Saturday, December 29, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
To All My Democrat Friends:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability or religious faith.
To my Republican friends - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
There's still more to the honeymoon I haven't posted! I must finish this up soon (just like those thank you notes, heh) before it's too long after the fact. Goal: done with honeymoon posting by two months after we got back, a.k.a. December 7. omg, that's soon!
Okay, I'd like to share pictures of nature around O'ahu. We did drive most of the way around the island, but not all at once like we did on the Big Island.
Our first stop is the North Shore, where we didn't actually stop, but we did see a lot of the beaches on our way to the Polynesian Cultural Center in the first week of our trip. We drove straight through the middle of the island to get there and as we came over the last rise in land, here's what we saw:
So pretty. I'll visit the colors of Hawai'i many times in my dreams, I am sure.
I'd like to pause to talk about the rain in Hawai'i. I knew before I got there that each of the islands have a "windward" and "leeward" side. The windward, or northeast sides of the islands get around 200 inches of rain per year and are classified as rainforest areas. The leeward sides get far less rain and qualify as deserts. Even though I knew this, this midwestern gal had a hard time really comprehending how this works. When it rains in Naperville, it rains in Rockford, Joliet, Valparaiso...in other words, a large area. But then, when I saw views like the one to the left nearly every day, I finally realized. The clouds just build up and start leaking over the mountains. And it does still rain on the leeward side, but it mainly just mists for a few minutes per day and evaporates. On the windward side, we'd be walking around outside when it would start raining. To me, 200 inches of rain translates as pouring rain all the time. But in Hawai'i, it actually just rains for a few minutes every hour. Certainly no reason to pull in the beach blanket. It's like getting sprayed by ocean waves on a rock--nothing to it. Makes for a lot of pretty rainbows too (see Pearl Harbor post).
In the second week of our trip, Erich and I drove around O'ahu a lot more to see all the natural attractions around the north and east edge of the island. Remember on the Big Island, how everything was so new and untouched? Well, as a much older island, O'ahu is much more eroded and is no longer growing. It was fascinating to see the contrasts. Our first stop was the Pali lookout:
Driving. This reminds me of the Lost pilot, when they heard the horrible noise off in the mountains. Heck, for all I know they could have filmed these very mountains.
Another beach, another occasion for me to gawk at the beautiful colors of the Pacific Ocean.
Lighthouse, for my mother-in-law. :)
I love Hawai'i!
Hiking adventure: welcome back to the desert! This trail (less than a mile from the picture above!) was sun-drenched and HOT. I almost melted. It's kind of funny that within one day on Hawai'i we experienced both the coldest and hottest temperatures of our trip.
As we continued our drive along the eastern coast of the island, we came to the Halona blowhole. The blowhole was a tube where lave once flowed to the ocean. Now, waves that come crashing in blow out the top of the rocks. Really, the picture describes it better than I can:
This is the view in the distance from the Halona Blowhole.
After our drive this particular day, we went back to Makaha Valley via H3, one of the "interstate" highways in Hawai'i. A lot of people think it's hilarious and quirky that there's an interstate in a state surrounded entirely by water, but the reason for it is really quite simple. When Hawai'i became a state in 1959, they argued that not being connected by land to any other state was no reason to be excluded from federal funding for roads. Congress agreed, so Hawai'i has the H1, the H2, and the H3. Our guidebook asserted that the H3 is arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of freeway in the 50 states, and I am inclined to agree:
This shall conclude today's Hawai'i post. By my estimation, I have about two more to make. I may miss my deadline :/. But at this juncture, it's probably more important to get those thank you notes done.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I know from experience that finding and marrying someone is not as simple as flipping a switch. If it weren't for Erich, I was prepared to live a life of spinsterhood--I even joked about looking into becoming a Lutheran nun or just getting two cats and watching them become many, many cats who would keep me company in my life of loneliness. I don't even like cats that much. And I can't have been the only person who wondered if I was gay in my long 22 years without a boyfriend. But I don't like girls that much--definitely straight. For me, the right person had to come along. And believe me, I put up plenty of stumbling blocks for Erich to test his worthiness, and he leaped over all of them without blinking. And that is why we are now married.
But if that hadn't happened, would I be getting nosy questions like that now? My instinct says no, but based on the comments on Jezebel, way too many single women are asked why they are single. There could be some cultures (East Coast? UK?) where such personal, invasive questions are considered acceptable conversation. I can't really make a judgment on that; I only know that in my family and culture, people aren't so nosy.
And yet, in reading the article, I found what seem to be very one-sided claims.
"Marriage: The Good, the Bad and the Greedy," a study published by the American Sociological Association in 2006, found that marriage can lead to a reduced number of social connections for couples outside of their relationship. In turning the marital bond into something of a social oasis, the recently hitched are less inclined to meet with friends.
