Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Wasn't Actually There, But....

Everything in this post has to do with events that I wasn’t present for. In fact, I haven’t even met 90% of the people involved. If you have an issue with that, and if you’ll think I’m lame for writing about it on my blog, then read no further.

There was a girl that Jon used to work with…let’s just call her “Erica”. Apparently, everyone hated her because she was mean and foul.

(Case-in-Point: A couple of weeks ago, Erica and another coworker went out to lunch together, and when they came back to the car, they discovered that someone had parked too closely for Erica to open her door wide enough to get inside the driver’s seat (she’s quite heavy). So her coworker offered to back the car out for her, and before Erica obliged, she said “This is what WE do when someone parks too close…”, then reared back and hocked a huge loogie on the other car’s window. GAG!)

She was just a negative individual. With bad manners. She finally got fired last week for offending way too many people, and it was a big event complete with tears, screaming, and pounding on the table. Everyone at the office is scared that she’s one of those types that might come back one day and slash tires.

Anyway. I guess she left without taking any of her personal stuff out of her desk, so someone contacted her to let her know she would need to pick it up. Next day, she called to let them know that she was out front, waiting for someone to take her box out to her. NO ONE wanted to have anything to do with it, so brave Jon stepped up to the plate, and here’s the conversation that took place out in the parking lot. (Keep in mind I wasn’t actually there, but this is almost exactly how Jon related the incident to me.)

Erica: I don’t know why they wanted me to pick this stuff up.
Jon: Because it’s yours.
Erica: But I don’t even want it.
Jon: That’s fine.
Erica: I’m just going to throw it all in the garbage.
Jon: Are you going to throw away the Eiffel Tower keychain that I got you in Paris?
Erica: …well, no…of course I’m not going to throw THAT away….

And the point of this entire, arguably dumb story? --- MY HUSBAND IS MY HERO. And I don’t want to hear anything about writing about events that didn’t have anything to do with me. If Jon would start his own blog, it wouldn’t be an issue. The End.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Our Weekend...and a Note on Names

Last Monday, Jon and I started discussing what we wanted to for the weekend. The first idea that came up was camping, which I was really excited about. There’s a mountain range about three hours northeast of us called the White Mountains, and they’re supposed to be amazingly beautiful. Lakes, meadows, cliffs, you name it. So I got advice from some people at work, did a little research online, and called up the Rainbow Campground to make a reservation, only to be told that ALL the campsites are closed. Why could this be? Renovations? Fire danger? No. They still have a foot of snow up there. In my defense, it’s been pushing ninety in Tucson. I forgot about the rest of the world, I guess.

We came up with our next idea on Tuesday. A trip up to Phoenix. I’ve got an aunt and uncle up there, and they’re always super welcoming whenever we want to get away from Tucson for a weekend. So we started planning where we’d go…Cabelas, IKEA, and a Western-style cookout at a ranch, complete with cowboy poetry. And then…I remembered that my aunt is in Europe. And what’s a trip to Phoenix with no aunt?

Idea three was the shortest-lived of all the suggestions. Disneyland. It’s only about a 7 hour drive, and I work half-days now on Fridays, so we’d have almost two days at the park…but the more we thought about it, the more it kind of crashed and burned.

So, what DID we do this weekend? Hmm. Funny you might ask. Well, we did lots of laundry. And I cleaned the toilets, and scrubbed the bathtub. Jon did the dishes and I wiped down the countertops in the kitchen. We organized the front room, adjusted the rug, and vacuumed. And fixed the slip cover – an event that usually only takes place when we’re expecting company. I HATE that stupid slip cover. Each time I tuck it in, I swear up and down that we’re getting new furniture in our front room. But then, I change my mind, because if we’re going to be moving across town or across the country any time soon, I don’t want to have to worry about new furniture getting wrecked in the process. I worry about stuff like that. So we keep putting it off. And it’s starting to drive me crazy.

