Thursday, August 31, 2006

Piano Hands


I've always loved pictures of hands.
These are my own, doing what I do (arguably) best. :)

Help from OSU Career Services

Sensing the need for help on my career search (and after some not-so-gentle pushing from my mother), I met today with a career counselor at OSU Career Services. We talked about my current situation (jobless, pennyless, and miserable), and where I have been looking for jobs.

The good news: I'm doing everything correctly. I'm looking in the right places, seeking appropriate jobs, and applying in the correct fashion. My résumé looks fantastic, as does my cover letter. The very nice woman could tell I'd taken WR214, Business Writing, because my professional documents are both visually appealing as well as packing in information.

The bad news: Science majors, without further education, have a tough time getting science-related jobs. Most kids like me head straight off to grad school. I was not accepted. Initially very upset, I'm actually rather glad I'm not in school right now. I think I've had enough formal education for a while... although teaching still remains a goal.

Other news: I finally got something today that I've been needing for a long time--encouragement. My friends have been great at telling me, "something will come along, just wait." I love you guys. :) But... there is something different about hearing it from someone actually in the workforce. Hearing that I'm doing things correctly, that I just need to make very slight modifications to my plan, seeing that I'm not alone, feeling wanted... totally boosted my self-confidence. Not like I gained an ego, but just having someone sit down with me and not lecture or rant... it felt really good.

Back to the hunt...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Walking Wide

So my mom has this *thing* against how I walk.

I walk. Sometimes I can do the walk... you know, the one that makes guys go, "whoa, look at that." But most of the time, I'm just moving from point A to point B, trying not to trip in the process.

I like to go for walks. My neighborhood is pretty safe, and I feel comfortable walking alone in the evening (yes, even in this town *the horror*). Tonight, Mom joined me for a walk. The FIRST thing she does is tell me to walk with my legs farther apart. Um, no? That's not how I walk.

My pants rub together making a swishing noise -- this drives her up the wall. I don't know why... it doesn't bother me or anyone else I know. These are brand new Levi's, so they are still pretty stiff and don't give as easily as older (perfect) pants. Get over it.

I'm not built like my mother, so she doesn't understand why I walk differently than she does. I single-track, one foot in front of the other. Sometimes this makes my pants noisy. WHO CARES?! I'm not in a warzone, not sneaking up on the enemy, not even trying to sneak cookies out of the cookie jar/bag/bowl.

I don't understand. And it's uncomfortable for me to walk like a penguin, like I have a grape shoved up me arse, or like I'm some sort of injured dork when I don't need to do so.

Seriously, if noisy pants are the worst part of the day, life is not so bad. I'm over it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Phooey

A day bad enough that it's not even worth swearing over.

Phooey indeed.

Two Things Meme

Two things you want really badly at this moment:
1. a job/career
2. to live on my own

Two of your favorite hobbies:
1. ballroom dancing
2. geocaching

Two pets you have had:
1. Simon, cat
2. Isabelle, cat

Two things you did last night:
1. searched online for a job
2. went dancing

Two favorite places to eat:
1. The Depot
2. Los Dos Amigos

Two things you ate today:
1. chocolate chip mint pop-tarts
2. spaetzle

Two people you last talked to:
1. John
2. David R.

Two things you’re doing tomorrow:
1. looking for a job
2. hopefully dancing in the rain

Two longest car rides:
1. from Oregon to Bismarck, ND, via Salt Lake City, UT, one way, and Billings, MT, the other
2. from college to my parents' house and back... 20 miles seems like forever when you're in a hurry, drive the same roads every day, or just want to get someplace fast

Two favorite holidays:
1. my birthday
2. Christmas

Two songs you last heard:
1. "Kung Fu Fighting" - KC and the Sunshine Band (Hustle!)
2. "Ride of your Life" - Oliver James (Nightclub Two-Step)

Two movies you last saw in the theatre:
1. Step Up
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Two things that always go together:
1. fire and smoke
2. grandmothers and hugs

Two things that never go together:
1. chocolate and scrambled eggs (DO NOT TRY THIS! ...yes, I did...)
2. bleach and ammonia

Two regrets:
1. not reading more books
2. not spending more time at my piano every day

Two things you'd like to do before the end of the year:
1. pass the Praxis and get my teaching license
2. get all makey-outie with a cute boy that treats me well and loves me (a girl can dream, right?)

25 Years

To my parents:

Happy 25th Anniversary.

I know the years have been long and short, both difficult and easy. For sticking it out, for setting the bar so high, for remaining the solid foundation in our lives, thank you. Hopefully, someday I'll see this special moment too. Congrats, here's to another 25 years.

I love you both.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Outsourced Button

I've been blogging for several months, almost entirely without incident. I learned how to edit HTML code, learned how to post pictures, and manage to write some nearly interesting stuff now and then.

But Blogger finally got it's revenge. I tried to add the ORblog location code to my blog so that people could find me by location, but when I edited the HTML post-beta-converstion, I found that I can't refresh my blog. Which means ORblog doesn't pick up my hidden code. Which defeats the whole reason for joining in the first place. HELP!

I liked my "republish" button. I want my "republish" button back. What is this, revenge of the Google-ified mega corp? It's like it got outsourced... they outsourced my republish button!

Speaking of buttons, on a recent visit to my grandma, she gifted me this antique thing. Has anyone heard of a "buttoneer?" I seem to now own the oldest version of this contraption, the plastic pieces so old they break upon touch (sometimes sight!). Possessing the know-how, I've sewn many buttons back onto clothes and projects. What am I ever going to do with this? Never used, but brittle, I think it could be worth something... any ideas?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

August Rain

FINALLY!

