Sunday, December 31, 2006

Caffeine


I could tell you how I feel right now, or I could just have you watch this Homestar Runner Cartoon.

Caffeine

What I did over my Christmas Vacation

1. Helped pull a cactus out of Willow's foot (held her head while Raybon did the surgery.)
2. Drove 1000 miles (actually was mostly the passenger.)
3. Got in a minor fender bender.
4. Swam 100 x 100's (10,000 yards.)
5. Made a sock monkey (OK, so I already wrote about that.)
6. Switched swimming clubs (yes, I'm now officially affiliated with Mellow Masters.)
7. Ate waaayy too much food. Afraid to weigh myself.
8. Helped strengthen bonds between family members.
9. Showed up at a pool at 6 a.m. in Victorville, only to find it wasn't open. (How is it that a town of population 64,000 doesn't have a pool open all year?)
10. Swam with my mommy
11. Played with my nieces and nephews.
12. Visited Snoopy (not the Peanut's Snoopy, my friend Snoopy.)
13. Lost and found my favorite hat.
14. Bought myself a new purse. Pretty green, and the perfect size. 50% off.
15. Got a new heart rate monitor.
16. Went Quadding. Yes, after years of begging from Raybon, I finally joined him.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Blood Sock Monkeys

So, I made another sock monkey. It was a bowdlerized monkey. I asked my sister Taeko if she wanted the monkey, and she said yes. Since she was in the anti-red-behind camp, I sewed up the behind so that the red didn't show.

I had no idea how much people would like sock monkeys. They are rather a hot commodity. After I had already given the monkey to Taeko, my mom suggested I give the monkey to my grandma. I told her it was already Taeko's sock monkey. My dad said "Hey, how come she gets the sock monkey? You said I could have it." I had offered it to him previously, but he said he didn't want it, he wanted Raybon's sock monkey, since Raybon didn't deserve it, because he didn't appreciate the toffee I made for my dad and Raybon. It's hard for me to tell if my Dad is joking or not. I still don't know whether or not he really wants a sock monkey.

My mom showed my grandma the sock monkey I gave to Taeko. My grandma seemed to like it a lot. I told them it was Taeko's monkey, and my grandma seemed sad. My mom told her I would make her a monkey, too. I felt bad. I didn't get a gift for my grandma this year. We have a rule of no "upward or lateral gift giving" in my family. This rule, instituted by my parents, means you can only give gifts to people in a younger generation than you. I sort of think that my grandma doesn't count in this though. I asked Taeko if she'd like to give the monkey to grandma, and I could make her another one. Taeko said she'd already bonded with the monkey, so she wanted to keep it. I felt kind of bad about trying to take back the monkey, so I'm glad Taeko decided to keep it. I'll make my grandma another sock monkey.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sock Monkey Butt

I'm at my parent's house and I'm making another sock monkey. My mom is offended by the sock monkey's red behind. That's just the way they are made. You make them with a pair of red heel socks, and one heel ends up as the mouth, and the other ends up as a behind. I guess I could cut out the the red behind. It would be a bowdlerized monkey.

What do you think?

Should sock monkeys have red behinds?
Yes, this is the way of the classic sock monkey.
No, red behinds are offensive.
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Emoting

Forgive me... I'm just going rehash my hard difficult day, and hope that it will help me sleep.

My dad had eye surgery today. His retina tore. :(. This makes me sad. I think he will recover fully eventually, but for now he can't see very well. He likes to read and watch movies, so I hope he will find a way to enjoy those and other things. My brother Elwood and his fiancee Rose are there with him now, along with my Mom, so I'm glad they are there to cheer him up. Raybon and I will be there with them soon, as well.

I had a hard day at work this morning, too. One of my co-workers, with whom I've had problems on and off with for years, had a little rift. On top of my job as sys admin and graphics coordinator, I've been given the job of taking care of our time keeping system, and generating invoices. We've had a new system since October.

This one co-worker has been uncooperative in doing her time. She never fills in the details of how she spends her time during the day. Last week, I had her fill in the details for a few weeks of time. I then have to do the laborious task of filling in the gaps in the the data she's already submitted. This week, she still didn't fill it in right again. I had created a spreadsheet for her previously to fill in the gaps, but this time I just sent her an email. She emailed me back saying "It's so much easier when you send me a spreadsheet. Can you please send me another one?"

I told her I didn't know how to answer her request, since what she should have done is fill her time in correctly in the first place, and I didn't feel like it was my job to make it easier. I explained to her what a pain it was to have to go back and fill in her time for her. She emailed me back that I was right, and thanked me for doing a good job in my new role. But she didn't give me her time. Hours later, I sent her an email reminding her again. She called me in her office.

She said to me "Are you aware that I've been on vacation the past 3 days?" in an aggressive tone. I said "I did know that. If that's the reason you haven't given me your time yet, you can just tell me that. You don't have to take this personally." She told me "Why are you giving me attitude?" I told her "Because you're being aggressive. I'm being defensive. If you give me attitude, I'm going to give it right back." She said "I don't think I want to talk to you while you're taking this tone with me." I said "That's fine. We can have this conversation now with you being aggressive and me being defensive, you can email me, we can talk about it later when we're more calm, or you can talk to someone else about it. It's really up to. All I want is you to give me your correctly filled in timesheets." She said "Whatever." I walked away.

I was a little shaken up, and maybe still am nervous, but I think I dealt with this better than I have in the past. I think there probably are better ways to deal with it, but I at least feel like I have some dignity in that I stood up to her and didn't show any fear. I've read that the best way to deal with someone who is irrationally angry is to tell them that their anger is understandable, and then offer them choices. I didn't do the first part. There really is no point in telling an angry person that they shouldn't be angry. Maybe next time that's what I'll do. I think standing up for myself and not being afraid of talking to her when she's angry is an important first step, though.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dream Come True

This evening, I was the only one who showed up at UC Flip Flop for Masters swimming. I had a whole long course pool all to myself. This is almost literally a dream come true. Sometimes, when I go to bed at night, to relax I think of having a whole long course pool to myself.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sock Monkey That!

Camille had a sock monkey naming contest on her blog. I entered the name "Niabelle Marroo" and won. I was hoping in my hearts of hearts that I won the sock monkey, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. I won a very nice handmade recycled rubber wallet instead. I decided to make my own sock monkey.

I don't really sew. I haven't really sewn anything since I was like nine, other than mending a tear or sewing on a button. I don't know how to use a machine. It was pretty fun making the monkey, although I'm not sure it's my thing. I got kind of impatient and lazy. Throughout the process, I was sure it was the ugliest sock monkey ever, and even once tried to feed it to Willow. Now that it is done. I kind of like it. I felt bad about trying to feed it to Willow, and gave the monkey a kiss. (I kissed Willow, too, but I do that all the time.)

I was going to give the sock monkey to my niece, but Raybon wants the monkey. That's kind of cute. I'm not sure if I've ever made anything non-edible for him before. I started making him a scarf, but never finished it, because my hands started to hurt. I guess I owe him a monkey, so it's his.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Raybon and Me

Me (depressed and sulky): I hate everybody.
Raybon (sweetly): Really? Even Snoopy?
Me (still sulky, but less depressed): No. But Snoopy isn't real.
Raybon: But you didn't say you hated all real people. You said you hated everybody.
Me: OK. I hate everybody except Snoopy.

I had this conversation with Raybon a few weeks ago. Everytime I think "I hate everybody" (which I have unfortunately thought at times) I think of that conversation and it makes me smile.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Inflamed Body Parts (Copying Camille's Title)

I found out I had bursitis today. Funny thing, being an athlete and a former pre-med Biology major, and not even knowing what a bursa was. I've never taken anatomy.

"Hip bursitis is a common problem that causes pain over the outside of the upper thigh. A bursa is a fluid filled sac that allows smooth motion between two uneven surfaces. For example, in the hip, a bursa rests between the bony prominence over the outside of the hip (the greater trochanter) and the firm tendon that passed over this bone. When the bursal sac becomes inflamed, each time the tendon has to move over the bone, pain results. Because patients with hip bursitis move this tendon with each step, hip bursitis symptoms can be quite painful."

I have something else, too. It's called "Iliotibial Band Syndrome." I didn't even know I had an Iliotibial Band. I knew I had an iliac bone, and a tibia, so I could put them together.

"Iliotibial band syndrome is due to inflammation of the iliotibial band, a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the leg. The iliotibial band begins at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee joint. The band functions in coordination with several of the thigh muscles to provide stability to the outside of the knee joint."

I also found out today that my left leg is 1 cm longer than my right leg. I was also told (which I already knew) that my right side is tighter than my left side.

This is all very good information. I now need to cut back on the running and find a good P.T.

I'm in a really good mood, despite all this. I feel like a real runner, now that I have an injury. He he. My doctor says I can still run, but I should try to run on a track instead of the road and trails. Trails, especially, are hard on your hips.

