Date Shopping

Today after work, I went date shopping. The funny (read: pointless) thing about buying a new outfit for a date with someone you've never met is that all of your clothes and outfits are new to your date, so really you can just wear anything.

Today's shopping started with a trip to Nordstrom to buy a bra. Not because my date's going to get lucky or anything, but because I really just needed a new bra. From Nordstrom, I went to Gap because I had actually already chosen my outfit online before making the trip to buy it. The shopping trip was going to be expensive (bra=$60, pants=$50, shirt=$40) but worth it because not only was the outfit going to be good for the date, it was going to be good for work.

I carefully chose a nice pair of white summer pants and a striped blue shirt, but when I got to the store, I found out they didn't have the pants in my size. Neither did any other Gaps in town. They had the shirt, but I wasn't going to buy the shirt if I couldn't have the pants.

I set out to find another pair of white pants and I swear to you, I visited almost every store in existence. The whole experience was ridiculous and absolutely fruitless. Do you want the list of stores I visited?

Banana Republic
J Crew
Ann Taylor
American Eagle
Charlotte Russe
White House | Black Market
Old Navy
TJ Maxx

Of course, many of these stores had white pants, but none that fit me like the Gap's white pants would have fit me (also, the pants are no longer available online in my size either, so I can't even buy them online and wear them on another occasion). It's sad that ultimately, Target actually had great white pants (and I had a gift card to Target) but they were also sold out of my size.

In the end, the shopping trip ended up being a lot cheaper than I expected, but I feel that I've at least invested some good time into this date. You see, date dressing is difficult---especially if it's someone you're meeting for the very first time.

First of all, I'm sorry to say, but you have no guarantee that it's even worth the investment. If you're just meeting the person for the first time, chances are fairly good that you'll get together, enjoy a good meal, and ultimately decide that you didn't really click. It's best when this feeling is mutual. It's better when you mutually feel that you did click. But let's be honest---that doesn't happen very often in encounters such as this.

Second of all, you have to dress nicely in a planned outfit, but you have to dress carefully. You don't want to overdress for the event and make your date feel like a schmuck. You don't want to underdress for the event and feel like a schmuck. You also don't want to dress like the girl you're doubling with. (Nat has informed me that she'll be wearing a blue shirt, jeans, and red shoes. I warned her that there's a fair chance that I, too, will be wearing red shoes.) Currently, I have overdressing and underdressing ideas.

Overdressing: I like a bunch of skirts that I have right now. I like a bunch of button-up shirts that I have right now. However, I would comfortably wear any of these outfits to church, and I don't want to go on a date in a church outfit.

Underdressing: I like my most recent Threadless purchases, most specifically my Lions Are Smarter Than I Am t-shirt. But I figure if I wear that, it may as well be an I Don't Give A Damn About You t-shirt. Of course, if I really wanted to send the "I don't give a damn" message, I would wear the Bob Saget t-shirt that Redras made for me, letting him know that Bob Saget is the only man who does it for me.

Unless I get some flashes of retail inspiration tomorrow and find a new outfit to buy, I'll probably end up wearing nice jeans and a button-up tuxedo shirt. I'm sure you can never go wrong showing up for a first date in a tuxedo.

Oliver Lincoln Noodlemeyer

What are little siblings for if not to torment?

The Boy had the sorry lot of being the last of all us kids. He also ended up with the genes that make him particularly targetable for teasing. It's an unfortunate combination, really, that makes it possible to tease him for the same exact thing for years and years while consistently getting the same insolent reaction.

Take Burger King for example. On a road trip almost ten years ago, we were ready to stop and get some food. Dad didn't want what the rest of us wanted, so without announcing what he was doing, he decided to go through the Burger King drive-thru to get his meal, then drive us to the fast food restaurant that we wanted. As we approached Burger King and it became apparent that that's where we were going, The Boy became suddenly vocal, announcing repeatedly that he couldn't eat at Burger King: "I can't eat at Burger King. Burger King makes me sick." His repetition of this fact became more frequent and more urgent the closer we got to Burger King until Dad finally lost it and explained angrily that only he would be getting Burger King food. The rest of us could get what we wanted.

To this day, any time Burger King is mentioned around The Boy, one of the siblings invariably says, "I can't eat Burger King. Burger King makes me sick." This would irritate The Boy so much, despite the fact that it happened almost a decade ago. But recently The Boy told us that the Burger King teasing doesn't bother him as much anymore. Did he finally get over it? No. Burger King was replaced by Dirt Roadities.

I have already told this story once on my blog. At the time, I didn't realize that it would become such great teasing fodder. Two summers ago, The Boy, Mishkin, and I were trying to get to our sister-in-law's cabin using directions that The Boy had written down. It just happened that where we got lost, the direction that The Boy had written down was "dirt roadities." At the time, I'm sure he thought he was being funny, but as we were lost on "dirt roadities" with no cell reception for about an hour, the funniness of "dirt roadities" soon wore off.

