Saturday, December 31, 2005
New Year's Expectations
New Year's Eve has always struck me as kind of a weird holiday. It's one that always has ridiculous expectations attached to it - you feel like you should be doing something particularly awesome, or exciting, or unusual, even though you'd probably rather just be doing the same thing you usually do. It kind of goes along with Valentine's Day in that respect - the expectations are always more than you can live up to unless your life is far more exciting than mine.

I have had a much better time on New Year's ever since I decided that I didn't care if my evening consisted of much of the same as the rest of the year. We usually go to a party, and since there are often still out of towners around it's guaranteed to be marginally more exciting than our average parties, and that's really all that matters. There is sometimes drinking, though less than there used to be. There is always snacking. There are often games, more and more so as more of us get into the nerdy board game thing. And there is gossip, and laughter, and kids running amuk, and generally just a good time. We burn our regrets, which is always good for the pyromaniacs among us, and things are not so exciting that they are particularly worthy of an entire journal entry.

But they are fun, and familiar, and easy. We briefly flirted with the notion of dressing up and going out to an elaborate New Year's party, but we decided this was much less work. It's cheaper, too - no tickets to buy, no outfits to find, no parking to wrestle with. Just a few dozen of my closest friends, a drink or two, and a nerdy board game or three. Sounds like a party to me. Does that make me old? Probably. But I'm starting to think that's not such a bad thing.
Friday, December 30, 2005
One small step for monkeys...
One giant leap for hippo-kind.

I just figured out how to make my handy-dandy little title image up there (the one with the monkey and the hippo) into a link back to the home page, and now I'm quite pleased with myself.

Now if only I could figure out how to make things stop opening in new windows with every fucking click on my blog, I'd be a happy camper. I took out all the target=blanks! Why am I so dumb? Anyone out there care to help?

Edit: hey! I did it! Go me!
The Annual Post-Winter Deforestation
Man. I do it every winter. Every spring, I vow never again, since recovering from it is a solid hour's work. And yet here I am, the night before a wedding, deciding to wear a skirt. Which means spring is coming early to my legs.

It's the annual post-winter leg deforestation at my house.

Every damn year, I figure shaving my legs is more hassle than it's worth. I grow myself a nice little layer of extra warmth, and get an extra five minutes sleep in the morning. Usually, I can get away with it for several months. Which is terribly lazy, I know, but it's so convenient! Generally, I like having shaved legs - I enjoy the smoothness. But if nobody's going to see them but me and Jamie? Hell if I can be bothered to shave them. Jamie, bless him, doesn't give a rat's ass. He likes smooth legs but doesn't notice hairy ones, which is probably just as well.

But, given the unseasonably warm weather, I opted for a skirt and bare legs tomorrow. Which means that the annual jungle attack is a few months earlier than scheduled. There are, of course, advantages to this. The overgrowth is not as bad as usual. It's a faster job, and my legs will not be quite as shocked after two months neglect as they would be after five. And there are definite advantages to living with a boy. I stole his beard trimmer and got things down to quite a manageable length to attack with my trusty Intuition. It's much quicker and definitely cheaper than going through three razors.

That doesn't mean it's not a pain in the ass, though. Stupid leg hair.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Speeding Time
The mad rush of family gatherings has dissipated somewhat, much to my relief. So today I am sitting around in my pajamas and watching Degrassi Junior High. If that isn't a quality way to spend an afternoon, I don't know what is. My goodness, this show is campy. Hurry up with the Degrassi High DVDs, Degrassi people!

Jamie is in the study building the elliptical right now, and there is so far a surprising lack of expletives coming from that direction. Maybe he shut the door, because otherwise it seems rather suspicious.

Nice glasses, Wheels. Hee.

The social schedule is continuing at a clip this week, although it's with my friends rather than relatives, for the most part. Dinner plans, a wedding, New Year's Eve party, and suddenly it's a new year. I find myself wondering where exactly the last year has gone. I have a lot to show for it, I suppose - two trips, one move, and getting married - but I don't feel like a whole year has happened since the last time New Year's rolled around. It alarms me that people say time goes faster as you get older. If time keeps speeding up at this rate, by the time I'm 50 I'll barely have time to go to the bathroom between New Year's Parties.
Monday, December 26, 2005
The Eye of the Storm
It's quiet in my house. There is an occasional hiss from the roast in the oven, the washing machine clicks periodically, and the downstairs neighbours laughter drifts upstairs from time to time. But mostly, it is quiet.

It is a temporary quiet, though, a brief respite from the hustle and bustle. Jamie has gone out, driving to the airport where he will pick up his dad and his dad's wife, here to visit for a few days. They will stay with us tonight, our first official houseguests since we got married. The house is unrecognizable from two weeks ago. Everything is packed away, tidy and orderly. No boxes linger from our summer time move, things having finally been sorted after months of patience from Jamie, who hates unfinished jobs. After putting it off for so long, it only took me about an hour, which is kind of disgraceful when you think about it. The floors are sparkling, the kitchen is gleaming, the bathroom is spotless. We are ready for guests. Dinner is in the oven, wine is in the fridge, dessert is waiting to be finished. But for now, I enjoy the brief moment of peace before the noise descends again.

I like Christmas, I do. I had a great time yesterday, talking and visiting and eating and opening presents. But I am not, by nature, a terribly social person. I like socializing a lot in limited quantities. I will have a great time at the party but will almost enjoy coming home even more, to a place where I can be quiet and just sit, nobody to disturb me but my own self. And in a week where the parties and the events are thick and furiously flinging themselves at me, the moments of quiet are all the more welcome. I will have to get back to it in a moment - the towels need to be put in the drier, the roast checked, the potatoes mashed. But for now, I sit in the quiet house and I watch my brightly lit tree and I close my eyes and soak up the silence, filling myself with it to balance the oncoming rush of sound and excitement.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Merry Christmas!
It's early. Earlier than usual for Christmas these days - ever since my sister and I got to be lazy teenagers Christmas morning stopped being a first thing event. This year, though, her boyfriend waits anxiously at my parents' house, and out of niceness to him we've gotten up early. (I have, anyway. I'm not sure about my sister.) Jamie is in the shower, and I sit in the living room with the Christmas tree, enjoying what is sure to be the last moment of peace in a hectic day.

I am surprised by how easy this is. I always thought that the first Christmas I didn't spend at home would be strange and unhappy. And last night was the first time in my life that I didn't spend Christmas Eve sleeping in the same house as my sister and parents. But somehow, it doesn't feel strange. I am comfortable here, in our little house, and our tree is already filled with memories. It feels right somehow, despite its unfamiliarity. Last year, I felt like I didn't quite belong anywhere. Erin and I left our apartment to go to our respective parents' houses, where we slept on uncomfortable beds and argued with our sisters. It felt weird to sleep at my parents' house again, but would have been stranger to stay alone in my apartment. (It was, however, one of the best homecomings ever when Erin and I both got back to the apartment and got to spend the entire day gossiping about our presents, watching tv, and lounging on the couch.)

