Friday, December 19, 2008

The ups and downs of snow days

I know, a whole month has gone by since I last wrote. What the hell have I been doing in the last month, you ask? That's a very good question. I've been busy. Very, very busy. Doing things.

Great, now you're all caught up on my life...!

This has been a wacky week in terms of weather and working. On Wednesday, we expected an onslaught of snow, so in preparation, all the school districts in and around Seattle closed and everyone was prepared to stay home. But without any sign of snow, I bravely made my way to work. Strangely enough, it didn't snow at all that day. But the next morning we were completely covered. Yay for snow days! I love it. My job lately is such that all of my work is done independently at my desk on a relatively loose time schedule, so I haven't had any big meetings or major deadlines. Which means I have no inclination to rush into work when it's snowy and icy outside! Unfortunately, things will change in January, when several new projects will hit the fan...

And again today, we're covered in ice and snow AND the sun is shining, making the streets around here solid sheets of ice. So technically I'm working from home but as you can see, I'm having a tough time focusing. It's so sunny and white outside, it's beautiful.

My only regret about this whole snowed-in situation is not having full cable. I'm so bored with the limited number of channels we have without basic cable plan. Case in point, I'm watching the Maury Povich show right now: "You got me pregnant at 13! I'll prove you're the dad!" It's a small step above Jerry Springer (which was on yesterday) but it's an extremely low bar to begin with so that doesn't mean much. In case you're wondering, Cedric is NOT the father of Quita's baby, but he did have sex with Quita while he was with Mica. But anyway.

Must focus on work.

Woo-hoo, snow!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fun wit frens in da Caribbean

About a week ago, Brian and I got home from a trip to the Caribbean! I know, how exotic, right!? It was amazing, a world away from Seattle. My friend Jen from college and her husband Aaron got married in St. John and we stayed in St. Thomas (both in the US Virgin Islands). What a terrible obligation to attend a wedding in such an exotic location! Life is rough. It was truly beautiful. The weather was in the high 80s, maybe hotter. And muggy.

Our hotel/resort had a private beach and pools and spa, etc. It would have been easy to stay there the whole time and never see anything else. But we dragged ourselves away, rented an open air jeep, and cruised around to check out some other parts of the island. Charlotte Amalie is the major town in St. Thomas and was packed with shops, many that sold diamonds, perfume, electronics, etc. Apparently some items are quite a lot cheaper there, if you're into buying expensive diamonds and perfumes, that is. To me, they still seemed expensive. I bought a beautiful rose quartz necklace for $60 which was plenty expensive for me!

They speak English in St. Thomas, but we also heard some Creole! I didn't even realize that was still spoken anywhere. The English sounds pretty Caribbean, too, kind of like Jamaican for those of us who don't hear it very often. Apparently Virgin Islands Creole was formed when African slaves created a new English-based dialect with West African-derived words and sentence structure. It's strictly informal and constantly evolving and not recognized as an official language.

Anyway, the wedding itself was, of course, gorgeous. It was on the beach--but before I go any further, I have to say it was really unfortunate that many of us were literally eaten alive during the ceremony and suffered through more than a week of insufferable itchy bug bites. Mine just went away not too long ago and I still have hundreds of little purple-like scars to prove it. ANYWAY, aside from that, the ceremony was beautiful!! And so was the bride of course. It was a fun time and I am very happy for the newlyweds! This marks the end of a two-year wedding frenzy for us. In the past two years, we have been to nine weddings, including our own. I am looking forward now to hibernating in Seattle and enjoying some down-time.

Without further ado, here are some pictures from our trip!

View from our hotel

Downtown Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas

Beautiful wedding ceremony at Trunk Bay in St. John

Jodi and I getting much needed relief from the insane bugs

Long-time pals from college: Erica, Jen, and me

The boogie line

Oh my gosh, iguanas were EVERYWHERE!

Brian and I enjoying some good Caribbean food

Monday, November 17, 2008

A walk in the park, but not...

Um, hello. I've been busy these past few weeks. Too busy to write here apparently! So many things to write about, I don't even know where to start.

Let's start with my brother Steve. I haven't written about him in a long time. He is keeping his blog pretty updated, though he hasn't posted anything in the past few days. About three weeks ago he started what they call 'induction chemotherapy.' It is pretty harsh stuff but is supposed to reduce the number of abnormal cells, giving him better chances of a successful transplant. So he spent several days in the hospital and then proceeded to feel like total crap. Mouth sores, incontinence, nausea, you name it. I wrote a little guest post for him when he wasn't feeling very well.

After a few days, he went home and started to feel better and better. Then about a week ago he was admitted to the hospital for an infection, liver problems, and jaundice. Then went home. Then went in again last night because he had a fever (possibly another infection). But his fever went down right away and I think he is going to be released to go back home tomorrow. It's a bit of a rollercoaster.

