Thursday, April 30, 2009

Carrboro's Textures

Carrboro, our little neighbor hippie town, has many textures. Marcos and I went on a wild photography spree and these are our favorites.

I mentioned that Carrboro is a hippie town, right? This is carved into the cement in the sidewalk outside the thrift store... so cute!

"U" is for Underwhelmed

Yesterday was one of the worst days of my life. I thought that finishing up school would be a real walk in the park, but it was more like a walk in the park alone at night in the dark being afraid of every noise and feeling horribly anxious about muggers lurking in dark places.

Okay. So maybe it wasn't that bad, but it was pretty bad. I had no outstanding obligations, and I felt horribly useless and anxious about my free-time, as if I were surely forgetting to do something important. I had made a paltry "to do" list to calm my soul, but really? Deep down I knew that all of the items on my list could wait until tomorrow. Or next week. Or never.

At the end of the day I opened our calendar and stuffed as many things into the next few days as possible. Today I had five appointments and a handful of important errands to run. Ahhh.... Thats more like it...

Shibuya, in downtown Tokyo, is one of my favorite busy places.
When I lived in Japan as a missionary, my first apartment was five minutes from this intersection, which is the busiest in the world.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Every morning I wake up to my neighbors yelling "MADDOOOONNA" out their front door, which just happens to be next to our bedroom window. They have a little blond pip-squeeky dog named Madonna who apparently manages to wander outside every morning about half an hour before I would like to wake up.

Classical conditioning is kicking in. I'm starting to hate the name.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We did it !

We did it! We LOST something in our apartment! Oh, wow, I never thought I'd see the day. I'm so proud! LOST. As in, we can't FIND IT!!!! I have looked for three days and I can't find it! Woooo-HOO!

Okay, so I guess you have to know how small (and orderly) our apartment is to have any appreciation for the fact that we managed to lose something. I pretty much know where everything is in our place, and yet something has wandered off.

It feels so... refreshing.

3 surprises named Bad, Good, and Whatever...

Surprise #1, called BAD:

1am last night: Just to be thorough, I whipped out my syllabus before going to bed, to check up on the requirements for my 10-page final paper for my Couple's Therapy class, due Wednesday. It was 1am, and oh. my. gosh. According to the revised version of the final paper requirements, the paper was due Tuesday at 5pm. Not Wednesday at 5pm, which had been written on my calendar weeks ago. Because I had it in my head that I had two days left to write it, I had not so much as written the title. Now here I was in the wee hours of the morning, looking at a day of torture ahead of me.

8am: I woke up this morning and started writing, and writing, and writing. And folks, I am an excruciatingly slow writer. Painfully slow, like, hypothetically didn't finish the writing section of the GRE within the time limit and got a poor grade. Hypothetically.

2pm: After a few hours of braindrain I was starving and asked Marcos to make me a hotdog. He mumbled consent from the next room. I had been envisioning a simple hotdog, in a bun, with ketchup and mustard. Half an hour later, my belly juices were starting to get antsy, when Marcos emerged from the kitchen with...

Surprise #2, called GOOD:

Brazilian hotdogs. Has anyone ever had one? Mashed potatoes, sauteed corn and onions, and a perfectly cooked dog. Oh yes, I could have kissed him! I hope I did! His kindness was sooo needed.

5pm: So, the clock rolled around to deadline, and I was still working on my very last round of edits. It was not a paper that will be passed down through the generations by a long shot, but I had pulled off the ten pages and fulfilled the requirements! Miracle! I emailed in the final paper at about 5:10pm, and wrote a little apology to my professor for the paper being in a few minutes late.

My professor emailed back ten minutes later, rounding off the day with...

Surprise #3 called WHATEVER:

Her email read: "Metta - I got it. Its not late. Someone in class pointed out a discrepancy in the dates and I said the later date (tomorrow) would be ok". I couldn't help but laugh at the irony of it all. An entire day of writing and busting my buns to meet a new deadline, when I had been right in the first place.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Finally, someone gets me!

