My Really Good Halloween Costume

Sometimes it's fun to be the only one who gets my "joke."

Take, for example, the "Halloween Costume" that I wanted to have this year. It is still just an "idea" because we haven't had time to do anything like celebrate holidays during the "final stretch" of our engagement. Also because Murray's "best" friend didn't put on his annual Halloween party after all, so we had no chance to dress up.

But if I had been able to dress up, my costume would have been so "nerdy" that no one would have gotten it. Still, I would have enjoyed knowing that my "costume" was actually very funny and very clever. Here's what it would have been:

I would have been "Scare Quotes." I would have put little quotation marks on either side of my head (with wire, coming from a head band or something). And then, any time anyone asked me what I was, I would have said, "I'm scare quotes. BOO!"

And then, unless I was at an editing party with editors only, the person would politely laugh, even though they didn't get it. And I would laugh. But maybe then I would get tired of the fact that my geniusness was not being appreciated by anyone. And I'd have to keep explaining (after my joke) what "scare quotes" are. Or maybe I just would hand out this excerpt from The Chicago Manual of Style before saying, "I'm scare quotes. BOO!"

"Scare quotes." Quotation marks are often used to alert readers that a term is used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense. Nicknamed "scare quotes," they imply, "This is not my term" or "This is not how the term is usually applied." Like any such device, scare quotes lose their force and irritate readers if overused.

Definitely not okay.

Phone conversation between me and Murray 30 seconds ago:

Me: Hey.

Murray: Hey. (Kindof echoey.)

Me: Where are you now?

Murray: I'm actually on the can.

Me: That's great. Where are you on the can?

Murray: At work.

Me: I'm hanging up this phone right now.

Down for the count. No really.

Wow. There's so little time left before the wedding. We've got a game plan set up, and several very important people have volunteered a lot of their time to help out, for which we will be forever grateful.

As you can expect, I hardly have time to post anything, but I thought a series of pictures I've been collecting on my iPhone should suffice for today.

El Senor is replacing me with a couch. Probably this one. The couch he'd previously purchased was a little too stiff and not great for tv watching. I'm sad that he'll use my last rent check to buy this, instead of buying me an extra huge wedding present. Sometimes, I just don't know where his priorities are.

Me on an over sized, useless piece of furniture. I'm wearing the coat that Murray brought me back from his trip to New York. Yes, I'm a spoiled, spoiled woman.

Me, on a different day, on another piece of over sized, useless furniture. Only I think that if I had a gigantic house, I might actually be able to make this gaudy thing into a successful piece of interest. I'm not willing to buy it (a thousand bucks) to try it out though.

The line outside the Apple store for all those who wanted to get Leopard. It was released at 6:00. The funny thing is that due to a shipping error, Murray had already received Leopard, before the release time. If I'd known that when I took this picture, I would have enjoyed the sight of everyone lined up that much more.

And this brief story has no picture, but it happened this morning. I got a phone call from a blocked number. When I picked up the phone, I heard the voice of an older man:

Man: Good morning. Sweetheart.

Me: [Trying to place the voice, deciding to make him talk a little longer to see if I could figure out who it was, but seeing as I knew it wasn't my dad or Murray and I couldn't think of who else might call me sweetheart, I figured it was a wrong number.] Good morning.

Man: [Waiting for me to say more...] Uh... who am I speaking to?

Me: This is Cicada.

Man: Oh. I think I may have the wrong number. I was calling for Rowena.

Me: As much as I would love to be your sweetheart, I'm afraid that's just not me. But good luck finding the right number!

Man: Thank you! You have a good day!

Down for the Count

Well, it's getting closer and closer. Murray and I and our families are pretty busy for sure. But Murray sent me this yesterday and I thought it was pretty cool---it's a bunch of the photos that he's using of me for our slide show, all showing on his desktop. Want a slide show preview? Here it is!

Also, in addition to being busy with wedding stuff, Murray has started to blog more frequently. You might want to check it out. He's got some good stories, if I may say so myself...

The Invites

So a few people have posted comments after receiving our invite. We're very happy that you're all impressed with how it looks. And because I like bragging and because I think it's only fair for the whole internet to see our invite, I decided we should post the pictures and the invite to the internet.

