Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm gaggin' on it.

Shortly after 11pm, I got a text from Ryan that said, "Want McDonald's iced coffee?" I danced with glee (in my head, anyway) because I love McDonald's iced coffee. It is truly delicious. Ryan often brings it to me during a shift as a special treat. (The coffee is actually a mere excuse for the real treat, which is my loving husband visiting me at work.)

The following conversation ensued. (Note the times between the texts.)
Finally, around 1:30am, Ryan got here with the coffee. I felt so bad that he'd waited so long just to get me a drink. He handed me the cup. I thanked him and said, "Hmm...I wonder why it's so dark?"

His face wrinkled and he said, "They didn't seem like they had any idea what they were doing." I continued to peer at the beverage and I noticed some dark stuff at the bottom. Oh, he got me an iced mocha! How sweet. Must be chocolate syrup. I swirled it around with the straw. Nope.
"Oh, there are coffee grounds on the bottom," I observed. (I am not a brat like this post is making me sound! First of all, there was a phone conversation in which I thanked him repeatedly for offering the coffee and told him how sweet he is; second, I'm a horrible liar/faker so I couldn't ignore the obvious fact that this iced coffee had problems. It was mere observation, not complaining :) Besides, I was too excited to see Ryan to be upset about the coffee.) But back to the story. Ryan said, "Are you serious?!" and was adorably angry at the wrong that had been done his wife. I nodded and took an adventurous sip.

He asked, "Is it the worst thing ever?" "Mm-hmm," I confirmed sweetly, never breaking my smitten glee. His shoulders slumped and he gave a dejected sigh and began the story of his McDonald's experience, complete with a disturbingly skilled hick accent when speaking as the employee. It had been a long and somewhat frustrating trip. Poor, generous husband of mine.

"I want you to take a drink," I said with a mischievous grin. "No!" was his immediate, inevitable response. "Please? For the experience," I implored. He sighed and did it.

"AGH!" He immediately jumped backward, then started stepping this way and that, looking as if he had no idea what to do with himself. I laughed. He wiped his tongue off on his arm in desperation. I laughed some more.

We continued our conversation. He had premiered the "Greyscale" trailer at the showing of another locally made film and it had been very well-received. I wanted to know every detail as I was so sad to have missed an important event for him. He paused and smacked his lips, staring with hatred at the coffee. I said, "I know, this stuff is going to haunt us." He agreed and we talked some more, then said goodbye.

I went into the dining room on our unit and began to doctor my drink. I poured the liquid into another cup, rinsed the coffee grounds from the McDonald's cup and put sugar packets and whole milk in the bottom, then poured the coffee back in. That was much better. My additions had somewhat lessened the arugula aftertaste. I texted Ryan, assuring him that I'd salvaged the drink, and bravely downed the whole thing - although it took me two hours.

It was yummy, though. I promise. But oh man, if you could have tasted the drink they originally made...*shudder*.


Friday, May 29, 2009


Go see it. I don't want to give anything away or build up this movie so much that it's a letdown compared to how I make it sound. Just know that it will affect you in ways you didn't realize from the previews, and that if you don't absolutely love it, you have problems. ;)

With every new Pixar movie I see, I think, "Wow, they've really outdone themselves this time." Everything they make is so clever and has at least SOMEthing that is relevant to people of all ages. (I wasn't a huge WALL-E fan, but that was one of those that people built up to be the absolute SQUIRREL! movie I would ever see, and when it wasn't that, it seemed "ehh" to me, which is unfortunate.)

"Toy Story" and "Monsters, Inc." are two of my favorite movies, but "Up" topped them. I went expecting a simply cute and funny movie and got the surprise of finding my new very favorite Pixar film. (For the record, it offers "cute" and "funny" in spades, but also so much more.)

Just go see it. Please!


That's how many more hours I have of work until I get to go home and go to sleep.

Then I get to wake up in the late afternoon, go see "Up" with Ryan, and come back for another twelve-hour shift. Then another one on Saturday night.

I am working two weekends in a row so that I can switch to the opposite weekend rotation that I've been working. This is because I am going on two trips in June for which I would have needed two of my weekends off if I hadn't switched.