I know he is disappointed because being admitted over and over again to the hospital feels like setbacks, especially when he had been feeling so much better. But apparently this is not unusual. When your resistance is that low, you can get an infection quicker than you can say "chemotherapy." I am bummed that I haven't seen him in about two weeks or so. We were out of town for awhile and traveling on airplanes, so we didn't want to pass on any unknown germs. Then sure enough, the day after we got home I came down with a nasty cold which I've been fighting for five days now and I think I'm finally at the end of it. So I'm glad I didn't see him right when we got home because I could've passed on a nasty germ.

So after he recovers from this particularly intensive chemotherapy (not like the 'lighter' ones he had before) in a couple more weeks, I think they are planning to start the transplant process possibly in early December. First they start with lots and lots of testing. Then they do total irradiation to wipe out his existing marrow. According to his doctor, this last round of chemotherapy he just had is a "walk in the park" compared to what the irradiation will be like. (That makes me wince...) Then he'll recover from the irradiation, and then finally he will have the bone marrow transplant. Or, more accurately, a stem cell transplant. Stem cells are extracted from the donor's bone marrow and will then be injected into Steve's marrow and will replicate themselves.

One thing you can do is support Steve is to support his friend Nic, who is running 13 races in 12 weeks to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Please consider donating to this great cause! Check out the website here:

Thanks for listening. I'll write more about the many other things in the coming weeks...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

La La Land

This past weekend, we made a little getaway to the City of Angels. Dios mio, that city is big! From the window of the airplane, all I could see was an endless view of lights in every direction. Los Angeles actually seems more like a conglomeration of little cities as opposed to just one. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. It's big and smoggy. I like the weather, though. It was in the eighties. I wore my bikini the whole time.

We went to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, drove down Rodeo Drive, went to the beach in Manhattan Beach, spent a little time in Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. We also drove a little south to Orange County where Brian grew up and the schools he went to. It was cool to see the house and neighborhood where he spent his years as a little kid until he went to college.

It was the strangest thing, but part of the time I could have sworn I was in Korea! We got to visit with a lot of Brian's relatives from the Korean side of his family and spent a good chunk of one day in Korea Town--apparently the largest Korean population outside of Asia. I got to meet some of his aunts and uncles, a cousin, and we spent time with his dad and younger sister, too. We ate lots of concord grapes while there. Maybe Brian hasn't mentioned this, but concord grapes are otherwise known as Korean grapes. Little known fact. We had the most amazing lunch at a Korean restaurant. I've never seen so many little bowls of food on one table. And the meat was cooked right in the middle of it all. It was awesome. Here is a picture of us at the restaurant.
We also spent several hours at the Getty Museum. The architecture is stunning. The building design is very modern, but it houses much older art. There was certainly some impressive art there... Gaugin, Renoir, Cezanne, Monet, Van Goget. But I have to admit, I appreciated the modern architecture more than the art itself... I know it's probably in poor taste to say that, but it's true. The Getty Museum sits on top of a big hill in L.A. and you have to take a little tram to get up there. The view from the top is great. If you can see through the smog, that is!

Finally, we spent some time on the beach goofing around!

Next update: Steve's hospital adventure.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Love conquers all in the OBX

Yeehaw! Two of my very favorite people in the whole world just got married last week! Sarah and Michael's wedding was in the outer banks of North Carolina and it was fantastically beautiful and so much fun!! Oh man, I can't believe so many of my friends and me are all getting married lately. We're all so grown up 'n stuff. It's, like, total awesomeness.

It was really exciting to wear my new dress, which was appropriately concord-colored (it even said so on the tag). And it was also fantastically exciting to see my friend Sheila for the third time this year!!! Best time ever.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Great artist

Great art from Matte Stephens:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wailin' on Palin

I cannot even begin to express how much I dislike the thought of this woman as our vice president. It's a ridiculous joke. Joe Sixpack, please say it ain't so. She is so completely unintelligent. It's terrifying, absolutely terrifying that anyone in their right mind would vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. What has this country come to? Could we possibly stoop any lower than we have in the last eight years? It's sickening. I try to understand people who think differently than I do, but on this issue i will never understand.

Oh man, doggonit, you betcha I'm gonna give a straight-up shout-out to my readers and post these here funny videos of a little lady who likes to call herself a maverick. Because without a few laughs, I would fall onto the floor in a little ball and start crying.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Steve's bitchin' camaro transplant

I haven't written much about my brother Steve here lately. I guess it is partially because he has his own space to write and I like to hear what he says in his own words! And also because if I don't write it down, maybe it won't be real. Silly denial tactic.

Steve is actually doing pretty well in his quest for good health. I think he is possibly the most positive, upbeat, forward-looking person I've ever known. He is handling everything beautifully and taking it all in stride. Although we are experiencing a lot of ups and downs in his platelet and blood counts, which can be frustrating and emotionally exhausting, he never has a bad thing to say about it.

