Monday, December 7, 2009

a farewell

Goodbye cruel world. I find myself, without friends in Flagstaff, much too reliant on Facebook. Not a terrible thing to stay connected, right? Well it is during finals week when I find myself looking at friend's photos every time I'm stumped coming up with the next sentence. For at least the next few days, with the help of Kimmy, I will be locked out of my profile.

Looks like I'm just gonna have to turn to Youtube...

Friday, December 4, 2009

$3

My siblings love being cheap this year for Christmas. Normally we draw names and buy one semi-pricey (my poor mans idea of semi-pricey) gift, and something less expensive for everyone else. Well this year the rules have changed. The sisters have decided that we will each buy a gift for everyone with a $3.00 limit. THREE DOLLARS! I know, right. What can a person get for three measly bucks these days? Am I going to have to go the homemade route? Ugh.

The purpose for my blogging today is more an S.O.S. message than anything. To anyone who might read this, wherever you are: what might I buy for four sisters and a brother in-law at $3.00 each? Any suggestion will be considered.

Maybe I'll just shoot for sibling points and secretly stick with the old Christmas gift model.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Wal-Mart State of Mind



I found this unposted post begging to finally make it on the blog. It was written in Nashville- rest assured that I'm no longer there, but that doesn't mean my transformation has stopped.

A childhood in Troutdale, Oregon isn't exactly the foreshadow of a classy adulthood. Understand that my parents are in no way trailer folk, however, I've often assumed the town that assisted in my rearing heavily attributed to my own future as a sort of potential bumpkin. It's true, Troutdale is a beautiful place near breathtaking scenery and minutes away from downtown Portland, however, it's known fact that any small American town on a river that boasts first class cabbage and strawberry crops isn't quite the recipe for prestige.

I suppose what I'm getting at is my sudden realization that I've actually become what I always feared. Being a Troutdalian was, I believe, just a seed. A small but potentially powerful seed that sat idle for a time but suddenly sprouted wildly out of control upon my arrival in the South. At this time I'm all too conscious and unable to deny my societal role. I am a little bit white trash.

Phase I: In the mid-1980s an unusual circumstance occurred in the very town I have already introduced. I was born. "Say Matt, that's not such an unusual thing, is it?" you're probably thinking. Right, you are. Birth, though a miracle, is far from unusual. Just keep in mind that Troutdale, though complete with an outlet mall and a Dairy Queen (icons of luxury, right?) today, lacked one very important city element back then, a hospital. "Hospital Shmoshpital" say I. Who needs one when you have a kitchen floor perfectly suitable for giving birth?

Phase II:
By the mid-90s I was attending Reynolds Middle School, which would be fine if it were not located in Fairview, OR. Period. Enough said. Look it up and you'll quickly sympathize. I can't say much more about those years, they are a bit fuzzy, a side effect most certainly related to the amount of asbestos I inhaled. I probably shouldn't even mention my baggy pipe leg jeans coupled with a too-tight undershirt (worn as a regular shirt. Everyday.) and topped off with a slick pair of white Fila sneakers.

Phase III:
High school came and went. I went to the river often. And I landed my first real job. "Where?" you ask? Why, at the Bugle Boy Outlet, just one of many fine shops at the Troutdale outlet mall. I was fired four days later. After high school the dough really started to pour in from my full-time gig at the old folks home. It was there that I developed a deep and abiding love for Bingo. Do you need more than that?

Phase IV: College rolled around and so did my affinity for not wearing deodorant. Or underwear. I went on a mission to the Dominican Republic and that, if anything, worsened the situation; infrequent showers and permissible wearing the same thing everyday. A total dream come true. After college- jobless, poor, and desperate- I returned to where this whole vicious downward spiral began and sought refuge at my parents home. 24 and living at home. Fortunately it didn't last too long and I hit to road for Phoenix. Along the way however, I stopped at Arches National Park and for the first time pulled a Jewel; I slept in my car. And I loved it. I eventually arrived in Phoenix with the plan to start afresh, meaning that I was still jobless and penniless. Selling my plasma became a career and the other donors my family and confidants. In time it seemed a ray of sunshine shone down on my desperation and I landed some work. Lots of it. During a six-month period I managed to begin and end the following jobs: sales rep at Ralph Lauren Polo OUTLET, sales rep at 24-Hour Fitness, "ramp" crew at Sky Harbor Airport- loading/unloading baggage and tugging/towing the billion-dollar aircraft, and finally as a promotional rep for Wrigley's gum, the NBA, the Army, Lucky Brand Jeans, Camel tobacco, and several others.
The promo gigs were my favorite by far. The Army one in particular tickled my fancy as it was held at drag racing events and Camel sent me to NASCAR. Today I love both.

Phase V: Realizing what I am wasn't an overnight epiphany. Naturally, I gradually allowed new ideas and activities into my life but kept those that I was able to recognize as potentially trashy to what I considered, a minimum. for over two decades I practically shunned country music, refused to even acknowledge televised fighting/wrestling events, tried to avoid shopping at Wal-Mart, and most importantly stayed good and far from the South. It's now mid-2009 and what happened next I suppose, was inevitable. I agreed to work in Washington DC for the summer, and as fate would have it the best route from Phoenix passed straight through the southern epicenter: Texas, Oklahoma ARKANSAS and Tennessee. Like a bug is drawn toward a light in the dark, it is nearly impossible for white trash to stay away from the South. I stopped in Tennessee. I loved Tennessee. I stayed in Tennessee. Now I live in Tennessee and I work in Tennessee. Country music enlivens my soul, I look forward to UFC fights, and just the slightest smell of BBQ numbs all other senses and sends my mind down a one-lane highway.

There you have it. I've recognized, dealt, and accepted who I am and what norms I'm to live by from this point on. And you? Who are you?

(But lets be real. I never, ever tried to avoid Wal-Mart.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Inna Illa Rabbikar Rujaa

My 2009 Halloween costume has been added to the archives. I believe it went swimmingly.

