Jul 26, 2010



So, I think I've pretty much decided that I'll be posting about once a week. That sounds pretty good, right? Yes? I'm just going to assume that you agreed, because I can. So I'll post once a week and maybe Katie will, and then you'll get two blog posts a week. That's right, even after two months of ignoring the left side of my brain, I still have my basic math skills. One plus one equals two. Got it.

This is the last week of summer.

The sentence just above should have read a lot like this Youtube video plays: http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=WwlNPhn64TA&feature=related

Katie and I go back to school on August 3rd. I call this blasphemy. School shouldn't exist until September. In September I would deal with my return with grace and poise. In Spetember I would reflect on how school was really good for me. How summer, like all good things, does and should come to an end and how really, in my heart of hearts, I was ready and waiting to go back. In September I might actually believe it.

But it is not September. And in a week I will once again be in a classroom. In August. August is summer. August screams summer. It also screams ice cream, but so do you, me and all the other seasons, so that doesn't matter too much.

Now I really want ice cream.


Anyway, while I am finishing my Ap Government homework, which really whould have been done a month ago, and preparing for the psychological side effects of waking up before 8:30, I am also planning to enjoy what little of summer remains.

There are various aspects to this plan (which I am now officially titling Operation JOY), including learning how to ride a skateboard (something that I've been avoiding because I dislike scraped knees and I know I'm a klutz), learning how to juggle (because that would seriously up my level of cool--in my own mind), getting rid of the shadows under my eyes (there are impossible things you should never stop trying to do), and using as many parenthesis as I can before I go back to my grammatically sound English class (me and grammar... not so much).

There are two other aspects of Op JOY, one of which is a secret until Katie finishes her post on it. The other, I am discussing. And yes, it has to do with chocolate. How did you know? Good going, guys, now I want chocolate ice cream.

Aztec Hot Chocolate Ice Cream by musicpb.
(Aztec Hot Chocolate Ice cream, muscipb)

I've been going on a baking spree. What do you expect when I have a cookbook that is titled How To Cook Everything? So far I've made a lot of bread and a lot of cookies. You didn't think I was making something productive, like a meal, right? You already know me better than that.

I have made oatmeal cookies, raisin bread, regular bread, chocolate chip cookies and butterscotch cookies, all since my last post. And cereal. But, you know... It's the chocolate chip cookies I want to talk about.

Once again, I did not take pictures. Fortunately I know this great site called flickr (--speaking of which, has anyone noticed our very summery flickr highlight? If summer was food it would be watermelon. If sunlight was food it would be mushrooms or lemonade. If I was food I would be chocolate ice cream. I'm off subject. I've got to stop doing this--), so I found you pictures that look like what I made.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie w/ Chunks by show and tell.
(New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie w/ Chunks, show and tell)

These are my chocolate chip cookies. They're really chocolate chunk cookies. AS far as I'm concerned, the best thing about htem is they come out of the oven melty and come out of the refrigerator chewy. Why is this? Butter, guys. Two sticks. Oh, yeah.

The other cookies were fairly disappointing. The butterscotch cookies were kind of, a little bit, well boring. My mom liked them because they weren't too sweet. To me, this defeats the purpose. The oatmeal cookies weren't bad, there just wasn't anything good about them. Except that I made them with Katie and Jessica and we watch Much Ado About Nothing.

Now that I've made both of us suitably hungry, I'm going to sign out. And find ice cream. And watch Ratatouille. And work on Op JOY.


Jul 18, 2010

Joy, Cream Puffs, and Other Synonyms


I have several completely unrelated things to say, none of which are big enough to write an entire blog post on, so I'm going to combine them. Thing is, I don't really want to have to write transitions, starting with a rooster and then somehow getting to cream puffs. If I was a good writer, a good blogger I would do it. Or, at least, I would attempt.

But I'm tired.

And I just made bread.

And, yes, I realize that that really has nothing to do with it, but I'm too tired to care. I was up late last night talking to my mom and watching Asian dramas.

So there.

Yesterday morning my family was reading scriptures at the breakfast table. Our breakfast table in on a closed-in lanai that opens onto our backyard, which creates a rather nice environment.
Mei was just reaching Nephi's dilemma about whether or to kill Laban or not when a rooster streaked past, all tail, it's feathers trailing behind it.

