Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Illustrated Version

I have no illustrations for you, but I will tell you about an illustrated book and verbally illustrate things of note in my life today.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
I just read a book my Dad recommended and lent me. I figured, "I'm going on vacation, I'll bring a book." It turned out to be a very sad one and was definitely in contrast with the otherwise jubilant mood and tropical clime of the Costa Rica honeymoon.

My Dad first told me about "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer because in it there are a few pages with copy editing marks printed on them that look handwritten. The marks are actually in red ink! This book is amazingly printed, because besides that passage, there are photos, pages of "typewritten" text that are overtyped several times until you can't read them, and some pages written solely in numerical code. It's a pretty cool book.

My Dad is an avid reader and he flies for business a few times a week, so he is always picking up books at the airport. So this was one of those, and he lent it to me a while ago, so I was glad to have some time to finally read it. It's 368 pages, but it's a very quick read, and as I mentioned, some of the pages are illustrative anyway. While reading it, I realized how much I miss reading! As a news copy editor, I read for work every day. But it's been a very long time since I read a piece of fiction for pleasure. This book really did have me laughing and crying. I was so engrossed, I stayed up half the night the night before we left Costa Rica to finish it. At the end, I was sobbing; Neil, being the great guy that he is, woke up to listen to me tell him what happened at the end (spoiler, I know). He reminded me that one of the reviewers had described the book as "Heartbreaking." I guess I thought they were kidding. I would highly recommend this book, but it's not quite the honeymoon read. Actually, if I'd read it at any other time, I'd probably have been far more depressed. So I recommend it for a honeymoon. Or any other time where you can counter your reading with happiness.

I applied to the JET program and was granted an interview at the Japanese Embassy last week, which went well. JET is the Japan Exchange Teaching program where you -- surprise -- teach English to kids in Japan. So we'll see if I am offered a position. I applied in December, right before I got my dream job as a copy editor at Gannett, and I was really hoping Neil and I could "jet" off to Japan, but of course, with The Bomb job, now I'm not sure. But it'll be good to have the option.

Crazily enough, I was offered a job with (edited). I had to go through a health clearance and yesterday I finished the top secret security clearance request (yesss!), which was a PAIN to fill out ("Please list every place you've lived/worked/gone to school/talked to anyone for the past 10 years with no gaps"). I guess it will take them who-knows-how-long to interrogate the people I listed as references, and then I'll get my first overseas assignment. Um, are you wondering where the bridge is between me working as a copy editor in VA and me moving out of the country to work (edited)? Me, too.

AeroGardens, Ant Farms and Aquariums
Basically, I just want to grow things. Neil really wants an AeroGarden (shh, I ordered him one tonight!) to grow salad greens, since he is mostly a raw foodist. I want an ant farm and an aquarium because I'm a carnivore. Or so I can watch little animals live their lives in a captivity I've imposed upon them. I've had both of the latter before, and I think they're really fascinating! Even when the ants mysteriously begin to die en masse and the fish occasionally commit suicide on the filter. I think they would be a nice touch and conversation piece in our little studio apt. Because, you know, Neil and I are running out of things to talk about.

p.s. those bastards! A quick update on the UFO situation: If you try to view the updated Washington Post link I posted on 2/5 , you will get a page saying "We are unable to locate the page you requested. The page may have moved or may no longer be available. You may also want to try our search to locate news and information on We at the Post seek to aid the government in hiding the truth." OK, everything but the last sentence. What kind of journalists are they over there?!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

PURA VIDA: We're back y somos casados!

My Spanish is a little rusty, but we're back and we're married! Neil and I celebrated our 1 week anniversary yesterday and returned from Costa Rica today. We have had so much fun!! The wedding was awesome and beautiful and perfect. I have only seen a few pictures and I am so excited to get the ones from Neil's cousin, our wedding photographer. The tea party and open house were really fun and I am just so happy to have had so many people we love share in this event.

I am so grateful to all of our friends and family who worked so hard to make everything perfect. Oscar acceptance speech, I know, but I really can't express how wonderful, helpful and supportive everyone was.

If you have someone you love spending time with, I highly recommend marrying them!! Hanging out with Neil 24/7 has seriously been the most fun I've had in my life. Maybe this is why they call any timespan of euphoria before reality sets in the "honeymoon period," eh? But I think things will be cool down the road as well.

