Mar 29

As I’m on my teleconference class with the speaker button on, so I can be up and about, while listening to the lecture, stump my toe and reflexively yell “Oh FUCK!” and immediately want the world to swallow me up.

Then hear the professor stutter, before breaking out into a giggle and then ask “Whoever that was, is everything okay?”

Then, though I can stay silent and deny it because he can’t see me. Admit to it. Then apologize. Hear professor and classmates giggle a little more. Then join the classmates in the giggling before everyone falls into an awkward silence.

I hate those awkward *crickets* *crickets* moments.

I cleared my throat and we went on with the class.

Telling myself: You go girl. You’re moving right along, aren’t you?

Mar 28

Yesterday, I decided to “walk” home from work, because it was a gorgeous day and I’ll use any excuse to have alone time with the ipod (Gwen).

The “walk” turned into a jog, mainly because the tempo of the music, and because my body just felt compelled to “speed the fuck up already!”

Might I say, that yesterday? It almost felt as good as sex. ALMOST. My Endorphines needed that little rush.

I also, re-arranged my desk yesterday and threw away files that were over 10 years old! I had a wild look in my eye, my hair was all over the place. Howard started to walk into my office and instead, stopped, and backed away slowly.

And today? I got an amazingly positive email from my boss. Which makes me feel tons better and makes me almost like my job. ALMOST.

The cynic in me wants to sit on my shoulder and shout: “GUURL, you know something bad is BOUND to happen.”

P.S. Running to Boys II Men dueting with LL Cool J. on “Hey Lover”, kind of makes you want to stop running and strut. ALMOST.

Mar 26

So….yeah, I know it’s been almost two months since returning from our vacation but life happens people, as you’ve read in the past entries that upon our return, we’ve gone non-stop. It’s been enough to throw me into another downward spiral into mental issues hell.

But perhaps, the vacation itself was the impetus for this little downward spiral. Ever thought of that?

No?

Well, I’ve come to realize that it probably was that.

Minus the whole Rome trip of course. Beautiful BEAUTIFUL Rome.

I mean of course it wasn’t the most horrible vacation I’ve ever gone on (that would be the whole family vacation in 98 on which I’ve posted before but one that also got mysteriously deleted right along with all my other entries before September of 2004, god. damn it!)

There was plenty of shopping, and plenty of eating out, and it was wonderful to see my family. My memaw and I got to spend a lot of time just talking to each other. She is amazingly insightful. I don’t give her near enough credit. We even talked about *gasp* sex! She knocked me over with her wisdom on that subject. We plowed through a whole pot of coffee, and I don’t really drink coffee anymore.

There were naps. Glorious GLORIOUS naps. And running into old friends at Wal-Mart, because where I come from? Wal-Mart is the hub. Afraid of not seeing everyone you want to see while you’re back in your hometown? Go to your local Wal-Mart and if any of your friends live within a 20 mile radius? You’re bound to run into them.

But the stress, oh the stress of my family. For once, I would like to have them all in a room together without someone getting their feelings hurt, or someone starting a stupid argument with someone else, and somebody leaving mad. God damn it, can’t we just pretend for two fucking hours?

Thank God, Howard’s family is sane. Say something off the wall to them? They all just laugh because chances are they’re just as nuts as you are, but instead of fighting it, they embrace it. All my friends fall madly in love with this family of Jews, Catholics, Gays, Hispanics, and god knows what else, because they love their differences. They are damn proud of them. Walk in with two heads and five eyeballs? You’re bound to be hugged and given whatever mixed drink we’re serving up at the time. That’s my kind of family. Thank you God, for compelling this man to propose to me, and save me from my “perfect on the outside, chaotic on the inside” family.

That sums up the vacation except for the Rome part.

Oh my Dog. Rome. It still overwhelms me.

After patting myself on the back for not picking United Express to fly to JFK, because last year, there was a barrage of mechanical delays that caused us to miss our connecting flight to Argentina and we didn’t get out of DC until 24 hours later, missing an entire day of our trip. Guess what?