Before I go on I should explain a bit. I live in a little village a bit off the North Shore. It isn't pretty. There are no beach houses, but a variety of run down plantation boxes and cinder block squares. I don't notice this, most of the time. Actually, I kind of like it, and anyway we have mountains in front of us and a beach behind to make up for the less-than-scenic surroundings. It's a nice little place with lots of kids, college students and chickens. The chickens are the skinny, feckless descendants of a plump, proud birds that were owned by a dairy shop that closed down. The shop started selling chickens as pets. Now they're everywhere.

People have varying feelings about them which range from acceptance, usually accompanied by the ability to ignore them, to sheer hatred. My parents once bought me a shirt from China Town that read "The Year of the Chicken" and when Sister Huff, who was waging war against her fowl inmates, saw it, she looked at me sternly and said, "The year the chicken dies."

Because there are chickens everywhere the rooster tripping over his own feathers to get gone was not the odd thing. No, the odd things was Brother Handcock, running after it, shovel mounted in such a way that was reminiscent of an ancient warrior, hunting with a spear thrust in front of him. My family looked up from our egg-encrusted plates and our scripture study to watch Brother Handcock chase the offending bird across our lawn. He headed back from the hunt, unsuccessful, and joined us in a short conversation in which he grimly explained, "He was after my mangoes."

This is the part where I go onto something else completely unrelated and forget about transitions. It's a good thing none of my english teachers read this.

When I was going through pictures trying to find a shot of my lanai I came across the photo rendition of our town's flood day and I wanted to show you something. The flood day is a long story, that I may or may not recount at some future time (I have an essay about it I could just post that because I'm lazy), but for right now all you really need to know is that one winter day a few weeks before Christmas the water came down and the floods came up.

And the students from our college town's college still went to class. Well, they didn't actually make it to class, which was, of course canceled due to the rising water levels and the fact that their professors homes were swimming in muck. But they tried.

Because they rock like that. I don't know this guy, but I think he is terrific. The picture makes me laugh. I think I'm going to put it on the front of my binder this year, for motivation and joy.

While we're on the subject of joy, Katie is back. My life is inherently less stressful with her around. This may or may not have to do with cream puffs. We were sitting, in the same lanai my family was on when Brother Handcock made his warrior appearance, with our feet up when it occurred to us that what our lives were really lacking was rounded pastries stuffed with sugar and heavy cream. So we got up and found Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything.

Fortunately, cream puffs are included in everything.

Mr. Bittman, I love you. You have grandson's, right? Or nephews? My age-ish? Right?

(Photo credit: Cream Puffs Out of Oven from Spoon and Chair on Flickr)

I was not forward looking enough to take pictures of the ones Katie and I made, but they turned out well, much like this, but without the shiny silver cooling wrack. We used one of my dented baking sheets and a lid pot we borrowed from Sister Handock.

These cream puffs were... heavenly. Glorious. Paradisaical. Delicious, Delightful and Divine, all with capital D's.

I have decided that cream puffs are the true way to enlightenment.

Next time there will be chocolate involved. This I swear.


Jul 12, 2010

I Cannot Go To School Today


Oh, wait, there is no school, is there? Good. Because I'm sick. That and it's still summer and I don't believe in summer school. Kind of like I don't believe in summer homework. And yet I have another two hours worth waiting for me....

I've been neglecting you again. You're awfully easy to neglect.  

I don't mean that in a bad way. You're just not at all demanding. I post something, smile, walk away, and then occasionally think something along the lines of I should post. Then I don't, because there isn't a whole lot to say and it isn't going to ruin anyone's day or my GPA if I continue reading, writing, swimming, or whatever other verb I might be occupied with. Days pass. And eventually I drag myself back to the keyboard and make myself try and be clever. I'm telling you now, today it won't work.

If you're getting discouraged about this blog, fear not. While the possibility of me getting less flaky is not great, Katie should be back tomorrow, so soon you'll have two teenager heads to rely on instead of one.

