3 October 2004


Forget the eco-thriller that just dropped on DVD, today, November 3, 2004 is the real Day After. Well I suppose that depends on who you voted for. With us I don't think there's any doubt which way we voted, so today we're in a bit of mourning, trying to understand what went wrong. C'est la guerre, I suppose.

But there's more to life than elections, and it's been over two months since the last diary update. We've weathered a couple of little squalls up here so far this season. And while there were no stones from the heavens to smash windows, and no snow, we've already been able to glean a few things about how winter in Guerneville will be: 1) reports of coming precipitation are less meteorological predictions and more Biblical prophecy. It's easy to understand how and why this river is so prone to flooding; 2) If it's raining, get the candles. The power around here goes out seemingly at the drop of a hat. Usually it doesn't stay out too long, but resetting clocks gets old really quickly; 3) almost all of our trees are deciduous, so when it's not raining, it's raking time. Done raking? Great, in five minutes no one will know you raked at all.

But perhaps the most important one is 4) this is truly a magical place. In the late evening, as the temperature has fallen (we're acclimated – night temperatures of 49 degrees constitute “cold” now), wood stoves fill the night air with that distinct aroma declaring that winter is near. We're no longer swimming in the river, but we're still loving the area.

And, oh yeah, I turned 30 last week. Thanks to all the well-wishers. Thanks to my wonderful family for my fantastic gift that I'm still awed over. Thanks to Gary and Lana, as it's never too wet to barbeque (okay, that's a lie). Honestly, turning thirty didn't bother me. It came on like any other birthday. I actually welcomed the decade change in my life. It didn't blindside me like, say, a white Chevy stepside pickup in the crosswalk of Santa Rosa and Third. And recovering from getting smacked by a truck has taken a bit longer then getting rear-ended on my motorcycle in the wee hours of the morning. Let me say again, turning thirty is nothing like a car accident. It's far better so far!

Stick around; we're working on more photos, stories and stuff!

31 August 2004


September-eve and it's the first in a great while that neither Anna nor I have been preparing for one school or another. It's also the first in two years that we're not anticipating greeting two new classrooms of students as their teacher.

Autumn is coming, bittersweet.

Before we get too far, you might have seen the new link on the front page for “Memory Walk,” which takes you to our page for the Alzheimer's Association's San Francisco Memory Walk, which Anna and I are participating in. Our goal is to raise $500 before October 9 th . We are walking in honor and remembrance of Anna's grandparents, Oleg and Valentina Affanasiev, and for everyone who has had to watch a loved one slip slowly away. We thank you for any support you can give. Click on the link and check it out. Thank you again.

We are so lucky to be living where we are, and we count our blessings every day: we have a wonderful place to live, we both (finally) have jobs, we're both healthy (still working on those health benefits – but I've been told (repeatedly) that the economy has turned the corner, so I'm looking forward to benefits anytime now), and our cats are annoying.

No, that's not entirely true. Our cats are wonderful and loving their new home to roam, except at 3:30 in the morning when Shurik decides it is time to get up. He's worse than a damn rooster. Promptly at 3:30 in the morning, it's cock-a-doodle-Shurik. It's getting to be ritual now: Shurik announces the hour, I climb out of bed and take him to the bathroom, close the door, and enjoy the rest of the night. During this, Amaya's blissfully sleeping at our feet – make no mistake, she's no angel. Now that we live in a space slightly larger than your average walk-in closet, we can throw her little ball all the way across the house and she'll charge after it and bring it back to you with enthusiasm. Too much enthusiasm. You see, now that she knows we'll throw her ball she meows, or rather shrieks at us incessantly until we throw her ball. And when she's feeling lazy, she'll drop the ball just out of reach, continue on to your feet and meow loudly as if to say, “Well?! I brought it most of the way back, you can stretch a little bit.” Please, come visit, we'll let you throw the ball with Amaya all. day. long.

Don't think we're coasting into Autumn, though. Just because we're not in school doesn't mean we don't have a lot planned. First, another camera is going in for development tomorrow. Second, new websites are taking shape. That is all I can say on that for now. And third….okay, third we're coasting into Autumn. We've never had an autumn up here so we're going to enjoy it! Check out our link and please keep in touch!

19 July 2004


Here on the river we have ghosts. When my friend Rachel was last here, as we walked down the dirt road that breasts our house at twilight, she remarked “This is a place of secrets.” And she is right—secret lives, secret houses, secret gardens that bramble and ramble off towards the riverbank. At night there are no streetlights, and little noise except the redwoods creaking and the crickets and frogs. And ghosts.

Not ghosts in the spooky haunted house category—white as sheets, peeking up from decrepit windowsills, or hiants in the cemetery. There are no “hot steams” to walk through at night on the way to the river. But there are memories.

Since our neighborhood is predominantly Russian, and our house sits directly on the road down to the river, we hear them talking as they pass by, or from their yards. Every time, it makes me catch my breath. Yesterday, I heard the lady that lives behind us instructing her grandson to help her with the salad. Standing in the back yard, watering the ancient lilac bush, I felt tears rush to my face. Her inflection, her voice, so much like my own babushka's voice—before she lost her mind. It was like a gift from God. Everything came back in that moment—the smell of her housecoat, the rustle of swiss chard leaves, the feel of Misha's skin, the cut of his shorts, the wave of my grandmother's hair with its prickly crown of bobby pins. I moved closer, beneath their plum tree, praying I would hear more. But it was fleeting…a ghost.

Yesterday, on hold at work, Jordy heard music. He writes of it:

An old U2 song ends and a song comes on that I haven't heard since my dad sang along to an old cassette tape 15-odd years ago: “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” It was one of his favorite songs and he always insisted on singing poorly along to that cheesy song. Hearing it made me miss him so terribly…I don't think grief ever really goes and disappears, just the interval between the waves grows from minutes to hours to days, to weeks, to months, and even years. But even after almost thirteen years since I held my Dad's lifeless hand in El Camino hospital, you never know when a wave will crash over you. It can even happen when you're listening to hold music.

It's funny—I never met Jordy's dad. But he inhabits our lives just as well. There are faint shadows of him in Jordy—his eyes the same limpid brown, the shape of his face. In an old photograph, I notice their hands are oddly similar. Ghosts in the flesh.

In our yard, we have a large patio shaded by an ivy covered trellis. In this space, my mother's godmother, Mucya, and her husband George, would host large gatherings of Russians. The home we live in now was their beloved summer “dacha,” and I have photos of the parties they once held here. Huge tables groaning with food, warm 7-up in liter bottles, vodka. The Russians of that generation were stocky even when they were thin, short, and seemed to prefer loud dresses for the women and pale dress shirts with short sleeves for the men. They are still here. On Father's day, as my dad sat in our yard under the shade of an ancient persimmon tree, he heard George's laugh drift from the patio. Ghosts.

In this, my most melancholy summer in a while, all I can do is listen to my ghosts. At sunset, Jordy and I go swimming in the river. We come down in our bathing suits and colorful towels, swathed in their garish, life-affirming shades of fuchsia and orange. There in the water, we swim or just lay on our backs staring at the sky. We often see egrets and blue herons and ducks of every color imaginable. The fog rolls in some nights, and as we float down the river, we disappear from view to those on the shore. But our life-affirming colors remain behind. And, down at summer crossing, the ghosts are talking behind the waterfalls that spill in front of the bridge.

25 June 2004

We're behind here, I'll admit that. Too many changes, too fast, and we're just now trying to get caught up. I can see by the date of the below post that we're further behind on updating these than I thought.

But where to start?

No place better than the present. Currently, it's a comfortable 66 degrees as I type this in Guerneville , California . This afternoon after leaving my job in Santa Rosa , I commuted through vineyards to get home to Anna who was waiting for me to go swimming in the Russian river. That's how much things have changed.

We reached Utah escape velocity at the end of April. Momthra flew out to help us pack, clean, and move. The first day of loading the truck was warm and beautiful. The second day saw six inches of snow fall. I think it was Utah 's way of saying, “so you really think you'll miss this ?” I'd love to say the drive was uneventful, and nothing catastrophic occurred on our two-day drive, except 1) we lost a hub cap off the Corolla, 2) the much-maligned 4Runner took a rock to the windshield, 3) the evil UHaul blew a tire outside of Sparks before, 4) completely losing all rear lights in Reno. With our delays we didn't reach Sonoma county until well after dark. Momthra, driving the Corolla, decides highway 116 is faster than 101, which it is except when you're driving a 17 foot long, 11 foot high Uhaul. I violated all known performance envelopes as I slalomed that leviathan through pocket canyon in a desperate attempt to keep the taillights of the Corolla in sight.

There are some pictures from moving that are on a cd that we're desperately trying to locate. On top of those we've got a disposable camera to develop, plus a known cd with pictures Anna took of her cousin Lisa's wedding, as well as a few shots of our new abode. As usual, Anna is planning on sending out a mass email once I get the pictures online. Until then, enjoy the new layout of the site, and we'll enjoy the river!

7 February 2004

It’s 9 in the morning here in Utah as I sit writing this to try and avoid doing work on my thesis. I figure this is for a good cause, and so taking time away from school isn’t so bad. As Jordy wrote in the last post, we are moving back to California in April-and we are so stoked about it. It means the next three months here will be crazy as we try to wrap up our thesi, pack our house up and hide two cats from the Aggie Ghetto authorities.
Yes, two cats. This past weekend we adopted our second kitty from 4 Paws Rescue after having her on hold for a week because of finances. Her name is Amaya, which means “night rain” in Japanese, and she is a Bombay, which means she is all black with copper eyes. We found out from the vet Saturday that she is about a year old and very recently gave birth to kittens, so we are speculating that she was a feral cat before coming to us. She was quite dirty and it looked as if her claws had never been trimmed in her life, but as soon as we got her out of her cage she was a big lovebug, though very skittish. We brought Shurik down to the shelter to meet her, in hopes of avoiding a fiasco like we had with the ill-fated Duscha, and they got along reasonably well. After waiting a week, we were finally able to pick her up on Friday night. She was terrified and spent most of that night being held by Jordy and I, and she finally relaxed and fell asleep in Jordy’s arms.
The next day was quite a big adventure for our little ones. They were smuggled out of the apartment in laundry baskets and brought to the vet. Shurik got booster shots and Amaya got a thorough checkup. At first the vet though she might be pregnant (aaack!!!) but then realized that she had been spayed, which is how we found out how recently she had given birth. Her tummy is very distended, and we know this because her most favorite thing in the world is to have her belly rubbed. Otherwise, she is healthy (yea!). That afternoon, after we returned from a Red Iguana run to SLC, Amaya got her first bath. We filled the sink with water and shampooed tons of dead hair and dirt away. This is an experience we hope never to repeat for obvious reasons. She and Shurik are still adjusting to each other, but all the signs are pointing to them being good friends in the future.
Other than the new kitty, life is routine. Classes are going remarkably smoothly, our kids are great, Utah is cold and the Mormons are annoying. We had 17 consecutive days in January where the daytime temperature never broke 10, so needless to say we are quite happy to see weather in the 20’s. New pictures should be up this weekend, including pictures of our new girl! Stay tuned for more adventures from Utahpia…

24 January 2004


A new site is here at last!
It’s funny, I started the redesign of this page before we knew a lot of things, most particularly that we’re moving back to California. And while we have been hoping to move back, no, make that dreaming, we never foresaw that it would be so soon — end of April. Really.
If you haven’t heard the news we will be renting Lana and Gary’s cabin on the Russian river in Guerneville. We’re not done with our theses yet, but Anna’s hoping to defend by the end of this semester and I’m hoping to defend next fall and just fly back to Utah for that. But we’re updating resumes and preparing to head west for our home state.
And, again, the redesign utilizing a collage of snapshots from our time in Utah was conceived long before we really had any true hope of returning, but seems incredibly apropos now. Call this redesign our Utah swan song, call it what you will, it will be our last Utah Sluglife.net website.
And though we won’t miss the sub-zero temperatures and snow, there’s a lot here we’ll miss. Our friends are scattering to the wind at the end of this school year, which makes things a little easier. John and Mel, who had their twins, will still be around. I’ll miss my job at Dutro. But there’s nothing left for us at USU. It’s time to move on, and so we’re moving back. Anna will break my streak of journal entries in the not-so-distant-future, but until then we both hope you enjoy the new site design. We’ll get more pictures up soon, I promise.

22 October 2003

Holy crap! Where did October go?!
So we’re staring November in the face and we’ve got no new pictures to show for it. Well, that’s not entirely true. We do have pictures, we just haven’t a) gotten them up and b) gotten them developed. See we have a metric ton of pictures for you — wedding pictures (Owen and Sce), drive home through hellish storm pictures (August), Anna making cake pictures, even Misha cleaning out the truck pictures. Hell, we’ve even got pictures we don’t even remember taking. But we have them! And there not up yet. Why, you might ask, why?
I’m glad you asked. See, this post is by, well, me, and the last post was by me, and that post behind it? Right, me again. Anna has disappeared. Well, not really. She’s here, but she’s stuck in a thesis proposal/conference paper/class presentation whirlpool of death. Okay, maybe not death, but certainly hell. You could call it lack of time. You could be right. You could be a Japanese woodcarver who specializes in giant reproductions of miniature bonsai trees made out of stumps. I’d wonder about you if you were that.
But, alas, that’s only part of the reason. The other part is next week. Next week has expanded like something that expands and takes over time. Wednesday we’re flying to Houston where Anna will deliver a thoroughly stunning paper at the Western Literature Association’s annual conference. See, she’s even in the program. That kicks ass. But in order to go you have to use this thing called money to buy airline tickets, hotels, yada, yada, yada — and yadas aren’t cheap these days. We’re developing a fine affinity for Top Raman. And, really, if you dump a little Cholula hot sauce in it and pronounce it all French-like (Tope Rah’-min), it ain’t half bad. But we decisively haven’t had money for developing. And before anyone writes us saying, “You need a digital camera!!” I ask you digital-camera-owning folks: when was the last time you ate Top Raman? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Lack of cash and lack of Anna have stymied any hopes of getting pictures up until, likely, early November. Oh, but what pictures we’ll have for you! Hopefully I’ll get Anna to write a journal soon. Or, failing that, I’ll just steal an excerpt from her conference paper so you’ll know she’s around.