And ANOTHER thing we did this weekend was celebrate the birth of a brand new little niece, Norah Grace. Jon’s sister, Kelsey, went into labor Friday morning, and had the baby at about 5 in the morning Saturday. We haven’t seen pictures yet, but Kelsey seems to think she's pretty cute. Mom and baby are doing alright, even though it was kind of a long labor. Norah’s being monitored in the NICU for a couple of days, but it’s just mostly precautionary stuff. Anyway, I was so excited when they told us the name. It’s so beautiful it makes me want to cry. They were being very secretive about their name choices, which I think is really smart.

I’m mildly obsessed with names. I think about them a lot more than most people, I’m pretty sure. But seriously, naming a child is a huge deal! They will go by that name for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. Idaho and Utah are notorious for bad naming. In fact, my mom made my day a couple of weeks ago when she sent me the annual listings of every single child born in the Madison Memorial Hospital during the previous year. I'm not out to offend anyone..but please, give your child a name that is actually a name. Don’t make anything up. It’s their NAME. People will judge them by it for the rest of their lives. I can’t even list all the made-up atrocities I encountered while reading the announcements, but I DO want to throw in a few highlights.

A popular trend is the mix-n-match. Choose any beginning from column A, and an ending from column B.



Seriously, it works. Watch. Tambree. Kymee. Taydyn. Mayleigh. Kamsee. Kyler. TOLD you. Idaho Naming 101. See how easy it is?? The more I think about it, I don’t know why anyone ever complains about this being a hard decision.

Another trend, at least in Idaho, is naming your baby boy the most masculine word you can think of. Here are some examples, straight from Rexburg.

Ridge
Tracker
Drake
Gage (MORE THAN ONE)
Axton
Triton Duke
Bracken
Rowdy

Or, the ever popular H's-Are-Silent-And-My-Child's-Name-Is-More-Unique-With-One, as evidenced by little Tyhler and Mhya. Poor Cheznee and Jerzee got landed with the Let's-Take-a-Word-That's-Not-a-Name-and-Change-the-S's-to-Z's treatment. Or what about taking a perfectly legitimate name, but making it almost completely unrecognizable? I'm not talking about changing a letter or two, here... I'm talking about making the entire name an ABOMINATION. Kwin, Saije, and Logyn will suffer for the rest of their lives.

And it looks like, in Idaho at least, if all else fails, just name your kid Braxton. Male or female. And hey, if you don’t like Braxton, just spell it with a Y instead. Braxtyn. There were FOUR Braxtons, and TWO Braxtyns in this paper! As my good aunt Mariann once put it, "What if she marries a ‘Hicks’???"

Holy name tangent. I’m done, I promise. Now you all know how I feel about it, so you’ll know that when you tell me that you named your kid "Amberleigh," even though I’ll say "aww, that’s neat," I’m really thinking "Amberleigh? AMBERleigh?? She’s got to put that on her RESUME, you know!"

Just as long as we have that clear between us. We can still be friends, right?

PS- Thankfully, my dad named his dog Gunner, no thanks to all of you that ignored my petition for help ;-)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Paris Saga: Day VIII + Trip Home

Day 8 was a Sunday, and our last day in Paris. We woke up around 8:30, showered, and during breakfast Jon said "We really ought to find a church to attend." I replied "That's rich!" and we both laughed for two full minutes. Silly Jon. We don't go to church when we're on vacation.

We went to Notre-Dame again, and this time the sun was actually kind of shining.



We waited in line for about a half-hour to go up the bell tower. It was our last tall, winding staircase of the trip.

Oh, and it turns out that Jon is a professional photographer...who knew?







(Sacre Coeur)



The bells started ringing while we were up there, and it was pretty cool.



Jon called me into that random, dark hole in the wall, and it turns out, the biggest of the Notre-Dame bells was housed inside, up a rickety ladder. They only ring this one for special occasions.



A view of the Seine from above...



Pretty Paris rooftops...



Flying buttresses...


And remember this tree with the pink blossoms?



