Friday, August 24, 2007

Nocturnal Rounds

This last fast Sunday we and the Shannon family fasted (among other things) that there would be more money for Avram to go to Oxford. A week later a brother in the ward called and asked if some people in the family could help with paper deliveries for nine days. He's a distributor over 16 carriers, one of whom is an Indian family who do 7 routes by themselves, as well as being his on call people. Unfortunately for him, they went to India for nine days, and so he needed some extra help, because he couldn't cover the extra himself. So as of last Friday we became Newsies, with some special twists; the paper routes are in Arlington and Crystal City, right next to Washington DC (an hour and 5-15 minutes away), and all the papers need to be delivered by Six am.

The typical morning begins at 1:00 am, when we rise as nocturnal creatures and travel to Mike's (the brother in the ward) house, where we follow him the hour and fifteen minutes to our routes; all apartment buildings. We arrive at around 2:40 to 3:00 am, and then deliver until 6:00 (on light days), and drive home. All in all, a very long day, or should I specify morning, because of course Avram and I are still working during the day; Avram for seven hours, and I for three hours.

Next time I fast for money, I'm going to specify easy, preferably free money. Just kidding; I'm glad we're having this opportunity to get more money for England, and it's certainly an interesting experience. Every day I have a new thought to share.

First are the buildings; Our biggest building, Crystal Towers, Avram says remind him of DT; the long hallways, the dingy lights, even the name, and of course what DT experience would be complete without the kids. That's right; the first two days, when it was the weekend, many of the residents were coming at all hours, and they all looked in their mid twenties, and mostly naked. Not even attractive, interesting minimal clothing, just boring and ugly no clothes, like one who was wearing a lime green halter top with white daisy dukes that were puffy, and white high heels. If I were going to dress like the world, I'd at least look good while doing it. It was a shock to me to realize that they probably are all my age, that if I had chosen a different path route, I could be "young and hip," whereas currently I feel almost middle aged, with a child; the older people usually move outside of the immediate DC area if they can afford it. Either that, or they move to swanky condos, like another building of ours, called The Representative, complete with an all-marble lobby and flag pole. Nowhere but DC would you find a building named that!

Also, we've had some exposure to the law. Two days ago Mike was pulled over, because the cop thought he was drunk driving. A car pulled in front of him on the freeway, then slowed down to 45 miles an hour, so Mike was looking around to see if he could pass him (he didn't get a ticket or anything. I've always considered what to do if I'm in a caravan with another car, and they get pulled over. Do I pull over with them, and risk more wrath of the law {assuming it's wrath that's pulled them over because of some great wrongdoing} or do I keep on going, abandoning the caravaning for distant safety, but also abandoning my fellow man in need? Sadly, I abandoned him, and kept on driving. At the time, I thought he was going to get pulled over for speeding, and as I was following him, would have been culprit as well. I felt like the main character in 1984, when he tells them to let the girl have the rat torture, instead of himself. Sure, I evaded the threat, but at the cost of my own humanity? I think too much.)

Then yesterday morning outside of one of our buildings at about 4:00 am we saw five parked police cars. I fleetingly hoped this meant we wouldn't be able to deliver any of the papers, but unfortunately it wasn't to be so. As I delivered my respective floors I didn't even give it much thought until I finished, and Luke (who's come and helped most of the nights) told me that when he came out of the stairs at level 12 there were three policemen standing there with gloves and handcuffs, who looked very surprised to see him. They asked him who he was, and then told him that there was no one there, and he shouldn't bother, so he left the entire floor twelve. It remains unclear if they meant the entire floor, or just the one apartment that they were standing in front of, but he left the whole floor. I'm really curious what was going on, but haven't found any news items on it yet. How funny, we turn to the printed word to discover things we've seen first person.

