Wednesday, May 31, 2006

So You Think You Can....

OK, I'm totally obsessed with the show So You Think You Can Dance. Anyone else? Oh come on. Admit it. I even DVR'd the best stuff and had Ryan watch it and he wanted to watch some of them twice. You know you love it!

It reminded me of when I was 10 and wanted to be on the Mickey Mouse Club so bad. SO BAD. I didn't even have the Disney Channel, but I heard they were doing auditions and I spent weeks in my room making up little dance routines and wishing. Imagining myself dancing and and singing. I really thought I could do it!

Anyway, I'm all the way to Level 3 on Lara Croft. I can play for about an hour and I'm totally done for the day. Ryan? Yeah, its a drug. He could play ALL DAY, and today I think he did just that.

So I got some of my lab results back today. It wasn't fair for me to throw out a teaser like I did last week without giving an update. Well, I don't have a thyroid problem, and I don't have elevated T-cell counts (is that how you say it?). So I think that means no cancer? I don't know exactly. But I do have pretty high cholesterol, although I knew that already. So those lab results are awesome, but they don't explain some things I've got going on, so I've got more stuff to go through. Anyway, I had nightmares about cancer, so I can't tell you how relieved I am. Cancer. I couldn't even imagine...

This weekend Ryan and I are off for a little camping trip. Woo hoo for the first trip of the year! We're camping in our tent w/ the two dogs by a lake in the mountains, which will be much better than sweating it out in the 110 degree weather down here.

Happy Thursday to you!

Monday, May 29, 2006

I'm in Love

Huh. I typed that title and my auto-fill in thingy told me I'd used it before. Guess I'm in love a lot....

So today Ryan and I discussed for THREE HOURS a frivolous purchase. (no one would accuse us of being spontaneous) That's right folks. After about 6 months of going back and forth about it (and braving four stores [including the dreaded Walmart!] before we finally didn't chicken out), we bought an Xbox 360 today.

Something we don't need! Something that has no actual purpose in our house! Something I never thought I wanted!

Ryan's been jones'n for an Xbox since they came out. And for as much as Ryan wants things, he hardly ever gets them. So today we splurged. Big time. And now Ryan, Lara Croft, and I are have a grand ole time on our Monday off.

So what did you do on your day off? Or did you not have the day off?

Here's to a 3-day week! (some of us are taking a sick day on Friday to go to doc's appts)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Save the Drama for your Mama

Well all, I know, I suck. I have no idea what my anti-blogging deal is lately. But I do have all kinds of interesting things to talk about. The first is THE DRAMA.

Oh the drama. I'm so glad I'm on this reunion committee if only for the entertaining drama. And I've found that one good thing about being semi-invisible in high school is that no one expects you to get involved in the drama now either. So I can just sit back and watch. First, someone got kicked off the committee last week. Now I wasn't there of course, so I've got two different sides of the story, but the most entertaining part is that this girl is so stomping mad that she is now planning a RIVAL REUNION. Ha! She is so angry that she claims she's got a list of 200+ alumni that she refuses to share with the committee because she's inviting them to HER reunion. I told Ryan this and said, "See Ryan! My girls and I don't have ANY drama compared to this!" The other bit of drama is that there is a girl who was the original leader who was overthrown. Well, she still thinks she's in charge I think. So I get emails from her, and emails from the current leader, and its so confusing. But fun!

Anyway, besides the drama, the committee is already taking up WAY more time than I thought. But the drama is SO worth it. More drama stories to come...

I went to the doctor today. None of it was necessarily good news. I have a whole lot of tests in my near future. But I firmly believe that I'm 27, healthy, and in shape. That's all in my favor! There's only so much you can do to fight genetics, right? But I'm trying to do good stuff for my body, and that's all I can do. So send good vibes to my internals, k? (and no I'm not pregnant! don't ask!)

Mika the Monster is back in doggie training. I'm not convinced any of this is going to fix the food aggression, but at least its keeping her busy. She's back in the beginning class, so she's like a superstar compared to the other pups, so that's good for us as dog parents to see. See! She's not the most ill-behaved dog out there!