After we came down from the top of the tower, we decided to stop in on mass for a few minutes.





(Not the Pope. But it was fun to pretend that it was.)

Coming out of mass, we were accosted by all the mangled and deformed inhabitants of Paris, begging for money. One unfortunate soul was sitting in a chair directly outside of the doors with his pant leg rolled up, and I'm afraid to say that I didn't look away fast enough to NOT see what was wrong with his leg. And I'm not going to go into any details. It was bad enough that I had to see it, I would never inflict that image onto anyone else. I closed my eyes and had Jon lead me through the mob. I don't handle deformity very well. It all stems from when I was in second grade in Alaska, and this little girl on the playground coaxed me into one of those tires they half-bury in the ground, where she pulled her mutant hand out of her sleeve and shoved it into my face. I was trapped by it. Umm..yeah. I am not exaggerating, I had nightmares for MONTHS. And every time I saw her on the playground from then on, I started to get dizzy. And THAT, my friends, is why to this day I still get all nervous and shaky around people with deformities. It's not that I don't love them. They just freak me out. Don't judge me.

Also, don't be deceived by this sign.



There are no bodies buried under there. We followed the stairs down three levels...into a parking garage.

From Notre-Dame we crossed the bridge and we finally got our Berthillon ice cream. Chocolate for Jon, mango for me. Speaking of mango, I bought two mangos today at the grocery store..any advice on how to slice up a mango? I had some real trouble with the first one, and kind of gave up. Anyway, we walked along the Seine and since it wasn't so cold this day, there were tons more book vendors and artists out. I even took my coat off for a picture. (Jon's idea..it was really bugging him that I was wearing it in every picture).



Don't be deceived, though. The coat went right back on after this picture was taken. We bought some postcards before heading to Hotel de Ville.



The Easily-Impressed Parisian Business Partners from Jon's conference had suggested that we check out "Le Marais", the neighborhood surrounding Hotel de Ville.

Jon was excited out of his mind when we saw this Land Rover Defender.


Two things to look for: Obviously, the woman passenger, who unrolled her window and waved maniacally at Jon, and second, the Playboy bunny on the windshield. What?

Mostly this neighborhood was full of designer clothing stores, jewelry shops, and art studios, and even though we couldn't afford anything, it was still a fun place to explore. We ended up at the Place des Vosges on accident, which was beautiful, even though there were a billion people there.


(One of the entrances)

I was halfway dead from hunger by this point, so on our way back to the Hotel de Ville, I stopped for a sandwich at a bakery. It had sliced, hardboiled eggs on it. Mmmm.



We stopped at the market for chocolate, and more YOP, before going back to the hotel to pack. :-(

I consider this the end of the "Paris Saga", although I will mention the highlights of our trip home.

-Receiving a rough frisking by a mannish TSA agent at security. She left no part of me un-jabbed, and a certain area of my upper torso was attacked at every possible angle.

-Having Jon's luggage rummaged through TWICE while in Paris...once at security, and once before gate-checking it.

-Being stuck behind two stationary people on The World's Slowest Moving Walkway.

-Listening to a child scream for ten minutes, every half-hour, on our plane ride to Atlanta. And I'm not talking about crying. I mean SCREAMING. I usually have sympathy for the parents, but they weren't doing anything to try and shut that kid up. My earplugs were no defense against the racket.

-Being held up at customs by an agent named "Plato", having to go retrieve, then recheck our bags while in ATLANTA, and waiting an hour in the security line. I will never fly through Atlanta ever again, if I can help it. It was the most disorganized airport ever. Good thing we had three hours in-between flights, or we never would have made it.

-Being mildly freaked out when an alarm sounded while waiting for our connection. Lights overhead were flashing, and a voice came on throughout the entire airport..."An emergency has been declared in the building. Please stand by for further information." We never did heard the conclusion to this.

And last but not least, what kind of ridiculous trip home would be complete without some of our luggage getting lost?