Com-Air by Delta was just as bad. Except the gate attendant went ahead and found us seats on a partner airline that got into Rome only three hours later. Thank God. I sat beside a young man from Pakistan, who while reading his magazine, was verbally attacked by some drunk redneck pulling for the Seattle Seahawks, who was denied boarding because surprise! He was drunk and belligerant. At first we thought it was funny, we just eyeballed each other, put our magazines in front of our faces and laughed behind them. Then we realized he was calling our friend “A God damn Terrorist!” I hate people like that. The young man was going to his sister’s wedding in Paris. His whole family was there. Howard yelled over to a security guard to do something about the drunken man. The young Pakistani thanked him, then we all three sat and giggled about what an idiot the man was.

The flight to Rome was..well…to be honest, I don’t remember it. I took an Ambien as soon as we boarded, and about an hour into the 8 and a half hour flight, I fell asleep. Slept through the entire flight and didn’t wake up until I heard the captain announce that we were making our final descent and told the flight attendants to do a cabin cross check and prepare for landing. It was perfect. You would know the one time I got to sleep easily was on a damn airplane. We went to get our baggage and saw Bob Costas! He’d been on the same flight as us. He looked like shit just like the rest of us too, hee! I just wanted to put that out there. Make-up and good lighting really do make a difference.

Our hotel was nice, the room was bigger than we thought it would be, for European standards. We ate a lot of Italian food, but mostly Roman food. Romans are very proud of having their own unique fare of Italian cuisine. Lots of meat, mainly fish and lots of pasta.

Our first day, we rested up, and went to the Colisseum. Representatives from a tour group kept approaching us, asking if we’d like to sign up for the tour. We could bypass the lines, blah blah blah. At first, I didn’t want to do it. We’re just not that into guided tours but we also realized that our Italian was very VERY minimal, so it might not be a bad idea. So we signed up. We didn’t regret it. Our tour guide very knowledgeable and animated. He made it worthwhile. And afterwards, they left us to explore on our own, and left us brochures for their other tours at other places in the city. We decided to sign up for every tour they had for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, we went to the Vatican. We had passes for the Papal service but there was heavy traffic and try as he might, our taxi driver just couldn’t get us there on time. We missed getting in by like 5 minutes. We were really bummed. We had to settle for standing in St. Peter’s Square and watching his service on one of the giant tv screens, and waiting for our tour group to meet up again at 11:30. It was amazing to see the square though, we took pictures, stood around a lot with our mouths agape. Howard went into the Vatican post office while I went in search of a bathroom and when I joined him there later, he was having an animated conversation with a tiny little nun. (None of the workers are paid at the Vatican. They all work and live there. Except for the Swiss Army.) Her name was Ann and she and Howard were talking about children with Autism. Howard worked with Autistic children when we lived back in NC. Howard never meets a stranger. They were really taken with each other. Howard introduced us and I fell in love with her too, she spoke English beautifully, her soft, wrinkled hands enveloped mine and I wanted to hug her and ask her to bake me some cookies. I wanted to take her home with me and call her “mom.” She was a very calming presence. She works with a home in Lousiana, that permanently houses the mentally handicapped so when she probed Howard about himself, this interested her very much. She ended up giving us passes to the private papal service at St. Paul’s Basilica later that afternoon. We thanked her and made our way to meet our group. I have to say one of the best parts of traveling is the people we meet on our journey.

I posted about the Vatican while we were in Rome. There is so much to say about it. While I’m not Catholic, I was every bit as moved by the entire experience. The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, seeing Pope John Paul’s grave, when he was buried only a year ago. Seeing the tombs of other popes. Touching the feet of the famous St. Peter statue. Did ya’ll know that St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world? Well it is. Another big highlight was climbing 400 steps to the Cupola of the church. FOUR HUNDRED STEPS. In a narrow stairway. It was one way only too. If you decided to climb up, the only way to get down is to climb to the very top first. We could see the entire Vatican City and the entire city of Rome. Again, I was humbled to be there. I was so damn lucky.
However, the walk and the emotional day left us drained. We decided to forego the papal service, (Sorry Sister Ann!) and caught a taxi back to our hotel. Dinner was subdued that night, probably partly from the jetlag and partly because what could we say? We’d just spent the day at the Vatican. THE VATICAN! But the food was amazing, and after tucking away a bottle of wine, we crashed for 12 straight hours.