Avram and I have also struggled with not getting lost on the way home. We have no problems once we're on the freeway, but we haven't always been able to find the freeway. Once we were following the signs, and such, and went to far on the road, and suddenly couldn't turn either to the right or the left, but had to go straight -- right into the Pentagon parking lot! Once there, we couldn't even get out the way we had come in, and so we went out another road, one which no one was on. In the DC area at six in the morning on a weekday, this is a very bad sign. There are a million cars everywhere, and if we saw no one on that road, then we probably didn't want to be on it either. Finally we got on the freeway, but it wasn't the right one, and so we were travelling in the wrong direction at 65 mph. I had a burst of inspiration, and got off at Reagon airport (it's like, two minutes down the road from where we got on; it's right in the middle of the city), and from there there were many signs for all sorts of freeways, including the one we wanted. So we finally got going the right direction, and because in the meantime it had gotten light, we even saw the Arlington Cemetary off of the freeway on the way home. I felt like I was sightseeing in a nutshell.

It's taken me two days to write this post; it's now Saturday afternoon, and only one more morning remains of delivery. By now I feel comfortable in our early rounds, and although I'm suffering from a perennial lack of sleep, I almost feel I could again someday be a newspaper carrier. Almost.

Heavenly Father works fast in our behalf; we have this nine day job, and then yesterday we were filling out visas, and it turns out the total cost of all three of our visas are $636, only slightly more what we'll be making after tithing and gas from this job (It's a $1,000 total, but Luke gets his share). So we've even already spent the money we're earning, for the good of England. And I tell you, for over $600 dollars to merely enter the country, it had better be good.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thora in a List

I've decided to follow Sarah's lead.

Jobs I've Held
Door-to-door fundraiser for SUWA (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance) (this was only three or four weeks long - some of the longest of my life. I definitely do not recommend this job).
Hostess at Chuck-A-Rama
Cashier/Expediter at Rubio's Baha Grill
Dishwasher, Cannon Center, BYU
Receiver, Cannon Center, BYU
Tomassito's Pizza, Cannon Center, BYU
Secretary, Cannon Center, BYU
Wymount Custodian
DT Custodian
Babysitter for Logan Powell
Kids on the Move Daycare
Full time babysitter, Gerstner's.
(I've come full circle in my jobs; I wonder what this says about myself...)

Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
While You Were Sleeping
A&E's Pride and Prejudice
(I don't really like movies that much)

Places I have Lived
Boise, Idaho
Coeur d' Alene, Idaho
Salt Lake City, Utah
Tolstoy Farm, Washington
Duchesne, Utah
Kearns, Utah
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Provo, Utah
Alexandria, Egypt
Goldvein, Virginia

Shows I Enjoy
From my childhood: Full House
Now: Fraggles

Places I've Been On Vacation
Various Places in Egypt, Jordan and Syria
Outside Mesa Arizona for Estrella, the SCA "War"
Southern California
Nauvoo/Midwest Church history Sites
Cedar City (my honeymoon)

Favorite Food
Red mashed potatoes and gravy

Websites I Visit With Some Regularity
All of the links on this page

Body Parts I Have Injured
My right arm - a hairline fracture
Right Wrist - broken and displaced
Bruises; I have them all the time, especially on my shins.

Schmork, Schmork-Schmork

Now You have it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Tenuous Connexion

I don't have any news, or even issues today. No stories either. Just a deep, overwhelming need to reach out to people, which in my life today usually plays out by getting on the internet, and seeing if any of my friends and relations have updated their posts, so that I can feel connected to them. Unfortunately this proved to be not so, and so I figured I would reach out to others, instead.

As a note on my blog; I changed it because the old format doesn't work very well for really long posts, because the writing area is so narrow, and so I changed it to a format that lets me have long, long posts, and not have to scroll down forever. Plus I like getting to change colors; it's like redecorating, but free. And I love both color and change, so it works out great.

