Tag Archives: Sim

North Dakota

As you can see from the title, the state of North Dakota has suddenly been swept into our lives. Sim accepted a position in North Dakota with Western Petroleum Inc., which provides a variety of fuels, oils, and lubricants. I have an idea about the new position but not anything definitive, so details will follow.

Sim arrived in Ray, ND today and will begin work tomorrow. The drive is about 14 hours long, so he’ll likely fly home periodically to visit, rather than taking a train or bus (since the routes are limited and take a long time). The distance will be difficult, but we’ve worked too hard for too many years not to take advantage of this opportunity. Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, like many places in the U.S., have few opportunities for college graduates seeking professional positions that will allow them a decent salary and a chance to gain experience. So for now Sim is going to give it a trial run.

My plans to teach during the 6-week summer term in Washington remain the same. I need to visit my mom this summer anyway, and I really want/need to keep building my work experience. Plus I love WWU and Bellingham 🙂 So the plan is to visit Sim for a week in June and leave the dogs with him, then drive to Washington to work and stay with family. I would then drive back to visit Sim for a couple weeks in August and take the dogs back with me to Iowa for the fall semester. Our plans to visit Tokyo this spring also remain the same, but we’re going to wait to book the trip in case the timing is not realistic for Sim.

Already I miss Sim but am trying to be positive. The fact of the matter is that many, if not most, couples deal with distance while one or both are earning a graduate degree. It’s almost a prerequisite to admission to a PhD program.

Admissions committee: Do you have a long distance relationship that will make your education even MORE painful to survive?

Applicant: Yes. I am a glutton for punishment and misery.

Admissions committee: Good, that will make you stronger. Or contribute to an ulcer, high blood pressure, anxiety, and severe depression. But those symptoms are already commensurate with graduate school, so what’s the difference?


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The little blue trailer

My husband, bless his heart, has owned a little blue trailer since he was 16.

I learned, long ago, that “bless his heart” is a southern expression, which is nothing short of genius. Correct me, southerners, if I’m wrong. But I believe the expression can be used to soften the blow of something less sugar coated. For example: “He’s a no good son of a bitch, bless his heart!” So with this understanding (yankees: take note), I reiterate that my husband, bless his heart, has owned a little blue trailer since he was 16.

It’s not that I am ungrateful. I am very thankful to have a trailer. A trailer that is constantly parked on the side of our house. A trailer that the neighborhood gets to look at year round. A trailer that enables us to drag ungodly amounts of crap home that we don’t need. I am so thankful, in fact, that I’m compelled to tell you about our adventures with little blue.

It’s first out-of-state venture was in 2004 when we moved from Washington to California.

This picture captures the first time the trailer needed attention. In the middle of nowhere.

The next picture captures the next time the trailer needed attention. In the middle of nowhere.

Seriously. You’ve heard of Orlando, right? But did you know that there is an Orlando, CALIFORNIA!? No? That’s because it’s in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!!!

And what, you ask, could possibly “break down” on a trailer? Oh my. There are so many things that can break on a trailer, thus rendering it immobile, that it’s not even funny. These two particular maroons were the result of bad bearings.

We then, in 2006, had a stint in North Carolina. After eating all the fried food our clogged arteries desired, we decided to return to Washington. I-40 is very, very long. It stretches all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. So there are plenty of bad places to break down.

The location little blue selected: The middle of the Mojave desert. There are no pictures of this incident, because I was in the process of LOSING MY MIND! Of course this was because I had already seen the movie “Breakdown”, starring Kurt Russell.

Did you take note of the vehicle they were driving? A Red Jeep Cherokee. Holy shit. It is identical to ours. The only consolation is that my husband, like Kurt Russell, is a total bad ass. But nonetheless, I have some unresolved anxiety about traveling long distances. So little blue trailer, may the force be with you.

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Many of you know that I grew up in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth.

