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1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Went to Ecuador and the Galapagos.
Touched a whale shark.
Swam with hammerhead sharks.
Hiked to 16,000 feet up a volcano.
Threw a baby shower and became a sort-of (sort-of because we’re calling ourselves aunts, though we aren’t related at all) aunt to Nate and Shelly’s baby Owen.
Began to seriously contemplate giving Owen a sort-of cousin.
Earned my PhD. Officially became a Doctor!
Published a paper from my graduate work.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make an official New Year’s Resolution for 2010. Rather, maybe, the nebulous get healthy/stay healthy goal. And I think I’ve done pretty well. Mentally, I’m in a much better place now than I was a year or even two years ago. Physically, I’ve taken care of some healthy issues, really started exercising more, and have even lost a decent amount of weight. So all in all, I’d say I did pretty well. And frankly, I’ll probably make the same resolution. There’s always room for improvement.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yep, Shelly did! To a beautiful little baby boy on Thanksgiving morning. This is also the thing I’m most thankful for in 2010–that two of my best friends became parents to a beautiful, healthy baby. And that Owen is a wonderful baby.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, though we worried a lot about John’s grandmother due to all the things that contributed to her prolonged hospital stay, which included a heart attack and a pulmonary embolism. But she’s doing much, much better now.

5. What countries did you visit?
Ecuador and the Galapagos (same country, but vastly different). Both were amazing.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Health care through my job.
More financial security.
A larger living space.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Owen’s birth.
My fifth wedding anniversary.
My dissertation defense date.
My graduation ceremony.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Earning my PhD.
Getting healthy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
With the goal of mental health, I’m not answering.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I threw my shoulder out again on December 26th, 2009, and thus spent the first 3-4 months of 2010 re-healing it.
I was diagnosed with a fairly non-serious medical disorder that is now under control.
Mild aches and pains at times, especially when I took up running again.
But in general, pretty healthy, especially right now!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Baby clothes for Owen.
A trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos.
Perfect Christmas presents for everyone. It took awhile to find just the right thing for each and every person, but I did! This is, quite honestly, my favorite part about Christmas.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and groceries and utilities and boring adult things.
Paying for my own health care for the second half of the year. Maybe I should have re-thought that whole graduating and no-longer-a-student thing. But it was worth it.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Owen’s birth.
Graduating with my PhD.
My new job.
Elizabeth’s residency here in the Bay Area, meaning she and Mark will continue to live here and we can see them all the time.
The San Jose Sharks pummeling the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL Conference semi-finals.

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Black Eyed Peas “I gotta feeling”. (Was that even this year?) But it was a good year and a good song.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

A bit thinner. Maybe happier.
Overall about the same. And happy with that.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Scuba diving.
Running.
Exploring California like we always say we’re going to do.
But in general, it was a really good year just the way it was.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Not much. Complaining, maybe, but I think it was a good year. I like it how it was.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In Iowa, surrounded by family, extended family, and in-law family. Laughing, cooking, taking pictures, sharing memories, gossiping, eating, staying warm.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Um, I didn’t watch much TV this year, honestly. Except for sports, like Sharks hockey and college basketball. John’s new favorite show is “Wild Justice”, which is pretty good. “Better With You”. “Better Off Ted”.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
“The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer. Love it. Highly recommend it.
Malcom Gladwell’s “Blink”, “Tipping Point” and “Outliers”.
Atul Gawande’s “Complications”.
I’m sure there were more, probably in the romance category, but none that come to mind.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Songs on the radio I could sing along with.
Handel’s Messiah, as always.
Christmas music, at least for the last month or so.
The group Cage the Elephant, who’s music is great for exercising.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I think I only went to see two movies this year. A chick flick with Elizabeth, though I can’t remember what it was. And “Eat, Pray, Love” with Shelly. Both were okay, neither were a favorite.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28. My dissertation was due to my committee about a week later, so I probably spent the day working on it. Went to dinner with friends, if not on my birthday, then right around that time.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
It was great as it was. For others, better health for John’s grandmother. Less heartache in the beginning of the year for my sister. A Stanley Cup for the Sharks instead of for Chicago.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Comfortable.

26. What kept you sane?
John. My friends. My family. Scuba diving. Running. Graduating.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

Learn to be happy with who you are, or work to be who you can be happy being.

