Sunday, March 31, 2013

Get Your Head Out of the Tomb

He Is Risen by Greg Olsen
On this Easter Sunday, I am grateful for my Savior and His Atonement, His love and His grace. I am grateful for the lesson I learned from Mary Magdalene.

When Mary Magdalene was alone at the sepulchre of the Savior, she was feeling overwhelmed and distraught, so much so that she "stood without the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre" (John 20:11). Mary could not find her Lord. His body was no longer in the tomb. She had come early that morning, "when it was yet dark," to bring oils and spices to anoint Him- in essence, to come and worship Him (John 20:1). 

But He was not where she expected Him to be. 

Mary looked into the sepulchre, and saw the folded linens that had wrapped her Lord. She saw two angels, but she was not satisfied because it was not her Lord. She explained the cause of her sorrow: "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him" (John 20:13). Mary could not find her Lord. She did not understand why He was gone, and her grief was doubled at His disappearance.

As she cried by the tomb, Mary "turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus" (John 20:14). She didn't recognize her beloved Lord even when He spoke to her, asking her whom she was seeking (John 20:15). Instead of recognizing Him, she asked Him where HE was, saying, "Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away" (John 20: 15). Mary wanted her Lord, but she didn't recognize Him. Mary knew where her Lord had been when she had last seen Him, and He was there no longer. His body was no longer in the tomb.

"Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master" (John 20:16). Her Lord knew her, He called her by her name. I am sure that the love in His voice pulled her eyes upwards, away from the tomb, and up to His face. And then she recognized Him. Mary found her Lord.

And He wasn't in the tomb.

Sometimes there are awful moments in life. Sometimes life becomes dark. Sometimes when we look to find our Lord, He is not where we expect Him to be. Sometimes we are looking so hard within the dark and empty tomb that we cannot recognize the Lord when He standing behind us, coming near to us. Our relationship with Him changes as we change, and as our needs and strengths change. 

When my illness becomes very bad, it is easy to look within the dark place of worry, pain, fear, anxiety, and sadness. It can be very difficult to focus on anything else. It can be unbearably difficult to attempt to look anywhere else. But where is the Savior? Where is his promised aid and comfort? Where is the Lord who knows my name, my pain, and is my salvation?

Get your head out of the tomb, and turn around. Look up, not down. Look to the light, not to the dark. Find hope, not despair. Listen for His voice.

Friday, March 29, 2013

While the Andrew's Away, the Tashya Will...

Early Wednesday morning, Andrew left for a business trip. He went away to good old BYU to teach some class and show demos on highly technical stuff. He got to be in a giant bus that had loads of engineering toys and tools, and show off the possibilities of LabVIEW programming to some 100 odd students. (Meaning around 100 students, not that each of those students was in fact odd. Although, being engineers, there is a strong possibility that more than one of them were odd. You know what they say about dating and the engineering building- The odds are good, but the goods are odd.) I'll have him tell about his fun trip when he gets back home.

So Andrew has been gone for two whole days now. He gets back late tonight. Are you wondering what I did while Andrew was out and about?

I went on the wild side. Insane. Off the deep end.

I ran a red light and sped past a police officer. It was my first time ever breaking any traffic law. Ever. Except for that one time when I was late picking up my baby sister from kindergarten, and I found myself going 40 in a 25 zone. Whoops. But I stopped as soon as I noticed. Fortunately, no one stopped me here either. The intersection was further away than I thought it was, so when I figured that it was unsafe to slam on my brakes, I was actually making a decision for the other cars that it would be unsafe to un-slam their brakes. When I finally got into the parking lot and stopped, I heard a siren go off. I freaked out. Turns out no one was coming for me, though, so I went inside the store.

I went shopping at Kohl's. For three hours. Shopping. Alone. I don't do that. I go with Mama. It's our "together time" when we're visiting. But you should the darling dress I got. You'll never guess what color it is. Go ahead a try. *indistinct mumbling* What's that? Nope. You're wrong. It's pink. And it has a bow.

I cruised right on through a yellow light. No coppers or bobbies this time, though.

I stayed up until midnight, despite the fact that I'm fighting a cold/possibly strep throat. And since I did it again last night, I now have a cold/strep throat/some evil, pernicious, demanding ghoul of a toad living in my throat trying to KILL me.

I watched yet another Cinderella movie.

I called my mother Mum all day. My mother is Mama. Mum? That's when I'm in my British rut. When I read too many modern British things, she's Mum. When it's from the Classics, she's Mamma. And what happens to Daddy? He stays Daddy all the time.

I definitely didn't shave. I did, however, spend a lot of time grooming my eyebrows. I also tried to keep up with other basic, socially required grooming habits, such as cleansing one's teeth and applying deodorant to the underarm area.
I went out and got my hair cut. My bangs are back, baby! I remember now how much I love bangs. I also remember how much I don't like bangs. What the heck was I always doing with these when I had them?

I also experienced a case of separation anxiety once some of my hair was gone. Why, I don't know. I mean, probably no one will be able to tell the difference besides me. I don't do short hair.

I got lost in a suburb trying to get back from my haircut. 22 right turns interspersed with a handful of left turns, does not make the necessary left turn onto the necessary road that will lead to your necessary destination. Nope. It doesn't. But I blame the kids on bikes that were preventing me from getting where I needed.

