Monday, March 31, 2014

House Rules

First, an announcement. After a three or four month hiatus in which we didn't know whether we would ever be welcome again due to an inexcusable amount of talking about poop, The Porch has invited us back. I'll be telling a story this Thursday evening at Muse Music in Provo. You can find the link for tickets and other details here. The theme this time will be "Encounters with Strangers." As always, we are thrilled to go back to The Porch and hope to see some of you there.

A significant change has just occurred in my life. I sort of got a new roommate. I mentioned recently that Kurt moved away. About ten seconds later my friend Rebecca, who was living in my building, told me that her lease was ending in her apartment and that she needed a place to stay for one month until she moves to Paris. Rebecca and I went to law school together and have become particularly close friends since I moved into her building six months ago. She asked me if she could "crash" at my place temporarily, since I have an extra bedroom and since I'm desperate for company and attention.

I sort of thought she was joking. So it was easy to say yes. Then on Friday I came home and found woman things all over my apartment.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

I ran for two hours on a treadmill tonight. It was the stuff of nightmares. And I know what you're thinking. "Eli. Why didn't you run outside? You are so attractive." Guys. It was cold and rainy. And ever since Palau, I don't do cold and rainy. Unfortunately, as my experience in Palau taught us, I also don't do hot and rainy. I guess you could say, I don't really do anything. And I know what you're thinking now. "Eli. Shouldn't someone who is training for the Ironman be a little tougher than this? Also, it's amazing how we can see your abs through your shirt." I have no answer for you. But thank you. I can see your abs through your shirts, too.

And now, your pictures and distractions:

Hanging out at a happy hour fundraiser.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Climb Every Mountain

Over the weekend I had some pretty intense conversations with Daniel. This was between all of the bickering over his selfish requests to get his clothes back. We talked about our experience in Palau. And what made it great. And what made it hard. And what made it heartbreaking in the final months.

When I returned from Palau, I felt like my soul was shattered into a million pieces. I was so broken over my terrible falling out with Daniel. I missed people I loved so much. I was traumatized by some of the most challenging things I had ever faced. I was so lost about where my life was headed. Sure, I had a job and a family to come back to. But for the first time in my adult life, I didn't really know to what end I was stepping into the next phase.

I felt really really alone. I feared that my next step was to make perpetual monotony the status quo. To turn my life into an eternal nine-to-five, where I worked toward nothing in particular and did it all by myself.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Daniel Searches for His Clothes

Eli: Excuse me. What are you doing?

Daniel: I'm going through your closet.

Eli: And why would you be doing something like that?

Daniel: Because I want my clothes back.

Eli: What on Earth makes you think that I would have your clothes in my closet?

Daniel: Because I've seen pictures of you on Facebook in the last six months and you are wearing something of mine in probably half of them.

I Have Terrible Ideas in the Middle of the Night

Do you ever do things in the middle of the night that make absolutely no sense?

Sometimes in the middle of the day an idea will come to me about something I should write. I try to jot these ideas down as they come so I can hash them out later when I have time. Some of the best ideas have come to me in a dream or in the middle of the night when I wake up in a cold sweat because THE IRONMAN IS APPROACHING.

Last week I woke up with an idea. It was not one of the good ones. It was one that didn't make any sense whatsoever. But apparently I thought it was a good enough of an idea to go to great efforts to preserve it and see it through.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Moving Heavy Things

As you know, Mr. Daniel came to town last week. Him and all 12,000 of his heavy bags that were opened and spilled out over my apartment for five days. It was wonderful to have him around and it felt a lot like old times. Except we weren't fighting over who got to stand in front of the open freezer in my kitchen.

By the way, one of you who is apparently a big fan of Daniel made a Daniel Facebook fan page this weekend (and I just noticed the Facebook link name, which I LOVE). He acts mostly apathetic, but I've caught him checking it a number of times over the last few days. I'm just worried all the fame is going to go to his head. You know how child stars usually fall apart eventually? Well, Mr. Daniel.

Anyway, on Friday night we celebrated Anna Swayne's birthday with a large group of friends at an Indian restaurant. I have a serious overeating problem at all Indian restaurants. Also, I have this same problem with tortillas, ice cream, and whenever there is food in my house.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pictures From My Phone & Weekly Distractions

Daniel flew into Salt Land last night. This morning I ventured off to the office, of course making sure he had food and that all of the child locks and safety hazards were taken care of. I told Daniel I would check on him throughout the day and make sure he had everything he needed.

