xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#'> Hesseology 101: 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

If you can't take the heat, get out of AZ

As you can probably infer from what I imply in the title of this post (quick grammar lesson: infer = "to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises" and imply = "to involve or indicate by inference, association, or necessary consequence rather than by direct statement"), we are vacating the Valley of the Sun and relocating to a land flowing with barbecue sauce and beer, specifically of the Budweiser variety.

The city of Columbia in the great Show Me state of Missouri will be our place of residence as of August 3, when we move into our new home. By God's grace, in answer to many prayers, Colin got a job as Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Missouri, known as Mizzou to NCAA fans. We are very thankful that the funding was available for this position – as much as we love our church and the friends we've made over the past five years, Colin was more than ready to be done with school, and we were both willing to try living somewhere else besides the inferno that is Arizona during the summer. In his job at UM, Colin will be teaching Relational Communication and Family Communication classes and conducting research on the connections between communication, health, and emotion. Meanwhile, I'll continue to work for my company at its new Columbia office, consisting of one employee and one guard dog. My boss was gracious enough to let me telecommute, saving me the trouble of having to find work in a city that's home to one of the country's best journalism schools, which I'm sure is pumping out more bright-eyed, idealistic writing/editing grads than there are writing/editing jobs available.

Of course, preparing for all of these changes has kept us pretty busy, with packing, trying to find a renter for our condo, and Colin wrapping up his dissertation, which he defends on July 29 (henceforth you may refer to him as Dr. Hesse). Getting ready to leave is making me a little sad as I think about all the memorable moments we've had during the past five years and all the things we'll miss when we're gone. To name a few:
  • Bringing Kaffy home for the first time when Emily and John were staying with us (it was raining at the time, as was custom whenever Emily came to visit)
  • Thanksgivings at Grandma and Grandpa Hesse's
  • Small groups with Neil and Kate
  • Weekend trips to the Grand Canyon and Sedona
  • Attending several great sporting events – going with Gavin to the annual Seahawks game against the Cardinals, watching ASU play UW (football and basketball), meeting up with Perry and Michelle at the Suns games, making the trek to Peoria for the M's spring training games, seeing Tiger Woods at the Match Play Championship in Tucson
  • LOST parties with our Queen Creek friends
  • Simultaneously ichatting and talking with my friend Sharon at work
  • Planning Colin's surprise party with the assistance of Jamie and her sons
  • The abundance of great restaurants
  • Playing Rock Band with Jamie and Stephan
  • Living in close proximity to a pool
  • Celebrating five anniversaries together and trying to eat our wedding cake after transporting it from WA to AZ (didn't work too well)
All good times, to be sure. And while we've had our fair share of trials, we are incredibly thankful for how much God has blessed us.

One rather unfortunate consequence of the move is that it's compelling me to finally join Facebook. I've managed to avoid it thus far, but seeing as how it's one of the primary ways people communicate these days, I probably should bite the bullet so that I can stay in touch with friends. But I still refuse to join Twitter and send people messages about what kind of cereal I've had for breakfast and other meaningless drivel.

Before I sign off to update my Facebook profile or whatever it's called, I should probably provide the answer to the convoluted riddle I mentioned in my last post. The thing that Wal-Mart, the Seahawks, and garden gnomes have in common is that they all characterize Missouri. To explain each:
  • When we visited Columbia a few months ago, we were told that some of the Wal-Mart heirs live in the area. So apparently, we might have a couple billionaires as neighbors.
  • The St. Louis Rams are in the same division as the Hawks, which means that we can watch them play live at least once a year. This was one of the main reasons why the Mizzou job was one of the top prospects on Colin's list.
  • Our new home is adorned with several Kaffy-sized garden gnomes positioned along the periphery of the front lawn. I guess we'll find out when we get there if we'll assume ownership of said gnomes along with the rest of the property.
Hasta la vista for now; next month I'll give you the scoop from MO!

