Friday, May 30, 2008

The Shuffle Function

It's one in the afternoon and I've been working since nine this morning. Well, if I'm honest, it hasn't been a real "productive" four hours. While trying to edit fifteen interviews into one story I have IM-ed my best friend in D.C. about her man troubles, talked to my mom about my sick husband, looked on craigslist for a forsaken bike, talked to my sister about becoming a mom, heard a rather lame joke from my dad, talked to a man called my husband, who I think came home last night at two, and snacked on every carbohydrate that isn't nailed down in my house. It's been a remarkably busy and unproductive morning. (And I still have no replies to my inquiries on

During this exciting morning I have had my Ipod on shuffle. I think the function of shuffle is so interesting. After four hours I have come up with the following conclusions and questions:

1. It literally takes you on a roller-coaster of self-esteem as some songs make you feel instantly cool for having such great taste, and then in a second exposes you as a total dork for bobbing your head to "Gettin' Jiggy With It."
2. Some days it seems like your Ipod is mad at you and insists on putting together the worst shuffle. The other day I was caught in a 10,000 Maniacs, John Grisham book on tape and Aerosmith mix. It was awful...and I had no one to blame but myself?
3. Only the very confident can have their Ipod on shuffle around other people. I have tried this a couple of times and after apologizing with the phrase, "Ha, ha...this is a guilty pleasure," too many times to count, I have stopped opening myself up.
4. How come your shuffle seems to always play the same songs? My Ipod is in love with "Tripping Billies" by Dave Matthews and this battle song from the "Braveheart" soundtrack. (don't judge)
5. Lastly, I have found that shuffle is a magical function. I can't even explain how many times I have been listening to my Ipod and some song comes on I have never heard. It's truly magical.

Okay, I'm getting back to work...after one more bagel. I heart carbohydrates.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

LOTOJA...the untold story

I know this looks like a shameless attempt to celebrate myself - but I just found these pictures on my madre's computer and decided to document them for all posterity.

In 2004, I decided to ride LOTOJA. According to Wikipedia LOTJOA is: " of the longest single-day road cycling races in North American, if not the world and is the longest race sanctioned by USA Cycling or the United States Cycling Federation." The race is always held on the second Saturday of September, starts in Logan, Utah and finishes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and travels 206 miles.
I started the race at about 7 in the morning. The skies were very overcast and after about ten miles it started to rain. After about fifteen miles it started to downpour. What you see above is all I was wearing when I started the race. After about forty miles I thought I was going to die. I remember coasting into the first feeding zone and finding my sister. I was shaking horribly from the cold and I kept saying, "I can't do this. I can't do this." My sister, being the absolute bad ass that she is, just replied, "Shut up, and get back on your bike." Which I did. As the ride continued, people started to drop out, and I started to steal clothes.
This poor guy rode with our group. He took a wrong turn and rode an additional 30 miles to get back on course.
The entire race is sort of a blur. If I wasn't freezing, I was having to pee from drinking so much water. I remember one time my sister pulled up next to me. I was about ten miles away from the next feeding zone and I thought my bladder was going to explode. She tells the story that I was almost crying and saying, "I have to pee so bad." I typically deny this story, but now four years later, I think there might be some truth to it.
My sister was the absolute reason I finished this forsaken race. At every feeding zone she had peanut and butter sandwiches made, she would rub my legs down, got the most amazing chicken McNuggets in all of Wyoming, and would constantly say, "You are going to finish this race." I have never been colder in my entire life (Mongolia included) and yet, her words truly made me go forward.
This was one of the last feeding zones in the race. In order to move on from this zone you had to be checked for frost bite and hypothermia. I remember some lady grabbing my face and watching my eyes. I was shaking so bad, but held it together as she examined me. She then said, "If you are crazy enough to go - I'll tell you that the next pass is snowing. It's up to you." Again, I don't know what I was thinking, but I shook my head and clipped in.
This is me at the top of the last mountain pass. I look happy because I thought Jackson was only twenty miles away. (My odometer shut off after hydro-planing down the pass into Montpelier, I was guessing based on my watch). Unfortunately, I had about forty miles to go and the sun was setting.