Maybe, whenever I can't think of anything to blog about, I'll just look at Camille's blog and take her title and use it to blog about something in my life.

I had lunch with E.K. today, which was fun. She was dressed like me. Jeans, red leather jacket, and a black long sleeved shirt. He he. I didn't wear my red leather jacket today, but we plan to dress alike one of these days.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Isaiah 43:1

But now thus says Yahweh who created you, Jacob, and he who formed you, Israel: "Don't be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine."

I like the verse above a lot. Somehow it isn't enough to know God loves me. God loves everyone. It doesn't make me feel like I have much purpose. I'm just 1 in billions of souls out there. God loves me, but what would it mean if I didn't exist, never existed? But each of us is so precious to God, that he calls us each by name. We are his.

I have a new mantra, and it's an abbreviation of the verse above. I won't say it here, because it is precious and secret, but might still sound silly to someone reading it. Of course it's silly. I like silly. If you ask me, I may or may not tell you.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tragic Loss of Cookies

I am so bummed.

I made toffee, macaroons, and candy cane cookies for my work today. We're having a holiday party. I had done a noise study yesterday, and had my noise equipment in the car. Rather than making two trips, I decided to carry everything at once. Bad move. I dropped the bag with the cookies and candy.

The toffee was in a glass dish. It broke. Glass everywhere, transmorgifying sweet treat into deadly weapon.

The candy cane cookies were in a tupperware, which broke open and spilled all over the sidewalk.

The macaroons are fine, thankfully.

I guess in the realm of tragedies, this isn't so bad. No one died. No one is sick. I didn't lose my house, car, or husband.

Maybe I was showing off by making 3 different things instead of just one. Who needs so much candy or cookies anyways? See how mean I think God is? That's terrible. God isn't out to get me. It was just an accident.

I know. I'll just see it as being a good time for me to learn that even if my plans don't turn out well, it wasn't wrong for me to have good intentions.

*Sigh.* I'll get over it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Weight Watchers

I'm dieting again. I weighed myself and I came in around 158 (at the end of the day, wearing flannel pajamas.) That's too close to 160 for my taste. I bet a lot of the weight gain is muscle, because I fit in pants that I couldn't fit in before I started running, but I've gained weight. Still, I'm not happy with the way I look.

Why? Why? Why? I don't know. Who am I comparing myself to? The girls on MTV? My fellow athletes? The last time I tried to lose weight it was for health reasons. This time, I don't feel like my reasons are so positive. But I don't want to wait until health becomes an issue before I get out of control again. I think, if I think about it as being a health issue again (I want to learn to control my eating before I get so fat that it is unhealthy) I'll be more successful at it.

3 years ago, I weighed 172 pounds. I joined Weight Watchers. My weight got down to around 128. I just kept losing weight, without even really thinking about it. My original weight loss goal was 150, but losing weight was so easy by the time I reached my goal, I just kept my eating habits the same and kept losing weight. At one point, I decided I was getting too thin, and wanted to weight more like 140. I started eating stuff I told myself I would never eat again. Since then (about a year and a half ago), it's been a steady climb up.

Trying to diet again is hard. This is my 3rd day on my diet. I've already eaten all but 4 of my points for today. I'm crabby. I just want to eat chocolate. And ice cream. I just need to tell myself it will get easier if I just stick with it for a while.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Raybon used to always beats me at Rock, Paper, Scissors. Always, always, always. I never, never, never used to beat him. I can't really explain it very well. He says he can see the wheels turning in my mind, and somehow predict what it is I'm going to do in the 3 seconds before I reveal my choice. I ask him "What do you mean? What is it that you see going on in my head?" He says "I don't know. I never know what you are going to do first. But after that, I can guess what you are going to do next."

I finally figured out how to beat him. I don't think about what it is I'm going to do before I do it. I just choose one on the count of 3. It works. Weird, huh?

I wonder if he can read my mind at other times. I asked him if he could, and he said he can't. He said there are too many different things I could be thinking about. With rock, paper, scissors, there are only 3.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Weirdness

I went out the Flip Flop Wharf to swim this afternoon on my own. It was so beautiful out. I figure there aren't too many more days for pleasant swims this year.

I got there, and there were 3 people out there in the water. Two guys, one of whom I knew, and a woman. The woman was very friendly, and invited me to swim with them. I was very pleased, always happy to make more swimming friends. We swam out to the end of the wharf together, and then swam back. Since I arrived on my own, my stuff was apart from theirs. They dried off near their stuff, and I dried off and changed near mine. One of them, the guy I didn't know, called and asked me if I'd like to get coffee. I thought he meant the the four of us together, so I said yes, because I thought it might be fun to get to know more swimming people. As it turns out, I was the only one who ended up getting coffee with him. Since I'd already agreed, I didn't back out, thinking we were just going to get coffee to go at the little coffee bar, which we could bring back to the beach and talk with the other people

The coffee bar was closed. He said the restaurant that the bar was attached to was too noisy, so he said we should go the restaurant at the hotel nearby. This was just getting weirder and weirder. Not only was I alone with a man I had just met, we were going to a hotel to hang out. We sat and talked, I mentioned again and again that I had a husband, and that I was religious. We talked about religion and philosophy. It was awkward. I was intentionally unenthusiastic. When we left, I shook his hand and smiled warmly to try to make up for the coldness throughout our conversation. I'll probably see him around the beach more often. I may swim with them again, but no more hanging out outside the water. The whole thing was weird from the beginning, now that I think about it. His friend, the guy that I knew, kept calling me sweetie, and me and the other girl "babes." Yuck.

Really, he was probably a very intelligent, interesting person. I couldn't act too enthusiastic about it though, because I didn't want to give him the wrong idea. I was awkward, serious, and boring, but for once in my life, this was probably a plus. It made me kind of depressed though. I wish I had more decent men in my life that I can trust. Maybe I should start going back to church.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had a really nice day today. Very calm and relaxing. Raybon has a cold, and I am just getting over one, so rather than going to his family's, we stayed home. I made my first Thanksgiving dinner, and we spent our first Thanksgiving in our own home together.

This is the first time in years that I've made an effort at making a really nice dinner for the two of us. I cleaned the house, as if company was going to come over, and even put on a dress. Making a Thanksgiving dinner was much easier than I thought. It takes a little planning, but really spending the day just cooking and cleaning and relaxing with my book was very pleasant. In a way, it was nice that Raybon was sick, because I cooked and cleaned without any expectation of help. Any help he did give was appreciated. It felt nice to get dressed up and cook just for the two us, like we are worth the effort. Most days when we spend the whole day alone at home, we spend it semi-dressed, unshowered, and with minimal effort in preparing food.

I finished reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I think it ended up being one of my favorite books. It really got under my skin at first, but in the end I found it comforting.

I watched Capote for the first time. It was really interesting. I think some of my thoughts from Unbearable influenced my take on it. They both made me think about how essentially alone we each are, but how we require other people to make us feel whole. We need their eyes on us to help us know that we exist. This blog is partially me trying to find myself through the eyes of others. It really takes something divine to escape the effort to be known and to attempt to know and love another. So often, even when I try to do this, all I am doing is looking for myself in another person, to gain an understanding of my own existence. The moments I've felt myself able to escape this are the ones I feel most whole and at peace.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
Amen.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lies

I neglected to blog about one funny thing about my trip, because I wasn't sure what the resolution would be until last night.

When I was in Guatemala 7 years ago, I bought some Cuban cigars for my dad. I am and was aware that there was and is an embargo against Cuba, but Raybon told me that it was OK to import a few Cuban items for your personal use. This isn't true, of course. When I went through Customs in Houston after getting back from Guatemala, I told them about my Cuban cigars, thinking I wasn't doing anything illegal. They took them away from me of course, and then cut them in pieces right in front of me. I was sooo disappointed.

It occurred to me that I could buy Cuban cigars in Prague, to make up for the ones I lost so long ago. This time I bought just 2 cigars, instead of a whole box, so I wouldn't be so sad if they got taken away. Raybon was nervous about it, and at first stood outside the shop while I went in to buy the cigars.

I had thought a bit about the importance of honesty when I was in Prague. There are a lot of scam artists there, and the shopkeepers blatantly lied to me about some things I knew to be untrue. It's a little scary being in a strange place and not knowing if you can trust anyone. I thought about how lying destroys trust, which makes honest communication almost meaningless. While I was on the plane, they handed out customs forms, and I thought about having to lie if they asked me about any alcohol or tobacco I might have to declare.

When we finally landed at SFO, we went through customs and then went to claim our bags. Raybon stood and waited at the carousel while I sat and read. I was at the part in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" where Tomas is being interrogated by the Secret Police about the article he wrote about Oedipus and Communism. Milan Kundera says that in all of us there is the child who was told by his parents to always tell the truth. Kundera suggests that Tomas should have lied to the Secret Police, but there was part of him that struggled against him when he tried to lie. As much as I believed in the importance of honesty, I would have to agree that lying to a totalitarian regime may be a good thing, if you can pull if off. All around the carousels were televisions displaying messages from the U.S. Customs and Borders Service, with patriotic messages about protecting our borders and being honest in your declarations to customs.