Daniel: Where's the laundry?

Eli: Huh?

Daniel: Don't get smart with me. Just tell me where it is. Let's get this over with.

Eli: Oh. Did you want to do my laundry? 

Daniel: Eli. At least have the courtesy of not gently manipulating me into doing it. Just tell me where it is so I can get started.

A closet door was then opened. A nation's worth of dirty clothes came pouring out of it, filling the apartment. Daniel should really think twice next time he decides to stop doing my laundry for six months.

And now, your Pictures and Distractions.

With Kyle and Emily, participating in our weekly Survivor party without Brandt who took his Disney prince hair and went to Ireland for work.

At Least Learn the Words if You're Going to Sing It.

The other day I got a phone call from my three-year-old niece, AKA "The Child Who Hates Me." Our rocky relationship hasn't improved much during the course of her almost four-year life. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I've tried everything you people have told me to do. IT'S LIKE SHE DOESN'T EVEN APPRECIATE ABSOLUTELY FLAWLESS HAIR.

So I was surprised, and excited, when I realized it was her on the other end. Then the most hysterical and adorable phone conversation that has ever happened took place.

Emrie: Hi, Ailai [Eli].

Eli: Hey kiddo! What's happening, girlfriend!

(Eli suddenly feels embarrassed for saying "girlfriend" because he's worried that it's going to look like he's trying too hard. His palms become sweaty.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

State of the Union, Spring

About six months ago I moved back from Palau to the United States of God Bless America. And when I did, I had a hard time updating you all on the millions of life changes that happened at once AND keep talking about how Trixy Meowman's most recent grooming went. I got a bunch of questions at the time from Strangers who were starting to feel like my general and consistent story-telling was reaching the nonsensical level of Glee. So I finally did a post called "State of the Union" to give you a quick answers to some of your questions.

I realized recently as I glanced back through the past couple of months on Stranger that while I have posted regularly, there are some pretty significant life changes that I have failed to discuss. As a result, you guys aren't completely aware of absolutely everything that I'm doing all of the time always. AND I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU'RE FUNCTIONING!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Palau Meets Salt Lake City

Last week my worlds collided. And it was really strange.

One of the boys from Palau, whom I got to know very well working with the church kids for one year, flew into Salt Lake City on Monday. Skarlee is starting a two-year Mormon mission in Australia, but, in what must be the most indirect path to Australia, they had him fly to Utah first to spend a few weeks in a training center. I was asked to pick him up at the airport.

I was ecstatic to do this. I've missed Skarlee greatly in the six months (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT'S BEEN SIX MONTHS!?) since I left the land of coconuts. Skarlee is one of the kindest and most remarkable young men I have ever met. He comes from very very rough home circumstances and has had more challenges in his 19 years of life than most people probably would in 100 years. But he is upbeat and kind and charitable. And I'm going to try to stand right next to him on the Great and Terrible Day of the Coming of the Lord in hopes that he gets to choose one friend to take with him on his exotic reward vacation for being one of the top 10 best people who has ever lived.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Messing with People on Tinder

Last week I was hanging out with my friend Brandt at his place. Then I took his phone and started Tindering for him. In case you're unaware, Tinder is what the kids are calling a "dating app" for the phone where you connect with people based on whether or not you think they are attractive and then you start chatting with them. Brandt, being the beautiful man of wonder that he is, has many Tinder matches. But after I got done contacting these matches, he probably won't have many Tinder dates.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Happy weekend, Strangers. I just ran on a treadmill for 90 minutes. It was the worst 90 minutes of my life. Besides every 90-minute period of every single scout camp I ever went on.

And now, your Pictures and Distractions:

My new sunglasses and old duck face. I texted this picture to Jolyn 20 times in one day. She never responded and I haven't heard from her since.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Last Thursday I got a text from Jolyn.

"Eli, could you please accompany me to something tonight?"

I know better than to ever accept any invitation from Jolyn without first finding out every detail possible and then forcing her to sign an affidavit swearing that as far as she knows the chances of me being killed or imprisoned during the course of the adventure are at least as low as they were before she became involved in my life.