Avram and I (and Dad Shannon and Luke) went as chaperones on the youth baptism trip today. I didn't do any baptisms, but did the normal leader-ish things; handed towels to girls emerging from the font, squeegeed the floor by the showers, and such. Being a leader to the girls makes me feel old, because now I'm on the "other side," the leader side, the old side. I'm not used to be the support staff, but rather a player. Now I show up to things to set up, herd groups, and as crowd control. I also enjoy it, though. I feel like I'm contributed back, from my years of merely showing up to events, while my hardworking leaders herded me.

Well, that's enough connecting for me. Actually, I just remembered a load of laundry I need to fold, and another still in the dryer, and Lydia's supposed to go to sleep in fifteen minutes, and, and...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

In Which is Much Disagreement on the Geography of England

Saturday was only 88 degrees (before heat index, which takes into account how hot it actually feels, after humidity), a welcome break after the recent heat wave. During heat waves, I feel like the whole world around me, myself included, kind of hunker down (except it's really hot, so we more lay out), and wait until the heat subsides, because that's all we can do. Eating is a bother, sleeping is, certainly doing anything constructive is. These times always make me think of the pioneers and makes me wonder how they survived heat like this, with long sleeved dresses and all their petticoats, etc. We don't have air conditioning (and Avram and I haven't since our marriage), so in that respect at least we are like our fore-bearers. Especially because on even the hottest days of the year (102 degrees before heat index; broke the record last week) they needed things like to make bread, or farm, or whatever. Hopefully we're on a downward trend, that will gently glide into Autumn, my favorite season by far and away.

As an update on my stressed post of yore, we now have a Bank Account with Bank of America, who banks with Barclays in England (England only has like five banks total. I'm used to almost limitless choices in my life; limited ones will be new for me. I feel so American as I write this.) We bought a laptop, a very nice factory refurbished HP, that at Cosco new sells for 1,000, but we bought for 700. I haven't really used it much, yet, partly because there's really no where to set it up, and in the hot weather, a running laptop on ones lap is almost like a personal heater. We got Avram's passport photos, we secured our student loans, and in general much more of the logistical nightmares in our life are being resolved. Avram even did all of these finaglings on the phone, which as anyone knows might be the true miracle. He's been great, though.

Lydia's darling as always. She'll begin nursery in three Sundays; so soon. We're definitely looking forward to it. She's decided her wake up time is 6:30 am, and because our bed and her bed are both just mattresses on the floor, she'll come over and climb all over me, trying to convince me to wake up and play with her. I, however, do not desire to wake up this early, so we'll spend an hour of futility trying to get the other to conform to our ideas before Avram will finally wake up, and take Lydia upstairs with him, while I'll sleep for a half hour.

I've checked out our local library's complete collection of travel books, and spend my time reading tidbits about various potential travel sights in England. So far I'm not really trying to see where to go, but rather where I don't want to go, hoping to narrow down the possibilities. A conversation between Avram and I:

Me, "Well, I definitely don't want to go to Northumbria."

Avram, "Hadran's Wall! You don't want to see Hadrian's Wall?"

"We can see Hadrian's Wall In Lancashire, where there also happens to be the Lakes country, which Jane Auston talks about in Pride and Prejudice."

Avram, "But nothing of historical importance happened there!"

"It's supposed to be beautiful, and Elizabeth Bennett really wanted to go there. Well, at least we can definitely cut out Liverpool. There's nothing I want to see in Liverpool."

"Liverpool! The Beatles!"

"Fine, then we can most definitely cut out East Anglia, we don't need to see anything there."

"Hastings! You don't want to see Hastings?!"

"Well, that entire corner of the country is boring, and more expensive. Although we will miss Canterbury Cathedral."

"Canterbury Cathedral!"

"Yes, but we should go to York"

Avram actually agreed with me on this one. So I continued on, "York will be great; we can see the Bronte's house, and the moors, and the house that Wuthering Heights is supposed to be."