The next day we decided to take a break from all the touristy stuff and just enjoy the hotel amenities. We booked massages. And oh the massage. First of all, it was a bit awkward in the beginning because I kept forgetting it was Europe and how modesty is almost a non-issue. The girl left me alone to undress for like 15 seconds. They gave me a paper thong. Yes. A PAPER THONG. It was hilarious. The therapist returned before I even had a chance to jump on the table and cover myself. Just walked right in while I stood there clad in a paper thong. She was very professional. No nonsense. And soon enough, the fact that I was nearly naked without so much as a sheet for my ass, meant nothing. This woman was giving quite possibly the BEST massage EVER! Bare ass be damned. I actually fell asleep! Which I never do during a massage. I usually try to stay awake and enjoy the whole thing. She quietly woke me and told me to roll over. Again, here in America, my therapist always holds the sheet over me so I can turn over without baring myself. Nope. I just rolled over and bared it all to her. But I was blissfully groggy and she said “You like?”…I sleepily replied “Si”. She laughed and massaged everything but my non-mentionables. It was just what I needed. I felt like a wet noodle. I really thought I couldn’t be comfortable, all laid out like that but I kept remembering she sees this all the time, she could care less what my boobs look like. Howard had his after I had mine and was all “JESUS that woman was good!” I replied with a simple “Si”.

We had a late lunch and decided to go ahead and do the Catacombs tour since it was late in the day. That too, was amazing. We had to take the “oldest road in the world”, the Appian Way, to get there. We got to see part of the Countryside which was lush green even in January. The tour was nice but wasn’t as creepy as I thought it would be. All the bodies were removed to another part of the Catacombs because apparantly people were stealing bones and artifacts. (who are you sick people?) The part that is open for tourists is just empty tombs, but the impact is nearly the same. The rest of the tour took us to the Hercules Temple, past Circus Maximus, the Jewish Ghetto, and the temple where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Ya’ll know I loved that because of how into ROME, I was/am. I didn’t realize he was killed in a temple, I thought he was killed in the senate building. But it turns out, a lot of the important meetings were held in the temples. Huh. Who’da thunk it? It was amazing seeing where he fell to his death. It really saddened me because he was a damn good emperor. He was benevolent. Even when Brutus turned his back and joined Pompey Magnus during their battle. He loved Rome and wanted only the best for his then country.

The next day was the Roman Forum. We saw the temple of Venus (which is one of the great wonders of the world), and amazingly intact ruins of the forum. The temples were everywhere, we could even see the marks on the cobble stones, made by chariots. You’d have to see it to believe it too. Most importantly during that day, we saw the site of Julius Caesar’s cremation. It is covered, and the stone that held his body, is still there. I have to say, they have done a fantastic job preserving their history. People still leave flowers for Julius Caesar.

On our way back to our hotel, we decided to get some dinner, but couldn’t decide where. Howard had to pee so bad that he said “The next place we come to, we’re eating in.” The “next place” ended up being a tiny bistro named “Mario’s”. Upon walking in the door, we were treated like royalty. The men, dressed in bowties and cumberbunds, took our jackets and seated us…well seated me, Howard was anxious to get to the restroom. They brought us free champagne, and when Howard returned, they asked if we wanted appetizers, we couldn’t decide on what we wanted so they decided for us. They brought an entire plate plate of smoked salmon, calamari, and tiny shrimp on a bed of fresh spinach! We tucked in while they brought out a big bowl of mussels. “On ze house”, said the waiter. We thanked him. We also realized we were the only people in the restaurant. Probably because it was early and because we were there in the off-season. The chef kept bringing us food, wine, champagne. They were just so happy they had people to serve. After washing down our amazing meal with lemon liquor, the restaurant manager explained to us that this was their slowest time. The Christmas rush had just ended, and things wouldn’t pick up until Valentine’s Day. We were really lucky! Our check was amazingly inexpensive considering all the food and beverages we consumed and as I reached for my jacket, the host ran over, shook his head, took my jacket from me and insisted on help me into it. Could not have asked for better service. By the time we left, the restaurant was filling up. If you’re ever in Rome, go to Mario’s. They’re right behind the temple of Augustus Caesar.

