Saturday, March 28, 2009

Weekend adventures

Recently, since I'm still slowly working on building a life in Salt Lake, I've been spending part of my weekends down at the old stomping grounds, visiting family, old roommates, and other friends. I've had quite a few adventures in the course of my recent weekends, including the following:

-On my birthday, I went to dinner with my old roommates to a pizza place, where we all ordered root beer. It was the kind of place that brought out a bottomless pitcher of root beer, and Holly especially enjoyed this fact. She got a little hyper off the stuff and was singing stanzas of birthday songs before each swig. On the way home from the restaurant, we stopped at the grocery store for some sour cream that Holly needed for a cake she was baking that night. However, we told Esther that the sour cream was really an antidote to calm down Holly from her root beer high. Esther, bless her, believed us and spent the rest of the evening thinking that sour cream was a remedy for sugar rushes.

-Last weekend I got to be my dad's date to a university dinner- good company, good food, and a good, albeit loud, jazz ensemble providing entertainment.

-Today I happened to time my three hours at my family's house exactly right. I was sitting in the dining room reading the paper when my youngest sister got asked to Prom, her first date. It was a rather spastic hour. I was glad that I got to be there to be excited with her, answer a multitude of questions about prom etiquette and protocol, and help her come up with ideas for ways to answer her date. This is Utah, after all, it's impossible to just walk up to the person of interest and tell them yes. I was quite gratified that the method she chose was a Maria original that I suggested to her.

-Tonight I fulfilled a goal that I've had for quite some time and went to my own personal restaurant: Maria Bonita's. I had plans to go to dinner with my old roommate Karen and her husband Rich; I suggested Maria's and they agreed to give it a try with me. So off we went. We played a deft game of Phase 10 Dice while we waited for (and consumed) our food. And wow, what food! I am proud to say that the restaurant that bears my name is a very good establishment with good food and very large portions. I'll be eating fajitas for a week.

Karen and Rich are moving across the country after the semester ends, and I'll lose another friend from the general area. But I'll also be able to add another location to my growing list of places I could go visit and crash at a friend's house if I ever visited. It's a pretty impressive list, and I have something of a standing invitation to most of them (incidentally, I was kind of touched at how many people suggested I should visit their town on my next trip). We've got Seattle, Rigby Idaho, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Chicago, Houston, St. Louis, New York, Toronto, Germany, Liverpool, Korea, and Taiwan. I wish I had the time and money to go to all of those places, mostly to see the people who live there that I care about. It really makes my heart happy that there are so many good people and so many good friends in the world- and more waiting to be met. This one little simple fact makes up for a lot of things in life.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Growing up, I always had a special relationship with my mother's father, who I began addressing as "Grandpa Buddy" almost as soon as I could talk. I'm not really sure where the kinship came from, but we were indeed buddies and very good friends except for the occasions when my stubborn, undisciplined personality ran up against his stubborn, very disciplined personality. These, fortunately, became less common as I grew up and actually started trying to do something with my life.

For all of my Buddy's life that I knew him, he was an avid fan of bow ties and only owned a couple of long ties for special occasions. Because of his thrifty nature, he figured out how to make them himself and consequently had a few hundred homemade bow ties. He and my grandmother were on a mission when my big sister got married so in order to represent them at the reception, all the men in the family sported bow ties from his collection.

When I was a young child, I had an obsession with what I called "bears," which means any stuffed animal or doll. It didn't matter if it was human, rabbit, or reptile, if it was in my collection it was classified as a bear. Consequently, when my fourth birthday rolled around, I thought it would be neat if Grandpa Buddy gave me a bear- with a bow tie on. Grandpa thought this was a great idea and purchased a stuffed panda bear for me, then added the crowning touch with a homemade miniature bow tie for the bear. The bear with the bow tie still graces my bed, over two decades later.

Grandpa loved numbers more than just about any person I know, including my father, who knows more math than most math professors. He wrote his autobiography specially laid out in fifty chapters. When Rebecca, who was his editor, suggested the material for a fifty-first chapter, it wound up as an appendix because he just couldn't stand the thought of his beautiful fifty-chapter biography layout being spoiled. In fact, one of those fifty chapters is entitled "Love Those Numbers." (Another one is called "Bow Ties," incidentally). My favorite part of that chapter is a paragraph explaining how there is no such thing as an uninteresting number. Bless you, Buddy.

I could go on all day about the things I love and the funny quirks that make me laugh, but that would get really long. The reason I've been thinking about this today is that this is the anniversary of his death, three years ago. He had a short bout of very intense, widespread cancer, and then he was gone, surprisingly young for a member of his notoriously long-lived family.

His funeral was an interesting experience, not the least for the fact that he had planned the program himself, including asking Matt and I to perform Meditation of a Theme by Thais, on flute and piano. Amidst the tears that coursed down my cheeks, I really actually enjoyed the funeral. Grandpa asked some of his closest friends, who had lived near him for decades, to give the life sketch and talks, and the fun, wonderful stories that we heard that day filled my heart with a warm glow. And that's what I felt today when I thought about my Buddy. I miss him a lot, and I'm sad to think that he won't be there when I get married (whenever that is) and that he won't know my children. But I mostly just can't help smiling, and looking forward to greeting him again and getting an enthusiastic "Hello, Maria Buddy!" and a big warm hug and a huge smack on the cheek. I can't wait to hear his hearty laugh again while we make terrible puns together. And I sure hope there are word games in Heaven, because I sure would like to see him and Becca duel out another game of Scrabble.

