1. My brother NungNung called today, just to chat.

2. Zeeb has the most musical, delightful laugh in the universe. I can’t help myself from tickling him every singe day, because he’s so ticklish, and he’s guaranteed to rip out continuous, glittering, precious jewels of giggles. If I could bottle the sound, I could bring the world universal peace.

3. A funny doll I acquired while in Mexico in 1980. It’s a girl in traditional dress. My kids have discovered the doll, and love her, so I use it as an opportunity to teach them some Spanish, using funny voices and requiring responses.

4. Rugs. I’m so glad I bought a bunch of area rugs at Target when we moved into this apartment. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain why.

5. Sheila. She drove 6 hours to visit me this weekend, and we went to the farmer’s market, the Wool Gathering, and house hunting, while she prepared her syllabus for her American Lit class that started yesterday.

6. Farmer’s markets. The one we went to on Saturday was in Yellow Springs. I bought garlic, green beans, eggplant, tomatoes, watermelon, apples, parsley, basil, potatoes, chinese lantern peppers, and a purple cabbage. I don’t think I spent $20.

7. The Simpsons. Yes, I know I’m a bad parent, because what morally responsible parent plunks her kids in front of the TV and turns on the Simpsons? But honestly, I think it makes them smarter. That’s why I do it. That’s the real reason. I swear.

8. Sunglasses. I can’t believe how painful it is to walk outside into a bright, sunny day. I must be getting old.

9. Jem. I admit my preferences in popular music are quirky at best, infantile at worst, but I really like this album right now. My kids love to dance to it.

10. Maytag Blue. Cheese. So fantastically good with the farmer’s market green beans, some pecans sautéed in butter, and the cheese cut into small chunks and added while everything was still warm. Oh my heck.

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We took the upstairs apartment that was cheap, which means storage for Henrietta. Ah, well. The house thing seemed so great, but the owners were totally not ready for renters. That’s a long and boring story. So in the end, Derek and I were so stressed and scared that we decided to take the place he had put a deposit on, just so we would have a place. And so we would not loose the $400. It’s not so bad, except for the smokers downstairs, which, nothing against them personally, but I just have a constant headache whenever I’m at home. And we have ants. And no microwave. But for $700 a month, what can you do?

We can’t hear anything from the outside or downstairs. The air-conditioning works great, I never have a cold draft, nor is it ever too hot. Washer and Dryer! Dishwasher! Those are luxuries that I think I will get addicted to.

And we’ve only had one thing stolen, because Calvin left it out overnight. And I think I’ve lost a couple of pounds from hauling stuff up the stairs. And the local elemantary school is the coolest place I’ve ever been. It’s actually a Primary Village, where there are only Kindergarten and First Grades. They have a cooking classroom.

I’m disjointed because we still have no internet, and I’m at the public library, with a time limit, but at least we have a place to live. Yay! One of these days, I’ll go for a run.

I got tagged again. First, let me tell you that although I can’t imagine people being interested in finding out these things about me, all the people I’m tagging are people I want to know weird stuff about. Three are relatives and two are not. Not that it makes a difference. If I could pick some relatives, I would pick C jane and Elizasmom.

INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.

1) Shelli’s Sentiments
2) CuriosityKiller
3) Doggy Mama
4) Eve
5) Sarah

Next select five people to tag: (if you haven’t done it already)
3)C jane
4)Cousin Mike (again. C’mon Mike, get on it.)

What were you doing 10 years ago? Let’s see. I was just about to turn 22… ah yes, that’s right. I was still recovering from jet-lag during my first week in the Philippines, on a mission for my church. I was pretending to speak Tagalog, marvelling at how humidity really, really changes the way you perceive heat, and trying to tame my hair, and calm my poor, abused skin. I had shoulder length, straight hair when I left Utah, but over the first few weeks in Echague, my hair started to frizz in a most alarming way. After about 3 months, I cut it to chin length and started using some gel, and suddenly I had movie-star perfect curly hair. When I came back to Utah, it frizzed again, then went flat like before. Now you know why I cut it all off.

My skin also took on this lovely swollen, blotchy look. And I got devoured by the mosquitoes from the knees down. My calves were covered with scabs for about a month. When I left my first area, one of the people I had met there told me, “You were very ugly when you came here, but now you are pretty!”

And the people in that area, whom I had know for 2 weeks, gave me a birthday party, complete with a birthday banner and fish wrapped in banana leaves and grilled in the fire.

