Today I was Grumpy.

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Today was one of those days where, even though nothing is wrong, everything is wrong! Not in a real way, just in a make-believe, I’m sorta grumpy way. My friend Elly put it nicely last night when she said that, Autocorrect is her second most enemy. She then showed me, with pictorial evidence what her first most nemesis was, which was the garbage truck.  I was too tired to ask why, but it did get me thinking today about the things that have been my nemeses today.
They are as follows:
The fact that wearing jackets backwards is no longer socially acceptable, so I have to take off my backpack, set it down, put on my jacket for the three minute walk to the Wilk, pick my heavy backpack back up and put it on, only to repeat the process as soon as I get inside the wilk.
The fact that everyone seemed to have a Jamba Juice or a Panda Express today except for me.

People who bring their boats to campus.
“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
Vague Teachers
People that are grumpy when I am grumpy
People that are happy when I am grumpy
Reading things that aren’t fun to read, but would be fun to read if they weren’t assigned to me.
The fact that all my cool Colorado-ness that I spent years acquiring seems to deplete because of my new license plates.
People who cough on me when I’m about to go to a niece and nephew hugging place.
People who tell me “It will be ok” even when I don’t want it to be.

Alright, dear readers, my list of first world problems ends here for now. Tell me you have some Nemeses too?
Also, just a reminder to all you other grump frumps out there.

Your Daily Intake of OverShare

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   I know about fiber, so I should have known about fiber. I first heard about fiber and its ills my freshman year of college. Laden with Jamba Juice, courtesy of our Dining Plus Meal Plans, I was enjoying a pleasant walk back to the dorms with Chloe Skidmore.  Our friendship was still a young spring chicken newly hatching—I didn’t know her well, but she trusted me wholly and lovingly enough to stop us dead in our tracks, double over in front of me, and let out a cavernous moan.

 Chloe confided in me—on a streak of nobility, she’d opted for a fiber boost in her Jamba Juice, and its effect was immediate. After several minutes of stomach-clutching, we were able to move forward. But I was forewarned. And I’ve never even been tempted by a Fiber Boost ever in my life. Plus it was a defining moment for mine and Chloe’s friendship—I saw her through her gas, and I liked her still.
However, four years later, I recently found myself the possessor of a package of Fiber One bars. And it looked just like an innocent granola bar should—yellow packaging, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and joy.
 I packed one in my lunch, but got so excited about it that I ate it on my way to school. And the taste was better than any Nutrigrain I’ve ever tasted. It was candy! And I was wild about it.
Several hours later, I started having abdominal pain. I have a lingering fear about a rupturing appendix, so I was fairly sure that was my mere little problem.
If Only, Friends. If Only.
By 1:00 PM, my pain had become severe, but I recognized a variable. Whenever I would… how you say…pass wind… things felt better. Yet, you can obtain no reprieve when you’re sitting in the middle of your relatively silent Modern Literature class. You have two options: Sit and suffer in pain, or sit and allow others to suffer, if you catch my meaning.
But by 3:00 PM, inflicting suffering on others had become involuntary. The fiber had worked its way through my system and was wreaking its havoc.
I told my friend about my plight and she exclaimed, “Fiber Bars! I only eat those around my sisters!”
And then I remembered, with horror, that I had distributed one other fiber bar earlier that morning. My husband was travelling to Chicago for a big time interview for an internship that will basically determine the rest of our lives. In an attempt to show love and support, I had packed a little care package for Jeremy, complete with Fiber One.
Frantically I sent Jeremya text to warn him not to partake! But it was too late. Jeremy had been “Passing Wind” in his interview all day long.
So…we won’t be offended if Jeremy doesn’t get the job. It will have been all my fault.

Better than the Liger, The Golden Retriger

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My husband knows me well. Recently, when I experienced a surprisingly severe strain of anxiety, rather than telling me to calm down, he simply pulled up google and searched for “Cute Pugs.”  This is not something he ever would have done before he met me, so I am grateful for this. This led us to a discussion about our future dog. Now I’ve been flexible in the past, and willing to get any sort of dog minus any sort of dog with curly hair or a whiney face. But we have been mulling over the idea of a golden retriever eventually, and I have say, I’m warming to it.

So when we googled Golden Retrievers, THIS popped up!

Apparently it’s all the rage in China to dye your dog to look like another animal. I think this looks legit! But I have to wonder if this is dog abuse, or dog awesomeifcation.

This however, there is no question:

It’s called the Teenage Mutant Ninja Poodle. 
That poor, poor animal. But a Golden Retriger…. That could work for me. 

