ipods.jpgI've been working a lot in the last couple of days. Since the beginning of my 8 hour shift on Friday I have sold $3500 worth of clothing. Jon spent his day sans me playing a new Xbox game. When he picked me up tonight his first comment was, "I don't get anything done when you're not around. I don't like it." Interesting day, though long. Thankfully it started with breakfast at the kitchen table with my husband. And it ended smoothly enough... thanks to a little guy who I call my "hero".

Today at work I saw an old friend, Nancy, the Occupational Therapist who worked with one of the little boys I helped out last summer, I had lunch at Baja Fresh (yummy quesadilla... but I'm paying for it with a tummy ache now), I helped a cross-dressing man purchase three dresses and a lovely "layering piece" (looked, walked and talked like a man... but all in hot pink high heels). Sometimes the last few hours of my shift begin to do strange things to my mind, everything is "accessories" or "complimentary colors" or "flattering fits"! Ahhhhhhh! Who will save me???

*singing* I can be your hero, baby!*singing*

No, it's not the cross-dresser. It's my beautiful pink Ipod mini. I love my iPod. Tonight as we closed the store I had it with me, like a little pet in my pocket, playing my favorite music (loud enough to drown out the terrible musack Banana has streaming through the store all the time... songs I am horrified to find playing in my dreams!!!!). It was a Christmas present from Jonathan, one of the best ever because I'd wanted it so very badly! He had it personalized, too, so on the back it says "Sperky"... his nickmame for me. Again, iPods rock!

I'm working tomorrow as well, and then hopefully I'll be able to pal around with the Yayas a bit (especially since Cindy is the proud new owner of a beautiful pink iPod mini! yay! we're like twins!). But for now I desperately need some sleep and an allergy pill. Bring on the holiday weekend!

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meadow.jpgMy English Literature class this quarter has moved into the life and works of William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). I'm a Yeats fan. What an incredible man. While looking again at some of his poems, I began to feel a new sense of identification. Yes, I've always enjoyed his style, finesse, and love of finding the perfect words. Yes, his imagery has always evoked beautiful pictures in my mind. But this time I really felt his deeper meaning. As a result I began to write my own poetry. It's been a while since I've felt so compelled.

yeats.jpgAt a time when the world was slowly disolving the authority and structure of Imperialist powers world-wide, Nationalism was growing in nations everywhere. Ireland was then being run by the United Kingdom and yet had very little say in the British Parliament; the people of Ireland longed for a sense of themselves and their country.

Yeats believed in the role of art as education, exposition and inspiration. While many of his predecessors had struggled with the social repercussions of publicly expressing one's own private thoughts and feelings, Yeats embraced that prospect and utilized it to unite his countrymen under the common hope for independence.

His ideal sense of Ireland seemed to be the untouched outer-reaches of the West, places very much removed from the commercialism and technology found in Dublin and London. In Yeats' quest for authenticity he studied folklore and Irish history.

Over the course of his life he performed many roles. Not only was he one of the most well-known poets and playwrites of his generation, Yeats founded the Irish Literary Society (1892) in the hopes of insighting a revolution of words and art. He traveled the world, spoke out against British imperialism, rioted in the streets with his fellow Irishmen, and was eventually a Senator of an Irish free state in 1922.

Today we went over several of his most famous works in class. One of his best known poems, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree", is one I've read and thought about many times before. But I learned something very interesting about it today. At the time he wrote the poem, Yeats had been reading Thoreau's Walden. And Walden remains the quintessential book about the rewards of solitude. Thoreau moved to a cabin in the Northeastern United States on Walden Pond, and there he postulated about everything, having all the time in the world to think. "Innisfree" (pronounced inn-ish-free) was Yeats' response to that work:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

-Yeats, 1890

How beautiful. I think we all long for solitude sometimes. I know my dad does. And I can't think of anyone better suited for life in a cabin in the woods, far from the raging, swirling world. (But I also can't imagine how the rest of us would handle that same raging, swirling world without him. The needs of many... and so on and so forth.)

Anyway, I agree with Wordsworth, "the world is too much with us." Crass commercialism and the pressure to go through the right motions and steps towards a goal predetermined by everyone but ourselves has made us insensitive to the natural world. At least, that's how it is the majority of the time. Sometimes a few of us run frantically to the nearest government sanctioned National Park, praying it will still be as beautiful and fresh as it was the last time we were there. But the rest of the time we seem much too busy to appreciate those termed to be "the little things".

On days like today, a beautiful day in California, the smell of freshly cut grass or the sound of birds and sprinklers gets me thinking. Wouldn't it be nice to take the time to really let go? Anxiety plagues me when it comes to school. Driving driving driving fatigues me. And then there's work and chores and all the other daily demands, things I should just accept because everyone else does... that's part of being an "adult", right? Maybe. Today, though, with Yeats' steady, humming cadence flowing through my brain, I fancied my own hideaway.

My Innisfree

Gazing around this summer place
and feeling feelings churning deep,
I consider the bees, leaves, and flowers,
and running away before it sours.
I'll take with me memories, all of the grace
and rest then in Eden to finally sleep.

For my faith is fading so fast
in life and after, God and truth.
Heroes are men who bleed and die,
and were once boys, sons who cried.
Escape calls clearly; the die is cast!
And I, too, yearn for the fountain of youth.

Grab my hand, Love, and come with me
away to somewhere of once I dreamed.
I miss the enchantment of infinite life.
Here I am standing, always your wife,
trusting and hoping, in spite of things
that are not as lovely as they once seemed.

We'll not lose our way, trust your guide.
The meadow there is real, green and low,
and in it hides a dappled fawn.
He waits there as his mother is gone.
Deep in this magical place we'll hide
with childlike faith and a love-happy glow.

-Audrey Camp, 2005

(I realize the how presumptuous it is to place my poetry anywhere near Yeats' own. Just remember that I'm not competing... I'm responding.)

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clock.jpgToday I woke at 6:30 to be on the road at 7:00 to be at work at 8:00. Now I know how my mom used to feel every day when she commuted from Livermore to Redwood City, every day. Okay, that's harder. Anyway, this morning was tough. Thankfully Jon pulled back the curtain to flood our room with sunlight. And he was there to push me out of bed.

This is the longest shift I've worked so far. Luckily the mall doesn't open until 10am, so I had two full hours to work while listening to my Ipod. That might sound boring to some, but recently I find myself with so little time to simply think... in a good way. I mean, I've definitely had those downward spirals of crazy thoughts. But this morning I got into my folding groove... and then my mind was dancing.

italian_hillside.jpgThe soundtrack from "Under the Tuscan Sun" helped me dream of warm light, turquoise seas, white sands, Eden, romance... And after I made it through the day, Jon picked me up, and I wobbled on aching feet out to the car. We came home. Home. I think that thought was more beautiful than any I'd had all day. My home.