4 October 2003


Well, somehow we managed to miss September altogether. I mean, we didn’t miss it, per se — we used all 30 days just like everyone else. But if you’re gauging our experience by what we post here then September has been a blur. And, rightfully so, it was a blur. I’ll see what I can do to catch you up.
We’ve been teaching a lot last month. Our classes are really starting to gel, and though we’re new to the classes we’re teaching we’re really starting to get into the rhythm of it all. In addition to teaching we’re taking classes. Anna’s Native American Literature suits her just fine and she’s enjoying it quite a bit. Likewise my nonfiction creative writing class feels like a throwback to my UCSC creative writing days, but with the distance and perspective of almost 10 years. As for our history of the American West class… well, we know why we didn’t become history majors, that’s for sure.
I’m still working part-time at Dutro, which makes for busy days but a little more breathing room financially (key word: little). I’m still learning a lot and I’m having a good time. We’ve got some big projects coming up and I’m always excited about that kind of thing.
The biggest news of the month is that Anna wasn’t here for most of it. Really, she flew out to California on the 17th to do some research for her thesis and also to make Owen and Sce’s wedding cake. Originally we both were going to go, but with missing work and so many classes (my tech writing class is on Monday, Wednesday, Friday) I opted to fly out a week later. This meant that Anna and I would spend a week apart, the longest time we’ve been apart since we’ve been together.
We were fine, though. Anna had her parents and Rachel came down for the weekend to see her. Melissa and John took pity on me and made me dinner two nights (including the best pot roast I’ve ever had). I saw a movie with my friend Josh. I played guitar at the pig party this year (again). I had a pretty decent time of it at home, too, at least until the last night. Without Anna it was certainly lonely, but I still had Shurik. The Tuesday before I left, though, I had to drop him off at the catsitter’s (Liz). Returning to an empty empty apartment was awful. It was so quiet. Too quiet. I managed to make it through the night, though, and the next day I went to work, I taught, then I high-tailed it to SLC.
When I got to California Anna still had one cake left to make which she did on Thursday. That night we celebrated Gary’s birthday by going out to Max’s Opera Café. A good time was had by all. Friday we had Owen and Sce’s rehearsal and rehearsal dinner — their wedding was the main reason we went out to California. The dinner was at the café in the San Jose Museum of Art and was delicious and a lot of fun.
The following day was The Big Day. It started with a haircut for me, pedi and manicures for Anna. Then it was dressing time and off to Hakone gardens. We took a thousand pictures which are at Wal-Mart currently. We’ll have them up in the not-so-distant future. But the ceremony I wrote (with co-authors and sounding boards Anna and Lana) went over well. The reception was great fun as well, and everyone loved Anna’s cake. Alas, the evening drew to a close too quickly and immediately after the Korean ceremony (which was gorgeous) we had to retire to casa de Momthra to pack And pack we did, which kept us up too late because we had to get up too early to head to the airport.
Once back in Utah, we were trying to keep our heads down until month’s end as we had absolutely no money. But things are brighter now that we’ve made October. A lot of big things are brewing, as well. My Mom is coming for a visit this Thursday. We’ve already booked our tickets and such for going to Houston so Anna can deliver her paper at the Western Literature Association’s gathering and, hopefully, influence some administrators at prospective PhD schools. We’ll see. Big things. You’ll definitely hear more from us in the coming weeks. And new pictures soon!

31 August 2003

We’ve logged our first week teaching this year and the most important news has absolutely nothing to do with school: the cat’s out of the bag — Shurik has been discovered. We’ve been debating the veracity of our RA’s tale (tail?) that she spotted him in the office window when she was putting up fliers (we theorize that one of our not-so-friendly neighbors ratted us out to her and she used the window story to avoid incriminating anyone), but regardless of how she came to know of him the fact is that she does, and now we’re painfully aware of just how draconian the housing department’s policy towards illicit pets is. Fortunately, when the RA called to inform us of that policy our friend Mary and her now fiancé were over asking if I wanted to perform their wedding. I quickly told the RA that Mary and Elis were Shurik’s owners and we were catsitting. She bought it, as far as I could tell, and after Mary and Elis left with cat in tow, she came over to inspect our apartment to make sure we weren’t pulling a feline Anne Frank. As if the search of our apartment weren’t enough, we may get fined $50 for her knowledge of Shurik, regardless of whether he is ours or not. Lovely. Mary secreted Shurik back later that night, and we’ve since lined up a foster home for him if need be, but at this point we’ve got three options: one, which isn’t an option, is to get rid of Shurik. So now we’re down to two options. Option one is to move. We’ve found out that breaking our contract isn’t nearly as difficult logistically or financially as we had expected, and it’s certainly a viable option. After the holiday tomorrow we’re going to look in earnest for cat-friendly apartments which, while somewhat hard to find, are around and give us better amenities for about the same price as Aggie Ghetto. The second option is a more interesting one. Prodding to see what was required to break our contract, I floated the balloon that Shurik was Anna’s “companion animal” to help her with her acute seasonal depression (which, though surfing the latest politically correct tide, isn’t entirely untrue). They responded that they’ve done that before and as long as we went to the Disabled Resources Center on campus to get it certified (the condition, not the cat) then we could keep Shurik here. Now, we don’t know what’s required to clear the DRC, but Tuesday we launch our two pronged attack: I call and set up appointments at prospective apartments, while Anna makes inquiries at the DRC. Wish us (and Shurik) luck!
Oh, yeah, we had school, too! We’re finding that our students this semester bear almost no likeness to the naïve, short attention span students of last year. On the contrary our students thus far have seemed much more like intellectual sponges hanging on our every word. Okay, perhaps they weren’t exactly hanging on every word but both Anna and I witnessed numerous students taking notes, and we didn’t even tell them to take notes. We’re still in shock. They’re older (juniors and seniors) than the freshmen, sometimes many years older as most of the male freshmen go on their two year LDS missions after their freshman year and only come back to school after that. So we’re encouraged by the first week’s progress.
Jill and Lenny stopped by yesterday, staying the night before driving home this morning. They came up through Las Vegas and hit just about every National Park between there and Montana. We quite enjoyed having them, as we took them out to Café Sabor, giving them the whirlwind tour of our little town, and then ending the evening with Aggie Ice Cream. We were sorry to see them leave, and we includes Shurik, but we do hope they come back soon. Tonight we’re enjoying our long weekend and trying to get prepared for our second week teaching and the rest of the semester.
Stay tuned for more on the Shurik Saga…

23 August 2003


We are back in Utah after a prolonged respite in California. Our trip was great-we went on the annual houseboat trip (Jordy kept a detailed diary, so I’ll let him speak to that later), took my sewing machine in for its yearly maintenance, saw Misha’s band play and hung out a great deal with both Jordy’s and my families. Shurik was adored by all who came across him and so returned home feeling himself and strutting about the apartment like the sovereign of a small, unimportant nation (Shurikstan?). We returned home battered by an epic series of thunderstorms (pictures to come) and laden with food leftover from the houseboat trip and from our run to Trader Joe’s, rocks for our fish tank and other assorted useless items that cut into our fuel efficiency.
Utah is Utah. Boring, full of Mormons and taunting us with the first inklings of fall foliage. We have moved into our new offices (my desk resembles a 19th century frigate, and looks as if it should be moored to the floor with some sturdy rope.) It was once noble, and as it is 8 times bigger than my desk last year, I won’t have to worry about random items falling off. Jordy’s desk is of similar stature. Our office is populated by 8 people, including us-far less than last year’s 12. We hung up our posters and pictures and I brought in my fake plants and so aspired to make it as homey as possible since we will be living there about 80 hours a week starting next Monday. Tuition has been paid and books have been bought and so we are ready for a new school year.
Our garden is producing well even though fall is upon us here in the colder climes. We have hundreds of tomatoes, about 50 dahlias in full-bloom which I am picking tomorrow morning, giant sunflowers and jalapenos and bell peppers. We think we have at least a few more weeks before the first frost claims our plants, but we had fun and learned vast amounts about how much neglect a garden can tolerate and so will maximize our laziness in regards to it next year. The corn alas, sucked ass.
Please look at our 4 rolls of film from the trip and we will be back soon with more pictures and musings…

28 July 2003


Holy cow! Where did July go? It seems like just yesterday we were buying explosives for the Fourth of July and now, whoa, we’re staring August in the face!
Of course though I say that, a lot has happened in the intervening weeks. As you can see from the pictures, Rachel came out to visit again. Our online classes are winding down, we officially moved out of our offices at school (and our boxes of stuff are in limbo) and we’re getting ready to drive West. Next Wednesday night we’re planning to pack up the cat and our stuff and relocate to California for a few weeks. Call it an escape, it’s going to be our vacation.
For me, work has been great. I mean it! I’m learning an amazing amount, I get to work with fun people, and they pay me for this. And as if that wasn’t enough, I got an email last week from the woman who is in charge of assigning classes. She indicated that the professor who was scheduled to teach English 3400, “Professional Writing” (technical writing), will not be able to teach it this year and my professor from last semester suggested I teach the class! I was absolutely shocked and excited. What a fabulous opportunity! So instead of preparing to teach one new class (2010, which both Anna and I are doing), I get to prepare to teach two new classes. Very exciting.
Other than that, it’s been hot. Really hot. Last week we set a new record for most consecutive 100 degree days (15). Yesterday we were teased by a practically chilly 88 degrees. Alas, it was just a temporary reprieve – it was 96 today. Our garden is loving it, though, as our tomatoes are going crazy, and I’ve even got jalapeños! Anna’s dahlias and sweet peas are blooming, and our friend’s have all but abdicated their plot so we get double the veggies! What a deal!
Anna has become a sewing machine! Back when we lived in California and had a modicum of money we bought a Baby Lock serger, though we were afraid to even take the intimidating thing out of the box. Everyone who’d ever worked on one told us how once you use a serger for clothes, you’ll never do without. Well, a few weeks back Anna got up the courage to pull the thing from the box and dig out the instructional video showing how to thread it – it requires a video just to thread it! Once she got it threaded, there’s been no stopping her. If it possibly can we surged, oh, she’ll serge it! Shurik has to watch out when Anna gets going if he doesn’t want his tail serged to his paws. Okay, it’s not that bad, but it’s amazing the seams she can do now! I certainly am a lucky beneficiary of this new, powerful tool. Happy me! Not to mention it cuts down slug shirt construction time – she can sew the entire thing in less than two hours. Oh, and if anyone’s keeping track, I’m now at 32 slugshirts. It’s okay, you can covet my closet. Really, it’s okay. At the moment Anna is making me a cool hat for the houseboat, and I’m, well, finishing this post.
I doubt we’ll have time to get another dispatch in before leaving for California, but I plan on keeping a journal and we’ll put up an abridged version from the road as, it’s rumored, they actually have these things we call com-pu-ters in California. We’ll see.

11 July 2003

One year ago today, Jordy and I had our wedding. It was hot, much like it is here in Logan now as I sit typing this. We were nervous and scared and excited to begin our lives together. What would the future bring? What would school be like? How would we deal with the Mormons….
Much has changed since that balmy, magical July night one year ago and the sweltering August night seven years ago when I asked Jordy for his phone number in the parking lot of the Orchard Supply Hardware where we both worked at the time. Seven is the number of completeness in the Bible, a good luck number, fortuitous and sacred. And while nothing may seem sacred when you are 19, like I was that August night, the religion of youth can render any moment weighty. The smell of motorcycle, the brown velvet eyes, the big hands, the man I thought was so brilliant and smart was my church in the beginning. And six years later we stood, exhilarated and sweaty in front of 150 of our closest peoples, and something else replaced physical attraction. Time.
Everything seemed to go by in flash. The first time I met Jordy’s family, all 900 of them, and Jay told me there would be a name quiz at the end. The first time I covertly rode on Pumba, screaming and laughing and crying. Jumping around in the family room with Jordy and my mom after I was accepted to UCSC. Jordy on one knee proposing, Jordy in the hospital crying after his accident, the look of “I never doubted you” when I handed him my acceptance letter to USU. Our first apartment, horrid fights about money, or the lack of it, getting Shurik, passing the first year of teaching, the all night study sessions, the thesis comities, the student conferences, the Mormons.
I am 26 now, and a long way away from the girl in the parking lot on an August night. I no longer think the world is my oyster, that red hot sex will last forever, that I can do no wrong. I no longer think my parents are the root of all evil in the world, my brother is annoying, I no longer think Jordy is the shining beacon on the hill waiting to rescue me and lead me home. Realism is stark, and bright and lets you see things clearly, and what I see is that I love the man I call my husband more with each passing day. Everything we are is because we had to make it happen together, because we have struggled alone, far away from friends and family, and we have made it here in Utah. And so when you see these pictures of this chubby couple, their cat, their fish, their kids, their snow, their small apartment, their pale western sky and their mountains, you see reality. And that, in the end, is worth seven years plus a lifetime.

29 June 2003


One year ago today at this time we were enjoying our first dinner in Logan – a pizza from the Firehouse Grill which we ate in our motel room at the Baugh Best Western. Afterwards we did not wait the requisite 45 minutes before we went into the pool and marveled at how big the sky seemed. A lot changes in a year. We touched down in Logan a year ago – we weren’t yet married, we hadn’t yet seen our tiny apartment (and when we did two days later, Anna cried at the size of it!), we hadn’t figured out how we were going to teach or pay for school. Our wedding anniversary is coming up in two weeks and we’re certainly looking forward to that.
I’m sorry we’ve been a bit quiet on the website lately. Don’t take that to mean we don’t have anything to write about, because we have many stories to tell. My Mom emailed pointing out that we haven’t had a diary or new pictures in sometime. Well, we’re still working, slowly, our way through the roll of film in the camera, so I don’t know when that’ll be up, but this new diary counts for something I suppose.
First, you all know about Shurik by now. Well, the day we brought him home I got a call from my sister, Jill, that my Mom was in the hospital for back pain. It’s difficult to drop everything from 850 miles away, and I was assured that the situation was quite in control. But come Saturday I felt we needed to be in the Bay Area. Of course timing is everything, and perhaps deciding that we were going to drive across the better part of three states at 10pm doesn’t exactly make for good timing, but nonetheless we left Logan, Shurik in tow, by 11pm. Anna and I took turns driving straight through (Anna drove from Logan to Elko, NV; I drove from Elko to Reno; Anna drove from Reno to Sacramento; I drove from Sactown home) and we made it to the Bay Area in 13 hours. We, and in we I include poor patient Shurik, were exhausted. I planned to take two days off work and drive back on Tuesday, but remember that whole “timing is everything” thing? Yeah, the stars aligned such that we decided to stay another day, and I’m glad we did. We were in the right place to be and we helped with my Mom as best we could.
We apologize for not bringing Shurik around to see everyone, but he was tired of the car (understandably so), and we’re definitely bringing him in December. Besides being where we needed to be generally speaking, the trip really felt right. Anna got to spend Father’s Day with her Dad, we stocked up at Trader Joe’s and I came home with a new guitar. That last one was totally unexpected, but Gary decided he wanted to sell one of his Fender Stratocasters, and the price was absolutely too good to pass up. Besides he put me on the ultra-friendly-payment plan so we can swing it.
We did the drive back during the day, which was much better. Again we switched off behind the wheel, and aside from some spectacular lightning and wind storms in the middle of the Nevada desert, the drive home was an uneventful 13 hours. We’re planning on driving out again in December if for no other reason than to be able to haul stuff (Shurik included) for the holidays. As I said, the drive wasn’t as bad as we thought. We don’t plan on doing it anytime soon, but it is doable.
Last weekend we had what we refer to as the Cat-astrophe, but I’ll let Anna speak to that another time. To coin Stan Ridgeway, it was another lost weekend. Our online classes are in full swing these days and we’re doing our best to adapt to a) teaching online, b) teaching a 16 week class in 8 weeks, and c) teaching less than half of the students we were promised, which is leaving our coffers more than a bit bare. But as Anna says, money is always an issue – there’s never enough, but somehow there’s always just enough.
That said, we’re preparing for the 4th of July and the concurrent visit of our friends Owen and Sce. Fireworks are legal here, and we’ve got more weapons of mass destruction than have ever been in Iraq here on our kitchen table. Come next Friday we will make them all go boom.
This post is turning into quite the novel! But before I sign off, I thought I ought to mention that yesterday we went and got Anna’s nose pierced. We found this unbelievably professional place just across from the Tabernacle (oh, irony!) and the guy did a fantastic job. She looks really cute and complains just a bit when she forgets it’s there and rubs her nose. Again, though, she’s really cute.
So, that’s about it for now. We’ll post more in the not so distant future, and if we don’t post soon enough, have a great fourth!