But now, I have my own little family, and staying here in my delicious bed is not strange at all. Last night, after church, we opened our presents to each other like we always have. (Jamie only allows it because it's after midnight and therefore technically Christmas.) He went to bed, and I stuffed his stocking. Neither of us fell asleep easily, not helped by the random phone call from an unknown caller at nearly 4am that had me totally convinced that my cat had actually died this time. (So far so good - kitty is still fine.) (My cat almost died on Christmas last year, so we're all a little paranoid.) He got up before me this morning, though I was already awake, and stuffed my stocking. And we got up, and opened them, and it felt like I'd been doing it all my life.

All those years of worrying about how I would ever live with a different kind of Christmas, and now I find myself wondering what, exactly, I was so afraid of.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Ghosts of Christmas Past
This time of year always brings with it a strange sort of time warp. In the last few years, more and more people have been moving away as life takes them down various paths. A new job here, a graduate degree there. Med school here, significant others there. Nearly every year now we lose someone, and as our group of regulars gets smaller, our phone bills get larger.

It's inevitable, I suppose, when your friendships begin in university. Nothing is permanent in university. You forge friendships, find kindred spirits, and spend an insane amount of time together as the years go by. It feels, while you're there, like nothing will ever change. It always does, though. Those who came from other places drifted back to their homes, leaving their university lives behind. My best friend and I have not lived in the same city now for nearly four years, and there are moments when I long for the days that we'd call each other up, just to chat, and hang out doing nothing without appreciating how easy it was. But we've found new ways to stay in touch, worked out different strategies. Our friendship has never floundered, but it's not the same any more. No more is Jana the one I call when I'm grouchy and need to get out of the house. Never again will I be able to just drop in on her without thinking about it. I'm used to it now, but I still hate it.

Even those who didn't come from elsewhere for university have drifted away. One, to do a doctorate in Vancouver, taking with her another friend, her boyfriend. Another to a job in Vancouver, taking with him his wife, another friend. My sister, too, has followed the trend to B.C., where her boyfriend does his doctorate and she lives out the dream to live by the ocean. Yet another, in med school in Ontario, along with her husband. Too many of my favourite people, not here any more.

But the good news about losing those who lived here as children is that they come back. Families, friends, lives wait for them here, and every Christmas nearly all of them return. And so, this time of year, things are as they used to be. We have parties, and there is laughter and some tears. The details of the last few years fade away and we return to our former selves. While I love my life now, and wouldn't go back to my university self without somebody paying me a lot of money to do so, at this time of year I have the best of both worlds. My friends are here, where they belong, and I try to get my fill of them. Packing in extra moments, staying up late, always wanting one day more. I know it will never be enough, and no matter how much time we spend together I will still miss them when they go. But for now, it is enough to be together without the struggles of distance. It's the best part of Christmas these days, having those who have left return to us. And the time warp it creates is what I look forward to every year.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Trojan Horizons
I was at the mall earlier doing the last of my Christmas shopping (now DONE, woo hoo!), when I was reminded of a rather memorable day in high school. It seems a bit of a random connection, but it only took a moment to send me back to that day. And naturally, that left me giggling in the aisles of the drugstore, which never leaves you looking particularly sane. I will leave out the details of what reminded me in the first place, since it isn’t my story to tell. (Nor do I know whose story it is to ask permission.)

When I was in grade 12, I got to be very close friends with a girl that sat next to me in band. We’d known each other sort of peripherally all through high school, but both of us were a bit at loose ends that year – her friends having mostly graduated already, my friends having drifted in directions that didn’t interest me much. (Mostly of the illegal variety. And while I was fond of the occasional drunken binge, I wasn’t much for the smoking lifestyle they were adopting.)

One of the unusual things about this friend was that she had been dating the same guy since the very beginning of grade 10. He was two years ahead of us in school, although not that much older than my friend, as she was significantly older than me. (Having come from Britain, I was young for my grade. She’d come from the U.S. and was a little old for our grade.) It was pretty impressive in those days to manage to date an out-of-high-school guy for that long, and their relationship was pretty much a given.

But even a nearly three year relationship had its challenges. And the most memorable example of that was the day we went to buy condoms.

Although I had a boyfriend at the time, we hadn’t been together very long and the sex conversation was still a few weeks away. (It also ended in a “maybe not so much” decision, which, given the later end of our relationship, was probably for the best.) However, being the good friend that I was, I agreed to accompany her to the drugstore to make the fateful purchase.

We went after school one day to the London Drugs near our school. She had a car, which was very convenient, and drove me home every day if I wasn’t going to her house, usually stopping for slurpees or something along the way. This time, we were stopping for condoms.

It took a while for us to scope out the right aisle – we didn’t want to seem like we were looking for anything in particular in case somebody asked us if we needed any help. So we wandered the aisles for nearly half an hour, trying to look nonchalant and probably totally failing.

When we found the fateful aisle, we stood in front of it for a moment, trying to appear immensely interested in the tampons that sat next door. (I can actually also remember the moment that I bought tampons for the first time. It was a similar experience.) Every time anyone walked past the aisle, we scurried away, hiding around the corner in the hair accessories until the coast was clear.

Once we finally had a chance to check things out closer, we were totally overwhelmed with the possibilities. There were so many kinds! Brands, styles, sizes…for two virgins, age sixteen and eighteen, it was an intimidating prospect to choose one kind. And when you’re running away from the display every two minutes, it’s hard to get a good sense of your choices.

We made a decision eventually, choosing as basic an option as we could come up with, opting for the brand with the most name recognition. (Although to this day, I don’t understand why anyone thought Trojan was a good name for a condom. Why name your supposedly imperturbable fortress after the guys who managed to sneak in past the guards? That doesn’t really inspire me with confidence.)
We tried to be as inconspicuous as possible as we walked nonchalantly up to the cash register. I seem to recall that I had to do the buying, as my friend was too embarrassed, which in retrospect seems rather unfair – I had to suffer and didn’t even get any action out of the deal. But we picked up a few other things along the way – nail polish remover, I think, and probably a snack. But oh, how we giggled. We made it out to the car and sat for a few moments, delighted with ourselves and amazed that nobody had tried to stop us, nobody had seized the condoms and declared that we were clearly not old enough to be buying such things. And it was that day when the world opened up a little further. It was the first step in realizing that I did have freedom. Sure, it was limited by a lot of things – parents, school, society in general – but it was then that I recognized just how many of the limits I’d always thought existed were self-imposed.

My horizons were broadened that day. I hadn’t thought of it for a long time, but even now I smile to remember that moment of clarity where we felt unstoppable.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
The Grinch
I tell you, there is nothing better for a slight case of Christmas grumps than the Grinch. Not only is it a cautionary tale of the perils of grumpiness (although the Grinch does have a most excellent dog and a rather jaunty theme song, which might be an argument in favour of being a villain), but it is statistically proven* that seeing the Grinch’s heart grow THREE sizes that day is a guaranteed pick-me-up. It may also cause a little bit of sniffling. Shut up.