(image courtesy KATU.com)

*doin' the rain dance, doin' the rain dance, whoa-oh-oh, doin' the rain dance*

...finally *sigh* :)

Friday, August 25, 2006

OR Blogs

Hooray! ORblogs finally added my site, so now people (specifically other Oregonians) can find my blog. This is great - readers are always welcome! This is also kind of scary - the more readers I have, the more I wonder what/how much people read into what I'm saying.

I can't wait for some kid I went to high school with to find my blog and go, "whoa! we actually voted her 'most likely to succeed?' wow..." and either be surprised that I'm done with my degree or not employed by some high-powered company or not a professional musician... Seeing as how I'm still in contact with the few friends I had in high school (and they already know about my blog), I don't particularly care what anyone else I graduated with thinks. :P

Basically, this post is a shameless self-promotion for ORblogs and my blog. Shameless. Yay me! ;) hehehehehehe

Thursday, August 24, 2006

No creative title for this drivvel...

I dropped off or mailed seven more applications yesterday and today, no word yet on this latest batch. My goal is to send out three each day, so far I'm just over my target, which is great. I'm afraid I'm having to expand the search radius to include Salem and a few out-lying areas... trying to stay local so I can live at home (at my parents' insistence).

Yesterday, while out dropping off applications, my sister joined me on a side-trip to a few stores to look for new business-y, professional shirts. She suggested the ever-popular Maurices store. No offense, but I'm not fifteen anymore. I wasn't swayed by the ultra-low shirts or this new long shirt fad (it looks like girls are trying to either hide their bulging stomachs by making longer shirt lines, like maternity clothing, or a cut-off dress). I pulled her next door to Christopher & Banks. The store hasn't been my favorite, always seeming teacher-y or something, but it was definitely more professional than the previous store. I found one dark chocolate brown shirt (on sale, over 60% off) that will look very nice paired with either jeans or khakis, and my sister found a beautiful lavender/olive see-through top that makes my green eyes shine. Thanks sis!

Tonight, my grandma called Dad to tell him that his aunt passed away this morning. Not pleasant news, but we expected it. The funeral will be on Sunday.

The refrigerator! Oh man, my parents' refrigerator died this week. They bought the fridge when they bought their first house, three weeks before I was born, just about 23 years ago. Instead of calling a repair man, they opted to go ahead and purchase a new model. I have to agree with this decision, primarily because it'll be less money in the long run, a newer model, more space, and it isn't my money. ;) BUT! In the meantime, we've been using the garage fridge to keep cool things cool and the big freezer to keep cold things cold. This means we have to go all the way out to the garage to get anything, and we have no ice cubes since the ice maker died too. Thankfully, the new refrigerator will be delivered tomorrow and peace will be restored to the world.

Field burning continues. Sometimes the sun fades out like it's going to storm or something... big brown clouds of smoke and field crap fly right over town. The aerially-uninclined black shreds of grass can't lift over the mountain, so they fall all over our neighborhood. I can't walk outside anymore without my feet or shoes becoming black with soot. Haha, yes, we here in the "country" walk outside without shoes. All the way out the back door onto the patio to see the cats or take a picture... sometimes across the smooth grey garage floor concrete to steal a pop from the ugly (and now very overstuffed) green fridge. But the field burning sucks.

Watched an old JAG episode today: Ron Livingston had a part! Totally awesome to see him in a role he did so long ago, seeing that I've followed his career rather faithfully. And oooh, that man looks good in Marine green... not too bad shirtless either. ;)

I'm going out to play some holey board. Because it hurts to think, because I don't want to talk to anyone, and because I need the practice.

Headache Insanity

I can handle stress pretty well overall, especially short-term stuff and difficult situations. However, there have been times where I get stressed for a month or two straight, and this job searching is one of those times. I need a job now.

When I get stressed for long periods of time, I develop headaches. Not a tension headache, not a migraine-type headache, but a piercing, blinding, contant pain on the top left of my head that lasts about half a minute. I can't think, I can just barely see and breathe when they come on. Thankfully, they only last seconds-- I grit my teeth and try to focus through them. As soon as the searing pain passes, I'm totally fine, like nothing happened. I'll get five or ten of these in a day, all unexpectedly. They really suck. I saw a doctor about them a couple years ago (the first time they occurred); she diagnosed them as "idiopathic neuralgia," which translates roughly to "nerve pain of unknown origin." Essentially, my brain is misfiring and my body reads it as pain, cause unknown.

So just in case you were wondering, yes, I really am a nut case. And my head hurts.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On Hold Music

Pet peeve: being put on hold to really loud and scratchy music. Somebody get me a new eardrum, ugh!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Search Continues

Aside from pictures, it has been a few days since I posted anything coherent. I've been kind of depressed, incredibly stressed, and angry. Job hunting is absolutely no fun.

The Employment Search so far: two in-person interviews, one last week and one today, plus one unexpected telephone interview this afternoon. I already heard back from both of the jobs I interviewed for today: "we're hiring someone better qualified to handle this position." I'm still hopeful for the job I interviewed for last week--that would be a sweet job. I am not posting more details about where, sorry.

There is a great deal of stuff going on in my life that I can't blog about for fear of it coming back to bite me in the ass. For a difficult second time, I find myself censored in a place I've so long been completely honest. This makes me very frustrated. My apologies for not being able to fill you in on my life, but there are just things I can't talk about online. I am, however, willing to talk in person/on the phone. If you want to know more, you have to contact me--I'm not going to force anyone to listen.

