In an effort to become more politically conscious, I'm currently watching the State of the Union address (at DP's suggestion). What I'm learning is that this crowd is easier than a Utah crowd. I think that Bush has had about four standing ovations after four minutes.
Any political thoughts you would like to add? Please. Discuss. So that I can adopt your opinions.
(Man, I'd seriously love to hire me a crowd like this.)
Fifteen! (Except this time, no one seemed really enthusiastic about it.)
Sixteen... another lethargic one.
Seventeen and a half!
Seventeen and... the same half! (What's with the other half?)
Oh... there goes the other half...
I think we're basically up to nineteen now.
(and a quarter)
And so on and so on (which means that I fell asleep, but in my defense, I'm really, really tired.)
1) By "brand-new fancy bird feeder," I mean "the empty bird feeder that the previous tenants of this apartment made and hung outside the living room window, which has been empty the entire time I've lived here, thus leading one to believe that it was once full of seed and the birds once ate all the seed."
2) I totally researched bird seed on the internet and therefore filled the feeder with black oil sunflower seeds because the internet told me that most birds like that best.
3) The birds haven't found me yet. Seriously. What gives?
Friday, as I have mentioned, was my ward talent show. I have already shared one exciting story, but I realize I didn't share what I did for my talent. Let me tell you.
For those who don't know, I wrote a couple poems over four years ago about being single. And desperate. They are better performed than they are read, but here's the text for those who have never witnessed the performance. Since then, I've had many requests to perform my poetry again. In fact, the whole reason that we had a ward talent show this week was that the bishop saw my performance poetry in December and demanded that a talent show be organized in January. I wasn't actually feeling very well Friday night, but I couldn't very well skip the talent show. So I went (and actually ended up feeling fine all night).
Before I continue, you may remember that I wrote something about a guy named Viper in my ward in my Phone Anxiety post (it's near the end of the very long story). Well, Viper happened to be the MC for the evening. Apparently he's actually a professional comedian. So just remember later in this story, when I am mean to Viper, that I knew he had the professional skills to handle the heat. (Unlike Mr. Lucy, who did not have the skills to handle any sort of heat.)
I got up to the stage and presented my poems:
Cicada: Thanks. Thank you. Yeah. So for those of you who saw me perform my poetry at the ward Christmas party... this is going to be different stuff. For those of you who saw me perform my poetry at [ward member]'s birthday party... this is going to be the same stuff. I'll give you a little background. By the time I had been at BYU for two and a half years, I had gone out on two dates with one guy, a year apart from each other. I figured I had to do something to improve my dating situation. They announced a talent show in my new ward, so I decided I'd do poetry. I called my mom, who is my best friend, and told her what I was planning on doing. She said, "Cicada. You KNOW if you do that, they won't date you." I said, "Mom. They don't date me anyway." She said, "You're right. Go ahead and do it." Now, four years later, my mom is concerned that I'm still doing this poetry. She's worried that I'm going to get a reputation of being a desperate, lonely girl. But I'm not. I'm a fairly confident person. So here goes.
I performed my poetry. When I was done, Viper came to take the mic from me. I started to give it to him, but had second thoughts. I took the mic and said into it, "The last time I performed this poetry, at [ward member]'s birthday party, Viper promised me he'd take me on a date. I'm still waiting."
As the crowd laughed and booed Viper, I took my seat again. Viper made his rebuttal:
Viper: What Cicada is forgetting to tell you is that I asked her out on a date four months ago. And she said no.
The crowd appropriately laughed and booed me. I got up from my seat, returned to the stage, and took the mic back:
Cicada: So one night, I was at work. [The crowd burst into laughter because they knew exactly where this was going.] I get a phone call. From Viper. Two days after I had called him for help with my comptuer. I answered the phone and told him thanks, but I already fixed my computer. He said, "That's great. Hey, I got tickets to this thing tonight. Do you want to come? In ten minutes?" I said, "I'm so sorry, Viper. I'm actually at work right now, in the middle of a meeting, and I can't leave. But I would love---I. Would. Love. to go out with you another time." That night, as soon as my meeting was over, I called my mom. She's my best friend. I said, "Mom. I got asked out on a date. By a man named Viper." My mom said, "I don't know how I feel about this man named Viper." [Again, wild laughter from the audience.] When I performed the poetry at [ward member]'s birthday party, Viper promised he would ask me out. I went home and told my brother, The Boy. The Boy loves Viper. Soon, my mom called me. She said, "I heard that Viper asked you out on a date." I said, "No. Viper said he was going to ask me out on a date." My mom said, "I don't know how I feel about this man named Viper." And I'm still waiting for him to ask me out on a date.
Viper: So... how's this Thursday?
Cicada: This Thursday would be great.
At that point, I took my seat and enjoyed the rest of the talent show. At the end of the program, when Viper was wrapping things up, he announced that there were refreshments and that they'd be served in the lobby, west of the sign-up sheet for Cicada's dates. That was funny. Stand-up comedian. I'm telling you.
I guess I'll have another update on that in about five days...