Tis the season. Happy Halloween!
سعيد عيد القديسين! أتمنى لكم اليوم كان ممتعا
بقدر الألغام. يحب والقبلات.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Songbird

Introduced to me just this afternoon by my good friend, Mandie Jean Reichmann, I feel it's high the time rest of the world met the internet's latest and most soulful songbird, Nichole. Nichole will be performing "Should've Said No" by Taylor Swift. Experience the same nostalgia I did and please don't turn her off until she has finished; like a fine wine, she only gets better with time.

A quick blurb from her youtube channel: "So I'm 19. My favorite animal is a lobster. I like hanging out having fun going to concerts listening to music and singing. I sing for a hobby NOT a career."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beaver



I spent last weekend in Salt Lake City. The eight hour drive took me through Beaver, Utah, a town that welcomes you with a large billboard that reads, "Beaver, Mountains of Fun". This was great but even more exciting to me was what was written below, "Best Tasting Water in the U.S." Could it be?

The mountainous fun claims were enticing but I didn't exactly encounter anything particularly fun on my drive-through, call me a skeptic, I know. But as for the water, supposedly it is true and Beaver residents are taking this honor quite seriously. I Googled "Beaver, Utah water" and apparently Beaver, eternally proud of their blessed water supply, entered the National Rural Water Nationwide Taste Test (yes, there is such a thing) in Washington D.C. and took top honors. This is real. This happened and will probably continue to happen forever. Our great nation, the land of the free and home of the brave is so free and so brave and quite obviously so bored that it established said National Rural Water Nationwide Taste Test.

Anyhow, the almighty Google led me to a great article from the Salt Lake Tribune. It's so great that I will include the link but for those of you who still need a little convincing, here's a quick snippet:

"Patricia Baker, who grew up in Beaver, heard about the news of Beaver's water win on television.

'I was shocked,' she said. 'My husband was in Salt Lake City and I called him and said, "'Guess what we have in Beaver? The best water.'"

Baker, who lived in Pittsburgh, Pa., for three years before returning to reside in Beaver, knows what water in other areas tastes like.
'I think the water [in Beaver] is good,' she said. '...It's just clear water that you don't feel like you're getting chemicals. And it's cold.'"

We thank you Patty Baker. For your insights and your wisdom and your knowledge of what water in those dreaded "other areas" tastes like. As for you Pittsburgh, you should be ashamed.

In short, today I'm kicking myself for not stopping in Beaver. Does anyone have a Beaver connection that could send me sample (a la National Rural Water Nationwide Taste Test) OR do you think I could maybe buy a bottle of Beaver water online?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Will Save Our Souls?

A couple months back, living in Nashville, I was YouTubing. You know how YouTube suggests similar videos "you might also enjoy" after each video you watch? The following is one of those and it is so deliciously disturbing and obnoxious that I've shared it with more than a few friends over the months and now it's time to go public with it. Well it already has about a million views but you get the point, and if you are one of the unfortunate/fortunate few still missing out, please enjoy and don't stop before the rapturous 60 second note hold near the end.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Read



It has been brought to my attention that I attempted to start a book club, suggested one book and never brought it up again. I quickly realized that I'm no Oprah, I guess. Anyhow, forget the whole "club" thing, instead from time to time I'll just suggest a good read, probably something I've already started and enjoy. Feel free to read along and comment as you go (a la club of yesteryear).

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite books is "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson and it turns out she's got a pretty full resume of other short books, several of which are award winners. If you'd like to join me in reading "Linguistic Anthropology" I'd be happy as a clam, but if you're looking for something a bit lighter I recommend "Jacob Have I Loved", yet another Newberry Award winner by Katherine Paterson.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Risk



Three weeks ago I went to church for the first time in Flagstaff. During the Elder's quorum class one kid particularly stood out. I can't remember his name but as this story unravels imagine the love child of Mr. Burns (with hair) from the Simpson's and Gollum from Lord of the Rings. OK, not that awkward, but really quite hunched and bony for an 18 year-old. He introduced himself as an incoming freshman from Phoenix then quickly sat down, only to stand right back up and add that if anyone in the congregation was interested and had "about six or seven hours free one day" he would love to host a hearty game of Risk. My soul dwindled a little bit in that moment mostly because I knew there were probably a fair amount of guys in the room looking forward to taking him up on such a generous offer.

Yesterday I went to church again. The third hour class arrived and I took a seat in the middle row. Just after sitting that same boy was the next to walk in and sit almost right in front of me. He turned around to face me and the following conversation erupted:

Boy: Did you shave your head so we wouldn't know that you're balding? You are balding, right?

Me: (completely thrown off and a bit shocked) I, uh. ha.

Boy: I'm glad I don't have that problem.

Me: I like to cut it (unable to fully explain the haircut I had given myself the night before) sho(rt)....

Boy: (talking over me) My grandpa started losing his hair at 26 and it never came back. He's completely bald now. I don't know what I'll do if I have that same problem. How old are you? How old were you when you started balding?

Me: (staying calm and nervously laughing. completely aware that the room was near full and all ears were listening in on the conversation I was pitifully losing) I'm obviously balding and I like to cut it short because I think it looks better like this. I've accepted my baldness, it doesn't bother me too much.

Boy: (shaking his head sympathetically for my unfortunate condition) Man, that sucks! I just don't know what I would do. That would be so hard (leaning in to inspect my scalp).

Me: (leaning away. red-faced and panicky, looking around for some quick support. Locating the other bald guy in the room whose eyes quickly avoided mine) It's not a big deal, really. Everyone loses their hair eventually. It doesn't bother me.

Boy: I just really hope I never go bald.

Me: I kind of hope you do. Now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of School Blues

In the middle of my first day at NAU I took a short break and ordered a smoothie from the Jamba Juice in the student center. While waiting for my order the following conversation took place:

Boy: (in a somewhat creepy melodic whisper) Would you mind if I took a seat at your table?