Girls camp started today. And I am not there. Because I have contracted I Cannot Go To School Today--that sickness where you have an occasional fever and just generally feel lousy but stay relatively painless so long as you're on the couch for every eight out of ten minutes. Due to the dreaded ICGTST I am not at camp today and may, or may not be tomorrow.The good news is that I'll have a lot more time to blog. The bad news is I'll have nothing to blog about.

I'll be honest and say that my heart is not exactly breaking about not going to camp. This is probably the a result of childhood trauma, inclination towards solitude, dislike of high-riding hormones and a fact that I know from experience: I am not a nice person when fed on a solid diet of spam, s'mores and smoked Starbursts, especially when that menu is accompanied by less than eight hours of sleep.

This year I was really working on looking forward to girls camp, though. I am a laurel, YCL, leader. I have responsibility. I have earplugs. I have a little sister I would die for, so surely I could get enthusiastic about girls camp for her. I had gotten most of complaining about camp out of the way before I got there (Sorry, Sister Handcock and Sister Blimes). I was prepared.

But then Mei and I both got sick-and I was spared the necessity of working up excitement and using my earplugs. I consider this to be a happy ending.

I'm going to blame my slacker-ness on my sickness and end the post here, short and picture-less. My apologies and promises that next time I will have something to say, it will be longer and there will be at least one picture involved. I dream big.


Jul 6, 2010



I'm just going to warn you now. This is a long post. Very long. I didn't think it would be, but when I start going on about China.... In any case, I will not be offended if you don't read it. If you do read it, I've put in suggested breaks where you can get up and stretch, clean a bathroom, or watch a Psych episode (preferably from the first or second season).

Netflix's contribution to my day was Not One Less. Have you seen it? A thirteen year old girl in rural China agrees to be a substitute teacher. True story. One of her students drops out of school to go work in the city because his family has too much debt, and she walks there to find him because she can't pay for a bus ticket. True story. Good story. Chinese story with an ending that does not involve everyone dying. Yes!

(Not like Raise the Red Lantern which I've been trying to send back to Netflix for three days now. The mailman and I play a little game. I put the movie in the mailbox with the flag up and he leaves it there for a few days, just to make sure I really want him to take it.

Mr. Mailman, I really want you to take it. I am done with this tragic disk full of foreboding and obvious foreshadowing! I watched half-way through and I already know how it ends and I do not watch movies where protagonists are hung or go crazy. So there. I am ready to embrace the stupid chick-flick that I wasn't willing to pay to see in theatres that is next on my queue. Take it away! Take it away!...

I'm completely off subject, aren't I? Oh well. Back to the point.)

I've been to China. Have I mentioned that? It seems like I have. I went when I was thirteen and I hated it. There were no teenagers around (OK, no, obviously there were, but there was a bit of a language barrier), and I got through with all my books pretty quickly and was stuck with the spy novels my dad reads for mindless enjoyment over the summers. My mind does not enjoy them.

I went to a beautiful bookstore in China. They had built in bookcases that stretched from floor to ceiling all around the store, with wood ladders that they actually let you climb and sit on. It had the right smell too, like Borders but, regretfully, minus Starbucks. Of course all the books were in Chinese. So it didn't do me a whole lot of good. But I appreciated the atmosphere.

(Suggested break. Try blowing bubbles. I find that very relaxing.)

We walked a lot in China. I'm not really sure why, I suppose we didn't know what else to do. We'd start walking after lunch, going shopping (which I hate in China even more than I hate it here because nothing is ever my size), taking pictures, and looking for restaurants. Looking for restaurants generally started around five or six and could go on to eight. Possibly nine. I remember one time Brother Beus (a family friend we were traveling with) marched us around a block three times looking for a restaurant he remembered, only to conclude that it had been knocked down and was that pile of rubble back there. We ate at the Chinese version of Wendy's that night.

Everyday I saw beautiful scenes like this.

And wore expressions like this.

Oh, come on Marissa, smile.

I don't want to.

Do it anyway.

I don't know how.

I'd claim that it was my awkward stage, but the truth is, I've bee in my awkward stage since I was ten, and I don't see the end of the tunnel yet.