So here we sit, blogging and coding, side by side. The writer and the programmer, together again. At last. Today I experienced the grind. You know, the one everyone talks about in the songs and movies. But I also experienced peace. Thinking about a romantic adventure in Italy with the man of my dreams might have given me joy. In the end, though, coming home brought peace.

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spring_cleaning.jpgOn Tuesday I opted to take a day for myself. I'm scheduled to work every day this week that I'm not in school, plus Saturday and Sunday. And our house was beginning to look like a disaster! I needed to keep house. So all day I cleaned. Every room of the house (including Jon's office... which was on the verge of being condemned) was scrubbed and vaccumed to perfection! It's beautiful! And I felt so productive at the end of the day. A good day.

Then my evening was free to be spent with my husband. I felt very wifely. It's still new to me, this idea of being "the woman of the house". Now, maybe Jon has cooked dinner the last two nights in a row, (The man is a gourmet! I love love love mac&cheese&hotdogs!), but I keep this place clean. Hah! Even after the wild Ya-Ya party on Thursday. I don't want to scare anyone (*cough* Dad *cough*), but our bathroom was in dire need of cleaning. Not anymore. I'll be accepting my gold stars/brownie points any day now. Thank you.

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smile.jpgToday Jon had his dentist appointment. Lucky duck. Thankfully it went a lot better than his previous appointment 6 months ago. After avoiding the dentist like the plague... he discovered that he had only succeeded in plauguing his teeth. Hah! (Pun definitely intended.) So now he takes better care of them, and he goes to the dentist.

At the dentist's office he learned that he had kept his teeth out of harm's way for 6 full months, and that my blog entry about my own dentist appointment had been given to Gerry, my favorite hygienist, through Cheryl. Did you all know that I'm funny? Just thought I'd pass the word around.

I, in the mean time, was at work. And I learned all sorts of new things. In fact, something very cool happened. I spent quite a while helping a young lady buy a blouse over the phone. After walking her through the complicated process, making her laugh, ending in victory... she asked to speak to my manager. Hmmmmm. That can't be good, right? But it was. She sang my praises for several minutes. And then my manager passed her words of encouragement and thanks onto me. Yay! I also doubled my goal for the day. Impressivo!

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half_dome_us.jpgIn 2003, after only four months of dating, Jon and I led the junior high youth group at our church up the most recognizable peak in Yosemite National Park. That trip was beyond memorable, in fact Jon used the events of the trip in his personal wedding vows. Bottom line... we made it up to the top, without the steps and cables being up. And we made it down from the top. Seventeen miles and twelve hours later... I was in unbelievable pain and Jon was deeply in love. I had forgotten exactly how strenuous the hike really was.

half_dome_nevada.jpgSo this time we started earlier (on the trail at 6:15am Saturday) and we were more prepared (I was bundled up like the poster child for Gortex). Because of the recent flooding in the park, the waterfalls had swelled to unimaginable point... gushing and pouring... the Mist Trail became the Torrential Rain Trail (for those of you who have already heard some of my jokes- I'm sorry. I am unoriginal.).

We fed a blue jay and he followed us for a long time. Finally Jon decided to make the little guy work for his food. Seriously, throwing cheerios so that the jay could swoop in and catch it mid-air. The views were spectacular all the way up the mountain. Lots of snow at the top, covering the stairs and making walking practically impossible.

half_dome_us2.jpgAt the saddle we stopped for lunch as we surveyed the cables, stretched 800 feet up the steep, blank granite. Jon and our friend Jared headed up immediately following the meal. I hesitated. Too much, I thought. But then I changed my mind. How on earth could I hike all the way and then not go to the summit?

So, all alone, I donned my climbing shoes and began dragging myself up up up. All the way I was praying, whispering encouragement to myself. I made it. As I walked towards Jon (the dome is sooooo much bigger than anyone might think), I saw the pride pop into his eyes, right after the look of absolute shock. Took some great pictures. Two years almost to the day after our first summit together, we did it again. And this time I wasn't afraid to walk to the very edge and see the glory of the park.

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bouquet.jpgAmy is home from San Diego and is working at a local coffee shop. Cindy is finished with school in San Jose. I'm the only one who isn't ready to relax yet! But we all got together at my house on Thursday night.

Well, first we drove around talking and catching up. Then we hit the mall, after it closed. Oops. Just time enough for an Auntie Anne's pretzel, which was better than the best we'd ever had.

At my place we pulled up the season finale of "Gilmore Girls" on the Tivo. Amy and I had already seen it, but we'd saved it for Cin. What Cynthia darling didn't know was that my Tivo had cut off the final ten seconds of the episode, including the most important dialog of the show! So we watched it happily, silent except for the oodles of laughter (funny show), and then at the end we sat back and watched Cindy instead of the TV. I thought she was going to kill us both! To make it up to her, Amy and I acted it out Unfortunately that meant that Amy was a guy and I proposed to her. Hehe!

Afterwards we watched "Fried Green Tomatos". A classic chick flick. And on Friday we had breakfast at the Railroad Cafe (so much like the Whistle Stop Cafe, huh Ames?). Lots of Ya-Ya time, much of it spent planning more Ya-Ya adventures for the upcoming summer. I can't wait!

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DeerCreek.jpgUnfortunately, today I don't have anything especially good to write about. I woke up at the regular time. I did some laundry. I worked 8 hours. I watched some TV. What will inspire this entry?

Inspiration is a tricky business. So intangible. Some argue it doesn't really exist, that performance is strictly mind over matter. I don't agree. There are millions of things that have inspired me in the past:

Ponies, the wall paper in the bathroom of my old house (my parents wall papered the entire room, including the ceiling!), my American Girl doll Samantha, the moon, Bob Hope jokes, all kinds of music (oldies, goodies, entire sountracks from The Big Chill, Under the Tuscan Sun and Dirty Dancing), the sound of a basketball dribbling on concrete, pictures, my old Honda civic (dubbed the YaYa-mobile), applause, a microphone, the success of my friends and family...

As mentioned before, I am the proud author of many many many many many beginnings of novels, short stories, poems. All of them began with inspiration. One story I wrote when I was in seventh grade. In a veritable fit of drama I titled it Walking Through the Fire. Based on the Oregon Trail in the early 1800s, my story included adventure, danger, death, trials, kidnappings, love, lust, revenge, the triumph of courage and morality... all of the things I knew nothing of. My inspiration? The names of the characters are all names of people I knew at the time. Every friend, teacher, enemy, relative... oh, I included them all. The cast of characters in my life inspired that story. Well, that and the long list of classic westerns and dramas I'd come to love and memorize. Oh, and the title comes from a favorite Mary Chapin Carpenter song.

Then came a series of pre-teen horror stories. Lame does not even begin to describe them now. So contrived! So cookie-cutter. With names like The Smile, The Fear, and I'm Afraid to Scream... how could I not go wrong? Quick, an excuse! I was in the midst of my R.L. Stine obsession. I read every book that man churned out. Thus, my imagination became a breeding ground for dark, horrifying plots, anger, the failure of human nature, violence! It's also fairly easy to observe that this was also an outlet for all the things I didn't see or do in my life then. What I had was a happy family, lots of friends, my standing as a major goody-two-shoes... you do the math.