"You would rather see the Bronte's house than the Canterbury Cathedral, and Hastings!"

And so it continued, over all of England. Avram realized later that the Canturbury Cathedral and the Battle of Hastings are actually in the same area, and so we most definitely need to see them, he says. I suggested Wales, because of The Grey King, a book of the Dark is Rising series. Avram tells me that all Wales contains is sheep and dirt. I want to see Ireland because of an autobiographical book I read about Americans who moved to Ireland. Avram, "Bombs and Radicals are in Ireland."

Avram wants to go to places with Historical importance (with the exception of the Beatles, I'm not sure they can count as historical yet). I want to go to Literary places, and places of beauty. Not that I'm opposed to historical places, mainly I just don't know the history behind them very well. One area we do agree on it that we both want to see King Arthur places, or at least, "traditional" places, because of course King Arthur sites have nothing to do with the actual Arthur, if there was such a man. We also both want to see the church historical sites; Benbow farm, Preston (for the temple), but because the church took hold among the working class in the industrialized cities in England, the historical places are in the uglier, city-ized areas of the country. Oh, well. What can you do.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Escapades in Dating

Last weekend we went on a group date. Although we've gone on dates before with friends and such, usually Lydia comes too, and we all go to a restaurant for good food before going back to someone's respective house and having good conversation way too late in the evening. Matt and Sarah Reed particularly come to mind as "date partners," although we never really called them double dates, or even dates at all, but rather an evening of friends and food. This, however, was the quintessential group date, with four couples, dinner and a movie.

About two months ago, Avram's seventeen year old sister Sariah was asked to go on a date. This was the first time she had been privileged to such a question, and it was by a 20 year old, no less. So she said she would check with her parents (Sariah is a parent's dream; she actually asks for things that most teenagers would take for granted, like being able to go on a date with someone who's not a minor, when you are). Avram and I volunteered to go as the double couple, chaperones, or something like that. Sariah's father, being like all fathers everywhere with young nubile daughters and also with shotguns, was somewhat leery of the date, but eventually agreed to it.

However, Sariah only seeing this young man at church when his church ran over and we arrived very early, she didn't see him for many weeks, and then when she did see him, she didn't mention it - out of shyness, I suppose. I told her that the upstanding specimen of young men everywhere would naturally assume that her not broaching the subject again would not mean that her father hadn't immediately given his approval and then that she out of awkwardness avoided the topic, but rather that she thought he was the scum of the earth, who had as much right asking her on a date as attempting to visit the moon by means of a newspaper boat and homemade propeller (all right, I was somewhat less poetic in my description, but it would have been cooler if I really had said that).

Finally Sariah brought up the much thought on date, and it turned out he had already found a double couple, in the eventuality the date actually happened. So we were a party of six, until Avram's brother Luke, 20, mentioned that he had asked a date as well, one of Sariah's closest friends, Kelly, 19. At this point it had been about six weeks since he had asked her, and so was perhaps the most looked forward date to ever. Being a young dater, this BYU man suggested the tried and true dinner and a movie.

Last weekend we went to somewhere called Uno's, that class of restaurant like Applebees, Chilis, etc, with lots of "atmosphere" and where the menus serve everything from fajitas to pizza, pasta to steak. I ordered the flat pizza, and as soon as the waitress left, I had a feeling in my gut. The deep-down primal knowing that I had ordered the wrong entree. The feeling that I had come to the crossroads of decision, the place of choose or die, and I, I had choked and ordered against my deeper desires. The food arrived, and my intuition proved correct; the food was definitely flat, but also definitely not a pizza. Oh, well. What I really wanted was like chicken and potatoes. Avram let me have some of his pizza, and then we ordered a dessert, because I hadn't eaten any of my food.

Then we proceeded to the movie, Ratatouille. I wasn't excited about this movie, because I really wanted to see Amazing Grace, and Avram and I even were going to sneak off from the rest of the group and watch it, but the movie theatre wasn't showing it. So we went with the group.