I ate half a bag of Starburst jellybeans by consistently saying, "I'll just have one more. Just one more." So much for having any left for Easter.

I read too much. Because that's such a new problem for me that only happens when Andrew is away. I never read.

I disregarded my schedule and my to-do list completely and entirely.

I put my hair up into a horridly unattractive version of Princess Leia's 'do. Apparently sleeping in this suave coiffure helps to make your curls more defined and beautiful the next day. The only downside is that you look like a maniac dork in the process. At least you do by the time you get in enough clips to keep up all of your ridiculously copious amounts of hair in that twisted formation and stuck to your head. Doing that around the most important man in my life? Maybe I'll let him decide if he wants to see it in real life after he reads this post.

I Skyped with Andrew for the first time since our engagement. Since I had already put on my attractive hairstyle, I was forced to wear a jacket over my hair so that Andrew couldn't see. I didn't want Andrew to be so overcome with my beauty and grace over the webcam that he ended up missing me uncontrollably and became miserable because he was so far away from me. Yup. I definitely covered up my hair for his benefit. Fortunately, Skyping helps hide your acne. Unfortunately, it also helps hide how wonderfully groomed your eyebrows are.

I watched horrible YouTube videos like Top 20 Saddest Disney Moments. Because that's a great idea when you're alone, feel sick, and are already feeling borderline emotional due to serious sleep deprivation.

I'm missing Andrew like mad, and apparently it's making me mad. Insane. Do you know what Andrew did? Instead of sleeping an extra night there and catching a morning flight, Andrew got a flight back right after his demo job ended so that I won't be home alone an extra night. Isn't that wonderfully sweet of him? Isn't that so considerate of him to help alleviate the bizarreness that accompanies a sleep deprived, Andrew-missing, very sweet-craving Tashya? I think it is.

And you know what? Rebellious Tashya is about to go back to wherever she came from because Andrew is going to be home tonight. TONIGHT. Thank goodness. I don't know if the good city of Cedar Park can handle any more of Rebel Tash. I don't know if I can. I just want the Evil Throat Dwelling Toad to go away! And since Andrew is my knight in shining armor who carried me off into the sunset, maybe he can do me a favor and joust with this toad. I'll even give him a token to wear during the tournament. Maybe one of my fanged hot dog buns.

I just hope that with Andrew shall come all of the good in the world that was taken away when he left. And by "all of the good," I mean "all of the book control and reason to actually make a meal as opposed to yet another bagel and/or craisins." Because I'm a mess right now, despite my basic socially required grooming habits. However, there really is still good in the world, even when my beloved is so far away. My friend Joy brought me a loaf of Asiago Cheese Bread from Great Harvest, some Kraft singles, and some good old tomato soup. I'm on the road to recovery already!

Maybe that means that I'll be attractive by the time that Andrew gets home. Maybe I should just do the Princess Leia 'do again. That'll be sure to distract him from anything else.

Yup. That's what I'll do.

NOTE: Thank you for the beautiful and encouraging comments on the last blog post about being a happy miserable woman. We appreciate all of the support. You are wonderful.

ANOTHER NOTE: The pictorial quality will increase once I have found my beloved little rose pink mouse. it's still missing! For now, you will just have to glory in my finely crafted sentences. So there.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to Be Happy With Your Miserable Life

Did any of you wonder why I stopped blogging for months? It's not like I have an apparent excuses like I did while in school. I'm a stay at home wife, I don't have any children, and I don't have a job other than to keep our home tidy, beautiful, and well stocked with baked goods. It is obvious, therefore, that a lack of writing is not due to a lack of time. And it's not just that drawing all of those pictures takes a whole lot of effort.  More than may be apparent at first glance. No, it goes a little further than that.

For the past year or so, I've been dealing with a health problem. I can't tell you what it is since I don't know what it is. Despite visiting many doctors, including specialists, we still have no diagnosis. I can tell you that it involves pain, limited energy, frustration, fear, and a very limited range of activities. There are days when just about all I can do is lounge on the couch and read books. Although, when I put it that way, my life sounds like an English major's dream- to sit and read all day.

Regardless of my love of reading, being unable to get up and walk around because of the pain becomes very tiresome. It can really chew out and completely ruin your self-respect, and any dignity you wish to maintain. There are days when it's practically impossible to cook because I haven't washed any dishes for the past while. There have been days when I couldn't even walk to the bathroom. Andrew had to carry me. For a girl who loves to dance about, bake, pretty and tidy up, be productive, and fulfill her duties and responsibilities, this has been a difficult time for me.

But I don't hate my miserable life. In fact, I'm a happy woman.

We therefore have a question before us: "Why on earth do you draw such ridiculous pictures and write such brilliantly bizarre blog posts if you're hurting and/or feeling like a lazy scumbag? And how do you manage to find so many funny things?"

Because it makes me happy. That's why. Especially when people look at those posts and laugh, or think, or smile, or pass it on. It makes me feel productive. But more about that productivity stuff in another post. This post is about managing to find the happiness that is all around you, just waiting to be seen and felt.

The answer is in three little words. Faith. Hope. Charity. I'm going to go in reverse order.