One guy's talent, as listed in the ward directory, was "Explosions?" There are two things you need to know before I go on with this story:
1) We were in the auditorium of the Tanner building, which has a carpeted stage.
2) I was sitting in the front row with one other person.
So two guys wearing blue lab coats walked onto the stage, rolling carts full of tubes and containers and sciencey-looking stuff. And a bobble-head doll that they got from our ward Christmas white elephant gift exchange.
First, our main presenter (we'll call him Mr. Lucy) poured a mysterious liquid into a container, promising a great reaction once he threw in a match. Mr. Lucy threw in several matches. No reaction. Mr. Lucy decided to move on to his next demonstration. He took a container of liquid oxygen and started pouring it all over the top of one of the carts (the carts had high lips so they could hold liquid). He even spilled some liquid oxygen on the floor. Someone yelled out in concern for the carpet but Mr. Lucy reminded us, "It's oxygen. It's not going to hurt the carpet."
Mr. Lucy lit a match and threw it on top of the cart. No reaction. It was too late; the liquid oxygen had all evaporated.
Mr. Lucy pulled out his next demonstration. He put two pieces of cotton on top of the cart. One was normal---he threw a match onto it. The fire singed the cotton slightly. He said that the other piece of cotton had been otherwise altered (soaked in something, maybe?) and he threw a match onto it. The cotton turned into a huge, bright, and short-lived fire ball that burned a hole in my retinas. I couldn't see anything in front of my for a few seconds. I have to admit, it was cool, but I was wondering how much I really wanted to be on the front row at this point. The girl who I was sitting beside was the organizer of the activity. She leaned over and said, "This can't be allowed! But he said that he'd get permission from the building to do this..."
His next two demonstrations were setting balloons full of gas on fire. Again, short bursts of bright fire accompanied by loud popping noises.
Then he set up his equipment for his final and most dramatic demonstration. He had two clay pots over the head of the bobble-head doll. He said that he'd destroy the bobble-head doll. He had a mixture of two substances---I think they were iron oxide (rust) and aluminum (any chemistry people can correct me here---El Senor, it's late, so that's why I'm not calling you, but help me out here). He explained that adding heat would turn these substances into molten iron. So he poured the powders into one of the clay pots and stuck in a fuse. Then, using a blow torch, he lit the fuse.
What happened next could be described as a rain of fire. The substance caught fire and started shooting flames all over the stage. Once these little airborn pieces of flaming molten iron hit the ground, they caught the carpet on fire. Soon, the dozens of little fires started on the carpet burned out, and the audience was left gasping (for air because the entire auditorium was filled with stench and smoke). The molten iron had melted through the clay pots but had done surprisingly little damage to the bobble-head.
At this point, the girl beside me stood up and announced that this talent was over. The bishop, I noticed, had also stood up at this point. I just sat, calculating how far the closest molten iron drop had landed to me. It was only a couple feet. Then I sat back and wondered what a little molten iron drop would do if it landed on my head. Or my face. Or my eye. For the next fifteen minutes, I kept on blowing away ashes that were continually falling all around me.
I had the opportunity to go up on stage after the talent show to look at the damage. Everywhere that the molten iron had touched, the carpet was burned through to the floor. It looked like drops of acid had been spilled all over the stage (all the way down to the carpet of the first row) except for the drops of metal that were fused to the floor at the bottom of each hole. Mr. Lucy came up on stage, fully aware of how much trouble he was going to be in. He explained that first the bishop would be called, because this happened at a ward event. Next, he'd be called in and asked to explain himself in front of the chemistry department. Who knows what then? I feel bad for him---I really do. What he did was incredibly stupid but it will end up costing him a lot more than he ever expected (how much does it cost to recarpet an entire auditorium?).
Maybe I'll write him a poem so that he can do something a little less dangerous at his next talent show.
Though the class is called "Appreciation of Nature," it may as well be called "Bird Watching." The emphasis is on birds since they are the easiest animals to see and appreciate. During the semester, among our other duties, we are required to identify seventy-five different species of birds. Before class yesterday, I spent a couple hours walking around and looking for birds. In class, when I annouced that I had seen three brown creepers, my professor gave me a high five. ("It's not that they're rare," he said. "It's just that no one ever sees them.") I'll be making my own bird feeder soon so that I can get a few birds to come to my house over the semester.
I'll be tracking my progress on my blog---not because I think that all of my readers will be desperate to know my latest progress in the birding world, but because that way, I'll always know where to find my list of birds. And I like to brag.
1 package of bacon (mmmmmm)
4 cans of diced tomatoes (the 16 oz cans)
red pepper flakes
Fry the bacon till you get a bunch of fat, then throw in the diced onion. Fry till the onion is golden. Throw in all the tomatoes, a bunch of red pepper flakes (the hotter the better), a bit of salt and pepper. Cover and cook for at least 40 minutes (add water if necessary). I usually cook this for at least an hour.
Everyone loves this, and people like FoxyJ will be thrilled to find out that it's full of fat (remember when you don't throw out all the fat from the bacon?). And if I can make a recommendation, this is my adaptation of the recipe found in Il Cucchiaio d'Argento, which can now be found in English---called The Silver Spoon. I highly recommend it. It's the Bible of Italian cooking.
