Monday, August 30, 2010

squirrel racist

I saw a black squirrel today (I didn't have my camera, though, so this isn't my picture, and because it's a picture of, you know, a squirrel, I feel it would be silly to cite my source). I've never seen one before. Apparently, they're a melanistic subgroup of the Eastern Gray Squirrel (according to Wikipedia). They do well in the Northeast because of their increased cold tolerance, and they're unusually common in DC. Anyway, I never knew they were a thing, and did a total double take when I saw it, which made me feel a little bit squirrel racist. "Doesn't mean [I] go around committing hate cri-i-imes...*

In case you're wondering why I'm dwelling on this (which you're not, but I'm going to tell you anyway), it's because I had a crap-tastic day and seeing the squirrel was the best part. BUT. Never fear. Tomorrow is sure to be better, for tomorrow is Apply For An Apartment Day! Hooray! Stay tuned.

*This is from "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist" from Avenue Q, P.S. I haven't completely lost it. It was a relevant digression.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

looking forward

Sometimes when I feel a little bleak about leaving our incredible apartment (and sometimes, I feel a little bleak about leaving our incredible apartment), I try to remind myself that there are even cooler places that we could someday aspire to live. Like, for instance, on a houseboat in Amsterdam with a tiny blue bathroom and ducks for neighbors.

Just sayin'.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


This is me.

This is my family.

These are some of my friends.

This is where I used to live.

And this is where I live now (well, sort of).

It's a good life. From sea to shining sea.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Tonight I rode home on the Metro with my head against the train window, staring at this obscenely sweet couple as they looked deeply into each other's eyes for twenty minutes, missing Ross. Oh, and listening to the soundtrack from My Best Friend's Wedding.

I hate it when my life is a movie cliche.

*Disclaimer: a lot of other really good things happened tonight, too, but I'm beat and only want to tell one story. More stories tomorrow. Love.

the uncanny valley

I'm babysitting my niece and nephew this morning and we're watching The Polar Express, which is just as creepy as everybody says. For those not in the know regarding the Uncanny Valley, I quote your favorite research tool, and mine, Wikipedia:

The uncanny valley is a hypothesis regarding the field of robotics. The theory holds that when robots and other facsimiles of humans [Haylie's note: this includes digital animation] look and act almost like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The "valley" in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot's lifelikeness.

So we're freaked out by prosthetic hands, for instance, but not the Ceylons from Battlestar Galactica. Of course, the Uncanny Valley-ness of The Polar Express is legendary by now (it even features in an episode of 30 Rock, in which Frank tries to explain to Tracey why creating a pornographic video game is impossible by citing Jar Jar Binks and The Polar Express).

But the creepiness of The Polar Express extends far beyond the valley. At one point the kids wander around in an empty, Soviet-bloc-style North Pole, listening to a broken record echoing "Ring-a-ling... ring-a-ling... ring-a-ling... ring-a-ling..." At another, they spy on some elves watching kids (ostensibly checking them for "naughty-" or "nice-ness") on closed-circuit surveillance.

The key scene involves a screaming horde of screechy-voiced elves all clamoring for Santa like groupies. Or a cult. Given that they're nearly faceless and move like badly-operated puppets, I'm going with cult. A Santa Cult. Early one of the kids asked Tom Hanks, "Where are all the elves?" He said: "They are gathering in the center of the city!"

This movie is freaking terrifying.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

some more quick thoughts

Hi beloved friends, etc. No pictures still. Sorry about that. Maybe tomorrow(???).

Today was long but good. Yesterday: long but good. In fact, the days have been so long and action packed that I feel like I've been here significantly longer than I have.

I also feel bad posting this so late, but then I remember that all the people who might be reading it are three hours behind, so I feel better.

Today I went to Baltimore, which was fascinating, since it was totally intimidating (for instance, it has a ridiculously high crime rate), but also incredibly beautiful. Glorious architecture pretty much everywhere. I can't figure it out. How did such a lovely city get to have such a bad (and, apparently, deserved) reputation? It's very mysterious.

