Monday, September 30, 2013

Is This What Kurt Does All Day?

My office is less than a block away from where I live. So frequently I walk home to get lunch or feed my cats or scream into a pillow out of terror.

Today I came home to eat something and as I approached the building, I saw this.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Skin Cancer

On Saturday I called Bob and Cathie, who always seem to answer every phone call together and on speaker phone.

Cathie: Hello, so--


Cathie: I'm sorry. You have the wrong number.


Bob: Where is your "skin cancer?"

Eli: First of all, father, I can tell you used finger quotes when you said "skin cancer" and I very much resent that.

Cathie: It's not that we don't care about you. It's that we don't trust you.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Pictures and distractions have returned to Stranger. I know you were all very very angry. I think 90% of you dropped me on Facebook. But then you came back because you missed seeing all of the pictures of me and my cats.

Today's set of pictures are already old. They are the set I meant to share with you about three weeks ago. I may forever be in catch-up mode.

Just about to leave for the airport. My last night with the Palau kids. Notice the t-shirt on the kid to the right of me . . .

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Serious Conversation about Stalking

Eli: Hey, I have a question for you.

Kurt: I know this is either going to be really disconcerting or extremely infuriating, but ok.

Eli: This is actually kind of a serious topic. Something happened today and I'm a little uneasy. Actually, freaked out about it.

Kurt: Really? What's going on? Are you ok?

Eli: At what point does a person's actions become actual, true, "stalking." Like, when could someone call the police about this?

Kurt: Um, Eli? Are we in danger? Should I be worried?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

State of the Union

This is sort of a state of the union post. Because I’ve now been in the United States of God Bless America for over two weeks and some of you are getting extremely angry with me that I basically haven’t told you anything about my life in those two weeks except that I now live with someone who sets up furniture in the elevator and apparently hasn’t bought into the whole “cat scratching” thing yet.

These two weeks have been a ridiculous roller coaster of all things. Every time I try to gather my thoughts and update you on what are some of the biggest life changes I’ve ever had, I feel an immediate information overload and find myself unable to concisely get it all down in words. So instead I end up writing about cats. Add to the overwhelming nature of the life changes, I have been so incredibly busy getting my affairs back in order and starting a new and demanding job that I haven’t had the time that I hoped to have to sit down and write.

So this is my sad attempt at giving you some updates. Because it’s been hard for you guys to stalk me lately since I’ve been so off the map. And when you guys can’t properly stalk me, NONE of us are happy.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Kurt is an ER nurse. When I try to picture him on the job, I usually see some mixture of General Hospital, Scrubs, and The Brady Bunch (because he gives off a strong Peter Brady vibe).

Because he's a nurse, he has nurse's schedule syndrome, meaning that he works 793 hour shifts and then has every day off until Christmas Eve 2045.

This is something I'll never understand about the work schedules of ER nurses. Does it seem to anyone else like nurses always seem to work erratically inconsistent and inconvenient schedules, insanely long shifts, and on every single holiday possible?

Kurt is hardly an exception to this. Sometimes he works a million hours in a row. Sometimes he has a million hours off in a row. The only consistent thing about his schedule is that he always comes home, makes some vague comment about how close he came to human poop in the last twelve hours, and then pops a handful of crackers or other finger foods into his mouth like he spent the day not coming close to human poop.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Thing Behind Kurt's Ear

Kurt: Will you look at this thing behind my ear?

Eli: What do you think I am? Your doctor?

Kurt: Just look. It's freaking me out and I don't know what it is.

Eli: Ugh. Fine. But I don't do full physicals without advanced payment. I accept MasterCard, Visa, and attention. Also--

Kurt: It's right here. Can you see it?

Eli: Yes. It looks like a scratch.

Kurt: A scratch?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

BYU Football

This Saturday marks the catastrophically-important and time-stopping date of the annual BYU/Utah football game.

I have something to admit that may anger the people of the world. 

I don't care that much about football. 

