Whidbey Island is the most magical place on earth

Joel and I are spending my spring break on Whidbey Island.  Specifically, we’re at Camp Casey in one of the old Victorian houses that SPU makes available to its faculty and staff.  I entered a lottery sometime back in September, and somehow managed to secure the entire week of spring break.  I can’t help but wonder if the lady in charge of reservations pulled a few strings because I helped her out when Ashton was here for its retreat back in October…

Anyway, we’re here, and it’s glorious.  This is an example of what our schedule could look like on any given day:
7:00am – wake up
7:30am – get out of bed, watch sunrise over the lake from living room while enjoying a cinnamon crescent roll
8:00am – Joel starts writing code (sidenote: CTOs don’t get spring break), I sit on couch and listen to birds
8:30am – accept facebook Scrabble challenge from Joe Elenbaas
9:00am – watch Live with Regis and Kelly, and correctly answer the quiz question
10:00am – watch The View, but on mute, because it usually ends up giving me a headache
10:55am – grow slightly curious at the sight of men in camoflague and bullet-proof vests in the front yard, but not curious enough to get up and figure out what they’re doing
11:00am – play Scrabble on my computer, honing my skills so I can destroy Joel later that night
12:00pm – warm up leftovers from the night before for lunch (sidenote: Joel and I have decided that most of the casseroles I’ve been making taste better the next day upon reheating.  Why is that?  Is it that the flavors have had more time to mingle?  Is it that Joel and I have an affinity for electromagnetically charged food?)
12:35pm – facebook stalk
12:55pm – log on to twitter for the first time in months, only to discover that 3 of my 12 friend requests are attemps at “outside the box” marketing (no, ACLU, you may not follow my twitter feed)
1:00pm – try to figure out why I’d want to use twitter instead of facebook
1:03pm – give up and go back to facebook stalking
1:35pm – remember the “random article” feature on Wikipedia, read about various small English provinces and mathematical equations
2:oopm – convince Joel to stop writing code, put on pants, and go for a walk
2:40pm – see how close we can get to the Whidbey Island deer that wander around Camp Casey
2:43pm – help Joel try to lure the deer closer so we can ride them like horses (sidenote: we failed)
3:00pm – back at the house to nap
4:00pm – start prepping spinach florentine for breakfast tomorrow
5:00pm – start making spinach and black bean enchiladas for dinner (sidenote: we’ve learned we like spinach)
6:00pm – eat dinner while watching Family Guy and The Simpsons
7:00pm – switch back and forth between Rick Steves’ Europe and Evening Magazine
7:30pm – flip aimlessly through cable channels while playing Scrabble on my computer
7:45pm – convince Joel to stop writing code, put pants on, and play real Scrabble
9:00pm – soundly beat Joel in Scrabble, mostly due to the fact that I’ve been practicing all day
9:05pm – lay on couch, watch whatever happens to be on TV
11:00pm – realize we might as well go to bed

And start over again the next day.


I was friends with all the guys in Glee Club

Below is an article from one of my favorite pieces of reading material, The Chronicle of Higher Education.  I’m fairly certain this album will end up being the highlight of my year.


The singer-songwriter Ben Folds sounded a call last fall to collegiate vocal groups everywhere: “I’m making an album of a cappella versions of my music to be performed by the best university groups we can find.”

Mr. Folds, formerly of the platinum-selling Ben Folds Five, had stumbled onto a raft of YouTube videos of his songs performed a cappella. Impressed by what he saw, he announced his plan to showcase the often-overlooked genre on a compilation album.

He invited college groups to post videos of their performances online and send him the links. About 250 groups responded, and Mr. Folds painstakingly winnowed them to 14 — including one high-school ensemble. When his European tour with the Counting Crows was conveniently canceled, he scheduled a frenetic recording tour of the United States, stopping by each campus for a four-hour session.

The unyielding timetable, says Mr. Folds, meant that the songs “would have to be done extremely live and extremely real.” But live and raw was the quality he was striving for.

“There’s a feeling you get when it’s right,” says Mr. Folds, a tenor. “There’s just a golden light that comes off the record player, and that was hit making back when the recording industry started.”

The compilation, Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!, is scheduled for release in April. It will benefit VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, which seeks to return instrumental-music education to schools.

Among the groups that will appear on the CD is the University of Rochester’s Midnight Ramblers.

Early in December, Mr. Folds assembled a makeshift studio in Rochester’s student union and recorded the Ramblers’ rendition of his band’s 1999 hit “Army.” The session took place amid great secrecy so as not to attract a gaggle of star-struck fans — even though some of the Ramblers admit having felt that way themselves initially.

“We were sort of wigging out” upon first seeing the musician, says Asher C.N. Perzigian, the group’s general manager.

Nick J. Hamlin, the Ramblers’ soloist on “Army,” adds some perspective. “Here we are standing in this room performing for the person who created the song,” he says.