Me: (most likely glaring at his spiked hair and black cape, but keeping it cool) Of course. How's you're day going?

Boy: (still whisper-singing) Well today is Tuesday, my hardest day of the week. If I make it through today I should be fine.

Me: Oh, good luck then. What are you studying?

Boy: Elementary education.

Me: (concerned for the well-being of my future children) Oh yeah? Sounds tough. How far along are you in the program?

Boy: I'm in my second year. How long have you been here?

Me: Today is my first day ever!

Boy: Really? You look WAY, WAY older than that.

Me: I think they just called my order number. See ya.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

found this saved on my desktop. amen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wy 'n Me

Oh, did I forget to mention that Wynonna and I have sort of become inseparable?


Friday, July 17, 2009

Scallywag




I'm a big believer in signs. Some are straightforward, others not so much. Tell me please, why, when I've probably seen no more than one person donning an eye patch in the last three years, have I seen three in the last three days?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Iron Butterfly

If I had known she was only going to sign 150 autographs I most certainly, not to mention eagerly, would have left my house at 5:00 a.m. instead of at 6:00. Dolly wasn't set to appear until 10:00 which left me at my approximated 205th spot in line with no less than 600 other ecstatic, bejeweled, costumed, tired, hungry, sweating, and possibly rabid Dolly Parton fanatics. With records, posters, t-shirts, and dolls in tote for the country music legend to sign we stood united, knowing that our chances of meeting her were slim, but continuously hoping and praying to the God that is so good that we might catch even the slightest glimpse of that puffy surgical masterpiece we still call a face.

With angst swelling within, minutes were like days and hours felt like years as we stood. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Nashville had become our fortress that held within its confines security, peace, and most importantly, a wig-wearing seven-time Grammy winning phenomenon. 8:00 trotted by and a commotion suddenly erupted from the masses. There was a noise coming from the Hall of Fame entrance, the door rattled. "Could it be?" we couldn't help but wonder. Would La Partón dare emerge from her cocoon of safety to quench our craze and curiosity?

The doors flew open and a disappointed gasp revealed that She Who Must Not Be Named, though generous enough to distribute 2.5 million books annually to underprivileged children around the world, was not crazy enough to throw herself to a starved pack of wolves. It was, in fact, a representative from the Museum informing us that the 150 tickets had been distributed to the lucky early birds BUT there was a slight chance a few more would be handed out "based on several possible circumstances." Circumstances came, four additional individuals were invited to join the elite inside the building while the rest of us, unsatisfied, refused to leave.

By 8:45 I had developed at least two Facebook friend-worthy camaraderies with two girls who had come to Nashville from San Francisco for a music festival that had ended the previous night and caught wind of the appearance. And a couple, dedicated lifelong fans, who moved to Music City to get closer to the sultry Smoky Mountain Songbird. Together we reminisced; discussing our favorite Parton-composed songs, the moment we became fans, her positive influence on the world, her infectious sense of humor and her giant plastic face. One of the girls pointed out, "She's such a role model for strong independent women." amen. Caught in a moment of agreement our attention suddenly shifted to the newly flared commotion behind us. A woman screamed. Then a small crowd sprinted to the window and unable to restrain myself I joined them. It was finally happening. She had arrived. Mercilessly I shoved my way to a prime spot on the window. I found her and gasped. I knocked. She turned her huge face and looked me in the eyes. Instantly I began to sweat. The Backwoods Barbie herself and I were separated by one inch of glass and a bookcase.

Dizzy, I scrambled to find my "friends" and spot in line just in time for a second museum rep. to make a final announcement that we would all get to enter the museum in groups of five, to take a photo. Suddenly feeling out of place and unworthy of her presence without so much as a "Dolly Forever" t-shirt, I momentarily panicked and considered making a mad dash for my car. After all, I had seen her already. I took a deep breath however, collected my emotions and waited in silence for the next 15 minutes until I was finally ushered in.

Like cattle to the slaughter we were placed in a steadily and quickly moving line that wove between bookshelves. We were told to have cameras ready as stopping would not be an option. I neared the desk where she sat upon her throne, the Queen of Nashville, graciously signing autographs and exchanging laughs with the beaming 154. My camera in hand, I was ferociously snapping, struggling to capture every intimate moment with the Iron Butterfly. And then it was over.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Mission Nashville: Complete

Persistence pays off. One month and 11 days after having arrived in the Volunteer State this is what happened with a little hard work, lots of dedication and several hours in an early morning line.



Details to come. Trust me, you want these details.

Friday, June 12, 2009

a little bit of chicken fry

Dear friends,

Dreams do come true. Soon I'll show and tell you why.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Witches in May



This house wasn't like most. From afar it appeared normal but as I closed in on it I realized that instead of the common "Welcome" decal on the door this one read, "Leave your brooms at the door". Additionally, the ever present floral wreath hanging on the door hugged within its hole a five point star creating a pentagram. No doubt about it, I was at the home of a real life witch. Eureka! Believe it or not I'm no stranger to witchery, in fact while working the graveyard shift at an old folks home after high school I was often on shift with a practicing Wiccan called Janessa, who made a constant effort at converting me (hence my aforementioned pentagram realization). I knew only one thing, I HAD to knock on her door.

I made my way up the walkway, through weeds, past potted herbs, overflowing ashtrays, past a broom and by porcelain frogs. I knocked and a gaggle of dogs let loose on the other side of the door howling, barking, snarling and scratching. Someone was coming, shrieking at the dogs to shut up and move out of the way. And then she opened the door, but just a crack. I said the only thing I could think to say in my moment of panic and excitement, "How many you got back there?" (dogs, that is) To which she responded, "Five." "Oh." I said. I surprised myself next when from my mouth spilled, "So are you a witch, or what?" In her smoky bark she replied, "Some people call me that," "Oh, that's cool," I squeaked. She questioned, "Do you need something?" Do I need something? DO I NEED SOMETHING? My mind let loose imagining the precious treasures a witch could possibly offer; potions, spells, herbs, frog eyes, Hansel and/or Gretal with or without a side of gingerbread, tiger tears, ghouls, cauldrons, invisibility cloaks, Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, black flame candles, fairy dust and the likes, the options are virtually endless. Keeping cool nonchalantly said I to her, "No. Just curious is all." Without so much as a thought she slammed what little crack of door she opened for me and I went on my merry way satisfied with having met a real life, genuine, first class, primetime, grade-A witch (for the second time, I guess). At least I know where to go next time I'm in the market for some witching goods.