Tonight, I just want to be held.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tools of the Trade


Dad has lots of tools in his shop, but these two are the most important. Measure twice, eat once. ;)

Machine Parts and Shavings

Who needs a clamp?

Dad's Wall' o' Clamps
I didn't learn how to operate these things until one day... well, we'll just say there was a finger involved and leave it at that.

Pick Your Tunnel



Cock-eyed Directions


Which way? That way!

Stinky Pearls


The dirt is just extra seasoning.

Zucchini Revenge


Mom got frustrated with her zucchini plants, so she gave them a haircut. A big haircut.

Emerald Bells

Tangerine Flower


An experiment with Picasa's photo editor. Not actually a tangerine--those apparently don't grow well in Oregon (something about tropical weather). This is a canna flower.

Tomato-y


Mom grows the most beautiful flowers...

Glad Happy

Friday, August 18, 2006

Spent Tears

I finally cried tonight. It has been so long, well over a year. If memory serves me right, the last time I cried like this was when Jeff and I broke up. Crying until it hurt, until I couldn't breathe, until my eyes burned and I spasmed all over.

I can't tell you why.

My best friend happened to be in town tonight, so he took me out for a long walk and then a fireside chat. I forget how cool he really is. :)

My stomach hurts, my eyes are swollen, and I'm exhausted. Crying didn't make me feel better--it never does. I just feel stupid and foolish, even though I shouldn't.

Personality

Okay, I've done a TON of reading today and in the past about my personality. This might go in the "Posts of Note" section and I'll update it with bits of stuff that describe me. Note: I don't put a lot of faith into this type of thing... it's good entertainment though, if nothing else.

Personality Type: ISTJ. "People of this type tend to be: cautious, conservative, and quiet; literal, realistic, and practical; careful and precise; logical, honest, and matter of fact; resistant to change and comfortable with routine; hard working and responsible" (link).

Astrological Sign: Scorpio. More to come about that later.

Forever Unbalanced

Okay, so it has been approximately since... oh... March that I last balanced my checkbook. I don't need to with my current balance available with a few clicks online, but I like to track my expenses to see where my money is really going. Seems easy enough, right?

Until my savings account attempted a hostile takeover on my computer and my checking account decided to unload half of itself into an old account.

Current mood: crunchy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On Religion

I've been thinking about religion more lately and have decided to change my rule against religious posting. I make the rules, I can change the rules. I'm not trying to preach or force my opinions upon anyone. That said, I have a lot to learn. I welcome comments about my posts, but do not try to convert me to your way of thinking/believing. Information is great, persuasion will be ignored.

On Church Attendance: I was not raised in church, as most of you know. Sundays are just another day of the week, although NASCAR played a huge part in my Sunday activities growing up. Forget catechism, I can recite drivers and sponsors. Not that I sit there watching cars drive around the tri-oval all morning and afternoon... I work on craft projects, go places, or spend time with my family most of the weekend. The few times I have gone to church, I've been disappointed with how "church people" treated me. Churches seem to be clique-y, unwelcoming of outsiders. I don't know the music, and I don't really like someone preaching to me like there is only one way to believe in God. I'm not opposed to going to church. I have no problem with anyone else going. I do, however, believe that one can be a good Christian and not attend a ritualized weekly service.

My friends sometimes say that it is unacceptable for me to question God. They say, "either you are a Christian and believe Christian things, or you are not." But when I was attending youth group, the youth pastor told me to question everything, to never stop seeking answers to my many questions. I have to agree with him. I can't claim to read God's mind, but I must believe that we will be accepted for learning about other religions, for seeing for ourselves what else is out there. Experimenting and learning about Islam doesn't mean I'm turning my back on God. Reading about Buddhism and Hinduism and Native American legends doesn't make me any less Christian. It also doesn't mean I'm disrespecting any of those religious options. I don't think there is one "true" religion... and I've never thought Christianity holds all the answers. All of these religious groups/options/faiths do hold being a good person pretty high though, and that's all I aim to be.

On Creation/Evolution: I think most of my friends assume I'm an evolutionist because I am a scientist. I took three college courses (all from different departments) on evolution: HSTS415, History of the Theory of Evolution; Z345, Intro to Evolution; and PH474, Philosophy of Biology and Evolution. I do not, for one instant, claim to be an expert in the field. But I'm not uninformed either. HSTS415 covered both evolutionism and creationism, and had strong arguments in either direction. The reason I have a hard time believing that God created all things at the same time and that evolution is the "wrong" theory is that evolution exists. Evolution itself is no longer a theory. We can see evolution happening in different species around the world with recorded history and modern DNA evidence. However, human evolution is still a theory. Maybe people are afraid that they may have evolved in the same genus as modern apes. I think people also think we evolved from modern apes, and that is simply not true: a common ancestor might be possible (Leakey's evidence points strongly in that direction). If God created all creatures at the same time as the Bible suggests, that would mean humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. There is a 65-million-year gap between dinosaurs extinction and human existence--if humans lived when dinosaurs did, we would have been walking kabobs. I don't know how life started on earth. Primordial ooze is hard for me to wrap my brain around. The big bang? Maybe. All humans coming from Adam and Eve, maybe that's true too. I don't know. I cannot discount creationism. I cannot turn away from science. I just don't know... and I'm okay with that. The argument is long, the reality is that it doesn't really matter in the end--we all die dead.