Stories of spiritual awakenings, the acknowledgment of a higher power, 180-degree life turn-arounds came next. All after my own acceptance of Christ. Everything became centered on a testimony. Not mine. My story seemed more than lacking when it came to what I'd "been through" and/or "survived" before Jesus came into my life and saved me. There was simply no need for me to fall on my knees and bellow to the clouds, "I'm a failure! Take me home, sweet Jesus!" But that's what I wanted for my protagonists. They were many and varied, boys and girls, all about my age, all races and levels of intelligence. They, however, dealt with abortion, rape, suicide, drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships and poverty. All things I hadn't even really seen. Are we sensing a pattern? Perhaps my lifelong inspiration has really been all that I have yet to do.

row_boat.jpgAs I developed further, began planning for my future, making new friends and discovering the delight of boys as romantic partners, I endeavored on a series of love stories. Mostly love that went terribly terribly wrong, and still ended up so very right! That is, after all, what most young girls dream of. Our ideal is taming the bad boy. Our hope is to suffer a bit but to see love still standing once the smoke has cleared. Again, I didn't know what a broken heart felt like yet. I had never felt the pain of lost love.

Journalism took over a couple of my high school years. Those stories were easy to complete. Features were my game. I knew just what combination of words would jerk tears from my readers, or how to make them laugh. Instinct served me well.

Then came the poetry. Onslaught barely describes what came once I had the time for poetry. Hundreds of poems, all kinds. Love, friendship, death, parents, life, future, disaster... I summed all of them up in a few broken lines. Between having my first few boyfriends, gradating from high school, experiencing Columbine and 9/11, seeing my friends go off to college, coaching volleyball, losing friends to accidents and suicides... there was more than enough inspiration. And I think that was also the time in my life when I accepted the fact that negative inspiration was not something to consider bad, sinful or wrong. Poetry was as much therapy as it was entertainment.

Tale as old as time... that's right, Jonathan. My next and most permanent inspiration. I remember seeing him for the first time in person (I'd once before pointed to his picture in the church directory and called him cute). He was wearing a red sweatshirt and his blond hair was a little long, floppy. I had this urge to throw my arms around him! But I only knew his name. Thus my idea of love poetry and prose changed forever. He will always be the catalyst for my thoughts on love, commitment and desire. My Jonathan.

Since then I think my main inspiration has simply been memories. All my life I've wanted to grow up, do big things, finish the task at hand, get on with everything! Go faster! Now, looking back I see my life and I'm shocked. I have a good memory and a wild imagination. Yet already parts of my childhood, parts of all my past, have become blurred. Blurry scares me. I should remember it all! So I resolved to begin writing down everything I could remember. That way it's saved, and when I end up forgetting... I can read it and remember again.

hourglass.jpgWhat memories have inspired my stories? Oddly enough, my first major memory that is clear enough to be fodder for a story is the recollection of my first lie. I was three or four years old and my mom had bought me a pair of purple shoes that fastened with Velcro. I remember my mom sticking the Velcro strips together just before my dad walked in the door. I ran up to Daddy, arms up (needy little girl), and as he scooped me up I said, "Look!" And I wiggled my feet at him. He asked, "Did you put those on by yourself?" I looked him dead in the eye and said, "Yes!" I was swiftly and firmly corrected by my mother, and I never forgot that moment. It seems like nothing, but also like everything. A beginning.

So many more memories lie lodged in the nooks and crannies of my mind, just waiting to be discovered again. Some I've already found and filed away for the next inevitable session of writer's block! If all else fails I do know something that gets the words flowing every single time. October. Much of my best material has been written in that, my favorite month. The crunch of leaves, the smell of a campfire, certain candies, that deep blue twilight and the warm pavement beneath my bare feet... all of that and more bespeaks October. She is my red-haired muse. Already I feel a wave of adrenaline. Or is it inspiration?

Tonight I began with the idea that I had nothing to write about. But apparently the idea of inspiration is in itself enough to open my floodgates. And it's been a lovely trip. Now it's off to bed and, with the help of this entry, I do believe I'll have sweet dreams.

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glasses_book.jpgToday my Sociology class watched the videos of Milgram's obedience experiments back in the 1960s. Disturbing. How far will people allow themselves to go? How far will they allow themselves to be ordered to go? More disturbing because of its proximity to my own life, are the recent events involving prisoner abuse at the hands of American troops. Is this continuing evidence backing the findings of that study?

Unlike some people I've spoken to, the violations of prisoners at Abu Ghraib do not make me ashamed to be an American. I don't mind calling the perpetrators evil, disgusting, shockingly wrong. They deserve all of that and so much more. Even if they believed they were only "following orders", there are limits to what a human being should do to another human being when the former is not acting in self-defense or the defense of their loved ones. But we simply cannot pull away from our country because of the foolishness and ignorant cruelty exercised by a few crass individuals.

Nazis exterminated Jews, Saddam Hussein obliterated whole villages in Iraq, African tribes fight indescribably atrocious civil wars, and every historical conqueror since the beginning of time has left a legendary wake of destruction and violence. But we would be remiss to spread the net of guilt across entire races, countries or eras in these cases. You see, while the people involved with Abu Ghraib were Americans, they must be treated as individual criminals and punished accordingly. Because they are Americans, it is the duty of our government to carry out the punishment, setting an example so that this does not happen again. But it was not America as a whole that committed the crime.

I will not try to excuse these recent events by saying "it happens all the time" or "that's just the way war is". While true, these statements give a false sense of acceptance. Bottom line? People screw up. On their own. Most often in groups. This should be changed, soon and fast! But I am not wise enough to have a solution. Oh, how I wish somebody was.

But watching the video today made me think of many other things, too.

milgram.jpgThe men who acted as the test subjects were white males between the ages of 25 and 50 who volunteered for the study. After being given a simple set of instructions, these men sat down individually to carry out their orders: pose a question to another man seated in an ajoining room, give that man an electric shock if his answer is wrong, increase the voltage of the shocks each time the man answers wrong, don't stop until we tell you to. I watched this men do as they were told. Why shouldn't they? But as they increased the shock voltage a voice from the ajoining room protested.

"Ouch!" "You're hurting me!" "I have a heart condition!" "Stop, please stop!" "Let me out of here!" "You have no right to keep me here!"

The first subject looked exactly like the pictures I've seen of my Grandpa Edward Pancoast. I never got the chance to meet Grandpa Ed. He died a couple of years before I was born. And for some reason I know less about him than I do about any of my other grandparents. But I still love the man. I'm sure he would have loved me very much had he known me. Seeing this stranger who looked like a man I wanted to know (large and imposing, thick rimmed glasses, all business, a grandfatherly twinkle in his eye), dressed like him (suit and skinny dark tie, hat off when he entered the room), seeing him made my heart stop. How would this man handle this test?