So, this week Sarah and I went to visit teach Nicole, and the Meyers-Briggs Personality Types came up in conversation. Sarah started rattling off her letters, and Nicole and I felt a little left out. Yesterday Nicole posted her test results up on her blog, and I'm following suit. The following excerpt is me, according to an online Meyers-Briggs Personality Type test. There were other write-ups available about the ENFP type, but they generously included my not-so-fabulous qualities and were uncannily on target, so I'm opting to advertise myself according to this one.

When I read through these write-ups, some things were so accurate, I nearly wept. It was like meeting a long-lost friend.

And to think I've been taking facebook quizes: "what shoe are you?" and "how German are you?". Hmph.

Idealist Portrait of the Champion (ENFP)

Like the other Idealists, Champions are rather rare, say two or three percent of the population, but even more than the others they consider intense emotional experiences as being vital to a full life. Champions have a wide range and variety of emotions, and a great passion for novelty. They see life as an exciting drama, pregnant with possibilities for both good and evil, and they want to experience all the meaningful events and fascinating people in the world.

[And check out the following piece: I'm sure you'll agree...]

The most outgoing of the Idealists, Champions often can't wait to tell others of their extraordinary experiences. Champions can be tireless in talking with others, like fountains that bubble and splash, spilling over their own words to get it all out. And usually this is not simple storytelling; Champions often speak (or write) in the hope of revealing some truth about human experience, or of motivating others with their powerful convictions. Their strong drive to speak out on issues and events, along with their boundless enthusiasm and natural talent with language, makes them the most vivacious and inspiring of all the types.

Fiercely individualistic, Champions strive toward a kind of personal authenticity [I hate to interrupt, but oh my gosh, yes], and this intention always to be themselves is usually quite attractive to others. At the same time, Champions have outstanding intuitive powers and can tell what is going on inside of others, reading hidden emotions and giving special significance to words or actions. In fact, Champions are constantly scanning the social environment, and no intriguing character or silent motive is likely to escape their attention. Far more than the other Idealists, Champions are keen and probing observers of the people around them, and are capable of intense concentration on another individual. Their attention is rarely passive or casual. On the contrary, Champions tend to be extra sensitive and alert, always ready for emergencies, always on the lookout for what's possible.

Champions are good with people and usually have a wide range of personal relationships. They are warm and full of energy with their friends. They are likable and at ease with colleagues, and handle their employees or students with great skill. They are good in public and on the telephone [?], and are so spontaneous and dramatic that others love to be in their company. Champions are positive, exuberant people, and often their confidence in the goodness of life and of human nature makes good things happen.

Dear Brain...

Dear Brain,

Thank you for working. Most of the time.

I have just one concern for you to take up with your manager. I know that sometimes you get bored when I write papers and you fall asleep, and I feel for you, I really do. But I'm confused. You say that you are sleepy, but somehow when I open facebook (which by the way, you probably shouldn't be wasting your time with anyway), you are bright eyed and bushy tailed. I hate to ask such an embarrassing question, but... are you faking it, or what? I don't get it.

Memo: This is finals week and I really need you to be on your best behavior. Thank you.



Monday, April 20, 2009


This day has been rather unpopular... Hitler's Birthday. Ten year anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings. For such a pretty spring day, it could have a better reputation.

To add to its soreness, I also had a massive group paper due today, and a presentation.

Interestingly, my group assignments were on the subject of advocating for North Carolina House Bill 548, which is an anti-bullying law currently in committee in the North Carolina House and Senate. All of the research we have been doing on the negative effects of bullying for victims as well as bullies has made me much more aware of the problem, and I am pretty upset about it.

I'll spare you the details, because I know my entries can get long, but let me just say that I would HIGHLY encourage you to stop any form of bullying wherever you see it. Boys tend to bully directly by name-calling and physical intimidation or injury, and girls tend to bully indirectly by spreading rumors and using more covert methods. Either scenario can be devastating for children.

One of the newest and most hurtful methods of bullying is homophobic name-calling and hate crime against kids who are either out or just don't fit stereotypical "maleness" and "femaleness" molds. No word or action that targets kids because of their identification with a minority group, or even perceived identification with a minority group should be tolerated. That's all there is to it.

Rice Makeover...

