Saturday, March 31, 2007

Weekend Update

The Arabic Language Fair is OVER!!!! YAYYYY!!!

It wasn't a complete disaster. Although Angela, Jordy and I rehearsed about 2,000 times in the days leading up to it, I still froze with complete stage fright mid-way through our puppet show and had to repeat a sentence about three times before I could muster the fortitude to remember my next line. Luckily one of the judges was our teacher last semester (who likes all of us) so hopefully he'll go easy on me/us. I want a trophy!!!

I don't have much else to report today except that I need to get my a** is gear and start seriously writing, writing, writing. The Boff even told me at happy hour last night (where I only stayed for an hour after ordering a root beer) that it was the first time he'd ever seen me stressed out. But that's how I operate. I only work well under extreme pressure.

I'm babysitting tonight for the family I work for during the week, and I'm hoping the kids go to bed early so I can get some reading done.

My dad and Hannah left yesterday, and their car broke down about an hour outside Tucson. They got towed back into town, got a new radiator installed, and made it back on the road around 3:30pm. They spent the night somewhere in northern Arizona (wow, this is a big state), and should be nearing Denver about now.

Here are pictures that we took in my apartment Thursday evening...

My dad respects happy hour. I like that.

Seriously, I can't believe how big Hannah is now...

... I was just a skinny little stick of a kid at her age.

Actually, here's proof...

... my seventh grade class picture!

Last photo of the week...

Thanks for the nice visit!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

DWTS... It's Back!

Aside from my occasional Monday night foray into the evil clutches of Wife Swap and Nanny 911, I have one more guilty trashy television pleasure that I've mentioned more than once before (here and here)... Dancing With the Stars.

Fess up, dear readers, I know you're probably watching it too, or at least pausing on it while you turn the channel to find something better (as if).

As usual, this season's dancers have been hand selected from the most obscure stable of D-List stars...

Ahem... for example...

... 90210's resident cheeseball Steve Sanders.

And there's also entertainment news goddess Leeza Gibbons, Cliff from Cheers, and Olympian Apolo Ohno (who can do a damn good quickstep if I don't say so myself).

But let's face it, we're really all watching to see Paul McCartney's evil (ex)wife, Heather Mills, whirl around on a prosthetic leg...

...and holding our breaths to see if the thing will bend at a bizarre 90 degree angle and snap right off. I'd hate to go so far as to say that I'm actually hoping that will happen, but it would make for some excellent television if it did.

My favorites right now are former NBA player Clyde Drexler (I love the pro athlete dancers with rhythm), and I did like Paulina Porizkova until she got the boot last week. Oh, and Joey Fatone is pretty good. However, Billy Ray Cyrus is ridiculously bad (in more ways than one... yet armed with a large voting block of hicks), and I'm not too crazy about Leila Ali either (she takes herself way too seriously).

However, what I want to know is... when will the Hoff dance?

Cha Cha Cha!!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Guess I'm About Ready For Mom Jeans

As I've mentioned, my dad and half-sister have been visiting this past week.

Here I am with my dad at dinner last night...

Yes, I look like my mom. Praise the lord I didn't get the B. family's raspberry nose.

And here's my little sibling, Hannah...

... who is totally not-so-little anymore. She's almost as tall as me with a size 10 foot... and she's only 12 years old!

So today, while my dad was touring the stupor-inducing Pima Air & Space Museum, I was put in charge of entertaining Hannah. Unfortunately for her, I had a few errands to run, one of which included picking up my cap and gown at the Student Union Bookstore.

(Side notes: a. I am assuming I will actually have a thesis completed in order to graduate in May; and b. I have no interest whatsoever in tedious ceremonial wastes of time, but my mother is insistent that I attend the damn graduation ceremony so I am only doing it to please her.)

Anyway, at the Student Union Bookstore, a tall nerdy man wearing a cap and gown greeted us at the doorway and asked if we were looking for "Grad Fest..."

Me: Yes, I guess so. I just need a cap and gown.

Nerd Man: Oh wonderful! Congratulations!

Me: Not yet. Don't jinx me.

Nerd Man: What are you majoring in?

Me: I'm getting a master's degree in Near Eastern Studies.

Nerd Man (nodding and looking at Hannah): Great! And what about you? Are you graduating?

Me (thinking, "is this man blind"?): Ummm, no, she's only 12.

Nerd Man: Oh, students just look younger and younger these days so you never know!

Me: (Polite chuckle. Trying to walk away.)