Next weekend, my heart will be beating a little more earnestly, for I shall be in New York City. I have no specific plans for when I am up there. None. I will get there around noon on Friday and leave shortly after noon on the following Wednesday. That's four whole wake-up-and-go-to-bed-in-New-York days, plus two half-days. My sister and I will do as we please and go with the flow. We shall picnic in Central Park. We shall shop. We shall eat at quirky little places. We shall take lots of pictures and laugh until we (nearly) die. It shall be awesome. (Okay, so maybe I do have some vague plans. But I don't know WHERE in Central Park we will picnic, WHERE we will shop, WHICH quirky little places we will go to for dining purposes. So there. Spontaneity fully intact. Oh, except I know that I must have another watermelon slush at that one place.)

So. Four more hours of this shift. I think I can do it with fun things on my mind.

And so ends my "number" posts. This one was kind of a stretch, anyway.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


That is how many iPhones I've had since March of last year.

I got my first iPhone the day I landed my extra job working overtime shifts in rehab (which is where I work full-time now). It had its share of minor hardships, like the time something was setting the metal detector off at Walgreen's and the lady at the counter felt the need to make sure it wasn't my phone by sliding the back of the phone against the part of the counter that they slide DVDs on to deactivate the security whatevers. It was good and scraped up after that. There were also times when I would accidentally drop the phone and give it more scrapes and scratches. (Ahh, the original scratch-sensitive silver design.) Overall, it was a great and reliable phone, as iPhones are.

Then we went to Disney World. We were at Animal Kingdom one morning and decided to ride Expedition: Everest. It was a very fun ride. After we got off of the ride and went into the gift shop, I realized my phone was no longer in my pocket. I figured it must have slipped out as I was getting off of the ride and had remained in the seat. I went back to ask one of the employees, knowing that they would have it. They didn't.

Long story short, we figured out that it HAD slipped onto the seat and some guy from Philly had stolen it. We figured this out by looking at the phone's activity online and seeing that the genius had promptly used the phone to call his home phone number. We kept calling the phone but no one ever answered, and so we had the service turned off. Ryan spoke to the guy (via the guy's cell phone, which he had also called from my phone) multiple times and he had a different story every time (first he turned it in to an employee, then he turned it in to Lost & Found, etc) and got obviously antsy, but never came clean.

We accepted it. My first iPhone was gone. Ryan felt so bad for me that he got me another iPhone.

Then we went on a float trip. Now, the only times I had ever floated the river at that point were with my grandpa, who was and still is capable of pretty much anything I need him to be. I never had a reason to fear that anything would go wrong, like - Heaven forbid - our canoe tipping. After all, that only happened when mean people did it to others intentionally. So when Ryan and I were swiftly approaching a fallen tree in the Illinois River last summer, I assumed we'd bump off and be on our way.

WHOOSH. We and our belongings were completely submerged in two seconds. I had the breath knocked out of me and it took a few seconds to get my bearings. Every time I tried to surface, I hit my head on the bottom of the canoe. I knew I was going to drown. (I'm not exaggerating. This taught me what a "near-death experience" is. I 100% thought "Okay, this is how I die.") Obviously, I did not, in fact, die. I did get some nasty bruises and every orifice in my head was completely water-logged, but here I am.

I cannot say the same for iPhone #2.

Though that time it was my irresponsible decision to bring the phone along on the float trip (like I said, I was naive to the possibility of anything going wrong), Ryan again took pity on me. I have such a loving, patient, and forgiving husband. Along came #3.

By this time, the 3G had entered the world and was sold out in most stores. I had to wait awhile for mine to come in. But it did, and it's lasted me the longest out of all three by far. Again, occasional accidents occur; a drop here and there is pretty much inevitable.

Then, this evening, it happened.

My iPhone was in the front pocket of my jeans. It slipped out and slowly, gracefully, slid the short distance from its starting point onto the floor (I wasn't standing up). It landed face-down. I thought, "Dang it, I dropped it least it was more of a slide this time," and picked it up.

This is what I saw.

As interested as I am in the physics of this, I am in mourning for my third dear iPhone. It still works, but as its glass shards are a threat to my nonbleedingness, it will have to be replaced. I've already, ridiculously, gotten an "iPhone splinter" in my thumb. A friend pointed out, "I hope it doesn't get glass in your ear....." Hmm, probably a good thing to NOT happen.