On Western Medicine vs. Ancient Practices: I don't really think western medicine has the healing process and every remedy figured out. Don't get me wrong, if I'm hurt, by all means stuff me full of your ultra-scientific synthetic drugs and fix me up! But what about those times when surgery and drugs won't fix me? Prayer is a great alternative... there is absolutely a place for meditation, relaxation, medicinal herbs, nature walks, chants, and other forms of healing. Maybe they're bunk. But I'm not going to argue with century-old traditions until science and hard evidence prove me wrong.

On the Acceptance of Others: All our lives, as U.S. Citizens, we have been told we "tolerate" other people. I don't tolerate anyone. To "tolerate" means "to put up with." It sounds kind of negative to say that I simply "put up with" Latinos or Muslims or Italians. Granted, I'm not running out of my house every day to befriend every person different than me, but I certainly do more than "tolerate." Forgive me for thinking we should all do more than "tolerate." I accept people are different. I like that we are different--provided we are nice about not saying who/what is better. Ask questions about something you don't understand. Try to do more than sit idly by, tolerating when you could be accepting, even embracing. Sorry to get soapboxy, but it makes me mad when people say they're tolerating others. Just grates at me.

So there you have it... a few opinions about religious topics. This time I leave you with two quotes:

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it." -Buddha

"Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith." -Thomas Jefferson

Renovation!

Major changes tossed my bloggy overboard as I switched to the beta version today... please bear with me while I keelhaul the landlubbers off me ship (and attempt to use "easy" editing instead of HTML code).

Expect insanity, hope for genius, prepare for both. I'm going to go sing the doom song... ;)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Another Boring Day

What a day! I got up fairly early for a job interview in Corvallis, then rushed back to Lebanon for lunch with my Aunt, Uncle, and Grandma. Sounds easy enough, but I don't have any professional clothes that fit anymore (pants are all too short).

Okay, that sounds pathetic. That's really all I did... went for a walk, helped Dad on a project in the shop, dinner... blah.

If it weren't for dancing every week, I would probably be a depressed pile of nothing right now. Monday comes around too slow and ends too fast. I'm sure I drive my family nuts since that's almost all I talk about, but it really changed my life for the better. Prior to my dancing days, I was horribly secluded, introverted. I'm coming out of my shell, trying new things, becoming social (though still incredibly private)... I'm sorry if I bore people to death. I honestly don't know what I'd do without those friends and that activity now.

I'm going to go take a break for a while. I'll try to get back later to post something meaningful, maybe a story or something funny. In the while, I'll leave you with another quote:

"The most wonderful of all things in life, I believe, is the discovery of another human being with whom one's relationship has a glowing depth, beauty, and joy as the years increase. This inner progressiveness of love between two human beings is a most marvelous thing, it cannot be found by looking for it or by passionately wishing for it. It is a sort of Divine accident." -Sir Hugh Walpole

I want to get in an accident. ;)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Blacklight Dancing

Tonight I danced. The night started off with a one-hour lesson about how to move seductively on the dance floor in WCS and other dances. I don't know much WCS, but I am aware of body posture and position. I know what makes my body look good, and what moves make me look stupid. We learned a little routine to showcase our bodies. After running through the whole thing only twice, we ended the lesson. Two hours later, we all performed for the boys (who were not allowed to watch us practice). I don't know how well it was received, but I felt foolish and cheap doing it. Hopefully I didn't look that bad.

Don't get me wrong, I love performing, being on stage, having people watch me do something I love. Tonight just felt weird. I can do the moves... no problem. But I felt wrong. If I'm going to move seductively, I need motivation. Without a guy to dance for, I just couldn't do it the way that routine needs to be performed.

The rest of the dance was fun. Themed "Blacklight Night," we all wore white shirts and danced under the blacklights. That was pretty cool, except the disco balls were throwing too many little shapes onto the walls, and I got super dizzy. Lots of conversation, lots of dancing. Painted my face with highlighter so I had lines that would glow... interesting to watch my partner try to figure out if my face said something or not. At least it kept them from staring at my chest all night like usual. Except for when I was doing the dance routine with the girls... I'm sure they were checking me out up one side and down the other.

And then there was pain... my new shoes are super smooth to dance in. Zero cushioning in the forefoot. I need to add some kind of insole to pad the ball of my foot, but I have absolutely no room to add a sock, let alone more gel. I danced in the new shoes for an hour or so before I decided the tingly warm madness from my hips south was enough. Switched back to my flats and danced the rest of the night away.

Now for the rehydration... ugh.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Heavy Issues

With great hesitation, I make this post public. I'm not in the habit of revoking a post, but this one might not be ready yet.

I can’t count the number of people that have asked me if I have an eating disorder. No, I tell them, no I don’t. Sometimes I want to say yes just to make them go away. If you say yes, people don’t ask more questions. I was a fat baby, a fat child, but grew out of it and have remained thin for my height. Today, I’m absolutely within a healthy weight range and have an excellent BMI. I eat all the time, but never very much at once. Sometimes I eat a lot at once... I can do it, but it’s not frequent. People whine that they're jealous of all the bread I eat. Bread, pasta, rice... I love them all! How can I eat so many carbohydrates and not gain weight? Well, that's all I eat. Given a choice, I do eat whole grains over processed ones, especially cereal, and I don't use butter or mayo at all. No fruit, few veggies, a little lean meat. When bread is all you eat, and you don't eat a ton of it, you won't gain weight. Plus, I dance every week, go hiking—I try to maintain an active lifestyle to stay healthy, but I hate gyms and sweating and working out. If it’s not fun, why do it?