Our last night, we were really tired and wanted something pretty close to the hotel so we asked for a recommendation from the concierge. We arrived at a tiny restaurant, bustling with Friday night activity. It is very common to seat people at the same table, if you’re a party of two, mainly because of the space. It was a bit awkward at first but after sharing our wine and bread, we conversed with our dining companions and got to know them. Delia and her mother Margaret were from Wales and were in Rome for the weekend to celebrate Margaret’s birthday. Delia is a film producer, who does a lot of work in Asia, Margaret breeds Apricot Poodles. The restaurant staff didn’t count us all getting along like we did. We could have talked to them all night, but do you know what they did? They told us we had to leave because there was a reserved party coming in ten minutes. I could go on about their good food, but I won’t because you just don’t treat your customers like that. And it was way overpriced. Should have gone back to Mario’s! But the company was good and we exchanged email addresses and promised to stay in touch.

The next morning, we headed to the airport early. However, there was snow in Milan and they’d just re-routed all of those passengers to Leonardo Di Vinci in Rome and we happened to arrive just after they did. Long story short? After standing line for two hours, we missed our flight. The only other flight? Was the same time the NEXT DAY. I was exhausted by this time and asked if there was a hotel nearby. I was NOT about to spend the night in the airport. Just. No. Not 24 hours. We ended up getting sold on a “quaint little bed and breakfast only ten minutes from the airport, with a free shuttle” Only 100 Euro. Which is good considering most hotels don’t offer a free shuttle and if you get anything for less than 100 Euro, you’re probably going to sharing a bathroom. I like my private bathrooms. I’m not 18 and staying in youth hostels anymore, thank you.

However, after waiting for twenty minutes for our shuttle, we were hurried into a tiny minivan and rushed away because the driver didn’t want to get a parking ticket. “ten minutes?” turned into 30 minutes. We ended up in the middle of the Roman Countryside. With nothing but our hotel, a sandwich shop up the street and a grocery store, about a mile after that. Oddly enough, there was a car dealership right beside our hotel. (I know) The room was adequate but looked nothing like the brochure and dinner? Well the kitchen was closed for remodeling. After getting settled, we decided to head to the sandwich shop to each lunch and walked to the grocery store to get something for dinner. The hotel had a microwave and dining area. The sandwich shop was just as we expected but the trip to the grocery store was an entirely different experience altogether. First of all? NO ONE spoke English, not even conversational English. Everyone was loud and scary, something that is normal in Italy but for us hillbillies? Just downright terrifying. People knock your cart out of the way, if they need to get by. No one gets offended, it’s just how it’s done. We were google-eyed at the ENTIRE AISLES of pasta and olive oil. Oh my God, no wonder Italians are stereo-typed. We ended up settling for some pre-cooked stuffed pork that the meat manager was hawking, some bagged salad, we passed on the dressing (we were getting a little sick of oil and vinegar), and some cookies for dessert. We bought some mineral water (sin gas), and were on our way. We called our families and told them we wouldn’t be arriving until the next day and laid down to take a long nap. Later we awoke and ate dinner. We decided to go back to the sandwich shop to grab some pop and just get out of the hotel for a while. That’s when we met Bernard and Anita. They’d seen us eating our food in the dining room and assumed the kitchen was open for business. They were sorely mistaken and Howard and I felt really bad for them. When we saw them again in the sandwich shop, Howard told them which sandwiches were the best, and they exclaimed “YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?!?!?!?” They were from Australia and missed their flight for the same reason. Long story short, we closed the sandwich shop down, walked together back to the hotel, sat down in the dining room and talked the entire evening away. It was as if we’d known each other forever. We couldn’t stop talking to them! Anita is a striking beauty. Her mother is Italian and her father is Indian. Bernard could be in GQ magazine. He is Italian and Middle Eastern. Both with their dark features and warm personalities had us smitten. They were in the room next to ours and because we couldn’t get a wake up call the next morning, (yes I know) they said they’d knock on the wall early, and we’d all get up and have breakfast together. The next morning, we met in the dining room, all hugs and “good morning!” like we’d been old friends for years. We all got on the first shuttle bus to the airport and promised to write to each other. The four of us talked about how our whole travel fiasco was fate. We were meant to meet and become friends. They really want us to come to Perth next year. We’re going to try our best.

