Thursday, July 28, 2005

Yo ho ho and a bottle of Grey Goose

I bruise really easily. Hug me too hard, and I’ll bruise. Jokingly poke my arm and there’ll be a mark there later. One time my roommate in college was drunk and bit me. The next day I had a perfect imprint of her teeth on my upper arm. I always have bruises and I usually have no idea where they came from.

After my summer trips, I was covered in bruises, mostly on my legs, so I didn’t wear skirts until they went away. Today I was walking to the elevator (in a skirt) and my co-worker was behind me and was like “another bruise on your legs – how did you do that?” To which I replied “I don’t know – I never know. I just bruise easily – plus I have scurvy.” I said that last part as I rounded the corner to the elevator, where a guy was standing, giving me a rather horrified look. My co-worker started cracking up, while I was trying to explain to the guy that I don’t REALLY have scurvy, it’s just an explanation for the easy bruising. Plus, duh, everyone knows it's totally not contagious.

Scurvy is basically something you get when you have a severe Vitamin C deficiency. You see, back in the day, pirates (and other sea-guys) would get scurvy because they were at sea for long periods of time with no access to fresh fruit, and therefore they would become severely deficient in Vitamin C.

In 1747, a ship’s doctor finally figured out the cause by dividing the 12 sick men on his ship into six groups and while they all ate the same stuff for three meals, each group received different supplements, one of which was oranges and lemons. The men who ate the oranges and lemons recovered immediately, while none of the other groups showed any improvement. As this discovery caught on, ships would be stocked with limes, which while they were cheaper than lemons and oranges, weren't as effective in curing or preventing scurvy. THAT is how the word “limey” ended up in the British vocabulary. Limey means “a British sailor or English person” and it is actually sort of a slur to mean that the person in question was too cheap to stock their ships with oranges and lemons, and resorted to cheaper means even though it might mean the health of their crew. See how those guys were? Limey bastards, they were.

And so ends your history lesson for today. The things you can learn reading a blog written by someone who thinks pirates are hilarious and even though scurvy is actually really no laughing matter, the sound of the word itself makes me laugh. There may be a pop quiz later, so I hope you took good notes. In the meantime, stock up on limes and perhaps integrate them into your daily diet -- because there aren't a lot of fruits out there that can cure scurvy and yet simultaneously add tart deliciousness to your vodka tonic. Savvy?

What? I can't really pull that whole pirate lingo thing off? I'm not Captain Jack Sparrow? Huh. Maybe it was just the Grey Goose talking.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The History of Us

I’m trying to think of how to abridge this story so that it doesn’t take 85 years to read. Perhaps a list…

I’m sixteen, he’s seventeen. We’re in choir together and he asks me out, which I accept. We date very casually for a short while, and then it sort of ends on its own with no real reason – not a big deal and we stay friends.

He begins dating someone else, referred to hereafter as “the troll.” Seriously, she was like three feet tall and VERY troll-like in appearance. And she also was NOT very nice at all. I’m mystified as to what he saw in her. Anyway…

It’s the end of that school year and by this time, it’s pretty obvious that we have a great attraction to each other. We love the same music and he always called me at 8:02 on Thursday nights, because “90210” ended at eight and I wasn’t going to miss THAT. We accumulated quite a collection of mix tapes. Yes, mix tapes – and they were the best. He would sometimes talk to me on them, which I think is pretty sweet. And of course, as a lovesick teenager, I was all atwitter about it.

Now we’re seventeen and eighteen. It’s the beginning of his senior year. We are still in choir together, and now we’re both in the top “show choir,” which means we spend A LOT of time together. We’ve become better friends and just keep getting closer, much to the chagrin of the troll. She’s in the marching band and so she has one of her choir friends SPY on him and I. This girl would follow us around as much as possible and try to eavesdrop on our conversations. We had a great time thinking of ways to dodge her.

So it’s fall, and he’s in the “Fall Play” with my friend Michelle, who I was very close to and so she knew how much I adored him. She comes to me one day and says “I kissed him.” WHAT??? I was pretty pissed, but she was (allegedly) really sorry and promised that it would never happen again, so I forgave her.

The year continues with us still hanging out and still making tapes and me wondering why the hell he’s still with the troll.