Recently, Mom read an article in the newspaper about new statistics showing that girls who have mothers who diet are at a higher risk for developing eating disorders. Mothers that put an emphasis on weight control pass that on. Shocking, I know... but what killed me was my own mother asking me, "do you feel that way about us?" How am I supposed to respond to that? My family more or less put a “fear of fat” in me at a very young age. Whispers floated, “did you see so-and-so? she’s gotten so big.” Or my favorite, “if you eat that, you’re going to get fat.” I think I ate chocolate just to spite people—or maybe because I love it, who cares. Mom consistently warns me about gaining weight. She does it in a very off-hand way too, like she's sending out feelers to see if I'm paying attention, saying to my family out loud in front of me, "both of my girls are developing large butts," or some other comments I can't remember. I’ve taken tons of biology classes, health every year: I’m pretty sure I understand the negative effects of obesity and being overweight. I also understand that she loves me and wants me to be healthy and look attractive. What mother wouldn’t want that for her child? The nagging, the warning, the whispers... it does no one any good.

I remember being little, maybe seven or eight years old, and Mom and I were sitting in the living room watching a 20/20 special about anorexia sufferers. She made a comment about not understanding what would make someone do that, calling them crazy. After growing up constantly worried about being teased not at school, but at home, I completely understand what drives someone to an eating disorder. I’m not afraid of fat people. I don’t blame or hate or whatever someone who has extra weight. I’m not even particularly afraid of becoming fat, should it happen. I am terrified that I’ll be nagged for the rest of my life about something so petty as a few pounds. No, I don’t have an eating disorder. I have a mom-who-can’t-get-over-the-fact-that-I’m-not-her disorder.

An apology might be due here, and I dare not do it as an afterthought. I'm not out to villify my mother. She's wonderful, absolutely amazing... a kid couldn't ask for much more in a perfect mother. If this post sums up the only mistake she made with me, I think she did a pretty damn good job. Mom, you drive me nuts sometimes, but I wouldn't trade you for anything. I love you.

On Lebanon

I'm from a small town. It's not super tiny... I'm only related to five people in the whole town by blood. I never attended school with any cousins, never had to walk barefoot in the snow. No where in my pedigree do lines cross or anything; the town isn't that small. But at just over 12,000 people, this town feels small. I'm listing a few of the unique and special things that make Lebanon what it is.
  • The Wal-Mart Controversy: we got our first evil box store about ten years ago, a horrific eye-sore on the south end of town. Known for our quality 'mom and pop' shops on main street (that often donated tidy sums to local schools), WM moved in and took over the town. With business going so well, about three years ago, WM decided we needed to have a Supercenter to further crumble the local economy. Instead of expanding the old store, they opted to pave over historically significant monuments and build a new store one block away from the old store. They faced angry opposition, but blew through any legalities and built without regard for this town. A church bought the old store shell. I hate Wal-Mart. I will not set foot inside that store.
  • Farmland in town. No kidding, there are large lots of grass growing right in the middle of town. Grass to combine and sell for seed...
  • The whole town is a wireless hotspot. We were the first in the country, a test-bed for wireless internet. Free up to ten hours a month. There is a box on the lightpost outside my bedroom... too bad I'm wired. Oh well.
  • There are no shopping malls here, no stores that sell clothes. I suppose one could pick up a pair of socks from Bi-Mart or the dreaded WM, but no department stores.
  • We do have an old-style movie theatre though. The Kuhn is a one-screen theatre right on north Main, street parking only, and so very cute. Recently renovated (for the tenth time), it has all new seating, a good screen, and great prices.
  • Churches! For the religious folks, we have your church here. Catholic, Missouri Synod/ELCA Lutheran, Mennonite, United/Free Methodist, Episcopal, Evangelical, LDS/Mormon, Church of Christ, Church of God, Assembly of God, First Christian, Foursquare Gospel, Calvary, Jehovah's Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, Conservative/Southern/Reformed Baptist, Pentecostal, Charismatic Churches, Disciples, Interdenominational, Nondenominational, Nazarene, Presbyterian... we've got it all here!
  • The best-tasting tap water in the country. National poll, Salem was on top, but locally, Lebanon still has better tap water. They put stuff in it, chlorine and fluoride... but it's good. If only for the water, Lebanon was much better than Corvallis.
  • We have a speedway. Not like NASCAR, but almost. They race quarter-midgets and other things there--summer nights are often filled with the sound of races down at the track. I've only gone to watch once, and I fell asleep with my grown-man-sized earmuffs weighing my head to the grandstand bench.
  • The public library is rather small, but adequate for the town. It used to be a hospital: my aunts and uncle were born there. High up in the eaves on the front of the building is an old hospital crest. I like that building.
  • Lebanon can be safe or dangerous. My best friend's parents went on a week-long vacation and left their garage door wide open, side door open, windows open... came back without a problem. But we also have one of the highest sex-offender populations, and like much of the state, a methamphetamine problem.
  • The town acts as a 'bedroom community' for the surrounding larger cities. HP executives, doctors, teachers, lawyers, and politicians call Lebanon home. With a great location, one can visit both mountains and the ocean in one day, going from farmland to big cities in an hour.
  • History! The town sits on the old Oregon Trail on the valley floor. Local museums boast to the long tradition of hard work and great entertainment from eons past.
  • We have five major car dealerships, four more than necessary for the population. I guess that means we have a larger number of slimy car salesmen than we ought to as well.
  • The best strawberries on earth. So that's a biased opinion, but it's an experienced one. I won't eat strawberries that weren't grown here. Sheesh, we have our own Strawberry Festival, the largest draw for our main industry: tourism! Haha, yup. 's true.
  • Don't come here for a fancy dinner--there isn't a single fine dining restaurant in town. I can, however, point you in the direction of a few of my favorite kitchens...
  • The Chamber of Commerce is next-door to the laundromat and across the street from a tire shop. You can wash your undies, fill your tires, and ... what the heck do you do at a Chamber of Commerce?
  • And if that isn't enough, we have The Can Man. I'm not making fun of him at all - he's a sweet man and provides the town a valuable service. Deaf since birth, The Can Man wanders the town each day looking for empty pop cans to take back to the store for money.
We also have a distinct local dialect, but I'm working a stand-alone post all about our funky talk. Anything else you want to know about the crazy town I come from, let me know. Now you just have to decide on a church... ;)

Crazy Family

Do you ever feel like your family is its own Jerry Springer Special? I'm not saying my experiences are unique or special... I just come from one crazy weird family.

