Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wear Sunscreen!

Something that was always fun about Italy was that people have no reservations when it comes to giving compliments. Saying hello to strangers was a pleasant experience because they would often reply "Ciao, bellissima!" (Hello, most beautiful.) I know that their response had very little to do with how I actually looked because I was a frumpy sister missionary. Still, it was nice to hear. It was something that reminded me that I was in Italy--most people just don't go around greeting strangers like that here.

I have a sister who does, though. (Number three. The one whose hair we dyed.) "Hey, beautiful," she'll greet us. [As an aside, one time a different sister went to pick Three up from the airport and brought a sign for her, and I think balloons. Instead of writing my sister's name on the sign, she put "Beautiful" on it. She said a bunch of people stopped her and thought they were really funny. They'd ask her, "Looking for me?" They would think they were so clever, but really she got it over and over again.]

Today, as I was walking home from school I got honked at three times. (And not for crossing in dangerous places.) It was the same guy, in his oh-so-sexy waste management dumpster collecting truck. He passed me three times separate times during my five-mile walk.

It really made me laugh. Here's why: I look ridiculous. If I had worn shorts, he would've seen that my legs are red as a lobster, but just up to my knees. More sun on my legs hurts more than fabric rubbing against them, though, so I wore pants. I am so sunburnt. I can't even walk! I hobble.

Yesterday, Mom had a Board meeting for the breastfeeding group that she volunteers with. They had it at somebody's house in Newport beach. It was beach-front property, so my sister and I spent all day at the beach while Mom was at her meeting.

The afternoon was pleasant. There was sand, there were waves, and there were hundreds of little kids (aged...6-12?) in red suits, all participating in the Jr. Lifeguard program. They were adorable. We had fun watching them do their trainings since they were on both sides of where we had set up. Some of them surfed, they swam a lot, etc. All in groups of like, fifty. (Half of the group went to swim around something, and when they came back the other kids wanted to know if it was easy. "Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy," one kid told his friends.)

So, my sister and I laid out under a canopy and I studied math, and she rested. Except, see, I didn't realize that my legs were out from underneath the shade. I promptly burned the backs of my legs to halfway up my calves. Whoops. And it hurt, so I rolled up my capris so that they were at my knees. That way, they wouldn't rub against the burned part. Big mistake. I thought that since it was already 4ish pm, I'd be fine...

After a while longer, my sister and I were ready to go. Mom was still at her meeting. My sister and I built a big sand sculpture of a lady feeding her baby. We collected shells so that could be
more colorful. The baby had reddish hair and was in a white blanket, and the momma had blonde hair. And purple eyes, and red lips. It was a very original piece, and all of the old ladies at Mom's meeting really enjoyed it. My sister took pictures of it with her cellphone.

...but I ended up burning the rest of my calves. Pretty badly, too. Drat.

On the way home, we stopped at the neighbor's house for aloe vera. My sister said they had some and that they never use it. It turns out, they practically have a jungle of aloe vera. Now we're best friends. They gave me two giant stalks. And asked if I knew how to apply it. "Lavishly," I told them; they laughed.

So I went home, and I applied it. Twice. But it still hurt. And I had filmy legs.

Walking has been tricky because (at least initially, for the first little bit after I stand up) I have to keep my knees bent. My toes point out all funny. I barely lift my feet and shift them forward a couple inches. It's like whenever the muscles under my skin move, it moves the skin on top. And that hurts. Really, it's pretty pathetic looking.

Here's a suggestion, kids: Don't get sunburned the night before you have an important final.

My attempts to get some rest were futile. I tried laying down and couldn't really. I tried finding some comfortable position, but there was none. I tried laying sideways on my bed so that my bum was on the edge and my feet were on the floor. It was hopeless. I got up and took Tylenol. It didn't help. I put more aloe vera on. It still hurt. I remembered a tube of Neosporin, which I began to love while I was on my mission. I remembered that it said "+ Pain Relief!" on the outside, and I went to my other bedroom to get it. Sure enough, it listed burns as one of the things that you could apply it to. Sweet! I applied it, and boy did I ever. Instead of a tiny dab of it, I wore it like it was going out of style. And I think it helped. Maybe I just felt like it did because I wanted it to so badly.

I put a big fan at the end of my bed and finally, after a long time, I fell asleep. I woke up a bunch, and didn't get much rest, but... I did eventually sleep.

When I woke up in the morning, I couldn't walk at all. It was kind of like waking up with pink eye, and your eyes are glued shut... One of those things where you're just like, "Huh. Now what." My legs are still cherry-popsicle red, and have impressive purple welts. Diiiiissgusting.