I wish everyone was lucky enough to have a Grandpa Buddy.

The Travel Bug

Okay, I'm taking suggestions. What cool and interesting place should I go next?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A funny memory or two

For some reason, lots of old funny memories have been floating around in my head lately. So I'm going to share a few with whoever is bored enough to read this. Tonight, you get my three favorite date memories. For the purposes of this blog, a favorite date memory is defined as a funny date memory, since no one wants to read about my romantic doorstep scenes and mushy moments, and even if they did, I wouldn't post it on the internet for all to see.

Number three took place just a few months ago. I often get (or used to get) free tickets to events at BYU, usually last minute, and this often leads to me finding a last-minute date. I have one good friend, Graham, who I invited often because I knew he'd always enjoy the cultural events. It's kind of gratifying to invite someone to a concert and see them leaning forward the whole time out of sheer enjoyment.

This event was a play, "Dial 'M' for Murder." I got the tickets two days before and struck out a few times before I decided to call Graham. He agreed to go with me so we attended the play, enjoyed it, and drove back to our apartment complex. As the instigator of the date, I was driving. We pulled into the parking lot and rounded a corner. Suddenly Graham sat up straight, stared out the window, and exclaimed, "hey! Those people are breaking in to my apartment!" There was a knot of people gathered near his balcony, busily engaged in attempting a prank on his apartment (involving his cardboard woman, Petunia. That's a story for another day, though). So it was not actually organized crime, just a prank war. Graham had me drive up close to the sidewalk and then he jumped out of the car to go confront them before I had even stopped all the way. As I pulled back around to park, I was laughing pretty hard. I have now been on a date where my date jumped out of the car before it was fully stopped, although it wasn't actually to get away from me. After I parked, I did go over and join him while he stopped the prankage, and he did walk me to my door after that, bless him. But it was pretty entertaining.

Number two took place last summer. A boy named Stephen in my ward asked me out and I was rather taken aback. I knew his family pretty well because I went to high school with his big sister- he was a few years younger than me though, so I didn't know him very well. I was kind of concerned that we wouldn't have very much to talk about, but I was pleasantly surprised in that respect. We ended up having good conversation the whole time. In fact, when he walked me to my door to end the date, the first thing he said at the doorstep was, "well, this is definitely the most intellectual date I've ever been on." as soon as I was inside and closed the door, I fell over on the floor laughing. That statement in now my favorite doorstep scene ever. I guess if anyone is looking for an intellectual date, I'm your woman.

Number one, my funniest date, is a little further back in time, about three and a half years. I was living at home during the summer and I was trying to attract the attention of a guy named Ted. The whole story is rather humorous, including the fact that both Ted and I confided in my brother that we were interested in each other but we didn't seem to communicate that to each other super well. When he finally did ask me out, he decided to do it right, and he enlisted the assistance of our mutual friend Erin to find out what my favorite flower was so he could bring me one. Erin had to find ways to ask me what my favorite flower was a few times because I kept claiming that I didn't have a favorite flower, I loved them all. Finally, I told her that if I had to choose, I'd probably select a Dutch iris. (Oddly enough, I didn't get suspicious at all when she kept asking me what my favorite flower was. Probably because I was studying botany and I just like plants). Erin carefully filed away that piece of information to tell Ted. However, somehow before she got the chance to tell him, she got a little confused and ended up telling Ted it was a Dutch lily I hankered after. Poor Ted called every florist in the valley asking if they carried Dutch lilies, and was told many times that no such thing existed. So he showed up on my doorstep with a plain lily, which I thought was pretty cool, and even better after I heard the trouble he'd gone to.

Knowing that I was a plant nerd, Ted took me to the Thanksgiving Point Gardens, which was a great idea. We strolled around the gardens for quite a while and lost track of time. We eventually saw several people gathering things up and walking towards the entrance, but no one ever said anything to us. after a while, we realized that it was pretty dark and the pathway lights were turned off and we hadn't seen another person for a while. Then we began to think maybe the gardens were closed. Our suspicions were confirmed when we walked back to the building that housed the entrance and it was dark and locked up. Yep, we managed to get ourselves locked in to the gardens for the night. We found that pretty entertaining. After some exploring, we found a piece of the gardens that had terraces instead of a fence where we could climb down and get back tot he car. But if we hadn't found that area, we just might have had to have spent the night in the garden. Getting locked in the garden for the night is my favorite date memory ever.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Nerd Badge

I went to an in-house symposium today about bioterrorism. And it reminded me that it really does make sense why I have to wear an ID badge at work- and use it to open doors. You know that scene from "The Incredibles" where Elastigirl follows the security men around and they have little key cards? That's me at work. Except I don't wear an ugly uniform with a weird visor- just a purple lab coat. But the need to use my ID badge to open doors does make me feel a little bit like I work in a high-security prison. Heh.
Oh- I guess I should add that we do not deal with bioterrorism directly at work. But we do get samples from all kinds of sick people from all over the country, full of nasty infectious disease that we'd rather keep in-house. I must say, I'm glad I don't work in parasitology or the fecal matter lab. It's got to take an interesting personality to do that one, I think.