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I'm not short, I'm conveniently travel-sized.
20 most recent entries

Date:2009-06-01 11:57
Subject:Yesterday On Our Walk

Otter: *trot trot trot. wag wag wag*
Karen: *trot trot trot*
Turtle: *turtle turtle turtle*
Karen: Hey, Otter, what's that?
Otter: OMGWTF?!?
Karen: Let's go say hi to the nice turtle!
Otter: OMG NOOOOO!!!
Karen: Come on, it's a nice turtle.
Turtle: .....duuuuude?
Karen: Hello Turtle!
Otter: .....
Karen: Come on!
Otter: Hello turtle.
Karen: Good boy! Nice turtle!
Turtle: .....duuuuude?
Otter: *sniffs turtle* Hello Turtle! Hello Turtle! Hello Turtle! (Mom, Turtle no eat Otter, you SURE?)
Turtle:.....bye, duuuuudes.
Karen: Come on, let's go.
Karen and Otter: *trot trot trot*
Turtle-Shaped Rock: *is a rock*
Otter: *pounce* Are you a TURTLE? Aw. No. *trot trot trot* *pounce* Are YOU a Turtle? Aw. No. *trot trot trot*

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Date:2009-04-13 11:07

....studyin' electron config-ur-ation....
....tryin' not to gag when a puppy gets sick on you...
....stickin' your hand down the mouth of a pit bull....
....Be-in' a vet had bet-ter be awesome!

I guess I must be on the right path, because the journey of a thousand miles is pretty great so far.

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Date:2009-03-11 16:59
Subject:Cool Things I've Learned from the Travel Industry

The origins of the word "Moomba" came from an Aboriginal word meaning 'Lets get together and have fun'.

(I plan to start using this word regularly, so fair warning.)

Also, "posh" comes from "Port Out, Starboard Home." In the early days of luxury cruising and pre-air conditioning, the wealthy British did not want the hot sun shining in their staterooms as they sailed to India. Booking agents would initial these expensive cabin requests with the coveted acronym.

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Date:2009-03-09 13:53
Subject:Things about spring I always forget

When the weather gets warmer, windows go down. Instead of being isolated in your car with the heater and your own radio station, suddenly you can hear everyone else's music. And they can hear yours, of course, which is less than ideal if you are currently enamored of the new Britney song and have to choose between rockin' out and not embarrassing yourself. (For the record, I usually choose to rock.)

The city becomes less insular. You walk more slowly on the street, head up rather than down against the wind, and you run into friends and don't mind standing around for awhile chatting. You can stretch without dissembling your layers of clothing and letting cold drafts in. You can sleep without wool socks. Your windows stay open at night, and you can hear the guys playing midnight basketball down the block. At first your dog is nervous about all the noise drifting from the street to the house, and marches around whuffing at unseen strangers.

You remember that grass has a smell, and that sunshine is warm on your skin. The idea of leaving the house after work starts to sound more like "Margaritas!" than "But where am I going to park?" Already it is still light when you get home. Soon there will be little ducks and cherry blossoms. Soon I'll have my own apartment for the first time in my life. I'll leave the balcony doors open and invite friends for wine and dinners with tomatoes and basil and avocados.

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Date:2009-03-04 13:48

Last night I dreamed I was visiting a place I'd always wanted to go. It was India, it was New Zealand, it was Iceland. It doesn't matter, and I don't remember. In the three weeks I was there I visited the Kingdom of Butterflies and the famously beautiful Silent Valley. I ate the local specialty: sweet wheat and milk soup. I danced to the native music. But this wild, colorful, exotic country was a little disappointing. It was difficult to navigate. It was cold. I didn't speak the language, and no one spoke mine. It was the longest trip I had ever taken, and I felt anxious that I wasn't succeeding more at these travels.

