In Absentia

Part of the reason I haven't posted is that I have barely touched my computer since finals were over. Part of the reason is that I have about four saved drafts now that I haven't published, because mostly they're boring. Since my creativity has decreased as my caloric intake has increased, I haven't had much to say other than logging my daily events, which isn't actually fascinating. But what is fascinating, or at least titillating, is this joke:

How do you titillate an ocelot?
(Highlight blank space to read the answer.)
You oscillate his tit a lot.

It's been a while since I've loved a joke as much as this one, and now that I'm sharing it on the internet, it will prevent me from actually delivering the joke to you all in person. Drat. I just have to do it, though. Merry Christmas, all. And now I'm going to bed.

The Final Countdown

I hope that all of you have that music stuck in your heads for the rest of the day now, too. Doo doo loo dooooo! Doo doo loo-doo-doo!

So it's the final countdown. I have one more to take tomorrow morning and a couple projects to finish up. So, of course, I'm blogging. But at least I'm blogging from the computer lab instead of from home. That's progress, people.

Lest you think that I've been doing nothing but watching House during finals season, let me tell you what happened today.

My print cartridge ran dry. Of course, this happens. It happens to everyone. But the fact is that it was a brand new print cartridge that I had bought late Friday night. Considering I started using it at about 9:00 Saturday morning, I would say that its total life span was about 36 hours. It gave up the ghost when it had only about five more pages of my eighty-page project to print out. I was supposed to turn in the eighty-page project yesterday morning, but my teacher obviously didn't take into account the fact that I had two finals yesterday morning. I had another final this morning, so I didn't get the project to him until this afternoon. I had to print the last five pages on campus and then run the whole project over to his office. He wasn't in his office and the project certainly didn't slide under the door. So there it sits, the murderer of my ink cartridge, outside his door.

Of course, I can't blame only the eighty-page project. I also blame the "Ideas Portfolio" that I had to do for another class for which the teacher required us, during the last week of class, to collect forty samples of different print layouts from different kinds of publications, and write a summary of the good and bad points of each design, including what we would use from the design to create designs in the future. The project took me all day Saturday and all day Sunday and two hours Monday morning to complete. If I hadn't bought a printer/scanner/copier back at the beginning of the semester, I would have been SOL. I was able to make most photocopies at home. Of course, this led to the unexpected death of my color cartridge, too. Life sucks. If you're an ink cartridge. Or an ink-dependent student. Or a student who doesn't like to spend $50 dollars on ink in one week.

Anyway. Back to the final countdown. One more to go. And some homework. Which is why I'm in the computer lab. Here I gooooooooo! Doo doo loo dooooo! Doo doo loo-doo-doo!

What Women Want

I had a disturbing conversation with my mother the other day, during which she talked dreamily about a man who was not my father.

"Oh, he's so handsome," she cooed. "He's very smart. He's brilliant, in fact. And talented. And he's funny. And he's mean. He's very, very mean. But he has so many redeeming qualities that some people just don't see."

She was, of course, talking about Dr. Gregory House of the television show, House M.D. Let's please not mistake him for Hugh Laurie, who I assume is a kind, wonderful person. He has featured in such films as Stewart Little, Stewart Little II and soon, Stewart Little III. Sure he was a bad guy in 101 Dalmatians, but I'm sure that his role as Poirot in Spice World redeemed him. On second thought, I've never seen Spice World and never plan to, but I can only imagine.

As any good daughter would do, I started to investigate this man who my mother had feelings for. I rented the first disc of the first season of House. I knew that I'd like it right away---I'd seen a couple of episodes last year and had always planned on fitting a little House into my schedule, but something always came up on Tuesday nights. Finally, this weekend, between homework assignments, studying, and final projects, I made an appointment with Dr. House. Or, to be more precise, eight appointments.

What I have found is disturbing. I think, like so many other women out there, I am falling in love with House. House: the big, fat jerk. And I'm beginning to realize that when the nice guys whine about women always wanting the bad boys, never wanting the nice guys, they may just have a point.

What is wrong with women that makes us all love a man like House? I propose the following:

A. Good looks.
It is absolutely indisputable that women love only the good looking jerks. Believe me, if Willem Dafoe or Steve Buscemi had been cast as Dr. House, the season would have failed after one episode. No woman wants an ugly jerk. The handsome jerk must also have a rugged look as opposed to a smarmy look. Dr. House's unshavenness contributes to this look of ruggedness.

B. Pride
The jerk that women love is always proud. And he always has a lot to be proud of. His rugged good looks for one. His intelligence for two. The jerks that women really fall in love with always must have incredible intelligence. Much of the time, he is also proud of his money, which women also like. I may point out here that Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice is the stereotypical proud jerk. And women love him. (Also note that he has facial hair.)

C. Weakness
This is what separates the jerk that women hate from the jerk that women love. The jerk that women love always has a weakness. Most of the time, his weakness is being misunderstood by other people. He just doesn't communicate well with people. People don't understand his troubled past. People don't understand his tortured soul. In the case of Dr. House, they gave the poor man a cane of all things, and a pain killer addiction, which only serve to increase women's sympathy towards him. Not only do we feel that we can understand him although no one else does, but we also have that extra mothering instinct take over as we long to cater to his every crippled need.

D. Exclusivity
This one is the key. How does a jerk win women? He treats all other people like crap, but he treats one woman slightly better than crap. He confides in this one woman---but only very seldomly---and she is seduced by his sensitive side that is almost always hidden. She feels that she, above all other human beings, knows the real him. Sure, it is sad that the him that other people see is a big, fat jerk. The him that she sees---that real him---is a wonderful, but tortured soul. In the case of House, we women are allowed to see the real him. We see the camera linger on him for a few seconds after he's said something particularly biting to a friend. We see the look on his face that indicates he knows he's gone too far. He is confiding in us with his body language. We are (censored for Brother 2---highlight area if you want to read it)alone with him in the room when, without family or friends, he plays Happy Birthday to himself on the piano. He is confiding in us!

E. Good Quality/ies
Each jerk has at least one redeeming quality. The problem is, this only redeems him to the one exclusive person. All other people only get the jerk and never see any of the redeeming qualities.

So there it is. A summary of why women love jerks. I have to say, I quasi-dated someone a lot like House once. Well, like House but less good looking, less crippled, and less smart. But he was almost House's equal in the jerk department. To my mother's credit, she steered me far away from him. To Nemesis's credit (I have seen her allude to the allure of Hugh Laurie), she also steered me away from him. So women, I can tolerate (even enjoy) an on-screen jerk boyfriend. But in reality, let's all try to choose the snotty-nosed nice guy whiners, okay?

Un-merry'd Christmas

Today was our work party and I performed the following poems. Those of you who have heard my bitter single poetry before can probably imagine a little better how these would be performed, but those of you who haven't seen my performances can still use your imaginations.


Snowflakes! Fall! From the Sky!
A Million-Billion

i am

The snowflakes fall
like acid drops of loneliness
on my

Now wretched.

Un-merry’d Christmas

Dearest Santa, hear me wishin’:
I’ve been single since my mission.
I’m not mad, I’m not irate.
I simply wish to get a date.

I wish one man at BYU
would only want to date me, too.
But if no zoobie chooses me,
I’ll settle for UVSC.
(But please, no one from U of U—
We desperate girls have standards, too.)

Among the things that I’ve been missing
are cuddling, snuggling, hugs and kissing.
And no amount of mistletoe
has made a man kiss me. Although
not for lack of trying—see?
How can I make a man kiss me?

I want to follow Elder Oaks,
and keep my pantry locked so blokes
can’t eat my food and give me naught.
I try to do what I am taught.
But if I can’t give food for free,
How can I make a man kiss me?

I’ll wear red lipstick all this season!
To make men kiss me is the reason!
I’ll wear short skirts! (up to the knees)
And then I’ll flirt and laugh and tease!
The air will ring with tee-hee-hee’s
that say “come here and kiss me, please.”

I’ll tell men that I take ballet
(They won’t know it’s a lie, will they?
’Cause all girls know that guys like dancers.
Don’t ask my why—I have no answers.
Will they forgive a girl for lying?
After all, I’m only trying . . .)
to make them love me, kiss me, too!
And ain’t that worth a lie or two?

I never have played hard-to-get,
I simply haven’t tried it yet!
So maybe if I now pretend
I don’t like kisses, it will send
the message, “Kiss me! Kiss me quick!”
Perhaps deception is the trick!

I’ll wear pink sweaters all this year!
For pink attracts the men, I hear!
Then hordes of suitors will appear!
And one, perhaps, will hold me dear,
And love me with a love sincere . . .
And then, his lips to mine adhere.

Oh, dearest Santa, comprehend!
This year, I want a nice boyfriend!
A man who’ll love me for myself.
If not—could you send me an elf?

During the second poem, I suspended mistletoe over my head with a fishing rod. It was pretty good, but all the mistletoe was trashed before I ever made it home, so I might have to buy more before tonight's performance at my ward party.