It is a pretty kick-ass theme song, though. Seasick crocodiles and everything!

I read the story in my Christmas program a few weeks ago, and no kidding, I had a hard time getting through it without my voice breaking. I felt like a dork until I caught the eyes of a couple of parents who were sitting in on the program, and every single one of them was wiping their eyes.

Also? The Whos have some really awesome presents. I don’t get anything nearly that cool for Christmas.

Anyway. If you feel yourself overwhelmed with the Christmas Grumps, I recommend a dose of Grinch. Cartoon if possible, book is next best, and if you can’t manage that, the text is here:

*In my survey of one.
Monday, December 19, 2005
It tells its own story
I went out shopping today after work. It started out with a stop at the bookstore to buy my book for book group on Wednesday (because the hold list is just not going to move quickly enough for me to get it from work), but since I'd found an excellent parking spot on the notoriously hard to park at Whyte Avenue and had paid for my meter, I figured I'd do a little browsing along the way before heading home.

My successes were somewhat limiting, but I had a good time imagining the story that was laid out along the street. The first thing that seemed somewhat out of place was an open bottle of booze, still in its paper bag. The booze itself was not at all out of place on Whyte - it's well known for its debauchery. (Is that how you spell that?) But the fact that the bottle was still half full was somewhat surprising. That's a lot of perfectly good booze to waste.

It became less surprising when there were puddles of barf every ten steps for the next two blocks.

Sometimes, life just doesn't require a narrator.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Today was gingerbread man day. Every year, Jamie's mother makes gingerbread men, and Jamie and his brother decorate them. I joined in the decorating in 2002, the second Christmas that Jamie and I were together. That was apparently the year when the gingerbread got competitive.

Things have gotten kind of ridiculously elaborate. Jamie tried to blame me, but I pointed out that since I'd never decorated gingerbread men before, he was the one who set the standard and clearly my gingerbread men were inspired by his, so I refuse to take all the blame.

I think our best year was the Fellowship of the Gingerbread. We had all nine members of the fellowship. Legolas had a toothpick bow and arrow, Aragorn and Boromir had toothpick swords, and Gimli had a toothpick ax. Gandalf had a huge toothpick staff, Merry and Pippin were holding Smartie apples, I believe, Sam had something or other, and Frodo, naturally, had the ring. It was rather sad eating them, actually, although I think we ate Boromir first for continuity's sake.

The pirate year was another good one. I ate off the leg of a cookie and gave him a peg leg. He also had an eye patch, a sword, stripy pants, and a parrot on his shoulder. Harry Potter was quite successful as well - I think I might have made Ron and Hermione as well.

This year I opted for the Chronicles of Gingerbread, inspired by my recent trip to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. (Which I enjoyed immensely.) I started out with Mr. Tumnus, who seemed like a natural for a gingerbread man. I thinned out his legs first, since he is a faun and thus has the legs of a goat. His legs were a nice furry brown. He had a bright red scarf, was holding Lucy's handkerchief with her intitials embroidered on, and had little toothpick horns. The best part, though, were the little chocolates that Jamie's mother had bought - they were the perfect hooves. He is a most excellent gingerbread man. I think I will give him to my mother, since she is usually more appreciative of my literary gingerbread men than the average person. (Helps to have a librarian mother in these circumstances.)

I rounded out the collection with Peter, who had excellent armour featuring a lion (that was fiddly, the lion in miniature), a sword, and a shield with a big "A" on in (for Aslan), Susan, who had a lovely purple and yellow dress and a bow and arrow, the White Witch, who had a very good crown with lots of silver balls and a particularly fine wand consisting of an iced toothpick, which was quite a challenge, and Aslan himself, who has a most excellent mane. (He'll probably be disgusting to eat - he has a ton of icing.)

It was fun to make them all. We spent the first part of the evening helping our niece and nephew make some cookies, and I ended up helping out my four-year-old niece, who has very strong opinions on these things. She immediately decided that she wanted to make Cinderella and Belle (with no prompting from me, even), and we started with Belle. She had a very lovely yellow dress and the ruffles on the sleeves were my niece's favourite part. Cinderella is a little more abstract, but she has nice blonde hair and a lovely tiara, and some glass slippers. After that, my niece decided she needed to make the Beast as well, who had the advantage of just being a brown icing-covered cookie, and thus very easy to make.

Jamie and our nephew were working together, and their first cookie was quite an elaborate Santa. (Our nephew is 8, and thus has a little more dexterity for these things.) Next up, he decided he wanted to make Grandma, which led to some amusing shots of him sizing up Grandma to try to recreate her in cookie form. Their final effort was an excellent Hulk, who is also absolutely coated in icing. (Fortunately, those ones are going home with the kids so we won't have to eat the three inches of icing.)

After the kids went to bed (they're staying with Grandma this weekend), we were let loose on the rest of the cookies. I stuck to my Narnian cookies, but Jamie branched out a little more. He mostly opted for quantity over originality, but he made a particularly fine football player (which features a most realistic football, made by me out of the same chocolate pieces that made the hooves. It has little stitching and everything!), and a very recognizable Mickey Mouse.

It's one of my favourite holiday occasions, gingerbread day. It's one of the many things that Jamie and I have seamlessly blended together during the Christmas season. It started out as his family tradition, but has quickly become most decidedly hours. And I am very fond of it.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Shopping Legs
There is a really gigantic package sitting under the tree. It weighs a ton and is almost as big as the tree itself. I have absolutely no freaking clue what it is and it's driving me crazy. But in a mostly good way. Jamie delights in torturing me with the non-hints and useless remarks, and always finds it very entertaining. I am less amused.

I went on a turbo-ultra-mega shopping trip with my sister today. She's in town for the funeral, which was yesterday, and decided to take advantage of the lack of PST to do some Christmas shopping. We were at it for a very long time and I had a major case of shopping legs by the time we were done.

I am very close to finished my shopping, with a few things here and there left to get. I found a couple of gifts today that wrapped up a few difficult people, and I'm in good shape overall. I have another shopping date next week with my friend Mel, who gets home tomorrow from Vancouver. That should give me the last few things I need.

And then the wrapping begins. Oh lord, the wrapping. Fortunately, we seem to have opted for a large percentage of nicely boxed items this year, which makes life a lot easier. But I am going to need to spend a large part of next week wrapping, and I'm sort of dreading it. Time to break out the Christmas movies - that's the only good way to wrap presents.