After about fifteen minutes of holding walls and sitting down every few seconds, I finally got to where I could walk. And even this afternoon, standing in one place still hurts quite a bit, but when I get started walking, I'm mostly fine.

My math final went all right. I'm glad the class is over. You know how people talk like the people they're around? I've noticed over the past few days that sometimes I echo my math teacher. He says, "Oh, reeeeeallaaaaayyyyy?" when we supply an incorrect answer in class. And sometimes, I hear that in my head when people tell me things that I know are wrong. Just like before, I would sometimes want to answer our house phone like it was my restaurant phone. Funny.

We killed the manti. Not on purpose, or anything. I didn't feed them to the lizard. I think they just dried out. I don't know how it happened, but I'm not too surprised that it did.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I am tired.

I am very persuasive. It's a talent that I didn't know I had. I've really noticed it a lot lately, though.

It goes like this:

6:30 am. Alarm goes off. It's not a pretty music alarm, or a light fading alarm-- just one that beeps impatiently in some off-key note. A travel alarm, actually. I haven't been able to find my real one.

I look at the time. I press the snooze button and start talking to myself (not aloud)...

"Good job. You totally woke up early," I'll think. (And really, I'm right. Six is an unearthly hour.)

I continue, "--and for that, you really deserve to be able to sleep a little longer."

It seems like sound logic to me: I did something good, I deserve a reward, and the reward I want most is sleep. So I flip the little switch that turns the alarm off, or doze in between times that I have to press the snooze button...

Until I finally actually get up at...when? Ohhhh, 7:30 am. Which is when I'm supposed to be leaving the house. And then I have to scramble to get ready as fast as I possibly can.

In the morning it seems to make sense, but when I think about it later, it kind of makes me laugh.

I have had two big tests that have returned me to "official college student" status by forcing me to stay up cramming until it starts to get light outside. Ah, the joys of summer school.

My math teacher has done a good job of keeping me awake, though. He says some of the funniest stuff, in his own little math-teacher way. Yesterday, he finished solving a problem on the board and he asked us "You like writing Solution Set?" He was talking about a way of writing the answer that goes like this: Solution Set {(1,3)}, where the answers would be 1 and 3.

We stared at him, and didn't say anything. He asks a lot of questions that he doesn't really want answers to. Yeah, we were quiet except for our class All-Star, who says he loves math, sits in the middle of the front row, and shouts out the answers to everything. "YES!" our All-Star shouted out, emphatically.

"Too bad," the math teacher responded. "That is tooooo much writing. You have to write this thaaaang, and a commaaa, and this thaaaaang... We will just puuuut a baaahhhhx." He boxed his answer.

He thought for a minute and added, "By the way. When you write the book, you have to be very formal. But we are not writing books." So. Since we're not all writing math textbooks, we're allowed to omit the solution set. Sweet!

And then today, we finished Section 5.4. We had 15 minutes of class left, and the math teacher said he wanted to do half of 5.5 and then we could go home. He wrote the title on the board:
Section 5.5 Nonlinear Systems of Equations.

"Do yeuuuu know what we will studaay in 5.5?" he asked us. Our class All-Star shouted out something that was wrong. "No. We will studaay Nonlinear Systems of Equations. Now we leeern somethaaang. Now we caaan go hoooouumme." And that was it. He put the section title on the board, and that counted as starting 5.5 so he dismissed the class.

He makes me laugh.

Two more little items of news:

I am on call for jury duty this week. And that could be exciting. I just called to know if I have to report tomorrow, and I don't. I'm grateful, because I have a temple trip planned with my mom and sisters.

Right before my little brothers left for a three week long vacation with my Dad, the neighbors granted us the privilege of adopting two manti. Lucky us. I think we should feed them to the skink. Not really. That would be mean.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In Dire Need of a Dyer.

Recently, I had the opportunity to dye my mother's hair.

She was to attend a large regional conference for an international parenting organization. It was only natural (well, technically, unnatural) that she would want someone to fix her roots. I volunteered to help. I did a very good job, and did not stain my clothes, or hers. Her hair came out all one color.

As I pulled out the instructions and started to prepare the dye, though, I remembered the only other time that I have ever participated in the hair coloring process.

One time Lavish and I "accidentally" dyed our other sister's hair jet black.

As the black sheep of family, Three had started looking for trouble. She found a group of "friends" that had questionable reputations. She started spending time with them. And she decided that she wanted a particular shade of reddish hair that a bunch of them had. We objected.