With all these thoughts running in my head about honesty and Secret Police and patriotic things on the television, a voice comes over the loudspeakers telling Raybon and I to report to the Service desk in the baggage claim department. I think "Oh s--t. They've found my cigars and we're in big trouble." I wondered whether Raybon would stick up for me or not. We went over to the desk and they simply told us that our bags were stuck in London. We filled out some forms and headed home. When we left the baggage claim area, the man who was supposed to ask us the questions about our bags contents was confused that we just had backpacks. When we told them our bags were lost, he just let us go without asking us any questions. I didn't have to worry about whether I should lie or tell the truth.

I was still nervous about the cigars. I wondered if the delay in getting our bags was at all related to the Cuban cigars in my bags. I wondered if they'd search through them when they got to the U.S.

We got our bags back last night around 11:00 p.m. There was a sticker on Raybon's bag that a Security Search had been done on his bag. My bag, the one with the cigars, had no such stickers on it.

All in all, it was a pretty clean smuggle. I didn't have to lie to anyone at all. My cigars didn't get taken away. In a way, maybe we were lucky that our bags got lost, because we would have been interrogated, and I may have decided in that split second to tell the truth. I have a real problem with lying. I can't do it even if I intend to. Maybe this is a good thing. I kind of wonder if I would have crossed a line in my determination to lie about the cigars. Maybe it would snowball into a new trend for me, and I would no longer be as honest a person.

It's funny. It's kind of like God was sparing my soul from my own bad intentions. While you can't give me credit for not following through with my bad intentions, at least I was spared from whatever path it may have lead me down if I was able to do so. This isn't the first time in my life that this has happened. It's nice to think that God watches out for me in this way.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Trip, In Retrospect

Did I have fun? The answer would have to be no. I was tired and lonely my first two days, and I spent my time filling myself with activities that were very heavy. Raybon and I fought on our second night there, because I was mad at him for working, when I asked for a little bit of his time. Being alone in a foreign, crowded country, where everyone is expecting you to have the time of your life is very different than being alone elsewhere. My second two days were less lonely, and hence more enjoyable, but I had a cold, and it's hard for me to think of much else.

Such an Eeyore, I know. I almost feel like it is rude for me give honest answers like the one above. Almost like saying to someone "I'm fat and ugly" or "my life sucks" and expecting them to respond in some way I feel is appropriate. That's almost too much to ask of people. This is my blog, and you can read it or not, but maybe when people ask me, I should just lie and say I had a blast. My co-worker Miss H. asked me about my trip, and I told her the truth, and she basically told me to just get over it. That sounds harsh, but it didn't hurt my feelings really. It's her prerogative to deal with my negativity in any way she wants to I guess.

I don't regret going. They say travel is broadening. It was. I've never been anywhere with such a deep sense of history. I don't think I even began to soak it all in, but I did get a sense that there is a lot more to this world than the here and now in ways I never have before. The sites were very beautiful. Even if my poor health didn't allow me to enjoy it as much as I could, I do have the experience of seeing them, and pictures to look at to remind me of them. I think you also learn a little about yourself when you are put outside your normal routine. I really am a creature of habit, and maybe that is the way we were made to be, but new situations are interesting and challenging.

Sooo... If people ask me. I need to rehearse this.

Prague was very beautiful. The people were very kind. They have a rich and interesting history. The architecture was amazing. My one complaint was that the food left something to be desired.

I really need to learn to have a private self and a public self. Do I really? Yes, I do. I wonder to what extent I can learn to do this so late in life. Maybe I'm incapable. Even if I try to hide something, my true feelings come out in my eyes and voice. Maybe that's enough. People can wonder, but they won't know for sure, and if they don't want to deal with the truth, I can make it that much easier for them.

Prague, Days 2, 3, and 4

We got back from Prague last night. Phew! 20 hours of traveling. Thank God, my back feels fine.

I spent Thursday visiting New Town in Prague. Raybon was working. Prague's New Town isn't all that new. It was built in 1348. Most of the store fronts are modern, yuppy stores with expensive clothing. But if you raise your eyes, it really is a beautiful city. The architecture is amazing. I headed down to Wenceslas Square (yes, named after the king in the Christmas carol.) This is where the protests in the Velvet Revolution of 1989 took place, which hailed the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia. It is called the Velvet Revolution, because it took place without bloodshed.

I went to visit the Museum of Communism there, which was upstairs from a McDonald's and next door to a casino. I sort of wonder if the owner of the building had a sense of humor.

The museum was very interesting. It had a sense of humor about it, but it's subject matter is obviously very serious. There was a video that showed the various brave attempts to defeat the Communist totalitarian regime. They showed heros like Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc, who commited suicide by self-immolation during the Prague Spring. Their actions didn't seem to have any immediate effect on anything, but they inspired many people to rise up against the Communist Regime during the Velvet Revolution.

I bought a book called "The Czech People in a Nutshell" at the museum. I learned that the Czech people hate Milan Kundera, the author of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being." He lives in Frances now, writes in French, and has done various things to distance himself from the Czech people. The first day there, I sat at an ice cream parlor for an hour and read "The Unbearable Lightness of Being."

I also learned from this book why the German people might have been amused by my trout and potato dumpling meal. According to the book, the main difference between Czech cuisine and German cuisine is that Czechs use mushrooms in their cooking, which Germans think are disgusting. My food was covered in a mushroom sauce.

Friday and Saturday, Raybon didn't have to work, so we went together doing sightseeing. It is much nicer to travel with another person in a lot of ways, although I'm glad I had time to do the things I did, since Raybon wasn't as interested. We went to Old Town and Wenceslas square on Friday. We also went on a tour of the Astronomical Observartion Tower at the Clementinum. I think my favorite moment in Prague was looking down at Prague through the top of the observation tower. The view was very beautiful. All you could see was the beautiful architecture, without being distracted by the modern shops.

Saturday we went to see Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle. We got up around 6:00 to see Charles Bridge at dawn. I'm glad we did, because it is very beautiful, but very crowded during the day time. Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in Europe. I think my favorite part was seeing how excited Raybon was about seeing the castle. His favorite parts were the stony fortifications where people defended the castle. I smiled at him, and he thought I was laughing at him. I'm not sure whether I was or not. I thought he was being cute. He loves castles, armor, and weapons. Apart from that, I think my favorite part was St. Vitus's Cathedral.

Most of the pictures above are by me, but the links below are Raybon's. I really like his photos. They tell me something about the way he sees the world that I wouldn't get to see otherwise. I think my photos only say that I'm not very comfortable holding a camera.

Old Town and Wenceslas Square

Charles Bridge and the Castle Quarter

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Prague, Day 1

Today was my first full day in Prague. Last night we got in late, and just ordered room service. I took a shower and felt very resistant to putting on actual clothes, so I just got in my pajamas and crawled in bed with my book.

Raybon had to work today, so I wandered around Prague myself. I am loathe to write this, because I don't want Raybon to say "I told you so" about the "Lost in Translation" thing, but I was a little lonely. My main activity of the day wasn't something you'd necessarily want company for anyways. I visited the Jewish quarter. It was a very moving experience. I saw a synagogue where they had the names of the Jewish victims of the 80,000 Holocaust victims from Bohemia and Moravia. Upstairs they had artwork done by Jewish children while they waited execution in concentration camps. They were done in a school organized by the Jewish community within the concentration camps. The teachers thought it was important that even during those hopeless conditions, that the children have outlets for expression and enjoyment.

I had lunch in a Czech restaurant, where I sat at a table with a bunch of other people, including two young English speaking German tourists. They were mostly very nice, but in retrospect a little rude. They talked to me in English, but talked to each other in German, which made me think they were talking about me. I said some things that were worth chuckling about (like not understanding Celsius), but if they did it in English, it would have been different. They both ordered salads, and thought my trout and potato dumpling meal was amusing. Maybe they thought it was funny to see an American eating their traditional food, when they were too hip to eat it themselves.

The waiter at the Czech restaurant made fun of me a bit, too, although a little more meanly, rather than being just amused. I feel funny speaking English in a country where it isn't the native tongue. Raybon says it is rude to not try to speak the language at least. So I'm hesitant, but then I do eventually speak English after figuring out I don't know enough Czech to communicate, or I just point. The waiter asked me impatiently "Do you speak English? Deustch? Spanish? What?" I give up. I'm going to be a stupid, arrogant American who just speaks expects everyone to speak English.

