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.)