June 29, 2007
I decided to post on FLAK, asking if anyone would be interested in an exmo get-together. Immediately there was more interest than I ever anticipated or expected, which was a sweet surprise. It was determined that some could not attend an evening get-together, and some could only meet in the evening, so we planned two different gatherings.
Nom de Cypher, a good friend and charmer of many on FLAK, helped me coordinate the lunch, and we ended up meeting at Spaghetti Factory at Trolley Square per Christy's suggestion. My kids and husband went with me (the kids were thrilled to be there, thanks for asking!). I had a great time. Dartman didn't seem uncomfortable there, which was good. We weren't sure what to expect, but there were no awkward moments as could easily happen, I imagine, when strangers meet.
They gave us a big table in the back room, and it was perfect for our group. There were 13 in all:
Me, Dartman, Nom de Cypher, Christy (Degenerate Elite), From the Ashes, Mr. From the Ashes, Amber Ale, Magic Cicero, Radioactive Wrath, Garbageboy, Demon of Kolob, and my two kids. We ordered our food, and had an interesting moment when Radioactive Wrath ordered a beer that was apparently stronger than 3.2%, causing the waiter to inform him they may not serve anything stronger than 3.2% before noon. It was 11:50 a.m. That gave us a good laugh, and we talked about that and other things until our food came.
It was so awesome meeting these people! A few thoughts on each one, based on way too little time to form really good opinions:
Nom de Cypher: Charming, funny, witty, and handsome in a classy way just as his Cary Grant avatar suggests. He stayed longest, and was the last one to leave. A great guy...you should get to know him if you can. His conversation skills are quite good.
Amber Ale: He is a musician who slightly resembles Billy Joel (woo woo! which is my version of a whistle), as his avatar suggests. He's a very nice man, who runs the Zarahemla City Limits website. The first time I ever communicated with Amber Ale, it was when he asked me in an email if he could post my If Joseph Smith had the Internet post in the Satire section of ZCL. I'm so glad I got to know AA better during lunch. He has a great laugh, and he uses it often. Oh, and I found out he loves drinking amber ale. Go figure!
Christy: Our very own sweetheart of Degenerate Elite fame! She is beautiful, on the inside and out. I was sad that she ended up sitting three people away from me on the same side of the table, so we weren't able to chat as I'd have liked to. She did manage to take a quick photo of the two of us smiling into her cell phone camera (the only photo taken at all that day), which she sent to our good friend, Sideon, via text message. No, the photo is not available. You must be president of the SML Fan Club to be able to view it. Sorry. I was impressed with Christy's bubbly nature and her poise and ease with which she greeted all of us when she first arrived. She's great!
From the Ashes: I was so thrilled to meet my friend From the Ashes while we were in Utah, especially since she just moved there recently from living back east. I really admire and love her! She's also beautiful, inside and out, and much younger than you'd guess when reading her deep thoughts and wisdom on her blog. I'd encourage anyone to meet her if given the chance. I was bummed that she was sitting at the other end of the table as well, so I wasn't able to chat more with her too.
Mr. From the Ashes: I was highly impressed that he came to our lunch, despite the fact that he had injured his ankle recently, and was sporting crutches. Bummer, dude! I was sad to find out that his ankle was too overworked during our lunch, causing him to miss the evening get-together. Next time, I hope! He seemed very nice, and the two of them make a very cute couple. I could say he's as beautiful as his wife, but that might make him uncomfortable.
Demon of Kolob: Demon of Kolob is a blogger whom I never heard of before joining FLAK. He sat across from Dart and me and engaged us in some very interesting discussions. He is pretty tall, and has very nice eyes. One thing I remember ~ he told us that people simply don't drink outside in their front yards in Utah. They do so in their backyards, to avoid being picked up by the cops for questioning. I can tell you, this is NOT how it's done in Montana. We can drink wherever we want, except in our vehicles. ;) It was very good to meet Demon, too.
Radioactive Wrath: He was a very interesting guy, who sat just far enough away from me to limit getting to know him better. He seemed like someone with a great sense of humor. He's young, handsome, and pretty easy-going, I'd say. He had a manner that reminded me of Jack Black, I don't know why. I really like Jack Black, I can't help it, and that's how I feel about RW too. It was very good to meet him in person.