I loved the movie, mainly because I love good food. A movie about food is always good for me - fine food, that is. Like the German movie, Martha's Kitchen (I believe). For anyone who likes food, I recommend this movie. I left inspired to eat better food. Not that I've really lived up to this desire in the last week, but I suppose I'm essentially plebeian and American in my tastes.

As we left the date, I found out that not only was this the first date for Sariah, but also for Luke and Kelly, so it was quite the landmark event in their lives. We heard that it was a very good first date for all.

My first date occurred the weekend after I turned sixteen. It came out of the blue, in the form of a phone call from a Kamrin Hammond, a boy in my stake I had had a crush on since I was 14 (pathetic, I know). He asked me to go to a haunted house (my birthday's in October), and I asked how much much to bring, and he told me not to worry about it. It wasn't until I got off of the phone I realized that this was a date. We ended up not going to the haunted house, because by the time we got together with the other couple and figured out what we were doing it wasn't convenient to go, so instead we went to the movies, and decided by the flip of a coin which one to see, which turned out to be Ever After (the best part of the date, by far). The movie didn't start for another two hours, so we went over to Shopko, wandered around and played a lot of foozball (which I stank at, and still do) We then finally watched the movie, and then went home.

What can we learn from this date? Planning, which was absent, can help dates out a lot. Also, food, which did not occur on that date, always helps with dating. Dating 16 year olds would probably also help (Kamrin was 15).

This all reminds me of another date, this time at BYU. I worked as a receiver at the Cannon Center there, and one of my co-workers, named David, asked me on a date one day. Luckily I don't even remember his last name, so this is basically an anonymous person. Anyway, I agreed and so at the appointed day and time (actually he was a little late) he showed up at my apartment. On a bike. Alone. And his apartment was about three miles away. Where the date was supposed to take place. So we began walking. This wasn't so bad, as I supposed it gave us a chance to get to know each other better, and what-not.

About two blocks into the date, David said, "So I wanted to watch a movie tonight." "Ok," I agreed - not the most brilliant of dates, but certainly an acceptable date activity. "But I didn't rent a movie yet."

"We can rent a movie still, that's fine."

"Well, I don't have any money." (note, don't ever admit this on a date; how tacky)

"I have some money, we'll just use that." I had a policy of always bringing money on dates with me, although hoping to never have to use it.

So we continued for another half a block, and then, from David, "So I thought we could make chocolate chip cookies tonight."

I like chocolate chip cookies, "Great."

"But I don't have the ingredients."

At this point I stopped, as did David and the bike he was leading along (it had to get back home somehow). What small expectations I had entertained thus far were fast falling, but I couldn't just break off the date at that point, so, "Why don't we go back to my apartment; I have movies, I have the ingredients for Chocolate chip cookies, we can have the date there."

So turn around we did, and sometimes my less charitable nature wonders if that was the goal all along. We made chocolate-chip cookies, during which my date became mostly mute, and then sat down to watch the movie, Mission Impossible, during which he suddenly became very verbose, but only at the most critical points in the movie. As well, he was allergic to milk, which makes cookies a shame without milk to drink them with.

At long last we suffered through the movie, at which point my roommate came home. She saw us together, and said she didn't want to interrupt, and so was about to go upstairs, when I practically shouted, "Oh, no, you're not interrupting anything, please feel free to stay."

Thankfully she did. At this point, it was about 10 pm, and I was ready to end the date, but didn't know how to tactfully kick him out, nor what to do with him if he stayed. An un-opened puzzle, belonging to one of my roommates, I was sure, although uncertain of which one, lay on the side living room table, and so I suggested putting it together. I handed David the puzzle box, and some scissors and asked him to open it, meaning to break the glued paper that ran around the bottom edges that hold the two boxes together. I heard a large industrial noise after a moment coming from David, and turned to see him cutting through the cardboard itself, taking the complete bottom off of one of the sides, and forever ruining the box.