Unbeknownst to the test subjects, there was no man in the ajoining room. All of the pleading and exclamations of pain had been prerecorded. But the fact remained that these men were being led to believe they were harming a fellow human being.

And so the first man took his seat and began the test. At 100 volts the voice called out from the other room. The man was instructed to continue. At 130 volts the voice asked to be let out, please, because he was being hurt. By 300 volts the voice was hollering and screaming, refusing to go on, begging for mercy. Other men had far surpassed this point, continuing the exercise (some doubtfully) in spite of the howls from the next room. Some test subjects took the voltage all the way through the progression, until the voice went eerily silent. That's why I was holding my breath as the man who resembled my grandfather was asked to stop for the first time by his alleged victim.

"That's enough," he said.

"Please continue the test, sir," replied the experiment leader. This was a scripted response. The "Experimentor's" job was to put the pressure on the skeptical subject. "The shocks are painful but not dangerous. You don't have a choice."

The man turned in his chair. "I do have a choice, and I will not go on with this experiment. You can have your money back. I was planning to give it to charity anyway. But that man over there," he nodded to the testing room, "has his rights. I will not continue this experiment."

I couldn't have been more proud if the man had been my grandpa after all. Human nature may not automatically assure goodness or decency. But some of us have an iron will that we use in spite of the pressures of life, authority figures, or even mob mentality. I'll never know the man's name, but I hope that somewhere his granddaughter knows that he was a strong, good person. And I further hope that my grandpa knows that I know the same was true of him.

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toothfairy.jpgAt 9:45am Jon called me from work. "You have a dentist appointment at 10." This was the first I'd heard of it. Apparently leaving Jon in charge of appointment making/reminders is not the best idea. So I scrambled to get ready. Brush teeth, get dressed, brush teeth, put on shoes, brush teeth, feed the cats, brush teeth, RUN!

One of the things I hate most about going to the dentist is the amount of time I have to lie there with my mouth open while a stranger takes her own sweet time scraping residue off my teeth. I hate the scenario even more if the hygienist remains silent the entire time. Not only does that make everything profoundly boring, but it also leaves me helpless, unable to keep from hearing the disgusting grinding and picking of metal on my precious enamel!

My dental hygienist's name was Gerry. She was wonderful! I mean, I can talk to almost anyone anyway... but she kept up a blue streak of conversation even when I was incapacitated and drooling. She spoke of her brilliant son and his career, his girlfriend, his thoughts on life. She spoke to me about marriage and love, giving me endless advice. "Learn to make soup; it'll go far if you're broke." "Do your Christmas shopping in the summer time so that you can spend your time off with your family." "My son wants to marry a woman who is willing to climb mountains with him."

This last bit of advice made me smile because, while she was speaking figuratively, that happens to be something Jon literally wants from me. As our Half Dome trip draws nearer, as I become more apprehensive, as more snow is dumped mercilessly on the Sierras... it helps to be reminded that I promised to stand by Jon's side for as long as I live. That means I have some climbing to do if he wants to stand atop Half Dome.

No cavities once again. Don't give me all the credit, though ('cuz I don't floss!). I'm simply California-grown, nourished with water that contains fluoride. Gerry made my semi-annual dentist trip less of a pain, but she also reminded me about several important things in life. (Including the necessity of that blasted dental floss!)

After my appointment I stopped to schedule my next one, all the way out in November! Cheryl, our pastor's wife, made the appointment for me. It's important to have friends in high places. Now, hopefully, I'll have more warning before the next visit. Perhaps I'll even have time to floss before I go.

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mountain_road.jpgAgain, we tried to sleep late. Didn't happen. This time it was much harder to get up, though, because we didn't want to go home. Jon and I had decided we liked the mountains (nothing new, by the way).

Everyone else was up already. The Haggerty cabin was hosting breakfast, and we were all slowly getting together the stamina to convoy over. There was cleaning to be done before we could go, however. But we did it cheerfully. By the time we finished, though, Jon and I were ready to get on the road.

Unfortunately we ended up missing the big breakfast, but the road was a-calling.

Driving to Strawberry ended up being much too easy, much too boring. So we kept driving. Somewhere outside the city limit we saw a sign directing us to a lake. We took the road and zigzagged down the mountainside to a man-made lake. After driving across Beardsley Dam we continued up into the mountains on the other side. This was a road definitely less traveled. On all sides the car was surrounded by lush purple and blue lupine. The steep drop offs afforded gorgeous views of the Stanislaus River running through the national forest.

pinecrest_03.jpgAll along the way we discussed "our cabin", you know, the one we will build one day to enjoy together, and with our families, and with our friends, and then with our children, and then with our grandchildren. We began laying out potential floor plans, coming up with ideas on views, window placement, etc. And, at various points on the drive, we'd point out the windows to the "perfect spot" for our cabin someday!

That could have been enough, but not for us. Once back on the main road and heading roughly in the direction of home, we stopped in Sonora. Our objective: lunch and a cabin magazine. I had an excellent roast turkey and jack cheese sandwich on sourdough at the Diamondback Grill in downtown Sonora. And Jon was in such a good mood I even urged him into a couple of antique stores before we hit the road again.

The cabin magazine we chose was a complete success. It bulged with suggestions and ideas, floor plans and pictures, stories of other couples who had dreamed big and made their dreams reality. I read aloud and sketched what we talked about while Jon drove. The miles flew by!

So now we're home. We sat for a while before deciding to go out for a date. Nicole Kidman may not be my favorite (she looks weird!), but I've been wanting to see her new movie, "The Interpreter". And, surprisingly, it was worth the exhorbitant ticket price. Loved it. New respect for Kidman, too. She looked a lot less weird this time.

Bedtime calls. I work tomorrow and our crazy lives will be back on their monontonous track once again. But we've got energy all stored up from our wonderful weekend with friends. Thank you, once again, to our hosts, the Youds, for giving us a place to stay. And thanks to our highly intelligent anonymous friend for all his entertainment. Thanks to Scott for the amazing food! And to Alysa for bringing Scott. Thanks to all, a suppose, who made this weekend possible.

And now, good night.

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abalone2.jpgToday we're off to the woods! A friend's cabin in the mountains will hopefully bring the calm we long for. Alas, there will be homework for me to do. C'est la vie.

This will be the second time we've journied to the cabin. I'm excited! Hopefully we'll wade in the lake, take a hike, birdwatch, star gaze... eat, drink and be merry! Last time we played a lot of games. In fact, here I am beating Jon at one of the ones we played several times that trip. Ooooooh, the concentration!

Tomorrow there will be no entry, sadly. But don't cry... I'll be back on Sunday night! Now I'm off to work. There are sweaters to be folded and rich people to sucker into buying new clothes. Wish me luck!