Please allow me to note briefly how incredibly awesome my family is: both sides are made of fabulous people, funny and kind. We are a big, loud, fat, gossipy family, absolutely stereotypical to the core. Good people.

This evening, I visited my grandparents, grandma's older sister, the sister's daughter and grand-daughter, my aunt, uncle, cousin, her fiancé, and a family friend. It would take me pages to describe this bunch to you, but I'll try to set the scene. Mom's side. German! My aunt has a broken ankle from a recent stair-step-missing incident, and her husband just got back from the Sturgis Bike Week in South Dakota. Their daughter and her fiancé had been tasting wine and cake for their up-coming wedding in March. My cousin was more than tipsy... and the wine continued to flow freely for several hours. Grandpa slept in his chair through everything. Grandma asked everyone if she could get them a drink countless times while eavesdropping on everyones' conversations, making them start over if she found herself interested in any part of the story. Mom's cousin was freaking out with a caffeine withdrawl headache, whining about needing coffee asap. Mom had to fill her family in on my deviant life. Dad somehow managed to sneak away to the store, so he was gone. I was stuck on the couch between my aunt and mom in the estrogen ocean. They were trying to explain the rest of our crazy family to my second cousin. OH MY GOSH!

I was sitting there, looking around, wondering to myself, "am I really related to these people?!" My aunt looked over at me and answered aloud, "Just think, Linds, you're related to these people." Thankfully I didn't inherit the Kaster ass. Those women have the largest, round ... well, you know. Mom swears it'll catch up with me. I hope I got Dad's side's genes. Or else I'll dance four hours a day to prevent those bad genes from catching up with me.

I never take guys home to meet my extended family because I'm afraid they'll run screaming in the other direction! Wouldn't blame the guy, except they're such accepting people... there just happens to be forty or fifty of them to overcome. My family... our own Jerry Springer Special... but in a good way!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Shoes, Religion, and Forgiveness

My new ballroom practice shoes arrived today, finally. They are very tight and will take some breaking in, which I am not used to at all. I generally refrain from purchasing shoes that aren't absolutely perfect the instant I step into them (Merrell shoes are sooooo nice). But these should be really comfy soon... if they stretch out... quickly. ow. ow. *grunt*

I have long refused to blog about religion. My faith isn't something I talk about much, certainly not publicly via a blog. However, religion has weighed heavily on my mind for several weeks, and I feel the need to write something in here about this. I'm not seeking God--I am Christian and found God a few years ago (in an adult sense, far earlier as a child). Part of me desires fellowship, other people that believe as I do, that live a similar lifestyle. But part of me is scared of organized religion. Maybe it's because I wasn't taken to church growing up, maybe it's because church-going people haven't always acted very Christian toward me... I'm scared. My faith is strong, but it's kind of lonely in a sense. It would seem to me, that, hearing this type of plea, good Christians everywhere would be willing to assist me in my yearning. I am wholly disappointed in the lack of interest my "good Christian" friends have shown. I must thank Preacher Matthew for his support and guidance, though... he has been my light for so many years, always helping and never pushing unless he knows I need it. Thanks, Matthew. :)

Forgiveness comes very easily to me, at times too much so, as previously noted. I have but one "enemy" on this earth, and he did wrong me considerably. Forgetting how awfully he treated my friends, loved ones, and especially me, I would be a fool. I was previously able to say that I forgave him, and I did, though something continued to nag at me. I knew I didn't forgive him completely. This week has brought about a large chunk (hopefully the last) of forgiveness toward him. If we, as humans, are to be known by the enemies we keep, let it be known that I have none. I do not desire to be his friend, but I wish him no evil. My heart is healing, slowly, and I do forgive him.

...I'm not allowed to sit by a window when I am supposed to be working on something. I keep getting distracted by the tree across the street. It's green. The wind is blowing. Little pieces of black, charred grass rain down upon my freshly-washed car. I swore I wouldn't wash it until field burning was over... the wind picks up, fragments of orange and red leaves show through under the bright yellow-green. It's almost not summer anymore. Refocusing my eyes closer, I can make out the green twist-tie and rubber bands Mom used to tie up a windchime that made too much noise. It sways like a stick in the hot sun, covered in soot, one pendular motion. I don't know why she didn't take it down; would have been less effort. The tree distracted me. Sorry.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Field Burning and Thoughtful Colors

I was motivated enough today to make a cake and change the oil in my car. My sister dragged me a town away to go shopping; I followed her dutifully and picked out items for her to try on, hopefully the right ones, and tried to keep my mouth shut as much as possible. I really don't like shopping, especially browsing. We had a very nice lunch though, out for pasta and salad at a brand new favorite restaurant. My ear is still bothering me, but less so. I don't know what's wrong, but since it's getting better and there is no pain involved, I am not going to fuss much. Finally had a call back and set up an interview for next week - I'm a little excited, though very realistic about the whole interview thing. Very blah otherwise.

