Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Been a While

Oh Lordy, I haven't posted in for-ev.
It's been a busy couple of weeks. Plus there's been stuff going on.

Firstly, my dear fiance graduated! OK, actually, this is only in theory. He still has some things to take care of, like a couple more credits, but he walked with the class and received his empty diploma folder (poor guy lol). By the fall he'll have the real thing....and hopefully a job to go along with that nifty new degree.

Graduation day was really fantastic - the weather worked out beautifully and the campus looked just gorgeous, though Babson is lovely no matter the season it seems. Jam's commencement speaker was the first blind person to summit Everest, and though he rambled a bit at the end, the speech was inspirational and at times even hilarious. More importantly Jam's parents and sister and friends were all able to gather to watch him cross the stage. Hurrah! Of course Jamaal being Jamaal he brought the experience to a whole new level, waving to the crowd as he made his way to the stage. It was very him, LOL. Afterwards we had a fantastic dinner at the Metro 9 Steakhouse.

Last weekend I went off to Smith to my 5th Reunion and everything about it was lovely and fantastic. I loved staying on campus, and a dear friend and I shared what may have been the best room in the house....certainly with one of the best views on campus! There was great company, good food, shopping, even some leg-waxing thrown in there. Hee. I think one of my favorite moments was the alumnae parade, when all the alums who've gathered for Reunion march to a central location to listen to the president speak and the Alumnae Association president speak about fundraising, etc. We line up according to class year, with the youngest group in front and the oldest in the back. A marching band begins in the back of the line and marches through the two columns of alumnae, like a sock turning inside out (which is what we were told as students lol). This way the oldest alumnae end up in the front of the parade and get to pass through all of the other alumnae, who cheer for them with gusto. The women wave like celebrities...or comment on "how young we are" (which is what someone from the 15-year reunion class said....we were like 'um and you're only 37.....'). It's great fun. Later that night, the campus is strung with lanterns. This year the college swapped out old Chinese paper lanterns with real flame for LED-powered fabric lanterns that are fire, wind and weather-proof. It took a bit of adjusting as we were all in love with "the old way" but it wasn't too bad. The LED lights aren't quite as aesthetically pleasing, BUT the fact that Illumination Night can happen despite wind and weather is a bonus to me, as our commencement weekend illumination was cut short by a storm.

Whenever I return to Northampton I am reminded of Wester Mass's general awesomeness. It's so beautiful, especially when you get a stretch of weather like we did, clear, sunny and 80 the whole four days. Noho is a fabulous artsy community, full of shops and amazing restaurants. I could've gorged myself the whole weekend, but somehow held back. I didn't shop as much as I planned to either, but that's ok. I got a few trinkets here and there and purchased a diploma frame as well, and that left me feeling sufficiently poor enough to hold back on more ridiculousness (though I SHOULD have bought that cosmetic bag at Essentials dammit!).

Of course despite Northampton's awesomeness, I'm not sure it'd be the same returning there without my ladies. It's hard going back and appreciating things without someone who has a similar experience - I'm not saying that Jamaal, for instance, would not LOVE Northampton, but he doesn't have the allegiance to it that we Smithies do. Like my sister has mad love for Fredericksburg, where she went to school. I LOVED visiting, and I think she loved visiting Northampton, but it is noooot exaaactly the same. I did really miss a lot of the ladies who lived in Hubbard with us though - some '04's couldn't make it and it wasn't a reunion year for many of our Hubbard friends, but we still managed to have a good time and quite often raised a glass to those who couldn't join us!

The time since Reunion has been spent catching up with life and work and the like. Wednesday was a pretty low point, as my little Lucy-bird died. She was my evil, but mostly sweet...when she wanted to be, parakeet that had been struggling with a fatty tumor disease since I adopted her 3 1/2 years ago. We knew she only had a little time left due to her behavior last weekend, but regardless, the death of a pet is something that kind of kills your week, you know? There are two heartening things about her passing though: 1. she is out of pain and is not suffering, which is always something to be grateful for....2. her cagemate Charlie Brown, who was a gentleman to the end, preening her though she was very sick, seems liberated. At night when things are quiet, he definitely looks for Lucy, but the rest of the time, he plays with his toys (Lucy never let him do that) and he sings and eats in peace. While I miss poor Lucy, I can only feel happy for Charlie B., finally getting a chance at life :)Lucy in foreground, CB behind her. That's pretty much how the relationship went....