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red_tree.jpgSome things are just too big to really think about. Feeling a tad overwhelmed this afternoon, I called my pal Cindy to find out whether I was alone in my staggering under the weight of life. If she weren't such a nice person, such a good friend, I think she would have laughed at me.

Everyone, she said, feels like that sometimes. Good. I'm glad to hear it. Not that I would wish this strange feeling of disenchantment and/or utter fatigue on anyone else. It's simply a comfort to find that the feeling is common to all.

Yes, I'm being vague on purpose. If I chose to write down all of the issues I've been pondering in lightening-fast succession... you might just buckle under the strain, too. We can't have that.

Cindy's advice was to talk it all out. I agreed. And I was able to speak to my friend Dan today, too. One thing I love about Dan is his ability to brighten my outlook at any given moment. He's willing to do it, too. The mark of a true friend. His advice? Take a break. Think closer to home. Remember that "the guy upstairs probably has this whole life thing figured out already". Sometimes I forget that.

At home I took a long nap. My sleep was deep but fitful. Apparently even unconsciousness isn't a true sanctuary at times. When I woke up I found that Jon had been thinking of me. He gave me the sweetest little card. On the front it says: Wonderful you... Inside it says: ...lucky me. I got some perspective.

This evening I was able to relax a bit. We watched "Hoosiers", an all time favorite of mine. Troubled individual gets his life back on track, people find the best in themselves, America offers amazing opportunities to everyone, and the underdog rises to the top. A true story.

To set my own mind at ease I decided to think about a simpler time... and instead I wound up thinking about (and rejoicing in) the fact that life is never simple. Crazy, as Dan reminded me today, is not only an option, it's inevitable. As long as we work hard, do our best, life works itself out. Thus, the outcome is fitting, even worthwhile.

I resolved to take the time to remember the lives of those who came before me, those who played integral roles in my existence. Heritage is soothing to consider because it's over and done. We can study it without worrying about a plot twist, a curve ball. Our heritage is the opposite of our future. Obvious? Sure. Important to remember? Absolutely.

Introspection may not always be the best remedy for the "mean reds" (a "Breakfast at Tiffany's" term that Cindy and I have adopted to explain some of the emotions we feel and don't understand). But occasionally it helps us find our center once again So, tonight I thought of my ancestors, my parents, the state of the world... big things that are done and have resulted in something that I consider to be very worthwhile... me.

Silver Embrace
Where was your beginning?
A handsome young Italian
Saw you gleaming in a window
He purchased you with his factory wages
Soon he and his pretty young Italian bride
Were wrapped in your silver embrace
Next you sheltered their
English-speaking Italian children
All seven
In two rows
Could you smell the lasagna from your place on the piano?
Then you held a soldier
Italian features in an American uniform
Did you hear that the war took all his brothers?
Black and white
A beautiful blond and the civilianized soldier
You cradle them and their half-Italian daughter
Were you a witness to their divorce?
A Christmas party
Seventies haircuts
You encircle a teenager with her slim half-Italian fingers
Poised for her first kiss with my father
How did you survive those treks across the country?
Now I smile back at myself from you
My quarter-Italian temper cannot be captured on film
But you know me, don't you?
-2003

The poem is one I wrote almost two years ago as an assignment for a class. I'd expected something much different than that which I ended up with. Such is the craft of the poet. As a matter of fact, this ended up being one of my favorites that year. Tonight it seemed an appropriate addition.

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bananas.jpgToday I almost doubled my sales goal at Banana Republic. Yup, that's right. I am a sellin' machine! My bubbly personality did the trick.

"Hello! Welcome! My name is Audrey, and if there is anything... and I do mean anything, that you need help with, please do not hesitate to ask me. I can and will do it for you!"

I twirled through the store, dancing between the tables. All smiles. And at the end of the day I had sold $1900 worth of our clothing. *snap* Nothin' to it.

This afternoon I was also unusually active. I shook off the massive weight of homework and reading and retail... and I went to a local basketball court with a friend. I just wanted to know if I still had some of that tomboy, that sink-the-shot-at-the-buzzer, that guys-sweat-girls-glisten... I wanted to know if I still had it in me.

basketballs.jpgWell, I remembered the thrill of the game. And I wasn't terrible. In fact, I made my shots. Okay, not all of them. There were a few airballs. But some were "money". And here I would like to brag... three half-court shots. So what that I did them "granny style"? I still beat David. Hah! I loved playing. And, as I associate the basketball part of my life with David, having him there joking and making fun of my skills (or lack thereof), made it even more fun. Hopefully I'll be able to play more. (I could also use the sun!)

That was my day. And tonight my husband comes home to me. I couldn't be more excited! The flight gets in at 11:45. I simply cannot wait!

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freckles2.jpgWe all have those mornings when we look in the mirror and cringe ever-so-slightly. Eh. It's part of growing up. The pre-teen years are the worst.

"Oh my Gawd! Would you look at that ZIT!" we used to scream as we clamored up onto the bathroom counter, pressing our faces up against the mirror, zeroing in on the protruding red culprit. When, in reality, the pimple was barely noticeable... and besides, no one was actually looking at us.

(The above picture was taken by Jon when we were in London... and, while it does show my freckles, I'm actually putting it here for him to see when he reads my blog tonight. Awwwwww.)

For me, blessed with an acne-free complexion (hate me later), the daily struggle was with my nose. Why? How sweet of you to pretend not to notice. Alas, my nose is crooked. It always has been. For years I agonized over it. All in spite of the support I received from my family. Well, part of my family. Mom, as usual, told me I was gorgeous. On the other hand I have a very distinct memory of my dad, who loves loves loves to tease me, coming up behind me as I stared woefully at my face.

"What's wrong?" he asked me. By the way, I was twelve at the time.

"Oh, Dad, m-m-my nose is crooked!" I stammered, almost in tears.

He thought for a second, studying me, and then said incredulously, "It really is, isn't it? Wow!" And then I was crying. Oh, Daddy, I still love you.

Anyway, before the nose crisis was the one-eye-is-bigger-than-the-other fiasco. Now I don't even bother noticing those things. It's not worth my time. But there remains to be one feature I can't ignore: my freckles. Sometimes they make me spritely, nymphish. Other times they stand out Dalmation-style. Today was a "bad freckle day".

How did I pull myself out of the bad freckle doldrums? Unlike a bad hair day, bad freckles cannot be solved with a straightening iron and lots of hairspray. Well, the answer came to me in my English Literature class in the form of Gerard Hopkins' poem "Pied Beauty":

Glory be to God for dappled things--
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise Him.

freckles.jpgFor the poetically-challenged I will sum up: God made everything, including the freckled things. That means me. And because He made the freckles, they're beautiful. Thank God. That was a happy way to start the day. I wish that kind of start to everyone I know and love. For now, as I am currently watching "Cool Runnings" in the background... peace be the journey!