Y [wear anything else] Week

So it's about finals time, meaning that we're finishing up projects and stuff and preparing for finals at the same time. And I have no creativity to dedicate to my wardrobe. I've been wearing my BYU sweatshirt, a pair of jeans, and my jean jacket every day this week. Beautiful!

The Crappy Bus

So after my experience on the happy bus, I got to ride the crappy bus today. Twice. In Provo, it's standard for the students to thank the bus driver every time they get on or off the bus. It's pretty standard for the bus driver to greet passengers---especially as they get on the bus and show their bus pass to the driver. There is usually some acknowledgement. A nod. A "good day." A "thank you." An "awww, your hair got all messed up" (standard greeting of my 3:30 bus driver). Something.

Today, my bus driver didn't even acknowlege that I got on the bus. He barely looked at my bus pass. I heard numerous students thank him as they got on or off the bus, and he never said anything to anyone. What a jerk.

Sticky Situation

Also, I need to vent to the world right now my hatred of "removable" labels that do not easily remove. It's bad enough when you tear the tags and bar codes off of dishes and have to soak your dishes in the sink for a year to get them off. But last night, at one o'clock in the morning, I was scrubbing the remnants of a label off of a binder. It's not something that you normally think to scrub in the kitchen sink. But the label didn't come off easily, and when I had finally scrubbed it off, the glue remained. So I busted out the 409 and the industrial strength degreaser, but nothing worked. I'd write an angry letter to the binder manufacturers, but since I had to rip the label off in about 326 pieces, their company name was rendered unrecognizable.

So as it is, I'm turning in a portfolio today in a green binder with fuzz and gunk stuck to the spine. Wonderful.

The Happy Bus

This morning I went to campus a half hour earlier than normal so that I could print some stuff and assemble a portfolio. Right now it's relatively cold and snowy here in Provo, so I put my hood over my head and waited for the bus.

The bus came to pick me up and I noticed as it approached me that the door was open. I was wondering if the bus driver expected me to board the moving bus, and I think that I may have even began my running start when the bus did actually come to a full stop. I boarded.

Then, on our way up 7th East, the bus driver would open the doors and invite anyone he saw walking up the street to catch a ride to the Wilkinson Center. It's funny to me that he would do it. It's even funnier that no one accepted his offer. Perhaps they thought they needed bus passes. I still don't know whether or not they did---I don't know if the bus driver was in the mood to let anyone on the bus, or if he was just reminding bus pass holders that they had the option of riding the warm bus all the way to campus. I'm just glad that I was on it.

While we're on the subject of spoilers...

My family has had a little difficulty this year keeping secrets. As you can see by the last post, we hate to find things out before it's actually time to. Here are some family spoiler stories. Of course, not wanting to spoil anything for you, I've hidden the spoiler text so that you actually have to highlight it to read what's written. That way, if you don't want to know yet, you don't have to.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Coming home from a mission and reentering the world is delightful. You have a year and a half worth of movies to catch up on. And you get to read the next Harry Potter without feeling that you've had to wait for it. As soon as I was home, I grabbed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book, and started reading. To my disappointment, I realized that I couldn't quite remember all the details from the other books. Instead of going to, I foolishly asked my mother, who reads the last chapter of a book before she reads anything else anyway.

I said, "I don't quite remember the whole story with Sirius Black. I know that everyone thought he was bad and he was actually good and that he's Harry's godfather, but I don't really remember any of the other details." My mom replied, "Well, I remember that he died trying to save Harry." I started shrieking at my mother, "HE'S STILL ALIVE AT THE BEGINNING OF BOOK FIVE! HE'S STILL ALIVE AT THE BEGINNING OF BOOK FIVE!"

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Did you know that according to Chicago, Blood should be lowercased? Here's one instance where I don't agree with Chicago. Anyway. So this summer, Brother 1 and Sister-in-Law went to pick up Brother 3 from the Las Vegas airport. Brother 3 said, "You'll never guess what I just saw on the plane---"
"---I saw this shirt that says Dumbledore dies on page 596."
My sister-in-law started shrieking, "I'm still reading the book! I'm still reading the book!"

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

We planned to see this movie as a family on Thanksgiving. Of course, I assumed that everyone had read the book. Mom and Brother 3 went to see it earlier in the day on the East Coast. She called after the movie, and I put her on speakerphone so that they could talk to everyone.

Mom said, "Well, I'm not going to ruin it for you this time, Cicada. I'm not going to tell you who dies at the end."

I replied, "I've read the book, Mom. I know that it's Cedric."

Brother 1 started yelling, "I never read the book! I never read the book!"

24, season 4

It's ironic that I was able to spoil this one for Brother 2 because I haven't seen it yet. I got hooked on 24 earlier this semester when I borrowed season 1 from Sister-in-Law. I've dutifully watched all three seasons that are released on DVD, and I know I'll have about three weeks to watch season 4 before season 5 starts. But, you see, they've started airing commercials for season 5...

On Wednesday I was with Brother 2 and I commented, "You know it's kindof annoying that all the commercials for season five of 24 give away the ending of season 4---that everyone believes that Jack Bauer is dead and all..."

Brother 2 yelled, "I haven't seen season four!"

"I thought you had!"

"No! When would I have watched it? It hasn't been released yet!"

"I thought that you would have watched it on TV last year."

"No! I don't watch much TV, Cicada. I watch Lost and Law & Order with you, and then I watch House. That's it."

"Well... you would have seen the commercials at one point or another."

"No I wouldn't have! I don't watch enough TV to! Thanks a lot for ruining everything!"

I have to admit. I hate it when things are ruined for me, but there is some thrill in being the ruiner. Even if I am doing it unintentionally. It's just funny.

The Present Month

My mother's best friend used to come over to our house around Christmastime and hide all the gifts that she had bought for her two daughters in our closets. She couldn't hide them in her own house because they'd hunt them down and find them. Of course, hiding them in our house only meant that the girls would hunt them down in our house and find them. There was no easy solution.

In our family, we had a different problem. Mother wouldn't hide our gifts, but she'd forget them in various places and then send us looking for something in that place. "Cicada, please go downstairs. There's a pile of bags by the computer. Look for a sticky note pad and bring it back to me." In looking for the sticky note pad, I'd come across a baseball cap with an American flag on it that was pretty much precisely what I had dreamed of receiving for Christmas (my tastes have changed dramatically since then; although it was the perfect gift at the time, I realize now that the hat was hideous and I curse the 80s).

I'd come up the stairs dejectedy, holding the sticky notes. I'd give them to my mother and explain what else I had found in the bags downstairs. Christmas had effectively been ruined.

The other kids had similar experiences and it was time we worked out a new system with Mom. We all decided that from then on, all our Christmas gifts would be found under her bed and we would simply never, ever look under her bed around Christmastime. We all knew the reward of suspense when the gifts were finally opened on Christmas day. And the system worked.

December 15th is my birthday. Since college, I've known what I was getting for my birthday because there has been a need and it has been filled. My freshman year, I needed a shower robe so that I could walk safely to the community showers every day. I received a shower robe that I still use daily and still looks brand new. My junior year, I received bedding since my down comforter at the time had lost too many feathers and was little more than a couple of sheets sewn together. I still have the blanket that she sent; it's on my bed, still comforting me.

The next two birthdays were spent on the mission. The first birthday, the gift was a surprise. She sent me a gold necklace. She explained that next birthday, she'd be sending me a fish charm for the necklace, since I was spending a year and a half as a fisher of men. As you can see from the picture, I wore this necklace at all times during my mission. I didn't take it off to shower, sleep, or play mud soccer. It was a perfect gift for a missionary since it was small and meaningful.

Last year, my first birthday home after the mission, I received a digital camera, which has taken most of the photos you've seen on my blog.

But this year... There are many things that I want, of course. This ends up happening every year. I want something, and my wish is fulfilled. A couple days ago I was talking to my mom on the phone and I facetiously asked her what she was getting me for my birthday. My intention wasn't to find out what I was getting for my birthday, but to gently sway her in the direction of a sewing machine. She replied, "Something you've never asked for." I suppose what she didn't realize at the time was that that severely limits the possibilities, for I am a greedy, greedy girl. But it's made me start guessing. Here is a list of some things I've never asked for. Feel free to contribute to the list.
  • a car
  • a bicycle (I'm currently using my sister-in-law's)
  • a ticket to Rome
  • a new television with HD capability
  • a couch (with our current futon, you can feel the bars underneath you and have to decide whether to allow the bar to go right between your butt checks, or whether to sit slightly to the side of the bar)
  • a dryer (we've been without one for a month)
  • a boyfriend
  • a $500 gift certificate to Red Robin
  • an elliptical machine so I can work out in my own home

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the boyfriend...

(Lest you think I'm really spoiled, all of the things listed above do not fit in the b-day budget. I feel comfortable in posting them because I know that I'm not actually going to get any of these things. Please feel free to contribute guesses about my potential b-day present, but keep the guesses out of the realm of possibility.)