Since Baltimore is functionally out, I'm still trying to figure out where to live such that Ross can get to work and I can get to DC with a minimum of hassle and expense and bodily harm (as in crime). Any previous knowledge any of you might have about the area is abundantly welcome.

In the interest of, you know, finding a place to live, I applied for a membership with Zipcar today. I'm really excited about it. My affiliation with GWU got me a 50% discount on the annual fee, and there are tons of cars available in Foggy Bottom (which is where GWU is located, and which I can't ever write/think without giggling).

My SIL, Kimberly, is one of the Young Women's leaders for her ward, and tonight she invited me to go with them on a photo scavenger hunt at the National Mall. This was delightful in and of itself, since the Mall is beautiful and the girls were hilarious (and my team won). But a simple pleasant evening was transformed into a memorable event by one incredibly moment: I saw my first firefly. I have a life list of things I'd like to do (some items of which long time readers will remember), but the very top of the list for years has been seeing a firefly. It was very, very cool and made me feel much less stressed about this whole thing. Like a good omen.

That's it for tonight, folks. Thanks for your comments (here and on Facebook) and your thoughts. I miss you all lots and lots, but I'm doing well. Just send me some good apartment thoughts, ok?



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

dc after fifteen minutes: some quick thoughts

DC smells like: London

DC looks like: Battlestar Galactica (at least the Metro housing does)

DC feels like: Nervous (or maybe that's just me projecting)

DC has: A Starbucks next to the library with wifi
The Lincoln Memorial (briefly glimpsed from the car last night!!!)
A lot of people
Nice family
An interview waiting for me

DC lacks: SmarTrip card vendors
Affordable housing (Good morning, Baltimore?)

Monday, August 23, 2010

goodbye portland*

*Things I said (maybe out loud, maybe while crying big wet tears) as we drove to the airport this morning

Goodbye NW 23rd
Goodbye Everett
Goodbye pedestrian Ross didn't stop for
Goodbye Burnside
Goodbye Fremont Bridge
Goodbye Broadway Bridge
Goodbye Mount Hood
Goodbye "Made in Oregon" sign
Goodbye dog park in the Pearl
Goodbye Willamette River
Goodbye OHSU hill
Goodbye Powell's (Oh! Goodbye Powell's)
Goodbye ghetto Gresham
Goodbye Rocky Butte
Goodbye bridge that looks like a fish on the way to the airport
Goodbye Max
Goodbye Portland Airport, voted the best airport in the country, like, ten times
Goodbye Powell's in the airport
Goodbye "C" terminal (the best terminal, since it has the aforementioned Powell's)

And some things I didn't say, but am saying now

Goodbye Yogi and Tazo teas
Goodbye Ken's Artisan Bakery
Goodbye Zoo
Goodbye rain rain
Goodbye apartment
Goodbye incredible neighbors: Heather, Patty, and Scott, the emperor of Portland
Goodbye tomato plant
Goodbye Whole Foods in the Pearl. There will be other Whole Foods, but they won't be the same
Goodbye Street Roots newspaper and salespeople
Goodbye lovely commute
Goodbye Central Library

Goodbye Creature
Goodbye friends and family
Goodbye Ross

See you later, alligators. I've got a plane to catch

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

waiting (and other thoughts)

Ross and I are still waiting to hear about, you know, the rest of our lives. I feel an awful lot like the girl above (image found here), except more homicidal. More than anything else, I'm just really ready to start graduate school. I thrive in a college environment. I think I'll try to stay in one for the rest of my life.

Creature is recovering from her surgery, although not as quickly as I'd like. I fret about her, which has led me to an important realization about myself: much through I regret this, I'm pretty sure that if we have kids I'm going to be a worrying kind of mom. I just hope I have the presence of mind to let my kids do things (like climb trees and fall down and have adventures) anyway.

Zoo Camp continues to go incredibly well. Words fail me when I try to describe how wonderful my staff is, and I'm reduced to saying things like "Tiger B staff is awesome. They're really, really awesome. Just... awesome." The thing is, they really are.

Ross is organizing his music. In case you didn't know, he plays extremely well. Last year for his birthday I found the sheet music for the Amelie soundtrack online. It's out of print here, so our copy is in French, which is delightful.