... otherwise to be referred to as, "How to disguise brown rice".

My lovely mother, who swears that because I am a blood type A+ I should be eating brown rice instead of white, would be proud.

Our Hawaii friends the Bramwells, who are now living in Wake Forest just forty minutes from us, are always giving us good food tips, and the most recent excitement just happened to be about brown rice. Brown rice according to the Bramwells is best with fresh lime juice squeezed over it, and then tossed with cilantro and diced pineapple.

And they are right! SO fresh and fragrant, and a nice addition to any meat or curry dish. In fact, sometimes I eat it plain right out of the refrigerator when I'm up in the wee hours of the morning posting blog entries.

Like.... right now.

P.S. I should mention for those of you who will click on the image to see the gorgeousness up close and then remark on how much my rice looks like white rice, not brown, that it is brown rice: brown basmati.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vampire bites

Do Vampire bites itch? I have two little teeth-looking marks in my neck, and they itch. I was wondering if it might be a vampire...

In Recovery

I have been sober five days from my craigslist addiction, and I am feeling so good.

On Tuesday Marcos and I drove all the way to Raleigh to purchase a bookcase shaped like an elephant. We looked at ourselves in disbelief and promised that this would be the end of the craigslist madness. So on Tuesday night when I secretly planned with a woman in Chapel Hill to swing by and purchase her large flower pot, that was the final straw. We took the craigslist link off of our igoogle homepage, and I have been clean ever since.

*Deep breath*. My home has had a mini-makeover, and I am at peace with the world.

But really, just tell me this wasn't worth driving to Raleigh for... $10! (Clipper chair in background also purchased through craigslist...).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If you love corn...

Lately I've been telling Marcos that when we have kids, we should give them Trader Joe's frozen corn as a snack whenever they are craving sweets. If you've ever had Trader Joe's corn, you know what I'm talking about: super sweet, righteous, and practically perfect.

So in my packed-by-Marcos lunch the other day, I found a ziplock baggie with frozen corn. A little cold, a little soggy, but am I still convinced? Oh yeah...

My last night at SHAC

As the semester winds down and we get closer to graduation, I find myself coming up to a lot of "lasts": last week of classes, last papers to write, last time caring about grades...

Last night was my last time at the Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) where I volunteer as a student social worker on a monthly basis. SHAC is a free health clinic in Carrboro run entirely by UNC graduate-level students that comes to life every Wednesday night for community members who don't have access to health care. Every single client who comes through the doors of the clinic meets with a representative of the School of Social Work, Public Health and finally a team of medical students who take care of anything from the common cold, and school physicals to pap smears and prescriptions (and if needed, dermatology, pregnancy testing and HIV/STD testing are also available). Each week volunteer attending physicians are present to hold case consult with each team of med students in order to assure quality control. The break room is always full of students and doctors consulting, talking, and planning.

Last night things felt different than usual. The majority of our clients are typically low-income families, and we have a significant number of Spanish-speaking immigrants who come to the clinic, but last night I talked to more middle-class clientele than ever before. Most had been recently laid off and had no access to health insurance. A bartender. A carpenter. A human resources specialist. This recession is no respecter of persons.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You don't see that every day!

Last night I was watching Nicole's pregnant belly from across the room, and a little bump protruded under her shirt and ran up the length of her belly. I know that those twins are in close quarters, but I never expected to see any visible complains from the tenants. I am still getting over how strange that was for me.

I am a little skeptical of this photo (because it makes the belly wall look as thin as saran wrap), but how is this to jog your imagination? Sometimes I wish we laid eggs.

Oh, and speaking of, Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy 100 year anniversary...

Today Marcos and I were having a romantic moment in celebration of our two-year anniversary, which is coming up on Sunday. We looked into each others eyes, and I lovingly mentioned that it has been two whole years.

In perfect unison, I continued with, "it feels like eighteen" as he said simultaneously, "it feels like thirty-five".

See? I knew I got the better end of the deal!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Conference was special this year

On Saturday, we attended general conference in the Conference Center at Temple Square. Our four-day trip to Salt Lake City was primarily in celebration of this day.