This may have been the low point of the date, but then, the beginning was pretty bad, too. We did start doing the puzzle, while my erstwhile date lingered until the bells tolled midnight, at which my now-understanding roommate and I merrily invited him to leave, because of curfew. Thank goodness for the honor code.

Thus concluded my worst date ever. Although other dating escapades come to mind, like the blind date I went on with a boy named Sebastion, who understood English, but didn't speak it at all, or another date, where the date turned onto oncoming traffic and we almost died, I'll conclude by saying gratefully that this date was nothing like these ones. I was grateful to be able to be a part of a successful first date, although it won't make a very good story later one, which is always fun.

Friday, August 3, 2007


Everyone, and I mean everyone (except Camilla, who barely moved, and so has an excuse) had updated their blogs when I checked them today, so I figured that it was my turn also. I was going to be amazing, and tell some funny anecdote, but I can't think of any, so we'll just stick to the family news.

We bought our plane tickets last week; $2073.26 worth of them (for three round trip tickets; Lydia gets her own seat). I like having them bought, because no matter what happens now, we are at least flying to England. They took all the money Avram had earned so far over the summer, which is somewhat sobering. World traveling is really not for the student budget.

We're in the depths of trying to finish up the technical aspects of going to Oxford; Avram needs to get passport photos (we need about twelve for all of the various programs at Oxford), we need to find a bank for our student loans and finish them, we need to sign and return the contract for Oxford, and most importantly we need to find a bank in America that will let us open a reciprocal bank account in England, because we need to have an English bank account for Avram to work in England, but we can't just get a bank account if we're only students. Some parts of moving to a foreign country I think I can live without.

Like their paper size is different; about a quarter of an inch narrower, and the same amount again longer; not much difference, so little I hadn't even noticed it. Except their documents won't print on our printer unless we very carefully feed every sheet by hand (the printer's in a different room from the computer). And I don't even want to think about us trying to print things in England (because the software's set up differently, so even on screen the pages are different sizes). Should we bring our own Comp. paper, and always print our papers at home? Will the professors accept different sizes of pages anyway? The questions, the questions.

This post is beginning to sound kind of down. I don't mean it to be. I'm finally starting to feel like going to England is real, instead of just an idea we talk about. And once we're in England, I'll be glad we took care of all of these technical aspects here. (which reminds me, we also need visas). And we've begun shopping for Lydia's new winter/spring wardrobe.

We only have seven weeks of work left, and then one week of preparation before we leave on September 27th. Writing it down, it sounds like a long time, but it doesn't feel like it when I think of all we need to do before then.

Lydia's doing well, as always. Since I weaned her last month, we've started a bedtime routine (this week we did; we're a little slow on the changes). So far it's going well; Lydia definitely knows where the routine is headed in the end every night, because she'll start fussing whenever I mentions sleeping, or bed. But she's gone to sleep fairly easily, for her. She doesn't really talk at all, and although she knows about seven or eight words, rarely uses them. And when she does, it's usually because someone else says the word first, and she's mimicking them. She'll talk eventually, just like she learned to walk when she was ready.

My garden continues to struggle along; it's been a good learning experience in gardening, but it's also a very good thing we don't depend on my labors to eat. My vegetables keep on rotting/their bottoms turning black while still on the vine (the zucchinis rot, the bell peppers turn black) I don't know what this means, but hopefully next time I have a garden, we won't have this problem.

I had already published this post, and was reading it over when I felt how blah it was. I'm sorry, I suppose the summer heat and humdrum routine are getting to me. Every day and every week are the same, and we have no friends here to even see on the weekends. I just feel like on the one hand everything is so topsy-turvy in feeling somewhat homeless, and trying to get everything to work for England, and on the other hand nothing ever happens. I'll write a happy, up-beat post next time, I promise.