Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Awesome Willpower

So, you know that I'm a crier, right? That I'm a sensitive soul with overactive tear ducts. How if there is an opportunity to cry I will take it. How all it takes sometimes is to see just one person weeping and I'll lose it because apparently no one can cry alone when they're with me. What I'm saying is that I'm mostly an emotional mess. It could be glandular, I don't know.

So you'll appreciate this when I say that despite 1.) it being my last Sunday in my ward before leaving on Tuesday night (!) which means 2.) my last Sunday with my Primary kids and 3.) my last popcorn and hamburger Sunday dinner with my family that was cut short because 4.) there was a special church meeting to realign the ward boundaries I TOTALLY KEPT IT TOGETHER!!!! You want to know how many times I cried today? Two. And they were very brief. I mean, I basically welled up for like a minute each time and that was it! There was no sobbing. There was no weeping. Not once did I collapse in a pool of tears. I only used one tissue. There were people crying all around me and I was a rock! I wanted to run around high-fiving everyone and saying, "Do you see this! No tears! Who's awesome?!"

I have no idea what my state will be like for the next two days and I have made Bronwyn promise to bring tissue to the airport when she picks me up because I've never been able to sleep on airplanes so 2 missed nights of sleep plus the stress of travel will probably make me a blubbering wreck. But right now I'm riding high on this brief but super awesome victory over tears.

PS. It could be that it was because I was all cried out after Mockingjay. But let's just say it's because of my awesome willpower.

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's not often that I'm speechless

My experience reading Mockingjay has left me speechless. I finished it about two hours ago and it's taken me this long just to get a grip. Maybe I'll be able to sum it up in a day or two but right now all I have is "..." and "um" and "wow" and "pass the tissue, please." Camille happened to call about one minute after I finished and I actually had to hang up because I was overcome with emotion and unable to speak.

As I don't have time to gather you all together to do a serious debriefing I think you should email me when you're done to let me know what you thought. rachelknecht at gmail dot com.

Also, if you haven't read it yet you should read this post by Valerie. It changed the whole story for me. And again, also, why haven't you read these books yet? Read these books!!!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I will be just as excited for my 647.

1. A sales rep came in and heard that one of our patients was named Jamie and said, "Hmm. That's unusual." Really? I looked back on our schedule and we've had a different Jamie coming in every single day this week. And clearly she did not grow up in Southern California in the 80s because you couldn't throw your jelly shoe 5 feet without hitting a Jamie on her blonde head (Fact 1: With the rare exception, all Jamies are blonde. Fact 2: I never actually owned a pair of jelly shoes.) There were at least 3 girls named Jamie at church just in my age group. And dozens at school. It would be like someone in about 10 years saying "Madison? You don't hear that one very often."

2. Last week our postman came into the office and said, "Today's my last day on the route, ladies. You'll be getting Crazy-Eyed Larry back." Rad! Who doesn't love a postman with crazy eyes?

3. It's so hot here that baby lizards are coming inside our office to cool down. One in an exam room and another in the x-ray room. He was no doubt trying to break into my Fortress of Solitude. And we just got word that one was found in the surgery up on the 4th floor. I like to imagine it took the elevator up.

4. This is my 501st post. Wooo! Some people would celebrate their 500th but some people are also better at noticing milestones when they occur. Typing that just made me think how odd it is that we put so much emphasis on 5s and 10s. You never hear of people going big for 51st anniversaries but give us a 50th and we bust out the balloons. But such is the world we live in. So let's show them all and go crazy over this 501st. Let's dance in the streets and erect statues and wave flags and throw confetti and raise our glasses of ginger ale to 501 more! At the very least I think we should all enjoy a refreshing Slurpee after work.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Don and Leola

I'm in love with this picture of my grandparents.

I mean, look at them. They're just kids! I think this was when they were dating so she's probably 18 and he's 20. I love that he's taking the picture. I love that she's wearing a fabulous hat. I love that his eyes have a Hint of the Orient. He died when my mom was 4 so I never knew him but years ago when I realized that his eyes were like mine I felt an instant connection, like maybe when I finally get to meet him we could sit down and compare stories of all the times we were asked if we were Chinese. Oh, how we'll laugh and laugh.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Some Enchanted Evening

We went to another sing-along at the Music Center last night. I'm just going to throw this out there and don't think too much about it because I say stuff like this all the time but I'm pretty sure that sing-alongs are my most favorite summertime activity ever. Please take into consideration that I say the same thing about going to Dodger games and the Hollywood Bowl and beach trips. Basically anything that is outdoors and involves music and/or hot dogs is a winner in my book.