One in Sixteen

Today you will be titillated with another mission story. This is one of my personal favorites.

My trainer was Italian. We had pretty much the best companionship ever. It seemed that there were never enough hours in a day for us to say everything we needed to say. Every night, we'd lie in our beds, chatting endlessly. We had a hard time sharing an apartment with the two other sisters who lived with us, and a lot of our conversation centered on them: complaining, making fun, complaining, making fun. When we were trying to focus on the positive aspects of these sisters, we could only conclude that the one good thing they contributed was something to talk about. Without them, our conversations would be almost crippled. We'd be reduced to saying such things as, "I love you." "Well, I love you more." "No, no. I love you more. Because you are the best. I love you." And too much of that just isn't interesting.

One particular night, however, we were unusually quiet after our zone conference. It was late, but neither of us could sleep. We both lay awake in our beds, thinking and trying to fall asleep. Around midnight, Sorella timidly said to me, "Sorella Cicada? Can I ask you a question?"

Now for a bit of background. We had had a great zone conference that day. Our mission president was fantastic and his zone conferences were incredible. This zone conference took place in about February of 2003, and we were expecting war to break out with Iraq at any moment. Part of our zone conference was dedicated to reviewing what we needed to do if and when war broke out. But then our wise, kind mission president added some inspired and comforting words about how we as missionaries were protected. He said that, in fact, the mortality rate of missionaries was one sixteenth the mortality rate of young adults between nineteen and twenty-three. He added, "And think of it! You are constantly putting yourselves in danger. You are out in the streets every day. You are riding buses, you are riding bikes. You are knocking on strangers' doors. You are entering strangers' homes."

The complication came because the Elder translating our zone conference from English to Italian was French. Back to the bedroom scene:

Sorella timidly said to me, "Sorella Cicada? Can I ask you a question? Did President really say today that one in sixteen missionaries dies during the mission?"

There was silence for a moment. Then the room was filled with peals of my insensitive laughter.

S: Stop! I'm serious! Did President say that? Answer me!!

SC: No. He said... oh, I don't even know how to say this in Italian... he said that... it's a fraction. The... rate? Of dying? For us is one... how do you say this? A fraction. One over sixteen. How do you say that?

S: Sixteenth.

SC: Right. One... one that of normal people our age. Meaning that much, much fewer of us die.

S: Oh. Because the Elder said one in sixteen. I thought... I thought he meant one in sixteen... so I started looking around the room and I thought, "Four of us in this room are going to die."

SC: [Laughing hysterically again.]

S: It's not funny! What was the president saying then? He said that we die in the streets and we die on our bikes and on the buses and that we enter strangers' homes!

SC: [Still. Can't. Stop. Laughing.] He was talking about the fact that we're protected!! We're protected! So even though we are in all those situations, we still don't die!

S: Oh. Well that's not how the Elder translated it. Now all the Italians think that one in sixteen of us is going to die.

A month later, Sorella talked to the French elder. She said to him, "You said that one in sixteen of us is going to die!!" He responded solemnly, and a little scared, "I know, Sister. I know." I wrote the president and at the next zone conference, he made it clear to anglophones and italophones alike that we're protected, and our mortality rate is one sixteenth of the mortality rate of normal people our age.

(She'll kill me for posting this, but that means that she'd have to buy a ticket to come out here, and frankly, I'd like to see her again. She keeps sending me text messages complaining that I haven't been in touch... This picture was taken our last night together. We thought it was funny that the White Handbook states that companions must sleep in the same room but never in the same bed. We knew that rules like that were created because someone had done it when it wasn't a rule. We always said that it would be worth it to shower together one day so that they had to add to the White Handbook, "Missionaries must shower every day, but never at the same time, in the same shower." But then, of course, we realized that that would cause all sorts of problems for the trees of life in the MTC.)

Five Pounds of Flesh: Eat Your Heart Out, Shylock

I stepped on the scale this morning to find out that I have lost five pounds. Five pounds! Hooray! That's a little more than one pound each week, which is a healthy weightloss! Hooray! I'm healthy and skinny! Only thirty more to go...

(This is a disgusting picture, but I rejoice in it. He's holding what represents five pounds of human fat.)

Coupon Day

Wednesday is coupon day. I come home from work to find that my mailbox runneth o'er with a bounty of coupons. I grab them, I enter my home, and I inevitably need to pee. I don't know if I have to pee every day when I enter the door, or if I only have to pee on Coupon Wednesday. All I know is that peeing is always an inconvenience as it only increases the suspence of finding out what's on sale. I bring the coupons into the bathroom with me, though I don't know why I do this, because peeing only takes about twenty seconds and only about ten of those seconds are free, since the other ten are taken up by looking at the nasty bathroom floor, thinking that The Boy needs to clean the bathroom soon or by looking for a new roll of toilet paper.

Post-pee, I retire to the living room where I take my coupon-reading seat. I do not sit on the couch. I do not sit in The Boy's chair. I sit in my womb-like papazan, cross my legs, and start flipping through the coupons.

Each ad is scrutinized. I notice errors, like where the word "cantaloupe" describes a picture of naval oranges. Or where a company claims that their shirts compliment every body (actually, it may not be a bad idea to market talking shirts...). Those coupons and flyers that are useless, the majority, are discarded; I throw them to the floor in disgust. I even open the ValPak coupons. I know that few people do, but for the last six years, I've been convinced that one day I'll open it and find the special $100 check. Then I can get up in fast and testimony meeting and talk about the blessings of tithing. It hasn't happened yet.

But today, the ValPak coupons offered me a gem. If you haven't read Nemesis's blog about food storage yet, you're going to have to or else this won't be funny. I found a coupon and I doctored it up a little in Photoshop to properly reflect the most important item in one's food storage. Enjoy! (Find image below---I had image loading problems today.)

Emergency Essentials

Francis, the Christmas Fish

As soon as I arrived to Brother 1 and Sister-in-law's place for Thanksgiving, Brother 1 started showing me the Christmas decorations. He was trying to show me the things that they had purchased, but I couldn't take my eyes off the odd decoration. The one that didn't quite seem to fit, and the one that was far superior to any of the purchases he was showing me. It was a fish. Wearing a Santa hat.

I held it up, and said, "What about this? Where did you get this?" He explained that I was holding Francis, the Christmas fish. Earlier this month, he and Sister-in-law were babysitting Sil's nieces and nephews. They pulled out a bunch of felt and sewing materials to make Christmas decorations. While Sil and the kids were stapling pieces of felt together to make stockings, B1 was sewing a fish. Sil asked what B1 was making, and without missing a beat, he replied, "I'm making Francis, the Christmas fish." Turning to the kids, he asked, "Have you ever heard the story of Francis, the Christmas fish?" His nephew responded, "I have!" B1 started to think that maybe there was a Francis, the Christmas fish story, so he asked his nephew, "Would you like to tell us the story?" At that point, the nephew admitted that he couldn't actually quite remember how it went...

I immediately loved Francis, the Christmas fish, so I made my own while our turkey and Thanksgiving meal were cooking. During the day, I was talking to my dad and I told the story of Francis, the Christmas fish to him. He was very excited about it all, and decided that over the Christmas break, we'll all have to make our own Francis the Christmas fishes.

The next day, in Maryland, Dad went out to lunch with Mom and Brother 3. After lunch, they paid a visit to the little gift shop attached to the restaurant. There were many Christmas decorations, but a certain decoration seemed to be lacking. My dad asked the clerk, "Do you have any Francis, the Christmas fish ornaments?" She said they didn't. He asked if she had ever heard of them. She said that she had. So he asked, "Can you tell me the story behind them?" After a pause, she said, "I just can't remember it."

This year, it will be my family's task to invent and circulate the Francis the Christmas fish story. I expect it to see as much success as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas... Except that Francis is a kind, fish. A kind fish with magical powers, and when all the little kiddies are tucked into their beds on Christmas Eve...

Because I'm famous and you're not.

A couple months ago, I signed up to blogpatrol. Mostly I did it because I was jealous of Master FOB, Th, and Nemesis who seemed to know what keywords people used to access their blogs. I wanted to know what keywords people were using to find mine! So I signed up to blogpatrol. I have noticed that many of you have as well.

Before I move on to what's really interesting, let me share what people have googled to find my blog:

  • I had a threesome (I did... but not like that!)
  • I slept with my brother (Nope... never did this one... but someone was seeking for validation on my blog apparently.)
  • BYU gay find (If they're playing a game of hot and cold, I'd say, "warmer, warmer, but not there yet!")
  • phyllo-wrapped brie recipe (I am better than a recipe book.)
  • spring board diving (they're getting more than they bargained for...)
  • cicada (they're getting less than they bargained for...)

Now on to why I'm famous and you're not. So I also keep track of pages visited. Of course, the page most frequently visited is, but then other pages spike when one of you, my wonderful friends and readers, reference one of my stories in your posts. It amuses me to no end to be able to see how many people are actually clicking over from your story to find out what I had to say about it first. Thank you.