Later on my drive home I passed a farm where I spotted grazing in its fields at least three buffalo. REAL LIFE BUFFALO and a REAL LIFE WITCH! What a day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Arkansas

Another noteworthy discovery from my southern adventure travel log:

"I have officially driven through Arkansas and found that people actually live here! It's a place where people live and eat and *thrive just like they do everywhere else in the country. Besides and in addition to my own observations, according to the East Indian man working at the EconoLodge it's 'a very nice place.' Weird, huh? Who would've thought, certainly not I."

*debatable.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tennessean Tales

I met a woman the other day called Frankie. She lost 98 pounds and won the Biggest Loser competition at her local gym in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I told her about my plans to attend graduate school in Arizona this fall, she became excited and told me that I absolutely had to meet her daughter. To my delight her daughter, Tina, shortly thereafter arrived and Frankie yelled, "Tina, get over here! This here is Matt, he's buyin' up some property in Arizona." I shot a confused look at Frankie and apparently impressed by my sudden status as a soon-to-be land owner Tina licked her lips and questioned, "Oh, really? Is it oceanfront? I love the beach"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why?

"Why Nashville?" you ask. Well, how else am I supposed to break into the country music scene and become the next big superstar? Riddle me this. Haters.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nashville: day 2

The Request:
(Posted on craigslist Nashville)

Seeking: 1 Stuffed ARMADILLO - $25

Dear Tennessee,

I just moved to Nashville from Phoenix and was amazed by the amount of armadillos (live and dead) I passed driving through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee. It kind of blew my mind. Is there anybody who catches these little guys or collects roadkill to stuff (the more intact ones of course)? I've done a little Googling and found they're quite expensive to buy from a professional taxidermist and they're completely unavailable on craigslist and ebay. I need your help, maybe you received one as a gag gift years ago and are looking to get rid of it, well then I'm your guy. Perhaps you're looking to consolidate your belongings, I'll help you out. Or is there some sort of coloring contest or raffle I can enter to perhaps try my luck at winning one? You could even be a taxidermist in need a little help with odd jobs around the shop in exchange for one, the options are endless. I just want a stuffed armadillo to display in my house. Actually, I need one. I'm being 100% serious so please let me know thanks.

Love,
Matt

The Response:
(Received via email)

Matt,
I actually do have an old stuffed armadillo. The tip of its tail is broken, but is still attached & could be fixed.
You didn't say where in/around Nashville you live. I'm in West Meade.
If this isn't a joke & you really want this armadillo, email me back & we can make arrangements.
Peggy

The Result:
(Received as a gift from generous Nashville native, Peggy)

"Dolly"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Southern Comfort: More From Craigslist

The south has been a constant treat and I've only just arrived. I've come to learn that no matter the city, craigslist is sure to entertain, Tennessee is no exception. I found this today:

Hunter/gatherer/fisherman from the Northern woods, now living in the big city of Nashville with nowhere to hunt besides WMA's and can't afford the extra permits this year. This is how I get almost ALL my meat (and most of my other food as well).

In exchange for letting me hunt, fish, or gather edible wild plants/mushrooms on your land within the prescribed seasons, I'll hook you up with up to half the meat (or other food products) I take, and if interested, you can cherry pick the hides or other animal parts. I'll leave alone anything you ask me to (as in "You can hunt squirrel but not quail" or "Go ahead and take the chicken mushrooms but leave the morels alone").

I'm also an unapologetic redneck so if it's coyotes, groundhogs, beaver, rattlesnakes, or any other "unwanted vermin" you have on your farm or other land and want taken care of, I'll be able to get PLENTY of use out of it if you don't want em.

Email me if you're interested; Lord knows I am.

How incredible is this, really? Before finding it I did a little Nashville craigslisting of my own and came out anything but empty handed. A personal southern style encounter awaits you...(ok, let's be real, I'm gonna post it in the next hour or so. I have nothing to do.)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

on the road again

I'm in Nashville. Maybe to stay for the summer. A total dream.


(she's my neighbor)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Johnny!

we like this at my house right now.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

BOOK CLUB

Attention all book club members:

It's true, I know Oprah added it to her club first, but book number one on our (still empty) list is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I started it a couple days ago before I was a member of any such club, however, from this moment on I plan to slow down and let you all catch up to about the 150s. So get to your local library right quick and dive on in.

I don't exactly know how book clubs work still so you'll have to lend some suggestions. Sarah from Canada pointed me to a book club she was (is?) a member of and their basic format seems pretty legit. For now we will read one book a month, it will be chosen from suggestions offered by the group (all three of us!) and we'll discuss it toward the end of the month most likely on a new blog site. At this point get reading, comment as you go, add some book suggestions and enjoy. TPB is a sweet read thus far.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bottle Hunting



For nearly a year I've been dreaming of going on an antique bottle hunt. Weird, of course, but fascinating too. The idea is to locate the site of an old privy or outhouse, probe it for glass and if you're lucky enough to find some, dig.

Apparently before indoor plumbing and garbage service most waste was thrown down the privy hole in the backyard. Digging around in them has become a sort of phenom for urban archaeologists and antique collectors. And I have to do it. Now. I received some good leads on my book club post so I'm throwing this one out now. Does anyone know where I can join a dig or find info. about one, preferably in Arizona? Does anyone want to start an antique bottle digging team? Please?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sexy People

This blog, "A celebration of the perfect portrait", is perfection.


