Wednesday, November 25, 2009

honeymoon pictures, part two

here are some photos of my handsome husband-

it's really hard to get a picture of him without him trying to pose or be goofy. i like this picture because this is how he actually looks with a little smile.

this boy was so super happy to eat cold coconuts by the side of the road. like, really really really happy.


one night we had a sizable lizard friend on our ceiling. he wouldn't leave so this was the engineer's sophisticated method to urge him outdoors. neither of us are too squeamish about critters but this guy had something really repulsive about him. it had big sticky fingers, ran really fast, had creepy eyes, and he hung out on the ceiling like that scary scene of Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Here's a close-up.

honeymoon pictures, part one

i thought i'd post some pictures of sunnier times. here are some cozumel street scenes.

another stupid grey day and a stupid head cold and everything is stupid

that sums up the sentiment at our little household. gabe is a big old cranky pants. that is surprising, given that i'm the one that always wears the (cranky) pants around here. he pouted all during his lunch break and then scavenged for chocolate before going back to work. i am usually the chocolate fiend here too. it's cause for alarm, because usually he grounds me when my crankiness/moodiness/self-deprecation starts getting out of hand. i'm trying my best to tread water so that we both don't spiral down into a situation where we are both whining on the couch, not eating and forgetting to go outside all day.

ok, i'm being a tad overdramatic, but this week has seen a complete absence of our happy-go-lucky selves who are all contented smiles. i thought i had allergies yesterday because of a sudden onslaught of symptoms, but it's only progressed and i'm pretty sure it's a head cold. i'm living in a fog. for example: i left the house to go officially change my name. i've been letting it go day to day and i said no more, today is the day. so i left and in five minutes called gabe because i had forgotten to write down the address. about a mile from the social security office i realized i probably would need the marriage certificate. grrr!! i've also had insomnia all week and am at the point where i dread trying to go to sleep at night because i know it's not going to happen.

anyway. we need a good dose of sunshine, as gabe pointed out today, lying on the floor face down and whining 'i need the sun!', totally oblivious to the irony (he's a solar engineer). he pointed out to me that everyone is always happy in san diego all the time. apparently i'm not the only one who also passionately invokes skewed logic when wicked cranky.

but tomorrow is another day, and that day is thanksgiving. we're leaving for south carolina at 7 a.m. when i'll have had about an hour of sleep - what could go wrong? the plan is we will eat so much that we'll be preoccupied with gastrointestinal consequences and won't notice our jumbled, stressed-out minds.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

creative playground

Gabe and I had plans with a friend to go to the open art studios in Durham, but we got sidetracked when she mentioned there was an open house at TechShop. Gabe has been lusting after this place since he first heard about it, but the membership is expensive. We thought we'd at least check it out and see what we're missing.

This place is Gabe's Heaven on Earth. It's a huge place with workspaces, 3-d printers, wood shop, metal shop, silkscreening, sewing/serger/computer embroidery, laser and plasma cutters, welding, blacksmithing, electronics something or other, etc. Even glassblowing soon! We got a one hour tour and my brain was swimming with potential art and craft ideas. I actually had a headache.

On first glance this isn't a place with my name written all over it. (i.e. there are a lot of geeky men in there making robots.) The machine shop and saws and electronic anything I cannot imagine ever being friends with. But the place has a lot of classes, a collaborative atmosphere and I'm really excited to try about everything (except making robots). I have some ideas for photography things, mirrors, masks, frames, books, fabric creations.... Gabe's plan is to built a boat and heat pump.

We each signed up for 2 classes and a one-month membership at a crazy good price. Our main worry is that we're going to get hooked. But a lot of people use the center as a business maybe I'll get some good ideas and make a little store. Or not, we'll see.

So if anyone is looking to get either of us any gifts in the future, a gift certificate to here is number one on the list! Also, if you have any requests for anything we could make let us know! So excited!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

mid-week update

scene from a few doors down:

gabe and i went out in the middle of the night to see the leonid meteor shower. we didn't see so many, but it was fun to be out in the middle of nowhere at 1 a.m. there were actually a lot of people out, watching from bridges and fishing. the camaraderie was amazing, and humbling - lots of little people looking up at the vast universe...

i made crab and andouille sausage gumbo tonight. i even made my own crab stock:

these are cheddar corn muffins with jalapeno butter. i made it with white cornmeal and buttermilk so it came out sort of like a biscuit.

the end.