On the plane ride home I sit with people who have had more fun than me, and they tell me that the Silent Valley I visited was the wrong one--didn't I see the signs? They had been to a bigger, more Silent valley, and a Kingdom with more beautiful Butterflies. The sweet wheat and milk soup I'd liked was just cereal; they'd had the real local specialty in a village inn, served to them by a plump matron who hugged them all.

I had done it wrong! I had wasted my time! And it would be a long time before I built up enough annual leave to go anywhere else!

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Date:2008-12-19 12:19
Subject:Annual Meme

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? 
Went to Africa. Stomped grapes.  Learned to pole-dance. Got an assistant.  Caused a car accident. 
2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions?
I traveled and decided on a grad school program, but I didn't write much, and I didn't learn any Italian except what I needed to get around Rome and Florence politely.  Too bad I didn't resolve to work out, lose weight, advance professionally, volunteer, floss, and keep in touch with my friends and family.  Those things--those impossible things!--got done.  Blogging, though, is apparently
too much to ask.
3. Did anyone close to you have a child? 
No, and I seem to recall specifically asking for some babykids LAST year, guys. Would someone please get on that?   I need chubby little cheeks to nibble on.  (Sock!)
4. What countries did you visit? 
Italy, Turkey, Aruba, the Dominican Republic, and Egypt.  And I went to New Orleans for the first time, too, with two Senior VPs, who showed me around Bourbon Street.  Ha.
5. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I forced myself to overcome a major personality conflict at work, despite a very rocky start and two stubborn streaks.  I like my job so much better now that that's cleaned up.

6. What was your biggest failure?  
I didn't trust my impulse to start working towards vet school, and may have therefore put off my possible start date for a year.

7. Did you suffer illness or injury?  
I had a traumatic toe injury involving a blister, a sharp rock, a filthy river, and some Dominican antibiotics.  I cannot seem to conjure the proper respect for my injury from anyone, because describing my pain and suffering accurately necessitates using the word "toe," at which point everyone laughs.

8. What was the best thing you bought? 
My solo plane ticket to Italy and Turkey.  That was purchased to celebrate my promotion and huge raise.  Learning how to enjoy traveling solo was one of the smartest things I've ever done.

9. Where did most of your money go?  
For the first half of the year: airfare, again, and excellent food.  Second half: under my mattress, as my industry is not known for its stability during recessions  and I would not be surprised by a layoff.

10. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
Melissa's wedding, which I have been looking forward to pretty much since I met Melissa.   That girl sure can throw a party. Seeing a fennec fox up close in the Western desert.  Starting my new volunteer gig at the animal shelter's medical center.  Classes starting, because I am a nerd with a plan now.  Going on my first real vacation since college, which was to Aruba, and which was delicious.  Turns out I am a beach vacation kind of girl.

11. Compared to this time last year, are you:  
a) happier or sadder?  I'm more content than I was this time last year.  I'm not sure "happier" is the right word for it, though.
b) thinner or fatter?   Thinner, thanks to easy gym access and a bunch of really good workout songs that have come out lately. Although I am going to fall off the elliptical one day while swinging my hips to Kanye's drums.
c) richer or poorer?  Poorer!  We got pay cuts at work last month. It's not a hardship, and it's good to have a job, but still. 

12. What do you wish you’d done more of? 
I wish I'd taken Otter for more walks when it was nice out.  It  feels so good to hit my stride around the lake, sing with whatever is on my iPod when I'm sure no one is nearby, and see the evening come down.

13. What do you wish you’d done less of?  Reading chick lit.  I will never get that time back, and I think some of these books actually made me dumber.

14. How will you be spending Christmas? 
At home, with my family, harassing them.  Everyone but me likes to read and chill out at home all day, while I go stir crazy.  It's "Let's walk the dogs" and "Watch this movie with me" and "Wanna make cookies?" and "Can you please turn off the Loreena McKinnett CD before it sucks all the joy from my heart?"  I'm hoping that Jess and I can make a pilgrimage to see the nativity scene in her neighborhood where the baby Jesus is played every year by a ham.

