Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013

I just read the 2012 wrap-up post. I read about how it was my best year. About how our past can be an asset or a liability depending on how we use it. About how if we are living the right way, the best year of our life should always be the last one that we lived.

Here I sit in a cozy coffee shop in Salt Lake City at the end of 2013. Thousands of miles away from where I was when I wrote those words last year. Thousands of emotions away from where I was when I wrote those words last year. Thousands of heartbreaks, laughs, tears, and growing pains away from where I was when I wrote those words last year.

2013 was the most difficult year of my life. And because of that, in some ways, 2013 sort of feels like the first year I ever really experienced life. The good and the bad. The beautiful and the sentimental. And the strange.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Christmas Gift

I've never been much of a Christmas person. There are a lot of reasons for this. But one of the big ones is that I really struggle with the gift-giving aspect. I'm a terrible gift giver. I have a really difficult time communicating my feelings for another person through objects. It's not my "love language." And I don't think I sufficiently appreciate gifts that are given to me, either. To me, gifts are typically as valuable as they are useful. And because Christmas revolves so much around gift-giving, I have a difficult time connecting with the holiday. And instead, I tend to feel anxious for it to end.

If Christmas was all about writing love letters to one another, it would be totally different. And every year I think that if instead of finding an item to gift, I could just write or tell a person how I feel through words, it would probably be my favorite holiday.

But have you ever tried to just give words of affirmation instead of wrapped items? And then everyone is like, thanks. BUT WHAT ABOUT STUFF?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Corey Came to Town

This feels like a fake post. I don't really have a story for you. I'm just going to be blathering for a minute. You should probably go read something else. Or go back to bed and finish your Christmas-sugar-high coma. Or actually, instead of reading this post, you should spend your time leaving comments on it that sound like they're responding to something I said but that have absolutely nothing to do with anything I've ever written. This will mislead the people who come to Stranger and just read the comments. And shame on them for just reading the comments. I HAVE IMPORTANT THINGS TO SAY TOO.

Last weekend my friend Corey and her husband Michael came into town. Corey is my very best friend in the entire world. BESIDES YOU GUYS, OF COURSE.

Corey and I met at the very beginning of law school and became what the kids refer to as "frienemies" pretty quickly. We are both pretty opinionated and vocal and competitive. Two months after meeting her we experienced what our friends now refer to as the "finger pointing incident," which is still a sensitive topic between the two of us. This was where we got into a VERY heated argument in a study room at the law school and Corey (who denies this) pointed her finger at my face and I was said to have yelled, "AND GET YOUR FINGER OUT OF MY FACE!"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I CAN NEVER GO BACK TO THAT LOCKER ROOM

This post was written on Friday, in the heat of the moment.

Oh my gosh. You guys. The most embarrassing thing EVER happened to me just now.

I want to die. I want to die. I have to move. I can't be seen in Salt Lake City ever ever ever again.

I know I've set a pretty high bar for doing something that could be considered the most embarrassing thing that I've ever done in a locker room. See this, for a recent example. But fortunately my prior experiences were in other countries where I didn't ever have to see any of those people again.

None of those experiences were in the gym THAT I CURRENTLY GO TO EVERY SINGLE DAY. The gym that is RIGHT NEXT TO MY HOUSE. The one that ALL OF MY COWORKERS GO TO. The one that EVERY ONE OF MY NEIGHBORS ALSO VISIT.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Merry Christmas, all. It's been snowing here. There is great misery in all the land.

My best friend Corey is coming into town today for a wedding. I haven't seen her in two years. She and her husband Michael will be staying with me tonight. I had to stay up late cleaning last night because somehow my apartment has not cleaned itself for the last three months.

I THOUGHT THIS WAS AMERICA!

And now, your pictures and distractions.
The inversion in Salt Lake City is going to kill me. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Still Here

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to share some thoughts with you. And forgive me that these thoughts are coming from the deepest part of my soul and might sound awkward and are sort of uncomfortable for me to share. But I feel like I need to. So I will.

The year is winding down and I guess I've been a little more reflective in the last few weeks than I have been all year. And I've been more reflective throughout 2013 than I have been in prior years.

I'm basically like a huge mirror now. Except one that drinks a whole carton of eggnog last night at 11:30, right before climbing into bed.

I was at church on Sunday morning. In Mormon churches we have what you might call "interactive sermons" for the majority of our Sunday worship. Church meetings proceed for three hours. Two of those hours are made up of classes that consist of group discussions where the class will entertain such topics as overcoming adversity and the benefits of meaningful service and developing oneself spiritually. And making doilies.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Other Idiots on the Road

On Saturday we had our annual family adult Christmas outing. Wait. That sounds wrong. That sounds like my family once a year engages in x-rated Christmas festivities.

You know what I mean. The adults get together and have an evening in December where nobody is having to scream, "STOP BITING YOUR SISTER" the entire time. Well, they have to scream it less anyway. Guys, I'm only 29. You can't expect me to be completely well-behaved.

As you can imagine, adult Christmas outing is a wonderful thing.

There are eight adults in my family, which is the exact number of seats in my sister Krisanda's gigantic Mormon assault vehicle that she and my brother-in-law use to drive around their four adorable children. So we all rode together.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Daniel Discovers Stranger

Daniel called me the other day. We hadn't talked for a little while. The following conversation happened.

Daniel: Eli. I canNOT believe you shared that video with people.

Eli: What video? What people? I WAS YOUNG! I NEEDED THE MONEY!

Daniel: Huh? I'm talking about the Amazing Race video.

Eli: Oh. That. You think I shouldn't have shared it?

Daniel: Eli. It was SO embarrassing.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Swine Flu Christmas

It's a world record. The video from last Thursday's show at The Porch is up on Youtube and available for your viewing pleasure. Or displeasure. Or to your great frustration. It depends on how you feel about it. The point is, it's available and you can watch it if you want.

A big thanks, again, to Ms. Jolyn Metro, for filming this thing.

Many of you have wondered exactly where Lohan came from and I don't know whether I've ever really explained it on this blog. So this video may answer some of those questions. It will probably also answer some questions about me that you never wanted to know.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Just rolled back into Salt Lake City after a very fun night at The Porch. I should have the videos up for you over the weekend. A huge thanks to those of you who came out tonight. As always, it was so fun to meet you and laugh together and try on one another's clothes. And a special thanks, as always, to Ms. Jolyn Metro, who filmed it. Jo Metro, I don't know what I would do without you. I mean, I would be able to live with a lot less fear, but what's the fun in that?

And now, your pictures and distractions.

Lights turning on across the street from my office.

Thank You

I actually wasn't going to post anything today because I had a late and VERY strange night last night having dinner with Mexican celebrities. I didn't really realize what I had gotten myself into until I was in the middle of it. I'll have to tell you that whole story sometime. As it turns out, I REALLY don't understand Spanish.

So because of that I woke up late and I'm slammed at work and trying to get ready to see you all at The Porch tonight for The Porch's Christmas show (tickets are here). And I decided I wouldn't post anything today and would instead suffer the wrath.

But I just looked at the date and realized that today is a special day. December 12th is a holiday of sorts in Strangerville because it's the date that many of you found Stranger, or, at least, the date that I posted something that directly or indirectly eventually brought all of you here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Amazing Race

I feel like a broken record announcing this for the third day in a row. But you've come to expect that around here. I really only have about three different jokes that I just use over and over again, interspersed with references to the Queen of Colors and Leotrix, and some have you have been reading for two years. I'll be telling a story about my worst Christmas ever tomorrow night (Thursday) at The Porch in Provo, starting at 8:30. If you plan to go, please get your tickets now as the show sometimes fills up. You can get those tickets here.

And now, for today's post. This is for all of you who have been missing Daniel lately and want to see his happy face.