Sometimes there are anomalies. Like today. For some reason, Family Slide Show was being viewed more than any other page (other than This was strange to me since I have been keeping up on all of your blogs (even though I don't always comment) and I was sure that none of you had referenced this post recently.

So I went to my referrers page, which is another one of my favorites. I get to see where people link to my blog. For example, if people read something on Nemesis's blog and then link from hers to mine, Nemesis gets a referral point. The referral page also helps me tabulate how much I owe to whom for Christmas. If present value were to be based on referral value, Melyngoch would be receiving eleven pairs of fish net stockings from me. It baffles me that she's my top referrer since she's so new to the blogging world.

Normally, I recognize every name on the top referrers list. But today, there was an anomalous one: This was interesting to me, since recently someone googled "South Porcupine" and found me. So I clicked the link. It is, by the way, the community of South Porcupine's official site. This particular link leads you to some "Internet lessons." It then explains what blogging is and says, "To see examples of blogs:" then you find the hyperlinked text, "A former resident of South Porcupine." It links to my Family Slide Show.

I'm still laughing about this. I have now become the blogging world's representative of South Porcupine. I now have a weighty responsibility. You, my readers also have a responsibility. That responsibility is to be sensitive to Canadians. No racist comments here, please. Let this post be a marker of our renewal of our committment to be culturally sensitive. Let diversity thrive. If not, I'll club you with my hockey stick and sic my pet pylon on you, you hoser.

(For those who would like to try out blogpatrol, too:

One Wild Ride

Why is it that I have so many biking adventures?
Yesterday, I got all dressed up to go to work. I put on a long skirt, a shirt, a little fleece-lined jacket, and my red rabbit-fur hat. Then, I was stupid enough to spend about 45 seconds shooting off an email to Nemesis, Daltongirl, and Sahkmet. I wasn't even saying anything important. But then I hurried out to the bus stop and missed the bus by 15 seconds. Drat.

I didn't want to wait for the next bus. I REALLY didn't want to wait for the next bus. And, of course, because I've been eating well and exercising, then I was full of energy and love of life. I remembered that the few times I biked to work this summer, I wore different clothes so that I could change out of them and into something professional, but I dismissed that thought, thinking that surely I wouldn't sweat. Afterall, it was all downhill.

So I got on my bike and started pedalling. In my long skirt. And my red rabbit fur hat. And my aviator sunglasses. I'm sure I looked like I took my sport fashionably, if not seriously.

The problem was that apparently, it was all downhill from where I used to live. It is not all downhill from where I currenly live. I think it was slightly uphill. So I was exerting a little more effort than I had thought I would. And the inside of my hat is leather.

I also hadn't taken into account that there's currenly construction on the highway I was riding down. I suppose one doesn't really notice these things when one rides the bus every day and doesn't have to navigate construction. Normally it's scary enough to drive on the highway's one-foot shoulder. But the pylons (that's road cones to you Americans) indicated that all traffic had to move to the left. Following the pylons, and therefore the law, I ended up riding in the left-hand lane with all of the regular highway traffic. Of course, there was absolutely nothing going on to the right side of the pylons. It was just regular highway that was sectioned off, and the contruction was taking place on about 1/25 of the space that was sectioned off. I started to consider riding on the right side of the pylons, but one never knows why it's been sectioned off. I ran the risk of driving over land mines.

When the risk of being run over by a car finally seemed to outweigh my risk of running over a land mine, I started driving to the right of the pylons, or in the construction (land mine) zone.

Of course, since to the right of the pylons I was not where I was supposed to be and to the left of the pylons, I was in serious danger of getting run over, I started pedalling as fast as I possibly could. So much for my leisurely ride to work.

When I finally got to work, I was covered in sweat. I took off my leather hat and not surprisingly, my entire head of hair was soaked. Sick. At least everyone at work thought that I just got out of the shower...

Four hours later, I didn't want to ride the bike back home, so I decided that I'd take it on the bus. My regular bus driver (who is nice and shmoozy with all the other regulars but had yet to recognize me as a regular passenger) pulled to the side of the road and I poked my head in the door to indicate that I had no idea how to attach my bike to the front of the bus. A helpful man came out to do it for me and teach me how. When I got on the bus after the bike was secured, the bus driver said to me, "What did you do to your hair??" I said, "I dyed it red... and... uh... rabbit." And then I got a crush on him.

And thus concludes my biking adventure yesterday.

Unless, of course, you count the part that I rode the bus to school so that I could work on a project in the computer lab, and several hours later, I walked home and it was really cold out and I wished that there had been a way to get home faster... and then I realized that the bike was still parked at school. And there it remains.

Choice Conversations

There are a few conversations that occurred this week that I would like to share.

The Day Limon Called When I Was Feeling Sick and Trying to Take a Nap:

Cicada: Hello?

Limon: Hi.

Cicada: Hi.

Limon: When you're writing the French verb tinter in IPA, does it end with an open E or a closed E?

Cicada: [Completely confused: I have never heard the word tinter* and I don't know what he means, "open E or closed E"] Give it to me in a sentence, please.

Limon: "Les cloches tinter légeres et franches, dans le ciel clément."

Cicada: [Completely confused: The sentence he just read made absolutely no sense. I had assumed that he was talking about a conjugated form of tinter, and asking whether it was supposed to end in an e-accent-aigu, or e-sans-accent, but neither of those options were working in the sentence he was giving me.] Okay, so... you want to know... if it... if it what?

Limon: If it ends in an open E or a closed E.

Cicada: [Wondering where he even got those terms from] Okay... so... like with an accent? Uh, could you spell the word for me?

Limon: T-I-N-T-A-I-E-N-T

Cicada: [Finally understanding] Ohhhhhhhhh. Tintaient! Ahhh, you're talking about phonetic transcription!

Limon: [In a sarcastic tone of voice] Yes, that's what IPA** means. [Remember, he mentioned it in passing about five seconds after he woke me up.]

Cicada: Right. Uh. Give me a break, will you? I woke up from my nap to help you out. I don't know what a closed E or an open E is, but the one you use for the word in this context will be the backwards three.

Limon: Okay. So the backwards three. Good. Now what about feuille?

Cicada: [Relieved that I actually recognized the word this time] That one, well, I'm pretty sure I know it, but let me look it up to be sure. [Take a couple seconds to look it up in my dictionary.] Yeah, okay, that one is spelled F - O and E squished together - J. Feuille.

Limon: So, F, then the O and the E squished together, then the J?

Cicada: Yes.

[Now is when we have a long pause. As in a pause of about a minute and a half or even two full minutes. Have you ever tried one of these on the phone? They're really long. And often a little awkward. So I start thinking about what he's thinking. I assume that he's reviewing his assignment to see where else he needs help. I wait. I wait. I wonder if I should repaint my toe nails. I think about what I'm going to be eating later in the day. I'm wondering if I'm going to make it to the gym. I'm wondering why Limon's still not saying anything...]

Cicada: Uh... so is this conversation over now, or are you still wanting my help?

Limon: Oh! I thought that I was waiting for you! I thought you were looking something up in the dictionary!

Cicada: No. I looked up feuille. F - O and E squished together - J. That's all.

After our moment of understanding, we quickly wrapped up the conversation and I tried fruitlessly to nap again.

*In fact, the verb tinter is so obscure that all I had to do to find the rest of the quote (to quote it correctly for my blog) was google "les cloches tintaient." All hits reference the text of Debussy's song that Limon was working on.
**IPA is the phonetic alphabet. Phonetic transcription means writing the sounds of a word out phonetically.

Gunter's Attempt to Confirm Our Saturday Night Date . . . With My Mother:

I think I referenced recently the fact that I was about to go on my semiannual date with my German friend. It's a tradition we seemed to have established about five years ago. We have about the same amount of interest in each other; that is to say, neither of us is interested at all. We don't socialize at all beyond these dates. And even then, twice a year, neither of us ever has enough to say to keep conversation going for the whole evening. Gunter's interests are cars, music, dancing, and computers. And dieting. My interests are interior design, the English language, fashion, and magazines. And dieting. So you can guess what our most interesting conversation of the evening centered on. And yet, it still was not interesting enough to be featured in this post. And so, I give you Gunter's attempt to confirm our Saturday night date... with my mother.

Mom, answering the phone: Hello?

Gunter: Guten aubend. Zees eez Guuunta.

[My parents know who Gunter is. Of course they do. He's the only man who takes me on dates on a regular basis, and he's also the last person I went on a date with.]

Mom: Oh! Hello, Gunter!

Gunter: I vass calling for Cicada...

Mom: Ah, I see. This is Cicada's mother. You've called her home in Maryland.

Gunter: Yeah riiiight.

Mom: [Laughing] No, really, you've got the wrong number. This is Cicada's home in Maryland. You need to call her on her cell phone.