15. What was your favorite TV program? 
How I Met Your Mother, The Office, 30 Rock.  Bridezillas, too, although nothing can top the, uh, genitalia cake episode and thus I've sort of lost interest.

16. What was the worst book you read?  
The Lost Army of Cambyses, a Dan Brown-style hardcover I lugged all the way to Egypt (because that's where it's set) before I realized it wasn't any good.  It included a scene in which a cobra menaces our heroine, and the cobra is described as "hose-like."

17. What was your favorite song of 2008? 
"Love Me Dead," by Ludo, which I am only not linking to here because I've probably forced everyone to watch it already.  

18. What did you want and not get?  An apartment in the East Village.

19. What did you want and get?  Over it.

20. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?  
Cashmere sweaters and black Anne Taylor pants aren't just for classy girls.  They're also for girls who like to sleep until 45 minutes before they're supposed to be at work, and cannot be bothered to put together a real outfit.  You can tell the real classically-trained dressers by their hairdos--they have them!--whereas lazy girls run their hands through their riotous curls, say either "Thank God for my low-maintenance look" or "Fuck!" and jump in the car.

21. What kept you sane? 
Champagne Tuesdays, my warm and witty friends (I know, it's such a stupidly obvious answer. I like listening to music and having fun, too!) and Otter.  I've said this before, but nothing says "keepin' it real" more than waking up with dog feet in your face.

22. Who was the best new person you met? 
I didn't meet them this year, but I got to know them much better: Anne and Lane.  At their wedding reception, their first dance was to "I Believe in A Thing Called Love" by The Darkness, including an air guitar duet. This pretty much makes them my relationship idols. 

23. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?
Yes. I got very upset at someone I love very much for something ridiculous.  Thinking about it still makes me cringe, because I was acting like a child.  I'm sorry, friend. 
24. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.   
No matter how grounded and self-aware you are, you are not exactly the same girl who's going to have to go through the rest of your life in your body, with your name. You don't know how she's going to behave when faced with a circumstance you've never been in.  She is tougher and more compassionate and more easily tempted than you know. She will find reasons to break her own rules. She will look back at you and wish she could tell you what it's like to be her. You can try to give her advice, set limits, and she might listen, but you cannot control what she will want.

25. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 
"Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes...and leap."

26: What are your plans for 2009?  
Get excellent grades in all my classes. Visit Kristen and Mark in San Francisco. Trust myself, but pay attention to the signs that say I want something that might not be good for me. Go to India with Meg.   Go to Chaney's wedding in NC.  Go to Embassy parties, improv theatre, and speakeasies.  Read the books and watch the movies that I really should have seen by now.  Continue to stay close to the people I love most.  Dye my hair chocolate brown.

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Date:2008-12-05 09:46

Was I supposed to rue the day my wrinkles arrived? Because really, I'm rather proud of this crinkle in the corner of my eye. It lends a rich texture to my self-expression. Substantiates my stories. Punctuates my jokes. Implies all the empathy, passion, lust and joy that a younger me would struggle to convey. A real, grown-up, I-know-how-to-walk-in-heels, let-me-show-you-how-to-work-that-power-drill, I-don't-need-a-boyfriend-but-I'll-take-you-as-my-lover crease. A prism to refract the twinkle in my eye, an ornament that gilds the window to my soul . . . This, right here, is character, and it only deepens with age. What's not beautiful about that?

~Life as Haiku

Higgledy Piggledy
Karen of Jitterbug
Perfume the Livejournal,
Blogger with pluck,
Reaches this birthday and
Cannot articulate
Much more than "&$*!"

~almost completely stolen from Gene Weingarten

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Date:2008-11-21 11:52

Anyone have any interest in the following events?