I know that I should be 100% too embarrassed about this to share it with you. But, what can I say? I'm losing my standards in my old age.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Shallow Tinder

Good morning, all. It's freaking cold. But I have exciting news. I'm going to be telling a story on The Porch this Thursday evening at Muse in Provo. The show starts at 8:30 and I believe I'll be opening it this time. I just found out about this yesterday. It's not like I was keeping it from you because I was mad. I hope to see every single one of you there. And then I hope all of you who can't get in because there isn't enough room have a huge gang fight in the street. But if you want to make sure you are not a part of that gang fight, you can get your tickets now here.

Recently I hung out with my friends, Jess and Marie. And our other good friend, Tinder.

I gave you a very accurate and detailed explanation and report of Tinder not long ago. Since then I have experimented with it and tested its limits.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

10 Ideas for Getting Your Friend to Stop Watching Glee

Quick announcement: We'll be at The Porch in Provo this Thursday at 8:30 PM for a fun Christmas-themed show. I'll get you more details tomorrow but wanted to let you know now since I just found out about it.

I already know this is going to be one of those posts that makes people angry. Remember when I offered to slap your children across their faces in the grocery store and ALL of the angry moms on the Internet hung me in effigy and tried to get the government to revoke my citizenship? I'm prepared for that again. And I'm ok with it. Because this is for a good cause.

The eradication of Glee.

I have been known from time to time to complain about the vile and horrid television program known IRONICALLY as "Glee." I hate this program with every fiber of my being. When previews for it flash across the TV I shake my fists into the air. And scream. And question all truth.

And then I go onto iTunes and download the latest Glee album and listen to it every day for the rest of my life.

I'm only human guys.You do the same thing with blood diamonds.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Happy weekend, Strangers. Glad to see you've survived it. I walked to work this morning and it was 12 degrees. TWELVE. TWELVE, GUYS. TWELVE DEGREES.

TWELVE.

Do you know what temperature it was in Palau exactly one year ago? One hundred million thousand eleventy degrees with 645% humidity.

I really need to find some middle ground here.

And now, your pictures and distractions:

The Mormons know how to make it feel like Christmas. I can't believe this is right next to my house.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Phone is Vulgar

I have a new "what the kids are doing" to tell you about. There's this thing that some phones can do that I'm pretty sure is powered by the devil himself. I don't even know if it has a name. But basically the way it works is you push this button on your phone and then talk and the phone types what you said. It's lazy texting. But I think every time you use it you sell a piece of your soul.

I have sold a lot of my soul because I use it a LOT. And it's surprisingly usually pretty accurate. I can speak quickly, quietly, slowly, with a slur, in an accent, meow, etc. and it almost always types out exactly what I've said.

Once you finish speaking you have to hit the button again to let it know you're done. Then it thinks for a few seconds and then presents all the text. Sometimes it thinks for a while before doing anything. This doesn't bother me because I just think I probably caught it at a bad time. Like, maybe it was in the middle of something really important like T.V.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Horrifying Announcement

I have a really big and terrifying announcement.

I'M PREGNANT.

See? Now it's funny because I make the joke so often. Pretty soon you guys are going to be begging me to tell you that I'm pregnant because you just need a good laugh.

Actually, though, my real announcement is a serious one. And one that I will need your undivided attention for for the next ten months. There will be lots of drama in the near future. Lots of complaining. Lots of me acting like this was all thrust upon me at no choice of my own.

I've signed up for another Ironman race.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Oh, The Places You'll Go. Maybe.

You know the famous Dr. Seuss book "Oh, The Places You'll Go?" Every time you have ever completed a phase of life, someone surely read this to you or quoted parts of it or kicked you out of the house and told you to get a job.

And it's supposed to be this really inspirational and motivational explanation about how wonderful your life is going to be. At least, that's how I remember it.

"You're off to great places! You're off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose!"

I remember the book going on and on and on about all of the amazing opportunities and experiences that await you in life and how fulfilling and wonderful it will all be.

Then, on Thanksgiving, my five-year-old niece Kate walked over to me, book in hand, and commanded me to read it to her.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Funniest Thanksgiving

This might be the new laziest post of all time. I'M TIRED. It's been sort of a rough week around here, to tell you the truth.

You know how on TV when the writers get lazy so they just do an episode that is made up of flashbacks of other episodes. THAT.

Except this is not nearly as good as TV. Because on TV you don't have to read. On the other hand, when you pull up Stranger there is no chance that you'll accidentally see an episode of Glee and watch the entire thing. And then spend the rest of the evening watching a marathon of The Glee Project, which is a reality show where they find the worst people who have ever been born on planet Earth and get them to compete against each other for a chance to win a guest spot on an episode of Glee. And then you won't be tempted to spend a good amount of time reading online forums about the contestants, and actually leave comments and engage in the debate about the worst reality show that is based on the worst show that has ever existed.

NOT THAT I'VE EVER DONE THAT. TWICE.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Parking Attendant

Last night I freaked out at a parking garage attendant.

Actually, that might be an exaggeration, depending on how you interpret "freaked out." I should clarify. Typically my version of freaking out means that I stop saying "please" and start saying things like, "you are not being very helpful," and "I hear what you're saying but I'm trying to communicate to you that what you're saying is absurd."

I don't really cause scenes. They happen to me unintentionally and embarrassingly enough that I don't need to go out of my way and bring them upon myself. So I'm not really a yeller. I can't think of the last time I actually yelled at someone. But friends have told me that when I get frustrated I use a tone that is a lot more cutting than yelling would be. Last night I used that tone. A LOT of it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Late last night I got home from some shenanigans with friends and realized that I didn't take any pictures with my phone this week. This caused me a great amount of stress because Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions Eve had already arrived. So instead of skipping this week, I just took five awkward selfies of me in a Snuggie at midnight.

YOU'RE WELCOME.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Crack of Dawn

Yesterday morning I awoke to the sounds of a screamed obscenity.

It wasn't me, although it could have been and has been on many prior occasions.

Kurt and I are early risers. This is a new thing for me. In Palau Daniel usually peeled me from my bed about five seconds before it was time to leave for work (assuming he hadn't already woken me up by meowing and clawing at the window after his early morning run). Then I spent the hours of 8:00 to noon playing "I wonder if I could fall asleep on that" in my mind.

Moving back to the United States of God Bless America seems to have completely rebooted my sleep schedule because now I seriously cannot get up early enough in the morning. I LOVE it.

It was like my body was trying to find one more way to make me an 80 year old man. And it was all, "hmmm . . . let's see. He already yells at children. He already watches Matlock. I got it! Let's have him wake up at 5:00 AM for no reason at all!"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Palau Ruined Me

I left Palau just two and a half months ago.

Really? Is that all? Does it seem like it's been a lot longer than that to you guys? Someone get out a calendar and help me learn how to read it. Right now I'm just going off of feelings.

I actually think I might have a disability that keeps me from being able to read calendars and follow directions correctly. Even when that lady on my phone tells me how to get somewhere, I always end up somewhere else (typically inside Cafe Rio, eating a burrito the size of my arm). And then usually I find myself screaming obscenities into the open air until someone takes my hand and guides me the rest of the way. Which is probably how I ended up getting Axel the ringworm. And throat chlamydia.

I've had a lot of gross diseases lately.

And before you roll your eyes and tell me that there is no such thing as a disability that specifically targets the ability to read calendars and follow directions, I have to say that if there really is such a thing as "color blindness" then my disability is real too.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Throat Chlamydia

Ring Ring

Val: Hello?

Eli: DID YOU KNOW THERE'S SUCH A THING AS THROAT CHLAMYDIA?!

Val: . . . Eli?

Eli: I feel so gross right now! You have to help me! What are we going to do?!

Val: So . . . wait. What?

Eli: Throat chlamydia, Val. I was just at the doctor and she told me about it.

Val: Um . . . Eli, what did you do in Mexico last week?

