April 2010

By “my,” I mean Diana’s new fiancee, Eric. We all love proposal stories, and this one is quite epic. Eric’s not a blogger, so this is his first post anywhere. I welcome my new guest blogger Eric, and here is his side to Diana’s European Extravaganza (see previous two posts). Like I’d alluded to in the first post, sometimes it all comes together…in Europe.
~ * ~
After a long week in Scotland for work I was looking forward to a week in Spain with Diana. Scotland was unusually sunny and beautiful during the week due to a high pressure area that loomed over United Kingdom creating the nice weather, which is very unusual. April 15, 2010 was the day ash spewed by Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano quieted the skies of Europe. I knew that getting down to Barcelona would be no ordinary trip since I had a flight out of Scotland that evening to London and the next morning leaving London to Barcelona to meet up with Diana … Eric’s Amazing Race Begins.

Our meetings ended in the afternoon and after hearing that all Scottish airports were closed my coworkers and I decided it would be better to be farther from the epicenter of the ash and we’d have more luck at a major airport like London Heathrow. So I drove 9 straight hours to get to London so I can make my 7 AM flight the next day. That evening the news reported that flight cancellations migrated to the busiest airport in Europe, London. After speaking with the Spanish Airlines Iberia they rebooked me on a Sunday morning flight. When Diana arrived in Barcelona I told her the bad news. I could tell she was pretty sad but the whole day she was pretty calm about the situation even though that meant that I wouldn’t be there for the start of our vacation.

With the volcano still erupting I didn’t have much hope that flights would resume so I looked into alternative means of transportation. Without airports there are only a few means to get off of the island. Friday morning I checked out of the hotel determined that I was going to get something that day to travel down to Spain. Most of the day was spent in long ques (British term for lines) visiting two bus stations, two train stations, and rental car companies. The earliest they could get me out was Monday & Tuesday to Spain. I declined the offers because deep down I was hoping my flight would open up because on Monday we had a side trip to Seville, but looking back I should have taken those alternatives at least as backup. That was one of the low points of my journey; I wanted to see Diana badly, was missing out on our vacation, was homeless, and felt defeated. Hotels were impossible to find because of all the stranded passengers. Luckily, the hotel I had just checked out of just had a cancellation right before I called, so I went back and got the same room I’d checked out of. So I headed back to downtown London, had a nice dinner with my other stuck coworkers, and then retired defeated to my hotel at Heathrow. I realized, like thousands of other people did, that being stranded on an island leaves you with limited choices to get off of it. I knew I had to do whatever it takes to get down to Spain to give her a “special surprise”. I felt bad that Diana had to spend the first day of our vacation apart, but at least she got to experience the 5 star W Flagship hotel.

Saturday morning I was re-energized and determined. I was headed to the Eurostar train station to see if I can get a train to Barcelona or at least to Paris. Knowing the ticket office opened at 5 AM I headed to the Subway station at that time. 10 steps out of the door I remembered the Eurostar employee telling an irate passenger that they weren’t letting any more passengers in the lines for the ticket office and that they open at 5 AM or they can buy it online. So I had a gut feeling to look. To my surprise they had availability on a 7 AM train (which was too early for me to get to the train station) and a 2 PM train. When I was in the middle of booking I hit refresh and to an even greater surprise they added a 9 AM train to Paris. It was a clear sign that they added this train just for me (haha) and I’d be a fool not to take it. Looked like I was going to the romantic city of Paris, France … alone.

I called and woke up Diana and told her I was able to get a ticket to Paris, her favorite city. While on the train I was determined to go to the bus stations, train stations and car rental companies to do whatever it took to get from Paris to Spain. While I was in transit to Paris she felt so sad I was homeless in London she booked me a room at a hotel next to the Paris Nord Train Station. That was a nice surprise because I needed a home base to work out of and it would have been one less thing for me to stress over. At that time I felt fortunate that Diana was also looking out for me; she was my “lifeline” on my amazing race.