Korea Gallery
A new permanent exhibition explores the nature, geography, history and culture of Korea. National Museum of Natural History - Smithsonian Institution 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC

San Francisco Ballet (11/25 - 11/30)
The company celebrates its 75th anniversary with a repertory program that includes selections by Christopher Wheeldon and Mark Morris, and a second program featuring Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson's full-length "Giselle." The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC

Boom (Through 12/7)
A grad student, who studies the sleep cycles of fish, could change the course of the world when he meets a journalism student through a personal ad. Woolly Mammoth Theatre 641 D St. NW, Washington, DC

Faces of India
At Studio 14, a display of Kathy Udell's striking photos from her travels in India. Torpedo Factory Art Center 105 N. Union St., Alexandria, VA 

Uncommon Beauty

In this group exhibition, artists will examine beauty and imperfection as well as the root of some standards for beauty. Ellipse Arts Center 4350 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA

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Date:2008-11-11 10:45

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

~Wendy Cope

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Date:2008-11-07 15:06

Because I hate to think that any of you have not experienced this:

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Date:2008-11-07 12:18

1)  Speaking of plays: Congratulations to the cast and crew of Urinetown!  Seriously, I don't think I've seen such a talented and cohesive group since the legendary 2002-2003 season.  G&S has bounced back, and I could not be prouder of you all.
2)  I cannot help but go all moony-eyed over the new chief of staff.  Not only is he devastatingly handsome, he is also fearless.  He once sent an enormous dead fish to an enemy, and it is said that the more he curses at you, the more he likes you.  He is also a classically trained dancer.  (This is starting to sound like a game of two truths and a lie.)
3)  Egypt Highlights:
  • My first night in Cairo, I was all alone, and walked along the banks of the Nile as the sun was setting, watching the sails of the feluccas catch the light.
  • The hotel was small, airy, and garnet-colored, on the top floor and roof deck of a tall commercial building, and currently houses three generations of the French-Egyptian family that runs it.  While we were there, I nibbled their delicious 8-month old baby and watched her attempt to take some steps in her rolly walker, and I befriended their two small dogs. It was like visiting friends.  When we were on our way back from the desert, they called to see if we'd be home for dinner.  One night we were served a meat pie that (Oh, what's the use?  No one will believe me!) was ACTUALLY.  BETTER.  than my Moroccan Chicken Nut Pie.  No, I swear. 
  • The first night Jess was there, we wandered around the downtown market area, where goats and cows and donkeys shared space with cars and pedestrians, and then shared an enormous juicy pomegranate on the balcony overlooking the city, and catching up on some stories that couldn't be told to full effect on the phone.
  • When we went to see the Pyramids, we were besieged by Egyptian schoolgirls in bright head scarves.  They were there to practice their English with the tourists, and took lots of pictures of themselves hugging us and kissing our cheeks.  They could all say "Hello," "How are you?" "My name is _____" "What is your name?" and "I love you" (which they used in place of goodbye).  They taught us how to say those things in Arabic, too. (I can't remember most of it now, but at the peak of my talents I had eleven Arabic words, two of which essentially mean "I don't know.")  Then as we were leaving, a group of schoolboys accosted me and wanted to practice their English...oh, wait, NO they didn't, the wanted to feel me up!  Jess got a great picture of  it, opting to capture the moment rather than intercede.  My feminine attributes got a LOT of attention over those few days. 
I'll have pictures up soon, whenever Jess gets around to sending me the CD.  This is not a hint to her, sadly, as she has sworn off all blogs, even mine, and so any tongue-in-cheek mudslinging would be wasted here.  Plus, if she's not reading, she can't laugh, and if she doesn't laugh, it just sounds mean.

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Date:2008-11-07 10:28

You may have been wondering where the love was.  It's here, people.  I don't talk politics much on my LJ, because I'm just not argumentative/creative/confrontational enough to come up with anything new to say, and I have a horror of accidentally sounding like Peggy Hill.  "I have found that democracy is what makes this nation so great."  (I just winced re-reading my own mockery, there.) 
But yes, I shrieked and hugged myself when they announced it, and since then I've been giddy and a little nervous.  It's kind of like when you're in a play, and you have harassed your friends and family into coming to see it, and they DO!  The show sells out!  You're delighted by their support!  And then as you hear the orchestra start up, you realize everyone you know is out there, and you'd better not mess it up, or no one will ever come see your plays again.