Eli: NOTHING. I just slept on the beach and visited my grandma. That's why it's so unfair if I got throat chlamydia down there.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

I'm back in town and things have slowed down again. FYI, I've had a sore throat for about two weeks so I expect to be dead any day now. Will someone please make sure O2 gets enough water after I pass? And keep Kurt and Anna Swayne away from him. Also, all of those VHS tapes of recorded Full House episodes in my closet aren't mine. Same with the slap bracelets that appear to have been recently purchased.

And now, your pictures and distractions.

Beach in San Felipe, Mexico.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grandma & Lizards


Over the past several days I've been in southern California and northern Mexico, visiting family and attempting to find the seemingly ever elusive hand-made flour tortillas.

Guys. I don't require much in this life. Just really nice things, constant praise, 5 hours of direct eye contact every day with Paul Simon while we read one another the vows we have tattooed onto our chests and torsos, and an infinite supply of fresh hand-made flour tortillas from Mexico.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Tinder

This week on “things the kids are doing” I bring you something called “the Tinder.”

When I got back from Palau I came quickly to find that every single person in the greater Salt Lake area was in a serious relationship with every single person in the greater Salt Lake area. I was feeling left out because the only successful relationship I was in was with my plant O2, which Anna Swayne attempted to kill with neglect and guile. I guess I also have the Vietnamese tailor next door who has told me more than one time in the last two months, “if you come back I KILL you.”

Note: I do consider the Vietnamese relationship to be a successful one because there was a period in which she had some of my clothes in her possession and the last time I was in her shop I was touched more than I have been since that time a cat jumped onto my lap and tried to get under my shirt during a red-eye flight to New York in 2010.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Wait. Is Today Friday?

Look. I know. I KNOW. Today you're dying to see half a dozen out-of-focus pictures taken of the streets of Salt Lake City, my friends, and the occasional gratuitous selfie. And also, you've come to rely on a small list of links, mostly cat-related, to keep you from having to tend to your annoying responsibilities today, like finishing that report and watching your children.

I know that today is supposed to be a Pictures and Distractions day. I know the rules. Guys. I invented the schedule. I know what day it is.

But it just isn't going to happen today. Even though I have amazing links for you, such as this one, which shows what Disney Princesses would look like with beards.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Travel Texts from Cathie

Bob and Cathie went out of town on Sunday for a week-long trip. They called each of their children before they left to let us all know that they were going to take Cathie's cell phone just in case we needed to talk to them while they're gone.

Note: Bob and Cathie are not in Afghanistan, on an African safari, or anywhere else where one might reasonably assume they would not have cell phone access or would even debate about whether or not to bring their cell phones with them. They are in Branson Missouri.

And thank the heavens they did bring a cell phone, because:

Texts I have received this week from Cathie

Eli, this is your mother. We landed. Barely. It was a miracle from above.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Snapchats

Yesterday:

Woman on the News: Up next, we're going to talk about text bombing and how it might be hurting your child.

Eli: What on Earth is "text bombing?"

Kurt: I don't know. A thing the kids are doing.

Eli: The kids are doing a lot of things lately.

Kurt: You need to research this.

Eli: Why me?

Kurt: Because, that's your thing. You research the things the kids are doing.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Whelp, TIME TO MOVE AGAIN!

I woke up this morning at 5:00. Started singing at the top of my lungs. Dance-walked to the shower. Sang at the top of my lungs there, too. The usual morning routine.

What's that? What was I singing? NEVER YOU MIND what I was singing. It doesn't matter for the story.

Ugh. Fine. I can tell you won't be able to focus on anything else until I tell you. It was "Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got! I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the bl--"

No. You know what. I'm going back to my initial position. It doesn't matter. Guys. I still know where I came from.

Kurt was screaming for the insanity to stop by about 5:15.

"FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, SHUT UP!"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Choices

On Sunday I attended a giant Mormon congregation in Salt Lake City. Sitting in the middle of it all was interesting because I immediately found myself thinking about the contrast between this and my Palauan church-going experience that ended just two short but significant months ago.

Every Sunday morning I sat in a small room with 30 or 40 Palauans. One or two or, if we were lucky, all of the overhead fans would be running. And still, sweat would bead on my forehead and roll down my face. I wore flip-flops as a part of my regular church attire. I would slip my feet out of them and plant them flat on the floor, the coolest surface in the room. Sometimes a tropical storm would rage on outside. Sometimes the sun would shine through the windows. All of the time it was hot. ALL OF THE TIME ALWAYS.

I just received a text from Mr. Daniel. "Officially missing Palau's weather today," he tells me, as he visits Salt Lake City this weekend and watches the first snowfall of the season with horror, as I'm doing, too. I'm wearing a thick sweater and my feet, no longer in flip-flops, but rather thick socks, are already numb from the cold. And I'm wishing more than just a little bit that I could be hanging out on my favorite floating dock with Daniel, playing "Harry Potter," "Battle," and a number of other senselessly violent games we made up under the equatorial sun for one year.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Happy Friday. I hope we're all on sugar highs from stealing children's Halloween candy. If anyone gets judgmental, tell them you're doing it to fight children's diabetes.

I had a weird night. I'll tell you about it next week if I haven't blocked the whole thing.

And now, your pictures and distractions.
After several days of [whining] "I'm too old for Halloween! I'm not dressing up!" Kurt spent an inordinate amount of time making this happen.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Many Lives of O2

I have a plant named O2. I know I've mentioned him before. Usually when I've mentioned him it's because I'm comparing myself to all of my peers who practically have grandchildren by now and I want to make sure everyone knows that I have taken on responsibility in my life as well. Because I have my plant.

O2 and I have been together for 15 years now. He is a part of me and I, him. My uncle passed away when I was 14 and someone, I don't remember who, gave Bob this small plant with a nice card. Bob passed it off to me and I began caring for it. O2 grew and grew. We've been through so much together. I've seen him outgrow several pots. I've watered him. There was one brief period of awkwardness when he went through puberty and I did not. But I'm not angry with him anymore.

My time will come, too.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jolyn's Birthday Present

This week was Jolyn's birthday. She says she turned 25. But I have my suspicions that she's actually one of those immortal people who sticks around until others begin wondering why she never ages and then she moves on to a new town and starts her rein of terror over.

It's really no surprise that Jolyn Metro's birthday is so close to Halloween. Which reminds me--please tell me someone is dressing up as the Queen of Colors and/or The First Eye for Halloween this year. I don't know why I said "and/or." I don't know how you could dress up as The First Eye AND the Queen of Colors. The world would probably explode.

We went to dinner last night to celebrate the birthday. I gave Jolyn this gift, which I turned a used book store upside-down to find:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Moab

Over the weekend a few of my closest friends and I headed south to Moab, Utah, to explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. These places are quickly becoming a couple of my favorite spots on God's green brownish-redish Earth.

This was the first time I've gone down there without Daniel, who doesn't live close enough right now to join the weekend getaways. Coincidentally, this was also the first time I've gone to Moab without having someone meow songs into our ears for the entire three-hour drive.

Below, pictures courtesy of Maggie Liveri.

Unintentional modeling with Anna and Kurt in front of Delicate Arch.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Anger

I've been angry with someone for a little while. I don't get angry all that often. It's just not really my thing. Frustrated? Yes. Flabbergasted? Most days more than once. Annoyed? At least every time I see an ad for Glee. But truly angry? Not often.

Someone I know well and was close to did some pretty terrible things to me not long ago. Some of the worst things anyone has ever done to me. And when it first happened I became sad. I felt weak. I didn't know how to process what I was feeling because what I was feeling was unprecedented for me. This may have caused me to act a little crazy. Not a lot crazy. But a little.

I will forever give people the benefit of the doubt when they act a little uncharacteristically crazy from now on. Because I'll wonder if they've just experienced unprecedented pain. And I'll guess that they are on the rocky road of figuring out how to process that pain. A journey that may cause a few missteps, here and there.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

It's been a long and exceedingly difficult week here in Salt Land. Maybe when my head stops spinning I'll tell you about some of it. But for now, let's just enjoy some pictures and distractions.