Gunter: [Thinking, still obviously not sure whether it's a joke or for real... decides to side with caution.] You sound a lot like your daughta.

Mom: Yes, I do. We sound so much alike that even my husband mistakes us on the phone.

Mom gave Gunter my cell phone number (he obviously had misplaced it in the last six months).

She then went to wake my dad up from his nap to tell him the story so that she could laugh about it with someone. She then waited about the time she thought was appropriate for Gunter to be able to call me and confirm the date, and then called me to tell me about it. She got me just as I was hanging up the phone with him.

Gunter's Account:

Cicada: Hello?

Gunter: Hello. I called your mooza [my attempt at writing "mother" in his accent]

Cicada: Hahahaha! Because you looked my number up on the Internet?

Gunter: Yah. I didn't beleeeeve her. I sought it vass you... joking.

Cicada: Hahahahahaha! What did you say??

Gunter: I said, "Guten Abend. Zees eez Guuunta." She said, "Guuunta? Who is Guuunta?" I said, "I vass calling about toniiight." She said, "Zees eez not Cicada. Zees eez Cicada's mooza." I didn't beleeeve her. I sought you ver playing a joke, yah. You and your mooza sound very much alike.

Cicada: Yes, it's true. We sound so much alike that even my dad mistakes us on the phone.*

*What other ways are we alike?

We concluded by putting together the details for the evening. As soon as I hung up the phone, it rang. It was my mother.

When My Mom Called to Laugh with Me:

Cicada, dropping my voice ten octaves: Guten aubend.


So there you have it. A few choice conversations from my week.

Sister! Love Her!

Have you ever been on the outside of your own inside joke? All I know is that on my mission, I lived in an apartment with three other sister missionaries, and we'd go around saying, "Sister! Love her!" And then we'd all laugh. I cannot remember how this even originated or why it's funny. I just know that it's what we're supposed to say to each other.

I know that on the mission you're not supposed to have nicknames, but some nicknames just happened in this apartment. It's not like we ever really referred to each other by these nicknames. They just existed, not to be used but to be a convenience for when I would eventually start posting my entire life on the internet for public viewing.

Today's post is about Switchback. Of all the people I served with on my mission, she's probably the one who is most like me and is most compatable with me. She was never my companion, so it's strange when I talk about her. Usually I say she was my companion for simplicity's sake. She just called me tonight and I don't think that I've talked so loudly or laughed so hard since the last time I talked to her. In fact, my throat is a little raw right now. She lives in California because she's selfish. If she had any regard for the feelings of others, she'd move to Provo.

Random Facts about Switchback:

  • She was named Switchback because she used to be a bus driver for her university before coming on the mission. One of my favorite stories was when she was driving the bus and stopped at the pool bus stop but no one was there. As she was pulling away, she heard someone desperately crying, "Wait!!" Because she was a good bus driver, she waited and then the entire water polo team got onto her bus, wearing nothing more than speedos and goggles. Another favorite was when she noticed that all the people on her bus were sitting on the left side. So she got onto the PA and said, "Excuse me, but I've noticed you're all sitting on the left side of the bus. The bus will tip over. Please, half of you move to the right side of the bus." Some guy took the initiative to decide who would remain on the left side and who'd move to the right side. After half the passengers had moved, Switchback got back on the intercom and said, "Uh... I was actually joking. But that was some really good team work." She earned her name on the mission because she would always critique the performance of the Roman bus drivers. One day, as our bus was whipping quickly around some serious switchbacks, she said, "We are going to tip over! This driver is going WAY TOO FAST!"
  • When we first saw a picture of her and knew that she'd be moving into our apartment, I said that she'd either be really cool or really dorky. I was right. Mostly about the really cool but partially about the dorky. But the right type of dorky.
  • She was featured in an essay that won me $350.
  • Her mother sent her a harmonica as a gag gift for Christmas. One day when I was sick and she was home babysitting me while our companions were out working, I learned to play her harmonica. Consequently, the only music I can play on the harmonica now are church hymns. Her most frequent request was "O God, The Eternal Father."
  • She gave me the harmonica as a parting gift.
  • She has the best story ever about a bag of condoms. A friend left a huge bag of condoms that she'd received at a safe-sex workshop. Switchback forgot that they'd been left in the trunk. Months later, her mother borrowed her car and found the bag of condoms. Her mother waited several days for the right moment to talk to Switchback about her habits. They went on a walk. Her mother said, "I wanted to talk to you about what I found in your car. I know what it's like to be your age, and when I was your age, I was married, so I could have sex, so I can't even imagine how hard it must be for you but I just want you to know that you're free to make your own decisions, but I just want to make sure that you're using proper protection and are safe." When Switchback finally realized that this was instigated by her mother's discovery of the bag of condoms, she explained to her mother where they came from. Her mother, gasping with relief, asked if they could just, please, throw out the bag of condoms.
  • When I finally met Switchback's mom, I hugged her and told her that I think she is an outstanding mother.

Switchback, I know that you've never read this blog, nor will you ever read it. But I really miss you. Sister! Love her!

I find it interesting...

...that a friend says she avoids going to Gold's Gym in the afternoons because she doesn't like the meat market feel of it. She doesn't like to be working out and amongst girls who have gone to the gym in skimpy little outfits (she described an off-the-shoulder shirt that was safety-pinned together, worn by a girl whose hair and makeup were done perfectly, an indicator that she wasn't at the gym for a serious workout). She doesn't like to look up to see Muscle-Bound Hunk flirting with Safety-Pin Girl. She just likes to go and focus on being healthy.

It was interesting because even though I go in the afternoons or evenings, 1) I have never really noticed those who go for social reasons 2) if I have noticed them, I guess I haven't cared at all. It doesn't matter to me at all who else is at the gym. I go, I put in my DVD, and I work out. Beyond that, I really don't care about anything else.

It was interesting that she complained about using the locker room at that particular Gold's because she'd be in there, listening to comments like, "I can't believe she bought $300. Like, the jeans I'm wearing? They only cost $100." Again, if I heard a comment like that, I wouldn't think to put it down on a list of reasons why I don't like going to Gold's Gym.

I find it interesting that I've received a coupon from Red Robin. A very tempting special offer. Indeed, I can get a 20% discount if I buy a gift certificate of $500 or more. Now I know that it's a wonderful thing to get a deal on a Christmas present. And just think---this means that you'd be getting $500 worth of Red Robin food for $400. But... does anyone care? I mean, first of all, how do you wrap that thing? A $500 gift certificate would make one helluva stocking stuffer. I mean, you could buy a dryer with that money. In fact, you could buy a couch with that money. You could buy a plane ticket to Italy with that money (if you watch for deals). You could buy a 32-inch television with that money. You could buy a pretty cool camera with that money. You could buy an entire wardrobe with that money. You could buy a pair of jeans with $200 to spare with that money. You could buy a couple of iPods with that money. You could buy your own personal elliptical machine with that money. Who in their right mind would want a gift certificate to Red Robin instead of any of the things listed above??

Well there you have it. A couple things that are... interesting.

Far Side of Thirty

This is my last month on the far side of thirty. On December 15th, I'll be balanced in the middle of twenty and thirty. On December 16th, that balance will tip and I will officially be nearer to thirty than I am to twenty.

Basically every birthday since twenty-one has been scary. I think that twenty-one was just absolutely perfect. By twenty-one, I enjoyed all the privileges of adulthood, including voting, buying beer for minors, and going to a bar whenever I ever felt like it. So what if I've never felt like it. That doesn't matter. What matters is that if I wanted to, I could. Twenty-five offers me just a little more freedom. I'll be able to rent a car without paying extra insurance.

Getting older and being single seems to be more of an embarrassment than anything else. Yes, I know, I know. Twenty-five isn't that old, blah, blah, blah. But it sure feels old when you're among the oldest in your ward, when all the other sisters in your whole mission seemed to successfully find love within months of coming home, and when the closest you've come to intimacy in the last three years was when your German fishing date tenderly hooked your veeerm to your line so that you didn't have to do it yourself.

Last week I missed Monday classes because I wasn't feeling well. When I attended those classes on Wednesday, a girl whose name I don't even know got my attention. "Cicada," she said, flashing her brand-new engagement ring in my face. "You weren't here on Monday, were you? Because that's when I announced that I got engaged. I'm going to get married." The point is, if I never cared enough to even learn her name, then I certainly wasn't going to be any degree of excited or interested in knowing whether or not she was more successful than me in finding love and reciprocity.

Either later that day, or during our Friday's class, the teacher announced, "This must be a year of engagements! It seems that everyone is coming forward and announcing to me that they're getting married." That seemed like the appropriate moment to get up and say, "I haven't seen action in years, baby. Years." But I didn't. I am a woman who shows restraint. Not that that's ever gotten me anywhere. In love. Which is all that counts right now.