After dropping off my bags I went to the train station and stood in line for 2 hours; I got to the counter and already this French lady seemed annoyed. I asked about the earliest ticket to Barcelona and she rolled her eyes and sighed. She pounded on her keyboard a few times and chatted with her coworker next to her, ignoring my request for trains to Barcelona. Too bad I couldn’t speak French because I had a feeling she was talking mad shit about me. After 10 minutes of making me wait and doing nothing on the computer I asked for the third time and she said the earliest booking they had was Thursday. I seriously wanted to complain and yell at her but that would have done no good. So I picked up my notebook and what little sanity I had left. I didn’t believe a word she said so instead of standing back in line to get another teller’s opinion, I snuck to the counter at the end and stood behind the people who were being helped. The young man who was assisting them seemed really helpful. After getting to the counter he spent the same 10 minutes with me and in those 10 minutes he was typing away and found me multiple options. The earliest he could get me out was on Tuesday night, arriving in Spain on Wednesday. I was relieved and booked that train. I told Diana the good news and she was happy that I had some conformed way to get to her.

Feeling pretty good I accomplished something I decided to head to the bus station to see what they have to offer, I had nothing to lose. The line was longer than the Nile River and would have taken me three hours to get to a teller. So there was an end teller booth next to a lot of people standing around waiting to check in for their bus. I am not proud of this, but I snuck behind the people in line at the end teller. This gentleman was able to get me a 15 hour bus ride to Barcelona leaving Monday afternoon and arriving Tuesday morning. Of course I took it because it meant I would see Diana a day earlier. On the way back I treated myself to a nice dinner because I now had two ways to get to Barcelona. While I was doing all of this Diana spent the whole day in the business center at her hotel helping me book a hotel and looking online for options to get me down to see her, also options to her to get to me. I told her to go sightsee and enjoy Barcelona but all she could think about was me.

I felt relieved so the next day, I was able to finally relax and enjoy a free day in Paris. I spent the day sightseeing and enjoying the busy city of Paris; too bad it was Sunday and most of the places were closed. I had an afternoon bus ride on Monday which I wasn’t looking forward to. Seeing how crazy the bus station was I knew it would be an adventure. So on Monday, I headed to the station early and it was just as busy as a few days before. There were two lines, one to buy tickets and the other to check in for your bus. I didn’t realize that even though the check in desk said ‘to Rome’ everyone was standing in line for Barcelona and two other locations which had a check in at 2:00 PM. Fearing that I might get stuck in the check in line I snuck to the front and waited for it to open. When the registration booth opened the water gates flooded. People were pushing, yelling in different languages and shoving to check in. Since I was in the front I was able to get in and out quickly. So on my way to the buses.

When you check in you get a bus number. Mine was 8, so that means you go to stall 8. I went to stall 8 and a bus to Lisbon pulled in. We all asked him if his bus was going to Barcelona and he kept saying nope, Lisbon. So we were all confused. A bus pulled into slot #9 saying it was going to 3 locations and one of them was Barcelona so everyone started rushing for that bus thinking there was a mix up. Well other people start showing up with ticket number 9 for Barcelona, so about 20 people were totally confused. Then the #8 bus to Lisbon pulled away and the right #8 to Barcelona pulled in. We were all relieved that we were getting on the right bus. I didn’t want anyone sitting next to me if I could help it so I resorted to some tricky measures so people would pass up the seat next to me. I sat on the aisle seat so they would have to get past me, I put my backpack on the other seat, I pretended I was saving it for someone else, and I even started coughing pretending like I was sick. There were only 4 extra seats on the bus, so I was lucky that the seat next to me was empty. So my 16 hour journey to Barcelona began. Even though the bus AC didn’t work all the time, there was a group of chatting Spanish people, there was a baby crying off and on, and I was on very uncomfortable seats, I didn’t mind because I had my Nintendo DS, had my noise canceling headsets, and most importantly was finally on my way to see Diana.

I arrived to Barcelona Bus Station at 6 AM. Diana had already sent me instructions on how to get from the bus station to the hotel via the subway. I got off at the subway station and looked for the hotel. It was early in the morning and kind of sketchy. I finally saw the hotel and then I heard these clanking sounds on the pebblestone streets of La Ramba. I saw Diana in the distance running to me; that moment was the happiest moment of my entire trip. We hugged for a long time on the dirty streets of La Rambla. Now our vacation could officially begin.