9 days to go! Where is the time going?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Spreadsheeting Christmas
A quiet moment is a rare thing these days. I grab them where I can, even when they show up in unexpected places. I love the busy-ness of Christmas but my goodness, my schedule is packed. All these hours I think I will have to clean the house, set up the Christmas tree, wrap presents, watch Christmas movies...they all fill up with the signs of the season. A Christmas concert here, a movie party there. (Ok, that's not really because of Christmas. More because I really wanted to see Narnia, which was excellent.) Tree buying, tree setting up, tree swearing-at when tree won't just stay upright for fuck's sake, tree kicking, toe bandaging, tree stealth needle attack - you get the idea.

My house is a mess, and there's nowhere for my tree to go. (The tree set-up incident was at my parents' house, where there is never any mess. Not because my parents are so fabulously tidy, although they are much tidier than me, but because they have the world's greatest cleaning person.) My spare room is still filled with boxes, and my sister may be sleeping there tonight. I have yet to test out the new inflatable bed, so my sister may have to be the guinea pig. Sorry about that, Beth. At least we have sheets!

Presents pile up, unwrapped, disorganized. I have a spreadsheet but I don't really feel like that's keeping a handle on things. It is so much more complicated to hide presents when you live with your significant other. We have established territory, and he's not allowed under the bed. I'm not entirely sure where I'm not allowed to go, so I open closets with trepidation, torn between wanting to stumble over surprises and knowing that I shouldn't.

It's hectic, this time of year. There's never enough time to balance everything you want to do with everything you need to do, and juggling is inevitable. It gets more complicated over time - when I was single, I only had to worry about my own schedule, my own family, my own friends. Now Jamie and I negotiate, barter, trade, compromise, and end up with a ridiculously detail holiday schedule that looks more like a legal document than a holiday season. But we keep on muddling through, and in the end, it's the frantic pace that makes it Christmas.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
My friend's dad died over the weekend. Went to sleep one night and didn't wake up. I went over there tonight, to bring them some macaroni and cheese and say hi. The macaroni because I have this weird United Church Lady streak in me - when something bad happens, I respond with food. When a friend's brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer a few years ago, I spent several days cooking and freezing food for them, along with a few other people. I think it's because I know there is nothing I can do to make things easier for them when it comes to dealing with their dad's death, but at least I'll know that they didn't have Kraft Dinner for a week straight. (My macaroni and cheese is vastly superior to Kraft Dinner. It has three kinds of cheese, none of which fall under the heading of fake, and thus it is far tastier and less alarmingly orange.)

But I also wanted to say hi, to remind them that I live just down the street and they should come over any time, even if they just want to sit on my couch and not talk to anyone. And it's sad that after nearly five months of living down the street from friends I've known longer than almost any other, it took something like this to make me walk over there. Why does it take a horrible thing like this to make me into a good neighbour, a good friend? I don't know. I am usually a good friend in normal situations - I should give myself more credit than that. But it's when something bad happens that I go into turbo friend mode, and perhaps that's more annoying than anything. Nobody's complained yet, I suppose, so I will continue to knit scarves for sick friends and cook dinners for grieving families and shovel sidewalks for sad people. (That is currently more of a theoretical plan due to the continuing unseasonable weather.) And I will wish that there was more that I could do, but I know that there is not. So I'll keep plugging away at the mundane, hoping that by lifting a little bit of work off struggling shoulders, I can ease the sadness just a little bit.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I didn't write about Hawaii at all, and that is a damn shame, because we had a fantastic time and I hate to have no record of it aside from a few dozen text messages I sent to my sister.

So we went to Hawaii in August, and it fucking ruled. We were there for two weeks, and we stayed almost the entire time on Kauai. We were staying in a resort in the small town of Kapaa, on the east side of the island. Our condo was right on the ocean, and although it wasn't the best swimming on the island, it was nice to be right on the water and the views were gorgeous. You could see the beach from our lanai (balcony), and Jamie often spent a great deal of the mornings out there reading, usually while I was still asleep. This meant that he got a couple of very uneven sunburns, for which I much mocked him, but it was glorious out there.

This is the view down the beach in front of our resort.

We decided early on that we'd choose a few activities and spread them out over the two weeks that we were on Kauai. Much though we wanted to go on a helicopter tour, it was really fucking expensive and we would have blown all of our activities money on that one thing. So we chose not to do that, although I'm sort of regretting that now.

But we signed up for a couple of other things, based on recommendations from our awesome guide book, The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, which was an absolutely incredible book. They did not lead us wrong once and we used it for everything. After a lot of hemming and hawing, we opted for a boat tour of the Na Pali coastline, on the North Shore of the island, which is unaccessible by car, a kayak trip down the Wailua River, and horseback riding up on the North Shore.

We booked those right away, but we had a bit of a gap before we were scheduled for that, so we were on our own to amuse ourselves. We'd packed our own snorkeling gear, which Jamie's family owns from their last trip to Hawaii, and we headed out on our second day to hit the water.

Let me tell you, snorkeling is one of the coolest fucking things I've ever done in my life.

There is a park on Kauai that's set up for people to get the hang of swimming and snorkeling before heading out into the ocean proper. They've make a little pool with huge rocks surrounding it, so that the water flows in and out but there is very little current. It's full of fish (because it's the one place on the island you're allowed to feed them, so they're basically tame), and it's perfect for learning.

Jamie took a few minutes to explain the gist of snorkeling to me (while my family is more of a "let's go look at historically interesting things" vacation family, Jamie's is a little more inclined towards beachy-type vacations. Don't get me wrong, they still go and look at historically interesting things, but they're more likely to do it in a tropical climate. Hawaii was the first proper tropical vacation I've been on, unless you consider Zimbabwe tropical.)

Anyway. Needless to say, the water was a totally surreal experience for someone whose ocean experience up to that point featured California (warm in the comparative sense to my other experiences, but hardly tropical), Vancouver (surprisingly pleasant for Canada, but hardly warm), Wales (lovely beaches, actually, but not exactly warm water either), and Newfoundland (Jesus Christ, that water is cold). We were in the water pretty quickly, and just as I was pulling the last strap on my flipper tight, something brushed my leg. I thought it was Jamie, but as I ducked my face in under the water, I quickly discovered it was not.

It was a fish.

They were everywhere. Totally bizarre colours that you would never expect to see in nature. Swimming around in a very orderly fashion, in their little schools. They all seemed to be constantly bustling despite the fact that they weren't really going anywhere, and they zipped past me without seeming to care if they occasionally crashed into me.

I squeaked so loudly that I got water in my snorkel.

We swam around in there for quite a while, me frequently squeaking and pointing things out to Jamie, who was quite amused by my flailing and pointing. I got the hang of the flippers quite quickly, and I loved them. I'm a reasonable swimmer, but the speed and ease that flippers give you is incredible. I could swim for hours in snorkel gear. I loved going under water and finding myself in an entirely different world. It was totally surreal to put my face in the water and find this whole other existence that had been there, out of my sight, for all that time. Snorkeling felt like a gateway into another world. It was incredible.