Two years later, it persists as the best way to tease The Boy. All you have to do is say "dirt roadities" and he gets angry and annoyed. (If only he figured out that the key to not getting teased so much is to not get annoyed so easily...)

There are other things we can use to tease, too, though, and today as I was researching sports for work, I came across OLN, which always makes me think of Oliver Lincoln Noodlemeyer.

See, both The Boy and El Senor were living with Captain Fabuloso and Captain Mom for a few months while they were between apartments. The Boy was adjusting to his new job as a Comcast cable guy. He still loves the job and is still full of all sorts of information about cable and networks. One day as El Senor and The Boy were watching OLN (Outdoor Life Network---now known as Versus), The Boy asked, "Do you know who owns OLN?" The answer, of course, was Comcast. But El Senor didn't miss a beat and said, "Oliver Lincoln Noodlemeyer." The Boy, slightly confused, said, "Well, I don't know the specific names of the people involved, but I'm pretty sure that Comcast owns it."

So now, between a little Burger King and a little dirt roadities, we thrown in some Oliver Lincoln Noodlemeyer for good measure.

**I probably got the details slightly wrong on the Oliver Lincoln Noodlemeyer, but if El Senor or The Boy want to correct me, they're welcome to make corrections in the comments.

Oops, I did it again!

Two years ago, my mom sent a package and included an old, smelly, garbage blanket as padding. I was expected to throw away the blanket. Instead, I thought it would make a great picnic blanket, so I washed it, ran out and bought six yards of fabric for $6 and covered the blanket. Unfortunately, I really, really liked the blanket when I was done with it. I made coordinating pillows with the leftover fabric and really, really liked the whole set. Even though it was really inexpensive to make, I decided my blanket was worth more than just a picnic blanket and I used it on my bed for the next year and a half. (Featured in this post.)

A year ago, my mom sent a package and included another old, smelly, garbage blanket as padding. I noticed that it was exactly like the first one. How many of these blankets does she have lying around? This time I wasn't going to mess it up: I was going to take that blanket and make it into a picnic blanket for sure. Unfortunately, a year ago I was in school and had no access to a sewing machine. I decided a jean quilt would be the best option, so I made a collection of jeans, but then that collection of jeans just sat cut into squares, but unsewed because, as I mentioned, I had no access to a sewing machine and I was busy with school anyway.

This winter, I started sewing that jean quilt just a little. In fact, I even bought that padding stuff for the middle of it, negating altogether my need for the garbage blanket that my mom had sent.

So yesterday, when I went home from work early because I'd already put in a good twelve hours of overtime, I looked out at the sunshine and decided I needed to go out and get cheap fabric and make a picnic blanket (I was in the mood for sewing four sides of fabric together---not of sewing little squares of denim together). I hopped on my bike, drove to the local fabric store (I drove to Walmart, but since so many who read my blog hate Walmart, I've decided to call it "the local fabric store") and promised myself to look only in the dollar fabric section. I picked out two fabrics that would make a great picnic blanket because I wasn't in love with either of them.

But when I went to have it cut, another fabric just happened to catch my eye. It wasn't a dollar a yard, but I had to have it anyway. And I convinced myself that I'd have the heart to make it into a picnic blanket and use it as such. So I bought that fabric.

And then I put it home and put it on my bed and realized that it matched my room colors exactly. And then I realized that I had leftover fabric from covering my shelves, so I could use that as the backing instead of crappy backing fabric that I bought.

And five hours later (don't ask me why it takes five hours to sew four sides of fabric together---it got a little more complicated than that, and besides which, I had to sew buttons on the middle to keep both sides of the blanket together) I had the cutest, most darlingest picnic blanket. On my bed. In my bedroom. That I will never actually use as a picnic blanket.


A Job That Fits

This weekend, my mom said to me, "You seem to be happier these days. Is that because all the fun design work you're doing is distracting you from the fact that you're still not married?" (Okay, so I might be exaggerating her verbage slightly, but you get the idea.)

The fact is that my fun design work is making me happy. Which makes me seriously question my career goals.

When I was dating Viper, he would stay late at work as often as he could (which, because he was a busy guy, turned out to only really be Mondays). One day he was telling me that he doesn't mind writing the occasional email on work time because a lot of the time he's thinking about work while he's in the shower, and he doesn't charge them for that. I think that those two things---wanting to stay late at work and thinking about work when you're not at work---are good signs that you're in a career that really fits.

And at the time, it didn't escape my notice that I always left work the moment I could (and all too often a couple moments before I'd worked a full day), and I never, ever thought about work problems in the shower.

But now that I am doing design work as opposed to straight editing, I really find that I am happier. (Not that I was depressed before... it's just that my parents are constantly probing me for my state of happiness and asking me to describe it as a number, and even though that number is usually a 9, they can somehow pick up on the unquantifiable difference between 9-but-I-don't-have-a-husband and 9-did-I-tell-you-about-my-latest-design?)