Poor Neil is sick right now, though. All the traveling got to him and he is feeling feverish and achy. He went to sleep early and I am unpacking boxes since I didn't finish moving in before we went to Costa Rica. I am not sure what to do to take care of him! He says he is fine, he just needs to sleep. I forced him to drink a lot of water earlier. My first test as a wife, I think. Hopefully he will be fine.

Costa Rica was really cool. It felt like a mix of places I've been: Mexico, Hawaii, the Bahamas. And something I can't quite put my finger on, too. It was cool speaking Spanish; like I said, I'm rusty. The food was good and the weather was beautiful. I saw a sloth! I will add pics to this post later, I hope. I think sloths are adorable. Neil thought it was disgusting. Apparently there were beetle/cockroach-like bugs crawling in and out of its fur. All I saw were flies landing on it, which wasn't that gross, but Neil saw the other bugs, so he was repulsed. I've always thought sloths were so cute so I'm glad I didn't see the bugs. I'm not really into monkeys, though, so it was OK we didn't see any. We did see a lot of cool, colorful birds and butterflies. There were tons of streams, rivers and waterfalls, too; way more than in Hawaii. The variety of flowers in Costa Rica is impressive, and there were so many beautiful, lush, jungle areas. We stayed in these really awesome beach bungalows that were surrounded by jungle and flowers. I love nature sounds, so it was cool to hear the bugs and frogs at night.

It was a really great trip and a great, relaxing start to our life together!

p.s. We saw HULK HOGAN in the Miami airport today!! I had a crush on him when I was 5, so I got a little starry-eyed. Neil almost had to take the Hulkster out to assert his superiority!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

T-7 Days And Counting

Sooooo ONE WEEK UNTIL I GET MARRIED! For those of you who have been waiting for me to bust out with the gory details of wedding planning ad nauseam, I will do my best RIGHT NOW!

I am SO EXCITED to get married! Neil is awesome!!!! He is seriously the most amazing person I've ever met. Let me just say some things about him:

He is smart -- he is very intellectual and logical, and knows more about politics than anyone I know except my Uncle Dale (chair of the BYU-H Poli Sci dept.!)
He is creative -- he has SO MANY ideas for awesome design and architecture
He is kind
He is the most giving person I know
He is the most giving person most people who know him know
He is an Eagle Scout! Which is very impressive to me
He is Christlike in his actions
He is a great dancer -- he break dances like no white boy I know
He is super-fit, flexible and gymnastic -- I've seen him do flips, the splits 3 ways, walk on his hands, and various gymnastic moves incorporated into his break dancing. He's lifted weights every week for the past few years and he has an Excel spreadsheet to prove it, because
He is organized -- although his room resembles a disaster area, he cleans/organizes it nearly every day.
He always helps, supports and encourages me -- he gets excited about anything I'm interested in and he helps me to make my life easier: like getting me books and accessories to learn guitar, encouraging my desire to take ballet, getting me Shade shirts so I don't fret over what to wear, getting me bobby pins and hair ties because I can never find any, getting me Sterilite containers to organize my stuff in my house and car, encouraging and facilitating my travel to see friends with his flight benefits, getting me laundry bags because I had to use the laundromat, getting me a PDA phone because I wanted to be more organized, getting me foods I mentioned wanting to try, encouraging me to follow my career dreams, etc. etc. etc.!
He is a great yoga instructor!
He is a great masseuse
He is very good with money
He has great style
He is good at cutting, dyeing and doing hair
He is FUN!!!! He always plans fun things for the two of us to do, and he often orchestrates fun things for groups of us to do -- and he always tries to include and invite everyone
He is so sweet and romantic! From randomly giving me unique flowers, to box seats for two to a ballet at the Kennedy Center, to finishing a marathon with me, to last weekend helping me pack all my crap into a U-Haul and move to our new house, to the engagement-day trifecta: fly fishing lessons at dawn, a 4-hr. horseback ride through the mountains with lunch, and a hike to a peak overlooking the Shenandoah valley, where he proposed!
He is the most easygoing, happy-go-lucky person I've ever met
He is serious when he needs to be and is very practical
I could say so many more things -- this is what love does to people :)