Even though Diana had already spent 4 days in Barcelona she didn’t do much sightseeing. She mainly spent them trying to help me get down to see her. The next few days we spent seeing the sites of Barcelona and enjoying tapas and Sangria all day. The last two days we decided to forego our reservations at a place downtown and stay at the five star W on the beaches of Barcelona (where Diana had stayed alone). It was perfect because we could relax and lounge around enjoying the state-of-the-art facilities and hotel.
One of the most enjoyable moments we had was on Wednesday, April 21st. We took the gondola up to the mountains of Montjuic. Up on the mountains above Barcelona there is a Spanish fort with canons which I got to stand on, it also had an amazing view of the city below. There was also the Olympic stadium which hosted the 1992 Olympics, which we snuck into. And at the top was the National Palace, a beautiful building with fountains around it. We sat at the top and enjoyed a beautiful sunset with a Chinese person playing the Spanish Guitar and watched the sunset go down while enjoying the music.

Thursday, April 22nd we had a nice dinner on the beach having tapas and a pitcher of Sangria. So we walked back to the hotel along the beach. Of course I brought my digital SLR and tripod to get some nice shots of the hotel. While we were walking back I told her we should walk along the water so I could get a nice angle of the W Hotel in the background. The hotel was right next to the pier where cruiseships come into port to visit Barcelona. So I set up my tripod and camera and took a few shots, I had the ring in my pocket and was about to propose. Next thing I knew, fireworks were going off right behind our hotel. The fireworks were for the cruiseships about to depart to the Mediterranean. It was perfect. I took a few pictures and then got down on one knee and proposed to her. I was so caught up in the moment I couldn’t remember if she said yes, all I remember was how happy she looked and the tears of joy.

In those 4 days of stressful travel, extra money spent, and lost vacation time, we realized a few things. There were signs pointing me in the direction of Spain. For instance, in London when a hotel reservation opened up just before I called, the added Eurostar train to Paris, and opportunities for me to cut in line or jump in front of others.

Throughout the whole crisis neither of us freaked out, got upset, or complained. It was like coach Wooden in his coaching years at UCLA. We worked as an efficient team, never questioning the other person’s decision, always looking out for each other, always communicating, had persistence to see each other, and passion to be with each other. We won’t have 10 NCAA championships but no doubt we will have a dynasty.

~ * ~
*wiping tear away*
Ahem. Well, I’ve now learned that I would’ve hated Eric when I was a kid, cuz…line-cutter! But desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m honored Diana and Eric chose to memorialize their momentous vacation to guest-post on my blog. I’m excited for them, and happy for my college roommie-slash-non-biological-sister for finding a great guy — one who brings her to peace, to joy, to crazy European vacations; one who gets her, balances her and complements her personality, and who’s a Bruin. 😉 That last one’s an extra happy bonus. Congratulations, Diana & Eric!

(All photos courtesy of Eric)

Memoirs from guest blogger Diana’s European Extravaganza, Part II (immediately preceding post is Part I):
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After Eric arrived, we went all over Barcelona, and no matter what we did, it was fun. Probably because I was just dying for some company. 🙂 But there was a moment where I felt everything was just perfect.

We had take the gondola up to Park Montjuic, where the olympic stadium is from the 1992 olympics. We caught the last gondola up shortly before 7 pm, and walked around the old castle for a bit first. It had a great view of the city and sea, but it was a little quiet and deserted, and slightly eery.

We then started walking towards the olympic stadium, which was pretty far down the hill. By then it was 7:30 or so, and although the sun was still up, I knew we only had less than 2 hours of daylight. I was afraid that we would get stuck or somehow get lost in this big park in the hills, and Eric kept on saying, “Don’t worry, I know where I am going. We have plenty of time.” I was still a little nervous (Eric will tell you that I was VERY nervous), and even raced down a steep trail that was a short cut, compared to the long trail that went around the perimeter.

When we saw the olympic stadium, I knew we would be safe. It was a lot busier in that area, and we even crawled through an opening in a fence into a work out facility, because it was even more of a short cut. We finally arrived at the National Palace, which is now an art museum. we heard a Spanish guitarist playing, so we took a seat on the steps in front of the museum, which overlooks the many fountains below, the city, and the Mediterranean. I always loved Spanish guitar and think it is one of the most romantic sounds. By this point, the sun was setting, and it was breezy, and Eric wrapped his arms around me as he sat on the step above the one I was sitting on. We looked to the distance, admiring the surroundings, I then looked back at him, and felt like I was in some kind of movie.

p.s. The Spanish guitarist is actually Chinese, from China. I bought his CD. I never buy touristy things, but I was really moved by his music, as it was the perfect accompaniment to that sunset.