Part 1

Day 3, Monday

Monday dawned partly-cloudy and breezy, although not as bad as Saturday or Sunday morning. After a filling breakfast (the carb loading was amazing–I’ve never seen so many people eat so much toast along side their fruit and pancakes), we headed out for the first dive. While I was waiting in the shallows for the little boat to take me to the big boat, one of the divemasters that we were waiting with found a little yellow seahorse, the first I’ve ever seen in the wild. It was pretty cool, and the only one we saw the entire trip.

Soft Coral Plateau was calling our name, and was a beautiful dive site. We circled around 3 coral pinnacles that started about 80ft down in the water, going from one to the next, always sort of spiraling upwards around them. We saw four white tip sharks–a loner sleeping on the bottom, a loner swimming, and two baby-sized ones swimming together. By baby-sized, I mean 1-2ft. More lionfish were found, as was a leaf scorpion fish, a black-with-blue-dots nudibranch, a black-with-green-dots nudibranch, a black-with-orange-dots nudibranch (common theme, eh?), a pink and purple nudibranch, a free-swimming flatworm (they kind of ripple along in the water), and some crab and shrimp.

This was, hands down, the best dive for many of us in quite awhile. For about an hour.

Then we dove Glory H*ole. Yes, that was it’s name. Feel free to snicker and make side jokes. We certainly did.

This site was a large pinnacle of coral that had a swim-through (hence, the name) where you could swim into the cavern left by the coral and out the other side. That alone was pretty cool, but the huge number of lionfish, two tiger cowrys, blue ribbon eels, crabs, white-and-purple nudibranchs, flatworms, pipefish, yellow leaf scorpion fish, and the triton’s trumpet we saw easily made it the best dive by far. There was a ridiculous amount of sealife on this dive, and it was just wonderful.

Our afternoon dive was pretty pale in comparison, and happened at a spot called Ridge Reef near the resort. It had clouded over, so the dive was a bit dim, and there wasn’t much to see. A blue-spotted ray, some large sea cucumbers (we’re talking measurement in feet, not inches here) and an empty map cowry shell were about it for the dive. That cowry shell is now one of my prized possessions. It’s beautiful, and as nothing was making it a home at the time, mine!

Part of the reason the afternoon dive wasn’t great was we didn’t take the hour-ish boat ride out to the reef. And the reason for this was that the afternoon entertainment at the resort was…Firewalking!!

We heard the story of how one set of tribes on the island of Bega (there are 2 tribes in 7 villages there) was given the power to walk on fire, and then 5 guys from the nearby village came and put on a show. They used big sticks to roll the logs out of the fire, leaving behind the hot rocks. These were then arranged flat-side-up. Lots of chanting and yelling occurred. And then, one by one, they walked across the rocks. Despite the logic part of my brain wondering how fast the rocks take to cool, it was pretty neat. One of the guys was also part of the Bula Band that played at the resort each night–we got to identifiy a lot of people pretty quickly.

One of our divemasters for the week (they were incredible, best anywhere) told us he used to do the firewalking, but you have to be pure to do it, and he’d accidentally been burned a time or two. Apparently coconut is one of the things that makes you impure, and he’d had a coconut cookie on the boat between dives. He was a funny guy, very full of jokes and pranks and laughter. And a very good divemaster.

After the ceremony, happy hour rolled around, and despite seeing the Firewalking, I tried a ‘Happy Fijian’–much better than a ‘Firewalker’, although they both mostly consist of vodka or rum and lots and lots of fruit juices. The Bula Band played again as we lounged by the pool and watched the sunset, and then dinner rolled around.

I’d passed around cards for all the birthdays and anniversaries, so during dinner we handed them out to thunderous applause for each person. Made me super glad for the last-minute run to Target to make people feel good. Shelly and Aaron both had birthdays there, as did two other people, and two more celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Awww.

Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

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

It’s not that I think James Blunt’s musical talents are bad, it’s just that his lyrics are crap.

Singing, fine. Lyrics, crap.

However….

He was on the Top Gear episode we watched last night, and was actually quite funny. He also told the story of how his sister and brother-in-law met due to him.

Apparently his sister needed to get to a funeral, only the pilots were on strike and the ferries weren’t running. So JB put his sister’s plight on eBay.

“Damsel in distress seeks knight in shining armor.”

And this guy bid on her, and out-bid everyone else.

And flew her there in his helicopter.

And they got married. 

Awwwwww.

I handled last week fairly well. Amelia and John may have different perspectives, but I think I did okay, all things considered. Up to a certain point, that is.