I had a favorite family on my mission. We still keep in touch---they even called me when the New Year came to Italy, which I think is special. We'd go to their home every Friday for a discussion and then for supper. The mother (who we'll call Neve) was the greatest cook ever and she'd prepare all day for our Friday meal.
After one discussion, as the mother was making the final touches on dinner and we were seated at the dinner table with the father, my naive companion mentioned that I was a great cook and that I had made carbonara earlier in the day. The father, who loved to try and prove me wrong whenever he could (we'll call him Nanni), turned to me.
Nanni: Oh really Sorella Cicada. And how exactly do you make carbonara?
Cicada: Well... I fry pancetta (like bacon). With onions.
Nanni: Onions? No. There are no onions in carbonara. Go on.
Cicada: Then, I mix a couple eggs--
Nanni: The whole eggs?
Nanni: Wrong. You don't make it with whole eggs. Go on.
Cicada: I mix the eggs with parmasean--
Nanni: Parmasean!? No! You don't make carbonara with parmasean! You have to use pecorino Romano! Go on.
Cicada: And I mix in lots of pepper and cream.
Nanni: Cream!? CREAM?! Neve! [Neve is still in the kitchen.] Cicada puts cream in her carbonara!
Neve comes running from the kitchen with a look of horror on her face.
Neve: Cream!? In the carbonara??
Nanni: You don't put cream in the carbonara, Cicada. You're doing it all wrong. You missionaries learned wrong.
Cicada: Rumor has it that the recipe comes from an older Italian woman...
Nanni: No it doesn't. It's wrong. Neve will show you how to make carbonara the next time you come.
The next time I went, I learned how to really make carbonara. For your enjoyment, here's the recipe. Of course, measurements are general.
- Start boiling a pot of spaghetti. The rest of the recipe won't take you any longer than the spaghetti has to cook.
- Fry a bunch of pancetta (or bacon) in a lot of olive oil. If you're serving four people, I may even do up a whole package of bacon. Fry it in a deeper frying pan so that it can hold the unbelievable amount of olive oil you've added.
- Dump in a bunch of red pepper flakes, depending on how spicey you want it. You'll want the carbonara to be pleasantly spicey.
- In a bowl, put in one egg yolk per person eating. If there are several people eating, add an extra couple yolks for good measure.
- Dump in a bunch of pecorino Romano (also known as Romano) and mix with the egg yolks. You'll want to create a fairly dense paste.
- Drain water from spaghetti, return spaghetti to pot. Dump oil/pancetta/red pepper into the pot with the spaghetti. Dump the egg/cheese paste into the pot with the spaghetti. Stir. Ideally, the heat of the noodles cooks the eggs. If you're still nervous or cowardly, heat up the pot a little while stirring the mixture.
- Throw in a bunch of chopped, fresh parsley and stir.
- Serve hot!
Dad: Are you kids all up?
Other room: Yes.
Dad: Well what are you doing?
Other room: I'm still waiting for the shower.
Dad: Well, who's in the shower now?
Other room: Toady.
Dad: [frustrated] Well, which of your brothers is Toady?
Other room: [in a whiney voice] He dee only brudder I got!
Dad: Uh, okay then. Good bye.
Then he hung up the phone and called the right room.
It's a family classic story. Now, years later, we still find it funny to say, "Toady? He dee only brudder I got!"
Pretty self-explanatory. One thing I love about my dad is his sense of humor. He was once given a copy of the ward Relief Society cookbook to give to my mom. He went around to all the ladies in the ward and had them autograph their recipe so that my mom could have the limited-edition autographed version. My dad is good at public speaking (years of experience in the Church), doing business, fishing, snow mobiling, and dressing. Except for when he tucks in his shirt or sweater when he really shouldn't. He played in a hockey league till he emigrated from Canada. When my dad was at BYU, he took classes like meat packing and range management. He also took a class from Steven Covey where he met my mom. When the class was instructed to get into groups that they would stay in for the rest of the semester, my dad chose the two homliest guys he could find and the prettiest girl (my mom). He's always been a thinker!
Several years ago, my mom was wondering what our children would call her. Would they call her Grandma? Mimi? Nanna? Captain Fabuloso announced that her grandchildren would call her Ootsie Boodle. We've never forgotten it, and now that Peaches Mom is pregnant, my mom will finally have someone to call her Ootsie Boodle. (When she first heard it, she was horrified, but over the years, she's come to love it. We've considered switching it to Itsy Tittle at the last moment so that she can be horrified again...) My mom is good at writing, public speaking (everyone says her talks are the best), teaching, and giving advice. I call her between one and ten times a day. When she was at BYU, she failed a chem class because of my dad. And she'll be mad at me for writing that on the internet, but still. It's funny.