I stay late at the office and I don't even mind (and I don't mind the overtime that will be coming my way, either). This morning, I was even thinking about work in the shower so that I could start my workday running. Close friends and family will attest that every time I finish a batch of designs, I send out mass emails showing the work I've done.

Editing is just slightly different. Sure, I send out mass emails whenever I find some true editing gem, but when's the last time that happened? It's true that I find editing fulfilling and that I take pride in my little editing library here at home.

But it doesn't get me as excited as my design work. And it's not as fun as my design work.

This is where it gets tricky. See, I studied editing because I love the English language and because I love perfecting anything that is printed or published. I chose it as a field because I'm good at it. Design is something that I have always had a knack for but that I never studied in depth. So while working in design energizes me, I feel that I am not prepared to do design professionally. While I understand some principles of design, there are many others that I'm sure I'm not even aware of. Take color theory for example. One of the hardest parts of my work in design right now is finding colors that work well together. Think making a stripe pattern is easy? Finding the right colors, the right order, and the right variation of line thickness drives me crazy and I'm rarely pleased with what I manage to come up with.

I guess that's all to say that I'll feel like a poser if I ever abandon editing to go into design, even though design is what I enjoy more (yes, even making those pesky stripes). My current situation is actually absolutely ideal and perfect---where I find professional fulfillment as an editor and extra enjoyment doing design work on the side. I guess that means that when I say I'm a 9, I really mean it (and a raise and a gas grill and possibly a husband would put me at a 10).

Sleeping Habits

A while ago, Rachel tagged me for some "six" thing where I had to list six random facts about myself. I couldn't come up with six random facts on the spot, but I've felt bad ever since at not responding to her tag. So this evening, because I'm sleepy but refuse to go to bed at 10:00 on a Saturday night, I present to you six random sleep habits that I have.

1) I love waking up and not knowing where I am. I often experience this feeling when I go to a new place. The coolest time I felt this feeling was in Florence. I woke up, realized I didn't know where I was, and tried to figure it out. For some reason, my brain always defaults to my grandparents' old home in South Porcupine. Then it goes through the different places I've lived. When I went through all my places of previous inhabitance and realized I was actually in Florence, Italy, that just feel cool. Of all the places in the world, Florence is probably one of the best to wake up in.

2) This goes with 1, but I love waking up disoriented. This happens fairly rarely, but it's cool when I fall asleep upsidedown in my bed and wake up confused in my surroundings. Very few times in my life, I've tried to get out of my bed when I am disoriented, and I've gotten lost in a corner until I've woken up enough to figure out what's going on. That's just fun.

3) In every home I've lived in for the past several years, I've dreamt about secret rooms. This includes all four of my mission apartments. I love home decorating and I love to fill space. If I have a new room, I get to figure out what to do with it. Office? Another bedroom? A second living room? And my mind obviously loves the idea of a secret, hidden room. The funny thing is that I did live in an apartment with an extra room. When I lived with Sophie, there was a third bedroom in our two-bedroom apartment, but our landlords kept it locked and used it as storage. So there it was in our home, a locked and unusable extra room. And that idea has obviously stuck with me.

4) I love waking up in the middle of the night. I love it because I get to see that it's not time to wake up and I get to go back to sleep.

5) To go along with 4, I set my alarm clock a full hour before I have to wake up. Then I press snooze for a full hour---sometimes two---just because I love that feeling of getting to go back to sleep again and again. When I moved in with El Senor and he heard my alarm go off several times in the morning, he said to me, "Oh. You're one of those people." The funny thing is that even though he said it with derision, I notice his alarm doing the exact same thing every morning. So I'm not the only one of those people in this house.

6) When I was a kid, I was fascinated with the idea of going from consciousness to unconsciousness. So I just started to pay attention every night and try and pinpoint the exact moment I was falling asleep. Because of months and months of practice, I now am able to tell exactly when I am falling asleep. I don't even know if that's normal. Does everyone else know when they're falling asleep, or am I special?

So those are six random sleep things. Recently, Switchback's mother told her to stop worrying about being single and start counting her blessings. One of my singleness blessings is being able to sleep freely. I can listen to my alarm go off as many times as I like. I can roll and squirm and cough and sneeze as much as I like. If I want to watch TV while I fall asleep, I can do that too.

Famous Bag Lady

Last night I went to Target. It had been a while. I often think of Mary when I'm at Target, because she once said that sometimes she just needs a therapeutic trip to Target where she can wander through the aisles at her leisure. And last night I only really had four things on my agenda:

1) Return unused drapes to Target.
2) Wander around Target aimlessly, collecting ideas for fabric designs.
3) Go to Home Depot to get all their Behr color "styles" pamphlets so that I have easy-reference color schemes in my office.
4) Go to Barnes & Noble to look at Communication Arts and see if it's worth trying to get work to buy me a subscription. (Yesterday, I kindof mentioned to someone that it would be nice to have a graphic tablet/pen... today I was informed that I'll be getting a graphic tablet/pen. Did I mention I want a raise, an assigned parking spot and a pony?)