There was dancing and shimmying and we belted the high notes and, in my groups case, wore party hats and ate cupcakes (Happy Birthday Week!!) and made up hand motions to "Tomorrow" and when they told us that the time was up we mutinied and wouldn't leave until we had sung the remaining 6 songs. It should not surprise you that people who make the drive into downtown LA on a Friday evening and wait in line for an hour to sing a bunch of show tunes are highly dedicated to the cause and will not be deterred.

I am officially inviting you to the Christmas Sing-Along on December 17th. And if you're feeling really adventurous, come to the Messiah Sing Along at the Nixon Library on November 28th (my Welcome Home Weekend. You can give me a hug and I can put you into a coma with tales of my exotic travels.) They suggest we wear baroque costumes but I say we get crazy and wear matching Christmas sweaters.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It can also remove bunions when the doctors aren't available

The Pod has a big, fat, fancy copy machine that can fax and scan and tap dance and do your taxes and bake the perfect pie and whistle the 1812 Overture and soothe crying babies and whittle blocks of soap into scale sized replicas of Notre Dame.

But we just use it for copying. It also makes an excellent shelf for file folders when there is no more counter space.

We lease this thing for an outrageous monthly fee and yesterday I got a call asking about a payment that was made.

A transcript of the conversation:

Me: So how much do we owe you?
Leasing Lady: $460
Me: Can I pay over the phone?
Leasing Lady: Sure...Oh wait, it may be more.
Me: Why?
Leasing Lady: Well, your property tax is due next month.
Me: Our property tax?
Leasing Lady: Yes.
Me: On what?
Leasing Lady: The copier.
Me: We pay property tax on a machine that copies?
Leasing Lady: Yes.
Me: Why?
Leasing Lady: (Goes into this bloated explanation that I'm pretty sure she was making up.)
Me: So you're telling me that you and the government consider this machine to be a piece of taxable property?
Leasing Lady: That's right.
Me: Like a parcel of land?
Leasing Lady: Yep.
Me: Well, that's a pretty cruddy view we have from it. Maybe you could install a water feature to spruce it up.
Leasing Lady: That doesn't make any sense. Why would we do that?
Me:, never mind. How much is the tax?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You have a birthday, shout hoo-Rachel

When I tell you that your newborn is adorable what I'm really saying is that I'm positive she will look adorable in a few days once she has grown out of her alien life form stage. I know from whence I speak:

(Wee Baby Rachel Just Hours Old)

This picture looks like I'm about to punch you in the face...except that I can't see your face because I have teeny slits for eyes.

It's been a very low-key birthday, which was a nice change. I love my birthday (duh, cake and presents) and I generally like to make a big deal out of it but things have been slightly overwhelming lately so I just decided to let things play out and it has been lovely. Some wonderful gifts have come my way.


1.) Hostess Chocolate Donettes - my all-time favorite non-ice cream bad for you treat - from Katie for breakfast.

2.) The folks at the Pod took me out to lunch to a local Mexican dive. I think my body is realizing that the chances of there being a taco stand in Tunis are slim so I has been craving it 24/7. If you're in the mood for chips and salsa and are looking for someone to indulge with you, I'm your senorita.

3.) The State Department sent me my passport - which is a win for both of us because it means I can get on the plane in two weeks and they don't have to receive screeching phone calls from me every day for those two weeks. Thanks, State!

4.) Andrea sent me a packet of Testamints. To help me make friends on the plane. I laughed so hard when I opened the package that I choked on my OtterPop.

5.) My favorite guys sent a birthday greeting.

6.) Chris sent me a text that said, "Hoo-Rachel!" My parents have given me a lot of wonderful things, but among the greatest is a name that can be made into an exclamation.

7.) The Blessed Nephews called and sang "Happy Birthday" to me. Which is seriously the Best Thing Ever. Ben got on the phone and said, "Hi, Rachel. We just wanted to call you to say happy birthday." Like he's 30 or something. And then Tom got on and said, "a-ee u-ay" Which is "happy birthday" but the kid has an aversion to consonants.