Once I had my bearings, I was eager to hit some proper beaches. So the next day, we headed off to Tunnels Beach, a lovely spot towards the north shore of the island, and a popular spot for snorkeling:

From the moment I went underwater on the first day, the thing that was totally blowing my mind was that I could easily have been in the opening scenes of Finding Nemo. (Yes, I know, I am of the generation where all my cultural references are movies. Isn't it depressing?) The colours, the schools, the sheer was totally mind-blowing and I really need to watch Nemo again now that I've had that experience. But the coolest fish we saw and the one I most relentlessly stalked were the Gil-fish, the black and white and yellow ones that were the same type of fish as Gil from Nemo. They were neat fish, very solitary, and I loved that they exhibited so many of the same characteristics as the Gil in the movie did. (No clown fish, alas. I really would have stalked them if I'd seen any!)

Also a highlight of Tunnels was this guy:

He's a monk seal, and an endangered species. You get huge fines if you touch or bother them, but he hung out on the beach napping for several hours. Fortunately, you don't get fined for taking pictures, because we were totally seal-paparazzi.

Most of our good snorkeling pictures are on the underwater cameras, and I didn't have the sense to get those put on disk when I had them developed. Alas. But we saw some really cool fish and had a ton of fun out in the water, despite the fact that every trip out to snorkel required twenty minutes of sunscreening. (We are tomato-burning people, me and Jamie. No tans in sight on our honeymoon, alas.)

A few days into the trip, we went on our Na Pali Coast boat trip. We booked through a little company that uses much smaller boats than some of the others, and while the bigger boats had better seating and fancier lunches, ours could fit into much cooler places: We went into several of these sea caves, and they were extremely cool. One of them had a huge skylight at the top, and another had a waterfall running right into the middle of it which got all of us drenched, much to the amusement of the boat captain. The cruise along the coast line was incredible, and once we got to the northernmost point, we were let out into the water to snorkel for a while. We saw some cool fish, but the current was pretty strong, so we headed back to the boat after about 20 minutes. Naturally, as soon as we did, this guy showed up:

It's hard to tell from this shot, but it was a sea turtle. I was so excited (and so determined not to miss him) that I jumped back in without my flippers. Swimming without them when you've had them on for the last four days is somewhat of a challenge, especially in such a strong current, but it was totally worth it. The turtle was absolutely incredible. He was huge, and so easy-going, and just looked like the most relaxed creature I've ever seen. Less cool was the fact that we'd run out of underwater film about five minutes earlier. Grr.

This is a view of the Na Pali Coast line (I believe this section is called the Cathedral.) where we took our boat trip. This is actually the view from the other side - we drove up around the other way as far as you can go. The water that you see in this picture is only accessible by boat, foot, or horse. We went there by boat, obviously, and saw a few hardy hikers and one kayaker making their way along the coastline. The inability to loop around the entire island is a major factor in why Kauai is the least touristy of all the islands. It's not nearly as convenient for getting around, but as a result, it's a gorgeous often undeveloped island.
This is a panoramic shot of the Hanelei Valley, which was absolutely stunning. The vivid colours on this island were truly mind-blowing.

A few days after our boat cruise, after several more days of snorkeling and hanging out on beaches, we were heading out on our horseback ride. Jamie and I are rather spoiled for horseback riding, because my best friend and her husband work at a camp where there are horses, and as a result when we go visit them we all take horses out and are able to do pretty much whatever we want. Jamie is an excellent rider, and I'm sort of semi-competent, but we're always better than the average tourist on a trail ride. The stables that we went through, though, were better than most, as it wasn't a nose-to-tail ride. We were allowed to roam around the fields on our horses, as long as we didn't get too far ahead or go too quickly, so it was surprisingly satisfying for a commercial ride.

The half-way point of the ride featured a rather strenuous climb down into a gulley where there was a lovely waterfall and pool waiting to be swum in. Mmm. The hike was not my ideal plan for after two hours of riding, but the water was lovely.

That's us down in the pool and some other people from our group up on the rocks. We have some pictures of us under the falls as well. After we finished in the pool and had our lunch, we then had a neat little climb back up which featured sort of a mini-rappel up a little cliff and over the falls. We had to be harnessed in and everything! Very Amazing Race.

We then rode back to the stables, which was about another hour on the horses. My word, my legs were stiff that night.
Me on my horse! (Whose name I sadly now forget.)

We did a lot of really cool stuff while we were there, not all of which I will write about. We took a super fun kayak trip down the Wailua River, which was very enjoyable. It also featured a hike through some jungle-type stuff, which was really interesting but incredibly warm. But that hike also had a waterfall to swim in at the end of it, which was definitely worth it. (I think all hikes need waterfalls to swim in at the end. I am not a fan of aimless hiking, but I do like hikes that result in swimming.) We checked out Wailua Falls, although we didn't stop at the apparently excellent swimming hole there. We did a lot of puttering through small villages and stopping at local craft fairs, and also went to an extremely cool pottery workshop. We ate at several very tasty restaurants including an insanely expensive but beautiful and delicious place called The Beach House Restaurant, which boasted ocean front sunset views. We went to this ridiculously busy but unbelieveably delicious Shave Ice place, where we gorged ourselves on ice cream and shave ice. (Shave Ice is sort of like sno-cones on speed. They are about seven times bigger, the ice is shaved much finer, and they are way more delicious. Especially with ice cream.) We went up to the Waimea Canyon, which Mark Twain called "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." And we lazed on a lot of beaches, did a lot of snorkeling, checked out a lot of really interesting animals (highlights being the pod of dolphins we saw up by Spouting Horn, the sea turtles, the monk seal, and the freaking HAMMERHEAD SHARK we saw at the lighthouse. That was probably the coolest thing.)

And we relaxed. We read a shitload of books (which some people think is a lame way to spend vacation, but it's one of my favourite things to do when I'm relaxing.) - even Jamie plowed through at least four which is quite unlike him. I think I read about 12 or so - I'd have to check my book log to be sure. It was so nice to be able to lounge around in bathing suits and shorts all the time. We barbequed, napped, goofed around, and generally had an incredible time. I would go back again in a heartbeat (although there are so many places I want to go that I'm not sure I'll be able to afford to go again any time soon!), and I recommend it to anyone who wants a relaxing, fun, and beautiful vacation spot. We didn't spend much time on the other islands (one day in Honolulu, one day on the Big Island), but Kauai was gorgeous and I miss it. It was the ideal place for a honeymoon.

Sunset over the water from the Waimea Canyon Road.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Christmas Cheer
It is really hard to write an update when you're watching one of your favourite shows. Even when it's the third time in the last six months that you've seen it. Jamie finally caved and agreed to watch Firefly a few weeks ago, and we've made it to the second-to-last episode. (Which right now is breaking my heart a little bit. Poor Inara. And that whole conversation about Wash and Zoe's baby. Damn you, Fox! Damn you to hell! And damn you a little bit too, Joss.)