There are lots of good pieces of news right now. A match has been identified for him. A 22-year old female in the US. She is a 9 out of 10 match, which isn't 100% perfect I guess, but I'm very optimistic that her marrow will do the trick! They want to get started on the marrow transplant (or "camaro" transplant as Steve likes to say) right away, so he will be admitted to the hospital on October 20. After about three weeks of prep chemo, tests, and rest, he will undergo the transplant procedure. I'm excited that things are moving ahead. It is much harder to wait around to hear news. He starts another monthly cycle of chemo tomorrow. Yesterday we thought he might have to spend an entire month in the hospital doing a really hard-core round of chemo, but fortunately the doctors decided today that it was not necessary because his marrow is in better shape than they thought. So that's also really good news.

Here are at least four things you can do to help!
  1. Sign up to be a bone marrow donor! Because it is so rare to find a person who matches, it is really important to have a lot of people in the registry. I'm sure that the girl who is a match for my brother signed up to help someone she knows. So I hope you'll sign up with Steve in mind, knowing that you might help save someone else's life. It's karma. And it's really easy.

  2. If for some reason you can't sign up to be a donor, you can donate platelets! Contact your local blood center and ask if you can donate platelets. Steve needs a platelet transfusion almost every month--when he does chemotherapy, his platelets drop really low before coming back up. Platelet donors are absolutely crucial for people who need these life-saving transfusions.

  3. Support the Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplastic International Foundation (AA&MDSIF) by buying holiday cards!

  4. Or shop through GoodShop and iGive!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The root of the problem

Who knew that endodontic therapy is the same as the common term "root canal?" I certainly didn't. Until now, that is. Today I had a root canal (technically that term is incorrect but that's neither here nor there, really). The procedure itself was not all that bad. The giggly dental assistant gave me apple juice, that was probably the best part. She was the same dental assistant who, yesterday, wrote her notes on a napkin while the dentist was explaining things to me. I was embarassed for her, especially when the dentist asked her what she was doing and she waved the napkin in the air and said "I'm writing down what you're saying." Apparently she's new!

Anyway, like I said, the procedure was not all that bad. They gave me several shots and numbed me all up. Then he started drilling and the sound was so loud and high-pitched (and damnit, I had my iPod but forgot to charge it!) and suddenly I felt it, enough to make me shudder. So he gave me several more shots around the tooth until it felt basically dead, which was GREAT. The weird thing was, I could hear all this terrible drilling and scraping and saw giant needles go into my mouth, but I couldn't feel a thing. It was morbidly fascinating because I know if I hadn't been anesthetized, I would have been screaming bloody murder and probably would have passed out from the pain. So the dentist removed the stuff inside my tooth, reshaped the canals, and filled it with some temporary stuff (that is the highly technical term). In a couple weeks, he will check again to see whether there is a fracture. If it's only a small crack, he will put a crown on my tooth. But if there's a fracture, my tooth will actually have to be extracted. Yeah, did you get that? EXTRACTED. REMOVED. OBLITERATED. PULLED. UPROOTED. YANKED. But I'm trying not to think about that because I am optimistic that it won't have to happen.

Here is a little visual for those of you who are really into this. 1) unhealthy tooth. The nerve tissue inside is flaring up because there was a crack in my tooth that allowed bacteria to get inside. 2) Loud, ugly drilling of giant hole in my tooth. 3) Tiny tools clean out the nerve tissues. The thought of that still gives me the chills. 4) They fill it up with this rubber-type material and put a crown on it. That didn't happen to me today (they just put a temporary seal on it) but hopefully that is what the outcome will be in a couple weeks.
The best part is, I had a fancy frozen drink tonight and swished it around on my tooth and didn't feel a thing. It was great! My jaw and tooth are pretty sore right now but otherwise it's ok. Wish me luck. I hope it's just a little tiny crack. I really like this tooth and would like to keep it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ice cream

Speaking of ice cream (I spoke of it in my last post), Brian & I have been on an ice cream craze lately! Watch out! I literally scream for ice cream (again, see my last post).

Here's the whole story... Brian had a conversation with people at work about how amazing ice cream can be. This conversation actually began at a restaurant with his co-workers and their spouses (I was there! I'm a spouse!). And so they decided that they were all going to make their own ice cream. And I'm pretty sure this is where Brian came in. He somehow managed to turn it into a competition. Because he's competitive like that. Especially when it comes to food. And most definitely when it comes to inventing food! So everyone got an ice cream maker. Including us--it was on our wedding registry. Our friends El & Eric bought it (thanks, guys!). It has been non-stop ice cream ever since.

Tonight I tried my hand at ice cream and I hate to admit this... but... it was not as fantastic as Brian's. Okay, I said it. Out loud. I admitted it. His was better than mine. I made Gianduia chocolate-hazelnut ice cream! Sounds fancy, right? The flavor was actually pretty incredible, but the texture was dry. I need more practice. And more people to eat this ice cream. Anyone?