Mr. Folds was equally impressed with the students. His record company required him to contribute two songs of his own to the CD, and he admits that it took him “tens of hours” to accomplish what the students did in two.

“They were all totally pro,” he says.


These groups will appear on Ben Folds’s album:

Jazz Singers, California State U. at Sacramento

Newtones, Newton (Mass.) South High School

Leading Tones, Ohio U.

Nassoons, Princeton U.

Voices in Your Head, U. of Chicago

CU Buffoons, U. of Colorado at Boulder

With Someone Else’s Money, U. of Georgia

Loreleis, U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Spartones, U. of North Carolina at Greensboro

Midnight Ramblers, U. of Rochester

Fifth Element, U. of Wisconsin at Eau Claire

Amateurs, Washington U. in St. Louis

Mosaic Whispers, Washington U. in St. Louis

Gracenotes, West Chester U. of Pennsylvania


My myriad of loyal readers (read: Krysta Matt) have been clamoring for a blog update, so here we go.



Let’s see, what have I been up to since my last big post…



Well, I got married.  So that’s something.



The wedding was beautiful, and relatively stress free, with the exception of the blizzard that nearly kept Joel’s family stuck in Portland.  They managed to make it on time, but my dear bridesmaid Dana, who flew in from California, ended up getting stranded in the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport by a thunderstorm, and ended up renting a car and driving the final 6 hour stretch to Fayetteville.  She wins the award for Most Heroic Act by a Member of the Bridal Party.

I could probably type a lavish description of what the wedding was like, how I felt and all the little details that made it “my” wedding.  I could tell you all how Sandy the Wedding Planner at the Basin Park Hotel made me cry, or how many hours I spent wrapping wedding bouquets (answer: 5).  But to be perfectly honest, most of it is a blur.  I knew it would be, which is why I decided not to care.  Weddings by their very nature are beautiful, and I know mine was no exception, but it had nothing to do with my need to micro-manage.  I won’t say there weren’t stressful moments, or wonderful moments, or that I’ve blocked the whole thing from my memory.  But what I remember most is missing Joel everyday until he arrived, and how wonderful it felt to greet him in the airport, and how handsome he looked in his tuxedo.  I remember feeling completely supported by my family.  I remember how nice it was to have all my dearest friends in one place at one time, which becomes more and more rare as we grow older and have families and get settled in to our adult lives.  And I remember one particular moment before the ceremony, when I was in the bridal suite with my mother and bridesmaids, when one of them pointed out that I seemed very calm and collected.  I said, “I’m an RLC.  We’re trained to take charge in a crisis.  This is my game face.  I’m ready to do this.”  And it was absolutely true.

Also, I had a great wedding photographer, and I think her pictures do more than any of my words could.  Her name is Kristin Hartness, and you can see our wedding pictures on her website.  Click on “proofs” at the bottom of the page, and use “wetzel” as the password.

I think the biggest surprise of married life so far is that it hasn’t been a big deal.  With a life transition this huge I expected it to feel more shocking, but mostly it’s just really nice to see Joel every morning, and not have to send him back to North Bend each night.  It feels more natural to have him with me than it did to be alone.  Sure, there are adjustments.  I now own a Blu-Ray player, and have watched Terminator 2, 3:10 to Yuma, and Master and Commander in the last two weeks.  The amount of laundry and dishes I do seems to have tripled, which is mathematically confusing, and I’m now late to morning meetings because I can’t get into the bathroom to brush my teeth, as opposed to before when I was late to morning meetings because I wouldn’t wake up.  Now I don’t roll out of bed until Joel has delivered my morning coffee to the nightstand beside me.

There are a lot of changes coming: the end of my time as an RLC, our move to the house in North Bend, a new puppy.  If I let myself think about it too much I get overwhelmed.  I have to process it all very slowly.  I’ve been living in a residence hall of some sort for ten of the last 11 years.  That’s a decade.  Over 1/3 of my life up to this point.  And soon, for the first time, I’m going to be living in a house that belongs to us, with a yard and two dogs and furniture that I helped pick out and no squealing girls or smelly boys or constant noise or industrial toilet.  I’ll be commuting to somewhere (I hope) and be leaving my job at 5pm everyday.

I think I just figured out why I haven’t blogged in awhile.  I just re-read what I typed and got all nervous again.  I think I’ve felt like I had to get all this out before I could get back to the funny, silly posts, and in order to get it out I have to think about it, and thinking about it is…well, it’s heady stuff, for me anyway.

But I’m certain that the changes will be good, because life right now is good.  I smile more now than I every have before, and at least three people close to me have told me that marriage has mellowed me out.  I believe it.  There is something to be said for having a partner in all this crazy mess.  And, how stressed can I really be when I get coffee delivered in bed every morning?