Charity. How can you ever be happy when you're sitting around thinking about all of the downers in your life? How can you be happy when you focus on your messy living room, unshaved legs, nasty hair, immobility, and that very empty candy bag? (Well, the candy bag being empty may have cheered you up while you were emptying it into your mouth, but having that candy go to your thighs is not pleasant.) I'll tell you what, you can't. You can't be happy when you focus on that. You have to focus your attention on other people. Find out what makes them happy, and celebrate with them. Find out what's making them sad, and search for a way to make it better. Start with your spouse, your family, your roommates, whoever is closest to you. Serve them. It will make your life light up like a Christmas tree, each time you leave a plate of cookies on a doorstep, sit down and have a chat with someone lonely, or give someone a can of soup when they're ill, another little bulb on your strand of lights clicks on, bringing in a happy color, and a happy bit of dimension to your view on life.

Hope. Faith and hope are so connected, so intertwined. I have hope that tomorrow will be better than today. I hope that I can do better today than yesterday. A better wife, a better friend, a better person, a better Natashya. I have hope. And not just the kind of hope that involves wishing for the snow to go away, or that my pick for the NCAA bracket will win (which they won't, since they've already lost. Whoops.). My hope is an expectation. I expect that my circumstances will get better. I am doing everything that I can to improve my situation, and I have faith that everything will work out. Even if my body continues to hurt, I know that my actions can better my life before I'm healed. I can still find ways to make today better, to get closer to my goals. With my mother's help, I made a schedule. I work on something different every day. If I don't get everything checked off the list, that's alright. I'm still a good person. I tried. And because I'm continuing to try, and because I have a wonderful husband who does so much to help and lift me, and because I have a loving Savior, everything really will be just fine.

Faith. The Lord is omniscient and omnipotent. He is also full of mercy and love. Having faith in His love, in His plan, in His timing will help you to get through the darkest moments. The Savior went through the agony of Gethsemane because of His love for us, and because of that suffering, He can not only cleanse our sins, but also "bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (Isaiah 61:1). Do you think that sins are the only chains which bind mankind? What about the chains of pain and suffering, both physical and emotional?

Jesus Christ can heal all wounds, for He understands all sorrows. "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief... Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, stricken of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:3-5). Jesus Christ gave His life for us, lives again for us, and desires to help us in all of our trials. He can heal all of our bruises and stripes. Remember to "cast your cares upon the Lord; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). He really does.

I don't generally share the glum side of life because there is so much more to rejoice in than to despair over. However, I thought that perhaps since we all have dark moments, maybe the things that I've been learning over the past year will be good for more than just me to know. I do know that there is a way to be happy, even when life is dark and difficult. I do know that I'm more blessed than even I realize sometimes. I do know that there is always a ray of light and hope that we can cling to, and that we can follow. Just hold on to Him, and everything is going to be alright.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What's in a Name? Let's Discuss it Over (Yellow) Cake

Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Have you ever been fascinated by names? I have been, for a very long time. And it turns out that one of my very best friends shares that interest (see below). I love my name, and I'm very proud of it. There was also a time when I was jealous that Megan's name meant "pearl, or priceless treasure," because I was pretty sure that I was the princess in the family. But Megan really is a pearl of priceless worth, I can tell you that.

I promised you a cake recipe today as well. And thus I give unto you,

BETTER THAN BASIC YELLOW CAKE (and what's better than regular yellow but sunshine and daisy yellow? See decorating and consuming suggestions beneath recipe.)

4 eggs, separated                 2 3/4 cups flour                       1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt                           1 cup butter, softened              2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla                          1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350*, and grease and flour two 9" round pans. 

(For egg separating tips, please see notes from the White Chocolate Cheesecake recipe.) Beat egg whites stiff, but not dry, and set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. I used Swans Down cake flour, which has been America's favorite cake flour since 1894, and is 27 times finer than all-purpose flour (how do they even get that specific?). You can use regular flour, too. Don't worry.

In large bowl cream butter. Gradually pour in sugar. Mix until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time. Add vanilla and continue to beat. Add the flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk. Fold in egg whites gently and thoroughly. You don't use high speed mixers to "fold gently." You want to keep the fluffiness in the cake. I used a rubber spatula.

Pour batter into baking pans. Spread with spatula, Bake 35-40 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Another trick I learned from Daddy is to tap the top of the cake lightly. If it's springy, it's good. If you leave finger prints, it's not done. Cool in pan for 5 min before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. (If you're using a 9"x13", bake 45-50 min.) If your cake turned out crumbly, it may have been underbeaten, or the eggs you used may have been too small. Don't use tiny eggs. If it's dry, you may have baked it too long. Or left it on the counter in the open for way too long before frosting it.

Decorating and Consuming Ideas: Now, the best way to eat yellow cake is with a good chocolate frosting, made with cream cheese and butter, not with shortening. It tastes better that way. I would say to lovingly slather your cakes in said good frosting, and stack the cakes. Maybe some flowers would be cute, since it's getting to be spring. I like to use colored tootsie rolls instead of fondant, since I think it is so tasty. Make daisies for your Better Than Basic Yellow cake. That's what I did for my birthday cake one year, with leaves and stems. It was very cute. Too make everything perfect, serve with vanilla ice cream. 