The first day we were there I woke up and went down the creaky elevator in our dorm/motel to breakfast. There were three tables lined up and covered in a white cloth, rice, dumplings and warm milk.

"Where are the forks?" I asked my dad.

"There aren't any."

"But I don't know how to use chopsticks."

"Now would be a really great time to learn."

I gave up on their breakfast after a while. It got to the point where I could taste the MSG in it. I'd just peel a kiwi, eat that in two bites, then suck the juice off my fingers and wait for lunch. Usually we'd have lunch next door where there was a soup shop. The shop had been built around the trees that had stood there and stood there still, growing up through the tin roof. They had giant bowls, twice the circumference of my two hands. Inside there was enough soup for two people, steaming with beef broth, and thick noodles and herbs and vegetables. With it came orange soda, sweating next to the heat of the bowl.

My mom still dreams about that shop. She thinks they should relocate here. Lao Ban, if you're reading this, there is a spot open in our shopping center. The laundromat just closed.

(Suggested break. You could go make cupcakes. And send them to me.)

I did get very bored. And lonely. When it got to be more than I could take, I'd walk up and down the stairs in our dorm/motel/home and sing Phantom of the Opera; because that seemed appropriately depressing. I'm sure my neighbors really appreciated it. I got really good at Music of the Night.

Eventually China won me over. I caved in. Who wouldn't? I went to the Great Wall. Look! This is it! I was there! I'd show you a picture of me, but I'm wearing my ridiculous hat in all of them. I still have that hat, even though it doesn't fit anymore and it's ridiculous. I just haven't found the time to throw it away. In four years.
Besides, even if I hadn't gone to the Great Wall, look at these people:

I want to have lunch with them. How old are they? Why are they sleeping there? Where do they buy their shoes? What do they make for dinner? What's their favorite movie? Do they know the girl at the end of the bench? Is she waiting for them? She she studying philosophy? Is she reading a Seventeen magazine? 

(You could take a break here, if you want, but you're almost done. Try powering your way through. Self-discipline, that's it!)

When I got home I took two handfuls of water, straight out of the sink in my kitchen, swallowing it down and savoring the fact that it wasn't boiled and it wasn't bottled, and I could brush my teeth with it. Oh, blessings. 

After a while the trauma of the trip wore off, the clouds went away; and all I was left with was the silver lining. And wishing that I'd spent more time there with this expression.
Look! I'm smiling! I know how! Oh... there is my ridiculous hat. I hadn't planned on showing you that. Still, it looks better here than it did at the Great Wall.


Jul 2, 2010

An Apology and An Introduction

Hi guys.

This is a sheepish Katie coming back to the blog, if you'll have me. I understand why you wouldn't. I'm an unreliable author. I start a blog and leave, only prooving my existance by changing a picture. I haven't even looked at the blog in, like, two weeks--since the picture changed.

Marissa was apologizing for five days.

I come on my knees groveling, nose pressed to the floor, in sackcloth.

Still not enough?

...I bring bubbles....and funny stories from 6,000 miles away from home....and funny stories from 6,000 miles away from home about bubbles.



Now I can get on with the rest post. Since Marissa has been introducing you to her family, I figured I would introduce you to a bit of mine. Be warned theres a lot of them. As in, we shop regularly at costco, or a carton of icecream disappears after one family night, or I make it a regular habit to hide things like new clothes or rasberry jam. But I figure since I'm on a family vacation I can hardly tell you any of my many exciting stories without introducing some of them. And it would be an injustice to blog about it at all (because we all know that a blog without a pic is unacceptable) without introducing my sister.

Gagun-chan. That's not her real name by the way. That's a nickname.

This is Gagun-chan.

I'm introducing her first because she is my photographer. The vast majority of the pictures not off of flickr that I will post on this blog will be hers. The pics that fit in neither category are taken by her/my camera. (We have a un-ending dispute about the camera's ownership.) She took a digital media class this year, and has taken truly amazing photographs ever since.