What were you doing 1 year ago? Puking. I was 3 months pregnant, and my pregnancies are not pleasant. They only get worse for the whole 9 months. I was also trying to plant the garden, so I went out for about 2 hours every day to plant and weed. I planted 28 tomato plants, which, by the end of the summer, were totally overgrown with weeds, since I could no longer bend over to pull them.

Five snacks you enjoy:

  • Spiced nuts. I don’t keep these handy, because I eat them all.
  • Home-made whole wheat bread with butter and honey. This I love.
  • Chips and fresh salsa. A staple in my family since forever.
  • Popcorn. Especially Bon’s popcorn.
  • Candy. Any kind except hard candy. My favorites are jelly beans, swedish fish, M&Ms, black licorice, marshmallow peeps, orange marshmallow peanuts, caramels, tootsie rolls, laffy taffy, hot tamales, mike & ikes, bit-o-honey, there’s not much I don’t like. Again, I don’t keep these things in the house. I don’t have the OFF button that tells me to stop eating candy. I just eat it until it’s gone. (I blame my dad, the only person I know who can subsist on a diet of chips and salsa, wheat thins, Fresca, and candy, and still maintain his 140 pounds.) (He runs a lot.) (More than anyone else you know.)

Five songs that you know all the lyrics:

Uh oh, here my nerdiness shines through. I know all the lyrics to La Cucaracha, the Spongebob Squarepants song (this is recent), I’m gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas (or, as my Dad once sang it, “I’m gettin’ Mutton for Christmas, cause I ain’t been nuttin’ but BA-AA-AAAAD”), There are no mirrors in my Nana’s house, lots of folk songs and rounds, and The Glory of Love (Peter Cetera). Gosh, it was hard to narrow it down to five.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

  • Give lots of money to Oxfam
  • Start a bee farm.
  • Take Derek to Europe
  • Fund a renewable energy project
  • Eat lots of chocolate

Five bad habits:

  • Eating lots of chocolate
  • Not cleaning the house
  • Watching trash TV rented from Blockbuster for hours at a time
  • Piling all my earthly possessions on the piano instead of putting them away
  • Checking my email/blog comments at least twice an hour

Five things you like doing:

  • Running
  • Reading
  • Cooking
  • Knitting/crocheting
  • Talking

Five things you would never wear again:

  • Leg warmers
  • High heels
  • A nursing bra (OK, looking into the near future, here)
  • That pair of Wranglers from my Freshman year in college
  • A sweater-vest

Five favorite toys:

  • Derek
  • Calvin
  • Zeeb
  • Kiki
  • Sorry, I only have 4

I got my own, personal interview from one of my new favorite bloggers, Azúcar. I found her doing a random google search, and it turns out she lives just a few blocks away from me, and we share some common interests. Yay! So she read up on my quirkiness, and sent me these questions. If you would like an interview from me, I would love to do it. Just ask me in the comments.

1. How did you start running or figure out that you love to run?

I come from a family of runners. My Grandpa was a Utah record holder for the mile, about 70 years ago. While I was growing up, my parents started running, and gradually joined the group of semi-psychotic masochists called “ultra-runners.” These are people for whom a marathon is just not enough. Both my parents have run the Wasatch 100 mile Endurance run, which, for the record, is one of the more strenuous of the 100-milers. I grew up with an expectation that I would run it someday too.

I ran on the track and cross-country teams in high school. I once got a school record for the 800 meter, which was snatched away the very next week. I was also on a team that got a record for the medley relay, where I ran the anchor leg, also 800 meters. I ran on and off through college, never going more than 6 miles. After Calvin was born, running was so painful that I thought I would never be able to do it again. Then, after Zeeb was born, I gained about 20 pounds in a very short time, and I decided I needed to try again.

I started with 2 minutes at a time and got up to 45 minutes in about 3 or 4 months. My cousin asked me to team with her for the Blue Mountain to Canyonlands Triathlon, so I had incentive to get up to 6 miles again. After that, I would hear about a race and just enter it. So that summer, I ended up running 2 half marathons, the Provo River and the Hobble Creek. I don’t recommend doing those both in the same year, since they’re 2 weeks apart. But I loved them both. I loved finding out I could run 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 47 minutes. Even if it was all downhill.

2. Where did you go to high school and what did your prom dress look like?

I went to high school in Salt Lake City, Utah, at West High. I graduated in 1993 with no special honors, because I was too lazy to do homework. I almost didn’t graduate because of my F in AP English, but my teacher let me make up the work 2 days before graduation.