I'll go a step further, although this declaration is not timely: I HATE the Superbowl. With a hot and fiery passion. In past years, I have purposefully planned flights during the Superbowl so I wouldn't have to be around when everyone else wastes a perfectly good Sunday in a dark cave staring at a TV so they can find out which of two teams that represent basically nothing at all is better at coordination and following rules on that day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Text Conversations to Remember

I was recently looking through my phone and I remembered that I had saved some of my favorite text conversations over the last couple of years with the intention of eventually sharing them with you. Here are some of them:


[Coordinating for a blind date]

Eli: Hey, just to confirm, I'll pick you up at 7:00 tonight. Right?

Her: Sounds good!

Eli: Great! Touch you soon!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Living in the Elevator

I've now been back from the Land of Coconuts for about a week and I'm very unfortunately still engaging in the never-ending process of collecting all of my countless things from every corner of the planet so I can . . . what? Hoard them in one place rather than spread them out over several?

Seriously. What is the point?

Sometimes I don't know why I have the stuff I do. And, look. This isn't one of those things where an incredibly fortunate and out of touch person is complaining that he has too many wonderful possessions. This is one of those things where an incredibly fortunate and out of touch person is complaining that he has too much garbage that he's too attached to toss and is now finding out that this problem is ruining his life. See the difference? (Hint: you say the latter one with a lisp)

Guys. I have cords to electronic devices that I haven't seen since 2006. I have t-shirts that accidentally ended up in my stuff from when I used a public drier freshman year of college and I've never had the heart to get rid of them because they've already experienced abandonment once and I just can't stand the thought. Receipts from things that I'm pretty sure I never even bought. Chap-stick someone once left in my car upside down so that it melted and re-hardened back in the lid. Etc.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Child Who Hates Me

One of the greatest parts about being back in the United States of God Bless America (the full legal name) is that I have been able to see all of my four nieces and two nephews with some regularity. I LOVE these kids. They're like cuter versions of my siblings.

One of the cutest of them all is my tiny niece Emrie. NOT THAT I'M RANKING THEM.

Unfortunately Emrie and I have had a VERY rocky relationship since the beginning of her life about four years ago. For reasons that nobody could really explain, this kid absolutely screamed every time I walked into the room from the moment she was born.

I used to think that this was because she could sense a dark connection to me since her mother--my younger sister Micalyne--received the wrath of my bullying in our very youngest years. This wrath included multiple haircuts, effective manipulation that got baby sister to clean my room somewhere around 4,000 times, and one instance where I tried to sell her to the creepy man who lived down the street.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Conversation with You Guys

Eli: I need to talk to you guys about something very important.

You Guys: Ok . . . we're a little nervous. Are we in trouble?

Eli: Oh, gosh no! I could never be mad at you guys!

You Guys: Oh, thank heavens. Is it serious?

Eli: Well, kind of. First of all you know that I love you very very much, right?

You Guys: Really? Then why did you introduce the Queen of Colors to us?

Eli: That was out of love. You need to know what kind of evil exists in the world.

You Guys:  And what about last week when you only blogged like two and a half times and we had nothing to do all day except for our jobs and/or raising our children?

Eli: I already apologized for that on Friday. I made a mistake. I got busy. I was young. I needed the money.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Coming Up for Air

I know what you're thinking. Eli, you have been the flakiest person of all time this week! Also, you are the most attractive person we've ever seen and we know for a fact that Paul Simon wants to be your best friend but he's just too intimidated to initiate contact.

First of all, Paul Simon doesn't get intimidated by anyone. In fact, they invented the concept of intimidation to describe how people feel about approaching Paul Simon. But, just in case, maybe I'll go stand in front of his house for seven straight months and stare at it without blinking.

As to the flaky accusation--it's sort of true. And I'm sure that none of you have been able to function this week because the only thing you've really heard from me is that I apparently was naked at a Korean airport. Oh, and someone pooped in a stairwell in China.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And That's How I Ended Up Completely Naked at the Airport

This is going to be one of those posts that brings in tons of people who are searching for "naked men" or "nude" or, oddly, "rats eating wonder bras," because there are always a few weird ones like that that I can never figure out.

The first stop on my mass exodus across the world over the weekend, a mass exodus in which I'm pretty sure I saw every human being who has ever lived, was in Seoul Korea.