7 June 2003

It has been a truly amazing and ridiculously busy week, and in some ways we knew that it would be. In other more serendipitous ways, we could never have anticipated it.
The Fife folklore conference took place last week, so Anna was going to be out of the house for that. Overall, she seemed to enjoy the conference itself quite a bit, though she couldn’t say the same for many of the other audience members who comprised largely of undergrads, a handful of graduate students, and a scattering of older folks who were just there for the heck of it. Anna found the best and worst of Logan’s culture present, but she also met someone new. She carpooled with out friend Melissa who also attended the conference, and Melissa introduced Anna to a friend of hers, Robb, who Anna instantly became fast friends with. In fact, Wednesday night we went over to Robb and his partner Ken’s house for drinks. Yes, you read right – we were drinking in Utah. It was an absolutely wonderful night where I struggled to keep up with Robb drinking (though he’s half my size), and Anna traveled vicariously through Ken’s digital pictures of his recent trip to Greece. Neither of us had felt so relaxed since we’ve been here.
The following night we were invited back and Robb had also invited on of the professors from the conference. We had another wonderful time, and I drank less yet still too much, and we left too late, and had too much fun. Though we haven’t known them very long, we are incredibly glad to have met Robb and Ken and all their friends, and hope to spend a lot more time with them. They are our new-found oasis in this Mormon land.
Friday our friends Melissa and John were cleaning out the construction site that is rapidly becoming their first home and we offered to help them sweep it out. It’s a really cute place over in a town called Providence, about ten minutes away. The development is rather new with cute houses that don’t look exactly the same. At the moment the field behind them is empty and offers a gorgeous view of much of cache valley and Old Main’s big A (which you can see from the webcam). The field will eventually be new housing, but I offered to bury old human remains out there so that they could claim that it was an Indian burial ground so it’ll stay empty. They may yet take me up on this.
Then it was back to their apartment where we had a barbecue and watched “The Singles Ward,” a Mormon movie poking (ever so gently) fun at various cultural touchstones of living in Zion as a Mormon. It was funny and, to us, disturbing in some fundamental propaganda-ist ways. But a good time was had.
So today we’re trying to whip our house back into a livable state. We have tons of laundry, and it took me the better part of the morning to get a handle on our dirty dishes. Next Wednesday is Anna’s birthday and she’s quite looking forward to it. We’re going to go out to Café Sabor, which I think we mentioned before. It’s a wonderful Mexican restaurant here in Logan.
That reminds me that Anna is now officially into scrapbooking. She decided she needed to in order to get a handle on the mountain of pictures we’ve been accumulating since the wedding. So she started with…. the wedding. And after a marathon week of scrapbooking, she has produced a beautiful book that even impresses our Mormon pro-scrapbooking friends. It’s very cool. Next, she has decided to start a book that chronicles our time in Utah.
So that’s the short version of what we’ve been up to. This weekend, as mentioned, we’re cleaning and relaxing. Tomorrow we’re considering going with Ken to the gay pride parade in Salt Lake City, but we’re not committed to it yet – we may just want to rest a bit more before the start of next week, which if last week was any indication, could be a busy one!

24 May 2003


We just got back from the airport where we dropped Momthra off after a wonderful week full of adventures, and we’re quite sad to see her go. On Monday we gassed up Azurita and headed north to Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. I’ve got a whole diary full of stuff to post about the trip, but haven’t transcribed my scribble yet. So here’s the 31-words-or-less-version:

  • Jackson: Wonderful!
  • Tetons: Holy Cow!!
  • Yellowstone: Very nice; baby bison
  • West Yellowstone: Stay Away!
  • Jackson (again): Even more wonderful.
  • Drive Home: Pulled Over (no ticket), crow hit the car, safe drive

After we got back on Thursday, Anna and Momthra cooked piroshki while I went back to work, and today we made our first trip to the farmer’s market which is more crafts than farm right now – but they’ve still got the bread we’ve been craving all winter. We got a loaf of asiago basil. Yum! On our way to the airport, we stopped at Costco in Salt Lake. I’m still trying to figure out how Momthra managed to fit all our stuff into the little blue car with all her luggage. I’m pretty sure she rearranged the laws of physics. My mind is still boggling.
Our garden is still there. We were afraid for the bok choy and butter lettuce, but they’re doing better than just about everything else. There was a freeze early in the week and the bell peppers, basil, and marigolds bit the dust. We put the tomatoes in water jackets that everyone else seems to have. They’re happy and survived the freeze fine. Our shallots, corn, sunflowers, and sweet peas are starting to poke up, too. Hopefully we’ll replace the deceased and not have anymore frosts, but the threat of a frost here, we’ve been told, lingers into June so we’ll see.
I mentioned above that we were cleaning today. Why didn’t we just wait until after Momthra left to clean? Because on returning to Logan on Thursday, we found out that some of our friends from the Halibut BBS are taking up our open invitation and are currently crossing the great salt desert with contraband – I can’t say precisely what that contraband is, but I’ll just say that it rhymes with “Halkihall.” That’s all I’m sayin’. They’re staying here until Monday when they’re driving to Portland. Yeah, it is a lot of driving. But we’ve reset our guest accommodations and are anxiously awaiting them.
We also have four rolls of film that we just developed from Momthra’s trip, and I’m working on the nitty-gritty details of getting those up, so I’m estimating by the end of the long weekend we should have plenty of new pictures up.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

11 May 2003


Today is a beautiful day in Logan, a balmy (to us) 66 degrees with giant puffy clouds in the sky. And we were grateful for those clouds, as we put in our new garden this morning. Last night, in what proved to be one of the dumber moments of our grad school lives, we decided to go to Wal-Mart to buy plants. Well, we forgot that it was Mother’s Day Eve, an occasion that brings hordes of men shopping with young children, all of them competing for half dead roses, gaudy picture frames and weird polyester dresses with little flower prints. We had to park further out in the several acre parking lot than ever before. But we got to the garden section in due time, and we managed to buy:

  • Tomatoes: Mr. Stripeys, 4th of July’s and Sweet 100’s.
  • Basil, cilantro, chives, summer savory
  • Shallots
  • Bok Choy
  • Hot peppers
  • Green bell peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet yellow corn and mixed corn
  • Butter lettuce
  • Giant Sunflowers
  • Star dahlias
  • Dahlias
  • Stargazer lilies
  • Sweet peas
  • Marigolds

And today, we managed to get it all in the ground in our community garden plot! We started at about 10 this morning-it was cool and the clouds were thick enough that the sun would not beat down on us. We started by weeding our 15 x15 plot, then spading and shoveling it into 4 wide rows. That took about an hour and a half. Then we laid out all of our plants, arranged our garden and began planning. I was so thrilled to be able to have an entire row of cutting flowers! We decided to go with more unusual tomatoes because of the proliferation of romas, beefstakes, early girls and better boys at the farmer’s market. You can literally buy 4-5 pounds of tomatoes at the height of the season for a $1.00. When we were done, we still had space, so we are going back to the store this week to get more marigolds (good pest control) and perhaps another tomato plant. I am going back mid-week to help my friend Melissa (her husband is Jordy’s boss) break her plot.
Other than the mass planning, we have been pretty relaxed. I have been working a counted cross-stitch and giving the house a major spring cleaning, and Jordy has been working close to full time at his new job. We bought yet another bookcase, and re-arranged our family room again last Thursday night. I have covered my patio in potted plants, and now that we are supposed to have warm weather (70’s) all next week, I am hoping they will take off. Next weekend my mom comes out and we are going to Yellowstone for four days, and the week after that I will be attending the Fife Folklore Conference on Folklore and Identity, and the week after that we start teaching summer school. But for now, we are relaxing, enjoying our garden and catching up on things long neglected during the semester. It looks as if spring might be making a stand and winning, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

29 April 2003


We’re back in Utah. Didn’t know we left? Well we did on quite short notice. Currently we’re at the tail end of finals and at the last minute decided to take up Momthra’s offer to split airfare out to California for Russian Easter. But in order to do that, hectic days were necessary. I had a final portfolio for my Teaching Tech Writing class that fell due yesterday (Monday), and I had to have that finished before we left. Many Diet Cokes died the Tuesday night before we left. Fortunately the class Anna and I are taking together, Women’s Western Memoir, we were able to beg an extension out of the professor, so that’s not due until tomorrow (which is why I’m procrastinating by writing this journal — makes sense, right?).
But in the end it all worked out, and we had an absolutely wonderful time in California where the weather was just about like it was here — rainy and cool. Much of our time was spend in church leading up to the marathon Saturday night/Sunday morning service. But we found time to visit my Mom and Jill and Lenny.
If you know about Russian Orthodox Easter, you know that after all the church services, Sunday is spent visiting friends’ houses and engaging in lots of eating, drinking (vodka), and laughing. This Easter was no exception and both Anna and I had a spectacular time. We have pictures that are being developed as we speak and we hope to have those up some time this weekend — they’ll tell the tale of our impromptu vacation better than I could (you know, the whole picture, thousand words thing). But suffice to say that Monday morning found me still full and sore from laughing. A great time, indeed, was had by all.
So we’re back, and trying to get our proverbial ducks in order. There are several spots of good fortune and things to look forward to:

  • I’m now employed outside of the University. Today I found out I got an IT job with the Dutro/CampChef folks here in the valley. It’s part time, but will allow me to expand my skill set (ooh, power words) and I can keep the job through the next school year — which means we can move up from the packaged ramen to the ramen in a cup. George Jefferson, eat your heart out.
  • We have a garden plot! I don’t know if we mentioned the possibility of a garden plot here before, but there is a program with USU extension and the good folks at IHC hospital that rents 15x15 garden plots to people in the community. We, fortunately, are in the community, and thought we’d take them up on it. Problem was the meeting where we could get said plot was the night we left for California. Fortunately, our friends Melissa and John were going to the meeting anyway and were kind enough to get a plot for us as well. Wonderful!
  • Momthra is coming. Later this month, in fact, if you have a gander at the calendar you’ll see that Momthra is indeed visiting us here in UT. Planned activities include going to see the MoTab (Mormon Tabernacle Choir), and an excursion to Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone. We can’t wait.
  • Anna’s got more flowers! She’s going to plant them as soon as she’s done with her final. We’ll have pictures.
  • I am totally out of things to write, and therefore can no longer procrastinate!

Well, that’s about it for now from Utah. As I mentioned, we’ll have pictures up. To the new visitors we invited at Easter, we hope you like the place (this website, that is. You don’t have to like Utah. Really.).

15 April 2003


It would be April 15th, Tax Day! While I dislike paying taxes as much as the next person, we are getting a handsome refund this year, which is all going to pay for tuition over the summer and the fall semesters. Nonetheless, we are happy to have our money back!
As I write this it is raining and Billie Holiday is singing. Hard to believe it is April. I was going to fix a light salad and marinated pork for dinner, but it seemed more like a spaghetti and meatballs night, so Jordy cooked dinner. I was happy to receive the new issue of Cooking Light, which feature a segment on Dinners under $10.00, which is nice because most of the recipes serve 4, so we can stretch them over two nights. We are anxiously awaiting the return of the farmer’s market in July, but produce has gotten cheaper and more diverse at the Wal-Mart. We can now buy avocados for .98 each, a major victory over their $ 1.12 each price in the winter time.
This Saturday was a special day in the history of our life here in Utah because our God-damned upstairs neighbors moved out! Hooray! Apparently she was pregnant and so a two bedroom would no longer due, but whatever the reason, we are ecstatic. No more screaming two year old tantrums, no more unbalanced washing machine at 6:00am on Saturday, no more endless vacuuming, no more loud sustained booming noises, no more “Can you turn that music down” visits. Listening to them move out was great. I drowned out their fretting over the placement of the scrap-booking table in the U-haul with some nice African chanting cd’s and went about cutting shirts. In two hours, they were gone forever. I am sure we will get new neighbors, but as the move in period does not start until August, we get the whole summer to play our music loudly and far into the night. Provided the weather ever warms up…
Not much else going on here. I would like to wish everyone, Russian Orthodox and American, a happy Easter (XB!). I know it is a bit premature, but with finals coming week after next, I doubt that either one of us will be able to post before then. We love and miss everyone!