Field burning increased this week, and with the wind blowing most of the smoke right over town, we haven't had much daylight after noon. The air is thick and the dust is awful. My white car is a nasty grey right now... I'm tempted to leave the soot since it'll block a lot of sun damage. ;) Little black pieces of charred grass, sometimes clumps as large as my hand fall everywhere. I spotted fire damage a few hundred yards from my house when Rachel and I went for a hike on Wednesday: some blackberries got awfully warm in a hurry. Rachel filled me in on all of her fire crew experience on a recent forest fire. I'm a little jealous she gets to do what she loves for a living already... we're not even 25 and she struck gold. But my time will come.

I have six blog posts in the works... they're sort of themed, but I have to flesh them out quite a bit before they'll make sense to anyone but myself. I don't know if I've mentioned this on my blog yet: I think in colors. Instead of thinking in words and thoughts that make sense verbally, I see colors and shapes that represent ideas in my head. Sometimes it takes me a while to translate what I'm thinking into something I can communicate clearly, especially if I'm confused. I suppose sometimes I do think in words, or else the translation happens so fast I don't notice it. Oh, and when I think of my friends, I often associate them with a color instead of picturing their face. I think it makes my macho army friend mad that he's a pink blob in my head. :P The colors don't mean anything--they're kind of arbitrary and sometimes change. If you want to know your color, comment/e-mail me.

Hmmm, I could clean the house, watch a movie, or blog more... bring on the cleaning fumes!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

...to ease suffering

I'm still having quite the identity crisis, plus one of my ears is all wonky... but at least my new ballroom dance shoes have finally shipped from the southeast--hopefully they'll be here soon.

Neither of my grandmothers are doing very well right now. One recently had a TIA, and her doctor found blood clot in her jugular vein today. More tests will determine how they handle the clot, but right now it's rather scary. The other grandma had a trip to the ER this weekend. I went over to see her yesterday: she looked sick. No temp, but she looked awful. Today, I took her to her regular doctor to follow up on the ER visit, and she seemed better, but she said she was in a lot of pain. Even worse, she just found out her only sister probably won't survive beyond next week. My great aunt is in her 90s, has stopped eating and taking her meds, and doesn't recognize anyone she sees.

I would like to have a nice, meaningful post for you to read, but I'm not up to it tonight. ...I'm just... down about everything, confused, angry, sad. I wish I had the power to ease suffering. That's the superpower I want. Not invisibility or indestructability. Not x-ray vision or flight or strength. just to help ease suffering.

...it's really hard to give yourself a hug.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On Competitiveness

A friend's mother recently passed a casual comment in my direction about how she apparently views me as competitive. I shrugged off the comment at the time, but thought about it on and off since then. Am I really competitive? and about what am I willing to compete?

I never saw myself as a competitor. I only played organized sports (basketball and softball) in elementary school, and stayed as far from team activities as I could in high school. I was in band, and we did compete in field show competitions, but there was rarely another band in our division (or at our lack of skill) so we never stood a chance to win anything. We didn't go out to win--we couldn't have won anyway--but we had a great time learning and playing together. I never joined the band to compete. I joined because that's what I did. I play music.

Over the years, I won a ton of awards and accolades. I was honored several times, my name in the newspaper at least quarterly, if not more growing up. I participated in spelling bees (with some success), and worked hard to maintain exceptional grades. Mom and Dad kept everything... I have a notebook absolutely stuffed with certificates and awards. Honor Roll, Citizenship, Best in Subjects X, Y, and Z, ... so many other little things.

It seems that I was competitive, on the surfact at least, and did well by all accounts. But, in truth, the only above-mentioned activity that was competitive was the spelling bee. I guess I was too young to understand that I was competing against other people... I was always out to beat myself, just one more word, one more correct letter.

This summer, I entered five photographs into the county fair. I won two ribbons. Not bad. :) But why did I enter in the first place? Well, because I could. Because I wondered if I was on par with other photographers. Because Dad entered stuff and won ribbons... I don't really know why I did it. I just did it. I'd thought about it, but it was kind of a last-minute thing I tossed together (literally, the day before). I didn't expect to win and am still amazed I got anything at all.

Being a drum major, having good grades, winning citizenship awards... these things I have not done to beat anyone else. I compete with myself. I'm not afraid of winning or losing, of failure or success. There are reasons I excel at a few things, why I am the way I am, but they don't matter in this post.

People ask me if I think I'm a good musician or pianist. No, I tell them, definitely not. It's not true... I can hold my own at a piano. I know keys and chords and rhythm and notes. But really, theory and fundamentals don't make someone good. Compared to someone great, I suck. Am I good? No... but I'm not awful either. However, with the exception of marching band competitions, I will not compete with my music. I did not try out for WIBC or other bands, not because I was afraid I wouldn't get in (I would have, easily), but because I didn't feel I needed to prove anything. I don't care if you think I'm good or bad... I play the piano for me.

So to answer my friend's mother: yes, ma'am, I am competitive. I try to do better than I did last time, and to do the best I can do this time. I'm not out to squash someone else or get the highest score possible. I don't set out to climb the tallest mountain, just the ones that mean something to me. If I succeed, that's okay. If I fail, that's okay too. I might try it again, I might not. If wanting to do well makes me competitive, then competitive I am without apology. But if trying to do well by myself makes me competitive... then I'm not sure I own up to that word.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Identity Crisis

I'm having an identity crisis.

Just letting you know.