College roommie Diana was due to meet her boyfriend Eric in Spain a couple of weeks ago. He was already in Europe on business, and the plan was to have Diana fly out and meet him in Barcelona; Eric would be coming from London. And then, the heavens and the earth moved between them in the form of Iceland’s volcanic eruption that grounded all planes for days, and what followed was an Amazing Race type obstacle course in travel for Eric to find his way to Diana’s side. As it was going on, I received updates from Diana via text message and status updates on a social networking site. She cursed the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. She made observations about Spain. (“There sure are a lot of naked people at the barcelona beach.”) She ate a few dinners alone. Eric offered, via the social networking site, to have dinner with her, and then interrupted himself with, “Oh wait. I’m stuck on this stupid island.” The stupid island of England. The story does have a happy ending, due to enormous effort on Eric’s end. I texted Diana, as it was happening, that I was very impressed by Eric’s tenacity. She texted back that she was, too, and if she ever had a doubt as to being with him long-term (not that she did), this experience would’ve clarified everything for her. I invited Diana to be my guest blogger to talk about this crazy trip, so here it is, in her own words that she wrote on the flight back:
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This trip to Spain started off rocky (literally). On the morning of my departure, I heard from Eric that his flight from Glasgow was canceled due to the Iceland volcano eruption, sprewing massive amounts of ashes high into the atmosphere, and that he would drive to London with coworkers. I didn’t know how far that was, but it turned out to be something like 6 hours. He had no idea if he could fly out of London to meet me in Barcelona, but the further south he could go, the better.

As I arrived in Barcelona Friday morning, I was greeted with more bad news. Much of European air space was shut down, and definitely no flights out of London. Eric said he would head to the train station and see what his land options would be. Since I had so much time to kill, I made my way to the hotel via public transportation. It took a little exploring and time, but only cost me 6.4 euros (as opposed to a taxi, which is like 35 euros).

The W Barcelona is amazing — trendy and offers a not-stuffy-type of luxury. I got upgraded to a room facing the mediterrean with a view of the city. But I felt alone and empty. I had no idea when Eric would get here, as flights were canceled, and buses and trains and rental cars were full. His days consisted of waking up very early and going to bus and train stations to figure out how to get out of London. Sometimes he would make multiple trips a day. Rest of the time he would be on the internet reading about the options as well as the news updates on the travel restrictions. I, on the other hand, forced myself to at least explore the city a little, mostly along the beach areas, where it is not as crowded. I was barely hungry and ate only one meal a day, even in the midst of delicious catalan food, and time suddenly seemed to go by very slowly.

Saturday morning I was woken up by his call — I knew he had gone to the train station to try to get on the Eurostar from London to Paris, but those trains had been packed because everyone was trying to get out of London via train. Eric said he had gotten up around 5 and was heading to the train, but had a feeling that he should check online, and when he did, he noticed there were tickets available that morning so he rushed to pack and check out to board the train. Although he didn’t know what he would do after he arrives in Paris, as Paris airports were closed and french rail (SNCF) may be on strike. But Paris is a little closer to Barcelona.

I jumped out of the bed and went to talk to the concierge, who told me SNCF is on strike until at least Monday, so no trains are running, and buses are full until Tuesday, and same with rental cars. I was so disappointed, and my glimmer of hope was nearly extinguished. But I was determined to see to it that even if Eric couldn’t get out of Paris, he would at least have a place to stay. So I went to the business center to book him a hotel near Gare du Nord — not ideal, but that’s where his Eurostar arrives. I also decided to read French news on the strike, because I had a hard time believing SNCF would strike at a time when air travel was crippled. Nothing about the strike on French24 news channel. Thank goodness for the little French I was able to read.

Indeed, when Eric arrived in Paris, he wasn’t able to take a connecting train or bus that day out of Paris. So he headed to the hotel, and search for a way out started. It was disappointing, because that meant more days apart and cuts into our vacation. Still, getting out of London was a great move, as flights remained canceled and more and more people tried to take the trains.

The next day he was able to get a train ticket leaving Paris Tuesday AND a bus ticket leaving Monday. Both are overnight trips, and he kept both tickets in case one didn’t work out. So at this point, we at least knew when he would be in Barcelona. But this also meant we had to cancel our Sevilla trip and miss April Fair, the biggest party (week long) in Andalusia.