Since it’s fishing season and since he hasn’t visited in two years, this is the third weekend in a row that Sim has driven to Leavenworth. The Icicle River is one of the greatest places in the world to fish for salmon; it is absolutely gorgeous. And every year it draws many of Sim’s lifelong mountain man friends to its bank. So I’m glad Sim is savoring the last little bit of Washington that he has left. It’s very bittersweet. He graduates from college on Saturday and we leave for Iowa on Sunday.

So here’s a little introduction to the town of Leavenworth for those who aren’t familiar. (It features Joel McHale from Talk Soup 🙂 )

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The magic van

Uncle Rico's van

Unbeknownst to many of our readers, we are the proud owners of a 1982 Chevy Van. This thing is so old that it was literally on the manufacturing line when I was in diapers. My husband is eagerly awaiting the year 2012, in which it will become a collector’s item and thus be eligible for a special license plate.

The magic van is like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. I swear you can keep shoving shit in there and still have room for stuff. Mary Poppins, at different points in the movie, pulls a large lamp and cough syrup from her bag. So what, precisely, can you find in the magic van?

The ogre first comes equipped with a couch in the back, which folds down to a bed. A perk, I should mention, that makes the van an ideal mode to transport to concerts. But that’s another blog. A blog that really doesn’t have anything upstanding to contribute, actually.

I should note that we are driving the van, along with our Jeep Cherokee, to Iowa. The purpose of the van is to usher our beloved K9’s across the country. Perhaps we’ll even run into other crazies who are traveling with a pack of dogs. However, this generally means that their K9’s compete in dog shows, whereas our dogs do little more than bark at butterflies and try to hump each other (which does not make sense, since they are all fixed).

But back to the van. Inside of it you will now find (a) another full sized couch, (b) 6 large home stereo speakers, and (c) 1 HUGE television, circa 1999. We have already hauled this god dammed TV from Washington to California, from California to North Carolina, and from North Carolina to Washington. And by god, my husband is bound and determined to haul it to Iowa!

So the vehicle that was originally intended to transport our dogs now contains our entire living room. What’s magic about this is that there is STILL room for the dogs. The original couch in the back sits in the back, and the living room couch sits perpendicular to it (lengthwise). And our dogs LOVE their couch. It’s not uncommon to enter the living room to find 3 or 4 of them sleeping on it at once, with their chins resting on each other’s tummies and rumps.

So the added weight likely reduces our gas mileage from 10 miles per gallon to, say, 9 miles per gallon. But let’s face it – there’s no way to stuff 6 dogs in a Prius. So at least we’ll be comfortable along the way.

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The month of garage sales

Once we found a house to rent I could rest easy knowing that I wouldn’t have to move to a new state without Sim and dogs, and/or stress out (even more) during the doctoral program about trying to relocate them.

It was time to garage sale.

After three painful weeks of sorting through stuff in the house, I was ready. My mother was even kind enough to donate some items (which I’m still not allowed to tell my dad about for fear that he’ll have a stroke). Soon everything was organized.

I first made signs. I then decided to cover all bases and post an ad to Craigslist. There were like 284 other garage sale ads for that weekend, so I wondered “what good will this do?”

What good will it do!? It will bring maniacs to your door the next day at 7:00 am!!! Never mind the clear hours of operation and the request for “no early birds”, people will hunt you down.

We had not even opened the garage and set up before the first visitor arrived. From there we had a steady stream of customers all day. We did this for 1-2 days each weekend for 3 consecutive weekends. And when I say “we”, I really mean “Sim”. He is always behind the scenes busting his ass to make everything happen for us.