Upon our return to the states, nothing had changed, the family drama was going on and I was grateful about seeing Julie. Julie is my girl. If we were lesbians, we’d totally be married to each other. She and I spent the afternoon shopping and laughing and enjoying our time together. She’s a wonderful mom and wife. She’s been through so much and is still smiling. I adore her.

So that’s about it in a nutshell. Holy shit, this could possibly be the longest post yet! Amazing trip to Rome, family drama, and good friends. Again, the highlight of our travels are the people we meet along the way. Even with all the dysfunction, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well I would change some things but even for me, those things are just too private to mention here.

Geez, I’m tired. You’d better leave me some good comments after that post. I’m going to go make out with Gwen for a while, ya’ll be good.

Mar 25

Work, school, work, school, with some occasional sleep and socialization thrown in between.

It was Native Traditions Week at the school and all the other schools from the district flew in to take classes, and learn about their culture that is rapidly dying.

I have to hand it to Noel, the chairperson, because she puts her heart and soul in to this week. She comes in all frazzled, and crazy-eyed, yet she perseveres. She is proud of her native heritage which says a lot.

I won’t elaborate on the subject right now. Honestly? It would take all the bandwidth in the world. Suffice it to say that unless you’ve lived amongst the Alaska Natives (which we have in a four different regions), you don’t know what you think you do. History textbooks? Not a clue.

However, Noel rises above it all, and encourages the preservation of her culture and believes in education. The girl truly practices what she preaches.

Anyway, we’ve had a really fun week, meeting the kids from the other villages. Surprisingly for teenagers? They’ve been the sweetest bunch of kids! They’re all polite and sweet with their big smiles, and shy giggles. It’s been a real joy for me and Howard to interact with them. Everyone is saying the same thing. I’d say this week was a big success.

My class is going well, we’re in the homestretch and I’m giving my final presentation the first week of April. I met the Dean of Rural Education from UAF (she is native and was here for the NTW)and she gave me some really good contacts that could enable me to complete my degree a lot faster than I thought!

My ipod arrived and I’ve been busy importing all my cds. She is soooooo pretty. I’ve decided to call her Gwen. She’s all dressed up in her purple sleeve today, and I’m just in awe of her. The portable cd player sits in silence. I kind of want to give it a burial or something.

Did I tell you that Howard and I took a 40 mile snowmachine ride up the river last week? We went to see some friends who have a homestead there. We took a lot of pictures. Like my vacation photos and the ever-awaiting vacation re-cap that I’m way overdue for, they’ll make it here eventually, I promise. The ride really did us good though. Really lifted our spirits and put us both in much better moods. Especially me.

Could this be the most boring post ever? Yes, I think so. But you’ll get over it. Now go play outside while Gwen rocks my world.

Mar 21

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG SISTER!!!

(got it in a full hour and a half shy of midnight)

Even though you’re overbearing and bossy at times. And ALWAYS think that YOU know what’s best for everyone including me.

Thanks for being you. Thanks for always being in my corner.

Thanks for reminding me all the time, that no one will ever love me more than you do.

Because we’ve both been there.

I LOVE YOU!
-Your little sister

Mar 20

Lord ya’ll this was so damn funny.

And you know what? My cat? Totally says “mama” to me when she wants something.

I’m serious! Quit rolling your eyes.

And one of the cats says something that I say A LOT! Completely coincidence!

Go have a laugh.

Mar 18

Like talking on the phone with Heather for almost two hours. It’s been over a year since we’ve talked on the phone but we pick right up where we left off. Just like old friends do.