I made it through Thursday, and Friday was much easier once I knew that all the brouhaha over my mom was a false alarm.

This weekend, we had scuba class. 4am wakeup call and a drive to Monterey. On the way, there was fog and drizzling rain. Not exactly auspicious. Also, when we got to the beach at 6:30, it was crawling with students.

Turns out it was a Sacramento weekend. It’s such a long drive from Sacramento to Monterey that the instructors there save up classes and bring them down all at once. Then they dive come hell or high water, because, dammit, they made the drive and nothing’s going to stop them from getting in the water. More on that later.

There were 9 students and 8 staff. Would have been 9 if James M hadn’t decided to go off and fun dive. By himself. Wonderful example for the students, to be sure. Oh well, we didn’t need him. We had Nate and Shelly, who are working to become Divemasters like John and I, as well as Greg, Ben, James F, Alisa (boo) and John and myself.

James F and I worked together like we always do. We had 2 girls, ages 12 and 15. I love working with the kids. They’re so much fun, and they’re so much closer to my size. Plus, they just usually kick ass when it comes to learning. We rocked out the first dive with them, and then sent them up to strip out of the top part of their wetsuits and get into every dry warm thing they owned. It was a balmy 50ish degrees on land, and about that temp in the water.

In between the first and second dives, we rescued people. All fun, let me tell you. They were mostly Sacramento people, and a lot of them weren’t prepared for the “washing machine on low” that was Breakwater on Saturday morning. The problem with Breakwater sometimes is the waves come in towards the junction of the breakwater and the beach, so you get waves, but then you also get the waves that hit the wall and change direction–reflection waves. Also, the tide was going out but the wind was pushing in, so there was both an undertow outward and waves coming in. Fun, fun.

My favorite of all the people I hauled out of the water, which mostly consisted of holding them still in the surf long enough to get their fins off and then helping them stand up and get in, was one guy who was FACE DOWN in the water with NO REGULATOR OR SNORKEL, and thus no way to breathe.

He was obviously trying to get his fins off, but having problems. When I hauled him up (and keep in mind he was probably double my size), one of the guys (I’m assuming a certified professional (for the love of god, people, help your students)) who was JUST STANDING THERE told me, don’t worry, he’ll be fine.

My reply? To keep doing exactly what I was doing.

Does anyone else see a problem with this scenario? Seriously!

So that was fun.

We went off to do the second dive, but both girls were pretty cold so we kept it short and sweet. The younger one was also having problems clearing her ears, so she and I went in early. After getting her settled and in the process of changing into warm and dry clothes, I waded back out and hauled more people in.

At least it was good exercise.

The weather was still gray and nasty, and the wind and waves were still moving around, so we canned the third dive, had lunch and debriefed the students, and headed to the hotel. Complete with hot tub. Woot! Favorite part of diving right there, people. Oh, I’ll say I love certain things, but if you ask me when I’m cold and wet and tired? The hot tub afterwards.

From there, we moved on to dinner and a movie. In this case, Pirates of the Caribbean III. I was in the back bedroom of the hotel room, watching the Elite 8 for the first part of the movie.

I returned just in time to see Elizabeth Swan have a conversation with Will Turner’s dad about saving the dad v. being able to have Elizabeth.

And the whole losing a parent thing?

Well, let’s say my facade cracked a bit. It probably didn’t help that James F and I had had a long conversation in the back room and I’d filled him in on what the past week held. So I crawled into bed, unfortunately in this case the one in the main room, and tried to keep it together, since I was in the same room with all the staff, two random other people associated with our staff, and the girls and their parents.

And then the whole Will Turner dying thing?

Umm, didn’t go so well either.

Maybe I just really needed to cry. I dunno. I think I’d been holding it in so long, and last week sucked so much, and I was so tired (see above, re: 4am wakeup call plus crazy work hours plus insomnia lately) and I was so stressed (see above, re: mom, work, life in general), that it just all broke through.

And really, I felt so much better when I woke up that it was probably all okay in the long run, although I’d have definitely chosen a more private setting to do it in if I could have. As it was, I couldn’t even get John’s attention, although there wasn’t much he could do, and after the movie ended, he did come comfort me.