It’s now spring, and we both get leads in the “Spring Musical,” which means, you guessed it, like 24/7 together for a couple of months. We would go to the “secret” band/choir make-out places in the back halls and kiss and it was all so exciting because I was so into him and it was just cool. Oh, and yes, he’s still with the troll, and I still can’t figure out why. But I stopped caring. Because I’m mean and heartless.

The last night of the “Spring Musical” means all-night cast party at someone’s house. He and I stayed for maybe an hour and then did some amazing James Bond-esque maneuvers to escape The Spy and leave the party. We narrowly escaped. We went to his house, because his parents were out of town and I stayed the night. As a disclaimer, I would like to say here that because I was pretty naïve and also well-behaved (for the most part) back then, we never slept together. End of disclaimer.

At this point, it’s almost the end of the year, and lo and behold! He breaks up with the troll! There is rejoicing across the land (Amberland, in case that was unclear) and so finally we’d be together and everything would be great.

And then, my little high school world crashed down around my ears. He immediately started dating my “friend” Michelle. If by “dating” you mean “making out in the music room at every possible opportunity.” Devastation – utter devastation. Betrayal by someone I loved and not only that, with someone who was supposed to be my friend.

Because I am not one who likes to show weakness, I turned the sadness into ice. At least at school – at home I was a blubbering mess. I refused to look at or talk to them and if by some chance I saw either of them and accidentally made eye contact, I gave them the expressionless face with slightly narrowed eyes and looked away.

One day, I walked into the music room while he was talking to another guy about me – something to the effect of how I should “get over it” – I can’t really remember because I think my head exploded about then. He saw me come in (too late) and I said something to the other guy like “if you’re going to talk shit about someone, you should be a little more careful,” and then I turned to the Reason for my Devastation and said “And you? You can F*** OFF!” It was the last thing I said to him for two years. I also never spoke to That Bitch who used to be my “Friend” ever again.

So my freshman year in college, I get an email from him. It was pretty long – and it was all about how sorry he was and what an ass he’d been and he apologized over and over for ripping my heart out and drop kicking it. Those are my words, not his. So I agreed that yes, he was an ass, and then I forgave him, and since we went to the same college, we would talk every once in a while. Eventually, I got a boyfriend and transferred schools, and so the communication decreased, though we still talked now and then. Until he called to tell me he was getting married, at which point we didn’t really talk again. I didn’t care, though, because I was happy doing what I was doing, and so whatever.

I can’t say that I never stopped thinking about him, because that’s not true – I thought about him every now and then, and while I will never forget the pain he caused me back then, I realize that we were young and boys are mean and things change. Every once in a while I would Google him, but didn’t really find out much, except that he was still here and was going to law school.

Earlier this month, I was on the dating website, and got an email that had my full name in the title – which I figured must be someone I knew because of the anonymity factor of the website. It was from him. He’s now divorced, and shocked and amazed that he found me, so he leaves me his number to call him. I closed the email and called him. Because I’m so suave. But we talked and then we went out to dinner that night. And we spent the next evening together (it was the 4th of July) at the annual Blues Traveler concert at Red Rocks, which was fun for the people-watching alone.

So it’s now, well, NOW. We didn’t see each other for like three weeks because I was gone and then he was gone and also my social calendar is just CHOCK FULL, you know. We had dinner last night, and it was really good. The dinner part and the “date” part. It’s weird to be with someone that you knew so long ago – I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of deja-vu sometimes. But at the same time, it’s remarkably comfortable. There’s a basis there already, and so we can skip over some of the stupid preliminaries, and also, we can read each other pretty well, even though a lot of time has passed.

So now that this turned out to be 85 years long after all, I leave you with this – things might work out. I know, not a ringing endorsement, but he seems to want things with us to continue. Because something about me screams “please ask me what the status of our relationship is by the third date” (TM Beth), he sent me an email when he was gone last week about how I seemed “tentative” around him. So I sent him a long email back, (I know, who would have thought) that explained why – such as how I’m still waiting for the day he doesn’t call, since recent past experience has led me to expect that. It was a good thing on both of our parts, and it made last night SO MUCH less awkward than the first couple of times we hung out. It was cool. And I will cautiously hope that things continue to be cool…

Monday, July 25, 2005

Mokalakapiki, c'mon you wanna lei me

At the request of Marie, I am updating you as promised on the birthday festivities of Saturday night. There are pictures – I know, because I totally remember the posing cutely and the flash going off.

