Monday, April 30, 2012

It was either the tacos or the pinata

We had Victoria and Jerry over for a Taco Night on Sunday. We fried, oh, about 20 taco shells, and filled and ate almost all of them between the four of us. Dinner was relatively civilized. As was dessert. (Strawberry shortcake with chocolate cake instead of shortcake, which might have been one of the greatest ideas I’ve ever had.)

It was when we brought out the piñata that things got…unhinged? Maybe that's not the right word, but we certainly weren't acting like society dictates adults should act. We collected and photographed maimed toy soldiers, casualties of the piñata. (We were also yelled at by a neighbor for breaking said piñata in the alleyway by our house. Jacob “Peter Parker-ed” up the wall to hang it from the fire escape. We were in the midst of mirthful destruction when we were reminded by a voice from a window nearby that “People live here!!!”) Once back inside, things sort of disintegrated quickly. The boys had a friendly contest of who could fit more gum in their mouth at once. (There was also some brief talk of a “chewed gum sculpture,” but the idea wasn’t realized.) There were “magic towels”…you know, those super-vacuum-packed washcloths that you unwrap and put in water and they “magically expand.” At one point, I told Jerry I would give him $100 if he could get a string of Mardis Gras beads around his own neck using his mouth alone. (Which he did. Anyone know where I could get a quick $100?) We shot unwrapped bubble-gum out of our mouths in an effort to take down a tissue paper blown into the air by one member of the party. There were several variations on the whole “shoot-something-out-of-your-mouth-at-something” theme, now that I think back on it. I think we’ll be finding gum behind our couch for months. (There is no photographic evidence of any of these things.)

All in all, I felt somewhat like a guest at a party in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Inexplicable insanity. The kind that your face hurts from afterwards. Sometimes I shudder to think what we’d all be like with alcohol in our systems. I’m glad we aren’t like that. I think it would be about the same, but with more vomiting, to be honest. I prefer the clean fun of choosing to act 12 years old when you know very well your 10-20 years older than that.

 Oh, and also, I’ve noticed a large bump on the top of my left foot which causes pain when I walk. And I have no idea where it came from.

 (We were a little overly vigorous in our pinata-smashing. These guys had to pay the price.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cannon Beach - the non Beach made of Can

Hello, everyone!

Sorry I'm a little late in sharing the fun of Cannon Beach. We got back and I immediately fell into what I called "Vacation Paralysis." I missed everyone already, and I'd spent so many months before that doing stuff that I HAD to do that I couldn't bring myself to do anything but eat and read and lie around. Plus, the one or two times I got on blogger to write about our trip, I was totally overwhlemed by the new interface, closed the computer and picked up a book. Nowadays, I still read and eat and lie around, but I also buy groceries, clean the living room, attach a basket to my bicycle, and write blog entries.

To make up for my lack of timeliness, I've included, like, 69 pictures in this blog entry.*

So we stayed in Cannon Beach, Oregon for the weekend. In a cottage. A block away from the beach. Near "Haystack Rock." Here's the rock:

Turns out it's the third largest monolith in the world. Cool, huh?

Our cottage was delightful. There was an IN-ROOM JACUZZI, which was awesome, even though Sarah was the only one who brought her bathing suit. We used the jacuzzi one night, but the rest of us just sat around the edges with our feet in the tub while Sarah sat inside it. (Which for the record, she says, is a really weird experience.) Here's our cottage:

That last photo is the view from the upstairs bedroom, where Jacob and I slept. I know. (Did I mention that on our last night there, there was a bit of a rainstorm? Jacob and I laid in our attic bedroom on the Oregon coast, and listened to the rain and wind against the window. I know.)

We also fell in love with the little touristy town of Cannon Beach itself. It was, in places, VERY touristy. But come on, they had a creperie. Where we ate at least once a day. They also had fancy restaurants like "The Irish Table" with things on the menu that included phrases like "reduction sauce" and "apple-parsnip puree." Oh, and the "Pig 'n Pancake," where I ordered "pancakes" but thinking it wouldn't be enough, added eggs to my order. They brought me an oval plate with no less than 10 regular sized pancakes spread artistically in overlapping layers. And eggs. (I couldn't eat it all.) But most charming of all were the little residential areas we explored. Picture: little cottages, with sea-weather-worn shingles, nestled into pine trees, with flower-dotted moss surrounding each front porch and flowering trees dropping their petals onto the grass-cracked pavement. It felt like Disneyland or a movie set...too idyllic to be real.

See, look:
I wonder if any high schools in the area are looking for English teachers...

We were all at the coast (Jacob, me, my sister Beckah, and close friends Allison, Sarah, and Annie) for about two and a half days, eating delicious food, playing on the beach, playing Banana-grams, etc.

Our playing on the beach included...

Attempting to get the noble vessel HMS Cannonshire to float, either in the ocean or in little estuaries (I like Sarah's apparent skepticism in the bottom picture...and also how Annie and I look like the parents of a young toddler learning to walk...):

Attempting to fly a $2.95 kite, which proved unworthy of flight:

Digging a giant hole (mostly Jacob's accomplishment):

And failing at dance dares. There's no real record of our attempts, because it was something we turned out be really bad at. It comes from Ellen Degeneres, and a good introduction to the concept can be found here, but the basic concept is to dance behind people (preferably strangers) without them noticing. We kept attempting it but not really succeeding. In fact, our most successful attempt turned out to also be one of our most memorable failures...Beckah and I stood behind a nice married couple in their 50's who were watching the sunset on the beach and danced for about 3 seconds while Allison tried to videotape. Then the man turned to say something to his wife, and noticed us. Beckah and I froze, then sort of tried to walk away, but our sheepishness was pretty apparent. "Don't mind us, folks. We're just watching the sunset over the ocean too...while standing directly behind you..."

