Far Away Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Today I’m using an idea I got from reading Steven’s blog about spending Thanksgiving as an American overseas.

In the Fall of 2005, I studied abroad in The Netherlands through a program run by the University of California system. My destination was University College Utrecht in The Netherlands, which is an international university that, at the time, housed and educated roughly two-thirds Dutch students and the other third students from all over the world (of around a total of 750 students). My personal circle of friends included Americans, Dutchies, Australians, Germans, a Swede, and a few assorted others. It was one of the best, richest, most exciting experiences of my entire life.

For Thanksgiving, the UC program people put on a traditional holiday dinner for all the American students, who each got to bring a plus one. My boyfriend (now husband) was visiting me that week, and so he got to come and join in the merriment. For most others, that meant a non-American student got invited to their very first Thanksgiving dinner.

I honestly don’t remember much about the food at all, but the experience was so much more than what we were eating. At that point in the semester, we’d been away from home for four months. The days were growing short and cold, and many of us were starting to feel twinges of homesickness. Having the familiarity of tradition, familiar foods, and my boyfriend there by my side made me feel comforted and joyful.

I found a blurry picture I took of the food!

What I enjoyed most was the exchange of culture that took place. The non-Americans had so many questions about why we ate certain things and why this custom and compared it to their own. It was an invitation for me to stop and think about customs and traditions I had always taken for granted. To see myself, my country, my culture through the eyes of foreigners is an incredible experience. I highly recommend it.

When the dinner was over, we went outside for the short walk back to our units (dorms), and upon setting foot outside we found that it had started snowing. The Californians, me included, promptly lost their shit and started playing in it, not ready for the night to be over. It was a special dusting on top of a very special evening.

Frolicking in the snow!

Now that I think about it, that Thanksgiving feels similar to this year in that I’m separated from family. At least in 2005 it was by choice.

I’ve often stuck my nose up at the American tradition to celebrate gratitude by wallowing in excess. Doesn’t it make more sense that you’ll better appreciate what you have by going without? With that in mind, this year I’m making a special point to be grateful for my family and friends, especially those I haven’t seen in far too long. I’m not on the other side of the world this year, even though it often feels that way. Hopefully, we’ll be together again sooner rather than later.

Counting my blessings, and I’m hoping you have many to count as well.

Day 26


The beauty of this place

We hiked five miles today, just the two of us.

This was where we met, where we worked together for several summers, where we fell in love, and where he proposed.

It was great to be back. I missed the beauty of this place.



NaBloPoMo Day 27

The Opposite of Awesome

I was weighing myself because I’m pregnant and it was Monday.  I lead a very exciting life, I know.

Brian: “I wonder when you’ll weigh as much as me?”

Me: “What?  I’ll never weigh as much as you.  You’re always going to be fatter than me.  Always.”

Brian:  “Oh yeah?  Let’s see then.”

I write down my new weight for this week.  On average, I’ve been gaining about 2 pounds a week for a while now.

Brian then weighed himself.  To my horror, it was only about 3 pounds heavier.

Me:  “I don’t think so!  You didn’t eat enough for dinner!  Here, have this muffin.”

Brian:  “See?!  Only about another week and a half and we’ll be the same!”

Me:  “Hang on, let me pee and I’ll weigh myself again.  I probably have a few pounds of pee in here.”

Brian:  “But now you know how I feel!”

Me: “Please, Brian, tell me how it feels to be you.  Because this is so the same.’

Brian: “…it feels awesome?”

Me:  “Yes.  My swollen hands and feet feel awesome.  So does your baby’s head pushing on my cervix.  Do you know what that feels like?”

Brian:  “…the opposite of awesome?”

Me: “Now get in the kitchen and go eat some muffins.  But make sure to save me one.  Or ten.”

Fast forward to last night – another Monday night weigh-in.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s happened.  Brian and I now weigh the same.

He did an odd sort of happy dance.  I got into a sumo stance, pushed him over, and sat on him.

It felt awesome.

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Lady

Hey, this is Brian.

Yup, the husband-of-a-pregnant-blogger-Melissa Brian.

I’m here to school all the partners of pregnant ladies so that they get through the experience relatively unscathed.

Can you believe Melissa actually let me on here to write my very own post?

Yeah, neither can I…because this is Melissa, and I am writing this from Brian’s point of view with his general oversight and mild approval.  Learn from these tales, my friends.


I decided to wait to eat breakfast on this lovely Sunday morning, opting for brunch instead.  Of course, Melissa wolfed down two bowls of cereal and about ten lemon poppyseed muffins before I even got out of bed, so I figured she’d be good for a while.

I walk into the room with my beautifully prepared brunch and I see that she’s on her computer.  I sit down next to her.  She looks up expectantly.  “What’s that?”

I paused, realizing my mistake too late.  Could I still get away?  Maybe I could pretend that I didn’t hear her.