Monday, November 16, 2009

blissful sunday

Gabe and I camped out by our fireplace Saturday night, and I woke up Sunday morning to the smell of bacon. That's right, I got a homemade-by-husband breakfast and latte. How could this day go wrong? I also started a third book which is great so far, and just finished two wonderful books. (Yay books!)

After lazing around we realized it was 75 degrees and sunny and went for a bike ride. Gabe is a cyclist who built his own super fancy bike, and I have notoriously bad cardio ability. I warned him I'm not up for his usual 30 mile hilly expeditions. So we depart through our hilly apartment complex and I'm already exhausted, whining and carrying my bike up a hill. We turn left towards the countryside, and it is so ridiculously gorgeous - barns, horses, streaming sunlight, ponds, baby blue sky made more brilliant by the autumn leaves. (Yes, there are autumn leaves left in November.) However, this countryside has wicked hills. Gabe reminds me of the time he came back from a bike ride and he was sweaty and sore and said his route kicked his butt. This was the route. GRRR!!! It was beautiful, but man oh man. I had to tell my thighs if they could withstand the burn I would have pie later. (I made a great apple-cranberry-pecan pie with oatmeal cookie crust.)

One of the best parts of our 10 mile bike ride was a bunch of balloons that told us it was the Orange County Open Studio Tour. I wish I knew about it earlier in the weekend, but at least we saw one studio. This lady painted acrylics, watercolor, and made this bold enamel on steel/copper art. I immediately wanted to buy a kiln and try it out, but I tend to get overenthusiastic about these things. She had a lovely house set back in the woods and Gabe and I agreed it's exactly like the house we want to buy someday (next year?).

Once we were home and showered, we made use of the gift certificate his co-workers gave us to a fancy steakhouse, where we ate a lot, and brought even more home. Ribeye, filet mignon, crabcakes, martini, manhattan, potatoes, salad, seafood gumbo, onion rings, and three desserts (in our defense, the assertively bubbly waitress gave us the chocolate cake on her own). Which reminds me I promised Gabe I'd figure out how to make the seafood gumbo.

This week I'm going to learn how to make candy, figure out how to start a business, and write 2 hours a day. And make a kickass seafood gumbo.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

middle-aged lady yoga, part two

We did calf stretches for 8 minutes, holding a minute in each position. The teacher suggested we tell jokes or limericks to fill the silence. (Yes, an interesting technique for mindfulness.) I listened to a few, and then a lady told this joke:

Why did the proper Southern lady stop going to orgies?
Because there were too many thank-you letters to write.

Everyone laughed, and I figured the door was opened to let in regional jokes. So I told them I was born in New Jersey, and here's my joke:

Why are New Yorkers so depressed?
Because the light at the end of their tunnel is NJ.

I erupted in laughter, that joke gets me every time. The ladies all puffed and hmmm..ed, generally looking slightly embarrassed, and made some comments about how they have heard New Jersey is lovely.

I don't know what went wrong, but apparently NJ derision is not as strong as in the Northeast, or we only poke fun of Southerners in these parts. Or we don't say depressed? Or generally we're just as nice as possible, all the time?


I think Fall has officially hit North Carolina (now that we're in November). It's the third day of rain, wind and chill. For the first time I have seen people in jackets, and leaves coat the wet streets. I've been indoors the past couple days but knew I needed to get out of the house today.

First I went to a coffee shop to write for a bit. Leaving the distraction of the meowy cats and messy kitchen, I instead was distracted by tvs, radio, other patrons, the waitress, etc. Eventually I thought a library would be a better environment, and set out for Carrboro. I love nearly everything about that town so thought their library would be awesome as well. Apparently the library is connected to the elementary and middle schools and it was 2:30, so I followed an endless parade of SUVs in a circle without a parking spot to be seen. Hmph.

I did all this in gym clothes. It's my new strategy to make friends with my gym. With our apartment rental we get a free membership to the gym. We've been maybe 4 times. It's not a great gym, it's a drive, I've been occupied. But now with my newfound time (see post below) there are no excuses. I figure if I put on gym clothes in the beginning of the day I'll get there eventually. (It also helps delay the putting away of the summer clothes and bringing out the winter ones.)