She is next to me in both age and obsession with ducks. But other than that she wins at all the things she wants to and the others aren't competition. That's a truly amazing thing about us. The things we really want to excel at are different from eachother, so there's little competition (at least on her part) over things like that. Often our opposite tendencies compliment each other. I eat the cookie of the oreo, she eats the cream. That's not to say there aren't fights, but this is a post about Gagen-chan and I accredit her with the fact that we get along so well. (see below)

Gagun-chan takes her confidence from other things than being better than people. She knows she's good at things, and she lets that be enough. I don't know if her confidence comes from being good at things.  I think that's an admirable quality, one which I wish I had. But I don't. As a person I need to excel in order to be confident. Gagun-chan is very good at letting me be very good. She's good and not smacking me because I get a high off of science fair. She's also good and understanding when my world crashes when I get a B. It is a rare person who will do that. I would smack me if I were her.

This is also Gagun-chan

She is a newly initiated teenager and already she's much better at it than I am. Time at the mall with her friends she counts as 'play'. She's got extraordinary fashion sense, and is really awesome at most things that have to do with visual arts. That includes being able to wear plaid and stripes and still look good. Of course the plethera of silver necklaces featuring birds only complete her lovely outfits.

We shared a room until about three months ago. Now we only share clothes. I like the arrangement because until just recently we hadn't been the same size. And all my too-small-but-I-still-like-them clothes got handed down to her. Now I benefit from her growth spurt (which will soon put her taller than me) and superior fashion sense. It's a good arrangement.

My family has one dog and two bunnies. We have them because Gagun-chan decided that she was old enough to care for animals, and because (at the time) she wanted to be an animal saver when she grew up. Then she learned that there were other things to saving animals than coddling them. Now she wants to be a graphic designer. She still, however, almost solely cares for our dog and two bunnies. I have never fed them, I have never bathed them. I took our dog for a run a few times, but he kept sniffing things, and got tired after a half mile. I don't walk him any more either.

Here is Gagun Chan

She and I don't always get along, but you can't really tell.  Especially in moments like this.  She's on the right, I'm on the left.  We're swinging and there's a beautiful sunset.  This is one of those moments where I might think, one day this will be on the internet, so I need to look pretty and model-esque.  But my chin is up,  and so is hers.  And it's not taken too seriously.  And it's not a model-esque competition.  But I think she's winning, at whatever this is. 

Have a happy day, babe.

Love your guts.


Jul 1, 2010

Dear Everybody,

Are you there? Oh, good. This is Marissa. Hi.

I have lots of news. 

First order of business, my bathroom is back! And so is my closet! I have never fully appreciated them before, but after the extended Welcome Back ceremony, complete with banners, balloons, streamers and apple pie (what is a party without apple pie?) they promised that they would never again leave me again. I, in turn promised that I would love them forever, clean them occasionally and give them hugs if they're ever blue (which is much more possible than you think, see below). I'm making more apple pie in celebration of the agreement (and the Fourth of July). Maybe I'll give some to the nice men who put my shower back in it's rightful place.

Unfortunately my back bathroom was feeling left out so it's throwing a tantrum to get back it's share of attention. Bye bye toilet and sink. My bathtub is still there, but not for much longer. The guys will take care of it when they get back from their lunch break. (Don't tell the sink, but the bathtub is really my favorite part of the bathroom. I'll miss you tub!) Maybe I won't give them pie after all.

Because my closet is back my books have returned from exile. These are my books.

Aren't they beautiful? They aren't under my desk.

Next bit of news: My mom--brace yourself now, this is a bit shocking, you might want to sit down--my mom painted our doors purple.


Let me repeat that so it's clear.

My mom
our doors

To go with our bright green/yellow house (which is now also the color of my reinstalled bathroom).

(You can stand back up now, if you want.)

I don't know what has gotten into my mom lately. Color obviously, but why? Not that I object. I like bright color. It's just... my mom hates purple. And has liked white walls for as long as I remember. Now she is going for "beachy" and "Mexican". My neighbors' quiet souls are going into shock. I think it's probably good for them.

You can see why my bathroom is concerned that it might one day be blue.

Last in this list of miscellaneous-ness is that when I was going through my closet today I uncovered my mom's wedding dress and my dad's inheritance. When my grandpa died my dad got a tennis racket and this shirt

All those who think my dad should wear this to his next first day of class, please raise your hand.