Garbageboy: Another FLAKer that I hardly knew of before meeting him at lunch. He's very likeable, with a huge smile that makes you want to get to know him better, because you just know he'd be a great guy to be friends with. He's young, tall, handsome, and married (sorry, ladies). He is married to a TBM woman, so send some good karma thoughts his way. Someday, maybe, they'll both be on the same page religiously. I hope so. I don't wish that kind of experience on anyone. I was glad to meet him.
Magic Cicero: Of Magic Cycero's Odyssey, writer of one of my favorite blogs to read. He's got a great sense of humor, and words things very well. I wish I had his intellect! He's a very interesting person to talk to, which, since we sat so far away from each other during lunch, we were able to do after lunch outside the restaurant in the quiet mall. He's tall, dark, and handsome as well, with a wife and small child(ren). I've been reading his blog for some time, and was very glad he came to lunch so I could meet him in person. What a great guy he is.
I was going to post about the evening get-together we went to later that day, but it's pretty late, so I'll have to write that up tomorrow!
June 26, 2007
We had gone earlier in the day to visit my paternal grandma, who is in her eighties. We called my dad and invited him to come to her house and see us at the same time, since we had arrived so late that we slept in, and only had a couple hours before the party my mom had scheduled, but he declined, saying he'd been at Grandma's house the day before. Besides, "it IS fifty miles away, after all." Okay, Dad. Happy Father's Day, I guess. I was reminded of the time there was a family reunion (my grandpa was adopted as a child into his aunt's family, and this reunion was for the original family) in Cody, Wyoming, only an hour or so away from where I was at the time, and I never heard of it until afterward.
On Sunday we got up too early and headed for Las Vegas. It was nostalgic driving past Provo. Something about seeing that "Y" painted on the mountainside brought back fleeting memories of people and places I knew when I was there for my one year of college. We stopped there for breakfast, and moved on. I couldn't help thinking during my time in Utah that the person in the next car on the interstate, or that guy taking my order at the restaurant, could be someone who reads my blog. A very surreal feeling.
I don't recall ever traveling south of Provo (maybe I did as a child), but it was interesting to me how the landscape changed as we moved south. Something is killing the pine trees, I noticed. You can see fields and fields of tree skeletons, stark and white against the brown dirt of the hillsides. Strange. I really have a love for trees. Soon the dirt turned red and we were in St. George. Beautiful country, but no way could I live there. We stopped to visit my mom's boyfriend's mom who lives there, and it was great meeting her. She's very sweet. We asked her what the super tall, narrow shrubs (or trees) are that are grown in straight rows, looking like green toothpicks against the red that surrounds them, but she had no idea what we were talking about. They were everywhere. Probably so common she doesn't even notice them anymore.
The drive to Las Vegas was through a desolate area, and at one point, we passed through a rock canyon that was fascinating in its difference to anything I've seen before. We were driving fast, and the road was winding sharply. . .besides, the camera was in the trunk, so I'm sad to have no pictures of that awesome rock to show you. Then suddenly the rock abruptly ended, and we were in open country again, dry, hot desert. An occasional cactus, which we decided resembled something straight out of Dr. Seuss. They grew in tall arms covered in hairy bark-like stuff, and the tops of each arm had a green tuft of pointy leaves that looked like fur from a distance. I'm not sure if they are really cactus, or a form of palm tree/shrub thingies, but they are COOL. After searching the web now for 20 minutes and coming up with nothing, I'm really kicking myself for not having my camera out during this vacation. We took no pictures at all. Sigh. Just gives me a good excuse to go back, eh? EDITED TO ADD: Thanks, Chris, for letting me know these are called JOSHUA TREES! Yesss. I knew someone cool would enlighten me, and I was right!!!
We arrived in Las Vegas, and the buildings of the strip were straight out of CSI: Las Vegas. It was way cool. We found our hotel, about four miles down the strip from Mandalay Bay, and we checked in. The temperature was about 100 degrees Farenheit or so. Not bad.