Here is where I get all sentimental and weepy and tell you that I feel very, very blessed to have such fun and thoughtful people in my life. I'm a lucky girl.

Thanks for a great day, everyone. Let's do it again in a year. This time with Slurpees.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Things I would tell you over ice cream

Are you all getting a little tired of me stringing together several unrelated topics to create a post? Too bad. I like to imagine that you're over for ice cream cones and reruns of Gilmore Girls and these are all things I would bring up to you. So just take it as a sign of friendship.

1. My sisters and I went to the Harry Connick, Jr. concert last night at the Hollywood Bowl. You know how in all that old footage of the Beatles or Elvis there are tons of girls swooning - just passing out right in the crowd? I never got that. Until I saw Harry several years ago. I totally swooned. And there were a couple of moments last night when I had to lean in on one of the girls to support myself. Swoony McSwoonster.

2. Lindsay has been invited to a 90s themed party and we were trying to come up with a good costume for her to wear. We decided on the Daria/Lisa Loeb look of Docs, pleated skirt, long cardie, flipped out hair and librarian glasses. Grunge seems a little too obvious.

3. The patients' bathroom at the Pod is right next to the front desk and there is no fan in there so without even trying or caring to we hear everything. EVERYTHING. For example, the other day I could distinctly hear a man in there pee and then flush and then he immediately came out. What I did not hear was him turning the faucet on to wash his hands. Nor was their time for him to do so. I should also mention, although it has no relevance, that he was talking on the phone the entire time he was in there. For the record, I will dump you as a friend if you ever do that to me. Since I don't exactly know the proper way to tell a grown man that he needs to wash up after performing certain tasks I sneaked around the office telling all the staff that Patient X did not wash his hands and to take care. I mentioned this to Katie and told her I had no idea how to handle it and she suggested I bring it to you. What would you have done in this situation and if you were going to say anything, how would you phrase it?

4. Did you know that it is "sneaked" and not "snuck"? True. Snuck has become so common that it is in most dictionaries and isn't usually corrected by spell check but it really is sneaked. I try really hard to say snuck because it sounds natural and right and I am a believer in the language changing with the times as long as it's not offensive like "I seen," and besides, I have maybe only heard 2 other people say sneaked. So I do try but every time I do I hear the voice of Mrs. Snyder, my 11th grade English teacher, saying, "You sneaked in your sneakers. Not snuck in your snuckers." So if you hear me say sneaked instead of snuck please don't think less of me. She was a very influential teacher. Even though she made me read Moby Dick. And here is where I put in the disclaimer that most of the time I don't notice grammar errors because I'm having such a great time talking with you and I make them myself, all the time actually, and furthermore, I would never correct you because that's just rude, nor will I ever think less of you because I love you. Come over for Gilmore Girls and ice cream any time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm glad I can now throw that doll away

1.) I'm feeling punchy today. All day long I've had to play the Glad Game to stop myself from kicking puppies and small children. Things I'm glad about include: Sonic slushes, my new 15 minute morning routine of switching between reruns of Gilmore Girls and America's Next Top Model while I eat my cereal, 80 degree weather in August, after 3 months finally correctly reconciling one of the Pod's bank accounts on Quickbooks (I looked around for someone to high five when it happened but there wasn't anyone so I shimmied a bit and high fived myself.)

2.) I have a theory about this punchiness: it's August and I believe that August (though wonderful because therein lies my birthday. On Tuesday I want you all to go out and have an ice cream cone in my honor.) is a tricky month. We love it because it's all beach trips and lemonade and baseball games and good old summertime fun. But it's also the end of summer and we've just spent the last 3 months out of our normal everyday routine. You know how at Disneyland you see all those kids in hysterics around 10pm? They've been in too many lines and they've had too much junk food and they've had their picture taken with too many characters and by 10pm it's way past their bedtime but they're struggling to stay awake because they've had so much fun and they don't want to miss anything but what they really want is a nap. That's what August is like.
3.) Speaking of too much fun, Teresa invited me to go with a group from her yarn shop to the Stitch and Pitch at Dodger Stadium on Friday night. This is where 80 year old women get together to knit while watching a game. Hysterical. We were all clustered together in one section and the people in the next section over were mystified by all of us busily knitting and purling in between pitches.
Here's some of the group.