NOW, since you've been prepared to make food for the digestive system, read on to find some food for the thoughtful system. And the part of you that wants entertainment. Have you ever been on Facebook, but there's nothing to look at on there, and you don't know what other site to go to for distraction? Try Tanney's blog. She's way more entertaining than staring at the blinking cursor in the URL bar, trying to figure out what to type and where to go. She's also one of my dearest friends. You may remember her from this post here about why she's my best friend, or this one about how we're twin sisters. I also did a guest post on her blog about the Arabian way to stop a smoke alarmYou should meet her.

My name is Tayler Morrell. Tashya knows me as Tanney Christiansen. (Nickname, Maiden Name). I am married about 8 months to my best friend, Justin.

I love to read fantasy and historical fiction, as well as just plain fiction (I am currently reading The Secret History of the World by Mark Booth. It is taking all esoteric and religious traditions and trying to make one solid history/truth out of it). I love writing--blog writing, journal writing, poetry (which honestly, I haven't done in a long time), and fantasy writing. One day, I hope to be published and be famous!

I love playing volleyball and soccer and would rather get down and dirty in the snow and mud with the boys, then sit on the sidelines cheering or even watching college/professional sports. I also love to cook!

I am a history teacher, hoping to teach English next year. I am currently doing a student teaching internship at Springville Junior High. I am trying to make sense of all my feelings and of my students here.

I want to travel. I have learned Welsh (Dw i'n siarad yn Nghymraeg.) and have studied abroad in Great Britain. That was almost 3 years ago, and I miss it so much, sometimes it hurts.

I mentioned before that Tashya knew me as Tanney. Looking at my name, Tayler, one wonders, how in the world did she get that name. Well, long story short, I wanted a nickname and Tayler doesn't really have nicknames besides Tay-Tay. Tanney is an amalgamation of my first name (Tayler) and my middle name (Bethany). Not a perfect one, but workable. You can read more about it here. I now go by Tayler, but a few close friends still call me Tanney, and I'm still juggling whether or not I want it to be my pen name when and if I become a published author.

However, I have always been entranced by names. In elementary and middle school, even reaching up to midway through high school, I would spend hours looking through baby name books and exploring websites of the same. My favorite was actually So helpful! I loved learning what each name meant (Tayler=Old English for a tailor). Natashya= Greek for born at Christmas (or Christ's birth). I've always believed that names describe who you are--they hold the key to your personality. The rest of who you are is based on your name. (Unless you are a silly, weird named Utahn)

Names truly hold a certain power. Catholics are given a new name during their confirmation. Other religions do the same in special "coming-of-age" ceremonies and rituals. Why do we do this? Because of the power behind a name. I am fascinated, truly fascinated at the importance that names, and naming things, has in a culture. That is why I feel so empowered now, because I am actually using my name, rather than Tanney. Don't get me wrong, I still love Tanney--it holds sentimental value to me, but Tayler is my name, and thus the source of my power, my personality, my essence.

I would love for you to explore yourself as you explore my world. What similarities do we hold, what advice can we give each other? I am very good at following those who follow me, so if you want an extra reader, come and read Our Fairy Tale.

Our Fairy Tale

Monday, March 25, 2013

How We Survived Illness, Cast Iron Ducks, and No Cuddling

 It was a close call, but we made it through the weekend. Actually, the whole week was a hairy one- and not just because I didn't feel like shaving. Andrew didn't shave either. In fact, the world is lucky we continued to shower and brush our teeth. Allow me to describe last week.

Last weekend (as in a week prior to this past Friday) Andrew and I did an overnight babysitting job for our friends Anne and Jeff. We like Anne and Jeff. Not only do they go to church with us, Jeff works for the same company as Andrew. Huzzah for engineering people. They are also a large part of the reason that we moved to Cedar Park. That whole week at work had been a stressful one for Andrew, with some extra responsibilities and whatnot thrown on top of his already sizable task list. And then I signed him up for a possibly disgustingly difficult dose of no sleep. Fortunately, the children are rather cute, and very fun. I watched Power Rangers with girls after painting nails with them. Nail polish is a specialty of mine.
This photo was taken by Leliani Rogers.
Her website is here.

We spent the evening running around with Jocelyn, Charlotte, and Vinnie. It was actually pretty darn fun. We ventured outside and proceeded to chase down kids on bikes, help kids balance on bikes, and racing each other around the cul de sac riding scooters and/or pushing Vinnie on his cool little bike stroller contraption. The neighbor kids came out to play too. Yes, it was a jolly good time with the kiddos until it was bedtime.

And do you know what happened at bedtime?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing dramatic happened. The kids went through their routines, got into bed, and fell asleep. WOW! This babysitting job was easier than I had expected! Andrew and I finished up an installment in The Story so that we could post it on here. We laughed as we were remembering aspects of our first few times meeting together. (For those of you uninformed folk, The Story is an adaptation of how Andrew and I met and subsequently stopped thinking not-highly of each other.) It was fun being the grownups and playing while the kids were asleep! Until it was our beditme, that is.

And do you know what happened at this bedtime? Our bedtime?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing dramatic happened. We went through our routines, got into bed... and did not fall asleep. No sleep happened.. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No zzzzz's coming from my pillow. I should clarify that Andrew managed to get to sleep just fine. He just couldn't stay asleep because I kept flopping all over the place like a disgruntled panda bear searching for more bamboo.