So let’s see, what happened… well, Kendra’s cousin Bradley showed up with his friends, and as I was making myself this yummy apple martini, I hear “You look kind of like one of the kids from ‘The Little Rascals.’” I turn around, and there’s Kendra commenting on the hairstyle of one of the boys. I’m not sure where the Little Rascals reference fit in, because he looked fine to me, but hey, it’s her birthday. And I was laughing because this kid is MAYBE 21, and I don’t imagine he’s real familiar with the Little Rascals. He looked a little bewildered, but it could’ve been the unsolicited advice from a stranger about his hair that caused that. Also, Bradley is giant and one of his friends was as well, and when we saw them walk in, I said to Becki “It’s the attack of the giant twelve-year-olds” at which point we laughed for like ten minutes. It was way funnier with vodka, I promise. I think Bradley is actually also around 21, but again, he’ll always be about 12 in my world.

We ran out of vodka, and so for a few harrowing minutes, us vodka-hounds were wringing our hands and casting surreptitious glances at the door so we’d be ready when the new bottle arrived. I’m just going to say that when you get to that point, it’s probably a good bet that you don’t NEED more vodka, but really, who pays attention to signals like that when there’s fun to be had?

Karen and John came to pick me up, and Karen was like “I was supposed to bring you a lei, but I forgot.” And then when we got in the car, she hands me a drink and said “John was in charge of your cocktail” and so I told her that, no offense, I’d totally rather have the cocktail than the lei.

Basically, we hung out in this little circle in the backyard drinking and talking and of course doing the thing that always ends up happening that we term “Hahaha new person, remember that time when you weren’t there? Hahahaha – that was so funny” because we have so many years of memories and lines and jokes and cues that anyone who isn’t one of the A-List is completely lost about two words in. Can’t help it – and it’s fun. We also talked about Karen and I’s upcoming trip to a reputable and clean tattoo establishment because Karen wants to commemorate the end of her 20’s with a tattoo, and because I figured it’s been like four years since my last tattoo, so what the hell. We also discussed the spring trip to Vegas that we decided to take in celebration of all of us turning 30 within the next year. Oh, and in case I forgot to mention it, there were a lot of stupid jokes and making fun of each other and well, “Hahaha blog reader, remember that time when you weren’t there? Hahahaha – that was so funny.”

All in all, the food was great, the company was better and since we left fairly early (apparently the party went on until about 3 a.m.) we managed to avoid any passing out in awkward places (me), taking pictures with the novelty coffee table (Karen), having things suddenly get "wheird"(Becki) and talking loudly about wildly inappropriate subjects (John).

I would say, all in all, a fabulous party!

Friday, July 22, 2005

She's only seventeeeeeen!

I'm pretty sure that's how old Kendra and I were in this picture.

Twelve years later, here we are. REAL CLOSE to entering our 30s -- we've marked every landmark birthday together so far, and 30 will be no different. Becki calls her a "foul-weather friend" because she's so great when you're feeling down. She's hilarious and witty and even after all this time, there are few people that can make me laugh as much as she does. Our conversations have changed over time, but somehow, there is always a part of us that can quickly revert back to the silliness of high school. We always joke that one day, our kids are going to simply roll their eyes and be like "that's how they ALWAYS are," because we've embarassed them with our behavior so many times. We clean up well, don't get me wrong, but there's always going to be an inordinate amount of laughing involved.

She will ream you up and down for a bad decision you made, but if anyone ELSE dares to tell you the same thing, she'll defend you up and down. She always sends Christmas cards, and always has birthday cards. She's been a bridesmaid a million times, because the bride always knows who will be the most organized and take the best care of her -- it's Kendra. She's "the drunk dialing bandit," but it's somehow endearing because the messages she leaves are priceless.

Kendra and I fight more than any of our other friends combined. It's because we're so alike and because what annoys us in ourselves annoys us in each other. And it's also because we're so close. Since the rest of our girls have moved and/or gotten married, she and I have gotten closer to each other. We live 3 minutes apart -- she lives in the house she lived in in high school, and I live a mile from my parents' house, across the street from our high school. I talk to her pretty much at least once a day. We are like that old married couple who finishes each other's sentences and is so irritating because the conversations go something like:
"Hey, remember when we --"
"-- went to that place -- "
"-- yeah, and did that one thing -"
"-- oh my god, that was SO funny."