Cracked tooth!

What!? I have a cracked tooth--at the root! Yuck. I have to have a root canal AND a crown. Uggh. I have been popping tylenol for the past two weeks straight with constant aching. And yesterday some ice cream touched the tooth in question and I almost died. The pain was intense, very intense. My root canal is tomorrow, and then thank goodness, I will not have any more tooth pain. Yay! That's the upside! The downside is that someday, I may actually lose the tooth... it may need to be extracted. Hopefully that won't happen, and if it does, I hope it doesn't happen for many, many years. I had a root canal once in high school after a snowboarding accident. But now I'm having one just because... I'm old? and I grind my teeth at night? it's so not fair! I've never had a crown, though. I'm telling you, it's all downhill after the age of 30...

Today is doomsday, I cannot believe the Dow fell almost 800 points. That is ridiculous! Brian's theory is that it's an ideal time to invest in the stock market. Buy low and watch the value rise. Is that totally crazy? I can't decide.

More fascinating tales of my root canal to follow...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Making readers everywhere happy, one at a time

My goal is to make my readers happy. And if they're not happy, then I'm not happy. One of them expressed his/her disappointment yesterday, and I take those comments very seriously. I am here to please.

I regret to report that the mocha yesterday was…. inexistent. I was a responsible worker and did not leave my desk to go get one. But I'll make sure to tell you in excruciating detail about the next mocha that I drink! Beginning from the walk over to the coffee shop, to the first glorious scent, right down to the last drop of chocolately coffee goodness. Stay tuned, my friends, it's going to be a great story.

I did leave my desk to show off my shiny new flats, though. I think you (especially Trevor) will appreciate the picture I'm attaching so you can see exactly what I'm talking about.

Speaking of great stories, we were fortunate to have some fabulous speakers at our wedding… those would include the esteemed Mr. Mad Trevor, Ms. Sardine, and my fabulous dad. Only one of these speeches was recorded for the rest of the world to enjoy, however. Go here to check it out now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I had a 6:30am conference call this morning that lasted almost three hours. Now I'm just tired and struggling to focus on what I'm supposed to do today. Looking at all of my arbitrary deadlines or other tasks that don't really have deadlines, spanning at least 5 different projects. Which one do I start first? Should I call the woman in North Carolina about those brochures? Or sort through and archive my closed project files? Or think about how to reorganize our program content online? Or maybe I'll read that concept paper one more time to make sure we're not missing anything? No, I think I'll just go get a mocha instead. And then I'll show off my shiny new flats to my coworker. After getting up at 5:30 this morning for a call, I think I deserve at least that much. Then I'll get to work.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Hello everyone (is anyone out there?)! I have been so bad about writing regularly on this blog. So much has been happening lately, I do not even know where to begin. First things first, I’m married!! Let me tell you, it’s been fantastic so far! Granted, it has only been less than two weeks but nonetheless I highly recommend it. I am married to the infamous Concord Grape blogger, also known as Brian, B-Phat, Grape-Boy, or Dough-Nut, depending on who you are and how you like to refer to him. I won’t even begin to share the dozens of nicknames I have for him. It’s too embarrassing. Anyway, the wedding went beautifully, I could not have asked for a more perfect day. The weather was spectacular and sunny, which was very lucky given the fact that it rained almost every day before and after that day.

So many of our close friends and family were there, which made the whole thing very special. All of my aunts and uncles came, as well as two of my cousins, which was awesome. I met Brian’s dad for the first time, finally, which was great. And lots of friends from DC and elsewhere flew out for the event, which meant a lot to us. And of course our friends from Seattle were there, too. One of my favorite things was seeing all of my various friends and family members converging in one place and meeting each other. It was so cool seeing my college friends meet my friend from high school, and my coworker swapping travel stories with Brian’s mom (my new mother-in-law).

We had so much fun. The ceremony was mostly a blur, actually. I don’t remember even seeing anyone in the audience except when I occasionally stole a glance and it felt really surreal to see everyone out there, because it kind of felt like we were alone up there in our own little world. Both Brian and I were spacing out a bit, but luckily we didn’t mess up or forget anything, or light anything on fire with our unity candle. At the end of the ceremony we kissed, of course, and then walked back down the aisle as everyone was throwing lavender! Here is a picture of that happy moment:

We felt so lucky and thankful and had so much fun that day. We felt like it was an opportunity to announce to our friends and family publicly how we feel about each other and to make our commitment to each other solid and official. I did not used to think I cared much about symbolic ceremonies (i.e., graduations, weddings, holidays, etc.), but more and more they are becoming really important to me. For me, the wedding day marked an historic occasion in our lives, celebrating our commitment to each other. We’ve marked our commitment to each other symbolically and legally, and it feels even more solid now than before. I’m also taking Brian’s last name, which makes it feel even more concrete as we now share a family name.

