Jun 27, 2010

I Just Don't Get Why God Made Ticks

I get the snake thing.
Eve needed a serpent
To tempt her to the apple
To be thrust out of Eden
Into work
And sin
And sorrow
And childbearing.
The snake I get.

The lion makes sense too.
They’re for Daniel
To keep him company on that cold night
To provide their den as shelter
And give warmth
And playfulness.
Lions are for the lamb to lie by.
Lions are good by me.

The locust and frogs were for the Egyptians
To punish them for their selective hearing
Their inability to hear Moses:
“Let my people go”
Their inability to let his people go.
Frogs and locust were annoyances
Forewarners of worse to come.

God created all creatures
And he had a purpose for each one.

The ticks I can’t understand
They had nothing to do with Eve
And Daniel and lambs get no good out of them
And if they’re punishment I’d like to know
What in heck did I do so very wrong?


Jun 24, 2010

Ramblings of Gardens, Goldfish and Instant Oatmeal


I know. You're getting tired of me. "Isn't this A Tale of Two Teenagers?" you're saying. "Well then, where on earth is Number One?"

The answer is: New York. I think. Katie remains off-island, but I believe she is done with History Day and exploring the Big Apple. Hopefully she gets a bite in for me too. (On a completely unrelated side note, does anyone know why it's called that?) Anyway, I've got my fingers crossed that we'll hear from her soon so that we fulfill our name and destiny. Plus, I miss her and it'd be nice to know she was alive.

In any case, today is The Day. The one I've been waiting for. It's important. I just can't remember why. Oh, that's right, Thursday is when Mentalist reruns are on. Highlight of my week, right there. My life is chockfull of purpose. And excitement. Today I found out that Up was on Netflix instant-watch and I jumped up and down.

I need a life. Thing is, Costco doesn't carry them and that's where I shop. I should start going to Walmart.

Actually, I'm having a lovely (if uneventful) break. I go to bed whenever I want, wake up whenever I want, and rag on my dad to get some Haagendaz (have we talked about Haagendaz yet? We should.) Sometimes I go days without having a conversation with anyone outside my family, but that's OK, because they're good conversationalists.

Today my dad had this brilliant idea.

Dad's brilliant idea: I take a rocky, currently purposeless section of our backyard and put my signature on it, because "the yard is a family affair." He told me this was an invitation, unless I didn't want to do it, in which case it was an assignment.

I've taken on the project, because I know I'll feel like a sullen, door-slamming, eye-rolling teenager if I don't. Thing is, my mom

is a master gardener. She is an artist. Our garden has become her masterpiece, with dabs of color throughout the traditionally lush green that's faded a bit from the recent drought. When my mom is stressed, tired or angry, into the garden she goes pulling weeds, trimming and once hacking up our lemon tree (She said that it make it healthier, but the tree just looks sad. And we aren't going to get as many lemons this year. I've forgiven her, but it took me a few minutes.) Gardening is therapy for my mom, among other things. I've had a theory for a long time that everyone has a need to create something. Our garden, the backyard especially, is my mom's creation.

When my family first moved into this house fourteen or thirteen years ago, our yard was plain dirt and a barren mango tree. Now it still has the mango tree which has reluctantly surrendered fruit from time to time, and it also has this

and this

and this.

You can see why I'm a little intimidated. I don't really think my signature needs to be on our garden. The flourishes that come out of my mom's pen are obviously satisfactory.

Maybe I'll stick with herbs. How hard can that be? A little mint here, some basil there. And maybe ferns. Ferns seem like the microwave pizza of gardening. Or instant oatmeal. Just add water.

As long as plants don't turn out to be like goldfish. I've never been able to keep a goldfish alive for longer than two days. Once my friend asked me to watch her's while she went on vacation. I told her that would be fine, but if she left it with me it would be dead when she got back. She didn't believe me. I am really, really sorry about Goldie, Allison. But I did warn you.

Please let ferns be like instant oatmeal.


Jun 21, 2010

(Marissa's) Dad

This is my daddy.

This is me and my dad. A long time ago. I'm taller now.

Today when I was freaking about the SAT and ACT and college and what on earth I'm going to do once I leave home and have to buy my own groceries, the man above sat down with me and helped me register for the SAT and assured me that it was OK.