No kidding? Well, do you think, sociologists, that maybe it's because these people decided to marry the one with whom they like to hang out the most? And they're enjoying being with that person? Plus, it says "recently hitched." Maybe they are actually kinda busy doing things like figuring out yours, mine, and ours; merging finances and figuring out a budget and short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. There is more to the "honeymoon stage" then just staring at each other, all googly-eyed. And a marriage that will last will also make sure it can stand on its own two feet in this early stage. And lastly, the recently married will probably be thinking/talking about when to start a family. It may just be that the late night drinking and partying is, for the most part, over for this couple. And this is by choice.
And the second one-sided claim:
Or as musician Alesandra Valenzuela, 34, of San Jose, Calif., discovered, they'll take it a step further.
Valenzuela, who is unmarried, said she noticed recently that the behavior of a couple she knew before their wedding shifted when they returned from their honeymoon. In their home stocked with such bridal gifts as a fancy tea set, the newlyweds were suddenly dismissive of Valenzuela.
"They acted all proud of themselves," said Valenzuela, a singer/songwriter. "They acted like they had all of their pieces together and I was stuck eating frozen pizza and living in a house with laundry on the floor. Something changed."
Well, Ms. Valenzuela, I'm not sure evidence like that will hold up in court where your friends stand trial of being more distant since their wedding. Seems mostly a problem with perception, a problem with which I am all too familiar. Proud of themselves? Do you think maybe they're just happy and you're a little bit jealous? On the other hand, if they really think they're happier than you could ever be by virtue of the fact that they have a fancy tea set, there's nothing to be jealous about. Case dismissed.
What all this seems to boil down to is that friendships change when someone gets married. Friendships can change for a lot of other reasons too. The most obvious example is school friendships: I had many friends in high school that I stopped having much in common with when we went off to different colleges. I had even better friends in college who have gone their separate ways--we didn't really stop being friends, but we can't see each other as often in part because of geographical distance, but also because we don't have certain things in common that drew us together, like sharing classes, a major, or a dormitory. Graduation forces these changes and while it's painful, we adjust. Marriage forces change as well, but it's on a much more individualized time frame. Good friends will still make time for each other. But married people will gravitate toward married friends; parents will gravitate toward parents of kids the same age.
"Smug" is in the eye of the beholder. Singletons, please hesitate to judge an attitude as "smug," when it may be just "happy" colored by a little bit of jealousy.
Disclaimer: There are probably a ton of people out there who get married for the sole purpose of being married and smug about it. I don't want to diminish those who deal with these truly annoying people. I speak only from my own experience.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
It's almost Thanksgiving, so I want to make a quick post about Halloween. It was fun! Melissa had a party the Saturday before at her home/my former place of residence. I decided to go as Marilyn Monroe and Erich was a redneck. Here we are, posing at the plex:
And one at the party:
On Halloween day, I met Tim, Erin, and Alayna at my parents' house where Alayna went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. She looked adorable in her dinosaur costume (though she refused to wear the headpiece), and I decided to go along and take pictures.
First house! Practicing saying "Trick or treat!" (which sounded more like "go-ko deet!")
"They're giving out candy! Finally my cuteness pays off!"
A ghostly encounter
Friday, November 16, 2007
My honeymoon posting has lapsed a bit, but I am spurred on by an email from Sarah.
Our first day back from the Big Island, we totally relaxed, and that was very nice. The second day, Tuesday, we drove to Pearl Harbor for a wonderful experience in history. Visiting Pearl Harbor was not so much about excitement as embracing our country's history and fully realizing the impact that the tragedy of December 7, 1941 had on the world.
Now when I say it wasn't about excitement, that's mostly because I, personally, do not get excited usually about military-related things and battleships and such. Some do; I think Erich does. In any case, I really enjoyed myself and learned a lot, and for good reason, Pearl Harbor is ALWAYS. ExTREMEly. Crowded. September/October is the slow season for tourism in Hawai'i in general, but the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial is always packed. We got there mid-morning and had to wait more than two hours before we were able to take the boat over to the memorial itself. In the meantime, we toured the U.S.S. Bowfin, a submarine from WWII and a submarine museum. Afterward, we toured the U.S.S. Missouri, the battleship that helped to avenge the Arizona. I'll try not to inform much further, lest I reveal how paltry my knowledge of history really is. Let's get on to the pictures (it's hard to pick from so many!):
This was the most spacious sleeping quarters. Holy cow.
This is way bigger than the stand mixer we just got with wedding gift cards.
Can you imagine this being a normal day?
Same memo from above with other pleasant mealtime "reading" material.
Doorway. Can't tell how small it is?
Here's Erich going through the doorway.
He was so tan!
Rockin' the audio tour.
How cool am I? I'm so cool, I got a photo of the view through the periscope.
One-man Japanese suicide torpedo. Chilling.
The main courtyard, where we waited to catch the boat to the memorial.
Approaching the USS Arizona Memorial. The smaller white structures mark sites of other sunk ships.
66 years later, oil from the ship still leaks up to the surface.
The ship isn't even fully submerged, but that fact didn't stop the ship from becoming a coffin for almost 1200 people. Silence was observed in the memorial out of respect for the dead.
One of them was a Keller.
It's a beautiful memorial.
On the "Mighty Mo'":
That is one large vessel.