Next post: Honeymoon!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Keeping up with the ol' blog

Not much to report here... except about a million things.

We went to a neighborhood block party tonight and it was fun to meet our neighbors. I signed the neighbor roster with my new last name :)

Wedding planning is in full force. We are looking forward to the wedding day itself and the end of planning. It hasn't been a bad experience or anything, but we're just ready to enjoy our special day and be married and get on with life!

Steve is hanging in there ok, he is keeping up his blog pretty frequently which is great. It gives us all a first-hand account of what he's going through and how it all works, and I think people feel a bit less helpless when they're clued in.

I'm excited that my good friend Sheila will be here this weekend. I haven't seen her in over two years and I'm uber-excited.

Work is going well, but incredibly busy. I'm doing a lot more writing than I ever have in the past, and I like it, and I'm getting faster at it. I am getting a promotion and moving into an office soon (after the honeymoon).

Oh yeah, and I think I've gained about 15 pounds in the last couple years. Seriously. My "spacious" pants are barely fitting anymore. I don't know what's going on. Is it that I'm in my thirties now? Or am I nesting? And if so, should I be embarrassed about that (the nesting part)?

And my friend Erin just said that she wants to move away -- go tell her not to leave!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm back

Hello hello hello! Sorry for the long hiatus. I've been running around like crazy. Thankfully, I am looking forward to a fun & relaxing "girly" appointment with Erin on Saturday to get our nails done!

Things have been quite busy around here. Steve is doing pretty well, his platelets are hanging in there since he had a platelet transfusion a couple weeks ago. It turns out I am not a match for him, and neither are my parents. It is really unfortunate that did not work out, but we knew it was only a 30% chance that I might be a match. The national marrow donor program is now searching for a match for him. I guess yesterday they identified 5 people in the world who could potentially be a good match for him. They will contact those people and bring them in for more testing to see how well they match. And they will continue searching the database for potential matches. They are looking for a 10 out of 10 match, ideally. In the meantime, he is doing monthly cycles of chemotherapy to kill off the bad cells and promote the growth of new ones. The other thing they are monitoring are his platelets and blood counts, which are all hovering a bit low.

Steve is keeping a great blog about his experience here. Go give him some love! And sign up to be a bone marrow donor today.

My parents have just rented an apartment here in Seattle, and moved in yesterday. They will keep their house in New Mexico, but plan on living here for the next 9 months or so. It's great to have them around and it's nice to surround ourselves with family as much as possible. They're only a few minutes away from both Steve & Johanna, and me & Brian. It's really nice to have them here all the time.

We just had the exterior of our house painted last week, it looks awesome! I'll have to show a before and after picture as soon as we take one.

This morning, I did a walk-through of our wedding site and met with the caterer. Things are coming along swimmingly. My mom and Johanna came with me, and it was really nice to have the support. There are a ridiculous number of decisions that need to be made. Choosing the color of linens on the various tables is a major ordeal!

Brian & I went to an Andrew Bird concert tonight, with Josh Ritter too. Both are amazing and it was a fantastic show. It was at the zoo and we got to sit on the lawn and eat our dinner while listening to them play. Too bad it's freezing here in July, though... arrgh. It better not be this cold on our wedding day.

Here is a sneak peak at our wedding "inspiration board" that I actually put together a few months ago. It's going to be bright and orangey! Granted, most of the stuff isn't exactly what we will have at the wedding, but this was one of the original group of pictures that inspired what we did end up choosing. I'll show an "after" picture later with the real deal. The wedding is only a month from today!

Monday, June 30, 2008

My brother, the trooper

I have avoided writing on this blog for awhile, because I didn’t want to have to say what is real. I was hoping it would go away. But it hasn’t gone away—yet. About two weeks ago, my brother was diagnosed with a blood disease called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), very unusual for a person his age and in his good health. His bone marrow is not producing blood cells correctly and his platelets are very, very low. The good news is that he is feeling perfectly normal overall, and is able to go out and have fun and feel good. He started chemotherapy treatment this week, to kill off the bad cells and help promote the good ones, which might slow him down a bit. And then he will need to have a bone marrow transplant. Hopefully, we will find out this week if I (or my parents) are a bone marrow match. Then we can get moving on that. As scary as the bone marrow transplant may be, I think it will be a relief in a way, because it will be the major thing that can cure him. It will be rough, and the recovery period will take some time, but then it will be over. He has tons of friends and family who are supportive and care about him and want more than anything to see this disease go away.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hanging fruits

Hi! Lots going on, sorry for the lack of posting...

In the meantime, here is a photo for you to enjoy.

Monday, June 16, 2008


31 -- that's how many years I've been around. I'm especially thankful for Brian, and my brother, and my parents, and all the wonderful family and friends in my life and the nice birthday wishes and flowers and cards I've received. Brian has a really sweet post on his blog.