The whole getting married thing sounds both crazy and pretty cool. The icing on the proverbial cake is that loads of people we love are coming out to celebrate! Neil's family is pouring in from Arizona, and his family here in VA will all be there. My grandparents from Utah are coming out, and -- treat of all treats -- my grandpa, a sealer, got permission from the First Presidency to perform our sealing in the Washington D.C. temple!!!! My aunt Linda and my cousin's wife, Stephanie, and her chubby little baby, Ambrose, are coming out from Hawaii!! My very good friends Cavan and Scott are coming from Iowa! One of my dearest friends, Linsi, is coming from Ohio! I am so excited to see all of these people!

We have been churning out batches and batches of announcements/invites. I have a very kind friend at the Arlington post office who has been hand-canceling ALL of our invites so they don't get torn up in the machines, and to give them a "personal touch." So, when you see that round date stamp over the postage stamp, you have Gary to thank.

I think the food is pretty much covered. My Dad has been filling up his freezer with gumbo he's made, which is quite a sacrifice, because between traveling the country and the world every week for business, I don't think my Dad has had spare time since the '70s. So I know it is a huge deal for him to MAKE the time to do this. Neil's family got together with us to make 300+ specially iced sugar cookies!! I hope you like green and orange :)

I have a dress I absolutely LOVE and am excited to wear! It is so pretty! As soon as the wedding is over, I will post pics of it. I am not letting Neil see it before the sealing. I am such a girl! Yes, that was a sexist comment. But really, there is something to be said about getting sucked into all of this wedding-day expectations/traditions propaganda, or, as Neil puts it, "it's not your fault -- you've been brainwashed for the past 27 years of your life to want the whole princess wedding-day thing." He's joking, but there is truth in jest.

I had my "bridal portraits" done by Neil's cousin, a professional photographer. I haven't seen them yet, but I'm sure they'll be good. She is also going to shoot the day-of, which should be exciting! Neil is quite averse to having his picture taken, but he is conceding to at least mostly candid ones. I have been advised that I do, or will, hold all the cards here and can make this man bend to my will, but I fail to either recognize my power or enforce it. But I will. Come on, a little manipulation never hurt anyone! ;)

Flowers are still up in the air. We need them for the open house. I am slightly concerned about these.

I am having a tea party!!! Neil's aunt planned it for me, and it should be fun. Especially because Neil and his "peeps" are going to go climb a rock wall. haha. That's not supposed to make any sense. But the tea party should be fun! It's an all-girl wedding celebration extravaganza. I hope I get to wear a giant bow on my head. In fact, I think I will arrive with a giant bow on my head. It just sounds ultra, over-the-top feminine and festive! The thing I love about all of this is, anything goes! I am the bride!! As Cartman said, "I do what I want!" Please keep that out of context.

We are going to Costa Rica!! We are going to a volcano, hot springs, jungle, zip wire, and the beach!! Mostly I care about the beach. A girl needs a tan!

Basically, the next week+ is going to be THE BOMB. I would even go as far to say that it will be a weeklong bombfest.

I hope Neil break dances at some point during these festivities. I have never seen him do a backflip. Many moons ago when I asked him to, he jokingly said he didn't want to lay all his cards on the table; he was saving the backflip for our honeymoon. I'll hold him to that.


OK, sorry Stephanie and anyone else hoping I will bury this nonsense with a more interesting and normal post :)

Taralyn, thanks for the heads up on the gov't trying to hide the truth!! OK, this is really interesting to me, especially as a working journalist, that the article I linked previously is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND on the Washington Post Web site -- in fact, a search only brings up lame Post blog entries about the event. HOWEVER, it does bring up a follow-up article that is QUITE intriguing!!

The military changed their story about the UFO sightings! They initially said none of their aircraft was in the area of the sightings, and now they are saying, "Oh, yeah, OH, you mean THOSE F-16s! Silly us, we WERE flying them, that's probably what you saw, not UFOs!" Um, maybe it's just me, but I think the Air Force probably keeps SOME sort of record of where they are operating multi-million dollar aircraft. I don't think they somehow "just realized" they were flying them in the area. I think they are lying!!!!!

And yes, I'm crazy.