Our idea of hanging out is being in the same house, but one of us is reading a magazine/watching t.v./doing laundry and the other one is taking a nap/painting her toenails/surfing the internet. We can order for each other at our favorite restaurants and never have conversations like "what kind of pizza should we order" because it's a given. Neither of us can believe that the other one's much younger sibling is no longer two years old -- it's just not possible. Kendra could hang out at my parents' house without me with no problem, and I could do the same with her parents. Though her status with my mom was briefly threatened after the "JFC Debacle of '99," it's a mark of how awesome Kendra is that my mom will still always hug her first when we walk in the door. There are a million other things, but suffice it to say, if you have a best friend, you know where I'm coming from.

So in honor of her upcoming birthday extravaganza tomorrow night, I'm posting a memory. And if I know Kendra (and I do) there will be another memory in picture form to post on Monday, after the party. Which is a good thing, because if I know Kendra (and I do) she's gonna need some pictures to remember. I foresee that we'll be at her house on Sunday, in what we have so aptly named "the hangover basement."

Happy Birthday to you, Kendra! I love you!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Everytime she sneezes I believe it's love...

Oh, and one other thing. Can I just say how much I LOVE Counting Crows right now? I listened to them a lot on this last trip, because they are so calming and yet they drown out the talking in the van when I want to sleep. My favorite song on August and Everything After is Anna Begins. What a great song.

"If it's love," she said, "then we're going to have to think about the consequences."

She can't stop shaking and I can't stop touching her and this time
When kindness falls like rain, it washes her away
And Anna begins to change her mind

"These seconds when I'm shaking leave me shuddering for days," she says
And I'm not ready for this sort of thing…

I am. I think this is such a great song about all of the uncertainty and yet the coolest feelings of falling in love. So maybe that’s why even through all of the stupid ridiculousness of dating, I still do it because I know how that feels and I want to feel it again.

But right now, I just noticed what time it is. It’s Harry Potter time! So me, the cats, and my new giraffe, Hays, have some serious reading to do.


Ghost. It’s one of my all-time favorite songs by the Indigo Girls, and one that appears on their new disc, Rarities, in its demo format. I was listening to it this morning, and I thought back to when I first heard it. At the time, I was 16, and pretty naïve about things like love and loss. I thought that the ghost in the song was an actual ghost – someone they loved had died and this was a song about that. But now in my older and more jaded state, I see that while my original thought might be true, the ghost in the song is more likely not someone dead, but someone lost to them all the same. This is not necessarily the ghost of a great relationship – in fact, it seems maybe that it wasn’t, but the ghost remains all the same. Signals cross and love gets lost and time passed makes it plain. Of all my demon spirits I need you the most -- I’m in love with your ghost…

I have some ghosts. Maybe not a lot, but definitely some that won’t rest. The crazy thing is, the worst kinds of ghosts are the ones of good memories. It’s something to hold on to and remember, but at the same time, they end up destroying you because what was always overshadows what is or what could be. Unknowing captor, you’ll never know how much you pierce my spirit, but I can’t touch you. Can you hear it -- a cry to be free? But I’m forever under lock and key…

The other thing about ghosts is that if somehow the real person comes back, there’s that hope that things will be as good as they were before, even if in reality, things weren’t that great. Time passes and memories become much of what we want them to be, not necessarily what they truly were. And given the chance to do it over again or start from the beginning, armed with the knowledge that you now possess, therein lies the danger of hope, combined with the ways that you've changed and that the other person has changed. But ghosts overshadow that and make you want things that are most likely out of reach and no longer something that you really want or need. Now I see your face before me, and I would launch a thousand ships to bring your heart back to my island, as the sand beneath me slips…

The strange thing is, I’m not talking about any one person. There are a few ghosts out there that come along at inopportune times and make me remember and there’s a brief moment of happiness, followed by a jarring return to reality. Sigh. Contrary to the tone of this entry, I’m really not in a sad or melancholy mood. Just contemplative. When I feel quiet, I seem to think a lot more. At any rate, I really recommend that if you have never heard this song, you must. Right now.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Only 357 more days until camp...