Eric’s bus was to arrive Tuesday around 6 am — I was not able to sleep the entire night, and was awake before his bus arrived. Then it was about a 15 min metro ride to the hotel. I actually walked out of the hotel to meet him at the metro station, but half a block from the hotel, I saw a guy in a baseball cap across the street with a suitcase and backpack, looking around. It wasn’t quite daylight but I knew it was him. I ran towards him, my flip flops hitting the cobblestone street, making a distinctive sound that resonated in the quiet morning hours.

We hugged for a long time, and for the first time on this trip, I cried. I had held back tears the whole time I had been here, because I wanted to be strong. Otherwise he would be even more anxious and worried about getting here, when he already was doing all he could. But it didn’t matter anymore, and we could finally start our vacation, 4 days late.

The rest of the trip was great — lots of sightseeing, eating, walking around, and relaxing. We never got sick of tapas, paellas, and I have a newfound love in jamon iberico (cured ham made from iberian black pig fed with acorns). We enjoyed the siestas very much and took a nap every day. (I think we were both sleep deprived during the time we were apart.) We didn’t get to visit Sevilla but we will be back.

In some ways, this trip was inconvenient, a lot of lost vacation time, and extra money spent. But significantly, it gave us a chance to see how we behave in time of crisis. And we both did fabulously. There was never any complaints or anger. Rather, we worked as a team to try to solve the problems, despite being sad and anxious. Most importantly, we trusted each other’s decisions (such as when he was on Eurostar, I booked him 2 nights in a Paris hotel and when he arrived, I just told him where to go.). I think this is a key to a successful partnership, and I have no doubt that ours will be a successful one.

(P.S.: During my moments of uttermost darkness and total despair a couple of years back, CT always said that in time, I would meet a great guy, be married to him and have kids like I always thought I would. And everything that made me sad would just dissipate and not matter anymore. Even during those times, as hard as it was to look forward, I remained hopeful that she would be right. I guess it pays to have that kind of faith.)
~ * ~
Happy ending, didn’t I tell you? As this was going on, I gave Mr. W occasional updates of their progress. He said more than once that if it had been us, he would’ve been content to just stay in Paris or London, and I could enjoy Barcelona, and we just won’t bother moving mountains to come together. Hmmph. He tried to pacify my displeasure by saying that the above would never happen to us because we’d never travel separately like that, but still. I’m happy to see that Eric understands what we go through when our loved ones are not where they’re supposed to be, especially if where they’re supposed to be, is by our side. Good job, Diana.

Today was a leisurely day of nothing in particular. The only solid plans Mr. W and I had was to attend a friend and coworker’s artist’s boutique show in Laguna Beach. I bought a packet of stickers from her, a citrus-scented room diffuser from someone who made her own perfumes and bath products, and a beautiful earth-toned string of pearls for my mom from a jeweler craftswoman. Here’s me with the artist Jax.

Since we were in Laguna Beach, we decided to wander and enjoy the sunny day. We window-shopped around the beach stores and ended up at The Cliff, a beachside restaurant, for an early dinner. Here’s our seat.

The restaurant seating borders some small boutique shops, where I bought a pretty blue cat-eye toe ring. Mr. W says that I actually have a very hippy philosophy and make a great hippy. I begged to differ, claiming I’m too conservative. He started ticking off my hippy traits. I’m all for protecting the environment, I’m shunning red meat, I’m anti-big-business — I stopped him here and confessed I recently bought something at WalMart. But I do now have a toe ring. We window-shopped our way back to the car, and decided to find me a rash guard for our Tahiti trip, just so I don’t get completely burned to a crisp while snorkeling. The local shops surprisingly didn’t offer much selection, if any, and we decided instead to drive to REI. Turned out, REI was closed early. I suggested Sports Authority, where we found a slightly better selection and I bought a blue Body Glove long-sleeved rash guard. I also saw some athletic two-piece swimsuits, and I’d been looking for something supportive and flat to fit underneath the rash guard, so I got a new bikini as well. Talk about spending a lot of money without planning to.