5 April 2003

Anna and I are doing our best to use this Saturday as a haven from the week we just came through and the week we’re about to enter — the former was far more tempestuous than we could have anticipated, and the latter already proves to be quite a work week. We’ve both got a five page paper due for the same class on Monday. In addition, I’ve got a major portion of my final project for my tech writing class due on Monday as well. That work, however, can wait until tonight and tomorrow as we enjoy the day.
It’s Conference weekend this weekend, which occurs twice a year and Anna refers to as the “Superbowl of Mormonism” — the description is fairly apt, as a trillion Mormons descend on SLC at the conference center for a weekend of seminars and speeches. We look forward to it because it means peace and quiet – the laundry room was deserted on a Saturday morning which is unheard of.
Friday, at the end of a really long day, we were greeted on our doorstep by a large Costco box containing pots and pans. Not just any pots and pans, but pots and pans heavy and durable enough to easily kill someone if wielded the right way. Thanks go out to Lana and Gary for this incredibly unexpected surprise! They have already gone to great use. While Fed Ex had no problem leaving this giant box, UPS apparently couldn’t leave an Amazon package containing just two books – one for Anna’s thesis, and my knitting book – without a signature. Quite annoying.
Winter has been having its last stand here for the majority of the week. Monday and Tuesday were so nice that we had our sliding glass door and bedroom windows open for the first time since fall. Granted, temperatures only reached the mid-sixties, but that’s downright balmy. Then by Thursday the snow was falling in earnest. Snow’s melted now, but the weather reports indicate that there’s still more snow to fall this weekend – before the mercury climbs to the mid-sixties again by the middle of next week.
We certainly hope everyone is enjoying and getting used to our new design here. A few words about the design: much more than even our previous design, this one was truly a collaborative effort between Anna and I. She had the look in her mind’s eye and it was up to me to try to turn her vision into html and gifs. The color scheme came from a postcard she received not too long ago, and were difficult to get to her exact preferences, but I managed. The weathervane slug on the front page came from here, and they really make these things, although we photo-shopped the image to turn the slug to face East. The font used throughout is called “Dragonfly” and was, again, chosen by Anna. I love it, as it has the relaxed lines of “Heather” our last dominant font, but gives the pages a more informal, (dare I say) hip look. This page, actually, gave us/me the most problems, as trying to find a feasible (and by feasible, I mean readable) color scheme for the posts was difficult, but we’re both happy with the result. We’ve worked out most of the kinks, but if you find some rough edges, or just feel like telling us what you think, feel free to email either Anna or myself.
Well, that’s about it for now. Our chicken is about to come off the rotisserie, so I’d better wrap this one up. We just finished another roll of film (last half of Rachel’s visit and odds and ends (including a better photo of our living room)), and we’ll get that up soon

30 March 2003

Spring has sprung and with it a new re-design of sluglife.net. We hope that all of you like our new format, and if you don’t, well, too bad.
While we are still vehemently opposed to the war, we feel that we have made our point and we don’t need to deprive you of news of our lives anymore. Speaking of news, boy is there a lot if it.
First – Jordy has learned to knit. Yes, yes, it’s true. He is currently knitting a beautiful green scarf, and often sits for hours in our family room, needles perched on his tummy. knitting away. All of the women in our office think that it’s great, but then, most of them think that Jordy is great to begin with. Students have had mixed reactions, ranging from horror to beaming approval.
Secondly, as you can see from the pictures, our friend Rachel came and stayed with us for a week. She is the first person outside of my parents and uncle to come and visit our pimp abode. For those of you considering visits this summer, Rachel is happy to report that our spare bed is quite comfortable, which we were hoping it would be as it was a rather pricey investment. We did many things, including going to Salt Lake City for a day, where we demonstrated the flawless and scary integration of church and state with visits to the LDS Church headquarters. This is the tallest skyscraper in downtown, and directly faces the Temple, which is stunningly beautiful. From the 26th floor observation deck, you can take really great pictures of all of SLC and the Great Salt Lake. We visited the famed Red Iguana Mexican restaurant (Jordy died and went to heaven) and did some shopping in the Olympic plaza mall, which is housed in an old Union Pacific switching house. A good time was had by all.
Everything is blooming and we have had two sunny days in a row. Now, you may not think this is a big deal, but it is. Sun is so rare here in the winter. Both Jordy and I think that the worst of winter is behind us. Today is 56 outside, and in a testament to how truly we have adapted, we have all of our windows open and are in short sleeves. I spent the morning planting flowers for our patio and cleaning all the dead leaves and dust off the floor. I am also pleased to report that the Christmas lights finally came down as well. We have our first meeting for our community garden plot this month as well.
I have several slugshirts in the hopper and finals are rapidly approaching, so we will be plenty busy this month. Hope everyone is well, and welcome back to slug country.

16 March 2003

We are back in Utah and trying to get ready for the remainder of the semester. Our vacation was exceptionally relaxing and seemed to go by in way too short a time. Our time at Christmas may have been a bit too long, but this was definitely too short. We’re looking for that proverbial “just right” length – we’re thinking 10 days. Who knows?
I would like to thank everyone who helped make our vacation such a wonderful experience – both my and Anna’s families, and to all our friends. If you are curious about who’s who, we’ll have pictures up in a bit, but that’ll likely be the least change you notice.
There are big changes afoot here at Sluglife.net. I was content with my little page and the slight change on the front page and navbar icons. Anna liked them, too, but I’m afraid that my little change started her on the path to “major redesign,” and once you’re on that path, buckle up. Thanks to Anna’s design ideas we put together a general theme for the site relatively quickly. I’m in the process of tightening all the nuts and bolts and making sure the content that’s here will be there just as soon as there becomes here and here becomes…somewhere else. But both the new site and the new pictures will make their debut in the near, indeterminable, future. You’ll wake up one day, decide to check this site and KABLAM, you’ll wish you’d eaten your Wheaties first.
Since getting home yesterday we’ve picked things up around the house, unpacked, and tried to settle in again. For me it’s a very different feeling coming home. After the Christmas trip I was overjoyed to get back to our bed, our kitchen, etc. Now I’m glad to be home, but I’m not quite as overjoyed. As a result, that overjoy seemed to put off the onset of our day-to-day anxieties, and this time as we rolled down into Cache valley, they came on immediately. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to be home. But we were so totally relaxed in California that our constant worrying about money, bills, student papers, et al. really feels overwhelming. C’est la vie. The semester’s nearing its end anyway.
Tonight Anna cut out two shirts for me. While in CA we picked up new fabric and so Anna’s taking a break from her needlepoint long enough to make a few new shirts. Tomorrow it’s grading for me, and sewing for Anna. It is good to be home, but it’s also good to know we’ve got a lot of people who really take care of us in California. Thanks again.

2 March 2003

March is here and we’re anxiously awaiting Friday so we can get on the plane and head back to California. We cannot wait.
Friday we decided to make a few changes to our living space. We ended up purchasing a pair of cheap bookcases from Wal-Mart in an effort to get all of the books off our floor. It worked, but just barely. We had to move things around quite a bit and this is the best diagram I can put together. We have taken a couple of pictures, but there’s no way we’re going to get them developed before we go so we’ll see if this helps:

Okay, here's the deal: we moved existing bookcase (A) to the left so it's now flush with the entry way (can I call it a foyer? Yes, I can). The fishtank and stand (B) moved left as well to make room for the first new bookcase - which is 72 inches tall! The television and stand have moved into the corner to where the X-ed out books and lamp (E) are in the picture. In its place is a smaller bookshelf. This has problems which we'll go into in a minute. Now that the television is in the corner, we had to adjust the two Royce chairs (D) to the right so we can watch the damn thing. Also, since the lamp (E) has been displaced by moving the TV, we have temporarily ditched the lamp between the two Royce chairs and replaced it with the aforementioned lamp (E).

Perfectly clear, no?

Now to detail the dilemma of the small bookcase. Well, it’s small. Too small. We figured with the monster 72 incher we’d have space to spare. Nope, we needed more. Unfortunately another 72 incher would block the thermostat on that wall (don’t worry, no more diagrams). So instead of the 72 incher, we bought the 36 incher thinking it’d easily consume what was left of our floor-bound books. Well, it basically did, but it’s completely full. Really, both it and the 72 incher are filled to the gills with absolutely no room for growth. Did I mention we’re grad students? Okay, so you can see the problems now. Ten minutes after we finished putting the bookcase together and filling it with books we realized that we have more than enough books hiding in the office to fill the thing again. Bad. So we’re now thinking that we’re going to move the little bookcase into the foyer (a little light entry way reading, anyone?), and throw caution to the wind and go for another 72 incher. Who needs a thermostat, anyway?! Really, though, it will only halfway block the thermostat, so we’re thinking it will be okay. Honest. And just so you don’t think we’re breaking the bank on high-end home furnishings let me remind you that we purchased said bookcases at Wal-Mart, so, yes, it is straining our budget a little bit, but Anna won’t need to sell any more blood for another 72 incher – at least not yet.
So that’s all the changes right now. Oh, if you recall this post, then you might have noticed that Anna has agreed to implement my slight facelift on the site (she chose the new color scheme in exchange for my front page re-design). You might also have noticed this page. If you haven’t, check it out. We’re updating it before we, as LL would say, Go Back to Cali, so see what you think!

16 February 2003


As I write this it is hailing sideways, accompanied by lightening, thunder and pouring rain. Needless to say, it is miserable weather. Fortunately, except for intermittent runs to the laundry room, we are holed up in our cozy apartment. I am baking bread, a loaf of white sandwich and a loaf of cinnamon swirl. I have made it my New Year’s resolution to conquer yeast baking at high altitude and so far I think I am doing well. The bread doubled nicely and is now resting before being popped in the oven. The house smells soooo good!

Yesterday we had a unseasonably warm day, in the 50’s and sunny! It was a rare event indeed. We went to Wal-Mart to grocery shop and then home again where we updated the website and did homework. It was a good continuation of Friday, Valentine’s day. Jordy brought me a rose and a balloon and I cooked him dinner. It was pretty low-key, we ate on the floor in the family room and listened to jazz. I haven’t been feeling well lately, so it was a nice break from hectic school life. One more day of vacation-Thank God! We plan on relaxing some-more today.

Not much else to report, just school, work, and the usual. Hope everyone is well. We miss you all!

12 February 2003

So we’re midweek and trying to decompress. It’s been a fairly stressful week so far because I didn’t realize a looming deadline until it was just about too late. Anna has been trying to track students down who need to make up tests, and the result is that we’ve been at campus far more than we’re happy with. Oh well, that’s life.
We’re losing our snow. That post below? It actually dropped to -6 that night. Now, however, we’re supposed to have a high of 40 tomorrow with “rain” – they’re not even making a pretense of snow. One of the local weatherpeople said that this has been the most mild winter he can remember, a sentiment that is echoed by long-time residents we’ve spoken to. Oh well, can’t change the weather!
Anna has found some spare time to just about finish her quilt! In fact she’s binding the thing as I type. She may even finish tonight. Never an idle slug, she has already picked up a new craft – needlepoint. Yesterday when we were picking up thread to finish the quilt at Joanne’s Anna found an inexpensive all-inclusive beginning needlepoint kit. She’s already started and declares that it’s her “at work” hobby. I’m certainly no expert, but I’m pretty excited about her start. It impresses me :).
Valentine’s day lurks just two days off. While this isn’t a huge deal for most people, if you know Anna then you know it’s a big deal around here. The problem is that we’re really too broke to do anything! I told Anna I would make her a Valentine’s dinner, so now I have to add something to my cooking repertoire other than Mac and Cheese, pancakes, tortillas, and pot roast. This is going to be interesting!
We’re nearly done with the latest roll of film and as soon as it’s done we’ll drop it off at Wal-Mart. No promises on when those might go up, but I think we’re hoping to get the stuff developed this weekend. But, then again, we’ve got a lot to do this weekend! Fortunately it’s a three day weekend! Whee!

6 February 2003


We are hitherto experiencing a whole new level of cold, for tonight it reached 0 degrees outside. I cannot explain how cold this is. You go outside, and even breathing through a fleece scarf, you begin to cough. Your eyelashes feel like little daggers hitting your cheeks. Your feet feel numb 10 minutes after coming into the house and putting fleece socks on. And all we did was take out the trash and pose for a brief picture to commemorate the occasion. I think my face froze during the picture taking moment.

So far this month things have been pretty good. We shipped my monitor off because it died, but really, I think it was homesick for Walnut, CA, from whence it came and has now returned to. Since it was under warranty, there was no cost except for the shipping. Yea! We found out on Wednesday that due to the English department wrangling, we will now be paid in two paychecks over the four month summer term instead of one in late August, welcome news indeed. Also, although the department is in a hiring freeze and has opted to put 1/5 of its classes online, our face to face jobs (which pay a lot more than online) are secure next year. Our department is in such dire financial straights right now that the department head sent out an amusing little email in which he begged all of the employees to donate money so we could cover next year’s payroll. Think about that next time you go to vote and are tempted to turn down school bond measures. You now know two people who teach kids just like yours while qualifying for food stamps, who are now being asked to give money in order to guarantee the same crappy paycheck next year. Not a soapbox, just something to think about…

Back to the good stuff: Jordy successfully cooked his first ever pot roast in Utah! It was good, with rosemary and a whole head of garlic serving to enhance the flavors. We had Nina and Mary over for a pot roast feast. I made mashed potatoes and we were off! Everyone enjoyed slushy Cokes from the snowbank on our patio, and apple pie for desert. Jordy was the toast of the evening. This afternoon he was also able to find one small, ripe avocado for tomorrow’s chicken quesadillas, a minor triumph this time of year. I am ahead of homework for the week, so I am hoping to finish my quilt this weekend. God knows we need it because our house is cold. We have to run the heater at 72 to maintain a “livable” temp where only sweater and heavy socks are required in the house. The quilt will help for tv watching, especially since I was able to find a nice thick batting on sale at Joanne’s.

Well, that’s all for now. Hope everyone is warm and well! Take care of each other…

2 February 2003


It snowed last night, and it’s still snowing like hell this morning. You might not think that’s terribly news worthy, but seeing as yesterday afternoon it was 58 degrees (yes, 5-8 degrees), it’s quite newsworthy. We had one snow storm since we got back, and then the temperature warmed up. It has been in the mid to high 40s for the last couple weeks. There was a giant low pressure system sitting Jabba the Hut-like over northern Nevada and pushing any storm that was headed our way far to the north or south. Meanwhile we got 40s. There’s nothing wrong with 40s, except we came here expecting Weather and we end up with weather. People are blaming us for bringing the warm weather – not smart people, mind you, but people nonetheless. Someone was telling me that last week was the one year anniversary of last year’s coldest day on record here -- -30 degrees. This year, ironically enough, that same day had a record high. Go figure. But, according to the weather folks, yesterday Jabba headed south and let the jet stream slip. First we had a ton of rain starting early evening, and then as the mercury fell like a rock the snow started. It’s absolutely wonderful – except I have to do laundry today. But I’ll take the minor inconvenience.
Yesterday we, like the rest of the nation, were struck by the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia. I remember watching the first launch of the Columbia and remember excitedly watching the first landing (which, I ought to mention, was before many of my students were born). So the news yesterday was quite sad. Of course our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the astronauts who touched heaven and, this time, didn’t come home. Words typed onto this website can do little to assuage the pain of this tragedy. Please, everyone, take care of each other and hug one another more tightly.

It has been sometime since our last post, and I’d like to say we’ve been ridiculously busy or that we’re tremendously lazy – both are true, mind you – but the real reason why we haven’t been posting is that Anna’s monitor died two weeks back. It’s under warranty, so we called and got an RMA number to ship it back to the monitor-folks. Trouble was, we didn’t have money until Friday to pay for the shipping. So Lana and Gary were generous enough to send us the old box for the monitor (we sent it home with them after we moved in because we were sure we wouldn’t have room for it – and we don’t), so that’ll go out likely Tuesday. However, the result of being down to one shared computer is that we end up doing, check this, work on this computer. All the time, too! If I’m not checking my student’s journals, then Anna’s updating her grade book spreadsheet. Pure madness. But she’ll be back in business in the not so distant future. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel which we can see, even with all this snow! I’m off to make breakfast (banana and walnut pancakes) and then it’s laundry (and snow) time.