I faced my fate head-on: “Uh…it’s a sandwich.  Made with this delicious bagel, pesto, lettuce…and from diseased deli meat and unpasteurized cheese.”

At Melissa’s rageful silence, I got up and backed away slowly, and once I was a safe distance away, I threw another muffin at her for good measure.

 The Hangry Plan

Pregnant ladies have gold medals in being hangry, so Melissa and I have learned to try and plan for the worst when we go out shopping or to run some errands.  We bring water and snacks, and we also conjure up contingency plans, especially since she’ll be less able to run and defend herself in the event of a zombie apocalypse breaking out mid-outing.

For this particular outing, I wanted to go clothes shopping, and I gave Melissa the option of staying home, but she insisted on getting out of the apartment.

Melissa: “If I get hangry, just drop me at Cinnabon.”

Me: “You mean when you get hangry.”

Pregnant glare.

Me: “And we may have to think of somewhere else, because they went out of business.”

Wide-eyed, panicked Melissa: “What?!”

Me, making sure I was more than an arm’s length away: “Ha, just kidding.  You totally believed me!”

Melissa: “You are dead to me.”


The Sperm Whale

We’re at the doctor’s office, and Melissa has some fetal heart monitors strapped to her belly to check some things out.  Everything was awesome, and when they took the monitors off, they had made two round impressions on her very pregnant belly.

As Melissa was getting dressed, I giggled.

Melissa: “What?”

Me: “Nothing, it’s just that you reminded me of a sperm whale.”

Melissa, her tone of voice flat-lining: “…a whatnow?”

Me, as I point to her belly: “You know, the sperm whale surfaces and the squid has been attacking it, and you can see where the squid’s suction cups were stuck to the whale.”

Melissa: “And that makes me a sperm whale?”

Me: “…a small, cute one!”

Melissa: “You know what else sperm whales can do?”

And without waiting for an answer, she sat on me.


The Jungle Cat

It’s 6 in the morning, and Melissa got up with me because she couldn’t sleep, so she was naturally hungry again.  But also because she loves me madly and couldn’t bear to miss seeing me off to work.  As you recall from previous blog posts, it’s my responsibility to feed the meowing, howling cat at this time of day.

After spending a few minutes in the bathroom doing disgusting boy things, I entered the kitchen and threw some kibble in the cat’s bowl.  The howling stopped, replaced by sounds of frantic gulping as she turned all of her attention to her food bowl.  I looked up and realized that my cat and pregnant wife mirrored each other – each were hunched over their food in intense focus, like jungle cats tearing their fresh prey apart.  Melissa even had on adorable cheetah print skivvies.

Foolishly, I reached over and patted Melissa’s bum.  “You’re like a cheetah!” I told her. And then I growled for good measure.

Melissa looked up from her peanut butter and jelly topped onion bagel.  “Huh?!” she said with her mouth full.

I pointed at her underwear and growled again.

She looked down and then quickly looked back up.  “Yeah, I can’t see what underwear I am wearing from this angle.  Thanks.”

“Well…it looks fabulous!”

And then I threw another muffin and ran away.


Have the lambs stopped screaming yet, Clarice?

Brian is reading off the crock pot box about all its bells and whistles.  We’re about to open it – finally, as it was a wedding gift – in an effort to help get us through this colder-than-expected Oregon winter.

The following is a dramatic reenactment, based on true events.

B: “Wow!  It says 6 quarts, 7 people!  This is going to be great!”

Me: “Wait, what?  It can hold 6 quarts or 7 people?  Is this marketed to serial killers?!”

B: “Uh, I think it means 6 quarts will feed 7 people.”

Me: “But it didn’t say that, did it?  See here, it just says ‘7 people.’  It says nothing about feeding.  I bet there are instructions in there on how to cut the people up properly so they all fit inside.”

B: “I seriously doubt that.”

Me: “Remember, I’ve never used a crock pot before.  I’ve also never killed anyone, but you’ve got to admit, this sounds like an interesting way to finish the job.  Is it at least marketed to the growing cannibal population?”

B: “I’m going to ignore that last comment.”

Me: “I hope you brought home some Chianti.”

Hey Brian, you might want to read this one…

Ten years ago today, I was nervous.  I was excited.  I didn’t know what was going to happen.

Ten years ago today, it was a Saturday.  I had just asked you out the day before and today was the day – our first date.

Ten years ago today, we had ice cream together.  We walked and talked and I didn’t want the night to end, and neither did you, so I guess it really never did.

I can’t believe how fast these ten years have flown by.  We’ve grown up together, and I can’t imagine my life without you.  It’s like that lyric from that one Jewel song: you make the world make sense.

One week from today, we’re going to get married!

One week from today, we’re going to pledge to keep walking and talking because we don’t want this awesomeness to end…ever.

One week from today, I’m probably going to be nervous.  I’ll be excited!  And I don’t know what’s going to happen.

But whatever happens, I wanna be there with you.  Eating ice cream.