Who knows what the future holds? Hopefully not 483 more iPhones.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Today, Ryan and I celebrated our two-year anniversary. We started out the day by having brunch at Mimi's, my favorite place to eat breakfast, which was Ryan's suggestion (bonus!). We had a great time just talking and enjoying being together. Look at the pretty flowers that were there! They were for us, I just know it.

Next we went to Barnes & Noble, our go-to "Whatcha wanna do?" spot. Afterward, we hunted down a sno-cone shack that had been recommended to us for their wedding cake sno-cones. We found it and were soooo glad we did. I had a wedding cake sno-cone, which was indeed delicious, and Ryan had a "Happy Camper" - pineapple, banana, and blue raspberry.

We came home and I relaxed for a little bit while Ryan spent some time editing the movie. (His goal is to have the assembly edit finished this week.) Next, we gave each other our anniversary present...

...We cleaned. We went through all three junk drawers in the kitchen (yes, THREE...I am ashamed) and got rid of everything we didn't need and organized the rest. Then we did the same thing with the entryway closet and the drawers in the coffee table. It's so nice to just purge all the junk from your life. (Oh, but there is SO MUCH more. A little bit at a time, though.) Happily, I was in that cleaning kind of mood today. I even vacuumed inside the drawers. Yes. I vacuumed....the drawers. (Yesterday I completely cleaned out and reorganized the pantry, inspired by this lady, whom I hope you read and if not, I hope you start! Tomorrow I'm on to the guest bedroom and hall closet, which is full of Halloween/Christmas decorations, board games, etc.)

After we finished cleaning, we went out to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. This isn't our very favorite place, nor does it have any particular sentimental meaning to us; we just felt like going there. (I don't like to plan on a specific place to go because if I'm not in the mood for it that day, it's not much fun. WOW I NEED TO STOP RAMBLING.)

We had a delicious dinner and shared a piece of key lime cheesecake for dessert. Then we came home and watched a movie we'd rented on TiVo.

It was a relaxed, low-key anniversary. It was JUST what we needed.

Happy anniversary, baby.
(Sorry I forgot my bouquet on the way back up the aisle.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Whiskers on Kittens, Warm Woolen Mittens.

Yes, I changed the words. Raindrops on roses don't do much for me and I could take or leave bright copper kettles.

Evidently, everybody who's anybody in the blog world occasionally posts about things they like. I love this idea - I think it's a really interesting way to get to know quirky things about people, and others' posts have alerted me to awesomeness that I didn't know existed. So, onto the bandwagon I jump.

Pineapple Orchid scent from Bath & Body works. It smells sooo good - the perfect combination of fresh citrus and lovely floral. The smell tells me that summer is coming. Besides, the candle is so pretty. I put some gnomes around it to make you smile.
So I collect gnomes. What of it? (Just kidding. These are from a gnome hunt that we put on for Gloria's birthday - but that's a different story.)

Vitamin mentha lip gloss, also from Bath & Body Works. (Honestly, I am NOT as obsessed with this store as the average female. I'm surprised that two things from there made it onto my list.) Josey introduced me to this in the dead of winter. The mint is tingly and so refreshing on your lips, and it even makes them sparkle - but not "I'm twelve years old" sparkle. Just enough. More of a shimmer, really.
They are also available tinted, but vampires such as I make any lip color look more shocking than it would look on a human being with pigment, so the tinted ones make me nervous.

The new dish towels I picked up from Crate & Barrel in Chicago. I have somewhat of a fixation with dish towels. I find that they are an inexpensive, easy way to help my kitchen look more festive. I have two stacks in my drawer: one holiday-themed stack and one just plain cute stack. Aren't they SO adorable? They make me want to gush with domesticity.

My Matryoshka doll measuring cups. I wish I'd thought of these! They make me smile. They are from Anthropologie. (Umm, can I PLEASE get one built in Utica Square? Tulsa people would go there. I promise.)

The nth wonder of the world: Sour Patch watermelons. Mmm, they are my favorite in all the land.