After riding in the dark for about two hours I crossed the finish line. Again my sister saved me. I remember she followed me with her car so I could see the road and blasted Bruce Springsteen to push me the last mile. As soon as I crossed the finish line they took down the sign and started to pack up. Unfortunately, for the 300 or so riders behind me their times were never recorded. I ended up finishing in a little over 13 hours and was 1 of the 13 girls who actually finished.

The legacy of this ride: 1. I hate riding when I have to pee 2. My knees have never fully worked since 3. I still want to go back and do it again...even though Dan won't let me.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Look into the Future

Last week our ward had it's annual Primary Presentation. For those of you who aren't Mormon, the Primary Presentation consists of a lot of restless children, singing deeply out of tune and regurgitating gospel principles their teachers have written out. It's sort of a mix between absolutely adorable and slightly creepy. "Adorable" because who doesn't like watching a bunch of kids sing "I'm a Child of God" while picking their noses and waving to their parents in the audience. "Creepy" because it always strikes me a little strange to listen to these kids recite gospel doctrine like little robots.

Anyway, I chose to write about this event because in the past the Primary Presentation has meant nothing to me other than an hour off from listening to otherwise typically boring talks. However, this time the Primary Presentation made me think - not anything about the gospel, but what kind of kid will I be adding to this madness? Will I be adding the spit fire who sasses up to the microphone and screams "I KNOW the CHURCH is TRUE!"? Or will I be adding the boy who can't seem to figure out where he is and why in the world he isn't sitting with his parents? Or lastly, will I produce the Korean girl, who not only gave a dissertation on the "Dead Sea Scrolls," but after speaking sang a solo. A solo! Seriously, it was insane. I felt so bad for the other parents. This kid literally made all the other kids look like morons.

So, I don't know what kind of child I'm going to produce, but after watching this little scene I've come to term with a couple of things:
1. There's a very good chance my kid is going to be a moron because we aren't Korean and I can't carry a tune.
2. There's a good chance my child is going to be the incoherent screamer into the microphone because I'm sort of that now.
3. There's a very good chance that my child will be able to beat up that Korean girl...because I was sort of that little girl.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

911...not so responsive

So today was an interesting it doesn't consist of actually showering (yes, it's almost four in the afternoon)...I did brush my teeth. Sorry this is not a hygiene report, but if you were asking I do smell quite good. (okay, so I hugged Dan when he got out of the shower and his deodorant got all over my arm...I still smell good) I decided to register my car. Sure I've been living in California for almost a year and a half, and I've been driving around with an expired registration for the past couple of months, but I'm not what you call a "conformist," "someone who follows the rules," or "someone who pays for things before walking out of stores." I'm my own no judging. Who am I talking to? Sorry I'm feeling feisty today, or maybe it's because I smell like a man.

Again, order to get my long awaited registration I had to go get my smog check. (yes, I am going to walk you through every painstaking moment of my registration process). As I was driving down Lincoln (a very busy street for you non-Santa Monicans) I was stopped at an intersection. For almost five minutes our light didn't change. At first I wasn't too concerned, but then I got a little worried when I watched Paco try to cross the intersection as cars were flying across. Many cars started to follow his lead, and I feared I was about to see a very nasty accident. So, being the good citizen that I am, I decided to call the police. Who else do you call in a situation like this? Anyway, I dialed 911 and waited as it began to ring. I don't know if any of you have called 911, but I suggest if you are being murdered this is probably not the best route. I couldn't believe how many times it rang until an automated voice came on and said, "If this is an emergency, please press 1." 1? So, you are about to get killed, and not only do you have to wait on the phone, but you also have to have the ability to find the number 1 on your phone. Because I was not being murdered, I pulled the phone away, took a deep breathe, scratched my cheek, looked out the window and pressed 1. Again, more ringing. Are we serious? So let's say you have managed to get away from the person who is trying to murder you, you pull your phone out and dial 911. You wait, you find the number 1 and then you...wait a little longer. I think this is the point where the camera actually moves into a tight shot around your face, the music gets more intense and behind you is a creepy hand. Anyway, finally a very "friendly" voice barked, "911 what is your emergency?" My emergency? Hmmm...911 isn't working so well? My friend died about ten minutes ago, but thanks for asking?

