Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Baltimore, the Greatest City in America

Or so it claims. I'm not sure who's brilliant marketing idea this was, but I'm not convinced. At least not yet. I think you will get the gist of my weekend in Baltimore from the following stories.

After taking 3 overnight flights, with long layovers in between each, I finally arrived in the city. I bought a ticket for the light rail, and climbed aboard. Holding my ticket in the air, I asked a pair of girls, "Do I have to do anything with this thingy?" They looked me up and down, laughed, whispered mean things in each others' ears, and said, "Uh...no!" like I was a big dummy. 

Once at the hostel, which might have been the cleanest and nicest hostel I've ever been to, I ditched my bags and headed out to explore. I forgot to bring socks, so I sported my Rainbow flip flops. All you central coasters know what I'm talking about. As it turns out, people in Baltimore don't where flip flips when it is pouring rain and about 45 degrees. Weird! As I walked past a homeless man, pants soaked to the knee, he said, "Girl, you look cold!"

The morning I left, I had to catch the first light rail to the airport. At about 5 in the morning, I followed the hostel employee's directions to the stop, and waited a few minutes in the rain. I saw the train pull up down the street, so I ran with my bag bouncing at my side, praying that I wouldn't fall. I knocked on the door, and the driver ignored me. The train started up again, and I realized that the real stop was one more block down the street. A man across the street yelled so everyone could hear, "Giiiiiirl, the stop's down there! I think he was waiting for you!" I started running again. I made it to the stop, where about 10 people were already waiting, and once again I tried to board. Well, this train was not even operating yet. The one we wanted was coming in 10 minutes. Boy, did I look eager, chasing the train down the street and banging on the door.

When we move, job number 1: learn how to use public transportation.

(Rowhomes in Charles Village area.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

World's best photographers

Look at the nice things our wedding photographers said about us on their blog: Manuele Photography. David and I feel so blessed to have met Jen and Brandon. Not only are they the most gifted and creative photographers around (seriously), but they are great, true friends. They open their hearts eagerly, and they are an example of what it means to love God outside the confines of typical "Christianity." They also have the best pit bull in the world, Sally, who looks like a sweet little shark. I think we might be kindred spirits.

We love you guys. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Adventures in the city

On Friday afternoon we arrived in St. Helena, where Nessie is a student at the Culinary Institute of America. It's the nation's best culinary school, really. That night she snuck us through the test kitchen and into the area where the students eat the meals they've been preparing all day. We sat down, and stuttered, "Uhh....Vanessa?" when asked by the security guard if we were part of a class. He went back and talked to the head chef, they glanced over at breaks in their sentences, and they finally gave us the okay. 

Vanessa came out in her chef hat, coat, and checked pants, and handed us a Greek feast on a plate. Spanakopita, hummus, lamb...yummy. The baking and pastry students walked out and handed us canapes and crepes and mousses and ice creams. For a moment I forgot how out of place we looked and I felt like a queen with servants bringing her dessert after dessert. I forgot that the chefs were staring at us like we were wearing top hats and doing jazz hands. I forgot what it was like to eat food from my sorry little kitchen. It was great.

The next night we had dinner at Tomasso's, a little Italian place in North Beach. They have a booth with a plaque above it that says, "Always reserved for family." 

That meal was the calm before the storm. After dinner we headed through the city to Union Square and a Brett Dennen concert. After getting lost on Market Street, literally coming within inches from hitting a man, being honked and yelled at, and feeling so frustrated that little tear babies filled my eyes, we finally made it to the concert. Brett was amazing, and I've never loved someone's dance moves so much. 

The 4 lover ladies next to me were less than amazing, with their grinding and kissing and smoking weed a foot from my face. They also played a game where they tried to guess the words to the songs. I, for one, believe they should not have been allowed in unless they KNEW the words to the songs. Basically, they made me feel like an uptight square...until I looked around and everyone was staring at them like weirdos. Then I felt normal. 

The weekend was great, but there is always something special about home. And husbands who love you. And snuggles. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Can't stop smiling

Today is the first day of spring, AND I get to go see these beauties and remember when we used to live in that magical house on that magical street. Sigh. I am happy for so many reasons. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A message from the Greenes

(The precious Greene family. Photo by Ken Kienow.)