These pictures pretty much sum up our relationship

“I want you to run after her, Brian! Like you’re the bear and she’s the honey!”

I’m pretty sure this is when the blood was drawn. See: face.

Gonna vom-

I can fly!

Too cute for words.

Death of a Hairy Beast

He knew his days were numbered.

How did he know?  Just a feeling… The evil glares from the female were becoming more frequent and somehow even more tempestuous than usual.  He saw the flash of a sharp blade being placed on the counter and the unmistakable slurpy fizzle of Gillette exiting the can.

Could it be?  He’d lasted over a year, longer than expected.  He saw birthdays, anniversaries, made it for the backpacking trip.  He posed for pictures, he shat in bathroom cups.  He was tolerated.

And now it was time to go down in a display of frothy white, hairy glory.  Now it’s time to say goodbye.


To be fair, he wasn’t all bad.  He actually made Brian look older and more rugged, just a different version of himself.  Looking back, I am surprised that I got so used to having him around that it’s a bit of a shock now that he’s gone…even though him being gone is the default state, the normal one.

We may meet again one day, Bearduardo.  Don’t think I don’t know that.  If you decide to come back, I’ll be ready.


My Cup Runneth Over

I’m way behind in my blog-postiness and that pains me.

I still need to blog about the awesome flour bombing competition me and my pilotboy practiced for and participated in.

Someone awesome nominated me for another blogging award, and I have yet to write a post accepting that.

But before those can happen, I must spread the joy that is growing in leaps and bounds in my life.  Not only did I recently get licensed as a real live therapist, but this happened as well:

That’s right, my friends!  This shit is happening!

Brian and I met at the most awesome job in the world – Summer Nature Camp – and he wanted to propose in the place where it all started.  Full circle.  Cue fireworks and rainbows.

Apparently he had been trying to get me to go geocaching (yet another awesome post I have yet to write) in the park where the camp takes place for a couple of weeks as a way of luring me back to camp so he could make me the happiest woman alive.  And apparently I was very stubborn.  See, he said “let’s go geocaching at the park” and I heard “let’s go traipse through waist-high, snake-filled weeds and get dirty and smelly.”

Unless there’s a very expensive piece of jewelry involved, no thanks.

Well, Brian finally convinced me to go despite it being the hottest day of the year thus far.  As I was getting ready to go, I had a fluttering thought that maybe – just maaayybe – this might be the day.

So we gooped up with sunscreen and traipsed around and we found 4 lovely geocaches and got supremely sweaty and smelly.  We also had an awesome time getting all sentimental with memories from camp – the best job ever in the history of jobs.

Brian wanted to propose in front of the Seven Bedroom House – the building from which we ran camp, and also the building in front of which Brian and I first met almost exactly 10 years ago and also the building in front of which I first asked Brian out almost exactly 9 years ago.  This building is extra special, right down to the peeling lead paint and the attic covered in Hantavirus.

But Brian couldn’t propose in front of the Seven Bedroom House because our former fellow counselors were working, getting ready for the next day (today), the first day of camp for the summer.  So after visiting with them, Brian acted like it was time to go and we walked back down the hill, hand-in-hand, past the fire pit and across the footbridge that goes over the pond on the way to the car.  In the middle of the footbridge Brian stops me and BAM – he’s on one knee.  The rest is history!

Thank goodness we didn’t drop that ring in the water.

One Ring to rule them all…


The Return of Bearduardo

…ok, well, it never really went away.

In fact, it’s growing.  And, quite frankly, it’s freaking me the hell out.  Stop it.

As all 7 of you know, Bearduardo made his first appearance a few months ago and has overstayed his welcome.  At first, I was lenient.  Curious, even.  And you know, I gotta admit, Brian does look pretty damn good for a rugged, bearded manly boyman when Bearduardo is tamed and behaving himself.  Observe:

I don’t quite know what’s happened, but this hairy alien leech growing on Brian’s lower face region is…exploring the space.  Bearduardo has reached maturity and apparently wants to be set free out into the world.  Sow his wild thick, kinky oats.  Sasquatch Cheeks has already stabbed me repeatedly in the upper lip, and that last time I was barely able to escape unscathed.  It’s getting so precarious that I’m afraid to go to sleep at night.  I have nightmares that long, rough, hairy tentacles will slink across the pillow and take me out of the equation so Brian and Bearduardo can have a long, happy, hairy life together.  *shudder*

Since I’m convinced Beardy-Boy has grown ears beneath all that keratin, I have attempted to give Brian nonverbal feedback about the diabolical toll Bearduardo is taking as well as my growing discomfort and upchuck reflex.  Observe:

And I haven’t even gone into how I find little Bearduardo droppings in my pink bathroom cup every other morning.  Sigh.

Look, I’ve seen Little Shop of Horrors and I know how this story ends.  I just hope I can get to the shaving cream before it’s too late.