Peaches Mom is my sister-in-law. She's pregnant and is due in June. Since they don't know the sex of the baby yet, they've been referring to it as either Peaches or The Bean. The Bean is in reference to the shape of a new fetus and Peaches is in reference to parents who name their children after fruit, like Gwynneth Paltrow. Peaches Mom is good at singing, painting, talking, decorating, and biking. She and Captain Fabuloso got married when they were both about 28. In her BYU student ward, they might have been the oldest couple. Her visiting teaching companion was 19 and they visit-taught a girl who was 19 and a girl who was 21. One day Peaches Mom said that she was 28. Shocked, her visiting teaching companion exclaimed, "But you bike and you're active and you do stuff!" Peaches Mom said, "Yeah. I'm 28; I'm not dead."
Formerly known as Brother 1, Captain Fabuloso chose this name for himself. I don't know why. He is good at taking pictures, being diplomatic, studying, cooking, and biking. That's not a comprehensive list. He and Peaches Mom met at law school and graduated in 2005.
Formerly known as Brother 2, El Senor is only half his name. I will mention his real name but once: Senor Pissy. His roommates gave him this nickname because he has the tendency to be moody. El Senor is good at anything he wants to be good at. If he doesn't know how to do something, he learns. Currently, his top activities include playing piano, designing documents, slack lining, climbing, and kissing. But I won't say who says he's good at kissing.
Brother 3 looks like Richie Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums. He has been installing anthrax detectors in the post offices around the country for the past year and a half, but now he's settling down in MD for a while. He just bought a house and is in the process of furnishing it. Richie is good at saving money, engineering, being really funny, playing the guitar, and making people like him. He's so easy going that thirty seconds after meeting him, you're laughing and joking with him.
He's been The Boy for years and years now. He's also my roommate. The Boy is good at buying Irish Spring, buying Lever 2000, resetting our internet five times a day (because it doesn't work like it should), online gaming, keeping rules, and cleaning our bathroom. He's also very good for random bits of information; he uses Wikipedia a lot.
So there's my family and now you can see their accompanying cartoons, too!
"A skirt?" you ask.
"Yes," I reply. "A skirt."
The fact is that I have short legs. Having short legs wouldn't be so bad if I could find short jeans to go with them, but it's actually very difficult for me to find jeans short enough for my legs. (In one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, Calvin is wearing his regular outfit and someone suggests he go put on shorts. He responds that he is wearing shorts. I'm like that.) This summer, I asked Ambrosia if I could borrow a pair of pants. As she went through her jean collection, she pulled out a pair triumphantly, announcing that I would really love them because they were really long. I told her that I absolutely could not wear a pair of pants that were really long by her standards because they'd be about twice the length of my legs. So she pulled out her very shortest pair of jeans and let me borrow them. They were a full three inches too long for my legs.
What having abnormally stubby legs and no sewing machine means is that my jeans always drag on the ground under my shoes. And what that means when there's snow is that by the time I've travelled exactly 1/8 of a mile, my pants are soaked up to my knees. (In fact, I've even considered writing a poem called "My pants are soaked up to my knees.")
And so it is that I try to wear skirts on snowy days.
As I had already mentioned, I was wearing jeans, and not only was I wearing jeans, but I was wearing jeans that I haven't fit into for a very long time, so I didn't want to give up that euphoria and put on a skirt. My solution was to roll the bottoms of my jeans up so that they had no chance of getting wet. This meant that they were rolled above my ankles.
And so I set off to campus, wearing rolled jeans and my newest, most fantastic brown shoes. The sidewalks weren't plowed (do sidewalks get plowed down here?) so I was trudging through slush and snow, avoiding puddles, and not getting my pants wet. Blissful.
I passed a boy from my ward and carried on a brief conversation with him as both of us were on opposite sides of the street and neither of us actually stopped walking:
"WHERE ARE YOU HEADED?"
"HAVE FUN! . . . YOU SHOULD WEAR SOCKS!"
"IF I DON'T WEAR SOCKS, THEY CAN'T GET WET!"
I continued my walk, boosted by an awareness of my own genius, till I came across a snowman, tall, tall, tall. (sorry! I promise, no quotes now!) But seriously. This thing was massive. It was about eight feet high and was wearing a blue tarp as a cape. I noticed the definition of every abdominal and pectoral muscle of the snowman. These guys had put a lot of work into it, and why should I have been surprised seeing as it was in the yard of a house with a sign that says, "The Pick-Up Place"?
But I just happened to be walking past the snowman when two men came out of the house. One was fully clothed, but the other had no shirt, and I must say, I noticed every abdominal and pectoral muscle of that man, too. Of course, by this time I couldn't help laughing out loud as I walked by. I'm really not one to stare when I see men without shirts (in fact, I've found it humorous if not slightly depressing to note when I'm in the presence of my gay friends, when a man goes running by with no shirt on, mine is the only head that doesn't turn). But I felt compelled to look back at the snowman and his boy, as the other man was taking their picture.
And that was just enough time . . .
. . . for me to step ankle-deep into a slush puddle.
