Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Five People You Will Meet in Arizona

(1) The negative Nellie at the grocery story

I’ve moved to new places multiple times and it’s always a little lonely at first, but then after a month or so it gets awesome. My third day in Tucson I was feeling rather stressed about not getting the job I had wanted and not having any furniture in me bedroom or food in my cupboards. I went grocery shopping which for some reason was making me feel even more stress (probably because grocery shopping leads to cooking which I don't really care for). As I was paying for my groceries the cashier, an annoyed looking older woman, asked me, “Why are you so happy?” The question caught me off guard because I was really stressed at that precise moment and did not think that I had a smile on my face, but I responded, “I just moved to Tucson! And I’m happy to be here.” She gave me a look that said, “Are you crazy, hun?” She then proceeded to tell me how hot it is, how her hometown of San Diego is better and her dumb husband never should have made her move to Tucson, but how I would love the weather in the winter. The lady in line behind me chimed in and told me that the winters really are beautiful and that I would love it here. The cashier complained a little bit more and I just smiled and nodded at this surprisingly chatty cashier. As I was leaving I thanked the cashier and she said in a slightly chipper tone, “Welcome to Tucson.” Yes, welcome indeed.

(2) The wise old man and (3) his wife

In an effort to make friends I’ve been going to almost every activity that I’ve been invited to; even things that I would usually say no to. One such activity was singing at a retirement home (I’ve actually said no to such outings on multiple occasions). After singing seven songs or so the lady in charge said, “Okay, go mingle!” and we were supposed to mingle with the old folks. I ended up talking to this nice old man and his wife who were originally from North Carolina. I asked him how long they’d been married and he said 69 years. I told him that I’d have to live to be nearly one hundred to be married for 69 years. He just laughed and told me that I was still very young. Then I asked, “So what’s your secret? How have you been married for so long?” After thinking for a moment he responded in a matter of fact voice, “Give in,” and then he laughed. I think that’s good advice. Most things aren’t worth fighting about.

(4) The Monopoly man

I was at a party for all the new students in my program on Saturday and one of my colleagues brought her “friend” from Atlantic City who I’m pretty sure is actually a little more than that. I asked him what he did for a living and he said he was a real estate agent. Anyone who is well informed and who knows me really well will understand why his occupation was thrilling to me. You see, I was obsessed with the game Monopoly as a teenager and the properties in the game are named after real places in Atlantic City. I tried not to sound too excited as I realized that I was talking to a real life Rich Uncle Pennybags. He told me that he had even sold some properties on the streets mentioned in Monopoly. I tried not to grin with delight at this information because I had just met this man and did not want to seem like a crazy monopoly fanatic so I contorted my face into an expression that said, “That’s cool, I guess.” I wanted to ask if the houses he sold were little, green, and made of plastic, but that might have been a little too charming. Unlike the cartoon Rich Uncle Pennybags the real one did not have a top hat or a mustache. Instead, his tattoos, hip clothing, and overly tanned skin made him look more like a 50 year old trying appear 25.

(5) That girl from the blog

When my cousin’s wife Angie found out I was moving to Arizona she told me that I should take out her friend who lives in Phoenix. Angie sent me a link to her friend’s blog so that I could stalk her and see what she was like. I clicked on the link and read some of a post, but didn’t read much because Phoenix and Tucson are two hours apart and that seemed like too long of a drive for a date.

Last night I just happened to be in Phoenix eating dinner at Café Rio with my friend Megan from BYU. As we were eating, Megan’s friend Erin unexpectedly showed up. They briefly chatted about something and then Megan said, “This is my friend Ben,” and Erin and I shook hands. Then Erin said, “I think we’ve blogged stalked each other.” At this moment I was confused, really confused because I had no idea who this woman was and did not know why she knew me. Sensing my bewilderment she said, “I’m Angie’s friend,” and then instead of feeling confused I felt embarrassed for never writing to this girl. As we chatted another guy walked up to our table and said, “Excuse me, did you go to BYU? You look so familiar.” This was too much, I wasn’t supposed to know anyone in this state and suddenly two random people recognize me at Café Rio! It turns out that that guy (whose name escapes me) was sitting at the same table as Erin. They had spotted me minutes before and had decided that it would be funny for him to say that he knew me too, even though he didn’t. But as we chatted we realized that we really did know each other from a Spanish class we’d taken together.

I was going to tell another story about a Turkish man I met who told me that ben in Turkish means mole by pointing out a mole on a shy girl’s face, but this post is already long. Apparently he nearly laughed when I said, "Hi, I'm Ben." So come to Arizona, there are lots of interesting people to meet here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Have A Cactus for A Neighbor

I made it to Arizona! My drive from Provo to Tucson was rather uneventful, but fun. I didn’t realize how little there is between those two cities. As I was driving through Sulphurdale, Utah I decided to call my friend Allison (not because she smells like sulfur). She didn’t answer, but called me back a short time later. I was driving through a mountainous area and she kept cutting in and out so I told her I’d call her back in few minutes when I had better service. I then lost service completely and when I get service again it said I was roaming. I didn’t get real service until I reached Flagstaff, AZ about five hours later. So when I said, “I’ll call you back in a few minutes,” I really meant “hours.”

When I crossed the border into Arizona I saw the scenery I had expect: rocks, sand, desert vegetation. Like this:

After driving for a while I went up this winding hill and when I got to the top I was surrounded by grass and trees. Apparently there’s a forest in northern Arizona. Who knew? I didn’t.