Here I am folks, back in Colorado. If you really want to know the truth, I’m not that happy about it. Ok, I am pretty happy about it, save for the fact that being back means being back at my job. Stupid, stupid job.

So Montana was awesome, though. It was a whole week of playing and, as luck would have it, my Camp Boyfriend from last year was there. Just to clarify, he is not in fact actually my boyfriend, just a guy I have had a crush on at camp since last summer. And also to clarify, he is a fellow counselor, not a high-school-aged camper. Because ew. Anyway, it was fun to spend the week with him, and frankly, I’m pretty surprised that he remained oblivious to the crush, because EVERYONE knew about it. Or maybe he did know and was playing it off like he didn’t in order to avoid the awkwardness associated with unreciprocated crushes in fairly close proximity. Or maybe he had a crush on me as well, and never said anything because he was worried about the awkwardness associated with unreciprocated crushes in fairly close proximity. I'd like to say (fine -- call it "wishful thinking" if you MUST) that there was some flirting going on on his part – the threats of throwing me into the creek in my clothes; the time he was covered in this applesauce-like substance that we had been using for relay races and was at that time being used as weaponry and he was standing behind me with his arms around me and his hands full of the stuff, mere inches from my face; the teasing; the other things that as I read this makes me realize that this is what I now think is flirting after I'm with 30 high school kids for a week. Sigh. I suppose that this would have been a good time to maybe have a short, breezy conversation about it (you know, the kind where you could play it off as a joke if it got wheird). Or not. Whatever.

Montana was not only awesome because of Camp Boyfriend, though. It was awesome because I have the best group of kids EVER and we have so much fun no matter what we do. And the great thing is that I can be as immature and ridiculous as I want to, and no one looks at me like I've lost my mind. In fact, they love it. There was a lot of dancing and singing and yelling and running around. There were campfires every night, and all kinds of camp songs and weird contests like who can peel and eat an orange the fastest and who can hold a mouthful of alka-seltzer and Sprite in their mouth the longest without swallowing any or spitting any out. That last challenge is NOT easy, and I was THIS CLOSE to beating Dane, but I had to spit it out. There was jumping off of the trunk of a fallen tree into the creek that is so cold it takes your breath away at first. We hiked up to this place where there are a couple of really beautiful waterfalls and took tons of pictures. We stayed out until midnight the last night we were there and looked up at the stars – it’s amazing there because we’re so far from any city that it’s always pitch black and you can see every star in the sky – and lots of shooting stars. We did relays and team challenges and there was a lot of laughing and sarcasm and surprisingly, no drama. I ate close to 15 fudgesicles throughout the week, because Montana is home to the very best fudgesicles in the entire world – Wilcoxson’s Deluxe Fudge Bars – and so we eat as many as possible when we’re there. We (the counselors) stashed a couple of boxes in the camp manager’s cabin and after lunch, we’d walk down there and eat one while the kids had free time. It had to be on the down low though, because the kids love them as much as we do. It was peaceful and gorgeous and so many other things and I always hate when it ends, because it means I have to go back to regular life and stress and stupid stuff like that.

I’ll have pictures eventually, which I’ll post. And in the meantime I’ll sit here in my cubicle and wish I was sitting on the patio eating a fudgesicle and preparing to run across the meadow and down to the creek. Sigh. I miss camp.

Friday, July 08, 2005

It's time to miss me again!

I know I mentioned it in the previous post, but it's vacation time again. You know, now that I worked for FOUR almost whole days (because what's a "full day" at work without a little shopping and some leaving early? Am I right? Am I right?) it's time for me to go on my last week of vacation for a while. Sigh.

This time though, I won't be going and working and not showering and constantly sweating. I will be with the kids again, but this week is dedicated to not working. It's camp in the gorgeous Paradise Valley in Montana.We hike and swim in the river, have campfires, play ultimate frisbee and cards and then there's also the requisite God stuff. But it's fun. I just finished overpacking -- usually I'm a really efficient packer, but for some reason this trip I couldn't seem to stop packing stuff. Fascinating, isn't it?

Anyway, that's my story. See you in a week!

Good things come in fives. Let's just go with that.

Ok, you asked for it -- more info about me. What? You didn't ask for it? Well, sorry, but I got tagged by Cheryl and as I secretly love these sort of games, here we go.