Last but not least, the word "peahen." What? I've always liked it. *Crickets*

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Scoop on Yemma

I have a brief update on my mom. She went to the chemotherapy information session on Tuesday. She was bombarded with information and my grandpa (Pi) kindly sent me copies of everything. While skimming over the papers, I found something encouraging: there was a section that said something like "I understand that my chemo is being given for the following reason" and there were four options. The one that was circled basically said that the chemo was to prevent a recurrence of her cancer even though there is currently no evidence that any exists. I'm guessing this was just the closest option to her situation because her doctor had stated that there was some cancerous granulation tissue coating her organs - so it's not ALL gone, but hopefully mostly gone. (The other options were to try to keep it under control in the case of extremely advanced, terminal cancer; to try to shrink the tumors to facilitate surgical removal; and something about radiation, which is not currently part of the plan for her.)

She'll have six rounds of chemo and each cycle is going to be 21 days. That means that it will take her about four months to complete her chemo. (This is a lot longer than I anticipated, but I'm not sure WHAT I imagined - if that makes any sense). She has been told that she will lose all of her hair by the end of the second cycle. She is going to have Josey shave it all off before then because she doesn't want to be traumatized finding it in clumps on her pillow. She'd rather lose it all in one go and on HER terms. I love that, and I'm really comforted that it will be something for her and Josey to experience together. I'm so glad that Yemma has a "daughter" nearby while I'm in Oklahoma and Mary is in New York.

There's a very thorough schedule detailing which drugs to take and on what days after her chemo. They're called "rescue drugs." Basically, she has to get the chemo, then save herself FROM the chemo with these medications. It's a scary thought, but again, we're not allowing fear to consume us. We rest knowing that God is in control, and we are counting our blessings. He knew this was going to happen when He created this world, and no amount of freaking out on our part is going to change it. So we wait. And trust.

Yemma is getting her energy back after her major surgery. She is still tired, but less so. She's been getting out and about more and more. Her staples are out and I took the liberty of removing most of her steri-strips when I saw her on the way to Chicago (St. Louis is very conveniently located in the middle of the route from here to Chi-town). She will start her chemo on June 10th. Ryan and I will be up there a week and a half later to spend the weekend. I wish we could get up there before then. Alas, work calls. If praying is your thang, please do so. It works.

Thanks so much again to everyone for asking how my mom is. We are so blessed with a lot of people who care.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where's the Knight Bus When You Need It?

It is time for the tale of the third and most thrilling part of Saturday in Chicago.

Fred and I hopped on the red line and rode it all the way down to a station that allowed us to transfer to the green line. Our plan was to take the green line to a stop a couple of blocks away from the Museum of Science and Industry, where we had tickets to Harry Potter: the Exhibition.

The first thing that went wrong was that we foolishly stepped onto an orange train without even looking. Thankfully, we had realized our error by the first stop, so we got off at the station, took an orange back, and got on a green train. (Imagine all of this with about ten minutes of wait time at each station.)

Once we realized that the train was taking awhile to get to each stop and we had quite a few to go, I had the brilliant idea to get off at the next stop and just hail a cab to our destination.

Except that our next stop was the end of Indiana Avenue on the south side of Chicago.

If you didn't say "yikes," feel free to do so now.

It took mere seconds for me to realize that my shot-in-the-dark decision to get off the train was a flop (read: death wish). There were no cabs or fine, upstanding citizens about - only people who stared at and harassed us. So we began to walk. And walk. And jog. And wheeze. And walk again.

All the while, we're calling/texting my husband and Fred's sister, Gloria, who were meeting us at the exhibition. They were still on the train, too, and it didn't look like they were going to arrive anytime soon. Please read Ryan's account here.

I Googled cab companies (insert iPhone plug - seriously, they are AMAZING and I don't care how yuppie I sound) but there was a 45- to 60-minute wait time. My iPhone told me that it was a 2.9-mile, 56-minute walk to the museum from where we were. This was around 8:10pm. Our tickets were for 8:00. By the time we would get there, the exhibit would have already closed.

Most of me accepted this and I teared up, telling Ryan to just go in and enjoy himself because by then it was a choice of wasting $40 or $80, and it'd be better for two people to see it than none. He said "okay," and that he was sorry and he loved me. There was still a tiny part of me that thought, "No, it doesn't happen this way. It can't."