-----------------------------

All in all, the entire journey was amazing, romantic, hilarious, beautiful, and completely exhausting. Documenting all of it has been so much fun, and I'm a little sad now that I've finished! I guess that means we're due for another trip....

...to be continued?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Paris Saga: Days V-VII

Jon’s conference took up the greater part of these days, and since there was really nothing that went on at the event that distinguished one day from the next, I’m just going to sum all of that up in a few sentences so that I can get on to the fun stuff. I got to sleep in each of these days, and wear my best outfits. Once I got to the venue, it was solid hours of sitting, replaced by intermittent standing, with a return to sitting, and occasional reading. Jon had a little more excitement than I did – at least he got to talk to people about abdominoplasty, and aesthetic vaginal surgery and stuff.

This is where we sat. And that’s what my honey looks like when he’s making his company millions of dollars.

Okay, the evenings. After the conference, on Day 5, we took a stroll up to our favorite boulangerie and got sandwiches (chicken salad…delicious) and desserts (flan…also delicious). We brought them up with us to the Arc, sat on a bench (HOORAY, it was finally warm enough to eat outside!), and ate dinner while watching the traffic circle. About 8 streets stem from the Arc out in each direction (this area is known as “Etoile”, since it looks like a star from above), and traffic at the center is ridiculous. 8 different streets pouring into this circle with NO LANES. We were in the process of talking about how remarkable it was that we hadn’t seen an accident yet when two cars collided. Honestly, I’m surprised we only witnessed ONE accident, because it was the craziest traffic I’ve ever seen.

The plan was to walk up the Arc so we could watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle at dusk, but we had some time to kill before the sun went down, so we hit up some shops near the start of the Champs-Elysees. I took this picture while walking across the street, looking back towards the Arc as the sun was setting.

It was 284 steps up another winding staircase to the top of the monument.

But it was worth it, because the view of the streets below was beautiful, and just a few minutes after we got up there, the Eiffel Tower began to light up.


(SmartCars are all over the place in Paris, and they look particularly awesome from above.)

And for your viewing pleasure…

Moving on to the NEXT evening. After dinner, we fought off the fatigue to go on a Bateaux Mouche tour of the city. It wasn’t easy though…we were completely exhausted, and we almost fell asleep on the bed back at our hotel when we stopped by to change our clothes.

A short metro ride landed us within a few minute’s walking distance of the boat dock, and we barely made it on to the 9:00 launch. But before I get ahead of myself...there was an ad in all the subway stations that made me laugh every time I saw it, and I finally snapped a picture of it on our way to the boat tour. It got funnier and funnier every time.

Ummm...My cousin Brandon??? You decide. (That's where I would have posted a side-by-side picture of him, but I don't have one on my computer. You'll just have to take my word for it.)

The boat ride took us up the river all the way past Notre-Dame, then back past where we started, before turning again and dropping us off. All in all, it was over an hour long of blaring intercoms and cold, disgruntled American high school students. But beautiful, nonetheless. The buildings all have lights that illuminate them at night, but the boats have spotlights as well, so you really get a good view as you pass. And you really get blinded when OTHER boats pass. But when THIS party-boat passes, it just makes you want to dance. And point and laugh.

Here are some of the monuments…


The Eiffel Tower was sparkling as we made our way back to the dock, and Jon snapped this picture of me watching it. This photo makes me happy.

Back at the hotel, we watched the news for a few minutes, but the image was all scrambled, so the following conversation took place:

Jon: They haven’t really perfected their satellite television over here, I guess…

Me: No, they haven't.

Jon: Yes, they have.

Me: ...what..?

Jon: I like to argue.

The next day, Day 7, was the final day of the conference. I slept in until 11, missed breakfast, and got to the conference at 12:30. Poor Jon had been at the venue since 8. We ended up leaving early, since everyone else was packing up their stuff. We stuffed it all into a suitcase and said goodbye to all the other exhibitors that Jon had become best friends with.