Nerd Man (to Hannah): Wow, you must be really proud of your mom!

Seriously, someone shoot me now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don't Trust Snape!

Is anybody out there as excited as I am about Harry Potter?

And I'm not talking about Equus...

... although I respect a naked man and his (baloney) pony.

I'm talking about the upcoming release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In fact, I'm so excited that I hotfooted it over to Borders Books this past weekend and reserved myself a brand new hardback copy to pick up on the release date of July 21.

I also found myself in the position of having to choose whether Severus Snape is a "friend" or "foe"...

... in order to complete my order and get my "Snape is a Very Bad Man" or "Trust Snape" sticker...

As you can see, I'm announcing via my car to all of Tucson that Snape sucks.

I mean, for cripe's sake, the man killed Dumbledore. (And yes, I'm quite sure Dumbledore is dead). How could you possibly trust that greasy-haired traitor?

Ummm, yeah, I'm pretty excited about this book...

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Quick Update...

My dad and 12-year old half sister arrived in town this evening after driving down from Denver. I met them at their hotel, had a couple of beers poolside with my dad, then we hit dinner at the Cup Cafe at Hotel Congress before they retired back to their room.

I love the wineglass chandeliers at the Cup...

... and we had a great time at dinner!

I'm too tired to write more because I have to get up early to babysit tomorrow.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Slumber Party

Last night, Ingrid and I went over to Anna's house for our long-awaited slumber party. Unfortunately Keri bailed because she allegedly had "work to do" on her thesis, which I found a rather weak excuse.

And it's too bad she wasn't there because we had a fabulous evening full of pizza, Cheetos, popcorn, Milk Duds, Junior Mints, chocolate chip cookies, and wine. And we made the most comfortable bed for ourselves in the entire world...

Here I am with Ingrid posing on our cushioned creation:

Now really, WTF was I thinking so blatantly exposing my cupcake pajama-clad ass like that for this photo? It's a bit obscene, actually, but you get the idea of our set-up. Big squishy bed, soft comforter, unhealthy indulgences within reach, and a surround-sound television system right in front of us. (Thanks for setting that up, Alex!)

We entertained ourselves with Marie Antoinette, Sex & the City, and The Descent, which was a most sadistic choice right before bedtime, but luckily we all cuddled up on our giant mattress and dozed off without visions of flesh-devouring cave monsters interrupting our sleep.

Ingrid and I left early this morning because we both have crap we have to do today.

As we walked out of Anna's, Ingrid started laughing out loud when she saw this...

... my car parallel parked in front of Anna's house... right under a no parking sign.

In my defense, I said to Ingrid, "Well, hell, I didn't even see that sign! I mean, it's facing the wrong way!"

And she said, "Honey, your car is facing the wrong way."

And then it hit me. "Oh... Yeah."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Up and Coming Adventures... Well, Not Really Adventures, More Like Crap I'd Rather Not Be Doing, Except for the Slumber Party and Cookies.

I'm staying in tonight to get some s**t done. I need to start cracking down on myself and exhibit at least some small signs of self-discipline.

Top ten items on my radar this weekend:

1. Memorizing my Arabic lines for a play I'm in at the Southern Arizona Language Fair next weekend. I also have to build the props. (Don't laugh, Jordy, you'll be proud of my artistic endeavors, and we will win the highest score!)


... Aren't these little puppets cute?

2. Study for an Arabic vocabulary quiz (especially after more or less bombing the mid-term).

3. Start my Art History paper on the anthropological developments of the tribal rug industry in Turkey & Iran.

4. Thesis, thesis, thesis... research & writing.

5. Yoga on Saturday morning and hopefully lap swimming on Sunday.

6. Slumber party at Anna's on Saturday night with Ingrid and Keri too. We're watching old movies (i.e.: Children of the Corn... my request), giving each other pedicures and manicures, eating lots of popcorn & Junior Mints (Ingrid's request), and perhaps even engaging in a pillow fight or two.

7. Baking cookies or brownies to satisfy my insatiable dessert appetite.

8. Buying a fan and windshield wiper blades (the rubber stripping fell off the blade mid-rain storm yesterday!).

9. Finish Notes on a Scandal.

10. Prepare for my Dad's visit this coming week. He and my half-sister are driving down from Denver and will be here Monday through Thursday to see the sites and hit a Rockies spring training game.

And on a final, rather unrelated, note... check out the most amazing sunset we had here in Tucson last night...