Sunday’s day of diving was fine, although I was exhausted. It was colder–a toasty 49 degree water temp at one point–but maybe a bit less water movement. In the break between dives 3 and 4, I bundled the girls into the hot pay shower in the women’s restroom, then bundled them into all their warm gear, then put them in John’s and my boat coats, then into my car. And thus they made it through dive 4 without turning into little blue girls, which would have been fun to explain to their mother. We did have to tow the younger one out and then in, since she had bad knees and was a bit lacking in energy by the time we made it to that point of the morning.

Definitely got a “thanks so much for working on their confidence” from their mom, and a “thanks for taking care of them”, both of which made me feel really good, and illustrate some of the reasons I love to work with kids.

So that was that, and we made it home warm and safe and sound. I had to run into work, and John washed the gear, and then we celebrated living through another class by heading to one of the restaurants around here where we know the bartender. It was his last day, and Amelia and I have been going by to see him somewhat regularly, so we went to have “one last drink”. By which I mean, 4ish. But, you know, it’s all good.

And hey, boy did I sleep well Sunday night.

The last three days have been crazy at work again, with The Big Experiment 3/4s of the way done. It’s been keeping me busy, which is probably good.

The only drawback? I’ve been wearing my iPod while working, and “Prayer for the Dying” needs to be removed from my playlist sometime very soon.

Because really? It’s a good song, but there’s only so much tearing up in lab I’m willing to do.

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.

Amelia once told me that it’s been shown that when boys listen to music, they listen to the music itself, while girls listen to the lyrics.

I polled John, but I don’t think he counts.

He doesn’t really listen to music, per se. Oh, he likes certain kinds of music–classical, irish, Journey, Eve6–but given a choice in the car (the only place he really listens to music), he’ll listen to the comedy stations on XM.

When I’m in the car, I tend to change it to the music stations, as I love to sing along. I’m pretty bad about recognizing specific artists and titles and connecting them to the songs themselves, but I do know the lyrics to a lot of music. And other than rap, there are very few kinds of music I don’t like.

I love, especially, the creativity of some lyricists. For example, Eve6’s song writer is damn clever with the word plays, and they have some very creative songs. Plus, I just like them a lot.

We once drove all the way to Chicago, John, Dave and I, to see them play at the House of Blues. It was a great concert, but when it ended at 1am, we then had to drive all the way back to Iowa. It was fine, except for the getting lost and managing to drive through the Projects at around 3am. I was asleep in the backseat and woke up at this point, at which both boys immediately ordered me to lay back down and go back to sleep. That was fun.

Anyways, they’ve got some good word plays. Jason Mraz is a recent artists who has this effect, too. However, when he titles the song ‘Wordplay’, some of the appeal is lost. Don’t get me wrong, I love the song, but when you point it out? But maybe that’s the point.

So, do you listen to the music, or the lyrics? And do you have a Y chromosome?

I love my iPod for the simple fact that sometimes work is tedious, and music helps thing go smoother in some ways. At the very least, it’s entertaining when things are slow.

But I tend to throw everything onto my ‘Favorites’ list, at least initially, and then decide if I like it.

And since I update my iPod about once every nineteen years, and I’ve only had it for 3 years…

Well, you get the picture.

There’s lots of random stuff on my favorites list. I’ve gotten a huge number of artists from Amy, who has a much wider range in taste than I do. I’ve separated out the books on tape, the classical, the christmas, the irish, the comedy, and some of my favorite albums, but all the rest is jammed together under the somewhat misleading ‘favorites’.

One problem I have is that my iPod likes to play ‘Fall Out Boy’ at about ten times the volume of everything else, which tends to blow out my ear drums and make me scream, as well as throw whatever I’m holding when I jump (you know, tubes of virus, glass beakers, that kind of stuff).

The other problem is that sometimes it plays crappy selections.

Today it’s behaving rather nicely, playing lots of good stuff intermixed with some stuff that I don’t recognize but which seems to be good.

Some days, it selects specific artists to favor. It was on a ‘Something Corporate’ kick for awhile that was totally unacceptable, as they have some messed up lyrics. Still haven’t gotten around to deleting them.

The ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ kick was alright, as their song ‘Title and Registration’ is pretty good. However, some of their ‘Transatlanticism’ songs are also just way too weird.

Anyways, it’s like roulette. And when I’m wearing gloves with godonlyknowswhat on them, the last thing I want to do is touch the damn thing to change the song.

Hopefully this current trend continues. I like good music.

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I'd love to hear from you! Leave me a comment here or send me an email at: arizona (dot) girl (dot) 2007 (at) gmail (dot) com