One day, I was leaving for the gym and Three asked if she could come with me. Not to go to the gym, but to go shopping at the stores nearby. For what? Oh, just makeup. Fine. I happily included her in my gym trip. I discovered later that the real reason Three wanted to come was because she wanted to buy the forbidden red hair dye. Nobody would drive her to get it.

That really bothered me. I didn't want to help her assimilate into the group of troublemakers. Had I known that she was planning on buying hair dye, I would not have taken her. It was too late, though. She'd already bought it.

So Three started asking everyone to dye her hair. Everyone at home, anyway. She was impatient, and so desperate that she even asked my Dad to do it for her. He wouldn't do it either.

Then I got an idea. I whispered to Lavish: "What if we dyed it and it didn't come out red?"

It was ingenious. "I can't believe I didn't think of that first," she whispered back. Lavish volunteered. She offered to dye Three's hair at three pm sharp, the following afternoon.

Lavish and I got out of school slightly earlier than Three, and we quickly drove to the drugstore to buy hair dye. Black, we decided. We splurged and bought the temporary kind that would wash out in 3 to 5 washes. It was more expensive than permanent hair dye, but since the whole thing was a joke, it didn't seem right to dye it permanently. Besides, her hair is naturally light brown (kind of close to my hair color), so black wasn't really an ideal color for her.

Around that time, a big family joke was that Lavish would have characters that she would pretend to do sometimes. For example, in the kitchen sometimes she would pretend she was on a cooking show. She would make up a fake accent and develop a funny character. Lavish announced that she was Jasmine ("Yas-meen"), and pretended that Three was coming to a fancy salon. We asked Three for her red dye, "to set up".

Oh, and did we ever set it up. We locked the bathroom door, and I poured the red dye into something else. I washed out the container really well, and replaced the red dye with our new black dye. We put up the instructions for the red dye and hid the actual red dye and the rest of the black dye kit.

Three came in, and the show began. Did she want a test strip? The instructions said that people should test a small, hidden lock of hair first to be sure that they're not allergic to the dye. And that the color comes out right. How long would it take? No, she definitely didn't want to wait that long.

So we pretended to follow the instructions that we'd posted, for the red dye, and began to dye Three's hair. It was coming out really dark. (It was supposed to!)

"It's coming out really dark," we told her, sounding slightly concerned.

"Oh, it does that. It gets lighter when you wash the dye out."

"Uh. It's really dark, though," we told her. She reassured us some more.

In the end, wouldn't you know it, it came out black. Oh, and not only black. It was jet black.

I walked into the project room, where my mom was. "Well. It came out really dark," I told her. Three walked into the room. Mom gasped. "I guess we won't be doing family pictures any time soon," she said.

How could it have happened, they wondered. Lavish and I knew what it was: Sun-In. Three had used Sun-In to make her hair slightly blonder a year or so before, and it was definitely a chemical reaction. (Of course, that would pretty much be impossible, but everyone bought it.)

At first Three was mortified. But then, the people she was trying to impress thought that black was a really cool color. She decided that she really liked it. Which was even worse.

All of us went to high school together and seeing the reactions of other people at school, Lavish and I laughed on the inside all day long. Finally, so that someone else could appreciate the joke, we told this one kid that we knew from church. Oh, and what happened? He told everyone, Three included.

We assured everyone that it was temporary dye and would wash out. Except, she kept washing it and it kept staying really black. I figured it out, though. The black dye was only supposed to stay in her hair for 3-5 minutes, or something like that. We had been following the red dye instructions, though, and since they were for permanent hair dye, those instructions said to leave the dye on for 25 minutes. Oops.

We never got in trouble for it at all.

She continued to dye her hair black for a while after that. Now it's back to a normal-ish brown shade.

The end.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

On Volcanos and Pachyderms.

Yesterday my brother brought his second-grade volcano project home. It was volcano made of flour and salt clay, and painted brown with red lava streaks. It featured a special hole that you could put...baking soda? and vinegar in to make it erupt.

Today he had another one, and he was just as excited about it. He called my sister over and said, " Did you see my volcano? I made a replica of the one I have at school!"

"You made a what?" she asked.

"A replica."

He's seven and he makes replicas.

Lately, we've been teaching him "big" words. Replica isn't one of them, but it could have been. As things come up in conversation, we call him. "HEY B! Wanna learn a new word?" He comes running. Recently I taught him about being facetious, arachnophobia, and triskaidekaphobia. My sister taught him about misnomers and being garrulous. Dad taught him 'superfluous.' He's known 'confiscate' for a long time.