My prom dress? Well, my mom made it. I’m gonna see if I can figure out how to scan a photo, and I’ll post it when I get it done. It was a long flowy cream colored skirt with a shiny cream brocade jacket that I loved. Looking back, I kinda wish the shoulder pad thing had never come into fashion. The surprise is that I actually did go to prom. We didn’t have a senior prom, just a junior prom. But it was still the thing. I had a date because a friend of mine felt bad that I had to go to homecoming with someone I didn’t want to go with (I was in the royalty, so I had to go), and this friend promised me he would take me to prom whether or not he had a girlfriend by then (7 months later), which he did. He was even kind enough to double with the guy that I really had a crush on. Well, he later married that girlfriend, and the other guy married his prom date. I’m not sad.

3. What was your major in college, did you ever change it, and did you graduate?

When I started college, I thought I would major in English. As it turns out, I never took a single English class, even for GE. For a while, I was a music major, then I changed to microbiology, then I went back to music. I thought about Linguistics for a while, but I decided I should just graduate. Which took me 8 years. I have an obsession with languages, and since BYU offers millions, I had a good time taking at least one language class per semester, for a total of about 40 hours of languages (that I didn’t need, since I majored in music). I took Italian, Spanish, German, French, and Russian.

I majored in organ performance, but discovered I really didn’t like giving recitals when I nearly died of nervousness during a recital at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, in Salt Lake. I still play once every two months in church. And yes, I have played the organ in the Tabernacle. And no, I have never wanted to play at a baseball game.

I was also accepted as a trombone performance major, which I thought was funny, since I hadn’t applied. I think they just really wanted a few more females in the major. They offered me a scholarship. Also funny since I only learned how to play the trombone because I had some friends who played, and I thought it would be funny. Yes it was. I played in the Cougar Marching Band for two years.

4. We already know you love The Hero & the Crown, name three other fiction books that you would force us to read.

This is like asking me to name my favorite child. I have now spent several days trying to think of my three favorite books. Well, here’s a try:

Seventh Son, by Orson Scott Card. I think the storytelling in this one is beautiful, and the story is interesting. It’s definitely from the fantasy phase, but definitely not the unicorns and fairies part of that phase. I left that behind when I was 12, right before I went into the sci-fi phase. Also from the fantasy side (OK, OK, I didn’t really leave it behind) is Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale. It falls in there with Hero, as a book about an empowered young female, and is lovely.

I really liked Smilla’s Sense of Snow, by Peter Hoeg. It’s a mystery, and the writing is brilliant, especially in the first half. The ending sucks rocks, though. But I love mysteries, probably more than any other genre. Agatha Christie saved me in Vienna when I was locked in the apartment all day and didn’t feel like learning Chinese. That’s another story for another day.

I also read a lot of the Newberry winners and honor books. One of my favorites was The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I like dystopia novels, they help me with my parenting skills. Another dystopia one I liked was Feed, by M. T. Anderson.

5. If you could move anywhere, where would you live and why?

To a farm where I could pretend to be useful, but really watch the paid farmhands do all the work. It would be a farm with big mountains nearby and a mild climate. I would have chickens for eggs, a few sheep for wool, bees, a milk cow, a gigantic herb garden that I would harvest and sell at the local farmer’s market, a gigantic flower garden, ditto, and lots and lots of vegetables. And a horse for my daughter. And I would like it a lot if it were in the south of France.

6. Bonus question: What is your favorite Austrian treat or food (and if you say hazelnut Manner Schnitten, I’ll know we’re separated at birth.)

Hazelnuts and chocolate are a combination worthy of the Nobel Prize. But honestly, if it has sugar in it? I love it.  I went to the Hotel Sacher once and had Sachertorte and Hot Chocolate mit Schlag after the Opera. I love a good Apfel Strudel. And at the Markt in Salzburg, I got the best Lebkuchen ever. I liked the Mozart Kugeln, but for some reason I liked the fake ones better than the real ones. I’m a marzipan snob, and my mom makes the best marzipan ever. Spell-check does not like this paragraph.

Now you know everything that is important about me. I run, read, play the organ, speak several languages, like to garden, like sweet stuff, and above all else, I’m really lazy and don’t do any of that stuff.

Derek’s mom and I just formed a team to run/walk the Komen Race for the Cure in Salt Lake City, on May 12th. We would love it if you joined us! So far, we have me and Derek, Derek’s mom Toni, his sister Britanna, his younger brother and sister who are too young for me to reveal their names on the internets, and his sister-in-law Linda.