What felt like an hour but was really about twenty minutes later, my phone was near battery death (how could this get any worse?) and Gloria had contacted Fred, saying that they couldn't bring themselves to go into the exhibit and that they were going to try to get a cab to come find us. Now I had TWO groups of people for whom to be sad.

We saw a cop drive by and I stopped, saying, "Maybe he'll give us a ride!" He made eye contact with me, then waved and kept driving. I wasn't sure if that meant "S'up" or "Stay there, I'll turn around and come help you" but before I could wonder much longer, the angels started to sing as a cab drove by.

I wildly hailed it and we ran across the street and jumped in. HALLELUJAH! It was about 8:35 at this point, but my heart began to beat faster as we neared the museum. I used the last juice my trusty iPhone had in it to text Ryan that we were on our way. We met Ryan and Gloria out front at 8:50, exchanged relieved hugs, and RAN into the museum. It was mostly dark and the only reason anyone was around was because prom was being held in the museum. The security guards looked at us like we were nuts for only having arrived and still thinking we were going to get in as the building closed at 9:00, but they directed us to the exhibit.

Now, imagine four flushed, sweaty, wide-eyed people frantically showing up at the entrance to the exhibition right before they were to shut down. We were greeted by a sweet lady with a British accent. She was extremely sympathetic but made no guarantees. She hesitantly said into her walkie-talkie, "Clinton? We've just had a group of four arrive..." I felt so awful. I BEGGED myself not to cry.

The kind lady (who looked like a grown up Ginny Weasley) made polite small talk with us, asking us where we were from, listening to our summary of the terrible time we had getting there, etc. Then a man who also had a British accent (they all did, so imagine that from here on out - it helps, I promise!) showed up with a big smile and...took our tickets. He explained that one of the tour guides had agreed to stay late and walk us through the first half. We thanked him repeatedly, grateful for ANYTHING at this point. He took us into a room and said, "You're gonna love this" as some clips from the Harry Potter movies began to play. When that was over, a big door opened up and a man in a long black cape holding a lantern said, "Come on, first years this way!" Once again, I had to talk myself down from bursting into tears. They were putting on this show just for us.

The first lady we'd met was around the corner, this time in a cape and holding the Sorting Hat. I muttered to Ryan, "Please don't let them sort me." I was still reeling from our trip there, close to making myself look like a blubbering idiot, and the Sorting Hat isn't exactly flattering even on a smiling face. Fred and Gloria were sorted (Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, respectively), then we met our tour guide, JD.

JD was enthusiastic and also very sympathetic to our plight. He told us that the tour would have to be quick and we were definitely okay with that, making sure he knew how thankful we were that he'd stayed for us. The tour began.

Oh, my goodness. The costumes! The props! The sets! I don't know what I'd been expecting, but this was WAY above and beyond whatever had been in my mind. Nothing was a replica. EVERYTHING was straight from the movies - and there was SO MUCH of it! Now, you're all going to hate me for two reasons:

1) There was no photography allowed so I don't have any pictures.

2) This exhibition was so wonderful that I'm making you go yourself, so I'm not giving out details of what I saw there. Trust me, it's for your own good. I once went to an exhibit that was not fun or exciting at all because by the time everyone told me what it was like, nothing was a surprise. The exhibition ends in September. I'll tell all in October if you still want to know, because I will be sad for you if you cannot go.

One thing I WILL tell you about for the purpose of knowing when it all truly turned around for me is the mandrakes. I hope you've read the Harry Potter books - this is one of the rare cases that I will state that I am TRULY sorry for you if you haven't and refuse to read them - or at least seen the movies so you know the hilarious creatures to which I am referring. In Herbology, the students have to put on earmuffs and transfer baby mandrakes into different pots, not allowing themselves to hear the screams of the upset roots. (The cries of the adults are fatal; the cries of the babies are not but are still harmful.) We weren't given earmuffs - probably because it would have required way too many pairs, or because we were running low on time - but we got to pull the mandrakes up out of their pots and hear them scream! Trust me when I say that this was SO cute that I couldn't help but laugh, and I was in good spirits from then on. Thank you, mandrakes. I'm seriously considering getting a tattoo of you. No, for real.