I knew there was a reason I didn't look at shirtless men. Now, lest you mother me and tell me that in a situation like this, I should have been wearing proper clothing, please reflect what would have happened if I had been wearing proper clothing. I would have had a soaked-through shoe, a soaked-through sock, and a soaked-through pant leg for the rest of the five hours I'd be on campus. As it was, my shoe dried quickly while I sat barefoot in my first class.
Cicada: So... There's Lever 2000 on my bed. I didn't think we needed soap. Did you read my blog?
The Boy: Yeah, I read your blog.
Cicada: You know I was only joking, right? You really didn't have to go out and buy new soap.
The Boy: Yeah, I know. But I realized you were right. It really does smell like old man! In any case, we won't have to buy soap again for a very, very long time.
So since my brother is the sweetest boy alive, I did him a favor tonight. On his way out the door to work, he noticed that Brother 2 had left his dinner leftovers on our stove. The Boy didn't have time to put them into Tupperware and into the fridge himself, so he asked me to do it. I really did not want to remove myself from the couch all night (indeed, it's where I'm sleeping tonight) but my motivation finally came when I remembered the soap on my bed. I got up, and lovingly put the leftovers in a tupperware container and put them in the fridge.
In related news, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm experiencing a little bit of karma here myself. For the first time in my history of blogging, a post has gone more than 24 hours without comment. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I haven't been diligent about reading and/or commenting on everyone else's blog... Or maybe it wasn't even remotely an exciting post. I'll try to post pictures of me in a bikini next time. Hopefully that will generate some feedback.
My point is that it used to say something like "searching 8 billion pages" or some such thing. And I thought that I'm mighty proud to be adding to that number. Just think of it. There are more web pages out there than there are human beings. Obviously, several billion people don't have a web page yet, and I'm not one of them. Phew! In honor of being a searchable web page, I'm going to post some of the most recent searches that have led to my humble little blog.
I'll never answer your phone call
Well, never say never. But you're getting the general idea: chances are slim. And I may have offended some people with that post. I don't think DP is ever going to call me again. Wait. He called me tonight. Never mind, then.
I'm selling it. Authentic Irish Spring soap, partially used by an Irish brother and sister, for $50 a bar. Free shipping and handling.
Ha! Other people out there have it, too, and they're researching it on my blog! Please remember to cite your sources. Don't plagiarize. It's spelled C-I-C-A-D-A.
"Season Five of 24"
And what a season it is! I'll say no more.
the boy are back in town song
Yes, the boy are back in town, and if you is really lucky, the boy call you because he love you.
"New York Doll" + "Springville"
I'm willing to bet that you didn't actually find what you were looking for on my blog... I guess that's the trouble when there are, like, 8 billion web sites to have to search...
pene penne pronunciation
hehehehehehe. Looks like someone told you a story and you googled it to see if it is true. It's true.
Where to find Cicada in January
In Provo, of course!
So there you have it---How to find me through Google!
The Worst Seat in Town
A young, attractive woman attends Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with her classy and graceful mother. Before the movie, our herione uses Cinemark's facilities. Though she inspects the toilet seat before sitting down, the lighting was insufficient to reveal the urine that covered the entire toilet seat. The heroine returns to her movie with the residue of someone else's urine on her upper thighs and buttocks and resolves to hover from now on. She writes a letter to Cinemark informing them of their lighting problem and their lack of protective seat covers in the restrooms.
Buca di I Want a Refund
A daring and charismatic girl in her twenties eagerly anticipates the moment when she can introduce her parents to her favorite restaurant, Buca di Beppo. Unfortunately, everything that can go wrong does, including serving shrimp to her father who is allergic, not providing the family with plates or utensils with which to eat their food, and serving shrimp to her father again. But that's not all! Find out the rest of this waiter's humiliating mistakes, which eventually caused him to go into hiding after giving the father the bill. Will the restaurant's hostesses be able to locate their AWOL employee? Our heroine writes a letter to the establishment, giving them a painfully-detailed record of her disappointment.
A tight-bodied and irresistable BYU co-ed goes to Thaifoon with her family to eat a delicious meal on New Year's Day. Unbeknownst to the family, their waiter has made a New Year's resolution to kill her father. With the help of the kitchen staff, he sneaks shrimp into one of the dishes that he places on the table in front of the father. Before he is able to sample this poisoned dish, his loving and devoted wife discovers the shrimp among the pad thai noodles. When confronted, the waiter blames the kitchen staff. Disappointed that his murder plan is foiled, the waiter charges the family twice for the pad thai noodles but our heroine's intelligent family won't be duped. Our heroine writes a letter to the establishment, informing the manager of the waiter's homicidal tendancies.
A pudgy but sweet spirited dieter in her mid-twenties is lured into Subway by the advertising that promises her 6 subs under 6 grams of fat. She orders her low-fat sub, proud of her healthy choice. When she gets to the cash register, she is unexpectedly confronted with insurmountable pressure to buy a cookie. The advertising on the cookie stand said, "Come on. Just one won't hurt." After eating her sub and her cookie, our heroine discovers that the cookie contained more fat than her sub. Hungry and horrified, she laments the fact that she could have eaten another entire sub for the same amount of fat and calories. She writes a letter to Subway Inc., challenging their conflicted advertising scheme.