And then everything was fine.

My daddy is a teacher. Always. When I asked to get my ears pierced he wanted to know why I was so keen to poke holes in my body. He made me write a thesis about it before I could. Of course, I wanted to because all my friends were doing it, but I said it was for "cultural experience" and "self expression."

My dad values learning above almost everything else. He reminds me consistently that I should never let school get in the way of my education.

My dad is the one who got me interested in China. Mostly by dragging me there and being so enthusiastic that I really had no choice in the matter but to get as obsessed as he was.

When I chose to take Chinese classes which my high school didn't have and decided to take them at college instead, my dad helped me do it. He tells me that I should always do things I have a good chance at failing at, because falling down flat on your face is one of those experiences you're supposed to have. If you aren't doing it then you're letting pride get in the way of learning.

My dad is biased when it comes to me. He thinks I'm amazing, even going so far as to say that I'm not a klutz (I have six, very recent, large, purple bruises that say otherwise). I'm glad he's biased for me, though. Sometimes I really need someone who is. Sometimes that's what dad's are for.

This is my dad and this is his family. I'm the one in the middle. It's a nice place to be.

(Told you I was taller now.)

Love you daddy! Happy Father's Day.


Jun 20, 2010

My Bathroom and Closet... Or Lack Thereof


I am a bad blogger. I haven't posted in five days and my only excuse is that I've been being lazy. It's incredible how much of my time laziness occupies. It sprawls across my days. I am a bad blogger. Bad blogger. So this is my official apology.

Good, now that I've apologized and you've either forgiven me or didn't care in the first place, the healing process is over and we can move on. Good. I like moving on.

Today I am reporting on the state of my house. Just to be clear, my house is generally a clean, comfortable, relatively organized place. I'm stating this for my mom's sake. Unfortunately now is not a general time and my house is not clean, comfortable or relatively organized.

This is my front bathroom. Where my shower is supposed to be. Yeah, to the left there. The right is the toilet.

This is the view from our hall closet. Usually there are shelfs there. They're just taking a few days off.

Hey, look, you can see where the shower is supposed to be from the closet too. Very cool. I think the lack of walls and things like sinks gives it a much more open feel.

Everything that was once in this closet is now being stored under the desk in my office. All the books, Apples to Apples, pictures of plants and pottery. All under my desk. It's just great. It was just empty space before, and now it's storage. Yay.

If I were to make a list of the things in this world that I love right now, clean, complete bathrooms with the shower where it is supposed to be, orderly closets with shelfs not taking a vacation and the office without the glad tidings of my books on the floor would rank in the top ten. Well, maybe top twenty. Ice cream would be up there too. And bananas, which are yellow fruit and also, a pudding. A delicious pudding.

Sorry. It's our tenth post and I still hadn't made a Psych reference. Couldn't let that happen.

Anyway. They said there was mold in (all) our walls, and that's why their ripping it apart.  Today is the front bathroom and closet. Next week it's my bath. Who knows? Next month I may not have a house. While I find there being mold there highly likely, I can't help remembering the Monk episode where he bought a house and his fix-it man ripped it apart looking for treasure.

Monk and Psych references. Check.

On a less self pitying note, it is really interesting what you you find out when you're emptying a closet.

For example.
  • My family has a lot of books. No, I mean a lot of books. It's getting to the point where it's just ridiculous. That whole closet was full of them, and we have two more book cases in the office and both my parents have offices. Normally this isn't the kind of thing that I would complain about, but right now a large number of them are stacked under the desk and other available surfaces, all rather difficult to access. So even though we own an absurd number of books, there are absurdly few I can actually get at. Did I say this was less self pitying?
  • On his mission, my dad wrote in cursive. And it was actually pretty nice handwriting, which brings up an interesting question: What happened? He wrote about protein and marriage. So that's what missionaries think about....
  • We also have a lot of salt and pepper shakers, which were used as chess pieces a few summers back. I don't like chess. I can't beat anybody.
  • We have difficulty throwing certain things away. Like petri dishes I got for science fair and ended up not using. We might need them someday! In the distant future, there will be one of our neighbors in desperate need of a petri dish and we will be able to provide it, thus saving their lives and becoming heros. Assuming that we'll be able to find them...