I haven't yet talked about last weekend. Well, last Fri night was Prom. And for real, we all dressed up in prom outfits. And met at Mini's parents' house for pictures. For real, just like our high school prom. We went out for dinner at just a regular place, and boy did we get looks. Then it was off to the casino for drinking and gambling, just because we couldn't do either our first time around at prom.

I'm still sadly on a picture-taking hiatus. I don't know what's wrong with me. I still carry my camera anywhere, but I'm just not pulling it out. But I do have a fun assignment for my father-in-law to do, so hopefully that will get me back into it.

OK, I'm going to drink off the day. I hope you all are making it through the week!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Time Traveled back to High School

Don't you hate when people who ditch their blog for a week apologize for it? Well I won't do that... I'll just say that creatively I'm totally drained. I think I'm feeling so blah about blogging and photography because the heat has come finally. Its been 103-104 degrees every day for the last week. Add to that the fact that everything is so dry and ugly right now, I just can't get excited about taking pictures. And I'm now back to work, nothing exciting going on, no new places to visit, so I'm just..... bored.

But I do have some news to share. Last night I went to Mini's house because she was hosting the 10 year reunion committee meeting and I couldn't help but be curious about these people. When they all came in the door, I felt all invisible. A few of the girls actually introduced themselves to me. As if I'd never met them before in my life. I had to bite my tongue so I didn't say, "Um, I KNOW who you are. We've been in school since elementary". Just like high school. *sigh* So I hid in the kitchen with Ryan and Min's husband. But Mini found me. And rightfully accused me of hiding. So I went out and participated.

And you know what? It was totally entertaining. Oh the drama! The girl who has taken charge of the planning is so hilariously type-A that she brought us all pencils with horses on them (our mascot was a Mustang), and for the girl who was calling in on a speaker phone the lead girl brought a picture of her to tape to the phone so we could all visualize her. Oh, and that's just the beginning of the drama. I have a feeling me being on this committee is going to give me lots to write about on this blog. Oh wait, that's right. I said I was on the committee. Ryan thinks I'm nuts (and tells me so), and maybe I am, but I just need something to fill my time and I love planning events, so....

Well, tonight I just got back from meeting with a girl I was friendly with in high school and it was great. She's nice and I bet there's more beers in our future. Its been hinted to me by some that its kind of weird to just get together with someone you haven't seen in 10 years and start hanging out. Well you know what? Shush. I'm all for new friends, you know? And it turns out that my adult self and her adult self have a lot to talk about! So there.

So tomorrow I'm going to Prom. Yeah that's right folks, you read it correctly. Its Mini's b-day and the party is '90s prom themed. So expect to see pictures of me with big hair in a prom dress. It really has been a week of looking back...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Past / Art Show

I didn't like high school. I've been thinking about that a whole lot lately. Just recently one of my best girlfriends was asked to be on our 10 year reunion committee, and the crazy girl said yes. I reacted negitively because I thought about how she'd be planning this event with all the snotty cheerleader types who probably were still snotty and chearleaderish. I couldn't imagine why my girlfriend would dream of doing that to herself.

But then I signed myself up on my school's alumni page and started reading through people's bios. People whose names I would have struggled to remember a few weeks ago started to come back in focus. I wasn't necessarily friends with most of these people because I was kind of a loner, but it was totally a shock into reality for me. These people look OLD. They have kids. They've gone to Harvard and Yale and grad school in England.

So then I got an email from the girl running the reunion asking me if I would be interested in being on the committee too. Me? After I'd just gone off to Mini about how crazy she was for being on it? So I thought about it for a while, and realized I was actually a little excited for the reunion. I've really come into my own since high school. I have a lot to proud of. So I'm not going to do the committee (I would only have done it to hang out w/ Mini anyway...) but I am excited about the reunion now. Never thought I'd feel that way...