Friday, June 5, 2009


God's Word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path, and apparently, a handy reference for obscure, supposedly difficult-to-spell words. The name of the city in Asia Minor that was home to a certain lukewarm, spit-worthy church mentioned in Revelation, or more specifically, the name of a resident of said city, was deemed arcane enough to be proffered as the final term for 13-year-old Kavya Shivashankar to spell correctly and clinch the title of champion at the 82nd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee last week. Colin and I, being the Scriptural scholars that we are, knew how to spell the championship word and, being the word nerds that we are, correctly guessed a few others. The bee was truly reality TV at its best – drama, suspense, heart-warming vignettes, narration by Tom Bergeron – though I could have done without Erin Matthews' patronizing interviews with the kids who tripped up on their Greek or Hungarian or Swahili terminology and lost their chance at attaining orthographic glory.

Entertaining as it was, I wouldn't consider the bee as the highlight of the past few months. That would probably be our trip to Spokompton for Justin's graduation. Justin of course is the last Brandler to stress out through four years at Whitworth, with many a mental/emotional breakdown along the way. Graduation was indeed a time of joyous celebration for Justin and the whole family, especially my Dad, who no longer has to pay college tuition. In the traditional Whitworth fashion, Justin decorated his cap with an item signifying his major (biology). Can you guess what it is? (Hint: It starts with an "s" and rhymes with "perm.")

As I mentioned in my last post many moons ago, Justin is wisely taking a year or two off before med school and traveling to Guatemala for another medical mission trip this summer. Check out his blog for updates beginning mid-June.

Other than the trip to WA, during which time I realized I somewhat missed Spokane and its dumpy charm, not much has been happening at the Hesse household. Another disappointing TV season gone by, and we are left with little to do besides critiquing SYTYCD (the judges and producers more so than the dancers) and challenging ourselves by playing Rock Band at increasing levels of difficulty. I suppose I could provide some useful information, like the fact that I recently helped launch new project at work – a digital, interactive magazine intended to pull in readers and advertisers who are ditching print – and let you know that Colin is hard at work finishing his dissertation exploring if emotion competence affects initial interactions.

And that's all the information I feel like sharing at this point. I'll close with a teaser for my next post in the form of a riddle: What do Wal-Mart, garden gnomes, and the Seattle Seahawks have in common? Check back in about a month to find out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's April already?

Nearly three months since my last post, and many important events have transpired in the meantime: Our nation's first black president was inaugurated and, in what some may consider his first mistake among many more to come, botched the oath of office; Detroit automakers and a bunch of other undeserving companies fended off bankruptcy at least temporarily with taxpayers' hard-earned money, making "bailout" the new "WMDs" in terms of frequently recurring nouns in spite-filled speech; the Arizona Cardinals lost Super Bowl XLIII to the Pittsburgh Steelers, giving us flashbacks to the Seahawks' painful collapse three years ago; and, speaking of flashbacks, SPOILER ALERT FOR GARY the Oceanic 6 (minus 1) returned to the time-trippin' island during an anticlimactic mid-season episode, causing us to wonder if the show's name is supposed to describe the writers as well as the characters and viewers. Oh, yeah, and Colin and I celebrated our five-year anniversary. But that news isn't nearly as exciting as the fact that we now own Rock Band!

This joint Colin/Jenn b-day gift from the Hesses has provided endless entertainment for us, our friends, and even Kaffy, who likes to play dodge-the-drum-pedal while we're rockin' out. Colin (aka Spock) could put Jimi Hendrix to shame with his mad guitar skills, and no doubt Gwen Stefani will be calling lead vocalist Arwen (aka me) soon for pointers. John (Almeda) and Gavin (Kirk) have toured with our bands, Balaam's Donkey and Enterprizz, and we've got another gig goin' with our friends Jamie (Jinxie) and Stephan.

In non-video-game-related news, I flew up to WA in February to watch Justin complete his collegiate swimming career and thus close a significant chapter in the annals of Whitworth swimming history. The Brandler Dynasty came to a sad but fulfilling end at the 2009 NW Conference Champs, where Justin contributed to the Bucs' victory with a couple of great swims including a wicked-fast 50 split in the 200 free relay that broke the men's team record. Now that he's done with swimming and has loads of time on his hands*, Justin is working on sending out invitations for his graduation in May and planning his second medical mission trip to Guetamala this summer. To keep everyone apprised of his activities, he is thinking of starting a blog, which I'm sure will garner more avid readership than this one.