Yes, these letters--er, stories--are brought to you by your favorite author, Cicada. Stay tuned for the sequels: The Dryest Seat in Town, Buca di I Got a Refund, Thaiconvict, and The Subway Empire Writes Back.
I've been creating instruction manuals for Mishkin's uncle's company. For the manuals, I got to create icons, which thrilled me. I'm always jealous of the graphic artists at work who get to draw and play the entire time they're at work. So finally, I've been able to play for pay. Here's an example of an icon that I created.
At the suggestion of a coworker, I've started putting together a little health newsletter. It's been fun. When I'm finished, I'll start posting the PDFs in my blog's links section so you can enjoy the newsletters, too. That is, if you care about being healthy.
I do some volunteer designing for the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. Brother 2 and I worked on this ad this week (when it's printed, it will be about the size of a business card).
I recently upgraded to Adobe CS2, which means that my favorite programs now have new features. I've been playing with these features this weekend. I'll be helping a friend realize an artistic dream, which is exciting since her friends all told her her idea was impossible. Not only is it possible, but it will only take about five minutes to do what she needs to have done. I've also been working on a few t-shirt ideas, based off of this one great t-shirt that I love.
Finally, a couple of days ago, I found a package of toilet paper rolls on my bed; even though it was my turn to buy, The Boy had bought toilet paper.
He also bought soap. It was definitely not his turn to buy soap, and I'm not sure that I'll ever allow it to be his turn to buy soap again.
This morning I stepped into the shower to find a brand new, vibrantly green bar of Irish Spring. You must know that using Irish Spring soap in the shower is not anything like bathing in an actual Irish spring. It is more like bathing with several elderly leprechauns in a steamy vat of cheap aftershave. It is now pretty much guaranteed that I won't get a boyfriend until we use up all the soap (which, since The Boy was kind enough to buy an economy-size package, will be a long, long time) since single men will all assume that I have a boyfriend who's either very small and green, or very old. Or both.
Well, I was all by myself Friday night, which was very typical, and I was craving fudge, which was not very typical. Unfortunately, I had, for the first time in my life, all the ingredients for fudge in my pantry. My parents unloaded all the extra Christmas groceries on me. I would love to blame them for over-spending and buying way too many groceries, but the sad fact is that I helped to make the grocery list and I helped to buy the groceries, adding impulse foods to the grocery cart. My parents had offered half the groceries to Brother 2 who politely declined, saying that if he needed anything he'd simply run over to my house and get it.
On about my tenth trip bringing groceries to the car, my father commented that I was blessed to have such a good brother. I only assumed that he was talking about the fact that Brother 2 was generous enough to let me have all the food. To me, my brother's motives were transparent: he didn't want to accept the leftover groceries because he didn't want any of the work required in accepting them (loading and unloading the car, rearranging the entire kitchen to fit in massive amounts of new, fatty foods) and he didn't want any of the accompanying calories. ("Fifteen pounds of mixed nuts? No thanks---send them over to Cicada's.") He also didn't want the responsibility of consuming all the spoilable food before it spoiled, so the family-sized bag of carrot sticks was unloaded on me (and I don't even like carrot sticks!). With it came heads of lettuce, bags of celery, cartons of eggs, bags of sauerkraut (I find that those who like sauerkraut really like it, but those who don't just stay away from it), bags of lunch meats, loaves of bread, two dozen oranges, three grapefruits, and a single $25 truffle.
I was about to expose my brother for the fraud that he was but before contesting my father's statement that I have such a good brother, I remembered that as far as brothers go, you can't ask for anything better than Brother 2 (or any of my other brothers). So I acknowledged the truth of my father's statement and went on packing up the car. An hour later, I tried to remember how good to me Brother 2 is again, as I unloaded the car at my house, all alone. Three hours after that, when all the new food finally found its place in my kitchen cupboards and pantry, I still was trying to focus on how good a brother Brother 2 is to me.
At home, it was my obligation to use the food before it rotted. Of course, things like chocolate chips (several bags), sugar (ten pounds), flour (five pounds), shortening (three pounds), butter (three pounds), pecans (two bags), Jell-O mixes (four boxes), maraschino cherries (one jar), jam (two jars), salad dressings (three bottles), and nuclear-fall-out-sized bags of potato chips (one and a half) didn't need to be attended to immediately. I needed to concentrate on the perishables. So it was that I used the internet to help me find a low-calorie solution for the carrots. I was able to find a recipe that needed exactly three pounds of carrots. I made a carrot-dill soup and now, three days later, our house still smells of dill and my fingers are turning orange.
Celery soup is next. And I'd better eat some sort of meal involving truffles later this week, too.
But going back to the second paragraph of this post, so it was that I was sitting by myself on a Friday night, all alone, and craving fudge. And for the first time in my life, I had all the ingredients for fudge in my house (I wisely do not buy ingredients for fatty foods so that I'm never able to cave to my cravings). Fortunately, this craving only kicked in at about 10:00 on Friday night, and although I had the ingredients for fudge, I didn't have the recipe. I couldn't call my mother because it was midnight on the East Coast. I congratulated myself on being unable to make and therefore eat fudge. Unfortunately, I realized about five minutes later that the recipe is a Kraft recipe and therefore was probably easily findable on the internet.