I decided to go to yoga at 4. With some extra time I stopped at the thrift store. Probably because my allergies weren't bad enough. (After feeling great in Mexico, and now blowing blood into a tissue each morning, I've come to accept that yes, I am the crazy cat lady who is allergic to cats.) The most surprising thing that happened in the thrift store is I found a pair of pants that fit me. The second most surprising thing was that an older man came up to me in the book section telling me how much he loves books, how many he has in his home, how he loves cookbooks the best. In Spanish! Without waiting for a response. Now I'm not one to be pegged as Spanish speaking. So either he is intuitive, or is just really really lonely. I resisted the urge to buy an old afghan of unknown origin that reminded me of my grandmom, as well as pounds of lace that I had initially convinced myself I'd make into something fabulous. (If someone has crafty ideas for lace let me know.)

Then off to yoga, where I discovered that though my socks were both striped they were of different colors. I felt very uncomfortable, not out of embarrassment, but rather some latent OCD behaviors. On yoga mats, it was me and seven middle aged ladies. The teacher was lovely and sweet, and strange looking. She had a voice of a teenager but had a shock of white hair and looked very skeletal. I suppressed fits of giggles as she started the class. Her breathy assertions of "just like that", "that's good", "a little bit more" were a little TOO breathy and repetitive. She simmered down, though, but then started with the breathing imagery. Kiss of breath, your breath like butterflies over wildflowers, surf your breath, etc. I am so glad Gabe wasn't with me, we would have lost it. I discovered some new space in my spine, and stretched out an inch so I cannot complain. The fifteen minute sivasana was rejuvenating.

I am glad for the Fall. I really dislike being cold, but cold weather allows for different kinds of warmth: blankets, hot baths, steam rooms, spiced cider, oven-warmed kitchens, fireplaces, steamed milk, Christmas lights.

Monday, November 9, 2009

floating in space

well, more like time.

all at once, my mental health license application is in, wedding and honeymoon planning is over, scuba certification is done, and my obligations with IEATA are over. my to-do list has dwindled to a few very manageable tasks. this evening found me wandering around the house with no real purpose (except to avoid the pile of clean laundry on the bed). i moseyed (sp?) to the kitchen and made pecan cookies and cranberry-nut rolls. perhaps later i'll read a book. or not, i don't know.

this sudden assault of leisure time, combined with 75 degree temperatures in mid-november, has left me disoriented. i quit my job in august, but had been busy since. now i'm really feeling the trickle of minutes luxuriously spilling out of the clock (hmm... does she continue some bizarre metaphor or no...). no.

so what to do with all the minutes up for grabs? one, write. for real this time. i'm starting with 2 hours a day, so it feels manageable. feel free to hold me accountable on any given day. i've thought about writing a book since i was seven, and it's high time discipline caught up to ambition. two, get some jobby job part-time. i'm finding it very difficult however to find anything in my field unless i'm licensed, which still will take a few months (i need one class that wasn't required in MA). and cook. and take pictures. and figure out some crafty christmas presents, perhaps. if i think up an entrepreneurial venture that takes little money to start up i may substitute that for the jobby job. if i can sustain writing for more hours a day that may temporarily substitute for the jobby job. fortunately, i have an amazingly supportive husband who would love to see my dreams manifest at least as much, if not more, than me. he's encouraging me towards the last option.

speaking of husbands, i said it aloud for the first time (in english) since we were married. i spoke to maintenance at our apt. and said something like this:

"my husband says our toilet is broken. i'm not sure how. some valve thing. flapper? it's definitely some valve. he said it's leaking water but there's no water that i see. flush valve? flapper? he told me numerous times. sorry, i forget."

it was all very romantic. and see, there's proof that some gender stereotypes are alive and kicking in our household :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

pictures of people

I have a real problem taking pictures of people I don't know. Even if they are in the background, with other cares than a girl with a camera many yards away. I feel it's intrusive, disrespectful...what if they have a phobia of cameras and I make them pass out? This part of me battles with my inner photographer. Like when I walked, camera in hand, and saw two laughing boys in Cozumel hitting a pinata in the front porch of their home. What an amazing shot! vs. That's their home! I just couldn't do it.