So basically, instead of the baby keeping him up all night, it was my fault. And he had already been extremely fatigued. By the time that we got home Saturday afternoon, Andrew wasn't feeling 100% healthful. Or joyful, for that matter. We watched a movie and went to bed early.

Sunday morning dawned brightly and beautifully, but dear Andrew did not. His lymph nodes were swollen. I gave him some cold flu medicine, a banana to eat if he could manage it, and then went to church without him. I came home early, however, when I got a text informing me that progress had been made by Andrew: "Hour two: Found banana. They still do not suspect I am a monkey." I decided that texts like that could only mean that he'd taken a serious turn for the worse.

Monday was even worse. He could hardly swallow because of the pain (see above diagram). He stayed home from work and slept on the couch. I worked around him, tidying up, writing, project stuff, and tried my best not to wake him. Usually I'm alone all day, and that has allowed certain characteristics of my writing habits to really develop. Unfortunately these habits aren't conducive to allowing people to sleep on the couch next to me. I tend to say things out loud, gesticulate, and even get up and play out entire scenes that I see in my head as I'm writing. Even while attempting to do my utmost to not disturb the sickly slumberer, I still found the odd exclamation or arm flail sneaking past my defenses and out into the open.

Tuesday is my baking day. I made a yellow cake (from scratch, of course- look for the recipe tomorrow, if you want it). We received a cake dome for our wedding, and I've been wanting to use it ever since. I just purchased my first round pans a week ago, and I was so excited to use them. While I was bustling in the kitchen, Andrew was on the couch again. Feeling even worse than Monday. That worried me. We called the doctor and made an appointment for that night.

Strep throat. It was strep throat. Poor Andrew. The doctor gave him drugs, told him to get some sleep, and to make sure that he didn't cough or sneeze on me as strep throat is contagious. Why would he cough or sneeze on me anyway? Why wait until you're afraid of spreading contagion to stop couching and sneezing on people?

Andrew was concerned that he not give me this awful and horrid disease, and figured that it might be better if we didn't get too close that night. So what did I do? I grabbed my fluffiest blankets, my teddy bear Randre (because Francis is hiding, and I can't find him anywhere- if he doesn't show up soon, I'm going to have to mark him as AWOL), put on my pink plaid pajama pants, and made a cozy bed on the couch. I set my glasses down  where I'd be able to grab them easily. I cozied into the blankets, relishing the cool air coming in through the open windows that allowed me to use my warm blankets without dying of overheating.

Now, I don't know if anyone else has ever had this problem, but somehow during the night, my pants fell off. I slightly woke up at one point, acknowledged that my pants were no longer on my legs, but entangled amidst the blankets, felt alright about that fact, and went back to sleep. A while later, I heard some clanging. It sounded like someone was going down the stairwell. I pulled a blanket over my head, cursing the lunatics going down stairs in the middle of the night. Then the clanging grew louder and more forcefully frequent.

Holy Batmobiles and Robin's eggs, there was a whole herd of cast iron ducks falling down those stairs! The noise was so hard and fast that it startled me awake and out of my senses. Do you know how disconcerting it is to jerk into wakefulness not being able to see, and not wearing pants? All I knew was that everything was fuzzy, there was a herd of something angry coming down the stairs, and the windows were open. I jumped up, grabbed my glasses and pants while levitating, and charged into the bedroom.

Andrew had woken up as well. When I'd put on my glasses, I joined him at the window to find that it wasn't cast iron ducks, but huge hail stones. While I closed the windows, Andrew checked online, and found a Severe Weather Warning for a hailstorm coming through the area, with the directive to take protective action for life and property. It was in effect until 2:45 am. The time was 2:39. It was over by 2:45. How very prompt. The excitement over, I made sure that my pants were firmly tied on, and went back to bed.

And so it continued through Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The sickness, not the pantless, sightless discombobulation problem. Andrew stayed home sick every day last week. I started to feel less than great around Wednesday (NOT with strep, thank goodness) and by Thursday morning we were both languishing together. On separate couches because he didn't want to contaminate me. No snuggles when I'm feeling poorly? Fine. That's it. Instead of snuggling, we decided to beat the snot out of each other on Super Smash Brothers on our Nintendo 64. Yup. I'm a queen when it comes to dropping a rock on people's heads when I'm Kirby, but when I'm Link I just blow myself up a lot because I forget to throw the bombs AWAY from me.

Friday involved more Smash Brothers. Since I'd forgiven him for not cuddling me when he was trying to be gentlemanly and considerate of my health, we played team games and beat the snot out of computer players instead of each other. Mario Kart was played, and I dislike Bowser with a passion that I cannot even describe. Andrew enjoyed the game called Portal as well. Those of you who play games may have heard of it. It's a game that involves thinking. I don't get it. I like Kirby. And Zelda, I really like Zelda. We also read books and did other things. We weren't JUST playing video games all week. Mostly. Maybe.

By Saturday, Andrew was mostly better, and I was mostly worse (still not with strep, thank cheese and crackers). I don't remember what we did that day, actually. I wrote a guest post for my friend's blog (which is pretty good, if I do say so myself!) about the time that I'd danced around my apartment trying to make Mexican Rice.