PEOPLE OF NOTE:

A) The Parisian Business Partners situated directly across from us. They were selling lasers, and the man had quite the inexcusable unibrow, considering he’s in the hair-removal industry. They were both so impressed when they found out that Jon speaks French. First, the woman almost fell over when he said "ca va", then as conversation continued on in French, Eyebrow Buddy perked up and came creeping over to join in the fun.

B) The Japanese Quartet to our right, selling intense “True Age” tests. Three of the four didn’t speak a word of English, but bobbed their heads enthusiastically every time they passed our booth. The fourth was a young half-Asian natively from Paris, who, in his own words, “turned Japanese”, and moved there spur of the moment. And yes, I had “Turning Japanese” stuck in my head for the rest of the day. He was actually kind of cute, and I was seriously considering forcing him to marry my friend Christa, until Jon informed me that he was a casual pot smoker. (The French-Asian kid. Not Jon. That I’m aware of.) So I gave up on that endeavor immediately. I’m sure her dad would have been thrilled that he spoke French, but not so thrilled about the other stuff. Anyway, this younger kid was the translator in the group, and, while I was eating California rolls, he was kind enough to let me know that his boss was very impressed with my chopstick skills.

C) The Tall Swedish Couple catty-corner, selling numerous skin cleansers and toners. The husband looked just like George McFly from Back to the Future. He was constantly angry at the event organizers, and let us in on all of his secrets of how to get his money back. It went something like this - pretend to sue them, and they give you your money back. His wife was pretty, seven feet tall, and wore a weird skirt with pockets all over it. Twice.

We wished everyone good luck as we left, and there's actually a pretty strong chance that Jon might run into some of them in the future.

We changed at the hotel, then went and had dinner at a fun pub. We both got hot sandwiches with cheese, ham, and fried eggs on top. The amount of Pepsi you can see in the picture set us back 12 euros. Oh yeah, and no refills.



(Jon just asked "Who's that retard that's using two hands to eat with a fork?")

After dinner we bought a heavenly yogurty drink called YOP at the market, and I drank it back at the hotel while Jon watched hockey. This one was coconut flavored, and I'm starting to drool just thinking about it...



(How do you like that product integration there? YOP owes me a thousand dollars for that positive mention. "Pos-men" for short. 30 Rock? Anyone? No?)

TO BE CONTINUED...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Paris Saga: Day IV

I'm just going to throw this out there at the beginning of this post - Day IV was quite possibly my favorite day in Paris. We went to this great little market in the morning (but almost couldn't find it and very nearly gave up looking...)




There were flowers, cheeses, jewelry, clothing, crepes, fresh produce, octopus, free samples of mango...mmmmm. The market was right across the Alma Bridge, in the median of Rue President Wilson. The tunnel that goes under Alma Bridge is where Princess Diana died (Debbie Downer, br-brrrrr, sorry)...


(The flame was actually there before she died in the tunnel, but this spot has become kind of a monument to her since then. Also, thank you, husband, for informing me that you were taking a picture...)



From the bridge we walked along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. Jon and I had had a miscommunication. Okay, so we never even discussed it, but in my mind, I had always pictured us walking up the stairs to the second level of the tower. I was fully aware that you can't walk to the top, and to tell you the truth, that had a lot to do with my decision to want to walk, instead of taking the elevator. JON, on the other hand, was dead set on going to the top, and I didn't realize this until we were almost there. I mean, it makes sense to go to Paris and want to go up the Eiffel Tower...it just wasn't something I had totally factored into my plans.

Haha. Umm, so, I never really quite realized how tall the Eiffel Tower is. Seeing it in pictures is one thing, but getting underneath that thing and looking up...I really started to panic. We spent a good hour walking around the Champ de Mars in the freezing cold, waiting for my nerves to calm down, before heading back to the tower. And once I got under that thing again, I decided I wasn't ready yet, again, so we went the opposite direction to a cute little park that was adjacent.