18 January 2003



More and more we are settling into the fact that living in Utah is like living in a foreign country. I have found the “Utards” as our friend Jenilyn calls Utahans, have been negatively affecting my fragile, California-saturated psyche. So be it–but I have resisted buying Wonder Bread so far.
It is a strange life when going outside in 33 degree cold with a sweatshirt on is normal. We had a low of 11 the other night, but the winter has been, according to the long-time residents, exceptionally mild. Our life is routine, and we have taken to watching large segments of HGTV, to the point of taping “House Hunters” on Thursday night, Mostly we like to leer at the prospective homebuyers and cheer when a undeservedly cute house is snatched away from the annoyingly WASP couple than never deserved it in the first place by the cruel gods of real estate. Ha! Perhaps this reflects my desire to nest, perhaps it reflects the fact that life is unfair and my grandparents now reside in a nursing home while a cute, annoyingly WASP couple has taken over their home, perhaps we are simply bored shitless by the lack of Friday night activities here, but HGTV has defiantly occupied a fair share of my brain the last two weeks. Sigh.
School has not yet gripped us in its death squeeze, and we are upon a four day weekend, so a curious sense of guilt has flooded us over having four days off and nothing due for our own classes. No reading, no papers, no lesson plans, no nothing. What is a grad student to do? I’ll enlighten you. It’s cold, so we are not going outside, we have $20.00 until the 31st, so we are not going shopping, food or other-wise, there is no place to go (Idaho, anyone?) and nothing to do. I am working on my quilt, a cool postage-stamp style of about 400 three inch squares of various pastel “girl” fabrics, Jordy has temporarily abandoned Mexican crockery in favor of a mild, unrequited obsession with making French bread from scratch, we have a Roots DVD that needs watching, we are doing laundry tomorrow while the Mormons are in church and I am attempting to actually read a novel that I purchased last year for “fun.” Between that and plotting assorted nefarious schemes to do away with the shrieking child upstairs, our weekend should be pretty full.
Call us…we are bored…

14 January 2003


It is hard to believe we’re already in the second week of the semester. Both our own classes as well as the classes we’re taking are starting to shape up. It’s interesting the difference in attitude that Anna and I, as well as almost all of the grad instructors, are going in with. Gone is the naïve optimism and idealism that I think we all felt going into last semester. We’re certainly not what you’d call “jaded,” but we’re also extremely cognizant that none of us are Robin Williams, and our classes ain’t no “Dead Poet’s Society,” dig?
Coming back just a couple days before the semester started meant we had to hastily move back in, essentially. For me, the most remarkable thing about coming back to Logan and to our apartment was how unremarkable the transition was – we were “home” again. Our fish were still here, the silverware was still in the right drawer, I knew where the soda was, our pots and pans were still right where we always have them. Home. That’s a nice feeling. As Anna said, we deeply appreciate all that everyone did for us when we were back in California, but as the old adage goes, there’s no place like home, and right now Logan is home.
Anna was smart enough to prod us both into a thorough cleaning of the apartment before we left, and it was the best possible thing we could have done because what with planning lessons, trying to figure out our schedules, etc., we haven’t had a chance to do much cleaning – but we’re getting around to it!
For the new semester we (and by we I mean I) were thinking about making some changes around this ol’ site. Maybe add a little here, prune a little there – changes. Nothing too radical, mind you – we’re not interested in pop-up porn banners (though another income that way might pay off…) – we were just thinking about minor additions and changes. Then we got to thinking and we (and here by we I mean Anna) decided that things look good the way they are. We (and by we I mean us) are keeping things the way they are. For now. So says we.
I’ve dug out my resume, brushed off the dust and am planning a revamping. This month the financial Genie has granted us a respite from fiscal chaos, but he’s been sharpening his scimitar to a razor sharpness, so next month I’ll be applying like a man possessed (by a Genie, mind you). Two other things make next month the more opportune time to apply: first, I’m trying to figure out my class taking and class teaching schedule this month, and second, the postings on the campus job-board are fairly slim. With the exception of things like office assistant in Uintah Basin, Roosevelt (where is that?!) there’s nothing of much good there right now. I’m hoping those slim pickin’s will be, if you will, kicked up another notch (bam) next month. We shall see!

7 January 2003

Well, we are back in Logan after a wonderful vacation in California. Thanks to everyone who made our trip so special! We really appreciate it!
Coming home was interesting. We stood outside Oakland airport waiting for the skycap for almost an hour, which allowed me plenty of time to befriend this cool old lady in line in front of us who was returning to Albuquerque. Turns out she was a teacher in Salinas for 30 years. On the plane, it was once again the BYU express, but what can you do. We were fortunate to get the exit row, so no one had to sit next to us and endure our hacking and sniffling. Our friend Mary picked us up from the airport and we went home to Logan. The drive through the canyon was beautiful, it was snowy and there was alpine glow on the mountains, and the horses and cows were in the fields, and you could see their breath. As much as I love California, I do have to admit that Utah in the winter has a kind of really stark beauty that is peaceful, and boy did I forget how quiet it is out here. We went to Angie’s for dinner. Overcooked carrots, a salad with iceberg lettuce and cheese on it, endless cups of hot coco…we knew we were home. Then on to the ubiquitous Wal-Mart to restock our fridge. I have to say it was wonderful to sleep in our own bed after two weeks! Everything looked great, none of the fish died, our plants were fine. It was nice to come home….
We started teaching yesterday and it was such a change from last semester. I felt the jaded mandarin, but my new class seems really nice, if tired. 3:30pm is a tough time to try to keep their attention for an hour. I got a good vibe from the class, and I think this semester will be easier than last, both academically and teaching-wise, but we’ll see. One good thing is that we both have Tuesdays and Thursdays off, which means we are on campus way less that last semester. We had our first grad class last night, Western Women’s Memoir, which looks really cool, and so we are going to head off to the bookstore to pick up the books for that in a little bit. All in all it is shaping up to look like a good, not so crazy semester.
More news in a bit, but for now we are just settling back into out everyday life and enjoying it very much. We miss you and love you all. :)

17 December 2002


To paraphrase the John Lennon song popular this time of year, “So this is Vacation…” Okay, that’s not what he sang, but it’s what I’m feeling. Papers are done, grades are in, and Anna and I are attempting to decompress before boarding the giant silver bird and soaring 850 miles west for the holidays.
Let me qualify that – I’m decompressing. Anna, on the other hand, has cranked up her little Utah sweatshop and is sewing like a woman possessed. She started on Sunday and already has completed three shirts, is nearing the halfway point on a fourth, has another already cut out, and is awaiting more fabric tomorrow for a project on contract. While sewing, I might add, she likes to listen to Christmas carols and sing her own deviant version of the lyrics. Meanwhile I’ve reformatted my hard drive (I love Windows XP!), rented copious movies from the Logan Public Library (it’s free!) (so far I’ve watched a chapter of Young Indiana Jones, “Meet the Parents” and I’ve got John Wayne in “The Searchers” on tap), updated my common book, and, well, rested. It’s been nice.
Yesterday we went to the fabric store in order to get buttons and such. We were making a right turn onto Main Street with the light, and this old woman completely disregarded the fact that we had the right of way, and cut us off. Turns out, she pulls into the parking lot of Joanne’s just in front of us. She pulls into a parking spot and we pull into a spot. Then she sees us, throws the car into reverse and blows out of the parking lot. We figured she must have thought we were going to engage in some sort of Utah Road Rage or something, because she literally went around the block and came back into the parking lot. She ended up behind us in line! Wacky Mormons!
Snow has finally come, as that storm that beat the hell out of the West Coast is now upon us. But since the ambient temperature has been hovering just above freezing, it’s been wholly unsatisfying – snow, snow stops, snow melts, lather, rinse, repeat. Tonight the temperature is supposed to drop into the teens, so hopefully that white stuff will stick. However, I should say that it is extremely relaxing (even Anna relaxed for a few minutes) to watch the flakes fall. Very nice.
Oh, speaking of very nice, our upstairs neighbors, the Sloans (okay, they really aren’t named Sloan, but it means elephant in Russian and if you lived below them you’d understand why we call them the elephants) have gone somewhere. Honestly, we couldn’t care less where they went – they could be reenacting the Stolpa saga for all I care – the important part is that they’re gone. And this morning we woke up at 9 fully and completely rested for once! Usually they’re either practicing wind sprints through the apartment with concrete running shoes, attempting to juggle bowling balls badly, or just letting their small child practice its incessant wailing for hours on end in the wee hours of the morning – I didn’t even mention the unbalanced washing machine they turn on at 6am… don’t get me started. Well, they’re gone. GONE! GONE I TELL YOU!!
*sigh* I can’t express how happy this makes us.
So as I write this, Anna’s nearing completion of the latest shirt – dysfunctional family – and I’m sure she’ll get partway through the remaining cut out shirt before the night is over. Meanwhile I’m chilling and really relaxing. Also, we went outside and discovered that nightfall has dropped the temperature enough to make the snow stick. It’s beautiful – particularly because we have nowhere to be tomorrow. We work ridiculously hard for these small vacations, so we’ll enjoy them when they come!

14 December 2002

I know we often write about Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart during the holidays is an almost religious experience. I say almost but for the amount of swearing involved in any given visit. Babies scream, people drive their carts like their cars, which in Utah means with a kind of blind faith in the divine right to make hard left turns without a blinker. Tonight was no exception.
It is a Saturday night, and so we did battle with every Mexican family in Cache Valley. They, like us, try to beat the Mormon crush on Sundays. They, unlike us, like to meander slowly and methodically down every isle, often with two carts, often with 6-8 people. Argh! Things were so bad that Jordy almost ran over Santa with the cart trying to whip around to the fabric section. With the last few packets of fusible interfacing at stake, we don’t play games, even with the old guy in the Santa suit.
Wal-Mart aside, it has been a mellow weekend so far. Our usual group of non-Mormon friends all took flights home today, and so tomorrow we have dinner with the Davises, our cool Mormon friends, and then they leave and we are alone for a week. Ahhhhh….Jordy is finishing up his grades tonight and I am bound and determined to clean off the sewing table to put the shirt production into high gear in the next week. I am going to bake cookies tomorrow, but today I slept until 4:30pm (this always happens at the end of the semester. Jordy slept until 2:30 and our friend Mary until late in the afternoon as well). I then achieved the highest state of relaxation by watching Home and Garden’s Crafting Marathon. Hello! Annatee heaven! Sewing projects, Kwanzaa dolls, Christmas villages, it was all about crafting, me and my diet vanilla coke. If this is the light at the end of the tunnel, it must come from a thousand sewing machines all stay-stitching in glorious harmony! In a fit of holiday crafting solidarity, I made a sour cream coffee cake.
And so my friends, this tired graduate student has survived her first semester. Teaching two classes, taking three, working at WAL, it was all such a fast blur. And now I look forward to enjoying my home for the next week and then seeing all of you. Can’t wait!

9 December 2002


As the semester winds down and the immediate needs of students and deadlines begins to subside, we’re slowly starting to hear the howl of pennilessness. It’s funny, in a way, that we just got paid a little over a week ago and already, because of bills, our checking account has dwindled down into double digits. How? Rent, largely, but also a conglomerate of other bills saps our meager income monthly: saving for tuition, natural gas, gasoline, food. We would have had enough to get by this month, but the Corolla had to be registered and I don’t need to explain the toll registration on a new car exacts. It’s a trying experience, to say the least. We have a bit of a net, but even that has dwindled into treacherous territory these days out of necessity – when it’s a question between “Do we dip into what’s left of our saving” or “Do we eat next week,” the answer becomes plaintively, and desperately, clear.
And we’re not alone. Our friends are in the same leaky boat – some of them (those with children, for instance) are doing far worse. Many of them cling to their credit cards to keep them afloat, but that’s something we’ve done in the past and have realized the hard way the deceptive pain credit cards will eventually bring.
Indeed, we’ve contemplated things that we never would have fathomed six months ago. It’s times like this that make one realize how plastic and tenuous certain principals can be. I abhor the fact that we grocery shop at Wal-Mart, but we have the choice of shopping for two weeks at Wal-Mart for the same amount that we would spend at Albertsons, Lee’s, Smiths, or Macey’s for just one week of groceries. Pride, too, has compelled me to put a pleasant face on our situation in spite of how things really are. But pride is a bauble that has gone to the pawn shop so that we can afford deal with reality.
We don’t live extravagantly by any stretch of the imagination. I am absolutely blessed to be married to a woman who can turn the most meager of ingredients into the most delicious feast. Our friends come over to eat dinner, oftentimes bringing the raw ingredients which we cannot afford, merely for the pleasure of dining on that which Anna lovingly turns into fantastic cuisine.
In the rush of deadlines and such, and in contrast to the dire tone above, I want to take a moment to be thankful for the things that we have:
• I am thankful for my incredible, wonderful, brilliant, beautiful wife, Anna, for whom my love grows everyday. She is my inspiration, my strength, my salvation. I cannot possible put into words how much I am thankful for her.
• I am thankful for our health. The importance of this has grown exponentially as we have been forced to join the 48 million Americans without health insurance.
• I am thankful for our material possessions, many of which are directly related to how well we have weathered this financial storm thus far. I am equally thankful and would like to acknowledge everyone who contributed to our domicile through shower and wedding gifts – you cannot understand how much we appreciate and use everything we received.
• I am thankful for our families, though they are eight hundred fifty miles away. We miss you all very much.
• I am thankful for both Anna and my education thus far – both formally and informally. That we are here and thriving at this University can be attributed as much to what we learned inside classrooms as well as what we learned through other venues.
Having documented just a few of the things we are thankful for serves as an affirmation that we are indeed still afloat. That said, in order to insure that we do not take any of the drastic steps which we have, sadly, considered I will begin looking for work on campus next week. Don’t misunderstand, please, I’m not leaving school but rather I’m going to try to add another source of income. I’m honestly wary of doing this, because as we saw this semester, the time required preparing, teaching, and supporting two English 1010 classes is easily five times the 20 hours a week the University says it takes. In addition, next semester our academic workload as students effectively doubles as well. I’m worried that the increased time spent at a separate job – on campus or not – may exert the negative kinds of effects on my studies that working full time did on my grades at SJSU. Nevertheless, without that second source of income trying to plan for our financial future is bleak to say the least, particularly when you add in items like PhD application fees, and unexpected expenses. It is particularly because of those PhD expenses that I am looking for work; as hyper-competitive as PhD programs have recently become Anna absolutely must focus all of her time and energy on pursuits that will make her a more attractive PhD candidate – her time spent at a separate job would have a very real and direct negative impact on her opportunities to get into a stellar PhD program.
I realize that this may strike some as particularly desperate, and in ways it is and in ways it is not. In a very significant sense this is simply an unflinching documentation of our circumstances. Don’t assume, either, that we’re not happy – we take more pleasure in the tinniest things than many take from far grander things. Anna and I dance together in our apartment to CDs burned from downloaded music, we revel in the presence of each other, and we have realized how essential (and, unfortunately, lacking) our University and public libraries can be. We laugh, we love, we cry, we stress. And that’s what this is about – a more nuanced picture of our life in Utah. This is hard. Really hard. But we’re trying. Thanks. :)

1 December 2002


I am in the process of converting my turkey carcass and leftovers into Emeril’s turkey and vegetable soup with homemade stock. Love the soup recipe…not so fond of Emeril, but homemade stock makes the house smell sooooooo good!