Of course, I can't actually post the invite because it has names, places, times, etc. So I made this mockup that gives you a general idea of what our invite looks like. The wording in our invite was formal and nice. And the fonts weren't as huge, but you know... for internet readability... Also, I just noticed that it says "pleased to announce their marriage to the Internet." I don't mean that we're marrying the internet. I just mean that we're announcing our marriage to each other to the internet.

We included either one of these pictures in the invitations. Most people got the one where you can see our faces best.

Oh Geez.

I have addressed and mailed most of the invitations. There are some stragglers, like all of Murray's friends, a couple of my coworkers (who I'm not sure whether to give invitations in person or mail invites to), a couple international people who aren't coming anyway, and a list of friends that El Senor gave me and I haven't done anything about yet. Maybe I should get on that tonight.

The point is that some people have received their invitations. And it's really nice to hear the compliments come in. Like tonight, when DP called to tell me that he liked how our engagement picture coordinated with our invite. But he really wanted to let me know that what most impressed him was the font I used to print my return address. And when he pointed the font out to his wife, she let him know that it wasn't a font. It was my handwriting. And then he was really impressed. Impressed enough to actually call me and say so. (After spending hours of hard labor on the pictures and invites, I'm glad to know that what really commanded his respect was the return address that I scrawled in 5 seconds.)

The thing that really disturbs me, though, is this: My reception happens to land on Nat's birthday. Nat, as some of you may remember, was there for Murray's and my first date, so she's automatically one of those Really Important People. So important that we decided to get married on her birthday in her honor. Anyway, on her invitation, I took the time to mar the beauty of the invite and edit the line about our reception to say "and to celebrate Natali's birthday." I wrote that in using a Sharpie marker. Then I carefully stuffed her envelope myself.

When Nat told me that she got (and loved) my invitation, I was surprised that she didn't mention that little joke. I had to actually ask her about it, which is generally a little awkward. To my surprise, she said that there was no handwriting on her invitation. She went home and double-checked. She got a normal invite.

Which makes me wonder, who got the special invitation announcing that the reception was also in honor of Natali's birthday?

Amber Alert

Yesterday Murray and I went to his house with a proud sense of accomplishment. We had just saved a ton of money by spending money. I love spending money to save money. Guess how much we saved. We saved $540. Guess how much we spent. We spent $180. Doesn't it feel good to spend to save?

Here's what we bought at Pier 1:

4 wicker patio chairs, originally $100 each, on sale for $25 each
8 place setting large plates, originally $10 each, on sale for $2.50 each.
8 place setting salad plates, originally $10 each, on sale for $2.50 each.
8 place setting bowls, originally $10 each, on sale for $2.50 each.
8 place setting mugs, originally $9 each, on sale for $2.20 each.
12 napkins, originally who knows, on sale for $0.50 each.
1 boxy thingy that goes in the middle of the table, originally $15, on sale for $3.

And you would think that nothing could kill that high. Nothing except the kidnapping of a child.

Or a door pumpkin.

To make Murray's place a little more homey, I put this fall arrangement outside his door a week and a half ago. It looked lovely and homey and autumny.

Last night, when we got there, we noticed that our orange pumpkin was missing.

Who would do such a thing? Random acts of pumpkin violence are not okay. I noticed that all the neighbors still had their outdoor harvest displays in tact. I also noticed that none of them managed to add a beautiful pumpkin to their displays, which leaves me to believe that it must be inside of one of their homes. Keeping up with the Joneses just got dirtier.

Tonight, I will lead a sting operation to reclaim what is rightfully ours.

I wouldn't be marrying Murray...

...if contact from random blog stalkers creeped me out.

Yesterday Murray and I went to Zupas. If you've never been there, I highly recommend it. It's great except that the booth-to-table ratio favors tables too heavily. After Murray and I payed for our food, we were filling up our drinks and I noticed a bus boy cleaning a booth. And I decided that I needed to grab the booth immediately, despite the fact that Murray had already brought our food to a table. So I walked towards the booth as quickly as possible, not even taking the time to catch Murray's attention, and trying not to spill my drink (I didn't put a lid on it because I didn't want to waste that time in nabbing the booth).