And I'm thankful for Le Pichet, where we're going to dinner tonight!

And I'm thankful for my new bicycle!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back to "normal"

My life was pretty exciting there for a few weeks, and now it's back to regular life: working, boozing, and wedding planning... sometimes simultaneously.

Actually, it's true that I've been working and wedding planning at the same time (minus the boozing unfortunately). I've been calling cake places, restaurants, the wedding site, and next I need to call the florist, the caterer, and a hair salon. It's actually pretty fun, I don't feel stressed about anything yet. It was more stressful a few months ago when I had so many decisions to make, but it was too early to make a lot of the decisions.

Anyway, I know you're not here to listen to me talk about wedding planning!

I should give a shout-out to Trevor, the infamous commenter on Brian's blog, who was here visiting for the last few days. (Sorry the weather was so shitty, Trevor!) Listening to Brian and Trevor's conversations is like entering another world. A world of jokes I don't get, sci-fi mumbo-jumbo, movie trivia, and stories about the good ol' days. There weren't nearly as many weird food conversations this time, though. I kind of love those weird food conversations. Sometimes Brian starts talking to me about his latest idea for a new food item (double-sided pizza! toppings on both sides!) and I start to zone out, and it's those moments when I really wish Trevor was around. He would fully appreciate the wit and creativity involved in inventing new food items. I, on the other hand, just don't get it sometimes. Although I do remember one of our first dates when Brian was telling me about his "grisket" invention (he will have to explain it), and I thought I was going to bust a gut laughing so hard. That evening also involved a lengthy discussion about man-boobs and a lot of cruel laughing. That is when Brian really won me over. He made me laugh so hard I cried.

Another highlight of this weekend was an exhaustive conversation about science fiction movies and why many women don't like them. I believe the conversation ended with me and my sister-in-law talking about the Sex & The City movie. Clearly, a defeat for the guys who were trying to convince us why science fiction is so great.

But the biggest highlight of all was probably seeing the Sex & the City movie on Sunday with two female friends (and readers of this blog)! The movie was quite traumatic, with all the relationship messes and heartbreak and then making up, etc. Too! much! But packed to the brim with all that wonderful relationship goop that many women love to obsess about, myself sheepishly included.

Now back to my book. Alice Munro is my latest hero.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Greetings from the Golden State

Hello friends! We're here in Berkeley at Cafe Strada sipping a mocha in the glorious sunshine, er, I mean overcast coolness. We've spent all our money on tie-dyed clothing, hemp, and bongs. Not really.

We're checking out Brian's old hood, his old school (Berkeley), and Telegraph Ave. Tonight we make a head start on the drive home, and tomorrow we look forward to a loong drive home on the freeway.

The last couple days in San Francisco have been awesome. We did a lot of walking and exploring the different neighborhoods, including Chinatown (went to an amazing tea house!), North Beach, Coit Tower, Mission District, met a friend of Brian's at the Ferry Terminal for lunch, Haight Ashbury, Golden Gate Park (and DeYoung Museum), Noe Valley, Union Square, Japantown, Presidio, and now we're in Berkeley. We've seen a lot! We've had some amazing food here. Last night we had a nice meal at Zuni, where Brian had made reservations a couple weeks in advance. We had great food at Chutney, which my coworker Emma suggested. Slanted Door at the Ferry Terminal had awesome nouveau Vietnamese food. Sushi in Japantown was pretty cool; it was supposedly the first sushi place in the US with the sushi on little boats that float past. We really liked our hotel on Union Square called the Chancellor Hotel -- if you're ever in San Fran looking for a place to stay.

Although I was last here in 2001, San Francisco seems bigger than I realized. Like a west coast, smaller version of New York. There is a ton going on here, a ton of people, and a lot of really interesting, diverse neighborhoods. And great food. Actually, great shopping overall! The architecture is also pretty striking and different compared to anywhere else. I love the ornate, colorful houses. I think we need more of those in Seattle.

Speaking of Seattle, we look forward to finally being home!! It's been a whirlwind adventure the past few weeks. Although you may think that Oklahoma, Belgium, and Oregon/California have nothing in common, I intend to prove you wrong. Stay tuned for a future post on the scintillating similarities between these places.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Before I forget everything and before I run out of steam and fall asleep sitting up, here are some highlights from yesterday and today. Just a disclaimer: I'm so tired right now, so don't expect much in the way of interesting narration..!

Yesterday we continued down the Oregon coast, it was so beautiful. Shore Acres state park was especially nice. There were some beautiful gardens and some very cool eroded sandstone rocks with cool shapes. I am borrowing some pictures from Flickr since we haven't downloaded ours yet.

I think our favorite part of the day was Bandon. It's a cute, small, old town. But the seashore was awesome. We spent a couple hours wandering around the low tide area, between the rocks. We also saw sea pups up close sunning on the rocks.