In other news, I am anxious and stressed about wedding things after a work conversation I had. Jam is trying to be a comfort by telling me to ignore my coworker's judgments and pessimism, and also telling me that married people are only trying to be helpful when administering advice, unsolicited or not. I feel bad because he is on the receiving end on the majority of my complaints, but I think that he gets that as a guy, his friends arent' going to be like, "dude, you should totally go with candles on the tables instead of flowers" whereas I get ALL KINDS OF INPUT from everyone to my mother, who is just trying to be lovely and helpful, to the lady who does my eyebrows, who I've met ONCE. Ugh. I try to be patient with people and just smile and say thank you, because a lot of the advice is legit fantastic and I'm grateful for it, as I am grateful for the inspiration, ideas, offers of help, etc. I am GRATEFUL. That being said, I am also tired of talking about the wedding. Meh. And if my coworkers tell me one more time that Jam will never move up here, that we'll never live in the same state and that they'll believe the wedding when they see it, I may scream.

This is how I feel about wedding planning and unsolicited advice!!

Ok rant over. I actually have a very peaceful and lovely weekend planned before the madness of June starts. I plan on getting ahead with my crafting, and even do some stealth wedding planning. Maybe even kayak....depending on the cooperation of our difficult New England weather. Anyways, after this ranty bit, I am looking forward to a peaceful couple of days...oh and I think homemade guacamole may be worked into the situation as well. OH and the MARTHA F*CKING STEWART ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CRAFTS! It arrived yesterday. I rubbed it all over my body. Oh and f*cking isn't really in the name, I'm using to emphasize the pure unadulterated awesomeness of this book. It's even alphabetized. OMG. It made me all tingly.

Thank you for reading my boringness :P

I am off to read my book club book while falling asleep. Whilst falling asleep. Can I use whilst? Am I allowed? It's just so lovely.....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wedding Biz

So I got another one of those emails from You know, one of those "you have done no work whatsoever and your wedding day is 1 year, 5 months and 2 days away."

Some of it sooo doesn't bother me. I was talking to my hairdresser about planning. We agreed that about 80% of the planning cannot be done before the year mark. But then we agreed that the stuff I could have done now, should be settled sooner rather than later. Um, like the church and minister. Kinda important. And the guest list and timing issues. I haven't done it. Hmm.

The nice thing was is that he totally validated the bridesmaid idea, the let's pick one color and have everyone choose a style. He was like 'THANK GOD FOR THAT!' I laughed and asked why he was so emphatic and he told me of a nightmarish wedding he did hair for last summer where the bridesmaids were dressed in floor-length salmon-colored halter dresses. He was like "Ok, honestly, the color sucked. It looked good on one person. But the thing that totally killed it was that the maids were all shapes sizes and skin tones. If the bride had just let them pick the style it would've made a world of difference." The other wedding he did featured lots of turquoise, but he pointed out that choosing a body-type-appropriate maids dress saved the wedding party. So at least that's set. Guess I should probably ask the bridal party formally. Tee hee.

Another thing - I 'trol the wedding blogs regularly, particularly on days like today, where I am grossly overtired, kinda cranky and desperate to stay awake. I looked at one site that is hashing out nail color. This bride is thinking red. I LOVE IT. Don't get me wrong, I adore a nice french manicure (and fake nails) but the truth is in the days marching up to our wedding date, I'm going to be doing a lot of physical sh*t with my hands. They're going to take a beating. One solution would be to get a set of acrylic, but I'm not sure that's my style. I had them for a while and totally loved it....but...what I really want to do is file my nails super-short, sligtly square and rock It's a Doozi, Says Suzi on both toes and fingies.

It's a Doozi, Says Suzi

Especially since a few friends said that I "had to" get a french manicure and one woman at a nail salon said that brides come in there "with all sorts of ideas" but she always always always puts Essie Ballet Slippers on their nails because it's "soft, feminine and bridal" ummm so I have never encountered a masculine nail polish, and what is wrong with red? It rocks. Of course I'll be destined to change my mind about a billion times before the big day, and maybe It's a Doozi will look sh*tty with my dress, but I am sticking to the red I think. I just love it. Love the idea. Plus for a fall wedding I think it would stand out even less.

Ok enough musing for the day. Back to work I go!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


One of my favorite movies of all time....probably my absolute number one favorite movie of all time, is "Out of Africa." Yes, I know it celebrates colonialism and the British stronghold on Africa, and through that the general oppression of black by white, but:

it's awesome. And romantic. And tragic and sad and heartwarming. And utterly devastating. And completely quote-worthy. And my friend David Livingstone Otieno is in it for brief second and that makes me magically happy.