So during two weeks of picture taking there are only two pictures that include people I don't know. This is one:

This is an example of the tourists I mentioned two posts ago. Aloha shirt, check. Sunhat with balloons, yes balloons, check. High heels for walking on cobblestones, check. Map, not checked - hence the pointing. I am 95% sure they are on their way downtown for a yard of beer.

For Day of the Dead we heard there was an event at the local cemetery. Gabe and I walked and saw a throng of people gathered listening to a religious service, many holding flowers. I felt intrusive being anywhere near there with a camera bag, even, so we turned around. A block further I saw these colors, these girls and just HAD to shoot a quick picture. That's why it could have been composed better, and I'll edit it later, but I still love it.

what marriage means in texas

On our flight back from Cancun we went through Houston. Custom forms in one hand, Gabe and I waited in line. We were enjoying our recent designation as family, and I made some silly comments about changing the cats' last names, too.

As we got to the counter we each handed the man our forms. He asked if we were married, and we said yes, very recently. He immediately tore up a form into pieces, threw it in the trash, marked a "2" on the other and handed it back to Gabe. He spoke to him the rest of the time and then we said our goodbyes and headed to our luggage.

What had just happened? It took a minute to sink in. Apparently I no longer counted as an individual. I felt shock at the pureness of the metaphor. My name, my form, torn up and discarded. I now was the "2", the second party, on Gabriel's form. I wasn't so much angry as in awe. The man is head of the household, I was told, on my return to America.

At first I tried to blame it on Texas. (I've been in a Texas airport four times in the past year, and have always heard at least one conversation that includes a man talking about his gun collection.) But then again, I couldn't imagine any customs department anywhere in America that would tear up the man's form and hand the information to the woman.

What a little incident, one that needs no feminist uprising, one that could have been easily disregarded, but one that says so much about gender dynamics in our culture. I am happy to be a wife, happy to change my last name even, happy to make a little family with the man I love. I just wrongly assumed that there would be an acknowledgment of equality in a two-person household.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

luna de miel

I am writing from North Carolina. The sounds of Cozumel are half a day behind me, and loudly absent. The rooster calls, the dogs barking, the gasoline truck's jingle (like Mr. Softee), mopeds skimming through puddles, Mexican music, the shouts of soliciting shopkeepers, and Spanish language everywhere.

I had the best traveling buddy this past week. I now call him my husband. (I've actually never said that out loud to anyone in English yet, only Spanish.) I could have landed myself a husband that wears Hawaiin shirts, balloon hats, and carries around a yard of beer when traveling. But we had an immediate unspoken agreement to avoid the tourist stores and restaurants. We ventured deeper into the city, practiced our spanish, and ate only mexican food except for one meal. We talked to the locals about hurricanes and their families, and ate at many lunch spots that literally were in people's homes, where no english was spoken. And here I'd like to give a special shout out to my stomach. You were awesome!! I normally have a very over-sensitive tummy and even with 2 weeks in Mexico, eating some adventurous dishes, and not being very careful about ice and such I didn't get sick!

The highlight of our honeymoon was the diving. Oh my god. Holy crap!! I thought scuba diving there would be great, but I was in no way prepared for the awesome, transcendental experience it was. (I was a bit surprised at how I almost drifted away in one current, and had not one but two technical difficulties with equipment, but that's another story.) On our very first dive, in the very first few minutes, we saw a huge Moray eel. It was moving in the open sea and looked like a Chinese dragon in a parade. We saw schools of fish all over, and a grouper bigger than me that swam alongside me in a tunnel. So many sting rays, and an absolutely incredible eagle ray that was about 7 feet long - it looked like it was flying through the ocean. We saw a nurse shark, a stone fish, barracudas, parrotfish, and sea turtles. Big sea turtles. The coral was stunning - so many colors and tunnels and life teeming throughout. We did a night dive in the pitch black night, with flashlights, and saw octopus, rays, lobster and crabs. The ocean was lit up with bioluminescent plankton, so it looked exactly like swimming through stars. That, combined with the weightlessness, made me feel like an astronaut on a different planet.

There is much more, but I had a long day of traveling and it's time to shower and sleep. More stories, and wedding details/pictures to follow. It was all incredible, and I feel so unbelievably blessed to be married to Gabriel and to have had such a wonderful wedding and honeymoon.


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