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2002-08-15 - 1:41 p.m.

Two weeks ago. Last week. This week.

Oh man, where was I?

Two weeks ago my in-laws, The Scientist's parents, came to visit. My FIL retired this spring and my MIL freelances so they've been taking the opportunity to do a lot of traveling this summer. Visiting the new granddaughter, mostly, but also other family and friends. And they are driving almost everywhere. Right there we have a fundamental difference of opinion. The thought of driving randomly around the country (ok, not randomly but from North Carolina to Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and back to North Carolina and potentially Houston in there somewhere, I can't remember) sends chills down my spine. I can handle a directed road trip--we need to get from here to there and driving is the cheapest/easiest way of doing so, but I absolutely cringe at the thought of driving in a big erratic circle just to see as many people as possible within a short span of time.

You'd think that this driving thing would give them flexibility, but somehow they were still on a fairly strict schedule (for example, only stopping in Illinois for lunch with MIL's sister and then motoring on). Originally they wanted to visit us Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. When The Scientist told me that, we had a little discussion, and then he called them back to try to rearrange that plan. I mean, we both work full time and have jobs where our meager vacation time has already been used up or is spoken for. But they thought it would be a good idea to visit us midweek? They weren't planning to stay with us, so that at least wasn't an issue. Eventually we got them to come Wednesday-Friday (they left at 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning) and I had a random half-day off work while the rest of my office went to the local fair (local to them, not me). The Scientist was leaving for a business trip on Sunday, so he could take Friday afternoon off as well.

Wednesday and Thursday were incredibly hot and we have no air conditioning. I was cooking dinner for four in our oven-like apartment with the heat made worse because I had to turn on the actual oven, thus increasing the ovenness of the whole thing. Cooking, sweating, stressing (it's always more stressful to entertain your partner's family--my family isn't stressful at all, right?). Both dinners went well, though. The food all turned out, they liked it, everyone had seconds, dessert was great (chocolate cake, strawberries, vanilla icecream, and chocolate sauce artistically drizzled over it all). But it was really fucking hot.

Wednesday night after dinner we went up to the capitol square to hear the local symphony orchestra play. They had a visiting pianist and did a bunch of show tunes. It was fun, but hot. Thursday night was even hotter, so after dinner we took them to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding. They were a little leery about going to see a movie with us. I think The Scientist has made some recommendations before that they didn't appreciate. But they really liked the movie and so did we. Fun for the whole family!

Friday I went to the doctor and worked in the morning, then the in-laws came over to our apartment and I drove us all to pick up The Scientist at his building on campus. We went to lunch and then to the arboretum. The arboretum was basically a big lawn with lots of trees. Somehow I was expecting more, but it was a nice sunny day (cooled off a bunch, highs in the upper 70s/low 80s) and we had a good time walking around picking out our favorite trees. We even ran into a volunteer who told us interesting things (that I've promptly forgotten) about different trees. I'd like to go back in the fall when all the leaves are turning. Friday night we went out to dinner and then came back to our apartment to play Trivial Pursuit. We played young-marrieds against older-marrieds and The Scientist and I lost! I think this is literally the first time we've ever lost when we've played together as a team. It was a very competitive game--we were ahead, then tied, and I think we only lost by one piece of pie. We all had fun. As I said before, they left early Saturday morning so we didn't see them after Friday night.

The visit went really well. There have been little things in the past that have contributed to a more distant or uneasy relationship. Not hostile, just more formal and restrained. His parents really disapproved of us living together, even after we got engaged. It always made me feel like they disapproved of me. Because it's all about me, you know. (Also things like his mom saying, "yes, we got your wedding invitation last week" when prompted because we had mailed it two weeks earlier and hadn't even heard if they had gotten it and then saying nothing else--since she's from the don't-say-anything-if-you-can't-say-anything-nice school; this basically meant she hated it.). When we've visited them in North Carolina it's been for big events--Thanksgiving, Christmas, his grandmother's funeral. Situations where there's already more stress, or at least the feeling of displacement that comes when spending time with someone else's family over the holidays and doing things their way rather than my family's way. I think this visit, at our house, was a step forward into a more relaxed relationship.


Side note: the city is currently trimming trees along my street. Using a chainsaw. They started at 7:00 a.m. It's now 10:30 a.m. and it's really fucking loud. I'd shut the windows but the apartment would get too hot. A fucking chainsaw. How annoying.


The Scientist left on Sunday for a business trip and was gone 'til Wednesday night. I spent the time alone staying up really late watching TV and reading. I got sucked into a new-to-me series of books, the Liaden Universe novels by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Has every other fan of science fiction space opera read these already? I can't believe I missed them. Then again, I only discovered Lois McMaster Bujold last year and promptly tore through all of the Miles Vorkosigan novels in a month. Anyway, great books and I stayed up 'til the wee hours (for me that's 2:30 a.m.) reading them.