A few days ago I got this sweet message from the Greenes, all the way over in Kenya (en route to Sudan).

Oh how I miss you Egret and Bear

Without you around, just how shall I fare?

I must, but it hurts down deep in my heart

Your sweet smiles and laughs and stinky old farts

I remember with fondness and tears and I think

I would rather have you than a coat made of mink

The farts part is for David. Trust me. I just got another email from them, and I quote, "Jonathan said he doesn't miss our home but he misses Uncy David and Aunt Lindsay." I think I'll go cry now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why I keep a notepad by my bed

Last night in his sleep David said, "So I knew it bad. So I knew it bad" (repeat about 8 times). 

The night before he said, "The tears [like bears] were teaning [like cleaning] him up."
Me: "The tears?"
David: "Yeah, the tears... bears were hecka teaning him up." This is especially funny because he does not say hecka in real life. 

A few nights ago: "When I know no no deh deh" (repeat 3 times with hand and pointed finger in the air, right above my head). 

And my personal favorite: "I have seego but the chygo tasted like burnt lygo."

Who is this strange man I married?

Monday, March 16, 2009

More birthday lovelies

It looks like my blog is becoming one giant birthday card, but I just cannot ignore all of these wonderful birthday ladies.

Erin is my brilliant sister. We used to wear matching string "soul sister" bracelets that only came off once they disintegrated. She used to take Gary and me on crazy adventures to Sizzler while being pursued by the mysterious "Surfer Dude." What more could you ask for in a big sister?

Vanessa is one-of-a-kind, and one of my dearest, most specialist friends. We were roommates for all of college and have traveled the world together. When she laughs, her head flies back and her legs melt. It's one of her best qualities.

Happy birthday you two. You make my life brighter.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bishop's 2009

Today we finished day 6 of Bishop's Peak Challenge 2009. To complete the challenge, you must hike Bishop's every day for a month. And not one of those short months- a real 31-day month. You can only skip days if you're out of town, but you must make them up at the end.

According to Day Hikes Around San Luis Obispo County (one of the nerdier books in my library), Bishop's is 4.5 miles roundtrip. It is SLO's tallest morro, and "the classic backdrop of San Luis Obispo." From the top you can see the whole town, the ocean, the dunes, and all of the surrounding hills. It's beautiful.

To be honest, I invented this challenge as a way to trick David into being active. Contrary to his super-babe appearance and natural athletic ability, he would rather sit on a couch and cuddle than hike, any day. But when you give him a crazy challenge, with a hint of danger and the possibility of injury, he's all for it.

We took Atticus with us today, and I'm pretty proud of what he did. You won't believe it, but I'm going to tell you anyway. He peed, literally, 23 times. His previous records were 8 and 12. I think he caught on to the fact that we were counting, and he felt his own little challenge. At one point David said, "I hope he gets 22," and just then he stopped and squirted out a few drops for the 22nd time. Incredible.

(David and me at the top.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Welcome, daylight savings time

Oh, how I've missed you. It has been a long, cold, sad 4 months without you. When you were gone I had to drive home from work in the dark. I hardly ever saw the sun. I was depressed. I got pale. I was bored.

Now it's light and I am so glad you came back. Please, don't leave next time. I'll jump and sing with excitement over your presence every day if that's what it takes. Please stay. Stay. Forever.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Whales and me

The other night, Nicole from church had a dream with me and another girl from church, Ashley. Picture this. In the dream, Ashley was the worship leader. She ran up and down the aisles pumping up the congregation, singing "Superfreak." The deacons stood in the front row, embarrassed, shaking their heads, trying to figure out how to get her to stop. Then I went up to preach the sermon. The topic: whale migration. It was very interesting and informative, despite having nothing to do with Jesus. 

Whales?! Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a strange connection to whales, or rather, they have a connection to me. They come to me in dreams. I've dreamt about releasing two humpbacks into the wild (appropriately named "Hump" and "Back"), flying evil orcas, a friendly winking humpback, a kamikaze beluga who jumped onto a boat, etc. The morning of my wedding the news reported that a pod of humpbacks was hanging out in a cove near the wedding site. And then, on my honeymoon, I saw a mommy humpback with her baby. David had planned a whale watching boat adventure before the dreams even started. I am not sure what it all means, but I imagine it's pretty special.