As you can see, I'm a little obsessed with my new design responsibility at work, which is a good thing. If at all possible, one should be obsessed with one's work. One should also bill work for all the time that one spends researching at Target, Home Depot, and Barnes & Noble. I'd feel bad doing that, though. I mean, I was there for my own edification/enlightenment as much as I was there for work edification/enlightenment. Besides which, I bought a white shirt and a string of red beads, which was clearly personal. Except for the fact that I wore the white shirt and red beads to work today, which may again make them a work-related endeavor.

So after I went through every relevant aisle at Target, it was time for me to check out. I considered numerous lanes and chose a lane that had one customer checking out and one customer waiting to check out instead of the lane that had only one customer who was buying a lot of stuff. And once I got in my lane, the customer ahead of me turned to me and asked, "Are you El Senor's sister?" I told her I was, and expected her to say that we'd met at some point years ago. Instead, she told me that she recognized me from my blog. More accurately, she recognized my bag from my blog. (I'm sure it didn't hurt that I was wearing essentially the same outfit that I was wearing in the picture of me with my bag.) And that was about the extent of our interaction. I spent the rest of the night imagining what it would be like to have more recognition. More fame. At least in my imagination, it's pretty good.

So tonight I made a new bag. This one is 100% my design. We've been working on canvas bags at work, so I've been thinking a lot about canvas lately, and decided that I just needed a simple canvas tote. Nemesis has one and it's cool. (Nemesis bought hers for a few pounds though, and mine cost me $18 and five hours of time.)

After working all night on the sucker, hardly stopping for food or refreshment (El Senor made me dinner: a celery stalk with peanut butter), here it is in all its glory. If you would like to buy a replica of this bag, it will only cost you $70. It might be smarter to go to England and shop where Nemesis shopped... (Plus, if you look really closely, you can see my poor sewmanship, and really, why would you want to pay $70 for shoddy stitching?)

Dating the Brothers

(With apologies for the length of this post.)

It's funny... before I left for college my mom once admitted to me that her worst fear for us kids was that we'd go our separate ways and have nothing to do with each other. We've basically done the opposite. Four of the five of us came to Utah. We all lived in Provo. Now we all live in Salt Lake. And we'd give just about anything to have the fifth sibling out here with us. I prefer spending time with my siblings (and this includes my sister-in-law because she's as much a sibling as the brothers) more than spending time with anyone else. Basically a standard of measurement for the men I date is to want to spend the evening with my significant other rather than spend the evening with my siblings. When hanging out at a funeral with The Boy and El Senor sounds like more fun than spending the evening with the guy I'm dating, basically it's a good indication that the relationship should end. True story.

But I guess you can have too much of a good thing. Let's face it, I'm 26 and unmarried with no prospects. About six years ago, my dad sat down with me and told me that I needed to stop spending so much time with my brothers---I needed to actually go out and meet other people. Six years later, I'm still working on going out and meeting other people.

Tonight, after work, I met up with El Senor at REI to buy goo-filled, puncture-resistant tubes. We made it just in time for closing, and decided to grab dinner at Go Sushi, just down the road. When we were finished with our dinner, our waiter came to our table with the bill. It's always interesting to see what a server will do with a bill, because I know that the assumption is that we're NOT brother and sister. This waiter decided to take a direct approach and asked, "How would you like me to do the bill?" I immediately volunteered to pay because I'm just about to give El Senor the rent check anyway, so it would be easy for me to subtract his dinner from rent. But although the waiter asked confidently what to do with the check, he clearly didn't expect me to volunteer to pay it. At first he said nothing. Then he laughed. All the while, he looked frantically from me to El Senor, from El Senor to me, trying to see if it was a joke. It wasn't, though. Really, the girl was going to pay for the meal and that was just fine.

I have dating experiences like this with each of my brothers. I actually enjoy the fact that people assume I'm on a date with my brother. It makes the outing that much more fun. You'll understand why...

Dating Experiences with The Boy

My most recent date with The Boy was a trip to Red Iguana. Our after-meal experience was opposite to the one I just had with El Senor. I had cash, so I gave The Boy my half of the meal. He would put the whole bill on his card. But our waitress only dealt with me when sorting out the bill. For example, after we'd been waiting a long time to sign the bill and leave, the waitress came to our table and explained to me that their credit card machine wasn't working properly, so that's why it was taking so long. Several minutes later, she returned, gave me The Boy's credit card, and asked if I had another form of payment I could use. The Boy opened his wallet and paid cash for the meal. This is probably the only experience I've ever had where the server assumed that the woman was paying for the meal. (Maybe she thought we were married?)

Another great experience with The Boy was, of course, living with him while attending BYU. You may remember that I was assigned to be his home teaching companion. We also had several very confused ward members come to our door: "Oh. I'm sorry. I must be at the wrong house... I was looking for The Boy." I'd say, "The Boy lives here." They'd say, "I'm sorry---I thought you lived here." I'd say, "I live here, too." Then they'd be even more confused. This and similar situations repeated the whole time The Boy and I lived together. And it never got old.