Happy weekend, Strangers of the world. Stay safe.

Walking home from work at 4:00 in the morning. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Making a Dentist Appointment

I called the dentist to make an appointment today. I really hope they don't record their phone conversations:

Dentist: Hello. How may I help you?

Eli: I need to make a dentist appointment for as soon as possible.

Dentist: Ok. We have an opening for 1:00 today.

Eli: Oh. Wow. No, I can't do today.

Dentist: You said "as soon as possible."

Eli: Right. But you're the dentist. I assumed that as soon as possible would be sometime around Easter.

Dentist: Well let's see . . . if you can't make it today . . . the next possible time is November 4, 2097.

Eli: That sounds more dentist-like of you. I'LL TAKE IT!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ringworm Survivor

I think I've survived ringworm.

Axel appears to have left me. On the way out he was all, "I'm gonna find a new family who will appreciate me!"

And I was like, "Why does everyone I love always leave me!"

And he was all, "Because you don't shower or wash your clothes and you talk too much! Plus you spend two hours every day practicing thank you speeches in the mirror for winning unimpressive awards!"

And I was like, "First place at county hog wrestling in Oklahoma is NOT unimpressive!"

And he was all, "You're not even doing the correct accent! There is no reason to stay with you! None!"

And I was like, "What about cheesecake!?"

And then he stayed for another two days. But now it looks like he's pretty dead. And I'll miss him. It was the first time in my life that I've ever felt like I had a tattoo. It made me seem cool. People would run away from me at the gym because my tattoo made me look so fierce and intimidating.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cologne

Recently I was informed by a multitude of individuals that apparently "smelling good" is not a thing I'm good at. I'm good at a lot of things. I know the Heimlich maneuver. I can quote word-for-word the entirety of Pee Wee's Big Adventure. There's a magic trick I can get any child under age seven to be impressed with. Etc.

Before "recently," I would have included in the list of things that I'm good at, "usually smelling fine." But then that multitude of people stepped in to clarify.

Here are some quotes from people on the topic:

"You know, you usually don't smell good." Kurt

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Car Accident Videos

Jolyn Metro has used technology from 1974 to provide us video proof on what the kids are calling "the Youtubes" that we recently visited The Porch. At Stranger, we only go in reverse when it comes to technology so this time we used a camera with AN ACTUAL VIDEO TAPE INSIDE OF IT to record the story I told at The Porch a couple of weeks ago. I'm not even kidding. Jolyn basically had to practice black magic and sell her soul to the devil to get that thing from the camera to the Youtubes.

Joke's on the devil, though. Jolyn's soul is going to burn Hell down come April Fools' Day. So he'll be sorry.

Here it is, in two parts: Videos that were recorded two weeks ago but that look like they're straight out of The Bob Hope Show.

Note: I hate the "still" shot on the second video below with every fiber of my being.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Happy weekend, Strangers. I hope you all have a nice one. My 10-year-old niece called me late last night to remind me that I said she could come stay with me Friday night. I picked up the phone and asked her why she was up so late and she emphatically explained, "I need to know if I can still come over. I just CAN'T sleep until this is resolved."

I hope this kid never runs for president.

And now, your pictures and distractions:

Kurt and Hannah at the Farmers' Market.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Roommate Assessment

Val: Kurt, what's it like living with Eli?

Kurt: It's a little challenging.

Eli: Guys? I'm right here.

Val: Shush. The grownups are having a conversation.

Kurt: It takes a lot of energy and I don't always understand why the things that are happening in my life are happening.

Val: I bet. Is it ever scary?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lamps

There's this really serious problem that I have that I didn't realize I had until I moved back to Salt Lake City. It's sort of a subset of a greater problem that I did know I had. And, well, I guess I'm finally ready to declare it publicly:

My name is Eli McCann, and I'm a lamp hoarder.

"Hi, Eli."

Oh gosh. That was hard to get out. But the first step is admitting there's a problem. Step two: talking about it. Steps three through fourteen: ice cream and cheesecake. Step fifteen: reward yourself by buying another lamp.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Window Washer

The other day I was sitting in my 16th floor office, minding my own business. It was a beautiful fall day outside and I occasionally glanced a few inches above my computer monitor to enjoy the breathtaking views of the western side of the Salt Lake Valley.

Then, without any kind of warning, this immediately dropped in front of me:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Settling Dust

I got back to the United States of God Bless America about six weeks ago. The last six weeks have been a whirlwind of change. And it's been difficult to catch my breath and take a bird's-eye view of what my life has recently become.

Things have started to calm down a bit and it's been interesting to see what it looks like to have the Palauan dust settle. I've been thinking a lot about how Palau changed me and why it changed me and what scars are left to prove it. As I've started to recover from what I experienced and have felt myself heal, I've been able to see much more clearly where and what the wounds were that preceded the scars.

It's no big secret to those of you who have been reading Stranger for a while that Palau was not the easiest experience of my life. And I'm not just referring to Leotrix--although he was no help.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Happy weekend, all. A huge thanks to those who came out to The Porch last night and said hello. It was fun to meet some of you. And due to recent accusations from some of you, I tried to be SUPER friendly and at one point Jolyn had to pull me aside and tell me that it's not ok to touch people I don't know and ask to try on their clothes. Maybe I'm just not cut out for this whole "interaction with others" thing.

And now, your pictures and distractions:

Axel is dying! Unfortunately he is not taking all of my freckles with him.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Emergency Contact

One more reminder that The Porch is on Thursday evening. Doors open at 8:00 and the show starts at 8:30. I think there are still tickets and you can purchase them here. Also, I know that even when they sell out online, they usually reserve some for the door so if you can't get any online and you want to try to show up and buy tickets at the door, that may be an option.

We're hoping to record it and upload the video to what the kids are calling the Youtubes like we've done in the past, but Jolyn has informed me that the camera she was going to use is no longer available. (I can only assume she has murdered the person she was planning to borrow it from). So hopefully we'll be able to secure a different one by Thursday. I just wanted to warn you, though, in case it doesn't happen . . .

And now,

A Conversation with Kurt Today about Being My Emergency Contact

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bob & Cathie

I was at Bob and Cathie's house the other day and they threw a photo album in front of me of a trip they took not too long ago. I was glancing through it and I saw this nice candid shot of Cathie.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Axel

Remember last week when I was worried that I maybe had skin cancer? With my particular kind of skin (cough--FRECKLES--cough--hash tag, searchingforacure), skin cancer runs in the family and is, unfortunately, something that really concerns me. Bob had skin cancer a number of years ago. Fortunately it was caught early and he's ok now. But I don't want to join him in the "survivors" group.

Bob McCann: Navy vet + cancer survivor + once tackled an angry 18 year old kid in a doctor's office before the kid attacked a doctor - won't eat cheese x prank calls 1-800 numbers = father of the century.

When I saw a terrifying mark on my arm a few weeks ago, I was sure it was going to be skin cancer. Guys. I lived on the Equator for a year. OF COURSE it was going to be skin cancer. Even though I was really careful in Palau. I wore sunscreen. Plus I didn't go out into the sun that much because I was usually inside crying.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Another week has come to a close here in Strangerville. Remind me next week to give you the update about the thing on my arm. Oh, and if you see me before then, DON'T touch me. My ringworm, Axel, is looking for a place for his 5 million babies to live.

And with that, I give you this week's pictures from my phone and weekly distractions.

My adorable niece (the one who hates me). Also, Bob looks like he might be having a stroke in the background.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

An Announcement

First, an announcement. I'M PREGNANT.