Jordy's note: I just tried the soup and it is indeed fabulous! :)

Ok, ok, so I know you are wondering well, how did it go and why don’t they have pictures up??? First things first, it (Thanksgiving) went fine, great, actually, and secondly, we do have pictures, except the stupid cd burning thing at Wal-Mart is broken and the manager does not know when it is going to be fixed, so as soon as they do have it fixed, we will have tons of pictures up from Thanksgiving.
We had a little 11 pound bird and 4 people, so we had plenty of food. I spent Wednesday making cranberry sauce and pie, and then Thursday came. What a crazy experience, trying to coordinate 5 different dishes in a kitchen the size of a matchbox! Argh! Needless to say everything came off with out a hitch…ok, one minor hitch, I forgot to salt to gravy, but we all survived. And we have pictures…just not now…damn!
Friday we went to Hyrum, about a 20 minute drive from here (picture Mountain View to downtown San Jose, except with just horses and cows and barns) to get our friend Nina, who is house-sitting her professor’s home, and then we three braved the after-Thanksgiving sales. We went to JoAnn’s fabrics, which is on the outskirts of Logan and housed in a big barn. I was on a mission to find a wreath that I could afford! 2 hours later we emerged, battle scarred and hungry, I with some sale fabric and notions (but no wreath) and Nina with a basket full of gifts for her relatives in Japan. Our misery quotient not quite high enough, we decided to brave Wal-Mart. Ok, actually, they had had their sale from 6am to noon and it was now 2, so it was like any other weekend day…packed to the gills.
They have converted their garden center to a Christmas decoration center, and we got in there and it was pretty overwhelming. They had trees and wreaths and ornaments and ribbons and lights. And there were all these folks in there, people with little kids, old folks, etc, looking a lot and not buying much. And then it hit me. There is really nothing like standing in the middle of a holiday shopping frenzy watching other people figuring out how to decorate on a $20.00 budget to make you realize how truly miserable being poor is. And so I did it. I broke down and cried Right in the middle of Christmas-land at Wal-Mart. And then I realized that we were ok, that we were able to buy food and pay our bills and go to the fabric store for the second time ever since we got here, and that it was ok to spend $20.00 to decorate our home, that God was not going to punish us for eating ramen while looking at our little tree.
We got a two foot table top tree, really pretty, (there is a picture of it), three strands of lights for our house and a bow for our front door. We spent the afternoon with Nina decorating and putting lights up. I must say our windows look damn good! People in our courtyard have started putting up little strings of lights as well and the apartments are really starting to look cheerful, in that Soviet Architecture kind of way (we have a picture of this as well).
And so we have survived Thanksgiving and its myriad sales. And I have figured out what I am thankful for.
That we are healthy and happy and live in a house where we can afford heat (even if our water comes from a cooler sometimes…).
That we are coming to California for two weeks to see our friends and family who are helping us get through, and who we love very dearly.
That we have an opportunity and a drive to continue our education, that we are smart, that we have gone through and witnessed things that have made us realize how precious a functioning brain really is.
That we are blessed every day to go to a job where 88 people depend on us for the opening of their minds, that we are privileged to teach them and that they love us and we love them.
That we have stayed true to our dreams, no matter how steep the price, lonely the road or numerous the hardships. Twenty years from now we will be able to look back and say, damn, look what we came through.
And we’ll have the pictures to prove it. (Just not now…)

26 November 2002

Happy Thanksgiving!


Bush accords this turkey the dignity of a Rose Garden pardoning ceremony. Perhaps he should have considered doing the same for the 216 Black men sentenced to die in Texas.

Happy Early Thanksgiving! We have no water!!
This morning at around 5am I woke up, thirsting for a glass of water. Out to the kitchen I stumble, and find a glass and turn the sink on…. But no water. In my half-awake stupor, I think, hey, I’ll try the bathroom sink. Surprise, no water. By that time I notice the flashing amber lights outside on the street – city trucks driving around. I figure something broke, and they’ll have it fixed by morning. Anna’s up by this time, and we used the remainder of the water out of our teapot (which Anna just filled yesterday) to slake our thirst, and then we settle back to bed.
This morning we discover the magnitude of the problem: a 10 foot section of a 15 inch water main ruptured during the night under the road. Not only do we still not have water, no one is even attempting to guesstimate when the thing is going to be fixed. I walked over and took pictures of the epicenter – the Logan city guys are laboring in a 10 foot trench in the street trying to get the thing fixed.
For some reason, the housing office was unaffected, and they still have water. So I headed over there this afternoon with every vessel I could find – a gallon water jug, our gallon pitcher, a 1.8 gallon Tupperware, as well as our cooler. The cooler is certainly less than sanitary, but it will make life much easier in flushing the toilet (though they did put port-o-lets at the corner of each complex – which means it’s at least 100 yards away. Try that when the temperature tonight is supposed to drop to 16 degrees). I also managed to grab a dozen small water bottles, so as long as this thing doesn’t last beyond tomorrow we’ll be fine. We both took showers last night, and many of our friends who are smart enough to live off campus have graciously offered use of their running water amenities. Hopefully we won’t have to take them up on that.

Anna’s Thanksgiving Poem

If I were to spill my bounty of love for you
And fly it on the backs of geese
With eyes the size of snow
Would you receive it?

There are mountains and sage and miles and miles
Between you and I
Yet I send my geese to you still.
And they will reflect the salt and the snow and desert and the winds
They will reflect my love for you…

Mine eyes have seen the glory
Reflected in the snows of Zion

May the peace of this place and this time
Be winged unto you. My friend.

19 November, 2002


At the moment we are currently in the eye of a hurricane. Of course I’m speaking figuratively – Cache Valley is about as far from hurricane country as you can get and still be in the contiguous United States. In fact the weather here has been pathetically dull and boring – highs in the 40s, lows in the 20s; rinse, repeat for several weeks. Though we are adapting to the weather quite well, I’d say, judging by the following conversation as Anna and I left the house for school:
Anna: “Man, I wish it’d snow”
Me: “Yeah, I agree.”
A: “It’s not even that cold out!”
Me: “No, it’s fairly warm, I’d say.”
The temperature during this conversation, mind you, was 33 degrees. So we’re getting used to that aspect of life here. Ah, but the hurricane, right.
I was speaking figuratively because, on one hand, we’ve got just three weeks of school left, and those aren’t even weeks, really, they’re like overweight days. Or regular days stuffed chock-full of obese hours. Anyway you slice it, there’s not a whole lot of Fall Semester left. Unless you look at what we’ve still got to do, but that’s the part of the hurricane still to come.
To get to the eye, we had a 3,000 word book review comparing three books due last night. Now, 3,000 words really isn’t a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, and Anna read all her books, started leisurely writing Saturday morning, and spent much of Sunday revising. I, however, did not receive two of my three books until Friday afternoon. So I read Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, and starting writing late Sunday night, and finally finished Sunday morning. But, with that, I’m done! Unfortunately, next Monday we have to have a 10 page conference paper prepared to deliver at an conference our professor put together and invited just about everyone on the planet who knows more about our subject than we do to come, watch, point, snicker, and perhaps lob rotting fruit at us. Okay, it’s not going to be that bad, but I’ve got sweaty palms just thinking about it.
But I’m still in the eye! Tomorrow both Anna and my students have a “group work day” which means we’re sleeping in not showing our faces on campus. However I have resolved to correct all of my students’ research papers tomorrow, a task which I am not looking forward to. Anna, who is finishing her students’ papers as I type, is heating our apartment with the steam coming out her ears. So far, she’s got two students who blatantly plagiarized (I liked the girl who has trouble with complete sentences using the term “counter-hegemonic”), and has not given a score higher than a B – and there aren’t a lot of Bs in her stack, might I add. So, you can see why I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s grading.
But tonight, the skies overhead are clear and I’m relaxing. Tomorrow I grade. Tomorrow I dive into my conference paper. Tomorrow I face the final push towards semester’s end. And for the end of the semester I can’t wait; for the journey to get to the end of the semester I can wait only a few hours. Wish us both luck!

10 November, 2002


Well, another week has gone by and we are tired. Cache Valley is currently under a severe snow advisory for all of today, and it is snowing and cold. Jordy is off doing the laundry and I am reading for a 3000 word book review that I have due next Monday.

We bought our supplies for Thanksgiving, and I am excited to be in charge of my first holiday dinner, We have a little 11 pound Butterball turkey, and my mom’s cranberry and gravy recipes. I am going to make mashed potatoes and stuffing (Stove Top of course) and a pumpkin pie. It should be grand. Our fellow citron Nina will be joining us, so it should be cozy. Everyone we have talked to says the snow really starts in earnest around Thanksgiving, so having a snowy holiday is going to be cool. I am making my mom’s lasagna tonight, so that should feed us for a good portion of the week. Last night at about 11:30 pm we realized that we had no red wine for tomato sauce, and so we tore off to Albertson’s in the middle of the night. Why? Because in stupid Utah, you can’t buy any kind of alcohol from midnight on Saturday until midnight on Sunday. Needless to say we got there in the nick of time, only to have to wait behind the entire New Mexico State football team who were laying in supplies for the bus ride back to New Mexico (we won-Go Aggies-it was like our third win of the entire, pathetic, season.).

Other than that, no real news to report. School is hard, we have no money and we are glad that we get three days off at Thanksgiving! Woo-whoo. We are taking pictures and should have some up soon, most likely after Thanksgiving. Thanks to all of you who have been emailing and keeping us up to date-we really appreciate it. More news soon…

3 November, 2002


Happy November Everyone! Things here are as back to normal as they can be since we got paid…we went on an epic Wal-Mart shopping spree for thermal underwear, more wool socks, more gloves and hats and sweaters. I have found that there is a three-tiered system of cold here. There is light cold, requiring a hoodie sweatshirt and thin gloves ( about as much as we needed in Cali), then there is medium cold, such as that depicted in our latest round of slug pics, requiring fleece jackets, thin gloves and mittens, a scarf, a hat and snow boots. Then there is deep cold-which we have yet to experience, thank God! Getting dressed for medium cold is chore enough!
Our friend Jason refers to Jordy, Nina (from Hawaii) and I as the “citrus contingent.” He saw us walking home from class last Tuesday tightly huddled together for warmth and so christened us with this moniker, which has stuck. Nina has been coming over for rides in the morning since Jordy’s birthday, when she fell twice on her way to the shuttle stop due to ice and snow. So now she comes over around nine and we give her a ride to school.
Last Wednesday we had a scary experience driving to school. The road crews had been caught completely off guard by the sudden and heavy snow, and the roads were frozen solid. Needless to say everyone was crawling-we were averaging a brisk 10mph-when a stupid student stepped out right in from of the 4-Runner. Well, Jordy braked from sheer instinct and we began to slide sideways down the road. Unfortunately, we failed to hit the kid, who was a prime contender for the Darwin award of the day. Needless to say, the hubs were locked in short order and I must say that 4 wheel drive and snow tires are a beautiful thing! Driving here is harrowing enough, but that day the shuttles actually stopped running (they could not make it up the super steep hills to campus and were backsliding down the roads) and there were multiple accidents. No one uses chains here, and many, many people (us included) become very good at sliding and controlling skids. The hills around campus don’t help. Picture Santa Cruz with ice on all the roads.
We have been in a constant battle to keep our apartment warm. We have to run the heater pretty much constantly, and even then we wear socks and hats inside. Depending on what the heating oil bill looks like, we might be getting a space heater. At night our apartment hits the high 50’s, and we sleep under flannel sheets, an electric blanket and a down comforter and we are still cold. We eat a lot of soup.
Not much else going on. We have a 3000 word combined book review due in two weeks, so that is the main thing we are studying for right now. I am presenting theory on Thursday for our teaching class. We bought our Thanksgiving turkey, a little 11 pound guy. He is in the freezer right now, awaiting destiny. We are going to have a small Thanksgiving as everyone we know has family in UT and are going home. Our fellow citron Nina will be coming over to our house for turkey and stuffing and other Thanksgiving treats, so it should be fun. At any rate, it is our first Thanksgiving as married folks, and that is cool.

3 November,


It’s been a fairly brief time since I’ve posted, just four days, but so much has happened in those four days. Let’s start with Halloween, the day after my birthday. Anna had mentioned that she was going to have everyone dress up in my shirts, but Halloween morning she didn’t mention anything so I assumed she forgot. At the office, Josh convinced me that we should pull a Halloween prank and sneak down to the classroom where our 6820 class meets and rearrange the desks – really this was just a ruse to get me out of the office, while Anna, who had packed all the shirts stealthily in her and Nina’s backpacks while I was out warming up the car, handed out the shirts to wear. So, down in room 114 Josh and I wait when the door opens and in marches a processional of my fellow graduate instructors in my shirts. Anna completely surprised me with this one. We’ve already got a group shot with everyone in my shirts up, so make sure to take a look.
Friday we decided to eat out (for the third time since we’ve been here), so we went to Angie’s, which bills itself as “Where the locals go.” And it’s true, the locals were there. It was quite yummy and provided sustenance for our marathon shopping session at Wal-Mart, which followed.
Last night, Anna celebrated my birthday with a dinner party! We had Nina and Mary over and Anna cooked fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cornbread, and apple pie for desert. Following dinner, Mary and I imbibed in the spoils from our trip to the State Liquor Store. We had Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale (with 9.6% alcohol, compared to the usual 3.2% in most Utah beer), and rum and cokes – Anna and Mary even took shots in our new shot glasses that Mary gave us from the Fred Meyer which bear the quote that currently adorns the front of the website: “Eat Drink and Be Merry, For Tomorrow You May Live In Utah.” Mary and I proceeded to drink too much as we all watched the South Park movie.
Mary spent the night, and I made pancakes in the morning. Aside from that, Anna and I have spent the day reading and resting. We’re certainly not ready to start another week, but the inevitability of Monday is almost upon us.
I should mention that since my birthday the temperature has not risen above freezing. There’s a patch of snow outside our window that seems permanently there, mocking us, reminding us just how goddamn cold it will become. We have yet to walk out in single digit or negative temperatures, but those days are coming soon enough. Although, next week a bit of a heat wave is being predicted: Thursday it’s supposed to reach 54 degrees! Everything’s relative, even heat waves, right?