Finally, we reached California! We spent the night in Eureka. There are some cool Victorian houses there. This Carson mansion was right across the street from our hotel. It was amazing and built completely from redwoods.

We drove through a tree along the Redwoods Avenue of the Giants!! Brian was sure we were going to knock off the side mirrors, but we skimmed through just fine.

After lunch in Mendocino we drove inland towards California wine country. The road was very winding and hilly, and by the time we arrived at our destination we were definitely in need of some wine. We stopped at two wineries: Field Stone in Healdsburg and Beringer in St. Helena. By this time we were pretty well sloshed, but we ventured onward. After driving though the valley, we made our way over to Sonoma. The town had a nice historic town square and a Spanish mission. We finished the day with a nice Mexican meal in the town square. Tomorrow: San Francisco!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On the road

We brought my trusty laptop with us on the road; thank goodness for free wireless access! Because lord knows we are obsessed with the internet. While Brian is over there insulting his reader's tastes in music, I thought I'd give a little update on things, because... well, apparently I'm obsessed with everybody knowing my exact whereabouts at all times. After leaving Brussels, flying for about 13 hours, in addition to a 6-hour layover and another hour in US customs (anyone feeling sorry for me yet?), I arrived home at long last on Sunday. After all my meetings, I had one free day to be a tourist on Saturday. I copped out, though, and took one of those double-decker tourist buses to pack in as many sights as possible! I also saw a Paul Klee exhibit that was pretty good. I will post more pictures of that later. About two hours after I got home, we got a head start on our road trip, arriving in Portland at 2am! Can we say "exhausted?" Thankfully I was able to sleep through the night due to sheer exhaustion and I might be mostly over my jet lag already.

Driving along the coast of Oregon yesterday was awesome. It was so beautiful. Unfortunately the weather was overcast and rainy and cool, but it was still very pretty. One of my favorite things was checking out the tidepools and looking at the beautiful anemones. We took pictures but haven't downloaded them. They looked just like this picture on the left -- amazing.

Other highlights included clam chowder, the Devil's Churn, the Devil's Punchbowl, sand dunes, and listening to the new Bonnie Prince Billy album in the car. One of my other favorite things about our drive yesterday was the recent discovery of podcasts! They're ingenious. My sister-in-law Johanna turned us on to "This American Life" podcasts from NPR, so Brian downloaded a bunch of other mostly NPR shows before our trip. We are in the middle of listening to one podcast that is going through songs from the top 25 best albums in 2007, as voted by NPR listeners. It's a fantastic selection. You can check it out here. Podcasts are wonderful things, but can someone tell my why they're called podcasts? Anyway, they are a saving grace out here on the road, and are saving Brian and me from total boredom with each other!

Right now we are in Coos Bay, Oregon, wherever the hell that is. Ha ha. It's a logging town, as far as I can tell. We were pleasantly surprised last night by an amazing German restaurant in the middle of the tiny town. It was filled with old posters and awesome beers and wines, and an extensive menu. I had bratwurst, sauerkraut, red cabbage, potato salad, and a Belgian beer. Amazing. If you ever go through Coos Bay, you must visit the Blue Heron German restaurant. To die for. I mean, if you're into that kind of food...

Well, we have another full day of driving, podcasts, and scenery ahead of us. A major highlight today is driving through the Redwood Forest!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Old family photos

My uncle just sent a link to some pictures, which included some old family photos of the farm and of my great-grandparents. Wow these are so cool.

The picture below is the original farmhouse that was built after my great-grandparents homesteaded. Literally, they came from Kansas and were part of the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1908 (?). Each person in the land rush got to stake out a quarter of land and this is where my great-grandparents chose to live. I guess the deal was that if they could make it for three years, they got to keep the land. If they couldn't make it for whatever reason before three years, the government would give them money back to move back to wherever they came from. I guess my great-grandparents stuck it out, though it couldn't have been easy. Later, the farmhouse was hit by a bad tornado in 1946 and rebuilt. I've heard many stories about that tornado. I guess the people in the picture below must be my great-grandparents Lorene and George, and my great-aunt Maebelle (who I just saw last week). I don't know who is on the horses.

And here is another picture of my great-grandparents and their three kids, Maebelle, John, and my grandfather Marvin on the right, who just passed away two months ago. Oddly, I recognize myself in the face of my great-grandmother. Her nose and chin and smile and cheeks are very similar to mine. I love these pictures!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Land of chocolate and beer!