Dating Experiences with Richie

Richie and I have fewer dating experiences because we've never really spent much of our adult lives living in the same city. But we have a precious couple. Like after his first year away at school in Southern Ontario. I hadn't seen him in months and the first evening we were able to see each other again, we were forced to go to a regional YSA dance. Neither of us liked to dance, and we weren't interested in meeting new people, so we went to a lobby couch to catch up. I suggested we play a game: See how long it takes for us to get in trouble. So he put his arm around me and I put my hand on his knee and we chatted like that for a few minutes. It wasn't long before a leader came across us. He looked at the two of us and looked at a girl down the hall chatting on the phone. "Is she your chaperone?" he sarcastically asked, pointing to the girl down the hall. I said, "Oh, we don't need a chaperone. This is actually my brother." Richie immediately chimed in, "Yeah, yeah. This is my SISTER. Ha ha!" The leader left perplexed, unsure about whether we were lying or telling the truth.

More recently, Richie and I went car shopping together. He wanted to bring me along to give him some legitimacy. Sure he had a hippie beard and hippie hair, but if he had a WIFE, the car dealers might take him seriously. I commented to him at one point that for young marrieds, we certainly weren't very touchy-feely. Richie said, "We got married when we were sixteen. It's been so long now that the love's basically died out."

Dating Experiences with El Senor

Other than tonight's experience, I particularly remember El Senor being the last of a few men who came out to visit my family in Maryland during the months after my mission. The first was a guy I dated but shouldn't have. The second was a guy I didn't date but should have. The third was a married family friend ("marriedin") staying with our family. The fourth was El Senor. As El Senor and I were sitting together in the YSA Sunday School, one class member commented to another, "Well, Cicada certainly wins the award for bringing the most guys home to meet her parents this summer."

Another date with El Senor that sticks out in my mind was a date to the Symphony back when we were both living in Provo. We were wearing our nice Symphony clothes. He picked me up and I figured out quickly in the car on the way up to SLC that El Senor wasn't in a very chatty mood. So we rode up to SLC in silence. Then we attended the Symphony and we didn't say anything to each other before the performance. During the intermission, we went into the reception area, stood with our arms folded, and continued to say nothing. After the performance, he asked if I wanted to go to the Red Iguana. We went and enjoyed a silent meal together. Nothing actually happened on that date, but during the whole thing, I wondered what people watchers would think of us. They'd think surely that the relationship was about to end.

Dating Experiences with Captain Fabuloso

Years ago, when Captain Fabuloso and I went to Calgary for a close family friend's wedding (the aforementioned "marriedin," though we knew his wife much better than we knew him back then) we spent the weekend meeting lots of different people. Every time we were introduced, we were introduced by our last name: These are the XXXXXXXXs. We didn't clue in till later that of course, everyone assumed that we were married. When one of us mentioned BYU, someone asked, "Is that where you two met?" Captain Fabuloso and I looked at each other and then CF said, "No... we've known each other a lot longer than that." I added, "We actually grew up together---we've known each other our whole lives." People thought that was just so sweet.

A year before that trip to Calgary, CF was in a ward whose bishop liked to fly hot air balloons. In an effort to get his ward members dating, he invited a different apartment each week to bring dates and have a balloon ride with him. CF, a dating wizard (just ask his wife), asked me to be his date. That was all well and good until the bishop found out that I was CF's sister and almost had a nervous breakdown, crying that he was doing all he could to marry off his ward members, but if the guys insisted on dating their sisters, no progress would ever be made.

And I guess he was right. As long as I keep dating my brothers, I'll make no real progress. But unless some guy measures up to the high standard my brothers have set, I won't be happy with him anyway, knowing that I'd rather be hanging out with my brothers than making out with him.

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

Rachel and I decided to get together for a Thursday evening bike ride. Never mind the fact that there were tornado-like wind wind conditions. Never mind the fact that there were menacing rain/snow clouds. Never mind the fact that we were going to ride on the men-having-sex-with-men-in-the-bushes trail. We were going to go on a bike ride. We put on our matchy-matchy jeans-and-navy-hoodies outfits and set out on the trails.

We passed the llama/pig/emu/goat/peacock/chicken farm. We saw a muskrat (?) swimming in the water. We even saw a pied-billed grebe. We went on a golf course. We went under a scary overpass. We did everything with no flats. It was wonderful.

And when it was done and we were back at Rachel's house, we felt so good about our physical activity that we decided to go out and get a pizza and an order of Italian cheese bread from Little Caesar's. And then we watched The Office. And then I was ready for the ride home, before it got too dark.

But when I got to my bike, I found the back tire completely deflated. And then I felt my soul deflate, too. Upon inspection, I found about three thorns in the back tire. Did I mention we were on paved trails the whole time? The front tire was still inflated, but I found about six thorns sticking into it. You know what's going to happen when those come out.