Want



I want to join a book club. Can anyone point me the way?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Paula Fuga

I love most of Paula Fuga's songs but at the moment I can't get enough of "Country Road", a duet she does with Jack Johnson. Nobody whistles better than Paula, have a listen.

really uncool favorite things

one of my really uncool favorite things to do is buy holiday candy as soon as a holiday is over at midnight. i must confess, it's 12:30 and i definitely just got home from wal-mart with $8 worth of of 50% off treats. enough reese's eggs until next year, or maybe next tuesday. i could die happy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Grad School



I only applied to one graduate school because it's the only one I could really see myself attending. It was a huge blow to my dreams and plans when I received notice from the anthropology department at Northern Arizona University that I had been placed on the wait list. But I hadn't exactly been rejected so I was able to maintain a sliver of confidence that there was still a chance. NAU is well known for their anthropology programs, it's location is ideal for studies revolving around the southwest, the programs are small and the faculty is topnotch. I had to get in.

To find out more information about my standing on the wait list I was directed to speak with the head of the anthropology department, Cathy Small, who also happens to be the author of a few books used by my professors at BYU-Hawaii. Talking with her was insightful and especially uplifting when she told me that I was third on the list and typically three accepted applicants defer. She told me to call back on April 6 -nearly a month later- to receive the final word.

Two days ago, Monday, April 6, I called and called but could not reach Dr. Small at her office. I left her a message and could do nothing more than hope that she would call back with some good news. Disappointed that my wait would continue another day I went to bed frustrated and worried. Around 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday she called. She said, "I'm afraid I don't have good news for you..." and the rest was a blur until she told me to call again in another month for the ultimate word. Sad and disappointed don't begin to describe my emotions, I was so confident (perhaps overly so) and reliant on believing that it would happen (The "Secret" strikes again!) that the rejection sort of came as a shock. The next hour was terrible. I couldn't even finish my bean and cheese chimichanga from Los Cerritos and slipped into a mad cleaning frenzy. I called home, told the news to my sister and hoped that the word would spread from there so that I wouldn't have to do it.

Throwing clothes into heaping dirty laundry piles in my room I contemplated my new future. Joining the Army had never sounded so appealing and the Peace Corps, finally a logical option. In the middle of a sickening thought of living off of minimum wage for the rest of my life my phone began to ring. It was Cathy Small calling. Again. I frantically began to wonder, and sweat. Could she have made a mistake, was I actually in? "Hello?" I said into the receiver. She said, "Hi Matt, it's Cathy again. You must be doing something right because in the last hour three people deferred and I'd like to offer you a seat in the program."

Pinching myself just to make sure it wasn't a dream, I quickly thanked her, hung up, did a series of victory dances, then looked around my room and laughed at how clean it was! 15 people were admitted to the program and by some crazy miracle I'm one of them. I couldn't be more excited and anxious to begin. I look forward to moving to Flagstaff in northern Arizona and starting over again. I'm certain this is why I felt like I should move to Arizona in the first place, I think just being here motivated me to get busy and do something about continuing my education.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

مغامرة عبر مص

I get it, you've had enough of my trip. But I haven't! Here's just one more collage of a few photos taken in Egypt. Because of our epic delay on the ferry from Jordan to Egypt, time was of the essence and many of our plans were scratched. We had a great time nonetheless and I wouldn't hesitate to return to Nuweiba, a coastal town in the Sinai region. The snorkeling was incomparable, our couchsurfing contact was helpful and friendly, the falafel was as good as ever and the tiny beach hut we stayed in was cozy and fun. We had just a night and a morning in Cairo before we departed but we covered the basics while there, seeing a belly dancing show in the grittiest of downtown bars and the Pyramids of Giza. Too special for the collage (or words), I've also included some full size belly dancing photos.

 
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Because 4WD is Overrated



It's overwhelming to even begin writing about the incredible time we had in Jordan. So I won't yet. Kiffen let me have a copy of all her photos and videos from the trip; the photos are great but the videos, priceless! Our third night in Jordan was spent under the stars in the middle of the Wadi Araba desert in a hole between two sand dunes. We slept peacefully and then spent much of the next morning riding around the dunes in Gassam's (our amazing Bedouin host/friend) truck. Sand + 2 wheel drive, we quickly found out, are NOT friends. This video is just a glimpse of the time we had while Audrey (our couchsurfing/backpacker friend) was given partial control of the vehicle.

video

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Israel

Israel was fun, intense, fast paced, refreshing, busy, breathtaking, beautiful. I am so happy to have traveled to the Middle East, It opened up a new part of the world that made me a little nervous before and made me realize that really the people there are just as friendly and inviting as they are anywhere. Upon our arrival in Israel we immediately took a sherut, shared taxi van, directly from the Tel Aviv airport to Jerusalem where we were dropped off at our first "Couchsurfing" hosts apartment right outside the old city walls. Our hosts, a young couple, she=Norwegian, he=Israeli, met a year ago when she surfed his couch and never seemed to leave. They took us out that first night to a Bohemia meets Cave of Wonders underground cavern restaurant that was totally brill. Kiffen ate "curry pot" and I had an artichoke pie. It was snowing that night. I know, I naively thought the Middle East was like perma hot. Wrong. Completely freezing in Jerusalem (and luckily only Jerusalem). We spent the entire next day exploring the innards of the old city as well as the incredible sites right outside of it. We started at the top of the Mt. of Olives, and marveled at the view of old Jerusalem. I took approximately 200 cityscape photos and don't regret a single one! From there we descended down a narrow path that goes along several points of interest; the Tomb of the Virgin Mary (who knew?), the Orson Hyde memorial park (also a pleasant surprise), the Russian church of the Virgin Mary (a golden delight), the Church of Dominus Flevit (ideal viewpoint), the Church of All Nations (beautiful mosaics and other artwork. And as a bonus we sat in on a service) and the Garden of Gethsemane (what can I say? A complete highlight, quaint and perfect.)