This morning in my computer class, a group member came in late, even though our assignment was due at the beginning of class and we couldn't turn it in before we had her part of the assignment. She apologized and explained that she was late because she had a breakfast date. The two other members of the group are both married. Their faces lit up with delight and one said, "You are always going on dates! You are so popular with the men!" At that moment, I considered swallowing my keyboard whole to distract me from the agony of sitting in proximity to these people.

It's not that I loathe married people. I just despise them in my own little bitter and jealous way.

And so that's that. If you think I'm bitter on the far side of thirty, just wait till I cross that line in a month. Heavens! It's 12:02! That makes it November 16th. I am one day closer.

A Pound of Flesh

I lost a pound this week.

I'm actually quite proud of my performance this week. I ate sensibly every day, and I even made it out to the gym on four different days. Two days I worked out for 45 minutes and two days I worked out for 90 minutes (those were the days that I brought 24 with me to the gym).

On Saturday, I expressed frustration that I hadn't lost much weight. I mean, I know that one doesn't lose weight immediately, but it is still disappointing when you know that you've worked hard all week and you see 174 on the scale instead of 175.

So I talked to Brother 2. Then he explained to me that I'm doing well. He said that if you lose more than a pound a week, then that means that you're losing weight by starvation. This means that your body is keeping the fat and eating muscle and ... oh, I can't remember what else. Brain tissue, I'm sure. Oh---no---water weight. So he explained how many calories it takes to eat a pound of fat and how many calories it takes to eat a pound of muscle. The point is that I'm doing well. It means that I have to revise my goal of losing 35 lbs. I'll be 35 lbs less heavy in seven months, not in four. I'm okay with this.

What was interesting was my trip to Subway today. I was very short on time today, and one can only bring so many frozen dinners with oneself during a day, so after work I went to Subway to get myself a dinner. Of course, as far as fast food goes, my opinion is that Subway has got the market in low-fat, low-cal eating. Jared has done his part to inspire us all to get off our couches and make it out to Subway. They accomodate us with a menu of 6 sandwiches under 6 grams of fat. They'd expand this menu, but the more sandwiches they offer, the less low-fat they'd be: 47 sandwiches under 47 grams of fat. Well, they may as well be a McDonalds at that point.

So my point is that all their advertising targets those who need food fast, but want to lose weight. They lure dieters into their store with promises of healthy choices, promises of delicious food that will help weight loss.

And then the starving dieters get to the cash register.

And in front of the cash register there is a display of cookies.

And the advertising on the cookie display says, "Come on. Just one won't hurt."

In other news, Alcoholics Anonymous has started serving complimentary shots before meetings.

New York Doll

Time for another endorsement...

Last night, Brother 2 treated Dirtbag and me to a movie. We went to see New York Doll. This film is an absolute must-see. It details the life of Arthur "Killer" Kane, who was a band member of The New York Dolls in the 1970s. The band enjoyed success for a very short period of time and broke up. In the 80s, Arthur Kane found an ad for the Book of Mormon and thought that he'd request a free copy. Only he didn't know that they don't send it, they bring it. So he took the discussions, read the Book of Mormon, and described his answer to Moroni's promise as "a trip. An LSD trip from God."

The documentary details his life after his conversion, talks about his work in the geneology library, and includes interviews with his precious and adorable coworkers there and interviews with his home teacher and bishop. It then talks about his last hurrah---a reunion concert that Morrisey put together where Brother Kane was able to live out his dream of getting back together with the band.

The whole documentary is sweet, hilarious, and moving. Enjoy it when you have the chance!

(Click here to see the trailer or the first eight minutes of the show.)

Ere You Left Your Room This Morning...

I've always seen that hymn as a guilt trip or at the very least a gentle reminder. But now I see that it is actually a threat. Let me tell you about my day yesterday.

It actually started late Thursday night when I washed my laundry. I had been procrastinating laundry until the very last possible moment, so basically I had to throw everything I own into the washing machine. About half an hour later, I went downstairs to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. The basement was flooded. I know that we've had problems with a flooded basement before, but I've never been the one to witness it. I'd blame it on the washing machine, but I've washed clothes in the basement since August and the basement has never flooded.

So I carefully walked around the flooded area and moved my clothes to the dryer.

Yesterday morning, I got up, excited for the possibilities of what I could wear. Basically, I could wear anything because all my clothes would be ready! I went downstairs, opened the dryer, and found out that our dryer was broken. All my clothes were still soaking wet.

This left me with a dilemma. I had nothing to wear. I actually considered skipping my classes or calling in sick to work, but decided that I'd be a trooper and find something to wear.

"Something" turned out to be a work polo shirt, a sweater that my grandma made for my mom in the70s or 80s, and a pair of thick polar fleece pants. And, of course, running shoes. I never wear running shoes unless I'm working out.

When I walked into my first class, a classmate looked up at me and said, "You too? Join the club!" I wasn't sure what club this was. To my knowledge, there was no You Put Everything You Own In The Wash Only To Find Out That Your Dryer Is Broken club. But I soon figured out that she was immediately assuming that I was sick. "Oh, no," I said." I feel fine! I just... all my clothes are in the wash and this was the only thing left to wear."

Inquiries into my health continued during my morning classes:
"How. Are. You. Feeling?" You know---the one with the head tilted and the hand on your arm.
"Feeling any better yet?"

I even got a "You hang in there." You would think that perhaps blood was leaking from my eye sockets, but no, it was simply the clothes that inspired these comments. My hair and makeup were perfect!

When I got home, I had to change out of the polar fleece pants and into a skirt. The rest of the outfit stayed the same (except for a shoe switch). To my horror, I realized that the shirt I was wearing, the only shirt I could wear, smelled like B.O. And there was nothing I could do about it.

While I was at work, Scoop contacted me and informed me that he and Mrs. Scoop would be coming over to my house for dinner half an hour earlier than expected. Though I was thrilled that they were coming over, this half hour made me panic. During the rest of the afternoon, I alternately deluded myself into thinking that I would have time to do everything---including making a trip to the landromat to dry my clothes---and panicked with the knowledge that I wouldn't have time to do everything.

I got home from work and hopped on my bike right away to go and get groceries. Forty-five minutes later, I emerged from the store only to find out that it was raining. Great. My once-perfect hair would now be flattened. And my once-only-dry-clothes-I-had would now be dampened. But what else could I do? I rode my bike home in the rain.

At home, I started throwing the soup together and was panicking about the messy state of my house. I would have to clean really quickly, too, and the soup was taking much longer than the indicated "10 minutes" on the recipe. An hour later, as the soup was boiling, I was able to leave the kitchen to frantically clean the rest of the house. Of course, I started to sweat. Great. So my damp hair and clothes were once again further dampened. And let's not even mention the B.O. again, except that I'm going to have to. I don't get to see Scoop and Mrs. Scoop very often, but I swear, every time I do, I'm covered in sweat or looking otherwise dishevelled and unattractive.

At about 6:30, someone started incessantly knocking at my door. It was DP. As soon as I opened the door, he reached out to hug me. So I partly succumbed to the hug, and he must have noticed some hesitation because he said, "Oh that's right. You don't like hugging. I'm sorry." I just left it at that, not wanting to say, "Actually, I don't want to expose you to my rank body odor right now. Otherwise I'd be perfectly fine hugging you."

Shortly after DP arrived, so did Scoop and Mrs. Scoop. As they put together a salad, I continued working on the gloop---I mean, soup. It was one of those homogenously pureed soups that I thought DP compared to food one would find in an old age home, but apparently he was talking about something else. I can't remember what because I never quite recovered from the comparison of my masterpiece to geriatric food. But as I was reheating it, air pockets started to form at the bottom and bursted to the top, creating splashes. As I was stirring the cauldron, one enormous splash errupted, and I ended with gloop on my stinky shirt, gloop on my face, and gloop in my hair.

Oh, and did I mention that since I worked out the day before, the last time I showered was post-work-out, which was over 24 hours previously at that point, so not only was the shirt nasty, but I was getting continually more nasty-looking during the evening, including the steady increase of the greasiness of my hair?

All in all, it was a delightful evening, though. How can one not have fun in the same room as Scoop, Mrs. Scoop, and DP? I know that DP voiced several gems during the evening, and I'll have to ask Scoop for help in remembering the other quotes, but one of our favorites was, when DP received a bowl of ice cream and was eating it, he said, "This is a great test of the effectiveness of my Sensodine toothpaste!"

Even more precious was about five minutes later when his entire face scrunched up in pain and he said, "I must have missed that spot."

When it was time for company to leave, I was starting to worry about the hugging that generally follows evenings like this. How could I come into close physical contact with anyone, my personal hygiene such as it was? Luckily, DP came to my rescue and said, "I won't hug you this time." When asked why, DP explained that I don't like hugging. Scoop commented that he always gets a hug out of me. DP explained that I simply don't like it. I didn't correct the explanation. I didn't say that I actually was fine with hugging anyone of them. I simply kept my elbow to my hip and waved them goodbye without lifting my arm more than was necessary.