I've only been able to watch it once the whole way through since returning from my four-month stint studying abroad, now six years ago. It evokes intense memories, and while they are almost all good and rich and full of life, they hurt, because I don't know when, if ever, I will get back there, and even if I do, it will never be the same. I was a tourist when I was there, but I was a tourist who lived there. Someone said to me "you can't say you've lived in a place til you've had to shop in a grocery store or pay a bill or go to the bank." I did all of those things, and a lot. I was happy, sad, laughed, cried, got drunk, got injured, threw up, peed in the bush, ate African dust, hugged Kenyan babies, went to church, went to villages, went to marketplaces all while in Kenya; I lived there, more so than I can say for other places where I have spent much more time. I am fairly sure I will never be able to embed myself in a country in that way again. I can't be sure though, and maybe it's that that keeps me going.

While it's hard to sit through the movie, I'm downloading it on iTunes (or trying, it's taking days). I need to get over whatever emotional block I have about watching it and just do it. Something today reminded me of a scene from the movie, thus provoking this topsy-turvy post where I have yet to get to the point. Here it is!

Today I went to get my hair done and had a particularly talented hair-washer-lady. She was a-maz-ing. I leaned back and relaxed for what seemed like the first time in days (I've done something foul to my back, so sitting and standing both suck, but reclining gently was AWESOME.) I kept thinking how having someone else wash your hair is one of the most luxurious things EVER. Yeah, I like a hot stone massage, and appreciate them because I can't do that to myself...I love manis and pedis because I do a bad job. Shampooing isn't exactly something that you need talent to do, and I rarely give it a second thought as I am either exhausted from the days events or still in a haze of sleep when this cleansing ritual occurs in the shower. Having someone else take over is pure heaven.

When "Out of Africa" was being filmed, Sydney Pollack wanted Robert Redford's character, Denys Finch-Hatton, to do something romantic for Meryl Streep's character, Karen Blixen, while on safari. I imagine they went through the host of possibilities, but then someone came up with washing her hair. At this point in the movie, the two have had basically no physical contact, and the hairwashing scene turns out to be intensely romantic and intimate. Of course it's en plein air, with a waterfall and hippos in the background, in the middle of the Mara. And of course Denys is reciting part of the 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' to Karen, a favorite poem of mine, ending with an especially great stanza:
"Farewell, farewell ! but this I tell

To thee, thou Wedding-Guest !
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast. "
It's pretty damn perfect. Kind of even swoon-worthy. You see that on Karen's face at the end of the scene. Tah-rust me.

I used to think of this often when I was studying abroad. To be honest, I didn't wash my hair a ton, lol. The showers were cold water only, and it was much easier to crouch by the faucet and just douse yourself here and there rather than let your back get wet. We all lamented the moment where you have to face the water, or rather, back into the water, and let the bone-chilling cold hit your back - ugh. I used to think about how nice it would be to find someone who would wash my hair and recite Coleridge to me, but truth be told, there was no one near as sexy as Robert Redford in my program, oh God no, and I think while I may have convinced one of the Kenyan men to give it a go ;) it ultimately would've landed me in a bad situation, or they would've thought it was too ridiculous to even fathom. I was stuck with my cold showers.

It's nice that now that I'm home I can indulge in a shampoo at the salon every once in a while. There may not be hippos, it may not be Kenya, but it is still incredibly delicious. It's not like I can exactly complain.

Just Above the Surface

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ornithologically Yours

It's spring migraa-aaa-aaaation TIME!
My favorite time of the year. Mostly because it is the true sign that summer is coming, yet it's not yet hot and sticky and humidy here in New England.

Yesterday I did a bit of community service with my dad as we joined the great river cleanup in our area. It was the first time my dad would be out and about in his new kayak.

We decided to launch from a local site - normally we drive a few towns away and launch from the mouth of the North/South River, but yesterday we thought we'd try something new. Of course the day started dear father would not listen to my suggestion on loading the kayaks on the roof of my Subaru (something I've done totally on my own for two years now) and he knocked my boat off the roof. It fell on the grass, but knocked his kayak off balance, falling on the opposite side of the car, the driveway/stonewall side. Instead of trying to steady the kayak on the roof as it slipped, my dad tried to be a superhero and rush to my aid. Ummmm, unless you're Superman, it's not happening, you won't make it to me before my kayak fall. Soooo yes, disaster strikes, the kayak falls on top of him, pushing him to the driveway, and landing on the concrete stonewall. I hear a giant "F*CK" and expect to see a blood-soaked father emerge from below my car. Luckily he was unhurt, the kayak only scratched, and my car only mildly wounded, sans driver's side miror. Oh welllllll. I guess it's good I'm pretty c'est la vie when it comes to cars. What can you do really? Replace the thing and move on. I mean if it kept me from driving I would probably be pisssssed, but I can make it to the train and back without a mirror.