So I mentioned that two of my pictures were selected for the student art show at the college. I'd been hoping all semester that they'd pick one of mine out of the class, but of the 3 pictures they picked TWO were mine. I didn't know which they'd picked until we went over there. I imagined walking in and seeing one of my favorites up there on the wall. Instead I walked in and saw this:

I don't know how to say this without being snotty, but I figure its OK since they're my pictures: these pictures are mediocre and uninspired. I feel like I'm pretty good at looking at my pictures objectively, and these two aren't two that I would have picked. The first was part of the aperture assignment, so that middle flower is nice and in focus w/ a shallow depth of field, and I don't hate it, but its not exciting. And the second one? Yeah, that was me messing around with my camera when I first figured out shutter speed. I set up these peppers on black so they look like they're floating, put it on a long exposure, and moved my hand in and out of the frame. So it looks like a ghost hand or something. But I didn't turn this in as a final photo for my assignment, it was in my 'junk' folder.

So everyone was very complimentary, and it was so interesting to me that I'd written both of these off, but someone thought they were good enough. Anyway, not to be totally snotty.... I really do feel pretty good about being selected.

In other photo news: Ryan was showing one of this firefighter coworkers my pictures from Florida and the guy liked them so much he asked Ryan if he could pay me to take some family pictures for him. Me? Take pictures for someone? That scares the crap out of me! Ryan told him yes, but I'm panicked. I'm not a professional by any stretch! I took ONE class, and it was a crappy class. What makes me think I could take pictures that someone will put up on their wall?

But I'm going to do it. I love taking pictures and I'm committed to getting better, so I need the practice. I will absolutely not let him pay me though. You pay professionals. I'm not that. I'm a learner and he'll be practice. Maybe I'll start a little porfolio. I'd love to learn to take portraits of people that are interesting, not like the stuff you see in the mall photo places. Do you know what I mean? I don't want to set up fake settings to take cutesy kid pictures. I want kids interacting with their parents or with their brothers and sisters in a natural way. So my plan is to just get together with him, get to know the family a little while we're setting up shots, and take pictures while we're talking. We'll see how that goes.

OK, we've got two parties to go to tonight and I've got some some pre-party drinking to do! Later.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Last FL post! Don't cry!

The vacation blogging that never ends... But hey! I only get one really good vacation a year, so I've got to take advantage.

OK, so on Friday of our vacation we drove 8 long hours (me blowing my nose the whole way) back to the Tampa area. Driving through alligator alley we passed the time by counting alligators. For real. They were all along the side of the road. So cool.

Saturday the plan was to go out on Cam's boat fishing again. Floridians are obessed with the weather, so we were prepared for lots of wind. What we got was almost hurricane force. It was miserable. But, fish on! We got bait and went inshore for kingfish. When we were coming in to a fishing hole, my uncle yelled out that there was something in the water for Cam to avoid. A manatee! Woo hoo! So cool.

Well, after 2 hours or so of braving the wind, Cam got fed up and yelled, "That's it! This is no longer a fishing trip. This is now a booze cruise!" So we dropped my uncle off at the dock (his choice, I would have preferred he stay!) and Cam and Beth and Ryan and I filled the cooler and started the slow ride on the boat to Clearwater Beach. We took a good hour getting there, drinking and yelling at the other booze cruisers. And then we got to Frenchie's, which is a chill seafood bar where you can wear flip-flops and crappy beach clothes, and there's a boat valet! We just threw a line to a lady on the dock, jumped on land, and had oysters, grouper and fish dip. And beer.

That night after dinner w/ the whole family, Cam and Beth and their girls and the two of us all piled into their smaller boat to watch sunset on the sandbar that gets exposed at low tide.