On that pathetic note, moving on to highlights from the month of March, Colin and Gavin spent Spring Break/Twin Birthday Week '09 playing Rock Band and Call of Duty, pausing only for an occasional trip to MickeyD's to take advantage of a limited run on McRibs. And, as if that wasn't hedonistic enough, all five Hesses met up last weekend in Las Vegas, where Colin and Gavin won and lost some money on Blackjack and roulette (I mostly watched until the last day, when we all seemed to hit a losing streak, possibly due to my participation). Besides that, we dined at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill, caught a Penn & Teller show, and schlepped up and down the Strip looking at all the casinos, spending as little money as possible and averting our eyes when necessary – it's how Christians do Vegas. I should also mention that Colin lost a bet on a tournament game (Louisville v. Michigan State), teaching him a lesson that he shouldn't bet against my bracket. That's right, I picked all Final Four teams correctly, putting my bracket in the 99.8 percentile and giving me much sweeter satisfaction than the $3.50 I won playing video poker.

To close up shop here, I've got a couple of pics of the Brandler Trifecta and the Hesse trip to Vegas. I might post again later this month after my fam comes to visit over Easter weekend, but if you've learned anything from following this blog, you'll know not to hold your breath.

Go Tar Heels!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Holiday wrap-up

As you can tell, my New Year's resolution was not to update the blog every week. But before you get too disappointed, take cheer by the possibility that the return of Lost next week might motivate me to post more frequently. You all want to hear my theories about the infamous island castaways/time travelers/ghosts(?), right?

In the brief interim between finishing re-watching last season on DVD and gearing up for the Season 5 premiere this Wednesday, I've got a little time to recap our holiday activities. Overall, we had fun getting together with family and catching up with old friends. I have to say I've never played Apples to Apples so much in the span of 10 days. I didn't mind that this turned out to be the board game du jour because I ended up cleaning house several rounds.

After spending a good three days waiting at airports trying to fly out of winter-battered WA, Colin's parents joined Gavin in traveling down to AZ for Christmas. Together with Grandma and Grandpa Hesse, we all passed the time munching on cookies, answering questions posed by the Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader? portable game, and playing with the Wii Gavin got me for Christmas. Despite my aversion to almost all video games, I really enjoy Wii Sports. I discovered that I'm a stellar boxer – I KO'ed Gavin, Gary, and Colin one right after the other. Since I started hitting up the Wii Fit, I've also learned that I'm terrible at yoga. For example, the Tree pose is supposed to look like this:
But my Tree looks more along the lines of this:

Oh well. Between the Wii Fit and my new Dancing with the Stars Latin Cardio Workout DVD, I've got plenty of tools to help me stay in shape in '09. And, by implementing my haul of Lush and Bath & Body Works loot, I can sweat like a pig and still smell fresh as a sun-ripened raspberry.

But enough about exercise and body odor; I've got Christmas pictures to post!

In case you're wondering, that is a MacBook you see in my hands. Colin put his ASU student ID to use and got a discount on a 13-inch Dual-Core laptop, of course shocking me at his generosity and deception (he flat-out lied to me about getting a laptop this Christmas). We both love Macs, which are far superior to PCs for reasons too numerous to detail in this post. Our enthusiasm even convinced John and Emily to get a MacBook Pro with their Christmas $$.

And that provides the transition I needed to segue into my account of our trip up to T-town. We spent New Year's with Emily and John and my parents (Justin had already left for Christmas training with the swim team – soooooo glad I don't have to do that anymore!).

It was a struggle to fend off sleep 'till midnight on New Year's Eve, but somehow we managed to keep awake for the ball drop and stayed up watching Ryan Seacrest introduce so-called musical performances by a bunch of "artists" I'd never heard of before. Besides hanging out with our friends Megan and Rachael and Jason, we occupied ourselves making and eating appetizers; watching football, and when that got boring, turning on Becoming Jane (the guys all opted to take a nap); and staring at Bauer while he gnawed on his freakin' huge bone.

In closing, I'd like to point out that I suppressed my curiosity sufficiently and did not peek at any of my presents before Christmas. I proved to myself and others that I do possess some modicum of self-control, at least in terms of gift-snooping. Now if only I could exercise that kind of restraint when it comes to chocolate.