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Date:2008-11-05 12:20
Subject:More often than not / Are hotter than hot / In a lot of good ways

If I had been on foot, I would have stopped in my tracks.  Behind us was grimy, squawking Cairo and its lush suburbs; just ahead was the gentle swell of pale horizon, the abrupt end to the fertile land and the beginning of the desert: hundreds of miles of sand and shimmering heat.  We were in a speeding vehicle, loaded up with a full tank of gas, a tent, water, dinner, snacks, a radio playing songs like "Milkshake" and "Hot and Cold," and mint tea, but my stomach clenched instinctively at the sight.  Don't send me out there.

I have done this to myself, of course--if I had been kidnapped in the Egyptian desert you would have either heard about it in the news or read my bitching about here earlier in the week.  Jess and I had figured out early on that Cairo is not a place to spend more than a couple of dusty days, and lacking the time and luxurious patience necessary for a slow-moving Nile cruise, we opted to go camping in the Western Desert.  And now I am dozing in the front seat of our guide's RV while Jess lounges elegantly in the back, wrapped in a white scarf.  The desert flashes by, changing from pale dunes to reddish plains to hostile black mountains.  The mountains go by too quickly, which disorients me.  Later we will discover that it takes about fifteen minutes to scramble up one of these charred peaks, and there is a picture of me beaming, filthy, on top of what honestly amounts to a sinister-looking and pointy hill.

We get to the White Desert just before sunset, and it is like being on the moon.  Wind-carved chalk columns rear back out of the ground, looming far over our small heads.  Tiny pieces of black iron pyrite are scattered everywhere on top of the pale sand and smaller chalk formations. The effect is of a heavily peppered meringue.  There is no sound at all except our crunching footsteps.  Jess walks away for a little bit.  When she is forty or so feet away, I say her name very quietly. 
She looks back at me and we smile, satisfied by the weirdness of this place.
The sun sinks rapidly, turning the formations pink and gold. 
When we get back to the camp, our guide Hamad has assembled not only the tent (such as it is--two blankets to block any wind that might jump up, open to the sky), but has started dinner: roasted potatoes, peppers, and onions, barbecued chicken, Egyptian rice, and dates.  I cannot figure out why he has made so much food.  There is more than a whole chicken's worth of chicken there for the three of us.  Maybe it's because we are American and therefore seen by the rest of the world as gluttonous.  I muse on the unfairness of this while I stuff myself.
After dinner, while Jess and I are scribbling in our travel journals, when I realize why Hamad has made so much food.  A fennec fox has appeared at our campsite.  He peeks out from behind a rock, grabs the piece of chicken left out for him, and absconds with it.  Hamad puts out another piece just ten feet from us. 
A few minutes later the fox re-appears, or maybe it's another one.  He creeps up onto our blankets.  He admires my shoes, which have shiny bits on the sides, and probably smell of dog.  If I had leaned forward I could have touched him.  He eventually notices the chicken and saunters off with it. 
Jess and I are breathless.  Hamad tells us about the time one of his people brought beer and poured some into a saucer for the fox.  All night long the drunk fox jumped in and out the truck looking for snacks.  Sometimes they steal shiny things from camps, and Hamad warns us to put our shoes into the truck before we go to sleep. 
It is completely dark now.  I have never seen stars like this before. The Milky Way is brilliant.  I see a shooting star and point it out, and then another a few minutes later.  By shooting star number thirteen we are barely breaking conversational stride to count them.  It goes like this: "I know, I hated the first book too, but I couldn't, thirteen, seem to put it down, so--"
Wanting to get up with the sun, we decide to go to bed, so I get up to wander a little bit away from the camp first.  I can't really see where I'm going.  There is light, but only a little, and it's not coming from the camp.  I wonder if it's starlight.  It must be.  I've never seen it before.  I sprawl out on a rock, flinging my arms above my head, and tilting my chin so that I can only see stars. 