I saw a string quarter concert in a room in what was formerly St. Michael's Church. It was actually advertised as "Greatest Hits" of classical music, and I was told that it would be exactly an hour long. The man handing out flyers was very persistent. He showed me pictures of the room it would be in, and when I walked by him a second time after night had fallen, he had me walk into a courtyard where I could see inside the room. It had religious paintings on the ceiling, a la the Sistine Chapel. I asked the man how old they were, and he said they were from the 19th century. I think he lied. They looked pretty new, and were sort of Flip Flop mural quality. I enjoyed the music, but I'm not a connoisseur by any means. When the time for the concert rolled around, and I had nothing better to do, and was in the area, I decided to go. I liked the songs they advertised (Pachelbel's Canon in D, Vivaldi's Four Seasons) and almost always enjoy live music. An hour of "greatest hits" classical music is about my speed and attention span anyway. I felt a bit like a rube, but the musicians seemed to enjoy playing, and I hope they are making a decent living off of it.

I just googled St. Michael's church, and apparently there was a protest against its recent sale. It hasn't been used as a church since the 1700's. Recent owners have even used it as a strip club. *Sigh.* Well, at least I supported a more pious use of it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Flight to London

I am now in London's Heathrow Airport. Again, my mind immediately flies to silly comedy's, this time "A Fish Called Wanda" Of course, it doesn't look anything like the movie. It doesn't look particularly London-y. It doesn't look particularly airport-y either. It basically looks like a big mall with places for airplanes to pick people up and drop people off. At least the voice overhead has a British accent. They don't even sell scones at the coffee shop. Maybe it would hurt their tourist business if people felt they could have a London experience in a layover in Heathrow.

Still, I'm excited to be in England. I went to a little airport shop and got myself some water from St. Anne's spring. We were looking for water, but I stopped and gazed at some English "biscuits." Raybon felt rushed, and impatiently pointed out that I wasn't looking at water. I explained "I'm looking at the English stuff." One thing that was different than America were the awesome stickers they had on their cigarette packs. They take up a third of the front of the package, and say things like "Smoking Kills" or "Smoking Causes Aging of the Skin" or "Smoking can damage the sperm and decreases fertility."

I wish I could see more of England. Raybon said he saw a lot of stuff as we flew over London. Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Covington Garden, but I didn't see anything because I didn't have a window seat. I really wanted an aisle seat because I wanted to be able to get up and stretch during the flight.

The flight basically sucked. Raybon's work paid for him to fly World Traveler Plus, but I was just in World Traveler Basic. Mostly that just meant a lot more room. I think that the biggest bummer about it was sitting alone for a long flight. I sat next to an older English couple, who I didn't talk much to. I saw David Sedaris on Halloween who talked about sitting next to a cashmere and tweed wearing couple who looked very proper but had filthy mouths. I hoped my fellow passengers would be equally entertaining, but mostly I couldn't hear them. I did hear the gentleman call the steward a "bloody bastard" for incorrectly describing the contents of the chicken option served at dinner. Tee hee.

I snuck up to Raybon's cabin during the flight. The seat next to him was empty, so I took it, and decided I'd stay until they asked me to leave. It took them about an hour to do so. The attendant addressed Raybon and sort of chewed him out. He asked him "What makes you think that the lady can sit up in these seats without paying when everyone else had to pay a great deal more than she did?" Raybon said "I don't think that." I said "I'll leave." He continued to sort of chew him out even after I said I'd leave. I'm not sure why he felt this was necessary given that I said I'd leave as soon as he asked me to. I felt a little upset by it, but it isn't like I figured it wouldn't happen, and at least it provided a little entertainment on the long flight.

My experience in the airport at Heathrow makes me happy about my decision to go to Prague. I suppose I could decide to make it an important priority to visit Prague sometime in my life, but maybe by the time I got around to it, it wouldn't be the place it is now. I think even very recently it has become more touristy and less distinctive in character.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I did buy The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and am now reading it. I love it so far. It really speaks to where my heart has been lately.

I just got to this part in the book:

"It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences (like the meeting of Anna, Vronsky, the railway station, or the meeting of Beethoven, Tomas, Tereza, and the cognac), but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he therby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty."

I've really tried hard lately to not think too much about fate and coincidence. I thought maybe it was an excuse to not be thoughtful and responsible in my choices. Perhaps that is true. My life has seemed a little emptier, but a lot more stable. Am I happier? In some ways. I'm less nervous. I feel more in control of my future, because I'm not consantly looking for signs that I should act differently than what I plan to do. Is my life less beautiful? Perhaps. I can't say I'm completely happy yet. I am less sad, though, if that makes any sense. I'm only 40 pages into it, but that relates to what seems to be the theme of the book, and its title. My life is lighter, but seems less meaningful, since I stopped looking for signs. I understand what the book title means, why the lightness of being can be unbearable.

There really has to be more to life that gives it meaning than the beauty of coincidences. Isn't there? Shouldn't integrity give your life more meaning than coincidence? If you put too much meaning in coincidence, you would be pushed along in life like a tumbleweed blown by the wind, defining your life and your actions by mere coincidence. It is hard to have integrity with these kinds of definitions of meaning. But, I think the coincidences we see reveal what our heart truly desires. We can't take everything in our world into our perception, we choose the parts that signify to us what it is we want to believe. Tomas signifies to Tereza a resolution to deep, unmet needs, so she sees in all that surrounds him signs that she should be with him. Maybe if I desired good and God more than anything else in this world, there wouldn't be a conflict between having integrity and finding meaning in coincidence.

Deep Thoughts on the Czech Republic

It's kind of funny, but my main thoughts on going to Prague have to do with Bill Murray movies. My first thought (actually suggested by Raybon) is that I'll be like Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation, but without a Bill Murray. Raybon will be working most of the time that we are there, so I'll be left to entertain myself.

My deepest held impression of Czechoslovakia is based on the Bill Murray movie Stripes. Bill Murray and Harold Ramis borrow the EM-50, a military vehicle that looks like an RV, to take their Military Police girlfriends on a little mini break. Their platoon ends up looking for them and the EM-50 in Czechoslovakia and gets captured, and Bill Murray and Harold Ramis have to rescue them. I've seen and read some about the Czech Republic, and it is really beautiful, much more like visiting the Sound of Music than Stripes, where the military compound scenes were actually filmed in Kentucky. And from what I've read about the Czech people, they have are interesting, intelligent people with an ironic sense of humour, not at all like the lugs in Stripes. I think I'll go buy the Unbearable Lightness of Being today so that I can have more intelligent thoughts about Prague. Or maybe I'll just watch Groundhog Day again, because they're both are about Eternal Recurrence, right?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Word of the Day: Defenestration

Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window. The word comes from the Latin de ("from; out of") and fenestra ("window").

I just think it is cool that there is actually a word for this. My office manager requested that I take a picture of the window involved in the Second Defenestration of Prague. I had to Wikipedia it, which is where I learned my new word.

I wonder how often people have shown up to defenestrate someone and found out he or she was on first floor. Is this anti-climactic, or do they just drag him or her up a few stories?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Spider

I'm going to Prague! Just for a week. Raybon and I bought the tickets yesterday. The question on everyone's mind is "Are you excited?" Ummm... No. Not yet. Sorry. I'll try harder. I don't get excited about stuff generally, as I've talked about previously (see Tahoe posts from July.) I'm trying not to be such an Eeyore, so I'll think I'll plan out things I'd like to do in Prague. Fodder for my next blog.

I had kind of a nice day. I'm tired. I didn't sleep well last night. I swam this morning (very stiffly) and ran this afternoon. The run was very nice. It wasn't too hot or too cold. I was stiff at first, but loosened up as I ran. When I got done, I walked around the parking lot at my work to cool down. I saw a huge web with a huge red spider in it. It made me grin from ear to ear, without really thinking about what I liked about it. I love running. If it put me in such a good mood that seeing a spider in its web makes me so happy, it is definitely a good thing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I Feel Sooooo Loved

I worked from home today. I received 20 phones calls from my work so far. I know I said one of my favorite things is attention, but this is driving me crazy. AAAAHHHHH!!! I yelled the F-Word twice (not while I was on the phone, fortunately.) Wonder if the neighbors heard. Maybe the Sheriff's Department will come by and investigate a domestic disturbance. Naaahhh, this is the Flip Flop Mountains.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Buoy Widget 1.0

I finished Version 1.0 of my Buoy App. Click on the picture of it to the left in Safari to install it. It only works in MacOS 10.4 Tiger. It updates the Temp about once an hour, and only shows info for two buoys. If you click on the widget, it will take you to the website for the buoy the info is from. I'm tempted to make something fancier and more interactive, but I'm tired. I need a break, I think.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Note to Self

Always shower after swimming in chlorinated water. My eyes are burning from going 24 hours without showering after swimming.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday

You know you should have stayed in bed if:

You show up at work, where you have to give a presentation that afternoon, and realize you forgot your clothes.

Yes. This actually did happen to me today.