So this morning, I am still sitting in my own filth. I haven't showered yet. I have a basket of damp clothes that I'll be taking to the laundromat once my whites are done in the washing machine. But you can be sure that I'll pray before leaving the house today. Oh, you can be sure.

What's Saddam's Address?

Please, if you have the time, listen to the following story. You can do it as a family activity. You can put it on as you're going to bed (which is what I did last night). You can listen to it at work if you have that sort of job. It is so worth listening to because it's quite possibly the most fascinating story I have heard in years.

If you're unfamiliar with This American Life, let me tell you what I know about it. It's a public radio program in Chicago that airs once a week, I think. Then, they put their broadcasts online the week after they air. I usually go through the archives looking for episodes where David Sedaris has read one of his essays (if you've only read him in print, you're missing out on half the show). Lately, I've been having a hard time getting to sleep at night, so I've been choosing shows from their "Favorite Shows" section to listen to as I go to sleep.

This is a story about a ten-year-old girl named Sara York who was pen pals with Manuel Noriega, "a man who was considered an enemy of the United States, a dictator, a drug trafficker, and a murderer." No, but seriously. It happened in the 80s when he was dictator of Panama. She wrote him a letter because her family saw him on TV and her dad liked his hat and thought that if a ten-year-old girl wrote him and asked him for a hat like his, he'd send it to her. So she wrote him. And he wrote back, asking her to tell him about herself and about her city in northern Michigan. So they kept on corresponding! The host, Ira Glass, compares this to carrying on a pen-pal relationship with Saddam Hussein.

Anyway. Like I said: If you have the time, it's worth listening to.

Rant I

Today I missed the bus. So then I wrote a letter to UTA. Feel free to read my letter.

I am grateful for your services. As a student, I purchased a year bus pass for only $60. Because of the bus system, I am able to navigate the city on my own and not make car payments I cannot afford. Since I live in Provo but work in Springville, I am reliant on the bus every day. I usually also take the bus to and from BYU campus in the mornings. I appreciate this service especially at this time as I have foot problems and walking is often very painful.

Although I usually am able to take the 831 bus home after my 10:00 classes, it seems that I am consistently missing it lately. I often arrive at the bus stop as the 831 is pulling away. This is frustrating, but what is more frustrating is the fact that the bus is leaving early. The bus is scheduled to leave that stop at 11:00. The bus driver consistently leaves at 10:58. I understand that perhaps her watch is fast, but according to the clocks on BYU campus and my own clock---which is regulated by the Cingular phone network---she is leaving early. When I got home, I compared the time on my cell phone to the time listed on an official government site that indicates exact time. The time on my phone is exactly correct. Two minutes makes a huge difference to students who have to make it from one end of campus to the other in order to catch their bus.

Today was particularly frustrating. I arrived at the stop, again, two minutes early, as the bus driver was pulling away. I was able to catch up to the bus about 10 yards away from the stop, but the bus driver refused to open the door to me. I understand that there is a policy that bus drivers cannot stop the bus to let people on or off between stops---to my understanding, it causes insurance problems---but I believe that there should also be a policy of punctuality.

While late buses are a nuisance, early buses are unacceptable. The difference that these two minutes made to the bus driver is that she was able to sit at the end of her route for two extra minutes before turning around to complete the route again. The difference that the two minutes make to me is that I am unable to get home and change to my work clothes in time to make it to the bus that takes me to Springville. I will be a half hour late to work today because the bus driver left two minutes early.

And now for the Daltonboy Complaintive License Tally!
  • It didn't actually hurt my feet at all to walk home today. But I do have a foot condition. It just wasn't painful today.
  • But my legs hurt. Because I've been working out.
  • By "consistently" I mean "three times."
  • I'm not really able to navigate the city on my own. Or the different cities... case in point: The time Daltongirl came all the way to Provo to pick me up and you and Daltongirl drove all the way back to Provo to drop me off.
  • My place of work is actually on the Provo side of the Provo-Springville border.

Rant II

So I went to a study group tonight. It's a group that was formed the first day of class when a sheet of paper was passed around the class and we all had to sign our names randomly into groups. Our group is responsible for a presentation on Monday so today we had our first group meeting. It was supposed to be at 8:30.

I got to the library at 8:30. Fortunately for me, Tolkien Boy was also there waiting for his study group members, so we, the punctual, were able to keep each other company while we waited for our group members.

At 8:39, I started wondering if I got it wrong. Then finally at 8:40, one group member showed up. We talked. We waited. And waited. At 8:50, I went to access my email to get the phone number of one of the missing group members. As I came back with her phone number, she showed up. So that meant that three of four of us were there. The original girl said that while I was getting the phone number, the fourth group member showed up. With his girlfriend. Twenty minutes late. And then he said that they needed to go to the drinking fountain to get a drink. So they went. So I waited with the other two group members for ten minutes for him and his girlfriend to get a drink.


Needless to say, I was a little annoyed.

He never apologized.

He never, ever apologized.

In fact, he didn't indicate that he had done anything wrong at all.

Then, as if things couldn't actually get worse, when we went to a table in the library where we could finally sit down and start to work, we lost him for another five minutes when he ran into friends in the hall.

Finally, when he joined us, we said, "Let's just make work assignments quick," he said, "Oh. Is this just going to be a quick meeting then?" I said, "Well, it is now." Still no recognition of the fact that he was ten minutes late.

Now nothing would please me more than if you all would post comments about what a jerk he is and stories of other jerks you've had to deal with.

Working Out

Gosh darnit, I may be making progress this time! I've gone to the gym three times in the last week and I'd say that's 300% improvement, but if I go to the gym never, don't I have to multiply three times zero... which leaves me with zero? Well, I've either made 300% improvement or I've made 0% improvement.

But tonight's adventures in changing my lifestyle to finally be more healthy included a trip to Smith's where I bought about sixteen Healthy Choice meals. I chose them because they're healthy. And I chose them because I can just grab one and run to work and then I'm all set for lunch. Also, they were over 50% off. I also stocked up on Slim Fast shakes, just because I have a hard time getting breakfast in the morning, so on days when time is short, it's better to grab one of those than to grab nothing. I grabbed a bag of grapefruit and a bag of spinach. And for days when I really want to indulge myself, I got Chunky soup to eat with tortilla chips.

(I should also mention that I spent $50 on groceries and I saved $30. I heart sales!)

It turns out that limiting your eating to 1500 calories a day isn't that hard. I did it today without even trying. (Well, that's not couting the 3000 calories of cough drops I'm sure I consumed.) Last night I was talking to my massive German friend who is twenty pounds less massive. He limited himself to 1500 calories and lost twenty pounds in five weeks. Now, of course I don't expect to lose twenty pounds in five weeks. But I would like to lose thirty-five pounds in four months. I think that's reasonable, though some people won't call me "dear" because of it.

Also, a funny tangential note about the German. We were chatting on IM.

German: Weren't we supposed to go out this weekend?

Cicada: Oh yeah. We were! I guess things got busy. Well, let's still plan on going out, but not this next weekend because I'm already booked up. Let's shoot for two weekends away.

German: Too many dates.

Cicada: NOT too many dates! You're the last person I went on a date with! [in July]

German: Oh, that's mean. :(

German: Wait. I read that wrong. Now I see what you're saying.

So it made me laugh, because he thought that I was telling him that he's the last person I would go on a date with. Poor man. Well, at least I'll have another date in a couple weeks.

So that's it for tonight, I think. I know that all this post has to do with diet and exercise, so it's not really thrilling, but it's what I'm thinking about lately so it's what I'm posting. Wish me luck!


--Tell me, Lily, he said in a friendly tone, do you still go to school?

--O no, sir, she answered. I'm done schooling this year and more.

--O, then, said Gabriel gaily, I suppose we'll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh?

The girl glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great bitterness:

--The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you.

Gabriel coloured as if he felt he had made a mistake and, without looking at her, kicked off his goloshes and flicked actively with his muffler at his patent-leather shoes.

--from The Dead, by James Joyce

This weekend I went to An Event with Brother 2. It was fancy. It was held in an art museum. I was dressed my best and wandered the galleries, imagining myself as some sort of socialite while Brother 2 welcomed people to The Event, told them that the galleries were open to them and that hors d'oeuvres would be served at 6:30.

After I enjoyed the galleries, I found Brother 2, still meeting and greeting. He introduced me to a very Nice Lady.

--What are you studying, asked The Lady, smiling.

--I am majoring in English, was my reply.

--Oh! Another useless major! How delightful!

Perhaps I started to look uneasy. Brother 2 added,
--She's not only studying English.

--I'm also studying French and minoring in editing, I said, trying not to bite my lip or play with my rings.

--Two useless majors, then! Well, I had two useless majors, too, she said gaily. I studied English and music.

--Well, what were you able to do with your useless majors? I asked.

--Oh, well, I just got them a couple years ago. I teach music now.