And so it was that I made the fudge and consumed almost half of it in two days. Now, ever thankful for a fast Sunday, I'm skipping calories this morning and I'm bringing the rest of the fudge to our ward break the fast in two hours. Maybe they'll have some use for mixed nuts?
That is all.
At three minutes to midnight on New Year's Eve, my phone rang. It was the Law & Order ring, so if you've read my previous post, you'll understand that I was more annoyed than anything. Who would be calling me at three minutes to midnight? I interrupted my conversation with Master Fob, accepted a Dixie cup of Martinellis from Editor Girl, and looked at my caller ID. When I discovered it was Switchback, I gleefully answered the phone.
"Pronto?" I answered, because I'm one of those missionaries who uses the mission language to answer phone calls from old mission buddies. After a good round of Auguri (which means congratulations, but also is what you say on any sort of special occasion), I asked her if she was calling me because she was alone for New Year's Eve. She explained that as her parents were headed out to a party, leaving her alone with her dog, her father turned to her and said, "Don't you have some... singles thing to go to?" Switchback opted to stay home with the dog rather than attend the "singles thing."
I excused myself from the party and stepped out into the cold and rain so that Switchback didn't have to spend the New Year alone; she and I could spend it alone but together. As I heard everyone inside the house count down to the New Year and begin singing Auld Lang Syne, I kept my eye on my atomic clock, insistant on bringing in the New Year at the correct time with Switchback. We counted. We congratulated. We reminisced. We caught up on what we'd been up to since we promised each other not to call anymore during finals week.
"You know," she said, "I'd go the institute library to study for finals. And for some reason I always managed to be facing the 'How to Deal with the Singles Problem' section of the library where there were all these books dating back to the 60s with cheesey titles like Single, But Not Alone." As she related her latest story of single's disappointment, we both concluded that the spouse search was pointless, and we may as well embrace singlehood and love it.
We've decided that we'll eventually move in together and buy a cat and write a book called One Plus One Equals One: Single and Loving It. It will be a book about our adventures as single women who are free of spouses and free of responsibility and who are absolutely happy.
I got off the phone with her a little while later, and rejoined the party in time for a couple sparklers before I was able to get a ride home. I was so caught up in thinking of the possibilities that I will have if I'm single and living with Switchback that I only realized at 12:40 that she lives in California. Which means that I didn't bring in the New Year with her at all. She brought in the New Year with me. So at 12:57, I called her and brought her New Year in with her. We resolve to start having many, many adventures, to be recorded in One Plus One Equals One.
"I actually screen most of my calls," she said.
"I do too!" I don't know why, but I feel an instant bond with my fellow phone call screeners. But she went on to elaborate.
"I have Phone Anxiety."
She described her condition as basically a strong dislike of answering the phone. She doesn't like to talk on the phone. That's like me, so I'm adopting "Phone Anxiety" to describe my condition. That way, I can blame my psychological problem rather than myself when my mother gets mad at me for screening my phone calls. Allow me to describe for you my phone anxiety.
1) I hate talking on the phone.
I really, really do. If you live in the same city as me, I see no point in chatting with you on the phone. You can come to my house. I can go to your house. We can go out for dinner, lunch, or breakfast. We can meet up on campus between classes. If you live out of town, I still hate chatting on the phone with you. It's sad, but I screen most phone calls coming in from out-of-towners. I'll never feel that it's a convenient time for me to talk to you. I'll always think that I've got something better to do, like watching TV, sewing scraps of felt together, or doing homework (and you know that if I choose to do homework rather than chat long distance, I really hate chatting long distance).
There are two notable exceptions to this rule. One is my mother. I will answer her phone call at any hour of the day. (I once told a boyfriend's mother that my mother was my best friend. She would call me just to chat at 4:00 a.m. on Saturdays. We'd chat for two hours and then she'd go on with her day and I'd roll over and go back to sleep. My boyfriend's mother said very pointedly, "Best friends don't call each other at 4:00 in the morning.") I call her between one and seventeen times a day. I spend at least an hour every Saturday chatting with her on the phone. I have no Phone Anxiety for my mother's calls.
The other exception was a surprise. It's Switchback. She's a long distance friend, but I actually like talking to her on the phone so I don't screen her phone calls. In fact, she called me tonight when I was at a New Year's party, three minutes before midnight. I excused myself from the party and brought in the New Year with her over the phone (I'll write about this later).
I should say about the out-of-towners that if they call me (text messaging is much more effective in these situations because I never ignore a text message) and tell me they're in town, I will drop everything to see them and spend time with them. They become more important than homework, television, and sewing scraps of felt together.
2) I feel every phone call should have a purpose.