As I approached the booth, I caught another patron approaching the booth out of my peripheral vision. She had just walked into the restaurant, so I thought she might be one of those horrid, horrid people who save tables before they've even ordered their food. I quickened my pace and slid into the booth moments before she arrived, trying not to make eye contact.

She came closer. That was unexpected. She said, "I hope this doesn't sound creepy, but..."

My mind jumped to two conclusions:

1) "...I was wondering if I could have this booth even though you got here first and I don't even have my food yet." In that case, it would not be "creepy." Just rude and awkward.

2) "...I was wondering if I could share your booth with you." Here I thought she'd talk about some sort of physical condition that would require her to sit at a booth rather than a table. And yes, asking a stranger to share a booth with them would be creepy.

But neither of my conclusions were correct:

"...I think I read your blog. Singing Cicada?"

This was a huge relief. First of all, she was no longer a booth contender. Second of all, I had an anonymous fan!

We chatted for a bit and she explained that she and her husband live in California but she knows about my blog because of a mutual friend, Kit. In fact, she even said that before coming out to Utah, she got caught up on my blog to see what I was up to. How random for her, then, that she'd run into me while she was here. She must feel so, so very lucky for having met me... but come to think of it, she didn't ask me for my autograph at all, which I find more than a little insulting.

Anyway. Murray finally came over with our tray of food and she congratulated us on our upcoming marriage, and I let her know that I can't possibly be creeped out by an anonymous blog reader because I'm marrying one. (Except the other night, I did actually have a nightmare about a murderous blog stalker...)

So here's my shout out to Random Blog Stalker. After a little further thought I've concluded that you must have forgotten to ask me for my autograph because you were so flustered. Here it is in printable format.

We can do it. They can help.

Switchback is coming to town this weekend. This, of course, makes me very excited. She is, after all, going to be my maid of honor. And it's not like I bestow that title to just anyone.

Since she's around to chaperone, then we'll stay at Murray's house for the weekend. Normally when I'm in town, we stay at his parents'.

Since she's staying at the house for the weekend, we needed to address an issue that we've neglected for the past several months. The guest bathroom shower does not have hot water. That is so not cool. I mean, it's not the end of the world or anything. She could have just used Murray's shower. But still. I really really wanted it to be done for when she's in town.

The first step in any undertaking such as this is to call El Senor. Which I did. If El Senor lived in the same city, the next step would be to make El Senor come over and fix it. It's what I've done my entire "independent" life. But that wasn't really available to me as an option.

So I explained the problem to El Senor and because he knows everything, he diagnosed what the problem possibly was, and explained how I could test it. He said I had to turn the water all the way to hot to see if anything was coming out. If nothing came out, it meant there was a hot water blockage and I'd have to take off the faucet and pull something out and replace it or whatever.

So I turned the water all the way to hot and nothing came out. So my problem was at least partially diagnosed. Then Murray came home while I was in a rage about not being able to figure out which valve turned the water off. Poor, poor, patient Murray. Then I got in a rage about not being able to take the thingy off the faucet because the screw wouldn't unscrew because maybe it was stripped or maybe I just wasn't using the right tool, but it was near impossible to tell anyway because the thing was tiny and down a hole; not easily accessible.

Anyway. We made a trip to Home Depot because I thought that I had to replace the whole faucet. But then I remembered that Home Depot's motto is "You can do it. We can help" so I realized that they were obligated to help us figure out the problem.

So we talked to a guy who had us talk to another guy who kindof explained the problem in terms I could kindof understand. And then the first guy gave us the part we needed (a cartridge) and we were off.

At home, after a fair bit of plumber's crack and only one curse word, we had the faucet completely disassembled (did I mention we figured out how to turn off the water?). And we found out that the new cartridge was actually the wrong part. So we went back to Home Depot right before they closed, got the right part, and went back to finish the job (with a quick stopover at Macey's where we got ten white pumpkins for a steal).

So we finished the job (all this time not actually knowing with 100% certainty that this was the right thing to fix the hot water situation). And when we turned on the water, we found out that I'd installed the thingy upside down, so in the off position, water was coming out at full force. So we turned the water off again, and I reinstalled it all and we turned on the water again and somehow I had still managed to install the thing upside down. But the third time I did it, it worked. And the hot water works. And Switchback had better appreciate it.