Ten years ago: I was the “watering girl” at a flower nursery and my only concern besides getting a tan was what color theme I was going with to decorate my dorm room for my sophomore year at Colorado State. Or maybe I was hopped up on codeine watching every movie starring Chris O’Donnell that my mom could find because I had my wisdom teeth taken out.

Five years ago: I was getting ready for my seventh and final year of college (and yet, not a doctor) and probably drinking too much because I cannot remember what I was doing. Wait – I was working at a graphic design firm. Yes. And finishing up my time as the Features Editor of my college paper.

One year ago: I was miserable at my job and bummed because I was back from both Juarez and camp. However, it was also great because I had just moved into my condo that I BOUGHT and I was making it look pretty.

Yesterday: I was laying on a chaise lounge in the backyard of Sally & Joe’s house, drinking wine and listening to the breeze rustle through the huge cottonwoods. I love their yard and even though I hate cottonwoods for allergy reasons, I hope they always stay there because I love that sound.

Today: I’m alone at work, using someone else’s computer because my keyboard is having issues. I’m going shopping later. Clearly, it’s a typical day at the office.

Tomorrow: I’m leaving in the morning with 15 kids to drive to Montana for camp. A week of fun and games and campfires, all in the most beautiful place ever. Oh don’t worry – there will be pictures.

Five snacks I enjoy: Cheez-its, shrimp with extra spicy cocktail sauce, Twizzlers, dried cherries, sharp cheddar cheese with multi-grain wheat thins

Five bands that I know the lyrics of MOST of their songs: Indigo Girls, Dave Matthews, Sting, Barenaked Ladies, Depeche Mode

Five things I would do with $100,000,000: I’m going to go with one thing, and that would be SPEND IT. I’d like to say I’d be responsible with it, but that would be a lie. Actually, I’d pay all my bills and put some in savings, and THEN spend the rest. I mean, I’d give it to charity.

Five locations I’d like to run away to: Hawaii, Australia, Bonita Bay Florida, Winter Park Colorado, Napa Valley

Five bad habits I have: Leaving clothes and shoes wherever I take them off, getting pissed at people who I feel should not be on MY roads, interrupting, being late a lot, saying the first thing that comes to my head sometimes

Five things I like doing: Hanging out with my friends and family, watching t.v. or reading, going on FUN trips, being affectionate, sleeping late

Five things I would never wear: Tapered leg jeans, a thong bikini, any animal print, two different patterns together (i.e. plaid and stripes), powder blue eyeshadow

Five TV shows I like: CSI (only the original), Law and Order: SVU, Monk, Spongebob Squarepants, Reno 911

Five movies I like: Shawshank Redemption, Sling Blade, Shanghai Noon, Gandhi, Swingers

Five famous people I’d like to meet: Truthfully, I’d really rather be able to meet my great grandparents on my dad’s side of the family because I don’t know anything about them. But if they have to be famous, I’ve also always wanted to Quantum Leap into the past so I could see what really happened when JFK was assassinated, or when Marilyn Monroe died. Maybe not meet, I guess, since those are both death-related incidents, but I wish I could see historical events firsthand. Wait, what was the question?

Five biggest joys at the moment: I’m leaving for Montana, it’s summer, my youth group kids, the fact that I have a great life for a million reasons, and the way my cats snuggle up to me whenever I’m at home

Five favorite toys: my power drill, my cd burner, my electronic solitaire game, my pedicure stuff, potting soil and plants

Five People to tag: Kendra, Kristina, Becki, Linda, Chief Slacker

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Don't try this at home, people

This is quite possibly the best shirt ever. I happened across it at the thrift store and knew it would be totally appropriate for the trip. Which is good, because even though I'm an "adult" leader, sometimes I can be really inappropriate. That's just how it is -- I cannot be appropriate ALL the time, because it's too hard to suppress my true nature for very long. So whenever I'd say something not so "adult" the kids would say something like "and THAT'S why you're a professional role model." To which I would reply "You'll notice it does NOT say 'professional GOOD role model.'"