I was already exhausted when I got to Seoul because every flight that leaves Palau takes off at the most inconvenient time possible in the middle of the night. So in order to leave the country, you have to basically forgo a night of sleep, leaving yourself in a zombie-like state by the time you get to your destination.

I wandered the Seoul airport, carrying my 37 extremely heavy bags, searching for a place to store them, and setting them down to cry every few minutes because I was SO tired. And confused. And I just wanted to be at home in my bed. With a pillow made out of cheesecake. And with Paul Simon singing me a song that he wrote about our friendship just after I surprise him with a collage-sculpture of what he and I would look like if we combined our DNA and lived at his house together and spent all day trying on his clothes and laughing really hard at his jokes.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Shopping in Hong Kong

Happy weekend, Strangers. I've been wandering across Asia for the past few days. I don't typically do my international traveling alone. This is because I don't see the point in traveling if I don't have someone there to listen to me complain about it the whole time.

Despite being alone, I have continued with my typical travel commentary, out loud, and in public. Most people I see look at me like I'm crazy. Then this morning I ventured to the edge of Hong Kong because I heard there was a great outlet shopping mall out there and because I haven't done ANY shopping in a year. Plus the Land of Coconuts destroyed all of my clothes. Bless its little heart.

While shopping and commenting on the experience to no one in particular, I decided I should record the commentary so that you can feel like we're traveling together. Below I give you five short videos. Be sure to watch them sequentially. (Mostly I'm sharing these because OH MY GOSH I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW FAST THE INTERNET IS WHEN YOU'RE NOT IN PALAU!)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy Trails, Palau

The time has finally come for me to say farewell to the land of coconuts.

I've wondered for weeks how to write this. And I can definitely say that what I will write is going to be so much different than what I thought I would be writing one year ago. My time in Palau turned out to be much different than I thought it would be one year ago.

I want to write this in a way that will give you closure, too. Because this experience hasn't been my own. We've shared it. You've been kind enough to me to hear about it and share the burdens and the laughs. The farewell doesn't belong only to the departing party (me). It belongs to all of us. And I guess in a way, we're all leaving Palau now.

I remember so clearly getting a ride through the dark jungle from the barn-like airport to my apartment on top of a hill one year ago. It was raining. And I had a sense right then, curving around one winding road, that I had just jumped head-first into an adventure. One that looked totally dark when I jumped--dark enough to keep me from really knowing what it was.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Conversations with the Church Kids

Throughout my year in Palau I have had many enlightening conversations with the Palauan teenagers at church. I've written them down as they've happened with the intention of sharing some of them with you one day. Below is a sampling of a few of my favorites.

One note: Everything the kids said in these conversations was said seriously---straight-faced and without any sarcasm.


(14 and 18 year-old boys)

Boy 1: Brother Eli, I have something very important to tell you today.

Eli: Ok. Should I be sitting down for this?

Boy 1: You are sitting down. You are driving a car.

Eli: I know. It's a figure of . . . never mind. What's up?

Boy 1: There is a seventh grader at my school and she is now becoming PREGNANT!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Russian Survivor

On Saturday the court had an outing to the Rock Islands as sort of a farewell party for the three of us court counsel who will be leaving Palau over the next few weeks. We made the forty minute boating trek to one favorite beach with a view of a small lagoon-like area. We barbecued, played music, swam, and visited with one another until the sun started setting. It was wonderful.

The beach had a bunch of props on it from Russian Survivor, which is being filmed in Palau right now. Two seasons of the U.S. version of Survivor have taken place in Palau. When something like that happens in a country that is smaller than many universities in America, it leaves an impact. Seeing the Survivor memorabilia around town this year prompted me to become a huge fan of the show. My friends and I have ordered old seasons on Amazon to pass around to one another. So when I found out that Russian Survivor was going to be here for my final few weeks, I suddenly felt like I was living in the middle of Hollywood.

What made this particularly exciting to me was that Daniel and I just happened to be on the Russian version of The Amazing Race last year when we were in Kyiv. We were walking through a park when we saw several of the teams running by, each being chased by its own camera man. One of the teams stopped and quickly asked us for directions to a spot we had just come from. I did my very best to be charismatic and memorable to ensure that my big Russian television debut would not get cut.