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Date:2008-10-22 12:53
Subject:Emotional Intelligence

Otter has never acknowledged the TV unless there's a siren sound or a doorbell to be barked at. But lately I've been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (from the sumptious Sabis library) before I go to bed, and every night when the theme music comes on, Otter hops up onto the bed and curls up on my pillows, behind my head.  When I look back at him, he is always watching intently, eyes wide and shining. 

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Date:2008-10-06 16:11

Lord.  If you ever decide, on a beautiful fall Sunday morning, to be all neighborhood-romantic and walk your dog down to the local cafe and sit at one of their outdoor tables with a coffee, be absolutely sure that the reading material you have grabbed does not focus almost entirely on the wisdom and dignity and love of elderly and dying dogs, because when chipper young moms stop to let their babies pat your (strong, healthy but 8-year-old) dog, you will be full-on WEEPING behind your sunglasses.

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Date:2008-09-28 18:53

Friday night, I was getting on the highway on my way to my friend Paul's birthday party when I lost control of the car.  It was raining, and the curve I was going around was a lot tighter than I had thought.  I crashed into the median and most of the way over it, snapping the front axle and scraping the undercarriage badly. 

After a few seconds of shock, I grabbed Otter's leash and we scrambled out of the car and into the rain, to the side of the road where we watched dozens of cars come way too close to hitting mine.  A police officer showed up, and a tow truck driver, and a VDOT guy, who ended up driving my trembling dog and me home an hour and half later, because I had left my cell phone on my bed.

I'm fine, just shaken up and very grateful that there a median there. Otter was mad and wet. My car is likely totaled.  How was your weekend?

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Date:2008-09-22 14:05
Subject:I'm sure it works with MoCo girls

So where do you go to school?
I don’t. But thanks! I'm almost 30.
You don't look it. That's a compliment. I'm in college.

…Thanks. Um. Where do you go to school?
(puffs out his chest) Montgomery Community College. They call it "Yale on the Rail." It's the best in the area.
Huh. And what are you studying?
Music and theology. It's important to get a well-rounded education, so I major in business, but my heart is with my music. I think music is what humanity is all about. And also philosophy. I don't know what I want to do with my life, and that's okay. I'm just going where destiny takes me. I think I'll try to get a job here at the animal shelter, because Corporate America is just about stealing money from the poor, and I'd rather help others than harm them. I'm that kind of guy. I value others--
(At this point, one of the dogs we are walking breaks the gate lock to escape from him. Karen exits, choking back laughter and pursuing dog.)

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Date:2008-07-28 17:06

I have been trying for twenty minutes to write down the story of what happpened to me on Sunday, but in order for me to be able to tell this story without people interrupting to say, "What? WHAT?" my listeners would have to accept all of the following:
- The government is breeding horse/dog hybrids that can almost look me in the eye
- Six-year-olds can have birthday parties at the animal shelter
- Pit bulls can pretty much fly
- A pit bull at a birthday party would be poor public relations at best
So I'm not really going to tell it.  I will merely say that catching a flying pit bull in your arms to prevent it from party-crashing a group of cake-addled six-year-olds can lead to head-butting a concrete wall, and that, as you may have already surmised, hurts.