Cutest little family ever.
For our last day we went to the Tampa Science Center for the famed Bodies exhibit. I don't even know how to explain it! They have about 30 actual dead bodies that have the skin removed and have been injected w/ something to harden them so they're all preserved. All the bodies are posed doing weird things like kicking a soccer ball, or shooting a basketball, or conducting an orchestra. Each body is displayed to show a different body system. Like the muscle guy whose muscles were all splayed out to show how they lay together in the body. There were also all kinds of other body parts in displays to show cross sections of things, or cancer in body parts... There was a whole room where they had displayed the circulatory system by taking blood vessels, in tact, out of a body and keeping them in their body shape and preserving them. So there is a whole blood system w/out the rest of the body all in the shape of the body! Seriously, it was SO COOL. Or the body they had taken and cut in 2 inch sections horizontally through the body and split them apart to show what MRIs look at.
Wanna know something weird? I had never seen a dead body before. But they did this so tastefully and interestingly and I learned all kinds of things! There's about 4 of these exhibits in the US. If you have one near you, you should totally go!
OK, that's enough vacation stuff. I think I've shown most of my favorite pictures and I've told lots of stories, and you're all bored reading about it I'm sure.
So... on to other stuff. I just read the best book. Not unlike my friend africankelli, I've been waiting for a book to come along that got me back into reading. Kite Runner was that book. Kite Runner is about a boy growing up in Afganistan before the war with Russia. I learned about life in Afganistan, the culture in the country, the changes that have come to the area, and the hardships of the lucky few who were able to leave and start a new life in the US. And with all that, it was a beautiful story as well. Definitely a must read.
I'm struggling with my new job. I'm used to showing up at 6am and leaving at 2:30pm on the dot. Well, in the last week I've stayed past 4pm 3 times, and tomorrow I have a meeting at 4:30pm. I know that sounds silly to some of you, but it is hard going from one set schedule for 5 full years to totally losing control of my time. I've really got to learn to be more flexible... And I've got a new manager who has been using me as his secretary, which I'm not thrilled about. I'm letting them get used to me before I stop that practice, but it does have to stop.
Not too much else going on. Photo class is over. OH! And did I mention that of the 3 pictures selected from my class for the Spring Student Art Show, 2 were mine? ;-) Yahoo for that.
Hope you all are surviving the week!

Sunday, May 07, 2006


..... But I swear we're almost done. I'm going to do Key West all in one shot here. I've got tons of other stuff to talk about and I feel like the vacation reporting is totally getting in the way. And I've got to tell you, going through 300+ pictures and finding a few that are worthwhile for posting is totally exhausting. I just had to do a final for my photo class that consisted of, among other things, reading an article about how digital photography has ruined picture taking because people take hundreds of mediocre pictures and save them all, good or not. I sure hope I'm not one of those people....

Anyway, back to Key West. Ahhhh, Key West. Land of the humidity and no air conditioning. But I get ahead of myself.

So we drove from the lovely (ha!) Florida City down Highway 1 through the Keys. We'd heard how gorgeous a drive these 160 miles was and were really looking forward to it. And like all things you've been told are 'amazing', we were set up for disappointment. It doesn't look like Hawaii or a tropical island of any sort. It looks like... well, it looks like mediocre towns surrounded by admittedly beautiful water. But that's it. We were glad to finally get to Key West at the very bottom.

Then we got out of the car. I am an Arizona girl through and through, so when the humidity is over 10%.... ohhhhh. And every day in Key West is about 90% humidity. We started sweating and never stopped. And honestly, Key West is just one big bar. So if you're looking to get drunk and stumble around a lot, Key West is for you. And we? Were looking to get drunk and stumble around a lot. And we wasted no time.

Again.... getting ahead of myself. First, here's our hotel. The La Te Da. We had the Luxury King room, which is the two windows on the right of the picture. We were right on Duval Street, and yes that is a bar right under our room. Which had no air conditioning.

Nice place, but we almost died in the room and two Coronas at the bar cost $11.50. Yikes. OK, so we drank elsewhere. Here we are drinking:

Um, yeah, that was before the hangover. Ohmygod, the hangover.... OK, so what else besides drinking? The first full day we were there we did an all day 'party cruise'. We went out on a catamaran and spent the day snorkeling a shipwreck, waterskiing, kayaking (where we saw a HUGE manta ray in the water!!!), wind surfing, jetskiing, and on the banana boat. Seriously so fun. It was $99 a person for 6 hours of sun and fun water stuff. Here's some pics from that:

On the way back to the dock, someone had to take the two jetskiis back. Out of the 30 people on the boat, I think the crew liked us best because they asked us to take them back. Seriously, I think I need one. We had SO MUCH FUN. Then they took us back to the big boat, tapped the keg, and it was on. I'm never.drinking.again. Ohhhhh.

