Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mishaps and adventures

After spending a week with T and K and their parents, I flew up to San Francisco and spent the weekend visiting McKay, who has returned to his original haunts of Palo Alto (yes, McKay, I know that's not where you're originally from, but it's close enough). I spent some time talking with T and K after I tucked them in bed on Friday night and I was very gratified that they were so sad that I was leaving in the morning. T told me that when he thought about it, he got a lump in his throat that wouldn't go away. Can I keep him? We agreed to be penpals so it wouldn't be so sad for me to leave. Speaking of which, I need to write him a letter this week.

The funniness started when I arrived at the San Francisco airport and McKay and I had some trouble meeting up. Turns out that Jetblue is the only domestic airline that uses the international terminal. Good thing McKay stopped and asked someone about this, or he may have been driving in circles for a lot longer while I chilled and watched lots of other people get picked up. But eventually, my luggage and I were happily situated in his car.

The plan was for me to explore San Francisco on my own for the day since McKay had to work, so he drove me as far into town as he could before needing to turn back around to be on time. This was where the second bit of funniness started. I hadn't been able to find out as much about public transit from the internet as I wanted and McKay wasn't very familiar with it, so we started just driving around looking for bus stations and things. We saw one and so McKay figured that was as good a place to drop me off as any, so he pulled into a randomly selected parking lot and left me to my adventure. Five years ago I would have died. Now, I looked for an ATM machine so I could pay a bus fare. Then I found a nearby gas station so I could buy some overpriced juice and a rice krispy bar, use the facilities, and ask the nice woman working there how I could get to Fisherman's Wharf. She kindly pointed me towards the correct bus stop and bus, which when it arrived, proved to the be the bus that also went through Chinatown. I could tell because I was one of about three white people on the bus.

I love the challenge of exploring new cities on my own, but there's always that moment or two when I look around me and wonder if I've walked into the wrong part of town. That's always a little disconcerting. I felt mostly safe in San Francisco since I was mostly staying in tourist areas, but after I left my matinee of Wicked (which I was very late for because of the way the cable cars are run- is it really necessary to stop in the middle of every intersection while the cars honk at you?), I walked to the train depot and definitely felt just a hair unsafe. Fortunately, I didn't make eye contact with the shady men and since I walk fast, they must have thought I looked confident. Or maybe they're really very nice men who just happen to look shady. Who knows?

McKay and I went on a very fun double date- he set me up with one of his friends (I just realized that short of when I was dating David this summer, every date I've been on this year has been blind. I'm not sure what that means. At least they haven't been deaf). Turns out that my date is a bookworm like me and is a teacher, so we talked a lot about books. He also quoted some T.S. Eliot poetry for us. I commend McKay for his choice of gentleman.

The other funny mishap happened after the date when McKay tried to drop me off that the house of girls that he'd arranged for me to stay at and no one answered the door or responded when he texted them all. Since it was almost midnight and I'd been up since 4:30 to catch a plane, in the end I just went back to the family house where he's living and crashed in the guest bedroom. Good thing we're not BYU students any more. Heh.

I must also commend McKay for his choice of activity on Monday before I left. Knowing that I am a botany nerd, we drove up to the redwoods and had a great hike through them. Technically it can't really be called a hike since we didn't really increase elevation at all. But that's hardly relevant. It was really an amazing experience to walk through those massive, tall, silent trees with amazing ferns and things growing in their underbrush. McKay and I thought of all kinds of neat analogies that can be taken from a redwood forest. Maybe I'll type them up later.

Now I am safely reinstated in Utah, and I was greeted the morning after I got back by snow. Toto, we are not in California any more. I hope Becca and her boys enjoy the winter garden I helped them plant, because there aren't going to be any more gardens here this year, that's for sure.

Ruminations upon October

I decided something. I am incredibly fortunate to have lots of good examples of men in my life- not just good examples of men, but examples of good men in good relationships. There's my dad, to start, and my big brother Matt, both of whose marriages I admire a lot. This past month I saw again what a great guy my brother-in-law is, too. He gets up early for work and makes breakfast for his family, even though most mornings he's gone before they get up for the day. He's super supportive of my sister and is very involved in his sons' lives. He's a great father and husband, and a great example to me of what kind of man I want to marry.