How many more times can I keep making that joke? The problem with humor blogging is that I make all kinds of jokes and I never have any idea whether you think a particular joke is funny because I can't tell if you're laughing. So I say "twice up the barrel, once down the side" eleventy times in every post and I imagine you bent over laughing. But for all I know forty of you stop reading every time I write that phrase because you're so annoyed that I'm using it and because you don't think it means anything. Even though I've already told you that it means "twice up the barrel, once down the side."

Anyway, if for no other reason, I should stop making the pregnancy joke because what if one day I actually do become pregnant and then I'm really excited to tell you and none of you believe me? Then who would throw me a baby shower and slap my child at the grocery store?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wedding Planner Emails

A Stranger (David) emailed me a while back suggesting that I mess with a wedding planner. In the middle of my attempts, another Stranger (Jess) requested the same, directing me to a pretentious wedding planner with whom she had recently been in contact. I scouted out a few others online and attempted some different things. Most of them wouldn't take the bait. But a couple turned out nicely. Here's one of them:


To: Wedding Planner
From: June Snapple
Subject: Most Beautiful Wedding EVS!

I'm looking to plan a wedding but need SO much help because the bride is being BRIDEZILLA to the extreme and she won't listen to me anymore and I'm like just trying to do whatever I can to make it so that she has the wedding of my dreams because I probably won't ever have the wedding of my dreams and I don't even know where to start anymore. Do you do real weddings or just weddings in movies and birthday parties and stuff?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Is This What Kurt Does All Day?

My office is less than a block away from where I live. So frequently I walk home to get lunch or feed my cats or scream into a pillow out of terror.

Today I came home to eat something and as I approached the building, I saw this.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Skin Cancer

On Saturday I called Bob and Cathie, who always seem to answer every phone call together and on speaker phone.

Cathie: Hello, so--

Eli: I HAVE CANCER!

Cathie: I'm sorry. You have the wrong number.

Eli: MOM! THIS IS SERIOUS! SKIN CANCER! I HAVE IT! I'M SO YOUNG!

Bob: Where is your "skin cancer?"

Eli: First of all, father, I can tell you used finger quotes when you said "skin cancer" and I very much resent that.

Cathie: It's not that we don't care about you. It's that we don't trust you.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Pictures and distractions have returned to Stranger. I know you were all very very angry. I think 90% of you dropped me on Facebook. But then you came back because you missed seeing all of the pictures of me and my cats.

Today's set of pictures are already old. They are the set I meant to share with you about three weeks ago. I may forever be in catch-up mode.

Just about to leave for the airport. My last night with the Palau kids. Notice the t-shirt on the kid to the right of me . . .

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Serious Conversation about Stalking

Eli: Hey, I have a question for you.

Kurt: I know this is either going to be really disconcerting or extremely infuriating, but ok.

Eli: This is actually kind of a serious topic. Something happened today and I'm a little uneasy. Actually, freaked out about it.

Kurt: Really? What's going on? Are you ok?

Eli: At what point does a person's actions become actual, true, "stalking." Like, when could someone call the police about this?

Kurt: Um, Eli? Are we in danger? Should I be worried?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

State of the Union

This is sort of a state of the union post. Because I’ve now been in the United States of God Bless America for over two weeks and some of you are getting extremely angry with me that I basically haven’t told you anything about my life in those two weeks except that I now live with someone who sets up furniture in the elevator and apparently hasn’t bought into the whole “cat scratching” thing yet.

These two weeks have been a ridiculous roller coaster of all things. Every time I try to gather my thoughts and update you on what are some of the biggest life changes I’ve ever had, I feel an immediate information overload and find myself unable to concisely get it all down in words. So instead I end up writing about cats. Add to the overwhelming nature of the life changes, I have been so incredibly busy getting my affairs back in order and starting a new and demanding job that I haven’t had the time that I hoped to have to sit down and write.

So this is my sad attempt at giving you some updates. Because it’s been hard for you guys to stalk me lately since I’ve been so off the map. And when you guys can’t properly stalk me, NONE of us are happy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Housewife

Kurt is an ER nurse. When I try to picture him on the job, I usually see some mixture of General Hospital, Scrubs, and The Brady Bunch (because he gives off a strong Peter Brady vibe).

Because he's a nurse, he has nurse's schedule syndrome, meaning that he works 793 hour shifts and then has every day off until Christmas Eve 2045.

This is something I'll never understand about the work schedules of ER nurses. Does it seem to anyone else like nurses always seem to work erratically inconsistent and inconvenient schedules, insanely long shifts, and on every single holiday possible?

Kurt is hardly an exception to this. Sometimes he works a million hours in a row. Sometimes he has a million hours off in a row. The only consistent thing about his schedule is that he always comes home, makes some vague comment about how close he came to human poop in the last twelve hours, and then pops a handful of crackers or other finger foods into his mouth like he spent the day not coming close to human poop.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Thing Behind Kurt's Ear

Kurt: Will you look at this thing behind my ear?

Eli: What do you think I am? Your doctor?

Kurt: Just look. It's freaking me out and I don't know what it is.

Eli: Ugh. Fine. But I don't do full physicals without advanced payment. I accept MasterCard, Visa, and attention. Also--

Kurt: It's right here. Can you see it?

Eli: Yes. It looks like a scratch.

Kurt: A scratch?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

BYU Football

This Saturday marks the catastrophically-important and time-stopping date of the annual BYU/Utah football game.

I have something to admit that may anger the people of the world. 

I don't care that much about football. 

I'll go a step further, although this declaration is not timely: I HATE the Superbowl. With a hot and fiery passion. In past years, I have purposefully planned flights during the Superbowl so I wouldn't have to be around when everyone else wastes a perfectly good Sunday in a dark cave staring at a TV so they can find out which of two teams that represent basically nothing at all is better at coordination and following rules on that day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Text Conversations to Remember

I was recently looking through my phone and I remembered that I had saved some of my favorite text conversations over the last couple of years with the intention of eventually sharing them with you. Here are some of them:


*****

[Coordinating for a blind date]

Eli: Hey, just to confirm, I'll pick you up at 7:00 tonight. Right?

Her: Sounds good!

Eli: Great! Touch you soon!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Living in the Elevator

I've now been back from the Land of Coconuts for about a week and I'm very unfortunately still engaging in the never-ending process of collecting all of my countless things from every corner of the planet so I can . . . what? Hoard them in one place rather than spread them out over several?

Seriously. What is the point?

Sometimes I don't know why I have the stuff I do. And, look. This isn't one of those things where an incredibly fortunate and out of touch person is complaining that he has too many wonderful possessions. This is one of those things where an incredibly fortunate and out of touch person is complaining that he has too much garbage that he's too attached to toss and is now finding out that this problem is ruining his life. See the difference? (Hint: you say the latter one with a lisp)

Guys. I have cords to electronic devices that I haven't seen since 2006. I have t-shirts that accidentally ended up in my stuff from when I used a public drier freshman year of college and I've never had the heart to get rid of them because they've already experienced abandonment once and I just can't stand the thought. Receipts from things that I'm pretty sure I never even bought. Chap-stick someone once left in my car upside down so that it melted and re-hardened back in the lid. Etc.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Child Who Hates Me

One of the greatest parts about being back in the United States of God Bless America (the full legal name) is that I have been able to see all of my four nieces and two nephews with some regularity. I LOVE these kids. They're like cuter versions of my siblings.

One of the cutest of them all is my tiny niece Emrie. NOT THAT I'M RANKING THEM.

Unfortunately Emrie and I have had a VERY rocky relationship since the beginning of her life about four years ago. For reasons that nobody could really explain, this kid absolutely screamed every time I walked into the room from the moment she was born.

I used to think that this was because she could sense a dark connection to me since her mother--my younger sister Micalyne--received the wrath of my bullying in our very youngest years. This wrath included multiple haircuts, effective manipulation that got baby sister to clean my room somewhere around 4,000 times, and one instance where I tried to sell her to the creepy man who lived down the street.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Conversation with You Guys

Eli: I need to talk to you guys about something very important.