Remind me, the petri dishes are under the desk in the office, on top of the bubble rap stuff and next to The Mysterious Bennedict Society.


Jun 14, 2010

This Is Mei


This is my little sister.

She took these pictures herself.

And said OK when I asked her if I could put them on.

This would have been me if someone had asked me that.

This is my little sister. My mom said that I can't use her name on here (because of safety concerns that I can't remember) so we're going to call her Mei (pronounced "may") because that is how you say "little sister" in Chinese and I can refer to her as that. Somehow none of her middle names don't really stick in my mind. Plus, you couldn't pronounce two out of the three of them.


This is Mei. She is twelve, thirteen in September. Which makes me feel old because I remember when she was born. I went to an adopted grandmother's house, ate cookies and then slept over at friends house. It was a good day. I had no clear idea what was going on, even though I'd been determinedly praying for a little sister for a year before God felt inclined to grant my request.

This is Mei. She is reading the Old Testament right now. I have never read the Old Testament. I walk into the kitchen from watching some stupid TV show on the computer and find her reciting Daniel out loud, which is her preferred way of reading. She already can correct my spelling. (Not that that's saying a whole lot. I inherited bad spelling from my dad. It's not my fault. It's genetic.) She loves science and math and just about everything. Mei has never come up against something that she couldn't get excited about. I think it's an enviable quality.

This is Mei. She is polite in the extreme. All the waitresses on Maui were in love with her. One told her that she had terrific manners, another one commented on the "sparkle in her eye." Mei uses "thank you" and "sorry" as fillers when she talks, because they come more naturally than "um." She tells me she loves me at least nine times a day, randomly, whenever she sees me, as if she is afraid that I might have forgotten. She used to stand at the door and wave us down the street, shouting that she loved us until we told her that it made us feel like we were going off to war and might die. Now she just does it from the window, under her breath.

This is Mei, my little sister, who isn't so little anymore. She has already gotten proposed to. That didn't happen to me until I was in eighth grade. She getting to the point where I am concerned about her getting taller than me. I've informed her that she isn't allowed to let that happen.

This is Mei. She has the sweetest spirit of anyone I've ever met. I know she isn't perfect, but I'll be darned if I can think of how. I figure, if heaven sent me an angel for a little sister by mistake then it's too late for them to take her back now.


Jun 12, 2010

Maui: A Novel


I'm back and Katie's gone.

Sorry we've been out all week. I was off island and Katie was preparing to go off island, doing all the many tiresome things that are involved with that process, such as finding someone to take care of the rabbits (I thought those died a year ago... apparently not), packing, painting, cleaning and getting a drivers permit. Thus she did not have time to update the blog and I was computerless in Maui, meaning that I wasn't giving you a day-by-day update of what going on. You can thank my dad for sparing you the blow-by-blow account.

Anyway, now that I'm back I'll give you as brief a narritive as I can conjure of my trip. Prepare yourself, it might take a while. I won't be offended if you take a break in between paragraphs. For your convenience I've organized various events I feel the urge to tell you about into sections. You can skip and skim as  you like. There is a summary at the bottom if you really feel rushed.

The Totally Amazing Hotel We Stayed In That I Am Going To Own Someday Along With The Jin Mao Tower
My family and I stayed at the Grand Wailea (why-lay-uh). It is the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in and probably the nicest I ever will stay in.  We could stay there because my dad was going to a conference and so the university put him up and we just paid the difference. We relished it, knowing full well we were unlikely to be in such a position again.

You guys already know about my problem with adjectives, so I'll just show you pictures. Unfortunately we forgot to bring my little sister's camera along (something she apologized for profusely for the entire trip) so we're going to have to go off Internet pictures.

This is the Wailea.
Fountain at Grand Wailea

And this.
Inside Lobby of The Grand Wailea Resort

Oh! And this. Yeah. I swam here.

And this is inside the Jin Mao Tower. I'm going to own it one day. We'll talk about it some other time.
Jinmao Tower atrium

Our room was the farthest away from everything, but we had a view of the ocean, one of the chapel, and if you stepped off of our balcony/patio you could have gone wading in a little pond with the lilies, carp who sounded like they were kissing when they ate bits of vanilla wafers and one rather unsociable turtle.

