Monday, April 16, 2007

Say a prayer...

Since we live on a college campus, news like today’s from Virginia Tech hits especially close to home. During our three years at UNT, a handful of students have died. It takes a big enough toll when it happens one at a time. I can’t even begin to imagine what the people in Blacksburg must be experiencing.


Include Virginia Tech in your prayers.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Weekend in review...

We spent Resurrection Weekend in H-Town (that’s Houston for you Yankees and left-coast, hippie tree-huggers). We’d never been down I-45 quite that far, so it was a bit of an exploratory endeavor.

Some highlights:
On Friday, we slept in before leaving for Houston. This developed into a wonderful theme.

The Galleria mall was pretty okay. Entirely too expansive and filled with too many “how-the-heck-do-you-pronounce-that-and-what-on-earth-do-they-sell-there” type stores for my taste, but we weren’t there long. Just long enough to get the gist and avoid the coveties.

We “discovered” a restaurant called the Grand Lux CafĂ©. After driving around for a while on Friday night, we agreed that we would be adventurous and try out the “sketchy looking place that says it serves steak, seafood, pasta, sandwiches and everything in between even though the sign looks like it’s a low-rent Chinese buffet.” Uh, book by its cover? Turns out the joint is owned by Cheesecake Factory—which was, ironically, right across the street—and makes some wicked-good food. And the final ironic touch? There’s one in Dallas and in LA. Maybe we should have known this.

On Saturday, we slept in.

We did a little shopping on Saturday. Not so much the American Express variety available at the Galleria, but more of the “this shirt’s only $10!” at Marshall’s variety. Good times.

Jamba Juice is good for the soul.

Saturday also took us to Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. Those of you who have ever sauntered over to my other blog—mistakenly or otherwise—will know that I love baseball. Accordingly, a life goal of mine is to watch a game in all 30 major league cities/stadiums. Having never traveled to Houston during our sojourn in Texas, an Astros game was naturally on the list of things to do in the next 8ish weeks. Let’s just say, it was worth the wait. Not only does the roof close for days when it’s raining—like Saturday—but we got foot-long chili-cheese artery-clogger hot dogs. I love this country! (By the way, if you’re interested, that’s 12 cities/stadiums down.)

Sunday morning we got up too early—see the lowlight, below—and went out for Easter breakfast before heading over to First Presbyterian Church of Houston. We arrived at church at a time that seemed early, but found a pretty-full parking lot and a past-pretty-full sanctuary. But the shoehorning into a pew and repeatedly sitting on some random Houstonian’s suit coat was a low price to pay for an outstanding service. Any worship service that boldly proclaims the resurrection of our Lord and then closes with a selection from Handel’s Messiah is worth squeezing in for.

We closed our Easter weekend with a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts to see an exhibit of French painters from 1800–1920 on loan from the Met in New York. Think Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Manet, Seurat, Picasso, and even a couple of van Goghs, even though he was most certifiably Dutch. (Can’t picture them? Click here.) Simply, wow. Great stuff. We spent nearly two hours in the one exhibit. Seemed like a great museum except for the notable absence of foot-long hot dogs. (Greta was once told that she was the symphony and I was baseball and that such a combo could make for an interesting match. Actually, it makes for a delightful weekend in Houston.)

And now, the sole lowlight:

The next time we travel, I think I’m going to request the “king-size bed, non-smoking, no freaky, screaming children next door” room. Not a child from the “Smell him. Does he need changing?” category. Rather from the “I told you to turn off Hannah Montana and do your multiplication tables” wing of the elementary school.

Apparently, banshees are real and can reproduce. The child next door to our room—a room with the really unfortunate option of opening a central door to create a suite—screamed lots of things this weekend. Yet, never between the hours of 6:00am and 11:00pm. No, there was too much screaming to do once we had tried to go to sleep or long before any rational person would want to be awake. Each of the outbursts sounded exactly the same, like someone had inhaled helium and then attempted to recite lines from General Hospital.

At 5:30 on Sunday morning we awoke to a blast from the lunatic-child: “Get out of here!” Either the child’s parents had woken him up or there was an exorcism taking place. Frankly, I’m still not sure which is more likely. Using the same exact pitch and tone of voice, the child further upbraided the demons/parents: “I need some toilet paper! I have to blow my nose! It’s getting all over my hands!” Nothing worse than a mucus-covered imp.

Finally, with the snot cleared away, the demons/parents must have presented the banshee-child with his Easter outfit. “It’s ugly!” Only a banshee-child could turn “ugly” into a dogs-come-running-five-syllable word.

To make matters worse, the head demon/father sounded like a Southeast Asian version of Ahnold and felt completely free to yell, “Shut up!” at 5:30 in the morning, presumably because the banshee-child was going to wake the neighbors. I appreciated the thoughtfulness.

Greta and I laughed about it all day. We’ve also found hours of unexpected enjoyment from randomly yelling, “Get out of here!” in our best banshee-child voice. So, in retrospect, maybe even the lowlight turned out to be a highlight.

Banshee sightings? Travel nightmares? Things to do in Texas before we bail? Easter thoughts? Life goals? That’s what the comment link is for.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Finally finished...

After 12 months, I've finally conquered the beast. And it only took 53 pages and 13,000+ words to do it.

It feels fantastic to have my thesis done, like someone handed me a "Get-Out-of-Library-Free" card. I'm already enjoying the benefits of more free time and a chance to get work done for other classes on time. An added bonus might just be a reduction in the number of sleepwalking incidents. We'll see.

I guess I should start thinking about getting a job for June, now.

What about you? What's the big thing you're trying to accomplish?