I got to my new house around 9:30 on Saturday night and met my new roommates. They're both cool and Mexican (those are usually synonymous to me). I had seen pictures of my house before I got there and it looked really, really small. And honestly, it is small, but much larger than it looked in the pictures. I really like it. I haven't gotten any furniture for my bedroom yet so it's just a mess of boxes and my super-comfortable cot.

Tucson looks nothing like Washington, but I'm already liking it. And the coolest part is that I live across the street from a cactus. Here's the view from my front porch:

Based on advice from friends, I will not try to become friends with the cactus by hugging her (obviously she's a girl).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Half Way to AZ

Phase II of my move to Arizona has included a few days hanging out with my college friends in Provo, Utah. To be efficient in my visits I stopped and visited friends along the way to Provo to avoid backtracking stopping in Salt Lake, Taylorsville, and Pleasant Grove before arriving in Provo.

The Reasor girls and I had a delicious lunch at Ruth’s Diner in Emigration Canyon. It was super-delicioso. As I pulled out my wallet to pay my bill Courtlin said, “That’s your wallet? It looks like a teenage boy’s wallet.” She was right, it was a teenage boy’s wallet – me as a teenage boy. I got the wallet when I was 14 or 15 and have used it ever since. For years now I’ve been meaning to upgrade to a more adult wallet, but buying a new wallet is so easy to put off until tomorrow and tomorrow turned into multiple years. The wallet still holds all my stuff, but it isn't in very good shape. The Velcro doesn't work any more and the plastic sleeve for my ID ripped a long time ago. Both Jordan and Courtlin insisted that I buy a new wallet that very day even going so far as to say that my wallet is the reason I’m not married. They assumed any girl who saw her date pull out a wallet like mine to pay for dinner would run for the hills. On a side note, I’ve been getting a lot of “you’re not married because” comments lately. I’ve recently been told that I’m not married because I shop at Old Navy, I don’t buy girls popcorn at the movies, and my hair is graying.

Here's my outdated, teenage wallet.

Here’s my nifty new wallet.

Last night I went out to dinner with Sean, Cari Sue, Josh, and Kelsee. I told them my exciting story about buying a new wallet (it was exciting, right?) and Josh said, “Why’d you get a new wallet? Quiksilver is a cool brand. Seventh graders love it.” So yes, getting a new wallet was way overdue.

I met up with Marcie Glad a few days ago. She told me that since I showed her all around Seattle she was going to show me the sites of Provo. When she said this I said, “Uh, I lived here for six years. I think I’ve seen everything already.” She managed to find a fun toy store that I didn’t know existed and we ran through the new fountains at the Riverwoods. We visited some other places that I’d already been and Marcie recounted the history of the area for me. It was very fun.

My friend Melissa from Washington was in Provo for the summer taking a Portuguese course. She went back to Washington yesterday and had a going away breakfast that included pancakes, French toast, egg muffins, and a really delicious food that I had never tried before that is basically a peanut butter sandwich turned into French toast. I was awakened yesterday by a text from Melissa. She had forgotten to buy some stuff at the store and asked me to pick those items up on my way over to her house. She treats me like her husband. She had forgotten to get bread, milk, eggs, plates, and cups. When I got this text I asked myself, what did she remember to buy? As I was driving to the store she asked me to pick up syrup too. I didn’t mind and I was happy to help. Apparently the French toast ingredient she remembered was the cinnamon.

I’ve had such a blast this week hanging out with my old friends. And I apologize for not mentioning everyone on my blog. My friends here are awesome, and funny, and I appreciate them so much. Provo feels like home.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Forgetting Knitting

I left my beloved Washington yesterday and am currently in Boise visiting my friend Tim. Tomorrow I'm off to Utah for a few days and then my final destination of Arizona. Washington really likes to rub in my face how awesome it can be whenever I abandon it for another state. For instance, when I moved to Utah in 2009 to start my master’s it had been in the 70s and sunny for almost three weeks straight and yesterday as I drove away it was sunny and beautiful again. I felt less bad about leaving Washington, however, when I reached Ellensburg and there were suddenly no more trees. While I love how pretty Washington is, I’m mostly going to miss it because of all of the awesome folks that live there (my folks in particular). Washington will always be home.

Before I left Washington I spent four days at Fort Flagler with 31 of my closest friends. It was quite a motley crew of children, retirees, young adults, regular adults, and two pregnant women. We had a blast. Some of my women friends are really, really into knitting and someone was knitting almost the entire time (Megan is going to make Lisa a pair of Mitt Romney mittens. I said they should call them Mittens Romney).

While I was reading on my Kindle, Carolyn said to me, “Would you like to learn how to knit?” I was a little caught off guard, but said that I would. Why not, right? She handed me the knitting needles (which I briefly used to pretend that I was leading an orchestra) and explained how knitting works. It was really complicated at first and strained my brain.

Then I got the hang of it and a proud smile emerged on my face. An even prouder smile surfaced on Carolyn’s (but I have photographic proof of that).

And this is what my creation looked like. I'm not sure what it was supposed to be.

I don’t see knitting in my future, but it was fun learning how to do it. And unfortunately, I think I’ve already forgotten how to do it. It looks like I won’t be wearing any Mittens Romney this winter.