Among it's other advantages our room had two queen sized beds, one of which I almost totally dominated since my little sister preferred sleeping on the little sofa thing. We had a TV which never had anything to watch, though there was one channel that never played anything but Law and Order. Why?

My favorite part of the hotel, though, was the bathroom. When I grow up, I'm going to have a big beautiful bathtub like, that with a glass shower right next to it, just for show because when you have a bathtub like that why would you use the shower? I told my dad and he told me he wanted one when he grew up too. There was also a little closet with a toilet in it. It had two rolls of toilet paper on the wall, just in case I guess. There was also a phone in there. Also just in case?

My Mother Meets the Maui Cliffs of Insanity
This section requires a bit of background information. First, you know my mother. Well, some of you know my mother. She is one of the most amazing people ever. She is afraid of heights. That's the only information you need for this story.

Secondly, you'll remember that both of my parents are professors. I like to think they're fairly dignified people. Yet, when we went out to rent a car the only midsize available was
jacqui_car.jpg image by pleasant_port

this. So that is what we ended up driving away with.

Cute, right? It handles really nicely too, apparently, which came in handy later. My family just looks funny driving it. And I get carsick in the back. And the trunk is tiny. But it really is the most adorable car. My mom wants one now.

Anyway, if you live in Hawaii you may have heard about the forest fire on Maui. Or not. One of our waitresses said that no one really gets excited about it anymore because it happens every year. In any case, my mother my sister and I went exploring the other side of the island and we passed this less than fragrant smoke on our way there. Later, when we were splitting a ten dollar sandwich we heard that the road had closed down because the blistering flame had worsened, though it was now 80% under control.

On Oahu that would be inconvenient, but Oahu is just a circle and so you could take the highway the other way. On Maui the other way was a one-way winding dirt road that was marked on our map next to "Drive at your own risk...."

We drove it only because we didn't want to have to pay for two hotel rooms in one night and the policeman assured us that they were only letting our side through. The policeman lied. Or at least he had no idea what he was talking about. It was a beautiful drive with great views of the sea, blocked occasionally by jutting chins or rock, deep curving fields and, once, a group of pensive cows crowning a hill.

We enjoyed the view and were hopeful about being back at five as we'd planned. Then we hit the cars. We didn't know it at the time, but there were cars coming from both directions and a flatbed truck had met with particular trouble trying to turn a corner. Actually, that flatbed had particular trouble at just about every corner. We know, because we were behind it. We were there for three and a half hours. Guys, the view just wasn't that pretty after a while.

Mom grit her teeth the whole time and said things like, "I hate this, ahh! Don't look. OK, this is OK--AH!" I didn't know how to handle it at the time, but I found out a few days later when we were coming down from the old Maui volcano. My dad was driving and my mom was worried that he would drive us off a cliff. My dad was very soothing. He said, "Breath, Cynthia, breath. In, out... You know, one time I heard of a family who's brakes failed on this mountain and they just went sailing into the clouds. In, out."

Food, Glorious Food
I don't even want to think about how much weight I gained on Maui. The food. Was. Amazing. It was breathtaking. It was sumptuous and sensational and the quantities we had were near lethal. Every night we got home and I felt my stomach a little bit rounder under the comforter.

We went to several really, really good restaurants, two just OK ones and once to Starbucks for breakfast. We were in dire circumstances. The two best restaurants were owned by the same person, along with one just OK one, and we got a discount for the sister restaurants every time we ate at one of them, so we bounced back and forth between them several times. I think that is a genius idea and when I grow up and have a sunk-in bathtub and own the Jin Mao tower, I'm going to own restaurants and do the same thing.

This is one of the sisterhood.
HM general store 001.JPG
It's deceptively simple looking, but contains fish curry that is made in heaven and sent down by the angels out of pity and love for mankind.

The highlights, for me, were the desserts, which we only ordered twice, because usually we were too full. The first one was Lilikoi Creme Brule (lilikoi is passion fruit). The other as a Lilikoi Guava Cheesecake. I want that to be the last thing I eat in life.

All in all it was a nice trip, but it's good to be home. I'm ready to sleep in my own bed, have creme brule ice cream for dessert instead of actual creme brule and I am really ready for my hair to stop smelling like bottled honey mango, though my dad took their shampoo bottles so that might take a while.