More random Key West pics (including a nice shot from a random parade down Duval and our very first drag show, which, by the way, was at our hotel!):

Every night at sunset on Key West there is a big party on the West end of Duval. And it seems that the Conchs (that's what the locals call themselves) always have a parade or some crazy theme party going on. I'm not kidding, there really is not much to do in Key West but, um, drink. You can drink walking down the street. It is nuts, and there's drunk people everywhere. Which is why, on our third day, poor Ryan had to work. This idiot was drunk on his moped and SLAMMED into the side of a car right in front of us. I've never been so close to an accident before. We were standing about 10 feet from the accident when it happened, and my Ryan jumped into action. Here he is right before we got to make friends with the Key West fire department:

Speaking of the fire department.... Ryan is really good about not wearing his fire shirts when he's drinking. Its just not encouraged, you know? But Key West realy seems to be a firefighter destination. There were guys wearing fire shirts EVERYWHERE. We made friends with a bunch of people who were ff's from diff places all over the US, and the Key West FD was actually drunk as skunks in the same parade as that lovely lady with the legs above.

So anyway.... Key West was fun, and it gave us an opportunity to let loose on our vacation a little bit w/out offending my relatives, but after 3 days we were DONE. Seriously, there's only so much drinking at $50 meals a couple can take. Oh, and no sleep. Did I mention our hotel room had NO a/c, there were 2 bars and a drag show on site, and our room was right on Duval so the drunk people had us awake until 3am every night? Oh, and if you start getting a cold, it really is not a good idea to sleep under a wet towel, no matter how hot you are. I was so sick the last 3 days of the vacation.

Next post expect booze cruise, dead body exhibit, and family revelations.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Alligator Alley and The 'Glades

On with the trip! On Monday morning we got up early to make the 6 hour drive down to the Everglades National Park. I felt like if I got to see just ONE alligator, the trip to the 'Glades would be worth it. I got more than I bargained for!

To get to the Everglades, we had to cross the state through Alligator Alley. That's its actual name! Its about 120 of highway that is bordered on either side by high, electrified fences. To keep the alligators of the highway. I'm not kidding! Unfortunately, we saw at least one that got through and ended up dinner for the vultures on the road. Anyway, we could totally see the alligators in the water on the sides of the road!

When we got to the Park, we did this short hike where they've built all kinds of elevated boardwalks through a swamp. All that's separating you from the gators is a wooden railing. I went crazy with the camera in this place! I couldn't take enough pictures. So prepare yourself. Here we go!

Cool stuff, huh? If it hadn't been 95 degrees and 10billion percent humidity, I could have stayed out there all day. I was surprised that the majority of the everglades isn't necessarily water. I know that there's this massive river running under the grass plains, but it really did look shockingly like plains in Africa or something.

That night we stayed in a HOLE, otherwise known as Florida City. Seriously. A hole. This whole area was totally devestated by hurricanes last year, but I have a feeling that Florida City sorta always looks crappy like it did when we were there. We went to a 'restaurant' that night where a man proceeded to get so drunk that he STRIPPED NAKED and straddled a railing and pretended he was rowing a canoe. Nice.

In tomorrow's post we're off to Key West! Don't want to overwhelm you with boring vacation stuff all at once.


Unrelated to Florida: Ryan and I are SO SPOILED. Our way of life has changed so much in the last few months. Besides the nice trip, we've bought some fun expensiveish toys, and today we hired a yard guy. We have a yard guy! A YARD GUY! Being from the desert, our yard (especially the front) is mostly rock. Well, we have horrible weeds this year and my fingers are all cut up and my nails are ruined from pulling weeds. I pulled weeds for 2 full hours yesterday and didn't even get through half of our front yard. And our backyard is a jungle. So today we decided HEY! We're making a little more money now, we're saving about half of what we pull in, so we should treat ourselves to something. Man, we are so, so spoiled.