And here's a lady with a weird jungle jacket. This has nothing to do with knitting, I just thought it was a funny jacket.

And here's our goody bag. (Note to Teresa: I was this close to putting that in quotes but stopped myself just in time. But if there was ever a time to use them, this would be it.)

It's a knitting bobble head doll. Lame. My initial reaction was to leave her under my chair when I left the stadium but I brought her home because I felt like you all needed to see her. We knew that there would be a goody bag and we were expecting something like yarn or needles or cute place holders or a free pattern for a beanie with your teams logo on it. You know, something knitters would appreciate and use. Instead we got this thing that is an affront to all knitters/baseball fans who would never be caught dead with a team jersey tucked into their mom-jeans. Plus, she has a terrifying face. I had to turn her around at night because I knew that if I woke up and found her staring at me I'd wet the bed.
Here's a close up. So we can all have nightmares together.

4.) I'm glad I can now throw that doll away.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Attack of the Giant Green Flying Beetles!!!!!

I don't think I'm alone in saying that those giant green flying beetles are a menace and I shriek like a little girl and flap my arms about like a lunatic whenever one flies into my face. They're just so bumbling and don't seem to have any real control over their bodies or a clear sense of direction - much like a rabid dog or a teenaged boy- which makes any movement they make seem reckless and dangerous. So you can imagine my horror when I was sitting in my car on my lunch break reading a book and one flew in through my open window. One that was easily as big as a spiral ham.


I instantly swatted it with my book in the attempt to get it out the other window but my aim was bad and I swatted it into the door which momentarily stunned it and it fell in between the door and the passenger seat. He would flutter his wings every time I would make a move to open the door - presumably to warn me that he didn't want the door open because he was coming to eat my face, as soon as he got his barings. During this time my panic rose and I thought of all sorts of horrible scenarios. What if it's angry and decides to seek revenge by flying at my head and nesting in my hair? What if it's dazed and confused and ends up flying at my head and nesting in my hair? What if it's wanting a little comfort and decides the best way to get this is by flying at my head and nesting in my hair? It's too big to burrow up my nose or in my ear but I bet it could gouge my eyes out if it really wanted to. Even with my glasses on. It's so big that I bet he could lift my glasses right off my face, fold them up and place them on the passenger seat before gouging my eyes out.

I could hear him coming around and I mentally prepared myself to use my book again in self defense, even though it's a book that means a lot to me and I would have been a little devastated to get green goo all over it. (Northanger Abbey. My dad gave it to me when I was 14. He thought I would like Jane Austen. He was right.)

There was no need. The beast flew up and sat on the passenger seat for a second and then found his way to the open window. I rolled up the windows and took a minute to compose myself and let my heart rate slow and then I made a mad dash for my office. Because I'm pretty sure he was eyeing my hair as he left.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I was going to tell you so many things tonight but you know how when you go out to a buffet or a potluck and it all looks so wonderful and delicious and you try to eat just a little bit of everything but it quickly multiplies and suddenly you're wishing you had worn your stretchy pants? That's what this weekend has been like. Too full. Almost uncomfortably so. I had to take a two hour nap this afternoon to recover but cancelled it out by waking up and going to an impromptu mini family reunion followed by a friend's birthday party.

So I'm beat but I cannot rest until I show you my latest felty creation. My friend Hannah - proud owner of the Richard Simmons Stocking - commissioned me to make a Macbook cover for a friend:

Yeah, it's Gandalf.
I was giddy with excitement when she asked. I love commission work, mostly because it gives me license to wear a beret and a sour expression and tell people that I'm a paid artist. But also because I love making new things that I wouldn't necessarily come up with myself.
Some details:
I wasn't sure how I was going to make the closures so I ended up wandering the notions section of Joannes and came across these clasps. Genius!

And please note that I used ring fabric to line it. Because I'm super artsy and clever like that.
I made it with just the measurements so I was a bit nervous when Hannah came over for a fitting...after it was already sewn together. But it fit like a dream. Angels may have been singing when it went in. Or maybe that was me and Hannah.

Wait til you see what Hannah has commissioned for herself. She has the vision.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It won't make me look like a marshmallow

Do you know what the number one thing is that people say when they find out I will be living in Tunisia for 3 months, after "Where is Tunisia?"