Shhh - Birthday Secrets: I really want to get him the sheet music for the Fantastic Mr. Fox soundtrack for this birthday (which is in less than a week!) but haven't been able it find it. Perhaps that's just as well; I think there's more banjo than piano in the music.

Today I drove from the zoo to the Rose Garden, sight of my infamous crash (bike crash #2). I was following some bikers most of the way and realized that I may never, ever really get on a bike ever again. Just watching other people on bikes elevates my heart rate to a noticeable degree. Yikes. No thanks.

And one last thing... Today I got a call from a town in MI. Having forgotten whether MI stood for Michigan or Minnesota (for which I hope to be forgiven), I was super excited answering the phone, only to be disappointed when a prerecorded female voice started talking to me in broken Spanish. Amanda, you're missed. The end.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Dear Television,

Hello. As you may know, I usually regard you with mixed feelings. While I am, of course, a huge fan of some of your work (Shark Week, Life, Planet Earth, The Office, 30 Rock, and sometimes Glee), I take significant umbrage with your plethora of useless and intellectually degrading offerings (too numerous and depressing to list). Far worse than this, however, is the fact that you have offered me some of the best television shows EVER only to ruthlessly rip them away after a paltry few seasons. You took away Firefly, and that was bad enough. But you will never recover from the shame of losing Arrested Development.

However. I digress. I am actually writing to you today to thank you, for on Monday you somehow contrived to bring together two of the most delightful minds currently alive together for one (regrettably short, but still fulfilling) interview. The day that Mary Roach, author of Stiff, Spook, Bonk, and the upcoming Packing For Mars, appeared opposite Jon Stewart will forever be a memorable day in television for at least one skeptical viewer. So thanks, Television.



P.S. But you're still not forgiven for AD and Firefly. Just sayn'.

Monday, August 2, 2010

monday confessions

Inspired, one must acknowledge, by this

Even though I publicly chastise people who complain about Oregon's weather, sometimes I hate it, too.

If I could only pick one author to read for the rest of my life, I might pick Roald Dahl over Jane Austen.

I don't really cry when people leave, even some of my very favorite people. This makes me feel like a bad friend.

However, I wept through massive portions of the stage version of The Lion King.

Birth stories and newborn babies give me extreme anxiety.

Seriously. But introduce us when they're six and we'll be best friends.

I wish I had dark (curly) hair and dark eyes.

I also wish I had red (curly) hair and green eyes.

I'm irritated with women who constantly straighten their hair.

I would sleep with a DOT official if I thought I could get Ross a job in Maryland.

That's a lie. I wouldn't really.

Unresolved conflict makes me crazier than crazy.

I try to, but I don't really like opera.

I've gained ten pounds since getting married.

I'm good at relationships with animals, places, and books. I struggle with relationships with humans.

Sometimes I trick myself into thinking I'm pregnant and go into full panic mode until I get my period.

I put ridiculous amounts of sugar in my tea. No - obscene amounts. I'm okay with it, though.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

summer loving, part 2: zion

Shortly after leaving Las Vegas we met up with the Swenson family in St. George and drove to Zion National Park in Utah where we experienced some of the following:

1. We learned about coloration and camouflage.

2. We became one with the park (note the road WAY down below) as Ross and I hiked the Hidden Canyon Trail.

3. We were awed.

4. We found some BIGHORN SHEEP, about which I was ridiculously excited. We also wrote the following song (sung to the tune of Three Blind Mice):

Bighorn Sheep, Bighorn Sheep
See how they run over the rocks

They run so fast 'cause they're light on their feet.
They're light on their feet 'cause they're Bighorn Sheep.
They're Bighorn Sheep 'cause that's how they were born.
They're Bighorn Sheep.
Fade out
Bighorn Sheep... Bighorn Sheep... Bighorn Sheep...

5. We lost a tooth (Ross) and experienced great anxiety and worry (Haylie).

6. We got to use the words "brother-in-law" and "sister-in-law." Whoa.

Good times, family. Let's do it again some time... maybe here?