After finding the Orson Hyde park we knew that BYU-Jerusalem couldn't be far. Turns out it wasn't but the hills are steep in that town and it's a total maze for a newcomer. We must've searched an hour and a half to find it- and that's with constant directions (Kiffen never hesitated to ask, thankfully). We eventually found the campus complete with a posted sign out front that read, "No Visitors Today." Brokenhearted and tired we rested a bit then continued on satisfied enough that we actually found the place. We finally entered the old city walls and first visited the Western Wall. But not without embarrassment. Without realizing that men and women are separated I casually jaunted into the women's side. Jews everywhere hate me now. We touched the wall, left a little prayer in it then entered the Jewish Quarter. It was clean and pleasant. We stayed for a falafel and refreshing Coca Cola.

Other big stops of the day included the Upper Room, site of the Last Supper which was fairly nondescript, but it was the Upper Room! Also The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built by the Catholic Church, a huge cathedral where most of Christianity believes is the site of Golgotha where Christ was crucified, laid to rest and resurrected. We stayed for a bit, prayed to the stone slab, and Kiffen kissed it, everyone was doing it. Let's face it, Christians probably hate us too now. Across the street was the Jerusalem Holocaust Museum, a must visit. After having visited the Holy Sepulcher we were determined to find the Garden Tomb, the other supposed Golgotha. The Garden Tomb was a breath of fresh air, clean, quiet, peaceful. Like the scriptures say it's on a hill outside the city walls. What's more, the place has been called Golgotha for hundreds of years, even before the tomb was discovered, and the image of a skull is evident on the cliff side, like a natural carving. Along with the Garden of Gethsemane, the Tomb was a highlight an incredibly uplifting visit.

We were pretty much done for the day when I suddenly got the urge to go to Bethlehem. We walked by an Arab bus hub (Beth. is in Palestinian territory aka Arab land hated by and separated from Israel), jumped on and rode to the border. Got through the intense border control situation, took a taxi to the "spot" which is of course another Catholic church, it was closed, rode back to the border, crossed back into Irael and went home! Totally pointless, but now we've been to Palestine.

We stopped by a number of other sites but you're over this, I know it... on to the Dead Sea:

We bussed from Jerusalem to the En Gedi oasis on the edge of the Dead Sea. Once there entered the nature reserve and hiked in the mountains overlooking the sea, not far from the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. It was beautiful and since it's so far below sea level it was pleasantly warm and relieving. We felt comfortable again, my old bones couldn't take the cold of the old city. The hike went along waterfalls and pools where we swam, ancient ruins from something like 3000 b.c. and a picturesque cave that I want to live in. There were animals too; dozens of fluffy giant hamster creatures. After a few hours we hiked down and headed to the Dead Sea beach. Swimming in the sea is up there with the weirdest things I've done. You can't not float and/or roll on top of the water. I loved just sitting there reading my book while bobbing up and down. The sea is for some reason evaporating pretty quickly and mega misty all the time. Along with that there's something like 20 times more bromine in the water which is a major element in most sedatives, so swimming and breathing in all that misty goodness is quite a pleasurable time.

Stay tuned for tales of cave parties and Petra.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Holy

Israel was incredible. Its endless sites, beauty, history and culture are enough to keep a visitor busy for months. We stayed just a few days and moved nonstop through Jerusalem and along the Dead Sea. Details to follow.

 
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Friday, March 13, 2009

summary

A one-hour ferry ride across the Red Sea from Jordan to Egypt somehow morphed itself into a 36-hour epic. Just when we were about to jump ship at hour 30 things started to pick up and Kiffen was thrown an Egyptian surprise party. This quick video accurately sums it up and quite nicely introduces our little romp around the Middle East.

video

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trip

It's high time I come out with the details of my trip (well what I know of them anyway). I leave this Saturday from Phoenix and will travel all the way to...Tel Aviv, Israel. When we get to Israel we plan to take a bus right away to Jerusalem where we will stay for a few days visiting the holy sites and touring the Dead Sea. It's hard to imagine that the places of the Bible are still around, and that I'll be seeing them. I know it's a short trip but from there it gets even better as we travel from Israel to Jordan. We plan to spend most of our time in Jordan at the ancient carved city of Petra with a side trip to the Wadi Rum desert and a visit with some Bedouins. But why visit just two countries when we could throw in a third? That's exactly what we had in mind when we added Egypt to the trip. From Aqaba, Jordan we will board a ferry and spend the last few days of our trip in Sinai and Cairo.

I can't wait to report on the real details of the trip and share some photos. It's going to be an amazing adventure and I guarantee a few great stories.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Couch Surfing


I heard something about couch surfing a long time ago but never looked into it. Working this past week at a drag racing event (yes, you read that correctly. Drag race!) however, I got to know a few people who, like myself, are going on trips soon and plan to surf along the way. I immediately became interested and looked further into it. The concept is to basically shrink the world a little and open your couch to a stranger looking to explore your city. The official mission is as follows: "CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance, and facilitate cultural understanding." Cool huh?

This is the new plan, if we have to we will stay in hostels, but if we are able to find hosts in the cities we have planned we will definitely take them up on the offer. Sure it could be a little sketchy but I'm willing to take a risk and will hopefully meet some interesting people in doing so.

Check it out for yourself. www.couchsurfing.com

Monday, February 23, 2009

Leaving!

I'm going on a trip! I leave in five days. I'll be gone for 11. Guess where.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Breathe

The professional marathon pictures are up and I was dying laughing when I saw them. I look decent at the beginning of the race, cruising along, but a few miles down the road I've undergone a big change...