I'll write about Vegas next.
June 21, 2007
I'll be posting about Vegas very soon. It was such a good time. I do have one small question, however. How on earth can people stand to live in heat like that?? I don't think I could live where, were my air conditioner to break down, I could literally DIE if I couldn't get it fixed immediately. Yikes.
I've missed keeping up with blogs while on vacation.
June 17, 2007
June 15, 2007
Tomorrow we head for Las Vegas, with a bit of a stop in Utah to visit family. We'll spend more time on our way back...I can't wait for the get-togethers I have scheduled with a bunch of ex-Mormon friends there. It's going to be fun, I think.
The last week at work has been horrendous as I prepared to take over a week off. I'm the only one who does what I do at my job, so my absence causes some issues. It'd be really nice to delegate some of my extra work, but since there is nobody else, I just have to suck it up and deal. Yeah. A huge thanks to my stepdaughter for filling in for me while I'm gone. Poor girl has to do a TON of filing I just never got time to do (I mean I just never MADE time to do)...but I suppose that will help the time go by more quickly for her. OK. I admit. I feel kind of guilty for leaving her with a totally crappy pile of paid invoices to file. Sorry, honey.
I'll be taking the laptop with me, so hopefully I'll find some free time to write more here...stay tuned!
**Edited to add: Guess who just found out how to scroll?? Oh yeah, I'm lovin' this!
June 11, 2007
Each little thing that happened that day was totally new to me. I had only been in an airport once before, when my older brother went to Europe as a student ambassador. I heard a voice over the loudspeaker announce my flight. This was it!!! I was determined to appear as nonchalant about flying as all the other passengers in line seemed. But inside I was so scared, and trying like crazy to be calm, fearless, and as adult as my adventure required. As I handed the clerk my ticket, I glanced back one last time at my family. They were waving like crazy, my mom crying while trying to comfort my youngest sister Kate, only five years old and bawling that she'd miss me.
I blew kisses, turned, and started that long walk down the tunnel toward the entrance of the plane. It smelled musty like an old, damp locker room. I stared at the floor below me, wondering how stable this contraption could be, considering that there was nothing between it and the ground below. As I got near the door of the plane, I could see a fairly large gap (at least 2 inches!) between the tunnel and the plane. I took one very large step over that crack, trying to appear as if I wasn't worried about falling through.
I made my way toward my assigned seat, hoping against hope that I would be seated next to someone who wasn't scary. I lucked out. The woman who sat down next to me immediately began reading a book, and barely even glanced my way. Right away I put my seatbelt on, having noticed the lit seatbelt sign above my head. This plane was small, having only two seats together beside each window. I was fortunate to get a window seat. I hung on every word the stewardess said about safety and air masks, determined not to die of sheer ignorance about flying.
Soon the plane was moving. Finally! I was fascinated and enthralled at the view of the airport as we taxied away from it and maneuvered toward the runway. I felt the plane turn a tight turn, then all of a sudden I could hear a loud rumble steadily getting louder as the plane roared, shook, and moved forward.
As the dry August grasses beside the runway flew by me in a blur, I suddenly felt the front end lift from the ground, and I felt a dizziness in my head and stomach that I'd never felt before. It was amazing. I laid my head back on the seat while keeping a steady eye on my window, watching as the ground below me transformed from detailed trees, buildings, and cars into a large patchwork quilt of beauty unlike anything I'd ever seen.
I thought the Montana sky was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen before, but that was when I had seen it from the ground. Now I had seen it from ABOVE! I felt like I was suddenly IN that painting of Jesus, the pastel one in which he is standing on a cloud with his arms outstretched, with scores of angels on either side of him blowing their mighty trumpets of glory.
Before too long, we were landing in Denver, and I got to experience a layover that is too damn short. I had only 40 minutes to make my connecting flight, only it was with a different airline, which meant different buildings. I ran to catch the right bus, and ended up running the entire way to my departure gate. I barely made my flight in time! But this airport was full of so many people! Even in my haste, I stared at the people around me, drinking them in like a person who's been in the desert for days without water. I discovered I could be happy just watching people walk by me forever. Each face was a thing of beauty, and I marveled at the stories each one told.