And now Murray and I are officially plumbers. But we won't be booking any appointments until after November 3rd. And we only specialize in reinstalling cartridges. And we charge $300/15 minutes.

Who knew that by not relying on El Senor, there was a whole world of empowerment awaiting me?

I am dead people.

It all started about five years ago when Dr. Rice first went out to DC to get her PhD. I was in Maryland at the time waiting to go on my mission, so I was happy to have my good friend future-Dr. Rice come out to my side of the country. Soon after she moved to DC, we planned a day to get together. There's so much to do in that area---my parents live between Baltimore and DC. It's close to Annapolis. There really is no shortage of things to do.

So when we asked my mom for a recommendation, she suggested we take a day to visit Historic Ellicott City, a beautiful old city nearby. So we went. And we soon discovered that Ellicott City was simply a city full of nothing but antique shops. It didn't take us long to get tired of that. On the whole, it was a pretty lame experience. So we went home, and that was possibly the day we also went squirrel fishing. I can't quite remember.

The thing is, while we were antique shopping, we found a collection of antique hats. And we tried them on. And we took our pictures in the antique hats. And I brought the pictures with me on my mission.

So fast forward to present time. Since that trip five years ago, Historic Ellicott City has become a joke between me and Dr. Rice. Any time we're together and there's some question about what we might do for fun, we bring up the possibility of taking a trip to Historic Ellicott City and seeing the antique shops.

Today I stopped in at an antique dealer on my way to Murray's house. I'm in the market for a good antique chair right now (to put in the corner of our guest room, and I promise to post a picture when we find one and I reupholster it, but that won't be until after we're married). As I walked through the aisles of overpriced junk, I came upon some antique hats. You might think that the hat experience wouldn't be quite as fun without Dr. Rice, but as I tried on hats and took my picture with them, I imagined all the fun I would have sending the pictures to Dr. Rice.

And I even thought about the blog post I would write about the whole thing. I mean, I even found a hat made from---I swear---squirrel tails. Which is so important to me and Dr. Rice since Dr. Rice has been cursed squirrel-wise ever since we went squirrel fishing. So, like I said, I had my own private photo shoot, which was very enjoyable.

When I got to Murray's, I told him about my experience and I brought out my iPhone to show him the pictures. What we saw caused a chill to go through Murray's body, and caused me to squeal. And I'm not normally the squealing type:

Now I don't know about you, but that picture freaks me right out. At the time I took it, I had glanced at the result and thought, "That's funny... my eyes were closed." So I took another.

Now I have only to conclude that I've been possessed by the spirit of the previous hat owner. And since it's a black hat with black mesh, it was probably a widow's hat. And the widow probably killed her husband and her children and that's why she wore this mourning hat. And most likely she was killed by a rabid squirrel because she also had a squirrel curse, and now her spirit has possessed me. Great.

No, but seriously, the picture really is creepy. Creepy, creepy, creepy. I wanted to delete it immediately, but better judgment set in and I decided to post it to the internet so that the whole world knows of my possession.

And now, to lighten the mood a little, I present you (and Dr. Rice) with my other antique hat pictures in which I am not so freaky. Well, unless wearing a hat made of severed squirrel tails is considered freaky. Which it is.

Wedding Shmedding

Today is one month and one day until the Big Day. And that means that I'm stressed. It also means that I'm not blogging because pretty much absolutely everything I'm doing has to do with the wedding, and some people have complained about me blogging wedding stuff.

Other people have complained that I am not writing enough posts.

My readers are so demanding.

Today, I have very little time, so I'll just post a few pictures that have to do with wedding stuff so that you can see I'm a very busy person.

A tie that we're considering having all the men wear.

The concept for our floral centerpieces. Only not with purple mums.

More of our centerpiece concept. Only with larger mums. (See above.)

The illustration we'll use for our favors---Canadian chocolate bars wrapped with this and some thank-you text as a candy wrapper.

Me. Stressed.

For our honeymoon, we're going to Costa Rica. I only hope that when I reach that point, I'll be able to relax and adjust from Having Everything to Plan and Worry About to Having Nothing to Plan and Worry About.