And the most interesting thing is that Nicole had no idea about whales and me. It just came to her in a dream. 

(Nessie and me with Hump and Back in Maui.)

(Mama humpback in Costa Rica. She's there, just far away.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Belly dancing

Last night was the Arab Music Ensemble performance at Cal Poly. Sada played percussion and belly danced, and her husband, Matt, played the oud. The instruments were incredibly intricate and complicated, and it was amazing to watch the musicians' fingers as they worked. Awesome. Sada was just about the cutest belly dancer I've ever seen. Some of the dancers were serious characters. This one lady is really lanky and dances like she's in her own world, a world that does not share the same rhythm as ours. Apparently she dresses like a fairy in her everyday life. I believe it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pretty pretty princesses

Yesterday was the birthday of two of my dearest friends, Meg and Mallory. Meg has a heart the size of the whole world. She has been a perfect friend to me since 5th grade, and I and so thankful for her. Mal is exceptionally beautiful and talented, yet manages to remain kind and perhaps the silliest person you will ever meet.

(Bottom 2 photos by the amazing Manuele Photography.)

I love you both. Thanks for being so cool yet still loving me. Happy birthday to the prettiest princesses I know.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We want to do something irrational

We want a dog. Not a puppy, but a dog. You see, we both grew up in dog families, and the Dogless College Years have been rough. Now that we're all married and old and everything, we might be nearing the beginning of our Dog Years- similar to Picasso's Blue Period but less wah wah and more woof woof.

At the Lauten house at Christmastime, you will often find more dogs than people. First, there's Hannah Denise, the matriarch. She's a dalmatian, but more than that, she's a lady. She looks at you with human eyes, and she has a strange fear of beeping sounds. We share a middle name.
(Gracie on Hannah)

Next there's Peja Stojakovic, the little prince. He is the apple of my eye and the one who will always come when you call. He could be sound asleep, more comfortable than ever, exhausted from saving the world, and he will immediately jump up and run to you if that's what you want. He would gladly take a bullet for any of us.

Then there is Gracie. Though she's calmed down in recent years, it is said that her full name is Gracie "Demon from Hell" Lauten. She's a major cuddler, and loves to burrow in bed sheets. One early morning I took her out to go potty, and when we got back in bed I found that she had brought with her a little slug. Thanks!

Sura may look like Ed, the goofy hyena from the Lion King, but I assure you, she is all girl. When she looks at you with those different colored eyes, right after she steals your spot in bed and lays her head on your pillow, you melt and say, "I never much cared for beds anyway."

(Sur Sur)
Chance is a proper young pup who would rather spend time with humanfolk than participate in frivolous "play" with the ruffians. He laughs at their lack of propriety, but only because he feels so sorry for them. He is quite content to sit in your arms all evening.

Dixie is David in dog form. She is more pony than dog, yet she has no idea of her size. One Christmas someone received one of those cans that has a snake pop out, and Dixie was so upset that she spent the rest of the night hiding behind the couch. Occasionally she put her paws on the back and peeked over to see what was happening.

Take a look at their precious faces. How could you not want a dog when you're related to ones like these?

Sunday, March 1, 2009


This is the first week of Lent, a time of preparation for Easter. For forty days, Christians attempt to recognize their own sinfulness so they can fully appreciate what happened at Jesus' death and resurrection. Easter is meant to be a celebration, full of life and light and not full of bunnies and chocolate and terrible pastel colors. I'm not saying these are bad things (except maybe the pastel overload), just that there is a little too much attention paid them during the holiday.

Though it may sound strange, I find so much comfort in knowing that I am broken and entirely dependent on God. At the end of my life, whatever I did that was good was only because God was merciful. It was not by my power, but His power working through me. I will not look back on my life and say, "I should have done more," or, "I wasted my life." If I live in my own power, those statements will always be true. But if I recognize that any good I do is a gift, I will be appreciative rather than regretful. 

Jesus said that children will inherit the kingdom of heaven. It is not because they are pure and innocent, but because children cannot do anything on their own. They are dependent, and they do not fool themselves into believing that they can accomplish great things on their own. 

Let me be like a child.