On the drive home, Mr. W was tapping out the rhythm of the song we were listening to on my knee, and he said rather suddenly, “You know…I’m the happiest right now that I can remember ever being in my entire life.”
I sheepishly closed my cell phone, on which I was checking email. “Right now? Like, in this car?”
“No,” he said. “In like the past year. And I’ve been alive a loooong time, so this must have something to do with you.” He patted my knee playfully.
“Wow.” I blinked. “That’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever said to me.” And then something else occurred to me. “But you have a horrible memory, so that doesn’t mean anything,” I said as I popped my cell phone back open again. Mr. W laughed good-naturedly.

But really, I think that comment even beats the last nicest-thing-anyone’s-said-to-me. Yup, life’s pretty good. The only thing that could make it better would be if I dropped those laaaaast few pounds until my goal (which is 118 lbs) before vacation. I dumped weight like crazy when I started a little over a month ago, and it’s slowed down dramatically. I’ve gotta stop making stuff like this for dinner:
Before…tomato sauce, organic mushrooms, organic baby spinach, cheddar cheese, parmigiano reggiano cheese, black olives, minced garlic, sitting on some dough.

After…last night’s homemade dinner with a crispy crust!!

I think I’m gonna have tea for dinner.

I haven’t had much computer access this week since my work CPU completely blew over the weekend, but now I have a new computer at work (sweet!) and McAfee is working again (apparently some programming glitch in its automatic updates blitzed a bunch of corporate computers yesterday and today, which includes half the courthouse’s CPUs), so this will be a catchup post of sorts. Oh, and hurray, my mouse now goes left! (The previous mouse had decided that “left” was no longer a direction it needed to go, and when I complained, I was immediately made fun of for even having a trackball mouse.)

This is my current favorite photo of our newest member of the family, baby Elle.

On the baby front, an ultrasound has determined that I’m reproductively healthy with “plenty of eggs,” so that gives me some peace of mind. I’d always wondered whether I was infertile or something since I’d never had a pregnancy accident. Turns out, I’m just not careless. So we’re thinking we’ll hit up a crazy adventure vacation in Australia/New Zealand and dive the Great Barrier Reef in late October, then settle down and make a baby after. Unfortunately, this brings my birthing age to 35, but it’s better than being pregnant IN Australia. =P

I had a great furlough day yesterday hanging with my old buddy Joe and having a seaside brunch in Laguna Beach. He’s one of few people who would walk with me just to walk, so we chatted while we put in a solid 2 hours walking around the shops in Laguna after eating. Secretly, I had wanted to walk off my mimosa before getting back in my car, but turned out he had secretly thought the same thing of me but was too polite to imply I’m a lush. We caught up and shared stories, good laughs, some good scoffs.

I went home and made a Mediterranean pie for dinner that made Mr. W’s eyes roll into his skull upon eating it. I love that my husband isn’t a picky eater and always loves everything I put together.

Mr. W and I had just spent a whirlwind weekend in Vegas. My father-in-law had hip replacement surgery last Wednesday, so Mr. W and I drove to see him on Saturday morning. My stepkidlet rearranged her work shifts so that she could come with us. My father-in-law is a trooper; he did everything he was supposed to, got up and walked around a couple of days post-surgery, and was discharged earlier than anticipated. Everyone was comfortable enough with his recovery that when Mr. W’s Gamer Bro scored 5 free tickets to see a singing act at the Las Vegas Hilton, the three of us went with Gamer Bro and his wife.

I’m now on Week 5 of the cold-turned-sinus-infection. Most of the symptoms are gone now, but I still get coughing fits (probably due to post-nasal drip). Tuesday, I hacked so hard at the gym that I threw up into my workout towel. Good thing I hadn’t eaten all day so it wasn’t a painful sort of vomiting. =P The antibiotics are all finished, so I should probably be replenishing my probiotics now. It also means I can drink, so I had a little something in the past few days; nigori sake with sushi on Monday, margarita on Taco Tuesday at Sharkees in Huntington Beach (we met up with a couple of Mr. W’s friends there since we had to go pick up our Tahiti travel docs in HB), and of course my mimosa with brunch on Wednesday in Laguna Beach. (Yeah, life’s good.) This morning I was stupid enough to go chew on some peanut taffy when visiting in another courtroom. The syrupy sweetness rolled down my already raw throat and I started coughing, gagging, convulsing. One bailiff offered to Heimlich me. I finally had some water and spit out the mouthful of candy. Okay, thanks up there; I’ll take the hint. I have no business eating candy when bikini days are just over a week away.