My First Chapter

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A Preface: Maybe I will regret this, but at the time being, I submit to you, the first draft of my first chapter of my novel. I am looking for feedback, but do remember to also be kind, since I am putting myself extremely out of my comfort zone. 

Also keep in mind, my audience is teenage girls. 

Chapter 1
The Russians were arguing again. Loudly. Outside my window. In Russian. 
I could see the thinning patch of Alexandre’s head shaking in dissent, and occasionally the end of Sasha’s broom as she jolted it skywards, when words simply weren’t conveying her message well enough and she needed a little extra “umph” to her argument. I consulted the clock in order to determine the nature of the squabble. From 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM they typically argued about the order in which they should complete their ground duties. From noon to four, I guessed that they were arguing about their son, Ivan, and whether or not he should attend an American university, or pursue his education back in Russia. And at five PM exactly, I surmised that they began a new dispute entirely, about a whole hodge podge of subject matter that my untrained English-speaking ear was not skilled enough to recognize. By six thirty PM, work day over, Sasha and Alexandre walked back to their apartment, hand in wrinkled hand, and Sasha’s synthetic cherry red (or clown nose red, depending on the way the light hit it) head of hair was resting delicately on Alexandre’s shoulder. It was a daily ritual.
It was not, however, ritual for them to commence their workday outside my window at six AM, which is what they were doing today. This hardly seemed fair, since my body was finally starting to register my new summer/ new time zone sleep schedule. My internal alarm clock had been waking me up forcibly at five thirty every morning, telling my morning brain that it was eight thirty and that I was already late for school. Sasha and Alexandre’s boisterous argument today would set my sleep adjustment back for days now, and I would continue waking up too early until Thursday, at least.
I groaned and drew the pillow over my head in attempt to drown out the Russians, but Sasha appeared to have taken to whapping her broomstick against my window when she got especially frustrated and thus, it happened often. Rather than chastising the Russians as I wished I could, and risk Alexandre never coming to help us change our light bulbs or fix our air conditioning, I solved my problem and rolled out of bed. Zombie-walking into the kitchen, I flipped the switch of the coffee maker, (which my mother filled nightly with coffee beans and filters so she wouldn’t have to open her eyes in the morning until she was appropriately caffeinated) and watched the heaven-sent substance dribble into my mug.
“It’s ok,” the coffee maker chirped when my mug was full. “Your day is going to be ok. You have me.”
I gave the machine a grateful pat and let the mug sear my fingertips for several seconds. It was another daily ritual. But this one was solely my own.
 A thud issued from the back bedroom, which could only mean that my mother too had decided to flop out of bed.  She stumbled into the kitchen, eyes shrouded by a sleep mask and her fingers dragging along the wall so she could feel her way to the coffee. She looked like a hangover personified. Selflessly, I handed her my mug, and waited for the coffee maker to dribble me out another one.
“Morning, sweetie,” she sighed, finally removing her eye mask and conceding to let the light in.            
“Rough night?” I asked.
“Filled with nightmares,” she replied, consulting the coffee cup and seeming to decide she wanted it blacker. She traded it back to me with the fresh brew I’d just poured myself and took a ponderous gulp, seemingly un-nettled about the scorching heat.
“About dad?” A trace of a wince flickered in the corner of her eye.
“About work,” she corrected.  Mom had taken on a new managerial position at a local clothing store called “Melvin’s.” With it, she took a pay cut, thankless hours, and an unflattering uniform, but she insisted that it was all worth it to get away from that “insufferable brute,” otherwise known as Phil Steinmetz, otherwise known as my father.
“The customers were returning the new Grace Ellen line because the seams of the fabric would wind around their neck and strangle them in their sleep,” Mom elaborated, sinking into a chair in the middle of the table. Even though she was the newly instated head of household, she was also a creature of routine, and would never let herself occupy the head seat.
I didn’t tell her about my dream about all my friends back in Fairfax hanging up a cast list for their production of Robin Hood, and who specified that you had to be a resident of the state of Virginia in order to be cast, effectively kicking me out of the play and their clique.
 But I felt like telling her.
I changed the subject instead.
“So besides dealing with possessed Grace Ellen lingerie, what’ve you got going on today?”
“I should be asking you the same thing,” Mom stated. “You’re the one without an agenda.” She seemed to accuse me of this, like it was somehow my fault that I’d been moved from my safe haven in Virginia and uprooted to Hell’s foothills in Colorado.