Sunday, we were both tired, but slightly better. We managed to go to church, talk to people without too much by the way of faux pas, and get home and make dinner. I Skyped with my sister Megan who's in Idaho, and then with the rest of my loud, confusing, attention-loving, and wonderful family after that. I love Skyping with them. And after that we Skyped with Andrew's family. That was also enjoyable. Andrew's sister Jenna wants banana bread. Too bad she can't get over here from California so that she can help me eat the three loaves I've got sitting on my table right now.

And now it's Monday again. I haven't posted on here in a few days, mostly because I've been afraid for life and limb. And a lack of thought. But that's alright. I made a cute About Us page that makes me happy! I even put real human pictures on it! So there, I did do something bloggish this weekend.

Hopefully this week turns out to be more healthful, more hale and hearty, more productive than last week. If nothing else, I should at least learn to stop killing myself on Super Smash Brothers.

NOTE: Nothing looks the same on my draft page as it does when I publish the post. Just know that if colored words are italicized, then it's a live link. An Example: This link will take you to Michele's blog, and she has a cute baby.

Anyone seeing a small rose pink computer mouse should come forward with information regarding its whereabouts. It's tiny, adorable, and my favorite shade of pink. Due to its frequent exposure to myself, it has probably developed a love for bread, cheese, warm things, fuzzy things, and /or goodies. It has a little thin thing I plug into my computer, and then use it to draw pictures for pictorials. It is devilish hard to draw on Microsoft paint without a mouse. That's why this post looks like this. For the love of Pictorials, help me find my darling mouse!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Basses, Mafia, and Gray Eyes

Previous installment: Plotting a Quest
First installment: Man Voice and the Water Heater

A few weeks passed, and life continued. Having been very unhappy in her relationship for some time, Lia was a mixture of relieved and emotionally worn out when she and Jared mutually broke it off. Still, life continued, and Lia had homework to do. 

Her roommates were very sweet, and did plenty of things to try and cheer her up. Janet went out and got her a giant helping of frozen yogurt heaped with fruits and gummies and nuts, a favorite treat of Lia’s. Rachel tried to help introduce her to some other people in the apartment complex, since Lia was practically a stranger to most. But frozen yogurt gets consumed, and meeting people requires time that was needed for reading ridiculously oversized assignments from tyrannical teachers. Mostly, Lia just wanted to go home for Thanksgiving break.

Lia’s friend Amber came over to talk to her to keep her company. Amber wanted to chat with Lia to prevent loneliness to the now single girl. Lia appreciated the sentiment. She liked Amber. She should spend that time on her homework, but it’s good to take breaks. Unfortunately, Amber had a new crush, and apparently, he was wonderful. Lia figured that  Amber was a cute brunette, complete with freckles across her nose, so soon this dream boy would ask her out, and then she and Amber could talk about something else.

Ally was the one to find a way to break Lia’s All I Have to Do Is Homework and I Might Self Destruct Soon mode. Ally was part of the activities committee for the apartment complex. She was in charge of putting together the Christmas Party.

“Hey, Lia, can I talk to you for a minute?” asked Ally. She noticed the huge stacks of books that surrounded Lia, nearly all of them open. “Or maybe I can ask you later.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” Lia said, snapping books closed with a look of desperation. “Now is perfectly fine. I’d love to talk now!”

“Are you sure?” Ally asked slowly.

Lia laughed. “I know that I look slightly like a deranged clown with my smudged makeup,” she said looking down, “and this horridly put together pink and fuschia pajama set, but I assure you that I would love to take a break from reading Chaucer and talk to you.”

“Great. So, I was wondering if you would- wait, you like singing, right?”

“Does too much fresh pineapple leave acid burns on your tongue?”

“I’ll take that as a yes, since I’m pretty aware that you have a nice voice,” said Ally.

Lia figured that her response had made more sense that Ally was letting on, since fresh pineapple really was very acidic.  But perhaps only in the quantity in which Lia consumed it, when she got the chance. “Yes, that’s a yes.”  

“I was wondering if you would put together a small group to sing a song at the Christmas party we’re putting together.”



Lia jumped up. “I would love to! Thank you!”

“No, thank you. Do you have any music?”

“Actually, yes, yes I do! And I have a song that would be great for an octet,” Lia said with a large smile on her face. It really was a lovely song. She had sung the solo in it a year or two previously in one of her choirs.

“Perfect! I’ll let you pick the people, then,” Ally said. She was smiling too.

Ally left, and Lia went back to reading, though in a much happier, and much less focused, manner. She mentally scanned through names of girls that she knew could sing. She would ask Janet to be her fellow soprano. Lindsey would make a great alto. Here her thoughts paused. Lia would need to ask Janet if she could think of another alto.

“Oh, curried french fries!” Lia said exasperatedly to herself. “I don’t know any guys!”


Lia was very aware that the time to ask people to join her octet was getting very slim, and she still didn’t have any men in her group. Sunday evening came, and so did Lia’s resolve. It was time to find some men. The search was on.