(A view from one end of the Champ de Mars. Don't be deceived - it wasn't any warmer this day than any other so far. Jon forced me to take my coat off, because up until this point, I'm wearing it in every single picture and he was sick of it. I would have posted a picture of both of us here, since we asked a guy to take one for us, but it turns out he was the worst photographer in history and somehow the Eiffel Tower ended up leaning. It really bugs me...more than it should. I can't even hardly look at it.)




(Ducklings in the park at the other end. Aw.)


Finally, I thought I was ready to go to the top, so we jumped in line, and a mere 20 minutes later, we were packed like sardines into a tilted elevator with a billion other tourists, steadily climbing up one of the 'legs'. I had pressed into the back, away from the windows, turned to face Jon, and squeezed my eyes shut. The elevator stopped at the first floor and a couple of people got off. We started going up again, and I really started to freak. Doors opened, and I was about to call it quits and run out of the elevator in desperation, when they made the announcement that EVERYONE had to get off there. Turns out, you have to stand in ANOTHER line for ANOTHER elevator at the second level if you want to go to the top. I hadn't known that...I'd been thinking that the doors were going to close up again and we'd be on our way, no way out. THANK GOODNESS that wasn't the case, because I am not exaggerating, I was suppressing dry heaves from the anxiety. I don't think I would have actually thrown up, but I really was actively trying not to gag. The second level was fine by me. Jon did get me to stand in line for the second elevator with him, but once it was our turn to board, I completely backed out. You couldn't have paid me a thousand dollars to go up. First Jon tried to guilt me into it, but he saw that I was serious, and the next chance I had, I ran across an open elevator out to freedom. I was terrified that the doors might close before I got across, but I made it safe and sound. And that's how Jon went to the top of the Eiffel Tower without his wife. This is a view from where I was, looking up to where Jon went.



And here's a picture from the top. That haze you see? It's called "cold", and you can't even hardly see through it. (Sometimes I make stuff up.)

(It should be impossible to be this high and NOT be in an airplane, as far as I'm concerned.)


And here's me, after Jon came down and met me...



We walked down the stairs to the first level...



Then took the elevator to the bottom. And that was that. And Jon still loves me. See, I'll prove it.



(Showing off my mad Picasa skills... jealous?)


From there we tried to go to the Catacombs, only to find that they're closed until May, so we ate some crepes instead and walked around the neighborhood. I guess it wasn't all that exciting, though, because the next thing in my notes from that day places us back at the market across from our hotel. And THEN, we changed into some nicer clothes for the Moulin Rouge and took the subway to Montmartre. We had several hours before the show, so we walked up the hill to Sacre Coeur, which is one of the things I'd been most excited about seeing.



(I'm in love with these pants, BTW. The scarf was a necessity that came about four days too late...Also, please blow this picture up and zoom in on my left hand. What on earth is wrong with it??? It looks like a club foot.)



Move the view a little more to the left, and there was a pretty, random carousel.



We paid 5 euros each to climb the narrow, winding stairs up one of the towers.



At the top, we walked around the building on a narrow little pathway, and Jon, once again, imitated art.


(No, he's NOT pretending to throw up...he's pretending to be a goat.)





Back at the bottom, we wandered the streets of Montmartre, which I absolutely LOVED. There were so many fun pubs, creperies, and ice cream shops.



There were artists lining the streets, and HELLO, a French mime. In France.



We ate omelettes at this restaurant in the middle of the square...



...before it was time to go find the Moulin Rouge.



It was pretty easy to find...walk directly out of the clean, fun atmosphere of Montmartre until you hit the sex shops, and then keep going a few blocks. The theater itself is beautiful, but the area isn't. Once you walk inside, men in tuxedos escort you to the coat check, and then to your seat. The show itself was alright...quite a bit cheesier than I expected it to be, but still a fun experience. The traditional French can-can alone made it worth the price tag.

After our show, we took the subway back to the Arc, and spend some time admiring it all lit up.





--The End of an Era...Jon's conference begins tomorrow.

TO BE CONTINUED...