Time is speeding by at its usual break-neck pace for this time of year, and I'm trying to get my brain around the fact that it's two weeks till Christmas. And as the clock crosses over to midnight, that's quite precisely the case.

The weather is not helping. It's unseasonably warm here at the moment - we've had several days of double digit (Celcius) temperatures, and the snow is virtually all gone. Ice lingers in the shadows, but Christmas lights reflect onto damp grass, their colours dulled without the reflection to dance on.

Moments catch me and remind me of the season - a carol, familiar but always welcome, a child lit up at the sight of a Christmas tree, the perfect present for someone arriving in the mail, a card on the mantle - but it hasn't yet permeated my days. Christmas is nearby, but it doesn't quite feel like it's here yet. I don't know what it will take - perhaps the first descant note I sing on Monday will be enough. Maybe it'll be the gingerbread men we're decorating with our niece and nephew next Saturday. It could be Christmas Tree shopping, with Jamie and my dad, going to visit not-Ed at Ed's Trees.

Or, more likely, it'll be something I don't expect, something that catches me off guard and reminds me of the season. Christmas Cheer tends to sneak up on me, and although I know the things that bring it each year, it's the cheer I find in unexpected places that I like best.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Christmas Past
I have spent each of the last four Christmases in a different house.

I do not need to tell you that I am kind of tired of moving.

In 2002, I lived with my parents in the house I grew up in. We'd lived there for nearly 14 years, from the time I was nearly 8. Christmas was virtually identical for every one of those fourteen years. The stockings hung over the chimney every year, neatly hooked over the fireplace on the mantle that was always covered in evergreens and holly. Our Christmas tree was in the same place, in the living room, and was always the same kind of tree. My dad and I would go and pick it out every year, and I'd sing loud Christmas carols in the car while dad would pretend to complain. We bought it from the same guy, at Ed's trees, and only last year did I discover his name was not, in fact, Ed. That was a traumatizing moment, let me tell you.

My sister and I were not allowed to come downstairs for stockings until everybody was awake. When we were little, it was always us up first, waiting for our parents, and there was always an agreed upon time when we were allowed to get up. I can still picture myself sitting in my bedroom, reading whatever book I was working on and staring at my clock radio every two minutes, willing the time to go faster. Often, I'd sneak into Beth's room and we'd whisper, trying to guess what was waiting downstairs for us.

Once we got a little older, it was Beth who was impossible to get up. She was the stereotypical teenager, and when I was still young enough to be totally impatient about getting going on Christmas (um, and by young enough, I really mean "until now", because let's face it, I'm still no saint on Christmas morning when it comes to the waiting), I'd spend a long time jumping on her bed, trying to wake her up while she moaned and groaned.

Eventually, though, I became a sleeper-inner myself, and it changed. Now, we had to decide on a time when my parents were allowed to wake us up. Dad has been an early riser for as long as we've lived in Canada (we joke that he never changed time zones), and he was tired of waiting around all morning for us to wake up. (My sympathies were somewhat limited, obviously, but unfortunately the parents still trumped us.) So we'd get hoisted out of bed and would stumble blearily down the hall, where Dad would inevitably want to take pictures of us at the top of the stairs.

We'd have stockings, and then we'd all eat breakfast, which was always cinnamon buns and fresh squeezed orange juice. Everybody but me drinks coffee, and we all inspect the stocking loot more carefully. Once we've all eaten (and it's always second breakfast for Dad, who inevitably has eaten breakfast four hours before the rest of us get up - he's like a hobbit sometimes), we all would head back upstairs to get dressed. (Except, again, Dad, who was usually dressed at that point simply because he got bored and getting dressed passed another five minutes of time.)

When she was a teenager, Beth was absolutely evil about this. She'd insist on taking a looong shower, blow drying her hair, and doing her makeup. Now, I have never been one for morning primping. Even when I was working at my more respectable job (not that my current job isn't respectable, but the dress code is far more laid back), I never took much more than ten minutes to get ready, twenty if I took a shower. I choose my hairstyles with speed in mind and am not much for makeup unless it's some sort of occasion.

Beth, on the other hand, was a primper. She always had to have her hair done all neatly, and put her makeup on with the usual preciseness that always took an extra twenty minutes on Christmas, and she absolutely revelled in the torture. It was really very evil of her and not very big sisterly at all, so she should consider herself lucky that I still buy her Christmas presents. My parents eventually clued in and started putting something to entertain me in my stocking so I could pass the time while I waited for her.

Then, when everybody was ready and looking respectable, we'd all go back downstairs. The living room was visible from most of the house, and although we weren't supposed to peek at the tree when we were downstairs for stockings, we always did. It would be piled high with presents, most of which had appeared during the night. (Or, really, before we got up in the morning, since it was a number of years ago that we started going to bed after my parents.) We'd spend a couple of hours opening them, going one at a time and inspecting the spoils quite thoroughly. It was always somewhat of a challenge to see who'd get the last present, although it usually depended on whether we'd asked for something big that year, since that tended to mean fewer presents.

Once presents got done, we'd all loll around and amuse ourselves with them for a few hours. We'd snack on the various food that kicked around the house, not really having a proper lunch but too hungry to wait for dinner. I'd read new books, or watch new movies, or whatever. And until Jamie came into the picture, I never did much of anything on Christmas afternoon. Once Jamie and I got fairly serious, I always spent Christmas afternoon at his house, usually with my sister along as well. Mum and Dad would make dinner - Mum in charge of the turkey, Dad on potato duty, and the time would dwindle by until dinner, which was always at around 4:30.

Christmas dinner does not change in our house. It is turkey, stuffing (and my mother's stuffing is to die for - god, it's good, and now I'm hungry just thinking about it), roast potatos (my favourite kind!), gravy, cranberry sauce, and vegetables. Nothing fancy, nothing unusual, but always good. We'd all have crackers, and whenever they got popped you had to wear the stupid hat and read your joke out loud in both French and English. (It amuses me that the French jokes never have anything to do with the English ones. The French ones are usually better, although that might be because our French is generally mediocre.)

It was never a very exciting Christmas, but it was always the same, and I liked it that way.

In 2003, we moved to a new house in November. By Christmas, we were sort of settled in but not entirely, and it felt weird. Most things were still the same - stockings on the mantle, tree in the living room, but my bedroom was in the basement. No more sitting at the top of the stairs, waiting for Beth. Beth wasn't living at home any more, and our new house didn't have a bedroom for her, so she slept in my bed, which was our first mistake that year. We have been terrible at that our entire lives, so I'm not sure what made us think that doing it when we were twice the size was a good idea.

It was a peculiar Christmas that year. I fought with Beth over spending too much time with Jamie's family, and for the first time I wanted more out of Christmas than the same thing I'd always had. I was part of two families, and Christmas was no longer an uncomplicated assumption. The dinner was the same, we all wore the hats, and things on the outside seemed just right, but it was as if we all knew that by leaving our childhood home, we'd left the way Christmas used to be behind as well.