A voice overhead, and I was back in line, handing my ticket to the clerk, certain that this time they'd all know that this was not my first flight, not any more. This time I knew what to expect, and I even shared a knowing glance with the person beside me in the tunnel, giving a look that (I hoped) said, "Here we go again. If you've seen one flight ramp, you've seen 'em all, huh?" What my look most likely said was, "I hope you can't tell I'm just a small-town girl from Montana, excited as hell to be headed to New York City!!!"
This plane was much bigger than my first. This time I didn't get the window seat, but instead I got something even better. A handsome, dark haired stranger who chatted comfortably with me all the way to New York. He was an art student at Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn, the very school I always wanted to attend. I was simply thrilled to be talking with him. All I remember now about our discussion was the debate we had. We talked about the Disney movie "The Little Mermaid," which was fairly new at that time. We both agreed it was fabulous from an artists' standpoint. He told me about the controversial phallic symbol to be found on the cover of the video. He asked me if I knew the name of the sea witch, and I said, "Yeah, I do!" but then I couldn't come up with her name no matter how hard I tried. Finally, he told me: "It's Wella."
"No it isn't! No way."
"Sure it is! Remember when she sings, "They weren't kidding when they called me Wella Witch"?"
"She wasn't singing her name! She was singing "when they called me, well, a witch!""
"You don't know what you're talking about."
I said, "There's that one line in the movie, where King Triton has his pitchfork thingie and he points it at the sea witch, as she's about to do harm to Ariel. He roars out, "_______, Stop!" I just can't remember her name that he calls out."
He was not to be convinced. We reached New York City, and were still debating about it. I got him to promise me that he'd go home and watch it again, this time watching for the scene where the king yells her real name, and think of me and know that somewhere, out there, is Lisa who was right. He grinned as he promised. I can only imagine in hindsight how very irritating such a debate must have been to other passengers around us, but we didn't care.
As we circled in the air toward the airport, I was thrilled to see the Statue of Liberty clearly out the window. What a glorious thing to see with your own eyes instead of in pictures or on T.V.!!! I couldn't hide how very cool I thought it was to see her finally in real life.
Once inside the (very crowded. . .oh, the humanity!) airport, I found the exchange volunteers who were waiting for me at the baggage claim. Soon we discovered that my luggage was not there. We filed a claim for lost luggage and ventured out into the big city toward the college where I'd be staying overnight before heading off to Europe the next day. . .
To be continued. . .
June 6, 2007
Seems the stake executive secretary has called twice and left messages that the Stake President wants to see her. Part of me wonders if it's about her, or if it's about me.
This could get interesting.
June 1, 2007
Last weekend we enjoyed another soccer tournament during which my son played very well. It looks like we'll be headed to Vegas in June to play. Good times! I love when he can be goalie against really tough teams, it gives him the best practice and experience which he needs if he is to improve. Can you imagine how frickin' HOT it's gonna be, though? That part makes me dread going, but the scenic drive, the shows we plan to see (Cirque du Soleil, baby!!), and the fun times should make it worth it. It will also be good to pop into Salt Lake City and visit family and friends while I'm at it.
Big news at our house ~ my nine year old lost another tooth yesterday!! This time, she decided to write a note to the Tooth Fairy, who actually answered her questions!
How awesome is she? I love her imagination. "Where do you get money?" Priceless.
I'm thinking that the Tooth Fairy must be mighty relieved, however, that she didn't HIDE this note like she did her letter to Santa last year! I'm also thinking how relieved the Tooth Fairy must have been to have Yes or No questions vs. being given big spaces for essay-type answers. Just sayin.'
More big news! I ordered myself a laptop. That should enable me to write more often in my blog. It's been difficult with all the travel and all the softball and soccer games we've been doing...oh, yeah, and with all the chats with my blog friends I've been enjoying. Sheesh! Why can't you people be less interesting?! But I really do look forward to sitting and watching movies or shows while I write. Could be fun! I don't gift myself expensive toys like laptops very often.