But? I had to rush off the phone with Heather because Howard became very sick suddenly. I had to throw on some decent clothes (it’s my day off and god damn it I reserve the right to wear pj’s all day if I want) and run to the store to get him some medicine and heavy artilery like chicken broth and gatorade. Which means that I had to do it fast because inevitably when someone sees me in the store, they assume I’m always working, and so they ask if I can help them. Which I don’t mind, but I had a sick husband at home and I knew if I didn’t get out of there fast, the guilt would kick in and I’d be compelled to go to my office and do some sort of work.

Aaaaanyway, I got home and Howard was wretching. And Howard rarely wretches. Seriously. He gets sick in other ways like the common cold, lethargia when his sugar levels are fucked up, but I could count on one hand the times he actually threw up. (you totally needed to know that)

I felt so bad for him, I stood right there with him in the bathroom. (Can I make you sick? okay, really? honestly? when I’ve been in his shoes, he holds my hair back. Stands right there with me. yeah I know. I don’t deserve him.) His skin was on fire, then he would break out into a sweat and get the chills. I made him sip some broth and some soda water before helping him to bed. He is sleeping now.

I’m also supposed to be writing an essay today that’s due on Monday but I’m sorry, talking to one of my oldest and dearest friends was way more important and now I’ve got a sick husband. Throw in the paranoia of getting his “little bug” myself and you’ve got your perfect Saturday.
You must be so jealous.

Mar 18

You know what else helps mental illness?

Shopping.

Yes. I’m one of those girls that loves to do it.

I’ve wanted an iPod for over a year now but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t buy one until my portable cd player completely conked out.

Last week, I was soaking my worries in the tub with some of my favorites and my player wouldn’t move forward or backwards to another track. I thought it was the batteries, so I switched them out. It didn’t fix the problem.

Yesterday, I had a couple of hours at home to myself (I know!) and did some much needed housework and I really love to put my headphones on while doing this. But it was completely dead. I even switched out the batteries again. Still nothing.

I’ve had this player for 2 and half years. It’s done me well, considering I used to jog on the beach in St. Mike everyday and it got bounced around a lot, and really didn’t skip that much at all.

So my point is, I purchased an iPod this morning. I was even a sucker for the engraving and the five colorful sleeves, and the charging dock. Howard said “Buy it now, while we can afford it.” And I did.

After hearing about how much Amy loves hers and then Tess doing her homework and buying one, well dammit, that sold me.

And let me tell you. My mood is ten times better and it’s not even here yet!

Howard is hiding the credit cards now.

Mar 16

Susie brought me a jello shooter today, safely incapsulated in a tiny little “to go” cup.

I love that woman. I’d totally make out with her. But she’s really maternal towards me so no. Just. No.

She’s going to be handing them out tomorrow night in honor of St. Patty’s day. But she gave one to me early, cause she knows I’ve had a shitty week. (And because Dusty totally tells her everything he and I talk about, the little shit, luckily Susie would take it all to her grave before telling anyone else)

I came thisclose to drinking it while still at work. BUT. I did not because I am a good fucking employee and I just hope everyone in the head office knows what I’m going through over this damn job. (except for my Tess of course, cause she rocks the house) (Ben? I’m with you brother)

The appt? Tomorrow. Followed by steak and beer. Lots of beer. And jello shooters. I mean, can a Friday get any better?

I didn’t think so.

Mar 15

Heh. I’m still laughing over that.

So Ben has a blog! You remember our friend Ben, don’t you? The guy that did this. He’s betrothed to the lovely Kristen and they kept us relatively sane while living in the shithole of the Earth. Also? He’s waaaay too much into Wonderland and Boogie Nights.

Okay, so we are too, but we’re not talking about us are we? No.

Anywho. Go on over and check him out.

Also? Guess who had to re-schedule her appt today because Mr. Ironic decided he was pissed off about something and needed to go home?

Yeah. But you know? I found that anger really takes your mind off of everything else.

Wow, now I know how evil is bred.

Just kidding. I think. Hee!

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