And this was the tail end of it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Recollections of Eurotrash Days (Part Deux)

After yesterday's post which included the photo of Kelley and me at the disco near Como, Italy, I remembered that I had all of my European adventures logged in an electronic journal -- so I decided to re-read them this evening after many years (in which I totally forgot I had stored them) and thought I would include the one I wrote about that night out. Maybe because it jogged some recessed funny memories, I found myself chuckling out loud... enjoy!

“Cinqueterre” Mon, Jul 31, 2000

Ciao di Cinqueterre:

We decided to have dinner at our albergo in Menaggio, and Kelley had bought some chianti for us to drink in the room. So after getting a bit sauced on the red wine, and having a lovely pasta dinner, we decided to head to a disco around 10 pm. Earlier in the day, i had gotten my hair trimmed and asked the lady who cut my hair where a good night spot was. She told me to go to the 'Latin American' disco in the next town, about a one mile walk which she said was very dangerous at night because it was so dark on the winding road.

So Kelley and I decided to try to get a taxi in the main town piazza. We stood at a taxi stand for about 10 mins before realizing that no taxis serviced this town (Menaggio is very tiny). So we went to a nearby bar to ask them how we should get to the disco. Luckily the owner took a fancy to Kelley and arranged for his 16 year old son and his young friend to drive us in the family station wagon to the discoteca. I laughed the entire ride there!!! These two teenagers were like something out of the movie 'Clerks' except they spoke no English.

So we got to the disco, and the two boys dropped us off and peeled out to return back to Menaggio. (how we were getting home from the disco was still a mystery to us, esp since the place was more like 4 miles away as opposed to 1 mile away). We went in the disco, and it was almost empty except for a Dudley Moore twin lounging around the bar with an ugly friend. There were a couple skampy Italian girls grinding on the dance floor, but that was it.

Feeling rather disappointed, we ordered drinks to keep ourselves entertained. We each ordered margaritas and experienced an immediate shock of straight, cheap tequila with almost no mix added! Eek, what terrible drinks. The dance floor was filling up a bit, and at this point, a totally cheesy male dance instructor (sort of the Patrick Swayze dirty dancing type) came out on the dance floor to lead people in line dancing to Santana (Santana??). We joined in before becoming frustrated with the complicated steps, and then retired to the bar to people watch for a while until another good song came on the dance floor. There were lots of skinny girls in teeny outfits and Rico Suave type men.

So we entered back to the dance floor eventually, and we were approached by two young men from Milan (can't remember their names!) They latched onto us for the night, mainly b/c one of the boys was very interested in Kelley. We dubbed them "Pita hands" and "Fat Lip". Pita Hands was a very overweight fellow around the age of 30. He is a chef at a nightclub in Milan and from the looks of him, he eats more than his fair share of pastries. He was really into Kelley, and continuously massaged her hands with his hands (which according to Kelley felt remarkably similar to pita bread, what with their light dusting of flour were quite similar to his dry chafed skin). Horrified, she noted later in the evening that the glitter which she wore on her cheeks somehow also ended up on his face. I noted Pita Hands had a bit of an odor problem, but then again, he was sweating profusely on the dance floor. Pita Hands' friend was Fat Lip, who was unfortunately left to me by a matter of elimination. Fat Lip was not too interested in me and vice versa, so it wasn't too much of a problem. He was cooler than Pita Hands (in my opinion) and kept his hands to himself.

As we were unable to shake these characters (the disco was not too big), we ended up dancing with them till the end of the evening. I was well aware they were our only ride home as well, so I didn't want to create too much distance being that we still needed to get home. Luckily my strategy worked, and Pita Hands and Fat Lip gave us a lift back to Menaggio, and we parted ways with nothing more than a small hug between us all.

The next day Kel and I slept in and then decided to head to Lido Giardini, a pool complex in town. The humor was that we had to purchase swim caps in order to enter the pool (they must have had some serious hair clogging trouble in the past). So in fits of laughter, we purchased our little red and blue swim caps and went to the pool.

Ethel Merman and Swim Companion.

We are now staying in Riomaggiore, and we have had many adventures here as well. We are staying in a small villa at the top of the town with views of vineyards and the sea, and you can hear the water crash against the rocks in the night... ahhhh. There is one bar here in town which we wandered to on our first night, Saturday. We encountered two awful men in the Italian Marines here, named Fabio and Felice, who were the two most desperate men I have ever met in my life.