At this point, I then feared I had called the wrong place, because was a broken traffic light really an emergency? However, I was in (I had placed 1) and so I blurted out, "I'm on Pico and Lincoln and the traffic light I think is broken." Good delivery I thought. A little lacking in confidence, but I said it. The operator then responded, "Hold please." (Which made me wonder is making me hold because I'm not really an emergency or because this is their typical procedure?) Unfortunately, I didn't really find out because then I was hung up on. Again typical procedure? Anyway, two seconds later the light turned green, so something must have happened in the magical world of 911.

So lessons for the day: 1. register your cars on time and don't hit Chalynn in Santa Monica when she hasn't eaten lunch...she sort of sucks. 2. Don't call 911 if you have an emergency. Just keep running until you trip and fall in the really have no other option.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Be Cool or Be in Pain

There are moments when I just don't feel my ripe age of 29. This morning would have to be one of those moments. At sixteen I got my braces off and was given a nice little retainer as a parting gift. For about eight years I was incredibly faithful about wearing my orthodontic gear...and then one night I decided I had had enough. I was 24, a college graduate, a return missionary and too cool for a plastic piece of torture. Consequently, for the past five years I have been recklessly sleeping with no protection. A couple of days ago I was going through our pictures from Italy and I noticed teeth looked completely out of place. I don't know if this was a result of the time change or a severe case of jet lag, but something didn't look right. Therefore, I was left with only two choices: 1. Continue feeling cool at night and allow my teeth to become "Summer Teeth" (suma here and suma there) or 2. Strap back on the dork gear. After a moment of reflection of what my teeth used to be before braces I realized there really was only one option. Therefore, two days ago, after scrubbing with toothpaste, mouthwash and paint thinner my retainers were placed back in their rightful home.

This morning I woke up to my phone ringing. Without thinking I flipped open my phone and croaked a very lispy and saliva enhanced "Good morning." As my mom was saying "good morning" back, a rush of pain swept over my mouth. At first, I thought I had been punched or kicked accidentally in the mouth the previous night. Yet, when I went in search of what was causing so much discomfort to my mouth, and so much drool, I remembered my fateful decision to reintroduce my retainer. I had no idea something so small could cause so much pain.

So there I sat, 29, feeling like a complete dork, covered in spit and clutching my mouth. There's got to be a point when your teeth stop moving, and you can feel like a real adult. Right?

Friday, May 16, 2008

This Gallery is Free

As opposed to writing out my entire trip I thought a photo gallery of the highlights would be better.

May 5
Our trip began flying into Milan at about 8:30 in the morning. We decided to take the metro over to the Duomo. Talk about a cool way to begin the trip.

May 6
After a few hours of being in Milan we took the train to Cinque Terre. We ended up staying in a quaint beach town called Monterosso.
The following day we hiked a little over seven miles through the five towns that make up Cinque Terre.
The trail would take you right down into each town. After hiking we took the train back to Monterosso and fell asleep on the beach.

May 7-8

After Cinque Terre we took the train to Pisa and walked to the Field of Dreams.
These pictures were taken illegally. (Right after we were kicked off the grass).
From Pisa we got back on the train and went to Florence for two days.
In Florence we saw The Birth of Venus, The David, went to the Pitti Palace Gardens and climbed 483 stairs to the top of the Duomo.

This was Dan's best idea for a picture inside the Duomo.
It was meant to look like we were seeing a vision, but now it looks more like aliens are beaming down and stealing our faces.