You Guys: Ok . . . we're a little nervous. Are we in trouble?

Eli: Oh, gosh no! I could never be mad at you guys!

You Guys: Oh, thank heavens. Is it serious?

Eli: Well, kind of. First of all you know that I love you very very much, right?

You Guys: Really? Then why did you introduce the Queen of Colors to us?

Eli: That was out of love. You need to know what kind of evil exists in the world.

You Guys:  And what about last week when you only blogged like two and a half times and we had nothing to do all day except for our jobs and/or raising our children?

Eli: I already apologized for that on Friday. I made a mistake. I got busy. I was young. I needed the money.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Coming Up for Air

I know what you're thinking. Eli, you have been the flakiest person of all time this week! Also, you are the most attractive person we've ever seen and we know for a fact that Paul Simon wants to be your best friend but he's just too intimidated to initiate contact.

First of all, Paul Simon doesn't get intimidated by anyone. In fact, they invented the concept of intimidation to describe how people feel about approaching Paul Simon. But, just in case, maybe I'll go stand in front of his house for seven straight months and stare at it without blinking.

As to the flaky accusation--it's sort of true. And I'm sure that none of you have been able to function this week because the only thing you've really heard from me is that I apparently was naked at a Korean airport. Oh, and someone pooped in a stairwell in China.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And That's How I Ended Up Completely Naked at the Airport

This is going to be one of those posts that brings in tons of people who are searching for "naked men" or "nude" or, oddly, "rats eating wonder bras," because there are always a few weird ones like that that I can never figure out.

The first stop on my mass exodus across the world over the weekend, a mass exodus in which I'm pretty sure I saw every human being who has ever lived, was in Seoul Korea.

I was already exhausted when I got to Seoul because every flight that leaves Palau takes off at the most inconvenient time possible in the middle of the night. So in order to leave the country, you have to basically forgo a night of sleep, leaving yourself in a zombie-like state by the time you get to your destination.

I wandered the Seoul airport, carrying my 37 extremely heavy bags, searching for a place to store them, and setting them down to cry every few minutes because I was SO tired. And confused. And I just wanted to be at home in my bed. With a pillow made out of cheesecake. And with Paul Simon singing me a song that he wrote about our friendship just after I surprise him with a collage-sculpture of what he and I would look like if we combined our DNA and lived at his house together and spent all day trying on his clothes and laughing really hard at his jokes.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Shopping in Hong Kong

Happy weekend, Strangers. I've been wandering across Asia for the past few days. I don't typically do my international traveling alone. This is because I don't see the point in traveling if I don't have someone there to listen to me complain about it the whole time.

Despite being alone, I have continued with my typical travel commentary, out loud, and in public. Most people I see look at me like I'm crazy. Then this morning I ventured to the edge of Hong Kong because I heard there was a great outlet shopping mall out there and because I haven't done ANY shopping in a year. Plus the Land of Coconuts destroyed all of my clothes. Bless its little heart.

While shopping and commenting on the experience to no one in particular, I decided I should record the commentary so that you can feel like we're traveling together. Below I give you five short videos. Be sure to watch them sequentially. (Mostly I'm sharing these because OH MY GOSH I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW FAST THE INTERNET IS WHEN YOU'RE NOT IN PALAU!)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Trails, Palau

The time has finally come for me to say farewell to the land of coconuts.

I've wondered for weeks how to write this. And I can definitely say that what I will write is going to be so much different than what I thought I would be writing one year ago. My time in Palau turned out to be much different than I thought it would be one year ago.

I want to write this in a way that will give you closure, too. Because this experience hasn't been my own. We've shared it. You've been kind enough to me to hear about it and share the burdens and the laughs. The farewell doesn't belong only to the departing party (me). It belongs to all of us. And I guess in a way, we're all leaving Palau now.

I remember so clearly getting a ride through the dark jungle from the barn-like airport to my apartment on top of a hill one year ago. It was raining. And I had a sense right then, curving around one winding road, that I had just jumped head-first into an adventure. One that looked totally dark when I jumped--dark enough to keep me from really knowing what it was.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Conversations with the Church Kids

Throughout my year in Palau I have had many enlightening conversations with the Palauan teenagers at church. I've written them down as they've happened with the intention of sharing some of them with you one day. Below is a sampling of a few of my favorites.

One note: Everything the kids said in these conversations was said seriously---straight-faced and without any sarcasm.

*****

(14 and 18 year-old boys)

Boy 1: Brother Eli, I have something very important to tell you today.

Eli: Ok. Should I be sitting down for this?

Boy 1: You are sitting down. You are driving a car.

Eli: I know. It's a figure of . . . never mind. What's up?

Boy 1: There is a seventh grader at my school and she is now becoming PREGNANT!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Russian Survivor

On Saturday the court had an outing to the Rock Islands as sort of a farewell party for the three of us court counsel who will be leaving Palau over the next few weeks. We made the forty minute boating trek to one favorite beach with a view of a small lagoon-like area. We barbecued, played music, swam, and visited with one another until the sun started setting. It was wonderful.

The beach had a bunch of props on it from Russian Survivor, which is being filmed in Palau right now. Two seasons of the U.S. version of Survivor have taken place in Palau. When something like that happens in a country that is smaller than many universities in America, it leaves an impact. Seeing the Survivor memorabilia around town this year prompted me to become a huge fan of the show. My friends and I have ordered old seasons on Amazon to pass around to one another. So when I found out that Russian Survivor was going to be here for my final few weeks, I suddenly felt like I was living in the middle of Hollywood.

What made this particularly exciting to me was that Daniel and I just happened to be on the Russian version of The Amazing Race last year when we were in Kyiv. We were walking through a park when we saw several of the teams running by, each being chased by its own camera man. One of the teams stopped and quickly asked us for directions to a spot we had just come from. I did my very best to be charismatic and memorable to ensure that my big Russian television debut would not get cut.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

One week remains in the Land of Coconuts. I'm slowly cleaning out my office, throwing away one packing peanut at a time in my apartment, and finding new homes for Leotrix and all of his brothers and sisters. There are a million things to do in this final week, but despite it all, I'm feeling relatively calm. Reflective, nostalgic, and calm.

I recognize that a chapter is closing for you, too, who have been so kind to share this experience with me. You who stood in spirit with me one year ago on the night I first arrived in Palau and fought back tears of stress in my dark apartment with my shattered and missing belongings spread across the world. You who were practically with me during every sea snake sighting, the day Daniel sprayed vomit off of me and dragged me onto my bed, and all of the times I felt a little homesick and lonely. As odd as it sounds, as I say goodbye to the church kids who told us about "pornomography," the sunsets over the ocean, and every piece of Palau we've grown to love, I feel like I'm bidding farewell for all of us.

But amidst those farewells, here are today's pictures and distractions:

Heading out the door this morning.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Acts of Kindness

I live on the top of a very very steep hill. So steep that the Stormtrooper sounds like a nuclear bomb every time I have to drive up into the extremely slanted parking lot. So steep that if there are more than three people in the car, the wheels just spin when we attempt to ascend the hill. So steep that when I park on the hill with the driver's side pointed toward the sky, I have to climb out of the car like it's a submarine.

This morning I was bringing a heavy box of items out to the Stormtrooper as I was leaving for work. On a few occasions, the person who has climbed out of the side of the parked car that faces downhill has accidentally spilled items that we've just purchased from the grocery store. Once something gets dropped in this parking lot, it begins an almost free-fall descent down onto the main road to then be run over by buses.

I was trying to be very careful with this heavy box as I slowly side-stepped toward the Stormtrooper this morning. And that's when it happened.

I lost my grip.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Man's Best Friend

Since I'm living alone now I'm having to adjust to the quiet of my apartment. It's strange, and I don't like it much. I want my home to be full of life. I like feeling like I live in Grand Central Station rather than solitary confinement. 