I've discussed this topic quite a bit with Mel, and it's interesting how much our individual opinions of men and marriage have been shaped by our different life experiences. Mel has had essentially no good examples of manhood in her life, including men she's related to as well as men she's dated. She is quite happy being single and claims to be happier single than she ever has been in any relationship. Consequently, she is not looking to do any dating, let alone think about getting married, in the near future. She's had such poor experiences that she jokingly refers to herself as a man-hater. She's a great roommate and a good friend, but I have a hard time talking to her about boys, because any time a guy does anything foolish or that causes me heartache, she's inclined to chalk it straight up to the fact that men are all flawed by nature and you really shouldn't expect more than that. She readily acknowledges that there are some good men out there, but she just hasn't seen enough of them up close and personal to have real faith in them.

I can't tell you how fortunate I feel that this has not been my experience. I've definitely been agitated, frustrated, saddened, and heartbroken by men, but I've never been abused in any way, be it physical or emotional, and I've been so blessed to be related to a great set of men as well as very blessed to have, especially in the last few years, some male friends whose friendships make me feel very fulfilled, a couple romantic, mostly platonic. I'm not sure how many of them read my blog, but you know who you are- and thanks for adding so much richness to my life. I have all kinds of fascinating conversations with my guy friends, and I often find it surprisingly easy to be very open with them. Of course, I would be thrilled to have a guy friend who could become my best friend to the point that we'd want to spend the rest of our lives together, but I'm pretty sure that will happen with time. In the meanwhile, oh, am I so grateful for all the good men I know who have done so much to keep my positive and optimistic viewpoints about men and marriage alive and well. Thanks, friends!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I must say, there are very few things that melt my heart like having my adorable nephews throw their arms around me and say, "And Aunt Maria, I love you, Aunt Maria." Maybe it won't be quite so adorable when they're older, but at ages five and seven, it's pretty stinkin' cute.

And I am lucky enough to be spending a week with Becca and her family to dote upon my nephews and meet the newest one, little M, who was born just six weeks ago. In the morning, I am roused from sleep either by T cuddling up to me or K running across the floor and launching himself at me. I unintentionally addicted them to electronic solitaire- I never thought about it before, but it's a great game for kids, just lining up the cards in order.

Other highlights so far: T and K are both seriously addicted to Indiana Jones, which is interesting since neither of them have actually seen the films. But they love their Indiana Jones lego sets and theirs Indiana Jones lego video game, which they have played with me several times. In fact, they both wanted to be Indiana Jones for Halloween, and they got their costumes the day before I arrived. When T and Mike came to pick me up from the airport, T was sporting his outfit. I was pretty excited that Indiana Jones came to pick me up from the airport.

Also, K was singing to himself in the tub last night. He was alternating between singing the Indiana Jones theme song and singing the Pledge of Allegiance. You didn't know it could be set to music, did you? When I stepped into the bathroom while he was still in the tub, he recited the whole thing for me and made sure at the end that I knew it was the Pledge of Allegiance he'd just recited, and told me that he's learned a lot of things in Kindergarten. I was duly impressed.

And M is a very cute baby. He is a great napper and he's pretty patient for the most part, although he can be incredibly sad when he hasn't eaten for a while. Becca says that he reminds her of Wilbur the pig from Charlotte's Web- he's small and round and he makes little grunting noises. Hooray for cute babies!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Random work notes

A few days ago I walked into the bathroom closely behind another woman. There are four stalls, and the woman ahead of me proceeded to completely ignore the three stalls whose doors were slightly ajar in order to walk directly to the one stall whose door was firmly shut and try to push it open. Oddly enough, it didn’t budge, almost like someone was already in there. She seemed mildly confused, and I quickly entered a stall of my own and shut the door so that if I happened to be grinning or even chuckling quietly, this poor woman wouldn’t hear me.