Rachel checked out her bike to see if my curse was extended to her, but her bike looked fine. So I decided to inspect her bike. The back tire was fine, but the front tire was completely deflated with several thorns sticking into it.

I'm thinking that Guido and I are going to have a rough (and expensive) summer.

The Devil Wears Cicada

How to become a fashion designer:

1. Make a bag. It doesn't matter if the bag is huge and non-functional. It just matters that you follow a cute pattern and use a slightly expensive interior decorating fabric.

2. Bring the bag to work. It doesn't matter if you're just an editor, as long as you work for a company that also produces bags and leather fashion. Oh, and it also helps if you happen to go to work early and arrive at the same time as the woman who is in charge of the bags team.

3. Let said woman admire your bag. Said woman will ask the resident Italian bag designer to talk to you about your bag.

4. The resident Italian bag designer will come to talk to you about your bag. Then he'll start looking around your office. At this point, it helps if you've decorated your office and included samples of graphic design work that you've done. Blush when the resident Italian bag designer asks if you do interior decorating, and come up with some humble answer about how you decorate your own spaces, yadda yadda yadda. When the resident Italian bag designer asks if you know how to use Illustrator, show him a few samples of stuff you've done on your blog. As long as you've got your blog up, show him a few of the interior design things that you've done. You know, like your bedroom.

5. When the resident Italian bag designer says that he would like your help in designing bags---specifically designing fabric patterns for linings---tell him you would be interested in doing that.

6. Meet with the woman mentioned in steps 2 and 3 to talk more about your new responsibility of designing fabrics and bags.

7. Kick back for an hour every day in the middle of the day. Browse clothing sites that you like. Look at bags, shirts, anything fabric. Open up Illustrator and draw. Try not to feel guilty for how much you are absolutely loving your job.

8. Have a really great brother and sister-in-law who happen to have friends who have another bag company. Make sure brother and sister-in-law brag to their friends about all the things you can do, including your new work in fabric design. The friends will ask if you're interested in doing freelance work for them. And you are interested. And life is good.

Seriously, though, my life is so cool right now. I'd love to put up samples of what I've done for you all to see, but I don't feel right about that, since the samples are basically the property of the company I work for. But hey---when a bag is produced using my fabric, I assure you that I'll post a picture of it for you all to see.

And here's a picture of the bag that started it all. No, I'm not talking about Ho-Bag Switchback. I'm talking about that enormous bag slung over my shoulder. (There's also a not-so-enormous bag that Switchback is holding---I bought that pattern and will be making that bag in the near future.) But a quick story about my enormous bag: I had it with me shopping the other day, and I bought something at Office Depot. As I was paying, the cashier guy commented on how large my bag was. I told him that it's so huge, sometimes I lose things in it. Then I went to Sur la Table and tried to buy a gift for El Senor but couldn't find my wallet. I awkwardly spent a lot of time searching and searching through my enormous bag to find the wallet. There was no one behind me, thank goodness. I told the cashier that I probably forgot my wallet over at OD. So I went back to OD and asked if they had my wallet. They didn't. I spent about five more minutes searching through my cavernous labyrinth bag and found my wallet. When I went back to Sur la Table, I told the cashier that it was, after all, at Office Depot.

Sunday Bike/Stroll

And so it begins.

You may remember that I had a few bike incidents last year. Like popped tires. And more popped tires. I didn't even blog about them all, but I think that there were probably about four to five popped tire incidents. Every time I'd pop a tire, I'd call El Senor, who'd come over and replace a tube for me. He's the best.

This morning, I decided to go on a Sunday morning bike ride with Guido. I really thought that it was a nice, Sabbath day appropriate activity. I mean, believe me, I'd enthusiastically cast the first stone at anyone who would think it's okay to ride a road bike or a mountain bike on the holy Sabbath---those activities are clearly sports---but a cruiser? A cruiser has "Sabbath-Worthy" written all over it.

About a mile and a half into my ride, however, I noticed that dear Guido wasn't riding very well... There seemed to be some resistance. I looked and saw, of course, a flat rear tire. I phoned El Senor to tell him (with Ole Trusty, El Senor would come and pick me up, but Guido doesn't fit in or on El Senor's car). Then I walked the mile and a half home. My Sunday bike ride turned into a Sunday stroll. So maybe God doesn't think that riding a cruiser on the Sabbath is appropriate.

(NOTE: While I was strolling home, I reflected on the Jews in the old days who could only walk a certain number of steps on the Sabbath. Then I thought about what would happen if you used up your step quota before you were home. What would you do then? I thought really, it would be best if you used up your step quota at the top of a hill, and your home was at the bottom of the hill, because then you could just lie down and roll, letting gravity do all the work. Then you could crawl through the threshold of your home, because crawling is not walking.)