We saw them again last night walking down the street, and we were so eager to avoid them that we ran as fast as we could to a phone booth and crawled into the fetal position at the bottom of the booth so they wouldn't see us! They tried to invite us to dinner but we said no because Fabio has some major halitosis and Felice could do with a good teeth brushing.

OK, we are off to the beach now in Monterosso. We spent yesterday hiking to Manarolo and Corniglia along the coast and laid out all day in the sun in a rocky cove on the water and watching an animated Italian family with a hilarious dog named Camilla who was wearing a mini baseball hat.

Now I must go... Time to say ciao...
Bye bye and arrivaderci...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Recollections of My Eurotrash Days

Lately I've been listening to a lot of Europop dance music. You know, the kind with the synthetic voices played over driving bass rhythms and loads of synthesizer that lots of American people think is lame for whatever crazy reason.

Despite the scorn of the uninitiated masses, it always puts me in a good mood and perks my energy level.

Secondly, it reminds me of a few great summers in my life spent in Turkey and Italy, where I loved to go to the local disco.

Here are two photos from the summer of 2000 in Italy (sadly my Turkey pics are all in storage)...

This was taken at a disco along the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia with my Norwegian friend and roommate at the time, Trine. That guy was a bartender she used to work with. He thought I was Norwegian too so I would start talking Swedish Chef-like gibberish to Trine, and he didn't know that it wasn't Norwegian. I think we used to find that amusing.

And here I am with one of my best friends, Kelley, in Como...

... and some Italian guy that I got stuck with most of the night while his chubby chef friend was hitting on Kelley. Might I add that both of those guys walked away empty-handed. But as you can see, it was still a fun night.

And wow, I had a good tan going on. I forgot about that. Maybe I can start working on that again, but then again, maybe not. You know, things like melanoma and looking like an old leather bag when you're 40 are the downsides to getting brown when you should be the color of paste. Darn.

Anyway, if you love Eurodisco like me, here's one of my favorite songs right now, "Come With Me," by Special D, who's really popular in Germany and the Netherlands (yet another reason to hope I get that NATO job!)...

PS - I just realized that this looks like a porn video!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Something Called "Overdoing It"

The theme of today is "Death Becomes Her..." because I think I might have died at some point during my sleep and come back alive as a half-living zombie today.

It's my own fault, of course.

What idiot does 30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical, an hour and a half of yoga, and then hits Club Congress 80s Night for three solid hours of dancing/jumping around like a maniac to Prince and Human League?!?

I might also mention the latter activity was mixed with a number of 80 cent well drinks fixed with vodka clearly produced at an isolated gulag somewhere near Sevastopol. I think that same facility created the recipe for poisoning the poor president of the Ukraine, who looks like this now...

... which is how I feel inside.

Even my bunions hurt. And that made me sound a lot like my grandma.

On that note, I'd better sign off...

Monday, March 19, 2007

My Bike

Tonight, I want to salute my bike...

Purchased in 1992, used every day for four years in undergrad in rural Ohio, taken to Texas where it was used infrequently, shipped to Turkey (used for grocery shopping and helped me win first place in the Incirlik Airbase's "military sports day" women's cycling competition), parked on my balcony in Seattle, hidden in storage for a year, rediscovered in 2001 and parked in a living room in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of Washington DC and occasionally ridden to the State Department, and finally hauled via freight to Tucson, Arizona.

I love my bicycle.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day Ahoy

St. Patrick's Day, Tucson 2007...

The Game Plan:
Ben's House
Roller Derby
No Anchovies
The Surly Wench
Brooklyn's Pizza
Bumsted's Karaoke Night

And the St. Patty's Day Photo Extravaganza begins!

Outside my apartment...

Ingrid (sporting the best new haircut ever), Krista, and yours truly.

After Roller Derby...

Ingrid & Annie/Paris Troika (our local Roller Derby hero).

Later at No Anchovies...

Six-foot-something Nopey actually fit into Ben's women's size 4 blazer.

We later wandered down the street to the Surly Wench...

... and part of the entourage included Dr. Sand's harem of ladies.

In fact, here is the Doctor himself...

... inspiring those around him.

Speaking of inspiration...

... please take a look at two of the best St. Patrick's Days outfits. Ever. (Especially in contrast to those total party poopers in the background wearing their anti-Irish white, yellow, and blue.)

Too bad Ben wasn't wearing his hat in the picture above...

Oh wait...I borrowed it to ruin this picture.

It's looking a little better here...

Especially with Ben's nostrils in the background.

Anna is looking a little dreamy here...

... or maybe that's the beer.

And while we're on the topic of dreamy...