Can you believe it? JD ended up guiding us through the ENTIRE exhibit. Ryan heard him whisper to someone else, "That was actually fun!" We bought plenty of memorabilia at the gift store. Ryan even got me a replica of Hermione's wand because I'd had such a rough night. (Awwwwwww.) Then we were on our way.

I need to say right now that the kindness and generosity of the people at Harry Potter: the Exhibition humbles me and blows me away. Paint me all colors of cheesy, but my heart was swollen with pride at being a Harry Potter fan after what these people did for us.

Our horrible night had turned into one of the most memorable and fantastic nights EVER. And I've even got a surprise for you...

The flying car was in the lobby, not in the "No photos allowed" exhibit, so I snapped away :)

High on gratitude and satisfaction, we made our way out of the museum and saw a bus sitting in front. We hopped on and took it to the nearest train station. Were I not so excited from the thrill we'd just had, I would have been a tad more put off by this:

Our deprived-of-HP-knowledge-and-therefore-inevitable-fandom friends had been hanging out at Navy Pier. We got off the train and walked a long way (again, but this time with euphoria on our side) to meet them there. None of us had had dinner and it was after 10:00 by this time, so we were starving. We ate at none other than my favorite gimmick restaurant, Bubba Gump's.

It was the PERFECT ending to a day full of extreme lows and highs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Chicago!

Okay, so I think we left off at The Bean last time. Our next goal was to get to the Chicago Art Institute, which was right next to where we already were (funny how often that happens to me when I'm in a new place...). Admission was free because it was the opening day of the new modern wing, and there was a big shebang with a red carpet and free bottled water from Target. w00t! We even took the opportunity to pose on the red carpet :)

However, we got distracted when we saw Crown Fountain. We agreed that some splashing around was in order.

We kind of rock a little bit.

I bought this shirt in Vegas solely for picture-taking on this trip. It's from some reality show, like American Dance Crew or something, but I got it for "my" Greyscale crew!
After we had had enough of the fountain, we went into the art institute and looked around for a couple of hours. We really didn't take that many photos, and none that were incredibly exciting.

So. After we had been properly cultured (does that make me sound like yogurt? Ew), we split up for the evening. Ryan and most everyone else went to accomplish the whole reason for our Chicago trip - a shot of the city for the movie - and Fred and I went on a mini-mission of our own. We knew without a doubt what our first destination was.

We shared our Espresso Escape sundae (espresso ice cream mixed with an espresso chocolate square, hot fudge, and of course whipped cream and a cherry for each of us) on the train up to Ethiopian Diamond restaurant. There we met my best friend Josey's family to eat in celebration of Summer, her sister who just graduated from Columbia College (congratulations, Summerla!). They gave us platters of all kinds of fillings that we grabbed with pieces of stuff that felt like ultra-absorbent tortillas. All right...they felt like skin. But the "absorbent tortilla" thing is much more appetizing.

We had more than a little fun with the "skin" things. But they were delicious. Honestly.

Here are Josey's parents. I heart them.
And here is the lovely grad with her friend Sanja!
Finally, here are some BFFs.

Our time with my second family was way too short before Fred and I had to be on our way. And that, my friends, is the beginning of a story that deserves another post of its own.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Good Day in Chicago (Part One)

Saturday was SUCH a better day. The sun was shining, the temperature was a LITTLE bit higher, and we actually got to do everything we set out to do that day (barely). Because the day was so eventful, and because we took HUNDREDS of pictures (no, I'm not lying), I'm going to divide the day into two or three posts. This is Part One of our Day o' Adventures.

The first step was to meet up with our Kruses, who were staying with their aunt on Michigan Avenue. After that, we searched for breakfast and found naught but a mall food court, so we settled for Philly cheesesteaks and subs. (Eh, it was almost 11 anyway...) We proceeded to cruise the Magnificent Mile, stepping into cool shops and taking lots of pictures.

After the Magnificent Mile, we continued down Michigan to Millenium Park. I got this shot of this sweet little boy by a fountain:

I love us.

Next we made our way to The Bean!!

This is the "underside" of The Bean. Pretty trippy.
Do you see us?
Okay, as I've already inundated all of you innocent people with waaaaay too many photos, I'll stop here. Check back tomorrow for more Chicago awesomeness!