Let me explain. I swim at 7:00 a.m. at Mellow Masters, which is 1.25 hours from home, and 2 minutes from my work. Generally, I put my swimsuit, parka, and flip flops on, grab my bag of clothes and purse, drive with Raybon over the hill, get coffee, drop him off at work, and then head to the pool.

Guess which crucial step I forgot?

I managed to try not to think about it too much during workout today. I got in my regular lane. In past weeks, it has had people in it that are faster than me, or close enough to the same speed as me. Today, the people in it were a little slower. I asked to lead. The people in my lane were very accommodating.

There were two lanes that were doing the same interval as me, with a 1:40 base, which shouldn't be a challenging interval for me. I was a little faster than the leader in the other lane doing that interval. At the end of the set, the coach asked us what intervals we came in on. The leader in the next lane over said "1:35." I answered, truthfully, "1:28", which quite frankly isn't that great for me. I was sore, and the coach insisted we should be working more on rhythm than power. The leader in the next lane said "No way. No way" after I said this. His tone wasn't "No way, that's awesome." It was more "No way, you're lying or an idiot." I was a bit taken aback. This is the first time someone at my new club has been rude to me.

I think in the short time I've swam there, he's already gotten the idea that he's faster than me. I almost always have swum in the back on whatever lane I'm in, unless someone insists I take the lead. Some people automatically figure anyone who swims in back of them is slower, I guess. Which would be fine, but the problem comes when they feel like their self-esteem rests on being faster than you.

Sigh. I guess there are people who aren't always nice everywhere. It bothers me that I have to swim with people who aren't supportive. I'm going to try and just forget about this. Next time I see him, I guess I'll act like nothing happened, and hope he’ll be nice. The coach told me "Great job" after I told him my interval, and after workout made another point of telling me what a great job I did, probably to make up for any bad feelings I had about being called a liar. The coach is a super nice guy, and I'd like to think the generally good attitude that I've gotten from everyone in the club comes from the top down. If I have any more problems with the guy who called me a liar, I'll deal with it when it comes, but I'll try not to expect it.

At my old club, when someone was rude to me, I would sort of blame myself for it. I would think that I wasn't friendly enough, so people had a right to be jerks to me. I'm through with that. No one should be a jerk to me, just because I'm quiet and show up to swim and work hard. If apologizing for who I am, taking the blame, and letting people walk all over me is what it takes to get along with people in club swimming, I'll just quit it all together. It's not worth it. I'll just have to decide that it isn't my thing. I hope it doesn't come down to that.

Anyhoo. I was done with workout. But I had no clothes. This all worked out anyways. I had a T-Shirt and shorts at work for when I go running or to yoga class. No bra or panties though. The shorts had built in underwear in them sort of. I went and bought at bra at Big-5, which is close to my work, and some pants and a shirt, which I needed anyways. It wasn't such a bad day. I stumbled through my presentation, but people said I did a good job. Nice, supportive co-workers :). See, generally people aren't so bad, are they?

Vaguely related side note:

See the buoy app on the right? That is part of the reason I'm so out of it. I worked on programming that this weekend. That wasn't sooo hard, but I've been trying to make a widget for my Mac that looks like that, which has proven a bit harder. One problem after another. Must let it gooo... Must wait until I have proven I can get through a day without forgetting my clothes or other crucial thing before I work on it anymore.

Mostly, I mention this, not to explain my tiredness, but because I'm very proud of my little buoy app. Yes, I'm easily amused. I know it's not like I cured cancer or anything, but I like it when things work.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Weirdo

It just occurred to me that being thought of as a weirdo might have distinct advantages. One that comes to mind is that people won't bother to overanalyze you. You could give them some ridiculous explanation for your behavior, and they might just think "Wow, what a weirdo." They wouldn't bother to think that you might have some other explanation that might make more sense that you don't really want to explain to them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Prague

Fingers crossed, Raybon and I will be going to Prague in two weeks. He is going on business. I am along for the ride.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How to Eat Fried Worms

Raybon is in Texas on a business trip. We just got off the phone. I called him. It was a little after 9, and I was wondering why he hadn't called me yet. He had just gotten back to the hotel from the factory.

This is the second time he's been to Texas this month on business. The first time I sort of enjoyed my time alone. This time not so much. Probably because I hung out with the my godparents and S. while he was gone last time. I've spent the last 3 nights alone. Hmmmm... I had tentative plans with Oxy for tonight, but it didn't end up happening, because I drove over the hill to work. She was non-committal, because she is busy with school. Don't I have other friends? Yeah, I guess.

Really, this weekend I had a busy little social schedule. I went up to the City on Friday to visit a friend. That was fun. We drove around the City for a while looking for a place to eat. I tried to direct Raybon and my friends to North Beach where I had a restaurant in mind. We drove through some pretty scary looking places, with prostitutes and strip joints. I lost credibility with my friends, and we just ended up at a restaurant that looked decent but none of us had ever heard of. It ended up being a mediocre dinner at an overpriced Italian restaurant. We had fun anyways, I think. Good company if not great food.

After dinner, we headed towards Trader Vic's, the birthplace of the Mai Tai. On the way we went and saw the City's famous phallically shaped and named tower and drove down the curviest street in the U.S. The rest of our company had Mai Tai's at Trader Vic's while I drank some kind of virgin fruity drink the bartender concocted.

Saturday was Miss S.'s birthday party. We made fall crowns. There were four small children at this party, which sort of shows what stage of our lives my friends are at. Not like my friends ever had drunken orgies or anything, but maybe a tipsy game of twister (never played personally) and a dirty joke here and there.

Sunday I had breakfast with EMA. That was kind of nice. We ate and then went for a walk to the beach. It was nice catching up with her. I then went to the beach and swam with Oceana, Camille, and Eleven. We hadn't all done this together in quite some time. The water was really lovely. Oceana is back in the water, and swimming very strongly. She pushed me to swim for 50 minutes, which is probably more than I would have done on my own that day. It's kind of nice to have someone to swim with who will stay in even longer than I want to.

I saw H. and 007 at the beach after I had already showered and deck changed, so I went over and said Hi. I hadn't seen them for over a month, when they just got back from England. It was a little bit awkward, but overall nice to see them. I miss Flip Flop Masters, so seeing them made me feel happy, and a little wistful. They invited me for hot chocolate and hot-tubbing at 007's, which was very tempting, but I had plans to go pumpkin hunting with Oceana, N-Dawg, Camille, Miss S., Eleven, Mr. Eleven, and another couple. That didn't happen. Somewhere in the mess of everyone trying to coordinate everyone meeting for pumpkinning, a crucial phone call to yours truly was not made. I sat around Flip Flop with some hot chocolate and banana bread after saying my goodbyes to H. and 007 waiting for a phone call that never came. I headed home. I guess I could have called myself, but I was half hearted in my quest for pumpkins. I had ran, done weights, and swam that day, and a nap sounded nicer than company anyways. Still, I feel a little invisible. Despite the fact that I had dinner with a good friend on Friday, a party on Saturday, breakfast on Sunday, a nice swim and two invitations for Sunday afternoon, two long phones calls and an apologetic voice message on Sunday night, a call from my brother last night, and a non-committal Oxy asking me out tonight.

For the record, I'm not mad about the pumpkin thing. My mind knows that these things just happen. I've done it before, too. See pre-Tahoe post.

A couple of weeks ago my dad sent me a link. It was made for days like these. Click here to see it. It actually helps. Good night.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Camille's Eye-Balls

Camille wrote a comic dedicated to Eleven and I. Click here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Treasure Island Swim


Saturday I swam from Treasure Island to the City.

Distance: 1.5 Miles
Temperature: 60 degrees (felt colder)
Transportation: Blue and Gold Ferry
Company: Raybon, and three Flip Flop Master swimmers: Bruce, Liz, and Monica
Time of swim: Morning. 8:00 a.m.?
Swim Time: 39 minutes 17.4 seconds. For me, that's pretty good.
Fastest Wetsuit time: 28 minutes 28 seconds. Wetsuits make you more buoyant, hence make you faster.
Fastest Skin Time: 30 minutes 16.9 seconds. I was a "skin."
Slowest time: 1 hour 5 minutes 51.2 seconds.
Age group place (skins only): 2 of 3 (Yeah! I got a medal.)
Overall place (skins only): 35 of 65
Overall place (wetsuits and skins): 83 of 213

Monica and Liz also placed. They are in the same age group and came in about the same time, and got first and second in their age group. Bruce also swam along side them, but didn't place. Tough age group.

We had a nice time walking around the farmers market and North Beach with V., who recently moved to the City. She took us to City Light books, where I bought "The House of Mirth" on her recommendation. We ate a little Indonesian restaurant with the cutest daughter, mother, and grandmother running it. They were so adorable, and very excited about how much we enjoyed their food. Later in the evening, we went to a coffee shop to see my coworker Patrick play his guitar and sing.