Dan wanted to kneel down, but I thought we had been sacrilegious enough for one day.

May 9-10

From Florence we went to Venice. Probably the coolest part of Venice (outside of scoring free tickets for the boat from and to the train station) was where we stayed. It was a little apartment just behind St. Mark's Square. The bottom floor was completely untouched, and on the second floor our room looked out to a canal.
The second coolest part of our trip to Venice was finding these hats...and listening to Dan say (with a very heavy lisp) "Come here Sailor Boy." (This also was an illegal picture. After we took these pictures we saw signs everywhere that read, "No Photos.")
The third coolest part of Venice was walking around for an entire day. We had planned on taking a sleeper train to Rome that left Venice at midnight...consequently, there isn't a canal or little street Dan and me haven't walked.
After walking for six hours we decided to get the biggest pizza we could find and eat with the pigeons on St. Mark's Square. (This again is an illegal picture because later we saw a sign that said, "No eating on St. Mark's Square." ...Tell that to the pigeons.)

May 11
From Venice we took a night train to Rome. I will never forget coming out of the metro from the train station and seeing the Colosseum at seven in the morning. The streets were virtually empty and the sun was just rising over this incredible site.
Since we arrived so early in Rome were one of the first in line to see the Colosseum. (And the ones who had to wake up half of Italy to get into our hotel at seven in the morning).Before we left on our night train back to Milan we took some pictures of the Colosseum at night.
Me with Rick Steves (my Italian crush...and guidebook) inside the Forum. I'm standing on something really old.

After a little nap we went to the Pantheon and scored a free explanation from an American guide. The description of the Pantheon = fascinating. The 150 Euro ticket he received to give it = more fascinating. (Apparently, you aren't allowed to talk loudly in a church.)
Our first night in Rome ended with an awesome meal from a huge Italian named Michelangelo, a walk to the Trevi Fountain and more gelato.

May 12
As I mentioned in a previous entry Dan was able to find us a private tour guide for the Vatican. In four hours we saw the private gardens of the Pope and went into St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel without waiting in a single line or paying for a single ticket. The magical phrase was, "We're with him."
The entrance to the Private Gardens of the Pope.
A piece of the Berlin Wall was given as a gift to the Pope. (It was just sitting behind the summer home of the Pope...funny that's exactly where I would put my Berlin Wall also.)
While we were in the Sistine Chapel Feliche demanded that we take a picture of the ceiling. The picture isn't great, but you can see Feliche pretending to talk to me as we shielded Dan from the 20 guards who were there to stop idiots like us. Italian Guards - 0 Dan, Kate and the mastermind of Feliche - 1.
I know after the Vatican I should be raving about the magnificent art and history we saw...but what's just as cool was the best pizza I had in Italy. (It was a little place just outside the Vatican walls...and yes, it was a religious experience.)
At night we hung out at the Spanish Steps for a while. There were a bunch of German students there singing, dancing and getting made me sad for college.

May 13
The last day we were in Rome it absolutely poured, yet in spite of the rain we had a very eventful day. One, I tried to talk an umbrella seller into giving me an umbrella for 1 euro (not because I thought he would do it, but more because it was sort of fun to see him get all frustrated.) Two, we found the best gelato in the world...cinnamon...I still dream of it. Three, we stumbled upon this angel in the last church we entered. I know it's a strange way to end our little photo gallery, but I think it sums up how we were feeling by the end of our trip...
Do you notice anything funny about this angel's hand? If not...well, then you are more mature than I am.

May 14
After a night train from Rome, we flew to New York and then to LA. I think in total it was over 30 hours of traveling.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Shell, A Bird and A Black Man

Well I'm back from the great land of Italy. I'm not sure how to sum up the trip in one entry on this prepared for constant installments of our exciting adventure.

To begin with, we were gone for ten days, saw six towns (well, really seven because we got kicked off a train in Bologna) ate a couple of liters of gelato, took over 300 pictures and shot three hours of footage. It was in a word - amazing.

