back from their honeymoon soon and are having a big party.

22. I’m getting paid $200 to let some psych undergrads take an MRI image of my brain. All I have to do is lay there.

23. We’re going out to dinner this weekend with some high school friends.

24. The party last weekend for a diving friend who got his Ph.D. was tons of fun.

25. I started the current lab joke about finding religous figures in our confocal images, sort of like finding them in grilled cheese sandwhiches. Yay, I’m funny!

26. I discovered the mistakes that were made (by others, but sadly somewhat perpetuated by me not checking for 2.5 years) now, and not post-publishing, requiring a correction or retraction. *shudder*

27. My new lab duty is great compared to the old one: it needs to be done more frequently, but only takes a couple minutes instead of a couple days.

28. My timer goes off in one hour, and then there’s only a couple things left to do, so I can go home somewhat early.

29. I learned how to do an IP, and did it correctly last week.

30. We get to have fajitas for dinner tonight.

31. John’s family has been very gracious in offering to help us with buying a house. So have my parents.

32. I’m all caught up, for the most part on dive club paperwork and business.

33. Nobody has scooped me in the research world. (Again, please, no jinxing!)

34. My new drysuit works perfectly.

35. I get all new dive gear sometime soon. (Wanna buy a complete set of 2-year-old gear? Good as new!)

36. The world’s most annoying labmate quit awhile back.

37. The world’s most annoying labmate isn’t welcome if she tries to come back, according to the two closests sources to the boss.

38. Preliminary rankings for college basketball have Arizona ranked in the top 25.

39. I’m going to get a brand new, much better underwater camera before going to Fiji.

40. I’m going to Fiji in a year.

41. And probably Papua New Guinea a year after that.

42. And then maybe either Galapagos or somewhere in the Indo-Pacific. Like Micronesia.

43. I get to go to a fancy party in a couple of weeks and FINALLY wear the “little black dress” that I got awhile ago and have never had a chance to wear, plus the new earrings I got as an anniversary present.

44. Amelia seems to have hopefully straightened her mind out about a guy that’s been leading her on for a year or so now. And I never actually had to hit her with a 2×4 to make her see the light.

45. Pumpkin spice lattes are back at Starbuckys.

46. I watched “The Wedding Date” last night. I think it’s becoming one of my “I need to feel better” movies, along with Emma, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and Under the Tuscan Sun (except for the snake!).

47. We finally watched the Jungles episode of Planet Earth on DVR and there were NO SNAKES! Very important, that.

48. There might be Killer Bunnies in the works this weekend.

49. I’ve found time to read again lately, mostly be pushing myself to make time, but it’s a joy I’d forgotten. Ah, how the trashy romance can perk up your mood!

50. I’m no longer out of sugar, so can bake tonight in order to have tasty goodies for DiscoScuba tomorrow night, which was the deal with Greg so that I didn’t have to get in the pool last night and mess up my brand new hairdo.

There, I have 50 things in my life that I’m grateful for, or that make me happy. And honestly, some are pushing it, and some aren’t that big, but I believe life and living are in the details. Yes, the big, sweeping, grand things matter, but the pleasure and love is in the details.

They’re there, you’ve just got to look for them. Sometimes they hide, but they’re always there.

It was a great weekend, folks!

I spent my birthday being lazy, having lots of fun with lots of friends, and not doing any work-related activities!

On Saturday, I stayed in my pajamas until 5pm. Whee! I mostly spent the day talking to all the people who called, reading, or playing computer games. I also laughed a LOT with/at Amelia, while trying to give her boy advice.

I had meant to go on a bike ride, but in the end, I just had too much fun sitting in the back yard, talking with my mom, my sister, Amelia, Dave, John’s mom/grandma, and all sorts of other people.

Plus, it was kinda nice to be able to sit and play computer games for awhile. I’m not a huge computer game fan, and I only play a very restricted number of them. I don’t even play that often, but every once in awhile, it’s fun to sit and just mindlessly play. Plus, most of my games are for PC, and so I can’t play when John’s on the computer. He’s got a PC for gaming, and I’ve got a Mac for work, so sometimes there are conflicts.

Plus, the talking with Amelia was really nice. For my birthday, she gave me a bento box for my bike, and we apologized and said we’re all okay and everything. Yay! Plus, she’s having some boy issues that were really funny, and I was trying to help her out without laughing at her too much.

For dinner, I met up with her, John, and some other classmate/friends for dinner, including Rhiannon and Sam, at a local fish restaurant. It wasn’t quite as tasty as I’d remembered, but we had lots of fun. I was kinda worried, since a labmate/classmate who’s extremely uptight and rigid (for example: she won’t talk to people who are drinking, and has been known to just turn and walk away in the middle of the conversation when she realizes you’re holding a beer) had said she might come, but she stood us up (gee darn!) so we were able to be fairly liberal and fun in our conversation. Another friend, the Albanian, also had some girl issues, so we traded stories and gave advice. And hey, calories don’t count on your birthday, right?

Sunday was less lazy–I went for a bike ride–but I also spent most of the day just lazing around. The bike ride was out west and north to a brand new route, and I got kind of lost in among some residential areas, but had a great ride. Then I spent the afternoon being lazy again, mostly playing the same computer game.

For dinner, John and I went to a local BBQ joint with all our scuba friends. It was hilarious! We had a ton of fun, and a friend had a great idea to bring a small memory book and have everyone write in it. I think that’s a great idea! And now I have a record of all the people that were there. Someone even brought me pink sparkly antenna on a headband that I got to wear around the restaurant for the evening. And, just when I thought I’d managed to get through three dinners with no one singing, James F got the restaurant to bring me peach cobbler and sing. It was great!

And to top it all off, I got notified today that I was selected to give a talk/poster at the international conference for my virus. Awesome! Terrifying!

Happy birthday to me!

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