Anyway, El Senor laughed at me when I walked through the door. In fact, we'd even been joking before my bike ride about how many tires I've popped and the fact that I'd probably pop another one soon. We've determined that he bikes a couple thousand miles between popped tires and I manage approximately fifteen. Anyway, being handy and useful, he replaced my tube for me, and brought me the offending thorn that had popped my tire. A thorn!! How can I avoid those? It was two milimeters!

Anyway, I've had all day to think of this, and applying the principle of Occam's Razor, I've determined that El Senor has been pricking my tires with pins so that they pop. He does this so that I am reliant on him (men need to feel needed). He found the tiny thistle on our porch and brought that to show me as the "cause" of my popped tire. But I know the truth. I know the truth. It's really the simplest answer.

I Drive

(Note: This post is about me buying a bike. Now that I own a bike, I can buy this shirt from threadless, which has always been available in my size and has always been sold out of El Senor's size, and that I've held off buying because El Senor wants it so badly and because wearing this shirt without owning a bike would be dishonest.)

Last year, I would ride the bus or take my bike to work or the grocery store or school. I prided myself on being independent and environmentally friendly. I congratulated my fellow coworkers who bussed to work or biked to work like me. We'd tell each other how we were protesting gas prices by using alternate forms of transportation. Of course, we all knew that the underlying reason for our environmentally friendliness was that none of us had cars.

In August, I inherited my car Clicky from Captain Fabuloso. At the same time, I returned Ole Trusty, the bike I'd been borrowing from Captain Mom. (Ole Trusty wasn't actually trusty---it wasn't the bike's fault at all, but I managed to pop a lot of tires on that bike, even after El Senor gave me industrial-grade tubes that could "run over nails." They couldn't, I found out.)

I'm not sure what exactly it was that made me need to buy a bike instead of a bed this month. (I keep putting off my purchase of an adult bed---because I don't want to grow up?) It was probably my trip to Heather's house where her beautiful bike sat in her living room. After admiring her bike, she invited me to go with her to bike around the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge this month. How did she know about my secret bird watching passion? Really, she had me at "Bird Refuge." I simply had to buy a bike.

The bike-buying process was interesting. First off, I missed all the stores on the first day (Monday) because apparently bike stores like to close at 6:00. They cater to the unemployed or non-business class. Or students, but whatever. My first attempt at bike shopping was thwarted. El Senor recommended a place for me to try the next day.

On Tuesday, I set out again and tried several different stores. As a non-biker, going into a bike store can be rather intimidating. It wouldn't be so bad if a store employee didn't immediately rush up to you and ask if they can help you, when you really know they're asking, "What the hell are you doing here?"

Anyway, the first store I tried had what I was looking for at prices I wasn't interested in. I kept looking. The second store didn't have what I was looking for, but had prices I was interested in. I kept looking. The third store, and by far my worst (read: most intimidating) experience, was El Senor's recommendation. First of all, to get into the store, I had to walk through a flock of 40 spandexed road cyclists who were getting ready to head out on a ride. After passing through that gauntlet of judgment, I walked into the store, made eye contact with an employee, and started looking at bikes. Now, I'm not exaggerating here: Not five seconds after I was through the door, she came to me and asked, "Did you find what you were looking for?" The question caught me off guard, really, because five seconds into a store, one does not expect to ask if one has been successful in one's shopping. I can only assume that I was asked because it was obvious that I didn't belong there. I told her I was looking for a cruiser. She informed me that they had no bikes of that style, but I was welcome to look through a catalog. I left.

And ten seconds after initially running the gauntlet of judgment, had to run it again, while every cyclist felt a confirmation of his or her judgments of me. I was feeling pretty bad about it so I started to text El Senor. I wanted to say, "Your bike store recommendation sucked." But when I looked at what I had written, my phone said, "Your bike store seafoodmeatgoo." And then I started laughing maniacally all by myself, which again, probably reconfirmed all the judgments the cyclists had made about me, but I didn't care. Seafoodmeatgoo. That's funny. Instead of correcting the message, I sent it to El Senor as-was.

I found cycle success at Cyclesmith. First of all, the employees were not intimidating at all. They were really nice and sweet. I was shown the 2006 Raleigh Retroglide NX3 Cruiser, and because it was last year's model, it was $300 instead of $410. I wanted a women's frame, but because I'll be getting a free trunk-mount bike rack from Viktor, the men's frame was actually a better option for me. I took the evening to think about it (it was already 6:00 anyway, so they were closing).

After discussing this sweet ride with El Senor (who owns three bikes) and having my decision approved, I called Cyclesmith first thing in the morning so that they could hold the bike for me and prevent all unemployed/non-business/student people from buying it. And as soon as I was done work (let's be honest---I left early) I met El Senor at Cyclesmith to purchase my beauty. Apparently, over the course of the day, three people had tried to buy the bike. Luckily, it had my name on it.