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silly.jpgTonight Jon is on the East coast. I dropped him at SFO this morning, early early early this morning. And even though he'll be back late Wednesday night, I cried a bit. We prayed together for his safety and my productivity. And then he was gone. Boarding a plane that would take him 3,000 miles away from me.

silly2.jpgThat's tough stuff. I find it hard to do things when he isn't around and won't be around. Before we married I was a known "slob". Then... BAM!... we said "I do" and suddenly I liked to clean. Our house may not be spotless, but it's neat. Why? Because I know that our combined stress level goes way down when we aren't surrounded by mess. I clean because it makes my husband happy, our marriage easier. That kind of thing. But why clean today?

When Jon is home I do my best to eat well. It may sometimes take an act of God and/or effort from Jon to help me make a real meal, but that gets done when he's here. But why eat well today?

I've always liked being hygenically clean. Marriage, though, has taken that to the next level as well. Even as we've become more and more comfortable accepting each other at our very smelliest, I find myself kicking myself into action to shower, do my hair, use perfume, wear makeup... all for Jon. I want him to be extra proud of his darling, yummy-smelling, well-dressed wife. But why bother with that today?

So the day was hard. I tried to nap when I got home from the airport, but I was restless. Too much space in the bed, I guess. And then I found myself on the couch watching stuff in the backlog of our Tivo. Some things I'd already seen! How bored could I possibly have been? Apparently just knowing that Jon was not five minutes away at the office, that he wouldn't be home to have dinner with me and play games and be silly after work, was enough to stagnate any and all of my activities.

No worries. When his plane landed in Maryland in the afternoon, I was his first phone call. Just a quick "I love you" and "I miss you" before finding his rental car. That was all it took. I wanted to be able to tell Jon about my day, to make him smile and know that I'd be ready and waiting for him to come home on Wednesday.

Within moments of hanging up I was cleaning the kitchen, singing, making myself a turkey sandwich and milk for lunch! Laundry was done and folded, the shower was running and ready for me. When he called again once he was on the road to his hotel, I had been truly productive. I'd accomplished much, and by doing that I'd given myself the boost needed to accelerate me through work later in the day.

He told me about how he switched to a lousy seat on the plane because a nervous young lady beside him wanted to be next to her boyfriend. He was thinking of me. Diane Feinstein was on the plane, too, with bodyguard. How cool! Even though I didn't and wouldn't vote for her. He asked me how my day was going...

And I said, "I've done a lot, honey. You'd be proud." And he was.

Tonight I miss my husband a lot, but he will be home soon. I hope to get a lot done before then, too. School all day tomorrow. Visiting Cindy. Work on Wednesday. More cleaning. Preparation for our vacation this weekend. With the thought of my happy, proud husband ever in my mind, that shouldn't be too difficult.

Wish me luck!

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mom_and_me.jpgShe fed me, clothed me, tickled me, comforted me, and strategically covered my baby-nakedness with wash-cloths in pictures. My mother, ladies and gentlemen. Leslie Ellen Pancoast. It may be cliche to offer up my blog entry to my mom on this date, but who cares? And who, really, can stop me?

Mom has been so many things to me, it's only fair that I give her some space here, in the open book that is my mind. Short, maybe. Sweet, definitely. Plus, I guilt-tripped her only this morning about not reading my stuff more often... so I'm sure to get her attention this time! (Besides, she's probably the only person who can name the movie from which I pulled the title of this entry.)

In 1983 my folks were young, happily married, and getting ready to start their family. I was on the way. St. Patrick's Day was my due date, and my grandmother flew out from Chicago to be present at my birth.

mom_wedding.jpgBut I wasn't quite ready to be born. Nope. I liked being all wrapped up in a ball, warm, floating, having my every need met. I was already spoiled! So the seventeenth came and went without so much as a move from me. My mom is a patient person, but only to a point. Finally, almost a full two weeks after the 9-month mark, she and my dad calmly drove to the hospital to have labor induced. My entrance to the world was fashionably late, painful... but much anticipated. When my mom held me for the first time, she knew she'd never love any little girl more than me.

So many of my childhood memories are happy ones, filled with balloons and smiles. Mom taught me how to bake (and to lick the spatula!), how to play cards (particularly one magic trick that no one else can figure out), and how to do gymnastics. There was one year, and this is the only time I'll ever admit it, that I attempted to be a cheerleader because I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my esteemed cheerleader of a mother. I failed, both regretfully and thankfully. Valiant effort. I kept forgetting to snap and stomp!

We fought, bickered, played the mind games, got lost in the maze that falls in the generational gap. Yet she was one of my best friends when I was in high school, and she's always been my supporter. Most of all, though, she is my role model. Considering her work ethic, ambition, success and command of respect in her field of work, and also her long, stable, happy marriage... there are few others in this world I could point to as better examples of people who have lived well. I'd count myself lucky if I turned out just like her.

Mom proudly stood by my side with my dad when I was recognized as the Most Valuable Player on my varsity volleyball team. She was there when I graduated from LHS. She helped me move into my first apartment in Davis (and she hugged me as I cried when I left home that year). She clapped and danced when I called to tell her I was engaged. She helped me immensely as I planned my wedding. She generously gave of her time and energy, money and bargaining skills. And on my wedding day she held my hand, kissed my cheek, told me I looked beautiful.

mom_baking.jpgThere has never been a moment when I didn't know how much my mother loved me. God blessed me to be sure. Sometimes I really don't feel I deserve it, either. And I miss Mom when I am home in my house with my husband and my cats, a "grown-up"... a "married lady"... She gives me valuable advice when I call to ask for it, but she never pries or pushes. The perfect mother. Nowadays we meet for lunch every once in a while. Less often now that she has her new job. I'm so proud of her.

We'll always have our inside jokes. When I graduated from high school she took me to London as my grad gift. The memories we keep from that trip alone are priceless! Life may get crazy, at some point I'll be a mom myself (a scary thought, and one I won't consider for quite a while yet so please... no pressure), but Leslie Pancoast will still be there for me whenever I need her. My rock, my love, my friend... my Mommy.

Happy Mother's Day!

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boxing_gloves.jpgDo Jon and I fight? Argue? Bicker? Pester each other? Certainly. But truth be told, it doesn't happen that often. Most of the time we can sidestep potential problems by finding the humor in the given situation, laughing at ourselves. Honestly, all Jon has to do is hug me in the middle of a fight and... the bell sounds, the match is over. Nobody wins and, thus, everybody wins.

This may seem like a fairly odd, even depressing way to start an entry. My point is simply that what Jon and I ended up doing last night happened as a direct result of what could have been a big, fat argument the night before.

I had finished an unusually long day at school on Thursday. Ugh. And recently the fatigue of going to school and working and being a wife has been wearing on me. Jon doesn't have it any easier. While he may not be going to school, dealing with me is a major lesson in patience and maturity every single day. (The frequent pop quizzes don't help much, either!)

So, at the end of that day, I wanted to do something "fun". And that's how I posed the idea to my husband. "Jonathan, let's go do something fun." He said, "Okay, like what?" I, very unreasonably, didn't want to have to actually think of what would be fun for us to do. That was his job, at least in my head. So I said, "I don't know. What do you want to do?" And he responded, "How about going bowling."