Probably one of the coolest things we did was our tour of the Vatican. We had scored a private tour with a man named Feliche Noveli, who has the prestigious position of holding the Pope's chair. For those of you (yes, I'm acting like I have numerous readers) who are Catholic that might mean something. To Dan and I - well, I'm not sure if we gave him the proper respect. I think we both said something like, "Oh, really? That's great." I don't know if that was like spitting in his face, but what can you expect from two Mo Mos.

Our tour with Feliche started outside the Vatican. Immediately, after shaking his hand he started to tell us the significance of the obelisk we were standing next to. I felt like I was back in Mongolia listening to some old woman tell me about her sheep. I could barely understand a word he was saying. As he turned around, I shot Dan a look and mouthed, "I can't understand a freakin' word." From that point on, poor Feliche must have thought Dan and I were a little "slow" because after every explanation Dan would repeat what he had just said so I could understand. It was truly like a bad game of "Telephone" or "Whisper Down the Lane." (whichever you prefer)

Anyway, as Dan was translating for me, one of the funniest things took place. While we were standing in the Pope's private gardens, Dan asked Feliche what was the current Pope's emblem. (It was a valid question because throughout the tour Feliche kept pointing out the different emblems of past Popes). To answer Dan's question, Feliche stopped and said, "The current Pope's emblem is a: shell, bird and man." Immediately, I looked at Dan to translate what I thought I had just heard. Dan looked back at me, and repeated to Feliche, "So the current Pope's emblem is a shell, bird and a 'Black Man?'" Feliche, without any hesitation, said, "Yes, a shell, a bird and a black man." Holy crappers - I completely lost it. I had to turn around and shield my face because I thought I was going to erupt. I kept picturing a bronze emblem of a shell, a bird and some guy with an afro, holding a boombox on some beautiful statue. (sorry that's the image I saw...I know not very PC).

Anyway, after I recovered from that comment we toured the private gardens, walked in through the back door to St. Peter's Basilica, watched Feliche elbow every tourist imaginable and ruin just about every Asian's picture, walked into the Sistine Chapel without paying and took a picture of Michelangelo's masterpiece while Feliche stood in front of the guards. It was the total VIP tour.

Friday, May 2, 2008

My Mom Learned a New Word

Oh my mother...where do I begin? The woman is so refined and yet can be so freaking hilarious.

This past week I was in Utah for The B.Y.U graduation and work. On Monday night my mom and I decided to stay in and watch a little TV. I suggested we watch "The Bachelor" because it's always fun watching incredibly ridiculous TV with my mom because she, like me, loves to rip on the people. I would go on and explain the procedure of "The Bachelor," but then again those of you reading this blog hopefully are well versed on the show. If not, stop reading and go read a book or something.

Anyway, at the end of the show the Bachelor took the girl he didn't choose to this bench and sat her down to explain why she just wasn't marriage material. (That he had, of course, determined after two dates and on a reality TV show - it sounds like I'm judging and I'm not.) In the middle of his lame explanation the girl responded by saying, "I just don't understand how you could lead me on." (seriously, even I felt the chemistry) He then again tried to explain why he chose the absolute sex kitten, and then she cut him off by calling him a douche-bag. Now we didn't actually get to hear her say this because they bleeped it out. My mom then turns to me and innocently asks, "What did she say?" There I sat trying not to laugh, but wondering how could I explain to my sweet mom what a douche-bag is. Finally, I said something like, "Oh it's this new derogatory term that is catching on with teenagers and people my age." She accepted that definition and we continued to watch the show. A couple of seconds later, the Bachelor walked the unchosen girl to the limo. (Of course, this is the part where they break down and try to tell America that this is why they have relationship problems and where their walls come from. And we, as viewers, try not to laugh.) Anyway, apparently my mom wanted to get to this pathetic part and while they were walking to the limo my mom yells out, "Come on douche-bag, put her in the limo." Needless to say I absolutely erupted. It was a perfect execution of douche-bag and I was never prouder of my dear mother.