So I responded:

"Not without a lot more detail than that, dear."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Krisanda's Birthday

Today is my sister Krisanda's birthday. She's turning 21 again. All four of Bob and Cathie's children started turning 21 every year sometime around 2010. It's been great to be the same age finally.

Krisanda is my middle sister. She is also the sister who has most consistently lied to me throughout my life. For example, for over a decade she had convinced me that we once had an older sister named Christine who was killed in a car accident on the way home from a beauty pageant and had since haunted the basement singing Whitney Houston songs.

I thought I was 1/4 Mexican until I was 14.

Once she made me perform a series of very uncomfortable poison control remedies because she thought a drop of cleaning solution had landed in my mouth. Although, to be fair, I don't think she was playing a joke on me on that one. I think she legitimately thought I was going to die.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cuddle Texts

One Stranger, Amy V., emailed me on Friday a link to a Craigslist ad by a man looking for a beautiful woman to "cuddle" and "snuggle" and "intimacy." He required that she be between the ages of 18 and 40. His whole ad seemed really creepy. Like, the end-up-on-the-news kind of creepy. So I texted him.

In anticipation to your questions, the picture he tried to send to me did not go through. But, it didn't really matter.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

It's Friday again. And I'm feeling kind of sad. What better way to cure the blues than through some pictures and distractions?

Happy weekend, Strangers.

Anna Swayne and I have mastered the biking selfie. 

Don't Let Strangers Borrow Your Phone

The other day I went to a coffee shop to do some writing and I sat down at a table right across from the biggest man I have ever seen in my entire life. He was from Ghana and he was wearing a lot of clothes that I was pretty sure were traditional for Ghana. Or maybe they're what's "in" right now and I don't know that because I've stolen enough clothes from former roommates in my life that I pretty much never have to set foot inside of a clothing store anymore.

Seriously. I'm wearing a belt I stole from Daniel right now (surprise, Daniel!) and a shirt that . . . I don't know where I got it but I'm one million percent sure I didn't buy it. Also it has someone's initials written on the tag. T.M.?

After writing for a little while, I was interrupted by this man who asked whether he could borrow my phone "to make a really quick phone call" to his friend.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You People Rock My World

Yesterday I wrote this post about what's happening in Ukraine. I wrote it because Daniel has been telling me for a solid month that I should.

I hesitated writing it partly because I didn't think anybody would be all that interested in hearing what I had to say on the topic. I find it extremely interesting, of course. But I have a very special interest in what's happening between Russia and Ukraine, having lived in both countries and having spent a significant portion of my 20s in that part of the world.

I finally wrote yesterday, deciding that I had a unique voice on the topic that I should preserve on Stranger, even if it wouldn't end up being all that popular or interesting to you.

Monday, March 3, 2014


The last few months have been really strange for me. I've been watching the events in Ukraine unfold. I've been watching with anxiety and fear and sadness and some excitement. I've been full of conflicting emotions and real concerns.

There's a very special place in my heart for Ukraine. It's right next to the spot I carved out for Paul Simon and cheesecake. I was a church missionary for two years in Ukraine, from the summer of 2003 to the summer of 2005. I've been fortunate enough to stay close to my friends there over the years and have been able to visit Ukraine half a dozen times since 2009, the year I moved back to Eastern Europe to work in Moscow for a short while. Most recently, Daniel and I visited western Ukraine in 2012, right before leaving for Palau.

Those people are probably still talking about how much borsch that kid ate.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I'm Going to Need to See Some I.D.

On Friday night I stopped by Jolyn's place because it's been too quiet recently and that always makes me nervous. When I got there she coughed at my face and told me she was dying. As you know, I can't stand it when people overreact or exaggerate, so it was difficult for me to be there.

I ventured off to the store to pick up some supplies, including, per her request, NyQuil.

I don't do NyQuil myself because I believe that the main ingredient to that stuff is POISON. I drank it once about five years ago and I still feel like my spirit hasn't quite returned to my body. I think they need to edit the bottle to say, "to help you fall into a half-sleep FOR TWO WEEKS."

But when Jolyn Metro wants something, I just make sure she gets it. Especially since Jolyn drops anything to help me any time I ask. That is, after hiding a severed head in my gym bag first.