Every time I go to the City, there is part of me that wants to move there. I want to join one of the local Open Water Swimming Clubs, visit the huge Farmer's Market, explore all of the bookshops, bars, coffee shops, and restaurants, admire the architecture. There is so much color and variety there. I'm not sure how to explain it's appeal to me. I went there for the first time when I was 15 with my biology class: my first trip without my parents, I think. It definitely has it's own character that sets it apart from most generic big cities and ticky-tacky suburbia. I've lived in Northern California for 13 years (my gosh!!!) and can probably count on my digits the times I've been to the City. Maybe even without using my toes. I should remedy that. Maybe that is enough reason to join the Open Water Swimming Club up there. The City is such a great place to be anyways.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Not too subtle

I've generally made it a policy to not blog too much about my work life, but then again, I mostly worked from home before, so there wasn't a whole lot to say.

I just had the following exchange with my office manager:

Her: Nori, two things. First of all, the letterhead you designed looks nice. Really nice.

Me (A little puzzled): Thanks.

Her: Second of all, what are you doing for lunch?

Me: Um. I don't know. I have a burrito in the freezer.

Her (annoyed): Thanks.

I overheard her asking my coworker Sandy if she happened to be going to Pluto's today. Sandy doesn't usually go to Pluto's, so I just kind of thought it was funny that rather than just asking Sandy where she was going for lunch, she hinted where she would like lunch picked up from. Part of me was thinking about going out and getting pasta for lunch because I have to carbo-load for Saturday, but now...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Goodbye Buoys

I went out for a solo swim on Wednesday evening. It was a tiny bit cold and cloudy. I was a little ambivalent about swimming in mediocre weather, as some of my past solo swims in similar weather had been less than joyous. When I got to the beach, I saw that the buoys were gone. Sometime between Sunday and Wednesday they had been taken away. I sat on a bench on the wharf for a while and just looked out at my beach feeling a little forlorn. Sunday would have been my last chance to swim on the right side of Cowell's with the Flip Flop Masters group out to my favorite place in the world, Buoy #4.

Ah well... I sat on the beach, and slowly talked myself in to getting in. At least go sit on the beach and think about it... At least get your suit on... At least put your feet in. At least put your face in... The water wasn't terribly, terribly cold, but cold enough to be a little discouraging. When I put my face in, the water was orange. It looked green fine until I actually put my face in. Red Tide. Ewww.... Harmless, but a little gross swimming in rust colored water. I got out.

There was a group of people sitting on the beach, and I wonder if they were amused by me. Perhaps surprised at first at the nut case getting in a bikini to swim by herself out in the ocean at 5:00 on a fall evening. Such dedication...such resolve... And then... so easily discouraged. She gets all the way in the water, and immediately decides to get out. What an anti-climax.

I decided to try the other side of the wharf. By the time I got back in the water, my body had gotten over the shock of cold from jumping in minutes before. It felt warm, and the red tide didn't seem quite so bad on this side of the wharf. I decided to swim out to the end of the wharf. The red time did get worse as I went out, but somehow doing breaststroke made it seem less disgusting to me. My head peeked in and out, and intermittently looked at the pretty blueish sky and what looked like pretty green water on the surface.

I have a new swim to entertain myself throughout the non-buoy months, I guess. Out to the end of the wharf and back. Maybe a new favorite place in the world?

Afterwards, I went to get my haircut. This is my third time visiting my hairdresser, who was recommended to me by my massage therapist. I like her. She's an interesting, open person. She told me about some of her failures in her romantic life, and what it's like living with and taking in her 80 year old parents. She told me that every time she find herself attracted to someone, she's learned that this is a good sign that she should run in the other direction. She is just attracted to the wrong people. I like how she could be so cheerful despite the fact that she hasn't had a successful love life, and she lives with parents that are difficult. She maybe told me some stuff that might have made me uncomfortable if someone else told me about it, but somehow it didn't, coming from her. I think she had enough humor and detachment about it that it somehow made it OK. Sometimes when people TMI, they are trying to elicit a reaction from you, but it didn't seem that way from her, so maybe that is what made it different. Who knows?

Afterwards I went out for a beer with S. from Flip Flop Masters. It was really good to see her. She emailed me when she realized she hadn't seen me in forever at the pool. Going out and getting a beer with her cheered me up some, especially since Raybon was away on a business trip. S. impresses me as a person with a strong sense of self, which is definitely a good thing for a woman to have. It was trivia night at the pub, but we left before the game was over. We decided we were winners anyways.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New Blogger

I switched my blog over to the new Blogger Beta. It has an option to restrict readership to people I invite. You have to have a google account to login. If I did this, would anyone who reads this blog regularly think this is too much of a pain?

Happy Birthday, Ric!

Today is my godfather Ric's birthday. He is one of my faithful blog readers. I am off to his birthday party with his family right now. They have been sooo nice to me. :) My family is so far away, so it is nice that they are so close to me in the Flip Flop Mountains. I baked him a carrot cake. I hope it turned out well. I'll try to get a good picture of them to post here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Goodbye summer

Open water season is pretty much over. I did a 1.5 mile ocean swim all on my lonesome yesterday. The water was fairly warm and the sun was on my back. I swam from the Flip Flop Wharf down towards Oxy's lighthouse. I saw some of my Flip Flop Masters swimmers on the other side, but I had my mind set on my own swim. My in-laws were in town, and I needed a little bit of alone time, and didn't want to waste time away from them socializing. The water was lovely. I had a very nice swim. I hope there's a few more of those left before winter. I'm racing on Saturday from Treasure Island to the City, so I wanted to get some training in the ocean.

As I said, Raybon's parents were here. They got here Friday and left this morning. It was mostly a pleasant, low-key time. His mom is very sweet. We get along fairly well. I'm lucky I don't have a nightmare mother-in-law, I guess. Although maybe if she was a total bitch, that would have set Raybon's expectations of me in a more realistic place :). We walked and drove around Flip Flop some, and stuffed ourselves with Greek food and ice cream. Raybon bought me flowers today to thank me for being so good with his parents. I didn't think I was particularly good with them, but I'm glad he thought so. I've been sort of withdrawn with almost everyone lately. Anti-social. I won't bother trying to figure out why. Perhaps it's just a change in weather.

I've been running more, and my body hasn't complained too much. I'm going to do a 5K next month, I think. I'll feel kind of lame dropping down from 10K to 5K, especially since everyone I know who will be running that day besides me will be doing the 10K, but I figure I have to start somewhere again. And who cares if people think I'm a dork for doing a 5K? It's a lot easier to not care what anyone thinks since I stopped swimming with my club. I never used to care, but I figured since I had to share a lane with people, it would be a lot better if people liked me. It's nice being back to my old self and not caring too much. At my new club, I get in the back of a lane where everyone is faster than me, and stay out of their way. I try to keep a low profile. So far, it's working out pretty well, as far as I can tell.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Day in the Life of the Edge


Bono films a day in the life of the Edge in Miami. They're pretty adorable. Thanks for sending these, Oxy.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Inside Out

Nothing very bloggable has happened lately. The one funny thing that happened is today I went out to get gas and go grocery shopping, and I had my shirt on inside out. I was torn. Should I lay my seat down, lie back, and switch my shirt around, and risk someone seeing me? Should I go home and change? Should I just go to the store with my shirt inside out? What would you do? What do you think I did? What values does it reflect by the choice one makes in this situation? Modesty... Saving time and gas... Not caring about what other people think if I do something silly...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Better and better and better

My body feels better than it has for a very long time. If I knit and my hands start to hurt, I go to bed, and I wake up with no pain, where before the pain might last for weeks. My doctor touched my shoulders and was amazed how great they felt. They were frozen solid 2 years ago, and have been mildy stiff at least since then. My posture hasn't been great, but now my body is like it was when I was younger. It can withstand a little more abuse and recover quickly.

After I had my surgery, I decided me and my body were friends again. I recovered quickly physically from surgery, so we made up. I've been treating it better by stretching and drinking water and taking supplements.

I went running Sunday and am hardly sore at all. My back doesn't hurt.

I've been sleeping better. I can sleep on my side again without feeling pain. I don't need 3 pillows anymore. I'm calmer, happier, more attentive. I'm not perfect: I still have my moods, but generally I have much more energy than before. I thought I had some kind of chronic illness before, but I realize now it was just too much stress. I've rethought my life and my routine, and it's all sort of working out. Praise God!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pescadero


Raybon and I drove to Pescadero yesterday to have lunch at Duarte's. I guess it is kind of a long drive just for food. It is just nice to get out of town, though, I think. We are an old married couple, but in some ways when we do things like that it is a bit like we're dating again, becaue we are making it a point of spending time together. I think when we were dating, our relationship revolved around food. We went out to eat a lot. I think in trying to save money and watch our waistlines, we haven't been able to do that as much.