Jun 5, 2010

(Deep) Thoughts in Dandelions

(This is Marissa. I will figure out a really cool way to signify this someday, but for now this will have to do.)

It is summer, which means staying up late, waking up late, wearing baggy shirts and cut off jeans, cleaning a lot, studying a little and thinking deep thoughts.

Yep, that’s right. Deep thoughts. Teenagers are capable of them too, you know.Today I had an epiphany. It came while I was walking Mocha, 

which is when I generally have conversations with people who only exist in my head, talk to myself in Chinese and tell my dog that she is a pain when she tugs me back to explore the wonderful world of dandelion scents. So in the middle of a dandelion patch, my deep, brilliant epiphany came. Of course, the nature of epiphanies, in my experiance at least, is that when you try and explain them everyone either says, "well, of course," or they have no idea what you're talking about. But I'll give it a shot...

I’ve totally set myself up here, haven’t I? I just told you that this post is going to be deep? I take it back. Take a damp rag and wipe away all expectations away from your brain. I had a thought. Just a thought. A regular, plausibly shallow thought, because I am a teenager and that’s what I do. Just be happy I’m thinking, OK?

Here is my epiphany—thought!—most adjectives are by their nature comparative. Relative. See? If I am tall, then it is because other people are short. If I’m smart, it means other people are less smart. Which means that we are defining ourselves by what we’re not.

So what?

One of my gifts is seeing the good in other people. The down side of this marvelous skill of recognizing talents, good intentions, etc. is that it doesn’t work on me. I have a very difficult time seeing the silver lining in myself. You know that line from Ever After? “First I’m arrogant, and now I have no pride. However do I manage?” That’s me. I’m proud, but I’m never really sure what I’m proud of. I have a hard time making a list of good things about me. And yes, I’ve tried.

Moving on.

Because I see so much good in other people and so little in me, it is sometimes very depressing to compare myself to others. I’m not as generous as her, I’m not as creative as him, I don’t skip that well and I’m definitely not that pretty. My GPA is 3.9 something something, not >4.0 like all of my friends. But hey, that’s OK, right?

Not really, no.

So I’ve been working on not comparing myself to other people. How tough can that be, right? In a certain way, it doesn’t even make sense. No one else is me, they don’t come from where I come from, they don’t have the same experiences or relationships that define me. And, if you’re religious, they don’t have my same spirit. To compare myself to them, to compare them to me is ridiculous, because no matter what the comparison, it’s apples and oranges.

So I’ve been working on this, but I haven’t done so well. I’m just used to thinking in terms of comparison. So what occurred to me today just after I almost got ran over by a car (I did look both ways, Mom) was that even language is working against me in this.

Adjectives make me want to compare myself to others. They are designed so that the only way I can describe something is through comparison. She’s fast because someone else is slow. She and her speed cannot stand on their own.

And in comparison someone inevitably loses. Someone is less.

Language is comparative. Which makes it very hard for me not to be. But, hey, I’ll do it. I can conquer language, right? It’s been around  for what? A measly couple thousands years?  

You and me, language. This is my glove on drawbridge. May the best entity win.

Mission in Life: Bennington and a Food Processor

We are here to reveal our purpose (cue drumroll). We know you've been waiting. The moment has finally arrived. We stopped procrastinating

So here is the thing, Marissa hatched this master plan while we were hanging out in her backyard being generally unuseful. Marissa started it, Katie picked up the cue and Andrea had to sit there while we developed this mindblowingly awesome sketch out of our lives for the next five years or so. 

The Plan

1. Write a blog. Check.

2. Get people to read our blog. That's obviously started with you (love you Mommy, and Aunt Celeste, Grandma, Megan, and Sister Hancock).

3. Keep in contact, out of trouble and generally avoid insanity for the summer. Because as Brother Orr likes to remind us, we're bad teenagers whose frontal lobes aren't developed. That's why we do stupid, daring things, like Adam Popcorn, writing blogs and... going on walks. Also, today we played with yoyos. But that's new for us. We'll tell you how it goes.