Also, jet lag is a b*tch. I'm blogging from class right now just to stay awake. The coffee machine at the coffee cart is broken. No coffee. No caffeine. Kill me now.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Florida, Part One (Don't be scared! I swear it won't be boring. Much.)

I'm just going to write a few short posts about Florida. I could write like 100 because we really did fill every single second of this vacation. Oh, and I took 343 pictures. Anyway, here's all about our first weekend w/ my family in Tampa area.

So we got to Tampa at about 3:30 on Friday afternoon, jumped in our convertible, put the top down, and set off across the causeway to the Clearwater area. GORGEOUS weather. We were staying at my Aunt and Uncle's beautiful house. That night we got to go to my cousin Mark's house for a fish BBQ. Have I mentioned that my family is OBSESSED with fishing? My uncle and my other cousin Cam go out at least 2 times a week, so all the fish we ate was caught two days earlier off Cam's boat. Mmmmm! Anyway, take a look at Mark's backyard:

I swear that's his backyard! Awesome, huh? Anyway, we ate fish and grits (I love grits!), and I got to meet my newest little cousin. This is Cam's youngest:
The next morning we got up early and jumped on my Uncle's boat for some fishing. No fish to speak of (it was REALLY windy), but we got to see all kinds of dolphins. Bill had Ryan and I hang off the front of the boat and the dolphins were RIGHT THERE. So cool. That afternoon Ryan and I went down to the fish docks at Clearwater so we could get a drink (we were trying to behave ourselves in my Aunt's house), and so I could show him were my Grandpa's charter fishing boat used to be docked. While we were there we saw piles of grouper fish coming off the boats. Mmmmm, its my favorite. And we saw this guy:

The next day we went out w/ Cam on his big boat to go offshore. The day was so calm and the water was incredibly clear! You could see absolutely clearly 60 feet down. It was so clear, in fact, that when we were trolling, we could clearly see a baracuda hanging out under the boat for an hour just waiting to steal our catch. It was amazing being in the middle of nowhere, not another boat in sight. It was us and the water, and there were dolphins EVERYWHERE. It was so amazing.

The best part was the bait fishing. You could actually see the bait swimming toward the boat! It was so fun to chase the bait around. I like catching the little fish. RYAN, however, just HAS to do everything big. That includes fishing. :-) Look at his rod!

That's Cam (who just put on his 'nice shirt' for the pictures) putting on the fighting belt for Ryan. It took Ryan about 10 minutes to actually get the fish to the boat. At one point the fish was actually at the surface then ZING!!, he pulled the line out straight to the bottom. But, Ryan eventually won out, and here's his catch:

So that's the first weekend! Tomorrow expect to see pictures of gators and drunk people (read: me) in Key West.

So today my plan is to watch all the shows I missed that I recorded to the DVR. Heaven! Ryan's at work, and its the first time in a week and a half that I've been without him. I miss the guy already! We were so lucky to have all that time together all at once. It was so great. *sigh* I wish life was a vacation.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back from Florida!

Hey all! Well, we're finally back. I'm sorta glad Ryan's at work tomorrow because I'm going to use the night to upload Florida photos onto Flickr and I'm gonna do a little synopsis of our trip. I promise you it won't be the normal boring looking at other peoples' vacation pics thing!

I will say that I feel like a totally new person. For the first time I feel like my relatives aren't just people who I'm related to who live on the other side of the country. I learned all about my grandpa who died when my mom was a baby, I had some serious heart-to-hearts with my aunt about family stuff, and I'm finally old enough to be friends with my older cousins. It was so wonderful...

But, in addition to what I hinted at in my last post, expect to read about seeing manatee, more fishing, a 'booze cruise' with my cousins, a sandbar at sunset, and a museum exhibit that was all DEAD BODIES.

More tomorrow!

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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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