I was chatting with a friend the other day via text. She’s in a bad-timing rut, where it seems like everything that could go wrong are all hitting at the same time. I told her to grit her teeth and bear thru the storm, and gave her a happiness challenge. I suggested that she write a list of small easy things that make her happy, such as a hot mug of Starbucks coffee on a rainy lunchtime (it’s been raining off and on for a few weeks now, with lots of sunlight in-between; things are lovely and green!), and to do one of those items each day. She agreed, and I offered to join her in this challenge. Things I’ve thought of so far that make me happy are
* a cocktail with someone whose company I enjoy
* driving and exploring a new local area
* trying out a new restaurant
* spa-day!
* sushi
* listening to 90s R&B and hip-hop while dancing along in my car
* spooning Dodo
I remember when I was having a really bad time some years ago, and my cousin Jennifer advised me to not think about the other person or give him any consideration, and instead go do something that purely makes me happy. Sounded good, but I came up with nothing. I decided then to take better notice of things that made me happy — things that don’t involve a significant other, or even another person, necessarily. Everyone should have a simple hedonistic pleasure once in a while, just as a fluffer to life. …Or something less tasteless.

My Floridian nurse-sister Jordan posted a photo of us in Vegas and said that it was her favorite photo of us. I reciprocated by posting a photo of us on a Dr. Seuss kiddie ride in Florida, saying it was one of my favorites of us. On this ride, you sit in a big fish that spins in a circle and you can control your fish’s up-and-down movement to either avoid or go into streams of water that are randomly squirted from the mouths of other fish on the perimeter of the ride. So here’s the ensuing conversation.

Jordan: let’s do that again!
Cindy: we really need to! we didn’t explore NEARLY enough of the parks to my little heart’s content!!
Cindy: ooh, we’d need to do that soon, tho. =P
Jordan: well… at least up until your 7th month of pregnancy 🙂 just no roller coasters or things like that. But I think we can get squirted on from a fish… while sitting in a fish.
Cindy: I thought flying was the problem.
Jordan: yeah when you’re about to deliver… I’ll be the one traveling west at that point missy
Cindy: I thought you’re the one with all the good doctors and stuff! Don’t let them give me an epidural.
Jordan: I’m going to block any attempts at epidurals for you my friend… i want you to experience the JOY of labor! Just so you can say later on.. oh, in about 15 years “I went through 10 hours of HARD labor.. with NO epidural and NOTHING for pain for YOU!!… YOU!! DO. YOU. HEAR. ME?!!!” somethin’ like that.
Cindy: “You know why you’re so smart, you and your smart-ass back-talk? Because I REFUSED to take an epidural thru all FOURTEEN minutes of labor, so that YOU wouldn’t be doped up when you arrived, so that YOUR IQ wouldn’t suffer!! DO.YOU.HEAR.ME???”
Jordan: “Yeah! take THAT!” we could keep going you know…
Jordan: wait. 14 minutes? BAH HA HA HA HA HA
Jordan: Ok. *I* never know.. after having 100 kids and watching 10,000 more born. But hey. What do I know. I will spray fairy dust on you in labor? 🙂
Cindy: people thought there’s no such thing as an unstressed bride, but I proved them wrong on that, too!
Jordan: You absolutely can. I will bring crayons with me so that you can print out your delusions and color them yourself. haha.. actually… you’re going to have a fantastic and almost-pain-free labor… I just know it!

The funniest part of this conversation is…I’m not pregnant!

Marine Corps Boot Camp Challenge. Saturday, September 25, 2010. Who’s with me?

Yeah, I know, my last time was such that I never thought I’d do it again. But let’s not leave the Boot Camp experience on that note.
Read about my 2007 experience here.

Today is kind of a big day. In the grand scheme of things, it will be just one step toward the myriad paths and jaunts I will soon have open before me. I would like to share my journey publicly, I think it would have some value especially since I didn’t find many personalized road maps and travel stories when I was looking, but I’m unsure of how to share it. For now, I’ll just be happy to be meeting the wizard in a little over an hour. At last, I’ll be among people who possess the magic to decipher all the mysteries thus far written in code. Wish me luck.