There is that part in Pulp Fiction where Mia and Vince talk about how you know you have something good with someone when you can sit in silence with them. Raybon and I just sat and enjoyed our food. I hope he had a nice time, too. The drive up the coast was nice, too.

Raybon asked me if I'd like to go to Fry's and the hardware store with him afterwards, and I refused. I was like "You can't ask me out on a date and then drag me to Fry's with you." Instead, we headed back to Flip Flop, and I went underwear shopping, and Raybon went to the hardware store. Buying underwear is still a little bit embarrassing for me. Not as much as it was before I got married, but just a tiny bit.

I went home and made dinner for us and Oxy. Yes, Oxy. I often make food for people who just had babies, but Oxy is pressed for time because of grad school, so I decided I'd make something for her, too. Knitting and cooking for others is therapeutic for me. I probably get more satisfaction from it than the people I make stuff for. I wonder if this is a basic maternal urge I've only recently tapped into. I guess I've always had the cooking thing, but the knitting thing is more recent. The people at my work think of my baking as a mixed blessing. I get as many curses as Thank You's. Too many women at my work I guess. Just one guy. Maybe I should just put the cookies in his office.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Weekly update

I've been swimming with a new club. I'll call it Mellow Masters for now. I'm pretty happy with it. It is hard to adjust to a different coach and a different style of workouts, but I'm just going to have to trust it and see how it bears out in my results.

The coach is super nice. The website is very professional looking, so I thought it might be kind of a professional, super competitive team, but people are just nice, nice, nice so far. Professionalism is definitely a good thing when it comes to club swimming.

I've been working more lately. My body has felt better. Generally, I feel a lot less stress. I enjoy going into work. I like my coworkers. It was lonely working at home, so I'm glad I'm feeling better and able to go in more. I like my job. For a long time I didn't, but I've been working on more interesting stuff lately. The projects I've been working on seem less like B.S. to me, which makes me happy. I've been working on the website, and making maps of species locations, both of which are interesting and rewarding.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Things I'm Glad I'm Not

This may seem a little petty and stupid, but I just felt like I needed to do this to feel better about myself. I identify with all sorts of neurotic and sinful behavior, but these are things I am not:

1. A murderer
2. An alcoholic
3. A bulimic
4. A nymphomaniac
5. An anorexic
6. A kleptomaniac
7. A drug addict
8. An adultress
9. A rapist
10. A child molester
11. A sadist
12. A torturer

They did this thing on "This American Life" about the concept of "that guy." As in "I don't want to be that guy." You think of a type of person that you never want to be, and you think you never could be that person, and then all of a sudden you are that person. That gossip, that flirt, that bitch, that bully, that ham, that hopeless dork (well, that is one thing I've never kidded myself about not being.) The above things are all things I feel safe to say I am not and will never be, but who knows? Drug addict? Alchoholic? Bulimic? Could happen... It's happened to better people than me.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cole Porter

For the last couple of weeks, about the only thing I've been listening to is Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter song book. I think it has been satisfying my seeming need for drama in my life. I'm a drama queen, but although the songs are all about romantic drama, listening to it has the opposite effect of making me less dramatic. I'm happy being a homebody: knitting and cooking and cleaning and being Raybon's wife and Willow's mommy.

Rest in Peace, Asha

One of the clerks at a market I frequent in the Flip Flop Mountains was found dead Thursday. It isn't often that someone I know so casually makes such a deep impression on me. She was really a genuinely sweet person. She sold me the yarn for the first scarf I ever made, and seemed really interested in me and my new hobby. It's so sad that someone with such a good heart could die tragically. She was 6 months pregnant. It makes me mad to think that someone could have done this to her. I hope she has found happiness in heaven.

Do a Good Turn Daily

I haven't been blogging much, because I've been busy with one of my old obsessions: knitting. Knitting is very therapeutic for me. I made a hat for Baby K. This is my first hat ever. I asked Oceana and N-Dawg if they would like me to knit something for him. I told them I was a beginning knitter. I said I'd like to make a hat, but N-Dawg said a scarf would be fine. I took this as a challenge of, course, so I made the baby hat from my stich and bitch book.

Yesterday was a nice day. Raybon and I helped V. load up her U-Haul. She is unfortunately moving to the city, but I hope I will be able to see her still. Helping her move was not much work, and both Raybon and I had fun I think. I think we both like being helpful: it is one of the things we have in common.

We went to the beach to meet Oxy and her roomie at a little liquor store/deli/cafe in East Flip Flop. It's a funny little place where a lot of surfer's frequent. It doesn't look like they would have good food, but it is pretty decent. We got there early, and sat on a bench watching the waves and the surfers. There was a "Pack-Your-Trash" tent set up near the store, and Raybon said he might want a "Pack-Your-Trash" sweatshirt. I told him he should ask them how much they were, but he is shy about that kind of thing, so he asked me to. I went to the tent, and they told me it was Annual Beach Clean-up Day all over the world, and asked me if I'd like to volunteer. I went back and talked a somewhat reluctant Raybon into it. We picked up a bunch of trash along a creek near the beach. We found a lot of random stuff, from flip-flops to flea collars. We got back in time to hang out with Oxy and her roomie for a bit. We thought we might miss them, and I thought Raybon would be upset about it, but he ended up being happy to clean up the beach, despite his initial reluctance.

I used to think that who we are is defined by our initial reactions to things. Maybe who we are is all about the choice we end up making, even if we are talked into it, or have to talk ourselves into it. I judge Raybon as being selfish when he initially responds selfishly to my requests, but maybe I should just be happy with him if in the end I am able to talk him into doing the right thing.

I think in a crisis, it is our initial reactions that define our choices, unfortunately. Is it fair to judge people by how they act when they have to make a quick decision, or are afraid? Does lack of courage make all other values meaningless? I used to think, if you don't have courage, you don't have anything. You can't have integrity if you don't have courage, because you won't be able to act according to you values when you have to stand up for them when you feel threatened. Maybe it isn't fair to judge people by their reactions in a crisis. That makes for a very harsh morality. We all are presented with situations that are at times too much for us to deal with. It should make us more merciful when we see others in those types of situations.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Marriage...or what?

I've been married since I was 23 years old. I've been in the same relationship since I was 21. I'm now 31. I've spent almost my entire adult life in the same relationship. Before I dated Raybon, and I had one serious relationship that lasted 5 months, and a couple of long drawn out stupid "I like you/you like me, what the hell are we doing?" things.

Marriage is hard. It is at times heart breaking. Sometimes I think there is something fundamentally wrong with the way our society is structured that makes it very hard to be married. Women look to marriage for so much of their fulfillment. Our identities are wrapped around the health and depth of our romantic relationships. Men are ill equipped to fulfill our desires to be deeply known and loved.

There are times when I think I should have waited until I got older to get married. But when I look at people my age who aren't married or who waited until they got a little older, I'm not sure they are any better off than I am. The ones who have recently gotten married or entered long term relationships do so with the same leap of faith that I made when I was young.

It's hard. We don't know what we want or need, until we are in a relationship and find it isn't there. Men are raised to be stubborn and out of touch with their feelings. Women want more than that. I read that women file 2/3 of divorces, and it isn't for the reasons you might think. Mostly it is because their husbands ignore them. In movies you see women leave their husbands when they are cheated on, which almost anyone can sympathize with. To me, this almost seems like a red herring. Mostly, women feel like they can't complain to their husbands about their inability to meet their needs, but even those of us who do, often hit a brick wall anyways when they try. Men are boneheads.

We only get small glimpses into other people's experiences of relationships, unfortunately. People are rarely completely honest, and for good reason probably. People are judgmental, and don't always treat other people's hearts with care, so maybe there is some wisdom in not overexposing our relationships.

I see some women who have aren't married and go from relationship to relationship. A lot of them don't really seem better off than me. They seem hardened. They seem fiercely competitive with other women for the attention of men. They use their sexuality as a weapon, to get the attention of men, and to compete with other women. My heart is broken, but I realize looking at them that there is a type of heartache I have been spared. Which is worse? I guess I can't say for sure, but I'm thinking it is probably theirs.

Not all unmarried women are like this. I have some friends my age and older who have dated very little, and there is something beautiful about their innocence, but also something very sad about what has been missing in their lives. (Um, to be blunt, sex? Maybe more.) Even the ones who have dated a lot more than I have aren't all like the ones I described in the paragraph above. What makes them different? Self respect? Love from other people and God? Forgiveness? I've often thought that the thing that keeps an unmarried, sexually active woman from being a slut is self-respect and the ability to love. Dating can be very degrading. A lot of men are more than willing to use women and treat them with no care whatsoever. I try to be open minded about other people's choices, but I'm going to make an absolute statement and say sex should always be done with care and respect. Thankfully, we can always learn to forgive ourselves and find God's forgiveness, and find love from others, God, and ourselves no matter what our past choices have been.