“Season twelve of the Bachelor finally came to Insta-play on Netflix.”
“Don’t overload yourself, now,” Mom cautioned sarcastically, then tipped the now nearly drained mug into her mouth to eviscerate any remnants of coffee that might cling to the mug’s dregs. She pushed in her chair and disappeared again into her bedroom, leaving my question unanswered and a day of eternal boredom before me. Television seemed my best option.
The TV set was demon possessed. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to turn the cable on. My mom inherited the forty-inch flat screen TV from the divorce, which took up more than half our living room wall. Because it sat so directly on the wall, I swore mold that inhabited the ceiling would certainly descend and creep around the edges of the TV screen until only faint images flickered behind a layer of bacteria. The apartment smelled like its previous occupants may have caught the black plague and died from it, and the corpses were now rotting in the air conditioning system, which might explain why it was sputtering out occasional lukewarm wisps of atmosphere rather than substantial cool waves of air. The walls of the apartment looked ready to collapse into each other at any moment, but the apartment was so small, and the walls so thin, that even if they were to collapse on top of me, I doubted very highly that they would do much damage to my body. Everything about the apartment was dank and depressing, and especially if the TV was not working, I didn’t really feel like staying inside of it today.  
A dilemma: The coffee had apparently worked its way through my system, which meant bladder ants were now marching through my bloodstream, making me feel exceptionally… wiggly.  Which meant that I had to use the toilet. There were two problems with this: firstly, I wasn’t entirely sure that the apartment’s previous occupant’s STD’s weren’t still lingering on the toilet seat, even after I had squirted the expanse of porcelain down with enough bleach to sear the skin. Secondly, this toilet made an exceptionally large flush, and being a quirky creature by nature, I admit that loud noises frightened me a lot. It was a childhood fear, admittedly, stemming back to some deep-seated faith that a monster lurked in the hole at the bottom of the toilet and could only reach out and grab me when I flushed the toilet and set him free. This toilet seemed to remind me of the childhood monster, and sometimes I put off going to the bathroom just to avoid that particularly alarming rumble.
In the end, Mother Nature got the best of me.
“Elly!” My mother called from the bathroom a few moments later, “I don’t know what it is about this place that has rendered you incapable of flushing the toilet, but I want you to target what it is, and nip that habit it the bud!” I cringed as the water thundered through the pipes in the walls.
Needless to say, it took little to no coaxing to propel me from the new, yet decrepit apartment that morning. After my mother had exhausted the hot water supply and left me with a tepid shower, I placed my foot upon the doormat and decided to spread my wings; I was off to discover what Colorado had to offer.
            And apparently, all Colorado had to offer me was a nosebleed.  After wandering underneath pine trees for twenty minutes, blood came pouring from my nose as though blinking had flipped a spigot in my sinuses. Cursing the Rocky Mountain altitude and trudging back to my apartment, I ripped off my t-shirt, which was already a lost cause to the O-negative bloodstains and used it as a tissue. Thank goodness for camisoles.
            I lied upside down on the cement steps outside my apartment, hoping that this gravitational resistance would quell the bleeding. Tiny haloed pigtails appeared above me.
            “Did you escape from the crazy house?” the pigtails asked.
            “Did you escape from the mental institution?” The pigtails amended. I righted myself, so this small seven-year-old child didn’t have a halo of sun glaring in my eyes and I could get a better squint at her. She looked concerned.
            “Is that a metaphorical mental institution, or an actual mental institution?” I asked her, relieved to find that my nosebleed was starting to clot.
            “I dunno,” she said innocently. “Do you live there?” She pointed at the gated building across the parking lot from us.
            “No, I replied. I live there.” I pointed at the crap hole.
            “So, you aren’t crazy?” She considered me deeply, as if she was strapping my soul up to a lie detector inside her brain.
            “No.” I stated firmly. “I just have a nosebleed.”
            “Darcy!” A mother called from the balcony on the third floor, and she darted up the steps, pausing to add an “Ick!” and a droplet of blood on the pavement, a droplet that had escaped from the t-shirt dam I was currently jamming up my nose.
            As the nose ooze subsided to a minor trickle, I turned my focus to the building across the parking lot that had, thus far, completely eluded my attention. As if this place could get any worse, apparently, now I was living in close proximity to a loony bin. How charming.