October 30, 2002


As many of you know, my birthday started in a most surprising way: there was a minor blizzard outside. The forecasters called it “Minor Snow Flurries,” but let me tell you, there was nothing minor about it as I waited for the shuttle! I do have to say that Anna and I have just the right cold weather gear (thanks fam!). I determined that all I would need is some thermal underwear (Wal-Mart this weekend) and I’ll be set for our even colder temperatures. Standing at the shuttle stop I had my new Land’s End snow boots, my Land’s End Squall jacket (which I’m convinced is the greatest jacket made on this planet, ever), my Wal-Mart beanie (hey, it was cheap!) and my jacket’s hood tight around my face. There were people on the shuttle wearing far less, but once we hit the ground walking, they were huddled against themselves for warmth while I strolled in style!
At the office I was serenaded with Mormon birthday songs, and many happy birthday wishes. I told my classes that it was my birthday so I was letting them go early. That went over well. Then Anna and I both walked back home through the cemetery. By the time we started, most of the snow had melted though the temperature hovered near freezing all day.
We thought briefly about going out, but realized that we’d have to get into warm clothes again, so we opted for ordering a birthday pizza for delivery. That was nice, sitting on the bed, eating pizza on my birthday with my beautiful wife while outside the wind blows a bone-chilling gale.
We’re currently fighting a losing battle. Our little apartment regulated heat amazingly well during the days where the temperature was, well, livable. Now, however, it wants to drop down into the 50s in our cinder block dwelling. We fired up the furnace, but with the price of natural gas here, I’m trying to convince Anna we need a space heater. We’ll see. And, thank Jesus, we get paid the day after tomorrow.
There are still a few more hours left in my 28th birthday, and I’m going to spend them relaxing. Thanks everyone who’s sent cards or email wishes!

October 27, 2002


Anna wanted me to preface her diary entry, but I don't see a whole lot to preface with. I was going to say something about how we realize that we have chosen this path.... but she already put that in there. Just about everything I was going to write, in fact, she put in. That's why she's going to get a PhD. We have chosen this path, but even the most steadfast person needs to vent. As my dad used to say, "When you're up to your ass in alligators, it's hard to remember you're there to drain the swamp," and that about sums it up. Right now, we're up to our asses in alligators.

Ok-since this is my diary, I am going to vent, God damn it!
I keep thinking to myself-why does this week make me feel like I am stuck in “Orange County?” You know, adjectives on the typewriter, she moves her words like a prizefighter…Plegh. The PhD rush in our office has started, as about half of our colleges will be hooded and walk away with MA’s at the end of next semester. All around the office the mayhem of applications and letters of rec and statements of purpose have drowned out the never-ending whining of our students. Needless to say, all of us (even those waiting in the PhD wings) are stressed beyond the breaking point. I have spent most of the weekend writing a book review that I hope the WAL editor will deem smart and witty enough to publish. The push for final seminar papers has begun, those lovely 15 page monsters worth half the seminar grade. I have begun formulating my application to be Assistant Director of Writing next year. Right now it is not so much a question of the prestige and padding of a curriculum vitae, but a question of how we are going to eat and pay rent during the summer.
We have found out this week that because of the budget cuts approved by the Utah Legislature, there will be no summer school this year in the traditional sense (face to face) but the only classes offered will be on-line. This is bad. First, there are only 12 classes available and almost 40 GI’s, and secondly, with online classes, the instructor is only paid $150.00 per student, rather than a salary. Also, you are paid with one check at the end of August, and you are paid based on the number of students who actually complete your class, not the number that started. Drop-out rates for online classes often top 50%. Couple this with a May check that is only $245.00 for me and Jordy, and you are looking at a financial crisis of epic proportion. Jordy and I have applied for teaching positions, but we don’t know if we have been selected yet. We are trying to put away every spare penny we have now to sustain us through the summer, as that is the main time we will have to do research for our thesis’s and we need that time for research. Plus, because of the Legislature, and a very convoluted and messed up system here at USU, we don’t know if we will get out-of-state tuition wavers for next year, like we have now. Very stressful. This is why nailing the Assistant Director of Writing is so crucial. So we’ll see.
It is comforting to know that everyone is in the same financial boat. If intelligence was liquid capital we would be millionaires, but right now we are paying our dues, and that is alright. I know if we keep on keepin’ on our day will come. But, truth be told, money makes life easier, and right now we have none, but we are keeping it real and being true to our dreams, and that is what matters most.
I spent Friday teaching a lesson about beauty (using an Alice Walker essay) wearing a Sponge Bob Square Pants hat, and the cool thing was that my students still took me seriously. A number have told me that they are telling their friends to sign up for my section next semester, so that was wonderful compliment. Jordy’s birthday is coming up, and even though we have $8.00 to our name, I am chair of the social committee, and that means something is defiantly planned for our darling boy with the crazy shirts. Of course, we will take pictures, and as soon as we get paid next week they will be up on the website, along with pictures of the very drunken Halloween party we went to on Friday. But I’ll let Jordy tell you about that…:)

October 19, 2002


It’s a brisk 42 degrees out right now, and that’s falling. It was actually a very warm 65 today, but next weeks’ forecast drops a bit (and some rain, too). But tonight, as I took the trash out, I could feel the temperature, and smell the leaves on the ground. My family will no doubt recall evenings in Tahoe around Thanksgiving; that’s about what it feels like now. Coming back, I opened the door that Spooky Ghost was guarded and was greeted by a wonderful warm wave. The aroma of roasted chicken and garlic and parsley rushed over me as I closed the door behind me. I stood in the doorway and just smiled because these are the moments I’m most reminded that I am home – not necessarily in Logan, but, as I’m wont to say, Home is where the Slug is, and my Slug is right here.
Time today slipped away easily, which isn’t to say we didn’t take advantage of the passing time. We braved Walmart on a Saturday (no small feat, let me tell you!), we have new pictures on the website, and perhaps most significantly, the house is clean and Anna and I both feel rested. Rested, that’s so desperately what we both needed to feel right now after such a tumultuous week that included slam poetry with our classes and a Mormon funeral in Layton. Ah, but today we haven’t done anything for school – as it should be – and we just did things for us: cleaned our home, shopped for our food, slept in. Rest.
Tomorrow we’ve got a bunch to do – plenty to read before class on Monday – but we’re still planning on resting. Anna’s excited that there’s professional bull riding on tomorrow morning, and I’m glad that it ends just before the Raiders take on the Chargers. Oh, and of course I’m going to be making lemon apple pancakes in the morning.
Next week things heat up as the weather cools down as Monday our students turn in papers (which we have to correct), and the following week a number of assignments for the classes we are taking are coming due.
But, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll go rest some more now.

Ah, almost forgot to mention the weird goings-on of last night. In our pictures we note the large amount of stuff on our new neighbors’ patio. New is right, as they didn’t start to move into the apartment next door until after 9. Little weird? They seem nice—no, that’s a lie. They don’t seem at all. Haven’t heard or seen hide nor hair of them since their late night move in session. What with the season and everything, I’m wondering if a family of vampires moved in next door. We’ll know soon enough if one of them knocks on our door and asks to borrow a cup of O negative. Oh well, that’s about it.

October 17, 2002


This is Anna's teaching journal for our 6820 class for this very difficult week.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep... tired... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet - and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
– The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Lynn taps me pensively on the back: “Can you come up to my office?” “Of course.” And on my way up the orange stairs I fall behind Jordy, who has also been summoned. Of course we are speculating that we are going to be reprimanded for being smart-asses in class. Of course we are wrong. My student is dead.
John Duane Wayment, 28, brown hair, green eyes, short, pallid, sweating. John Duane Wayment, pale yellow and blue polo shirt, small belt and large jeans. Small brown shoes. How many times have I seen your small hand tentatively flicker in class, how many times have I called on you only to have you speak gibberish to me? And maybe I was speaking gibberish to you all along as well. How many times did I come up the stairs and see your frame sitting on the floor? How many times did you scare the shit out of me and make me frightened? John Duane Wayment, born so long ago in the land of the midnight sun. The midnight son who swallowed pills to ease his mind, the midnight son who died of stroke, alone, in bed, in the dark, in an apartment, on a miserable little street in Logan, Utah, the land of the morally righteous, the father and the son and the holy spirits in my glass to ease the pain of your death.
Students are not supposed to DIE, John! Students are supposed to be golden, the golden youth, the golden fleece. Students are supposed to sit in my class and stare at me with eyes full of secrets that I might dare to ask them to answer the question, what is the thesis, John? What the hell kind of student are you? A dead one. A no-good, crummy dead student, John! The thesis is that Anna will teach the class and Anna will grade the papers and Anna will call on Trevor, or Crystalyn or Alicia and Trevor and Crystalyn and Alicia will know the answer, John. The answer to why you have died.
And you will not mess up my thesis, John. You will not tell me that the thesis is Anna will teach the class but Anna does not know what she is doing, and Anna makes good pork loin and drinks wine on the night that you die, and Anna has sex and goes to the mailbox and ties her Airwalks on her feet and calls California late, late at night. That is not the thesis, John. Because ultimately how can this be? Are you and I the same, ordinary people, in the same ordinary town? We are. Do we have the same experience? We do. Are you the mirror, the magic looking glass, the prism that person passes through to become student and then 50 minutes later passes out and becomes person again? You are. Your soul has shot to sky and cloud, John, and mine is here on earth, as firmly rooted in the ground as a banyan tree. But in sky and cloud there is light, there is son, and son falls on my leaves and makes them grow…
And so we come to the end, you and I. Tomorrow is Thursday and I will drive to Layton and see you in your grey box, but I know that you will not be there. And that is ok. And it is ok as well that I have revised, and I have drafted and I have proofread and I have a new thesis, John. Do you want to hear it?
My thesis is this.

You were a brother and you were loved.
You were a child and you were loved.
You were a husband, and you were loved.

You were my student, and you were loved.

October 13, 2002


Yesterday, driving to the farmer’s market I really got a chance to see the amazing fall colors. We haven’t yet had a chance to make it up the canyon, as this weekend was more than full. As I mentioned, I hit the farmer’s market to look for good apples, and I came away with some big beautiful granny smiths that Anna turned into her first Utah apple pie. We had some friends over (Mary, Melissa and her husband, John) and Anna really out did herself.
She started with a carrot ginger soup, which was the color of jack-o-lanterns and tasted as fall as the air. Then we had delicious baby-green salad with grapefruit and fennel dressed in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette. The main course was the absolute best pork I’ve ever had – we bought a tenderloin from WalMart on sale and marinated it in rubbed sage, rosemary (thanks Lana and Gary), oregano, garlic, and bay leaves. It was absolutely to die for. Our guests were bowled over by it, and so was I. Think about the greatest piece of pork you’ve ever had; it was probably tender, moist, flavorful…. wonderful. Okay, now multiply that by a factor of 10 and you’re starting to approach Anna’s roasted piece of porcine nirvana. With the pork Anna served lemon infused jasmine rice with green onions and peas, a perfect concomitant. As if that weren’t enough, we had Anna’s homemade apple pie (with the most perfect flaky crust) and vanilla Aggie ice cream while we watched "Amélie". It was a great night.
Though, if you were thinking, “I’ve seen pictures of Anna and Jordy’s kitchen, how did they…? Well, I’ll tell you – we’re still doing dishes. Ah, but it was worth it. Plus we have left over pie, so it’s all good. Today was a laundry day, and work day. This week we’ve got so much to do! I’ve got a presentation in our 6820 class on theory (blech), and just so many other little things. It boggles the mind.

October 10, 2002


Reality check hardcore. A full 1/3 of my students failed the midterm. I am so furious with them I have no idea how I am going to handle giving them their tests back tomorrow. They simply did not give a damn in 90% of the cases, and while everyone advises you not to take your students' performance personally, I can not help but be distraught. I have worked so hard for these kids! Argh!
Today I took a personal day and spent the entire day sleeping. I woke up this morning feeling dizzy and having the shakes, and I decided what I need most would be not to spend the next 16 hours working. So while Jordy went to class I slept until 4pm. Our friend Mary came over tonight with reinforced juice for me and we had a good chat and compared lesson plans for tomorrows classes.
Thank God tomorrow is Friday and we have 2 days off. While I have two books to read this weekend (The Mistress of Manifest Destiny, about Aaron Burr’s lover, and With His Pistol in His Hand), Saturday we are having a bunch of people over and I am going to make a duck! We are going to watch our teaching videos (we are video taped once a semester as we teach for a kind of quality control), drink wine, and make fun of each other. This should be great fun, and Saturday morning Jordy and I are going to drive Logan canyon to Bear Lake. I can not express to you all how beautiful fall is here. And I have seen fall color back East. It pales…
New pictures should be up next week, so be on the lookout. We would love to hear from you all on the phone once in a while as well…

October 7, 2002


We’re back from California and trying to reorient ourselves with Utah life. Not too terribly hard, actually, as a) before we left we fell into a general groove, and b) we weren’t gone long. But let me go back to the beginning of last week.
It snowed. Waking up on October first, we knew it was going to rain, but not until we looked out the window did we realize that it was going to snow. While it was too warm for the snow to stick to anything but grass, it was still quite neat – and a shock, too. Standing at the bus stop with my gay umbrella (don’t ask) and listening to the slush-slush-slush of giant snowflakes landing on my umbrella was a nice moment. The snow didn’t last here, though, and by afternoon the falling snow turned to rain and the snow on the ground melted away. It’s okay, though, as I’m sure we’ll get more than enough snow soon enough.
Last week we spent Monday and Wednesday trying to get our students ready for the in-class midterm essay on Friday. Then, Friday arrived and we delivered unto them in-class essay questions. Sometimes it’s good to be the king. Although, truth be told, I think we have it as bad as the students – we’ve got to grade the stack of 40 plus hand written papers.
No sooner than we collected the students’ papers did we leap into the car for a sprint to the airport and then to be whisked away to California. We arrived in Oakland and enjoyed a late dinner with drinks (you don’t understand how awful it is to have 3.2% alcohol beer here. What’s the point?!) at the Elephant Bar with Lana, Gary, and John. Great fun!
Saturday we went to Jill’s wedding. It was a fairly casual affair in the San Jose Rose Garden. Jill was beautiful, of course, and the wedding went off without a hitch. The weather was perfect and quite warm (compared to our sweater-required days of late in UT). The reception was fantastic, as well, and took place in Jay’s backyard. It was wonderful seeing so many people that we rarely get to see anymore. Unfortunately neither Anna nor I sampled the cake, but we were told it was quite good. Our only regret, really was that we had to duck out early.
Sunday came way too soon, as did our flight. I’ll take this opportunity to note that both at SLC as well as at Oakland I was searched. In Salt Lake, my belt buckle set off the metal detector, but in Oakland I got the feeling that they just felt like searching me for consistencies sake. Fortunately for me I’m not a terrorist and we were on our way both times soon enough.
So, now we’re back and getting back into the flow of things. Oh, while in the Bay Area Lana took us to Trader Joe’s and we stocked up. We managed to pack an entire big suitcase with our booty. Ah, but it was worth it! Even now, I’m eating Trader Joe’s triple ginger snaps. Ah, heaven! So that’s about it for the moment, but we’ll be updating this more often now, so stay tuned.
Oh, I almost forgot. The webcam is working again. Check it just before 11:30 on Monday, Wednesday, or Fridays and you may just see me walking across the quad. And check out Anna at the Western American Literature journal!!