4. As happy as we are that you are reading this, we're kind of aiming for Bennington College's administration/office of admission and Mark Bittman. Bennington so they will think, 'we know these professor's daughters can't afford our katrillion dollar tuition so we'll give them a full ride because they are amazing and wrote a whole blog about how much they love us' and Mark Bittman so he will invite us on his little web show, just like that two year old on youtube. Then maybe we can meet his grandsons and marry them. We aren't pretentious at all. 

5. Go to Bennington. Room together. Have plastic, glow-in-the-dark stars on our ceiling. Own a food processor, so we can make all those things that we can't right now (like sorbet, and lemon tart will be easier too, rolls, bread, crackers, everything) even though we'll only be able to afford oatmeal then.

6. Fly home together, which will make the flights less boring. Maybe we'll bring a food processor as our carry-on, since we'll have become so dependent on it.

7. Graduate, go to our respective jobs. Rule the world. You know, the usual.

Is this possible? Absolutely. Probable? No, not at all. But hey, we're not the most realistic people in the universe, and we pride ourselves in our optimism. When the glass is half empty/half full, we see three quarters full. But then, math isn't our strong point.

All things considered, at least we have a dream, highly improbable though it may be. It is also highly detailed, which we see as a strength. We know what we want.

We want a window seat.

We want a "Dining Hall, the hot entrées are complemented by an extensive salad bar, soups, and freshly baked bread, a wok station, pizza station, pasta station, deli bar, and many other items. "newpic_food_breakfast.jpg

And we want... whatever this is.
Yes, those are balloons.

And we are convinced it is Bennington that can give it to us. That is our master plan, our hearts desire and the purpose of this blog. So if you happen to know Mark Bittman or anyone who works at/goes to or knows someone who work ats/goes to Bennington or else someone who gives out any manner of scholarships (or food processors), do us a favor and casually bring us up in a conversation sometime. The names are Marissa Compton and Katie Orr, A Tale of Two Teenagers.


Jun 4, 2010


...is something I'm very very good at.  Because I practice.

If you're ever doing National History Day during the summer, and it's not on the Muppets ** you can do any number of things.  It's amazing what you notice when you're trying really hard not to e-mail very smart people about what they know a lot about.  Like, say, the Missing Children's Assistance Act of '84 = there is a pesky amount of dirt in my big toe nail which needs to be removed immediately.

I'd just like to say, right here, that I woke up this morning with the best of intentions.  I was going to get up and do what I was supposed to do.  I was going to e-mail the smart people, and work on my second point and fix up my process paper.  I really was.  So I plopped my self down and started e-mailing smart people.  Then I realized I wanted to look at my paper while I e-mailed my smart people.  So I looked through a collection of drafts, each helpfully and oh-so-organizedly were named things like: Death 101, Whydoinothavealife, alkdjfalkjdf, and DRAFTHELP!! and finally found the most recent version: itstoolatetothink.  Which I, and you may do the same, took 30 seconds to re-name: Nationalssamethesis.

Phew, 30 seconds spent improving NHD.  Time for a break.

You then must start looking around, and notice that the kitchen is unbearably messy. (I don't know about yours but mine is usually messy, but hardly ever unbearably so.)  And that baby brother needs breakfast (he wanted cereal, so I made pancakes from scratch). And that you have abusively ignored Mark Bittman's webpage for a whole day.  (Ice cream maker-less Sorbet requires a food processor).

If your ever in need of something to procrastinate with, take it from a pro, Mark Bittman's videos on how to make food that requires a food processor is the way to go.  

Then, after your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and baby brother have all been squeaky-cleaned you can write a blog.  This can take a long time, depending on how long the blog is.  Wonderful, right?

Then you can realize that a blog without a flickr pic is hardly a blog at all. So, look through lego storm trooper pics.  Remember quotes like "Do or do not, there is no try" or "Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you" or "That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookies are known to do that."  Giggle at yourself and your nerdiness.

Well, I'm done procrastinating for now.

If theres anther blog up in five minutes, you'll know why.



PS- I pinky promise that one day soon we'll explain why we actually made this blog.  But we're procrastinating about that too.  So, soon.  You know, like within the year.

**If you are doing it on the muppets, simply begin at episode one of season one (Called Sex and Violence) and watch until you fall asleep.  This can be called research.  Genius, ne?