No, Oklahoma is not the land of chocolate and beer. I'll get to that later. Brian has a very nice post about our trip to Oklahoma last week to attend my grandmother's funeral. It was very sad, the end of an era, really. But it was really nice to be there with all of my relatives, and for Brian to meet all of them, too. I learned a lot about my family's history and about the family farm, and who is related to who way back when. Small towns in Oklahoma really are fascinating. You can easily envision how it must have looked back in the early 1900s, when my great-grandparents homesteaded there. I saw the rundown house where my great-great-grandmother used to live. And we visited the family farm, which is still furnished and which still has bottles in the medicine cabinet. It was too nostalgic for the family to clean it out and get rid of everything so it still looks the same, except for the animals that have found their home there, and the weathered walls and peeling wallpaper.

My great-grandmother collected owls (is this a recurring theme on this blog?) so I rescued two nice little retro owl napkin-holders from the kitchen at the farm. On this trip, for the first time ever, I felt really connected to my own history in Oklahoma. I heard lots of stories, learned lots of things about my grandparents and their parents, and felt a strong sense of belonging to Oklahoma, at least historically. It's very cool to know at least part of the history of where I came from.

Fast forward a few days and now I'm in Brussels. Ahh, Belgium. It's really nice here. Granted, I've been working my butt off since I got here, and on very little sleep. But so far, each night around dinner time has been a real treat, mainly due to the beer.

Oh, the beer! It's tremendously wonderful. Hoegaarden is commonplace here and is one of my most favorite beers. I discovered it sometime while I was living in DC. It's actually possible to find it in good restaurants or bars in the US, or those specializing in Belgian beers. It's spicy and fruity and yellow and cloudy. Like a hefeweizen, but I might have to say it's even better. Mmmm, so good. And the other one that is extremely common is Leffe (pronounced "Lef", not "Leff-uh") also very, very good. I had both beers tonight during dinner.

We are staying right on the Place du Grand Sablon, which is a very picturesque area full of pretty shops, outdoor cafes, chocolate shops, and cobblestone streets. I have not taken many pictures, or even had a chance to download them, but I found some on Flickr that sum it up pretty well.

Mmm, chocolate.....

Well it's another long night (but short on sleep) for me. I have work still to do tonight (I think it's 11:30pm?) and I have another full, long day of meetings tomorrow, which I have been heavily involved in coordinating. It doesn't stop until Friday night. All I'm running on right now is beer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Things are a bit frenetic right now. I'm trying to finish everything up at work and pack, so I'll be ready to leave for the next two and a half weeks. I'll be going to my grandmother's funeral at the end of this week (I'm just glad I'm able to go and say goodbye). And then flying directly to Belgium on Saturday for a week's worth of meetings. Immediately after I get back, we go on a road trip to San Francisco. I hope that will be a fun break after everything else.

I may not be back to post anything here until the first week of June!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cycle of life

On Thursday, I was extremely fortunate to be present at the birth of my friend's baby. It was truly incredible to see a new life begin. Today, on mother's day, my grandmother's life ended after almost 90 years, just six weeks after my grandfather passed away. The cycle of life is bittersweet.

Remembering Helen and Marvin, who lived until 2008.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tip-toe through the tulips with me

Looks fake, right? No, it's not. I took this picture and it's not even Photoshopped -- not even a hint of extra saturation or contrast!

Brian and I went frolicking in the tulips a couple weekends ago. No, not like that kind of frolicking. Whatever kind of frolicking you were thinking of, it's not that kind... it's the other kind. Well, Brian was frolicking, anyway. Not me.

These tulips are in Skagit Valley and they go on for eternity! But can someone tell me why most of the people visiting the tulips were not caucasian? And why most of them were men? I have a theory that some cultures appreciate natural beauty much more than others. Although frankly, there is something unnatural about tidy rows of perfect, brightly colored tulips. Which, by the way, we had to pay $5 to see. So maybe that theory doesn't hold.

My theory is this: Freakish looking fields of tulips can draw a damn impressive crowd, as diverse in color as the tulips themselves. But in the end, the tulips are just tulips and the people are all people. And with that, I leave you to ponder the profundity.

Speaking of "tip-toeing through tulips," "freakish," and "profound," check this out:

Saturday, May 3, 2008


We all know the game of Scrabble. But let's be honest... it's one of those games that only your parents and nerdy friends play.

The good news is that what started out as a mediocre board game has now turned into a sort of "scrabble-mania," taking the world by storm. In fact, some of the best art in the world is made from old, useless garbage... not unlike scrabble tiles!

If you type in "scrabble" on etsy, you can get a sense of how people have turned this worthless game into artful pieces of jewelry, like these scrabble pendants, for cheap!

Or earrings:

This purse is brilliant! It's made from a vintage scrabble board:

These coasters are much more useful than the scrabble game itself:

Every man needs a pair of these cufflinks:

And a daily planner, of course:

Need a new keyboard? You can use your old scrabble tiles, of course!

Don't have anything else to put under the glass of your new coffee table? Why not scrabble tiles!

And my all-time favorite, a personalized picture frame for mom:

As you can see, there are a 1,001 better uses for scrabble tiles beyond the actual game itself!