September 29, 2002


Well, we have been slavishly working for the system and so have not had time to write. We are at about 100 hours a week now, between teaching and studying and departmental bullshit. Today we were finally able to do two weeks worth of laundry (eight huge loads) and give our little house a thorough scrubbing. Yea! I have devoted the rest of the morning to lesson planning and helping my kids with their narrative papers via email. Jordy is watching the Raiders game and reading theory. Someone in the office mentioned that you know you’re a grad student when your weekends consist only of Friday nights. I think we qualify by that standard.
Speaking of Friday nights, this one was spent at the grad student luau at the home of our boss Dr. Meeks. We had a wonderful time as we had a huge bonfire in the middle of her horse pasture, which we all sat around. The activities consisted of: listening to Jordy’s band play, drinking beer and burning effigies of things (this years popular effigies in order were: the university budget slashing Utah State legislature, George Bush, two police reports for stolen items (those pesky Mormons), PhD program rejection letters and various student papers representing various annoying students). It was a cathartic release, and feeling relieved, we took to breaking beer bottles and toasting Betsy Ross. Why, I don’t know, except suffice to say we were drunk and tired and it felt good. So there. The pig went to bed about 2:30am, covered with the ceremonial car hood, and so did the grad students, only to return the next night to eat the pig (which I did not do because I had a stupid cold and I felt like crap…moo).
We have been taking pictures of our offices and our kids and hope to have those posted within the next two weeks. It looks like wedding pics will have to wait until Thanksgiving break (which more and more it looks like we will be hosting because I am the only one who knows how to cook without resorting to micro-waving), but I promise we will get them up as soon as we have some time to breathe. And we will see some of you next weekend when we fly to Cali for Jill’s wedding… :)
Tonight we will be lesson planning fools, and we will eat roasted chicken and baked squash and garlic bread and we will go to sleep in our clean house on clean sheets for the first time in two weeks! And we will sleep well. And we will get up tomorrow and do it all again.

September 14, 2002

Wow, what a week. What an unbelievably busy and emotional and fun and busy and crazy and busy week.
  • I can't believe we've now officially been living in Utah for a month. It may not seem like a long time to some, but it's really quite a milestone. Beyond just living in Utah (which is something in and of itself -- Unless you're LDS (that's Mormon -- see, I'm even learning Mormon-speak!)) our one month anniversary for living in Utah coincides with...
  • I can't believe we've been married now for two months! Okay, so it's not that different. In fact, Anna and I have always worked really well together and aside from occasionally getting on each other's nerves life in the Jensky-Guiffre household has been grand! And when we do fight, and we do, our fights haven't lasted nearly as long as they did -- I guess living in the same small cinder block apartment gives one incentive to make up. :)
  • I can't believe we've now taught for three weeks! I'm not going to say I feel like a veteran, but I will say that I'm starting to really feel comfortable, and both our classes are really getting used to us. While I'm on the subject...
  • I can't believe Anna's students love her as much as they do. First, there was the adoring praise of one student, "You're the best English teacher I've ever had." Okay, well, that's fine. Anna has received numerous -- numerous -- emails from her students (days before they turned in their most recent papers, by the way) espousing how wonderful a teacher she is! Holy cow! And if that's not enough, she amazed the rest of our office by packing our waiting couch for three consecutive days with her students coming in for conferences -- yes, some were told they had to, but most came on their on volition. She's really onto something here. But does she believe me when I tell her she's great? No. *sigh*
  • I can't believe it's not butter! Okay, I can -- that stuff tastes like crap. But, interestingly enough, margarine is huge here! They cook with it! They should just change the dang name from margarine to Mormon butter and make things clearer for outsiders.
  • I can't believe I'm in a band. Yes, you read right, a band. We don't have a name yet (though the top contenders are "The Erotic Cakes", "Tiffani's Hat", and "Matching Scars" (because the base player, Greg, and I have almost identical scars on our legs -- he had a rod too!). We practiced for the first time today and we didn't sound half bad. I was playing on my telecaster (which sounds absolutely fantastic a) with the Fender Noiseless pickups and b) through the Mesa Boogie amp), my friend Josh played drums, and the aforementioned Greg played bass. We practice in Mary's (see Anna's September 7th post) garage because, in her words, "I've always wanted a garage band!" We're supposed to play the annual English Faculty/Grad student luau in two weeks, so wish our unnamed group luck.
  • I can't believe Anna was elected the co-chairperson for the English Grad Student Social committee. You know Anna, the one who'd much rather sit alone reading a book than party? Yeah, she's heading the social committee. Stranger things have happened -- witness our President -- but still, this is up there. She's in charge of making sure the previously mentioned Luau comes off without a hitch, band not withstanding. And there's a whole slough of parties she's in charge of putting together. In her words, "This will insure that I have to be there." Clearly words from an inspired leader!
  • I can't believe Anna's going to be on the English website with her picture and everything. The reason is because she's the book review fellow for the Western American Literature journal this year. But she has told me to put that you shouldn't go to that website when it's up because her picture is really bad. So, to honor her wishes, I won't tell you the address.
  • I can't believe I've written this much! Okay, I'm signing off now. It has been a fantastic week. I didn't even mention September 11th (a mixed anniversary as it marks both the terrorist attacks and my first day in physical therapy after my accident). We need a week off just to get ready for the next week. Yes, I know that's not going to happen.

September 7, 2002


Well, it is pouring rain here, complete with thunder and lightning. It has been raining steadily the last two days. Since we are in a valley between two huge pieces of the Rocky Mountains, the thunderheads become massive coming over the first ridge, then they get trapped by the second, bigger ridge (the one visible behind the school on the web-cam). The leaves are turning and it is getting colder, only 64 today.
We had a small break in the weather this morning, and Jordy and I were able to slip down to the farmers market for about ½ an hour. We picked up “sugar-buster” white corn, haricot verts, cucumbers, peaches and two pints of huge blackberries. We also stopped by Volker’s and got a lemon-dill sourdough.
Last night, our friend Josh came over and we watched the “clean” version of Blues Brothers. The movie is great, but it is not the same without the essential swearing. We ordered a pizza and sat around shooting the shit for a good 4 hours. Tonight our friend Mary is coming over and we are having peach and blackberry pie (already baked and smelling so good!), roasted chicken, corn, and a warm tomato-bean salad with bacon vinaigrette.
Nothing else going on. School is fine if overwhelming. I found out this week that the WAL bought a block of my teaching time for next semester, meaning I will only have to teach one class (Yea!). Last week we worked 80 hours. The end result is that we are dead tired come Friday night, but then the grad-student lifestyle takes over and everyone makes various plans for far into the night. I think we are self-sabotaging, but oh well.
Jordy just came home from the kitchen store with a baking stone that will fit our oven, and was so soaked, he got right into the shower. Char. Gloomy day!

September 1, 2002


Three day weekends are a glorious, glorious thing. Anna and I decided that Saturdays would be school work free – one day a week that we can just relax. Since it’s a three day weekend, that relax time gets stretched out to two days. While Anna posted about what a glorious day we had yesterday, today was another day of rest. We slept late and when we did get up I made blueberry-lemon pancakes. Nice way to start the day. On Sundays in this town they practically roll up the sidewalks, so there aren’t a lot of stores open anyway. I enjoyed Food Network’s Good Eats marathon while Anna baked cookies for her students (she’s way too good to them!). Selfless me, I volunteered to test the cookies. While they taste fantastic, they’re much flatter than Anna’s cookies used to be and we’re trying to figure out if that’s attributable to our cantankerous gas oven or the altitude, or both. Nonetheless, they are indeed divine.
As we were finishing up the cookies, a knock came at the door. It was our friend Emma, one of our fellow graduate instructors. She lives with her mom here in Logan, and they have a huge garden and orchard. She was nice enough to bring us some absolutely beautiful tomatoes, a cucumber, a zucchini, and some wonderful bell peppers, one of which I had to eat raw shortly after Emma left. She said she was going to bring us some basil (as it’s horrible looking and horribly expensive at any of the grocery stores around here), but she found a snake in the garden had devoured most of her basil (seems to me a very well seasoned snake!). Anna turned several of the tomatoes and the cucumber into a delicious salad with some balsamic, olive oil, and spices to go with our marinated flank steak – the first, might I add, steak we’ve had since we’ve been here.
So Anna’s working on a new shirt for me (joy!!), and I’m, well, writing this and relaxing. Tomorrow we’ll have our hands full reading for our classes and preparing lesson plans, but right now we’re just chilling.


August 31, 2002


Well, the end of a long week has come! Yea! We started teaching this week, and I am so excited about my kids. I have 44 of them and they are great. They are eager to learn, polite, and funny as only 18 year olds can be. I have been accepted by them right away, which is strange, but I think it is because I look really young for a teacher and I always wear jeans and t-shirts to class. I am hoping to take pictures of them and get them up on the site soon.
We are slowly adjusting to life in Logan. It is still really hot here, but the wind has been blowing fiercely letting us know that fall is right around the corner. We have made many friends and our office is great. We are bundled in 10 to a room filled with skylights at the very top of the English building. The room has really weird angles because of its rooftop status, giving a sense of privacy. People have been decorating with plants and pictures and lots of posters and maps. We each have a large desk, two chairs, a filing cabinet and whatever else we want to bring. I have imported a boom box, as have several others. Decorations range from communist Chinese propaganda posters to police line tape to big fuzzy chair pillows.
Jordy and I find ourselves hanging out there whenever possible between classes. We have made so many good friends and have gone through a baptism by fire in regards to teaching, bonding us further with our fellow graduate instructors. We are beginning to carve out a life here and the place is starting to feel more and more like home.
We went to the aforementioned farmers market this morning. What a trip! My quest for good bread came to an abrupt end when we stumbled on the Volkers bakery trailer. We picked up a sourdough-asiago loaf that must’ve weighed about 2lbs. I was so excited! We also got shallots (6 huge for $1.00), 3lbs of peaches for $1.00 and 3 huge sweet pea bunches for, you guessed it, $1.00. Right now we have 6 vases of sweet peas in the apartment and it smells so good! We also came across the famous Bear Lake raspberries, which are black. They are about 3 times the size of a regular raspberries and get this, a flat of them (six baskets) is only $5.00. I am going to make pie next weekend. We came away with a full bag of goodies for under $10.00 including flowers. The farmers market runs well into fall, so we are very excited about being able to go there on Saturday mornings.
Tonight we had roast chicken, which was basted with a garlic-shallot-parsley butter, some of the asiago bread and a spinach salad. Heaven. Plan on sewing until late into the evening.


August 24, 2002


Interesting day today. Went on a driving tour of Logan courtesy of our friend Mary ( who mentioned we had one of the best looking grad-school apartments she had ever seen). The three of us piled into her brand-new, Pikachu yellow Bug and tooled around Logan for an hour and a half. We went to Hastings’s, an independent record and book store which reminds me a lot of how Tower Records Mountain View used to be. Huge selections, funky vibe and they have an x-rated section. It is just Playboy videos, but for Utah, that’s a big step. We went by the state-run liquor store, creatively titled “State Run Liquors” where they sell real alcohol every day except Sunday. We also went by the DMV, a whole bunch of cheap but good eats, and the place to buy fresh beef according to Mary (a native Utahan). We also figured out where the farmers market is.
Went to Wal-Mart today for food. I feel terrible every time I go there, but we really have no choice. Food, especially fruit and veggies, is unbelievably expensive here, and we have been told it only gets worse in the winter time. We were elated to find organic milk there!!! We have been on a quest for organic milk since we got here, and now it has come to an end. We also got our film developed, so as soon as we have internet we can post pictures of the apartment.
Roasting a chicken tonight and watching “Orange County.” Miss California badly, but am adjusting. We hit 36 here last night with rain. It is still warm, but you can tell that summer is coming to an end rapidly.
PS: Aggie Ice Cream is the bomb! The flavor we got this week is java chocolate chip! Sweet!

August 23, 2002


Friday night is the friend of the grad student. Class is over, no pressing homework is due and since we get out at three right now on Fridays, life is better in this regard. The week-long teaching workshop has ended and by are we glad. We made a lot of new friends and learned a tremendous amount. I am, however, scared shitless to walk into my classroom come Monday morning. We got to see our rooms yesterday, and I have two. The first one on the third floor of the business building. It is rad! I have this huge console with stereo, dvd, vcr, laserdisc and screens that go up and down. Cool. The other classroom is on the third floor of Animal Science, which is this huge old building. It is really cool. It looks straight out of the South circa 1945. Beautiful molded ceilings, the original windows (bad in winter!) and an old map of the US above the chalkboard. Should be fun…I hope!

August 22, 2002


If you're reading this right now, I've got one question for you -- what are you doing in our apartment?! Yes, we are in Utah. Yes, we are completely unpacked. However, we have no internet capabilities. Part of our contract for teaching was that we get out of state fee waivers so we only have to pay the in-state tuition. Well, those haven't gone through yet and because we don't care to pay three times the proper amount, we're going to sit tight until those damn waivers go through. What do fee waivers have to do with internet, you ask? Well, you see we've got an ethernet jack in the apartment. However, USU only allows you to connect to the campus website until you register an IP address . However, to register an IP address, you have to open a campus email account which would be all fine and good except that in order to be able to open a campus email address and get this whole goddamn ball rolling, you have to have paid your fees.

So, we're waiting. In the meantime we're getting ready to face our classes on Monday. There's an internal faculty web page where teachers can see the students' student card photo and, while not all students have their pictures up, it's going to be an interesting pair of classes. More on that later, though. Tonight we had the first party of the year -- it was an English Graduate Instructor potluck down at one of the parks nearby. It was quite fun and we stayed until the last people left and the mosquitos had sucked us all near dry. Anna made "Momthra's Potato Salad," which was devine and, I argue, as good as it's source (though she'll dispute this fact). The whole Graduate Instructor group of people are just great, and we look forward to getting to know then, and getting to know the town through them -- Mary, the assistant director of the english 1010 program (what Anna and I are teaching) has agreed to take us on a driving tour of Logan where she promises to point out such things as the one state run bar, as well as the White Owl, the pub (yes, there is such a thing) where all the English grad students hang out, and other key Logan survival points of interest. We will definately take her up on this. Soon. Well, I've written enough here for now. I'm off to sit in our pimp Cost Plus Royce chairs and chill.