Above: Marcos, Danny (Marcos' older brother), his wife Marie, sister Belle and her friend Ben, and Pai and Mae.

We were able to sit in the second area back from the front, dead center. Because a lot of the people that sit in the front areas are general authorities from around the world (we saw our friends the Aoyagi family from Japan!), it was like a mini-United Nations sitting there in the front. I think at least three entire rows were packed with Brazilians.

Marcos' father was called as an Area Authority Seventy in Southern Brazil, so we are looking forward to five years of exciting stories and blessings as Pai gives his time as a voluntary leader of the church. Marcos was named after his father, and Pai never ceases to amaze us with his legacy of dedication, service, diligence and love.

Saturday afternoon, Pai was ordained at the Church Administration Building on Temple Square by Elder Scott.

Second day away

Sometimes I wonder why I gain five pounds every time I travel. Then I looked at these pictures from one day of our trip to Utah and realized that they all revolve around food.

At Lind's house, one event of the day was making my favorite bittersweet chocolate pear cake for Linds to experience. Hypothetically speaking, if you are ever tempted to pour cake batter in a smaller pan than is called for by the recipe, don't do it. It just may explode a bit over the edge and you will end of scraping burnt batter off of the oven. Hypothetically speaking.

For meat lovers and Brazil buffs, churrascaria is the way to go. On Friday night we were swept off to dinner with our Brazilian family and friends, and landed at Rodizio Grill in Salt Lake City.

For those of you unfamiliar with churrascarias - Brazilian steak houses - the style is for the waiters to come around table to table with meats and pineapple fresh off the grill. Each table has little wooden blocks painted green at one end and red at the other. If you are interested in having the waiters come by offering slices off of their meats, the green stays up. If you are full, or need a break, flip the red side up. The photo above is "Guto" with pineapple, and the photo below is garlic serloin.

Tio Fernando is Mae's (Marcos' mom's) brother. He was also visiting for General Conference. Below is Mae, Belle (Marcos' sister) and Pai. Belle lives in Salt Lake, but Mae and Pai came from Sao Paulo for the few weeks surrounding conference.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Four days out of town

Last week we left Wednesday night for Salt Lake City, and returned Monday morning. Marcos' parents were in town from Brazil for the church's April General Conference, and so we took the chance to do family time for four days. Here's day one in a nutshell.

(Disclaimer: If you currently live in Utah and are reading this and are feeling a bit annoyed or irritated that we didn't contact you when we were there, please don't take it personally. You're special, but we just really didn't contact anyone because we knew the trip would be so short).

On to Day One. It all started with a sandwich (see illustration below). Imagine everything bagels, smothered in garden vegetable cream cheese, piled high with lettuce and deli meats...

But the goodness didn't stop there. After a lazy morning at Danny and Marie's (Marcos' brother and sister-in-law), we piled the sandwiches and a picnic in the car, buckled in their 2-year old daughter Kaitlyn, and rode with Marie to the Frontrunner Station in Layton, where we caught the train into Salt Lake City.

Trains are one of my favorite forms of transportation. The Frontrunner is a newish commuter train that runs north of Salt Lake, and wanting to do something cheap but memorable, we bought round trip tickets into downtown.

The trains were nearly deserted at mid-day, so we were able to find a car all to ourselves, and we climbed to the upper level for better views.

At the visitors center on Temple Square, Kaitlyn discovered that the holes in the benches at the Christus doubled as obstacle courses.

Picnicking on the grounds at Temple Square.

Marie with her "I'm-a-new-home-owner" face. She had just received the news that she and Danny had been cleared for a brand new home they were hoping to buy (apropos: thinking of owning a home? $8,000 of free money for brand new home-owners who purchase before the end of the year).

Kaitlyn is really cute. Danny and Marie have similar coloring with Marcos and me, so we wonder if our little ones will look like Kaitlyn.

On to Maika's soccer game in the evening. Don't let the strategically timed photos fool you. Most of the game was frigid and rainy. Picture Linds (my sister) and I huddled under an umbrella, covered with a blanket watching the wind blow the neighbor soccer mom's umbrella inside out. It was tough, but we roughed it. Maika made it all worth while, with his three goals and awesome attitude.