Don't get me wrong; I do need a small corner of my home to contain a living space that I can go to for peace and quiet, occasionally, when I've become too excitable. Everyone needs that. But I appreciate living in a place where those I love are sprawled out all over the floor, sleeping or chattering endlessly, and people I don't know are wandering in and out.

Did I just describe a crack den? Maybe I should go live in a crack den for a while.

This is probably the part of Palauan culture I can get behind the most: Extended families live together in the same house. And if there gets to be too many under one roof, they'll spill over into the house next door. Frequently, when I've gone into the neighborhoods to visit someone, I've been directed through a string of two or three houses full of the person's family members before I find the friend I'm looking for.

Shipping


I decided to take the day off of work so I could ship all of my garbage to the United States of America. I’m ready to say that moving to another country is the most terrible thing a person can choose to do with their life. If anyone is currently considering this, please give me a call so I can encourage you to instead open a daycare center for cats because that would be less annoying than shipping everything you own to the other side of the planet.

I knew it was going to be bad because I did this just one year ago. And when I say “I,” I mean “Daniel.” And when I say “did this,” I mean “shipped 14 things of partially-used tin foil, Harry Potter IV in Spanish, seven blankets, and 30 pounds of long-sleeved shirts. To the tropics.”

Daniel bore the brunt of the shipping duties last year because I was trying to finish up my last job until basically the day we left. As if engaging in some form of retribution, Daniel abandoned the Land of Coconuts a few weeks before my departure date. He shipped a few boxes of his clothes and things but left the rest of it in the apartment to haunt me.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

You May Eat a Human

I've taken to treadmill running recently. I go through phases every once in a while where running along the road somewhere seems about as fun as spending the day rubbing lotion onto my great grandma's feet while she tells me about her sexual exploits from the 1920s.

Gosh I don't miss Saturdays in college.

In Palau, where there is basically one road, and where it is so hot and humid ALL THE TIME ALWAYS, and where stray dogs and drunk drivers frequently threaten to off you on the four inches of shoulder on which one can run, the motivation to switch to treadmill running can feel particularly compelling.

I started using a treadmill just down the street from where I live about two months ago. This thing has become like my new best friend/worst enemy. I hate it but I love it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Dear Strangers out there in Strangerville: happy Friday. Two weeks from today I'll be departing from the land of coconuts. With each passing day I become more excited and more nostalgic at this prospect. Some moments I think, "how can I possibly leave the most beautiful piece of Earth for the comparatively barren frozen wasteland of Salt Lake City?" And then I'm like, "oh yeah. BURRITOS."

It's been a bit of a rough week in some ways. Not a bad one. Just sort of difficult. Difficult is ok. That's what ice cream and yelling at the T.V. are for.

And now, your pictures and distractions:
Rilong, her brothers, and John Thing in the house.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Conversation About High School

An Insightful Conversation on High School Island Life with Two Palauan Girls I Gave a Ride Home Last Night from a Church Youth Activity

Palauan Girl 1: Brother Eli? Did you know that in Japan you have to be looking at the clock all of the time?

Eli: What do you mean?

Palauan Girl 1: Like when they say that school will start at 7:00 you have to be always looking at the clock or else if you go after 7:00, like at 10:00 or something, you will be LATE!

Eli: That sounds . . . reasonable.

Palauan Girl 2: But what if you just go at like 7:35?

Palauan Girl 1: LATE!

Palauan Girl 2: What about if it is 7:08 and you had to help your grandma cook rice or something?

Palauan Girl 1: You will be LATE! It does not even matter why! They will NOT wait for you!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Musings in Paradise

I'm sitting in my office.

I should be heading out to eat lunch, but instead I'm sipping a protein drink and writing to you.

It's almost impossible to find a meal in Palau that doesn't consist of white rice and breaded deep-fried once-frozen meat. There are no vegetables. Not even on the side. It's no wonder obesity is so rampant here. Anymore I feel like I have to sit in my office and sip a protein drink during lunch in order to avoid it.

There are ants crawling on me. That's not an exaggeration. There are literally ants crawling on me. My office is currently covered in them. I can feel a few walking up my legs. I just took a gulp out of my giant transparent water bottle and saw through to the bottom of it where 200 or so tiny ants were swarming all over the base. It looked like they were inside, and I almost spit a mouthful of water across my office. Are ants dirty?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hobbies

When we first moved to Palau and Daniel had basically nothing to do all day but spend an absurd amount of time waiting for the paperwork for his employment to be processed, he began aggressively developing new hobbies. And I mean like one to five new hobbies every. single. day.

I would come home from work to find paper mâché or paint supplies or Harry Potter IV in Spanish or musical instruments strewn about the apartment. There was always a new project. Always some new goal that threatened to completely take over both of our lives even though "this is MY thing. It won't affect you unless you let it."

One day I came home and discovered that Daniel had decided to become a gardener. He had purchased several very large planter boxes and had filled them with dirt and seeds. It was a mess.

I generally tried to be supportive of each of the new hobbies because I knew he was having a hard time keeping himself occupied and I certainly didn't want him to freak out one day and up and leave. But I finally put my foot down when he mentioned that he was thinking of getting a pet.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Happy Trails, Mr. Daniel


Dear Mr. Daniel,

I dropped you off at the airport just a few hours ago. You left a trail of personal belongings through the apartment and in the Stormtrooper. I guess I'm supposed to deal with those things? I suppose it was better that you were putting your attention toward making sure you knew where your passport was. And we're all really proud of you that you were able to get out of the house on time to catch your flight. So I'll let the rest of it slide.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Three weeks from today I'll be leaving Palau. Daniel will ABANDON me this weekend. Things are wrapping up and it all feels so strange. Like I'm about ready to see something new and I don't really know what that's going to look like. It's exciting and intimidating and nostalgic and sort of scary. It's sort of like graduating from high school all over again. [Singing] FOREVER YOUNG! I WANT TO BE, FOREVER YOUNG! At least I'm sort of going through puberty this time.

And now, your pictures and distractions:

At sunrise this morning from my apartment. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

PTA Emails

One Stranger, Cheryl, recently asked me to help inflict some pranking revenge against her sister, Tami. Apparently Tami spent the better part of her teen years convincing Cheryl that she had a secret admirer, writing notes to her and leaving Valentine cards. Cheryl found Stranger and the mommy blog a while back and asked me to email Tami, who, as luck would have it, is currently the PTA president in their hometown. I felt a little guilty throughout this one, but Tami was a good sport.

Names and other identifiers have been changed.

To: Tami
From: June Snapple
Subject: PTA

Hi Tami,

Your contact info was passed to me recently. I understand you are the current PTA president. I'm new in town and my children go to Q of C Elementary. I am very interested in becoming as involved in the PTA as possible. I have several ideas I would like to run by you at your earliest convenience.

June Snapple
Former PTA President

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Meow That Tune

While Krishelle was visiting Palau the best part of the day was when Daniel and I would go and wake her up at about 6:45 in the morning. I was sleeping in Daniel's room while she was here so she could have my bedroom to herself. Daniel's bedroom has big windows that face the sunrise so as soon as light pierces the sky in the mornings, it becomes pretty impossible to stay unconscious and not sweat oneself into a dehydrated eternal sleep.

The way we would wake Krishelle up was by pretending to be six to eight cats. We would sneak to either side of her and start gently pawing at her arms and sounding high-pitched "meows." We would add limbs one by one and increase the frequency of our meows to make it appear as though half a dozen cats were all around her, pawing at her to wake up and play with them. So, for example, I would paw one hand at her head, the other at her arm, and then would use my foot to paw at her leg, all the while meowing rapidly as Daniel did the same on her other side.

KRISHELLE IS SO LUCKY THAT SHE GOT TO VISIT US FOR TWO WEEKS.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Twice Up the Barrel Asian Tour

As the time in Palau winds down more and more, I'm finding that things are just sort of falling into place. There's still much to do. Every time I remember that I somehow need to find a place to live in Salt Lake City so I can immediately move upon arriving in the United States of America, I can hear the sounds of a ticking clock in the back of my head. But all in all, things seem to be going relatively smoothly on the move-to-the-other-side-of-the-world front.