People often assume that I'm going to be a teacher when they learn that I'm an English major. I would rather milk cows. In fact, right now I am actively working on plans to start a business that has the potential to be quite profitable. I'd tell you all, but some People Who Know told me to stop sharing my business idea with people because it's so good that someone will steal it.

--Well, I am planning to start up my own business once I've graduated. It will focus a lot on editing. And a lot of stuff that I won't tell you but ha! I'm going to have a business! Try and call that useless! Ha! Forget about those statistics of small businesses failing in the first year of operation. I'm going to beat all odds.

At this point, Brother 2 was reintegrated into the conversation and mentioned that he had gone on a couple of dates with a girl who lives close to The Lady.

--Oh! The Lady cried. I just love her! I just love her! Don't you just love her?

As if the fact that he had only gone on a couple dates with her a while ago and they weren't going on any dates anymore were not a good enough indicator that he doesn't actually just love her.

--Yes, Brother 2 replied. Yes, I just love her. She's great.

They chit chatted about this a while and then Brother 2 was off again, talking to others. The Lady turned to me.

--She really is a sweet girl. A great girl. She just needs to be married!

The last words were delivered with much conviction. She continued,

--I just don't understand why she's not married yet.

--Well, I offered, I guess it's not always so easy. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she has a list of rules that need to be adhered to by anyone of the opposite sex who aspires to grab her attention but doesn't feel the need to follow any rules of courtesy when dealing with the opposite sex. Just an idea.

--No. No, she agreed. You're right. Yes, I have a daughter who's also not married. Brother 2 should be dating her! In fact, I have several daughters who aren't married... one... two... three. I suppose I've got three. One's eighteen, the other's twenty-one... I just don't understand why they're not dating!

--Well, like I said, I guess it's just not always so easy. So now let's just drop the subject, please.

--No, I suppose it's not.

She turned to me with a warm smile spreading across her face and gently nodded her head towards me.

--Are you dating anyone?

--No. I'm not. And I haven't been for years. Now can we please talk about something else? Perhaps my useless majors again?

--Well. I just don't know what's wrong with men these days. It's obviously a different world from when I was growing up. When I was in college, everyone just found a date Friday night. That's what was done. Today...

She sighed hopelessly and looked up as if answers would simply be written on the museum ceiling. She looked back to me.

--I mean, you're ... Here she hesitated ...cute. And overweight... if you lost a few pounds I'm sure you could get a man.

--Well, who knows. Anyway. It was a pleasure meeting you.

I went to fill up my glass with punch and wished that my religion allowed me to drink something a little stronger.

Okay, so I don't know if that email address actually exists, but let's be honest. It probably does.

My point is that I have a thing against people my age and older with unprofessional email addresses. Do you fit into that category? Perhaps you do. No matter how much I love you, though, I maintain my position: Stupid email addresses are stupid.

Some people really, really are attached to the email address they created in high school. Take the following example. Recently, I organized a study group in one of my classes. I passed a sheet of paper around the class where people could write their email addresses.

I was delinquent for a couple days, so I didn't actually compose an email and send it to everyone before our next class. One girl, we'll call her R, came up to me. (Just as a note, her email address is not, but it is equally ridiculous.)

R: Did you ever send that email?

Cicada: No, no. I didn't get around to it. Sorry.

R: Oh good. Because sometimes people send me emails and I don't get them, so I was just making sure that you hadn't already sent it.

C: Huh. Do you ever check in your junkmail folder?

R: It's not that. It's just that sometimes I don't get mail and I don't know why.

C: (unconvinced that she checks her junkmail folder) You know, gmail is a really good option.

R: Oh, I'd never change my email address. I've had this one for so long!

So the next day, she didn't show up to the place where I had notified everyone (by email) that the study group would be. I went and found her in the library. She hadn't gotten the email.

After the study group, I sent the notes to every member of the group. She had told me to send hers individually, please, because sometimes when people send things to groups, she simply doesn't get it. I sent it to her individually. A couple hours later, she wrote and asked me to send her the notes. I replied to her email (and confirmed that I had, in fact, been using the correct address) and attached the notes.

In class the next day, she came up to me.

R: Could you please send me the notes?

C: I did. Twice.

R: Oh well sometimes I don't get things unless they're sent to me individually.

C: I sent it to you individually. I didn't include your name in the group email.

R: Oh. Well sometimes I don't get things unless you actually respond to an email that I've sent you.

C: The second time I sent you the notes, I responded directly to your email.

R: Oh.

C: I think it's time you considered a switch to gmail.

R: Oh, no! But I love my email address!

C: Well... it's a little unprofessional, don't you think? I mean, you are a grown woman now...

R: Yes, but this is the address that I've had for years!

C: Gmail is far superior to hotmail and it looks a lot more professional, too.

R: Well, I like the email address that I have now.

C: Yes, but there comes a time when you need to change your email address. Like when you are consistently not receiving emails that other people are sending you.

R: Well, most of the time, I get the email.

C: And yet, you know that you regularly don't receive emails because you know to warn people that you may not receive their email, and you know which situations often lead to complications in receiving emails.

R: Well, maybe I'll look into getting a gmail account.

C: If you're really attached to hoobalaboobala, I can pretty much guarantee you that no one has taken it at gmail yet. But I would suggest making a more... professional address.

Of course, my suggestion that people create a more professional address has led to trouble before. For this, I feel only somewhat bad. Recently, I was coaching Brother 3 through the resume writing process. He had a stupid hotmail address with a series of initials, a last name, and a number because his name is common enough that some blokes in Ireland already had stolen it and its normal variations.

C: Brother 3, you really need to change this address. You need something more professional.

3: Yeah, but I don't have anything more professional.

C: Just create gmail account. I think that gmail is more respectable than hotmail. Plus, you'll want gmail anyway. It's just a better system.

3: Yeah, but I want to get this resume in the mail quick, so I'm just going to use the hotmail address.

C: It doesn't take any time at all to set up an email account.

3: Yeah, but I'm just going to use my hotmail account. I'm sure that they're not going to throw away my resume just because I have a hotmail account instead of a gmail account.

C: True. But it looks more professional.

3: I'll get it done in time for other resumes.

So there you have it. I love gmail, I really do. And it's not that I hate hotmail. I find my hotmail address very useful---it's the address that I use when I have to sign up for things online. It allows me to have a messenger account so that I can chat on IM. But I will say that while I was writing this post, I checked my junkmail and found an email from an old mission companion. When I tried to move the email from the junkmail folder to the inbox, it was lost forever. Gmail would never allow something like that to happen.

The Witch and the Hamster

A little while ago, The Boy and I went to PetSmart and we witness an intriguing spectacle. In its little cage, a hamster was running on a wheel while another hamster watched. The second hamster came to the right side of the wheel and watched as the first hamster ran and ran and ran and ran. Then, suddenly, the second hamster lunged forward to get into the wheel. The spinning wheel, powered by the first hamster's insane need to run, pushed the body of the second hamster right into the supporting bar of the wheel. The little hamster's body bent completely in half and the wheel came to a full stop.

Then, squeezing his little hamster butt from where it was wedged between the bar and the wheel, the second hamster got onto the wheel. Both hamsters ran together for a few moments until the second hamster pushed the first hamster off. The first hamster ran around from the left side of the wheel to the right side and waited and watched. Suddenly, lunging forward, he half-inserted his body into the wheel. Then, powered by the second hamster, the wheel pushed his body against the supporting bar until the wheel came to a full stop and the first hamster's body was bent completely in half.

Ths continued and never actually ceased to be funny.

It was so funny, in fact, that I was telling this story to Brother 1 on Saturday. "I certainly don't know why they feel the need to run run run run run!" I said.

"It's just funny that the hamsters can seem to do it but you can't," remarked Brother 1. I considered changing his name to Terd McFurgeson in that moment, but I didn't.

Today, I was both a witch and a hamster for Halloween.

This morning, I put on a black skirt and a black shirt and some black fish nets over red tights. When I went to work, I grabbed my pointy witch hat, my broom, and my cauldron full of goodies. I was a witch, and I was ready for both work and my ward party.

When I got home, I realized that my ward party was a dance party. The last time I went to a dance, I promised myself that I would never ever go to a dance again. I knew that I had to get out and meet people, but I also knew that doing so at a dance would be of no benefit to me at all. So instead, I went to the gym for the first time in months to run on the wheel. I really need to lose this weight.

When I came home, I took all the candy that I had meant to bring to the dance and put it by the door and turned the lights on so that trick-or-treaters could come and take my candy away so that I wouldn't eat it all. Some trick-or-treaters never came. We did have several kids come during the evening, though, and Brother 2, The Boy, and I all carved pumpkins.

Happy Halloween! (Nightmare Before Christmas by Brother 2)

Are you still reading? Also, the best part about tonight was when an 11-year-old kid came to the door with his siblings and butted to be first in line for the candy (because apparently if you don't get there first, people run out) and then looked up at my apartment and said, "Wow. Cool apartment! This is really cool." I still only gave him one piece of candy, though, because he's a butter.