She checked her appearance in the mirror before leaving- neat hair, magenta nails, pink dress- and left her apartment satisfied with her appearance. Lia felt that she had an air of sophistication that would help people to take her approach and request seriously. About halfway down the walkway to the Man Section of the building, Lia became a little nervous, but as it was still Sunday evening, she was still resolved.

The first door appeared before her. With a deep breath to steel herself, Lia brought her prepared speech to her mind and rapped her knuckles on the door. And waited. Lia looked at her knuckles. Apparently her knuckles weren’t as enrapturing as she may have hoped. They couldn’t rap on the door and garner any attention from the tenants within. No attention at all, let alone rapt attention. Maybe she would have to do some door rapping practices to strengthen her-

The door opened while Lia was still staring at her knuckles. Lia looked up from her knuckles to see a boy looking from her hand to her face and back again. So her knuckles were enrapturing. She felt a satisfied smile quirk her lips upwards before she realized that the dark haired boy was still standing at the door looking at her and her knuckles. Waiting for her speech that he didn’t know was coming. And which she attempted to deliver with the aplomb that had graced her mirror audience.  

“Erm. Hello, you don’t know me, and I don’t know you either, but I was wondering if you or anyone that you knew enjoyed singing. And if you would be willing to sing in an octet. For the Christmas party.” Lia realized that she sounded like a car with a bad transmission with her shortening sentences, and mentally slapped her enrapturing knuckles.

“Um, I don’t sing so great,” the guy said, and then stopped to think. “But you might ask Brandon in apartment 9. And Garrett in 12. I think they’re music people.”

“Oh, thank you!” Lia said, clasping her hands together in front of her. “Have a lovely evening!”

“You too,” he responded.

Lia was turning to walk off when she heard him add, “Oh, and I like your slippers,” before he flashed her a smile and shut the door. She looked down. Indeed, Lia was wearing her pink plaid slippers, complete with the pink bows on top. So much for sophistication.

Upon her arrival at apartment 9, Lia resolved to not think of her knuckles or slippers, but to stay focused on the task at hand. She knocked.

The door was answered by a very dark haired, dark eyed, and impressively mustachioed man. In his white button up shirt he looked like an Italian chef. Maybe with a dark suit he could be a mafia man.

“Hi,” Lia started immediately, “you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, and frankly, I’m wondering why I thought knocking on random doors was a good plan, but I was also wondering if Brandon lives here.”

The man wasn’t even fazed. “Yeah, I’m Brandon. Come on in!” he said in a deep, booming voice, and a  with a grandiose fling up his arm both opened the door and welcomed her in.

Lia stepped inside and Brandon shut the door.

“What can I do you for?” Brandon said with a curious eyebrow.

“I’m looking for some basses and tenors,” Lia replied out loud while she was alternating between chef and mafia man in her head.

“Well, I’m a bass,” Brandon said.

“Would you be willing to sing in an octet for the Christmas party?” Chef or mafia? Chef or mafia?
“Ah, man, no can do. I’m working that night.”

“Oh. Well, that’s too bad.” Working instead of Christmas party? Definitely mafia. “Do you know any singers that will be going to the party?” Singers that actually enjoy Christmas instead of terrorizing people.

“Yeah, Joey, my roommate, should be going,” said Brandon. “At least, I think he is.”

“May I speak with him?” Lia asked.

“He’s not here right now, but he should be back in a bit,” Brandon replied. There was a pause as Brandon gave Lia a look. “You’re not happy, are you.”

Lia was taken aback at this statement. “I’m not? Well, if clothing were considered an expression of identity and emotion, I’d say that I’m tickled pink and that you’re an Italian chef.”

Brandon burst forth into laughter. It was a round, full laugh. A belly laugh. A jolly laugh. Mafia? This man could play Santa’s laugh in an animated Christmas special! Lia was sure that it could be heard throughout the entire Man Section.

“I’ve been making pizzas for five years! You know Heaps down the street?”

Her mouth began to water at the thought of those wonderful pizzas. It was one of her favorite eateries. “Really?”

“Yes, ma’am!”

“Oh, I’m so glad that you’re not actually in the mafia. Now we can be friends.”

“Mafia? What?”

Brandon and Lia sat down and talked for the next hour. If she were asked to repeat any of the topics of conversation, she would have failed. She would be able to tell the inquirer that Brandon was hilarious, sweet, jolly, and very loud. And quite possibly her new best friend.

Lia looked at her watch and saw that it was getting late. “Brandon, it’s been fun meeting you. Thank you for not chucking me out.” They stood and walked towards the door. “Would you mind asking Joey about the Christmas party for me? I’ll stop by again later to speak with him.”

As she was reaching for the doorknob, the door opened itself. Brandon bellowed, “Speaking of the devil, here he is now! Joey!”

Joey took Brandon in stride, and loudly replied, “Brandon!”

“She’s got a question for ya!” Brandon said while pushing Lia forward.

Joey was tall, but not enough to make Lia feel like a hobbit. She was able to speak with him without hurting her neck. He had brown hair that looked like it would curl if it were allowed to grow. And he had very big eyes. Not bulging big, but assertive big. Nice big. And he was looking at her because she wasn’t speaking yet. Scorched cheese!

“Are you going to the Christmas party?” Lia asked and Joey moved further into the room, and further out of the shadows by the door.