Because the bike's fenders prevented it from being mounted on El Senor's car-top bike rack, I decided to immediately take the bike on its inaugural ride. The ride home was 6.5 miles (downhill), and it gave me time to get to know my new love. Of course, since it's a men's frame, my bike is male. So after spending 6.5 miles with him, I decided to name him Guido, which in Italian literally means "I drive." Since purchasing the bike Wednesday evening, I've taken it on six rides. I've decided to commute to work by bike now (4.5 miles). It's fantastic. Also fantastic is parking my sweet bike in my office and getting compliments from everyone who passes by. Mostly fantastic is the sense of superiority that I can now feel, knowing that my driving to work doesn't damage the environment at all. Now I actually have the choice to drive, but I can make the choice to do something better for the environment and better for me. So suck it, gas guzzling car drivers!

(Note: This picture shows Guido parked in my living room. Sorry it's not the best photograph you've ever seen. One thing El Senor and I didn't think about was where to store Guido when I'm not driving him. Like I said, El Senor has three bikes, so our storage space is pretty much filled with those. For now, I'm just lucky that I have one empty wall in my bedroom, because that is where I park my dearest, sweetest, loveliest Guido.)

Missing Redras

The other day, El Senor came from the mailbox with a package. He said to me, "I got a package, unless you know someone in Texas." I said that I didn't know anyone in Texas. And then he made me keep thinking and I realized that I knew Redras in Texas. The package was from Redras!

The package was my birthday present... only three months late. (What she didn't know is that it came just in time for my three-year home-from-the-mission anniversary, so she could have claimed it was for that.) But the package pretty much solidified her status as my best roommate ever (again, apologies to others who have lived with me). Every item in the package had meaning. Allow me to share with you what I received:

1. Three CDs: Two CDs of Bach because we watched our boyfriend Mark Ruffalo once in a movie with Yo-Yo Ma playing cello stuff in the background. And we both liked it. One CD was Billie Holiday and then an interview with David Sedaris on his ability to do Billie Holiday impressions. Redras and I are both Sedaris fans, so the meaning of this was immediately obvious.

2. One package of brownies. Last summer was the summer of popsicles, partly because it was also the summer of no air conditioning and repeatedly broken swamp cooler. In Redras's own words, "I included the brownies for two reasons. First, sending popsicles is unfeasible, and second, around the first week of February I was trying to motivate myself to just send the freaking package already, so I thought that if I bought brownies to put in that would make it more Valentine-y and then I would HAVE to send it in the next week. My strategy backfired." (Note: Redras could have also included some Coldstone ice cream, because at least twice a month, she and I would make a trip for ice cream. At least twice a month. Get it?)

3. Mots d'heures: Gousses, Rames. Oh, now this is a story. The last week that Redras and I were living together, I emailed her the following poem:

Un petit d'un petit
S'étonne aux Halles
Un petit d'un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
Indolent qui ne se mène
Qu'importe un petit d'un petit
Tout Gai de Reguennes

She never said anything about it, and our last evening together, as we were cleaning out and clearing out our apartment, I said to her, "Did you ever get that poem I emailed to you?" Redras said, "Oh, yeah, that. I looked it over but didn't really have time to read it carefully." So I explained it to her. I started by reciting it out loud---imperative to understanding this poem. I repeated it again and again until she got it. See, the poem, though composed of French words, is actually Humpty Dumpty. The French words mean something completely different, but phonetically, they actually make the English version of Humpty Dumpty. It's incredible and it's funny. And after Redras and I had a good laugh at how cool it was, a look of extreme embarrassment crossed her face as she said, "I have to confess something! I did read it! I read it again and again, but I didn't get it, so I lied to you and told you that I barely looked it over!"

Well, the third item, Mots d'heures: Gousses, Rames (Mother Goose Rhymes) is a collection of several phonetically English, but transcribedly French Mother Goose Rhymes that Luis d'Antin van Rooten wrote. So cool Redras. You get points for thoughtful gifts!

4. A shirt with Bob Sagat's face on it. This made me laugh. And laugh, and laugh. Redras is the best. See, I confessed to her once that I had a crush on one of our professors (she never understood the crush). One day a couple months ago, I was flipping though channels (a very Redras-ly thing to do...) and I thought I saw the professor on tv. I went back to that channel and realized it wasn't the professor. It was Bob Saget. I immediately emailed Redras with a Freudian analysis of my crush on the professor, saying that obviously, my crush on the professor came from the fact that my subconscious linked him to Bob Saget, the beloved father figure on Full House, a television show I watched as a child. So Redras made me a shirt with Bob Saget's face. She said that she would have made it with the professor's face on it, but she couldn't find a picture of him in a high enough resolution. To this, I responded, "I LOVE that I have a Bob Saget shirt, and really, I'm glad it was a picture of him and NOT the professor b/c as funny as it is to have Saget on my shirt, it would just be CREEPY to have our professor hovering over my boobs at all times."

So Redras, you're the best. I can't wait till you move back up to SLC and into the condo. I know that El Senor won't mind having another roommate, especially since you're much better at doing the dishes than I am (you were always a good little dish fairy). Let's just not tell him until you actually move in, though.