I guess we never get to know other people's stories, and never get to know what would have happened if we took a different path. We all make our own path in this culture. There is no book, no multiple choice test, or checklist to tell us what our choices have to be. I wish I knew more, but am doing my best fumbling about in the dark, with faith, hope, and love.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Soooo tiiired

It's not even 8 yet, and I am in my pajamas ready to go to bed. Don't tell my dentist, who I have an appointment with next week, but I'm not even going to brush my teeth or floss.

I've been not quite as good at my Things To Do Everyday For the Rest of My Life lately. I think Hendrik's swim and my brother's visit threw me off a little bit.

I almost hit a tree today driving to see Oceana's baby, I was so tired. It must be PMS. I can't imagine what else it might be. I was kind of zombie when I got to her house.

I saw Oceana and N-Dawg's beautiful new baby boy. Oceana is doing very well, for those of you who know her. I was surprised to see her up and walking and smiley. She's amazing. She had a hard labor. She joked that after having accomplished a 30 hour hard labor, she doesn't have to swim the English Channel anymore. I can see her point. At first I thought, well you didn't have a choice but to not quit. But she did. She could have had a C-section or epidural, but she didn't want one. She's a brave, strong person, which I guess I always knew about her.

I swam at M.P. Masters today. I am going to try swimming with their club for the next couple of months at least, and see how that goes. Swimming with the Mountain Masters definitely has it's pluses in terms of getting my own lane and doing what I want to do, so if I don't like swimming in M.P., I may go back. I've been getting lonely at home, though, so I may try working in M.P. 3 days a week and swimming when I work there. Hmmmm... Let's weigh my options:

Swimming at Mountain Masters:
1. Get my own lane
2. Nice people
3. Close to home
4. 75 minute workout
5. Still part of my home club, to which I am loyal, Flip Flop Masters
6. Cheaper
7. Can swim in the morning, instead of when the sun is at it's highest.

Swimming at Menlo Masters:
1. Really good coach
2. Nice people (seems like it so far)
3. Harder workouts (at least as far as I can tell, but we'll see)
4. Workouts tailored towards competition, not just fitness
5. Shorter drive (2 minutes vs 15)
6. Won't get lonely working at home if I go into the office more
7. Showers and locker room

Really, other than the sun being too high at noon when I'd swim at M.P., I think that weighing my options, I feel like M.P. is the way to go. Skin cancer is a problem in my family, and quite frankly, I worry about premature aging. I wonder if I slather on the BullFrog, if I'll be fine. The other thing I worry is that my back won't be happy with the extra driving into work.

I told the coach at M.P. I would join his club. After I got in my car and drove back to work, my eyes teared up. I'll miss Flip Flop Masters. I guess it will still be there if I decide to go back. Swimming there was in some ways a joy and a burden. I am afraid to get attached to M.P. Masters. The showers and locker room are small, which makes for a convienient excuse for showering at my work instead of there. I just want to get in and swim and not bond with people. I hope people don't think I'm stuck up.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Secret to Life


I think Wilford Brimley may have been right. The secret to life is eating oatmeal every morning. I used to hate oatmeal, but I try to eat it as much as I can now. It balances out my blood sugar first thing in the morning, and I feel a lot better throughout the whole day.

It's the right thing to do.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Elwood and Rose

My brother Elwood and his fiancee Rose have come to visit. They live in Seattle and came to Flip Flop to plan the wedding they are going to have here next year. They met in Flip Flop and went to school here, and believe it is a nice centrally located place for the guests they intend to have for their wedding. Right now they are out looking at a florist and tasting wedding cakes. Raybon drove them down to Flip Flop proper from our house in the Mountains, and is sitting at a coffee shop reading while they do their stuff. That is something Raybon likes to do. Just hang out downtown. I'm a little beat still, so I'm glad for the quiet here. I may meet up with them later.

I picked them up on Thursday night from the airport. They borrowed my car on Friday and drove down to the place where they think they may have their wedding. What did we do Friday night? Oh yeah, we went to our favorite Sushi place in Flip Flop, and then to Saturn for dessert. I like my brother's fiance a lot. We like a lot of the same things and hate a lot of the same things. We both love dogs. We both hate bitchy, skanky women who use their looks to get attention from men. She has a vulnerability that I can relate to. When I first met her, I told my brother he should marry her because she is smart, cool, funny, nice, and pretty. I'm glad they are engaged and hope they live happily ever after.

It's fun seeing my brother and Rose interact. I usually see him in his role as my younger brother, so it's cool seeing him interact with Rose. He'll ask her pointed questions like "Do you really have a bad feeling about this place [where we are having the wedding]?" Such a grownup! He he. I mean he's 28 years old, for goodness sakes.

Last night we went to the Boardwalk. That was a lot of fun. We went on 3 rides. One ride where you spin around lying prone, like Superman. We went on the Giant Dipper and a Log Ride, where some of us got wetter than others. I called Rose my sister, and we walked arm in arm a little bit. I wish I took pictures. I think we all had a nice time.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tired

I'm exhausted. I've worked hard and nervously on Hendrik's website this week. Monday, he was hit by porn spammers, so I spent a good part of the day installing security to counteract that. Tuesday, I was up most of the night trying to update people on his swim. Today, I finished up by posting the path of his swim from GPS coordinates they'd taken, and putting up pictures of him and his crew. I picked my brother up very late last night, too, so I'm kind of antsy and sleep deprived. Nothing that one good night's sleep won't fix, I realize, but I feel kind of crappy today. I emailed Hendrik to tell him about some of the obstacles I've faced getting his site done, because I largely did it for him, and thought he should know about my effort. I feel like kind of an ass about it though. He's a nice guy who has been very appreciative of my work, and I don't want my complaining to diminish the work I've done to show my support. I emailed him again to apologize, which made me feel better, but also felt like I was further exposing my neuroses. Oh well. I keep telling myself jokingly and dramatically "And now...I fade...into the distance....", which makes me laugh at myself, and also lets me know that this really isn't about me.

Blogger's Regret (Apologies to Camille)

The post below seems a little embarrassing now that I read it again. It is a lot like that Whitney Houston song, which I always thought was a little cliched and cheesy. I think that everything I wrote was deeply meaningful to me, but I'm not sure how much it would mean to anyone else. I think epiphanies are like that. If you hear it, before you're ready, it just sounds like a cliche, because you've heard lots of other people talk about the same epiphany they've had at some point in their life. Or maybe you've gone past it years ago, so it seems immature.

Also, the thing embarrassing about the post is the broad generalizations it makes based on just a couple of weeks experience. Is this a real epiphany, or just a good mood? Is it just a temporary balance in seratonin levels I've achieved, or a real change in my thought processes? We'll see. I still need heroes. My friend are my heroes, everyday people who I see tremendous good in, despite their faults. They inspire me and encourage me and make me think differently about the world. I'm a nut, and a little third party perspective will always be necessary. I think what becomes problematic is when you only have one hero. It is kind of like in that movie "About a Boy" (which I just saw again on TV.) Two people isn't enough. You need more.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thoughts on 31

I've felt a little more peaceful overall lately than I have for a while. I still have moods, and they are often quite intense, but they go as quickly as they come. I have bad days, but not so much bad weeks or bad months.

I'm not sure why this is. I think in some ways, I may be coming into my own. I've decided that I'm my own hero and my own best friend, which is an incredibly powerful thing. I don't put that expectation on others. A while ago I was complaining to Oxy about someone who didn't meet my expectations for supporting me. I told her what I wished he would have said to encourage me. She said "Well, what do you need him for, if you already know it?" I knew she was right, but I wasn't ready. I think I am now. I know how to pick myself up, to hold myself upright, to soothe my own soul. It's kind of too bad that this isn't something that is taught us our whole lives. We're thought to be full of ourselves and selfish if we're our own cheerleaders. I'm my biggest fan. If I can be that for myself, it gives me more energy to be a cheerleader for other people. I love seeing my young nieces be proud of their accomplishments, and defend themselves against people who try to bring them down. I think everyone should learn to be their own hero. Ha ha... "I believe the children are our future..." Super cheesy song, but it's true.

I kind of wonder if men are baffled by women's emotions in part because they don't feel the need for support the way women do. Maybe men aren't dragged down the same way women are dragged down by others if they try to show some pride in themselves. Men have cheerleaders, and women are the cheerleaders for men, but not for themselves.

I haven't felt quite as compulsive lately. I ask myself whether I really want to do something, and if I don't want to, I don't. I think I was never really taught to think very hard about what it is I wanted. I was always told what to do. I spent my childhood trying to be obedient and to just do what my parents or teachers wanted. I spent my teenager years feeling trapped, and I think for the same reasons, I spent most of my time in my 20's feeling lost. I have a harsh voice in my head, a mean conscience. I also have a nice one, too, and that is the one I'm going to be friends with. I want to leave the mean conscience behind entirely. I don't want that voice escaping from my mouth if I have children.