“Yeah, I’m planning on it,” Joey replied with a slight halt in his sentence. He slipped off his jacket and looked at her.

Brown eyes. Too bad. And his eyes had such potential. Why did they have to be brown?, she asked in her mind while her mouth said, “Is there a chance you might not be able to go?”

“I’m hoping to be able to go. It depends on the homework load. May I ask why?”

“I am putting together an octet to sing at the party, and I’m in search for basses and tenors,” answered Lia, wondering if she could find a man with eyes like his, only gray.

“And guess who’s a bass?” asked Brandon pointedly.

Joey shrugged. “I’m not a true bass, I’m more of a baritone. Do you have a copy of the music that I could look over?”

“Not right now, but I have a link to an audio clip of the song if you’d like to listen to it.”

“That will work,” Joey said.

Lia looked at her watch again. “Can we do this another time, though? I have an early class tomorrow.”

Joey smiled understandingly. “So do I.”

“Great. That means you can come back tomorrow!” Brandon bellowed jovially.

“So it does,” Lia agreed. Only it is too bad that his eyes aren’t gray.

Next Installment: An Unsuccessful Escape

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RAMSAR and the Robot Uprising

Question: When you folks comment on my blog, does it ask you to enter in a security code to prove that you're not a robot? Really. I want to know. I'll end that tyranny.

I was reading a friend's blog post about the insensitivity of technology in the modern day, and I was totally in agreement with her. I also think that she did not go quite far enough with her admonition towards this great brute. Not only is technology insensitive, it also has a VERY SHORT MEMORY! Seriously. Short. Shorter than I am. And it doesn't like me, which shows an obvious breech in good character judgement. If you want proof of the enmity between myself and technology, feel free to ask just about anyone who has seen me with anything more sophisticated than Microsoft Paint.

Hear this, good friends! Hear this outrage that was performed against me!

After I read the blog post mentioned and linked to above, I desired to leave a comment for Christine. I scrolled down and put my cursor into the comment box. I typed some words, and strung those words together to make sentences. I read over my comment, decided to clarify my identity so that I wouldn't sound like a random creeper, and concluded that my comment was good. I pushed "COMMENT." Do you know what happened?

I do admit that I feel sad that there is such severe inter-species discrimination- and by other technology, too! Jerks. I mean WALL-E is adorable! How could you ever reject him? However, accepting the need to prove myself to be a distinct and separate entity wholly unconnected to an artificial intelligence, I complied with the request.

I went to another friend's blog, and read her beautiful story of finding Christ and true joy. I wanted to thank her for sharing her journey, her faith, and her testimony so sincerely. I typed up a comment, and pushed "COMMENT." And what happens?

I acquiesced to this request yet again, feeling the sting of cruel insults. Robot indeed! After I had proved once more that I was in fact a living creature, I realized that I had forgotten to add part of my thought to the comment that had just posted. And there is no "Edit" button to push. Argh. So I pushed "Reply" to my own comment to add the rest of my thought. I pushed the "Make These Words Appear" button. And guess what happens.

Argh and ighs! By this time I was just downright peeved. PEEVED! I am not a robot! I'm a girl! A living girl! A living, breathing, technologically handicapped GIRL! I angrily attempted to prove ONCE MORE that I was not a robot, but I failed the first time because I couldn't read the convoluted letters and numbers.

Another word and number combination popped up. RAMSAR 2000! I could read that! Wait. RAMSAR 2000?! That's a ROBOT name! This was all because of a robot hating robot! And I was an innocent victim in the crossfire! I just about lost it. I grabbed my nearest notebook (I believe it was the blue one), and angrily scrawled out:


And then proceeded to bash my notebook against the front of my computer so that he could see. Then I realized that my laptop doesn't have a webcam built in, so RAMSAR wouldn't be able to see my response. I grabbed Andrew's computer and proceeded to bash my statement of identity with full fury onto his webcam while bellowing loudly the same words:

That's when Andrew started laughing. Maybe it was the fact that I was yelling at an inanimate object? No, that's far too common around our place. Maybe it was that I was afraid of the robot uprising which would undoubtedly be led by RAMSAR 2000, and while engineer Andrew has no fear of technology? Nope. That idea didn't even occur to him, strangely enough. Why was he laughing?

Because I had written down my words on a piece of paper to show the computer.

Note from Andrew:  When she wanted to shout at the computer, she yelled at it, waved her hand, and then when she wanted to do something REALLY decisive, she instinctively grabbed her pen and notebook that were by her side and wrote in HUGE letters some insult to RAMSAR... as if it were a deaf person or something....  I sometimes wonder about her.

Apparently that is not how one is supposed to communicate with technology. Do you know what I say to that? I say that I prefer old fashioned good manners to this newfangled modern hoopla. I say that technology should know its place and not try to give me an identity crisis. I say that RAMSAR 2000 needs to learn his place and stop trying to take over the world.

I could tell that RAMSAR 2000 was a robot. I knew that he had an evil plot. He wasn't discriminating against other robots after all! He was really discerning between his followers and minions, and we unsuspecting humans to see if he he could transmit the Super Secret Plan For Total World (Including All Inhabitants) Domination!

Andrew's response while laughing really sums up the whole situation, though, and it's a quote that I'd read to him from Christine's blog:

Technology really is insensitive.