At this point I really should reiterate that I was very, very tired.

You see, Jon's response had begun the countdown. He'd lit the fuse and now it was only a matter of time before we exploded. Here anyone can see our amazing progress as a couple. Instead of freaking out and turning this one into the World War XXXII(because I think that's the one we're on now), I decided to be funny.

"Darling angel, love of my life," I began, "You are especially lucky that I am such a very cool wife. Other wives who heard their husbands give them Granada Bowl as the only fun thing to do together would be oh-so-very angry. But I am not like that. I am going to give you another shot at choosing something which I, a youthful, sexy, intriguing gal like me would find to be fun."

The rest of this human comedy shall be left to play offstage. Let it simply be said that the situation was resolved peacefully, and we found ourselves once again moving along towards happily ever after.

Yesterday then, I enjoyed my first full day off of everything in quite a while. And I definitely wasn't expecting a drastic change in Jon's definition of fun. We had lunch together with the Youds and couple of Jon's friends from work. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with Jen Youd at her house, "helping" her organize her scrapbooking materials, etc. I relaxed. After dinner I suffered a devastating loss at Hearts to both Youds (something which will not happen again as I have resolved to kick my "delightful competitiveness" into a higher, scarier gear). But the evening had only just begun.

Jonathan had a surprise up his sleeve. We got all dressed up, cocktail dress, high heels, big hair, the works. At 9pm we left for San Francisco. But that is all Jon would tell me about our destination. Oh, except that it would be "fun".

levende.jpgWhere did we end up? A chic "talking bar" called the Levende Lounge. Very cool. Even cooler once God blessed us with a free and convenient parking spot! We even got to skip the whole velvet rope, standing in line routine because we had a reservation at 10pm. The inside of this place was very snazzy. Deep red walls, soft brown leather furniture, amber lighting and lots of candles. A darkly-clad DJ offered up pulsing electronica into the dim yet vibrant atmosphere.

strawberry_martini.jpgTogether we resolved to try something new. I ordered a strawberry vodka martini called "La Fresca". Hands down the best I've ever had. Sweet, warming the back of my throat. A wonderful complement to the grilled bread and assorted sausage platter we chose later on. With the chef's compliments we also got to try a slice of melba toast with real goat cheese and a dab of onion jelly. Delicious!

In the dark my husband and I got the chance to talk. Sounds like something we do every day. But no. It was a date like the ones we had when we were first together. When we were discovering every tiny little precious thing about one another.

I've heard some people mourn the fact that the dating period of their relationship is over. That they already know everything about the person they love. So far I cannot agree with that. I believe that I know Jon better than anyone else in this world. Also that the opposite is true. Yet every day we bind closer by continuing to discuss that which we already know. Until we have stopped growing and changing our minds as individuals, there won't be an opportunity to run out of things to learn together.

Our conversations from last night varied widely from our plans for the summer to religion to music... to how much alcohol it will take for me to get Jon out on the dance floor with me when we visit Vegas in July. (A good tidbit of info I didn't have until last night, I might add.) But the bottom line is that we finally found some common ground in our quest for the definition of "fun".

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05-05-05

disneyland_red.jpgDisneyland is 50 years old! And, oh, how I wish Jon and I could be down there right now. No two people in the world love being in the "happiest place on earth" more than we do. But, instead of yearning for what simply cannot be, I think I'll celebrate my love affair with Disneyland... the one I've had since I fell in love with my Jon.

This month is the two-year-anniversary of our first trip together to Anaheim. Let the memories commence!

disneyland_01_015.jpgOn a whim we grabbed our stuff and drove down together in Jon's little red Jetta (I miss that car!). As we pulled into the parking garage that night, Jon's face lit up. He was so excited! So happy! I cannot describe our first tram ride into the park. But I'll try. The rain-heavy air cloaked us, swirled softly around our brand new love. This picture shows us on the only time we've ever done "It's A Small World". We were soaking wet, annoyed by the stupid little song, but ecstatic to simply be in our own private heaven.

dl 003.jpgWith a whopping success in May, it took very little coaxing for us to return the next month. June of 2003 brought us down with Jon's family and the Talbots. Hmmmmm, some of you wonder, how did Audrey talk Jon into being goofy and into wearing a hat?! (None of your business, nudge nudge, wink wink...) Indiana Jon and I had quite the time once again. This trip reinforced our love of the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney. You gotta love a restaurant that has gorillas and elephants as entertainment! Sing it! "Jungle love is driving me mad, it's making me crazy, crazy!"

dsc02819-copy_edited.jpgIn September we had our own summer of the monkies. I was soon to be off to Davis, putting 80 miles between us where there had only been 3 miles at most before. We weren't looking forward to that. So, on a very hot September weekend we took our show on the road, adopted two cute spider monkies (Chloe and Jack Sparrow the Monkey... no, not letting Jon name our children). And yes, we did wear them around our necks, joined at their velcroed feet. And yes, we got plenty of "Awwwww, how adorable"s and "Aren't they sweet togethers" and "Man, get a room"s, too.

DSC03275.jpgThen I got a surprise. Two months after that trip we went on another. Our shortest to date. And I didn't know a thing about it. Jon proposed to me on a Saturday afternoon at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. And, as if that wasn't fantastic enough, and as if the beautiful Tiffany diamond ring wasn't over-the-top fabulous, he then whisked me away on a surprise trip to Disneyland to celebrate our engagement. After dinner at the Rainforest Cafe (which serves the best bruschette on the planet!) we stopped at Sephora where I got my makeup done. That's why I'm practically unrecognizable in the photo. But our joy is definitely evident. We were in the park all of six hours and flew home in time for church in the morning.

dsc03654_edited.jpgChristmas just wouldn't be complete without a visit to Disneyland done up holiday style. I'd never seen it that way before. Romance could so easily be defined by the sight of Small World done up in thousands of brightly colored lights, the backdrop of this photo. We took it just after experiencing the snow on Main Street to the soft, creamy tune of Christmas carols. So beautiful. And lots of mistletoe everywhere! We all won.

disneyland_05_23_2004 003.jpgFor the next few months we were busy with school, work and all the wedding plans. Finally in May of 2004 we happened upon the perfect excuse to run off one more time. My journalism professor wanted a "travel story". Okie dokie! Thus we were off to cover the opening of the new "Tower of Terror" ride in California adventure. Crazy ride! We actually waited in line for that one (whereas we have become experts at "doing the park", utilizing the fast pass system and knowing which times of the day are best to see certain attractions... we're almost never in line for more than 20 minutes). Needless to say... I got an A on that assignment.

honeymoon 575.jpgIn August we were married. Yay! And the day after our wedding we flew down to Disneyland again to celebrate together as man and wife. But one day there on the way to Florida just didn't seem like enough. On our way back after being in Orlando for 10 days we stopped in at the park for an afternoon, doing all things we hadn't done yet. I know what you're thinking. After so many visits how could there possibly be one inch of the park we hadn't explored? On short trips we make sure to hit the classics (Pirates and the Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise). Our priorities might baffle some, for instance we always have hotdogs for lunch at the Carnation Cafe on the corner of Main Street while listening to a ragtime pianist burst out with musical joy! It's the best. So, what did we do on that day of firsts? The Golden Horseshoe saloon had a comedic floorshow. We rode the Mark Twain around the river, dropped in at Tom Sawyer's island and we went on several of the rides in the storybook area of the park (Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, etc.). Even now, though, we can't say we've done it all. There's still Club 33, and Space Mountain once it's reopened in June.