Of course, I’m not free myself from silly mental lapses.Just this morning after swiping my badge on the time clock, I started up the stairs while busily engaged in trying to disentangle something from my badge so I could put it on. I should know by now not to do things like that on the stairs, because the next thing I knew my foot came down well in front of where the stair was and I did a graceful little stumble for someone else who was coming down the stairs. When I do dumb things like that, I automatically laugh at myself, and it came out as a rapid-fire burst this time, causing the person passing me to give me a startled look. Hey, whatever it takes to enter the office with a smile on my face, I guess. There’s something about small, absurd situations that has always made me laugh. The trick is to be paying enough attention to what’s going on around you that you notice them.

The client services department are situated right near my desk, and I walk past their tiny little stations a few times a day. I’m kind of fascinated by them. It rather seems to me that a lot of them are still stuck in high school mode. They regularly put up elementary school style decorations, they just started putting up their Halloween ornaments and to be honest I’m kind of jealous. Why doesn’t R&D provide us with Xeroxed copies of pumpkins and bats to color and cut out and hang up outside our cubicles? Or better yet, in our labs? Perhaps I shall just have to take the initiative for myself and hang up my own Halloween decorations.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

More plays than you can shake a spear at

I got my share of Shakespeare this summer. It started with The Comedy of Errors at the summer Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City with Michael and Angi. It continued at BYU with a condensed version of The Tempest with Matt and Tricia. And the most recent addition was last weekend, viewing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at the Fall Shakespearean Festival with Daniel and Meagan.

Since we didn't know quite what to expect for this play, I read synopses of all the plays I wasn't familiar with the day before. We all brought our copies of The Complete Works of Shakespeare and on the trip down, we reviewed all the plays on the way down. We did really well on the comedies and okay on the tragedies, although I must say that I had never heard of Titus Andronicus before, and it has perhaps the goriest plot I've ever read about. But that's probably not saying much since the number of PG-13 movies I've seen is pretty small, and that's generally the goriest I get. Then we got to the histories and we were swimming in a lot of plot that we weren't sure about. But we felt like we had a decent hand on it by the time we rolled into Cedar City.

We were a little dismayed to discover that the playwright of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) thought that part of the hilarity of Shakespeare that needed to be included in the play was his sexual jokes that are often so buried in Elizabethan English that modern audiences don't pick up on it- which was rather disappointing and took a good deal of the enjoyment out of it for us. I know Shakespeare put a lot of that in his work, but I for one do not mind that it goes right over my head in the originals. I did enjoy their retelling of Romeo and Juliet and their five-minute version of Hamlet, followed by the one-minute version of Hamlet, followed by the five-minute version backwards. The comedies were all compiled in one super-comedy, since so many of them have similar elements- big storms, identical twins, cross-dressing, people falling in love with the wrong people . . . it's not too hard to get them confused. And the histories? Played out as a football game. These guys were clever. And I did enjoy it overall.

We also took a look around at the gift shop and we found this special gem (if you can't read the box, click to enlarge):

That's right, unicorns versus narwhals. You didn't know the unicorn had a natural enemy in the narwhal, did you? It makes sense- the land-based unicorn going at it with an arctic whale? I guess since they with have one horn, they each feel the other is a threat. Or something. But apparently this rivalry has been going on for a while, as you can see on the back:

This time . . . it's personal. If the kit had been a little cheaper, I would definitely have come home with this prize. As it was, we just took pictures so we can enjoy the memory.

We also tried on the Renaissance hats they had there to help us get in a Shakespearean mood:

We also explored the themed statue garden and tried our hand at impersonating different characters. Daniel does a mean King Lear:

My statue was labeled as Juliette. As a sappy, overhormonal thirteen-year-old, she's not my favorite Shakespearean heroine, but Meagan pointed out that I could pick out any other heroine I wanted- after all, what's in a name? So, this is me being . . . Beatrice. Although the pose is all wrong for Beatrice. It probably fits Miranda better. Or Ophelia, but I think I'd like to be Ophelia even less than Juliette. In any case, I posed, and Daniel took the picture.

Meagan and I agreed that the best thing we got out of this trip was an increased desire to learn more about the Bard's plays and see more well-done, traditional Shakespeare. After all, he did write a good many plays that I've never seen or read, and sicne I do own his complete works, I need to get a move on!