My phone has three different ring tones for three different groups of people: 1. Family, 2. Default, 3. Ambrosia. Only one of these rings causes me anxiety. It's the Law & Order theme, or the ring for "Default." When I hear the Family ring tone, I know that the call has a purpose and won't last more than five minutes. This is the same for Ambrosia (I'll just keep you guessing as to why she has her own ring tone...). In fact, I was recently out to lunch with Mishkin. My phone rang (Default) and I checked to see who was calling. It was an in-town friend who sometimes calls to chat. I silenced her call. Several minutes later, my phone rang (Ambrosia). I didn't need to check who was calling since the ring tone told me everything. I answered the phone immediately. Why? Because Ambrosia never calls without a purpose. This time, she was calling me because the friend who had called me then called Ambrosia and explained she needed to return something to me. I gave Ambrosia instructions about what to do. Several minutes later, my phone rang again (Ambrosia). I answered by saying something like, "What could you possibly have to say to me that's new, if we just talked three minutes ago?" She explained that she called back our friend to explain my instructions and the friend had commented that it was funny that she called me but I didn't answer and Ambrosia called me and I answered. Ambrosia wanted to warn me. And her warning was appreciated, but I still haven't returned our friend's phone call. I figure the holidays are such an inconvenient time to call someone, and since the entire purpose of her call was to tell me that she was moving out of town, it's likely that we'll never talk again. (Mom, before you get mad, I'm exaggerating here.)
I feel no anxiety when my family members call because each call is to-the-point and purposeful. That's the type of call I like to receive. Sometimes these calls can be deceptive, however. DP never calls without a purpose. Sometimes he calls me around midnight to tell me that he's going grocery shopping and would like to invite me. Sometimes he calls about plans that we may have. Most of the time he's to-the-point, but sometimes, after the point has been discussed, he changes the topic to something else. I find myself up to my elbows in dish water, scrubbing dishes and uncomfortably balancing the phone on my shoulder for what I thought was going to be a very short phone call. (I love you, DP. Don't ever change.)
3. Curiosity trumps anxiety.
If you really want to get ahold of me and you think that I'm going to screen your phone call, your best bet is to call me from a phone number that is not programmed into my phone. My curiosity almost always trumps my anxiety. I must know who it is. Pathetically, I always answer the phone when the number is unknown because I'm so afraid of missing an invitation to go on a date. Realistically, date invitations from unknown numbers have only happened twice in my life, both a couple months after I first read my dating poetry in my single's ward in 2002. Still, four years later, I answer unknown numbers in the hopes that it may be a date invitation. Consistently, I am disappointed to hear Blockbuster on the other line, letting me know that my movies are overdue.
Recently, I called a ward member named Viper to ask for my brother's copy of Lost back. He had had it for several weeks. He didn't answer the phone. I noted that this was the third time that I was calling him in about four months, and that I never once got through to him. I always got his voice mail. As I left a message*, I wondered if he was a fellow phone call screener. In the message, I told him that I'd run to his apartment anyway to see if I could get one of his roommates to give me the DVDs. He lives less than a block away. I got to his door and rang the doorbell. There was no answer, but lights were on. I waited and did something that I never do: I rang the doorbell again. His roommate, who was talking on the phone, came to answer the door.
"Is this where Viper lives?" I asked.
"Yeah. But he just left. I swear he left at the exact same time that the doorbell rang the first time."
I looked around myself. "Well... I don't see him... he has my copy of Lost. Do you know where it might be?"
At this moment, I saw a bearded and toqued figure approaching the door. It was Viper. The roommate went back into the apartment to talk on the phone, leaving Viper and me alone outside.
"I just dropped it off at your apartment," Viper said. "I listened to your message and brought it over right away. We must have passed each other without noticing."
"So... if you got my phone message but didn't answer my phone call, does that mean that you screened my call?"
The moment he admitted that he had, I nearly threw him against the wall and started kissing him, but my common sense reminded me that I could never kiss a man named Viper.
He explained that he didn't answer phone calls from numbers he didn't recognize. I told him that I screened oppositely. I didn't answer phone calls from numbers I recognize. He assured me that I was now programmed into his phone, so he'd answer the phone when I called. I warned him that he was now programmed into my phone, so chances were good that I wouldn't answer the phone when he called. But that was a lie, because it looks like Viper's my best chance at going on a date this century.
4. I hate voice mail.*
Text messages are a God-send. Well, they aren't, but it might be convenient if He caught onto the trend and started sending me text messages like everyone else. They're the most effective way to communicate with me. It's so simple! Just a press of the button and I can read your message in two seconds. Like I said before, I never ignore text messages. Voice mail, on the other hand, is of the devil. I'll go for weeks without listening to my voice messages. It's so inconvenient to have to dial my own number, type in my password, go through the menu, and listen to mind-numbingly boring proof of why I shouldn't call you back.
And thus it is. Feel free to call me for any purpose. Nemesis once called me to make me sing the old Primary favorite, "I'm a Gay, Tra-La-La." Limon once called me for help with homework. Ambrosia used to call me to make sure that I was awake in the mornings when she needed to pick me up for work. Just please, don't call me without a purpose. It's like crying wolf. I'll never answer your phone calls again.