He's seven, and he uses this stuff in conversation.

It's not that big of a surprise, really.

There is a system called Baby Signs that my mom discovered around when Seven was born. Seven learned sign language before he could talk, and we all had a lot of fun signing with him. Instead of crying because he wanted more food and couldn't tell us, he would just sign that he wanted more, and we'd give him more food. It was great.

Naturally, we wanted to do the same thing with B when he was old enough. B learned a few signs, but not nearly as many as Seven had. Instead, B started talking. Somehow, my sister Lavish and I got the idea to teach him animal names with our Beanie Babies. We had tons of them because they were popular. At the ripe age of two, B learned probably thirty different animal names.

Oh, but we didn't just teach him 'cat' and 'dog', oh no. In fact, we didn't teach him those at all. Instead, he had a 'feline' and a 'canine.' He also had a marsupial, a dromedary, a pachyderm, a bovine, an arachnid, a crustacean, a lagomorph, a mollusk, and a serpent. And about twenty others with similar names.

So there he was this two year-old boy who identified animals by their scientific names. "Look B, do you see the feline?"

Oh, we'd show him off all the time. We'd say, "B, go get your ______" and he'd run off and find the right toy. Or we'd put all of the animals out on the floor and make him name them all. He thought it was a fun game. Adults were impressed.

I was asking my sisters to remind me of some of the animals that we had, and we remembered something else that he did. Before my mission, he was about five years old. He collected church Pass Along cards. His brothers had Pokemon and Yu-ghi-Oh cards, and he had his Pass Along cards. The elders would come visit and he would get really excited and want to see which cards they had so that he could go through and see if he had all of the ones they did. He'd carry around a thick deck of them.

What a funny kid.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I love Thursdays.

I also love Gmail. As it so happens, I have my first initial and last name It is very convenient.

In the past, when I have tried to register something similar at places like hotmail, I've always been informed that my username was not available. Sites offer helpful suggestions like, as a peace offering.

I must say, though, that I thoroughly enjoy having my name My account has been a source of serendipity. People write to me without intending to! Yesterday I got a complete copy of some Corporate Tax Law! I often receive tracking notification for things "I've" ordered from Amazon or other shopping sites. One time I received a long list of big stores around the country. It was a chart of square footage, store locations, who the managers were, their business and home telephone numbers... all kinds of information for places like PetSmart.

How exciting! I can only imagine what it would have been like to have a slightly more common last name. JSmith or SSmith probably receives at least several unsolicited personal e-mails daily.

In other news, I'm getting acclimated to my math class. I didn't particularly like the professor at the beginning of the class (a whole two weeks ago), and he's getting funnier. He's this really Asian man that very obviously speaks English as a second language.

A couple days ago, he blew us away. "Naw we ah goING to have som fuuuuunn!" And then he started to make jokes in his own way. We were simplifying fractions, and the answer was supposed to be 0/-7. He told us that he "didn't like" -7 and wanted to use -9 instead. He wrote 0/-9 as the answer. We watched. He explained: 0/-7 is equal to 0. And 0/-9 is equal to 0. So therefore, 0/-7 = 0/-9. He smiled. The whole class burst into laughter.

Today he made another joke. We needed to solve an equation. "Let's try," he said. "If we succeed, then we go home. If we do not succeed, we will go home also."

Which reminds me: I adore teachers who are passionate about what they teach. And lively.

I had this one seminary teacher who loved the Book of Mormon. And was so excited to teach about it. And I enjoyed the class, and the Church, and started thinking about going on a mission.

I had another teacher, a history professor, who was amazing. She was a little (4'8?) South American lady with short curly hair. She would come into the class and lecture us on American History without even looking at the textbook. She knew all of the information. In fact, she knew it better than the book did. She would make jokes to herself about history.

She'd be teaching, going along with the main story and then throw out extra comments ("Of course the real reason he did that was because..." "You wonder why spices were so valuable?" "But what really happened was he thought this and they knew that..."). It was hilarious. I learned in that class that history is actually just old gossip. I thoroughly enjoyed her history class.

If I teach, I'll be enthusiastic about whatever it is that I'm teaching. Of course, this limits me to non-mathematical fields.

And finally, our brief stint as pet-sitters came to an abrupt close when our neighbors returned from their son's out-of-state wedding. They were very surprised to see that their manti had not hatched yet. It's all just fine with me, though. That leaves the rightful owners to ...appreciate? the miracle of the insect life cycle.