Morning Rivalry.

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I’m a morning person, I just am. I take pride in it, I suppose. Every morning I like to push the limit to see how functional I am at any given hour in the morning. Can I grade papers at 5:00 AM? Can I write papers at 6:00 AM? Can I read and comprehend Proust at 7:00?
Even though I’m usually a little groggy, I really do enjoy the 7:00 AM hour the most. I feel like it’s not early enough to be obnoxious, but it’s still early enough to belong to me and me only.
But Not So this week! This week, the inn has tenants directly above us who are early birds. And they are not doing the quiet, reflective, “getting the worm” kinds of things that I like to do in the morning. No.
They are clomping around like hippopotami in high heels. They are shouting and laughing like it’s noon! They seem to be eating jackhammers for breakfast, and pacing back and forth while they do it. They are dropping frying pans on their floor (my ceiling). They are sneezing at uncomfortably high volumes!! And I swear on my life they chose 7:00 AM to rearrange all the furniture in the inn. They are “early-birding” all over the place and it makes me mad. 
My worm, Early Birds! MINE!

Morning Lullabies

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Lately Jeremy’s been playing me this little lullaby to lull me to sleep, which usually helps me wake up on the right side of the bed. Several mornings ago, I woke up holding Jeremy’s hand. I don’t know who initiated the hand-holding session, but I felt perfectly romantic and a little bit like Ron and Hermione when they fell asleep holding hands in the seventh Harry Potter. And I apologize for another “Now I’m married OMG OMG blog” but being married is still such a novelty to me, and it’s like I got the holographic Charmander, so naturally I need to talk about it.
Waking up hand-in-hand is sublime. You feel like you’ve just dreamed an epic adventure together. I think one of the best parts of being married is The Morning Cuddle (and no, this is not a euphemism). When sleep has healed the wounds of last nights’ homework. When you can’t yet remember the ever-generating To Do list for the day. Where you can just tangle your knees together and transform into awake-ness, slowly and gradually and with a friend who wants you to stay in the covers just as badly as you want yourself to stay.
Jeremy, can we still cuddle when we’re old?

My Personal Fear Factor

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For some people, it’s public banisters and door handles. For others, it’s the ice at restaurants, and after having worked at a restaurant for three years, I can affirm that you probably ought to be disgusted by what swims in there. But not me! I’m not scared of toilet seats or bottoms of purses or even snotty-nosed toddlers. I’ve never really been a antibacterial-toting germ phobe (well, I guess except for a brief spell during the Swine flu epidemic). But there is one thing that sends the “sick nasties” dancing through my bloodstream:

Yes. Loofahs.
 Don’t be trusting of their strange, colored innocence. These puppies are germ factories. Germ Central. Bacteria Absorbents! 

 Oh my gosh, they gross me out so much. Something about the softness of my skin post shower suggests that they’ve been scrubbing off all my dead skin cells, and I’m not entirely trusting that those skin cells made it down the drain.

In my world, Bath Time is Supreme and the Loofah is King. I replace the Loofah regularly. I rinse and wash it meticulously. At one point, I even had two loofahs so as not to cross-contaminate their purposes (Don’t think too much about this).

So when Jeremy off-handedly mentioned that he borrowed my loofah recently, I can’t say that my reaction was as Suave (shower joke) as I would have hoped. It went something like this:
Jeremy: Hey Sierra, I borrowed your loofah, I hope you don’t mind.
Sierra: (Visibly losing all color in my face) You… I’m sorry… you…. what?
Jeremy: I used your loofah.
Sierra: (Reaching for something I could lower myself onto to keep from passing out) But… honey, why did you do that?
Jeremy: Cause you bought me that body wash, and… I’m sorry? Was that a problem?
Sierra: No! No… Um… Just-just…just… NEVER DO IT AGAIN!!! 
(At this point I went on a rampage, pouring Jeremy’s shower gel down the drain and laughing maniacally while I did it. Clearly, a switch had flipped.) *

This is why I will be stopping by the drug store today to locate a loofah for Jeremy. He expressed preference in a manly loofah, so I hope I can find a black one with skulls all over it. But it’s worth whatever great length I have to go to, because Jeremy’s shower gel is expensive and smells really good, so I would hate to see another bottle down the drain.
*-Story may have been embellished. The fear is real.

The Perks of Being an Inn-Dweller

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Several days ago, Jeremy and I came home to our basement of an inn apartment, and our bathroom sink (which is the entry way to our home, very welcoming) was filled to the very top with strange black sediment. On the top of the sediment sat a green, perfectly healthy little leaf. It was picturesque almost.  But also slightly unnerving. Our landlord sent over the repairman to investigate, where from our pipe he proceeded to remove two very healthy twigs. There was no other sign of foliage, but we are curious to see if a zinnia bush blossoms out of our shower head sometime soon.
Other perks include: the fact that we have a set of highly versatile neighbors. Most of the time the inn-dwellers are very normal. They park their cars and grin embarrassedly when you make eye contact and they see that they are going to the nice part of the mansion while we descend to the bellows. But one time, we got some domestic disputers on the floor above. It began with stamping feet that shook our roof, and a muffled argument, and then the detectable outlandish screeches of “I HATE YOU! I. HATE. YOU.”
Another time, I had a wreath of Christmas Jingle bells that hadn’t quite made it from my car to the house in the move. This was while I was still living by myself and waiting for Jeremy to move in with me. One night, I heard a disembodied tinkle beside my bedroom window. Convinced that someone had broken into my car and taken my bells out for a midnight jingling, I called Jeremy in distress. He came to my aid, did some nighttime poaching, only to discover that the jingler was, in fact, a sweet little kitty who just wanted to keep my window company.
All of this being said, I love our little basement apartment. I feel like every day, despite the new quirks, and despite the fact that there are no doors, and that the bathroom is in the entryway and that the tiles are loose, I could live in this place forever, or at least another two years. Besides, if China takes over the world, Jeremy and I have a hiding place behind a shelf of books that you’d never expect. 