Last year, I didn't live at home any more. I had my own apartment, with Erin, and we made our own traditions. We had our own little tree - the first real tree she'd ever had - purchased from the same guy at Ed's Trees. We put up lights and strung cards along the walls. She baked cookies, and we'd sit together on the couch and talk about Christmas Past. She too had felt the pull of two families, and we sympathized together over trying to balance the past with the future. It was fun and easy and totally devoid of any stress. We took it in turns to move the advent calendar and left each other cheery notes on the white board. We'd watch the fireplace channel together and make fun of it while both secretly loving it. We'd have people over to watch Christmas movies, and I'd try to surreptitiously sniffle while Erin handed me tissues, rolling her eyes at my total inability to hold it together in the face of touching Christmas messages. (I read The Grinch in a program at work last week, and I nearly cried while reading it to 15 kids. That was kind of embarrassing. But I think my Christmas movie thing is probably a whole other entry.) We knew it was a once-off, the only Christmas we'd spend as roommates, but we enjoyed ourselves almost more because of it. It was a Christmas that I could spend in the present, without worrying about how things had always been in the past or how they ought to be in the future.

I went to my parents' for Christmas, and we had a good time. Beth had moved away from Edmonton by then, so it was a bit more of a novelty to see her. The whole thing was marred somewhat by the near-death experience of my cat at 2AM on Christmas morning, but I think the fact that she didn't die made us all a little more grateful to be there. It was a peculiar Christmas again, but that was because it was almost too tidy. We were all nice to each other, we were all easy-going about everything, and it seemed almost too good to be true. The futon I slept on was less thrilling, and by the end of Boxing Day I headed back to the apartment, content with both my non-dead cat and the Christmas that had been as it was supposed to be.

Still, when I got back to my apartment, I was surprised by how happy I was to see our little tree with its motley assortment of cheap ornaments, the hand-made wreath on the door, the cards from both of our friends (and Erin's students) mingling on the walls. Erin and I sat on the couch again, trading stories about our holidays and both being reminded of how happy we were to be together. Even though we'd spent the holiday itself apart, we'd created our own little Christmas in our apartment, and we were happy to be back there, where a good weekend consisted of non-stop Buffy and Chinese food for dinner. We ate each other's leftovers and smiled at each other, knowing that no matter how crazy our families drove us, we had our own place to come back to.

And now, I face a fourth Christmas in a fourth house. This time, it's Jamie that I'm planning with. It's early yet, and we don't have a tree or many decorations. The lights are shining down on the front yard, the product of several hours work on Jamie's part. The advent calendar hangs in the hallway, and we take it in turns to move it along. (Although I was too lazy to buy chocolate for it this year.) My first Christmas card sits on the mantle, and bags of decorations and presents are strewn across the floor. New stockings, bought especially for this house, wait to be hung, with our old stockings still at our parents' houses, waiting patiently for us to arrive on Christmas morning. We will spend the day with our families, but for the first time I will not sleep at my parents' house on Christmas Eve. I will wake up here, with Jamie next to me, and I will have to get dressed before I open my stocking with my sister. I will have to decide which ornaments to bring back here with me, and which ones will stay on my parents' tree. I will begin my own traditions, here in my house, and set the tone for Christmases to come. We are taking the traditions from our pasts, finding ways to combine them, choosing compromises and arguing over silly little things that mean a lot when they have 24 years of history to them.

But it's funny. Although I will eat the same breakfast with my family that I always do, and will open presents the same way, and we'll all stuff ourselves with roast potatos and wear silly hats at dinner, it's not the Christmases of my childhood that I am longing for as I being to prepare my new house for the season. It's my funny little one-time Christmas that is staying with me. As Jamie and I plan and discuss and organize, it's sitting around watching Christmas movies with Erin that I miss. It's coming home to the unmistakeable smell of baking and a laughing roommate that I am wishing for. It's knowing that Christmas doesn't come with any baggage, any expectations, that it can just be what we want it to be, that is what feels wrong about this year. I love the turkey, and the stockings, and the fat fluffy tree bought with my dad. But I didn't expect to love the Buffy wrapping marathons, and the utter peace of sitting in my own apartment with everything dark but the Christmas lights hanging on our balcony, and the endless, endless laughter. Because while I look forward to many Christmas Futures with Jamie, the Christmas Past that haunts me is not the one I expected. And in some ways, it is bittersweet. Because I know that we could never recreate it - it was the knowledge of the one-off that made us so able to be carefree about our Christmas. It was a piecemeal celebration in our little apartment. But it was a happy one.
I'm a bad wife.
I actually went to bed at a reasonable time last night. Now, for me, reasonable is, like, midnight, but considering my usual bedtime is around 3AM, it seems positively sensible to go to bed any time when the number ends with "PM." I mostly did it because I was really fucking tired, but I have to admit, it's always entertaining to go to bed at the same time as Jamie. Most nights, he goes to bed between 11 and 12, and I follow several hours later. So when we go to bed at the same time, he gets very confused by the whole other person in the bed thing, and it cracks me up. Of course, it does mean I don't get to bug him when I go to bed (he doesn't even remember anything I do or say in the middle of the night, and it's very hard to resist having conversations with him that he won't remember.), but once in a while it makes for an amusing way to pass the time.

Hi. I'm a bad wife.

It kind of cracks me up sometimes. You hear all the bad stereotypes about shitty husbands. He never helps out around the house. He never helps with dinner. He always leaves the toilet seat up. He never changes the toilet paper. Et cetera. Except in this house, it's totally me that does all of that. Ok, I don't leave the toilet seat up, but I do leave the lid up, whereas Jamie is always very careful to put the lid down. (I hate having the lid down because if you're making a mad dash for the bathroom, as I frequently seem to do, it's just one extra step that stands between you and sweet relief.) I usually change the toilet paper when it runs out, but more than once I've just been too damn lazy to change it when there's only a few squares left. (In my defense, however, Jamie does the same thing sometimes. And it always seems to be Karen who gets stuck with the lack of toilet paper when he does it - I at least do it right before I go to bed or in the middle of the night so I know he's the one who will have to change it.)

I do make dinner fairly often, but whenever I do I expect lavish praise for doing so. Now, I am very careful to always thank Jamie whenever he cooks, but he does it a lot more often than I do. (It will probably even out a little bit now that work has settled down for me somewhat.)