They say, sort of squealy like, "Ooh! You could meet someone there!" As in I could find a husband. As in I have a better shot of finding a single, non-weird, employed Mormon guy in north Africa than I do here.

Well, since it's such a sure bet it's lucky that I found this:

No, not the chocolate covered pretzels, although I'll take one if you're offering. The dress. I'm talking about the dress. Laura is getting married so she has a stash of wedding magazines and I was flipping through one while we were waiting in line for the Michael Jackson sing along and found this dress. I didn't say a word, I just held it up for the girls to see and without any hesitation or discussion they all collectively said, "Yep. That's your wedding dress."

It was a bit of a magical moment for me and I'll tell you why. I have never been one of those girls who for years has been working up her dream wedding in her mind. I just could never imagine it. Imagine Abba getting back together and them asking me to join as a backup singer/choreographer/costume designer/hair stylist? A dozen times. But a wedding? Nope. And what I especially was never able to envision was a wedding dress. It's the whole white and formal and long business that would trip me up every time because white and formal and long do not mix with short and stumpy. Plus, and probably more importantly, I can't even get a date. So wedding type stuff doesn't ever enter my head unless I'm watching "Say Yes to the Dress" and then it is mostly disgust and cynicism at how much money people are willing to spend on just one day.

So when I saw this dress it surprised me to no end. Because it wasn't white and formal and long and it had elbow sleeves and a great neck line and a cinched waist and tulle peeking out from underneath! And for crying out loud, that gold bag! It calls to me in my sleep. And beyond the surprise it was an enormous relief. Because if by chance I meet some guy who is willing to 1.) marry me and 2.) go along with my (genius!) idea of a bowling alley reception and we can convince his mom that it won't be as tacky as she thinks it will be (okay, maybe a little tacky.) and I feel like I need to dress up a little instead of wearing a bowling shirt with "Bride" stitched onto it like I have always intended, it is such a load off my mind to know that I actually have an option.

Let's hope that my Tunisian Boyfriend is game.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I wonder if they sell Dodger muumuus.

1.) Tonight I went to my monthly stitching group where we sat around knitting and sewing and gabbing and on Friday I am going to the Dodger game with a bunch of women to knit (It's called Stitch and Pitch. As if I could miss something like that.) and last Sunday I played Canasta with my dad and Camille and at the fair on Saturday I was this close to buying a muumuu. It will be my birthday in 2 weeks and I will be turning 81.

2.) I wrote an email to Bronwyn this morning and admitted to her - and now to you - that one of my most recent panicky fears I have about flying out to Tunis is that I will leave my passport in New York and be stuck in Montreal where I will be mercilessly taunted by French Canadians. I have an irrational suspicious on French Canadians. I blame all those LM Montgomery books I read in my youth.

3.) I have just emerged from a three day book coma. That's when you put all of life on hold instead of putting down a book. I finished it and instantly realized how hungry I was because I had skipped so many meals to keep reading.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Note from the fair

Since I can't make it to the LA County Fair this year (sad) Katie, Liz and I ventured into Orange County to try out their fair. There wasn't ice cold chocolate milk or a Big Yellow Slide. I'd give it a B-.

But it did have other fair type stuff that made up for it.


Wee Baby Piglets!!!!

Folks, it took all my will power to not leap over the fence and shove one in my purse.


Famous works of art made out of food!

The Vegetable Mona Lisa:

And David out of Butter

There was also the Birth of Venus done up in white chocolate.

And here's a question. Did any of you know that brussel sprouts grow like this:

We saw the sign and had to go in for a closer look.


We split a deep fried Klondike Bar (now the song is stuck in your head, isn't it. What would you do-oo-oo...).

And I found a sun hat that fits my head. I know. Miracle.

I didn't leave with a spa or a speed boat or a piglet but I'd still call it a good day at the fair.


In other somewhat relatable news (that being Things to Do In Orange County) - For those of you locals (or soon to be visiting these parts) who want to see World of Color at Disney's California Adventure I will do you a solid and say don't waste your time. Katie and Lindsay risked their lives and eternal salvation to get us fast passes to it yesterday and then we waited for what seemed like days and endured much of that time crammed next to a pack of smelly Italian teenage boys just to get what we thought was a decent spot on the viewing deck, only to have it marred by freakishly tall people with children on their shoulders. The bits that we could see were lame.