I wonder if it hasn't seemed that bad because compared to last year when I was trying to move to Palau it just hasn't been that complicated. Moving to Palau was a perturbable nightmare. You know that feeling you get when you are rushed out of the house because you're late and for the rest of the day you have this nagging sense that you forgot to turn something off?

THAT.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nationally Syndicated Column

There are two newspapers in Palau: The Island Times and Tia Belau. They are glorious beyond all description. Typically filled with stories about people we know, separated by racist or otherwise offensive comics, it's hard to pass up the opportunity to snag one of the papers and take a gander.

Living in a very small town, the local newspaper feels very similar to our school newspaper in college. Except, instead of letters to the editor from angry students who did not appreciate the use of the word "damn" in the prior edition (note: I went to BYU--God's university) there are "tide calendars" and entire pages of Sudoku puzzles.

Recently Daniel somehow came across an email address for someone at Tia Belau and decided to try his hand at journalism. He wasn't sure how to get something published in Tia Belau so rather than contact them and ask, like a normal person, he just typed up an article on a topic he found interesting and emailed it over. His email contained no explanation whatsoever about who he is, why he wrote this thing, or what his expectations were for it. It was just an email with his proposed article copied and pasted into the body. The subject line of the email: "For Immediate Print."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Happy weekend, Strangers. It's rainy today in the land of coconuts. Actually, it has pretty much been raining non-stop for about three weeks. I haven't minded this because it has made it just incredibly hot outside instead of the typical jaws of Hell hot.

With four weeks left in Palau, I'm attempting to soak up my final moments of tropical paradise. Also, getting Leotrix updated on his shots so he can travel to the U.S. has been a NIGHTMARE.

And now, your pictures and distractions:


Kicking it with my fish.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Curry Pancakes

The other day Daniel and I went to dinner with a couple of friends.

Now I know it seems like I'm spending a lot of time lately complaining about Daniel's very questionable decisions. I prefer the word "informing." But whatever. Call it what you want. In any event, Daniel will be abandoning me in about ten days so I speak now or forever hold my peace.

Server: Uh-oi. And what would you like sir Daniel.

Daniel: Can I have the chicken curry please?

Server: No problem.

Daniel: Oh, but could I substitute the rice for something else?

Server: Ok.

Daniel: Hmm. Let's see . . . so many good choices . . . how about . . . the pancakes with strawberry syrup?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Video Proof that we Sometimes Get Out

During the course of the last year there have been a bunch of videos I have wanted to record and share with you. But since I live in Palau, the land where the Internet goes to die, sharing these videos has been almost completely impossible. This is frustrating beyond anything I can explain to you.

Do you know how hard it is to carry the burden of being the only person in the world who has seen Daniel's 1920s flapper girl dance?

Fortunately when K-Shell went back to the United States of America she took a bunch of pictures from my camera with her (I'm not exactly sure how this was possible but I think it involved dark magic) and what she took apparently included some videos. She just informed me that she did what the kids are calling "upload" with these videos to what the kids are calling "the youtubes." So, now outdated and completely out of context, here are three mildly entertaining short videos for your Wednesday.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Daniel is Driving me CRAZY.

Have you ever lived with another person under the same roof? You have? Well this post is probably for you!

Daniel is driving me CRAZY.

And I think this is one of those things where I turned a blind eye to a lot of the quirks and insane ticks for so long because I knew they were un-fixable but now that the end is approaching I've just let myself experience two years of suppressed fury over them all at once.

I give you an example.

A few weeks ago Krishelle, Daniel, and I went to Carp Island. I told you all about it. Showed you pictures even. It was glorious. Unfortunately we all got some itchy bug-bites all over our legs. Krishelle and I did our best to ignore them, LIKE RESPONSIBLE GROWN-UPS.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sea Turtles

On Saturday I went diving with some friends. I would probably be permanently done with diving by now if it wasn't for the sea turtles. This is because there are animals that live ALL OVER in the ocean. And I really think that I just gave you the exact definition of "Hell." Seriously. Go look it up.

SEE!?

(You totally didn't go and look it up. That's how I was able to get away with telling you that the definition of "Hell" is a place with animals ALL OVER. This is what I learned in law school.)

I got certified to scuba dive when I first came to Palau one year ago. And the first handful of times I went diving I basically just screamed in one continuous fifty minute exhale until we surfaced. Unfortunately the water muffled my calls for help so I was unable to escape the horrors that I saw down there until the instructor said it was time to go up.

And look. I know. I probably could have just shot back up without the instructor, flying into the air like a trained dolphin at SeaWorld, and landing directly onto the boat, but they gave us this whole scare tactic thing during the class about how our bodies would explode if we didn't stay with the instructor at all times. At first when they said this I was all like, "Really, scuba people? You're going to try to use impossible threats to force my compliance? I was raised by Bob and Cathie. I'm immune to your antics."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Five weeks from today I'll be finishing my job in Palau and boarding a plane that will leave the land of coconuts and take me to the land of absolutely-everything-else. The wind-down period has felt strange so far, like it's moving quickly and slowly at the same time. And I can't seem to shake the constant sense that I'm closing a big fat chapter. A chapter on tropical solitude, ferocious fruit bats, and ubiquitous mangy stray dogs.

Life is about to change in big ways very soon and right now it feels like I'm slowly ticking up the first hill on the roller coaster and the track is starting to curve. I hope you'll ride it with me and keep me from falling out. But, you probably shouldn't sit behind me. In case I throw up. Because I just ate a LARGE plate of nachos.

And now, your pictures and distractions:


K-Shell's name, forever a part of the Palauan landscape (or until the tide comes in).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Talking About Sex, Part II

On Monday I told you about the horribly awkward conversation I suddenly found myself in with the teenage boys at church on Sunday. Last night I saw the boys again. You know how they always say you should never feed a stray dog because it will keep coming back for more? THAT.

Note: Boy 1 in this conversation is the most pure and adorable child I have ever seen (and he looks like he's about 10 years old).

Part II of a Conversation with Teenage Boys about Chastity:
 
Boy 1: Brother Eli, I have to tell you what happened on Sunday RIGHT after church.
 
Eli: Yeah? What happened?
 
Boy 2: He broke the chastity all day.
 
Eli: WHAT?!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yahoo! Answers X

Dear Strangers: You look like you could use some Yahoo! Answer advice today. Twice up the barrel, once down the side.


Question 1: How much cat food should I leave out? I'll be working overseas for the next 10 to 12 months and will not be taking my cat Trixy with me (the break will be good for both of us). How much cat food should I leave out in the apartment? She will have no outdoor access. Is one bag enough? She's very overweight, if that helps.

1. Your cat will die! Bring her to someone's house to take care for her! ~Dianne

2. Don't leave her alone! Especially if you are gone for 10 to 12 months (in my opinion, that is a little long). Find a cat-sitter and give her lots of love when you come back because she will have missed you.  ~Happy Panda

3. Just leave her the number to a delivery pizza place and she'll be fine.  ~Tom

4. You dont even disorve to have cats if i left you out with bag of cat food for 1 year! ~TLC

Monday, July 29, 2013

The iTunes

A very terrible thing happened to me. I owned one of those what the kids are calling "the ipods" and it is now missing. I left it at the massage place on Saturday because I was in a really big hurry to get out of there like I always am because NUDITY. Well in my hurry, I left the ipod under the massage table.

I called them on Monday to see if they had it.

Filipino Woman: Ok sir. I check it is under the table.

Eli: Oh! So you do have it!

Filipino Woman: Excuse me, sir Eli?

Note: they always call us "sir Eli" and "sir Daniel." We like this because it makes us feel like knights.