But helping out around the house? My god. I am so freaking lazy. Jamie does the dishes 99% of the time, shovels the walks, rakes the leaves (depending on the season), tidies up when people are coming over (unless it's Karen and Paul, who have the dubious distinction of being not-requiring-cleaning friends. Sorry about that, guys.), wipes the counters, and does things like spending all afternoon putting up Christmas lights because he knows how much I like them. (He likes them too, and is much more anal than I am. I would have wound a couple of strands around a tree and called it a day, but he clipped every single freaking bulb to the eavestrough and wound two strands around the bannisters on the stoop. They are officially the tidiest Christmas lights I've ever had. And he did it without complaining despite the fact that I totally vetoed his preferred style of Christmas lights, which is the X-Mas!X-Mas!X-Mas! style of Vegas lights. His family, no kidding, puts up a string of regular lights along the eavestrough, which then flash, then hangs those looping multi-strand lights underneath in a totally unrelated colour, which also flash in a non-matching pattern, and then wrap other un-coordinating lights along the bannister. They then throw one of those nets over the bush and wrap some lights along the lamp post on their lawn. The whole effect is both hilarious and kind of tacky. Jamie loves it, but I refused to have it on my house. Uh, this was a parenthetical comment, wasn't it? Whoops.)

He is much more of a do-it-as-you-go type cleaner. I am more of an occasional-burst-of-energy-mass-attack-the-disasters type cleaner, so occasionally I will have a day where I'm very productive and clean half the house. I tend to let my laundry get sky-high and then spend the whole day doing it, whereas he is more likely to do a load or two every week. (Yes, we still do our own laundry. Eventually we will combine, but he washes all his clothes in warm water and I wash all of mine in cold, and we've come to the conclusion that it's just easier to do our own, and that way we can't complain that the other did it "wrong.")

The house still has boxes of my stuff here and there, five months after we moved in. Most of it is unpacked now (including all my books, a major accomplishment), but the boxes labelled "stuff" still languish, waiting for me to decide that if I haven't opened them in six months, maybe I don't need them. And yet, Jamie rarely complains, uses the boxes as a stand for his computer speakers, cleans around them, and doesn't yell at me to just unpack, for god's sake. I think he knows I'll get around to it eventually, when there's something else I want to do even less.

There are things he does that drives me crazy, don't get me wrong. (How hard is it to TURN OFF THE BATHROOM LIGHT? NOT THAT HARD.) But most days, when I sit in my chair and see him doing the dishes, I wonder how on earth I got so lucky.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
There is something kind of paralyzing about the first day of Holidailies. You feel weirdly compelled to make your journal super-fantastic-awesome, since it's the first glance a lot of people will have at your writing. The first day is when people decide who they're going to pay attention to all month! It's your only chance! If you suck today, NOBODY WILL EVER COME BACK!

Which, really, is kind of stupid. Even if I were to write something totally unbelieveably fantastic today (highly unlikely), I'd just go back to my regularly scheduled rambling tomorrow, and no matter how totally mindblowingly great the first entry was, people would catch on that this is probably not the place for truly staggering levels of wit and discussion. Not that I'm not witty, mind you. But I'm that kind of witty where I tend to find myself very amusing, and while that's helpful on a very boring drive to work, I'm not entirely convinced it translates to scintillating blogging.

Dammit, I'm already calling this blogging. I suppose I'd better just accept that this is a blog and move on with my life. But I've had my online journal for three and a half years now (although you can't read the first 18 months or so due to a fucked up template that I'm working on fixing), so I guess it's reasonable that it would take me a while to shift my nomenclature.

Several people have been asking about why I moved my journal. Part of the reason was really just a total lack of attention span on my part - I get bored easily, and after three and a half years I was ready for a change. Part of it was that I've kind of hit a new stage in my life, and I like the idea of having my old journal function as a story with an ending of sorts. (Yeah, yeah, getting married is not an ending but a beginning, blah blah blah, whatever.) And partly I just needed a fresh start, with new possibilities and opportunities. For one thing, I was really fucking tired of the journal name (Things and Stuff, while a fairly apt description of what I talked about, ie not much, is not going to win any awards for creativity. It was named because that's what Jamie always said when I asked him what he was thinking about, and it seemed like a pretty good way to sum up the inner workings of my mind. Or something.) I am already very partial to the name "Monkey Pants and Hippo Dignity," which came about after a lengthy discussion of possibilities. (Monkey Pants alone was a good name as well, but I am very fond of hippos and wanted to incorporate that. However, Hippo Dignity by itself sounded like a fat-acceptance journal, and while I am both fat and generally accepting of that fact, it's not really what I want to write about. Somebody pointed out that I could just combine the two names, and here I am.)

So rather than try to woo you all with fascinating prose and thrilling stories, I'll just be up front. I talk about knitting a lot, I am somewhat obsessive about Buffy but am more inclined to talk about Firefly these days since that's what I'm currently watching, I get far too involved in both Amazing Race and Survivor and will inevitably have a fit about the outcome of one of the two if certain people (coughWEAVERScough) win, I am totally hyper about Christmas, and I talk too much about my cat. (Not so much these days since I don't live with her anymore, but I feel I should warn you anyway.) My husband is both very cute and extremely useful around the house, and I may occasionally write about him. I have awesome friends for whom I am no longer going to bother with pen names unless they specifically request it , and I overuse both parentheses and em-dashes. I also like to swear a lot.

There. Consider this your disclaimer. Welcome to Monkey Pants and Hippo Dignity. Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times. Please do not feed the animals.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
And then there's a big coup at the zoo.
As is typical of the first of December, I'm bored and disgruntled. Sure, I could write a few thousand words, but why? This is why I do Holidailies every year - it gives me something to do after the madness of NaNoWriMo. Plus I like actually having one month a year where I have an actual chronicle of what the hell I've been doing, since lately I've been the world's crappiest updater.

Anyway. Hi. Welcome to my new blog. I kind of hate the word blog so I will probably continue to call it a journal anyway. My previous Internet home was over on diaryland, as linked in my sidebar there, but I decided that three and a half years was enough, and I was ready for a change. I got really bogged down with the wedding entries, which are still languishing unfinished on my hard drive. I figured that getting married was a good ending place for that journal - in a lot of ways it's a chronicle of my relationship with Jamie, so it seems reasonable to start a new journal with the different relationship we have now.

Or something. Really, I just have a limited attention span and I got bored. It's not a very interesting reason for moving, but sometimes you need a little excitement in your life. Plus, this gives me an excuse to have a vastly superior journal name. For those of you not familiar with the wonders of Buffy, you probably think this is the most random journal name ever, but it's a reference to one of my favourite Oz lines. (Oz is in my top three favourite television characters of all time list, possibly only topped by Wash of Firefly.)

So I shall leave you with that exchange:

O: Oh look! Monkey. And he has a little hat…and little pants.
W: Yeah, I see.
O: The monkey’s the only cookie animal that gets to wears clothes. You know that? … You have the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen.
O: So I’m wondering, do the other cookie animals feel sorta ripped? Like is the hippo going, “Hey, man. Where are my pants? I have my hippo dignity.” And you know the monkey’s just, “I mock you with my monkey pants!” And then there’s a big coup in the zoo.
W: The monkey is French?
O: All monkeys are French. You didn’t know that?
W: No.