Newberry


Another goal I set for 2009 is to read all the Newberry Medal winning books for children, or at least get a good start on them - it might be a shame to go through them so fast. I've read so far in the past couple months, "Island of the Blue Dolphins" (adventurous), "The Giver" (amaaazing), "Out of the Dust" (tragic), "Kira, Kira" (sad) and "Bridge to Terabithia" (inspiring), as well as a few Newberry Honors books. I love them all. What should I read next?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Listen


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars-must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.


While hiking the other day a giant owl popped out from under a desert shrub. A friend tells me this is a bad omen according to some Native American groups but I think it was magic.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Survival



I camped in Cottonwood, about 25 minutes outside of Sedona, the night before the race. It was cold, I think I slept for an hour, I woke up at 1:30 with a sore throat and coyote's sniffed at our heads and ate some of our food. It didn't seem like I was off to a good start but I was optimistic and eager to get out of my tiny sleeping bag at 5:05 a.m. I ate oatmeal and a banana with peanut butter by the fire and downed more water than has fallen in Arizona since I've been here. We left camp and headed to Sedona. Still cold, even more anxious. Rain was predicted but we were happy to find it sunny and slightly breezy. The race began at 8:05, I hesitantly stripped out of my sweats and squeezed into the intimidating herd of runners at the start line and off we went. The air was noticeably thinner at the high elevation but I felt strong and quite possibly even smirked a little as I passed a few people. The smirk didn't last long. After feebly scaling the first ungodly hill (perhaps mountain better describes it) I could have sworn that I was near the halfway mark. At this point gray-haired grandmothers were passing me, steadily trotting by, making sure the smirk I wore earlier was replaced by the look of torture and defeat, and then I saw the mileage sign proudly announcing the three mile mark, 10.1 to go. I could have died. I wanted to die. I think a part of me did. But I kept running. Hill after hill I kept running and running.

Sedona is magical, it's red rocks are sweeping, deserving of the "most beautiful destination in the country" title it has proudly adopted. It's a shame I hardly cared to even glance at the scenery as I was too busy trying not to keel over. I peed at mile nine, swallowed some gel chews at 10 and tackled Big Bertha, the steepest and longest hill of them all at 10.5. The run was difficult but I eventually made it to the finish line, one step closer to completing my goal of 2009! My hips may have felt shattered and my lungs burnt up (and still do), but I made it up all those hills and it was worth it, every step.

Luckily I was able to drive the course afterward and appreciate how incredible a place I was in. I recharged with some pizza, hobbled about town for a couple hours, headed back to Cottonwood to pack up camp, then drove back to Phoenix, happy as a clam and sorer than imaginable!

I finished the run and that's all I really care about but if you must know my official time was 2 hours 25 seconds, a pace of 9:12/mile. Overall I finished 140th out of 573 participants.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sedona 1/2 Marathon

 



more to come on the hell that it was.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sedona Marathon


You may recall that my fitness goal of the year includes two half marathons and one full. This Saturday I am registered and set to run the Sedona, AZ Half Marathon. I'm nervous, anxious and hopefully ready! Sedona has been called the most beautiful spot in the United States, it should be pleasant to run through and I'll let you know if the sights stand up to their title. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nest bed


When I was in high school I moved with my family to a new house about a mile away from the old one. Each of my siblings and I were getting our own bedrooms and we really didn't have much say on the furniture or features but we did get to choose the wall colors. I chose red. The red walls were great and exactly what I envisioned but what I really remember wanting in that bedroom was a nest. A NEST. If it were up to me my bed would have been a giant, cushy bird nest. I don't remember why. Thank the heavens for moms.

Friday, January 23, 2009

PDX/PHX Treasures

My roommate introduced me to a new addiction: the best of craigslist. I'm not sure who sifts through every ad posted on the site, but somehow the best of them are saved and added to the "best of" folder. It's totally brill and I've wasted more than a couple hours laughing, blushing, pondering and/or gasping. I've found posts on both the Portland and Phoenix pages that I'd like to share with you.

1. From Phoenix:

WANTED: free ox
Date: 2004-10-29, 10:39AM MST

Hello. I would like an ox. I need a pet to keep away burglars and to keep the neighborhood kids off my lawn. I figure an ox should do the trick. If anyone has an extra ox please let me know. Preferably one that looks like this:



2. From Portland

Slugs for lease
Date: 2008-05-29, 8:52PM PDT

I have some banana slugs I will lease out for $1.00 per day.
You just come catch them, and keep sliding dollar bills under my front door.
I also have some worms availabe for .50 daily, and a few spiders as well.
I am trying to save up for a flat screen TV.
Thank you so much in advance.



3. Another from Portland

Clean Out My Mini-Fridge for $25
Date: 2007-10-12, 9:39PM PDT

Some mystery sauce spilled in my fridge one day, and I didn't feel like cleaning it up. Several hours later, I went on vacation for a couple weeks, giving the sauce time to ferment and congeal into a colorful, ominously pulsating substance with an odor I won't attempt to describe here.

This was half a year ago. The sauce is still there, and the intensity of its fragrance is almost overpowering. When I absolutely have to retrieve something from the fridge, I do it as quickly as possible, lest the sauce begin growling at me, or worse.

Please. Help me. I can't deal with this alone.

The fridge isn't big- 3.5'x2.5'x2.5', at most. It will probably take less than 45 minutes to clean.

Anyone?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Medical Career


I've found a new career and it's high time I let you all in on the fun.

As I sat alone in the chaotic waiting area as much as I wanted to I couldn't ignore the thick irony stink that filled the plasma bank. Squeezed between two large individuals (one who was reading Soap Opera Digest) I became a sponge and let the sights and sounds (and smells) sink in. All I really should have to write about the first couple that stood out is "K Swiss." Says plenty, right? Not when they are worn by an obese woman with a black eye and bruised arms sitting next her skinny redhead boyfriend wearing a professional wrestling t-shirt, it doesn't. I was completely enthralled by the abusive body language they used toward one another when all of a sudden the technician in room four yelled for "Reuben." A long-haired man unfortunately resembling Creed lead singer, Scott Stapp, stood and my world fell apart. Tumor. The largest protruding tumor extended from the underside of his right arm; it might as well have had a mouth, eyes and a nose, come to think of it, maybe it did. I was in the middle of estimating that it was about the size of a large grapefruit when I heard a lady behind me talking about a potato diet she was on. Naturally, my ears perked. She explained to a friend on the phone that she tried the fruit and vegetable diet, eating nothing but Popeye's red beans and rice and collard greens (fruit and veggie diet?), but didn't see any results (shocking). The potato diet however, was her new beginning; potatoes three times a day, cooked any way she liked, and she had already lost four pounds in one week.