By the time we made it to the canoe launch it was an hour later than the official start time, but it was cool. We met up with a guy with trash bags and were off. Of course it was all I could do to focus on trash and not birds, though most of the trash I focused on was the bird-unfriendly, like fishing line and bobbers and the like. Despite the trash here and there, carried upriver by the tide, the place was a hidden paradise. Unlike the North River, this river is not boat accessible, but just deep enough for canoes and kayaks. It was wide open in some places and surrounded by trees in others, and there was no one else out there, making me feel like we were explorers seeing a place for the first time. It's corny I know, but it was a strong feeling I've rarely felt elsewhere. Kenya maybe. Alaska a teeny little bit - but to find this feeling so close to home? Awesome.

There were hundreds of red-winged blackbirds. We also saw yellow warblers in abundance, several eastern kingbirds, several great blue herons, comorants, an osprey, a rose-breasted grosbeak, a couple of orioles and a common yellowthroat. I'm sure I'm forgetting some as well, and since it wasn't a bird-watching mission, there are species I missed. Next time....this is going to be my new spot:
We came home and relaxed for a while. I cleaned a ton and then took a shower. As I was rubbing lotion all over my naked body, I saw a flash of red go by the window. HOLY CRAP! A scarlet tanager was taking a bath in a puddle left over from car washing in the driveway. I scrambled for my camera, shot a few pics outside the window, then scrambled for a robe and rushed outside. I flew by Jamaal fishwrangling on the couch. He looked at me like "what the HELL are you doing?" uhhhh just taking a picture dear. I got some shots in, but couldn't find my doubler, so they weren't particularly awesome. They're great to me though :)

I then proceeded to have kind of a lousy night. Dinner was fantastic, as I went out with Jam and Amy to a great Asian restaurant. Something disagreed with my stomach in the most foul manner though and let's just say, I spent a looong time in the bathroom. The pain and nausea was so bad I wasn't sure what was even wrong with me. It made me cry and it sucked. I started to wonder if I had something heinous like a bowel obstruction but...yeah, nothing was obstructed (EW). Amy and I are pretty sure I have a nasty food allergy to something in the lettuce wraps - last time I ate at Asian C I threw up afterwards, and everyone blamed it on the alcohol, even though I only had one drink...that time I had also had a mix of food, but it's just too much of a coincidence to have gastrointestinal distress again! b8tches.

Jam was a sweetie and gave me the bed, but I was up early this morning, still queasy as hell. It paid off though because I decided to go sit under a tree in the yard and focus on a small area of the yard. I saw a TON of birds! It was such a productive hour. I don't have any photos because I wanted to try and focus on species ID, and I think that paid off. Here's the roundup:

random seagull
ruby-throated hummingbird
downy woodpecker
northern flicker
eastern kingbird (a first for our yard)
tufted titmouse
black-capped chickadee
house wren
american robin
gray catbird
nashville warbler (a first for me AND our yard and total awesomeness)
yellow-rumped warbler
black and white warbler
common yellowthroat (pure awesomeness, plus he got sooo close)
northern cardinal
american tree sparrow
chipping sparrow
american goldfinch

Eighteen species and all I did was sit on my bum at the base of tree? not to friggin' bad in my opinion. I kind of want to wake up early every day this week and bird before work. It's sad that that can get me out of bed at 6am but work actually wouldn't. ha ha ha. There are some hazards to birding though; during "greet your neighbor" time at church the guy behind me picked an inch-worm out of my hair. LOL. Nature rules.

ETA: def saw a nashville warbler, confirmed that today - also I HEARD a northern parula yesterday but didn't see one......I will track it down.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Unamusing When the Alarm Is Going Off in Five Hours and Twenty Minutes

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Last night at Babson, Jam and I were roused by the fire alarm. Was I totally asleep? No. Was I seriously thinking about it? Yes. But then I had to get up, find a fleece, put on non-see-through pants over my jammies (btw we knew at least our part of the building wasn't burning, thus the taking time to put on pants. Otherwise I would have no qualms about running out nekkid). Then I sat on a stonewall outside the exec conference center and watched the firemen assess the situation. I figured it would be ok when the hook and ladder sped off campus with lights and sirens blaring, going to a "real call." Needless to say 5:20 came around obscenely early, but Jam gave me 20 extra minutes (awesomeness). Plus it's freakin' glorious out! I thought it was supposed to rain forever! It's sunny and nice and the birds are singing and the trees are blooming - can't complain too much ;)

H1N1 and How I'm Over It

I was hoping that the stupid swine flu outbreak would not affect my college reunion plans (could I be anymore selfish, seriously?!) and luckily I learned today that it shouldn't.