Because, like I had mentioned in the previous post, it seems like every time I turn around, another pregnancy announcement is made, I started wondering who would be next. I thought of one couple who got married a little before we did, who as of yet has not made such an announcement. I made the comment that they’ll probably be next. I was then accused of “racing” people.
“Racing…them?” I asked, confused.
Apparently, some people think the only reason why baby thoughts exist in my head is because I’m trying to keep up with the Jones’ Pregnancies. I found this offensive because

1) it implies I compete with what everyone else is doing and I’m just gonna jump on the bandwagon. That is not me; I resist trends if anything, and a huge decision like this is not determined by other people’s lives. When one of my childhood friends were getting married (she was the first in the “group”), my then-boyfriend had said that when I’m standing up there by her during the wedding, I’m gonna be really envious and want to get married myself. I looked at him dubiously and said that I don’t FEEL like I need to be married anytime soon. He said, “Trust me, you will; all women are like that. They watch one of their friends get married and they’re gonna start bugging their boyfriends about it.” Well, he was wrong. On her wedding day, I was happy for her, but I knew it was not for me — at least not then. It stirred no desire in me because it wasn’t my time, and I obviously wasn’t with the right person. It would’ve been crazy to marry the person I happened to be with simply because someone else got married at that time. As for competing with pregnancies, I’d never seen my friends’ pregnancies as pressure for myself; I’ve always seen it as, “Ooh, cool! I’m happy for them! Now that I’m gonna have people in-the-know, I get to find out all sorts of stuff about pregnancy and labor, things my mom wouldn’t tell me because she doesn’t want to scare me away from giving her grandbabies.” I did use them for my personal research, too, and they (especially Christi and my cousin Diana) were very helpful in relaying how bad morning sickness REALLY is, how irresistable cravings REALLY are, how hard it REALLY is to get back in shape, etc.

2) it disregards all the careful thought and consideration I’d put into this baby thing. If I came to this stage of my life thoughtlessly, simply because I’m following suit, I wouldn’t have had gone through so much debating, weighing, projecting immediate and future consequences, imagining, etc. Evidence of this is all over my blog, most explicitly in this post from January of 2009, when I suddenly realized I’m close to my pregnancy-cut-off age. A part of me wishes I were 29, so that I wouldn’t have to think about this stuff. (Mr. W had also said on several occasions after we got married that I’d better figure this baby thing out soon because he’s not getting any younger.)

3) people who would say that about me really don’t know me at all. Not just that, but they also think I’m a mindless trendfollowing drone, and they didn’t take to heart anything I’d ever said on the topic about my thoughts and desires before. That hurts.

I have a secret hope about 2012. I don’t believe it’s going to be the end of the world; I think it’s supposed to be end of the World As We Know It. That’s a good thing, because the World As We Know It is shooting down the crapper with alarming velocity. I don’t have to get into examples, because they’re everywhere; politics, economics, sociology, accountability, responsibility, health…did you guys know that in this generation of American children, chances of getting childhood Type II diabetes is 1 in 3? That’s ridiculous for such a preventable disease. And look what we’re doing to our planet.

Simultaneously, it seems like everyone’s having babies around me. Is it responsible to bring a child into a world like this? What if the world ends in 2 years and I have to worry about a toddler on top of stressing over the safety of my parents, my immediate family, and my cat? I’ve actually had apocalyptic nightmares in which I was okay until I realized I have no idea where Dodo is, whether he got out okay or had drowned, and I would break into panicked hysteria. I imagine it’d be worse worrying about a child. So it’s a good thing the world is not ending in 2 years. It’s merely going to shake off its cancers and carry on with renewed vigor. Right? That would explain the presence of all these children. It seems like 80% of my friends are either pregnant or have recently had a baby. These aren’t just newlyweds from all the weddings I’d attended in the past couple of years, some of these are people who have been married for up to a decade or more and suddenly find themselves pregnant. A few aren’t even married. What’s with this mad rush to incarnate right now? Do all these souls want to see 2012 from this side of the fence? If that’s the case, then we’re in for something really special.

If the spiritual world wants so badly to be on this side right now, I reasoned with myself, then even with obvious fertility impediments, I should just miraculously find myself pregnant, right? Of course that didn’t happen. I may not have the urgency of a spiritual being in fetal form pushing on me to bring it into physical existence, but I do feel a different kind of influence. It is that influence, every bit as urgent intangibly as it may be to my friends physically, that propelled me to action today. It had been floating for awhile, taking more form in conversations in the past weeks, and had nearly solidified in serious discussions over the past few days. We’ll see what this all means soon.

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