The other thing we did a lot is sing variations of a little song called...well, I don't know what it's called. "Crepe Babies"? A few months ago, I was telling Jacob that we should go home and eat, and at some point, I used the term "crepe babies." Jacob replied by singing a little ditty that went "Crepe babies - the babies made of crepe!" When we told the others, they caught on to the game, and every 3-syllable word or phrase was sung to the tune and format of Jacob's ditty. "Duane Johnson - the Johnson made of Duane." "Haystack Rock - the stack rock made of hay." "Thunderstorm - the derstorm made of thun." (The ones where you have to split words into syllables are the best.)

One of the other funny things about this trip was the fact that it was evident that we're all getting older. Annie and Sarah and I were roommates starting in 2005, Allison joined the gang in 2007, and Beckah I've known my whole life. It's been nearly two years since we've all been together in one room, and now we're all closer to 30 years old than we are to 20. Something we probably wouldn't have noticed much, but for the aching backs from unfamiliar beds and all of us being more aware of how healthy we were eating (or not eating) and the fact that around 9:30 pm, most of us were ready for bed.

When we returned from the beach, we spent a day in Portland, where Jacob and I spent $150 on books at Powell's and where we discovered the greatest and most authentic (I'm told) fish 'n chips this side of the pond.

Fish 'n chips. From a food stand called "The Frying Scotsman." Sarah (who served a mission in Scotland) chatted with the cook for a good 15 minutes while he prepared her food. She also got an Irn Bru, which is a European soda that acquired taste. Sarah was in heaven, but the rest of us declined. Kathleen once said it tastes like "metal and bubble gum" and she was right.

Anyway, the rest of this adventure is best told in pictures. So here ya go.

The "Classic Photos":
This photo is fun because it looks like I'm about to punch Jacob in the face, when in reality, I'm just going in for a really intense fist bump.

Eating food cart goods on the sidewalk in Portland. Looking at this picture later, all of us wondered what we were talking about. We all look somewhat confused.

A classic re-thinking of the usually offensively objectified female silhouette.

Jacob's shirt matched the guy on the hot sauce label. We lamented that he didn't still have his own huge mustache to add to the serendipity. 

When I pointed out that Beckah looks like she's doing the Time Warp in this picture, she replied, "I am. I'm dance-daring the ocean."

The "Shenanigans Photos":
Walking the beach in style. I think.

How we kept track of expenses. We all split the cost of food, lodging, gas, etc. This is our accounting record. This is what happens when 6 people with undergrad or graduate degrees in English and Theatre get together.

The most hilarious round of "Pictionary Telephone." (One person writes a phrase, the next person draws it, then covers up the phrase and passes it on. The next person looks at the picture, then writes what they think the phrase was and covers up the picture, etc.) The stick-figure-live-long-and-prosper-hand was my creation. I promise I'm a better artist...I just didn't have an eraser...and time was running out! (My other favorite from this game was when "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" became "An Indian giver is similar to two apples.")

And finally, the "Beautiful is This Life" Photos:

 Beautiful low tide.

Exploring tidal pools (and also playing a non-sensical and totally unexplainable game called "We're completely ramooned" which Beckah and I made up as teenagers on a Ward Coast trip once).

"The family." There were several people missing from this trip, and we missed them a lot. But there was a lot of love anyway.

Miss you lots. The you lots made of miss. 

* Just kidding. 26 pictures.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"They say the sea is cold but the sea contains the hottest blood."

We're on our way back from our Oregon Coast college friends reunion. Our Baker City hotel has a television, which is enough of a novelty to distract me from writing much more tonight, but look forward to hearing about the highlights of the trip, including but not limited to:

Failed dance dares
$150 spent at Powell's Books
Crepes once a day (minimum)
Being old

To those whom we know and love in the area, the visit was a heart-breakingly short one, and we're sorry if we didn't get to see you!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It gets better

First of all, I just want to give this clarification: Any sexual activity outside of marriage and any homosexual activities are against the commandments. While our thoughts and feelings may at times run contrary to the doctrines of the gospel, it is only in pursuing them to actions that we violate covenants. Furthermore, Christ's teachings in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament reveal that we should forgive all men, pass judgement no one, and treat all with kindness and love, whether they are violating covenants or not, no matter what the covenant or what the violation. Because of misunderstanding these principles, many Church members don't know how to "deal" with members of the Church who have homosexual feelings. This has led gay members (those who feel attracted to the same gender, whether or not its acted upon) to depression, self-hatred, and isolation. The tremendous courage it takes to come out as a Latter-day Saint is extraordinary.

Today, I am filled with gratitude toward my Heavenly Father for the love He has for His children, and the ability He has given all of us to feel it. I'm ecstatically grateful that BYU has established the USGA (a gay-straight alliance), and pray that anyone who feels alone in this issue will reach out to those who are willing to help them, and that all of us will be willing to help one another, no matter the nature of the struggle. Taking leaps like attending a meeting or calling a number or saying something out loud takes great courage, but it's worth it, and the weight will lift as soon as you allow someone else to share whatever you're feeling.

High fives, hugs of support and gratitude, and rounds of applause to all those who are part of the USGA. You are proof that it DOES get better.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"The ax to the frozen sea within us." -Franz Kafka

"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books…which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” --Hazel, "The Fault in Our Stars"