DSC08139.jpgAfter our first Christmas as newlyweds had come and gone without even a hint of Disney adventure, we knew something had to be done. We couldn't miss the Youds' infamous New Year's party... but we could drive down on the day before New Year's Eve and party for a bit in Mickeytown, USA. Another quick trip, always awesome! DSC08153.jpgAnd rainy. So we were ponchoed much of the time. Thus I have included two pictures from this trip. One of us together and... a personal favorite of my darling blue-eyed boy in his poncho. Meep meep! Sorry, this inside joke must be inserted here to make my husband smile when he reads this later.

disneyland_04_15_2005 036.jpgHow long could we stay away? Until Jon's birthday in April and not one second longer. I surprised him after work, picked him up and we were off once more. Perfect weather welcomed us to Anaheim. And, as Disneyland was preparing for its own birthday celebration, we got to see Cinderella's castle done up in all its pink, purple and gold glory. Here I am enjoying spring, our eighth month of marriage, my husband's birthday and, of course, my favorite place in the world.

So that is a catalog of our 9 Disney adventures as a couple. If and when I find old shots of us as kids at the park... wow, will you all be in for a treat! Me in stretch pants and big t-shirts tied at the hip with those cheap plastic buckles, Jon with his socks pulled up to his knees while wearing short shorts! Our folks in all their big-haired, eighties style glory! (And I'll even throw in a couple of my adorable little brothers, just for good measure.) But for now, that's the way our cookie crumbled.

And we lived happily every after.

THE END

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"Jackson wouldn't want to go topless in France."

No one is arguing. Topless? At work? No, on the beach. Oh, much more appropriate. True.

gilmoregirls.jpgFor anyone who does not watch the show (females, you should! males, just roll your eyes and enjoy the zany randomness of it all) the rest of this might not make sense to you. YaYas read on and learn what I thought about this week's "fresh" episode.

Logan might be cute, smart, funny, and rich... but he's too much of a juvenile delinquent for me. I mean, the Life or Death Brigade thing, snatching a trinket from a wealthy person's home and replacing it with the last thing he stole, sorta funny. He's twenty-one. Whatever. But to do it at Richard and Emily's? Even with all that aside, he didn't even stand up like a man to save the poor unfortunate maid!

So Logan is a loser.

Emily is a mean old witch.

Richard is a cute old guy.

Luke is perfect for Loralai, as usual. And I looooove that house he wants to buy. How adorable!

Onto Rory. This girl may be intelligent, but she's not really proving it in her current situation. "Coffee? It's decaf." Chasing that arrogant schmuck around the newsroom. Paris is making more sense than she is. And not calling Logan out, or at least stopping him from being immature... maybe the writers wanted to keep her from being such a goody goody. It's working.

And now a sad note about Loralai. This is the first week I haven't made my now infamous "I love her; I want to be her." remark as I watched. She just sat there and let her parents walk all over her. She just sat there. Very un-Loralai-like. Someone needs to find the writers and smack each and every one of them upside their heads.

On the bright side, the dialog was cute. Loved the opening with the little, circular, spinny vaccum cleaner, too. Ah, I suppose the episode has been redeemed a bit. But they sure as heck better come back strong next week.

Or... else! (Angry fist of rage!)

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halo2.jpgEven with only 8 months of marriage under my belt, I've already noted the importance and significance of compromise. Tonight Jon wanted to play Halo with some buddies. I wanted to watch Gilmore Girls. Hmmmm... which is more important.

Well, I decided in an uncharacteristically Solomonic moment, Gilmore Girls can be Tivo-ed... "the guys" cannot. So Jon traipsed over to the Youd house, and I logged onto our own Xbox and joined their party via the internet.

Little did they know, I'm not terrible at Halo 2. In fact, since Jon and I have played together several times in the last couple of months, I've become a fair player.

I think what spurred me on most (beyond the obvious birth of my skill) were the comments I heard through the headphones:

"Gotcha!"
"Dude, stop chasing me."
or, my favorite, directed at Jon:
"Tell you wife to stop picking on me!"

So, the evening was well spent after all. In fact, I think I ended up doing better than Jon (Don't be mad, sweetie. You're a very good Halo player.) I did well, and the girls of Stars Hollow are waiting for me on the Tivo.

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fair.jpgApril is over and May is here! Thank goodness. I love the big blue sky, tiny white clouds, flower-covered hillsides. The warm spring breezes helped ease me up to Davis today. I almost didn't mind the drive. (Almost!)

May is also the perfect month for love. Love comes easily in the spring. So much more energy is floating around in the air, fresh like daisies bouncing in the sun.

These pictures were taken at the fair in Pleasanton two years ago. The way we felt then is the way we feel now. We're blessed. I hope that everyone can find and then revel in love like this.

The month of May can be described in terms of flowers or rainbows or fresh summer breezes... almost anything happy and warm can be applied to May. Jon has labeled this article "fluff". And he has turned up his nose at such silliness. But I maintain that even silliness helps to describe May. All winter long we huddle under layers of bulky clothing, we let our hair grow long to cover our necks, we eat more than we should as a response to an innate but archaic survival instinct.

Then May dawns and she brings the sun out with her. We should shed our clothes (not all, but a respectable amount) and dance in the streets! We should frolick in meadows of brand new flowers, and we should all fall head over heels into love.

So, in answer to my own question posed in the title of this entry: MAIS OUI!

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sweaters.jpgNever in my life have I folded more sweaters! Tonight I worked after closing at Banana Republic. You'd think folding would be simple enough to handle, even hour after hour. But I'm here to tell you that you're wrong. Folding isn't simple, it's mind-numbingly boring. And when store policy includes a "folding board" on which every single item of clothing myst be folded to perfection, the whole process is frusterating, too!

Enough complaining. After all, once I got home Jon made dinner for me. And, though I had to put up with a few of his "are you ready to do some of our laundry now" jokes... the evening turned out to be relaxing.

We watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The movie is hilarious. I love watching the interplay between the Greek families. Oh, the culture!

I wish I could say more. But I haven't the energy. Too much standing and folding, and refolding, and folding some more. Tonight I will surely dream of perfect creases, smoothed fabrics, piles of evenly stacked SWEATERS!

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