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Date:2008-07-28 16:36

Hi Mom, it's me.  Mike is out of town with the laptop; can you look something up online for me?
Sure!  I'm at the the computer now.  What am I looking for?
I need you to look at my email and find me the address for EgyptAir--
Where did you send the email?
Nowhere, it's still in my account.  It's G--
Your what?
My email account.  It's G--
How can I see your email?
Type in Gmail.com
What's that?
Gmail.com. Can you take me off speakerphone?
So, type in Gmail.com....
Is that Yahoo?
Nope, it's Gmail.
Ooooooh.  Okay. Geeeeeemmaaaayyyyyyylllll.  Dot com.  Okay, now what?
You'll need to login.  My user name is karen dot hicks.
Kaaaarrrrennnnn dawwwwt hicks. Okay.  Password?
Well, I'm in a crowded public area, so I can't give you the password, but it's our first dog's name followed by my birthday.
Didn't work.
Mom.  Did you just type out "our first dog's name," followed by my birthday?
Yes...Oh! Her real name!
Okay.  Now what?
You need to do a search.
*can't think of an explanation*
So, um, type in "EgyptAir."
Wow! That's a long email!
Well, it's an email string. The most recent email should have the address in it.
*further scrambling ensues, ending with me coaxing her into giving me the address*
Love you Mom. *click* But I hereby swear to remain up to date with technology as to not annoy my offspring.

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Date:2008-06-18 11:20

I can never get anything done the day after vacation. Unfortunately my current job means I'm expected to at least try. Sheesh.

Our trip to the Dominican Republic was alternately pleasant (90%), gritty (30%), relaxing (25%), and nerve-wracking (10%). As most of you know, I am not very good at relaxing, and so only the first day was supposed to involve lying around on the beach, drinking rum drinks and eating lobster. After that we needed to DO things! Expand our cultural HORIZONS! Eat lobster SOMEWHERE ELSE! So we rode four wheelers over rocky paths, through sugarcane plantations and mud puddles. We took a tour up to the mountains and climbed up then jumped down a series of waterfalls. We went snorkling and fed bananas to some very pushy fish. We tried very hard to run up a hundred dollar bar tab in one day (which is difficult at an open bar). We went fake-Latin dancing in what turned out to be pretty much a meat market for prostitutes--I'm sure at one point we were the only non-professionals on the dance floor. We even rented a car and tried to drive down to Santo Domingo one night but experienced an epic fail in the forms of road signage. My vacations are exhausting.

On our last morning there, after we had been snorkling around looking at fish for forty-five minutes or so, I spotted a beautiful purple jellyfish, and then another and another. I kind of eeped, because although obviously the resort wouldn't let you snorkle anywhere dangerous, jellyfish are slimy and I don't want to touch them. The guide was waving us back to the boat anyway, so I swam back and floated around, waiting for other people to climb the ladder back onto the boat and discussing with Mike what we had seen. When there were four of us left, I remembered to tell him about the jellyfish. The man in front of me, who was trying to help his enormously fat wife climb the ladder, whips his head around and says to me, "Was it purple and near the surface?" Um, yes, I told him. "Don't touch those," he says firmly. Those are Portuguese Man-o'-War." I assumed he was kidding me, one of those not-very-clever people who think lying to you and watching you panic is hilarious. After all, why would a resort let you go swimming in Portuguese Man-o'-War infested waters? But no, he was very certain and grave. Naturally once I realized he was serious I wanted to get out of the water immediately, but I couldn't because his enormously fat wife couldn't haul her bulk out of the water and into the boat, and flopped about on the only ladder while her husband pushed her from behind, and I shrieked inwardly, hated her, and tried not to flail.

So, that was exciting.

Speaking of flailing, we learned relatively early on that Dominican TV is HILARIOUS. Below is a sampling of the things we saw while channel surfing:

1) An infomercial for a butt bra. To make your butt rounder and more perky.
2) A show about doggie fertility clinics, and a very cute gay couple that seemed to have no idea that calling their chihuahua "munchkin princess," taking her shopping, and dressing her in pink feather boas was anything but normal.
3) "Britain's Worst Teeth"
4) A show that was being broadcast live from our resort, which seemed to be a game of musical chairs involving fruit, and which was mostly people running and falling down.
5) A Jackie Chan movie about vampires, whom Jackie subdues by squirting blood packs into their mouths and then forcing them to eat pills that make them dance when he drums.

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