When The Scientist got back we decided to go to the Twin Cities for the weekend. My mom and youngest brother J.R. were arriving in Minnesota Friday night to set up J.R. for going to college in St. Paul in the fall. We picked them up at the airport Friday night so my aunt and uncle (A & T) could stay at the wedding rehearsal dinner they were at. The Scientist wanted to meet up with some of his friends, so we left at 11:00 p.m. to do that. I was tired, but wanted to be supportive. We were supposed to meet them at a show, but when we got there the cover charge was $25! Each! I don't think so. There was no way we were going to spend $50 for a show we weren't really interested in. So we left messages on various people's phones and went to one of our usual hangouts, the Triple Rock, for a beer out on the patio. Eventually three of The Scientist's friends showed up and we had a nice time 'til closing at 1:00 a.m.

Saturday morning we got up early to spend the day shopping. We went out to the Mall of America (on the 10th anniversary weekend by mistake) because my brother wanted to go to some stores there. My mom was using us for our computer expertise and wanted us to take her and J.R. to the Apple store to check out laptops. We did that and shopped for some clothes too. When we left The Mall, I was the only one who hadn't bought something. In fact, I had returned two books to Barnes and Noble so I was actually $18 ahead! Even The Scientist, notorious thrift store shopper and rare clothes buyer, bought something (a fleece jacket from Banana Republic Men). After The Mall we went to Grand Avenue to eat lunch and spend time at J. Crew, which my mom persists in calling "J.C. Crew." Mom, it's not like J.C. Penney! We also went to the independent bookstore, Bound to be Read (where I bought a bag and a magazine), and another of my favorite stores, Lagos Hill, where I bought The Scientist an anniversary card. Our first wedding anniversary was on Sunday, August 11th.

After Grand Avenue, instead of going home to rest, we went to the Gateway store to look at PC laptops. My brother has to decide whether he will venture into the new world of Macs or stay safely with a PC. We finally got to go back to A & T's after Gateway, but then my mom and I went back out to Restoration Hardware, Smith & Hawken, and Cooks of Crocus Hill. I did buy stuff this time--glass cleaner (recommended by James Lileks) and a book on painting techniques from Restoration Hardware and an ambidextrous oven mitten from Cooks (The Scientist is left-handed and I am right-handed so I wanted one that would work for both of us).

Then, finally, it was time to rest.

We got ready to go in our Minneapolis hipster-casual gear (me: red fitted t-shirt, black flare-leg cropped pants, red platform sparkly thong sandals; him: black flat-front pants, grey button-up short-sleeved shirt with a black t-shirt under it, black chunky bed-stuy loafers) and headed out to Lucia's for our 1st anniversary dinner. It was great, as usual, but not the best we've ever had there. I had a heirloom tomato salad that was really good and The Scientist says his salad was the best he's had ever--field greens, some unidentifiable white cheese, avocado, blackberries, with a vinaigrette dressing. Our entrees were ok (I had steak, The Scientist had chicken) and the desserts were disappointing. I've had a molten chocolate cake there before that was to die for, but that night there was no chocolate on the menu. No chocolate! How could this be? It was tragic. I think if there had been chocolate we would have been completely happy. But, good food, good conversation, romantic atmosphere, and a lovely time.

After dinner (I seem to be starting all my paragraphs with "After something" but I'm too lazy to figure out a better way of sequencing events) we met my friend A.R. and her boyfriend D. at Nye's Polynaise Room (the drive from Lucia's to Nye's involved me shrieking about all the changes to Minneapolis--the new construction downtown and the new stuff in Northeast, including a new Bibelot shop, my favorite). My friend K. and our friend P. also showed up, so we ended up with a small group. I don't know when I've laughed that much recently. Key topics of conversation: gossip about other people, the movie Office Space, livestock slaughtering, savant-ism (including A.R.'s brilliant question, "What kind of savant would you be if you could be any kind of savant?"), peeing in the shower, and more I can't even remember now. We showed off the new car on our way out and then went back to A & T's to crash on our basement sofabed.

We got up relatively early on Sunday (9:00 a.m.) to have a family/anniversary brunch at A & T's. Yummy spinach quiche, breakfast breads, fruit salad. Mmmmm. Then my mom, aunt, and I went shopping (again!), this time to a book store and multiple Bibelots (the new one in Northeast and my old standbye on Como Avenue). I got a bunch of greeting cards (I'm an addict), two shirts, a little dish for random small things, and some cool napkins that match the new placemats I got a couple of weeks ago. As soon as we got back from shopping, my mom left for Iowa to visit my grandma and The Scientist and I left to drive home.

The drive back was uneventful, except for the regrettable consumption of KFC. It will not happen again. We have made a vow.

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