... here's the night's most romantic photo -- get a room!

And the last shot at the Surly Wench...

... Krista & Ben.

Time for karaoke night after some nice big slices of Brooklyn's...

Krista, Ben, Shane, & Tiffany. You might think it was techno night from the looks of things. But it was actually "New York, New York." Sung by a guy who was so drunk he could barely read.

And the final shot of the night...

... the Jewish leprechaun and his international posse make their way home.

Friday, March 16, 2007

March Madness

Here's the thing... I don't like sports, but I love winning.

I try to keep my competitive drive under wraps most of the time, but the truth is that I'm freakishly competitive (try playing Scrabble with me one day).

The other day, I played Candyland with baby Serena's 3-year old sister, and I got a touch annoyed when she tried to cheat. Then I laughed out loud when she got sent back to the Gumdrop Mountains and didn't even realize it until she told me I was being mean. (And actually I won the game and was feeling pretty smug until she cheated again and made us "tie.")

In any case, when March Madness (or the World Cup) rolls around, I get pretty excited. Not because I care who really wins the whole thing but because I want to win whatever betting pool I'm in. Frankly, if sports doesn't involve gambling, I can't be bothered. However, if I have something at stake (namely... winning), I will check Yahoo! Sports every ten minutes to see how I'm doing.

These past couple years at grad school haven't been as fun because I don't have an office betting pool, but when I worked at State Department, I was one of the first ones to throw my money in the pot. In 2004, I actually won the whole thing and ended up walking home with an extra $150 (which I promptly spent on two pairs of capri pants instead of taking my losing co-workers out for drinks).

There is a method to my madness. It involves my gambling penny...

Rather than waste my time reading over pages of statistics and coaches' records and players' abilities, I just bring out my trusty penny and flip it to see who will win. It's an amazingly successful way to gamble, especially in an unpredictable event like March Madness.

People scoff at my underdog risks, but I scoff at them when I'm walking out the door with a wad of cash in my pocket. FYI -- my underdog picks this year are Louisville and UNLV (making it to the Sweet Sixteen) and Pitt making it to the Final Four, but I'm not totally nuts... I do have Florida vs. North Carolina playing for the National Championship. I'm not going to tell you who I think is going to win because a certain Gator fan checks this site now and then, and I don't want to inflate his already swollen head.

And by the way, on a totally unrelated note, I had to strap a Baby Bjorn onto my front today while babysitting, and I had no idea those things were so freaking complicated...

I'm rather irked by this woman's smugness.

I was at the public library's "story hour" with the 3-year old (who I have this week because her school is on Spring Break), and I was trying to get the baby in the Baby Bjorn because I was supposed to be "participating" with the older child (ie: dancing around in circles like a goon), and I was contorting myself in about 20 different ways trying to figure out where my head went and where the arm straps were and which button and clasp connected to which cog, and the baby almost fell out of the pouch, and it all got twisted up, and not one other "mom" offered to help me (probably thinking to themselves that I was a thoroughly pathetic parent who should know better...) until I looked pleadingly at one and embarrassingly had to ask for assistance. By then baby Serena was almost in tears after having the material jammed in her face for a full five minutes, I was sweating profusely and on the verge of cursing like a sailor... and then the music ended, and I didn't need the damn Baby Bjorn anyway.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Golden Girls meets Sex & the City

In a rather sad commentary about my life, I started thinking a little more deeply about the Golden Girls yesterday, having mentioned the show in my last blog entry.

In attempting to determine which Golden Girl I would most like to hang out with (I was having a tough time choosing between Dorothy and Sophia), I began to see some eerie parallels between The Golden Girls and Sex and the City.

I have concluded that they are more or less the same show, with just a bit of a generation gap.

It seems pretty clear that...

There's a slutty character (Blanche & Samantha)...

A sweet, naive, and optimistic girl (Rose & Charlotte)...

A sarcastic & bitter educated woman (Dorothy & Miranda)...

And a tiny petite woman (Sophia & Carrie)...

OK, so the Sophia & Carrie connection is a bit of stretch, but the other characters are pretty spot on.

To answer my original question (who would I most like to hang out with)... and to prove that there really is a link between these two TV shows, I took personality quizzes based on each program, and scored the character equivalents...

To take the Golden Girls quiz, go here.

You are most like Miranda!

While you've had your fair share of romance, men don't come first...
Guys are a distant third to your friends and career

Which Sex and the City Vixen Are You?

Feel free to test my hypothesis...