I feel bad for everyone who has suffered a case of the flu or even died from it. The flu sucks. I've had regular old flu four times in my life and have never been so miserable. And I've had norovirus, people - 24 hours of vomiting still can't compare to four days of sustained 102+ fever, the freaking PAIN of your blood cells exploding inside your body, the aches, the heat. Yuck. Flu is gross.

All that being said, I would like to point out an issue that one of my favorite African bloggers brought up: malaria kills millions of people each year.

Another fact I learned at book club from the famous Rainy: One in six women in Liberia will die in childbirth or from childbearing complications. One in f*cking SIX.

Yes, swine flu and its pandemic proportions is worrisome. The way it spreads (unlike malaria and pregnancy, for example) are totally scary. To think you could hop on a plane and hop off with swine flu is freaky. But it's hard for me to get all up in arms about swine flu when there's other sh*t, preventable sh*t, killing people everyday.

That is all. I have no other point except to complain...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I Got Tagged and Totally Missed It :P

I caught up with a blog friend (acquaintance? stranger? pal? LOL) and she tagged me in a meme forever ago, but because I hadn't read any blogs in forever, I totally missed out. I am in need of a little break at the moment, so I'm going to go for it. Yay!

8 Things I’m Looking Forward To

1. This weekend and its busy-ness - visiting with the fiance, Ducks Unlimited dinner (dork!), kayaking for the first time and cleaning up a local waterway, Mother's Day and catching up with the fam.
2. Smith Reunion Weekend
3. Going up to the island in NH
4. Jamaal finally moving up here and us finding a place to live
5. Planning some wedding stuff (also dorky...)
6. Reading some new books
7. Finally using a Christmas gift certificate to get my eyebrows done at a fancy place
8. Becoming more organized at home and work

8 Things I Did Yesterday

1. Worked
2. Lifted weights
3. Cast-on a baby dress
4. Semi-cleaned my room
5. Fed the birds some lettuce
6. Caught the 5:00 train by rushing insanely through the subway/South Station (felt accomplished)
7. Finished re-reading the sixth book in "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series
8. Had a panic attack :( (Have I blogged about these? How I'm remembering this nightmare I have weeks ago and every time I have a vivid memory of the nightmare it triggers a panic attack? It's sh*tty as hell. Ironically it only happens when I am alone. It's weird and totally annoying and kinda scary. And I hate it. They're fading though, as the memory of the dream fades, which is good at least).

8 Things I Wish I Could Do

1. Get on top of things at work (snooooze I know) It could really earn me the respect I need to do my job well. I'll keep trying.
2. Finish my project backlog
4. Help Jamaal find a job so he can move up here...and buy me a kitten.
5. Design knitted garments.
6. Find the perfect job in the conservation biology field....or at least a great volunteer opportunity that jives with my work schedule.
7. Find my sister an awesome job so she is happy and makes more money so she can tell the bank that laid her off to "SUCK IT"
8. Shop irresponsibly for clothes and makeup/body products to redo my wardrobe. LOL.

8 Shows I Watch

2. Grey's Anatomy
4. Ugly Betty
5. Gossip Girl
6. Animal Cops/Precinct
7. The First 48
8. What Not to Wear

8 People I Tag

1. Amy
2. Rachel
3. Alex
4. Jam (in hope he revives his blog)
5. EE (in hopes she revives her blog)
6. I have
7. no more
8. blog friends :P


I just read online that basically, planning a wedding is the antithesis of feminism.
Can't a girl be a strong independent woman and still want to wear a white dress and have a big ol' party?
I understand that's not for everyone. TOTALLY. And I understand people take the wedding day planning and the event itself waaaay waaaay too far and over-the-top.
I can still be a bride and a feminist...and go a little crazy planning out every detail, from diy envelope liners to homemade cookie favors.
Or are my DIY goals of baking and making the very antithesis of feminism?
I am thinking that they're not. Why? Because no one asked me to do this. I decided I wanted to do it. And just because I have skills traditionally thought of as "female" skills, why should I not flaunt my abilities? I GOT MAD SKILLLZZZZ and everyone is going to get to enjoy them. Including me!!
Ok. I feel better now. Phew.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Dos De Mayo

My Saturday, according to





My running website says to try and get your fat intake down to about 25% of all caloric intake per day. I don't think they meant balancing it out with five margaritas.....