It reminds me of my favorite quote: "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." Take it to heart, kids, because there's plenty that I've done (and will most likely continue to do) that will just have to be chalked up in the horrible warning category. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

You're Simply the Best

This is me and my boy Tye, who was a constant source of not just amusement, but HILARITY for the entire week. This picture was taken in a rare mellow moment on our way home from Albuquerque. This kid is quite possibly one of the funniest people I've ever met -- I mean, it's not too many people who can make me almost choke on my food and THEN get ketchup up my nose because I'm trying to avoid the choking.

We also have a tradition on these trips called "the quote book." It's a journal where I write down all of the funny things the kids say throughout the week. I started doing it three years ago and now it's a big deal to make it into the quote book. This year it was a lot bigger than usual because if Tye's awake, he's talking. And if he's talking, chances are it's something really funny. He walks that fine line between hilarious and obnoxious, such that we never get tired of him. Also, his humor is effortless -- he never sounds like he's trying too hard. I would tell you some of the stuff that he and the other kids said that was really funny, but it would turn out not to be funny because you totally would've had to be there. Plus, sometimes there's actions to go with them. I just love having the quote book because it's a great way to remember stuff that we did and said.

Oh, and the title of this entry references the fact that every once in a while, Tye would break into song -- any song. He sang the entire "I wanna grow old with you" from "The Wedding Singer" and then one day, he just started singing Tina Turner's "Simply the Best." I don't know why, but whatever. Posted by Picasa

These are happy faces that are also clean!

See how happy we are? It's Thursday night and we had showers! Oh, don't get me wrong, even though it's dark outside and we're sitting down, we're all sweating. It's just not as bad because it's no longer mixed with mortar dust and sand. Plus, at night, you know the temperature goes down, so it's probably only about 9oish degrees out then. HA! We laugh in the face of 90 degrees! Posted by Picasa

Yet another mountain view...

Here are Dane and I on the mountain. You can't really tell, but there's a pretty good drop behind us and therefore, most of the hike was pretty much straight up and there were a lot of rocks. We Colorado people scoffed at the climb, while the groups from Virginia and Illinois died a slow death behind us. Anyway, you can see behind us that it says "La Biblia es la verdad -- leela" which translates to "the bible is the truth -- read it." Every year a church goes up there and repaints it.

We went to a church service on Thursday night, which is always a cool experience. It's not Catholic, just Christian, but there is a TON of singing and clapping. Like so much clapping that your hands start to go numb. And there's a band, so it's not your typical hymns. It's loud and emphatic and the best kind of church. I may have said this before, but I'll say it again -- everyone was so welcoming -- when the service is over, they all hug you and say "Dios le bendiga," which means "God bless you," and I had the cutest little grandma hug me and kiss my cheek and say that. That's one thing that I love about going to Juarez -- everyone in the community that we're in is so nice and glad that we're there and they come and hang out and do nice things for us. There were of course, the ever present soccer games, and I mentioned that the pastor's wife and some other women cooked us the best dinner EVER one night. Then there was one night where a guy came and had made limonadas for us (limeade and mango-ade) complete with ice -- which is awesome after a day of drinking really warm water -- and the ice and the water in the drinks were all purified so we wouldn't get sick. There was also this little store around the corner that supplied me with fruit punch Gatorade all week, and kept the kids in chocolate. One thing I had this time that I really wish we had here was "Manzana Lift." It's apple soda, and it is SO GOOD. Posted by Picasa

The view was totally worth it

So at the end of a day where you've been bricking and mortaring (yes, I believe that that IS the technical term for it) for oh, maybe eight or nine hours, the best thing to do would be to go for a hike, right? I mean, it's a balmy 102 degrees, and you just ate a ton of awesome food that some of the ladies in the community cooked you for dinner, so I'm thinking that hike idea just gets better and better. Anyway, here are Mollie and I at the top of the mountain. The view was spectacular, as you may be able to see. Behind us and to the left, where those mountains are is El Paso. Standing up there, you can clearly see the border. At night, we could see the border from outside our room, and you could tell where Mexico left off and the U.S. began because there are so many more lights in the U.S. It's pretty. Posted by Picasa

Enjoy your 10 foot by 10 foot house!