Honeymoon Highlights

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Here is a photo journey of our Honeymoon to Victoria, British Columbia.

  After a long day of airplaning, ferrying, and bussing to the island, we made it in time to see the legislative buildings all lit up. If the Eiffel Tower lights up, and Victoria’s legislative building lights up, can’t we at least put Twinkle Light Mustaches on Mt. Rushmore?

 Please note, despite the hours of mass transit and lack of sleep, Jeremy and I went to great pains to ensure our hair still looked good. Our server captured the good hair experience nicely. Also, he somehow managed to get the legislative building in the background without any window glare. He got a big tip, even though we weren’t entirely certain of Canadian tipping customs.

 There is a very specific sort of gear for whale watching in Canada. A coat that makes you look distinctively Oompa Loompa. 

 I had a soft spot for these lazy seals. The tour guide called them rock sausages. I thought that was a little unfair. I think they at least look like burritos.

 This was the alpha sea lion of the pack, and a seagull coming to poop on him because that’s what seagulls do.

 A mature male bald eagle! Thank heavens for optical zoom and a cool new camera, Penrods.

 These are our Orca Whale friends. They were a little cliquey at first, but they warmed right up to us in the end. They swam right underneath our boat, thereby welcoming us into their pod.

 Let it be known, henceforth and forevermore, that I, Sierra Lynn Robinson Penrod, rode a scooter all by myself. I got up to 30 km per hour, and slowed down several cars. All were patient and kind to me because I would mouth “I’m so sorry” to them at red lights. Also, Jeremy made me pull over periodically so they could pass me and my slow scooter (it was the scooter’s fault, I assure you).
 Somewhere hidden in the shadows of the Butchart Gardens is a honeymooning couple. Since it was our honeymoon and all, we liked to stick to dark corners… 😛

 We were happy to emerge from the shadows however to see the splendor of this pretty place.

 I just love the shots of the plenteous fields of gorgeous flowers, and the gardens arranged by color so nicely. Also, I am shocked to find that plenteous is actually a word.

 There is, how you say, a butterfly in this picture. 

 This is not a joke. This is actually a flower. We couldn’t believe it either. It’s like when Jackson on Gilmore Girls crossed a kumquat and a raspberry and got a Raspquat. 

 This is to remind Jeremy what my favorite flower is. It’s a dahlia. And it is nice. 

 Put your glasses on for this one, the locals never did get picture-taking with our Ultra Deluxe Thank You Penrods Camera quite right. It’s blurry, but we’re happy and there’s a heart in the bench, so it made the cut.  

 These were the Japanese Gardens. They were SO cool but our photos don’t do them justice quite the same way. But I felt like Turning Japanese, I really think so, the whole time.

 Now it’s REALLY concrete. Jeremy PINKY PROMISED me he would help me with a garden one day. But just in case, I may use this picture years down the road insisting Jeremy PINKY PROMISED he wouldn’t make me go to a football game, or Jeremy PINKY PROMISED he would take the trash out for the rest of our lives.

This begins the food reel, Jeremy’s favorite part of the trip. This was my butternut squash ravioli. Also, good hair. 

This was Jeremy’s seafood risotto. He won that day. It was to die for. Also, he’s wearing a cardigan, and I don’t hate it.

This is my lobster and Jeremy’s Surf and Turf. Next time, I won’t get the whole lobster. I did not take joy in that particular journey. 

This was our exploding dessert! Americans! Take note! SPARKLERS IN CELEBRATORY DESSERTS! I repeat:  SPARKLERS IN CELEBRATORY DESSERTS!
(And, for good measure, in case you weren’t listening: sparklers in celebratory desserts.)



The husband might object to the photo editing I cooked up here, but this concludes our journey to Vancouver Island.
Thanks Husband Mine! Such a good trip!