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Puppy love

General Jelly Beans

So Sim and I have 6 dogs. Yes, 6. We know we’re certifiably crazy. But then again, so are people who have 3 children. Or perhaps any children. I’m pro-child and all, but it amazes me how astounded people become when they learn we have so many dogs. They freak out like a college student who wakes up still drunk from the night before, only to discover they have an exam in 15 minutes. Let’s not get carried away here. Dogs potty train at 8 weeks old. Okay, unless you’re my beagle and try to sneak in a midnight poop only so you can turn around a have a hot snack. But in all fairness, what kid hasn’t crapped in the bathtub? Or worse yet, the public pool? Dogs eat anything you put in front of them. They sit on command. They don’t talk back. They don’t need a babysitter. And they don’t need money to go to college. They are just looking for love and companionship.

This whole thing just brings about the inevitable baby-centric discussion that you’d think would be absent from American culture in the year 2010. People like to prod beyond politeness, they like to pity us for not knowing the joy they know, and they like to note that their life is now complete with children. I’m not buying it. Really? You were a half shell person until you reproduced? I wonder what they say to people, after advertising their smug happiness, who disclose that they can’t have children. Do they have the audacity to posit that these people can never fully be happy? There’s definite tension between dog people and kid people (ironically and controversially now termed as “breeders” for their sometimes copious procreation). What happened to common ground? Yes, we both have the choice, dog or child. Yes, we’re both overpopulating the planet and leaving a sizable carbon footprint. But why the tension? I feel like this is a bad flashback of “Jerry’s final thought” on the Springer Show – but here it goes – I think at the heart of the matter, we all just want to be respected for our decisions.

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Big Daddy

Twelve days after my birthday came Sim’s birthday.

We met 11 years ago in Leavenworth, WA. I was working at a Bavarian hotel and trying to resist my boss’ prodding to wear a dirndl at work. And Sim was launching a small pizza place he created himself. He was truly a one man show. My first glimpses of him were when he would pull up to the hotel in his VW rabbit (which lacked a muffler, so you could literally hear him coming from a mile away), come to a screeching halt, and proceed to run up the stairs and down the hall like a contestant on the biggest loser struggling for every bit of their dignity as some mean skinny coach yells expletives at them. Only later did I learn the reason for Sim’s haste. As he would leave the shop with a delivery pizza in hand, he would throw another pizza in the conveyer belt oven and then scurry to the front door and lock it, so as to resume the one man show shortly. He had exactly 8 minutes to deliver a pizza and return to the conveyer belt as the next pie emerged. His business operations still make me laugh, but they worked and his business flourished. This is also due, in part, to the fact that he finally learned how to properly make dough after a year of operation. But Sim’s “ah ha” moment of letting dough rise is another story.

I promised I’d steer away from the romanticized bullshit of so many bloggers who feel the need to tout their “wonderful” spouses and children, but I should really take a moment to acknowledge my life partner. Sim is an incredible person. Rather than babble on about how special he is, I thought you might enjoy learning a few things about him:

(1) If he could be reincarnated to return during any time period, it would be during the Wild West. And he would be a mountain man. I’m completely serious. Like Jeremiah Johnson starring Robert Redford. The movie actually stems from a book titled “Mountain Man” by Vardis Fisher, which has become one of my favorite reads.

(2) In 5th grade, Sim’s class played a sort of Monopoly game. Each student played a townsperson and they worked together to govern their town. Sim invented a chair towing business, which made it’s money (their fake class money) from fees students paid to get their chairs out of the impound. This, after their chairs had been towed for not being pushed in. By the end of the school year he had made more money than anyone else in class.

(3) Sim loves 1970’s Broncos. I’m sure he has a favorite year, etc., which I should really know.

(4) One of the best trips we’ve taken together was to Mexico in 1999. We got the brilliant idea during my college winter break to go on vacation. And how did we decide where? We drove to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, 3 hours from Leavenworth, and stared at the reader board for the cheapest flights. And thus it was decided: Viva Mexico! From there Sim rented us a Jeep Wrangler and spoke Spanish to me for the next week. That was it. I was hopeless.

(5) If a celebrity were to ever play Sim in a movie, it would be Alec Baldwin. Sim is a total Baldwin.

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