...yup. That's all you get for now.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Leading from Behind

I find it exceedingly difficult to have faith in someone that says one thing and does another. Call me hypocritical... I'm not perfect and never will be. That won't stop me from trying to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

It is my sincerest hope that I am one who leads by example, from the front, instead of issuing decrees and cowardly hiding from awkward truths. My heroes are of this breed, and my upbringing attests to it's value.

Unknowingly acting two-faced is pardonable; this can happen to all of us, myself included. But professing "A" and living "B" while knowing "A" is the right thing to do... well, you're sorely testing the limits of my patience.

Mary's Peak


A friend and I went hiking up on Mary's Peak this morning. The view from the top was hazy, but Mt. Jefferson stood proud of the distant clouds. We hiked a few trails quickly and got off the mountain before noon. Pretty day for a hike, though I do prefer it a bit cooler myself. Couldn't see the ocean this time :( but we could see where two weather fronts were colliding just off the coast--that was pretty cool! Wish I had better pictures though. Maybe next time. The road up the hill is worth the trip, especially the drive coming down. Good times...

Perfect Summer Food

For dinner:

Fettucini Alfredo with garden-grown herbs,
Oregon-grown watermelon, super sweet and fresh,
Draft root beer, ultra cold,
and premium ice cream later for dessert.

...it's a rough life...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Geekdom

I reached the bottom end of boredom today... after my daily ritual of combing employment ads, websites, and the like, I played canasta for two hours against the computer. I won, again. I also played the piano for a good while this morning; that seemed to lift my spirits quite a bit.

Depressing week, just depressing. Lots of reasons, a few I won't mention. Perhaps this is one of those normal lows, perhaps I'm justified in my unhappiness, or maybe I'm crazy. :) In the words of GIR, "I dooooooon't knoooooow." (I've seen too much Zim lately.)

Mom and I went Geocaching on Thursday: we got all five we went after! A new personal best, thanks to Mom's amazing geosenses. Seriously, she'd walk up to a log and go, "stick your hand in there, I bet it's in there." So I did *cringe* and it was. She had fun. :) I just wanted to get out of the house.

I came across a quote a while back that I've been holding on to. Part of me has always struggled with my geekiness (the best form of birth control, by the way, I've tested it) and the extent to which I share how nerdy I can be at times. I'm not afraid of being smart, but I lack the same certain social skills as so many nerds/geeks. This quote made me smile. :)

"Forget trying to pass for normal. Follow your geekdom. Embrace your nerditude. In the immortal words of Lafcadio Hearn, a geek of incredible obscurity whose work is still in print after a hundred years, "Woo the muse of the odd." . . . You may be a geek. You may have geek written all over you. You should aim to be one geek they'll never forget. Don't aim to be civilized. Don't hope that straight people will keep you on as some kind of pet. To hell with them. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird, and don't do it halfway. Put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it. . . . Don't become a well rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish." -Bruce Sterling

Weekend Goals

In the Farisian mode, I'm posting a list of goals for this weekend. Perhaps if I actually say them here, in a public space, I might feel compelled to live up to them. Maybe not...

  1. Spend at least six hours out of the house without my parents.
  2. Wash my car.
  3. Find a new place to discover, then discover it.
  4. Laundry.
  5. Find 70th Geocache.
  6. Dance.
Anyone willing to help me in these endeavours, please notify me via comment or e-mail.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blue

Sometimes I wish
I new the words to say
to make you care, to make you
stand up and take notice
of me.

To see that, behind this
façade of serene perfection and
confidence,
I need you.

Not to hold my
hand or tell me
soothing lies.

I don't need your
endless correction
or the added
stress of things left
undone.

I am not seeking
acceptance
or to be an equal
or even special treatment.

Understanding
might be nice,
to finally converse and be
heard.

My voice is new,
but loud,
and I aim to make you
see
me
as me,
not as the image of me you have
created.

Every word can be
shouted at you,
every word an apology
for the wrongs
I have accomplished,
every word a testament
to your greatness.

But hollow words buy you no
forgiveness.

I want so much
for you to ask me
just once
if I am okay
because then I'll know
you're listening to me.

And I can finally cry
an adult tear.

Do Not Lie to Me

I do NOT appreciate it.

This includes little white lies, lying by omission (omitting facts that impact the potential outcome or that either indirectly or directly affect me), or just plain lying to cover your ass.

Do not lie to me.

Lying makes me very *not* happy.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Best of Summer

I have had an amazing twenty-four hours! Emily and a friend came down to my house last night, then the three of us drove to go dancing. A ton of people were there, thankfully lots of boys, and some great people/friends I haven't seen since school let out. We laughed, we danced, we laughed and danced... when the dance was over, a small group of us went to Shari's to hang out a bit longer. So much fun! Those are the moments in life I wouldn't trade for anything. We didn't get back home until almost 2am, and then I was back up early sorting out job applications. Emily, her friend, my sister, and I went back to OSU to explore campus and show Emily's friend what she can expect when she starts in a few months as a freshman. A couple of kids that were with us last night at Shari's met us on campus, and we all wandered around laughing and having a great time. I can't even express how much fun I had... just a wonderful twenty-four hours.

Except for the part about still being plagued by dehydration. I'm working so hard to get liquid in me, but it doesn't want to stay in.

And except for my incredibly sore arms from Sunday. No bruising, I'm just really sore through my deltoids. They're actually warm to the touch (warmer than normal). Where's a good masseuse when I need one?

The exceptions didn't even begin to dent my totally sweet day, though. The weather is absolutely perfect, the valley smells like warm hay, and I'm content. :)