Some of us will run, some will walk. It’s a no pressure “race,” and it’s for cancer research. Join Team Hope is Power!

Derek has been hit with something I thought everyone had. But he apparently has never had this before. He is mad at himself. He has learned about self-loathing. And not even for any good reason. I’ve always had it, for not doing housework, for eating enough for 3 people every day, for not going running, for not reading scriptures every day, etc, etc, etc.

Derek is now in the home stretch of finishing his PhD. He has finished his course work, and is writing his dissertation. I never went to graduate school, mostly because I didn’t want to have to write any great big papers. My max is about 6 pages, and even those ones took me months. So I know it can be hard, but I don’t ever want to experience anything that hard.

With 4 months left to go, Derek has writer’s block. He goes to work every day, he has a schedule, he has a date for his defense. Why is it so hard when the end is near? He came home today and said he would be willing to stay home with the kids if I wanted to go back to school and get a job. It is incredibly tempting, since I have discovered how unsuited I am to the life of a nurturer, but I would never make enough money to support a family of 5 by playing the organ. And Derek doesn’t like to cook.

I wish I could help him somehow. I would help him write, if I could. I can’t even read the stuff he writes.

I’ve been asked by Erin to openly admit my obsessions. How can I, when I’m so embarrassed about them in the first place?

I’ll leave out the really ghetto ones. So 5 obsessions:

1. Running. Everyone who knows me already knows my obsession with running. It’s not like I’m this fantastic runner, or that I run very fast, or even very far. I just like it a lot, and I especially like trail running. I even have a crappy blog about running. Derek owes me $10,000 for each child I’ve made, but one day he was wondering just how much of my $30,000 I’ve already spent. He said that running stuff doesn’t count, since it’s a physical and psychological need for me. So running shoes, clothes, races, driving to races, all that doesn’t count as part of my $30,000. I think I’ll start signing up for races in Paris and London.

2. Recycling. I’m so far gone that I can only shop at thrift stores for clothes. I always bring my own bags to the market unless I’m buying bulk stuff, in which case I save the same plastic bag and twist tie and use it as many times as I can before it is riddled with holes. I’m dying to have a compost bin (but I can’t yet because my grandpa doesn’t want one in his backyard, but I did make him order a recycling bin for the trash, which he didn’t want because he thought we shouldn’t have to pay for it), and I always save jars and reuse them for keeping things like rice and beans.

3. Cooking. I read cookbooks like novels. I love Indian, South East Asian, Mexican, Native American, Mediterranean, North African, Moroccan, Italian, Finnish, Spanish, vegetarian, vegan, baking… I realize that all those labels are broad generalizations, but I love trying new stuff. I also don’t like repeating meals. There are only a few things that I make periodically. Lentil Sausage Soup, Sweet Potato Quesadillas, Turkey or Pork soft Tacos, and I can’t think of anything else. I have a collection of cookbooks, and I find new stuff in them all the time. I loooove vegetables, so the majority of my cookbooks are vegetarian, and my favorites are from the Moosewood Restaurant. I feel sad for people that don’t eat vegetables, or who think grey green beans and steamed broccoli are the only choices.

4. Mind games. Sudoku, Planarity (which doesn’t count after you figure it out), puzzles, ciphers, foreign languages, math, stuff you have to think about. I guess mystery novels counts in this category, too, and I love me a good mystery.

5. Knitting and crocheting. I only learned how to knit a couple of years ago, and I started crocheting after that. It was while on break from applique, which I haven’t done since I started knitting. Mostly all I do is little stuff, like baby blankets. I did knit a little lamb for my mom, which I then felted. It was the cutest thing. I like to knit while Derek reads books to me out loud. We’ve gone through lots of good books this way. We’ve especially love “The Cat Who…” books. They’re not gory like some other mysteries, and as far as language, they’re pretty clean.

I changed my mind. I’m not embarrassed about these ones, I just left out all the ones I don’t want widely known. But I do think all these things fall under the heading of ways to waste time. But I guess if we weren’t going to waste any time, we’d have to still be eking out our existence on the farm. And I’m tagging bon, Carrie, Crystal, Dan (because I think that would be funny. I hope I can get him to post on DYM), and my cousin Mike, cause honestly, I’m just too curious.

Derek was fascinated by my adolescent journal. He began reading it out of curiosity, and kept reading out of compulsion. After a few pages, he said he had no idea teenage girls were like that, that he has been completely oblivious to other people’s feelings all these years, and he wishes he’d known when he was a teenager, so he could say things that would make people understand their own worth.