After hours of waiting for a background check, a physical exam and blood tests I at last was taken to the actual plasma collection section. I joined dozens of people sitting in reclined chairs and staring blankly up at television screens. To close one's eyes is prohibited as are hoods, sunglasses and using a cellphone in the plasma zone. This wasn't a problem for me, the tall plastic containers filling with the yellow to amber plasma proved entertainment enough for me. Today I observed that Native American plasma often has a greenish hue and Mexican plasma yellow. My fellow Caucasians and I boast a pinkish plasma. Today mine looked like a Big Stick Popsicle, fading from amber to pink to yellow; delighted was I.

The plasma bank is located in a strip business/shopping development in Tempe. To get a feel for it I should tell you that it's surrounded by a Check into Cash, Labor Ready, Los Favoritos Taco Shop and an armed forces recruiting center.

Since my initial visit I've gone back two additional times. I've been preached at and yelled at, but mostly, eye contact and verbal communication are completely avoided. I'm sure it's best that way.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fresh




I love this wispy cover of "Please Don't Stop the Music" by The Bird and the Bee. Click the link, press play and have a listen.

The Bird & The Bee - Please Don’t Stop The Music (Rihanna Cover)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Landlocked

I'm sure you've all heard about "The Best Job In The World" by now. It's a dream gig provided by the tourism council of Queensland hiring one person to be caretaker of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The incredibly lucky (and probably beautiful) person will live there for six months, visit the islands, snorkel, scuba dive and explore resorts. He or she will be required to blog about their adventures and will get paid an insane amount on top of it all. I MUST HAVE IT. My only problem is that it's currently being advertised in 18 countries including the United States and, gulp, China (not to mention the whole beautiful part). The selection process is very reality show, requiring a video application and some mega charisma. Please don't worry, I have a game plan: first, I've got to find someone with a video camera, second, I will have to drink six Rock Stars (you know, just to create a little extra excitement), and third, I will have to get my sexy on. I've got a handle on step two, however, steps one and three are still a little iffy. At least I've thought about it, right?

Wait and see. You'll all be jealous once I'm there. You should all apply too (or not so I have a better shot). http://www.islandreefjob.com/

My other obsession of the moment involves another island: Palau. My friend Kiffen travels the world as a flight attendant and recently heard about a place in the Pacific, a salt water lake filled with millions of non-stinging jellyfish. I couldn't stop thinking about it so did a little research of my own. The island is Palau in Micronesia and the place is called Jellyfish Lake. Apparently there are dozens of lakes just like Jellyfish Lake all but it however, are protected. The lake is isolated but once had an outlet to the ocean. Before the outlet was sealed a number of jellyfish were trapped and over time their natural defenses evolved. The jellies do have stinging cells but luckily and strangely most humans are unaffected by them; with no natural predators they have no reason to sting, I guess (thanks Wikipedia). This is incredible to me, and of course it has skyrocketed to the top of my must visit list. Take a look at this phenomenon for yourself:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bloody Advice


I did some grocery shopping the other morning and while inspecting my usual carton of $2.09 brown eggs I was interrupted by a miniature elderly gremlin-like woman who, calling me "Sonny," advised me to go with the carton of white Lucern eggs for $1.89. She went on to tell me that she had been a grocery shopper for more than 75 years and could always spot a bargain. I was hesitant to leave my brown eggs behind but even after explaining to Gremlin Lady that I had been quite content with them she wouldn't have it. She forced those white eggs into my basket and I reluctantly went on my way. I usually do my grocery shopping late at night so as to avoid interaction, but I had a days worth of plans so went during the morning rush hour. Gremmy didn't just advise me on eggs, she also didn't see it fit to buy perfectly ripe yellow bananas; if I bought them green they'd last longer. "Obviously Gremsky, but I want to eat them today," thought I. Of course I ended up buying the green ones. And later she counseled me through the bulk foods section, dishing recipes and ways to spice up dehydrated bean soups. My regular 20-minute shopping time ended up taking an hour. Understand that I do respect the elderly, enjoy their stories and acknowledge their wisdom but when my brown eggs are compromised I'm not a happy camper. I even tried once to escape her death gaze and switch the whites for the browns but somehow she beat me to the aisle.

This little story brings me to the real issue of the moment. I woke up this morning, it's a lovely sunny Saturday and I decided to cook some eggs and toast. With a chip on my shoulder I opened the carton of white Lucern eggs, five had been used, seven to go before I had an excuse to buy my brown ones. I cracked the first into the frying pan and watched it sizzle for a moment before cracking the second. Number two was in my hand, I pounded it twice on the edge of the counter, split it in half and shrieked. BLOOD. My egg was full of blood. I didn't even allow time to inspect, without thinking I threw it down the garbage disposal, but I'm sure there was at least a beak and a feather or two floating in the pool of blood and yoke. Needless to say, a small portion of my soul withered in that moment.

I considered not eating breakfast after the bloody egg, not unfathomable, but my stomach told me not to. What's worse is I went for another egg (I'm sick, I know) instead of swearing them off for life. I cracked egg number three. Blood. Vomit. Went for egg number four. Blood.

No more eggs for me. At least no more $1.89 white Lucern eggs cursed by old gremlins at Safeway.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Reasonably Pensive


Seriously though, does a game get any better than Bingo? You wish.