This is Dane and Brent (in the Adidas shirt) and a kid from another group working on one of the houses we were building. I'd like to give a big shout out to bricklayers, because it's not an easy job. There's a lot of leveling and mortaring and leveling and re-doing the mortaring. And even though this was a church trip, there is also a lot of under the breath cussing at the stupid bricks. This was their second day at this house, and then my crew was there the last two days. We got all of seven rows completed. Not rows, courses, as Karen's husband informed me. Anyway, the house measures about 10x10. Yeah, I know. However, if you see in the background of this picture, the place where the curtain is is the bathroom, and to the left of that is where they do their cooking. The photog is standing in front of the current sleeping area. The thing about Juarez is that while it's relatively easy to get land, the government requires that you build a permanent residence on it immediately or lose it. Therefore, there are a lot of shacks. Places are mostly built of cardboard or wood pallets, so we're upgrading this family to cinderblock.

Also, even though you can't see it in the picture, right over the boys' heads was the main electrical line. It's a live wire rigged up as best as it can be, and it's pirated from the electrical lines run by the electric company. You see, in Juarez, there is one electric company, and it is run by the government. Therefore, you're totally at their mercy and as a result, the service is hit or miss at best. Most of the houses have their own electricity rigged up because it's easier than dealing with the monopoly. The same is true of the water -- the government controls that as well and can (and does) shut off the water randomly and without warning. That was the reason that we couldn't take showers -- there's a water shortage and we didn't want to use too much. Anyway, most of the houses have these big square concrete things outside of their houses that they store water in, in case it's shut off. Despite all that and the fact that it's so dusty and hot there, everyone is really clean. The kids were always clean and well dressed, and the bathroom at the site where we were building the house was sparkling clean. I also saw a lot of women sweeping their dirt floors every night. It's really apparent that family and home is really important to them, no matter what their circumstances are. It was really cool. Posted by Picasa

I wanted to put her in my pocket and take her home

This is Andrea with the prettiest little baby ever. Her name is Diana and her age is unknown, because I'm not sure she even knows herself. We asked her, and she would wiggle her fingers around as if trying to figure it out, and then give up. And if we said a number, she'd agree. By her account, she's nine, but I'm guessing around two or so, since Julio is her brother and he's pretty little. This is probably one of many caballitos (piggybacks) that the kids gave during the week. Because the motto of the children is probably something like "if you have a back, you qualify." Posted by Picasa


Which is always what you say when someone gets a basket. We spend two of our four full days doing a thing called "Kids Club" with the community kids. It's like vacation bible school, but not as churchy. We sing songs and do crafts and play play play. Usually there's about 50 to 70 kids there every day and they are so much fun and SO CUTE. They'll talk to you a mile a minute and tell you everything about their life knowing full well that you can't understand, but enjoying talking to you nonetheless. Parents work a lot of long days in Juarez, and so the kids love the extra hugs and piggybacks and attention. And our kids love to give it to them. This picture is of Julio, who is about 3 and the cutest little thing. He's shooting a basket with the help of Dane, our 6'5" little kid at heart. Just as a side note -- the open door in the background is one of the bathrooms, and the area above it is the showers. You know, the off-limits showers. Posted by Picasa

Look out for my mad goalie skillz!

So just because it's one meeeelion degrees out, that doesn't mean we're not going to play soccer for hours on end. This picture is a friendly game with just our group, but later, we had a multitude of friendly games with some of the community men. I'm here to tell you that Mexicans don't mess around when it comes to soccer -- playing on "grass" and wearing "pads" is for gringo sissies. I have the bruises to prove it -- at first I thought it was just dirt, but after I showered I realized it was not. The guys were soooo nice though, and always apologized after sending a ball hurtling towards my body at about 65 miles per hour. Posted by Picasa

I'm giving you the eyebrow and she's frowning...

...and THAT is what Mollie and I think of your "no showers all week" policy. Because Juarez is the type of place where you sweat A LOT whether you're moving or not. Hey! Are you sitting down watching the boys play soccer? Then you're sweating. Eating dinner? Sweating. Breathing? Sweating. That's what happens when it's over 100 degrees every day and the low temp at night is 85. The one great thing about that though is that our room that we stayed in had a swamp cooler and it made sleeping really comfortable. That and my air mattress.

However, they did allow us to shower on Thursday night, as we were attending a community church service and in order not to cause an international incident, it's best that we showered. Though I must say, it's a little disconcerting when the water smells worse than you do. No complaints though, because after not showering for five days, ANY water combined with soap and shampoo adds up to the best day ever. Posted by Picasa