When I started this particular journal, I was 11 years old. I wrote about things that concerned me: being ugly, being rude, boys, which school I would go to the next year, guppies, best friends, wearing makeup and pantyhose, music, and my family. I had no idea at the time that my writings would provide such a window into my soul. I was fairly certain that no-one would ever read what I wrote, so I was uninhibited. As a result, my teen-age self consciousness shines through like a lighthouse on a foggy night.

I can’t speak for all teenage girls, but I know many went through the same things I did: feelings of inadequacy, especially when compared to friends, or those who I wished were my friends, desire to be recognized by authority figures such as parents and teachers, conflicting emotions about physical change, feeling invisible, feeling misunderstood.

I wrote down every compliment I received. Everything my parents said to me, every time a friend told me a boy “liked” me, every time a teacher praised my work. It’s like I was trying to convince myself that I was worthy of that praise, or that I was sure I wasn’t worthy and wanted to explain why it could never be.

Other people have feelings like I do, I know I’m not the only one. Yes, I still feel those exact same things now, only it’s about whose kids are better behaved than mine, who is a mom of 5 kids and still always looks like she just stepped out of a salon, who is teaching literacy to the underprivileged, who has a clean house, who home-schools and still likes her kids, who is famous for her awesome blog because she’s so witty and poignant at the same time as being a great writer, who has a PhD and teaches and goes to Europe every summer, who sews millions of original stuffed animals,who never loses her temper with her kids, who plants a giant garden and keeps chickens and goats in the back yard, who runs marathons every year, who takes her kids to museums and planetariums and parks, who spins her own yarn and knits up beautiful sweaters from it, who lost all the baby weight after 3 months and is now smaller than she was before, who reads scripture and prays with her family every day, who decorates her home with things she finds at the thrift store, but makes it look like she spent many hours an lots of money at antique shops.

I know I’m not the only one who does this. I know it doesn’t end when you become an adult.

We went to my mom’s house yesterday and opened up the cedar chest that still lives in Mom’s basement, even though it has my junk in it and I haven’t lived with Mom for 14 years. I promised that we’d take it with us when we move this summer. That, and all the other junk that she’s been holding onto for me.

I pulled out each piece of crazy old knick-knacks, stories, diaries, dolls, and friendship bracelets for Derek to see and admire. Then I made 3 piles: Back in the box, garbage, and yard sale. Before I could toss anything, I had to recount it’s significance. If I couldn’t remember the provenance of a particular piece, into the trash or yard sale pile it went. That included friendship bracelets whose giver I couldn’t remember, Christmas tree ornaments, a really ugly doll and all her clothes, a white lace pillow that said “Friends Forever,” but I don’t remember who gave it to me (I hope it wasn’t you, Karee), a bunch of porcelain and pewter unicorns, and a stack of “art” that I had made as a teenager.

I also tossed

  • a box of cookie Christmas tree ornaments I’d bought in Germany when I was 13,
  • four Coke cans from Germany, with fantastical 80’s designs that I’m sure you’ve never seen,
  • a pair of soccer shin guards that my friend Chandra had given me when she got new ones,
  • a whole bunch of leather necklaces that I made or were given to me when I worked at a church camp for girls and my nickname was Magpie,
  • a plastic jewelry case my dad gave me for my 12th birthday, with earrings still in it,
  • a whole bunch of cassettes of reggae, ska, and Led Zeppelin from high school.

Some of the things I put back in the chest:

  • A cabbage patch doll my aunt Barbara made for me while she was working on her PhD, raising 3 kids, and avoiding mid-terms. Vanessa Lynn has 6 fingers on both hands,
  • My Garfield doll that I got because my best friend Karee had one,
  • Some jewelry my Grandma had brought back from Pakistan when Grandpa was a Fulbright Scholar,
  • A woven poncho from when I lived in Mexico,
  • 3 envelopes of my own hair from when I was 5, 9, and 11,
  • A bunch of report cards and certificates for good spelling and attendance,
  • My trophy for being MVP of the Cross Country team freshman year,
  • My 4 generation pedigree chart,
  • Several writing projects from elementary school,
  • A diary from 1988-89, wherein I tell each and every one of my crushes, exactly why they would never like me, a chronology of the doings of my guppies, exactly how many pictures of Kirk Cameron I had taped on my wall (96), how great Peter Cetera was, and how bored I was every single dingle day.

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